I’ve had a few runs recently when I’ve been on the start line and thought to myself: ‘I feel quite up for this...’ 

As has been mentioned before, I’ve been guilty of thinking I have to go for a PB every time I toe a start line. 

I’m gradually managing to shed that mindset with a view that some races can just be a good training run for a bigger goal down the line. 

That’s how I approached the ‘mob match’ at Colney Lane parkrun last Saturday when, as part of Wymondham AC, we took on the Norfolk Gazelles. 

I hadn’t given the run (not a race...) much thought given I’d been at a Christmas party the night before and wasn’t sure how I would be feeling the next morning. 

However, after an electrolyte tablet, I felt good to go and resolved to make it a good training run (and try and pass as many Gazelles as possible!) 

I’m not much of a cross-country/trail runner and I’d been led to believe that the terrain at Colney Lane can get a little tricky in very wet conditions. 

However, the weather had been relatively kind, and it was particularly temperate for this time of year. 

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I laced up my hybrid shoes (Hoka ATR Challengers), thinking that my full on trail Inov-8 shoes with bigger lugs, which I’ve worn once, wouldn’t be needed. 

My warm-up involved jogging from the car given we were running a little late and one of my new year’s resolutions is to try and give myself a bit more time and not make everything such a rush. 

Anyway, despite feeling bullish on the start line, after a few hundred metres my lungs were saying ‘hello’ and I was struggling to catch my breath. 

Fortunately, I managed to settle quite quickly thereafter and tried to keep it steady until we got to ‘Dog Poo Hill’, which I had been warned about by my wife, Alison. 

With the good conditions underfoot, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I tried to keep my effort level the same as on the flatter parts of the course so, obviously, I slowed, but I knew I could make this up on other areas of the route. 

It’s a two-lap course at Colney Lane, which helped given it was my first time there. I knew on the second loop where I could push and where it was worth taking it steady. 

I was managing to pass a few people and after about 3K the thought came into my head that I could perhaps get under 20 minutes. 

It would mean I wouldn’t be able to take my foot off the gas up Dog Poo Hill too much on the second loop but I was confident I could hang on thereafter despite the inevitable spike in my heart rate. 

I pushed hard up the hill and then gave myself 30 seconds to recover on the flat. Another check of my watch confirmed that a sub 20 was on... but it was going to be close. 

It was starting to pinch a little now, but I tried to chase down as many runners as I could knowing that every position could count in the mob match (despite not fully understanding the scoring system...) 

As I came round the final corner, I had to really let my legs go and push as hard as possible. Cheered on by my WAC teammates who had already finished, I pushed all the way through the finishers funnel: 19:57. 

I’ll take that; it’s certainly whetted my appetite for more parkruns next year if I can gather the wherewithal to get there for 9am after a week of rushing around trying to get the kids to school (and work on time). 

It was a really enjoyable morning, capped off by the news later on that Wymondham had indeed won the mob match, reclaiming the crown after the Gazelles won it last year. 

I now just have one more big effort before the year is out. I decided to transfer my Wymondham New Year’s Day 10K place and run the Ely 10K on New Year’s Eve for obvious reasons. 

Here’s hoping for a strong end to the year. 

This will be my last column of 2023; I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone that reads my columns and comments on Facebook. Hopefully, you still find the thoughts of an average runner trying to be a bit better interesting. 

I hope you all have a great Christmas and get thinking about setting some scary (but realistic) goals for 2024. 


Don't forget...


If you're looking for a new parkrun PB then why not head to Eaton Park this Saturday where you can be powered by GB athlete Holly Archer and former Run Norwich winner and marathon extraordinaire Anya Culling.

Christmas outfits are being encouraged. 9am start - obviously.