Tag Archives: My parkrunning

Bournemouth Marathon 2016: Update

Well, its been a while since I posted. The small matter of moving house and having a baby smack bang in the middle of training had far more of an affect than I thought it would!

baby

Training took a bit of a wobble. A lack of sleep, a massive change in routine, a change in working circumstances… All contributing factors to me having a bit of a difficult few weeks running wise. I missed some long runs, I realized I hadn’t done a SINGLE ONE of my “Marathon Paced” sessions, and running to heart rate was just doing my absolute head in.

brokentraining

So I ditched the plan. Instead I focused on trying to regain a bit of mojo. I went back to easy running, shorter runs (I kept my weekly long run mileage up though) and doing the odd interval session.

I ran one hard parkrun at Netley Abbey but that wasn’t even sub-20. My interval paces are miles away from what they were pre-Manchester. My weight was well over what  want it to be too. Things just don’t look good.

netleyabbey

That said, I’ve been running shorter runs at MP and finding them comfortable, though my HR is higher than it was for Manchester.

But as I’m writing this my legs feel better than they have done for weeks. I’ve lost about 6lbs (Though I’m still not near race weight) and I’ve got a sliver of confidence.

I’ve had a good year of training overall. I’ve maintained a good aerobic base in spite of my lack of speed work. I’m totally injury and niggle free.

Maybe… just maybe… With a good nights sleep, carbed up, morning start, free from the daily work stress and properly hydrated… maybe I may be able to sneak in a PB.

It won’t be a sub 3.10 that I targeted at the start, but its still progress and would be a confidence booster for my Spring GFA plan.

7.15 ish per mile would do it. Doesn’t that sound easy…

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

 

 

Mission: Good For Age – Progress Update

It’s been 6 weeks since the amazing Greater Manchester Marathon 2016, and I’ve yet to write a single word about what I’v been up to. This is mainly because I haven’t felt inspired enough by my running to post. I’ve spent the last few weeks feeling pretty drained, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, I seem to be coming out of both now, thanks to a busy work period getting completed and the stress of house buying hopefully starting to reach its climax. I can now take the opportunity to reflect on whats been, to be honest, a fairly mediocre few weeks running.

Marathon Aftermath

Immediately after Manchester I was on a mega high. Naturally, I was extremely pleased with my PB – the training had worked fantastically well, PB-ing in every distance I raced in the build up. I should have had two weeks off running completely really, but after a week of no running I thought better. This was Mistake #1…

I thought the best way to check how well recovered I was, was to try 7 miles at marathon pace. This was Mistake #2.

Later that week I ran a 7 mile recovery run, wrote on Strava that I would have a rest day after, then ignored my own advice and went to Intervals. This was Mistake #3.

pmweek2

Mistakes 4-9 were quite literally each run I went out to do. Every single painful, uninspired, draining mile – flogging myself trying to get back into the groove. Looking back of course this was absolutely absurd – I know better than that, so why did I do it? Here in lies the root of the problem.

Race Targets

As i was progressing through my training for Manchester, I already had one eye on what to do next. As has always been the plan, I knew I’d be doing an autumn Marathon, but what could I do in the meantime to stay motivated? My solution was to line up a couple of races. The problem with this was, I felt like I should train hard to perform in them, when in reality I should have been resting and recovering.

Firstly, we had the opportunity to run in the North Dorset Village Marathon Relays, and we had put together a team that we thought was capable of competing. As team captain, I naturally put myself down for the glory leg! I wanted to really do well, for both myself and for the team. So I kept training to try and give us the best possible chance of coming away with a prize.

During the race, the team had done really well, and as my leg came along, I was about 2 minutes down on 1st place. I thought to myself “If I run well I can catch her”, and sped up the hill at a pace which, had it not been so soon after the marathon, should have been fine. The pace got progressively worse as the realization set in that I was no-where near as well recovered as I needed/wanted to be.

relaysplits

I managed to cut the gap by a bit, but I can’t help but think that if I’d have been more sensible and taken my recovery seriously I may have done better and gotten us the win.

relayresults

This again was meant to be a stepping stone to get me used to being in somewhere near 10k shape, as I want to race the Vitality London 10,000 at the end of May. It’s a race I’ve done before, and the course and wave start mean it is very fast – and as it’s the only distance I hadn’t PBed on in my Manchester build up, I really wanted to target it. Looking at that decision now, I think this was a mistake. By having this in my calendar I tried to hurry my recovery and its had a detrimental effect on my running. I still plan to race it, and I probably will still PB but I will target sub-41 rather than sub-40 as originally intended. Again, another lesson learned here is that I’m not going to set a post-marathon target race.

Most recently, I had a go at the Yeovilton 5k Summer Series. It’s a local race I’ve not had a great deal of success with recently. Last time I ran it was in September, after we returned from honeymoon. It revealed I was hideously out of shape but did spur me on to train hard for Manchester. I had a similar problem at Yeovilton this time around. I went out with sub 19:30 in mind, ran the first mile faster than that pace, then struggled for the last 2 miles.

yeoviltonmay2016

It was not my idea of fun! Thankfully though, this was the kick up the backside I needed to reflect on the last few weeks and start thinking properly about my recovery, and I know if i really want to take a serious stab at 3.04.xx in the spring, I’ll need to recover well this Autumn. This is why, the weeks following my Autumn Marathon have these giant notes on them!

postbournemouth

OK, I do have the Great South Run penciled in, but I shouldn’t think I’ll race it – I’ll take part because I love the race though.

Autumn Marathon: Bournemouth

With all this talk of my Autumn Marathon I thought I’d better mention where it is! When I ran Manchester, one of my targets was to run a Chicago Marathon qualifying time, which I achieved (Sub 3.15), with a view to running that. However with all we have going on this year with a new baby and a new house I thought an international marathon may be a little too much to ask! There’s always next year, and I have the qualification standard time banked for 2 years – though with any luck I’ll be sub-3.05 by then!

Bournemouth is a local race (Well, an hour away) and growing in stature as a festival of running.. It’s been on my bucket list so glad to get the opportunity to run it this year. Jodie is going to do the half as her first post-baby race.

Its not quite as flat as I’d like, but you’ve got to do some hills somewhere along the way! It’ll be good for the legs (Though I reserve the right to retract that statement when I get to mile 22).

The target time  3.09.xx – the next logical stepping stone in my quest for GFA in the spring. If I use a pace calculator this equates to 7.14 minute miling – but given that GPS is a bit inaccurate, and there will inevitably be some weaving around I thought it prudent to assume the GPS would measure 26.4 miles and calculate based upon that. This works out to be 7.11m/m, so 7.10s would be a nice target.

In training for Manchester, I wasn’t a million miles away from this, so I think this is more than achievable with another solid block of training.

Just like last year, I’ll be using P&D 18/155 – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right?! The plan has worked well for me and I’ll keep using it until it stops being effective. It’ll be a challenge training over the summer – I’ve not run an autumn marathon before and the training starts in the first week of June! Still, I hope the conditioning I’ve given myself over the winter puts me in good stead for a good campaign.

The next step after that will be a good long recovery and a base build before starting training for the Spring, and my GFA target race. I’ve signed up for Brighton, so when I inevitably get my London rejection magazine I still have a good race to target.

Ultimately, if I look at my shape in September and the performances I had this week

In The Meantime

In the meantime, time to enjoy a couple of weeks of target free running! We visited the lovely Chippenham parkrun this weekend and it was great to get touring again. We plan to tour over the next few weeks too, and there is nothing like a bit of parkrun tourism to reinvigorate the mojo.

Speaking of Chippenham, it was a great event. The course was 2 laps around a small park, then 2 laps around a field, all by the river with the first 2 laps having a bit of an incline. The volunteer team were fantastic as ever and the weather was beautiful. It was first class event and a great course with variety. We loved it!

chippenham

We are holding a track session at the club this week which I am going to have a go at, as I am starting to feel a bit better, and we’ll be visiting Barnstaple parkrun  on Saturday.

It’s good to be back, hopefully the mojo sticks around!

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 14 of 18

Really getting down to the business end now, and following last weeks marathon paced beasting I seem to be riding along on a crest of a wave…

Midweek

The first run of the week was another interval session. 8 miles with a set of 5 x 600m. Last week, my legs just couldn’t carry me through any sort of speed at all. Given Sunday’s performance I wasn’t massively confident going into this one. I didn’t feel up for it and felt pretty tired. But, the lengthy warm-up seemed to work, and blasted through the intervals like I’ve never been able to before…

intervals

Average of 5:19m/m per interval. Now I only did 5 not the full 8 for a 5k session, and I’m not sure if I could have continued with any more, but lets so I could, that would equate to a 5k average of 16:31! Still a long way off that level though, ha ha!

Wednesday was a strange one. We had my grandfathers funeral in the morning, and the wake at about lunchtime and I ate a lot of food and had several pints. I did get a one hour nap in before my 11 mile medium-long run, but I felt the effects of it. It had some pauses, I felt really ill (probably drunk) and I really shouldn’t have gone out. But still, it was miles in the legs.

Thursday was a recovery 4 miles with a set of strides. Strides were decent but my legs were a bit knackered!

parkrunday – Poole parkrun

Jodie was off on a hen weekend and I was due another tune up race. I was originally going to do Blandford, but Simon was off to Poole so I thought I’d join him.

I’d not run Poole parkrun other than the day after New Years Day, when the conditions were awful. This time though, conditions were perfect. It’s already regarded as one of the fastest parkrun courses around, so fresh off the back of my PB, I thought I’d have a crack at an even faster time today and optimistically set my watch to pace me to 18:59. I figured with 20s leeway I may at least get another PB even if I didn’t dip under.

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We got there early, parked up at the far end of the lake and jogged in as a warm up. It was pretty cold first thing, though it did warm towards the end of the run. Conditions were absolutely perfect, not a hint of wind, dry, cool… After a run brief which was barely audible we headed to the start. It was back on the “main course” compared to last time. We were quite near the front and aside from a dog runner right near the front (why oh why…) we got away pretty cleanly. I immediately found a stride and rhythm I felt comfortable with, though looking at the watch it was a tad fast.

The first mile ticked over in 6.01 – my new fastest mile PB if nothing else! I knew I was working hard but was still hopeful I could sustain. As we rounded the lake the the first time we were at halfway. One of the great things about a fast 5k is that they don’t take long, so you can hold on! Mile 2 came and went in 6.09 which meant I was jsut and just on pace. It started getting tough and the back end of the lake was a bit of a blur the second time round. I had to take the racing line when we reached the road and by now I was clinging on.

As we tantalisingly reached the pavilion we still had a 400m loop of the cricket pitch to round… I looked at my watch and I was 1 second behind target pace. I kicked on a bit but felt like I kicked to soon – with 300 to go I felt like I wanted to be sick, but I clung on and somehow found another gear. As my watch ticked over for mile 3 in 6:08 it was on – close, but on! I was worried that I’d end up with 19:00 flat, or that my watch was mis reporting something, or the official time would be a bit behind so I gave it absolutely everything I had for the last 100 meters and crossed the line, stopping my watch without looking at it…

I heard someone say “well run” to me as I heaved in the funnel, I was ushered forwards and then I looked at the watch… 18:54! I’d done it! A 26 second PB, and the official result confirmed the time. I was absolutely chuffed as nuts and can’t believe that after a year of trying to break 20, I bunny hopped in the 19s and into the 18s!

5kpb

Simon also run a brilliant 18:28 which he was delighted with, only 18s off his PB at Blandford last year. We are on fire! It made for a very happy drive home!

Sunday

On Sunday a few club mates were running the local Sherborne 10k. I had to do 16 miles so I decided to run the race at an easy pace and then run home which was about the right distance.

Though it was a small, local race it was a lot of fun thanks to my club mates and the fact that we paced 3 members to PBS! I wrote the club race report about it here.

The remaining 10 miles were a bit of a slog, we got a bit lost and my new short shorts started chafing but the pace was decent and brought the average down.

The biggest challenge with this run was the weather – it was so bright and sunny! I was too hot by the end – that’ll teach me to wear long sleeves instead of a vest!

Summary

Well with that week out of the way it’s the last tough week ahead before tapering. A set of long intervals, a midweek long run, and my longest long run as time on feet (3.15 hours) resulting in my peak mileage week.

Just one more week… Just one more week..

Greater Manchester Marathon: Week 12 of 18

I can’t believe it’s week 12 already! With only 3 weeks left until I start tapering (based upon the date of writing – 4 weeks as of the first session of the week discussed below) now is when the “Race Preparation” mesocycle of training kicks in, trying to sharpen my aerobic gains into speed through Interval workouts and tune-up races.

Midweek

On Tuesday I had an Interval session to do. I hate doing intervals on my own, but at least it was a short session. 8 miles with 5 x 600 meter reps in the middle and 2 minute recoveries. I was in Coleshill this week, and funnily enough I did the same session here last year, so a good comparison! When I finished the run, I felt the reps were excellent and thought I was in good shape compared to last year, but the reps weren’t a lot faster at all – I’m not sure whether to be concerned or not!

5x600

Rep 2015 2016 Difference
1 2:11 2:15 +4
2 2:12 2:12 0
3 2:14 2:12 -2
4 2:11 2:09 -2
5 2:11 2:11 0
Ave 0!

So looking at the data I’m in exactly the same shape I was in last year! A bit frustrating really, and it made me question if a sub-20 5k was possible this week, as I wasn’t able to do it last year – the PB which still stands. On the plus side, I know my new Garmin is a bit more accurate than the old one thanks to the addition of GLONASS so the data doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

Wednesday’s 12 mile medium-long run was suitably hard considering the day’s session previous. Couple this with the fact I was in Coleshill I also needed to find my way to a slightly new route, in the dark. Despite a couple of pauses and some very VERY dark alleys and crossing a couple of motorways (on bridges of course) I got around unscathed thanks to my handy printed map! What made it extra nice was progressing through to sustain sub 8s for the last half of the run including some nice segment PRs. I was on fire!

Thankfully, Thursday  saw me run 5 miles recovery (Which my legs were grateful for) with a set of strides. I ran with Jodie and my strides were of good form if the pace was a little slow. Nothing I was concerned about though.

parkrunday

On Saturday we went to the under threat Little Stoke parkrun. The full report can be read here.

To summarize, this was a tune up race according to my plan, so I went for it big style and delivered the goods! A 1 minute PB for 19:20!

Tactically it wasn’t quite perfect – my miles got progressively slower but I’m not sure how much of that was my fatigue versus having to weave around back markers in subsequent miles.

littlestoke race analysis

But sod it, I am bloody chuffed! I’m off to Blandford in 2 weeks which will be a bit less busy and no congestion, possibly a slightly faster course and single out and back. I wonder how close to 19 I can go?

Sunday

On Sunday I wanted to run 22 miles at a decent pace, somewhere around 8:15 pace which is target marathon pace + 15% ish. Thankfully Simon was doing similar. We met in the afternoon it was a lovely day and we just ate the miles up. After about half way I was starting to feel the pace and it got worse when we reached Ilchester Road for a long climb! Not nice to hit when you are 16 miles in!

We got to the top. Interestingly, despite us running it up together, Simon ran that segment 5 seconds faster than me! Its only a segment, but it got him 7th overall and me 10th overall! Hardly fair!!!

After about 17 miles, Si had to pause as he felt his knee twinge and wanted to take a short cut back. I carried on for another mile and then I felt my bum twinge. I needed the loo. Had to walk a bit for the cramp to pass then run towards the pub. After that my legs had seized a little making the last few miles a bit of a struggle, but that said, I managed to keep a pretty decent pace up. The last couple of miles I started cramping  little so needed to stretch out but otherwise a very successful long run.

22miler

I only have 1 more 22 miler to go, and that one will be slower so I spend 3:15 on my feet (8:45 pace).

Summary

A successful Interval session, a 5k PB and a successful 22 miler. What more could I ask for?

Next week will be a bit tougher with a marathon-pace long run, but that’s the last really tough one. 6 weeks til race day and I’m feeling good!

Run Report: Little Stoke parkrun

On parkrunday we visited another new parkrun to us, the under-threat from closure by the parish council, Little Stoke parkrun.

The council who are short sighted enough to think that the cost of a few loo rolls (Ok I’m sure its more complicated than that) outweighs the benefits of 300 of its local residents staying fit and active!

Ahem.

Anyway, we arrived with Nikkii and Steve and got the obligatory selfie.

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This was designed to be a tune-up race for me – yes I know parkrun is not a race, but what I intended was for it to be run at a race effort, all out, to see what shape I am in.

I’ve not run an all out 5k effort since August in Yeovilton, post honeymoon and well out of shape – mainly because of that very reason. I knew I wasn’t in PB form, what was the point?

So here we were in the exact same point in my training plan that I set my PB at Newbury last year. Could I finally go sub 20?

I treated it as a race, wore my club vest, did a proper warm up… the works. I had a time in mind and I set my watch for it. No rain, no wind. I felt ready.

The run briefing was excellent, and they warmly welcomed all tourists, but unusually we had to walk nearly half a lap to the start which actually meant we started a bit late. No big deal but as I wanted to start near the front I got there early and had to wait for everyone to catch up!

Without much fanfare, we were off. The course itself is a 3 and a half lapper, all tarmac but on some quite narrow paths. It is also pretty flat, though half the lap you are gradually moving (very slightly) uphill, so the second half is ever-so-slightly down. Its not too noticeable until the last lap when you realize you are blowing out of your ass at the farthest point of the course!

littlestoke map

The marshals around the course were excellent and very supportive, and of course there was always Nikkii making her voice very well heard! I’m sure whoever was running near me also got a boost from her yelling at me for going too slow!

The first lap and a half flew by and I was on pace for my target. Then I started catching some back markers. Despite the best efforts of the marshals and the briefing to keep them to the right, unfortunately they didn’t so it meant a lot of weaving for the rest of the run. It cost a few seconds but hey its parkrun, a run not a race!

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Mile 2 was bang on pace (Mile 1 was ahead) and mile 3 started getting tough, probably because I went too quick in mile 1. As I reached the “peak” of the gradual slope and started going a little downhill my legs turned to jelly and I had to really concentrate to hold it together. I was on target still. I dug my heels in. With a quarter of a lap to go I saw I was within 5 seconds of a time with an even nicer ring to it… I gave it one last effort and crossed the line, ready to collapse in P16.

My watch said 19:20. My target was 19:30 and my old PB was 20:22. A PB by over a minute! (The time was confirmed in the official results later).

littlestoke race analysis

I immediately lay on the floor to recover. Absolutely exhausted but utterly thrilled. Not only had I beaten my PB, I had SMASHED it. A guy from behind me thanked me for pacing him – happy to help but it was unintentional! The only person I was racing was myself, and I bloody won!

With a single lap/out and back course with no traffic, I wonder how close I can get to 19 minutes? I hope its not another year away.

The team at Little Stoke did an excellent job. Unfortunately we couldn’t stick around for coffee but if the council come down and see the joy in peoples eyes when they see friends, and achieve their personal goals, and they can see how important this is to the local and national community you would hope they could see no other option but to forget about their objection.

Thank you Little Stoke, long may you continue!

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 11 of 18

Fresh off the back of a stunning PB last week, I was eager to consolidate this in week 11. I was high on confidence and my legs felt pretty good. The only slight problem was I needed to do some shuffling around of sessions in order to accommodate the fact we went away for the weekend.

Midweek

Tuesday was 7 recovery miles with some strides. Legs felt good but thats probbaly due to the comparatively low mileage from the week before. Still, got some good speed in, certainly made the lungs work!

Wednesday was meant to be the peak threshold run of this mesocycle – 11 with 7 at lactate threshold. I made the executive decision that this would be a bad idea, given that I raced on Sunday, which was essentially run at threshold pace. So i shelved it and ran the 11 miles at easy/general aerobic pace, and ran a load of hills to make up for it. Was tougher than I anticipated!

Thursday was supposed to be a rest day, but I had to run Friday’s planned 12 mile medium-long run as we went to London on Friday. Definitely see why I needed a rest day, it was tough. Ran basically the same route as the day before, but in reverse so had plenty of hills. Avoided making it a progression and just kept it at a steady effort.

5000 Logged Miles!

Thusdays run saw me log 5000 lifetime miles on Strava! I have actually run a few more than that – I haven;t logged any of my Couch to 5k runs (I went through it twice) as it was before the days I recorded anything at all, however I have retrospectively added/logged all my activities since I started training for the Yeovil Half Marathon 2013, which is when I consider that I “started” running.

Yes I’m sad that I retrospectively added them all.

But anyway, it’s a nice milestone to hit!

parkrunday

This week we went to Bushy parkrun, home of parkrun globally! I wrote a separate post about it here.

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I ran 5 miles at recovery pace. Well, it was meant to be at recovery pace, but I progressed through the gears in the middle of the parkrun. We tagged on a mile either side of the run to and from the hotel which made it up to 5. Legs felt better compared to how they were after Thursday!

Sunday

It was back to the long mileage on Sunday, with 20 hilly miles around Yeovil.

Getting this run right was quite important to me. Last year of all the 20+ milers I ran, most were “split shifts” as in, I ran part, had a break, and then ran a chunk more. or, I ran a slower pace for part of the run with the group then motored on by myself.

The previous 20 milers from this campaign I ran with the group for the first half, which was great to get me up to mileage. This is the first of a block of 3 where I am trying to keep a fairly consistent steady pace.

The book says the long runs should be between 10 % and 20% slower than Marathon Pace, ideally progressed through the zone. I think I’ll do the progression side of things on my last long run. This block I want to just focus on staying within this pace range. Which I am pleased to say I managed.

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More pleasing, is that despite the hills and pace my heart rate remained pretty much in control, only reaching the “tempo” zone for 35 minutes, which no doubt would have been times when I was going up hill!

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So I’m very happy. Next week sees 22 miles which I’ll be trying with the same idea/principle in mind – keeping a steady effort/pace which I hope will also see the run exceed the amount of time I plan to spend on my feet during the race.

Summary

Well, that’s the end of the “Lactate Threshold” mesocycle. Bit of a damp squib on that front as I had no tempo run! But the results of the race last week show the training has worked.

The next mesocycle “Race Preparation” is all about the speedwork. Time to translate this aerobic performance into some fast times through Interval sessions and tune-up races. The first tune up for me being Little Stoke parkrun on Saturday where I hope to finally break that elusive sub-20 5k barrier.

There’s just 4 weeks hard training to go before it’s time to taper. There has been an absence of me weighing in recently so I need to get that back under control for a final push – I always tend to lose more weight on weeks were my mileage is high.

Still, everything is well on track, I’m still injury free and feeling reasonably strong.

Run Report: Bushy parkrun

We’d wanted to visit Bushy parkrun for a long time. It’s the home of parkrun and the biggest parkrun in the UK by number of runners, and many consider a trip to bushy as being a “pilgrimage” – none more so than me!

Not only did I want to visit where it all began, the former Event Director in me wanted to know, logistically, how they managed all those runners.

Anyway, we were in London as we had tickets to watch them film “Red Dwarf” at Pinewood Studios, and had a wedding present to cash in – Afternoon tea at the Royal Albert Hall, so we decided to make this our weekend to visit.

Our Hotel was in Kingston, about a quarter-miles jog from Bushy, one of the Royal Parks. It’s a big park though, and it was nearly a mile further to get to the start line!

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The start was near the Princess Diana fountain, and when we got there to use the on site facilities, I was quite surprised at just how few people were already there. We arrived at about 8.45, which I thought was a little late, but the number of people around was quite sparse!

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Now, there is nothing unusual about this, from all the parkruns we have visited, it always seems to be very quiet until 2 minutes before the start when suddenly everyone seems to appear. I just wasn’t expecting it to be the same at Bushy, purely due to the numbers!

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The start was brilliantly organised, with flat cones delineating the start and people adhered to them – great idea! It was good and wide as it needs to accommodate so many people, not unlike the brilliant organisation at Yeovil Montacute!

People listened attentively to the run briefing which was over loudspeakers, and newcomers and tourists got a brilliant applause, but there weren’t as many tourists as I expected put their hands up. Then again, there are an awful lot of parkruns in London!

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Before long, we were off, a thousand runners thundering toward the path like wild cattle, naturally funneling and thinning as the path narrowed down. The course itself is less than a year old compared to previous iterations, and is mostly on compact trail with some short sections on grass, but it is very, very flat. I imagine it is a very fast course, if you can find the space to run because it is very congested in the mid pack which is where I was running for the day – it was a recovery jog day for me.

The marshals around the course were excellent, but whilst it was a great experience the course didn’t really inspire me – perhaps we need to return in summer when it’s in full bloom.

I eventually progressed my pace a bit (recovery be damned!) and found myself overtaking a lot of people. There is plenty of room you just need to take a wider line.

As we barreled toward the finish line I felt sorry for the timers who must be frantically pressing the lap button. As I ran through the pack I noticed large clumps of runners running together, it must be very difficult to keep track of your presses!

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The finish funnel was a spectacle itself – over 112m long and split in two.

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The idea is that when one funnel is full, runners are sent to the other funnel, and these are separated further by holding a “funnel card”. This way, when a person holding a funnel card reaches the token volunteers, they know they need to switch which funnel they issue the tokens too. it works very VERY well, I was really impressed.

My 25 and a half-minute time earned me 389th position, and what was even more impressive was that I got the result text before 11am. Huge kudos to the team for getting 1000 results processed so promptly!

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Jodie was a couple of minutes behind me and I managed to snap her in the mega funnel.

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Again, amazingly there was hardly any queue for scanning – I really couldn’t believe just how well-managed this was. But then again, I guess they have 11 years experience!

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Did I love Bushy? Yes, absolutely. Would I hurry back? No, to be honest, I wouldn’t.

One of my favourite parts of parkrun is spending time with friends and club mates, going for a post run coffee and shooting the breeze. Any parkrun without your friends isn’t the same, and as such I wouldn’t go back without it being a club/friends event. It is special that it’s the home of parkrun, but it is just another parkrun – and there are plenty of others still to visit yet!

Thank you Bushy, and all your amazing volunteers!

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 8 of 18

This week has been a bit of a game changer in my training mission for the Greater Manchester Marathon. One of those weeks where everything to do with my running seems to have started to click together, and like a step up in ability has been achieved.

Tuesday was meant to be a 7 mile recovery run with some strides, but instead I elected to lead a 6 mile social club run. There were only 3 of us but it was very enjoyable and we went over some ground I’d not run before as something a bit different. The pace was nice and easy and it felt like I was just bouncing along, which surprised me given the way my legs felt after sunday’s 20!

Wednesday saw a small step up in the midweek long run, with 12 miles to do. Midweek long runs are my least favourite. Having to get home from work and then run for 2 hours, eating at gone 8pm isn’t a lot of fun, but they seem to help. Usually I would try and run these progressively, but as I intended to run Friday’s tempo run on Thursday, I tried to just keep this at a steady pace. I ended up loosely progressing anyway, with the final mile at marathon pace. Despite the hilly elevation profile on the route, I felt strong throughout, like I was gliding through the air almost effortlessly (Aside from the hills) and got a couple of segment PBs in the process.

As I mentioned, I had to do Friday’s tempo run on Thursday as we had a club social and wouldn’t have time to squeeze it in. I thought I would struggle with 10 miles, 6 of which at tempo pace, but I didn’t really until the last tempo mile. As these runs get longer its harder to find enough level ground to cover, and a couple of the miles were net downhill. I did try and increase the pace to compensate and the GAPs on my splits were only off target by a few seconds.

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I’m confident that if I’d have had the extra rest day I would have nailed it. I “made up” the difference in GAP on other miles and would have managed the 6th mile on rested legs.

Friday was my usual weigh-in day, and I had a feeling I’d get a positive result as I’d “been good” for the last few weeks and the mileage increase usually benefits me. I was right! 3lbs off this week with an increase in muscle mass.

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All good news! 3lbs to go to my intermediate target (the weight I was for the wedding) and 10lbs overall pre-marathon. At this rate (And I DO fully expect the burn rate to level off) I may even be able to go a little bit lighter still – but we’ll see.

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As mentioned, we had a good social night out with the club on Friday, a skittles night. A few of us ate too, and I figured I’d have something nice as a bit of a reward for the hard work and good results! I ended up having too many ciders but everyone enjoyed themselves, thanks to Michelle’s organisation. It’s just a shame Dave won the game of killer!

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A bit bleary eyed, we headed to Longrun Meadow parkrun on Saturday, as Jodie hadn’t done it before and we needed to stay local. James was coincidentally there too as he was visiting friends the night before.

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The puddled were DEEP, over the ankles in some places, and the muddy section was pretty horrendous too, but an enjoyable run. We did an extra couple of miles top up afterwards as I needed to do a 5 mile recovery run. Running along the river was really nice, Taunton seems to have a lot of foot/cycle paths, must be great for local runners!

 

Sunday saw an incredible 20 people turn up for the Running For Time long run. Lots of new people I hadn’t met, many of them training for their own races and events. It was a sight to behold and a sign of how the club is going from strength to strength.

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Sarah did a great job organising a good quiet and flat route for 10 miles. Most of the group finished up, but I needed to do 22 so a smaller sub group splintered off to top up their mileage. I ran with Fred and Sue Fox for most of their journey home, and I hope I didn’t bore them! They are one inspirational couple, I can’t run Fred’s times as a 33 year old, its amazing how well they both still run as vets! We also ran with Michelle, Helen and Chrissy, who peeled off at their own rates when they reached their mileage.

The flat course and steady pace meant I felt much stronger towards the end, and progressed my last 5 miles to target marathon pace, and as I write this I can’t help but notice how much better I feel compared to last weekend. I think that means the training is working! I’m definitely feeling stronger.

One bit of bad news is that I think my Garmin is on the way out. It froze at 21 miles and by 22 I only had 12% left in the battery. Still, it’s a good excuse to buy some new kit – my eye is on the Forerunner 235!

Next week is another marathon paced run. I’ll be in Basingstoke which will be a challenge, as finding a flat section to do the marathon paced miles will be near impossible! Time to man up and try the pace over some hills!

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 7 of 18

It’s when a training plan starts ramping up towards the business end that the usefulness of using a training log tool (such as Strava) alongside a plan you’ve used before really comes into its own, as you can directly compare sessions against each other. You can see your paces and heart rate relative to each other to see how well you are performing.

The first run of this week was 10 miles with 5 of them at Lactate Threshold. Strava’s tools can let me see how I performed for this session – specifically, for the Lactate Threshold miles.

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Using GAP (Grade Adjusted Pace – so it tells you the equivalent pace on a flat mile) I can clearly see on average I’m doing about 15s per mile faster than last year. Unfortunately, last years activity for this session isn’t a good session for this comparison as I abandoned it half way through – But I only know this because I have it recorded as a note! So not only was I faster, but I was able to actually complete the session – unlike last year.

It was a tough run for sure, and at about 4.1 miles I had to pause for a short breather, but on the whole I was very happy.

On Wednesday I had a 4 mile recovery run with the wife. it was fricking FREEZING. My toes were numb by the end and I literally had to soak them in hot water to bring the feeling back.

Thursday was one of the runs I dread – midweek medium-long runs. The idea is to progress through your long run pace zone so you finish about 15% slower than Marathon Pace. This 11 miler I followed a similar route to the one I did on sunday – hilly – and I was delighted with the results. Again, comparing to year on year, this run had much more elevation, an increase in pace (And GAP) and a slightly lower HR overall. The difference in “suffer score” can be attributed to me “having a go” at a long uphill segment whilst maintaining the faster end of the pace zone.

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Rather delightfully as a result, I made the top 10! I finished with a quick downhill mile and finished feeling really strong. It was a good confidence booster.

Friday was weigh day. I didn’t hold out a lot of hope – we had an enormous meal on the previous Friday night, the Saturday was lunch AND dinner out (with a skinful of cider, popcorn and Maltesers) and Sunday was a hungover massive Premier Inn breakfast… So to have lost 1lb and have a small shift in body composition was quite pleasing!

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I lost 1.5lbs in fat (good), increased my body water (good) but saw a small fall in Muscle mass (bad – but an increase in percentage). So something to keep an eye on. Most importantly though its that Body Fat and overall weight loss that’s going to make me lighter and therefore faster.

Saturday saw me on a split session. I needed to do a 7 mile easy run with Strides, but we had a club outing to Bath Skyline parkrun. So I ran that easy and then did the other 4 miles + strides in the afternoon.

It was nice going to a different parkrun as a group/club. We have a good spirit with our members and it was an awful lot of fun.

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The course itself was quite nice. Aside from the first K it was relatively flat, with a slightly downhill final K. In the first section you get a beautiful view of the historic City of bath from on high which could have taken your breath away… and if the view didn’t the 37 steps that took place right afterwards finished it off! The course was mostly compact trail but there were some sections of muddy field which must make fast times a bit tricky at the moment. It’s a single lap figure of 8 style which meant you pass near the finish close enough for a gathering of supporters to stand which was pretty nice. The parking was about a 5 minute walk to the course and there was a single toilet – though it was at the car park. No cafe nearby, and the website shows that you should bring your own refreshments in lieu of this. This week though, a local school had volunteered and provided hot chocolate and custard creams – such a lovely thought!

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Despite the lack of cafe, as we’d made the trip we visited the local Sainsbury’s cafe anyway. They do a fantastic 5 rasher bacon sandwich on thick bloomer, for 3 quid. Brilliant value and just what the doctor ordered!

My plan had me to do 7 miles with some strides, so I pulled a second session in the evening. Was very pleased with the pace of my strides, and shook the body a little bit – it’s not used to 2 runs in a day!

I was dreading Sunday’s 20 miler – my longest since Manchester last year – So I decided it would be nice to run with other people, at least for the first half. So i joined the club for the Sunday Social run. The time absolutely flew by, with great company, great banter, and I couldn’t believe I’d done 10 miles by the time they returned! We also saw loads of runners, even some other club mates. I love going out on the early runs, but with it being the only real day I can get a lay in, early Sunday’s are not high on my priority list! After this weekend though, it will be much more regular.

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By the time we got back, I still needed to do 10 miles. But I’d pre-organised with Dave that we’d do a further 10. it was brilliant to have some company for the second half too. The last few miles were tough, but running with Dave really helped to “keep me honest” as it was extremely tempting to just slow to a gentle plod!

All in all, the best, most enjoyable Sunday run I’ve had for a very long time.

The mileage steps up a bit over the next few weeks to peak at around 60 miles (with my own adjustments) before the next recovery week. So far I’m feeling strong though and if I can get through this mesocycle unscathed I will be very confident to achieve my target.