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Tuesday 21 May 2013

Mad Girl Running: 5 miles with middle 3 at sub-7 min/miles

Goal: 5 miles with middle 3 miles at a sub 7 minute mile

My session tonight was 5 miles with the middle 3 at sub-7. Sub 7? Really?!! I’m not entirely sure my legs DO sub-7 minute miles. They have in the past but there’s usually a really good incentive involved like an ice cream van at the end of the road, a parkrun in which I REALLY have to pass the person in fairy fancy dress just in front of me or it’s the sprint finish at the end of a race and there’s a man trying to beat me because I’m a GIRL. Grrrrr. See. Really GOOD reasons.

However, I’m also a wimp. There was no way I could face emailing Marathon Coach Steve with an email along the lines of “... I was too scared to try.” He’d give me a withering look (visible even through an email) and tell me to just do it. It’s a LOT more scary than it sounds, honest.

So the drive home from work was me trying to figure out where I could run 3 consecutive sub-7 miles. My usual routes have kerbs and places where I have to cross multiple roads or are hilly and potholey. Not good. I remembered vaguely that I’d seen a park on my way home from work – in fact one I run past on my 9 mile route. I couldn’t remember much about it apart from it was flat and only about a mile away from home. But did it have a path around it or was it just a playing field? And would I have to avoid low hanging play equipment and the legs of over enthusiastic toddlers swinging from it as I ran?

When I got home I googled the park – I bloody LOVE the Google maps satellite option – and there stretched out around the edge a path. And even better when I measured it, it was exactly 1 kilometre a lap.

It was fate. Or maybe a runner had designed it. Either way the Running Gods had smiled. It was perfect.

I’d underestimated my faffing about time as usual and by the time I got to the park it was dark. It was gloomy and unlit but there ARE a few positives from light pollution and that’s being able to see in a town at night. Even if it is a rather eerie orange glow.  

Right. The running jacket was secured around my waist – I briefly considered hiding it in a bush but this WAS Rugby ... next time I saw it, it would be being worn by a tramp eating chips – and plugged in the iPod. Power songs – GO!

I probably should have done a warm up lap and then I would have spotted the shin height metal fences in the dark beforehand but the Running Gods were guiding my feet and I – just by chance – navigated the narrow gap between them, breathing a sigh of relief that I wasn’t doing the next 10 metres on my face. Graceful as I’m sure my flight would have been, scrubbing around in the dark looking for my front 2 teeth would surely scupper my chances of a sub-7 minute mile.  

Down the path, past the dark, rather strange Teletubby-house style building, under the height restriction and a swerve around the corner past the gloomy graveyard and through the darkness towards the next corner. Rather sadistically the park designers had put in another shin high fence but it was a graduated one so I had a brief chicane before heading up the next long side of the rectangle. The Garmin lost signal under the trees so I had to guestimate my speed until I was back at the starting point.

It was a fantastic circuit on a smooth tarmac path and the park was deserted. Apart from one couple having a rather wobbly late night walk after a few pints at the pub – who had jumped in a comical way when I passed them – I hadn’t seen a soul. It was perfect for speed work. All those times during marathon training that I’d struggled with time to get to the track and all this time the park was only 2 miles – a perfect warm up distance – away.  

4 laps down and onto the final lap, coming under the trees and focusing with the tunnel vision of the hard panting desperate-for–it-to-be-over glare of the speed session runner on the final corner as my finishing point, a patch of darkness moves slightly and I realise a cyclist without lights is coming the other way. We miss each other narrowly and his frightened grey face flies past my left shoulder as we narrowly miss each other in the dark.

And I finish the speed session.

I’m never sure whether it’s an intense runners high I experience after speed sessions or whether it is a huge feeling of relief that the session is over and completed successfully. I run home smiling the whole way. Drunks coming out of the pub, stop and stare at this ponytailed mad girl running down the street in the dark in a vest top, her running jacket tied around her waist and flapping like a neon pink sail. I wave at them and jump over the puddles and enjoy the run home.

Goal: 5 miles with middle 3 miles at sub-7 min/miles
Actual: 6.71 miles with middle 3 miles at sub-7 min/miles


  1. You mean you don't have a foot pod for your Garmin for such events?