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.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The good the bad and the ugly

Wednesdays run was good - an easy 8 miles. The pace was bang on target. Heartrate nice 'n low. Good crack with Milly.

Thursdays run was bad. Very bad. We have moved now from mile reps onto two-mile reps. Only two of them this week though. It was a pissy wet night and I was on my own for the session. We had discussed pace last week and imagined 5:45 would be the aim. I only managed 6:06 pace for the first effort and 5:58 for the second - very disappointing, especially as Milly ran slightly under target pace when he did the same session later on after he got finished working late. I don't know what was wrong with me but I am not worried as I can't possibly have lost fitness so drastically compared to Milly in the space of a few days and I'm sure I will be OK next week when we do 3 x 2miles.

On Saturday morning everything went perfectly to plan. I ran 13.5 miles at 6:58 per mile with an average pulse of 152. That 2 beats lower for 6 seconds/mile faster than last time we had an 'easy week' long run. Evidence of fitness gains, no matter how small, are nice to see.

So no ugly run, (perhaps I should have gone through to Penrith) but it seemed apt for the first two.

Today I am popping through toMaryport to run a 10mile race.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Same old same old

Saturdays run went OK. On paper it was my best long run of the year so far - the average pace was a high (or should that be low?) of 6:56 and the average pulse was just 155. The thing is I didn't feel particularly good for most of the second half of the run though. As of two weeks ago I wanted to really blast the final 10miles, but I just didn't have it in my legs. Nevertheless I did perform a significant negative split which they say is the best way to run a marathon.

Sunday and Monday as usual were devoid of running - not ideal to miss 2 days training every week in the run up to a serious marathon, but as long as we do the long run on Saturdays I don't feel happy to run any distance on tired legs the next day. Then Monday could only ever be a few easy miles (due to Tuesday being the hardest run of the week), so I tend to take advantage of an evening off and walk extra with the dogs or get jobs done at home.

Today, Tuesday, I was on my own for 5 miles marathon pace. A bitterly cold day today. I should have worn some leggings but I am always worried about overheating. The 5 flew in. Seemed like nowt. 6:21 per mile. 1 second over target pace. Good enough.

I have entered a 20 mile race at Lancaster on 14th March. Also the Haweswater Half on March 7th. I fancy having a look through to Maryport this coming Sunday for a hilly 10mile event too. To be honest this is too much racing but I shan't be going flat out at any of them. The 20 mile event especially will be a data gathering exercise. Hopefully running at 6:25-6:30 pace and with a heartrate inside what I could sustain over the full 26mile distance.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A tough week

Perhaps not surprisingly, I have had a very tough week since the Buttermere race.

As usual on Monday I didn't run. Tuesday had scheduled a 12 mile marathon pace run. We set off into the countryside - hopeful of a quicker pace without the constant dodging of cars and people usually encountered on our 'dark' 'town' runs we are forced to endure throughout December and January. Alas, by 4miles I was in serious trouble running at the pace Milly was setting.

I allowed Milly to leave me behind (didn't have much choice really) and settled into a slightly more comfortable pace of my own. By the 8 mile mark I was running back into the city through a park, it was pitch black dark and I had no idea whether Milly was in front or behind me (as I had taken a small shortcut in the hope of rejoining him for the latter part of the run). I never saw him again until about 2 minutes before we finished.

I still had to do some extra loops and backtracking in the suburban streets to get the distance in. It was very tempting to cut it short, especially when I passed the normal finish point with still half a mile to go. I did the full 12 though. At 6:35 per mile. Milly ran 6:20 per mile.

Looking back, and with my years of experience I should never have attempted this run only 50 odd hours after completing the 22mile race. It would have made a lot more sense to run a couple of 8 to 10 milers at easy pace, then do the 12 on Thursday.

On Wednesday Milly was a no show. I didn't have the inclination to go on my own - not something I can repeat too often in the forthcoming weeks if I want to run well at London.

Thursday we went to the track for mile reps. A rather too easy first effort yielded 5:50. The remaining four were all between 5:28 and 5:32. A good session, but again I was still tired from Sunday, with the 5:28 feeling like the fastest I could possibly manage.

Next week is the 4th week of a 4 week block and is therefore our 'easy week'. WAHEY. Before that though we have 23miles to run tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Jogging along with Penrith Stu

Saturday was a lovely day for a race. Crisp winter air, warming sunshine, not a breath of wind. The race was on Sunday though, and it snowed on Sunday. Milly ran 22miles on Saturday morning, the first 10 with me for company. As we parted, he continued away from the City and I ran a mile downhill home. A good extra run on top of the usual 4 which, by Sunday would give me a total weekly mileage in the 50s for the first time this year.

Soon, Sunday was upon me. The day of the Buttermere Round, a circuitous, hilly route of a little over 21 miles which had been extended by around 600metres due to an impassable bridge near the end. I had eaten very well on Saturday and continued in the same vein on Sunday morning, stuffing down cereal with yoghurt and banana, and toast, also with banana, as well as juice and tea. No way was I going to be running out of blood sugar during this event. The snow came to nothing and despite a complete lack of sunshine, the day was as good as you could realistically expect for a February day in the Lakes

I had no pre race nerves. I was happy for as many people to run away from me as wanted to. I had a race plan and I was intent on sticking to it. As we ran South down the Borrowdale Valley I had Penrith Stu for company as well as my good pal Plucky and his lady companion Gill. There were also two or three others in our group who I didn't know - we were effectively all in joint fifth place. At about the 5 or 6 mile mark our group broke up somewhat as we hit the drinks station. Stu got himself ahead of me, not by far, near enough to continue shouting banter/abuse at him from behind. Gill and Plucky dropped off the pace slightly though again not by much distance - I could easily see them behind on the subsequent climb of Honister pass which we began at about 7 miles.

The rolling roads prior to Honister had been pleasant running. I had enjoyed a good laugh and a bit of crack with pals. I had deliberately ran at an easy pace, constantly checking my heartrate and not allowing it to rise above the mid 150s. Climbing the steep pass I actually eased my effort even more. I was determined to run strong in the second half and that wouldn't be possible if I didn't temper my input with yet 12 miles and another steep pass to cover. Rolling over the top of Honister I was alongside another pal, Trevor. Having been caught and passed by several on the ascent we were in tenth position. As we belted down the very steep road into the Buttermere Valley I told Trevor that once the road flattened off a little, the race would begin. I never saw Trevor again until after the finish. I had several runners in my sights and one by one I picked them off as I cruised steadily along - heartrate now at around 160 bpm.

By Buttermere village , where we turn right to ascend Newlands Pass, I was running with none other than Penrith Stu again. We were in joint fifth place, and all those we had passed since Honister were looking very unlikely to come back at us. I impressed upon Penrith Stu my rigid plan to run easy up the pass. This allowed a chance for another good chat. Pulse going up the pass was about 162-164. The highest yet, but still way short of the 170 odd I know it would be if had ran it as hard as I could have.

After a brief, incredibly steep few hundred metres descent I told Penrith Stu my pulse wasn't high enough and I was going to do something about it. I never saw Penrith Stu again until after the finish.

Running hard now, very hard, I enjoyed the gently downhill miles to Stair village. I relished the short steep climb out of Stair. Pulse high, in the 166s-170s save when the gradient was down. Past the Swinside Inn and on toward Portinscale. Really hurting now, only a mile or so to go. Milly drove alongside and a welcome last drink, mostly spat out as I didn't really have time to stop breathing long enough to swallow. Finally I am in Keswick, through Fitz Park, dodge a dogwalker, swing round a soccer pitch - match in progress- and across the line to record 2hrs 28 and a half minutes, fifth place. Delight. Relief to stop. Cold day hits me for the first time.

The detour added 2mins 30secs (at my pace) to the normal race route. I ran 1min 30secs faster than 2009 despite the extra distance, and with an average pulse of 160 bpm, EXACTLY the same as 2009. All in all a very pleasing performance which bodes well for running my fastest Marathon for nearly 3 years come April 25th.

As is traditional with most runners I did note that despite nearly every mile being faster than last year, I ran the two very steep downhill miles several seconds slower than last year. I can attribute this to a lack of time spent on the fells since Christmas. Still, a very minor quibble I suppose.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday - a day of rest

With the previous 3 days training in the bag and decent runs planned for Sat/Sun, today is a well earned day off training.

Despite not running last Sunday and Monday I felt rubbish on Tuesday and really didn't want to go running at all, never mind attempting 11miles at pace.

Milly was also below par following his missed weekend due to illness. So we decided that 6:20 per mile would be an acceptable pace for the night. (6:20 is always the target pace but we nearly always beat it).

With the the first mile under our belt in 6:31 it seemed likely that we would be much slower on this occasion. It didn't really matter to me if we were slower as long as the effort was there. After about 6 miles I felt much better and noticed we were picking off the miles in times like 6:14, 6:23, 6:19 etc. At the final bell we had ran an average of 6:22 which was fantastic considering the slow start and general couldnt-be-arsedness I felt pre run.

Wednesday we ran 10miles at 6:56 pace. Very pleased with this, my fastest average pace for this run, but also my lowest average pulse!

Thursday I was short of time and after an incomplete warm up I ran 4x 1mile on the track.
5:45 (as an additional warm up)

Milly is not racing on Sunday (Buttermere). He's doing 22miles tomorrow (Sat) at the usual time so I am going to run the first 11mile loop with him.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Testing myself

Long run yesterday, and following the easy week it was 21miles again. I ran exactly the same course as two weeks ago, but in the opposite direction. Milly didn't run. He had been ill the previous night, but he had put out the drinks for us at 4 and 8 miles. I had put drinks at 13 and 17.

With a very easy start I got to the 11mile marker with an average pace just over 7 minute miling and pulse exactly where I would expect at around 150-153. I realised I was heading for a rather unspectacular run, so decided to increase the effort somewhat. Being alone was ideal as I didnt have to consider what might be too fast or worry that I might burn out before the end and have to slow down again.

In a marathon I would aim to run really hard from aroundabout 15/16 miles to 22/23 miles (or ideally right to the end). So running the last 10 miles as hard as I could today was something of a recreation of that. I attempted to run with a pulse of 160+, which felt like a good hard effort. In the final 4 miles or so my pulse was above 165 and I really had to dig deep and concentrate to maintain the pace.

The result was a very respectable 6:58 per mile for the full 21miles. That is 1 second slower than two weeks ago and with a slightly higher heartrate which can both be explained by the pace change at halfway. Significantly, the final 9 mile splits were ran at an average of 6:46.

I'm really looking forward to next Sundays race around the Buttermere circuit. I am going to study my pace/heartrate data from last years race and prepare a plan to hopefully bring me home a few minutes quicker.

Milly has predicted I could run sub 2:40 in London. This is a bit of a tall order as it would mean an average of 6:10 per mile which I think is beyond me at this current fitness. I think sub 2:45 is the best I can expect, although at this stage, based on training data I am confident of beating last years time (my 2:52 in Boston was probably worth 2:48/49 at Londons better course.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slave to the stopwatch

With Saturday being a rather easy weekend I was keen to get some training done on Monday. I even managed to get the dogs walked early, get changed and was heading out the house by 1620hrs. As it was still light I was able to run my summer 10mile circuit which goes out into the countryside. I took a headtorch which was handy for about 200m of busy A-road on my way back into town. I imagined I would run 10 miles in 70 minutes, but just before I began I decided I may as well blast it, thus completing one of the two 'session' runs of the week.

I deliberately set my Garmin to show heartrate only and tried to keep it just on or above 160 bpm. About halfway I changed the display and was delighted to see I had ran 6:10 pace up to that point. The return was mildly headwind and featured more inclines. This slowed the pace a little to 6:13 for the distance. The average pulse of 162 is actually 1 beat lower than last weeks marathon pace effort which was only 5 miles and which I ran at 6:20 pace. A great result.

Changing the routine to a Monday meant that on Tuesday either I had to run hard again with Milly, or run easy leaving him to train alone. I felt OK so I joined him doing 5 x 1mile.

The venue was a street circuit that includes four 90 degree turns and a small incline. Compared to the track I estimate this to be 2-4 seconds slower (including the 9 metres more than 4 laps of the 400m track that makes a mile) After easing into the session with 5:41 I banged out three good efforts of 5:31 5:29 5:30. Early into the fifth my legs went to jelly and I struggled to hold form, resulting in 5:42. Certainly can't complain about these times.

Tonight we were due for the easy pace 10. Unfortunately it snowed immediately prior to setting off so as well as wearing a jacket which lead to me overheating (again), we had to take extra caution to avoid slipping. I wasn't enjoying the run very much and it felt a labour so I cut it short at 8.5 miles.

Milly still has the marathon pace 10 to do this week, so if I feel like it i will tag along tomorrow to round off a great week of training