New Personal Best: 10km in 37:42

I got new shoes on my birthday last weekend, and running has been going very well lately even before that. It was time for a new record attempt. I thought that if I pushed I just might beat my old record of 39:36. It's been years since I did that, but I've been running more than ever this past year. That's what I set off to do last Friday.

The circuit I had chosen for the run is about 14 km, and the first bit is downhill until I've descended into the river valley. I figure that starting downhill and having more descent than climb is a bit of a cheat move. Plus, I didn't want to set off at a sprint without limbering up a bit.

So the first 1.7 km were logged as a run of their own, with a pace of almost 5 min/km. After that I stopped that run on my pulse watch, took a minute to breathe, then started my record attempt. This would finish at almost exactly the same spot, as it turned out.

Those 10km

There are a few slopes along the way, even a couple of steep but very short ones. Overall it's a fairly flat circuit, however. I crossed three bridges, the last of which was long and flat. Perfect for regaining the speed I lost in the climb to the start of it.

Kilometres 7 and 8 were also very flat, and followed after that very bridge. It was hard to stay focused at this point. I was beginning to feel the wear, and the monotonous terrain invited my mind to wander.

Staying focused is the hardest part for me in general. One reason I love running is that my legs move on their own while my mind is free to explore my surroundings and other thoughts. Not so this time. I didn't want my legs to find their own pace, I wanted them to surpass it.

Each time I lost focus I returned it to my steps. This was incredibly hard, especially when I passed other runners. It looked so comfortable to run at a slower-than-break-neck pace. Besides, I have a habit of studying the stride and posture of other runners, but that too would break my momentum.

My pulse watch vibrates every kilometre I finish, but I usually don't notice. In the last 2 km I looked at my watch 5 or 6 times to see how far was left. As I got closer to the 10km mark it was tempting to think that I could slack off a little because I'd done so well. In that last steep climb around 8.5 km I really didn't want to sprint, but I had to. Otherwise I would have lost too much momentum.

You know what to do when it's just a few hundred metres left, right? Look straight ahead and do. Not. Slow. Down.

Was This the Fastest I'll Ever Run?

I don't know. I get older, but I run more. If I keep at it I might become even faster. That said, I don't train for speed. I run longer distances, and I'm aiming to take the marathon distance this summer. I'm terribly bad at complementing with interval training, technique, or strength. I just run. Doing a fast 10km run is not a goal in itself, it's just a vanity thing.

Beating my old record felt really good. Could I have pushed harder? When I got home I felt like I could have. But then I had rounded it off with 2 km of slower running. During the 10 km I sometimes had a hard time just getting enough air into my lungs, like they just couldn't expand fast enough. I averaged some 180+ in pulse. My watch says I spent almost 29 min in the red pulse zone. My fastest kilometre was 3:37. After about half the distance I took my gloves off because I was too warm; sometimes when I sprinted I found myself holding them so hard my hands almost lost blood flow.

No, I couldn't have pushed harder that day.

It was a good run. An excellent run. The weather was okay, apart from a few minutes of hail. The circuit is well known to me and I like it. The ground was wet, but not so much so that it absorbed the force from my step. I listened to good music. I am very proud of my achievement.


-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal