A lovely Sunday run at Virginia Water lake

Virginia Water Lake

So recently I’ve managed to rope my boyfriend into a weekly 5k run. Mainly because he’s naturally a lot faster than me, so he can drag me along at paces that I wouldn’t normally hit my myself! (And I guess he’s decent company, too…) 😉

Up until a couple of months ago, my 5k PB was 29:59 (I was aiming for sub-30. Pacing win!), and hadn’t changed in nearly 2 years. But this summer I decided that enough was enough, and with James’ help I’ve now whittled it down to 29:11, which I ran last week. Yay!

But I’ve started to realise that improving your time over shorter distances is really flipping uncomfortable, and the better your time, the harder it is to take even a few seconds off. As a long distance runner, this really sucks. But today I decided that I wanted to at least try and keep up a pace that would get me into the 28s (because 28 something definitely sounds way faster than 29, right?)

We headed down to Virginia Water this morning for a change of scenery, and were treated to glorious sunshine, cool temperatures and a light breeze. Absolutely perfect running conditions (with the exception of the small people and dogs underfoot) and the views were stunning!

Unfortunately, I’d completely forgotten that there were quite a few short but very sharp hills (enough to warrant warning signs!) and they really made it difficult to get into a steady rhythm:

Virginia Water Run

We hit mile 1 at 9:28, which felt pretty comfortable. It’s crazy to think that a couple of months ago I went out and ran a mile as fast as I could, managing 9:37 and being so nackered that I had to then walk the mile home! Pushing myself hurts, but it’s definitely working! 😀

We had to weave around people quite a bit for the first couple of miles, but as it was fairly flat we were able to make up the time. The only problem with that was that we kept ending up at a sub-9:00 pace, and my body’s response was to completely freak out and send my heart rate through the roof and then my legs cramped up. A sprinter, I am not.

Virginia Water Views

I took a quick break at about 2 miles to stretch out my calves, and a couple more after that to catch my breath after the hills. (They were nasty!) But although this meant my overall time was much higher than planned, it allowed me to keep my moving pace exactly where I wanted it – sub 9:30, and getting faster every mile. *Happy dance*

My final splits according to my watch were 9:28, 9:20, 9:10 and 9:01, which meant that I hit 5k in 28:52! (The Garmin Connect stats are slightly different).

Coffee at Virginia Water

So obviously, I rewarded myself with a lovely big coffee (well actually, James did. Good looking, great pacer and buys me coffee – what more could a girl want?!) and a cookie the size of my head. And then a lovely lady complimented my tights as she ran past. Sunday, you’ve been pretty wonderful.

Virginia Water 5k Splits

Given that I cheated and paused my Garmin for the breaks, I’m not going to count this as a PB – but it’s most definitely a sign of the progress I’ve made in the past couple of months, and I couldn’t be happier. The fact that I can run 9:10 after 2 fast miles, when back in August I struggled with 1 mile at 9:37, is awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that I’m officially throwing down the gauntlet: next Saturday, I’m going to run a sub-29 parkrun 😀

– – –

Did you run this weekend? What’s your favourite distance?

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