The last week has, intentionally, been one that’s difficult to measure. The attempt is stealth improvement. The worry is no improvement or, indeed, decline in ability since last year. Which, I suppose following two stale months with injury, may be inevitable and I’ll have to accept it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First off, I have a product to review. The lovely folk at Under Armour contacted me and invited the use of one of their t-shirts. I’ve been wondering if they’re as good as the claims since overheating at the Folkestone Half in a dark top, so leapt at the chance. And this weekend has, at last, allowed a rise in temperature enough to assess any benefit.
The shirt arrived (a fetching dark orange…bright but on the good side of hideous) and looked, upon unwrapping, to be huge. Long and wide. But by magic, when pulled on, it fits like a tailored garment. Definitely not one to be held up in a shop for assessment of sizing! And with flat seams and wicking fabric, it feels great.
The useage test is going to sound like a product endorsement, so if you like criticism, skip this bit! Somehow the shirt seems to reflect the sun just as claimed. Despite a fair stretch with the sun directly on my back and with me focusing on the shirt to assess it, I felt no warmth at all. Not from the outside, anyway! The wicking seemed to be keeping me as comfortable as my Helly Hansen tops do as well, so all in I’m delighted. The hottest June and July days are going to be interesting to see how good it is against my pure white Brooks top and I’ll update further when I know.
So to the week in runs. Tuesday saw an assault on the steepest hills from and back to site. Downhill from site to just over two miles and then back up, it seems a bit brutal. Maybe because it is. The graph says it all:
The steepest bit makes 10 minute mile pace for quarter of a mile a fair challenge and turning left to see the hill continue is upsetting for a chest burning and thighs hurting as they were. It’s good for the soul, though, so I’m told.
Thursday had me taking the opposite direction along the tops of the hills and attempting some interval training. The plan was a half mile slow warm-up, then run as hard as I felt I could without pacing music or anything to take my mind away from my chest imploring me to slow down and catch my breath. It’s a horrible thing, along with the inevitable uphill bits getting in the way. This was followed by another slow half mile which then lead into another sprint. The plan was to go for a mile again with a turn-around half way through but traffic on the lane made me turn right and scuppered things when I had to stop again for cars, so I turned at 0.25 miles and made a shorter middle leg. I slowed as planned, though, allowing a further mile back where the first one was, to allow a future assessment of pace over averaged up and down slopes. The current answer is that I’m 17 seconds slower over the second interval. And that the first one wasn’t very quick compared to last years individual mile times. The highlight was pacing past two cyclists who’d overtaken me at the bottom of one dip and run out of steam as the hill went upward…oh how nice it would have been to have the breath to take the piss!
Maybe now I’m well over 40 it’s time to slow up after all.
But then yesterday was my long run, so I popped out for a series of local loops at slower pace and enjoyed (I’m sure that’s the correct term) 9 miles of lanes and byways. A good series of splits indicate I was comfortable from start to finish but my right leg is now sore…hoping it’s not another injury coming in. It felt superb all day, then I noticed it when moving around to a superb covers band of the Sex Pistols at a gig in Ashford and it remains a sore point now.
Hopefully it’ll improve, along with my running. The plan is to mix up my routes wherever possible so I won’t know if I’m getting better or not for a while before returning to the old route for a comparison when time might have allowed a change.
Fingers crossed. It’s race season soon, after all.