Sunday, 31 January 2010

Recovery before breakfast and some reflections on a month...

Woke up after a decent night's sleep at about 8:15, and as the sky was blue and the ground was white I thought I'd get my recovery run in before breakfast.  Well wrapped up, as it was bitterly cold, I did a very steady 4 miles up to Halton East and back.  Kept an eye on the HR which hardly got over 120 - maxed out at 129, but the average was 115 for the session.

This being the last day of the first month of my marathon build up I thought I'd take stock and see where I am.  Total mileage for the month is 209, far and away the most miles I've ever done - in contrast my peak month's mileage in 2007 (the year I thought I was in good shape) was 90.  Seems unbelievable looking back but that was March 07 and had 3 of my long runs in it, so my total running apart from those runs was about 7m a week - and I was surprised when I conked out at 16m!

Looking at weekly mileage this time shows I've just done my 5th 40m+ week on the bounce too.  Long runs are probably slightly ahead of schedule with 3 20 milers in the bag, and yesterday's 22.5m was a bonus.  The midweek MP sessions are really helping, and so far they're enjoyable - whether that remains the case when I move up to 10m at MP out of 12 total is yet to be seen.

Niggles and injury-wise things seem ok - I've been pretty well behaved about icing and stuff when I get an ache, but I do want to get a sports massage sorted - the lady recommended by runningbear is back from her winter jollies soon.

So - what's going to change for this month?  Not much, really - long runs are going well, although I'd like to get up to 5m at MP towards the end of Feb.  I'm also going to increase the length of at least one of my steady runs to 8 or maybe 10m, and I might swap my MP effort run for something a bit shorter and faster occasionally (say 1 in 3, maybe during a bit of a cutback week).

That should leave the average week looking a bit like this:

M: Steady 6 at lunch, maybe up to 8 or 10 by the end of the month (probably have to be end of the day)
T: 10m with 8m at MP, increasing to 12 with 10
W: Steady 6 at lunch or bike commute
T: Track session - probably 4x1m or 3x2m reps
F (or S): Long run - 20 or 22m building to 5m at MP
S: Recovery
S: Bike ride

Of course I've no doubt that races, family and work stuff will bugger this up nearly every week, but as long as I can keep the midweek MP effort and the LR, the other stuff will just happen.

Onwards and upwards...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The longest so far

It was the Harriers' awards do last night, and despite having my Antipodean Gentleman's Gentleman, Mr Verecondi, to drive me home, I was painfully aware of the large quantity of gunk sloshing round my nasal passages.  In addition to this, the close proximity of a water supping scouser with whom I had arranged to do a long run this morning made me take things pretty steady, and only a couple of beers and several pints of water were consumed.  Sadly due to insufficient quantities of buffet comestibles very little food was eaten either, so I was a tad concerned about the amount of fuel I'd have in the tank today.

I woke up this morning with Paul's farewell remark of "so we'll do it then, eh?" ringing in my ears, so once K had returned from her run (she's going really well - probably running twice every week now, so I expect great things at the Bratfud 10k in March - no pressure...) I was off.

Well in fact I was only "off" in as much as I had to go and rescue Maisie and Lily who's taken themselves off to the sweet shop, and with Lils' legendary decisiveness when it comes to confectionary, had been there about 20 minutes.  I arrived at Chez Paul a few minutes late to find him hopping up and down looking ready to burn up the road.

"7:45's?" I asked hopefully.

"Course, yeah, whatever" said Paul, setting off at about 7:25 pace.  No matter - the HR was behaving and I felt ok.

We actually settled into a really good pace - slow enough to chat but quick enough so the miles kept ticking over.  We hit the middle of Otley, about 7m in, at an average pace of 7:36 and my HR averaging 131bpm - comfy, and my cold seemed to be fine.  We carried on through Pool and out towards Arthington, a busy road but one that possesses that all important feature - flatness.  It just follows the Wharfe all the way, and is ideal for this type of mileage - there's lots of things to look at, and it breaks up naturally into 3 or 4 mile sections.

We touched the railway bridge in Arthington and turned for home, realising that we would be running into the wind, and the pace did drop slightly.  The 7m back from Arthington to Burley averaged 7:45, which had started to feel quite hard, and Paul was complaining his legs were feeling tired.  At this precise moment I thought it'd be a good idea to suggest a few miles of effort, so we agreed to run the 3m back to Ilkley at as close to MP as we could manage.  I'd forgotten that this section has a fairly long, although gentle, uphill section, which would explain my mile splits of 6:36, 6:44 and 6:49, but to be honest I was starting to feel it quite badly towards the end.  Still, I'm happy that I managed to run at that pace after 18m of reasonably steady running (averaged 7:46 for the first 18m).  Paul struggled a bit, which I think could be a combination of getting over a cold but also a bit of a lack of mileage midweek recently.  I doubled back after the effort, then we jogged back to his house to give me a total of 22.5m, averaging 7:42min mile pace.

I really enjoyed today, and going out with someone else not only makes it more fun, but it makes you get out and do it.  Both of us admitted that we'd probably have bailed had we not been meeting up, so we both now have a bonus LR in the bag!

My next LR will probably be on my own next Friday, but as you can see from my little table my next 20 miler will get my "5 longest runs" total over the target 100m.  Happy days...

Friday, 29 January 2010

A decond clarss return to noddingam pleeze...

The above line from an ancient Tunes decongestant sweetie advert reminds me of how I feel today - bunged up.  The high HR of Wednesday's MP run was explained by a stinky head cold (shared by Paul) which manifested itself yesterday.

No running yesterday, then a lemsip fuelled 5 miler late this afternoon.  HR w-a-a-y down at under 130, so maybe I'm getting over the cold.  Off to feed it with a couple of pints at the Harriers' awards do this evening, then hopefully a long run of some description with Paul tomorrow - the plan says 22m, but we'll see how it goes.  Hopefully a head full of snot will slow him down a bit!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Eeee, that were 'ard...

New "bling" shoes (Gel Cumulus - half price but very BLUE) finally arrived from Pete Bland's whilst I was in London, so after a couple of days of relatively gently running it was time to do something a little more "meaningful".  I've decided that my three key sessions of the week are my long run, track intervals and a longer midweek run including a reasonable number of miles at marathon pace.  No track this week, and long run on Saturday so I decided to do another 10 miler with 8 at MP.

As I'm running my sessions with MP at a sub-3 pace, that means 6:50 or so, which still feels more like a tempo session than a pace I can keep up for 26 miles at the moment, but hopefully things'll get easier soon.  Anyway - after a day of back to back meetings, all of which were of the "posh" variety so they provided water, I felt appropriately hydrated, and set off towards Riddlesden from work at a steady warm-up pace.  As the clock hit half a mile I picked the pace up and ran up and down the road until I'd done 8 miles at something approximating to MP.  I think I must still have had something of Sunday's half marathon in my legs because it felt very hard to maintain the pace, especially on the slight uphills and into the wind.  I also think I'm getting something a bit yukky on my chest as I've had a slightly tickly throat for a day or two and I was coughing like a good 'un at the end.

Nevertheless, I managed to dig in and hold it together:

As you can see the pace was reasonably consistent, given that it's a slightly undulating bit of road and there was a fair breeze blowing down one way (the 6:40, the 6:39 and the 6:42 were mainly  on downwind legs).

My HR shows how much like hard work it was though:

By the time I got to 5m it was up somewhere near the level it had been in the race on Sunday - which I suspect means I'm either still tired or the little bug I seem to have is affecting me.

Anyway - glad to have got it done, and I'm going to take tomorrow off running, and maybe Friday too if my chest still feels a bit dicky, prior to Saturday's l-o-o-o-ng run with Paul, which is currently scheduled for 22 hopefully flat miles.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

One lord, two runs and several beers...

Just back from London, where I managed to get what turned out to be a fairly brisk 5 miler in along the river (which was supposed to be a recovery run but ended up being a bit quicker than that).  I was staying on the south bank, between Vauxhall and Westminster bridges, so ran along to the millennium footbridge by the Tate and came back along the embankment.  I had a to do a few yards past the hotel to get 5 in, and was surprised to see the pace had been about 7:15.  My HR was pretty consistently in the mid-130's, so wasn't working too hard.

I'm always struck by the lack of interaction from runners along the Thames - up here if you pass someone the least you'll get is a raise of the eyebrows and a wave - in London they're all steely faced and determined looking - maybe it's because they're on their way home from work, maybe it's because they're steely determined city types, or maybe it's because they're all wankers - who knows?

The other thing I'm struck by is people's complete and utter inability to walk in a bloody straight line!!!!  Along the south bank it's a procession of weaving pedestrians, with random direction changes and unpredictable veering off from side to side - they'd probably walk about half the distance if they walked straight.

Anyway, after my run I had to go to the House of Lords for some corporate poncing, but it was actually really interesting - we got a tour of the House, and even got to go and stand by the golden throne that Her Madge sits on when she opens Parliament.  We were shown round by a tame lord called Ron - nice bloke, married to Joyce.

Because I had the noisiest hotel room on the planet, having drunk only one glass of wine all night, I decided to have a couple of beers to send me off to sleep - this turned into five pints of someJapanese brew, so by the time I got home this afternoon I was still feeling a bit jaded, despite guzzling several bottles of East Coast railway's free mineral water.

However - miles is miles, so I set off towards Halton East to get a few in.  I'd decided to take it very steady, so ended up doing 6 miles at an average pace of 8:17 - and on the way up towards Halton East on the way back I must've gone over 9min mile pace - but the important thing is my HR stayed resolutely low with an average of only 124.  If I assume my max is about 170 (I'm convinced my assumption it was mid-180's is nonsense), and my resting HR is 43 that means I was still only at about 65% WHR, which is a comfortable place to be.

Going to try another 8m at MP after work tomorrow, as I won't be able to get to the track on Thursday.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Curate's Eggy

Brass Monkey today, and a race that I normally love had been rather worrying me for the last couple of days.  The niggle in my calf was bothering me, but not whilst running - however the worry was I'd be putting more strain on it in a HM, which runs the risk of it going properly.

The solution was to ice it yesterday, then smear it liberally with Ibuprofen gel and warp it up in a tubular bandage at bedtime.  The option of "not running full pace" wasn't really considered, if that's what you were thinking...

Anyway - Rich's gout has played up again, so he didn't show, and Murph was citing lack of training and overwork for his forthcoming crap performance, so once I'd made half of North Yorkshire aware of the problem with my calf I thought any hideous time would be well understood to be a blip and nothing to do with me still being a bit of a biffer (at c7lbs over ideal weight).

On the start line I was surrounded by speedy looking Ilkley Harriers.  Henry, Paul and Steve Coy were all looking fit and fresh from some very fast intervals on the track.  I decided to let "Afterburner" O'Looney zoom off and run my own race.  As the hooter went all my loyal clubmates buggered off into the distance, and I was very quickly all by myself with the red and green vests so far ahead I had to try and remember what sort of shorts they were wearing to work out who was who.

Having looked at Henry's post on his blog where he gives his splits it's not surprising I was left behind.  He ran his first 5k in 18:42 - I was 26 seconds, or a good 115metres at that speed, behind - and his second 5k was also 17s quicker - leaving him 41 seconds ahead after 10k - 180metres at 19m 5k pace.

I was fine for 15k and held my pace steady, catching the lads up a fair bit and at least being able to work out who was who by 8 miles.  I went through 10m in under 62mins, so whatever my mates were doing I was running quickly for me.

After 10m things started to unravel - and it's hard to tell why.  I didn't feel particularly under pressure and my HR behaved itself, climbing by only 2 or 3bpm to 158 or so - maybe it was because I found myself between groups, and I also got into that "I'm not going to catch them" mode that meant I didn't push on as I could/should have.

In the end I finished with 81:34, a 30s PB, and was only 5 seconds behind Henry on the line, 14s behind Paul and 19s behind Steve - and on the chip it was even closer.  So they were definitely coming back - so who knows?  With a bit more effort I might have caught one or more of them, but then again with a bit more effort I might have pulled a calf muscle - which behaved itself immaculately and didn't hurt during or after the race.

83rd place out of 1,550 finishers, and a PB that suggests sub-3 should be achievable - what's not to like?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

A bit of an experiment...

New HR strap arrived today.  It's v posh, and is going to mean I can finally start getting some sensible HR data, as it's clear both my old ones have started to give massively high readings.  Here's the little fella:

I decided to do two experiments today - one, did my new HR monitor give sensible readings (and what were they for a slow run) and two, how does my left calf feel whilst running, as in bed I can feel a niggle really deep in the muscle.  Nothing you could even describe as painful - just that there's something there.  With the Brass Monkey tomorrow I want to be as sure as I can be I'm not going to damage myself.

Anyway - experiment one started badly.  Half a mile in my HR was reading 205, which is clearly nonsense - I was hardly breathing heavily, and when I stopped and took my HR manually it was nearer 100.  However it soon settled down and it seems that my HR when running very easily is something around 120.  I ran up to Halton East, with the rate never getting above very low 130's, then dropping even lower on the way back down the hill.  I decided to run the last mile at marathon pace, which I finally seem to be getting a feel for - and my HR still only averaged 135 for that mile, although obviously it was higher than that by the end.

Look at the spike on that...

Experiment two seemed to be a success - no pain at all whilst running, but the niggle seems to be there now (8pm) - however I watched the rugby with some ice on it so assuming the warm up goes ok tomorrow it's Monkey Time!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Steady lunchtime session again

I've been reading the collective wisdom of the RW forum posters, and one thing that I've learned is that "rest days" don't have to mean "do nothing" days - when you're in the middle of the effort and mileage of marathon training a steady or slow, relatively short run can be as restful as doing nothing.

So today, after a gnarly MP session Monday and a hardish track session last night I decided to run at lunchtime and do a steady 5.  As l'Herb had finally been persuaded to come to work in a car instead of on his bike (4 days on the bounce - respec') he was up for a run, and as it happened when we went o get changed Murph was there too, so we went out as a three. 

Herb did really well considering he's perpetually injured, and Murph was just after getting some running done after building up to the Brass Monkey by working and drinking a lot.  We just did the steady 5 miler out to Riddlesden and it really did feel quite relaxing to be running at c8min pace and chatting away about work, the universe and everything.

Just over 5 miles, just under 8min mile pace and HR was (anywhere except on my HRM) very low and easy.  May do something similar tomorrow, or may ride my bike, or may watch the telly - not sure yet...

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Back to the Track

The Ilkley Carnegie team made their reacquaintance with the track last night, but the B&B team had to wait til tonight, and in the event it was only me and the Newmanator that made it.  Rich is off in Toulouse learning about sums and Murph was out drinking.

I'd decided that if I'm marathon training I'd better do some respectably long reps, so my hardest session of 4x1m (or 1600m) reps off 200m recoveries was the order of the day.  I suggested that Tim run 6x800m off 200m, which would mean him running roughly a km less than me but the difference in pace would mean we'd finish at roughly the same time.

I set off too fast as usual, and went round the first lap in 86seconds (slow by the Ilkley boys' standards, but too quick for me running mile reps, where I was aiming for 5:56 per mile or so.  Things slowed down a bit, and I must confess to finding it a bit hard going, but I never dropped blow 6 min mile pace, and ain fact all the reps were under 6mins:

Mile 1 - 5:54
Mile 2 - 5:58
Mile 3 - 5:59
Mile 4 - 5:55

The last mile included a bit of a sprint down the last 100m, so I suspect the pace for most of the mile was similar to the others.  Looking forward to getting my new HR strap as I suspect I would've been near my max by the end, but as the current strap went nuts tonight as well I don't really know!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bike to work and back

Quite glad to give my legs a rest from getting another pounding today - cycled in to work and back along the valley.  Not terribly quick either way (48 in, 47 back) but nice to get the heart rate up without hammering my legs.  Managed to stay with the Herb, but as he seems to be biking in three or four times a week now I think he'll be tough to stick with come the nicer weather.

Ordered some new trainers from Pete Bland's today - Asics, which I know fit, and as they're an old model they're less than half price - worth getting new shoes given the mileage I'm doing - this should be my 4th straight week over 40 miles - quite possibly 9 more to go!!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

That's better

Ran on my own at lunchtime today, and dragged my old Garmin HR strap into service.  Did what we call the "Canal 10k", which is a slight misnomer because it's not all on the canal and it's not 10k - but we know what we mean.  It's 3m out along the canal then some gentle hills to bring you back in above 5 Rise locks.

I was determined to run "easy" today, which according to RW is just under 8min mile pace, but according to my new, accurate heart rate monitor is nearer to 7:40 as my average pace was 7:48 overall but my average HR was way down at 128 and included the traditional Garmin spike at the start.  According to the RW schedule the "easy" HR is nearer 140.  I'm going to recheck all my HR stuff when my new chest strap arrives, cos I'm not sure my max is as high as I think it is.

Anyway - all felt easy and peasy, and I seemed to be feeling very comfortable at 7:30 pace on the flat, so I think that gives some sort of indication of the pace I ought to be aiming to run things like Coniston and maybe the early part of Trimpell at.

I was saying to K last night that I'm feeling ok about saying I'm going for sub-3 - but my main, over-riding objective is still to get that GFA of 3:15.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Running after work for a change

Another first today - a run after work in the work vicinity.  No time for a lunchtime run due to meetings and car insurance crises, and anyway I'm becoming aware there's a risk that the time limit on lunchtime running creates a risk I'll not get a longish midweek run in.  It's very tempting to go for the sociable, easy option of 5 or 6 miles, and depending on who I go with the pace can be pretty easy too.

So - with Rich off in Toulouse learning about managing risk in European banking (and eating sausages, I expect) I decided to go out from work, after work.  I was quite taken with the Riddlesden road the other day, and am equally enthused by the idea of building up to a longish MP run midweek.  I did half a mile nice and slow, then kicked on at what was intended to be 6:45/6:50 pace, with the intention of running 8m at that pace then half a mile warm down for 9m.

My pace judgement was fine for the first three, with miles of 6:51, 6:47 and 6:46, but then I started to speed up and did every mile faster than the last, running 6:41, 6:36, 6:31, 6:28 and 6:26 to finish.  Whilst running faster may be good for the ego, I need to practice running to a pace.  Part of the problem seems to be using the current pace measure on my Garmin - maybe I should use lap pace to smooth out a bit of the lumpiness.  If I see "6:58" on the screen then I tend to push on a bit, similarly if I'm feeling the pace a bit then I naturally assume I'm slowing down.

My HR was utterly nuts - hitting 254(!!!!!) apparently, and averaging 199 for the session.  This is nonsense, but thankfully a post on the Garmin forum explained the problem - wateror  sweat in the workings - as demonstrated by the green gunky bits on the contacts and a rusty, recently installed battery.  New, posher one ordered from Wiggle forthwith, with a tenner off if you spend fifty, I got a tub of Power Bar lemony powder thrown in, and all for less than the price of the strap alone.  Hopefully this will enable me to get my pacing right in future!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Coniston 14 and a Bit

There'd been a story in the South lakes local paper, the Wezzie Gezzie, that the Coniston 14, one of my favourite races, is under threat because the floods in Cumbria in the autumn had weakened the bridge at Nibthwaite and the council have closed it.  The decision has now been made to simply make us run down to the next one, making it the Coniston Almost 17 - now as this is 2 weeks out from Blackpool, and is undulating, I was looking forward to this as an ideal taper event - but now it's a bit longer, so a bit harder, and I'm trying to think a bit more about recovery - what's a boy to do?

Actually, probably run like buggery and enjoy the day!!

This is a favourite for several reasons - it's near my Mum's, it's near Karen's Mum's, it has amazing views, and particularly because almost every mile of it has memories for me: the Ship Inn near the start where some memorable beers were drunk with good friends, the Church House at Torver where we had the Ulverston MC's 21st Aniversary Dinner (notice a theme?  It's the last pub mentioned!), the gate in the wall by the lake that made my Dad get grumpy with water-skiers when they knocked the wall down and Brown Howe car park where I used to go camping with my Dad.  Then there's Piel Island and "The Bay", where we used to go swimming and canoeing when I was a nipper and finally Thurston, just after Brantwood, where I had my first outdoor ed. job.

How could I not run it?

Pedalling - funny feeling, that...

After the Great Freeze - the Great Thaw.  Except in bits of rural Lancashire...

Met my older brother, Rick, in Clitheroe for a bike ride today.  Legs are in need of some low impact exercise instead of constand running, and the Beeb were promising a balmy 8º and sunny spells. In the event we got drizzle and a chilly wind, but it was certainly above freezing, which gave a bit more confidence whenever the road surface looked shiny.

We set off from Edisford Bridge where the Ribble Valley 10k starts and cut across to Waddington, then headed up the fell towards Newton.  I've only ridden this climb once before, on the Pendle Pedal last year when I'd done a lot of miles cycling, so wasn't sure what to expect.  In the end it was fine (after a little scare from my front mech refusing to go into the small ring), but the weather was decidedly "grey" when we got to the top.

This is Rick emerging from the gloom, who despite losing 12lbs of lard off him and 10lbs off his bike (by buying a new one...), was a bit slower on the lumpy bits, but clearly getting a lot quicker - we should be pretty much on a par come Mallorca in April.

After Waddington Fell we dropped into Newton, then Dunsop Bridge and turned south towards Chipping.  This road was a horror on the PP - because it follows a river valley you assume it'll be gentle and easy to ride - not a bit of it.  I'm not sure if it's the geography of the area or a sadistic mediaeval monk making the track that preceded this road, but either way it's got some vicious little climbs in it.  To make it worse, today there were several points where Lancs CC's "if it's not the A6, sod it" gritting policy had left large patches of frozen snow all the way across the road, which led to a couple of delicate walking sections.

After Chipping we climbed up Longridge Fell up Four Acre Lane, which was definitely easier than on the PP (having only ridden 25 miles instead of 75 probably helped...), then a few more scary bits on the drop down to Hurst Green saw us back on the main road and soon after the car.

31 miles in the end, a very slow average speed of about 12.5mph, but good fun in good company, and great to be back on the bike again!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Easy? More HR weirdness.

I decided I'd do what proper runners do and do a few very easy miles recovery this afternoon, after a very chilly 40 minutes watching M & L trot round a barn on horses.  Decided that 4 would be ample, but I'd really work on this s-l-o-w thing, so I kept it very steady out to Halton East.  Checked my HR now and again, and it was bobbling along in the 120's, so all was well.

Turned for home after 2 miles, both of 8mins-odd, and had another glance at my HR as I set off back to see that despite hardly needing to breathe through my mouth my HR was up at 175!  Eh?  This of course became an obsession and I ended up jogging along trying to take a HR from my wrist, to the bemusement of the two guys that do the shortest hill reps session on earth who were just "warming up", before starting their brick hard 6x50m reps or whatever it is they do.

My HR stayed high all the way home, despite me going slower and slower - so I can only assume there's something wrong with the battery - which I've duly replaced.  We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

4m at about 8:15, with a comedy HR - takes my over 40 for the third week on the bounce.  One or two minor aches, so a non-impact day tomorrow will be good, and I'm going to make contact with "Maggie the Mauler", a sports masseur from Menston to have some preventative rubbing once she's back from her jollies.

Read the Brass Monkey blurb today, and noticed two points of interest - firstly it's chip times, which will be good for such a popular race, and secondly they've stated "strictly no iPods" - which I must say I think is a good idea.  It's a busy race, and you can do without people being unaware of what's going on around them, and secondly the roads are narrow in places and open to traffic.  I suspect there'll be howls of protest from the gym brigade, but no iPods is a rule I'd like to see brought in in all races.

There - I'm now officially a curmudgeonly old bugger.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Another one in the bag

Friday afternoon off, and a hideous day at work trying to sort out a gnarly problem, so by 1pm I was ready for off to have some time away from the phone.  I had 20m in the diary, so 20m it must be.  My normal 20 miler from home is basically to run to Ilkley and back, but I do find the pull back up from Bolton Abbey right at the end tough, and as I'd really enjoyed last week's 20 I thought I'd do something similar.

As I was driving Ilkley-wards, going via Silsden because of the snow and ice, I decided I might as well park nearer home, so I cut off at Addingham and parked at Bolton Bridge.  My run took me down the Nesfield road, which is now pretty much snow free, and into Ilkley.  Determined not to bugger up the mileage calculations I noted that the watch went "beep", signifying five miles, just after crossing Middleton Avenue in the middle of Ilkley.  5 to go to the turn then...

The thaw is definitely here, but what was bizarre was occasional drafts of genuinely warm air - maybe it's just in comparison to what we've been having, but it felt almost tropical!

The road to Askwith is also completely clear, and I made good progress through Askwith, but as last week I was a bit concerned by my inability to run at my target pace of 7:45 - 7:30 seemed the norm, but try as I might I couldn't seem to get comfortable at anything slower.  I was keeping an eye on my HR after yesterday, but that was steady away at mid-130s.

Through Askwith, and then I started looking at how far I had to go to the turn - there's a big hill that drops down after Weston, and I was hoping to get the important "beep" before I dropped down - no such luck - for future reference 10m from Bolton Bridge is right at the bottom of the hill!

Back up again, and I started to think I ought to try a bit of this marathon pace stuff, so after putting it off til I got to the flat bit after Askwith I pushed on, aiming to do 3 or 4 miles at 6:45.  Blimey it was hard!  I actually checked my watch after less than 1/4 of a mile to see how far I'd gone!  In the end I did 3 miles, not wanting to do battle with the hill up into Nesfield.  Miles 14, 15 and 16 were therefore 6:48, 6:40 and 6:36 - respectable, but I'm not sure where another 23 of those buggers is coming from!

I passed runningbear near Middleton Woods going in the opposite direction - very quickly!  But fortunately as I was in my MP section I at least probably looked as if I was actually moving at the time.

After the effort my legs were definitely tired, and I had my only 8m+ mile going up into Nesfield, but the last 2 were back to 7:30ish, so I managed to hold it together.  Stats here:

In the end I did 20m in 2:29:09, averaging 7:27 pace and now have 2 of my planned 8 20m+ runs in the bag.  The next one will be in a couple of weeks with Paul, and hopefully a few others.

Day off tomorrow (well maybe just a steady 5...) then back on me bike on Sunday!! Yay!!!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Easy does it...

I've been reading quite a lot about the benefits of slower running recently, with Matchstick Man's thread on RW extolling the virtues of slow runs.  The theory is they give you base miles whilst allowing you to run your other sessions hard.  As I did a good MP session yesterday and have an intention to do a long one tomorrow I decided to give it a go.

As luck would have it the perpetually injured Herb and back-from-urban-dude-snowboarding-holiday Newmanator were both out, so their pace would be about ideal.  We ran up to the canal towpath, which had thawed a little from yesterday so was crunchy and only a little slippery, instead of the deathtrap it was yesterday.  After a few hundred yards on there we decided it was ok to run on, especially as the Herb and I both had trail shoes on.

We ran our normal 5 miler out and back, and ended up with a very steady average pace of 8:40.  It felt very, very easy, and I just chatted to l'Herb all the way, hardly feeling out of breath - so I was astounded to see my average HR was 168 (almost 90% of max!).  My RW chums assured me it was a Garmin chest strap issue, but as you can see if it's right I was working bloody hard:

All that red bit is >90% max HR - and there's no way I was working anywhere near that hard!

Thaw arrives at the weekend, so have a bike ride planned for Sunday, but there's the small matter of a 20 miler to get in first.  I think I'm going to run from Ilkley again, and probably run to the A59 then along the Askwith road, but I'll see how I feel when I get there.  Hopefully the slightly warmer weather will mean the Brass Monkey will be ok for the following week too.  Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A new place to run

Very nearly fell over on my arse this morning when I got out of the car at work, so quite what suggested to Rich and I that we would be able to run a marathon paced session on the canal bank is some way beyond my comprehension - however we got changed and set off with just that intention.

The moment we reached the canal bank it became clear that running of any sort was going to be dodgy, let alone 6:45 pace, so we trotted gingerly along to the next bridge and dropped down to the main road.  The pavements were just as bad, but there's a wide cycle lane which was clear of ice, so we did two lots of "there and back" between the Crossflatts roundabout and the co-op in Riddlesden - this is almost bang on a mile and a half, so I ended up with my 6 mile effort as I hoped for.

The pace was a bit too quick, with miles of 6:48, 6:38, 6:33, 6:34, 6:32 and 6:31, and HR climbing to 169 or almost 90% of max WHR (and hit 180, which is 96%).  This was mainly caused by poor pacing, but also because Rich was dropping back a little, he turned each time I did, so I started each leg a bit behind him and without meaning to pushed a bit to catch up.

In the end I'm happy enough with managing 6m at that pace, but I'm going have to learn what 6:45 feels like consistently.  Going to take my stuff in again in tomorrow and may go to the track if it's open, but more likely I'll get out at lunch and maybe do a tempo session or some hills.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Slippery recovery

Back to work on legs that felt remarkably good after yesterday's 20.  A good sign, I hope.  Received an email from Terry this morning telling me that my race times suggest 2:55 should be the target - that would be lovely were it not for the fact that the marathon can be such a tough event, and I know from bitter experience that the read across is not as simple as that - mind you, it's a lot simpler if you make sure you get your long runs in.  Looking back to the year I lined up at London feeling in good shape (but with a sense of impending dread because of the forecast temperature) my 5 long runs were 2x18, 1x19.5 and 2x20 - so short of the 100m total that's recommended as the minimum, and after the 18s my long runs consist of a single 16 miler.  No other runs Jan-race day in double figures - so not surprising I ran out of puff at about 16m.  This time I've already done 2x16, 2x18 and a 20 - and if all goes well I expect to do another 7 or 8 20m+ runs, plus more miles midweek.

Recovery run at lunch today with Rich - we set off to do 5, but the towpath was unpleasantly slippy, despite the thaw beginning, so we bailed out onto the road and finished that way, shortening the run to 4.75m at 8:08.  The slippy sliding has left me with a nagging ache in my groin, so I think I'll take tomorrow off before a MP 6m plus warmup/down on Wednesday.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Brilliant long run today with Paul, Sally and Simon (and Simon's dog).  met up at the Old Bridge, and after various online investigations established that the Beamsley road was clear, so we set off that way, unsure of what'd happen at the other end.  The plan was to run 7:45s, which is a bit slower than Paul's been running his long ones, and a bit quicker than Sal runs hers - but in the event we set off a wee bit quicker than that.  We stopped for a quick conflab at the A59, and decided to run back to Ilkley then see what the Askwith/Otley road was like.  We passed the 'A" team from Bingley and Otley AC who'd started from Askwith and were doing 16 at a brisk pace as we were heading back to Ilkley.

Both Sally and I weren't sure about the pace, so we held back a little bit, but it seemed to be early miles enthusiasm by the lads because by the time we got back to Ilkley with 8.5m on the clock we'd settled down a bit.  The Otley road was clear of slow after the Ben Rhydding bridge, and with an easterly wind in our faces we slowed significantly on the climb up to Askwith, which proved to be our only mile over 8mins.

Somehow we buggered up our calculations, because we needed to do around 5.75m along the Otley road before turning, but we persuaded ourselves that with 13.5 on the watch we would be close to 20 by the time we got back - which is of course errant nonsense as we were 3/4 of a mile short.  I think none of us really fancied running back up the hill to Weston, so we turned before we dropped down to the outskirts of Otley.

Simon was finding running and controlling the pooch quite hard work, so Paul and I supplied him with some energy stuff (I'm quite impressed with the new Torq gels I'm using.  I suspect you're supposed to drink water with them, and I may splash out on some kind of bottle belt, but they're definitely palatable and I've not been feeling remotely bonkish on these long runs.).

Anyway - we got back to the bridge with 18.6 on the watch, so we agreed to head back up towards the golf course to get a full 20 in.  Simon decided to finish here, but the three of us carried on to just past the club and turned around, finishing with 20m exactly in 2:33 - average of 7:39 and a commendably low HR:

You can see the HR is in the "green" zone, which using WHR means <70%.

Very glad to have got a 20 miler in this early, and it shows just how much running with other people helps - this was a time 5mins quicker than I raced Trimpell 20 in 2005, when I had a hideously hard time.  I'm definitely going to do eberything I can to do long runs with other people - it makes a massive difference, to the extent that I'm looking forward to the next one.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Out with The Herb

The Herb decided to join us at lunchtime today.  He's been injured on and off for about three years, so it's commendable he sticks with it, but I think that today had more to do with not being able to cycle for days, which is beginning to cheese me off too.  I've set myself a target on Garmin Connect of 120m a month running and 250m a month cycling.  With 8 days gone I've done a thord of my running miles and no cycling at all.  This weather looks to be set for at least another week too, so who knows if I'll even touch my bike this month.

Anyway, today's run was easier going than yesterday's, with a very steady 2 1/2 miles with the The Herb and Rich, then R and I carried on for another half mile after Herb turned round, picking the pace up to 7:40ish.  This felt very comfortable, as can be seen from my HR:

As usual something weird happens at the start but the rh side after the 2 1/2 mile point is fairly steady at about 140bpm or about 70% WHR - pretty good for just above 3:15 marathon pace.

May take the day off tomorrow, before a long one on Sunday.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A proper(ish) session!

Frustrated by the never ending series of 8 min mile paced sessions I decided to take my stuff into work on the offchance Risk Committee would finish early.  Dull as ditchwater, so true to form we managed to get through it an hour under time, so at 12:45 I was free to sample the sunshine (and snow).

The car temp gauge had shown -7º on the way in, so I was buffed, hatted, jacketed and gloved, but this proved to be a tad more than required.  Wore my Innov8 shoes, and whilst the snow wasn;t as good as it was last week it was ok to run on.

I've been reading that a key session is to build up to running 10/12 miles at MP (marathon pace), so decided I'd go with 5 at MP to start with.  I'm going to train at 3hr MP until my body tells me to stop, so 6:50 ish was the plan.  In the event I managed 5 at between 6:38 and 6:48, and whilst I felt I was working harder than I would want to for 26 miles my HR was in the right area, somewhere in the low 80% of WHR.  I'm sure the slightly slippy ground made it harder work, and my right calf is a teensy bit sore, which I'm sure comes from having the muscles slightly tensed when you feel yourself slide a bit.

Anyway - pretty pleased with the session, and one I'll look to build up to 10 miles by the beginning of Feb.

The picture shows the pace in 1/2m increments and my gradually increasing HR.  It peaks at 157bpm, which is 83% of WHR, the top end of what the Runners World programme has as "steady" or MP training.

I've been continuing the debate about what to do at Trimpell 20 - most people feel that racing a 20 4 weeks out is a mistake, as you'll not recover properly (or at least it'll screw up your training) in time.  The wise man (and 2:25 marathoner) that is Terry Lonergan believes it should be raced.

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that the truth (for me) is somewhere in between - I do recover fairly quickly (witness 2x18s and a fell race last week) but I'm not doing the sort of mileage Terry did in his prime - so I think I'll treat it as a "slightly faster than normal progressive long run in company"!  Plan (and of course there's still 8 weeks for me to change my mind!) is to look to run 2:20, made up of something like a 75 10m and a 65 10m (probably nearer 72/68 really, as 68 is about MP).  A 2:20  (assuming it feels ok) will make me absolutely confident of being able to run 3:15, and yet I'll have run 10 miles at MP in race conditions.

Anyway - 8 weeks for cogitation yet!  Steady 5 at lunch tomorrow, then hopefully the first 20 of the campaign with Paul O and Sally on Sunday (depending on the roads being runnable...).

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Bloody snow!!!!

Having bimbled around wide-eyed and awestruck by the beauty of the snow, I'm now thoroughly pissed off with it - Garstang 10k, which I've done every January for about 7 years, has been postponed to 31 Jan.  That puts it on one of my long run weekends so won't be able to do it.


More snowy silliness

Big (for here) dump of snow again and no sign of any form of road clearing from NYCC, so mindful of rear wheel drive and hills I decided to stay at home.  Maisie and Lily's school was closed too, so they were at home as well.  I managed to get some work done but decided to get some air this afternoon, so I got togged up in what now feels like normal running gear of tights, lifa top, jacket, gloves, buff and hat and set off towards Halton East.

The road was ungritted, unploughed and had only had a couple of tractors along it, but finding somewhere with enough grip to run on was a bit tricky at times.

I'm sure this sort of thing is doing me some good (beats working anyway) but like Henry I'm feeling the need to do some faster sessions now.  The weather forecast isn't great, though, with no sign of a thaw this side of the weekend.  I guess we may manage a track session next week, but I'd hope to get some sort of tempo or efforts session done this week if possible.  Not sure if Garstang 10k will be on Sunday or not - it's certainly warmer over there but "warmer" is of course a relative term!

Whatever - I still enjoyed the run today in a slightly silly way, and took my camera along to grab a few snaps of Embsay Crag looking pretty as it usually does.  My HR was bonkers - but from the readout it's had some kind of funny spike on the way home, with it bimbling along at about 135bpm on the way up to Halton East and then shot up to 175+bpm coming back.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Back to work, back to the canal...

First day back after the Christmas break saw more ferociously low temperatures overnight, but after a lengthy defrost (thank goodness for heated windscreens!) I slithered off our road and onto something with grit on, collected The Herb and drove off to reacquaint myself with the world of banking.

Very quiet day in the diary today, so after a morning of catching up with emails Rich (with his poorly leg) and I set off out into the cold to run.  After my big week I wanted a very steady session today, as did Rich who by contrast had done very little over the break.

In the end we did our standard 5 miler towards Riddlesden and back, chatting all the way at an average pace of 8min miles, with the last 2 at about 7:45.  The canal bank was snow covered but not slippy apart from a couple of patches, but my Salomon trail shoes gave me plenty of confidence.

Musing on yesterday's run I spent a bit of time today "advertising" my Friday afternoon long runs - doing them with company's so much easier.  I also had some time debating the merits or otherwise of racing, particularly a 20m race, during marathon build up.  I'd always assumed it was a good thing to do, but some of my RW chums, many of whom have run sub-3, feel that you wouldn't recover from a full-on 20m race and be able to continue training properly.  I'm still doing the Trimpell 20 (which I now find is a week earlier on 14/3) but may treat it as a progressive long run and only run the second half hard.  But I bet I don't...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Virgin (snow) on the ridiculous...

A Paul O inspired long run from Ilkley this morning, which started with a snow covered car and a temperature gauge showing -4º.  Met half a dozen Harriers, including three marathon hopefuls, and set off up the Nesfield road.

Over on my arse once, but generally not too bad underfoot if you stayed on the snow, we were soon at Bolton Abbey and heading off down towards the Cav Pav.  Felt odd to be getting here towards the beginning of a run rather than towards the end, but once we went off road in the woods it became softer and just fantastic, making the first tracks in the snow, the trees weighed down with the fresh stuff and the river running quietly by.  Gorgeous.

By this time we were down to four, the others having turned back at the Cavendish memorial, and we bimbled along all the way to Barden, with the fields nice and soft underfoot.  The pace was slowish, but I'm determined to do my long runs at the right effort level (ie <80% HR), and this was perfect.

At Barden we turned for home with the watch reading 8.6m, and stuck to the left bank of the river all the way back to Bolton Abbey.  The priory was looking stunning as usual, and a number of photo stops seemed in order!

We ran home along the Dalesway, which is a bit up and down with various gates and stiles (a classic Harriers' run in other words!), and by Addingham my legs were letting me know they'd had a 50m week.  I felt ok though, which I'm sure is a result of the pace/effort being reasonable.  Paul and I chatted about the theory of long slow runs, and whilst I like the idea of putting in a few MP miles towards the end I'm still convinced that long and slow is the way to go.  I'm going to try and get some 12-15 milers in later with maybe the middle 10m at MP, but most of my long ones are going to be easy on the effort and long on the mileage.

In the end we just hit 18 miles in 2:36, so a sedate 8:40 average pace, but a good week in the bag and one of those runs you're really glad you bothered to get out of bed for!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

A cracking little trip

K decided that there was a high enough tarmac to snow ratio for her to drive the kids to their nag bouncing lesson at Draughton, so I was able to get out early afternoon for a run.  It had been really cold, but the easterly wind had stopped blowing and conditions were really quite pleasant.  I decided I was going to run for an hour, so headed off through Halton East and down to Bolton Abbey.

I need to start getting a bit more effort and variety onto my running, as with no track sessions for a week or two I'm in danger of getting into the habit of running about 7:40 pace every time, just different distances.  With this in mind once I turned round at 4 miles outside the village hall in Bolton Abbey I put in some effort on the hills.  My usual timing points for the climb back up to Halton East are the big tree at the bottom to the gateway at the top, and I was pleased to see I was well under 12 minutes for the 1 1/2 miles and 300' of climb.

In the end I was just over the hour (1:00:25) for 8 miles, so an average of 7:32 pace, but with some good efforts included.  Also pleased my HR stayed fairly low:

The orange sections are where my HR was over 80%, which were fairly short, and most of the run is in the 70-80% range, with a fair bit below 70% - the average is 133bpm, which is well below the 140bpm I target for slowish runs.

All in all a good session.  Hopefully out with Paul O and a few other Harriers for a long one tomorrow, from Ilkley up to Barden and back.  Their 7:30 pace might be a bit quick for me, but at least it's flat.

We'll see...

Friday, 1 January 2010

2009 - a year in review...

Thought I'd pop down a few thoughts and numbers on the year just gone, which began with me at something around 15 1/2 stone and hideously unfit, with a resolution to do an Olympic tri.

I started with the target of swimming twice a week, running three times a week and cycling twice a week, with at least one bike commute a week.  It started well, and I kept up the swimming until about April, when the boredom of grinding up and down first thing in the morning finally got too much.  By this time I'd lost the best part of two stone and was running reasonably well, and did my first race for a long while, the Bradford 10k when I was surprised to break 40mins.

Things were going well on the cycling front too, and in March I finally started to get a little quicker than my cycling mates from Harrogate, and eventually got a Gold standard in the White Rose Challenge, which was a stark contrast to the year before when I had a horrendous time over the same route.

Did two Olympic Tris, Ripon and Bassenthwaite, and was pleased to get well inside my target of 2:30 for Bassenthwaite - and had a good race at Ilkley to get in the top 20 with 63:30.  Probably won't be doing any more big triathlons as it all seems a bit of a faff, but will probably enter Ilkley again.

So - the statistics:

1159 miles run (22 a week) at 7:32 average pace (compared to 305 in 2008)
3021 miles cycled (58 a week) at 15.3mph (compared to 613 in 2008)
Weight bottomed out at about 13st, but I've put on the best part of 10lbs over the last few weeks - need to put in some effort to get that off before April
9 PBs - 3x5k (best 17:54), 3x10k (best 37:14), 2x10m (best 62:27), 1xHM (82:03).

Ambitions for the year -

3:15 at Blackpool, with a BHAG of sub-3, which should be achievable
A 36:xx 10k
A sub-80 HM
Gold in the Etape du Dales (v tough)
Do some more fell races - maybe some Lakes ones

Right now the focus is marathon training.  I've got a reasonable base, with a run of 18m this week and a couple of 16milers under my belt.  Need to get that long one to 20m before the end of the month then keep my motivation and get 5 decent long runs in before Trimpell in mid-March.  I've got several Friday afternoons booked off to do long runs, which means I should be able to get a few bike rides in as well, given that I'm off to Mallorca with my brother Rick 2 weeks after Blackpool.

I'm a fell runner, me!

My annual jaunt off-road yesterday, and the first time I've run off road since I've been taking this running thing a bit more seriously.  The Auld Lang Syne race at Haworth, which since 2003 has been disparagingly referred to as a "road runner's course", is a brilliant event, organised by Dave and Eileen Woodhead or The Woodentops.  Due to the conditions underfoot, this year it was run over the old course which is very definitely not a road runner's course!

I set off respectfully near the back, but realised fairly early on this was a mistake as the pace was a little slow, and unlike a road race there's limited opportunities for overtaking.  I'd decided that my ambition was to finish ahead of a proper fell runner, and soon spotted Sally Malir from Ilkley, who's won the ladies 3 Peaks race in her time.  "She'll do", I thought, and followed her up to the turn left where the course goes across the hillside (Photo below by David Brett).

On this flatter section you can run more easily, and I managed to pass a few folk, including Sally, and picked off some more as the route turns right and climbs again.  When we started to head back across the moor to the Stoop the snow became thicker and the going became very hard, especially for a slightly stout gentleman such as myself, and I had a very hard time breaking through the soft snow, losing several places.

After what felt like miles I saw the line of runners filing to the stoop and back, where I saw several Ilkley runners going the other way, including Paul O and Richard Reeve.  Once we'd rounded the stoop the route heads downwards, with fast running interspersed with leg eating bogs - a guy I was running alongside had a couple of spectacular falls, one right in front of me where I narrowly avoided standing on his head!

Once we reached the road I could see a couple of Ilkley vests up ahead, including Richard R, so made it my mission to catch them - which I did shortly before the finish.  102nd out of 380-odd in 51:57 - and I beat Sally!

Few beers with some old friends in the Sun afterwards, including Holmesy (beaten into 2nd by world triathlon champ Alistair Brownlee), Colin and Fergy.  Great day, and (for a fell race) very enjoyable!

Happy new year - new year's post to follow with lots of dull statistics...