I had a bad race today. Those who know me, know I’ve been chasing that holy grail of a sub-50 for an entire year now. Gradually I’ve been knocking a few seconds off here and there, and this year I have been focused on 10k training to really hone my middle distance speed endurance. Parkrun times have been improving, but I’m still finding the 10k distance difficult to pace well but I have been seeing some small improvements and I ran a 50:43 in June.  

Today however, the Leeds 10k didn’t go to plan at all. Run for All had very kindly given me a place in the Hull, Leeds and York 10ks, so this race wasn’t on my original PB race list. However, I had been assured the route is flat and fast so I was positive going into it. 
My plan was to start off steady, and gradually build the pace up each kilometre to conserve energy and finish strong. I started well, at my goal pace, but by the 3rd kilometre, I had slowed down, and by the 4th kilometre at the first water station I was struggling with the suffocating heat. As I hit 5k, my throat closed up and I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate so I slowed to a walk while I tried to regulate my breathing. I’m not sure why that happened really; it’s never happened before during a run. I don’t know whether I was too hot, or whether it was just an extreme physiological reaction to the disappointment I felt that my legs weren’t moving as fast as I wanted them too. 

By the turnaround point at 5.5k I felt OK so by this point I had fallen too far behind to attempt a sub 50 so I settled for aiming to keep going at a tempo pace and just get back. As the route is an out and back, it was nice to see all the runners on the other side of the carriageway, and got a boost around 7k as I heard my club buddies Nicki and Jacqui shout my name. I was approaching the 8k mark and felt stronger again as we neared the finish. There were still lots of runners on the other side at 3k; it’s a huge race!! We peeled off the dual carriageway at 9k to head back into the city centre and my legs struggled to even get up a tiny incline; I just had no energy. I crossed the finish line eventually in 53:55 and felt a bit flat. 

So what happened? How was I over 3 minutes slower than my best time today? 

I have plenty of excuses:

  • Insufficient warm up. 
  • New shorts (fear of chafing)
  • Haven’t trained enough
  • Set off too quickly
  • Very humid (20.5 degrees and cloudy)
  • Wrong time of the month 
  • Didn’t eat enough for breakfast
  • Terrible night’s sleep. 
  • Mindset in wrong place
  • Hurty glutes from a new strength workout on Friday. 

Shall I go on …? 
I could make many more excuses, and today’s performance was probably a mixture of some or all of them, but it’s also important to accept sometimes that we can’t physically – or even mentally – be at our best all of the time. Nor can we expect to PB at every single race, which is why I’m ok with this. We are human, and no matter how much we advocate positive thinking, or how rigidly we follow a training plan, we are all fallible and things can sometimes not go to plan. Failure is part of experiential learning, and we learn so much more from failing to do something than we do if we get something right first time.  

So I’ve already picked myself up from this, and have learned what didn’t work for me today, so that next time I’ll perform better. 

York 10k is next for me, on the 6th August.