Having just come off the back of a PB at the London Marathon, but a slight longing feeling of “I could probably have done that better”, the best thing to do is have booked in another race, right? (For all those coaches out there who are reading this and groaning at me, I promise I won’t complain when I get injured, but this is one of my favourite races so I HAD to do it)
The Pednor 5 is a low key local race on a looped course, originally named “The Pednor Loop”…which just happens to be bang on 5 miles long! It’s put on by Chiltern Harriers and it’s one as a family we’ve been doing for a good few years now – and it’s always on May Day Bank Holiday, 7pm start.
Seriously, every year I run this race I spend about 90% of the day wishing I hadn’t signed up for it or that it was a 10am, rather than a 7pm, start. And this year was no different – which meant I wasn’t expecting anything great to take place when 7pm finally rolled around…
However, I came out of it with a new 5 mile PB, and a 4th female position – and a smile on my face. AND I WAS HAPPY! At no point had i felt I was really struggling or that I had judged it wrong – the total opposite to mile 20 of the marathon, or indeed mile 1.5 of Tooting parkrun on Saturday…
- As it’s an evening race, throw all caution to the wind the day before – drink as much cider as you want, practice rugby in the back garden and just generally forget that you have a race the next day
- Pick a nice distance. 5 miles is fun! It’s less painful than a 5k where I have a tendency to go all out too early on, but it’s not as long as a 10k meaning that you can push to the right degree.ish.
- Fuel well during the day, including sausage sandwiches and scones the size of your face. And flapjack (remember you are still in marathon recovery phase so can still eat a lot and justify it)
- Know the course. I’ve run it multiple times and we went out and recce’d it again on the bikes on Sunday because Dave hasn’t done it before. I think the hills actually felt harder on the bike…(actually maybe don’t know the course. My legs felt shattered on the bike the day before and I was already dreading the big hill…)
- Find a race friend. Mine was this man in yellow. We ran together from about 2.5 miles, had a bit of a chat, gave each other some encouragement and generally helped each other stay on track.
- Trust yourself on the hills. I am RUBBISH at hills currently because I’m not running them very much, but I found myself catching people which gave me a new found confidence. Also helps here knowing the length of the hill (see point earlier) which meant I pushed harder than I probably would normally plod.
- Make it look like you are finding it easy. This was interesting – most of the people I passed in the first 2 miles sounded like they were about to keel over and die – which made me focus more on my breathing and not sound like them. And it worked! Secondary to this – smile at cameras!
- Be the hunter, not the hunted. Pick people off and breeze past them. Put on your best “I’m finding this easy” face as you go past and make people scared of trying to catch you. I was mainly picking out the women – and when I passed the last I could see at mile 4, I made a pact to myself that I wouldn’t let her back past me (so this, + man in yellow, made me have a pretty fast last mile, despite the uphill)
- Don’t make it your A-race! I was putting minimal pressure on myself for this run and it showed. Have a race you tell everyone about, then have a secret squirrel race that you are secretly going to ace. As a sub-bullet here, pick a course that you don’t expect to do well on. Pednor has a couple of hills, but also some quad-bashing downs.
- Actually listen to advice about keeping it steady in the first half before then pushing on. Then you will do things like run negative splits, nice mile times and LOADS OF CRs ON STRAVA!!
All race photos by Barry Cornelius – available at http://www.oxonraces.com