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.

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)