Sunday, 28 February 2010

Low mileage week!

After Friday's short attempt at running I was given a stern talking to by some of my RW sub-3:15 threadmates who told me to "FFS stop testing it!" and compared my constant attempts to run with opening the oven door to check on Yorkshire puds!

So this weekend K and I went over to the Lakes for our anniversary weekend awayand I determined not to try and run.  We dropped the girls off at Grandma's and set off up to the Castle Inn Hotel at Bassenthwaite.  Hotel was a bit average, but Tesco vouchers paid so it could have been worse - we might have used our money!  On Saturday the weather was terrific, and the hills looked stunning.  However as I had left my bike at home and running was off the agenda an ascent of the north face of the mighty Catbells was the only exercise I got.

It was very pretty, and after a few wobbles from K as to the wisdom of ascending such a leviathan with upwards of an eighth of an inch of snow on the ground, we made the summit after about 40 minutes.  And very pretty it was too:

We had a brilliant curry, drank some beer and watched a band and generally had a great weekend, with  no running.  My calf's still not right but seems better each day - I'm off to London tomorrow, and I'll leave my running stuff at home to avoid temptation.  I'll hopefully get to see Mike B the Fizzy on Tuesday and get a proper diagnosis, but if all goes well I'll look to run again Wednesday or Thursday.

So the sum total of my running this week?  6.25 miles!!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Close but no cigar...

After another couple of days of enforced idleness, I woke up this morning to feel no pain or even tightness in my calf.  I performed the "going downstairs slightly heavily" test, which usually lets me know if anything's amiss, and which gave a feeling of slight tightness but no pain.  Inconclusive would be my self-diagnosis.

So as I had the day off, and I'd completed my chores (surprisingly short for a day when K's at work and I'm not) I decided I'd try a gentle run.

What's interesting is how much a part of my routine running's become - I ran a hard race Sunday, and by Wednesday I was climbing the walls to get out.  One day off yesterday and I was desperate to get back to my training - yet if I look back 18 months I might be lucky to run once a week.  Weird.

Anyway, clobber on, satellites locked, rain drizzling down off I went.  As soon as I started running I could feel tightness, but no pain, and as I headed up towards Halton East I staretd harbouring fantasies of getting a 10, maybe 15 miler in - steady away, you understand...

Common sense kicked in at 2 miles and I decided to come back gradually, so I turned for home in Halton East.  This was fortunate as at about 2 1/2 miles the vague tightness in my calf moved up a notch and became borderline painful.  Still nothing like last October's injury, but I shortened my stride and made my way home gingerly.  If I'm honest it did get slightly worse as I went on, so there's still something not right, but having had some ice on it for 10 minutes there's no pain and the calf isn't even tender to touch, so no harm done.

I'll take my stuff up to the Lakes and maybe see how I go on Sunday, but I think it probably needs another 2 or 3 days before it's right.  Fairly confident I'll be able to do something long and steady on Friday next week, but I'm going to think about adjusting my taper down to 2 weeks and run Coniston as a LR.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Not yet...

After a couple of days off I decided to give my now pain-free calf a run out at lunch.  All was going swimmingly for a mile then I felt the familiar tightening and soreness - not ready yet, sadly.  I just jogged back to work, doing a princely 2 1/4 miles in about 17 minutes - 7:45 pace.  This is going to be a very short week!!

It's definitely not as bad as last time I did the other calf as I've not felt that horrible tearing sensation, but it's definitely not right either.  I'll leave it til Friday and then see how I feel about a shortish run (will have to sack the long one unless there's a miraculous recovery) but if necessary I'll leave it a week.

I've plenty of time left (6 weeks on Sunday) and I've got a big enough base in so that as long as I'm running again by the end of next week I don't think I'll suffer at all.  If needs be I'll shorten the taper to a couple of weeks and run Coniston longer and slower than I intended.

As a precaution I've put in a call to Mike and Jane B at Ilkley Physio, but I've not managed to speak to them yet - if "rest" is the only treatment I don't want to bugger about with anything else, but if there is a way to accelerate the process then I'll give it a bash.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Blackpool Half - another curate's egg...

Photo courtesy of Pat Lonergan

Back from Blackpool, after a worrying evening watching every weather website on the planet.  The RW thread on the event was split 50:50 as to whether it was "irresponsible" to even consider travelling with upwards of 1.5cm of snow on the ground (and none on the roads, as it happened), and those who were in the "the race is on, I've paid, I'm having my money's worth".  I fell, predictably, into the latter camp - perhaps I've been living in Yorkshire for too long?

Anyway - when I go there it was decidedly snowy, but not frozen, and the "lower walk" on the prom (tiddly om pom) looked clear.  I was undecided as to whether it would be good enough underfoot to run fast, so I went and warmed up on the course to have a gander.  I ran out to the 1 mile mark and it wasn't slippy - more slushy melting stuff, so I reckoned that a longish warm up and a "see how it goes" approach was what was required.

At the gun I saw the proper runners whizz off into the distance, but even so went through miles 1 and 2 in 6:01.  Mile 3 had a few funny twists and turns and came in 6:06, but by this time I was running pretty much on my own, as a large pack of runners were some 50yds ahead and I had nobody around me. I decided to run my own race, but gradually people started dropping off the back of the pack and I overtook them one by one - after about 5 miles my place as "1st lady" was assured as I passed the leader of the women's race, then shortly afterwards we turned for the second lap.
The wind didn't feel strong, but it certainly affected the pace as miles 5,6 and 7 were 6:09, 6:14 and 6:18 respectively.  I had harboured vague fantasies of a sub-80, but as the average pace for that is 6:06 that looked to be slipping away.  Nevertheless I had people to chase now and miles 8, 9 and 10 were all sub-6:05, and at the final turn at 10 miles I had one Halifax Harrier in sight.  The wind made its presence felt again and  mile 11 was 6:14, but I felt strong and I reckoned I might well catch the Halifax guy, who by now was only 15yds ahead.

Then at about 11.5m my calf started to tighten - not quite painful, but the early signs that something was amiss.  I eased back a bit and (I think) adjusted my running style and managed to keep it feeling ok, but the pace, and the Halifax bloke, were slipping away.  I did consider stopping, but I had less than amile to go by this time, so hung on with a 6:19 and a 6:21.  As I came round the corner for the finish I could see the clock showing 1:19:56, and with me still 50 yards away the sub-80, though tantalisingly close, was gone.

I finished in 1:20:09 on my watch, no official results as yet - I think I might have sneaked into the top 20, certainly reasonably near the front, although the leader looked to be miles out in front.  My calf was sore, but I don't think it's torn.  A nice first aid lady gave me an ice pack straight away, and I blagged a massage from some college students  who were practising on runners.  4 hrs after the finish my calf's a bit tight but not sore to walk on, so fingers crossed I've not done too much damage.
Feelings after the race?  Chuffed with another PB (by 1:15), and certain there's a sub-80 in there, as when I slowed down I was still feeling really good.  Pissed off if I have to rest this for too long, and slightly irked to be so close to sub-80 and not get it - but telling myself this isn't the main event.

Going to get some ice on my calf tonight, and will take my running stuff to That London tomorrow night, but I don't think I'll do my fitness too much damage if I take a few days off - main thing is to make sure it's right before pushing it again.  A 4m warm up makes it 17 for the day and just over 45m for the week - not bad for a "cutback" week!

Hot news:  in the official results I would appear to have sneaked a top 20 place in 18th, the time of 80:09 is confirmed and (get this!) I was the 1st V45.  Clever old me.  Clever even older Terry was 2nd V60 as well if I've read the results right.  And calf update:  lots of ice and a compression bandage seem to be doing the trick, but I've decided not to run til at least Wednesday, and maybe leave it til my long one on Friday.  Certainly no track this week to give it its best chance.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Gosh - look...


Well I never - Jimmy Carr, who along with a load of other celebs is riding a relay from Lands End to John O'Groats, is photographed here on a Dolan Prefissio - same as my winter bike.

Always knew I was a trend setter...

Nowt today - went to Ilkley whilst the girls were nag bouncing to buy a new club l/s top, and splashed out on some lycra shorts which I may give a run out to tomorrow.  Now I'm not quite so blobby I don't feel the need to wear quite such voluminous apparel.  The photos will speak volumes...

Junk? But in daylight!!

Another day when I intended to get out in he afternoon, another failure to do so.  Hinsley's off to Thailand (not to have water squirted up his bum, which is what at least two of the team have done whilst there...) for a fortnight, so he was batttling to get a paper finished, and I had to read it, so in the end it was 5pm before I left.  We were going to do Rich's 1 to 1 session whilst out running (not sure if that's in the HR policy, but it works for us...) but he still had stuff to finish, so I was on my own.  The good thing was that despite going out after 5, I can now run for up to an hour in daylight - spring is on its way! And, according to the Beeb, -9ยบ temperatures next week!

It was also Friday, so swimming night, so ideally I needed to be home just after 6, so I decided "the (mini) taper must go on" and went for 5 miles, with the pace to be whatever felt comfortable.  Traditional Garmin spike at the start buggered any hope of running the whole race on heart rate, but once I was on the canal and "into the cruise" (as airline pilots say) it was around 125-130bpm, so I decided to keep it that way.

In the end it was 5m in 36:20, so an average pace of 7:14, and as you can see the HR stayed well down in the <80% range, topping out at 133 and spending most of the run below 130.  This is pleasing as because the first mile was so joggy I was actually miling at below 7:10 for 3 of the 5 miles, so a respectable pace at not a lot of effort.

Day off Saturday then off to Blackpool in the cold on Sunday - brrrrrr

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Track tonight, and a slightly odd session.

As we drove over the Pennines (which aren't particularly lumpy between Cross Hills and Laneshawbridge) the rain that had been falling in the Aire valley got steadily whiter and by the time we reached the top it was definitely snowing.  It got wetter and less solid as we came down the other side, but nevertheless it was officially "sleety" as we pulled into the car park at Seedhill.

Tim cheerily remarked that at least it would "keep the fun runners away", and I felt he'd probably be right - this wasn't going to be a whole heap of fun!

We'd decided on 6x800m off 200m recoveries tonight as I'm having a mini-taper for Blackpool half on Sunday, so after 4 laps of warm up and a few strides we were off.  I was quite surprised to see my first lap at 1:25, as I usually go off fairly fast and was expecting to see it quicker than that - but when the second one was slower at 1:26 I realised this was going to be harder work than I'd expected.  Maybe it was running in hat and gloves, maybe it was the fact I was wearing my waterproof, maybe it was the fact I had shepherd's pie for lunch (no chips though - those days are gone...) but for some reason I was a second or two slower per lap than I'd been last week for longer reps.  I even had one at 1:29!

In the end the 800's were respectable but not earth shattering:


Nothing wrong with the pace - somewhere around 5k pace, and it didn't feel desperately hard - just it was too hard to run any quicker!

The Newmanator had a brilliant session, lapping at about 1:37 (or about 6:30 mile pace) and managing to do it consistently.

Had a fairly dull programme steering group meeting today, so amused myself by planning virtually all my sessions between now and Blackpool.  I've 2 or 3 London overnights, but I think I may do laps of St James' Park as MP sessions - the river's just not conducive to running quickly, not without mowing down a tourist or two.

Going to run a steady 6 at the end of the day tomorrow, then may have Saturday off to make sure I'm fresh for Sunday.  No idea how that's going to go - it's supposed to be cold with light winds, so it could be a fast one - but I'm going to play it entirely by ear.  This isn't the Main Event...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Steady, Teddy...

Linz had reliably put a 4:30 finish in the diary today so I could get out and run something steady before dark, so I just as reliably started doing something at 4 o'clock that took an hour, so I predictably set out at just before 10 past 5 into the gathering gloom.  It was a touch on the chilly side, so I was reasonably well wrapped up, but managed to forget to put my gloves on which led to cold hands for a mile or two.  No matter - I'm Northern.

I ran up to the canal still not quite sure what I'd do - should I go left and do 8?  Or right to the top of 5Rise then head back towards Silsden and see how long it took to fall in the canal?

In the end I went right as I had an enforced rest yesterday thanks to East Coast (bless 'em and their free coffee...), who despite arriving in plenty of time, decided to be "helpful" by sitting outside Leeds station for 10 minutes to make sure I got a really good view of the Skipton train pulling slowly out - so no running by the time I got home.  Turning right and running along to 5Rise, which meant I should be able to get 10 solid miles in a -ssuming it didn't get too dark to see where I was going.

I was determined to run this steady and not get pulled into another effort session, so I gave myself the target of running at 7:30 pace.  This has a double benefit as it feels fairly easy but is only just above 3:15 marathon pace, so gives me the confidence that if things go badly at Blackpool I still should be able to get 3:15 (and GFA) in the bag - get me, 3:15's the "back up" goal!  To be honest I'll still be realy chuffed if I get 3:15, but so far things have been going so well I'm sure that with a following wind I should be able to get close to 3hrs.

I finished my 10 miles in a tiny weeny bit under 1:15, so an average pace of 7:29 and a nice average HR of 134.  It was pretty much dark when I finished but the towpath was fine to run on, and if I hadn't already been a bit late I'd have been tempted to carry on to 3Rise and back through Bingley - which I guess would have been nearer 13 miles.  It feels good to feel like I could run 14m at a respectable pace midweek and not feel like I'd had a hard session - I think I'll look to do a couple of midweek 14 or 15 milers when I do my "big mileage" weeks in March.

Track tomorrow with The Newmanator - haven't decided what to do yet but it'll be easyish as I'm racing Sunday.

Monday, 15 February 2010


I appear to have invented a new type of training session - a run that starts as a MP session that evolves into something a fair bit quicker.

I was intending to do my MP session today with an "8 in 10" run, but due to finishing later than planned and having l'Herb who needed to be away by 6 I decided I only had time for 8 miles.

"No matter," I thought, "I'll do 6 in 8" - so duly set off into the gathering gloom at 5pm.  I ran up to the canal and along for a few yards til my watch hit 0.4m then began my effort.  The first mile was 6:44, but I soon realised that I was going to have enough towpath and daylight to do 7m of effort by running to the end of the decent surface past Riddlesden and back to the Tesco road.  I also realised during my second mile that I'd speeded up a bit to 6:40, so I decided to try and run a progressive MP session, by increasing the pace each mile.

The third and fourth miles were both 6:35, so I began to consciously crank it up each time.  By the end I was pushing quite hard, and from looking at the stats the old HR had hit 158, so something over 90% max - but still not eyeballs out, and I guess somewhere around HM pace.

Splits were:


So a reasonably good acceleration, and you can see from the HR trace below the increase in HR matches the increase in effort (apart from the Garmin nuttiness at the end, which I hope is a blip and not a sign my new strap's gone bonkers).

London tomorrow, so may get a few miles in when I get home, or may have a day off as part of my taperette for Blackpool on Sunday.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Pedalling? What's that all about then?

Family do at Rick and Kath's today, so did my usual and baggsied a bike ride over there.  Arranged to meet Rick at the top of the Trough and rode the last 15m with him.  Also had the pleasure of the company of The Herb on the first 20m too, so I had only a quarter or so of the route to do on my own.

I was wondering whether my legs would feel like rods of iron, pumping the pedals like the pistons on the Casey Jones Express, given they've got over 300 miles of running in them in the last 6 weeks or so.

No such luck - I felt decidedly un-bike-fit, and really felt the effort on the gnarly little climb out of Slaidburn.  I managed the climb up to the Trough ok, partly spurred on by the tempting flash of fluorescent yellow from a cyclist's top (never caught her) and partly by the glorious nature of the scenery:

It all felt a bit easier after the Trough, but what was noticeable was the fact that my brother wasn't going backwards at the same rate of knots he was last time we rode this route together - in fact he wasn't going backwards at all!  An amazing turn round of weight loss and fitness improvement - I'm going to have my work cut out in Mallorca in a few weeks!

In the end I averaged just under 15mph for just under 50 miles, which I'm pleased enough with given the fact I've done so little on the bike - but it does show I'm going to have to work a bit once this marathon stuff's out of the way!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Recovery day

A few wee niggles from the week's efforts last night, so an hour with an ice pack on various bits of my lower anatomy ws called for.  I also didn't have a bath after my run yesterday, opting for a shower - not sure whether than made any difference to recovery or not.

Woke this morning with a few aches and pains (as usual - comes with being Very Old) but after K had done her 40min run I thought I'd better get out and do some recovery miles, especially as I'd been giving Paul the benefit of my experience and telling him to get out and do more easy miles.

So, tights and top were donned, satellites acquired and shoes laced up and I set off for Halton East for a change.  The intention was to do this really easy, so I wasn't worried when I saw the number 9:xx in the "pace" bit on my watch.  It did feel a wee bit harder than I would have expected, but it was windy and the way up to Halton East is uphill.  HR wasn't overly high, apart from the now traditional Garmin spike at the start, which is irritating if only because it pushes the average up:

Back home just outside 40 mins so an average pace of 8:05, which suggests that both wind and slope were against me on the way out - and possibly slightly too quick for a genuine recovery.

Bike day tomorrow - off to Rick's in Garstang for a family gathering so will set off to Slaidburn with l'Herb then hopefully hook up with big brother somewhere near the top of the Trough.

Friday, 12 February 2010

It's Friday, it's 2 0'clock and it's...

...long run time.  Another Friday afternoon off, but this time in the company of Hinsley, so running to do, and long running at that.

Rich decided to prepare by having fish, chips and peas for lunch, which is an interesting approach, but we set off a couple of hours later from Silsden and headed off to the canal.  The plan was to run to the 10m point then turn round, then for Rich to cut off at Crossflatts to do 15, whereas I'd carry on back to get 20 in.  Having done 22 the last two long runs I thought I'd have a minor cut back prior to Blackpool half before another couple of weeks of longer runs, culminating in either a 24 or maybe a 26 (both very steady - no marathon pace nonsense...).

This route is really good for me mentally, as very quickly you're onto familiar ground and ticking off the landmarks.  We managed to keep the pace pretty consistent at about 7:40 to the turn, then slowed just a little on the way back, but we hit the top of 3 Rise locks with the overall average pace on 7:44, which is remarkable as the target was 7:45.  Richard was complaining of sore legs, but this isn't surprising given that he's done very few long runs, and nothing much over 10m for months.  I was feeling ok, but still hadn't decided whether to do any MP miles towards the end.

In the event the temptation of getting a few miles done quickly proved too much, so as the watch hit 14.5m I set off, with no particular idea of how long I'd do the effort for.  I've started putting my Garmin onto the "lap pace" screen for these efforts so I don't get distracted by weird pace blips, but the pace during the first few hundred yards was reading about 6:15 so I was obviously going a bit too quick.

The first mile beeped showing 6:34, so a good 10-15 seconds quicker than MP, but it didn't feel too uncomfortable so I tried to hold the pace.  In the end I did a 4m effort with splits of 6:34, 6:32, 6:30 and 6:30.  Far too quick, but confidence inspiring in that I could hold that pace for 4 miles after 14.5m of running.  I did the last mile and a half back to the car at a slightly brisker than "slow" pace, and a great deal quicker than my shuffle back to Paul's 3 weeks ago, with a pace of about 7:15.

Good to get another one done, but looking forward to a "week off" doing Blackpool Half next Sunday!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Track sesh

Track with the Newmanator tonight, just me and him again - people will talk.  Especially if, as we did last week, we go for an intimate tete a tete over a sophisticated meal (well, a curry).  Didn't feel like a date to me, whatever anyone says...

Anyway - me and the bandy one at the slightly icy track.  Decided to do 6x1km reps tonight to gauge progress against last autumn when we did this session a few times.  We were trying to work out what Tim should do so we both finished at about the same time - we decided on 5x1km off 200m recoveries.

There were quite a few SMLs (Slow Moving Ladies) on the track tonight, but they'd all been suitably schooled to run in lane 2 or 3 so we didn't have the problems we've had before with meandering iPod listeners getting in the way.

I was, in the end, really pleased with the session - the reps were much quicker than last time, when I'd generally run each km in 3:42 or so.

This time the times were:

1km: 3:33
2km: 3:33
3km: 3:35
4km: 3:32
5km: 3:34
6km: 3:30 (which involved a speedy last lap chasing Tim as our timing was just about right!)

Chuffed with this, as that pace would be a 5k PB for me, and shows that I'm definitely getting stronger.  My recoveries were shorter than of late too, all under 70s, and I didn't feel I was eyeballs out, so there's maybe a bit more to come.  I must try these Yasso 800's people talk about some time - I suspect I might manage 2:50 per 800m or so.

Long one tomorrow with Hinsley - going for 20m in the afternoon, with him tagging along for 15m then I'll try and do 5m at MP.

Time for a brew and some telly now!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Out with another fast lad.

Lunchtime session today, following a few snow showers.  Running with Murph today, and as a Very Busy Chap he had to be back for a meeting (he needs a PA like Linz - she gets running in the diary...).

So my steady 5 or 6 miler turned into a bit of a tempo session (well maybe a bit slower) but generally tooling along the canal at something under 7m mile pace.  It felt like hard work today, which could be down to last night's speedy romp to Burley, or possibly me wearing too many clothes with buff, hat, gloves and waterproof all leading to a rather sweaty me finishing our 5m in just over 36mins.  Average pace was about 7:15, but as that included a gentle run up to th canal and a slower run down we were probably averaging 7's along the canal.

HR was mid-140's, which for a pace just above MP is acceptable - I reckon my MP effort will be high 140's to low 150's.

You can see the steady climb through the run, peaking at about 145 which is pretty comfortable to be honest - but my legs certainly feel like they've had a toughish couple of days.  Track tomorrow, snow permitting, and I might give myself the luxury of doing some 800s tomorrow as I've done 2 hardish sessions in a row, before Friday's 20 miler, most of which I'll be accompanied by Mr Hinsley on, which will be nice.  May try to get my MP effort up to 5 on Friday, but I do need to "listen to my body" a bit and make sure I don't overdo it.  I'm going to have a bit of a cutback week next week with Blackpool half at the weekend, then back to higher miles up until Trimpell 3 weeks later.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Out with "the fast lads"

First time down at Ilkley Harriers for ages, and certainly the first since my latest running renaissance, so wasn't sure which group to go out with.  I need a MP session this week though, so when Nick R said "Burley and back, 7min pace" that did the trick - I was going (gulp!) with The Fast Lads

I'd always been in awe of the proper runners as they sped past us on their way to goodness knows where at goodness knows what speed, but in the end I felt reasonably comfortable.  We ended up doing 9 and a bit miles at just over 7min pace, but there was a bit of slowing down for getting lost and people having a wee, so we were probably running at just over MP for a lot of it.  Ideal.

It felt fairly comfortable too, so maybe I am getting a bit stronger.  Then it was back to the posh tennis club (which smells of poo - not unlike a Virgin train) for sandwiches and a bit of a gathering to talk about marathon running.  Really interesting insight from Sal, who is one of the most experienced marathoners amongst us, and also interesting to hear from Dave Wilby, whose 3 Peaks training sounds very similar to a marathon build up.

Good night all round.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Beer, balls and badinage

Went to Edinburgh for the Scotland-France game yesterday, having watched England beat Wales on Saturday on the telly.  Cracked the first beers on the train on the way up, and then drank beer pretty well constantly until kebab-time.  We had a grand time, having a crack with both Scottish and French supporters - generally a better time than a Twickenham game really, especially as you can walk to and from the ground from the city centre.

Met up with some "characters", including these two gents:

Of course 14 hours of beer drinking, carousing and learning the words to La Marseillaise does not leave the athlete at his best the next day, so it was a fairly groggy man who travelled back this morning.  However as the day wore on my health improved, so about 3 o'clock I decided I'd better make the most of my afternoon off and got my stuff on for a steady 5 miles up to Halton East and back.  Legs seem to have recovered from Friday's exertions, and once I turned for home I put the pedal down a little and ran the last two miles in 6:50 and 6:45, so about marathon pace.

Didn't enjoy it much at the time (specially when it snowed) but I'm glad I made myself go out.

still benched

On my way back from That London having taken no running stuff with me, so I have another 2 days of rest in the bank. I can still vaguely feel something in my calf, so will probably wait til Thursday before trying to run.

In any event it hinges a bit on what mike b the fizzy says tomorrow evening - if he advises another few days off I guess that's what it'll have to be, but as I seem to be drinking and eating crap at the moment I'm hoping the answer's the right one!

Either way I've got a bike ride planned with rick and The Herb on Sunday so there will at least be some cardio-vascular exercise done.

Frustrating though...

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Steady away, lad

A terribly exciting 24 hours in our house, particularly for Lily.  We awoke this morning to find some drunken oik had crashed his/her car int the fence across the road and demolished it (sadly without demolishing the gargantuan leylandii that blocks the sun for about two hours every summer evening), then moments later K discovered a little "gift" from one of the cats in the form of a decapitated mouse on our bedroom floor.  Both of these thrilling events were eclipsed, however, by the news that someone had done a poo in the swimming baths during Lily's swimming lesson.  And she saw it!!  She's been making songs up about it ever since - that's my girl...

Well after all that excitement there wasn't anything else to be done but to pass the time before the rugby starts with a few miles recovery - so I ran to Halton Easy and back, no concern for pace, just keeping the HR down and giving my legs a  of a stretch - ended up averaging 8:17 pace with HR down at 116bpm

This seems to be the big difference between this campaign and the last on in 07 - keeping these intermediate runs going at slow pace but just adding up the miles, and gradually lengthening the harder sessions.  Even with a day off tomorrow that's 56m for the week, so I feel justified in a day off for a few beers and a few laughs with some old friends.

Back to it Monday, mind...

Friday, 5 February 2010

Another one bites the dust.

As Queen said, another one has, in fact, bitten the dust.  Sick of car insurance cock ups, I had cunningly arranged another Friday afternoon off work to run a long one, and I'm rather glad I did.

At Terry L's suggestion I drove to Silsden and parked near the end of Hainsworth Rd, which is the little lane that leads along to the canal and set off from there.  This avoids all the horrid single track slippy bit of canal and deposits you at the start of the tarmac surface near Riddlesden Golf Club.

The plan was to run 7:45 pace, and that is precisely what I did - past Crossflatts, past all our normal lunchtime landmarks like 5 Rise and the Fisherman's, then on through Saltaire (grand bit of industrial heritage, that) and Shipley.  I was expecting to go all the way to Esholt before turning, but not long after I left Shipley the 11 mile beep went.  Garmin must, of course, be obeyed, so I had a wee and set off back.

There wasn't much wind, but what breeze there was helped on the way back, so I did actually pop in  a couple of quicker miles down in the mid-7:30's, but generally the pace was comfortable and steady.  My HR was down below 130 most of the time, and apart from slightly achy legs I felt like I could go on for ever.  I had my new drinks bottle holder thing (which I still haven't paid for...sorry Paul!) and a couple of gels.  I had the first gel at an hour, then the second at 15m, which was 1.5m before I was going to start my MP effort.  I was quite surprised by how far Crossflatts was from my start point, so the Micklethwaite road was at 16.5m, so 4m from where I'd come onto the canal.

I started my effort from here, and whilst it was a lot harder work, it was nowhere near as draining as the effort last weekend, which I suspect shows that Iwas still suffering from my cold rather than a miraculous improvement in fitness.  The first mile beeped showing 6:41, a wee bit quicker than my intended 6:45, as did the second.  I decided to try and do 4m at MP and was surprised to do mile 3 in 6:32, so pushed on a bit for the last mile (which became quite tough towards the end) and banged out the last one in 6:28.

My planning worked well, as I hit the end of the effort just before I dropped off the canal, and held the pace a bit higher for the mile and a half back to the car at about 7:35.  The watch stopped on 22m exactly in 2:45:30.  I was (am) definitely tired (and very hungry!) afterwards, but not drained as I was last week.

As you'll see from my little table my 5 longest runs are now through the 100m barrier, and I've just done my 6th 40m+ week in a row and my 3rd of over 50 - and there's still tomorrow to come!

Steady recovery tomorrow, then a day or two off with a trip to Edinburgh to watch rugby and drink some beer.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Back t'track again

My new Saucony spikes arrived at work today, but I was slightly disappointed to find that they're horrendously tight, but, it being 30 years since I've last worn spikes I decided to try them out at the track.  It was closed for most of the day because of snow, but the helpful lads down at Seedhill kept popping out to report back on the thaw, and by mid-afternoon it had all gone.

Just the Newmanator and I tonight, so we started out warm up with a few gentle strides - during which it became clear that my new spikes are just too small and would result in horrid blisters - so I ditched them in favour of my new Speedstars.  These are Asics and they're size 9, so they fit.  I know some people get tied to a certain model of shoe, but as long as it's Asics I'm pretty comfortable a shoe will fit, and these are no exception.

We did a mile and quarter of warm up with a couple of hundred metres of strides, then got on with the session.  As last time Tim was going to do 6x800m off 200's, I was doing 4x1m off the same recovery.

Pleased with the session tonight as I was quicker and yet felt more comfortable than a couple of weeks ago.  Reps were:

Mile 1: 5:54
Mile 2: 5:54
Mile 3: 5:53
Mile 4: 5:49

The 5:49 was a result of a fast last lap, where I was looking to see where my HR would end up - and it peaked at 161bpm.  I think I could be running these reps a bit quicker, as my HR was only about the same level as Brass Monkey (155ish) most of the way round, so I think I may look to take a second or two per lap off next time.  After that I'm going to try and do 5x1m before moving up to 3x2m - if I can do my 2m reps at 6min pace that'll be a real challenge, but should be doable.

The Newmanator did really well tonight - running at c6:40 pace for all his reps - another protege is on the way!!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Snow, snow, bloody snow...

If I remember correctly, in the Young Ones the above quote was attributed to Vyvyan when presented with "risotto" to eat by Neil the hippy when they were skint.  It could also be attributed to me when I looked out of the window at work and saw it hossing down this afternoon.

Still, the running stuff was by my desk, I have a posh waterproof and what's more I had some company in the persons of Rich and (unusually) The Herb (who just seems to cycle every day these days).  Given the company, and given the hard session last night the idea today was to get some steady miles in.  That suited all of us for different reasons - Hinsley because he's chasing sub-40 at Dewsbury on Sunday, Herb because he's still recovering from a 3 year old injury and me because I needed an easy session.

Bingley local Mr Hinsley planned the route, which had to be on road as it was dark by the time we set off, and was still chucking a fair amount of snow down.  There was perhaps half an inch underfoot, so no problems with grip, but it was a pain when running into the wind as big flakes kept going in my eyes.  I discovered a cycling type drafting technique of tucking in behind The Herb which made it tolerable.  We ended up somewhere near the Fisherman's pub on the canal then ran back through Bingle to work.  The lads finished here with 5m on the clock, but the marathon man had more to do, so I ran up to Riddlesden and back to give myself a round 8 miles.  Pace very slow at 8:30 average but HR way down averaging 118 which is under 70% max.

What's good is that a run like this was enjoyable and felt very easy, but these are decent quality miles in the bank.  Track tomorrow, where I'll try out my new Speedstars, which I think may be the race shoe for the rest of the campaign and the Big Day, as they're well padded but noticeably lighter than my Cumulus.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Marathon pace session on the canal

It was the spog man at work today (monster pick 'n' mix in the restaurant) so after 2 quids worth of sugary over-indulgence I was more than ready to take my punishment.  Marathon pace session tonight, but with the diary free after 4pm Rich and I decided to go in daylight (well, wintry gloom, really) and run on the canal.

We ran up past Tesco and jogged to the half mile point then started our effort.  Along to 5 Rise, then we turned and ran all way to where the decent surface runs out just past Keighley Golf Club.  This gives you just under 5.5m of effort, so there's then another 2.5m back to get to the 8m we were doing.  As by this time it was after 5:15pm the light was going, so we dropped back onto the road at Riddlesden Hall.  Rich, who'd been doing really well to keep going, decided he was a bit pooped by this time, so he dropped the pace whilst I did another half a mile to get the full 8 in.

I was surprised today how much easier it felt than a week ago, although I'm much more over my cold than I was then, when I think it was just starting.  The canal bank is of course completely flat as well, whereas the Riddlesden old road is undulating, although not hilly as such.

My splits today were pretty consistent, and I felt good all the way:

I did start to feel today like I could feasibly keep that pace up for 26 miles, which is the first time it's happened, and my HR tells a story too - it was averaging below 150 for the full 8m of effort, which is (against my new max HR that I've decided is definitely 170!) below 90% max or using WHR below 85%.

Got some thoughts from Terry L on my proposed programme of long run, MP session and track with a couple of steady/recoveries thrown in.  He's pretty comfortable with what I have proposed, but has made some useful suggestions about trying to split the hard sessions up - for example this week I'll be at the track Thursday night then running 22m on Friday afternoon.  This can't really be helped as I'm off to Edinburgh on Sunday and Monday for the rugby, but I've been through the diary with Linz today to try and work out what fits best where.  Terry also wonders whether I should try and do a very steady (ie 8min mile) 26 miler - that'd have me out for 3 1/2 hours, which is very tempting as it'd be a great confidence booster.  My only wonder is whether I can build up to that with Blackpool, Trimpell and Coniston already booked in.

I'm feeling a lot more confident generally about this marathon, especially as I now have A Plan, rather than a vague intention to do certain sessions each week.  But - it's a long way to go yet...

Monday, 1 February 2010

Ambushed at lunch!

Having started to record the mileage of my shoes (OCD? Me?) to avoid getting "Shagged Out Shoes Niggles" (SOSN for short) I realised yesterday that my new Gel Cumulus already have some 41 miles on them.  As I'm still a touch portly at 84kg or so (it's coming down...) I reckon I ought to be doing no more than 400 miles a pair, so they're already 10% of the way through their life.  So I ordered some more - Asics Speedstars, which are a lightweight trainer with (apparently) plenty of cushioning - so somewhere between a race shoe and a training shoe.  And they're yellow!

Rich and I decided to get a steady 6m in at lunchtime, a plan almost thwarted by the fact that despite I'd had running shoes on the brain (I've also ordered a cheapy pair of spikes after a chat with Paul The Afterburner on Saturday) I'd gone to work with no running shoes.  Fortunately there's a JJB Sports down the road (sadly there's no sports shops, but needs must) so I grabbed a pair of entry level Asics Patriot for £27 and we were on.
In the changing room we met Chris Tomes (or the BFG as we call him) and another chap, so we were soon four.  As we hit the canal BFG asked if the pace was "a bit too slow" - I, with my structured training head on, answered that if anything it was perhaps a bit fast for what I'd had in mind - so of course they speeded up.

We finished with 5.8m at an average pace of 7:25 - not quite as far, and definitely faster, than I'd had in mind.  Afterwards all of us admitted that the pace had been faster than we'd have preferred - so how did we end up running at that speed?

We did discuss the purchase of running shoes, however, and BFG was recommending a trip in person to SportsShoes Direct in Bratfud - apparently a splendid discount is to be had if you buy more than one pair of shoes, so Hinsley and I determined to pay them a visit next pay day!

Running after work tomorrow - hopefully 8 MP miles out of 10, accompanied by Rich for at least some of it as he builds up to Dewsbury 10k on Sunday.