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.

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.