As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bit of news

Nowt much happening on the old running front to be honest, in fact, I've done so little running of late that I am probably hopelessly unfit again, never mind.

We went to New York last week for a few days (didn't even take trainers with me) and in Central Park on the coldest day I can ever remember, I proposed (marriage). Janet said yes. We have been together for over 18 years so I thought it was about time. We are both terribly excited about planning the wedding which will hopefully be in the summer of next year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's good but it's not right

Considering that last year I was so unfit that I took 64minutes to run Brampton to Carlisle 10miler - I should be pleased that yesterday I was comfortably inside the hour. But I'm far from pleased as I raced terribly.

The course was shortened due to a flooded section of road, and my time of 53 minutes translates to 5:50 pace, or 58:20 for the full ten. I knew Plucky would beat me. Despite there being nothing between us in training, he is still chasing PBs and has an edge that gives him something extra over me on race day. To beat him in a race I think I would need to regain the fitness and speed that would allow me to simply run away from him in training, and that's not something I'm bothered enough to strive for.

In the first few miles I was in a group of about 8 lads running hard, very hard. Too hard according to my pulse of 175+. Sure enough by mile 3, going up a hill, I was dropped as my pulse showed 183 (max pulse is about 185). The remaining miles were covered with an ever dropping heartrate (and ever dropping speed). In the final mile I was so slow that I must have been passed by 6 or 8 runners. When you consider that in training I recently ran an out and back 8 miler at night on the pavements, in 5:56 pace, - runnning 5:50 for a slightly tailwind, overall downhill, 9 mile, important race is really a very poor result.

Anyhow, never mind, its all over for 2009 now. A week off altogether, then an easy week of daily fast 5milers, then NEW YORK, then a short week at work and then Christmas. And of course Christmas sees the beginning of scheduled training for London Marathon 2010.

This year has been a real surprise to me. It was never my intention to reach this fitness/speed on the roads. I expected to mainly run on the fells. I've enjoyed the time I have spent on the fells - Iains BG was a privilege to be a part of, and is up there in the top 10 days of my life. The 50 miler was an eye opener into a different world to the one of six minute miling I know so well. Going up the fells has been a contributing factor to an injury free 12month period. Training with Milly for the first four months of the year gave me a kick start, gave me a reason not to miss training sessions. I was so gutted for him when he couldn't finish London marathon. Now, with such an injury interrupted summer, and my improved fitness, there is a huge gulf between us. I'm not sure how we will manage to train together in the immediate future.

In 2010 I will run two PROPER marathons, London, and either Berlin or Chicago. I will also be on the fells at least once a month from January and helping Stu and others on BGs from May.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Following the weekends training I now have a touch of tendinitis in my right leg. As that's one of the two I intend to use this Saturday to run the Brampton to Carlisle race I need to carefully manage this issue. If necessary I will defer training all week, perhaps stick to short jogs from Wednesday. It's not a big worry - I've had this happen to me many times over the years, but I may as well do everything I can to get to the start line 100%.

The weekends training was good.

Gelt was the venue on Saturday. I had decided not to challenge Plucky this week as I had been feeling pretty tired. Not just sleepy tired - struggling to get out of bed of a morning type tired. Something more than that. I've been unusually aware of my legs, or more specifically the little pains within them for the last week or two. On one occasion I remember running on the track thinking 'why does my left like have that undesirable feeling every time I land on it and not my right?' Its all due to the particularly hard training schedule I have stuck to this last couple of months. Even the 'easy' weeks have tended to include a race at one end or the other.

Anyway, Plucky seemed intent on running the lap pretty hard, and whilst not wanting to challenge him I certainly wasnt about to let him run off into the distance either. Conditions were poor - very wet, therefore muddy and slippery, so I didn't expect a great lap time whatever the effort. On the big tarmac uphill section I found Pluckys pace to be almost ridiculously easy. I know he was trying equally as hard here as on the flat or downhill sections so it highlighted to me how I have improved my power to weight ratio over the last few weeks as I have become fitter and also managed to shed 4 or 5 pounds in weight. The lap continued, Plucky pushing on, me on his shoulder. We finished with a time of 31:15. Quite remarkable really given the poor conditions and the fact that I had spent much of the lap running well below my capacity.

Sundays run was 10 miles, running 4-11, 4-11, 4-11, 4-11. (4easy, 11hard)
I last ran this in late September and took 63mins 52 with an average heart rate of 162. This latest occasion my time was 59 seconds faster with 2 heartbeats lower average. A further good sign. Historically I have ran this session just inside 60minutes - so whilst I am certainly running very well lately, I remain a long way from my best of 2003-2004.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

all the sixes

Tuesday was six, one mile reps at the track. Third week at the track means I have spent six pounds thirty pence with the city council now - (it should be free in lieu of the resources fit people DON'T take from the NHS). I felt a bit under par for these to be honest. The first one in 5:39 was a good warm up. The next alongside Plucky in 5:28 seemed a little harder than it should, so I checked myself a little and ran the third with Darren in 5:23. Feeling brave I rolled out the big guns for the fourth and managed 5:18 (2 seconds slower than last weeks big effort, but to be honest i could tell all the way round the that i wasn't really firing at 100%). We all ran together for rep 5 to record 5:26 then the Sixth and final effort was upon us. I let Plucky take the first two laps then took on the last 800m myself. I felt I was struggling, losing form and probably slowing so I ran in the centre of lane 1 to allow Plucky past if he wanted. I was still pushing hard though and he was unable to pass me. We recorded another 5:23. Darren was distanced on this rep.

Earlier on Tuesday I briefly called in at home to tidy up a little for a party we were having that evening. I opened a letter that turned out to be from the Derwent race the other week. Six pounds to spend at Pete Blands - handy - a free pair of socks or similar. Later in the evening i looked again at the voucher. it's only blummin SIXTY pounds isn't it. Not six. That's free trainers that is.

Tonight (Wed) I ran (without dogs) my usual easy pace effort. With a record low average pulse in the mid to high 140s I achieved 6:54 per mile for Six miles. Perfect.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

2 days - 3 days training.

9 miles easy offroad.
A steady ten mile run.
5 miles of hard effort.

The 9 was in Gelt Woods on Saturday morning.
The 10 was on Sunday morning and was immediately followed by the 5 mile effort.
It was a superb day for running - bright and sunny, scarcely any wind, and a cool temp.

The 10 miles felt easy, as my heartrate indicated it should, averaging 151 for the 66mins 20 seconds it took me to complete. Ten months ago, such a heartrate would have elicited a result 20-30seconds per mile slower so I must be doing something right.

I had wondered what pace I might achieve for the final 5 mile 'effort'. 6:25 seemed a reasonable target as that would be 13 seconds per mile faster than the 10 I had just ran. As I started I simply ran as hard as I could, not checking the Garmin until 1.5 miles into the 5 which was at the highest point of the run. Delighted to see 6:14 showing I knew I wouldn't fall back to 6:25 no matter what. Pressing on I maintained exactly this pace to the end.

I had never ran 15 miles in quite this manner before but I think it was good training. It took a bit of deciding what pace to run the first 10 at. Perhaps I should have done it in 65 mins then followed up with a 6:20 five miler? Anyhows, that's the last long run for a few weeks. In two weeks time is the Brampton to Carlisle 10 which means next weekend will be just 10 miles but at very hard effort.

This coming week will be the hardest I have set myself for a long time. On Tuesday the mile reps will go up to six. Wednesdays easy 7 to 8 hasn't gone well recently - doing 7:20 odd pace with the dog on a lead has made my legs feel awful. I think it might be better to run at about 6:45-6:55 pace but only do 6 miles. Thursday I haven't decided for certain yet - possibly 8 again but trying to beat last weeks pace of 5:58. the alternative would be to do 10miles at just over 6minute miling - I'll see what Plucky thinks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Title added later

On Wednesday Plucky ran with me around an easy 7miler.
On Thursday he was over again to run the 8mile tempo effort with me. I set the Garmin to show heartrate only, switching it to show distance only once we were almost finished. It was a hard run, often very hard, but not flat out. Turned out to be 5:58 per mile, good training.

Got a phone call tonight to say I had won a prize at the Derwent 10. It can't be much as I was only about 12th and 4th Vet, but nevertheless, nice to get something.

Exciting news - me and Janet have decided to go to New York next month. Woo Hoo.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

16,000metre steeplechase (without jumps)

Following a steadier training week last I want this week to be bloody rock hard. (that's a technical term oft-used by Bolt, Radcliffe, Naylor et al.)

Nowt is harder than racing so Sunday gone I travelled over to Keswick to compete in the Derwentwater 10. It's a 10mile event circuiting Derwentwater. Sunday was the wettest day I can remember for some time. As I drove to the race I imagined it might be called off. The roads were certainly awash - at ten or more locations around the course we had to run through 6inches (150mm) of water. It was like doing a steeplchase event without the jumps. I had hoped to run this in a little under 59 minutes. It took me 59:57, I wasn't 'on fire', I wasn't pinging, it wasn't the best I have ever raced. but it was a solid performance and was the best I could achieve on the day.
With this latest result I have decided against racing the LancasterHalf Marathon next weekend. I had considered going to Lancaster to attempt to run sub 75mins as that time would qualify me for a AAA championship number in the 2010 London Marathon. It's equal to 5:43 per mile and I think that may just be beyond me at present. Plucky IS going to do Lancaster Half, and is also hoping to run under 75mins. I await his result with interest.

Tonight (Tues) I ran on the track again. Milly and Plucky joined me for 5x 1mile (4 laps actually so 9metres short). With an intention to run 5:40 for rep one I allowed Plucky to pull away slightly as he was keen to run all 5 in 5mins 30. I ran exactly 5:40. He ran exactly 5:30.
Rep two I said I was happy to run 5:30 as I was now fully warmed up. We ran bang on 5:30 pace for three laps when Plucky forged ahead for some unknown reason and beat me by two seconds.
Rep three was always to be my 'bloody rock hard' rep and I immediately ran away from the others. Five minutes sixteen seconds later I crossed the line for the fourth time and was very happy to have the additional 14 seconds recovery time as Plucky again ran 5:30.
Expecting to feel dreadful on rep 4 I tucked in behind Plucky for two laps. 5:30 pace felt absolutely fine so I front ran for lap 3 then ran 'bloody rock hard' for the final 400 to record 5:25.
I said I didn't intend to do anything silly on rep 5. From the beginning I ran slightly wide, just inside of the lane 2 line. Three laps in, perfectly paced to bring us in at 5:30 I really wanted to test myself again but resisted. As we neared the final bend I sensed Plucky was trying to get past me. I moved out to lane 2 and marginally increased my effort. I moved out to lane three and again increased the effort. As we reached the final 100m straight - both level - it turned to an all out sprint for the line. We both ran 5:26 and those 4 seconds were all made up in the last 300 metres.

Obviously a hard week needs easy days within it so tomorrow will be the normal Wednesday 7 to 8 miler at 7-7:20 pace.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A bit of the Cumbrian Run

10 miles, from mile 2 to mile 12 was the bit of the Cumbrian Run that I did on Sunday. I didn't want to do the 'race' as I thought it too close to Derwent 10, only a week later. I did want a hard training run though, and thought that joining in with the racers would be a good workout.

Plucky ran very well to record 1hr 16mins something and 4th place. I was unable to stay with him. I think I might have just about managed to if I had been racing myself, but you can never run as fast in training. In the back of my mind was always the notion that I wasn't competing with the lads around me and that I could in fact just quit and jog home if I wanted to. The 10miles took 59mins 50 seconds - not really as good an effort as the 8 miler three days earlier which was much hillier as well as 2 seconds per mile faster.

Monday was a non training day - I made good progress building a bookshelf/display unit/cupboard type thingy in the alcove beside the chimney breast at home. It's a shame that it's too dark to work out in the garden now that the clocks have gone back. Working inside I feel i have to cease any hammering and drilling after about 7ish.

Tonight (Tues) I met up with Milly and Darren at the running track. Two pounds ten for the privilege of wearing out lane 1 for 16 laps. You don't get that on the fells. We did 4x a mile. (actually 4x 4 laps - a mile would be 9 metres further) With the forthcoming race in mind I ran conservatively (mostly). an easy start (5:42) similar second (5:38) then for number three I ran steady for 1.5laps before trying to pick up the pace for the the 2.5 laps to finish. this illicited 5:23 - my fastest for some time, possibly 2 years. The final rep was targeted at 5:40 and we ran 5:35 but it felt easy for laps one, two and three.

May have to go to the track more often from now on as Milly requires a softer (than pavements) surface underfoot when doing speedwork. I pretend the cost is annoying and a waste but in fact I am only too pleased to be running with Milly again - we have a winter to endure whilst trying to remain motivated then a campaign to plan out and execute to see us fit to run the very first Virgin London Marathon next Spring.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Now that HURT!

Sometimes, when you run really very hard indeed, for a significant distance, you feel great. Perhaps it's a race, perhaps it's training, but you just feel absolutely great doing it. Legs are scarcely clearing the lactates, heartrate is sky high, lungs are bursting - and you are revelling in it - enjoying every stride- knowing you are running fast, running well, possibly as well as you ever have - and you don't want it to end - you just want to keep running - run even harder....

Then, other times when you run really hard it's not so good.

Yesterday was one of the 'other times'

Plucky suggested 8miles at 6:15 pace. I had thought of doing 10miles inside 63mins so his plan was close enough to mine. Along with Darren we set off apace and immediately I could tell this was going to be fast. The first mile is mainly uphill and usually ran in 6:30 - 7:00, depending on our target pace. We ran it in 6:21. I suggested to plucky that we would end up inside 6:05 at this rate and might want to slow a bit. He said he would be happy if it was inside the 6:15 but didn't think we would do 6:05. On we pressed with Plucky setting the pace, me behind and sometimes alongside and Darren always immediately behind.

If the start was hard then the middle was even harder. At the 5mile point I seriously considered packing in and jogging a shorter route to the finish. I even persuaded myself that a funny feeling in my knee warranted stopping, lest it turn into an injury. Only pride made me continue. Pride and the stubborn belief that these two lads ARE NOT BETTER RUNNERS THAN ME. I could manage this pace and I damn well would.

With about one mile to go I felt for the first time that I was able to take up the lead and stay there. Plucky, struggling to speak, shouted that he would be stopping immediately when Darrens garmin beeped for the 8th time. I was only too happy to stop the very minute I too heard that beep.

We ran 5:57 pace for 8 miles, the fastest I have achieved for many years. If I had been forcing the pace all night then I would have been elated. If we had ran 6:05 pace and I had managed comfortably then I would have been delighted. But because I struggled throughout I felt a bit downbeat about the run. Crazy. Some people are never happy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Best day of the year (Part two)

So.... Where were we? Ah yes mid morning and over to meet Scotty in his sisters field. We got through some decent tonnage of tree, leaving many of the discs to dry out in the sun whilst fitting as many as we dared into our vehicles to take home. It wasn't a hot day Saturday, perhaps 12 degrees C, but it WAS very sunny indeed, making it, I suspect around 20C in the sun, possibly more. A perfect day for being outdoors.

Back to Carlisle and a stop at the local bakers to collect the some freshly made, delicious sandwiches for lunch. I sat in the glorious sun under my newly completed gazebo eating lunch with Janet. We had a good crack and a laugh about nowt in particular. After lunch I made good progress in the garden, tidying, pruning, hedge cutting, staining fences, stacking logs etc etc. I even found the time to hoover the car.

All in all a hugely enjoyable, highly productive day. This time of year can produce some of the best conditions for outdoor activities, be they leisure, sport, even work.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Best day of the year (Part one)

Saturday didnt start out great, but as the hours passed, it slowly unfolded into a truly memorable day in every aspect.

Friday night was a late night - midnight actually. Getting up early was therefore not ideal but was required due to my plan of going to Gelt woods earlier than usual to cut away a fallen tree which had blocked the route several weeks ago. After Gelt I was meeting Mike Scott to help him cut up another fallen tree (in his sister field) - thats why I had the chainsaw with me and why I was opting to cut the Gelt tree as well.

Having to load up all my running clothes, drinks, food, work clothes, chainsaw and its fuel, oil etc made me a bit late. By the time I arrived at Gelt with the dogs it was 0845. Walking into the woods it took me 15mins to get to the tree. I realised I may not get back to the car in time to meet everyone for lap 1. However I wasn't concerned once I was hacking away at the annoying branches that had thwarted our progress every week. I really enjoy cutting wood. I also enjoy swinging a big axe to split the logs, stacking them up in neat piles, burning them on the stove. Everything to do with firewood - I'm your man.

Once the tree was cut I hurried back to the car, leaving the (still quite big and heavy) sections on the ground. I expected that we would all stop on lap 1 and haul them out of the way of the path, leaving a clear route for all future runs. Back at the car I was too late and had missed everyone. After changing into running gear I ran the opposite way around until I met the others. It became clear that they HADN'T moved the logs, in fact Plucky said they were more of an obstacle than previously. I politely expressed an opinion that they were possibly being a little lazy in not stopping to clear the path, especially as lap 1 is the easy pace lap when nobody is 'going for a time'.

Anyway, we started lap 2. The going was hard, very hard. Plucky was forcing a pace that my heartrate monitor said was a bout as hard as I could run. Darren was with us, so was Trevor (two sub 2:55 marathons this year, so no slouch), but I could tell they were both on the limit. We soon reached the tree and I shouted to Plucky "you go on ahead - I'll sort this" I knew full well he would never have stopped mid-hard-lap to help but I hoped the sarcasm might make him feel bad. Darren almost ran into me as I stopped dead in my tracks, he continued onward though, as did Trev. Summoning all my strength, I hauled, rolled and cleared the seven big logs that I had cut earlier. As I struggled to upright a particularly heavy and unrollable one, Gill came along, having been dropped by the fast pace. As she added her effort to the task at hand it was if a spider had jumped off the log making it lighter. Still, at least she stopped. Beginning running again I suggested that I was going to catch ' them selfish b******s back up then drop them'. I didnt really expect to catch them, as it seemed like about a minute had passed since they ran off into the distance when I stopped. Nevertheless I resumed my lap running as hard as I possibly could, hoping for at least a good lap time.

By the time I reached a long steep hilly section I spotted them ahead. I knew they would finish the hill before me so would pull away again as I remained on the slow uphill, but seeing them at all was encouraging. The remainder of the lap was torture as I constantly put myself through every kind of hell to make up the ground. As the lap end neared, they were never out of sight but the distance between us shortened oh so slowly. The final 3 minutes of the lap is all downhill and very open, across a field. I could See that Plucky had dropped the other two by 20 to 30 metres. This meant they had all been running flat out and would do so until the very end.
I didnt quite catch them, finishing perhaps 5 seconds after Trevor. The watch revealed that Trev and Darren had achieved personal best times for the course at just over 31minutes. Plucky had managed 30:45. My time 30:15. I was elated and felt very superior. In the first 3 hours of my day I had performed a public service in clearing a heavily used path of a major obstruction, walked the dogs, and also showed three very fit runners a clean pair of heels (OK, as I was behind so I saw their heels but you know what I mean).

(I'm going to take the dogs out now then going training. Part two later)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ten mile toughie

Yesterday was our long tempo run. Plucky and Darren were with me as usual, but unlike usual I was struggling a little bit througout the 11miles (ten mile toughie sounded good and I couldnt think of any rhyme for eleven). I never got dropped but sometimes felt as if I might. Plucky was strong throughout the run, especially whenever the road sloped downwards. I was happiest when it sloped up. Darren was always there - never at the front but never more than a metre behind either - he should run well at next weekends Cumbrian Run.

At the end I looked at the pace for the first time and was slightly disapointed to see we had achieved 6:17 average. Not as fast as last week but certainly in the right ballpark.

It would be usual to train hard and increase pace and distance for 3 weeks, then ease back on the fourth week. I havent really been keeping a proper check on this and suspect I have gone too long without an easier week. Next week will be easier than the last two - due mainly to Plucky taking it easier for the Cumbrian Run.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

up high

On Saturday I had the first setback in several weeks. In truth it wasn't really a setback, but really just a case of not running quite as well as expected.

We were in Gelt woods as usual and I was looking forward to the fast, second lap. All was going well up to the midway timecheck point - within 5 seconds of the previous week. But then I was aware of Plucky edging ahead, one metre, then three then eight. Sure I would regain his heels on the next uphill section I was unconcerned and concentrated on my effort. I didn't regain him though and as I realised the gap was not shrinking but growing I checked my pulse. Low to mid 160s! Something was amiss. I had been running with a 165-170 pulse earlier on in the lap but now this was as hard as I was able to run and it wasn't fast enough.

I finished the lap some 35 seconds behind Plucky and although my time was merely 5 seconds slower than last week I was at a loss to explain what had just happened. I really don't like to be slower than Plucky. Although he has been faster than me for the last three years or so, historically I have been a faster runner than him - every one of my PB's from 5k to marathon is quicker than he has achieved. Now that we are once again quite equal in ability I am determined to train just as hard as he does and deal out the pain whenever I can.

Thinking that Saturday may have been a sign of tiredness following the last fortnight of hard training, I thought it best to try a different approach on Sunday. So rather than attempt 14road miles at a fast pace, I took to the hills.

Luckily I was able to cajole Penrith Stu into a short, sharp outing up the fells - we ran leg 2 of the BGR (Threlkeld to Dunmail). Although I had stressed that I wanted to set a fast pace, we were nevertheless walking as usual up the first climb of the day - Clough Head, simply due to the severity of the slope. As we neared the summit we discussed what the time allowance was for this peak (on a 24 hr schedule). Correctly we thought it was 59 minutes and were then quite shocked to reach the top in 39, which included at least 1 min stationary for a pee. This was to be the trend for the rest of the run.

Great Dodd 21mins (30 allowed)
Watsons Dodd 6mins (9)
Stybarrow Dodd 7 (9)
Raise 12 (18)

I have to be honest and report that, due to time constraints, we didn't include Fairfield on this run. So to make a comparison I took our time from the Threlkeld to Dollywagon and fed it into Bob Wightmans BG estimator. This gave us a theoretical full BG pace of 15 hours. I then added Dolly to Fairfield and Fairfield to Seat Sandal using 20hr pace schedule. Finally I added the actual time we took from SS to Dunmail. This gave us a total of 3hrs 10mins for the leg, which I believe we would have achieved if we'd had time to do the full distance.

This is very satisfying as far as I'm concerned. Yes of course I know that there's little point in doing this type of short fast effort if you are imminently going for an attempt on a round, but I'm not about to, and as a slightly longer time, lower heartrate, variance from tarmac effort it was a perfect option for me on this occasion.

After a day off on Monday, tonight I was back on the black stuff with Plucky and Darren. 7x 5 minute efforts with 1min jog recoveries. I wasn't using my Garmin so have no data on the run but it was very very hard indeed. My legs are complaining loudly right now as I sit typing this.
Thankfully next week it isn't 8 efforts, just 5, due to Plucky doing the Cumbrian run the following weekend. I may do extra, or may try to run them harder then get a short rest while the others catch me up.

Still struggling to get Milly to join me on runs (though he was at Gelt on Saturday). Lets see if he joins me for 7 easy tomorrow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I hope I can race this well

Training has gone very well again this week. Tuesday was with Plucky for 6x 5mins with 1min jog recoveries. After last week I was rather dreading this session but on the day it was much more manageable than the previous time. Effort one was fast - 5:55 pace, too fast in my opinion for the first effort (and it was mostly uphill). For the second effort I took it much more steady and allowed Plucky to pull ahead by 20 metres or so - another 5:55. By the third effort we/I was comfortably side by side again (5:42). The next two efforts were merely steady cruising (both 5:40), and I felt as if I could have lifted the pace at any point during them. Final effort was tough. Darren (who lives near Plucky and usually joins us) was very strong and pushed the pace right to the end of the 5mins. We got 5:26 pace for this which is the fastest they have achieved in 2 years of doing this particular session. Next week will be 7x 5mins.

Needless to say I am very happy with these times. I am slightly concerned that I should be doing some faster running, perhaps 800m or even 400m efforts to prepare myself for the high leg turnover that will be a feature of the downhill sections of the Derwent 10 course. However, getting out of the door is the most important thing, and if I didn't arrange to go with Plucky I might cry off altogether.

Wednesday I ran 7 miles in exactly 49 minutes. Last week with Milly it was a tad too slow and my legs felt bad for it. 7 pace is about the slowest I think I should run at. Pulse was under 150 for this, and that's about as low as I have seen recorded for a proper road run (would be lower on a long fell outing). Another good sign of decent fitness.

Yesterday, again with Plucky and Darren it was the same 10mile route as last Thursday. Plucky had said he wanted to do it in 65mins again (as last week). I spent the day thinking that was a bit too steady really, so I suggested we ran at 6:20-6:25 pace instead. From the offset we were ahead of even this faster schedule. It felt harder than last week but nothing like the week before that (when I front ran all night and got 6:10 average). At the end we had made 6:12 pace. My pulse averaged 161 which is a long way below race effort. I think I should run 11 miles next Thursday but aim for about 6:15 pace.

No Milly at all this week. I tried to get him to come for a jog tonight but he said no so I didn't bother either. I spent an hour in the garden before it became dark. The last of the tomatoes are now picked, same with the apples which I got Joyce to wrap in newspaper before I put them away in a box in the shed. (last year, after putting them in a carrier bag, I ended up with a sticky gooey mess after I forgot about them.) I have also finally finished building my garden gazebo. Only two and a half years (and one roof rip off and rebuild) after starting. Although I say it myself it looks superb. I may take a couple of pics and put on here.

Gelt tomorrow. Something tough on Sunday. I have also been wondering about entering the Lancaster Half Marathon in November. I had no intention of doing any races other than the two ten milers I have mentioned, but if there is even the slightest possibility that I could break 75 then I should go for it as that time would allow me to enter next years London Marathon. (because I missed the closing date for Good for Age I can only do it if I get a club number from Border Harriers). Tough prospect though, 75mins is 5:43 miling.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Round up of the week

Tuesday has already been reported.
On Wednesday it was good to run with Milly again after several weeks. About 7miles at a very easy pace.
On Thursday I was back with Plucky for a 10miler. He wasn't wanting it to be as hard as last Thursday (6:10 pace), in fact he stated that 6:30 was his aim. This was an ideal pace for me, despite the rolling terrain it felt well within my comfort zone. At 9miles we had an average of 6:34 and feeling spritely, I asked Plucky if he wanted to do a 5:50 mile to bring the average up to where we had intended. He had been struggling throughout the run and was dropped as I upped the pace. I managed 5:45 for the final mile.
Friday was a rest day.
Saturday we were back at Gelt. Very heavy rain ensured all clothing and shoes were soaked through on the easy lap 1. Luckily it stopped raining by the end of the lap but fallen trees and huge puddles were making the going slow. I had hoped for a 30minute lap (31:15 last week) today, but realised this was unlikely given the conditions. On my own for the whole lap I managed 31:25 which I was happy with.
Today (Sunday) I didn't really have a firm plan in mind about what training to do. I had an idea that I would do my 13mile circuit, perhaps with a fast 10 within it. On the day I just ran the full 13 quite hard and was pleased to hit 6:30 average pace (1hr 24min).

A decent spell of training then, and hopefully to be repeated this coming week.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seriously hard training

Tonight I met up with Plucky to run his rep's session.

5 times 5 minutes with 1 minute jog recovery.

I normally would do one mile reps with 2.5 to 4 minutes stationary recovery, so this session was a shock to the system with its short recovery period. Obviously the pace for the efforts needed to be slower than I was used to to avoid burning out early doors. It was an uphill start which yielded just outside 6:00 pace for the the first two reps, then the last three were all sub 5:40 pace.

I found this very tough indeed. Where last week I was easily able to drop Plucky, tonight I was more than happy to run alongside. Looking forward to running with Milly tomorrow. Hope he doesnt renegue.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

it begins

My intention is to train very hard for a few weeks now, with the idea of being in good shape for November races. There is no reason to do any long runs (over 15miles), they will resume at Christmas. 10 miles is long enough for now, moving to 13 next weekend. but crucially the runs need to be completed at a hard pace.

So it began this weekend - as usual a hard lap of Gelt on Saturday morning was enjoyed with Plucky for company. Legs were jaded somewhat from Thursdays mega effort so the final 10mins were a bit of a struggle. Lap time of 31:22 is respectable.

Today I decided to do 10miles of intervals. I waited until 1pm so I'd had over 24hours recovery time from Gelt. This session is a bit like doing 2mile reps but with a continuous jog recovery between the efforts. I start with 4 minutes of easy pace running, then 11 minutes as hard as I can sustain. Then repeat three more times (all without stopping). The idea is that after 4x 4 and 11 (or 1 hour) I will have covered the whole 10mile course. But this isnt 2004 and I cant get near 60 minutes nowadays, meaning after the fourth 11 minute effort I have another few minutes to jog to the finish line. Todays time was 63mins 50secs which is OK I guess.

The trouble with this session when I am not super-fit is the percentage of the 10miles spent jogging (today 15:50 out of 63:50is approx 25%) which drops the average speed and skews the result a little. Next time I might consider doing 4x 4 and 12. This would result in finishing the course mid-fast-rep and give just 12mins jogging in 62-63mins total (under 20%). It shouldnt really matter what the pace is - its the heartrate that proves that hard work was done but I am a slave to the stopwatch. Although the HR was a wee bit low today (averaging 170ish on the 11min efforts) I couldnt have tried any harder, I felt quite poorly for a couple of hours after running.

I intend to do shorter reps (5x 5mins) on Tuesday, easy 6to8mile offroad run Wednesday, then tempo run Thursday (probably 10miles in 64/65 mins).

Although I enjoyed all the fellrunning I did this summer, I feel very comfortable training fast and hard on the roads. I will never do another 5k, 10k, 10m, half or full marathon PB unless I give up work to run twice a day, but as long as I enjoy what I am doing then I am doing the best thing for me. I reckon by late Nov' I will again be keen to enjoy some crisp, bright winter days on the fells with Iain and Stu. I dont know if I will even want to aim for a BGR next year - I get a great deal of enjoyment helping attempts and may just stick with that again next year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What happened?

To say that the Langdale marathon didn't go exactly to plan is a bit of an understatement.

It was a wee bit too warm and sunny to be counted as ideal conditions for me, but it wasn't seriously hot. Nevertheless I was sweating profusely within ten minutes of the start as we all trotted up the steep pass out of the West end of the Langdale valley. At the top I enjoyed stretching out my legs on the long descent, eventually bringing us through Little Langdale. I seemed to passing other runners with ease on the downhills (perhaps the fell running has helped in this respect, although I am quite inept at descending in a proper fell race. On the uphills I was sometimes passed back by these same runners. This was fine by me because I was definitely taking it very easy on this first lap, and of course they were all half marthoners in the top 15 or so of their event. I was running on 'feel' but did also have my pulse displayed on the Garmin, which showed highs of around 169 on the big uphills and 160-165 the rest of the time. More or less within the limits I had set myself for lap 1, perhaps two beats higher on average.

As I descended from High Close YHA into Elterwater, about 10 miles covered, I glanced at my average pace for the first time. 7:20 minute miling and with no significant uphills to do until the next lap, I was very happy indeed. As the next 3miles of lap 1 passed below my feet I allowed some of the runners near me to pull away slightly - realising they would be pushing hard in the final 15mins for their finish line. Only after approx 12 miles did i feel anything other than 'very comfortable'. At this point I was vaguely aware of just a little bit of lethargy creeping in. This wasn't a big concern to me though as I had a gel stashed on a wall top 500metres from the start line and I also knew that Plucky would be supplying extra water etc on lap 2.

(plucky had started as an official Half Marathon entrant but had stayed alongside his missus Gill, carrying her gels and drink. After lap 1 he said he would get on his bike to supply us both for the second half of our marathon)

My time for lap 1 was just inside 1hr 32mins. This would have been 20th in the shorter event. The Garmin was showing 7:08 pace up to this point, and I reset it to give an average pace again for lap 2. All looking good for a sub 3:10 result.

The big descent into Little Langdale felt very different on lap 2. Rather than letting gravity give me speed for free I felt I was scarcely going any faster than on the the flats. Third after lap 1, I was soon caught and passed by the Fourth placed runner. I relayed my drop in energy/speed/confidence to Plucky as he darted between myself and Gill. Approx 4mins behind me at halfway, she had gone through a bad patch but was currently running well and catching me up. As I slowed to a crawl and wanted to throw up, I was passed by Gill at about 18miles (into 5th place) then by Richard Bardon at about 22 (into 6th). With a mile to go I was caught by another lad but he refused to go ahead of me as I had been in his sights for over 2 hours and felt he should stay with me as I struggled to look composed as we entered the finish field.

At the same point in lap 2 I glanced at the average pace

exactly one minute per mile slower than lap 1!


(incredibly bad)

Last year I ran this marathon less than one day after (up to then) my longest ever fellrun of 5hrs+,helping Pete Beer over leg 3 of his BGR. On that occasion I took just 7 mins longer than I did today, and that included lengthy walking sections and even brief stops with muscle cramping.

I honestly don't know what went wrong. I am obviously very disappointed. I would never have won the race this year, Alistair Tathams winning time of 3:04 was never a target but I would have been second with anything inside 3:10. Now I feel like I wasted last week by resting and not training. So much so that after doing nowt but long dog walks on Monday/Tuesday while a mild case of DOMS worked its way out of my legs- I jogged 30mins on Wednesday.

Then, last night I met up with Plucky who was running a brisk 9.3mile hilly circuit from his house. From the outset I ran hard tempo, forcing the pace. Plucky struggled throughout the entire run, losing ground on all the uphills, regaining me while I took it easy on the downs. I ran every bend wide while he ran tight. Last week Plucky ran a PB around this course by 45 seconds but still took over an hour. Last night we completed it in 57mins 30 seconds (6:10miling)

With this kind of current fitness and speed I am even more baffled re Sunday. I realise that 10mile pace is very different from marathon stamina but I thought I had done plenty of long runs in the last 6 weeks too. Now I am determined to have a really good result in one of the two main races that remain this year. The Derwent 10m on Nov 1st, or, two weeks later, the Brampton to Carlisle 10m. There is no chance of a PB in either but I would be elated to beat the hour over the hilly Derwent course. Anything other than a sub 59 minute run at Brampton would be disappointing

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

On Countdown

No, not the long running Channel 4 show - countdown to Langdale marathon next Sunday. I always follow the same routine in the final week before a marathon. Sunday is always 10 miles steady effort. Aroundabout 6 or 7 easy pace on Monday then a mile less each day up to the Saturday when I will probably run for just 15mins or so with a couple of 90% effort sprints. usually I do 2x 1mile on the Wed or Thurs, running at about 30secs/mile slower than what I might manage if i tried really hard.

So far though I haven't followed the normal routine as I have worked late the last two nights. This shouldn't be a problem, as the most important factor is to avoid doing anything that builds lactic in the muscles. I will run tomorrow with the dogs for an hour or so, then again on Thursday.

I'm really looking forward to Langdale. I am in decent shape and I think sub 7:30miling should be within reach.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Making the best of it

Following the poor show last Tuesday I ended up missing Thursday nights run altogether. I just couldnt be bothered to traipse out to Talkin, do the two laps then be home late.
The weekend runs were much better. Usual Gelt Woods on Saturday, then Sunday was at Talkin again. A 3 mile warm up followed by 2 full laps in a decent time. Despite the very easy 3mile section this was 16 very hilly miles at 7minute miling. This pace will be tough to manage at Langdale Marathon but I reckon 7:30s will be quite acheivable, so a time of 3:10 to 3:20 looks most likely.

Milly got married on Saturday and is now away for two weeks in the USA so I must ensure I arrange some training with others to avoid falling into the habit of missing sessions. Two of the best races of the year (Derwent 10 and Brampton 10) are still to come in November, and it would be nice to have some decent speed for these.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A poor do

What was supposed to be the culmination of a summer of decent road speed training turned into a soggy, slow mess.

I decided it would be ok to leave home at 6pm to drive up to Dumfries. Getting home at 5pm after a decent walk with the dogs I opted for an hour on the settee watching telly. Fast forward 50 minutes when I was awoken by a ringing phone. Phone call over and quickly bundled gear, dogs, myself into the 4x4 and whizz up the road North.

Get to event HQ - 1848
Park up, collect number, remove pants, fasten trainers - 1855
Find suitable bush for pee 1857
Jog approx 50metres to line up 1859
Race begins 1900

Started OK. Lying about 8th in a bunch of about 5 lads.
2K marker - rain begins - very heavy indeed. My favourite weather to race in (because it rained heavy in London 2004 when I ran my marathon PB and also during my win at Langdale '07)
3k marker - group splinters - now I am about 10th and not feeling great - legs hurt.
Garmin battery is flat so no info on how fast I am going. I turn it on every K or so to get an instant pulse figure before it switches itself off again. Pulse only in mid 160s. Not good, should be mid to high 170s for a short race like this.
5k marker - settle into 12th place. Not getting caught but already disappointed with the whole thing..

10k - finish. No idea of my time but next runner behind is someone I know. We chat and he shows me his time of 37:01. I probably did about 36:30 odd.

Prize presentation for this always takes an age so I head off home after a quick cake and cuppa.

Fellow Border Harrier Gareth ran well tonight, a short 35 - exactly what I was expecting. When I think that just 3 days after the 50, I finished a 10k only a few seconds behind him, I am even more certain that I could have had a decent result here. Obviously the pre race prep was poor - (should have done a warm up of 2miles or so). Perhaps I have also neglected the mile reps recently, and also the very fast (sub 32minute) laps of Gelt with Plucky. At least i got first Vet again. Thats 4 out of 4 in road races since I turned 40.

Still, move on to the next goal. Langdale marathon is two weeks on Sunday. Tomorrow will be 2 laps of the hilly 6.5mile road circuit at Talkin/Foresthead. Will try to really BLAST lap 2.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Decent weekend

Not a bad weekends training under my belt.

Saturday was the usual run in Gelt Wood. Lap one with the dogs, then lap two trying quite hard throughout - (very hard last 10minutes).

Sunday was a 22mile hilly road run. Three laps of the Talkin-Foresthead circuit. At well over 100ft ascent per mile this is probably the hilliest 6.5 mile circuit to be found within 15 miles of the City. In 2004 and 2005 I would run this circuit every weekend pre-marathon. Back then I would expect lap times around 40-44 minutes. Nowadays a 44 is achieved only by trying pretty hard throughout the lap. A more modest set of figures were achieved yesterday 46:50, 46:16, 46:10. Followed up with another, shorter lap of around 3 miles which I crawled round at about 8:30 pace. I was pleased to run each main lap faster than the previous (although the third was a major effort to only get 10 seconds faster). All good training for Langdale marathon.

Today was an easy hour with the dogs in the mud and rain. Unusually, both dogs are currently curled up asleep on one bed (normally Daisy will not tolerate Scamp at such close quarters)

Tomorrow evening is the long awaited Dumfries 10k.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mud glorious mud

Today was easy run day. I took the dogs around the river route for a good hour and a halfs adventure. Very wet and muddy everywhere. No point in attempting to stay dry or clean so I just blasted through the middle of most of the puddles. Dogs were filthy too so, near the end I got them to chase a stick into a deep bit of the river then grabbed them as they emerged and ran home on the lead. Wet but fairly clean.

Yesterday did 4 x 1mile on my own. Legs felt as bad as I can ever remember. Only managed 5:44 average - terrible performance but I know it's not a lack of fitness as I could tell whilst running that my heartrate/breathing wasnt up to it's normal level for mile efforts. Cant really see me doing a 34 at next weeks 10k.

Also today I realised that the closing date for the 'good for age' entries to next years London Marathon has passed. I have always entered via the Championship system which closes in January, but as I no longer have a fast enough time in the last 2 years (sub 2:45) I need to enter via the good for age. Its still a guaranteed place but only if you remember to enter. Damn, I really want to do it next year as a possible weekend break from what I imagine will be a busy winter/spring of BG training.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Not so much has gone on lately. Weekend before last was a BG help on leg 1. Filthy wet night from start to finish. I don't know how the two contenders managed to keep it going despite around 16hours of rain. they did though, and made it back to Moot Hall in time.

Didn't train much last week as I was away on a short break Wed- Fri. Decent 13 mile hilly run on the Tuesday before I went away, good training for Langdale marathon coming up in Sept. Good training run last Sunday too - two hours on the road. Flat route, easy pace, felt like an easy 10 usually does but it was actually nearer 17miles. Will do 2.5 hours this weekend on a more hilly circuit.

Scarcely heard from Milly recently. He's been told by physio to stick to easy pace running only (7min miling) and is also struggling to get used to some shoe inserts. Must be strict and ensure I get training done on my own.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting back into it (I think)

Last night (Wed) I was changed and ready to go running. Milly was a no show though, so i got changed back and did nowt. Determined not to let this happen tonight I was straight out the door once home from work.

4 x 1 mile. Not in the park as usual but out on a slightly undulating road East of the city. An average of 5:37 per mile is a little slower than I was anticipating but considering how bad I have been feeling lately and that it was slightly hilly perhaps this wasn't too bad.

Didn't use the HRM tonight, just ran on feel. Also, for the first time on 1mile reps, i timed the recoveries and went again at 2mins 30secs. (usually we wait until we are ready and that often turns out to be 3 or even 4 minutes.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Motivation (lack of)

Since my easy week/taper prior to the 50miler and a relatively easy week after it, I just cant seem to get going properly again. Any excuse not to go training and I give it a miss. For instance I intended to do an easy hours jog tonight but when Milly said he wouldn't be joining me I simply decided that an hour sitting in the sun was a better option. It was the same yesterday (Sunday) without any firm plans to race or help with a BG I ended up doing nowt.

This mustn't continue. I fully intend to train tomorrow and I know in advance that Milly is once again unavailable to join me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ellenborough 10k

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wasn't really feeling any major after effects of the 50. So on Wednesday evening I travelled through to Maryport for the Ellenborough 10k. After signing on I took the dogs for a bit of a walk/jog/warmup.

I imagined that after a few minutes my legs may fold up underneath me but they actually felt OK. Lining up at the start I was still imagining a terrible run was the most likely outcome. However it actually went very well indeed. The eventual winner was ahead almost from the gun, and the second and third place were also well away. Then there was myself and a gaggle of others around me, running for 4th place.

The course is quite hilly and climbs steadily from 1m to 2m. This climb was sufficient to see three runners pull away from me so I was now in 7th place and running alongside my regular training partner Milly. As the course twisted and turned through narrow country lanes I was running VERY HARD INDEED. My pulse was in the high 170's which is a high as I have ever seen it for a continuous run (rather than during repetition work or hill training). I called out to Milly what my pulse was as he knows my figures and also suggested that I would probably soon be burnt out and dropped.

A short but very steep and twisty drop allowed me to catch the 3 lads just ahead so now I was back in 4th place. I relaxed just a little on some more gentle downhill and this allowed Milly and another teammate, Gareth, to catch up, making a group of about 6 of us. Over a fairly decent climb at 3.5 to 4miles the group was whittled down again to just myself, a local Vet 55 and a lad from Eden Runners. Thinking we wouldn't be caught from behind I was happy to run at these fellas pace and try to beat them with a fast last 5 minutes. Gareth had other ideas though and used the gradual downhill finish to catch and pass us all. I sat on his shoulder for a minute or so but found it too fast a pace to maintain. Luckily Gareth had pulled me clear of the others which meant I was in 5th place and first vet. This is how it remained to the finish, though I had to run flat out right to the line to avoid being caught again.

Time was 37:23 which is 6minute miling. Average pulse was 179. Max pulse 185.

Thinking about these figures I reckon my pulse was artificially high due to fatigue from the 50miler just a few days earlier. I have certainly never raced with such a high pulse before. 172-176 would be what I would normally expect to attain over this length of event. 185 is the highest figure I have seen displayed since the early 1990's when I had a max of 190 odd.

I am reasonably confident that if I race as hard as this at the Dumfries 10k in September I will run at least 10-15seconds a mile faster which will be worth over a minute overall. I would really love to run a 34minute 10k at Dumfries, this is 5:38 per mile so may just be beyond me. There is a rule of thumb that says your 5 x 1mile pace will be your 10k pace and I can currently do 5 x 1 at an average of 5:30 so who knows?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Five Oh

Thats a Five and a Zero - Fifty. Thats how many miles I ran/walked last Saturday.

The Lakes 100 and 50 Ultra trail races around Cumbria took place for the second time and I think were generally hailed a success. I reckon I will do the 50 again next year as there are several aspects of my run I think I could improve upon.

I had to leave home very early and drive down to Coniston (approx 50m away from home) to sign on and get my number and map and route details. Once that was done I had over an hour to kill before getting bussed up to Dalemain (only about 22m away from home) near Penrith. Quite annoying that bit but unavoidable I suppose.

Then, at noon, with clear skies and even a glimpse of the sun we set off. First there was a 4 mile loop across fields surrounding the estate before heading South toward Pooley Bridge. During this first 2hours or so I deliberately ran easy. Watching my pulse always, I eased back if it went above 155 BPM, walking if necessary.

The first checkpoint was at Howtown, South of Pooley Br'. I was a little disappointed to find mainly cake to eat as I was intending to eat savoury food during the first half of the event (due to the rapid rise (and fall) in energy levels from sweet sugary foods). Anyhow, I took plenty and scoffed it as I covered the next mile or so toward Haweswater.

Up to this point I had been reading carefully the route description and following the marked map. However, I made a mistake and was corrected by someone shouting from behind. Luckily I had earlier been chatting to these people and they were only too happy to help me out. a little later on very high ground I went wrong again, failing to turn left when I should have done. This mistake cost me perhaps 4 minutes but more importantly it made me realise I was really quite inept at map reading and was likely to struggle much more as the day wore on.

There was a long slow descent to Haweswater. Slow because the ground was very rough in places with big dropoffs hidden in high bracken. This kind of Terran really slows the average pace of a run as sometimes you aren't going much faster downhill than you were up. I was really looking forward to seeing Iain Kelly at the next check. He had said he might cycle up to Mardale Head from home. I was also hoping for some more suitable food. Iain wasn't there. The food was much worse than at Howtown, only some flapjack and cola. This was approx 4hours into the run and I had been feeling a bit crappy for the last half hour anyway. I considered quitting. Quitting wasn't really an option though as there was no way of getting home. I would have had to run to Penrith and phone for a lift so it made sense to continue on course and get to Kentmere at least.

As it turned out, after wolfing down some flapjack and steadily walking up Gatesgarth Pass I was feeling much better altogether. From the top of the pass was a superb view of the long steady descent ahead. The running was good all the way to Kentmere where I enjoyed a good 10minute break including, finally... some savoury food, pasta in a tomato sauce. I also had a fresh fruit smoothie, some OJ, and I left the village with a cup of tea in one hand and 5 choccy digestives and a kit kat in the other. Just as well it wasn't downhill for a while.

Out of Kentmere over Garburn Pass was not really a navigational challenge and I reached Ambleside without incident. I had also teamed up with two other competitors, a young lad named Doug and Wendy Dodd. Wendy is rather well known in the fellrunning world and as we neared the Lakes Runner shop I suspect the cheering crowd was mainly for her.

Leaving Ambleside I felt as if we were more or less finished. The next bit to Elterwater and Chapel Stile didn't include much in the way of big hills and I imagined the energy from the latest food stop would allow me to run at a decent pace over flat ground. Wendy was very good navigationally and had actually ran the race route from Ambleside to the end just a week or two prior. A couple who I had ran with on and off since Haweswater were yoyoing ahead of us. that is to say they would run off in front, gaining ground, only for us to catch up with them a mile or two later as they were inspecting their map and GPS. Wendy would just shout 'this way' and run past them. They would catch us, exchange pleasantries and shoot off ahead again. This continued so often that I figured I would be best to stay with Wendy as I was definitely more of a novice than these two and I didn't even have a GPS to help me. 15minutes after finishing, the couple came into Coniston so I feel vindicated in my decision. I could definitely have ran faster but it's not much good running for 2 miles the wrong way faster than someone going slow along the correct route.

Chapel Stile came and went. Tilberthwaite came in the dark, wet night. The marshals at their 4x4 were incredibly cheery and supportive despite the prospect of many more hours waiting there in the rain for competitors to come through. Only one section remained. Approx 4 miles. Over a decent climb and then drop into Coniston. It was quite spooky being on such unfamiliar ground at night in the wind and rain. The hood of my waterproof kind of hampered my vision and sense of awareness but I knew that on my right was a very steep drop into a raging stream far below. Wendy expertly guided us over a small beck at exactly the right point to pick up the final footpath over the final small climb before the final descent. This last descent was to prove tricky though, Wendys expensive Petzyl headtorch was giving off a poor light. Mine, a £12 DIY jobby from B&Q was infinitely better. Wendy stumbled often, and unfortunately took a decent tumble on some wet rocks. Her torch, which she was holding for better effect smashed apart on the ground and we had to spend a minute or two clipping the constituent pieces together again as well as inserting fresh batteries.

As we raced through the streets of Coniston Wendy took us through a cut between some houses. apparently this was the best way to get through to the Primary School which had a footpath through the playground and out to the race HQ beyond. She wasn't quite correct though and we were in a hammer head dead end. not to be foiled though, and certain she could see the road we needed behind the houses we were at, she nimbly jumped over a garden fence, ran through the back garden of some oblivious Coniston resident and over the rear fence, where we did indeed reach the HQ and finish the race. A few minutes inside 12 hours.

I don't know Wendys age but if i had to guess I would say between 55 and 60. But I don't mind admitting that she got over those fences with more agility than I did. And in the final 100metres to the line she was doing a speed that I could only just keep up with, I certainly could not catch back the 5 or 6 metre lead she had over me.

Inside the Rugby Club race HQ there was a great atmosphere. People finishing to applause, people looking like zombies, people who could hardly walk, people asleep, people pissed, and everyone having a great time. I had a pint of Guinness, a baked potato, a chat with Doug (who finished very close behind us) and then drove home. What an event. I enjoyed almost very minute of it.

The next day I felt quite ropey all day. I had slept well for 8 hours or so but was ready for another catnap by late afternoon. My stomach was a Little upset too, not from eating or drinking something bad, but i think simply due to the massive alteration to my usual daily routine of eating/sleeping/training. By Monday my shoulders and back were aching somewhat but not really my legs. By Tuesday I could sense no after effects of the 50 and honestly felt like going for a jog. I didn't though, not until Wednesday and it wasn't so much of a jog either......

Things I learned for next time
1) Mark up the route map with distances between key points/direction changes
2) Recce the route, especially the final part, ideally in the dark.
3)Put suncream on
4)Run a tiny bit faster at the beginning and a lot faster at the end
5) Have a very good headtorch the best I can afford.
6) Eat even more than I did. (Theres no way I could consume the 10,000 or so calories I must have used up)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Newlands Race

Wednesday saw the Keswick AC promoted Newlands Valley Round. A 6.8 mile road race from Kewick school including the hills over by the Swinside Inn and from Stair village up to the Newlands Pass road before a descent then flattish finish back through Portinscale to return to the school.

Following my disappointing performance at last weeks Moffat race when I didn't think I ran hard enough throughout, I was determined to 'race' this race from start to finish.

Setting off in the first half dozen but immediately letting the two leaders pull away (I knew them both well and knew they were A LOT faster runners than me), I was pleased to get to the first decent uphill as the gradient was enough to get my heartrate up to what I would call 'racing effort' of 170+ BPM (beats per minute).

Hills used to be where I would pull away from those around me but these days it seems to be the opposite and I often struggle to stay with lads I am comfortable with on the flat. I know I am heavier than I was say two years ago. I also know it is inevitable that we all gain weight as we age but I am determined to get back below 11 stone. Hopefully this small loss will not be accompanied by a loss in power and I will once again be a decent climber.

Anyway, back to the race......

After about 2miles I was in 7th place along with another lad who was constantly on my shoulder. A quick glance behind on the corners and turns told me that not far behind was a group of 4 lads I knew well and who I knew would love to beat me. I constantly checked my pulse to ensure I was on the effort. Uphills and flats were OK but the downhills were hard to stop pulse slipping under 170. Although my Garmin was also displaying pace I never looked at that once. The only important thing was running hard- whatever pace that turned out to be.

Nearing the end I allowed my companion to gain a few metres. I should have maybe tried to pull him back and beat him but I knew I wasnt going to be caught as the group behind had splintered. So rather than run myself ragged and collapse over the line in exhaustion I ran the final 5minutes or so with the same effort as the previous 35 and finished comfortably, 8th overall, 1st Veteran 40.

Once home and downloaded the stats show an average heartrate of 170, max of 175. I would like to think i could run a flat 10k at slightly higher HR, perhaps 172/174. 10k coming up in the first week of September so we shall see then.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The LONG road

Yesterday I ran continuously for the longest time I ever have. Four hours, with only a couple of very brief stops for essentials. The idea was preparation for the Lakes 50mile ultra race in two weeks time.

The first 19miles comprised 3laps of a very hilly road circuit I have used for many years. The pace was a good 10minutes per 50minute lap slower than when I was training hard for marathons but this was the whole idea - to train at a pace which I am likely to run at in the 50miler.

I was MUCH MORE tired after this 4hr run than any of the 5 and 6 hours fellruns I have done. The walking sections up the steepest fells obviously allow some recuperation from the weight bearing encountered when running constantly. I ate regularly throughout the 4hrs and didn't feel I was low on blood sugar at any stage, I just had wrecked legs! Of course, the start was less than 36 hours since I finished Fridays BGR Leg1 so this would account for some of the fatigue. I now plan to walk the steeper sections in the 50 in a bid to complete it in decent shape.

Resting up today (Monday). Feeling a bit run down to be honest but the only hard run this week will be a hilly 6mile race on Wednesday.

Bob Graham leg 1

Friday evening I was helping two lads on leg 1 of their Bob Graham Round attempt.
It was a filthy, wet night but thankfully also quite warm (as long as you kept the water out).
The contenders were going for a 23 hour schedule so it was no more than a steady walk up Skiddaw. Unfortunately one of their friends and helpers - Mike, wasn't quite able to keep pace and dropped behind by a couple of hundred metres. I was tasked with dropping back to him to collect gear he was carrying and also ensure he knew how to take the shortcut to miss out Gt Calva and meet us again at the Caldew crossing.

Gear collected, a jog to catch back up again and we were soon approaching Skiddaw summit - 5 minutes ahead of schedule which was good going considering the rain and strong headwind. I waited for Mike on the summit and took the chance to don my water proof overtrousers as it was rather uncomfortable in the wind and rain at 3000ft.

We then descended and easily picked up the trod leading us over Hare Crag. Unsure he could regain the others Mike thought it best to skirt around Calva and I stayed with him as he wasn't really so sure of the area.

Crossing the Caldew was very tricky as it was in spate. It was also VERY COLD. Once on the far bank we took stock and looked out for the rest of our party descending off Gt Calva. Spotting them, we chose a better point to cross the river and guided them towards it. To ensure safety, myself and Mike stood in the river and grabbed hands with the others as they crossed.

As they set off up toward Mungrisedale Common me and Mike collected our backpacks, watches etc which we had shed in case we fell in and rushed to catch up. Mike was unable to catch up and as we headed ever higher, eventually into the cloud he ventured marginally off our line. I had been checking he was still behind every so often but with hindsight I should have waited for him.

Upon reaching Blencathra summit plateau I was far enough behind the contenders to know they were already descending but too far ahead of Mike for him to know where we all were. Several tense minutes were spent wandering along the plateau between the point I expected him to emerge and the trig point. Thankfully there was finally a response to my calls and he emerged out of the mist.

Knowing the others would only be stopping for a few minutes I was keen to see them off on Leg 2, so suggested we take Halls Fell Ridge as it may allow us to catch up as they had gone down Doddick which is a bit longer. This was a REALLY BAD idea, as in the fading light and with every step onto wet, slippy rocks, WE probably took far longer than they did.

Anyway, eventually we were back in Threlkeld with the road support crew. Mike was straight into the back of a car to be taken back to base and I chatted briefly over a cuppa to the helpers. We had missed the lads setting off for leg 2, but as I jogged through the village to my van i could make out their faint headtorches picking a line up Clough Head.

The rain was atrocious on the M6 North of Penrith - far worse than we had encountered on the fells. I seriously doubted that they would continue the round far beyond leg 2 in such poor conditions. As i write this on Monday I understand they DID both complete the round. Well done Duncan and James.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back again

A wee while since posting - here's an update of the last few days
Saturday - BGR leg 2 as previous post
Sunday - No training (planned rest day)
Monday - No training (looking at new motor)
Tuesday - 9.3mile road race at Moffat, Scotland. Didn't race very well at all. possibly started out too hard then paid for the effort later on. Really struggled on the VERY STEEP one mile off road climb at about halfway. I wonder if this is because I am always walking steep climbs on BG training days? Anyway, still got first Vet 40, so made £15 profit for the day.
Wednesday - Too tired to train due to late in bed after race and lots of hot driving for work.
Thursday - 3miles of intervals split into 3minute effort, 90 second rest x5. Managed 5:21 pace for the efforts which I am happy with as its a touch faster than last time I did same session.
Milly with me for this session - he's getting back some speed too now. I think about 5:26 pace.

Tomorrow is a planned BG support on leg 1 at 1830hrs. 24 hr schedule so should feel easy - may do some or all of leg 2 too if all is well by Threlkeld.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BGR Leg 2

Seems like an age since I ran on the fells. Skiddaw race last week was good training but not particularly enjoyable in terms of the scenery. Today the weather was good and the views quite spectacular throughout the day. As we headed away from Threlkeld I glanced at magnificent Blencathra directly behind us, my favourite mountain.

Popsy was with me today. Its over a year since we first ran leg 1 together. That day was his idea, and despite him never really getting back to the fells since, that day was the start of my interest in the BGR.

First ascent on Leg 2 is Clough Head, a tough start. I had made notes of the time taken between the peaks for a 24hour schedule and despite some 10seconds breathers for Popsy we made the summit 10mins up on this pace. A great start, continuing in the same manner as we progressed South. By the time we were ascending Fairfield Popsy was tired and had slowed notably. I was feeling weary too but knew I still had a long time to run as I was planning to return to Threlkeld on foot.

We reached Dunmail after 3hrs 55 mins which is something like 19:30 pace for a full round! Probably too fast for proper BG training but it seemed OK at the time - walking hard uphill and running easy on the flat and downhill.

The 9 miles back on my own were tough. At first I followed the fellside track constructed by UU. This was very undulating so I seemed to be walking more than running. Then, by the time I reached the St John In The Vale road I was really knackered and admit to walking when often the road was flat. As I neared Threlkeld I rallied a little and lowered the average for that section to just under 10min miling.

23 miles, good crack, great views, great weather and some more experience and knowledge of the 'Round'.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


That's the best word to sum up todays training.

I took the dogs for a run around the 6mile River Eden circuit. We found an orange bouncy ball in a field and all had great fun with it thereafter. Running was very easy pace and never for longer than two minutes between stopping to throw the ball or paddle/get a drink.

Afterwards my pal Stu was round to give me a leg rub. Couple of tight spots needed ironed out but it was generally quite relaxing. I like to get a proper sports massage every month or so, it helps to identify any problem areas that I may not feel myself when running and might prevent an injury coming on.

Other news - car is broken, may be fixable or may have to look at a replacement.

Tonight I will be finalising details with the other lads regarding Saturdays fell outing.

Tomorrow will probably not run - unless it's too wet to work in the garden in the evening in which case I might run a steady 6 or 7 miler.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Session I decided on was to run three 2mile intervals with a four minute recovery. Have been doing four by 1mile the last few weeks but I don't feel that is enough although usually its been so hot that I could never face a fifth mile. So I thought that this 6mile session may be more beneficial.

Didn't go exactly to plan however. I think I was realistic in aiming for a pace between 5:40 and 5:50 per mile ( as the one mile x4 has been averaging out at 5:28 pace) but in the event only managed an average of 5:54 with the third effort being the fastest at 5:50. Pulse was low on the first effort - possibly not thoroughly warmed up. Pulse higher on the next and on the last it was where i expect it should have been throughout.

I am taking this struggle to perform as a sign I am possibly a bit tired, most likely from the tough race up Skiddaw on Sunday, so will take it easy now until Saturday.

Milly with me for this session. He did first and third efforts, jogging while I did 2nd.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Good training day

Today was a good training day. As it wasn't terribly hot for a change, I decided to do my 13 mile run. I was joined my Plucky for this. Milly was unsure he would manage the pace so trained alone.
Plan was for anything under 7min miling - not difficult to achieve but the emphasis was on heart rate, keeping it low rather than blasting away for the fastest time possible.

According to the Garmin we ran at 6:58 per mile. Pulse was an average of 154 and didn't raise above 155 until the final third of the run - ideal.

The reason for these 'slow' longish runs is because I dont want to get straight back to the sub-6:30 12 to 16 mile efforts that form pre-marathon training. With very long runs/races in the coming months I would prefer to run 7 pace every week and look for a lower pulse each time rather than run faster each week for a high pulse. This should build upon my base which I feel is as good as it has ever been.

Tomorrow will be something much faster.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back again

No promises that there will be as much posting in the future but this is all new fangled at present.

Man turned up to do the insulation - it was very noisy in the house and upsetting for the dogs so we went for a walk to the river. Dogs swam for sticks and generally had a great time as usual.Made a couple of calls with regard to arranging this coming weekends run. Plan for Saturday is to run leg 2 of the Bob Graham Round, Threlkeld to Dunmail with my pal Popsy and possibly some others. This will be approximately a 4 hour run over high fells including Englands third highest peak Helvellyn. It is a one way (rather than circular) route necessitating either a vehicle left at the end point prior to beginning running, or an additional 10miles or so to run back to the start point. It is my intention to run the extra 10 miles back but it may prove difficult in the event to watch Popsy get into his car to drive home while I set off for another couple of hours running. We will see.

It's important that I get some very long runs under my belt over the next few weeks as I have entered a 50mile event at the end of July. I have never ran 50 miles before. 26.2 miles plenty of times but never more than 40 (and that 40 included lots of walking as it was over the fells).

My long term goal is to complete the Bob Graham Round or BGR as I will refer to it henceforth.

The BGR is a 65mile route visiting 42 named Cumbrian peaks. There are very few rules to this challenge. You must start in Keswick at the Moot Hall, on foot visit the 42 peaks in any order you like (though there is an optimum route) and get back to Keswick within 24 hours. Anybody can do this anytime they wish, its not an organised event. But to be included on the list of successful BGers (currently less than 2000people) you have to register your attempt with the BG club and have somebody with you on every peak to record the time and verify you were there.

Over the last year or so I have spent a lot of time running the BGR route, either on my own or as a helper for someone attempting the full round. Currently I still consider myself a relative novice BG contender and envisage a lot more time in the hills getting to know the route and improving my endurance/stamina.

Before my interest in Fellrunning was sparked I was a keen roadracer/runner. Living in Carlisle is great for getting to the fells at weekends but is just a bit too far away for regular evening fellruns. This means that most weekdays I train on the pavements, roads and parks of the city. Handily, this also means I still possess a reasonable turn of speed which pure fellrunners tend not to have unless they are top class elite athletes winning events. I will occasionally enter an event on the roads but prefer to race the fells as much as possible, the exception being marathons which I enjoy immensely and which tend to be nearly all road based.

No training planned today. Legs are quite bashed following a race up and down Skiddaw yesterday. Man has gone without finishing job - his machine seems to have blown up.
Tomorrows training will be decided after lunch and will depend on the weather. If it's hot and sunny then an interval based session will be ideal so as to allow drinks to be taken and stashed for in between efforts and afterwards. If it's raining or cool then probably a 13mile circuit at steady pace. Training pal Graham Millican should be with me tomorrow but often has to work late.

Going to hang out washing now as dust has settled and it's nice 'n' sunny

In the beginning

Let me start with a bit of background info.

I'm Steve, 40yrs old, Cumbrian born and bred. Interests include gardening, DIY, cycling and running. But mostly running to be honest. And mostly fell running whenever possible. I live in Carlisle with my partner Janet and our two dogs, Scamp and Daisy.

I have absolutely no idea wether this blog will interest anybody else, or even if I will keep it up to date with any regularity. I am beginning it today, now, as I sit in the garden eating lunch. Normally I would be at work but workmen are due to complete the cavity wall insulation today so I am home waiting. Hope they turn up soon.

I used to keep a training diary, in which I would log such details as how far I ran, where, who with, intensity, time/pace etc etc. Nowadays though I don't bother with a diary so perhaps this blog will serve a similar purpose.

In a bid to keep you dear readers interested and not bogged down with a literary tome in the first instance I shall publish at this stage and resume my gardening activities whilst keeping an eye out for the expected visitors with their drills.