For many years I've used a 9 mile run here in Glasgow to measure my fitness. It's a great run, along the River Clyde then along the River Kelvin and then along the Forth and Clyde canal. A run mainly off the roads yet still in the city. I can see the usual city creatures like squirrels but also birds like herons, cormorants and in summer the kingfishers of the Kelvin. (It's a run I've always enjoyed rather like a similar run I used to do when visiting my Mum and Dad in Brightlingsea).
At the moment I have no intention of running 9 miles so I've been using my 4.5 mile run as a measure. In January I ran the route twice (on the 6th and the 8th) and took over 42 minutes both times. On the 20th February I had cut the time to 40 minutes and 30 seconds and felt that I was ready for the Balmoral weekend. This month I cut the time for the run to just under 39 minutes two days after Balmoral and to 37m 48s last Tuesday.
So my running is improving - I just have to resist trying too hard to keep on improving and thus injuring myself again.