Midweek racing at the Beckenham relays


There’s something about a midweek race. There’s a certain pleasure, I feel, to finishing a day of work, then heading off, not simply to run, but to race.

On my way to the Beckenham 2.6-mile relays, I mulled over the midweek races I’d taken part in: the Bugatti 10k over a couple of years in Gloucestershire, a handful of events in the Peterborough 5k series, and that was about it.

The adrenaline of getting to Beckenham by bicycle, the inevitability of getting lost on that journey, and a nagging hunger meant I arrived at race HQ feeling weary. I was nervous too; my last race was 61 miles long. At 2.6 miles, this would be sharper and much, much faster. And doing 61-mile races strips a man of his sharpness and fastness.

Nevertheless, not being good enough reasons to let down two Herne Hill runners who I had been teamed with I pinned a number on my vest, and when my time to run leg 3 – the glory leg – came I scampered off at the best lick I could muster.

Downhill, past the HQ, then uphill, steeply downhill, into a park, along a railway line, then – finally – up a long drag to the finish, I felt like I was running fast, all the way. My stride felt easy; I was in control. I quite enjoyed it.

Unusually, I didn’t wear a watch. Which was just as well, as I would’ve known that feeling fast isn’t the same as being fast. Having said that, a 2.6-mile undulating run in about 15 minutes is no disaster.

If this year of Fellsman and Bob Graham training has taught me anything, it is to realise that you can’t be good at everything. Training for and racing 60-plus mountainous miles simply isn’t conducive to good 5k form. Yet, while the sensible side of me focuses on the long game – a successful Bob Graham – the impatient, easily frustrated side hankers after short success.

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