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, February 27, 2012

Eezy Peezy Twentythreezy

I wanted/needed to run 23 miles last weekend. The usual routine would have seen me run 12 miles of my 13 mile loop then retrace my steps.  I didnt really fancy doing that though so instead I went out to the hilly Talkin/Foresthead circuit in the shadow of the Northern Pennine hills, and ran a few laps there.

Not really knowing what pace might be equal to a flat road pace, I opted not to time my laps at all. I probably ran slower than I should - especially as I deliberately held back on the steep downhills to keep my legs from getting battered. It felt a very easy run but I'm hoping the time on feet (approx 3hrs) will have benefited me, and hopefully the 2000+ ft of climbing within the 23m will have made up a little for the lack of effort.

Next day I sought out a brand new route along the River Eden. Utilising the bypass' new road bridge I was able to run approx 8 miles offroad with Scamp. Again very easy pace.

This morning I have been out already and completed my Tuesday run one day early. I could tell whilst walking Scamp prior to going running that my legs werent in a great state - feeling very lethargic. Nevertheless I set out on the 10 mile loop and ran 8miles hard from 1m to 9m. The average pace of 6:13 is nowt to write home about - especially as I have ran 6:14 pace for 16 miles recently. However, it was a blustery day and I didnt have Daz to feed off like last week. Had this been completed at my usual evening training time I am sure I would have ran it faster, but not to worry - its done now, the benefit of the training will not be much different compared to my desired pace and I now can look forward to a slightly easier time of things midweek.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cakes, puddings and lager

With Sundays run being such a toughie I did no more than necessary on Monday, just got myself out to the six oclock Milly group and ran a few easy miles, probably about 6.

Tuesday, usually reps night, I changed routine and ran 10 miles with a 7 mile time trial effort within it.
Daz came with me and held on until the last two miles when he dropped off the pace. I was determined to get everything out of myself and really kept the pressure on until I'd completed the 7. A fraction inside 6:04 was the pace - good, but need to do it for a mile further next week!

Wednesday I ran out from work with Scamp. 105 minutes, easy pace, offroad. It doesn't really matter how easy I run this - by 80 minutes I am feeling more than a little tired and wishing I was finished.

So tonight, Thursday, was my reps night. The wind was terrific. Terrific as in very strong, not bloody brilliant. This, and my legs being very very jaded from the outset, resulted in slow times of 12:01 for a two mile rep and a 5:48 and 6:01 for the two singles.

It will be a shame to miss running with Milly and his young trackstars on Monday night, but to try to avoid feeling so wasted next week I think I might try doing Tuesdays training on Monday, Wednesdays long easy run on Tuesday and then something easy on Wednesday to be better equipped to do some good reps on the Thursday. Such a plan wouldn't work on occasions when the hardest run of the weekend falls on a Sunday, but as I'll be doing 22/23 this Saturday and not much at all Sunday so hopefully it will pan out OK

Sunday, February 19, 2012

No Photos

A year ago I was busying myself with event photography, seeking out races and spending a lot of time on my 'new hobby', sometimes at the expense of training. I wouldn't say I missed training sessions but I often  allowed photography to take precedence on a weekend and fitted in my run to suit.

This year I have deliberately ignored all opportunities to photograph events, ensuring the long run training gets done one day, and the other day either a short race or an hours easy run.

I think this resurgence of  form can be attributed in the main to now having a good year or two of largely injury free running in the bag. Along with improved form comes a belief that I can use that fitness/speed/stamina to train yet harder and hopefully become even stronger and faster still. One handy thing about being fitter is that it takes less time to run any given distance, so running for example a one mile rep might only take 5 mins15 seconds compared to a few years ago when it would take me 5:45. The quicker time is just as hard to achieve but the same number of reps and rest seems like less of a session, so doing more mileage isnt actually that much harder on the body.

After the Buttermere race I took Monday off - my legs were pretty sore from the steep downhills and I was very tired generally. Tuesday was going to be a tentative return to the roads with 5 miles easy, but after walking Scamp I had to go back to work and didn't get home again until nearly 9 o'clock so no training.

Wednesday I ensured I got out, and ran 90 minutes easy offroad straight from work. Then on Thursday I joined Plucky for the now routine 75 minute blast. John Hoar joined us again which meant it was a very pacey run. Despite a reasonable wind I didn't allow myself any shelter and front ran with John until about 50 minutes elapsed. At this point I was dropped - my legs still just too jaded from the race four days earlier.

However as soon as I was dropped I found that running without any pace dictation was totally different and after falling back to about 30 metres and actually began to reel the lads back in. John had said he might stop early when he neared his home he stepped off the road leaving Plucky running alone. Knowing Plucky would have been trying as hard as he was able to keep up with John I figured he would slow down now alone. Indeed I quickly caught him up and we ran hard to the finish. Our time was 3 seconds outside the fastest  recorded to date - very good result considering how much I had suffered to be dropped then regain, and to have front ran the entire route.

It was while sitting in Pluckys kitchen post run that 'we' decided my 15 miler at  marathon pace, planned for Saturday morning, would be much too soon and Sunday would be sensible. A fine idea that turned out to be - Saturday was windy and featured frequent hail showers that damn well hurt as they pelted my face during a steady 30 minute run along the Caldew footpath.

Sunday was frosty and clear sky. I didn't get out until noon, having had another call to work.  My plan was 15 miles inside 6:20 pace. I began a little adventurously with a 6:05 mile then settled down to 6:10/6/15 pace. The final mile before turning for home included the sapping climb up Warwick bank and took me just over 6:30 to give an average pace of 6:16 for 8 miles.

It wasn't until the 11 mile point that I began to feel like I was working hard. A cold wind in my face for a straight mile and I had to raise my effort somewhat to record 6:15. Without half mile markers to run to, I was due to stop one mile before where I started to make the total of 15. But as I was still running inside 6:15 pace and knew that the 16th mile featured zero uphill, I continued.

A 6:02 last mile gave me 6:14 average and a negative split by 30 seconds. An excellent marathon pace session (and with one mile each way to/from my start point, was 18 miles covered in total - only 3 less than my longest run this year).

There is no way I could have gone much further at that pace. The marathon is 10 miles further!! Hopefully come marathon day the extra training done and the ease down I will have enjoyed will let me run at least that fast to give a sub 2:45 result.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What formatting?

Looking tall?! - Must be Stu's lens choice
The Buttermere Round went quite well in the end, although I didnt realise until the last few minutes that it was the case.  More or less straight away from the start I had a sore left leg. Just above my ankle and most of the lower half of the calf was very achey, as if Id just done a 21 mile race - not just started one. It wasnt proper painful, more annoying really. I  imagined it would eventually lead to me slowing but luckily it kind went away by the 10k mark.

Four lads took a lead from the gun and I was in the next group (see  photos below) of 7 runners.

Watendlath road end
One was dropped by 10k and three pulled away slightly, leaving me with the  lad in yellow and also a Keswick AC runner (mostly hidden in lower photo). I was not the least bit concerned about those lads pulling away from me as I was taking it very easy as I always do to this point. One of the two I was running with started a conversation - I hadnt spoken a word up to then but mentioned that in 2011 I was 10th at the foot of Honister and 5th by Keswick. I even suggested that one of the four leaders might be reeled in. What I didnt suggest was that I would also beat both my companions - but I thought it.

8th place at 4 miles
Onto the climb of Honister Pass and we dropped the Keswick lad and were making inroads into the small lead of the three ahead. The lad in yellow/black stripes was walking intermittently and we passed him before the summit. The other two were soon dispatched as I began the "drop" off Honister into the next valley, and my erstwhile yellow companion was also left behind (but not by far)

Climbing Honister Pass

Along the valley toward Buttermere I didnt feel I was running particularly strongly. Indeed, by the foot of Newlands climb I could see the yellow/black lad had closed ground on me. I knew if I could get to the top of Newlands Pass ahead of him I would pull away on the initial descent. I put in a big effort near the top and pressed on over the summit. A mile later I was pleased to have Milly pull alongside (in his car) with my second energy gel.  By now, the lad behind was out of sight and on my horizon was one of the four leaders. I'd spotted him walking up Newlands and was catching him with a big speed differential.After passing into fourth place all that was left was to cover the remaining downhill to Stair then the tough little climb to the Swinside pub and on through Portinscale before finally entering the outskirts of Keswick. Those final two or three miles were VERY VERY tough to keep pressing on hard.  A lack of long runs and hillwork I think.During the last 5 miles or so I'd been trying to work out in my head what time I might run. I guessed wrongly at about 2:27 so was delighted when I reached the entrance to Fitz Park in 2:22

Into Fitz Park
38 seconds later I was finished - in both senses of the word.

Finished - 4th Place best ever placing
2:22:38 - new PB

Delighted! To run faster than the year before for a fourth consecutive year? absolutely chuffed!

In my Blog entry 12 months ago, after running a PB and gaining 5th place I wrote...

 "Can I run even faster in 2012? Yes certainly if I get 364 days injury free and get myself out into the steep hills more during January."

So can I run faster in 2013?  I can and I will! I'm just getting to know this course, I love it. 

One highlight was when a tourist/walker stood back to allow me to pass him on Portiscale suspension bridge - "how far"? he shouted. "20 miles and one to go" I replied proudly, as I boosted my legspeed just a fraction too.

Many thanks to Penrith Stu for taking/giving away photos.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Easy Peasy

So, an easy week of running was ordered up to,
a) give me a much needed rest from hard week on week training, and
b) allow me to go into the Buttermere race a bit fresher than I otherwise would be.

                    Normal week                                         This week
Monday      Easy 6-8 miles with the Milly group           Exactly the same - easy run good craic
Tuesday     Track  4x1200m 5:15 pace                       3x one mile 5:35 pace
Wednesday 90 mins+ easy offroad                             60 mins VERY easy offroad
Thursday    75 mins fast run with Plucky                      Met Plucky mid run for 5 miles effort
Friday         Nothing                                                     Nothing
Saturday     XC Race or hard or long run                     Fellwalk/dogwalk
Sunday        medium effort in Gelt                                 Buttermere round 21 mile race

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nice Sun good run

This last week has been incredibly cold. Each frosty day we have heard forecasts of snow coming. I hoped it wouldn't come, to the city at least, as a covering would create issues regarding my planned running.
I awoke early on Saturday and was mighty relieved to see everything was the same colour as normal, not white.

Before training I walked Scamp. I had noted a glorious sky full of reds and orange so took the camera along. As we waited on the higher ground in the park for the sun to rise I struggled to stay warm. Mere seconds without a gloved hand and fingers were numb and useless - hardly the best conditions for operating a camera but I was pleased to have persevered when rising from behind the Pennines, we caught glimpse of the very first tiny arc of that which keeps us alive.....

Proof I was out and about before sunrise 

Back home I wondered what to wear for my run. It must have been at least 5 degC below freezing and there was a stiff breeze too. I opted for one compression top and a gilet, figuring when I got too hot I could zip the gilet down. I also wore gloves and a hat - not normally needed on faster paced runs, but I'm pleased I did as I was never too hot.  I hadn't wore tights as they always rub uncomfortably and need pulled up often, so my skinny little legs turned three shades of pink before finally going red. I noted several people looking at me like I was simple being out in shorts in this weather, but I didn't feel cold in the least as my muscles were working hard throughout the run.

Because  next weeks 21 mile Buttermere event will be my longest run, and also it being a race, I was happy to drop the mileage today from 14 of late to just 12. I also promised myself o stick to 6:30 pace. I did beat the pace target but only by 3 sec/mile. It can be hard to gauge how much to back off when the wind is on your back and 6:10 feels easy.

Earlier in the week I had remained feeling tired so by Thursday was tempted to bin off the training altogether. I  gave myself a talking to and headed out to meet Plucky en route rather than run with him from his house. This meant I could choose my pace until we met and, more importantly, I could choose when to say bye bye and jog home. Just as well I did because John Hoare was along for the ride. John is a very good triathlete. He beat me (just) at the Langdale 10k before Christmas so he MUST be good!
Their time for the run was 2 mins quicker than I had done with Plucky one week earlier and Plucky was dropped about a mile after I'd left them. Too fast really. During the 5 miles I ran with them on Thursday I was under pressure from Johns lead pace, hanging off by a couple of metres at times. By my reckoning the Thursday run is probably more effort than my 12 miler today which means we are almost certainly well inside 6:30 pace. And for 75 minutes, this makes it a very tough midweek workday training session.
(Great Mell fell is quite small, but walking up it at dinner time to take photos of a snow capped Blencathra probably didn't help me much either)
Me and Scamp - busy at work
Friday was my only rest day, though tomorrow (Sunday) I will be running for pure enjoyment. Mind you, if the most pleasure I can gain from a run is by hammering myself to drop Plucky then my day may not be as easy as I'm imagining it to be.
Another shot - ten seconds later - Who would have thought the sun could move so quick eh?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Great Stuff

A quite superb run tonight with young Scamp. The weather was cold and bright  all day long and I was anticipating a pleasant offroad few miles in the late afternoon sun. For a change I opted to run along the Caldew instead of the Eden, which, from work is merely a few hundred yards of road then 5 miles of fields, tracks and trails to the village of Dalston. No real effort was being put into forward motion so it took 45 minutes to get to bridgend in Dalston. The route had been very muddy, very twisty and very steep in places and I didnt really want to return the same way as it would be getting dark, especially in the wooded areas. Luckily there is a very flat route back along the opposite side of the water, it even has a tarmac footpath all the way back to Carlisle (though I avoided using that wherever possible in favour of the field or river edge path).

We got back to where we began after 85 minutes but still had the two miles from work to home to run.  Including a brief stop at Scamps favourite drinking hole under Eden bridge we'd done a 103 minute run and it still wasnt dark - Great.

Track night wasnt so great! 4 by 1200metres again should have been no problem considering I should really be doing miles, but my legs felt quite tired and jaded from the start and by the last rep I felt I was straining so I quit after two laps. Definitely in need of an easier period of training.

Monday I felt mentally tired from the weekends exertions and opted to run/jog/walk for an hour at 4pm with Scamp instead of waiting until 6mp to run with the Milly group.
Some more grate stuff