Category Archives: Manchester 2016

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 9 of 18

Week 9 of my training for Manchester, and numerically its the halfway point – though with a 3 week taper period, that means theres only 6 more weeks of serious running before winding down!

The week has consisted of some “bread and butter” recovery runs, but with the key session being the marathon pacer on Sunday,  this weeks training has been geared around trying to be vaguely fresh for that.

Midweek

On Tuesday, Jodie and I went for a 6 miler. Jodie is starting to struggle with the hills, but unsurprising as shes running on behalf of two people! I felt pretty fresh by the end of it, which I was quite impressed with given Sunday’s 22 miler.

Wednesday was my least favourite run of the whole training plan… 14 miles medium long, in the middle of the week after work. Not especially motivating to get out knowing I’d not be home til gone 8, though thankfully the weather was cold but crisp and clear. I set out at the slow end of the pace zone and executed a royal flush negative split through the pace zone right up to marathon pace!

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This included all the usual hills I cover, and included a good effort up Bunford – thought I PBed the segment but missed out by a couple of seconds! Still, not bad considering it was the end of a 14 miler!

On Thursday, I was meant to do 6 miles recovery, with 6 and strides planned for Saturday. But I didn’t want the strides to have a negative impact on Sunday, so I switched them up. The run was pretty tough, which I should have expected after Wednesday, but I focused on my technique and balance for the strides, and sure enough they had a good level of speed. I finished quite tired but knew I had a rest day on Friday, so no concern there.

Friday was weigh day, and I had felt that this week I’d been less strict and probably overeaten, so wasn’t expecting good results… Just the 3lbs off! Absolutely delighted, ahead of schedule and now at my interim target of the weight I was for the wedding! According to the scales it was mostly fat too, so the training is working to keep the muscles lean whilst the calorie deficit is burning fat. Happy days!

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Looking at my nifty projection chart, if I keep up the 3lbs a week I’ll be at goal by the end of Feb. I think maintaining 3 per week is ambitious. The target 2lb a week is more sensible and would put me at goal for 4th March.

weightgraph5thfebSo I’m ahead of where I want to be. What I tend to do now is think to myself “I’m well ahead, I can afford to relax a bit” and that’s when I plateau, and get frustrated that I stop losing, and why I never reached that 8th stone last year.

I’m going to stay focused all the way to Manchester to lose as much as I can. If I can achieve a 2lb a week average, that’ll put me at 13st 4lbs for the race! Using a more sensible 1.5lbs then I’d be 13st 8, which I’d still be over the moon with!

But lets get to sub 14st first before I get too carried away…

I treated myself this week too. After a few years with my Garmin Forerunner 220 it was high time for an upgrade. I had a bit of loss in confidence after it froze a few times and nearly ran out of battery the other day. Given how often I use it, I checked with the wife and thought it was worth splashing out on something new. I went for the Forerunner 235. A full review will be posted later this week but its a nifty device so far!

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On Saturday we chose to continue our tourism streak with a brand new parkrun for us, Salisbury. I did 6 miles at recovery pace. We met Simon in the car park before headed off for a warm up, during which the weather was overcast, but nothing like the conditions we feared. We did a couple of short laps and then went to find Jodie for our pre-run selfie.

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By the time the start came around though, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Wet and windy is the only way to describe it. This was made more pleasant though by what have to be some of the best volunteers I have come across in my parkrun tourism. So encouraging, and so many of them it was fantastic to see. Not only from a marshalling perspective but there were pacers of all levels including beginners groups, all clearly identified on their hi-vis.

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It was so inclusive, and though I am not a fan of multi lap courses (Salisbury is pretty much 4 laps) the amazing volunteers and support made it an absolute pleasure, despite the weather.

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The parking was close by, the toilets were onsite and the course was very well marked out. Salisbury parkrun is an absolute credit to parkrun as a movement. First class! I look forward to returning in the summer.

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Sunday

Sunday was a key session and it was important for my confidence and belief that the training and weight loss was working, to run it well. I had to run it in Basingstoke, which meant the first half of the marathon pace section was uphill, though it meant the second half was downhill/level.

The problem was, it didn’t go according to plan… at all.

I woke up and felt OK, had some breakfast and headed out a bit earlier than usual, and for some reason I just knew it was going to go wrong.

After the first mile ticked over I realized I’d configured my workout incorrectly, so I had to abandon it and start a manual activity. Problem 1. I then started progressing until about 5 miles. This was quite literally problem number 2 and had to find a bush and use my sweat band in a way it wasn’t designed for. Needless to say I left it in the woods. By the time I got to marathon pace I was running on slippy trail and couldn’t maintain any pace at all. Then it was uphill. This was problem number 3. I then realized my legs REALLY didn’t have the pace in them. They felt like lead weights on ANY type on incline and things just were not clicking.

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So I made a call. Rather than flogging myself to death trying to hit MP, inevitably failing and then beating myself up about it, I elected to run a straightforward 20 miler as a time on my feet type run. I managed to maintain a decent speed, even though I had to stop for a breather once and also had to stop for the bathroom again but other than that I was pretty pleased.

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I was due a bad run and after 3 weeks of running 55 miles per week it was hardly a surprise my legs are fatigued!

Luckily, this week is a recovery week – I’m going to run my easy runs very easy. I have an interval session on Wednesday to get some speed in my legs and a tune up race on Sunday – hopefully my legs have recovered enough to give it a damn good go.

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 8 of 18

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

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

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

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

10 miles, 6 at tempo workout analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 7 of 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 6 of 18

Week 6 has been somewhat of a milestone week. Not only is it the end of the first Mesocycle of the training, and not only is it the first recovery week, or the point where it marked being exactly  one third of the way through… But we were finally able to announce that we are growing a new little runner!

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We’re 12 weeks pregnant, and have had our scan. It was a truly magical experience which I’m sure every parent goes through the first time. What you don’t expect to see in the scan is the baby moving – I assumed it was still pictures – Imagine my surprise when our little one kicked out and had a ride around Jodie’s uterus! This of course means that Jodie will not be running the Manchester Marathon this year, but she is continuing to run to maintain fitness and hopefully she’ll be fine to run in the Cardiff world championships!

The recovery week in the plan has obviously been perfectly timed. My legs felt battered all week right up until Saturday so I deliberately went out to run at the slower end of all of my pace zones.

Tuesday saw me on an easy 8  miler with 8 strides. The weather was miserable and my legs were knackered. I also sufferedf romt he fact that I needed a poo. At some point I realised that everytime my runs are interrupted by a such an event, its normally a Tuesday! Without wanting to get too graphic, I suspect that as my biggest meal of the day is on Sunday, that Tuesday’s GI problems are simply that the food has finally digested! So I need to try and shift that event to happen pre-run!

Wednesday was a straightforward recovery run. Legs still feeling a bit dead, still miserable weather.

Thursday was another easy 8 miler with no strides. Heavy legged but did a reasonable amount of climbing too. Heart rate looked better though, and I knew Friday was a rest day.

Friday of course is weigh day, and it seems the hard work has paid off, I dropped 4lbs this week, most of it in fat and increased my muscle mass! So just another stone to go til my pre-race target.

weight progress

I’m a little unsure how much stock to take in the body composition analysis of these things. It said that I was 25.1% body fat, 50.3% water, and 28.3% muscle – that’s over 100% and doesn’t include bone any everything else! But I guess its designed as a guide and a way of tracking progress rather than a zero-sum game.

On parkrunday we avoided Ham Hill again to continue our tour. A group of us went to Blandford parkrun instead. I was scheduled for 4 miles recovery, but I was tempted to “have a go”. Its a fast course and could have had a pop at sub 20, but I figured if I run this hard it would affect my sessions next week. I felt quite self righteously smug at my self control! It was a good controlled effort and finished feeling refreshed.

Unfortunately, the next 18 hours consisted of bad food and several cans off Thatchers Gold. Which meant Sunday turned into a bit of a mare… Still, I figured a bit of a blowout wouldn’t hurt. Struggled through the first 6 of my 12 miler slowy, and had to make a pub stop to use the facilities, after which I felt significantly better. Managed lots of climbing too which was a plus point.

Next week is a bit of a big week (not as big as the following week though!), with 52 miles scheduled (It’ll go over that with warm up/cool down) and will be the biggest week for ages. Another tempo run is on the cards (Which I struggled with last year) and my first 20 miler of the campaign, which I’m going to part run with the group – carefully considered after my 18 miler a few weeks back caused me to want to cry!

12 weeks to go – which means only really 9 weeks until the taper…. this time is disappearing fast!

 

 

 

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 5 of 18

Well I finally faced my Christmas weight gain! I’m 18lbs away from where I want to be, which is an achievable pre-race goal. The chocolate stash we inherited over the holiday period is almost depleted so I’m hoping that my currently weak willpower will not need to be tested much more!

From a running point of view though, its been a mixed bag, but generally positive..

Run 1 was 9 miles with 5 at tempo. Pace wise I was just where I wanted to be. Unfortunately, and what has become a bit of a theme on my tempo runs, I tend to get GI issues, usually after about 3 miles. I had to stop in my tracks at 3.5 miles  this week and just wait for it to pass which took a couple of minutes. That unfortunately meant I had a bit of a rest mid tempo, which isn’t ideal. Other than that it was fine.

Run 2 was a nice recovery run with Jodie. Nothing much to write about there.

Run 3 was a 10 mile general aerobic run. I managed all of my miles at sub-8 pace despite all the climbing I did and felt really strong throughout. Unfortunately though, going down Cavalier Way i clipped the curb and took a hard tumble. I did manage to roll partially, but still took a mean scrape to my arm, hip, and leg.

Run 4 saw 5 recovery miles on a parkrunday visit to Exeter Riverside parkrun. It was a really lovely course but didn’t quite have the same buzz of a parkrun, and I’m not sure why. it was all a bit quiet. There were people talking during the run briefing and when they asked if there were any tourists we were pretty much dismissed as we were “only from Yeovil”! I’m sure they didn’t mean any offense. There wasn’t much of a fuss made for the volunteers either – and I do like applauding the volunteers at the start of a run.

The course itself is about a mile out on tarmac cycle path, then a mile loop around the university playing fields (mostly grass though it was a bit of a mudfest with all the recent weather) and then a miles drag back. The marshals were in good spirits as ever and I have to say the course was very picturesque. It was lovely running along the river.

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What was strange was that they did the token scanning inside the cafe. Which is OK, but it was a 400m walk to the cafe, past the car park. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t lose a lot of tokens from first timers due to this.

Run 5 was a key session, a 16 miler with 10 at Marathon pace. This was 2 miles longer than the previous version of the session, which I felt I ran too fast to be sustainable. This time I reduced the pace a touch and ran it at a 3:11 average pace (targetting 3:12 pace with sub-3:15 as the end goal). I’m not going to lie, it was hard. It will be easier when I’m a stone lighter though!

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Next week is a recovery week, so I’ll be running all my runs at the low end of my pace zones. Its also the last week of the “Endurance” mesocycle. Where did the time go?? The recovery I hope will help my legs rest a bit before I start running a weekly threshold sessions in the next mesocycle.

On the whole though, despite my shameful weight gain, I am actually feeling really strong. I have no injury niggles (famous last words) and my legs are only feeling an amount of fatigue I can class as “normal” given the mileage I’ve been running. Mentally, I feel focused and I’m keen to get out and do the next run. As I am running the paces a stone overweight I’m feeling confident that when I shift the weight I should be well on track.

Now I just need to lose the weight…

 

 

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 4 of 18

OK, so weeks 1, 2 and 3 didn’t get written, but it was Christmas and New year, a very busy time for everyone and I couldn’t find the time to write anything.

But with the turn of every New Year comes a newly renewed enthusiasm which I’m hoping will keep my writing.

Despite the lack of posting, there has been no lack of training! I’ve remained as consistent as I can be and have stuck to the plan all aside from an abandoned Tempo Session on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, I’ll try and summarise the last three weeks training best I can!

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Over the festive period we managed a brilliant 5 parkruns, in 5 different locations – 4 of which we’d never been to before. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out any of the post-parkrun cafeterias due to a lack of time, but needless to say all the people we encountered were as lovely as you would expect at any parkrun.

On Christmas Day we stayed local with the very well attended Basingstoke parkrun. I ran a little quicker than intended but the course was a bit of a mudfest… a theme that developed even further over the period…

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Bracknell was our destination on Boxing Day. Tucked away in a nice forest park, this flat 3 lapper saw some tarmac, some forest trail, but mostly (what used to be and is currently mud) grass. Parking was plentiful and there was a pavilion with loos and a bit of cover to leave your (unsecured of course) stuff. The support here was brilliant, the course passed within close proximity of the start/finish twice per lap so plenty of applause! There were some very slippy places though and nearly lost my footing a few times! Took it nice and easy but felt sluggish from Christmas Day indulgence.

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New years day is one of my favourite days of the year as we can do a parkrun double! We wanted to run with Jodie’s sister so we headed to Hampshire for the 9am starting Andover parkrun. Such a lovely course! A flat 2 lapper mostly on grass. It was squelchy and muddy in places but it took in some lovely fields and lakes and had a really good vibe. Their first timers briefing was very welcoming and the runners were chatty as I jogged round. Brilliant event! Loads of parking available and I think there are usually loos, but they were closed as it was New Years Day. Good PB potential!

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We then headed down the A303 and A34 to Winchester. It was a bit tricky to find. The website gave sat-nav directions to a car park but wasn’t best placed really for the run, but its in the town center and I’ve found other events are similarly troubled when in town centers. It was also pay and display (though with it being NYD, it was free!) and the loos were open in the nearby leisure centre. The course was 3 windy laps of playing fields, almost entirely on grass which was slippy mud on the day. The course wasn’t particularly inspiring and tough we won’t rush back, the marshals and volunteers were brilliantly supportive.

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Back on “normal” parkrunday we visited Poole parkrun. Reportedly a fast and flat course, today was not going to deliver on that! Flat, yes, but the howling wind and rain made it very tough. We ran the “B” course, which had a slightly deviated start and finish, but the main feature is 2 laps around a big lake on tarmac. There is nothing to stop you falling in the river, so caution is recommended! If the conditions weren’t so bad this is definitely a PB friendly course. Being in the town center the parking was also pay and display, but there were toilets and a pavilion to keep dry in. This is a really big parkrun, regularly attracting over 500 runners so a very different experience for us, but despite a congested start the organisation was flawless thanks in no small measure to the amazing marshals and fantastic finish funnel system.

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Long Runs

4 weeks means there were four key long runs for the plan.

The first was meant to be a 12 miler,  but I shamefully avoided it due to a raging hangover. I managed about 7 with the group but they were horrid!

The second was a particularly tough 14 miler with 8 of them at Marathon Pace. I wasn’t sure I was quite fit enough for my target/anticipated MP but had a go anyway. Progressed nicely through the first 6 miles and then hit a pace actually a bit faster than I needed to (3:07 pace)- which explained why the last couple of miles were so tough. Lesson learned for next time, run at 3:12 pace and see how that feels.

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Week 3 saw 16 easy miles around Basingstoke, though once again I was faster than I needed to be. I really must learn to control it,so I can save energy for the midweek session.

Week 4 was the longest run for a while, and it was seriously tough. For whatever reason I went out without any water, which was a mistake when doing that sort of distance. I tried progressing through the gears and through the pace zone, and all went well until about mile 13. Then the legs started feeling very heavy. I think I got a bit greedy on the pace. The last 2 miles were just a world of pain. I craved chocolate and fluids and wasn;t right for a good couple of hours. Not fun at all! A valuable lesson learned.

Sessions

The only 2 sessions in this three 3 week period were Tempo sessions, 8 miles with 4 at Tempo. Unfortunately I managed neither.

The first was the day of our office Christmas party, so I ran the Easy portion at lunchtime, then did 4 miles at Tempo the day after, which were comfortable and controlled.

The second was Christmas Eve. I went out for the first 2 miles but I really wasn’t feeling it. If I’m honest, I hadn’t felt it when I woke up either. But I tried and after 2 miles I jacked it in. Instead, when I got to Basingstoke later that day I did a gentle 5 miler with the intention of tempo-ing a Festive parkrun to make up the effort balance. I did this at Poole.

General Aerobic Runs

I’ve been consciously trying to keep my Easy/General Aerobic runs at just under 8 minute miling. This is because its 15s per mile quicker than I trained last year. Despite maybe not QUITE being “easy” on the effort scale, I hope that as my weight drops and fitness increases it will become easier. “The only way to run faster is to run faster”. My body is pretty injury free right now so fingers crossed this little ploy pays off!

Weight

Nothing to report. I’m too afraid to get on the scales, but now its new year I’m having a clean week and will weigh in next Sunday as my new start point so I can be sub 14st by Manchester.

Summary

Running has gone well and I feel my base is building well. Now to shift the christmas (and more) weight and start getting on with the tougher business!

Lessons:

  1. In the upcoming 20 miler in a few weeks, take water! This means investing in some sort of hydration belt/bag – I don’t want to have to stop.
  2. Stop being a pussy and get on the scales, fatty!
  3. See point 2 and start using MyFitnessPal again once you’ve gotten a starting weight.
  4. Blog next week.

 

 

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016 – The Plan

It’s been a while since I posted last. Tom asked if the blog was officially retired when we were having a post-parkrun coffee the other day, and my reply was that I didn’t really have much to write about. Nothing really interesting anyway, as the following paragraphs will prove…

Catching Up

Training has been going OK, I’m injury free and I seem to be back on the improvement curve. I ran the Great Birmingham Run (Half Marathon) in 1:34:35 which is about 4 and a bit minutes slower than Reading in March, but I was happy with the time as summer (running wise) was less than stellar. Coming back from injury, illness and a mojo deficiency meant my times had suffered so to post that time was quite pleasing.

I followed this up with the Great South Run a week later. 1:09:32 was the finishing time, a minute quicker than last year, but the conditions were perfect compared to last years atrocious wind. I took heart from it though, it seemed to indicate I was in slightly better shape than the same time last year. And looking at my training logs since then, it does seem to be the case.

I’m still frustrated with my 5k PB. I feel I should be able to set a faster time, and this time next week I’ll be about to race and hope to finally break the sub-20 goal I set around this time last year. Slow progress maybe, but I feel fitter and more confident than this time last year, and I am running well despite carrying some extra bulk at the moment.

I always intended to run a spring marathon in 2016, and with London unceremoniously rejecting me again, I plumped for Manchester again as the timing works out quite well for me. I have a score to settle there. Despite finishing in a time I am immensely proud of (3:20:32) I missed out on my goal by 33 seconds. Up until 20 miles I was on for sub 3:15 and fell apart in the last 10k.

My mission this year, is to run sub 3:15 (And actually as close to 3:10 as I can) as a stepping stone to an Autumn marathon in Bournemouth (As Berlin also rejected me in their poxy ballot!) and try and get as close to 3:05 as I can.

You see, 3:05 is the “Good for Age” time for London. If I run a sub 3:05 I can apply for that and don’t need to go into the ballot! Unfortunately next Autumn is too late to get a qualifying time for London 2017, but it will be within the qualifying period for London 2018. And if I don’t make it next autumn, I have another chance in Spring 2017.

Yes its long term, and yes relies on a lot of factors, but its always good to have a goal. Step 1 is Manchester 2016.

So, time to get training for it. Unfortunately though, one of the best motivational tools around, Jantastic, is not running this year. I’m a bit gutted. It was great to participate in and made for good banter amongst our local team. It also helped me retain focus and consistency. Thankfully I still have SOME self discipline though! As long as I have a plan, I have a chance.

I’ve spent the last month or so building up my base mileage in my legs and I’m comfortably doing around 50m a week now, which I am confident will help me with this years plan of attack. Once again, I am using Pfitzinger and Douglas Up to 55m training plan. I have made some modifications to it in order to address some of the lessons I learned during last years campaign. Many of them are answers to the following question:

Why did I fall apart at the 20 mile mark? 

  • Bad pacing. During sections of the race I was exceeding the Marathon Pace I trained at as I had “Goal Creep” during the weeks before the race where I thought I could go faster than I targetted at the start. This time around I have a fixed 5 minute window I am going for and sticking at.
  • My longest long runs I built around races, usually half marathons, where I’d run 7 miles first, then run a half race (At long run pace). Some of them I had long (30 minute plus) breaks between them though, which I think meant my legs were not doing enough continued endurance. I am not going to be doing this again.
  • Not enough endurance. I want to do more 20 milers. Last year I did 4, and this year I want to do 6 (3 x 20m, 3 x 22m). One of the reasons for building my base mileage now is so I can get my long runs up to 20 miles sooner. When you see the schedule you’ll see how they fit with the cycles and I’ll be doign my first 20 miler before the new year.

What else would help me improve?

  • Weight loss. I’ve not been strict enough to lose weight. My intention is before the race to drop well below the 14st mark, which will mean I’m at least 7lbs lighter than I was for the 2015 race (I’m about 7lbs HEAVIER at the moment than I was for the race)
  • Better preparation. I had a once in a lifetime opportunity for an expenses paid trip to Dubai in the week before the race. I landed on the Saturday before the race after taking a night flight with no sleep after spending the week indulging in fine food and drinking beer. I won’t get the opportunity again and this time around I will make sure that week is stress free and restful.
  • Tempo runs weren’t fast enough. I tended to opt for “downhill” routes for my tempo sections which means I wasn’t training efficiently enough. I am going to run all my tempo runs on flat terrain to make sure my body adapts properly to the training as the plan expects.

What did I do right last time?

  • The tweaks to the plan were well researched and calculated. I have followed the same principles this time around.
  • I stuck to the plan. Simply put, the plan worked. So i figure if I stick to it with my adjustments and lessons learned, I should come close. I have calculated my training paces using the faithful McMillan Calculator and all my workouts are on my Garmin to tell me how fast and how far to run.
  • I wrote the blog regularly keeping my accountable. And this is why I’m back writing it again. Even if no one reads it, it helped me to be accountable for my actions. Writing about my experiences also helps put bad ones to bed and work identify what went well and why.

The Plan: 2016 Edition

Based upon P&D, here is the plan I’ve put together. This isn;t quite as is prescribed in the book, I will highlight the changes I have made so no-one misinterprets it.

I have thought very carefully about the changesd made to this, in line with the teachings of the book. If you just pull the training schedule from here or even the book without reading and understand the key principles then it won;t do you any good. Go buy it, read it, follow the plan, and bag yourself a PB.

Mesocycle 1: Endurance

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  • You will see I have a 5k race on Wednesday of Week 1. The original schedule calls for a rest day here, but I have been training for a 5k PB and this is the target race for it. I am happy to include it here as I have already built good endurance and I don’t feel missing this rest day would hurt as it is still a low mileage week compared to what I’ve been doing. I may need to adjust my training paces after this race.
  • The long runs jump up right from the start. The first one is 18 miles, because I’ve been consistently running 16 milers on Sundays for the last 5 weeks so its not that big a step.
  • There are extra parkruns on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I’ve added them to the schedule but I’ll be running them as recovery runs and not running the extra mile or two the schedule says I should the day after (Saturday/normal parkrunday)

Mesocycle 2: Lactate Threshold + Endurance

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  • As per mesocycle 1, the long runs here are different to the main plan.
  • During the “cutback week” I have schedule a race. This will either be a 10 mile race or a 10k race. This is primarily to see if there is a training improvement and if I need to adjust my training paces. But also, because the Saturday tuneup races in the next mesocycle are all 5ks and think I would benefit from something a bit longer.

Mesocycle 3: Race Preparation

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  • Longer long runs
  • I have changed the way I am going to do the Interval sessions. last year I did the intervals in the middle of a longer run. This year, I am going to do them at the start of a longer run. This is because my legs will be fresher and will (hopefully) maximise the quality of the session.
  • Much like last year, my “tune up races” will be parkruns. There are no local races on Saturdays here. I should be able to set a 5k PB here if all is going well.

Mesocycle 4: Taper and Race

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  • The only difference here is the presence of the Cardiff Half Marathon. This is the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and there is a mass participation race I’ve entered. Ideally, my warm up half would have been 2 weeks previous, but it is where it is. On the schedule, its supposed to be an 8-12k race on Saturday, and 16 miles on Sunday. I think I have compromised nicely, I just hope that my legs recover enough!