The Role of Self-Belief in Running Performance parts 3 & 4

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I made my thrid of four visits to the Univeristy of Kent on Monday 6th February. I had hoped to complete each of these sessions on a Tuesday, which is my scheduled day off from work, however, an escape game teambuilding afternoon had been booked for the Tuesday of this week and so I switched my days! I was asked by Paul to fill out the same paperwork as the previous visits prior to completing a 5 minute treadmill run at 15km/h with a few minutes recovery before embarking on a 5km time trial. This time my plan was to go off at a slightly quicker pace (15.5km/h) and see how long I could maintain it before increasing the speed. Unfortunately, my legs felt really heavy – most likely due to the fact that I had run the Tunbridge Wells half marathon route with a couple of mates the day before and I hadn’t had the Monday to rest as per the previous visits. Once I was 2km into my time trial I had to request the pace to be reduced to 15km/h and then down to 14.5km/h soon after that where I remained for the duration. My time for the 5km was 19:41, which although wasn’t as quick as I was hoping for, was a reasonable effort given my heavy legs!

Chatham Maritime Marina

My final visit came on Valentine’s Day (Tuesday 14th February) and just 3 days after my final Kent Cross Country League race of the season where I had achieved my best ever position. I was feeling good from that race and had completed a good long run (9 miles) on the Sunday and a short recovery run on the Monday morning (3.5 miles) prior to the visit. The final visit was more of the same as per the previous visits and so once I had filled out the paperwork and completed the 5 minute run (at 15km/h pace) it was on to my final 5km time trial. As I was feeling good and my legs weren’t heavy I decided to continue at the 15km/h pace and then increased to 15.5km/h after 500 metres before increasing again to 16km/h at 1km where I stayed for the duration. I was delighted to have completed the 5km distance in a time of 18:54 – just a second off of my 5km PB! I’m not a huge fan of treadmills and don’t use them in my training, so to have been able to achieve a time that was close to my overall 5km PB was very uplifting.

Once I had completed the research I was informed by Paul that there was a contributing factor to the “under-performance” on my third visit, however, I shall not reveal this in my blog as the research is still ongoing. If you are interested to know then I would be happy to discuss in person.

Upnor Castle – located on the opposite bank to Chatham Maritime Marina

Following this final visit I had a very good training session with my club (Tonbridge AC or TAC for short) on the Thursday of that week (i.e. 2 days later). The session involved running a steady lap and then a fast lap (approx 570m per lap) on the road, with the aim to run the faster lap around 20 seconds quicker than the steady. I was tasked with completing 8 doubles (i.e. 16 laps) which would have been the longest session that I have completed on this particular session and I was pleased to have finished with an average of 2:22 for the steady and 2:03 for the fast laps. In fact, I had timed the session as a whole and ran a total of 6.06 miles in a time of 35:26 (5:51 per mile) and so this is a big step up for me. The note from my coach Mark Hookway in the training summary was, “on a roll” which gave me great confidence going into my recovery week ahead of the National Cross Country race on 25th February 2017.

The boat in the middle has the caption “Two miles out” written on the stern

I found the overall experience of the research very interesting and Paul Anstiss who is the PhD student conducting the research was very flexible with the times and dates for the visits. When I signed up to participate in the study I was a little cheeky and asked if he would film my treadmill sessions and fortunately Paul was more than happy to oblige. I have now reviewed the videos of my running style (one taken from the front, one from the side and one from behind) and this has provided me with some useful insight. I was already aware that my left arm is rather “limp” when I run, having seen this in some of the previous TAC race videos and also been informed by one of the volunteers at our training sessions and this was still evident. I know that this is something which I need to address and I am planning to incorporate some upper body strengthening over the summer months as I feel that this will have a positive impact on my overall strength and I hope will assist with correcting the imbalance in the running style of my upper body.

Check back soon for my next blog post which focuses on the English National Cross Country Championships which took place on Saturday 25th February 2017 at Wollaton Park, Nottingham.

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