Yes I’ve succumbed to Strava, I’ll say that again ‘yes I (Paul) have succumbed to Strava’
Having lost some speed largely to do with Covid & no races but sadly almost definitely also due to inevitability facing a now 55 year old even I, a confirmed Luddite, have now resorted to Strava in a desperate final bid to turn back the clock & seek at least one final pb (or at least something close to one) in either the Marathon or Half Marathon distances. Since these were both set when I was 49 & 48 respectively that’s a bit of an ask if I’m honest but hey-ho if you don’t try you don’t get.
The spark for this was my London Marathon in October where I ran ‘well’ mostly but was still 15 minutes off my pb of 3:10 & even further adrift of my 2020 target had the race taken place then.
My thinking regarding Strava is that if I know a few people might follow me then I might up the anti in my training & thereby reverse the declining trend, desperate ‘times’ need desperate measures. That said I’ve given myself a promise that if the data & contacts that this panic driven act leads to gets all too much for me my trial period will expire at the end of the year & I’ll go back to my luddite obscurity or should that be ‘security’.
But I’m not just hitting a single panic button, a month ago I returned to the Dolgellau Park Run to get some speed back. My first effort was just testing the waters so I didn’t even take my super duper Nike’s, net result 21:58, 2 seconds faster than my target but nearly two minutes off my pre-covid 20:14 (Nike induced though). My next three Park runs saw me don my Nike’s recording a best of 20:28, only 14 seconds off that pb, maybe there is hope not a bad tail off given almost two years more age & no races.
Next up on the panic button list is races & plenty of them with a fair share being on tarmac to more accurately gauge any improvements particularly of the Half Marathon distance. So on Sunday I ran in the restored Dyfi 8 race which would fulfill two goals, a hard race on forest roads as well as supporting a local club. The 8 stands for 8 Miles or 8K as two races were taking place, I chose the 8 miles & was soon ‘regretting’ it as you climb from the start for almost 4K before a full on descent before another 2K climb leads to a final 3K full on descent. Basically I was either trying not to walk uphill (narrowly succeeded, good tick) or flat out descending knowing that the quads were taking a pasting that I’d pay for after the race. Despite coming only 7th, out of a small field of 20 or so, by the end I had ticked a lot of boxes including sub 6 minute mile’ing on the final descent which at my level/age was pretty pleasing. Despite this hard workout I was still able to get out for a light 10K the next day giving me 14 runs in 15 days whilst clocking up over 120 miles with plenty of climb to boot. Can you tell I’m getting serious here?
Next race up is the Conwy Half Marathon on Sunday (well if you don’t count Dolgellau Park Run the day before). This is a race I did a few years back so will be the first proper test since London of where I am at. Here a note of good luck to all the Fell Runners taking part in the Pen race this Saturday, great race & good luck to the new race organisor Russel Owen & his team. Due to my own goals I’ll ‘miss’ the bog & Judy’s heckling but hopefully only for this year as it’s a great send off to the Snowdonia Fell Running Year.
The Manchester Marathon (scene of my 2015 pb) is booked for April & I’m searching for plenty of races prior to then such as Oulton Park Half Marathon & Wrexham Half Marathon (also scene of my 2015 pb)
In truth all this may not lead to my dreamed off ‘success’ but without dreams we can float through the aging process without a fight all too quickly (just how did my 50th get followed so quickly by my 55th) & you know what to be at the sharp end of the Dolgellau Park Run coming 6th, 3rd & 4th in recent weeks (the latter was almost 2nd until two young Whippets more tan 20 years my junior came past in the final 300 metres) does feel pretty good if I can be un-modestly honest.
Of course not everything will go to plan as after yesterday’s race when back at the Cafe my helping 3 women illegally leave through the ENTRANCE door I dropped the moved traffic cone on my bare left big toe. This being the same toe that lost it’s nail a week earlier led to an awful lot of blood, swearing & tears. Suppose that’s what you get when you try to help the deaf of ‘Exit is over there’ specimen’s of our Human Race, still we did share a chuckle before the cone hit it’s mark!
So watch this space or the new one that is ‘Strava Paul’ as I dream & work on through the coming weeks & months.
Final thoughts one week down 1-0 to Strava albeit with a degree of hair loss & raised blood pressure.