Between the fields and a spreadsheet

Not a brilliant couple of weeks’ running I am afraid… Bad nights’ sleep (Philip is transitioning seamlessly from a cold to teething!) and a cold of my own conspired to keep me under my weekly mileage and away from Parkruns so far this month. Still, I’ve managed three runs per week regardless, even if there were steady plods as opposed to races, progression runs or other types of workouts.

But yesterday’s LR was a great reward for making an effort to go out: I had been tired from another bad night’s sleep and some light diy at home, and was ready to pack it in. After all there were not two hours of daylight left by the time I was ready to get out the door.

But out the door I went, light trail shoes on a muddy canal towpath, and my headtorch held in one hand. I ran out under a beautiful winter sunset, which coloured the countryside with colours my work phone was unequal to (have I mentioned that the Samsung S7 Edge I normally use is with Samsung who are still refusing to honour their warranty obligations?), did the middle half of the run in thickening dusk, until I eventually put my headtorch on and ran the last 45′ back or so in darkness.

It was a great experience, running along a stretch of canal that I am very well accustomed to in such different circumstances: the moist grass was almost phosphorescent in the beam of light, and the houses on the other bank of the canal were transformed by fairy lights on the fences and warm lighting indoors. A block of modern apartments next to one of the last locks before home was especially imposing, as it’s toweresque design was reinforced by only some of the apartment window breaking the darkness of its shape. It looked like part of the fortifications that mark the end of the wilderness and the start of the home leg.

I’m keeping this image as I hope my running will transition out of damage limitation and back into proper training and Parkrunning mode – especially with my 10k race being less than a month away!

Still, going through two bad weeks like that and still averaging 41.2 km / 25.6 miles against a target of 48 km / 30 miles isn’t that bad – it’s certainly more than I would be doing in similar circumstances before. And I think my little spreadsheet has had a role to play: being able to quantify the impact each missed workout has on your fitness now, and on your target race date is a very strong motivator to keeping up consistency!!

And that impact is shown bellow (I’ve introduced this chart in a previous post here). While my actual fitness (green line) was well above my plan (blue line) to the end of October, the lower than planned training during these two weeks (red section on the chart) has meant that I am now a a bit below:


If I follow my plan religiously from now on, it will still be just below where I wanted it it to be come race day in December (weekend underlined in blue), although the impact will have reduced by then. Equally, if I continue to put in slightly more training than planned (as I did in October for example), I stand a good chance of finishing above my target fitness.

And it is this level of understanding that my forward-looking analysis helps me with: it tells me where my training is at, and – when it is blown off course for whatever reason – what I need to do to bring it back on track.

So I can concentrate on enjoying my runs under a glorious winter sunset or through a scenery transformed by night.

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