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, May 29, 2012

Don Estelle?

Another Saturday and another 10 mile run which left me despondent at my apparent inability to run a half decent pace. Again I met up with Mike Scott for this session which I decided would be easy mile, hard mile, repeat repeat repeat until done. None of my 'fast' miles were inside 6 minutes and with my easy miles at about 7 minutes the total was just inside 67 minutes for the whole run. The big difference this week was that my lungs weren't hurting whilst running and I didn't feel poorly afterwards.

I remarked to Scotty that I was never able to run sessions well so early in the morning (we went at 0830) and he suggested I needed to be more selfish and run when it best suited me, even though he probably wouldn't be able to join me later in the morning. A good point and one I will go with.

Fells beckoned again on Sunday. Last week up Fairfiled was nearly 2 hrs so I figured a 3 hour run would be  suitable  this time out. Handily, it takes about 3 hours to run leg one of the Bob Graham Round. It's also quite close to home and knowing it pretty well means no need to bother with maps and stuff.

Cumbrian Ultra runner extraordinaire Stephen Weston joined me for this run. Good job he did too otherwise it might have been me who fell into a bog above the knees and not Wes!

We cheated a wee bit on the BGR route by starting at the Blencathra Centre, dropping down to the river then up over the rear of Lattrig to gain the tourist path to Skiddaw. After Gt Calva comes Blencathra from the summit of which we  enjoyed a spectacular run Westwards along the ridge to naturally drop back down to our start point.

The 9th consecutive day of red hot sunny weather saw me and Scamp take in the 7 mile riverbank run on Monday afternoon - we stopped often to let Scamp drink from the river (and swim in it)

A trip across to Newcastle on Tuesday afternoon saw cloudy and much cooler weather. Not back in the West though -  hot and sunny again.  So I waited until 6 o'clock to go running....

I was thinking of doing a 6 mile effort run, ideally with a faster second half. Only problem would be if it was windy or hilly, then it might be faster or slower due to factors other than the effort input. So I jogged a mile out to the 3 mile loop and ran that twice.

Had we still been in late March I would have been confident of running  6 miles at well below six minute miling. With my recent dip in form of late though I figured 6 pace would be the target.  I also intended to run the second one faster then the first - to simulate a hard race where you remain strong, rather than get slower like a race when you set off too fast and fade.

The results were
then (after 60 seconds recovery time)

So, job done. Not exactly setting the tarmac on fire again yet but a solid 6 mile session in the bank.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Melvin Hayes

Plucky says the route we ran on Wednesday is 10k. If that's correct we ran 6:20 pace. If it's only 6 miles then we ran 6:30 pace. Either way it was a half decent pace for what felt like a pretty easy run.

Thursday was red hot again. The last thing I really wanted to do in such conditions was a hard run, but if those fellas managed to wear full make up and dresses just to keep morale up, then I'm sure I can manage to run a couple of miles. Plus, its scarcely a fortnight since we were still struggling with how cold it was!

I think the track training sessions with the club are too short and fast for me - the week I missed was 5 by 500metres!! So I decided to do my own 'fast session' but build into it... I ran a mile rep as a kind of warm up.  In 5:47. Then I ran two, half mile reps at an average pace of 5:20 per mile. Then I ran a 400m rep in 70 seconds (4:40 pace). I was well chuffed with 70 seconds and decided that as my next rep was also to be the last of the session I would go all out to do 70 again. It was marginally uphill though and took me 72. Disappointed with myself for not hitting 70seconds I then  added another 800m effort to finish the session (and make it 3 miles of effort in total).

I have elected NOT to go to Lancaster tomorow night for the 5k race. Instead, a tough training session in the early morning before it gets hot will allow me to then enjoy the rest of the day in the sun without worry about getting dehydrated or using up too much energy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

theres a definite lull...

I'm running every day, doing some hard(ish) stuff, but just not 'pinging' like usual.

If there has to be a time when things take a downturn then now is a good time as any as there is nothing terribly important coming up in terms of races.

Last night at the Derwent AC organised 10k I was a long long way behind where  I know I should have been. The first mile is generally uphill but not terribly steep so I was disapointed to take 6 minutes exactly to cover it the next mile had plenty of downhill but I was on 6:00 again. The third mile featured the incredibly steep climb up the golf course so the time is irrelevant, but later on, when I had a 100% downhill mile with very light headwind, I only ran 5:40!!

Running the second half of this race in the company of Des ' Dezzy' Morris I wanted to ensure I got third place so I kicked hard with 4 minutes left to run. This did the trick and I pulled clear of him. It also gave me a more respectable pace of 5:37 for the final 1.2 miles which were mostly, but not all downhill. 

My time of 38  mins is only 6:07 pace. Two weeks ago, in the Keswick Half marathon, I ran 6:05 pace for over twice this distance and with probably more elevation per mile. Clearly I can't have become so much less fit in that short time so I shouldn't really be worrying as Im sure things will pick up again soon.

I'm thinking of going to Lancaster this weekend to run the 5k race. If it went well (I would consider anything inside 17 minutes to be good enough) then I would be bolstered and confidence renewed, but if I'm still not quite right and don't get near the mark then I'll just feel even more frustrated. I can decide nearer the time - easy run Wednesday and speed session Thursday to be done before then.

Scamp didnt do the 10k - he was resting in the van after much swimming

Sunday, May 20, 2012

good and bad (in reverse order)

Thinking I was more or less over this bout of mild poorlyness I decided a decent 10 miler would be a good run to do. I met up with Mikey Scott at the silly hour of 730 on Saturday morning to run the Crosby 10 loop. Plan was get to 2 miles at a jog then run hard for 5 miles. The cold East wind was still blowing against us for the first half of the run but I was nevertheless disappointed to be only clocking 6;15 and 6:26 for the first two hard miles!!

A mile later and after a severe talking to myself about concentrating on the running and not the chatter, I was no faster but my lungs were by now burning. Clearly I was still suffering from the effects of the bug/virus/whatever it is I have. I persevered but was mighty pleased to get to the end of the 5 mile hard section.

By the time got home after the full 10 (65:59) I felt bloody awful. Drained and ready to drop. Luckily I don't think I set myself back in terms of recovery. It was just a bit too tough a session to attempt at that stage and perhaps 8 miles with a couple of 2 mile reps would have been more sensible.

The reason I say I dont think I did much harm is because of how well todays run went....

I ran the Fairfield Horseshoe. A 9 mile route which is a well known fell race (or two).

The steepest part is probably the first climb, up Nab Scar. I ran most of this, only walking briefly on the steep section that also featured big steps that are tricky to bound up. I was expecting to walk more but, perhaps due to the light tailwind,  it felt OK to jog along all the way to Fairfield summit.

From Fairfield there is only a little climbing to do and A LOT of descending, and none of that is technical so you can really get a shift on and get into the groove. The ground was perfect for me - wet but not flooded or too muddy - just enough give to let your feet get a decent plant, so I could let fly down leaps and drops, confident my foot would stay where it landed.

Considering I was only really joggin along, I visited every summit (the race doesn't visit them all unless you inadvertently stick to the footpath), had to fiddle on for ages with an awkward latch on a gate, stopped for a long pee (me) and a short poo (Scamp), I was amazed and delighted to take only 15 minutes longer than my best race time. I think Scamp may actually now hold the dog course record

Dont be looking at Scamps willy - haha,  now you can't stop looking at it can you

Thursday, May 17, 2012

we continue

Soon after deciding to take things real easy while I got shut of this minor sniffle etc, I started climbing the walls from lack of training/sessions/hard running - just a lack of direction really.

I was still too under par (I don't mean I was an eagle) to train properly, (in fact on Tuesday I felt so tired I didnt do any run at all), but it felt like a long time since those days of super sessions and successful races.

Wrong way Scamp - THE VIEW is behind you
On Wednesday I drove out to Keswick - on the way there I again felt so tired I wondered if a snooze in the van in the Gale Rd carpark might be in order. But I determined and set off up the side of Skiddaw  with Scamp and a camera. It was bitterly cold and I wasnt intending to stop whilst up high but the view from Lonscale fell, a fell I had never set foot on prior to this visit, was quite exceptional. The run itself was very easy (although climbing very steep hills for minutes on end must surely be useful training to some degree?) and about 90 minutes altogether. After changing to less sweaty clothes I strolled up Latrigg to wait for the runners in the race thereon. Here are the photos

Tonight I had a good solid rep session in the rain. I ran the 3 mile loop, doing 3minute efforts with 90 sec recoveries, in 16mins 15 secs.  Thats 5:25 pace. I was hopeful of going inside 5:15 pace but considering I am still sniffling my way through each day and coughing up stuff that resembles a slug having gone through the pod thingy that Jef Goldblum invented in 'The Fly', perhaps I should be pleased to be anything but dead.

I've just looked up the result from Moorclose 10k and note that yer man Davies ran 35:08. Pleased I didnt go through in that case as 35:07, although my fastest for some years, would have been agonisingly close but ultimately shy of my dream 34min 10k.

Monday, May 14, 2012

they say its going around

The 5000m race at the County Championships didnt go as well as I'd hoped it would.
It was difficult to guess what pace I could run at for 3 miles. Based on being able to run five minute miling for half a mile in training, I figured 5:20 per mile might be possible, with 5:30 pace as the slowest I would settle for.

On the day though I ran a lot slower than that. I had been a bit unwell since the Tuesday night after track reps - just a cold and sore throat, but I reckon it robbed me of a slice of time and to be honest I probably shouldnt have raced at all.

Since then (which means Sunday) I have only done steady running and I plan to continue with no more than 6-8 miles at a sedate pace until the runny nose and cough have totally cleared up.

This is bad news for my aspirations to run a 34 min 10k as tomorrow night is the Moorclose 10k event.
I'll just have to look up the result to see what time Ian Davies does and base my prediction on being one second faster than that!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I think I have lung damage!

OMG - that HURT.

Last weeks track session didnt seem terribly tough. Probably because I didn't have the leg speed to make the effort really hurt my CV system over the short distances.

This week was a totally different story - I tried hard, ran much faster, and really felt I was taking myself to a long since forgotten place as far as effort levels is concerned.

The session itself with the cub seemed ludicrously short at merely 3000metres.

To begin we ran 900 metres. I know, a seemingly bizarre distance to run, so I timed myself for 800 and ignored my complete rep time. At 2:30 exactly this was 20 seconds per mile quicker than I ran for the  800m rep seven days ago.

We were then (treated?) to 9 minutes - yes thats right NINE MINUTES recovery. During this time we jogged 3 laps of the track then another 200m for good measure.

Next was another 900m rep - again, a 2:30 for me.

Nine minutes later we ran two 600 metre reps (With a six minute recovery). As I have never done 600m before the time meant nothing to me so I stopped my watch after one lap. 68 and 70 seconds for these two.

Fast running for me. I was stone last of about 20 lads doing this session tonight. The only consolation being  I was also the oldest there by about 10 years and am almost 3 times the age of the youngest.

Just in case Rick is poised to type a reply asking why on earth I am running a track session within 2 days of a tough hilly half marathon....

I am keen to run with the club as much as possible so completed this session despite the possible risks. To counter, I will not do another reps session on Thursday as would be usual, just easy runs for the next few days.

And finally, just for Stu - a funny...
I was out shopping the other day with my Mrs when I saw a group of girls coming out of HMV...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Can I kick it? Apparently, I can.

With my last 'long run' of 16 miles now fully 4 weeks behind me, and a renewed keeness to train short and fast, the Keswick Half Marathon was all about proving to myself, and others who may have doubted me after I quit London that I am still very fit and more than capable of producing the goods in a long race.

I set off in about 5th place with young Sparky on my shoulder. We had a good bit of banter as those first two rolling miles passed by in 5:50 and 5:55. a handful of lads passed us once we were settled in and I never saw them again - seems odd they ran behind us for so long when they were so much better then us - just very steady starters I guess. I didnt notice the 3 mile marker but as it included a steep climb out of Stair and onto the Newlands Pass climb it would have been quite slow.

Not so slow as the 25:15 stated by the 4 mile marker though - we had just ran a long downhill so it must have been placed incorrectly. Sure enough by 5 miles we were back on track, or rather the signs were, about 30:30 I think.
Photo by Penrith Stu

Up to this point I had been running nice 'n relaxed. Cruising along. Running down the big hills rather than racing down them . Once I was onto the main Derwentside road along under Catbells I knew I needed to push on - both uphill and downhill.  The next 2 or three miles to Grange were mostly downhill and I pulled a decent lead on all but one of my previous companions. Marc Penn of Blengdale had ran 2:46 in London two weeks ago - I expected him to fade from my side as the race progressed but he actually made back the gap I pulled on him at 5 miles and by 9 we were together again.
Each mile marker from 5 seemed to be correctly placed. The maths was very easy. Mile marker multiplied by 6 (minute miles) then glance at the watch to see how many seconds over that full minute I currently was. The good news was that after being a minute down on 6 pace at 6 miles (37mins) I then chipped a few seconds per mile off to be just 48 seconds over by 9 miles.
Once the big downhills were done and dusted I knew it would be hard to pick up time on the final 4 mile run-in along the Borrowdale road back toward Keswick. But I also knew that I had to give everything I had in this last section. So I dug in and gave it 100%. I encouraged Marc, still on my shoulder to stay tight with the mild headwind. I was actually hoping to spend a minute behind him every now and again to get a small rest and perhaps increase our overall pace. But I was so impressed by his staying with me at all that  I certainly cant' complain that I had to remain in front and do all the work myself.

Our 10 mile time was 60:58. Again, easy maths. We were one minute over 6 pace. 6 Pace is 1:18:36 for the full distance, so we were heading for 1:19:34 if we ran 6 pace to the end. Cheking my watch I noted 6:00 at 11, then 6:00 again at 12. Finally I spotted the tops of the lamposts surrounding the  mini roundabout at the top of the hill as you enter Keswick and I knew it was all over bar the shouting. The last half mile I had forgotten from last year and included another wee climb around the Headlands esate. There was then a really tight left turn which robbed a second of time and prior to entering the finish field I had also to negotiate the long way around a tractor and trailer loaded with portaloos which seemed to be stuck in the road.

I had already told Marc I wouldn't be sprinting for the place. Little point risking a hamstring pull or calf tear or slipping on wet grass to be 7th instead of 8th in my opinion (especially at my age eh Gareth?). So I was 8th, same as in 2011. I was also 4th Vet 40, same as in 2011. But all I care about is that frontrunning for approx 95% of the distance I ran almost 3 mins quicker than 2011.

If a marathon time can often be reliably estimated by doubling your half marathon result and adding 10 mins then I would have 2:49:08 on this extremely hilly course. 

I'm not saying that this race proves I could have ran a sub 2:45 marathon two weeks ago in London. The only way to prove that is to physically to it, and I will, mark my words I bloodywell will do it. What I think this result does vindicate is my decision to quit London. I wasn't running the VLM for charity or just to finsh my first marathon, or my 100th, I was running it to achieve a specific time. A time I think was realistic and that I had trained specifically towards for 3 months. Once I knew that there was zero chance of getting that time and to have continued on course would have meant enduring ever increasing discomfort for an additional 16 miles, quitting was by far the most sensible option. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Warning! Cumbrian speed thief at large

Wednesday was an easy jog with Plucky and Dazzer - about 9 miles

On Thursday I opted to walk long with Scamp and sit in the sun by the river. Running was put off altogether which meant today I had to do the mile reps I'd promised myself. Apologies are therefore due to young Gareth after I told him I went running "every day", but fair do's, I only have one day per week "off".

Mile reps tonight felt bloody brilliant. The first time in many many weeks when I felt really good whilst running hard. Unfortunately the strong Easterly wind and unseasonably cold day put paid to fast times. My first, uphill and with that wind in my face, was scarcely inside 6 pace but at least the corresponding one to finish was a decent enough 5:22.

I suppose it must be the accumulated fitness gains of 3 months good training and now finding myself running 20 miles a week less, but after those 4 mile reps I felt like I could have completed another 6 miles brisk running. Lets hope I feel as good on Sunday for the half.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The need for speed

Done some decent running over the last week or so but nothing particularly structured....until last night when I made a return to fast track running. Except it wasn't particularly fast.

Saturday I spent just an hour in the fells - nothing very taxing. Sunday I went to Gelt woods for two laps of our course. First was a pleasant jog round chatting to Sparky. Second lap entailed much more effort in the hope of my first time under a half hour for the lap. I managed this (29:48) but felt pretty rubbish most of the way round. It was poor weather too - really cold. Sparky has done a 29:19 previously so that means I need to do sub 29 really or the youngster will start to get delusions of grandeur, (would that phrase be so well used if Han Solo hadn't said it in The Empire Strikes Back?)

Monday was jogging - about 8 miles, then last night was the track

I had heard a rumour we were to do 4x1000m and I would have liked that session as it might have given an indication of my 10k pace (1000m inside 3 and  half mins  is the same pace as a 34:59 10k)
It wasnt 1ks though. It was 1200m, 1000m, 800m and finally 400m.

My times were
1200m-4:04 (approx 5:25 pace)
1000m - 3:20 (approx 5:24 pace)
800m - 2:40 (exacty 5:20 pace)
400m - 70 secs (exactly 4:40 pace)

Bearing in mind I was running full miles on the track in sub 5:20 earlier in the year, these results are not exactly setting the track on fire. Its absolutely to be expected though - I spent all of Feb, March and April training no faster than 5:30 pace and mostly at 6-6:30 pace.

10 miles due tonight, then the hilly Keswick Half Marathon on Sunday is set to be a showdown, with Plucky now saying he is gonna enter as well as me and Sparky already down for it.