Dineke Austin - Blog 6: Al Fresco Running...meets 'The Beast from the East'!

I ended my last blog with a beaming smile, but also the words ‘Now the real race: against time….’

And so it has proved.

Starting ‘real’ running at week 9 of a 16-week training plan, with 4 x Parkruns, 1 x 8k hobble, and 1 x 10k race, under my belt, after the best part of 4 months off (and lucky at that) is possibly slightly up against the wall.  (The real wall!) This totalled 38k in 8 weeks: my plan says that at this stage I should have run 289k; this is talking distance alone; not even factoring in: tempo, intervals, and hills.

As Trev will (politely as ever) attest: half-Dutch meisjes, especially of Friesian origin, are at least as stubborn as Yorkshire lads; anyone with half a brain cell might have been tempted to call it a day. However, as our PT says: “You runners are not normal.”!

I will freely admit, though, that at this point, inspirational though my fellow-bloggers are, I stopped reading them: the contrast was too stark. (I have read them since, especially Becky’s: where was my Polly?)

What is more, tempting though it was to go all out to make up for lost time, the literature says very clearly that there is a trade-off between distance and pace (tensile and compressive load): that I could settle either for building up distance or pace – but most definitely not both. Or hills. The old Din would have disregarded research evidence and gone for it: but that’s what got me in this ‘fine mess’ in the first place. I determined to work in 2-week blocks (Q: How do you eat an elephant?) micro-planning with physio and PT what might work without aggravating the injury.

Fuelled up with ‘natural’ endorphins AND cannabinoids (did anyone else:

  1. watch the documentary on the effects of exercise; and
  2. giggle at the mere thought of what the Met police officer would say if one of us was pulled over and was told “Honest guv, I’ve been running: it’s all natural.”?!)

I approached the first training week.


Tues: PT & yoga

Wed: tempo run 3k SNOW: 3k treadmill

Thurs: Pilates, gym SNOW: 10k treadmill

Fri: 5 – 7k steady run SNOW: exercises

Sat: gentle Parkrun SNOW: cancelled

Sun: 10-mile long run

See amendments in bold for what really happened; courtesy of ‘The Beast’#1.  And – virtual running challenge apart – I thought I’d seen the back of treadmill running.

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Miraculously, by Sunday it had cleared in most places; having not been able to find a 10-mile race, and not trusting a thawed Thames towpath for Club run, I made a last-minute entry to the gloriously-named 15k ‘Starfish Breakfast Run’ at Clapham Common, courtesy of ‘Runners’ World’. Having given up my ‘good for age’ place at the inaugural London Big Half. As being too long. And too strenuous…. (And having to smile and wish others ‘good luck’ on the same tube in.)

Many of you will anticipate what this ‘mere’ 15k run would be like. I didn’t.

It is, of course, all in the name: ‘common’. What’s more, for 2 years I had a job every Tuesday afternoon that took me past said common. (Admittedly I didn’t run then. But.)

It was a very thawed muddy trail 15k. Not, to be fair, many ‘undulations’, but think trail guest Parkrun scenario! Lovely, normally (‘mud glorious mud…’), but less strenuous than the LBH? As it was a family run (fully accredited by England Athletics, with all mod cons like chips, timings; medals, goodie bags, T-shirt – Dutch orange – and breakfast afterwards; and the correct length, mentioning no names) there were 15, 10, 5 and 2k options; 15 setting off first, then 2; then 10 & 5 together. There were very few 15k runners, and almost of them were seriously fast, and far fitter than I. As it was basically a 5k lap, much of lap 1 was seriously lonely (“Dig deep Din”); but when 10 & 5k runners joined as I completed my first lap, this made it more comradely/competitive. Just as well, as sleety rain came down from the end of lap 2! Result: a very proud 1:33:46, which my new Garmin still tells me is the fastest time at several distances.

Week 2?

Suitably ‘impressed’ (ahem) by my muddy trail exploits, the physio – standing VERY well back – informed me that I was now ready for a (judicious) marathon training plan, not the strength/rehab plan, and emailed the PT to say so: starting in 1 hour’s time.

Golden Wednesday: 20-21k long run!!! I did a joyous 21.65k, taking 2:17:49, @6.22km. Not Roadrunner (beep beep), but a real start.

The other highlight:

I was a year older; and had chosen Jersey as my weekend break. Why?

Another guest Parkrun, of course! The prized J, and the most southerly PR in the UK.

Did training continue? You bet it did.

Fri: hotel gym 1 hr strength exercises + 10 mins’ X-trainer. (Meal swamped by school kids on celebratory final meal of hockey tournament – bus personnel’s holiday. Is that PC?)

Sat: Jersey PR takes place on a 1-mile cycle circuit (think Hillingdon) plus a trail downward incline along the disused railway track which runs the length of island; running back UP for the final 1k. (I’m old enough to remember steam: I was a good rival!)

My day’s ‘tempo’ run was thus: 1 lap pre-PR; + PR; + 3 laps post-PR = 11.4k. PR time 29’18”. Didn’t analyse 1k laps; but enjoyed a HUGE scone afterwards & raised a soya latte to the guest PR group: thanks guys!

Then we were touroids! All day. And a very good amateur theatre student production of ‘Animal Farm’ pm. Resonances: don’t get me started on politics.

Sun: ‘persuaded’ Trev that intervals were a vital part of his Manchester Marathon training plan; and did Mirka’s ½ marathon-paced pyramid along the St Helier sea front. Another thing to thank Mirka for. Truly. (With wind behind me the only time this year that I’ve been ahead of Trev; but tables turned coming back!) With jog back to hotel: 7.15k.


Starfish 15k: my Lent proceeds are going half to Starfish, and half to A Mile in Her Shoes (thanks Nicola).

My virtual running challenge: 25 miles on a treadmill. (If you can’t beat ‘em…)


I shouldn’t have any, despite pace. Thanks to so many Eagles who have made this possible. I hope I’ve mentioned the key players, but there are so many of you who have made a difference. If I don’t manage VLM, it’s my doing, not your lack of inspiration.

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