July has been a month of trying to catch up to where I was at the beginning of the track season. I had a good run at the Horwich Jubilee 5 mile road race on the 19th July. There was quite a low turnout of runners, just 69, which is possibly the lowest I’ve witnessed at this race in the past 18 years. I wanted to see how fast I could go on the two-lap course just off hard effort and chose to run without a watch. I think I may have gone off a bit too quick, as I felt as though I was running a bit ragged on the second lap, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn I had beaten my best time by six seconds. Team-mates Chris Davies and Ben Costello also put in some great runs to finish in 2nd and 4th place. It’s a cracking little road race that’s been going since the mid-1980’s and has been a key fixture over the years in the summer along with the Chorley 4 and Haigh Hall 5. It’s a shame that these races aren’t as high profile as they used to be (Chorley 4 is now a low-key trail race), as I certainly benefitted from cutting my teeth as a youngster in these events, which give good strength endurance for track and a taste of competition at senior level on the roads.
Next up was a belated attempt to resume my target of getting near my pb, or at least a sub 8:30 for 3,000m at the Trafford Open, Stretford. Prior to getting injured I managed 8:31 and I was hoping to build on that performance. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite there on the day; I made the same mistake of being too eager to take the lead and I need to stop worrying about getting boxed in. Although I hit 2k in 5:40, I knew I was really struggling to maintain that pace. I was hanging on to third place, but I lost another four places and my time drifted out to 8:37; solid enough, but I felt that my training had pointed towards a better result.
A couple of weeks later it was the final Northern League Division 2 match of the season, which Blackburn Harriers were hosting at Witton Park. We needed big performances across the board to stand a chance of avoiding relegation. We had a strong team, which gave me the luxury of competing in just one event, the 5,000m. My aim was to take the race on and run well under 15 minutes, which would be a good indicator for the BMC/English 10,000m championship later in the month. I got off to a fast start with a first lap of 67 seconds, then eased off to 70-71 second laps, but it felt comfortable. I started opening up a gap after about five laps and finished about 40 seconds clear in 14:47. It’s a pity that it’s my last 5,000m race of the season, I reckon I can run under 14:30 in a more competitive race, but that’s going to have to wait until next year. The club also managed to finish the match in second place, enough to keep us in the division, which was a big relief for all concerned and I’m sure we’ll do much better next year, given the young talent that we have.
Training throughout this period has been going well; for last week’s Tuesday session we did 6x 1200m (2 min recovery) and I was hitting 3:34/35’s on a breezy evening, this week our session was 20x 400m (1 min rec) in 65/66’s and I had Joe Monk pushing me all the way, with Tim Raynes doing less reps but at a faster pace of 63/64’s in preparation for his 1500m next week. This is as fast as I’ve been on the track for many years and I’ve been combining this with a higher volume session on my own each week, such as 20-30x 400m (30 sec jog 100m rec) in 72’s and 12x 1,000m (1 min jog 200m rec) in 3:05’s. I try keeping to a rough pattern of two or three sessions-per-week and a hard run or race; this means that I’m covering 25-30% of my training at race pace. Mileage has also got back up to the usual 85-100 miles per week and the aim will be to increase this when I switch my attention back to road racing in September. For now though, I’m 100% focused on the 10,000m on 19th August and the last Stretford 3,000m on the 29th.