January 9th 2019
Today I knocked a full minute off my personal best 5k time. Each month my work’s running club organises a 5km race. Sometimes I go. Sometimes I don’t feel like it. Today I didn’t feel like it but went along anyway. In hindsight, it’s a good job that I did.
I said on the warmup jog over there that my aim for today was just to finish the race. Before last week I hadn’t ran with any kind of regularity in a few months, and after two days of running this week my legs were already feeling a bit sore.
So, I didn’t expect to shave 71 seconds off my all-time personal best 5k. I arbitrarily aimed to finish in under 25 minutes, so that would mean doing each kilometre in about five minutes. As ever, I started off going too fast for my target. But, when the first kilometre ticked by in 4:28, I kind of didn’t think anything of it and just carried on going.
My shin was sore, but other than that I was feeling pretty good. The next kilometre took 4:23. At that point I kind of acknowledged that I was skimming just under PB time, but again, didn’t think much of it.
I didn’t notice I’d been running into a headwind until I got to the 2.5km mark and turned back with a tailwind behind me. Suddenly, I’d somehow done the third kilometre in 4:15. At this point I began to think that I might just have a chance to go under 22 minutes for the first time ever.
Usually, when I run a 5km race the fourth kilometre is significantly the slowest. That’s often where I hit the wall. Part of me waited to hit that wall today, but the wall never came. And, at 4:16, the fourth kilometre was only marginally slower than the third.
My fifth kilometre is always good. Because no matter how hard it is, or how much pain I’m in, I know that it’s almost over. And I’ve always got a sprint finish left in me as well.
The 5km race is exactly that — a race — so in the last 300 metres I had in my sights the two people who remained in front of me. I’d passed everyone else. One was unreachable, but the person in second place could be caught. So I sprinted past him and crossed the line in a total of 21:26, with my fifth kilometre coming in at a tasty 4:03.
I looked at my watch and audibly said to myself “You smashed that, James”. Because I had done. I’d smashed it. It was the best, fastest, most well-paced, race I’d ever run in my life. And I felt absolutely brilliant start to finish.
My only fitness goal for this year is to enjoy running more than I did last year. And, let me tell you, that was an enjoyable run today.
It doesn’t matter that since I got home from work I’ve not been able to walk up the stairs because of the pain my shin is causing me. It doesn’t matter that I just fell asleep on the sofa at 9pm because I’m fucking knackered. That run today was seriously good fun and super quick. And, if I’m being really honest with myself, I could probably have done it even quicker if I tried.
Until tomorrow, there’s always next month…