Friday, 21 August 2009

Great South Run – 65 days to go!

I love my Garmin Forerunner ! It’s a wristwatch style GPS that uses satellite technology to measure the distance, elevation, timings, pace and speed of my training runs. It can also measure my heart rate, but I tend not to use that option. The great thing about it is that it provides a true and accurate record of my running. Previously, I would use a pedometer to measure distance, plus my ordinary wristwatch for timings. This was prone to error, as the pedometer depends on stride length which is difficult to measure accurately, and will vary anyway with the terrain. I found I had a tendency to overestimate the distances I was running, so when it came to measured distances, like in a marathon or half-marathon, it often came as a bit of a shock to realise how generous I had been in my estimations! Actually, as the years have gone by I have fine-tuned things fairly well, and the Forerunner measurements are really not far off – experience has taught me to be more honest, I guess!

I’ve had a couple of rest days. Wednesday was far too hot for running, and yesterday my legs were still feeling a little stiff. I reckoned that if I had run yesterday I would have been running on weary legs, so thought it better to give them an extra day to recover. It does seem to have worked out, as this morning I felt quite a spring in my step as I set off. My ambition was to run further this morning. I have a route that takes me further along the riverbank until I reach a good turning point at a beautiful little stone bridge, then back along the side of a road and round to the park again. I could just turn on my heels when I reach the bridge, but I prefer the variety of landscape by coming back alongside the road. It’s not too busy a road, and it’s nice to see the changing gardens of the houses that skirt its edge.

The air was quite cool as I set off, with a light breeze which felt very pleasant. A lot of the swans on the river were still asleep, their long necks curled over their backs and resting on their wings, reminding me of those ‘quenelles’ they teach you how to make in cookery programmes. All very calming, and thankfully my breathing is also calm – not the laboured gasping of a few days ago! It’s quite a remarkable change in such a few short days, but I’m also aware that I am going very slowly, a fact confirmed as a much younger man jogs lightly and effortlessly past me. Well, I’ll never break the land-speed record, so it doesn’t really worry me. I don’t really see my running as competitive – at the speed I run these days, that would be a delusional attitude. It’s much more about seeing the improvements in yourself, knowing what you are capable of and, for me, trying to get back to somewhere like how I used to be before diabetes raised its unwelcome spectre.

After a mile or so, the Sun broke through the light cloud cover and the heat began to build. I did wonder for a moment if it would be wise to do my planned route, knowing it was something like 40% further than my earlier runs this week, but decided that as long as I stuck to my steady pace, I’d make it round – I could always walk if need be. I carry some glucose tablets with me should I feel my blood sugar levels falling, although I generally stay within range on runs of 5 miles or less. I managed to find some shade as I ran along a back lane, then further shade was provided by a line of tall poplars as I rejoined the far end of the park on my way out to the bridge.

There’s a short steep climb up and over the arch of the little bridge, then a further climb running through a sheltered path behind some houses before I reach the main road. I still felt quite good, sticking to my steady pace and enjoying a slight downhill slope before turning near the local railway station. As I turn a bend towards the student residences, a large crowd of foreign students are waiting across the road at the bus stop – I put on a burst of speed to impress them (!), and then finally return to the park.

On the whole, I was very pleased with the run. Slow, yes, but 4.5 miles, which after all is 45% or the distance of the Great South Run with over nine weeks training still to go, so I am confident I can build my strength and speed before October comes around.

I have been so thrilled to see how my sponsorship efforts have been going. After only four days I am currently at 57% of my target, thanks to the generous support of the people on the UK forum – an amazing total, and a real motivation to do the training and really do well in the race!

Friday August 21st, 2009
4.5 miles
44’ 23”
Blood glucose before (1.5 hour)
Blood glucose after

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