As usual, I've only got myself to blame. Perceived slothfulness and gluttony during our Easter trip to Vienna (which included 2 runs through the hills and vineyards above Grinzing, as well as a long-ish walk in the Burgenland near the Neusiedler See) meant that I threw myself back into my routine with a renewed vengeance when we got back. We landed last Tuesday, and after dropping our bags off at home, we headed straight out to the swimming pool. Since then, it's been swim, run, swim, swim, 6 mile walk, run, swim, run. In fact, tomorrow will be my first day off exercise since Easter Monday.
Generally speaking, I've felt pretty good. My swimming has got to the point where I'm really starting to feel like the lessons are paying off and I'm getting the hang of the proper technique. As a result, I've been happily trawling up and down the pool, often using a drag float and paddles to really work my arms and shoulders. The running has felt a bit harder, and although I'm planning to attempt the Robin Hood half marathon again this year, I'm suffering a bit of a crisis of confidence about my endurance. I generally run about 4.25 miles at a time and probably about 12 miles a week in total, , but I've been feeling pretty weak and wobbly in the legs, and I'm not at all sure that my body is going to be able to handle a ramp in the mileage. As it is, I've been getting to the end of the day - a day in which, apart from exercise, I've done little else but read my book and watch snooker - I'm falling asleep in my chair and am fast asleep long before my wife comes up to bed (the cat seems to love this new development, and has been getting properly settled on the bed as I sleep, leaving C to work her way around her as best she can when she tries to claim a bit of duvet. That cat is a bed hog and a duvet thief!)
Obviously, if my body is sending me signals that it's tired, then there's only really one sure-fire way to address that: to rest. Clearly, that's not going to happen as long as their is breath in my body. I brought all my running kit into the office today, and although it's a beautiful day, when lunchtime came around, my legs were feeling distinctly fatigued, and I considered - briefly - whether or not it might be a better idea to give it a miss, or to perhaps have a gentle stroll instead.
...but I went running. Of course I went running.
I had Runkeeper running on my phone as usual, and the first update after one mile told me that my average pace was 7.47 minutes per mile. That's pretty quick for me. It's not unusual for my first mile to be my fastest, but even then I'm usually a lot closer to 8 minutes/mile pace. On a good day, I usually average about 8.15-8.30, and when I'm really fatigued, that pace can slow right down to 9 minutes/mile or even beyond. I was fully expecting to slow down. I felt pretty good overall, but legs felt weird, and my feet weren't feeling the ground very well, even on the Tarmac path that runs alongside the canal. The second mile marker (often the slowest part of any run that I do, for some reason) told me that I was still averaging under 8 min/miles. I kept going, consciously trying to keep my pace up, but also conscious that I was starting to tire. I turned the corner by the weir and joined the path alongside the river heading back towards the office. By now I was starting to struggle, and I could feel myself slowing down. Surely now it was a case of damage limitation to my average pace.... I've idly thought about trying to average the whole run in under 8 minutes per mile, but the closest I have ever come - with a sprint finish! - was 8.01.
Mile marker three clocked in and I was now averaging 7.57 mins/mile.
Dammit. By now I was really feeling it, but that was close enough for me to grit my teeth and pick my knees up for one last effort over the final mile.
It hurt, but I clocked the final mile and finished with an overall average pace of 7.57 minutes/mile, covering the whole 4.04 miles in 32.07 (that's 4.56 mins/km).
Mile 1: 7.47mins/mile
Mile 2: 7.59 mins/mile
Mile 3: 8.06 mins/mile
Mile 4. 7.58 mins/mile
last little bit: 6.33 mins/mile
I was absolutely shattered, but doesn't that just go to show that - for me at least - FEELING fatigued isn't necessarily an indicator of actually BEING tired. I'm not saying it's a simple case of mind over matter, because I'm sure it's not as simple as that, but I nearly didn't go out running at all today because I felt tired and a bit wobbly.
Still. I'm bloody well having a day off tomorrow.
Reckon I've earned it.