Today I inexplicably, unexplainably and sort of accidentally ran a new 5km PB. On the first Monday of every month my work’s running club hosts a 5km race. I’ve not been in the best of shape since the last race I ran, two months ago, and I’ve only actually been for like 4 or 5 runs since then, so I wasn’t expecting much of a performance.

I just set out at a steady 4:30 min/km pace, set my eye on the person in front of me and said “right, just don’t lose her and you’ll have done okay”. And so that’s basically what I did. On this specific run I decided that I wouldn’t look down at my watch to see how fast I was going, or what time I was on for, I just wanted to run it. So I set off and did it.

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Looking back at the watch data, my first kilometre was almost bang on 4:30 pace, the second kilometre was slightly slower, historically my fourth kilometre has been my weakest, but this time my third and fourth were 4:31 and 4:29. So I’d somehow managed to be exactly where I should’ve been, it seems. It was during the 4th kilometre when I passed the person I’d been chasing since the start.

The first time I looked at my watch was 20:41 when I was 4.5 kilometres into the run, with only 500 metres left to go. Only at that point did I really realise how well it was going. My all-time personal best for a 5km race is 22:07, and at 20:41 I thought that I might still have a chance of beating that. I can easily do an 80-second 400 metre sprint, but that’s from standing, not after 4-and-a-half-k’s of hard running. Plus there was a bit more than 400m to go.

So it was only really at that point where I picked up the pace. And I had to find a new person to chase. The only person (catchably) in front of me was about 100 metres ahead, with 500 metres to go.

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I went for it.

I must have been holding back for the previous 4.5km because I found something from somewhere, and I fucking legged it past the bloke. By the time I crossed the finish line I was doing 2:30 min/km.

In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t actually improve my race score because I finished outside of the overall top 10. But it did mean that I got a course PB by six seconds. My previous PB on that course was 22:27, but I finished it today in 22:21. I do wonder if I’d realised that I was doing well about a kilometre earlier, if I might’ve been able to go under 22 minutes for the first time. Or, alternatively, I might’ve thought ‘fuck James, slow down’.

There’s a weird mental flexibility that comes with running.

Until tomorrow, but today it accidentally went well.



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