Saturday 29 September 2012


I'm allowed to run now, so I did parkrun this morning.  On an absolutely beautiful and perfect (in my opinion - sunny, bright and about 10ÂșC) day for running, the intention was to take it gently and trot 'round at a sensible, measured pace.  That didn't quite happen.

Photo taken last week at Wimbledon Common parkrun
by Clive Scammell (representative of today's weather)
MrTOTKat was off at a parkrun a hundred miles away (train for 110 miles, cycle for 1.5 hours, run parkrun for 5km, cycle for 1.5 hours, 110 miles on the train - nutter!), so I walked up to the common for parkrun, trotting a little bit every now and then to warm things up.  As I broke into a jog every now and then, I noticed my heart rate went shooting up pretty quickly, but dropped back again really quickly too.  Of course I expected my fitness to have dropped off quite a bit with 4 weeks of only 1 or 2 longish walks but nothing else to speak of, so I wasn't surprised that I was pushing a higher heart rate for less pace.  Also, it's pretty cold today so it is easier (for me at least) to work at a higher heart rate with less than the usual discomfort for that level of effort.
Ian Higgins

When I got to the common, I had a chat with a couple of people and found out that it was Ian Higgins' 250th run today, so that was a nice co-incidence to be there to celebrate that.  He's the run director for Wimbledon Common parkrun and is incredibly dedicated - in 2007, he directed and ran every single event that year, even the last one of the year when he was ill and put in his all-time personal worst time.  And one parkrun he turned up and announced he'd got married the day before!  I think it's in no small part down to him how successful Wimbledon Common parkrun has got and is now peaking at 380 runners!  It's a really sociable parkrun (as they all are)

Ian Higgins
Ambling down to the start, which is quite narrow, I tried to work out where in the field I should stand at the start in order to protect my shoulder a bit.  I decided that despite not being the quickest runner around, I'd go near the front and off to the left with the aim of having nobody to my left, minimising jostling on that side of me.  I didn't quite manage that, and I'm not sure the kids and parents took in the message Ian gave them in the race briefing of smaller children (i.e. less than teenagers) should start near the back so they don't get mown down as I was surrounded by really small kids.  Because of this, I ended up starting out quicker than intended and then held it.

I felt OK running, if a little ungainly.  At the moment when walking and running I need to consciously move my left arm back and forth as it naturally wants to sit, bent at the elbow, hand in front of my solar plexus.  I was also a bit concerned about tripping and falling or being jostled and my shoulder knocked.  Deciding to attempt a negative split, the chill temperature helped keep my effort level up with minimum discomfort and I didn't look at my watch at all so I had no idea what my heart rate was.  At the mid-point of the course I was pretty sure that I'd hear 13 mins something, and I did indeed (13:20ish as I crossed the mid-point).  On track for a high 26minute overall time if I held that average pace.  Lap two and I kept the pace roughly the same until there was 2km to go, then I turned up the gas as much as I could without going all-out.  All the people who went out too hard at the start were being passed and that always makes me feel better, no matter how bad a run I'm having.

Sociable parkrun - chatting around the water fountain
Having nothing left for a sprint finish, I knew that I'd been maintaining quite high effort all the way 'round and for once I remembered to stop my watch once I was over the finish line.  As it was a very busy parkrun, the finish chute got quite congested and we needed to double-up the queue for tokens (a couple of people got a tiny bit stressy about it, but nothing too bad) but there were 4 token scanners so almost no queueing at all to get the tokens and bar codes read.  Once I'd had my token read, I bothered to look at my watch to see what time I'd managed - 26:24 by my timing.  For the level of effort I'd put in, I'd've expected something in the low 24 minutes range, if I hadn't been doing nothing for the last 4 weeks.  2 minutes slower was a real shock.  What was an even bigger shock was the heart rate data - HRavg 94%, HRmax 99% !

On the way home, I decided to do a bit of an experiment; jogging home maintaining 81% HRmax and see what pace that turned out at.  07:40.  That's 2 minutes/km slower than I would get for 81% HR max 4 weeks ago.  A loss of 35% speed.  I'm absolutely stunned.

My recovery rate hasn't dropped off that much.  A less than scientific check tells me that I recover at >40bpm drop in <1 min after stopping exercise still, so that's not bad at all.

Anyway.  I feel *great* despite the stats on speed.  I know I'll get the speed back and it should take no longer to get it back than it did to lose it.  parkrun today makes me feel like this:-

Running makes you happy, no matter how slow or quick you are!
(All the photos in this articles are taken by me, when I was volunteering on photography duty at parkrun, apart from the one that Clive Scammell took - credited above.)

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