In my mind’s ear I can hear that precocious kid from the cornflakes ad at Christmas, saying: “I don’t know – this seems very unorthodox!”
My conscience is being nagged at because I’ve violated a sacred principle of running:
I did my long run on a weeknight instead of at the weekend.
I’d say most runners do their long run on a Sunday morning, so that afterwards they can refuel with a hearty Sunday dinner and then spend Sunday afternoon lounging on the couch, reading the papers and watching Italian football or repeats of ‘Columbo’ on television. (I’m assuming your ideal Sunday afternoon is a lot like mine.)
For a few years while living on the outskirts of Paris I did my long run early on a Saturday morning instead, because my favourite route along a forest road had less cyclists and dog-walkers that day compared to Sundays. Also, on Sundays I would have to travel all the way into the centre of Paris to get a newspaper in English, and I needed time and a fresh pair of legs for that.
A Saturday morning long run also gave me the full weekend to recover and feel pleased with my effort, though I would usually also do a short, slow recovery run on the Sunday evening.
But this week I changed things. Because I’m busy next Monday morning and need to rest up in advance, I was reluctant to hammer out a long run this weekend. And as my long run for this week is only 10 miles, rather than a pre-marathon 20-miler, I felt I could fit it in on a weeknight after work.
Also, my usual locations for speed training are the local parks – and in winter they are either unlit or locked up in the evenings. (Since I moved home from Paris I don’t have a convenient track near me any more.) This means that for the moment I should do my speed work on weekend mornings – but a fast session and a long run in the same weekend isn’t good for my powers of recovery.
So, yesterday evening I left work a little earlier than usual, got home and headed out for a midweek long run. The novelty of it!
If you believe in omens, then the omens were favourable – I saw a shooting star and was bathed in moonlight for my run last night. The streets weren’t as busy with homeward-bound commuters as I had feared, so I got in a good run.
However, I realised one slight hitch with my plan; because I usually do a midweek run at a fast pace, I slipped instinctively into the same fast pace for this long run too. A few times I had to remind myself to ease off the throttle and to limit my speeding to a few fast bursts followed by a recovery.
This morning, back in work, the legs feel a little heavy but generally fine after last night’s effort. If you work non-traditional hours that give you a weekday morning free, I envy you the opportunity to throw in a midweek morning long run.
So, will this midweek long run catch on?