Bournemouth Marathon 2016: Week 4 of 18

I came in to week 4 feeling pretty good. Although I’ve been running to heart rate, it’s felt largely like the paces I’ve been running have been similar to those in my last cycle, with the positive note that comparing like for like on pace results in a lower heart rate this time around. This means I am definitely running easier which was an original goal when I started out this journey.

This week saw the following planned.

Day Book Plan My Plan
Monday
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 15m Medium-Long 18m Long

The only change to book is the longer “long run” to ramp up my volume a bit quicker – the same as I did last year.

Midweek

Following Sunday’s strong run I went out for Tuesdays 8 miler with strides at the upper end of the training zone. I felt strong throughout and came away feeling like it had been a decent run and good value for the low heart rate effort! The strides were excellent too, I think one of them was the fastest I have ever been able to do which I am obviously pleased with. The good thing with the strides is they get my legs turning over faster and seem to really improve my form/economy – just as the book says they should. During the lull between Manchester and starting this cycle I really felt I suffered not doing them so should always try and include a set once a week I think! Average GAP: 7:45, Average HR: 148.

Wednesday was a 5 mile recovery run. For time purposes I ran at lunchtime and it was pretty hot and sticky. Ran a reverse route of the Battle of Sedgemoor 10k. Average GAP: 8:49, Average HR: 130.

I felt pretty tired on Thursday. Not body fatigue or overtraining just sleepiness. As such I made a smart decision and ran at the lower end of the training zone for Thursday’s 10 mile general aerobic run. It was over a route I run regularly and had plenty of climbing. What I was most impressed with is how my handling of hills is improving. HR effort to go up them is remaining relatively consistent compared to the flat/downhill, demonstrated by the chart below. This is a far cry from the early period of the training, where my mile splits were wildly out of alignment!

hillsplits

So all going very positively at the moment. Average GAP: 8:04, Average HR: 142.

parkrunday – Andover parkrun

This week we were unable to visit a new parkrun, but it was unusual in the fact that we were visiting the place which would be our new local parkrun. We are moving to Andover on the 1st July so used the opportunity to scout it out properly.

We have visited Andover parkrun when we did the New Years Day double with Winchester earlier this year, but due to the nature of “doing the double” we had to scarper. This time we wanted to stick around and absorb some of the community aspect of this event. Being new to the area and not knowing it very well it would have been good to get a good handle on the local area!

We were lucky this week that the weather was fine and sunny, so we got a good selfie before we started.

20160625_084717[1]

The event itself attracts about 250 runners or so, so right in that sweet spot for volume and everyone I saw was really friendly. Special thanks to whoever handed in my bank card that I dropped in the car park and to the Run Director for including it in his run briefing, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go to the cafe afterwards!

The course itself is basically a two lapper with a little extra semicircle at the end. It’s mainly flat and run on a mixture of tarmac cycle path, compact trail but about 50% of it is on grass. The park itself is really lovely and a great place to bring a family, with playing fields, an athletics track, pitch and putt, crazy golf and a boating lake which you run around too. A really picturesque setting which i didn’t expect to find on the edge of Andover. It could be considered fairly fast in firm conditions which they were. The marshals and volunteers were of course excellent!

20160625_084834[1]

I was down to do 4 miles so I did an extra part lap at the end to try and meet Jodie on the way round. I didn’t see her because she was well ahead of where I expected! Despite her being 36 weeks pregnant she smashed in a 33 minute time! I was extremely proud of her! My run was a controlled 4 mile recovery effort. Average HR: 131, Average GAP: 8:52.

27818413781_cc02450be5_z

Afterwards we went to the Cafe. it was quite quiet when we got there but this is because we got there early and there were still people out on the course – we had to leave the park by 10.30. The cafe was quite small but had a lovely outdoor area, and the bacon roll was tasty and good value! Bacon roll and 2 drinks for £5.10 which was pretty good value indeed.

Thank you Andover parkrun, we’ll be pleased to call you “home”!

Sunday

Sunday had be down for 18 miles. As this week have fel a little bit rapid and given last Sunday’s success, i decided that i’d run at the lower end of the training zone to give my legs some extra breathing space. i stuck to largely the same route as last week which was my usual Basingstoke loop which has lots of climbing. The last 2 miles were pretty touch as I expected due to the step up in mileage. Came away feeling strong though and writing this post my legs don’t feel too fatigued at all. Average HR: 143, Average GAP: 08:12.

Summary

One thing I am noticing so far looking at the data is that I am getting better with handling hills. That is, my GAP/HR ratios are more in line with those on level ground and downhill compared to the start of the training cycle, which is a clear benefit in controlling effort for the race.

I am also finding thanks to controlling my efforts I am feeling far less fatigued than I was this time during the last cycle. Comparing session to session I am clearly getting more “bang for my buck”, as in either my speeds are the same for a lower HR, or my speeds are better for the same HR. I generally feel like I am training much more effectively.

Next week sees another Lactate Threshold session which I am keen to do well in, along with a marathon paced session – which is my first as I skipped the first one in the programme. It’s a big week to see how I am progressing and if I am on track for my target time.

 

 

Bournemouth Marathon 2016: Week 3 of 18

Week 3 of training and following Sunday’s tougher than it should be effort, I came into this week wanting things to go a bit smoother! Schedule wise I knew that I could actually do the runs on the days they were meant to be run, which is good for me – I’m a bit of a stickler for routine – so I hoped it would be a better training week. here was the plan.

Day Book Plan My Plan
Monday
Tuesday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold)
Friday
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 14m Medium-Long 16m Medium-Long

The only difference being the length of the long run on Sunday, as I like to accelerate my long run progression to fit more 20 milers in during the schedule. This is in line with what i did in the last training cycle though.

Midweek

The first run was Tuesday and 10 miles at General Aerobic pace started fantastically. I felt really strong and like I was in a good groove. That was until my guts started playing up and had to do an absolute stop and try and find my way to the nearest conveniences. it came from nowhere! it unsettled me a bit so the second half was a bit trickier but on the whole a positive experience compared to Sunday. Average HR: 144 Average GAP: 8:00.

Next up was a 4 mile recovery run. With these shorter midweeks runs I try and fit them in at lunchtimes where I can. As I left the office the heavens opened and thunder and lightning was abound – it was actually pretty scary! Still, marathon training takes dedication so I just manned up and got on with it.  Average HR 131 Average GAP 08:31.

Thursday was my first Lactate Threshold run. 8 miles with 4 at LT. I made a crucial error here, by relying on the optical heart rate monitor on my Garmin. And, frankly, it produced a whole load of rubbish. As such I had to try and run on feel and think I totally overcooked the first mile which made the next 3 a very difficult affair and had to pause a few times. I shan’t be doing this session again unless I’ve got the HR strap with me. As such, no useful data to report. Feel wise, I felt I struggled, but I haven’t done much hard running recently at all, aside form the London 10,000, so I had to expect this to be a challenge.

parkrunday – Eastleigh parkrun

We took the relatively short jaunt down the M3 to Eastleigh and found a lovely little event. Having not seen the post on Facebook about not parkring in the car park… we parked in the car park. We were good and early and immediately felt like this was a good community parkrun. Lots of people were chatting together and I just got a good sense of community around the place. I was in my brand new Tribesports vest, advertising my home run of course! Note to others – its actually a little big – I’d recommend sizing down when ordering!

vest

The area near the start/finish had all the usual things you need – cafe and toilets – and the courtyard in front of the cafe was full of parkrunners. The first timers briefing was very thorough as was the main run brief covering all the main topics, and before long we were off.

The course is predominantly grass on parkland converted from an old golf course. The route itself was really pretty, and we were warned of a hill we’d have to run up 3 times… but that was not a somerset hill! It barely registers as an incline! I think it would actually be a pretty fast course, if I’d have given it a good go.

One thing I thought was there was plenty of other land around the park they could have used, and could have come up with a 2 lap course rather than a 3 lap – I’m not a fan of laps! The advantage of the course though is there is only 1 marshal point required. I’m sure he got bored of me saying “thank you” 8 times!

There was also a good section of support as you go through the start/finish where there were additional volunteers in good vocal form!

Not only were the volunteers friendly, but the runners were too. Jodie has been struggling to run now so she has been mostly walking rather than running – which is still impressive given she is now 8 months pregnant! So she was run-walking with her Dad. As word got around the course, she received a wealth of supportive cheering from people. It was really lovely for her.

We couldn’t stick around for coffee afterwards, but I would have loved to and I would say we’ll definitely be back. Thanks Eastleigh!

eastleigh

My 4 mile recovery run included Eastleigh parkrun, and my heart rate was kept under control even though I got progressively slower. As long as it recovered my legs I really didn’t mind! Average HR: 137, Average GAP: 8:43.

Sunday

As per the plan, Sunday was 16 miles. The long run effort zone is quite wide, but I wanted to stay somewhere in the middle of it. I also wanted to try and run the second half quicker than the first, as the book says you should try and run these runs progressively. But that harder than you think when running to heart rate! With that in mind I tried to run the first between 140-145bpm, with the second between 145-150bpm. I overdid it on a few occasions, mainly going up hills but on the whole it was pretty evenly efforted. Looking at the splits in a chart it actually looks pretty even!

lrsplits

I was pleased with the result here. Last weeks 14 miler was incredibly difficult so it was good to put that one behind me. 18 next week! Average HR: 146, Average GAP: 7:53.

Summary

Looking through the data, I am certainly seeing that I am getting faster whilst running for the same effort level. This is very encouraging! I did find though that I am suffering when running at that comfortably-hard level. I don;t do enough Tempo running(Or I haven’t done enough) and it showed! This is partially because my HRM played up but I don’t want to lumber all the responsibility there.

I think I need to start running at the harder end of my “General Aerobic” training zone to increase my tolerance for slightly quicker running.

All in all I feel like I am on track and still confident in achieving my target, but the first real test will be the Marathon Pace run in 2 weeks time. That’ll be 6 weeks into training and the perfect “sighter” as to my form.

Bournemouth Marathon 2016: Week 2 of 18

Following week 1’s relative success, I came into this week feeling reasonably fresh. I wanted to carry through 2 key principles I learned last week.

  1. By not looking at my pace during a run, I feel like I am running slower than I actually am. This has a psychological benefit to me.
  2. When tired, use the lower end of the zone. When fresh, use the higher end.

This week’s training was exactly as is prescribed in the book, though I couldn’t run on Thursday due to travel, so ran Friday instead.

Day Book Plan My Plan
Monday
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)  8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 14m Medium-long (8 @ Marathon pace) 14m Medium-long (8 @ Marathon pace)

This is a nice small mileage increment week on week. The key session of the week being the Marathon pace run. I am trying to identify 1 or 2 target sessions per week to make sure I am fully ready for them, by dialling back the effort on other runs (Whilst staying in the right effort zones) and it’ll be interesting to see if this strategy pays off.

Midweek

On Tuesday I had an 8 mile general aerobic run with a set of strides. For whatever reason, I got less than an hours sleep before I had to get up ridiculously early for my Birmingham commute, so I elected to keep this as the lower end of the zone, targeting 140-145 bpm. At this pace i seemed to find a natural rhythm and “groove” i feel like I’ve been lacking in recently. perhaps this is my “Sweet spot”. I felt like my form had sharpened a bit and I found myself mid-foot striking as I was able to keep my stride more balanced and felt more nible – I suspect this is because my legs feel fresher and more trained. This is a good thing! During the strides I had a case of the gingerbread man, so they were a bit broken during the recoveries, but the Average HR of 141 for an Average GAP of 8:15 (First six miles) is a much lower pace-for-HR than last week! Though last weeks route was hillier, by using Strava’s GAP as a performance indicator, this mitigates the effect of elevation for effort. This is clear evidence that something is working.

Wednesday’s 5 mile recovery was a bit of a late one. I had to travel to Manchester for a meeting in the morning so didn’t end up heading out til nearly 8. But it was a really lovely evening for a jog around the Salford Quays. I also took in Old Trafford football ground and cricket ground. Handily I’d walked the area a lot during my 2 marathon trips here which meant I didn’t need to follow a map! Average HR of 131 for an Average GAP of 8:57.

quays

Thursdays run was rescheduled due to travel arrangements, but the 10 mile general aerobic run was actually a bit of a struggle – the second half in particular. I think my travelling may have caught up. It was a relatively hilly route though, as I like to throw some elevation into my GA runs to increase the net gains from the effort. Average HR of 142 for an Average GAP of 8:28.

parkrunday

As Jodie was away I couldn’t in good conscience go and visit a new parkrun, so stayed “home” at Yeovil Montacute. It was great to see everyone again and had a good chat with Jan and Edri talking babies and marathon training! Meanwhile I extended the usual parkrun distance to make it the 5 mile recovery run the plan said I needed to do.

parkrun

Sunday

Sunday didn’t start well. After the disappointment of the football, and with a mild hangover I was up early to help at the Yeovil Marathon, where the club were manning a water station. It was the hangover and early start that were what made the morning start badly though, as I had a brilliant time at the water station! Very rewarding morning and we had some great feedback from the runners. Great for the club!

water

Meanwhile I was struggling to move my legs a bit as I had done some garden maintenance on Saturday morning and I think I’d worked some muscles in ways I hadn’t before, because they were stiff as a board! I only got 1 mile into my 14 miler with 8 at Marathon Pace that I worked out Marathon Pace wasn’t going to happen, so I went for a standard 14 mile “miles in the bank” run. My heart rate was really good, but my pace was dictated my the state of my glutes and hips which were in a world of pain. I did decide to make it a hillier route though to add a bit of spice which I paid for in the last few miles! Average HR was 136 and Average GAP was 08:47.

Summary

Its all heading in the right direction. I’ve started a spreadsheet to record my HR and GAP to see how it tracks over time and it does look to be improving, but theres still too little data to draw any early conclusions to state that its working or not working, but I’m encouraged.

I’m not going to try and “catch up” the marathon paced section I missed, I think I’m better off sticking to the plan and seeing how I get on with the next MP session.

Next week’s is another step up in distance and has a lactate Threshold run chucked in for good measure, so should be an interesting week!

 

Bournemouth Marathon 2016: Week 1 of 18

If I’m honest, I am extremely glad that the time has finally come to start Marathon training again. With my long term goal being a London GFA time, running between plans has felt a little aimless and demotivating. I hope that the next 18 weeks reinvigorates my spark for running.

As I already posted about, this training regime will me primarily heart-rate based. A step away from my usual “pace zone” based training.

The weeks training was scheduled to look like this.

Day Book Plan My Plan
Monday Vitality London 10,000 (Race)
Tuesday 8m general Aerobic (4m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 4m Recovery
Thursday 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic
Friday
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long

I’d already signed up for the Vitality London 10,000 before I knew my training plan would clash with the race, however it fit in quite nicely. As my 10k pace would (roughly) be around threshold heart rate zone I did a simple swap, and as the race was in on the Monday I added a short recovery run in there too, just to make up some miles.

Midweek

Monday’s race went pretty well – better than I thought. I had a couple of days rest before which really helped and I felt reasonably fresh because of this. I have written a race report for it which contains all the details, but from a training point of view, this was classed as Lactate Threshold. Average HR: 167, Average Pace: 6:37 which is actually a pretty decent indicator of current form. An excellent starting point. If I compare this to the first tempo run I did last year, the Average HR was 169 for an average pace of 6:47 – So I am in better shape than pre-Manchester – encouraging!

10kanalysis

Wednesday saw a 4 mile recovery run with Jodie on a common route in Basingstoke we use a lot. She is doing so well considering she is nearly 8 months pregnant, very proud of her! Nice easy pace, just what the legs needed after racing on Monday. Average HR: 125, Average Pace: 10:43

Due to having to coach the club interval session on Thursday, I had to run my 9 mile General Aerobic run on Friday. Really lovely weather and a pleasure to go for a run. My legs really do feel better, but I’m not quite sure how much of that is psychological. Ran a similar route to that I ran the equivalent session last cycle. What I noticed was I felt that I was going very fast early on and then slowed up as the miles ticked over. This makes sense – you’ll always feel fresher early in a  run. What made this run interesting is that I didn’t look at my pace once on my watch, I had it on my HR screen all the way round. It had a noticeable effect on my perceived pace – I thought I was running much slower than I actually was – a very interesting finding. Average HR: 148 bpm, Average Pace: 8:16 compared to last cycles (153 bpm/7:37). This is noticeably slower, and ultimately the whole purpose of using this method. I would hope my pace increases for the same HR as time progresses.

parkrunday

No parkrun! We were meant to have antenatal class all day but when we arrived they cancelled! Very disappointing, not only as we missed the class but because we missed parkrun too!

Anyway, I headed out for an early 4m recovery run. Again, I didn’t look at the pace once and when I came back and looked at my lap times the pace/HR ratio was about where I thought it should be. Once more, by not knowing my pace I just felt like I was running slower than I actually was. Average HR: 133bpm, Average GAP: 9:10.

Sunday

A nice short long run for Sunday, comparatively speaking. Just 12 miles. I used this as a bit of an experiment as according to the book, the Long Run effort zone is pretty wide ranging. Additionally, it recommends finishing faster, progressing up through the zone. So I broke it up into thirds and ran the first 4 at 140-145bpm, then the 5-8 at 145-150bpm, and ran the final third at 150-155bpm (The top end of my zone is 158).

When I look at the GAP chart you can see this progression resulted in relatively even splits that increased in line with the effort I put in.

sundaygap

And when you compare that with the actual pace, its amazing what a range of mile paces the same effort equated to.

sundaypace

It was quite a useful experiment. My General Aerobic zone tops out at 152bpm, and the book says my Long Runs should be slower/less effort than my GA runs. So I think, at least in the short-term, any progression I make will top out at 150, just to stop myself overexerting on the longer distances. Average HR: 148, Average GAP: 8:05.

Summary

So far, I am encouraged with the results. My general aerobic runs have been forced to be slower, as have my recovery runs.

I am noticing that my runs “feel” slower for the efforts, like I’m not working hard enough – again, this is a good thing, save myself for the sessions that matter.

I have found that my pace drops off as the run goes along compared to the effort. So the same effort in the last mile is always slower than the same effort in the first mile. This is naturally because the body is fresher at the start than the end, so this emphasises the importance of progression through the effort zones to ensure there is a strong finish,

Generally speaking I am feeling fresher and more “up for it” before heading out than I have been for the last couple of months.

Next week sees a marathon-paced effort, this will be a real test of current fitness and a good comparison to the last cycle to see if my target marathon time is achievable.