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, June 30, 2011

Like a moped or a bicycle

I want to train hard but my legs don't.

The race on Sunday went OK I suppose. It was very warm and sunny, my least favourite weather to run in (OK, yes, snow and icy wind is worse than hot sun but not by a huge margin). I took about 6 minutes longer than in 2010. The wind was into our faces for about the first hour, but when it was a tailwind we were dropping off the fellside and unable to run any faster due to the rough terrain. The course was also a minute or two longer than last year (when a diagonal line was taken to cut out a long corner). Nevertheless I think I should have ran a minute faster than I did. I felt rubbish from the very start and never felt like I was flying along eating up the road/track as I'd hoped to.

Since then I've done very little. Monday a short jog, Tuesday nothing at all, tonight another short jog

Wednesday we ran up Scafell Pike from Seathwaite. Plenty of steep walking sections on this route but interspersed with running breaks a little more often than the climb of Blencathra. I wasn't really up for this either. I allowed Stu and Steve Bennet to pull away from me as we climbed, then a quick jog to regain their heels every now and then so they knew I was still in contact.  The summit was bleak and cold but we had some tremendously atmospheric views as we descended the Corridor route back down.

Thinking ahead to the rest of 2011 I think I MAY NOT BOTHER with an autumn marathon this year.
I had decided it would be Amsterdam marathon in mid October, but I'm not sure I can be bothered with the upturn in training July through September. I will almost certainly still do Langdale marathon however, but reckon I will be able to wing it without the specific training.

And a little nearer, this weekend in fact, I have to decide between a 30 mile event on Saturday over many  many summits, or an 8 mile blast on Sunday, up just one - Skiddaw. The 30 mile event has to be entered by teams of three (for safety I presume) so if I can't get two others interested (Scamp doesn't count in the 3 - and he's got no choice anyway).

Too (tyred) tired

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The mighty Blencathra is tamed

Tuesday evening straight after work we headed up Blencathra (me, Penrith Stu and Steve Bennet)
I didn't want a hard run after the previous days 10 mile effort but was keen to run up the ascents however slow. From the carpark to the summit is a long long drag and I was pleased to finally drop back down to the tarn. From there we then made a direct beeline to the summit of Bannerdale - very very steep - zero possibility of running. This was enough to see off the two young pretenders with Stu seemingly coming up with a new leg ailment for every metre he fell behind!

Bannerdale summited we had a short tussocky downhill section before the second climb to Blencathra summit via Foule crag. This I ran ALL the way up, apart from brief stops to let Steve catch me up to instruct him NOT to take the racing line across the scree (whats the point in missing some climbing out when you are training?)

As we came away from the summit plateau a Seaking search and rescue helicopter made an impressive  sight below our elevation as it flew along  the A66 corridor from the direction of Keswick/Borrowdale.

90 minutes after setting off we were back down at the vehicles and heading for home. A tough run in the bag, Good craic with Penriths 2nd and 3rd best runners, and scarcely a drop of rain. A midsummers day to remember.

Wednesday evening straight after work we headed to Rickerby (me, Scotty and Darren) and ran the 3 mile circuit in 5 reps of 3 minutes. I definitely ran faster being with other good lads than if I had done this session alone. I was tired though, My legs had nowt in them. I was pleased to manage  the 3 miles in 5:23 average pace (16:09), but I think I have made an error  in shortening the recovery on this session to just one minute.
Here's why;

I'm a long distance runner but know the importance of needing to run a fast mile to help run a fast marathon. being just 3 minutes long though, these reps are all about leg speed. So the most important thing to gain from the session is to run fast, ideally as close to 5 pace as I can get. If this means having 90 seconds rest between reps to get faster then that is what I should be doing. Short recoveries would be ideal training for someone concentrating on 5 k events.

It's not always the case of course. For  mile reps I believe it's possible to run at approx the same pace as I can in a 10k race, so a session of say 5 or 6 by a mile is about enduring that high but possibly just sustainable pace/effort level with minimum (and reducing over  weeks or months) recoveries.

Todays news - Despite a decent 3 days training my left calf feels better then it did on Sunday so Im confident it will be fine now.
Todays other news - just found out Milly won the Abbeyttown 10 mile race a couple of weekends back. well done soft lad.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bring it on

Before I had a Garmin to measure my routes, my 10 mile circuit was shorter than it is now by about 1 minute. In other words, the Garmin said it was less than 10 miles so I extended it. I don't have a Garmin now but still stick to the new, longer route.

On the old route I once ran round in 58 minutes something, and a couple of times in a 59. There's no chance I'll repeat those times these days because I'm slower and it's further but I do like to compare my current self to my old self by knocking off that minute in my head to see just how much slower (or not) I am these days.

Yesterday (Monday) I couldn't really be bothered to train as it was quite a warm day and work had been very tiring in the afternoon. So I threw sticks in river instead of walking Scamp a long way then also waited a while longer to allow the temp to drop a bit more.

Wanting to have an easy end to this week to prepare for the tough 13 mile race coming up on Sunday, but also wanting to train hard up to midweek  I decided to run the 10 mile circuit in reps of 11 minutes hard with 4 minutes jog recovery. My (Scottys) famous session.

The fourth interval was a real test of endurance as by then I was pretty wasted and no longer running inside six minute miling. But the previous three were good enough to give my best result for a long time 10 miles in 61:18.

When I think back to only ever beating the hour on three different occasions on the old course, yesterday time, adjusted to 60:18 is pretty damn close to what I used to accomplish. I am determined to do this exact route/session again soon, hopefully in light drizzly rain. I know I can run it faster than 61 minutes on my own. Perhaps if I had someone like Scotty to train with again I would run even faster (he used to run it in less than 55 minutes!!!)

Penrith Stu said I shouldn't have blogged about my  foolish error up the fells on Sunday, but by writing about the bad stuff I feel vindication for droning on when things are going well.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trust your instincts Luke - feel the force.

I should've heeded old Ben Kinobis advice as I descended off Blencathra summit over Mungrisedale common, toward the Caldew and Great Calva today.

Although I had ran leg one of the Bob Graham Round at least ten times before today I had only ran it anticlockwise twice before. I knew the way like the back of my hand (or so I thought) so didn't elect to take a map with me. Uhh Urrrrr (makes that noise from Family Fortunes when they guess wrong answer)

As I headed off the Summit of Blencathra I knew I had to bear to my right a bit and drop onto the path that runs through the slatey scree. This I did without a hitch and very soon I reached 'the main path' which runs over Mungrisedale common between the Caldew crossing and Foul Crag. I turned left onto this path and began following it gently downhill.

I'd decided that today I would walk the whole leg to see how long it took with out any running, and with the weather being rather poor I was soon quite cold and wet.

If I'd been running I would have covered at least twice the ground in the same time but walking not only got me cold but allowed me time to think. Thinking too much I  began to wonder if I was actually on the right path and wasn't in fact heading toward Bowscale instead of Calva. The gentle ground should have told me I wasn't going the wrong way as to get to Bowscale requires a decent drop to cross Blackhazel beck, and I hadn't been on any steep ground since Blencathra top.

If I'd had a map with me, or even a bearing in my head so I could've checked the compass I would have continued in the correct direction. But then when the path faded somewhat and I decided I MUST need to head left to gain the correct path which in my mind was a wide, dirty brown track for it's entirety.

As I rounded to my left I didn't find any other path but did soon reach a  small ravine which I now know to be Sinen Gill. From the head of the Gill I could see the Cumbrian Way below me and decided to head to it.

At the Cumbrian Way I had to decide whether to follow it up to Skiddaw House then onto Calva and/or Skiddaw, or simple turn for Keswick and cut my day short. As I still hadn't ran a step I was still quite cold and decided that this wasn't the day for a long walk after all. But rather than head back the quickest way (under Blease Fells flank) I began running and climbed up onto Lonscales flank and followed the CW again to the Gale Rd carpark. I could've then dropped over the back of Latrigg to the (old) railway line but instead opted to drop down to Derwentfolds and up to the Blencathra Centre to then enjoy the long long drop down into Threlkeld where I had parked.

I'm very annoyed at myself for making this silly error, but at least I still had a good few hours up the fells.

I timed myself up Halls Fell Ridge today. 48 minutes from the carpark S of the A66 to the trig point. Not sure if that's fast or not but I do know that I once took 45 minutes TO GET DOWN the same route in the dark at 1am on a  wet and windy day in 2009.

Due to a bit of a sore left leg I hadn't ran since Thursdays jog with dog. That's also partly why I wasn't gonna run at all today. But it seems no worse right now so I think its probably nowt bad.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

City slicker shows bumpkins how to race up fells!

Monday nowt - getting to be a bad habit!!

Tuesday - 10 miles in 63:18. This is approx 30 seconds quicker than last week in very similar conditions. Tried a bit harder than last week though, especially in the final 3 miles, so the resulting time  wasn't so great really.

Wednesday - Fell race at Tebay. Wasn't feeling so grand for this event but knew it would be good training whatever the outcome so I got on with it. Plenty of good running sections where I easily caught and passed people ahead of me, but they were always interrupted by steep sections too. If it was steep uphill I managed to climb as well as the next fella but on the steep downs I struggled a bit to keep up. Luckily of course the downhills dont tend to last very long so any losses are limited.

The worst part of this route for me was the sections where it was flat or only mildly up or down but over terrible ground. Terrible as in long tussocky grass or full of holes and cut away peaty bog holes. I don't mind walking when running is impossible but I hate this type of ground where  running should be possible but it takes so much concentration to check the ground ahead that keeping up a pace is frustratingly difficult.

The final climb was a massive sided monster. Above we could see the next ten people ahead, behind, probably several dozen, although I only noticed Stu and Steve Benno Bennet. Such a steep climb as this is impossible to run up, but walking so hard as to make my legs hurt did not cause my CV system to work unduly hard at all. Thinking back, I should have included some occasional jogs to raise my heartrate significantly higher, then walked again until it dropped. If I'd done that Stu would probably have caught me back up on the 2 mile run-in though.  One aspect of the route where I did lose time was not knowing where we were going - all I could do was look to see where the people ahead were going and pick what looked like a good line to get there. Benno had some good lines already from his recce last week and that's how he ended up running with me and Stu after we had pulled steadily away from him in the early uphill section. At the finish we were all just seconds apart. Importantly though was order - Carlisle - Penrith - Penrith

If I were to race in the fells a lot more then I reckon I could improve significantly on my performance of last night - certainly in the events of up to 10 miles. It's just that I get downbeat when I can't stretch out and run fast. Or when there is such a long downhill section that I become tired of concentrating on the uneven ground/my footfalls. Or when its steep uphill cos that doesn't feel like a running race. I suppose to sum up fellracing I'd have so say then that I like the flat, smooth grounded parts best. A bit like road racing but with better views!

Today (Thursday) my legs felt pretty battered. I jogged 4 miles with Scamp but didn't even manage the distance without a few walking sections.

Final note - if taking spare dry socks ensure they are left in vehicle for after run and NOT in kit bag which goes up fell and gets wet with you - if you take them with you they become your OTHER wet socks!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Plenty doing

Thursday I jogged with Scamp in  Gelt. Very slow and with lots of stops to play in the river.
Friday again just jogging - hottest day of the year so far - about 5 miles very easy, untimed

Me and Scamp up some fell or other
Saturday I was keen to run 10 miles hard, possibly even intervals. But then a massage came through from Penrith Stu about 'garn up fells' at noon. It was a grand day up top - T shirt weather as long as you kept moving along. 2 hours we spent with scarcely a stop. Near the end I was very tired but once the final descent to the car was in sight I pushed hard to test Stu. He passed the test and even had me mildly concerned at one point. Turned out he was doing an interval though and soon had to slow up  again.

Sunday I went back to more or less the same place and ran the circuit to be followed later in June when I compete in the Day In The Lakes Triathlon. In 2010 I was second fastest runner with 1hr 31. This year I am determined to beat 1:30.

By Monday I had developed a bit of a cough and was silly to do my intervals as planned. A poor performance was guaranteed and indeed achieved.

Tuesday I decided it better NOT to train so I could get over my irritating "illness", but then by Wednesday I was keen to do some worthwhile running and tootled around the 10 mile loop in 63:50 - not a bad time considering I never "tried hard" - just a nice steady effort throughout.

Thursday was a washout. I had never planned to run as I was intending to go to Newcastle to photograph the 4000 competitors running the Blaydon Race. I couldn't get anyone to help me with this and a long tiring day at work saw me spend the evening mooching round the house instead of any training or earning.

Nick with 20  hours still to go
Friday was a BIG NIGHT OUT. No not at a pub or nightclub - that would be ridiculous. An evening of fellrunning was on the cards accompanying Nick, an Ellenborough lad who was attempting the Bob Graham Round. I'm pleased to report that he completed the round in 21hrs. I was not one of his official helpers and was just tagging along really but hopefully I made myself useful by taking some photos that will become momentoes for Nick to remind him of his great achievement.

Setting sun over Scottish Hills and Solway coast - Taken from the ascent of Blencathra
Getting home late from the fells I was in bed by about 1230 then up again at 0730 as the skip wagon arrived to deliver a skip for my old kitchen which I am having replaced. Most of the day was spent ripping things off walls and dodging the rain showers as the skip grew ever fuller. Saturday night was another late one as I helped celebrate my old mans 65th birthday with one can of guinness and 3 cups of tea.

Just 7 hours in bed and I was up to prepare for another  "fellrun". We were to visit once again the DITL run route from Pooley Bridge. I was of a mind to run this much harder this week than I had the previous Sunday. In the end it was a bit of a mixed up run with easy parts, hard parts, and even stationary parts waiting for lads to catch up. In the end it was faster than last week, but I think I may return one more time. Penrith Stu joined us for this run - I'm not sure he was too impressed about a fellrun with no fell summits visited - but possibly just as well as I think he was rather shocked by the fitness/ability/determination/ of his City cousins!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

untitled piece

Thursday I met Plucky for his usual 70 minute run. Within about two miles I suggested we were running quite hard and asked was this his intention? He said it was indeed quite pacey but that it was ME setting the pace! If you know Plucky you will know he never does anything he doesn't want to do an never deviates from the schedule without good cause, so I was surprised at his remark as I felt he was the pace setter. We carried on without altering the effort and at the checkpoint were about half a minute up on previous occasions. A month ago this run became easy after about 8 miles because Plucky wasn't used to the distance - not so now though and the last 20 minutes were pretty damn hard work. At 70 minutes we stopped running and walked back a couple of hundred metres to Pluckys house. There's no way of knowing exactly how far we ran (or therefore the pace) but I am confident it was the quickest we have managed yet this year and therefore around 6:10 pace.

Friday I took Scamp on a longer than usual walk and didn't run.

Saturday I drove to Ambleside and ran to Coniston. I followed the official route for the Lakeland 50 Ultra which is at the end of July. Returning from Coniston proved a bit tricky. After missing a bus by a few minutes I set off walking the 7 miles main road. There was occasionally a path I could use to jog on but otherwise I had to walk tight to the side of the narrow road as I had Scamp with me. When the bus was due I waited at the roadside in the hope it would let me board despite not being at a stop. The rain came, the bus didn't. I held out my thumb and was mighty relieved that the second van to pass by, didn't, until me and Scamp were stowed safely amidst a huge pile of climbing gear and spare clothing which took up more than half the front seat. 10 minutes later and we were back in Ambleside having saved probably an hours walking.

On Sunday I walked Scamp for  90 odd minutes in the morning. Immediately after that I got a lift into town then walked home with my purchases. Its only 1.5 miles but as I neared home I was aware of a bit of a sore left foot, so I decided not to go running straight away. Later on, to play it safe I decided NOT to run at all.

Monday there were no foot issues and my planned 10 miler on road turned into a quick dash up Blencathra with Scamp. Despite the extra driving time this was probably overall less time consuming than taking him for a walk then going for a 10 mile run. Parking at Mungrisedale we jogged to the summit in 45 mins without once stopping to walk - this was especially pleasing as I usually have walked up the steepest parts. In fact, when I reached the summit plateau I could scarcely believe I was already there as the final climb had seemed very easy indeed. I expect this has something to do with the fact that I have never been as fit as this AND climbing fells.

There was zero visibility on the summit trig point so we dropped down straight away. Within 60 seconds the views opened up and even though I have been here many times previously I found them breathtaking today. To go from nothing but cloud in every direction to suddenly seeing a lush green valley dropping a thousand feet below you, speckled with the occasional white dots of sheep on the steep sides and multicoloured waterproofs on the skyline slowly ascending the ridges is something difficult to describe the true beauty of. Dropping down quickly to Scales Tarn I paused briefly while Scamp drank from the waters edge. Then we continued apace - taking every advantage of height drop we had previously endured to gain the summit - hurtling along the tracks and paths - groups of walkers making their way laboriously up, parted aside like The red Sea as we splashed our way past them.

I often wish I lived a bit nearer the Lakes and fells but on Monday I was back home within 3 hours of setting off and I'd climbed a mountain many folk take all day to. I should think myself lucky as 3 hours is possibly how long some people sit in their car every weekend just to reach these places.

Tonight (Wednesday) was Carlisle Tri club 10 k event. Last year I ran the course in 35:18. Following my year on year improvement at the recent Moorclose race I expected to run a 34 here tonight.

A headwind to start with, I immediately settled in close behind Kev Bell and Milly who are both well over 6 ft tall if not so broad. I knew they were both much faster runners than me and that by toughing it out in the first mile I would place myself ahead of where I would naturally be if I ran with my 'proper' group or alone. By and large this plan worked - that first mile was absolute purgatory as I strained to hold on to them. By two miles we had turned away from the headwind and the pace seemed a little easier to cope with, but still very hard. At about this time Kev pulled away quickly to a gap of some 80 metres. Milly and me were joined by a Dumfries runner who seemed strong. I was determined not to lose any places so ran shoulder to shoulder with the new fella - Milly was distanced!!!!!!!

At three miles I pushed hard and sensed a small gap open up to the Dumfries

Ensuring I dropped the Dumfries fella I tried V V hard all the way to the end. As I crossed the line I felt elated - I knew I had raced well and felt sure the time would  be under 35 mins.I hadn't worn a watch  and  to see 35:30 on the officials stopwatch was gutting.

To put it into perspective I need to look at a few runners who completed both recent 10ks (this one and Moorclose)

Steve Angus - 4 seconds slower tonight
Darren Rook - 35 seconds slower tonight
Chris Neil - 16 seconds slower tonight
Jason Holmes - 18 seconds slower tonight
Howerd Seal - 23 seconds slower tonight (marathon in his legs since race 1)

Looking at that list I did good. James Douglas won in 31.38 - a week or two ago he ran one minute faster than that in Manchester - I only need to tun 31 seconds faster to achieve my goal of a 34.  I think I need to do some two mile reps inside 11 minutes as well as continuing my 5 milers in 30:--.