To say recent weeks have been busy for me would be somewhat of an understatement. With a looming project deadline at work, I’ve been working some long weeks and have found maintaining my running difficult, never mind maintaining this blog. I have managed to keep up with my runs but, whereas I was making good progress on increasing my weekly mileage to 30+ miles, this has dropped back down to around the 20 mark. I’m hoping now that I am passed the deadline, things will become a little easier again and I can pick up on my planned 5k plan, which will take me into the New Year.

I did manage to do the Rugby 5k Santa Run though as planned last week, which was good fun. I ran (barely) with my two young children in the 400m Santa Dash before taking part in the 5k. Whilst I never expected a 5k PB, my plan was to go hard and to try and maintain my recent 5k improvements, which have seen me drop from just over 22 minutes to a 21:30 at Kingsbury Water parkrun in the past couple of months. Any hope of that ended though when I picked up the Santa outfit that I was due to run in.

To avoid queues on the day, I collected my outfit the day before the event and thought I’d try it on before needing it the following day. The fact that it came as “one size fits all” meant that I didn’t hold out much hope for it being comfortable running attire. Sure enough, the trousers had a waist size fit for Santa himself and, whilst the jacket wasn’t too bad, I knew the nature and material of the beard would cause some discomfort.

It wasn’t about the finish time though and, whilst the winner was set to receive a turkey for Xmas dinner, I was never going to be that close to the front, and this was a fun run. So I dressed up in the full outfit in the nature of the event and set off in the morning expecting most to do the same. Not so. I was surprised to see many ditching quite a lot of the outfit, mainly the trousers and the beard, but some were just running in a hat. Not entirely in the spirit of the event.

The course was quite good. It was one clockwise lap around the athletics track before heading out for a circular loop of the surrounding area and back to the athletics track via a hospital service road and narrow path. The circular loop included a modest uphill section before turning onto one of Rugby’s flattest roads (where most of the club’s interval sessions are carried out on during the dark winter months). It then took us down a long downhill section before a short, sharp uphill leading to the service road. It finished up with an anticlockwise lap of the track, finishing at the finish line where we were handed with medals, minced pies, Christmas cake and squash. Not bad for £12, and we also got to keep the suit!

Whilst out on the course, it felt a lot hillier than it actually was when analysing post run. The first climb (if it could really be called a climb) was just enough to take the wind out of my sails, whilst the final one was a real toughie. Heading down the service road I overtook several runners who had resorted to walking, it had taken that much out of them, and I wasn’t amongst the slower runners who would usually take a walking break during a 5k. As mentioned above, the outfit wasn’t the best for running in. I had managed to tie the bottoms up enough to not cause me any troubles, but the jacket was constantly slipping off my shoulders, and the fluffy beard meant I took many feathers on board whilst breathing heavily. I finally came home in 22:42. Not fantastic, but today wasn’t about that, and I was pleased with how the day went.

The route is quite handy to note for future. Whilst the roads were not closed, they didn’t need to be, as the course could be completed on the path and, with the exception of the hospital entrance, there were no roads to cross. So if I’m ever interested in a 5k time trial, and I can’t make it to a parkrun, this would be an excellent route to test myself on. I would just need to add a little bit of distance on to account for the athletics track, which is not open to the public without paying a small fee for it’s use, which has come in handy in the past.

Next up is a move onto my planned 5k training plan, with an aim of running a sub-21 by the end of the ten weeks. It’s going to be tough over Christmas, but that’s more due to being able to get out than it is about over indulging. I’ve never been one to over indulge over the festive period and am generally one of the few people to return to work after the New Year having lost weight as opposed to gaining it. As mentioned in a previous post though, it really helps having plans and goals written down. I have set up a spreadsheet which has every run planned between now and the Coventry half marathon on March 24. Some may find that too structured and regimented, but I like knowing what’s coming up and having a plan to work to. We’ll see how it goes. Although I know it’s going to be a challenge, I’m quite optimistic about the period, and the sessions within the plan excite me, which is always a good thing.

In other news, I recently received an email from The Running Awards about my nomination for the Best Personal Blog category. I wasn’t even aware that I had been nominated. Sure, I am one of 76 that have been, but someone has taken the time out to nominate this site for the award, and for that I thank you, whoever you are. This site started out as a bit of a “dear diary” but has evolved as I’ve gotten more involved in the online running community and I’ve tried to help more inexperienced runners with varying advice and recommendations. I’ve said it many times before that running is so relative. Whilst I seek advice from those running 40-60 miles per week and completing sub-19 minute 5k’s, there are 15-20 miles per week runners, completing 5k’s in 25-30 minutes who are looking to runners such as myself for their guidance. I am always happy to help out, so please feel free to get in touch if there is ever anything that you feel I could help with.

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