The Clown Shoes Dream… And The Vale Of York Ten Miler



“Shit! The race has started, Gav!’ We were sitting on a random couch in the middle of a field somewhere near the start line, watching Breaking Bad.

“We’ll have to go NOW… They’ve bloody set off already!”

We got up off the couch and made a mad dash for it, eventually catching up with the back of the pack.

I looked down at my feet. My trainers were clown shoes. My running motion was laboured and exaggerated as I struggled to lift the bulbous front ends of my shoes off the floor. I glanced down at my Suunto. “Bloody hell – I’m struggling to stick to ten minute miles here”

I woke up in a cold sweat.

Last night, we had to shoehorn ourselves away from yet another episode of Breaking Bad (we were late starters.)

“We’ve both got races in the morning Gav, come on.”

“Yeah but Hank’s just sussed Pollo Chicken, Rach.”

“Well you can watch another one if you like, but I’ve got to get a decent night’s sleep before tomorrow’s race. Anyway, do I run in those new Boosts, or send them back?” I quizzed Gav, tying and untying my laces fifteen times.

My new adidas boosts arrived in the post yesterday. They were half a size bigger than I’d ordered.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. 


Today’s race was everything I needed.

I headed over to York where I’d take part in the Vale of York ten-miler. Gav’s race was closer to home, and a different animal entirely – the Overgate Hospice 10k. We both wanted different things from our races today, and so we made our plans accordingly.

I knew what I wanted from today: a good, well-paced tempo run. I’ve had a complete change of thinking recently about my training. It feels purposeful, planned – even exciting.

My ego wasn’t invited to the party, and so I didn’t have to worry about PBs or kicking my own backside around some village in York, like a tired donkey being flogged for slowing down with it’s heavy load.

My goal was to achieve ALL of the following:

  • Not fly off like a bat out of hell (…and then die some time later, hating every subsequent step)
  • Stick to my ‘prescribed’ Lactate Threshold training zone – anything between 7.09 – 7.43 min/mile (I had a physiological assessment at Loughborough University last February, and haven’t listened to any of the advice within it. It’s about time I did, and I will be writing a separate blog post on this.)
  • Stay relaxed

I set off in my Juke mobile with the heated seat turned to ‘high’. With my bum warming nicely, and the feasibility of supping my travel mug of hot sweet tea a reality, I could sense it was going to be a good day.




Pulling up at the Rufforth Gliding Centre was easy, with (unsurprisingly) PLENTY of parking, and good marshalling.

I got out of my car, and tentatively coerced my legs in to a warm-up trot (they seem to hate warming up more than the race itself.) Two old blokes were hobbling towards me. They’d taken their warm-up routine from The Ministry of Silly Walks.

“So, these compression socks, Bob. I’ve heard they’re designed for wearing AFTER a run, and not during it…”

“Oh, is that right, Ken?”

“Yeah, apparently so. They’re NO USE WHATSOEVER during a run. Only afterwards – so I’m told.”

“Ahh, I see.”

Ken was particularly loud. I ran past them… in my compression socks.

The gun went off and I set off deliberately slower than normal. “DO NOT RUN SUB-7s. DO NOT RUN SUB-7s. DO NOT RUN SUB-7s.” played on constant repeat in my head.

I felt good. Relaxed, comfortable, beautiful day, sun shining, birds singing, holding my pace back: Happy days.

And then at 7 miles, my left calf cramped like it’s never done in a race before.

“Shiiit NO!” I pulled over to the side. The cramp was so bad it stunned me. Like those you sometimes get in the night, which force you to sit bolt upright in bed, screaming for the invisible clamp to loosen it’s grip.

A guy ran past and gave me the “come on girl, keep going” mantra. It made me cross. I wasn’t even tired. I almost shouted back “If it wasn’t for this bloody leg I’d chase you down, mate!”

I felt robbed. I was barely out of breath. “I’ve got SO MUCH more I can give here. PLEASE let my leg relax. I want to run again!”

I hobbled for a quarter mile, and thought about relaxing as much as possible. My calf was still tight and sore, but it was at least allowing me to put one foot in front of the other again. I carried on, and even managed to pick up a bit of pace, and I wondered – Perhaps this is what the clown shoes dream was all about!

I crossed the line and I wasn’t spent. I had plenty more in me, BUT I was ridiculously happy, because:

  • I HADN’T gone off like a bat out of hell
  • I HAD stuck to my LT training threshold (7:14 min/mile)
  • I’d stayed relaxed
  • I bloody loved it.

*I was 4th F35 too, which ain’t all that bad, either.




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