I was a bit down this week. I had planned to take it relatively easy rather than continuing with as hard a training week as the previous one, but it seems the winter darkness stole my mojo…
Tuesday was a decent session at least. It was getting chilly, so much so that we were warned of ice on the track by the centre staff. Indeed it was slippy, a bit of tempo running was ok but by the time we were done with that it was getting worse, and finished the session on grass - hard but good.
After that I barely got out for a run on Wednesday and Thursday, what I did do was slow and short. So I decided to skip it altogether on Friday. Not unusual to have trouble motivating a morning double run but this lack of motivation was something else, feeling quite down.
Saturday was the East District Cross Country Championships, about 9.6km in 3 laps around Camperdown Park, Dundee. I was a bit nervous with the lack of running during the week plus feeling some niggles. Travelling up the road the sky was ominously dark and uninviting.
Huddled around the club tent wrapped up in extra layers, and then 5 minutes before the start it’s down to the vest + shorts and ready to go.
Shortly after the start it was all elbows as usual, slow and congested up the initial hill and round the corner. I felt like I started particularly slowly, positioned further back than my rightful place, and slightly worried about moving up before the track narrowed. So for most of the first lap I was running nervous, frustrated.
The course was fairly straightforward going, easy underfoot but a good long sustained uphill on dirt through the woods, followed by a long straight flat section that begs you to push the pace (but punishes with some slippy mud). A long curving downhill to stretch out on a little, followed by a flattish slightly muddy bumpy finishing straight. A big change from the Alloa course 2 weeks before, but still much better than the ridiculously dull flat grass of Bellahouston. Not much in the way of changes of direction, short hills or mud and bogs, but a natural and varied feeling course.
The second lap was maybe what I’d call challenging. In contrast to the first lap’s bustle I now had a gap open in front of me, which I worked to close gradually. Pulling up the long hill, I was able to put in a decent effort but worried it sucked the life out of my legs. The rest of the lap was a struggle to maintain effort.
The third lap on the other hand, I must say with imperfect recollection I enjoyed thoroughly. Knowing the end is somewhat in sight it’s always fun to hammer the downhills as hard as possible, to not hold back on the uphill, to see if the guy ahead can be caught. For the last half or third of the lap there were 3 of us close by, exchanging lead as we moved around. On the final straight it came down to a sprint finished with someone just behind me - I didn’t look around but got the info shouted as to the gap and pushed it to the line.
So the perception was a slow first lap, struggling second and fast final lap. When I got home I looked up the GPS data to see 12:22, 12:47, 12:29 for a 37:38 overall.
Felt a bit dodgy with a restless night on Saturday night. Didn’t get up for a long run on Sunday, didn’t even go for a run later in the day. Stayed snug and cosy. And you know what? It’s fine.