What's your secret?

I posted my second PB in three weeks up on Facebook this morning, which means I also ran a PB this morning. At which point I was asked what my secret is...

Three minutes off my 10 mile run is not insignificant, 12s a kilometre may not sound a lot to non-runners it is.  For me, it was the first time I've averaged under 7min a KM for 10 miles, its faster than I ran in that glorious period of running up to the London Marathon two years ago.

Hell, it's only the fourth time I've gone under two hours.

It was also the morning after an almost five mile run, in the dark, where I didn't do bad - 57min.

So, in the grand tradition its time to split the infinitive and boldly go into that odd mode I'm surprisingly good at...

Analysis Mr Spock

Three minutes is not insignificant, which suggests that something significant is different.

1) Route - my training for London was flat, one hill to go down at the end, and one to come back at the end.  Short sharp hills (for those who know Bootle, Breeze Hill).  This training is out along to Goodison, up to Anfield and then the relentless rise of St Domingo Road, before a steep downhill section, interrupted by roads.

2) Diet - Nope scotch any ideas I'm a lot lighter than two years ago, at best I'm the same.  I've also not reached the point where I'm taking carboloading seriously (last night's tea was a butty and a bag of crisps).

3) Strength Training - again not yet, my vague plan is to start next week (I may need to roll my legs out this week, or throw in an extra climb).

4) Kit - nope same or equivalent gear, and not significantly lighter.

5) Mental approach - a glimmering of an idea. London was the marathon I applied for six times, back in the day it had automatic entry.  I cared a lot about about doing well... I care about this marathon, but I know I can get around, I know the RnR people are great about the back of the packers, so am I being less cautious?

6) Training approach - Quality, rather than pure quantity are my watchwords this time.  I pushed myself out three times a week religiously when I trained for London, were they all quality miles - No.   last week was busy at work (and I'd done a lot the weekend before), between the time constraints and the banging headaches I took the call that running wouldn't be a good idea (aided by the thought of a 5 miler the evening before the 10 miler). A possibility?

7) Resilience - someone has suggest this rather than stubbornness... Point 6) applies, but if I'm not groggy and I'm not working to the max then I run - never an easy route, and whatever the weather.  Last weekend was brutal, could I be reaping the benefits?

8) Belief - I had a crap year last year, between viral infections, injuries, colds, infected elbows and generally feeling crap I was a long way off my best.  Throw in the inevitable worry of being put through the wringer about my dodgy valve and its perhaps not surprising that somewhere deep inside I didn't believe...

9) Targets - I've done it all. There's nothing I've really wanted to do running that I haven't done, I've challenged every pre-conception I've had about myself, and changed the paradigm.  The last bits in the jigsaw are a 24h event and a fully run marathon... Have I subconsciously started to attack the second?

10) Role models - I've shifted, four years ago I wouldn't have looked for a running role model - how could I compare my warped and whacked out heart and glucose metabolism with anyone else - no two heart conditions are the same, and Fallots with type II diabetes is rare enough before you throw in the long-distance endurance running.  Now, I'm looking at my running friends, and other sporting friends, and asking why not... Working out what I can borrow and what I decide to leave on the side, not consciously until I've thought about it.

11) Challenge - those who know me best know that you don't let me get bored, and that I am target driven, but normally only competitive with myself (and Kieran, when he's running well but that's personal ;-)) ... have I self-limited my targets by not setting myself challenges? Possibly, has that germ of an idea of running all of a marathon become a challenge that has started driving me?

12) Am I odd (the answer is yes, but bear with me) - when I was training for my multi-day ultra I did many strange things... Including running half marathons on consecutive days, most of those weekends I ran the second run faster than the first.  Also the one good run last year, the Liverpool Half, had a 5k the day before... Do my legs just work better when a little tired?

13) All of the above... There's no single factor, there's no golden bullet.  There's just a 44 year old bloke whose enjoying his running again.

So, I'm not entirely sure what my secret is... but I know I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts!




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