In my post Paddock Wood Half Marathon blog post, I seem to recall stating publically that at my next half marathon (Great North Run), I would not be PB chasing. Then this weekend, I signed up for a research project being carried out by Canterbury Christ Church University to look at the possible influence of nitrate on running 5k – nitrate in the form of beetroot shots. And the selling point to me? The words “You could improve your personal best, run a season’s best or break your own course record for the Shorne Woods parkrun.” Sold, as sure as eggs is eggs!! My defence is that one of my 2015 fitness goals is to get a new parkrun PB. If somebody wants to potentially give me a helping hand, who am I to argue!?
Beetroot or placebo?!
So after this week’s run, I took away my shot for ingestion at 7.00am this coming Saturday. It could be beetroot, it could be a placebo, who knows? The researchers assured me even they didn’t. After this coming Saturday’s run I’ll be given another shot to take ahead of the run on 25 April. I’ve read lots in the past about the possible benefits of nitrate supplementation on energy levels so I’m prepared to give it a go. But then I’ve also read a lot about the placebo effect and psychology! In any event, judging by recent parkrun performances, something dramatic is going to have to happen to get me a PB in the next two weeks. And if I do, will it be down to beetroot or will it be down to my brain, or even an outside chance, down to my fitness? I shall report back in due course. Don’t get your hopes up though. But I do like to feel I’m doing my bit for science!
Now moving on to my other psychological problems – or more specifically those associated with my running. Over the last few weeks I have given a lot of thought to my participation in organised running events and I have come to the conclusion that something happens when I run with other people. Except parkrun of course, that seems to work in a completely different but positive way, or is it just that the distance is shorter and there’s less time for something to go wrong?
Anyway, in my infinite wisdom I have decided that when I participate in 10ks and above, something is happening in my brain. Personally I’m glad that anything’s happening in my brain but it’s obviously not a positive thing. All my thinking and I still haven’t got a clue what it is specifically but I have a plan to try to overcome this. Yes, another plan! It’s also tied in with my decision to try to run a 10k organised event at least once a month (already been increased from once a month to “at least once a month”!) My theory is that if I participate regularly enough, at some point I should just be able to treat these events as a normal training run. So I have been busy researching and applying for nearby 10ks and so far this list is as follows:-
April – next Sunday, Darent Valley 10k, bit “undulating” and an 8.30am start. I’m still waiting for my name to appear on the race entrants list so fingers crossed I make it there before Sunday! I’m always a bit jittery when I haven’t had my race number, etc in advance of a run. “Your name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in!”
May – two runs, both on the Bank Holiday Mondays. The first one is a new event, B2R’s (Beginners2Runners) Woodland Run around the Barming/Maidstone area. The second is the BUPA London 10000 around the Mall, Embankment and City. This will be the fifth time I’ve entered this one so you’d think familiarity would be on my side!
June – entered the Harvel 5, “tracing a path through the beautiful Kent countryside”. Yes, I know 5 miles is not 10k but I think that as it doesn’t start until 2pm and has the prospect to be hot, it’s got to feel like 10k. I’ve thought about doing this run for the last couple of years but have always been put off by the start time and that associated heat potential. But I was told on Saturday that it’s only the start and finish that are out in the open, the rest is through trees and therefore in the shade. I do hope my informant isn’t telling me porkies!
However, just as an option to make sure I do the distance in June, I’ve also made a note of a 10k at Brands Hatch. The Heart of Kent Hospice run takes place on a Friday evening so should be a lot cooler and is also an opportunity to run around the race circuit to suss out whether I want to consider the half marathon next year, assuming its taking place again.
July – Great Newham London 10k run, formerly the Back to the Stadium/Anniversary Run which once more finishes on the Olympic Stadium track. When I did the original Anniversary Run it was only 8k, now in its rebranded format, they’ve managed to extend it by another 2k. Taking place in July, here’s another potential “hot” run!
August – The 4th Gravesend Cyclopark 10k taking place on a Friday evening. I know the course here from my elliptigo adventures and I would say it’s quite undulating. I think its four laps which will hopefully be slightly less tedious than running the 17 laps required from the Kent Roadrunner Marathon event which takes place here. There’s only so many times you can see the A2 or Morrisons before you start going a bit stir crazy surely?! Although I see it’s a sell out again this year.
September – two options here, the Shoreham Woods 10k Trail Run or the Dartford Bridge 10k, one pre and one post Great North Run. Shoreham Woods sounds and looks prettier although not PB material.
October – I’m going back to Ashford for the Givaudan 10k, that’ll be my fifth time here too and the location of my 10k PB. I missed it last year because of my Royal Parks Half Marathon place so it’ll be good to go back, although I do hope it’s a bit drier than in 2013!
You may have noticed that some of these runs are off road so I’m thinking of buying some trail shoes! I’ve also managed to find races which don’t interfere too much with junior parkrun on a Sunday morning. There are a few exceptions to the Sunday morning embargo but on the whole, I’m pretty pleased with my date selection.
So next weekend (hopefully) we start putting my plan into practice. Watch out for my reports!