Run: 5.88 miles
Time: 49 minutes 46 seconds
It's hard to judge how far or how fast to run now. For the next 2½ weeks I will be running less often and shorter distances than I've been building up to in recent week. So today's plan is "50 minutes steady". I've kind of got used to "steady" meaning about a 9-minute-mile pace, so I head off on a 5 mile loop, planning to add about half a mile to bring the time up to the full amount. I could stop short at 45 minutes, but I want to make sure that I run up to the planned amount, and just because a steady run is no longer the 10-minute-miles I was doing a couple of years ago doesn't mean I can cut the run short now. Time on my feet is more important than the distance covered.
As I glance down at my Garmin en route to Sutton Courtenay I spot the average time creeping down. 8m58s - 8m52s - 8m45s... I slacken off a bit, not wanting to run too fast. But it's no good, my legs have other ideas about how steady today's pace will be. I clock up the first mile in 8m39s. Maybe I should try harder to slow down? Nope, the legs don't hear me. Mile 2, and it's 8m38s. Hmm, maybe I can keep up this very steady, very consistent pace. But how far to run? I'm going to have to start thinking about where I'm going to add on the extra distance, at this rate the 5 miles will take about 43 minutes.
With no clear plan of my route, I'm sure my indecision will affect my pace. I'm sure to have slowed up, especially now I've left Sutton Courtenay and I'm out on the open road towards Drayton, where I need to be wary of the traffic. Beep. Mile 3. 8m28s! How come the less I concentrate on my pace, the faster I go? On the road towards Milton I pass the dog kennels I must have run past a dozen times before. Strangely I've never been aware of dogs barking outside it before!
At Milton I turn left. I've changed my mind about completing the normal 5 mile loop, if I head back to Sutton Courtenay now, I'll be able to cover the 5½ or more miles, perhaps by heading off road onto the trim trail across the field back to Milton Park. However it turns out all I need to do is the little extra loop around the houses at the south of the village. A kite swoops down, and almost lands in the road near the primary school, before circling up into the sky again, effortlessly banking and flying off high above the houses. The school marks the mile back to work, and I've just clocked up 42 minutes, not far off the 5 mile point.
On the road back to work, I pass the turning into the field (where the "trim trail" goes), and I'm glad I didn't choose to go that way after all. It looks a bit overgrown. I shouldn't be considering running off road now, because although the uneven terrain is great for my ankles and achilles, there is also a risk of injury if I hit an unexpected patch of unidentified earth/rock/animal hole. I absolutely cannot afford a sprain at this stage.
Thinking I might actually get back to work after my 50 minutes is up, I quicken my pace. The average for the run creeps down again. 8m31s - 8m30s - 8m29s... this is looking good. I'm not racing, still running a comfortably steady pace. Back to the start point, less than 50 minutes, and not far of 6 miles. It's great that my legs took it upon themselves to run a third of a mile further than planned for what felt like no extra effort. And the average over the whole run? 8m27s - thanks to a sub 8-minute-mile pace for the last .88 miles.
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