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Sunday 7 October 2012

Trying out a New Running Club, Cowardice and Coventry Accents

Decided it was time to look at joining a new running club. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my current club … except their training times. They’re friendly, helpful and into their running but I just can’t get to training as I simply can’t schedule things to get there on time.

Also, my little sister has taken up running and I can’t have her getting quicker than me so I need to get some proper training done.

Apparently playing the ‘Zombies Run’ game doesn’t really count as Proper Training. (Sulk)

Managed to find the club house and there weren’t any scary-looking athletes doing obscene stretches or wearing those elite bikini-style running clothes which was a relief. Everyone looked nice and normal. Apart from all that tight lycra and day-glo colours but among us runners that’s practically compulsory.

Grabbed a passing runner and he pointed out the lady I’d emailed and she gave me a group to run with. They all looked friendly enough. After all, I’m here to run not to chat so even if they looked a bit scary, it wasn’t as if I needed to get a blood sample from them or anything. All I needed to do was to keep up.

Did a 2.5 mile warm up around the streets at about a 9:30 minute mile and had a chatter with the rest of the group. A varied lot, ranging from an older gent who’d just completed his first triathlon to some race-mad guys who were racing practically every weekend.

Got back to the base and I expected 30 – 45 minutes of intervals of some description as was usual at my old club but apparently everyone was off on a run of a varying length. My group were doing a 7 – 8 mile run. Eek.

This was my test. I’ve got a marathon in exactly 10 days and I should be in taper. Especially after I did a run this morning … but I failed the test. “Yes, no problem” I squeaked trying to keep the fear out of my voice at trying to keep up with a group of runners of whose speed I had no idea. Great. Well done me. Cowardice score 10/10.

Turned out they were running at about 1 – 1.5 minutes per mile faster than my usual run of the same distance. I could do the pace over this distance. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to, being sandwiched between my half marathon last weekend and the marathon next weekend. Sigh.

At least on the plus side I would definitely get some speed training in. I didn’t know this area at all, so if I got left behind I would never find my car or the running clubhouse again. My body would be found the next day having it’s pockets picked over by some white tracksuited chav with fake gold chains and sovereign rings. So … a 7:30 minute mile it was then.

They were a friendly group and it was actually really good running at a faster speed with other people. When I run with Wolf Runner and Insurance Expert it’s at a nice gentle speed so we can chat and spot ice creams vans from a distance. There was no track at this club so the running was all done over the city streets.

This was careering across roads in breaks in the city traffic and flying around corners and seeing whether you could make the opposite pavement before the car coming up to the same intersection. This was betting your body against the traffic and wondering whether you could beat your group mates to the central reservation. This wasn’t just running. This was S&M running.

I had made a rookie error though. It was a cool Autumn evening so I had worn a warm running jacket over my vest top expecting a few gentle intervals. However, with a higher speed and a good warmup I was heating up pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the combination of a close fitting jacket and a Garmin pinning the sleeve to my wrist meant that trying to take it off while running wasn’t very easy and I got it stuck getting it over my head. I missed running into the back of a parked transit van and leaving a body print in the metal by inches.

We ran through a lot of streets that looked the same, orange sodium lights and houses tightly locked up and gangs of youths roaming the streets. None of the groups really took much notice of us except for one group who shouted something. It might have been threatening but their Coventry accents were so thick I couldn’t understand what they were saying so I chose to interpret it as “You go girl!” and “Looking good!” I didn’t slow down to ask for more compliments though. Or slow down at all.

I was flagging by the end of the run. Somehow I can run for 13 miles at a 7:30 minute mile in a race, but ask me to do a sub 8 minute mile in a training run of over 6 miles and my legs threaten to fall off. Probably the cowardice kicking in again.

Made it back to the clubhouse without falling over or being caught by one of the suicidal drivers in one of the pan-dual carriageway dashes and found out that the front runners of our group were about a minute in front of us and the rear runners a couple of minutes behind. I decided that next time I went I was keeping up with the front runners and the week after that I was going to beat them home.

Sounds like I’m going back then.

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