Tag Archives: Running

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 10 of 18

After busting through the halfway point with a confidence building Bramley 20, I headed into this recovery week feeling a little bit fragile. The race took out a lot more than I originally expected…

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic 6m Recovery 5m Recovery
Wednesday 8m (6 x 800m Intervals) 8m (6 x 800m Intervals) 1.6m General Aerobic…
Thursday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery Rest
Friday Rest Rest 6m General Aerobic
Saturday 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 11m Medium-long
Sunday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long 13m Medium-long
Total Mileage

 

When Tuesday came around, I knew the legs weren’t up for the 6 miles but thought 5 miles might just be OK, and I trotted around. My legs were expectedly in the toilet but figured this short light jog would be able to sort them out. How wrong I was!

Then Tuesday came around and although an Interval session was scheduled, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. My plan was to try my 8 miles at General Aerobic here and do the Intervals on Thursday. After a single mile though, my body was still in pieces. Every stride I took felt far too laboured, and that shockwaves of fatigue were shooting up my body. So I simply abandoned the run and walked home. It was the smart thing to do, I would have only hurt myself and felt crap afterwards, and prolong the recovery.

As such, I then took Thursday as a complete rest day.

By the time Friday came around i thought I’d try a 6 mile General Aerobic effort. It was a lunch run so needed to get back to the office so ran it quicker than I should have, but that was a good thing this time – I needed the confidence back a bit that my legs weren’t long term FUBAR.

I was conscious that I was a bit short of mileage going into the weekend, though not too concerned. As we were back in Yeovil for the weekend we were parkrunning at Yeovil Montacute parkrun on the winter course. Dave was running out there so I joined him and a couple of others, and the run turned into a casual 11 miler. I spent parkrun running with ED Neil, having a good catch up and a natter about London.

It was great hanging out with everyone after the run. We’ve really missed the cafe culture with our friends and haven’t managed to capture it since we moved. Admittedly, not helped by the amount of touring we’ve been doing and with Ivy’s scheduling we always need to get back, but it was really lovely to see everyone again. We will be back soon.

Being back in Yeovil and on a recovery week, I took the opportunity to run with the club. Whilst the plan called for 14 miles, they went out for a recce of the Yeovil Half route, so it ended up being a nice casual 13 miles. It was awesome to see everyone there too.

Weight

To be honest, I wasn’t caring about my weight this week. After the race last Sunday we had Domino’s and as my body was in such a state, I just kind of ate what I was craving – I figured my body knew what it wanted. We also had a (long) weekend away and its difficult to control the diet then too.

But that said, this is the last weekend before the marathon where this will be a problem. Its Tuesday today and I’m knuckling down from today right through til race day.

Summary

I took full advantage of this recovery week and really did chill out. Maybe a little bit too much to be fair, but after Sunday’s effort I really needed it. It took a lot more out of me than expected.

I am hoping next week will bring my head back in line for the focus thats needed for the last 8 weeks. I’m past the half way point and 5 weeks away from the taper. The serious stuff starts right here.

Here’s next weeks plan. its the last week of the Lactate Threshold mesocycle with the toughest LT run on Wednesday. As I’m writing this, I’m not looking forward to it, but having run Bramley so well and the previous LT run too, I should be able to chalk this one off nice and easy.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 11m (7m Lactate Threshold) 11m (7m Lactate Threshold)
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage 55mm 55m

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 9 of 18

It’s the end of week 9 and halfway through the programme. That means only 6 weeks until the taper kicks in! The weather is improving and the tides are turning. But more on that later…

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Wednesday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long
Thursday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Friday
Saturday 6m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Sunday 16m (12m Marathon Pace) Bramley 20 (Race) Bramley 20 (Race)
Total Mileage 48m 49m 49m

Tuesday had a 6 mile recovery run. I was working from home so managed to sneak out at lunchtime. My legs were still pretty weary from Sunday, but this definitely loosened them up a bit.

Wednesday was my least favourite run of the entire program. I’ve always hated it every time I’ve used the schedule. 14 miles medium-long. There’s just something crap about having to run longer than half-marathon distance on a cold winter evening after a full day of work. This time I had the excuse of running it a bit slower than usual, thanks to Sunday’s upcoming race. So I dropped the pace by about 25-30 seconds per mile to how I would have ordinarily run it. My legs were still a bit creaky, but my heart rate was nice and comfortable all the way round and there was some decent elevation in there too. Finishing it was a relief – maximum 12 miles midweek from here on out. What was nice though, was heading out in daylight for 45 minutes. Spring is definitely in the air!

Thursday was another 6 mile recovery run. it was a bit quicker than Tuesdays as the legs were feeling not too bad, even after Wednesdays big effort.

On parkrunday we went to Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun, as we needed to go to Fareham to pick up a parcel, and Fareham is not buggy friendly! Still, this event was on our “to do” list in order to run all Hampshire parkruns! The course was in the middle of a business estate and was an out, back, and out and back again course on cycle path and gravel trailway. It wasn’t the most inspiring of courses but flat enough and buggy friendly.

The people were very nice too. It was a relatively small event with only 186 finishers. I ran it as a 3m Recovery so as not to over exert myself before Sunday’s race. Afterwards there was a nice Starbucks where we had some porridge and a free coffee (Courtesy of our Vitality membership!) and there was a good vibe in the place. All in all, a very nice little event.

On Sunday, the book session was supposed to be 16 miles, with 12 at Marathon Pace. Instead, we went to do the Bramley 20. I had 2 options heading in. I could have run the first 8 with the last 12 @ MP in line with the session, or I could run it as a straight MP effort. I decided on Friday that I would do the latter. I agonised with the decision, but I felt that it would be a good test to see how training has been going.

 

The course is pretty well suited to it as a test – there are some inclines at 6 and 8 miles, and its a 2 lap course, so I figured I’d be 16 miles in before it got really tough. Then if I could handle the hills, perhaps slow down a bit for them, I knew from last year its a pretty fast gradual downhill for the last mile or so. Prior to the race, my form score was just about in the positive, so I was just about in shape to run it well.

You can click here for the full Race Report, but in short I ran it just how I needed to. Bang on pace coming in at 2.20.44, 7.03 per mile. I suffered from some cramps toward the end but all in all delighted, and absolutely brimming with confidence. For a first race of the year, it couldn’t have gone any better.

 

Weight

More good news on the weight loss! Another pound off, which means I’m now 13st 12lbs. Back when I originally mapped out my Masterplan, my target for this week (Bramley 20 weekend) was between 14st 1lb and 13st 11lbs (By March 6th) so I am definitely on track!

Importantly, my Body Fat% is reducing too which is my main measure. Looking at the trend line it looks like I’m set to reach my target weight of 13st 5lbs by 10th March, though I don’t think that’s realistic. The rate of loss seems to have settled at 1lb per week, and although I want to try my very best to re-accellerate that, it would still bring me on target by race day.

Looking at the data though, I’m not sure losing the remaining 7lbs will bring my BF% down to the 17% zone I am after. At the moment, 1lb seems to represent 0.5%. So that means 7lbs should roughly equate to 3.5% which would be 17.8% – so I may need to go to 13st 3lbs to hit that number. I shan’t be breaking myself to get that low or be disappointed if I don’t get there pre-race – but that’s 9lbs with 9 weeks to go. So possible! Especially if I can get a 2lb week!

Summary

Well, what a fantastic week. With the midweek 14 miler I didn’t think my fatigue would go down enough to be fresh for the race – but it did. Now I just need to hope the legs can recover well for the rest of the training programme.

Week 10 is a recovery week (Hooray!) and I definitely need it. But when you look closely, it doesn’t look like there’s much recovery… It’s more just a mileage cutback. Hopefully I can get through the midweek interval session with a good set, but I’ll not be too hard on myself if they are a little slow!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic 6m Recovery Following a big 20 mile race I think I need to take this one easy.
Wednesday 8m (6 x 800m Intervals) 8m (6 x 800m Intervals)
Thursday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long
Total Mileage 43m 41m

 

Race Report: Bramley 20/10 2017

Last year, Jodie, myself and a couple of other club mates ran the Bramley 20/10 – a pair of races in Bramley (near Basingstoke) organised by Reading Roadrunners. This year, we wanted to do it again. Jodie and I live quite locally so its easy for us to get to, but also we really enjoyed it last year. It was really well organised and had great marshals with some decent support for a local race.

It’s a 10 mile loop, run twice for the 20 mile race, and is great timing for those doing spring marathons or halves. It’s also a pretty flat course, with only a couple of climbs at mile 6 (and 16) and 8 (and 18). Last year, I ran a massive 10 mile PB.

This year, the club brought a slightly bigger contingent of mainly spring marathoners (Jan, Dave, Mary) looking to use it as good training, but with a couple of them looking for a speedy 10 (Simon and Mark). Mary was late so couldn’t make the pic below.

Jodie and I were doing the 20 and I was happy that regardless of my time I’d at least be setting a PB as it was my first race at this distance. That said, my intention for the race was to run it at my target marathon pace. That’s < 7.04 per mile (For a sub 3.05). I was far from convinced I would get it, but I knew if I could get to the 16 mile point (first climb on the second lap) I may be able to ease off the hills and speed up a bit for the downhill last mile or so. That was the plan at least. I joked on Strava beforehand that I may be crumpled in a heap by 16 miles, but it wasn’t that much of a joke. Given how my previous marathon pace sessions had left me, and that was only running 10 miles (of 16) at MP. It was a real concern.

Pre-race

There are two parking areas, one was half a mile from the start, the other was a mile. Both quite chunky walks. Last year we parked in the farther, but this year we were wise and drove straight past it and got in the nearer one. It was £2 in either car park, and the organisers did a lot to prevent local aggravation by putting up signs anywhere that was LIKELY to be parked, a hi-vis “No Race Parking” sign.

The race village was very busy, with the queue for the toilets being as long as any other queue I’ve seen at a race (loooooong) but its part and parcel of most races now. You can have enough toilets for one per entrant and there would STILL be a queue!

The start zone was pretty much unrestricted, though there were signs suggesting to people where to start based upon their estimated finish time. One of the benefits of this race is that it’s mostly experienced club runners and people with multiple races under their belts – so most have a good idea of their estimated finish times.

Race

We exchanged some race strategies in the start pens before Jodie headed backwards, and the 10 milers headed forwards. Before long there was a shuffle forward, and without too much fanfare, we were off. I managed to find my pace pretty quickly (it was a little fast) and I could see Simon and Mark ahead running together.

The route is a bit of a lopsided bowtie. There is a pinch point in the middle at about 2 miles in (out) and 9 miles in (back) where runners pass each other very briefly. It was a gentle climb up til the pinch point, where we were lucky enough to have Mac and Lauren cheering us on. When you reach the pinch point, you head out on a big loop around Strathfield Saye.

There are water stations at 3,5, and 8.5 miles on the route, excellently attended by I think local army cadets – they did a brilliant job. Unfortunately the water was in cups which I’m not a fan of but the “pinch and funnel” technique worked ok. They did have an isotonic option but I wasn’t sure what it was so didn’t try it.

I caught Mary in her Bristol and West top after around 4 miles who explained she as late, but I wanted to keep my pace so didn’t have much time for a chat.

It levels off a bit after that up until 6 mile where there is a bit of a lengthy climb up to the main road. I remember it levelling off after that, but I think I looked back with rose-tinted glasses, as from 5.5 – 8 it just seemed to be a very gentle uphill all the way along!

From there, there’s a little dip with a sharp uphill followed by a gentle downhill all the way back to the start finish. Passing the pinch point our supporters were out in force, and it was a good little spectating area, many people had the same idea to support there. Just as I passed it, the lead car went by – so it was about 3 miles ahead of – they were shifting!

Passing by the start/finish I saw Mark and Simon – I managed to hear they ran 65 minutes for the 10 mile! Great running! After the race I heard they ran together for the whole race and had a relentless sprint finish for the end – with Simon just coming out on top by a fraction of a second (Though the chip times report the same time – 65.41). They took down my club record by just over a minute!

 

 

I headed into the second lap feeling OK. It suddenly became very lonely though! From running in a reasonable group of people, as I crossed the start/finish line I was running alone with no-one for 20 yards in front or behind. This made it a bit tougher.

I was pleased I’d sustained the pace and my next goal was the get to 12 miles, as 12 @ MP was the intended session for the day. Then I targeted getting to the HM point. Then 14. Then 15 as it was 75% distance, and then 16, my last gel point. I also knew that the first bigger hill would be done by then. And the hills did seem MUCH harder the second time round!

It was around 16 miles my right calf started cramping up periodically too. It was JUST about manageable and only became a real problem after the 19 mile mark. I knew I was tight for time so tried to shake it off. I maintained my pace and overtook quite a few people in the last couple of miles and came home briskly, on target, in 2.20.44. I was absolutely delighted!

Shortly after that came Jan in with 2.28.26…

Followed by Mary in 2.32.04…

Dave in 2.33.59…

And Jodie in 3.14.37.

 

As with every good race was a goody bag. This year in a decent reusable canvas tote bag. It had a medal (Which was the same as last year, disappointingly) some snacks, some drinks and you could also get a banana and a milkshake (I had 2!).

All in all, a good haul from a good race at a reasonable price. Thank you, Reading Roadrunners!

My Race Analysis

To say I was pleased with how my race went would be an understatement. I really wasn’t sure I’d get anywhere near my target, especially as I was still suffering from the back-end of a cough/cold. I managed to keep my splits pretty consistent and if it weren’t for the hills on the second lap, I may have even managed a negative split! Unfortunately they just took too much out of me.

Finishing, I felt like I could have done another mile or two at that pace and whilst I wouldn’t say I felt comfortable, I do think another 10k at that pace is achievable.

This puts me in a terrific position for London. Bang on target pace (If a little too close for comfort!) But with 9 weeks left to go and the fact that the course is flatter and incredibly well supported, I have loads of confidence.

 

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 8 of 18

Off the back of a fantastic 20 miler, my slightly weary legs entered week 8 on the back foot. On the plus side, the evenings were getting slightly lighter and some evenings I was able to head out and run the first 20 minutes or so in some actual daylight!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Thursday Rest Rest Rest
Friday 10m (6m Lactate Threshold) 10m (6m Lactate Threshold) 10m (6m Lactate Threshold)
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 20m Long 22m Long 22m Long
Total Mileage 54m 56m 56m 4m increase on previous week

First run of the week was 7 miles at recovery pace with a set of 6 strides. Kept it very easy indeed for the recovery and just casually trotted along. It felt very comfortable indeed considering Sunday’s effort. The strides felt GREAT. I maintained good form and a long stride and this was rewarded with a great pace. Felt really strong and finished feeling fantastic.

Wednesday’s 12 mile medium-long run wasn’t quite as straightforward. I went out and felt comfortable but after a few miles, the fatigue from Sunday really kicked in. I found it really tough to maintain the target pace, my legs body and mind felt a bit empty. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I picked up Ivy’s chesty cough so was under the weather. By the time it got to mile 9, I realised I needed to put a real shift in to bring the average pace down. So I dug in and had a fast finish. It felt pretty decent to be able to dig in when I needed it but felt battered when I finished.

Unusually, this week had Thursday as a rest day, as Friday had another Lactate Threshold session, so you need a day off between the two. I was dreading it. 10 miles with 6 at Lactate Threshold was going to be tough, especially considering how badly my last threshold run went (and was a mile shorter) and how I felt finishing up on Wednesday. I went out for the first 2 easier than last time, saving myself for the threshold section. Then I needed to stop for a quick wee before the fast part and forgot to pause the watch! So the first lap looks a bit lax – but I did put the effort in, honest! Anyway, as the run progressed it got tougher as it should, but I felt in control all the way through it and even got to the end feeling like I could have done another mile or two. I managed to maintain an average of 6.44 per mile for the threshold part. I finished feeling amazing! It was a massive confidence boost and even in the evening I felt brilliant. Looking back on previous campaigns, I’ve never done this session so well. It can only be an indicator that training is going well!

Saturday was 5 miles recovery and we included Andover parkrun into the mix. The legs were a bit stiff to start off with from Friday’s session, but loosened up after a few miles.

Sunday was 22 miles and I wasn’t looking forward to it, mainly as my threshold run was only on Friday, I felt I may not be properly recovered for it. I procrastinated on going out but eventually did and hit my target pace from the start. Aside from maybe 2 miles they were all sub-8s – bang on target. The first 15 miles were pretty decent, and then at 16-17 I started with some self motivating phrases. The last 2 miles were understandably tough! But that’s the first long run I’ve ever managed at that pace outside of a race. As I write this a few hours after the run, my legs don’t feel TOO bad – but that may change tomorrow! It was a HUGE confidence booster and really do feel like training is going very well now.

Weight

Rather delightfully, I lost a pound which takes me into the 8 stone overall weight loss zone! I weight 13st 13lbs which is 8lbs away from target. I posted more about it here.

Summary

Well this was a tough week, with a midweek 12 miler, a tough threshold and a 22 miler. I feel fantastic though, like I’ve flown through it. My legs are feeling in good shape and I feel like I’m on fire! Looking at the Fitness Trend chart, you can see how the training has affected me – pushing me (just) into the overload zone.

Next weeks plan is a bit different as I am racing a 20 miler on Sunday, which will be a real test as to how training is going. I’m still not sure if I’ll race the 20 (Which I’ll do at target marathon pace) or progress through the first 8 to run the last 12 at MP, which is more in line with what the plan calls for. The following week is a recovery week, but I have REALLY loaded the training this week. I’ll probably make the call on Saturday.

Its my least favourite week of the plan though, thanks to having to run 14 bleeding miles on a Wednesday night! With the race in mind, I’ll probably run that slower than usual, maybe 8.30s a mile rather than 8s.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Wednesday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long
Thursday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 6m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 3m Recovery
Sunday 16m (12m Marathon Pace) Race: Bramley 20 The Bramley 20 is a great tune up race and I’m planning to try and run this at target Marathon pace as a barometer to how training is going.
Total Mileage 48m 49m Reduction to accommodate MP run (Well, Bramley 20)

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 7 of 18

Following on from my first “Recovery Week” came the first week of Mesocycle 2: Lactate Threshold + Endurance. This basically means there’s a LT run every week for the next 5 weeks (Week 3 is actually an MP run so the LT is dropped to focus on that). Basically, everything gets turned up a notch!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Friday Rest
Saturday 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 18m Long 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage 50m 52m 52m 6 mile increase on highest week so far.

Well I had hoped going into my 10 miles with 5 at Threshold that the recovery week might have meant I was in good shape to run a decent session. Alas not! The threshold section was very broken with lots of pauses. I just couldn’t maintain the pace. I came away feeling pretty disappointed, but on reflection there were a number of contributing factors – the main one being the fact I’d had next to no sleep as we had a poorly little girl. I lost the psychological battle with the session the morning before too. Driving up to our Coleshill office, I was worrying about the route I was taking, if it would be flat, and then questioning if maybe I should go to a gym to do it on a treadmill… all the while really NOT being up for it due to tiredness. Anyway, it was the first bad run of the campaign, which 7 weeks in isn’t so bad.

If I then look at the same run last year I was still ahead of it by about 10 seconds per mile and I struggled a bit last year too. Also, I still managed the required distance and pace, getting my HR up where it needed to be. Will chalk it down to experience and try again next week!

As Tuesday was so tough, I opted to keep my 4 mile recovery nice and light… at least that’s what I intended. It felt very comfortable but was faster than it should have been. What a difference a good nights sleep makes!

One of the “highlights” of this Mesocycle is the midweek medium-long run. Ranging from 11-14 miles I don’t enjoy these as after a long day at work going running for 90 minutes plus isn’t the best when you have a family! Thankfully my wife is amazing so puts up with me doing such stupid things. This week was 11 miles, and I was trying to keep my pace at a sub 8 minute average, which I achieved. It was difficult pacing it, as my GPS had a right wobbler… The first mile put me at starting in totally the wrong place! Still the effort was solid and nothing to complain about.

On parkrunday we went to Black Park parkrun. It’s an event on forestry commission land and I love them! It was billed as a fast and flat course, a single lap squashed figure of 8 (The crossover point is early enough so the first runners don’t have to cross over the pack). We got there a bit late and couldn’t stick around either, but the biggest shocker was the parking was £2.50 for all day – and there wasn’t an option for a half day, or even a couple of hours! Not to mention the machine didn’t take notes and was not “RingGo” either, so the father-in-law dropped me off so I could run my session while he and Jodie went to make change!

My session was 7 miles General Aerobic with 8 strides. I managed to squeeze in 2 and a bit miles before the start of the event, which meant my strides started in the last 400 metres. I made up a lot of places, and I’m sure some folks were wondering what the hell I was up to! Then I ran the rest immediately after. I felt I ran the session a bit hard, as my recoveries got progressively slower! I was worried I’d suffer during the next days 20 miler!

Back to the parkrun though, it was pacer day so they had one for every minute from 20-40 I think. The problem was many of the pacers started near the front and not spaced out throughout the (very full) starting area. I started with the 32min pacer and had to fight my way through to the 23 minute pacer over the first mile! It was a very congested first kilometre but after that the field stretched out for a lovely run around the woods. It definitely is a fast course. Would have loved to have stuck around for a coffee but alas had no time. Toilets were available near the start though!

Sunday had me running my first 20 miler of the training plan. This is always a run I DREAD. I know I’m not alone, and that many people find the 20 miler the hardest of any training plan. The advantage to it though, is that when its done it feels like you are that bit closer to the race. I was dreading this even more though, as I had in my mind a target of running this with a sub 8 minute average. I’ve built up my long runs with this pace and figured I’d keep trying to maintain it. The first half felt really ridiculously easy (Aside from the mahoosive hill at mile 3). At about halfway there was another hill and that’s when it started to get difficult. I managed it though and the last few miles were pretty hard, especially with the last being uphill! Took some deep digging mind.

Weight

Given that I was slightly disappointed with last weeks weight loss I came into the week with a renewed vigor to try to bring it back in line. And it worked…

14st exactly – a 5lb loss!

Again, I’m not going to get too excited, I imagine that this will be counteracted by either a smaller loss or no loss at all next week, owing to scales sometimes having funny moments and the body having fluctuations but I’m chuffed with this. It’s my lowest ever recorded weight and a measly 1lb away from reaching 8st total weight loss. I may have a little party if I break that next week!

Anyway, here’s the stats. It shows I’m well on target to reach my desired race weight and if I can keep it up, maybe a 9th stone loss is on the cards?

Summary

It felt great to get through this week. Getting that 20 miler out-of-the-way was a big relief, but the downside to it was my poor threshold effort. Still, there is another one next week to make up for it and given this weeks great weight loss I’m hoping another week will mean I’ll be a bit lighter and be able to really nail that session.

I had expected my fitness trend to have increased following the recovery week last week, but it didn’t really… Not until the 20 miler, which gave it the peak I was expecting!

Now, here’s next weeks plan. Almost the same as the book, but with a chunky looking 22 miler as I like to increase the weekly volume a bit quicker than the book does.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 10m (6m Lactate Threshold) 10m (6m Lactate Threshold)
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 20m Long 22m Long
Total Mileage 54m 56m 4 mile increase on the week

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 6 of 18

Week 6 is a recovery week, so I dialled back the paces along with doing the prescribed lower mileage. This week also marked the end of the “endurance” mesocycle – the first phase of training is officially complete!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)  8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic Part 1 | Part 2
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery parkrun
Sunday 12m Medium Long 12m Medium Long 12m Medium Long
Total Mileage 37m 37m  36m 10m reduction – nearly 25%

I made a conscious decision to run the 8 mile General Aerobic with Strides at a slightly slower pace than I have been as this is intended as a recovery week. My legs were pretty much shot to smithereens after Sunday anyway, so this was quite easy to do! In spite of how my legs felt, I still managed a rapid set of strides, aside from the one which I got a bit lost on. See, I was in Exeter on a route I didn’t really know. it was pitch black and foggy as hell, and my head torch only really lit up about 2 feet in front of me as it just made the fog in the immediate vicinity glow rather than provide any tangible benefit! So when mid-stride I came across a bend/turn I wasn’t expecting, I had to make a not-so-rapid change in direction. Still a solid set.

I also kept my midweek 5 mile recovery run very easy too. I was in my home town and my club had a track session. I went down to the track and just ran laps for 5 miles shooting te breeze with Steve, and anyone else who would listen to my witterings!

Thursday’s 8 mile General Aerobic had to be done at lunchtime de to a complicated travel schedule this week. I ran around the local village at a reduced pace again.

We went to parkrun in Andover as both Jodie and I were having recovery runs, mine was meant to be 4 miles but as it was only a recovery I decided just to run parkrun rather than adding an extra mile. It was a very muddy course this week, and the buggy ended up with big clumps in the mud guards slowing us down!

I went out for Sunday’s 12 mile medium-long with the intention of keeping it nice and relaxed. It started out that way, mainly thanks to the mahoosive Micheldever Road climb (I’m the CR on that one, though it wasn’t today!). After that the weather started to turn a bit and it started raining. That made me very cold thanks to the vest I was wearing! My hands could hardly move so as I was putting my hand up to wave to other runners and cars who were giving me room on country lanes, I ended up putting my whole arm up, bending at the elbow! I ran a bit quicker to warm up!

Weight

Well I stayed the same weight this week. Not bad considering I’ve had a lot of work related travel which always makes it difficult for me to control what I eat. That and a larger than usual loss last week means I’m not concerned and still on track.

Summary

There’s usually little to report on a recovery week, but I noticed/thought about something on Saturday. My legs definitely felt a bit lethargic, in the same way they did in my first taper week for Manchester last year. The reason I thought about it was because that week last year I ran the Cardiff World Half Champs and felt the same way. That’s probably a good thing, that my body really was recovering, but on the other hand I need to step up my game for the next 5 weeks with some seriously tough threshold sessions!

Here’s my fitness trend chart. it looks as though the recovery week has served its purpose and brought me back to that centre-ground ready to push onwards and upwards!

Next week sees my first 20 miler of the campaign!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 7m General Aerobic  (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic  (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage 52m 52m 6 mile increase compared to before MP and Recovery week. Big step up!

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 5 of 18

Well week 5 has been a bit of a beast! With a Lactate Threshold run, a marathon paced run, Baltic weather and a lot of travel, I’m not too sure where the time has gone!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace)
Total Mileage 45m 45m 1m less than previous week. Close enough 🙂

I wasn’t looking forward to Tuesday’s 9m with 5 miles Lactate Threshold run. I had to commute 2 hours home from Birmingham and was running from my in-laws house. When I’m doing a session I like to run familiar routes so I can focus on the running (And so I can find some slightly flatter profiles!). This was not one of those routes, so mentally I was already a bit despondent. I forgot my contact lenses and can’t run in my glasses as it makes me dizzy so I couldn’t see very well. AND I headed out with my head torch and didn’t realise the batteries were in a shit state and it was so cold all I could see in front of my was my breath! So I didn’t know sections of the route and could hardly see. Not a good start!

Thankfully though once I got out and found a bit of a rhythm I settled a bit. There were a few dodgy parts where I didn’t see the pavement drop, so I jolted a bit, but thankfully they were infrequent. The lactate section was fine for the first 3 miles or so, then I was faced with an incline. I did expect it, but at LT pace it sent my HR a bit high so I elected to walk a few meters to recover before cracking back on. There was another incline just after 4 miles which I adopted the same strategy for. I paused the watch for these walks.

My splits were good and I was very happy, though I was less happy that I had to walk a bit. Though I am confident that if the profile was flat I would have been able to sustain it. I will make sure when I do the 10 with 5@LT in 2 weeks time I find a flat area to run it on just to ensure I am right!

Average pace for the LT was 6:41 – So a bit faster than McMillan’s 6:50 calculation. However I’m about 5-6 pounds lighter than I was when I ran Newbury parkrun which I based the times on.

Tuesdays session meant I took Wednesday’s 5 mile Recovery at a very leisurely pace. My legs were shot to bits!

The feeling in my legs continued through to Thursday’s 10 mile General Aerobic run. The legs had a bit of a whinge and it was bloody freezing again but got the job done at a pace I was happy with. 7:33 average, 7:26 using GAP. My TRIMP was 143 compared to the 148 I scored for the same session and route last week so that’s encouraging!

We stayed local for parkrun this week, so I ran with the buggy on the Andover Winter Course and ran the 2 miles home  to make up the 5 miles recovery I needed. Legs felt fresh-ish but still wasn’t sure how I’d cope on Sunday… Was nice running with Lucy and Stephen and they came back to ours after for a calorie busting brunch! Not so good for the diet but was good for the rest of the day 🙂

The 16 miles with 10 at Marathon Pace was a bit of a mixed bag. I forgot my water so had to stop in Sainsburys after a mile. The I needed a number 2 so stopped in Tesco at mile 3. Miles 4 and 5 were ballsed up on the GPS so look a bit weird and have a dodgy run track section. Then I had to pause to reset the GPS. The I stopped at 5.5m for my planned water stop. After that the Marathon Paced section was actually pretty good. Had some solid splits bit it was really tough. Tough enough for me to question if I’m actually able to sustain it for 26.2.

On the surface they look pretty good, but I had to pause at the end of my 9th MP mile though when I finished I immediately regretted it. I do think I could have managed, and the clock won’t stop on race day!

On further analysis, using GAP I can actually see that the preceding progression section had some quick GAP miles so I actually managed a lot more at marathon pace than intended, nearly 12 miles – so I shan’t be too downhearted about it.

The average pace for the MP section was 7:01, so on schedule (7:04 is GFA/3:05 pace)

The other thing to consider with this run is that this was done at the end of a tough 5 weeks worth of hard training. I am thankful that I did so well with it and will now look forward to next weeks recovery week!

Weight

I had a great result with my weight loss this week, scoring a 5lbs loss! This either means it was a slight misread this week or last week, as I haven’t burned that big a calorie deficit, but its the long-term view that’s important so as long as the trend of loss keeps heading downwards I’ll be happy!

Weight: 14st 5lbs (-5lbs)
Body Fat %: 22.8% (-1.3%)

So of the 5lbs lost, apparently 4lbs was body fat and I managed to increase my muscle mass and water content! Something not quite stacking up there, but it’s not a zero-sum thing and purely guidance. Basically, I’m chuffed! Well on track.

Now I just need to have another good week. usually after a big loss I relax. I need to power on through and build on the good momentum I’ve got and shoot for another 2lbs next week.

Summary

So all in all a decent week’s training but I am thankful the Marathon Paced run went ok – I was dreading it. Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see again I have managed a sensible training load, and I have increased my fitness score by 2 pints week on week. Everything is headed in the right direction!

Next week is a “Recovery” week. Slight mileage cutback, and will try to ease up the intensities a little just to let the legs recover. I may even swap out Saturday’s recovery for a hard parkrun effort as a bit of a shape test, but we’ll see! Unbelievably next week is the end of the first Mesocycle. When that’s finished only 12 weeks to go, and 9 weeks until the taper!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Total Mileage 37m 37m 7 miles less than previous as its a “recovery” week.

 

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

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 3 of 18

Winter really kicked in this week. Most of my runs have been in the bitter cold and a few a little bit slippy. I’ve started to feel the training load a little bit, particularly early on in the week but that seems to have subsided a bit toward the end of the week. Running my long run on a Saturday again doesn’t help I don’t think, but I think this is the last time I’ll need to do that.

Saying that I’m still feeling like its all manageable and I am going into my sessions feeling fresh which is very positive. No doubt thanks to this very well controlled gradual mileage progression I’ve carefully worked towards over the last few months!

I’m trying to maintain this steady increase until the next mesocycle when the MP runs and recovery weeks jolt the mileage around a bit, but by then I’m hoping the gradual conditioning I’ve done will mean I can take that all in my stride!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest 10m General Aerobic Moved as work meant I wouldn’t have time on Tuesday.
Tuesday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic Rest
Wednesday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold)
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery 16m Medium-long Wouldn’t have time on Sunday so switched it to Saturday. Incorporated Andover parkrun.
Sunday 14m Medium-long 16m Medium-long 5m Recovery
Total Mileage 40m 44m

Due to work schedules meaning I wouldn’t have time to run on Tuesday, I moved my General Aerobic run to Monday, and boy was it tough. I still had Saturday’s MP long run in my legs, then on Sunday the parkrun double – I really felt the burn! Despite some good elevation I managed to retain the pace zone I needed to be in – but man oh man Tuesday’s rest day was bliss!

The key session of the week was the Lactate Threshold run and it was a bit of a beast. it was FREEZING cold but I still went out in a vest (I knew/thought I’d warm up – I didn’t). I reached about 2.5 miles into the threshold section when my brain started telling me to stop or rest or take a break. it took quite a lot for me to ignore it! I’m glad I did though, but the thought of extending the threshold section to 5 miles in 2 weeks time worries me as I was blowing out of my ass after the 4! Still, there’s 2 weeks to go before I need to worry about that!

The long run had to be moved to Saturday due to some scheduling issues with Family coming over, so I ended up doing 12 and a bit miles, to parkrun then parkrun with the buggy! I managed to time the first 12 pretty well to get there a little ahead of the run brief (I didn’t want to be hanging around standing still) – and managed to sneak in a bit more too so by the end of parkrun I was at 15.9 so just topped it up before scanning!

It took a while to get going thanks to the early start – 7.20am! Not often I head out that early, but it was worth it to get home at 10am knowing 16 miles were in the bank. After 4 miles or so I thought I was going to struggle all the way around but after 6 I feel like I found my flow. It helped that by then it wasn’t very dark and I was a bit more awake! So the pace increased a bit.

I tested my gels for the first time this campaign and am sticking with 1 every 4 miles as its worked for me before. From a hydration point of view, I felt I didn’t have enough – but thats challenging for me on a long run. I don’t like carrying bottles. I slowly drank from a 500ml bottle for the first 10m. I then stopped in the shop and needed to down another 500ml to rehydrate (I got another one too to take with me). So maybe I need about 100ml per mile?

The parkrun course was muddy as anything – and pushing the buggy around it in my road shoes made it really tough going with some slower miles. But the average pace for the whole run was 7.58 per mile – right where I wanted it! So thats a good confidence booster. Need to try and sustain it for 2 more miles next week. 18 at that sort of pace would make me very happy!

Weight

So one of the key parts of my strategy for running a Good for Age time is losing weight. Unfortunately, I’ve been woefully inept up until this point in making a start on it. In my defence, it has been Christmas!

Jodie and I, since Monday, have been making a dedicated effort at shedding the excess timber. We’re both back to obsessively entering every morsel into MyFitnessPal and will be weighing in every week on a Friday.

As an added motivator, I sent an email round at work this week to set up a “new year weight loss challenge” with an entry fee, with whoever loses the most weight (As a percentage of their starting weight) wins half the money (The other half goes to charity). Had a few bites, so will use that as a motivating tool as well.

Here’s my starting stats – the only ones I’m really interested in tracking at least:

Weight: 14st 12lbs
Body Fat %: 24.9%

Its not as bad as I feared, but still have around 21lbs to lose if I want to reach 17% body fat (Rough calculation). That’s a shade under 1.5lbs a week and very acheiveable. It also means I’ll be around a stone lighter than I was for Manchester – that’s got to have an impact on my finish time right?!

Summary

Another solid weeks training. I’m still feeling very strong and all my metrics are pointing in the right direction. Looking at how this week has affected my Fitness Trend I can see a sensible amount of overload that isn’t forcing my “form” score below 20.

If I can keep this solid and sensible training increase I’m confident good things come come – hand in hand with a sensible week’s diet improvements should be forthcoming.

Onwards and upwards into week 4!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 15m Medium-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

StravistiX – Awesome analysis for Strava

Introduction

A while back I came across an addon for Strava called “StravistiX“. Its totally free and it gets installed as a Google Chrome browser extension – but only works on your computer rather than on your mobile devices. (The extension exists for Opera too which is a lesser used browser, but not for Firefox, which is more well used which is a bit odd). I already think Strava is amazing for training analysis, but StravistiX takes things a step further.

What it does is embeds extra bits and bobs (OK, stats if you want to get technical) into the Strava website as you are browsing it. Some are more interesting and useful than others admittedly, but they recently introduced a feature that really opened my eyes. Apparently, something similar is already in Strava, but only for Cycling data and only with a Premium subscription. Its also the same as the Performance Chart in Training Peaks, but again requires a premium subscription.

So, for StravistiX to have this for free is a real bonus.

Once the addon is installed, you configure the settings to tell it your weight, gender, age and configure things like your heart rate and pace zones. You can also turn on and off features you do and don’t want to use. I haven’t tried all of them as there are a LOT, so the rest of the post is on the features I’ve tried, and I like.

Stravistix Settings

Subtle Enhancements to Strava

First up there’s this tile which gets added to your Profile page (It displays for you only on your profile) and shows you where you are at this year versus your previous years activity history – helpful if you want to “beat” last years mileage goal or something similar!

Stravistix Progressions for Strava

The Flyby is a feature in Strava I love to use because I’m a nosy so and so. When I’m out running and I pass someone who is absolutely flying, when I get back I look at my Flyby, and if they are on Strava I can see what session they were doing and view the activity data. Admittedly, its a bit stalky but its also helpful when looking at a race and see how you tore away from (or got left for dust) by the rest of the field! StravistiX embeds the Flyby button to every activity on your activity feed, so its easy to access the Flyby much faster.

Stravistix Flyby for Strava

The next panel appears when you are viewing an activity. It gives you some great additional stats for that activity, like how much of it were you climbing. It also shows you your “TRIMP”. This stands for “TRaining IMPulse” and I’ll talk about that a bit later in the post, but its similar to your Suffer Score – which is only available to Strava Premium members – so this is another free alternative to premium membership!

Enhanced training stats for Strava by Stravistix

Clicking the “Show Extended Statistics” button then lets you see full screen a full and detailed analysis of your data. The “Grade” information is shown below. But it also shows you heart rate, pace, cadence, and elevation. It splits them all into fully configurable Zones so you can see the effect of grade on your pace and heart rate, for example. Strava limits these zones, so having flexibility to add more could be attractive for some people.

Grade chart for Strava by Stravistix
Segments are one of my favourite things about Strava, and StravistiX have enhanced the segment view too. It adds some extra columns and colours to the segments that you crossed in your activity, so you can analyse your segment attempts directly on the list. It shows how far away you were from the CR, your PR and your ranking against the leaderboard for the effort.
Strava Segment Analysis by Stravistix

But now for something a whole lot more interesting…

The “Multi-Sport Fitness Trend”

Recently StravistiX released this (rather wordy – why not just “Fitness Trend”) feature and it seemed… somewhat familiar. Confusing, yet familiar. It essentially examines your training history and plots it into a chart showing 3 key metrics, all based around your “TRIMP” – I told you I’d come back to it!

TRIMP

TRIMP is your TRaining IMPulse and is a measure of the amount of effort you put into an activity. It calculates it based upon your heart rate during the activity and the zones you are working in. It’s just like Strava showing you your Suffer Score. The longer you run the higher your score gets. But if you are running “easy” then the score accrues at a lower rate then if you are running at your lactate threshold. So harder runs accrue a higher TRIMP. It does this totally dynamically, so is you have 2 miles easy, 4 miles at threshold and 2 miles recovery, it will accrue the score based upon just that, so for 2 miles your TRIMP will accrue slowly, for 4 miles it increases quickly, then for 2 more it accrues more slowly.

Fitness, Fatigue and Form

It uses these TRIMP scores, applies some calculations and plots them into a whizzy chart as 3 different metrics.

The first metric is called “Fitness”. This a rolling average of your TRIMP over the last 42 days and is also known as your Chronic Training Load – it gives an indicator of how fit you are based upon your training history. So, if you had a week with no running, this would slowly decrease – after all you don’t suddenly become unfit overnight! Similarly if you ran a bunch of hard efforts this would slowly increase as you can’t suddenly become more fit just because you ran a couple of hard efforts!

The flip side to your running – particularly running hard – is that you get fatigued. The harder you run (higher TRIMP) the more fatigued you are afterwards. The Fitness Trend tracks the average of your last 7 days exertions to give you your “Fatigue” score, also known as Acute Training Load. So, if you don’t run any hard sessions for a week, your Fatigue score will drop more drastically than  your Fitness Score as its based on your short term rather than your long term history.

Thankfully, the third metric is simpler to understand. It’s called “Form” and is quite simply your FitnessFatigue. So lets say your Fitness is 80 and your Fatigue is 90. Your Form is -10. This indicates that you are a bit tired and not quite race sharp – You are more fatiguesd than you are fit. On the other hand, lets say your Fitness remained at 80, but your fatigue is only 70 – this gives you a Form of +10 – you are less fatigued and sharper to race (or indeed run a hard session)!

Practicalities – Using Form Zones

Looking at it like that it really does confirm the old adage that there really are no short cuts to “Fitness” – the less fatigued you are, the better you race. Not exactly rocket science I know, and it’s intel we all (should)  know anyway, but seeing this visually plotted over time is much more helpful than simply seeing your Strava suffer score for your single activity.

But with all these things, the tool is only useful if you can use it practically. So, what can you actually use it for. A recent addition to the tool has added “Form Zones” so you can see roughly how these efforts are/should be affecting your training and race performance.

The below is taken directly from the StravistiX documentation.

  • +25 < Form : Transition zone. Athlete is on form. Case where athlete has an extended break. (e.g. illness, injury or end of the season).
  • +5 < Form < +25 : Freshness Zone. Athlete is on form. Ready for a race.
  • -10 < Form < +5 : Neutral Zone. Zone reached typically when athlete is in a rest or recovery week. After a race or hard training period.
  • -30 < Form < -10 : Optimal Training Zone.
  • Form < -30 : Over Load Zone. Athlete is on overload or over-training phase. He should take rest
  1. You can use your current form to make sure you push your training load so that your hard efforts are greater than your current fitness, but in a sensible way. By keeping your form between -30 and -10 is the sustainable way to see your perfromance improve. Any less than this and the benefits of your training will likely be negligible.
  2. You  can also see if you are over-training and risking injury by seeing a sharp spike in your “Fatigue” score as it will push you into the “Over Load Zone” The longer and higher you push that spike above your current fitness, the longer you’ll spend in this zone and the greater the injury risk. So if you are pushing that Form Score beyond -30 then beware.
  3. It shows quite clearly why you should avoid back to back hard efforts and how important rest is – you simply keep accruing fatigue and pushing your “Form” lower and lower below 0, risking bad things happening to your body. It also shows how important it is for recovery runs to be just that – they maintain your fitness but reduce your fatigue, as long as you do them at the right effort.
  4. It highlights the need for regular “quality” sessions to push you beyond your current “Fitness” score. If you aren’t pushing yourself regularly your form will slip into the “Neutral” zone. This is the zone you’ll find yourself in if you are in a recovery phase/week, or are tapering for a race. If you are spending a long period of time in this zone you are likely putting in “junk” miles and you’ll not see any long term improvement by hanging around in here!
  5. You can tell when you are ready to race as you’ll find your form in the “Freshness” zone, which will be somewhere between +5 and +25. Your short term intensity has lowered meaning your fatigue has dropped below your fitness score so you are fresh to race! This is evidenced quite nicely in the attached section from my chart – I didn’t think I was capable of the PB I got at Poole last year, but the chart shows my Fatigue had reduced by the perfect amount. Now if I see a Form score like that before a race I’ll know I can give it a good effort!
  6. You can, to some degree, use it to plan or at least assess your taper. Over time and history you know the sorts of sessions you will be running and what your TRIMP is likely to be and you can work out when you might peak. I might be a nice feature addition to allow a user to enter some values here to model their taper.
  7. The basic rules of cause and effect are, you train at a certain speed for a certain time you get better at running that speed. To get faster you need to push yourself on further again. I use McMillan to reassess my training paces after a race normally, but when training this might not be frequent enough. Now, I can see when my training reaches a plateau as I would be in the Neutral zone, even though I’m not doing a recovery or taper week. With this intelligence I can assess if I need to increase my training paces to increase the training stimulus. This should ensure a faster increase in performance as long as you don’t overly fatigue yourself in the process.

Review

I was blown away by this feature. Really. To some degree just because it proved that my training methodology made some sense, but mainly because I can see, long term, how this can help me improve as a runner.

It’s not anything particularly new – The creator credits Banister and Coggan (References below) who came up with and improved this concept  – but embedding it into your existing Strava data was jsut really nice and so easy to use. It took my some time to understand but once I did, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it.

StravistiX have done a lot of hard work and made this free, Full credit to Thomas Champagne for a brilliant app. I will be donating to the project in thanks.

THIS POST WAS UPDATED 11th January 2017 to reflect great new additions to Fitness Trend.

Credits

Thanks to this article which explained to me what these numbers actually meant on a practical level. Credit: Training Peaks http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/applying-the-numbers-part-3-training-stress-balance

BANISTER, E. W. 1991. Modeling Elite Athletic Performance. In: MACDOUGALL, J. D., WENGER, H. A. & GREEN, H. J. (eds.) Physiological Testing of Elite Athletes. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics

Wikipedia also has more information on the topic: http://fellrnr.com/wiki/Modeling_Human_Performance

Stravistix use the attached link as a source of information and I read it too to understand the practical uses of the zones: http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2015/12/managing-training-using-tsb.html