Sunday, June 19, 2016

Training Week Commencing 13th June 2016

Time to get the weekly blog going again... It's pretty good as an honesty check for me.

Monday: Crazy sprint from work to get to the start line of the Sri Chinmoy 5k in Battersea Park. Set out fast to try and get a decent time but legs started to really struggle with my quads almost quivering in the final mile or so. Really pleased with how it felt aerobically though as that's one of the best first kms I've ever had. Greenleaf whizzed by at the 3km mark to take the win. (4.4 @ 7:16, 3.1 @ 5:10 (16:01 - split 5:04, 5:05, 5:24?!, 4:40 pace for the sprint), 1.7 @ 8:08) followed by 50 minutes easy turning the legs over on the exercise bike. [9]

Tuesday: Steady run at lunchtime around Southwark Park plus drills ( 5 @ 7:15) ;  Late run home from work (9.5 @ 7:18) [14.5]

Wednesday: 10 easy miles into work with Martin via the Towpath and Hyde Park (glorious morning for it) (10 @ 7:54) ; Easy run home from work (10k @ 7:20mm) [16.5]

Thursday: Neck cricked overnight - tried to run home from work and it was painful every other stride - did 2 hours cross-training on the exercise bike just turning the legs over. [0]

Friday: 5 miles steady at lunch with drills (5 @ 7:15); Followed a great evening out at the Twenty20 cricket game between Surrey and Middlesex with a short jog home. Unfortunately it started it hammering it down on the way back when it had been lovely seconds before (5k @ 7:27) [8]

Saturday: 8 easy/steady on the towpath (8 @ 7:02mm); 5 easy with Gaby (5 @ 7:08mm) [13]

Sunday: 8 comprising a warm up, attempt at the Richmond 10km, feeling sorry for myself until Gemma picked me up and ran around with her helping in a very small part to her clocking a 20 second PB; 5 easy with Gaby (5 @ 7:33) [13]

Summary:

75.6 miles / 9h 11m (12 with X-training) / 7:17mm AVG / 5k @ 16:01 / No long run / 11 st. 7.5 lbs.

Interesting week - I was a bit disappointed with the 5k but could see the positives on a very hot and muggy evening. The 10k really disappointed me but I know exactly what happened. I tried to wear some zero drop uber lightweight racing shoes and my feet just couldn't handle it. I was slapping the road from the start and as I couldn't get up on my forefeet with no cushioning I couldn't run on my toes and so all the impact was going straight up my back. When the laces went as well I knew I was done. Luckily I stopped before I did too much damage.

The general pace of my training runs has gone up so I'll see how that progresses and need to make sure I keep an eye on it. On the otherhand way better than New York where my legs just felt dead.

Lovely to have Gaby back for some runs! Mileage was a bit low this week but did at least get some x-training in to make up for that!

Totals:

W/C 13/06/16 - 75.6 miles / 9h 11m (12 with X-training) / 7:17mm AVG / 5k @ 16:01 / No long run / 11 st. 7.5 lbs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Irish Marathon Selection Dilemma

Ireland have now announced their selections for the Olympic marathon and as usual with Olympic selections there is some controversy.

Kevin Seaward, Sergiu Ciobanu, Mick Clohisey and Paul Pollock all competed in the Berlin marathon in September to clock their qualifying times and finished in that order with times between 2:14:52 and 2:15:38. 


Clohisey subsequently clocked a marginally faster time than Ciobanu at the Seville marathon in February.

Simple selection then? Seaward, Clohisey, Ciobanu.

Not so fast.

The selection criteria (which can be found in full here) seems to be a bit vague and contradictory.


As a general principle then it is possible for the selection panel to have sole discretion as to which athlete they are allowed to select.

However, general principles are subject to specific principles which are outlined for the marathon.
There are two specific factors which influence this decision both of which could be viewed to impact the selection process. However, these are also not the only factors that the selectors can use (i.e. they can do what they want). 

The first of these criteria is that they can look at the speed factors of a marathon within a minute.



 Now this might be relevant as you could look at Berlin's speed factor and that of Seville. ARRS compiles these ratings here. As we can see - Berlin is on average 81 seconds faster than an average marathon. Whilst a time isn't given for Seville, given that Clohisey was faster on what we can safely assume is a slower course, then on a pure time basis Clohisey should be selected ahead of Ciobanu despite having been beaten by him in Berlin.

The trouble with this analysis is that it does imply that the selectors are effectively looking at "best" time and have limited discretion. This factor is only needed if it is accepted that the primary route for selection will be the fastest marathon time and can only be superceded by specific circumstances. Otherwise - why stipulate that it should only be looked at within a minute. Where Ciobanu appeals then this would likely be the grounds to do so.

The second of these criteria is that they can consider when the initial qualifying performance occurred with more preference for earlier performances on the basis that the athlete has time to improve before the games.This is irrelevant (as all athletes first qualified at Berlin) aside from the insight it gives into the purpose of the selection policy. 

It indicates that the focus of the selection policy is to select the best possible team for the Games rather than the fairest team or on a strict time basis.

So we have a clear time on a time basis of Seaward, Clohisey and Ciobanu. 

The team named today by Irish Athletics is Seaward, Clohisey and Pollock (link here). 


Irish Athletics don't embellish in their press release but you must imagine that Pollock has been selected on the basis of his impressive World Half performance of 62:46 - 14th in the race and well ahead of Seaward (65:23 / 41st) and Ciobanu (66:30 / 50th).

Now the selection based on a really good half marathon performance isn't stated anywhere in their guidance although arguably that could be one of the "other factors" referred to in the document. 

Understandably this has caused some controversy with Ciobanu's coach expressing mild disappointment at the decision. 

(from Irish Independent - link through above)

Pollock seemed to be aware that "form" would be used to determine the places as can be seen from his blog post (here). 


Now personally I can't see any reference to "form" being used as a selection criteria in the official documentation (please let me know if I'm wrong) which means that either:-

a) Pollock has been informed of something diferent.
b) Pollock assumed that "form" would be used (not totally unreasonable but he seems pretty clear that its included in the criteria - maybe I've missed it). 
c) The policy has been changed. 

Clearly as can be seen in the article above - Ciobanu's coach feels that there has been miscommunication about the policies that are being implemented and how consistently the policies have been implemented in this selection decision. The comment on "form" by Pollock without a corresponding line in the policy suggests there may be some merit to this 

Ciobanu's options are now to:-

a) Accept his place as an alternate and start stretching trip wires on all the local trails near Seaward, Clohisey and Pollock's houses (and the selectors as well - just because). 

b) Appeal within 24 hours on the basis that the selection policy has been incorrectly applied. This would be difficult due to the "sole discretion" criteria allowed as part of the general conditions. 

I would be very surprised if the appeal is successful to the Irish appeals panel. If they did decide that an error had been made in procedure then Ciobanu would not be automatically selected but the matter would go back to the selection panel. 

Where the appeal is not successful then Ciobanu would (I imagine) be limited to appealing to the Court of Arbitration for sport which would be able to consider much wider factors than the appeal to the Irish appeals panel.

The key point in any appeal on the procedural grounds would be to what extent Irish athletics selection panel are allowed to disregard the times run and their stated criteria and make a decision purely on "gut" instinct. The inclusion of factors such as the above create a dichotomy.

By specifically naming factors which imply that time is the most important factor and needs to be overridden by another factor then athletes would seem to have a right to expect this to be adhered to. The inclusion of these factors, whilst also stipulating that the panel can ignore them as they see fit or the "sole discretion" of the panel acting as "experts" rendering any other factors irrelevant. 

I am split on the issue as to who should be selected. I have great sympathy for Ciobanu having beaten both Clohisey and Pollock in an unofficial "trial" race at Berlin with all the principal contenders and then being denied selection on the basis of a marginally faster time by Clohisey at a different (later) race and by a performance from Pollock over a different distance. 

That said, Pollock would look to have a better chance at the Games on the basis of his 62 minute half marathon which given the conditions I would estimate suggests roughly 2:11/2:12 fitness (backed up by Hawkins who he narrowly beat clocking that time in London).

My selection would be Seaward, Pollock and Ciobanu. I think Pollock's 62 minute half would be sufficient to suggest to me that he should be able to perform at a significantly better level than his Berlin performance. By contrast, Clohisey's performance at Seville of 2:15:11 does not suggest he will perform noticeably better than Ciobanu who clocked 2:15:14 to beat Clohisey in Berlin. 

The obvious solution to me is to have a Trials race in March or April where the first 3 who have the qualifying time within the qualifying window are selected. This is simple, gives athletes a clear target, provides the domestic scene with a focus for that year (as everyone will want to qualify for the trials) and should be held as a domestic only race with sufficient prize money that the athletes are compensated for not being able to do another Spring marathon. 


Thursday, March 24, 2016

London Training Weeks 10, 11 and 12

So - I said in the last blog that I'd be happy if I made the same amount of progress from my last XC race to the Southern 12 stage.

Sadly - that definitely hasn't happened. Whilst I had been travelling from 3am until I arrived at the race course at 3pm my performance was solid but definitely not the big step forward I hoped for.

The last 3 weeks have been *okay* training. A solid 107 mile week was followed by a good 85 mile week (no proper training on the travel day to the Tignes) and then a week of skiing restricted my running - although after I abandoned skiing on the 5th day (deciding that the value of 2 more days skiing was considerably less than the risk of being out for 6-9 months injured).

So - I'm left hoping that the fitness is lying there dormant and about to come out. I've now applied for a place for the Edinburgh marathon which is a month after London - where London doesn't work for me then I can always have another crack at it a month later - or alternatively wait until the autumn for a faster time at Berlin. I'd prefer to have gotten under 2:30 before trying for something really quick at Berlin though.

Training Table Week 12

Week Commencing Mileage Time Running Average Pace Key Sessions Longest Run Most Efficient Run Sunday Weight
28th December 2015
55.4
6h 22m
6:54mm
Newport XC
9.1 miles
952 BPM
11 st 13.25 lbs
4th January 2016
54.4
6h 57m
7:40mm
15 miles / 7:21mm
995 BPM
11 st 13 lbs
11th January 2016
63.2
8h 20m (+2h XT )
7:57mm
16 miles / 9:12mm
N/A
11 st 10.25 lbs
18th January 2016
61.8
9h 30m
(+ 6h XT )
9:13mm
None
9.7 miles / 8:36mm
N/A
11 st
8.5 lbs
25th January 2016
79.8
11h 40m
(+4h 45m XT )
8:46mm
10.8 miles / 7:57mm
N/A
11 st 7.5 lbs
1st February 2016
100.0
13h 30m
8:06mm
20.3 miles / 7:19mm
N/A
11 st .5.5 lbs
8th February 2016
100.0
13h 31m
8:06mm
20.7 miles / 6:58mm
N/A
11 st 4.5 lbs
15th February 2016
63.0
8h 43m
8:20mm
None
N/A
11 st 4 lbs
22nd February 2016
106.1
13h 52m7:50mm
8 x 870m 
10 x 200
Bishop St. XC
None
N/A
11 st 2.5 lbs
29th February 2016
106.7
13h 58m7:51mm
5 x 200 
3 x 3 miles
22 inc. 7 at MP
22 inc. 7 @ 6:04mm
N/A
11 st 1lb
7th March 2016
84.9
11h 10m7:53mm
5 x mile
Long Tempo
20 slow (8:28mm)
N/A
11 st 0 lbs
14th March 2016
51.8
7h 21m
(+ lots of Skiing)
8:30mm
SEAA 12 stage (4m)
None
N/A
10 st 13.5 lbs

Monday, February 29, 2016

London Training Week 9 - Back to the Races

London is fast approaching with only 6 weeks of "proper" training left before the taper starts.

It's a decent time to appraise where I am so far. This build-up is going very well but I'm left with a sneaking suspicion that it could end up being just short of what I want. Maybe I'm wrong. I've seen a huge improvement in fitness from the end of week 3 to the end of week 7.

If I can make anything like that same jump from week 7 to the end of week 12 when I run in the Southern 12 stage (my next major race) then I'll be very pleased with my progress. I'm not sure what exactly that will look like because of the new course at the road relays but hopefully I'll be able to measure it.

In the meantime - with this sinking sensation of unjustified frustration - I'm focusing on the training and trying to do what I can to improve performance in terms of stretching and loosening tired muscles. That said - I've done a short article here on the 5 things you can still do to improve your marathon performance.

This week is probably my best week of training in a long time - high mileage (106) with "something" fast most days. Something I've found very beneficial in the past and need to use more often is "half" sessions - where I do about half the volume of a normal session at a slightly faster pace or do a full session but at a slower pace - these help me develop a relaxed posture whilst running at speed and keep me fresh.

Training this week...

Monday: wu, 8 x 870m stretch in BP off a minute averaging 5:25mm (3:06; 2:53; 2:55; 2:57; 2:55; 2:53; 2:52; 2:54 - AVG 2:56 - nice improvement over the 3:01 average 2 weeks ago), wd 

Tuesday: 11 easy @ 8:23mm AM; PM wu, 10 x 200m off 200 jog in 33 (averaging 4:25mm), wd 

Wednesday: 8 easy @ 8:22mm AM; PM wu, 3.5 miles @ 5:57mm, wd

Thursday: 6 easy @ 8:30mm AM; PM 11 @ 7:22mm including a fast mile (5:34)

Friday: 8 steady with Kev @ 7:43mm AM; PM 6 easy at 8:22mm

Saturday: 8 steady around Henham @ 7:26mm AM; PM 4.5 steady on treadmill @ 7:17mm

Sunday: wu, Stortford XC - 27:17 / 4.7 miles / 5:48mm, wd

Total: 106.1 miles

Overall am very pleased with both the volume of work and the intensity. I worked at a variety of paces in the sessions with a decent work-out at 10k pace on the Monday, some short fast reps on the Tuesday and some MP "ish" work on Wednesday.

The race on Sunday was okay... The course was really good underfoot - after checking it out on my morning run I decided that it was frozen enough that as I would be coming through near the front I could get away with my Skechers Go Run Ride (road shoes with minimal grip, reducing injury risk slightly at the expense of grip and perhaps a bit of pace as they're not quite as light as all out racing shoes).

After winning last time, given I'm about 2 minutes quicker over that distance, I was hoping for a relatively easy win! Not quite. George Cook, a junior elite triathlete with a 4:14 1500 and 9:01 3000 (both equivalent to my best times) had turned up and wasn't going to let me go easily. Luckily I could tell by his heavy breathing that he was unlikely to be able to maintain the pace the whole way and I managed to get clear without too intense an effort about 2 miles into the race.

I didn't push after that but just kept a strong steady effort going. I was worried about the final section as I knew it was muddier and almost came a cropper on a bar going over a bridge (the final section had 3 separate "hurdles" to go over).

I'd have liked a faster average pace but to race reasonably after a 106 mile week is probably a good sign.

Training Table Week 9

Week Commencing Mileage Time Running Average Pace Key Sessions Longest Run Most Efficient Run Sunday Weight
28th December 2015
55.4
6h 22m
6:54mm
Newport XC
9.1 miles
952 BPM
11 st 13.25 lbs
4th January 2016
54.4
6h 57m
7:40mm
15 miles / 7:21mm
995 BPM
11 st 13 lbs
11th January 2016
63.2
8h 20m (+2h XT )
7:57mm
16 miles / 9:12mm
N/A
11 st 10.25 lbs
18th January 2016
61.8
9h 30m
(+ 6h XT )
9:13mm
None
9.7 miles / 8:36mm
N/A
11 st
8.5 lbs
25th January 2016
79.8
11h 40m
(+4h 45m XT )
8:46mm
10.8 miles / 7:57mm
N/A
11 st 7.5 lbs
1st February 2016
100.0
13h 30m
8:06mm
20.3 miles / 7:19mm
N/A
11 st .5.5 lbs
8th February 2016
100.0
13h 31m
8:06mm
20.7 miles / 6:58mm
N/A
11 st 4.5 lbs
15th February 2016
63.0
8h 43m
8:20mm
None
N/A
11 st 4 lbs
22nd February 2016
106.1
13h 52m7:50mm
8 x 870m 
10 x 200
Bishop St. XC
None
N/A
11 st 2.5 lbs

Thursday, February 25, 2016

5 Tips to Improve Your Marathon Time

As we're now at less than 60 days before the London Marathon it's time to have a think about what are the major things you can still do in order to improve your performance.

Two months is still a very long time and you can make a substantial performance improvement in just 8 weeks - here are 5 things I think that can be done in the final couple of months to get you running at your best come race day.

1. Marathon paced runs

If you're looking to run a marathon at a quick pace then you need to get your body used to the pounding on the roads and the specific motions your body will go through during the race (no... not those motions).

It's important to separate this out into what I'm nominally going to call the "faster" runners and "slower" runners as both sets will be training quite differently.

For the "slower" runners your marathon training (where you are focused on a specific time and wish to maximise performance rather than get around) will have included numerous long runs at marathon pace and you will likely have quite a substantial differential between your marathon pace and your tempo pace. Your body is well conditioned to marathon pace.

For you - the aim is to run at the mid-point between your marathon pace and your tempo pace for approximately 50-70 minutes with a focus on running at a high aerobic effort.

For the "faster" runners you will likely have been training at up to a minute a mile or more slower than marathon pace - for you the effort will definitely be focused on trying to get a decent volume in and work on feeling comfortable at your marathon pace - checking that your shoes aren't rubbing, kit works well and practicing taking on nutrition at race pace. Generally I find that it takes 3 or 4 efforts of between 70-90 minutes at race pace for me to feel really comfortable about the race.

This should also clue you in really well about how realistic your marathon pace is - if you're unable (even in a heavy training week) to keep marathon pace up for 8-10 miles then it's probably time to re-evaluate your race pace.

Sample sessions can include:-

  • 75 minutes at race pace
  • 4 x 20 minutes at race pace off a minute
  • 8 x 5 minutes at race pace, 5 minutes at race pace +15s
  • 90 minutes at race pace + 15s
  • Half marathon race at marathon race pace

2. Run some more mileage

We still have 6 weeks of training - that gives you a great chance to continue to build your mileage. I don't agree that you necessarily need to impose artificial restrictions like 10% - the key is to listen to your body and what it's able to do.

Anything extra you can do, be that walking, exercise biking or very slow running - to give you more aerobic power - will be a big help.

One month is more than enough time to make a substantial impact on your training - it can be transformative and you can make a step change.

Sample changes could include:-

  • Running to work once a week
  • Running home from a session rather than taking the bus
  • Going for a walk on a Saturday / Sunday afternoon after your morning session

3. Nutrition for performance (next month)

*Caveat - the below does not apply to people either with an eating disorder or at risk of one, neither to runners under the age of 20*

The people that tend to win the London Marathon tend to look pretty damn lean. Part of this is genetics and part of this is a careful attention to detail and realizing that for any elite athlete keeping a healthy racing weight is important.

I would highly recommend a book like Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight for Peak Performance - available on Kindle and hard-copy.

It takes a commonsense approach to improving your overall diet quality by looking at the habits of elite athletes and seeing what they do that leads to their success without stopping you from eating anything in particular  - HINT - carbs are absolutely key for high level endurance.

Amazon Link  and a blog piece

Sample changes could include:-

  • Replacing sugary cereal with whole-grain cereal
  • Having a jacket potato, beans and cheese instead of a fried meal for lunch.
  • Replacing a trip to KFC with a trip to Subway (just for a week or two...)
4. Nutrition for performance (race day)

If you are planning on taking gels or other food on race day - it is absolutely vital that you practice with those gels in advance.

If you have struggled in the past - go out right now to your nearest running store and buy up 10 different gels - £15ish and try each of them on a run over the next couple of weeks - hopefully you will find one that suits you perfectly.

I particularly like the "Nectar" brand from For Goodness Shakes - I find them liquid enough to take without worrying about water (unlike Gu) but without a totally watery consistency.

Before you do a long run that starts at the same time as your target race - practice your race morning nutrition and try and get it down to a T. (Note - not to a "tea" - you should be having more than that).

Also - seriously consider incorporating some form of caffeinated gel or pre-race caffeine into your routine - caffeine is one of the few legal proven performance enhancers.  It is also more effective if you prevent yourself from taking it in the month up to race.

5. Speedwork (in moderation)

You should stay in touch with speedwork over the next 60 days but it should be relatively light touch - less is more both in terms of volume and pace.

The focus should be on maintaining a smooth and quick running action so that marathon pace feels relatively slow on race day whilst at the same time you are getting to stretch your legs out and not adopt the marathon runners shuffle.

Session ideas:-

  • Attend your club track or speedwork session and only do half the volume but don't increase the pace.
  • Attend your club track or speedwork session and do the whole session but at a slower pace (say 10k pace instead of 5k pace).
  • Add in 10 x minute at a fast (but not flat out) pace on a run with 1 minute jog recovery inbetween
Conclusion

You still have 60 days! That's loads of time to make a substantial change in your fitness. Make sure you listen to your body, get it prepared for the task at hand and focus on the important elements of your training. 




Wednesday, February 24, 2016

London Training Week 8 - R&R

I'm always a huge advocate of adjusting your training to how you're feeling.

If your body is saying "I'm awesome - let's go run up this hill!", if it's saying "I feel knackered - let's take today off", well, you don't listen to it that first day but if you're still feeling the same way a day or two later it's probably best to listen.

Last week was then (not totally unexpectedly) my cut back week as stress from my Dad having his heart operation (thankfully all went pretty well and he's now out of hospital and back home recuperating) and dealing with some ridiculous club issues (apparently 3 is a bigger number than 4 - any help with that one then answers on a post-card please).

Monday: 38 @ 8:18mm lunch run / 55 @ 8:47mm run home.
Tuesday: 63 @ 10:14mm very easy to work / 40 @10:01mm evening
Wednesday: Rest - seeing Dad - left work at 5 and got home at 12. Travelling pretty much the whole time.
Thursday: 44 wu, 2 x 3.5 miles @ 5:53mm off 60, 20 wd
Friday: Run to work @ 8:52mm / Run home @ 8:27mm
Saturday: Run to Faeza's with Gaby - 63 steady @ 7:47mm
Sunday: 43 @ 6:58mm

Total time: 8 hours 43 minutes

So one very stressful week concluded and now on to, hopefully, a better training week. It's now 60 days to go until London marathon - that both seems like a very long time but also not nearly enough time to get fully fit. I am genuinely very pleased with my progress over the last month or so - now I need to make a similar sort of improvement this month to get myself to peak fitness.

Training Table Week 8

Week Commencing Mileage Time Running Average Pace Key Sessions Longest Run Most Efficient Run Sunday Weight
28th December 2015
55.4
6h 22m
6:54mm
Newport XC
9.1 miles
952 BPM
11 st 13.25 lbs
4th January 2016
54.4
6h 57m
7:40mm
15 miles / 7:21mm
995 BPM
11 st 13 lbs
11th January 2016
63.2
8h 20m (+2h XT )
7:57mm
16 miles / 9:12mm
N/A
11 st 10.25 lbs
18th January 2016
61.8
9h 30m
(+ 6h XT )
9:13mm
None
9.7 miles / 8:36mm
N/A
11 st
8.5 lbs
25th January 2016
79.8
11h 40m
(+4h 45m XT )
8:46mm
10.8 miles / 7:57mm
N/A
11 st .7.5 lbs
1st February 2016
100.0
13h 30m
8:06mm
20.3 miles / 7:19mm
N/A
11 st .5.5 lbs
8th February 2016
100.0
13h 31m
8:06mm
20.7 miles / 6:58mm
N/A
11 st .4.5 lbs
15th February 2016
63.0
8h 43m
8:20mm
None
N/A
11 st .4 lbs









Tuesday, February 16, 2016

London Training Week 7 - Keep It Simple Stupid

So the pace did slow marginally this week as I covered exactly the same distance in one more minute. Basically a repeat of last week as far as the big numbers go though.

I can definitely feel myself getting faster now though - my average mileage over 4 weeks is now in the mid-high 80s which means I have a big training load in the system.

When measuring your training volume - it can be very easy to get excited by the fact you have a solid week - what matters more is consistency and that's what I'm finding very pleasing about the below table - that you can see a clear and gradual progression to fitness.

This week was definitely my best training in a long while.

Tuesday I dipped in for part of a track session. The session I'd set for marathon runners was 3 x mile off 90 seconds (with 10k runners doing 5 x mile off 90 seconds - the logic being that for marathon runners this is a small bit of speedwork during the week whilst for 10k runners this should be the primary focus.) - I missed the first lap as I was setting off the other groups and then tucked in for 3 laps, did the second rep and then my calf started to tighten a bit on the third rep (faster) so I eased off.

I know a lot of runners would look at that as a failed session or would have carried on and made sure they finished - for me it was just a chance to stretch my legs which I did nicely.

Thursday I knew I had the race on Saturday so tucked in with the group, did 1.5 miles at 6 minute miling which was a nice effort, some quite reasonable minute reps (moving very well for me) and then another 1.5 miles at the same pace. 6 minute miling was now feeling easier - a good sign I had made some significant progress. Likewise - I was covering the length of the straight in a minute - having trained on these stretches for years I know that means I'm in good nick.

On race day I did a shuffle in the morning and couldn't break 10 minute miling. Not a good sign. I felt better on my run to the race and felt a bit sprightlier. Especially after stopping to take my pro-plus (caffeine is one of the few proven performance enhancers that are legal - it has the effect of reducing the effort of perceived exertion allowing you to push harder for longer).

I went out hard (like I did at the first two races) and found myself in contention for the lead. Perhaps a slightly worrying position for someone who didn't even break the top 100 last time. That said - after my first hard 200m I settled back a bit and into a more consistent pace. I had my plan - hammer it down to the bottom of the common and through the first stretch of mud, ease up the hill and then go hard again on the flat at the top. Whilst runners were streaming past me they weren't doing so *that* fast and I was generally holding on okay.

By the time we hit the end of the first lap I was down in about 32nd and finally holding on - in fact on the next downhill I actually accelerated a bit. Unfortunately on the final hill a few more went past but I came in a fairly happy 41st - well down on my first race in the series (22nd) but still considerably better than my 103rd finish last time around. After a tense evening it was good for us to stay up as a team and I'm looking forward to the challenge of division 1 XC next season and trying to step up and finish in the top 20.

My XC season is now almost over, with a final fixture left of the season at Bishop's Stortford. I won the prior league race at Saffron Walden and am now 2/3 minutes faster over the same distance so am hoping I can produce something a bit special with another few weeks of training.

Sunday I had my best long run in gazonks. Holding on to Gaby as she powered out a solid 10 miles in 71:30 I then kept the pace going. Usually I can't run the day after XC so this was very promising. A solid second 10 in 68:30 before a fast finish meant I had 100 miles on the board and had averaged sub 7mm for a long run. Game on.

Food wasn't as great this week - few nights eating out and beers meant progress slowed slightly. I'm being much more aware this time though and making sure I don't slide back without realising it and staying focused.

Hopefully this will be another solid 90-100 mile week. I have a place for Wokingham Half so currently deciding how I'll race or pace that! Instinct says its too soon for a decent half but it might be a good chance to try and put in a 13 mile marathon pace effort.

Training Table Week 7

Week Commencing Mileage Time Running Average Pace Key Sessions Longest Run Most Efficient Run Sunday Weight
28th December 2015
55.4
6h 22m
6:54mm
Newport XC
9.1 miles
952 BPM
11 st 13.25 lbs
4th January 2016
54.4
6h 57m
7:40mm
15 miles / 7:21mm
995 BPM
11 st 13 lbs
11th January 2016
63.2
8h 20m (+2h XT )
7:57mm
16 miles / 9:12mm
N/A
11 st 10.25 lbs
18th January 2016
61.8
9h 30m
(+ 6h XT )
9:13mm
None
9.7 miles / 8:36mm
N/A
11 st
8.5 lbs
25th January 2016
79.8
11h 40m
(+4h 45m XT )
8:46mm
10.8 miles / 7:57mm
N/A
11 st .7.5 lbs
1st February 2016
100.0
13h 30m
8:06mm
20.3 miles / 7:19mm
N/A
11 st .5.5 lbs
8th February 2016
100.0
13h 31m
8:06mm
20.7 miles / 6:58mm
N/A
11 st .4.5 lbs

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.