Missing: short-distance speed

Happy Wednesday/hump day! In France this week we’ve been blessed by two public holidays on Tuesday and Thursday, which means every work day is just one day away from a day off. Isn’t that great?! It’s a nice way to ease into my new job but also spend some time enjoying the beautiful sunshine, rather than just being cooped up in an office all day. Being stuck inside Monday to Friday has been… an adjustment.

Anyway, on Sunday I ran the 10km du Bois de Boulogne. This race was part of the Adidas Runners Circuit, which is a competition between all the Parisian AR teams. Based on various criteria (results, social media engagement, number of runners at weekly events etc.) each team is given a score for a particular race. Over several races throughout the year the teams accumulate points, and eventually one team wins. The finale event is in June, and my team Odéon is currently in 5th place. It’s unlikely that we’ll win, but the race on Sunday helped us gain some ground.

For the ‘results’ part of the points-scoring, regular members of AR Odéon were asked to apply to get a free entry to the race – the idea being that the fastest runners will help the team score points. I filled out the spreadsheet and eagerly said I’d run sub-45min, not realising that the race was one week after the 4-marathon challenge. EEK! Straight after Hamburg I was so tired that I tried to drop out, but it was too late and my coach said it would be good to have a change of pace. So with no expectations of results (but of course also a naïve voice in the back of my head that said ‘but you could run a PB!’ – shut up!) I went along to race for my team.

All the Adidas Runners Paris teams pre-race

The plan for the race was to run a negative split effort, with 0-3km warming up, 3-6km at threshold, 6-8km above threshold and the hold on to the end. This is in stark contrast to how I’ve run all my other 10kms, which have basically been ‘go out too fast and then try and hang on til the end’. Unfortunately, the way things happened I ended up running via the second strategy and not the more sensible first. Eugh, oops.

With the idea that a sub-45 would be nice I lined up in the sub-50 section, thinking that this would help me hold back for the first section of the race. Stupidly though I went to the front of this part, and as we were let off in waves, sprinted off from the line. Within a kilometre of the race I already knew the plan was shot and honestly I just wanted to stop and give in right then and there. But thankfully one thing I’ve learned from all these marathons is that you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and so that’s what I did.

It was pretty brutal going. The heat didn’t help (the day topped out at 28deg), and mentally I was struggling from kilometre to kilometres. There was a girl I kept passing until we’d get to a hill when I’d drop back and she’d overtake. That was pretty annoying, because I used to be the one who could power up hills while running at speed. In this race – not so much. I split halfway in 22:37, but my pace drained on the inclines in the second half. Looking at my splits it’s a pretty impressive reverse-progression effort actually ?

My mental strategy was just to let my legs run and try and switch off all the other parts of my body: including my brain. I’d put my watch on clock rather than speed, and despite having a few stitches along the way I could mostly tune out. It really did feel like my legs were doing their own thing: I’d naturally slow down (to what felt like a crawl) on the uphills but then magically they would move again as we hit a downhill section. I was almost not in control, and for once that’s what worked. I’ve been doing a lot of ‘push’ lately to get through the marathons that taking a backseat to the running process was a welcome change.

I got to the last kilometre and it flattened out to a section of path that I’ve run speedwork and intervals on several times. This was also a specific section of the race that would earn us bonus points towards the team competition, so I took back control and made my legs find a new gear. I was staring at my watch every 200m counting down the seconds until the finish line, and that kilometre ended up being my fastest of the race. It’s amazing what ‘doing it for the team’ can do to motivate you.

Official finish time: 46:36 which is actually pretty damn good considering all that came before, aka very little speedwork and a whole lot of marathons. I’m still not a big fan of the 10km distance – it’s not long enough to settle into but also too long for a hard effort. However, I’m hoping to run in the finale of the Adidas Circuit in June – another 10km. Hopefully I can find a little bit of extra speed in my legs then!

I’m really impressed by the event. Not only were the medals big, shiny and gold ? but the finisher tshirts were good quality, well-sized and came in male and female sizes! The course, despite the hills, was well marked and took you through a nice variety of wide roads and small paths in the Bois de Boulogne. There was one aid station on course at 5km, and at the end they had apples, bananas, cake and water as refreshments. Given that the entry fee was only 24€ normally, I’m incredibly pleased. Many marathons have something to learn, especially about the tshirts. Well done to the race organisers, this is a definite event to recommend. ?

Some photos thanks to @devyll

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