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This morning was probably as good a morning as you’re ever going to get in January, in Ireland. The morning was dry, and sunny. A subtle cold in the air to make it nice and fresh. Looking out the window, the decision isn’t hard to get up and go to my local Parkrun.

Choosing what to wear is never easy. As a runner, you will have collected a number of tech tshirts over the years. Each one brings a specific memory, of a challenge faced and overcome. This morning, I choose the red Vienna City Marathon tee. A marathon where I knew I wasn’t at my fittest, but I pushed the limit of my ability none the less. Little did I know how apt my tshirt choice would turn out to be.

From reading my previous posts, you’ll know I’m coming back from injury, aiming for 3 marathons this year, and a massive target of getting below 20min for a 5k again. I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a bit impatient when it comes to reaching these goals. While I am making progress, I will still look at a run, and know where I could have done better, what corner I should have pushed at, what hill I should have rested on.

Reaching the park at Fr Collins, I met the crew from Busrun, and the park regulars. I have to say, our Parkrun feels more like a community than most. Some of the bigger Parkruns, you run, and you leave. The run directors in Fr Collins to a person, try to get to know you. As Aoife (one of those nice Run Directors) did her pre-run flight check, we all did our final stretches. A touch to the left, a touch to the right, stretch, that’ll do it!!

At the start, I felt I had a good run in me, I could feel it in my waters {Note: I’m from Tipp so naturally enough, there’s going to be some country sayings in most blogs…}!! Starting out, I fell into a good rhythm. I was more worried about the glaring morning sun, than I was about catching my breath. Going around the first couple of corners, I checked my watch. 4:20 min/km. I was feeling good. That feel good factor would only last a little while longer before I had to start to work for the run. Having done a steady 5k the night before, the legs felt a bit heavier than I’d like. I had to urge them on to take the next step. Struggle as I did for a while, I found a new pace. I had slowed a bit, but 4:30 min/km was still good, still on track for around 22:30 for my Parkrun.

The challenge came, like it did in Vienna, and I had found I had gone out too quick. That enthusiasm at the start meant a price had to be paid. Again, like in Vienna, in the middle of resigning myself to not look at my watch, I told myself to push on regardless, empty the tank. Again, the weak core started to effect my posture. My shoulders ebbing ever forward. Conscious of this, I told myself “Chin up, head and shoulders back!!”. While this sounds simple, it does help. Crossing the finish line, I finished in 23:05. While not the desired time, considering the perceived struggle, I wasn’t too far off being sub 23 again. The target is coming closer, and I have to work harder to get it.

So if you’re still reading, and want to know what advice I’d give to a runner after today, I suppose it would be this. We are our own harshest critics. We set goals, often ambitious, and tell ourselves we have to reach them. These targets will be beaten in time, with work and perseverance. While we are all on a road to varying levels of self improvement, we must consider the road we’ve come as well as the road ahead. If a race or run doesn’t go according to plan, if you’re trying to loose weight and you’ve missed your goal, if you’ve done an exam and haven’t got the grade you wanted; there’ll be days like this, you’ll be judged not on today, but how you reacted to today.

This blog has turned a little too philosophical, so on that bombshell, we’ll leave it at that!!

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