Maybe a New Personal Best

I set out at an ambitious pace (inspired, I must admit, by the sight of a young runner bounding past the end of James Street at a rapid clip), and though my glutes and my lower back were resisting at first, I wound up doing all right. I’d have to leaf back through the posts to check, but this morning’s 10:08 is the best time I remember.


I know nothing about the physiology of running. Zilch, nil, nada, nul points. I’m getting the feeling, though, that the cap on my time (or whatever the opposite of a cap is when you want to make things lower) must have something to do with my breathing. It’s gotten a lot better since I started my patented A. K. M. Adam Low-Demand, Low-Reward Training Programme, but it hasn’t made observable progress over the last nine months or so. I see other runners glide along the pavement without any sign of exertion, while I’m gasping for oxygen after seventy-five metres or so, and desperately wheezing and panting by the time I finish my mile (after eighteen months or two years of running a mile at regular intervals).

Anyway, today I was cautious because Margaret and I had significant calf stiffness after our jaunt to London Friday, walking around town and touring the Tate Modern’s exhibits of works by Dorothea Tanner and Frantz West. Further, my back felt twitchy for the first few metres of running. By the hundred metre mark, though, I wasn’t feeling any muscle discomfort other than tiredness at having to tote my stout body around. I was actually pretty limber for much of the run, and successfully picked up the pace two or three times (before lapsing back into a shuffling jog). Overall, not bad — 10:22.

Like I Said

Makes no sense at all. This morning, I felt all right — as comfortable as I ever feel when I’m out running — and my breathing was no more constrained than ever, but today I came in at 10:31. I was imagining, on the basis of nothing very sensible, that a twenty-second variance over ten minutes would count as a dramatic margin of difference, but it’s actually only (obvs) two seconds difference for each minute, so I’ll forgo the exclamation points and tone of outrage.

On the other hand, I have to admit that yesterday I ran, twice, to catch a #5 bus at St Aldates, and was not uncomfortable doing so. Except the first time when the driver, when I was ten feet from the front bumper and gesturing emphatically, closed the doors and pulled away.

Makes No Sense

Honestly, this morning I felt almost immobile. My legs were heavy, my breathing was laboured, and my running estimate for time would have come in at about 10:40 or so. I did push the pace in the last third of the run, but I thought I was just going to bring the time in slightly higher than usual. As it turned out, though, much to my surprise, my time for the morning was 10:10.

I just don’t understand this horrible exercise; but (as I was agreeing with an ordinand earlier this week) it does feel good to know I can do it, and to be not-overwhelmed by various other activities. For instance, I can remember a point at which I could no longer bound up the stairs in the college two at a time — but these days, it’s a doddle. It’s pretty obvious that running makes those moments of limberness and strength possible. Thus, I like the benefits, but I still hate the exercise.

Lower Plateau

Somewhere I lost fifteen seconds, because I’ve been consistently running around 10:30 for the last few weeks. This morning I settled into a sluggish pace early, and when I tried to stretch out and shift to a higher gear, it just didn’t happen (till the last fifty metres or so). My knees seemed stiff this morning, and (as usual) my breathing was weak. We’ll see what the warmer weather brings; there could easily be a pollen factor at work, and some work stress and tiredness. Oh, 10:36.

Weekly Miler

After missing Wednesday cos of the rain, I didn’t expect today to be a great run. My expectations were fulfilled, as an ambitious pace settled down to my ordinary wheeze and stumble. No specific impediments this morning (though my back gave me a twinge just before I started my rope-skipping warm-up): just a slow 10:30.

No New Records

I did not beat Wednesday’s four-second mile this morning, but I did operate the timer correctly, and I did make it home under 10:30. The temperature was only 3°, which combined with the phlegm still glopping up my throat and chest to make my breathing less efficient. I set an optimistic pace, but gradually fell back to a basic slog as my wheezing and gasping got less oxygen into my blood. Mild tingle in my right calf in the last 100 metres or so. Final time, 10:27.

That’s Frustrating

No time today, as I evidently bumped the lap timer button shortly after I started (either that, or a just ran a four-second mile). I set a more ambitious pace than on Sunday, and it was a hard push — my chest cold is still making itself felt — but I’m confident that my time was closer to my plateau at 10:13-ish than to Sunday’s 11:24 time. And I did indeed hate the run the whole time.