Tag Archives: parkrun

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 4 of 18

So week 4 has come and gone and its been a productive week – All my runs went rather well and as I write this on Monday by legs are only feeling slightly fatigued.

This is the last week for which I can’t compare my posts compared to Manchester. I only started blogging in Week 5 for Manchester, so it will be interesting, given that I’m on the same training schedule, how I am feeling week on week compared to back then. Based upon my limited memory I do feel like I am doing better.

Here’s how this week went.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) Rest
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery  5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic  10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest  Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery  5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 15m Medium-long 18m Long  18m Long Build up my long runs faster as already running this distance pre-plan
Total Mileage 42m 46m 2m more than previous week

The first run of the week I moved to Monday. I thought this was OK as Sunday had a Recovery run (As I switched my Long Run to Saturday) and as I was working away it was a better use of my time as it meant when I got back from Birmingham on Tuesday I could spend time with my girls instead.

It was 8 miles General Aerobic with 10 strides toward the end. I’ve always wondered if I should be marking this as a “Workout” and consider it a “session”. It definitely is, especially at the quicker end of my pace range. But I felt fantastic, and one of the strides was at 4:34 minute mile pace! – it was really tough but I felt my legs had the strength to carry me through. I felt really sharp and I could feel the weight loss already helping out. It was a great session.

Upon reviewing what the book says about the Strides it says the recoveries should be easy jogs or walks – I tend to try and stick to my GA pace. I’m not sure why, but I feel like sustaining the effort makes for a better session? I’m not sure if that’s right or not but it’s what I’ve always done, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Thursday was a truly horrific day to go running in. With howling rain and 42mph gusts of wind and snow forecast and 1 decree celsius it was not nice heading out! My limbs and digits were all freezing and I don’t think I warmed up through the run at all. That said, I managed to maintain a very tidy pace and I felt like it was a good run. It had some good climbing in there too which added to the difficulty too.

It’s runs like this, when the conditions are terrible, that are actually the BEST that there are. If you can head out in the worst conditions you develop mental and physical resilience so you know come race day, whatever the weather throws at you, you have faced it before.

On Saturday, Jodie and her Dad were planning on getting their gait analysis done at Reading Sweatshop. So we visited Woodley parkrun. Our second visit there, our last visit was Christmastime 2015 (The Saturday after Boxing day if I recall). It’s a 3 lap course, mostly flat. The weather was clear and crisp and there were 350 finishers – one of them being the Father in law smashing his PB and coming in in 28:50! It wasn’t long ago he was delighted to run around in 33, then 32, then 31 minutes so this is an amazing achievement! Everyone at Woodley was so friendly – Volunteers and runners, it really is a template for everything parkrun can be. We couldn’t stop around for a coffee but have no doubt it would have been excellent!

Sunday saw the longest run since the Bournemouth Marathon, 18 miles. Again, my target was to keep it at just sub-8 minute miling. I’d managed it for my 16 last week, so I hoped I could push through for a bit more distance – and I’m delighted to say I could! Aside from a toilet stop and a water stop I felt very controlled through most of it, with some very consistent splits. The route is a bit tricky as the first half is mostly uphill which meant that the second half was mostly down – I think that helped a lot.

It did get noticeably tougher after 16 miles, which I was expecting. Not so much cardio-wise, but certainly in the legs. But as I got to the end I still felt I had more to give. I finished feeling pretty pleased with myself for both the consistency and the way I was feeling afterwards. Good for the confidence!

Weight

The second week of the diet and its been much tougher than the first. I knew it would be, it always is, and I know if I can get through the next 2 weeks as well then the main cravings will subside and it will be a bit easier to maintain.

My vital stats were:

Weight: 14st 10lbs (-2lbs)
Body Fat %: 24.1% (-0.8%)

Using some basic maths I worked out this meant my entire weight loss was fat which is good! Somehow I’d also gained a little bit of muscle mass too. It is a little less than I had hope, I’d hoped to push into the 3lb loss zone, but its headed in the right direction!

Now I need to consolidate this with another strict week.

Summary

All in all, a very good week and I’m feeling very pleased. My legs are feeling a bit tired, so I am thankful of the rest day today (Monday) though I’m not sure how my legs are going to react for a Threshold run on tuesday (See below) but just like with every run, I’ll give it all I’ve got. No pain no gain!

Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see I have had a reasonably loaded week, though my Long Run didn’t affect me as much as it did last week, according the the data.

Now, I know I felt comfortable for the whole run but the Heart Rate data does seem a bit low. it was a very wet run, and I’m not sure if that had an effect. On the other hand, my long run was actually on the Sunday rather than jamming it in on a Saturday so had a bit more recovery for it – The week previous was Threshold Run/Rest Day/Long Run which could also explain it. More great examples of why StravistiX is awesome!

Next Week

For the first time this cycle, my plan matches the book! There are 2 key sessions – A threshold Run and a Marathon paced run. This is a big week – thankfully its a “Recovery Week” after this which also signals the end of the first training mesocycle – the time is flying by!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace)
Total Mileage 45m 45m

Race Report: Bournemouth Marathon 2016

Well, that didn’t exactly go to plan…

Saturday

Coming into the weekend of 1st and 2nd October I was in a bit of a mixed bag as to how I felt about this, my autumn target race. As I mentioned in my previous post, training had been a bit up and down, but I felt I may have just been able to squeeze out a decent performance come race day.

We headed to Bournemouth with a little optimism on Saturday morning, so we could take in Bournemouth parkun. This doubled up a bit of parkrun tourism with a recce of the Race HQ.

bournemouth-parkrun

The weather was a bit rubbish, but the rain just about held off as we completed 2 big and 1 small laps between Kings Park Athletics Stadium and AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium. The course itself is a mix of tarmac, trail path and a bit of grass. There is a room at the stadium you can change/shelter in with toilets on hand there too. Naturally with it being marathon weekend, there were plenty of tourists about and there was an excitable vibe to the event.

bournemouthmapsplits

Though we were taking it easy, it wasn’t as flat as advertised in my opinion – I wouldn’t go there on a PB hunt – but the marshals and volunteers were excellent. Thank you!

We had to hurry off to check into our AirBnB so couldn’t stick around, but there is a cafe onsite for post-parkrun cake, coffee and gossip!

After getting to our digs we headed into town to check out the finish area where most of the activity was going to be over the course of the festival. It was already bustling. I had to pick up a replacement number as mine never arrived. This was a painless process except it was a generic unbranded number which was a little disappointing, as they are souvenirs to me. never mind!

After a bit of shopping, a trip to Starbucks, some playing the amusements and even a cheeky pint, we decided to watch the races. There were a couple of kids fun runs first and then the 10k in the late afternoon. The course for these was fast and flat as it was all along the beachfront, and I was amazed at the size of the field! Saw plenty of folks I knew running and cheered everyone in both directions as good neutral supporters should!

Then we headed back to the AirBnB. In all we did 20,000 steps on Saturday which may be a little high for the day before a Marathon! But never mind eh.

Dinner was pasta from a local JustEat vendor. Good food and the same stuff I had pre-Manchester. We got a reasonably early night as Jodie was off in the Half at 8am which meant a VERY early start!

Prerace

Getting up at 6am wasn’t a great deal of fun, but as we went to sleep early it didn’t feel like too bad a hardship. I feasted on my usual 3 porridge pots and armed myself up with a couple of bananas for before the race and we took the short walk to race HQ. The weather was perfect! Clear skies and no wind at a cool temperature. You couldn’t have picked better marathon weather.

As we were pinning Jodie’s number on for the half, we noticed the foam had gone from her embedded timing chip. We checked at the helpdesk to make sure the chip was fine, but they weren’t sure – so issued her a new number. Which was the same unbranded type as me! So at least we both had crap bibs!

numbers

One thing became clear as the morning went on, and that was that the half seemed significantly better attended than the Marathon.

Jodie was a little nervous about her race at it was her first half since our daughter Ivy was born. I dropped her off in the start pen and headed a bit further on from the start and took this Facebook Live video of the start of the race. Logistics meant I couldn’t see her anywhere else on the course so all I had left to do was wait nervously for the start.

startline

I headed back to the cafe to have a cup of tea and it was a little chilly! I had checked my bag in with Jodie’s number, as she’d need it at the finish first, but was wearing a “disposable” hoody – just my race hear other than that! As the 2 hour wait went on, more and more people arrived, though it was still notably a much smaller affair than the half. I got a bit bored but before long it was time to head to the start.

I was assigned a pen right near the front due to my estimated (ha!) finish time. So I had plenty of loos to use and warmed up at the side of the course. I saw Ben of Marathon 401 fame who was starting the race on the warm up too, but didn’t introduce myself – he seemed busy. Then before long I was in the pen. It was nearly time to go!

startselfie

The Race

My race plan was to go out at 3.10 pace, so that was around 7.14 a mile. I figured if I could get to 20 miles at that pace I’d try and cling on for the rest of it.

For the first few miles I ticked along quite nicely. A little fast, but it was downhill. There was some good support along here. I felt comfortable at the pace I was running, and when it levelled off a few miles later I slowed a little naturally to bring me back into target range.

One of the challenges with this course was the number of “out and backs” you have to contend with. By mile 7 I was already on my way back of the second of these alone – the “out” here was gradually uphill, but I managed to stay on pace before we dropped back down to the seafront for a few more miles, heading towards Boscombe Pier.

Now, I like the seaside, and I like the view of the sea. But that was all there was to see. I found myself getting a little bit bored of trudging along promenade for mile after mile with nothing but beach huts and the english channel to look at.

By mile 12 there was the first of 2 not-insignificant hills. 30 metres of climbing in 400 metres which is 8% incline! And believe me, by the time I got to the top, I knew about it. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have eased off a bit here to save the legs, but my stupidity/pride meant I tried to stay at target pace – which did work…

Once we reached the top it was a mile through to the half marathon split, by which point local parkrunner Miles Caswell caught up with me. This lad is super speedy round Yeovil Montacute parkrun and he was running his first marathon with a similar goal to me. We chatted for a bit but by this point I was starting to flag.

Thankfully, this was when we dropped back down into the finish area (for the first time). The crowds were MAGNIFICENT. I, being the crowd pleasing tart that I am, was pumping my arms in the air to get them going – and it worked. Miles and I appreciated the roar of support echoing around us like a mexican wave. I bet not every runner got that!

Shortly after this I saw Jodie for the first time. She had managed to get a marshal to cheer for me too which was lovely, but then I looked ahead to Boscombe Pier, which we’d already seen once… and yet more promenade running my head started sinking.

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By the time I got to Boscombe I had eased back to my target marathon pace. Running with Miles and the support at half way meant I had increased effort and I was starting to suffer. I encouraged Miles to push on without me. Running the pier and then back toward the finish area (For the 2nd time) I saw Jodie and told her things were not good. I ran Bournemouth pier and got a high 5 from King Danny and then ran THROUGH the finish (3rd time!) before looping around onto some road then running past the finish for a 4th time.

Realisation had struck by this point that this pace was not only unsustainable, but utterly ludicrous – my legs were shot to bits. Ahead of me lay the biggest and longest hill of the course, at which point, my race plan was abandoned. I walked the hill. All of it. At the top of it was a toilet – I stopped in there too at which point I think the bluetooth/internet connection on my phone went, so the LiveTrack i had set up on my phone stopped. This meant Jodie and others thought I’d stopped, or switched it off in a huff. I didn’t! It just stopped working, promise!

bournemouthmap

The next few miles were around some park, some closed roads and were a bit lonely. It was a tough part of the course for me and it was a bit undulating too. I had decided by now that I was run walking for the rest of the race.

We eventually dropped back onto the promenade (for a change) and the last 6 miles were out and back along the beach. I was losing my sense of humour. It felt incredibly patronising for all these beach hut owners to tell me I was doing really well, even though I really wasn’t. I smiled politely and said thank you though. It wasn’t their fault I was having a bad race, and again, with hindsight I can say the support was excellent throughout.

With slightly more running than walking I eventually got back to Bournemouth Pier to see the finish line for the 5th and final time. I crossed the line, a bit emotional, and headed to the funnel to see Jodie. I had a bit of a “moment” with her and I was obviously disappointed but a 3.33 marathon is a time many would be proud of, and a marathon is a marathon.

Jodie had also had a tough day coming in a little slower than she would have liked, but still faster than her lowest target.

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It was a very well organised event, with great support. However we both really bloody hated the course. We also weren’t too impressed that everyone got the same tee shirt. All the 5k and 10k runners got the same T shirt as the half and marathon runners! Either way unfortunately we won’t be back for the half or the marathon, but I do quite fancy the 10k for a speedy time.

Analysis

In the cold light of day, and thanks to Strava, I can see where my race really went wrong.

bournemouth-analysisNot only was I too fast in terms of pace, in effort terms I was far too fast over the first half. In GAP I was running a GAP average of 7.04 a mile (3.05 pace) and if I then extend that to mile 16 it was 7.00 a mile (3.03 pace)! So its hardly any wonder I blew up.

firsthalfsplits

I barely felt like I was in 3.10 pace so to find I was actually running faster than that means that I wasn’t actually far off form wise (I don’t think) but not understanding/using my effort as a gauge is what really cost me.

My spring marathon is much flat, so with this in mind, a strong block of training having gotten through the bulk of life upheaval the last few months, I’m still encouraged that Mission GFA is on.

Strava Activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/731955875/overview

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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 17 of 18

So the 2nd taper week and to be perfectly honest its not been the recovery week I would have liked. Struck down by a cold and my legs not recovered from Cardiff on Saturday, By Friday I was feeling particularly low on confidence…

Midweek

Tuesday was a 7 mile general aerobic run with some strides. This wasn’t actually too bad. The weather was absolutely horrendous as I left my hotel room, I ended up having to run through a knee deep flood, but by the time I got back to the hotel, glorious sunshine! The pace was OK considering the weekends exploits.

Wednesday was a day off! First Wednesday with no running for months and months. But this is when the cold struck. A small sniffle but I knew one was coming.

Thursday was 3 x 1 mile Intervals. It was a bit of a failure. The first mile was OK, but the 2nd rep was pretty broken up, I think I had to pause 3 times. The third rep I just tried to stay faster than MP. Looking back on last year, I did struggle a bit with this last session on the last rep, but not this bad. My legs just felt totally empty. Part cold, part no recovery, and partly probably a carb free Wednesday won’t have helped. All things that with hindsight make me think this session wasn’t too bad.

3x1mi

On Friday though, the cold peaked. I had a roll of toilet roll on my desk and I was sniffing, sneezing and my eyes were watering all day. Not the best prep for next week…

parkrunday

On Saturday I felt marginally better. We had to stay local (well, Basingstoke local) as we had some properties to view and a surprise party to organise/attend so we were time limited. I targetted an easy paced sub 8 minute miles for it as I wanted to check my heart rate to see how the cold was affecting me… It helps when you turn the HRM on though… So no data from that but still it felt OK.

Yep, this is the best photo of me from Saturday!
Yep, this is the best photo of me from Saturday!

Sunday

Sunday saw my final “long run”. I had been at an all day party on Saturday so I wasn’t exactly feeling fresh. I ate a lot of junk and drank several beers so I wasn’t fully up for this 12 miles. Legs felt very weary and I couldn’t work out of that was party fatigue, cold or general running fatigue. My heart rate was OK all the way around so thats a good thing and I kept a consistent pace. This was no time for heroics.

Summary

I think this Runners World photo sums up this week.

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Everything has felt laboured this week. As I write this on Monday, I’ve seen the worst of the cold but I’m getting phantom niggles in my ankle, my legs feel tired still and I feel like I’m the weight of a sperm whale. But I have to trust that the training will get me through and that things will come right come race day.

I have settled on a race strategy now. My current plan is to run 7.20s for the first half then if I feel better increase that to 7.15s and in the unlikely event that after 23 miles I still have some to give, go to 7.10s. My goal is 3.12.30 and I think this strategy will deliver that. I think going for 3.09 is too ambitious, and I think this strategy gives me ample margin of error for not taking the racing line, GPS inaccuracy etc.

B goal is 3.15 and C goal is 3.19.

Of course, I reserve the right to change these in the next 6 days!

Times to rest, recover, carb up and get hydrated. Its squeaky bum time!

Greater Manchester Marathon: Week 13 of 18

Halfway through the “Race Preparation” mesocycle, my body has really started to feel like it has been well trained – in more ways than one. Following an amazing weekends running I came back down to earth with a bang!

Midweek

Tuesday was 8 easy miles – or “General Aerobic” as P&D call it. And they were in my easy pace zone, and it felt easy, I felt comfortable, I felt on top of the world! I ended up going too quick though….

…as Wednesday’s 5 x 1k interval session was MASSIVELY compromised. I went out knowing that I didn’t feel right. The 3 mile warm up was comfortable enough, but as I got towards Ninesprings I needed the loo. The cafe toilets were locked though, so I decided to use my first interval to run to Morrisons. The problem was, the legs weren’t interested! I managed about a 6.40m/m pace which was disappointing. 2nd rep was much better, where I needed to be, and then half way through the 3rd rep my legs just told me they’d had enough. Totally out of juice. Hardly surprising given a 5k PB, a tidily paced 22 and 8 miles faster than I should have done the day before. So I shan’t be too hard on myself about it.

Given Wednesdays performance I went into Thursdays 12 mile medium-long run with a very easy pace in mind, keeping it right at the low end of the zone. Despite some tough climbs, including the “bunford bugger” I came through it “OK”. It was definitely high time I had a rest day.

parkrunday

On Saturday we visited Guildford parkrun. It was about a 40 minute drive which is close enough, and near where Jodie’s sister Lauren goes to university. Despite some navigational difficulties finding the car park we eventually got there, though it was FREEZING. I needed to do 5 recovery miles so I trotted off on my own and met them at the start line, as they also met Lauren’s friend Imogen who was doing her 2nd parkrun, though her first with a barcode!

I tried to hear the first timers briefing but it was quite quiet and wasn’t helped by people disrespecting the RD and talking over her!

The park itself was right in the middle of open streets, and consisted of 3 out and back “legs” as this was the winter course. Each of them had their own undulations and it was much tougher than I thought it would be!

Volunteers were as fantastic as ever. I helped to pace Lauren who was trying to push her boundaries a bit and a great time and would be worth much, much more on a flat course – probably a PB at Newbury. Imogen ran a time quicker than she did last time and Jodie was pleased with her time too given her pregnant condition and the inclines!

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The only downer was the length of the scanning queues. They were mammoth and slow moving. They had 3 scanners but something just wasn’t working and the queue length never went down until the last runners came in. I’d never seen a queue that big – and that includes Bushy!

Sunday

The big session for this week was Sunday. The biggest marathon paced run in the plan, and from a confidence boosting point of view I really needed it. Last time out I tried to do 18 with 12 at MP, around Basingstoke and just didn’t have it in me at all. Usually I like to do my Marathon pace runs in Yeovil along a nice flat road to simulate the race conditions.

Unfortunately as scheduling goes this week we ended up in Basingstoke again, and I was filled with Trepidation. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I was mentally already lining up the excuses – “I drank too much yesterday”, “I’m not using my own Garmin” (I’d left my charger at home) and “It was too cold”.

I went out gloved up and just got on with it though. Progressed nicely up to Marathon Pace, and aside from one mile (which was ridiculously uphill) I managed to get all my splits on pace. The average pace for my MP section was 7:17 per mile (7:16 using Strava’s GAP…) which would put my just below 3:11 for the marathon.

This is well in line with my primary goal when I set out on this training plan of sub 3:15, and also in line with my adjusted goal of 3:12:30. It’s also tantalisingly close the 3:10 though…

Are these my Bronze, Silver and Gold targets? Are they too close together and I’m setting myself up for a fall? I can;t help but think that on tapered legs I won’t be far away…

Once again I need to remind myself that I will see how Cardiff goes and I’ll assess it from there.

Overview

Next week is a mini-cutback (Is not cut back by a lot!) and I have another 5k race pace effort which I’m going to Poole for with Simon. I’m hoping to PB as it is a fast course, but anything sub-20 I’ll be happy with for consistency purposes.

Only 5 weeks until the race and only 2 more weeks of hard training before the taper. Getting exciting now!

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!