Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Training Week Commencing 21st December 2009

Reasonably starting week before losing it to a knee niggle - started building back up after two days out.

AM: 35 at 8:03 per mile- v. icy, was an awful journey back home from Gran's as we went south for Pistol's funeral (really nice ceremony- particularly good songs which really exemplified Pete's attitude to life) - then got caught in an awful snow storm coming back up the M11. 8 or 9 hours in the car.

AM: 38 recovery at 8:53- loads of snow
PM: 58:41 (5:52mm) for 10 miles on treadmill at HR 153 avg- just set it at 6mm and then at about 4 miles started adding 0.1 occasionally until ramping it up for a 5:20 final mile.

PM: 118 minutes at about 7:40mm - did first hour and a quarter and knee started playing up a few miles before got back to clubhouse- rested a bit till everyone else was ready to go out and did an extra 45 which was probably a bad call...

AM: Rest- knee sore- quad muscles v. tight pulling on it- not major but needs a day or two.

AM: Rest- knee improving but needs one more day- got the stick to try and sort it out for christmas!

AM: Witham 5 cancelled so just go out for 40 easy at 7:17mm. Little bit of knee pain on way back but nothing like Wednesday. Felt awful going up the valley and very dizzy.

AM: 60 easy at 7:39 per mile - relaxed run - knee fine and much better than yesterday- managed to get a last minute entry to Buntingford 10m the next day so hopefully tapered form won't go to waste. Enjoyable pint at Harvest Moon with Scott, Anthony and Tristan.

Total: 356 minutes / ~47.5 miles

Summary: Knee definitely ruined any chance of decent mileage but the two days have sorted it - for 48 miles to be a week with a niggle in it isn't bad- treadmill run was actually quite good- always pleased when I do actually jump onto a treadmill and run relatively hard- HR seems v. low though. Thankfully ran okay at Buntingford and now back to some decent mileage after two very easy weeks comprising a Christmas Break of sorts...

Training Week Commencing 14th December 2009

AM: Rest - I'm a lazy sod- this week is intended to be a much easier week given Telford on Sunday. Then the snow came as well and I was lazy...

PM: 42:56 v. slow with Striders for Tinsel run - see below photo! Did one km fast in middle.

PM: 7.2km TT at Stortford - aim was to guess how long it'd take you (no watches or GPS allowed!) - my guess of 24:30 was almost dead on as I ran 24:29 but one person managed to get it dead on so only second! Well clear of rest and ran a fairly relaxed 5:30 pace on a very hilly course. 17 wd with Phil.

AM: 61 easy at 7:56mm


AM: 40:22 recovery pace at 8:09mm

AM: Telford 10km- big target race for last 3 months and sub 32 attempt cancelled due to ice- to be fair was icy as hell. Huge CNBA for rest of day.

Total: 186 minutes (~25 miles)

Summary: Wow- didn't realise this had been such a paltry week- even by my standards - think body probably needed a break from running after 3 very hard weeks and when tapering for a race or on a rest week I find it very hard to run- still poor though!

Training Week Commencing 7th December 2009

AM: 30 recovery at 8:31mm
PM: 74:04 steady at 6:32mm - progressive- started at ~7:30 and closing last few miles in ~6:00.

AM: 40 at 8:33mm
PM: 72 minutes including session of 400,600,800,1000,1000,800,600,400 with generous recoveries (90 seconds to 3 minutes)- splits were roughly 400s : 65/66, 600s 1:42 (68), 800s 2:21 (70ish...), 1000s 3:00/2:59 (72). Bit dissappointed despite the fact the pace was fairly good that my legs weren't moving quick (no real lactic or hard breathing- the legs just weren't moving!) until I actually totted my mileage up and realised since Sunday lunchtime I'd run 43 miles including this session.

AM: 40 recovery at 8:40mm
PM: 29 easy at 8:05mm with Lloyd from work.

AM: 39 recovery at 8:33mm
PM: 25:43 warm-up, Stevenage 5km 15:51, 16:40 warm-down. Splits of 3:16,09,07,09,09 - marginal PB but this course was much tougher than the previous one (this course is worth~20 seconds to track) - unfortunately misread the finish and so was just gearing up for a 50-100m all out blast after we turned the corner when unfortunately turned the corner and the finish looked to be there as there was a clock so slowed down- only to realise finish was actually about 2m further on! Wouldn't have cost me more than a few seconds but there were 3 people about 2 seconds ahead of me!

PM: Long day at work followed by 120 steady @ 6:53mm (17.46 miles) - probably my longest run ever and quite pleased with the pace- tough work though and going to be interesting trying to lower it down to 6mm for the same duration.

AM: 41 at 7:27mm

AM: 18 wu, Sunday League XC - 3rd 34:50/6.11m/5:42mm 15 wd. Didn't try and chase Lee and Nick Torry when they dissappeared- stuck with Steve Harrison of FVS Tri- about 18/19 minutes in he tried to break me- covered it and then he slowed substantially- after Hugh Torry caught up I broke away and got about 50m which held till the end- nice run and not working that hard - that said neither were Nick or Hugh!

Total: 612 minutes / ~82 miles

Summary: Good week with a solid 5k and a decent Sunday league. Particularly pleasing to knock out the two hour run so well. Also the interval session was very reasonable. Third week of a very hard block that I've never trained so well for- 72/83/82 is definitely a higher level than usual and especially combining it with such good sessions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mileage, Mentality & Magnesium - An Evening with Jim Harvey

Yesterday I attended a seminar with Jim Harvey (coach of Irish record holder Mark Carroll and US Olympian Amy Rudolph amongst others) with Bud Baldaro (UK Endurance coaching guru- in particular for his work at Birmingham University and Tipton Harriers) chirping in from the sidelines. When you consider that Carroll's 3k PB (7:30) is faster than the British record and that he has clocked more sub 13:20 times than any British athlete- there is clearly something to be learned from Harvey. Carroll also boasts a 1500m time of 3:34, 5000m of 13:03 and marathon of 2:10 in his only attempt. There was a lot of good material covered which I've attempted to discuss below with substantial editing, corrections and alterations together with some of the sections contributed by David Chalfen (England Athletics Area Coach Mentor) who organised the evening. I've attempted to gather together Jim's historical and training based advice mostly based on his work with Mark Carroll and other athletes over the years in addition to his general training philosophies and view of current US versus UK distance running. In general it concerns senior athletes living as full time athletes whether as collegiate runners or full-time pros.

The first part of the presentation mostly centred around Jim's training philosophy and how his athletes progressed from the end of the season until they were ready to start racing at the summer and what struck me about his approach was it's simplicity. He would have his athletes running 95-105 miles a week (though mileage itself wasn't the target but rather the volume if that makes much sense- there was no chasing of specific mileage targets but there was a determined approach to fit as many miles in as appropriate and necessary if that makes sense and pushing the "outer envelope" of an athlete's aerobic capabilities). The event focus was for a 5k specialist on basis that this provides a great and relevant basis to move up to 10k and – adapted as required – to the marathon; and downwards it will deliver top results at 3k and 1500m.

In the early autumn there would be a two week break after the track, the first week of which was spent resting and the second week or which was rest or general low level jogging. This was then fairly rapidly ramped up with about 60 then about 70-75 miles in successive weeks and by the fifth week the ongoing max of 95-105 is achieved and maintained for roughly 12 weeks with 5 days around Christmas which ease off slightly. This is obviously in stark contrast to the "1 easy week every 4 weeks" pattern quite frequently proscribed.

A weekly schedule would look something like:

Monday: Distance double AM: 6 PM: 10-12 both steady
Tuesday: AM Easy PM Track session
Wednesday: Midweek long run - 12-15 miles steady
Thursday: Distance double but easier than Monday
Friday: AM Easy PM Track session
Saturday: Single run of around 75 minutes;10-12 miles easy
Sunday: Long run 18-22 miles max.

For many this is a Monday to Sunday cycle but needn’t necessarily be. He stresses that the two hard workouts were on Days 2 and 5 to spread the intensity load and to make the weekly long run more than just a fatigued plod. He never has 3 hard workouts in a 7 day cycle.

There were never more than 2 sessions per week and the timing of the sessions was such that there was a healthy break between the two sessions and the long run in order to recover fully. This is perhaps slightly inaccurate as when later questioned about speed development and leg speed Jim revealed that his athletes quite regularly would go down to the track, sometimes twice a week and do 10 laps of striding the straights and jogging the bends or something like 10 x 150 in order to keep them ticking over. he mentioned Rudolph in particular benefited from regularly keeping in touch with her speed over the winter and bio-mechanically ran much smoother than otherwise.

This added up to a weekly schedule of around 95-115 miles generally.

The sessions were of 10k in volume pretty much year round from the Autumn right through till about 6 weeks before the track period which mentally must have been very tough. The sessions were long reps with staples being 6 x mile, 10 x k, 5 x 2k or one particular "Tergat" work-out was mentioned which was 3k, 2 x 2k, 3 x 1k which anecdotally I know Alan Storey has used in the past though at much faster paces as more of a peaking workout. Another session given which had some pace variation was 1k,2k,1k,2k,1k with the Ks at a pace roughly 3s per lap faster than the 2ks or alternating between 10k pace and 5k pace I believe. Later in the session Jim clarified that all of these sessions were run at 10k pace as opposed to 5k pace and off of relatively short recoveries. When there where shorter reps of less than 1000 they were run at 5k pace though and often there were shorter reps interspersed between the longer ones. One point I was hoping to get some further detail on was whether he worked at athletes target 10k paces, current 10k paces or 10k effort pace which with the number of miles in the legs, and the time of season could be substantially different though I suspect it might well be trivial. It was these sessions which helped give the athletes the aerobic base they needed to be strong in races which he felt was crucial. Every third or fourth work-out was a tempo run of about 5 to 8 miles at approx LT, either sustained constant pace or cutting back 10 secs per mile from about 5.15 pace and the usual heart rate run at was approximately 180 and about 85% of MHR.

The pace of the recovery and steady running was also brought up. He opined that far too many athletes run their steady/easy/recovery runs at a pace which is far too quick for them and that Carroll rarely ran under 6:15 minute miling for easy running and that it was often slower than that - doing quite a lot of his running with his wife Amy Rudolph (who is no slouch herself!) and over 7 minute miling. Perhaps the phrase that best summed up his approach to the pace when queried about it was that as long as they were able to get the workouts in at the right pace it didn't really matter what pace their runs were and valiantly refused when attempted to be drawn into naming set values for heart-rates, paces or percentages. Very old school. Faster steady running was done about 5:40 pace or quicker. It was key to avoid the "grey area" which for athletes of Carroll's level is about 5:40-5:50 pace which is too fast for recovery but not sufficient for aerobic advancement. Jim's approach seemed to be that he had his athletes running the schedule he had set with each run having a purpose and that as long as the runs were done and the volume put in then the pace of those runs wasn't the greatest issue. The relevant paces – also combined to some degree with how the runner feels on the day – were guided by physiological tests at the beginning of the autumn period and then set against heart rate zones. Ongoing lactate tests not were also mentioned, so the heart rate monitor was a regular tool. What I would love to know is a more accurate breakdown of the paces which Carroll ran at over the course of the week even if they weren't set. Were the mornings runs recovery runs at 7+mm and the evening runs generally faster at the mid 6s.

An interesting anecdote was shared by Bud whilst discussing mileage about a GB international who was training at a Kenyan camp (this is a key difference and most Kenyan training is different). When he arrived being a bit cautious he asked the coach "how many miles will we be running this week" and he was told "70" - "Only 70" thought the athlete "I can cope with that" - so they headed out in the morning and ran for 60 minutes all very slowly. Then came back and had breakfast and chatted, told a few jokes etc. Then they went out towards the middle of the day (I'm thinking that'll be quite hot...) and ran incredibly fast. Then they took another long break before heading out for the evening run of 60 minutes (again very slow) - at the end of the week this athlete totted up the mileage in his journal and it added up to 150! He took it to the Kenyan coach and asked "I thought we were doing 70?! There's 150 miles here!" at which point the coach looked concerned and took hold of the journal. He studied it for a short while then took a marker pen and carefully put a thick line through every morning and evening run before turning to the athlete and saying "that doesn't count- it's too slow". Take from that what you will but I generally think it's a pretty good argument for lots of "junk" as they're put or recovery miles even if some might take offence at an "inflated" training diary.

The longer run in evenings and general run length was really the third issue to come up. Jim was heavily of the opinion that a 12 miler gives a substantially higher development though no particular reasons for this were given and it'd be good to see if there are any apart from what he's learned over the years (which generally means it's probably right and the science will get there eventually...) - what I'd also like to know if he thinks it is 10-12 miles per see that gives the big jump or more the time frame and intensity. For Carroll the difference between 10 miles (~60 low) and 12 miles (~72) puts him perfectly in that bracket of the longest sort of aerobic run you can do before it becomes a long run - possibly a delayed onset muscle soreness issue starts around 10 miles and in particular for most athletes at least, runs of over 75 minutes (12+ for Carroll, 10 miles for mortals) in duration are fatiguing. Run length in general he felt was very important (as he pointed out at one point - it's pretty easy to run 70 miles a week if you just run 5 miles twice a day!) and that it's the last third of each more challenging run or session that brings the performance development element. The same in sessions as the first third should feel an absolute breeze, the second you're starting to work and the final third is where the hard work and the development really comes in. In particular for this he highlighted a session he used to test fitness which was 3 x 3 x 800 with a minute between reps and 3 minutes between sets with the average pace sustainable close to an athlete's 5k pace.

Which brings us on to the next period which was the transition phase or as Jim put it "when the really hard work starts" and occasionally in this phase mileage would be scaled back in order to accommodate the much harder sessions run at a substantially faster pace 3k leading on to 1500 pace or quicker. An example of this was 5 x km with 3 minute recovery Mark could get close to doing in 2:30 at his peak. About 6-8 weeks before the track season this transition period would begin which would generally involve 2 work-outs per week of hard anaerobic work which brought him on substantially in a very quick period (bringing to mind I think a Bideau quote about Mottram that he could be in PB shape at any time of the year with 6 weeks notice) with two hard sessions in each week. Following this intense and difficult period a final "test" workout would be done and after this Carroll would know that he could go to Europe and stand on any starting line confident in his ability. With full recovery this session varied from year to year but generally seemed to be along the lines of "Mile, 2 x 800, 1 x 600 or 2 x 400" with paces such as 3:57, 2 x 1:51, 82. One year with the aid of some training partners doing in and out 400s Mark ran a 7:37 3k in an abandoned stadium - this was done because he hadn't had sufficient races that year and was still looking for a bit of sharpness.

There was very little XC racing for Carroll – because the US XC season is so early he felt that this would detract from delaying a real track peak until mid/late summer, and wouldn’t present Carroll in a suitably competitive state for the XC races. Carroll during the autumn/winter period would generally only do 2 or 3 races just as a progress check on how training was going. He always avoided having a long indoor season as it was felt that it was near impossible to have a successful indoor season and then go on to peak successfully at a major track championship.

The issue of female athletes was brought up and overall, in his experience women (and he’s coached fewer number of females) tend to max out about 15% less mileage than men – seem slightly more injury prone and also more vulnerable on iron deficiency which he stressed should be monitored thoroughly with regular tests for ferritin levels with a number of specific values mentioned. He also stressed magnesium deficiency is a factor in under-performance. Lost heavily through sweat and alcohol intake inhibits its absorption (which coaching Irish runners is obviously a huge consideration not made up through Guinness despite their best efforts) magnesium levels can be critical. For athletes low in magnesium it is well worth considering magnesium supplement (not magnesium sulphate or oxide though as these tend not to work particularly effectively.) Magnesium is rarely tested for and so is often an unrecognised factor.

Because of the professional set up, Harvey is able to delegate the detail of this to professional S+C experts. He was very low key on his involvement and didn’t discuss in much further detail but he clearly has a good eye for runners’ bio-mechanics (in particular stressing "symmetry") and knows what to do with any weaknesses he observes. He also made the point that as a coach part of the role wasn't to know everything but to know your limits and send athletes to someone who does know everything about a given subject taking the ego out of the process - as he put it "it's all about the performance".

Hills weren't used extensively but in the second part of the base phase, over about 6-8 weeks, an 800m hill of a moderate gradient such that good running for was still possible was used. The format was 6 to 8 reps in roughly 2.30, driving back down in a pick up truck for the purpose of recovery.

One issue discussed in quite a bit of detail was why the US is experiencing such a strong upsurge (50 athletes under 13:46 this year) and especially in comparison to the UK and this including the obvious teenage prodigies Derrick and Fernandez with Evan Jager making the Olympic team only a year older. High school xc was discussed including at age 15-17 – ‘500 mile club – a target for runners to hit 500 miles in the 10 week summer holidays. A few he accepts should do a bit less but he mentioned that it’s not exceptional for some to thrive on a bit more and in particular mentioning Dathan Ritzenheim. In 2000/2001 the US had a truly prodigious year group (Webb/Hall/Ritz- each an American record holder now over the Mile/HM/5000 respectively) with Tegenkamp only a year earlier and this has driven the resurgence to a high degree from a low in 2000 with only two qualifiers for the Olympic marathon.

Harvey believes strongly in the approach outlined above. We give a huge amount away to the Kenyans in terms of aerobic miles run by the age of 20 and believes that the only way forward is volume driven to take us closer to what we did in the 80s as opposed to the interval driven approach which was dominant in the US in the 90s and is still present in the UK to a lesser degree. In particular he stressed the use of the internet in particular mentioning Letsrun and Flotrack for showing athletes across the country how others were training and fostering a very positive almost community aspect. As young athletes see the sort of mileage that is capable of by their peers it generally encouraged them to try and emulate them and look at being competitive on a national stage as opposed to just beating their class-mates. Whilst this philosophy could be altered in the UK (and some I'm sure would argue it already has been) a serious problem for us is that whilst remaining minority sports XC is much more seriously taken in the US particularly in High School and also in University. Harvey would strongly recommend now that many UK athletes take the advantages of a Collegiate education as it essentially allows them to run as near professional for 4 years with superb medical back up and coaching though he also stressed that he would only recommend it at certain institutions. He also pointed out that athletes must be aware that racing demands and the like would be made on them over those 4 years but that after that they have the rest of their career to race exactly the way they want.

Harvey highlighted that there were problems in the US system and in particular that lots of US athletes were now being attracted at a very early age towards the marathon and not particularly reaping the rewards. Ritzenheim didn't run to his enormous potential after being tempted into a very early début at New York and has since run much better once stepping back down to the track (Ritz of course being coached at Colorado by Mark Wetmore (of Running with the Buffaloes with high aerobic mileage usually in singles) and then Brad Hudson before finally shifting to Salazar) with a blitzing 12:56 5000 and World Half bronze in 60:00 (a superb turnaround from a 2:10:00 London Marathon) however it was also agreed that the huge aerobic base he put down had helped him in his current shorter races. Likewise Hall who was struggling post-collegiately had a fantastic turnaround with a mileage focused approach leading to a 59:43 HM at Houston and an American record in a totally solo run. Following this though, and despite some very strong marathon performances, he has started to look flat, particularly at the Olympics after running London in a superb 2:06 and subsequently at Boston and New York despite respectable finishes, and Harvey also believes that maximising 5/10,000 speed before stepping up, given that he believes you generally run your best marathon as your second or third, is absolutely crucial. Of course quibbling as to whether a 2:06 marathon or a 12:56 5000m is a better result for an athlete is a place British Endurance would love to be at the moment.

He makes it sound very simple but when you try and drill a little deeper you find the wealth of knowledge there.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Training Week Commencing 30th November 2009

AM: 30 recovery @ 8:10 per mile (shattered so ran at lunchtime and had lie in)
PM: 70:02 steady @ 6:46 (Stortford loop after work - roads)

AM: 40 recovery @ 7:58mm (totally frozen so ran a little quick to warm up)
PM: 15 wund, 7 x 1300 (110) target 75/lap (4:04) - 4:05,02,02,04,04,05,03 - on a 6 minute loop, totally solo so hard work but enjoyed it and pleased to complete the session.

AM: 40 recovery at 8:46mm
PM: 75:30 @ 7:22mm - town loop, soaked through then with 2 miles to go a car threw a wall of water up at me. Almost forgot- was my birthday as well! Had a fairly quiet one- weird not being with uni buddies for it for first time in 4 years...

AM: 40 recovery @ 8:34- interesting that pace of these stayed so low this week- usually a few 9mm+
PM: 15 wu,20wd 2 mile tempo, 4 x 400, 2 mile tempo, recovery of 2 between everything, first tempo easy at 10:40, 400s 63,64,64,65 (target 64) which was very pleased with, second tempo at 10:52- similar effort but slightly slower pace.

AM: REST- Herts Phoenix Awards evening, picked up the Long Distance performance award for third time getting it back from Lee! - bit of a mockery picking up an award basically for the club 10,000 record of 32:15 when there's a bloke who's run 28:odd sitting in the audience.

AM: 15 wu with Ian, Old Blues race (21:49 - 3rd), then 46:31 mad sprinting around the Blues course for men and women cheering them on.

AM: Hangover, drive home.
PM: 1:53:16 @ 7:24mm - meant to be a two hour run but after having run so long supporting yesterday coach said to pull it back in - went on a very enjoyable new route and reminded me how many great tracks there are where I live that I still haven't found- was on road for about 4 miles and could easily have cut most of that out. Did get a bit lost and pace suffered as was sub 7 whenever I was on the roads at a similar effort.

Total: 621 minutes ( ~ 83 miles)

Biggest week in about 3 years whilst working full time and coped with it very well right now- particularly that none of the runs were over 9 minute miling which for me is incredibly rare (and might mean miles are closer 85 or so) - two quality sessions and one of my better races - if I can adapt to running at this level regularly I know I'll step up a level in my racing. It's still relatively low mileage compared to most but given injury problems it'll be a couple of years before I can seriously consider regular 100+ weeks- right now if I can average 75 or so for my training weeks with a 40-50 on my rest weeks I'd ve very happy and can make considerable progress.

Awesome to see the Oxford men and women run so well and win so convincingly. Especially Johnson stepping up at the last moment, Andy making up for last year's dissappointment with a stunning third place, and all of the freshers/first-timers in the men's team - who says you don't win anything with kids?! Also the veterans of the team Brucey, Franco and Mercer giving sterling performances. On the ladies side a whole host of awesome runs.

Quite pleased with my race ~10 from Hennessy and ~20 from Kimpton- given I'd had a John Smiths before the race I was shocked! Also very pleasing to beat down the two Cambridge reserves. Felt very relaxed during the race. Ian went out fairly quick with one idiot following him who promptly dropped back and finished way way back then the two Tab reserves following him. Group quickly built of a very relaxed Mr. Hennessey, Moulden and myself together with the first of the two tabs. he dropped off fairly quickly and at a similar time Andy accelerated a bit and reeled in the tab ahead - concious of my recent disasters I held back with Simon gradually reeling in the tab and settling into a good rhythm then with about 14 minutes gone, pretty much I think as we were approaching the butts, I just raised the pace a bit and gradually broke clear of the tab - hoped I was dragging Simon along but he wasn't quite there but still a good race and looks in top form - he was directing me on where to go for most of the race so if you're reading this Simon then thanks again! Could see Hennessey and unbelievably Kimpton not that far ahead but stomach was definitely not happy about the Smiths by this point so I didn't push too hard until I got onto the grass. Decision to go with shorter steeplechase spikes seemed to work and very pleased to be 40 odd seconds faster than last year- 10 secs/mile isn't a bad improvement! Oxford destroyed Cambridge with the Reynolds/Kimpton dream team thrashing the tabs for the second time in the term - okay- well Kimpton thrashed them I just managed to finish!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Week Commencing 23rd November 2009

AM: 50 @ 7:57 per mile - first day of work so headed out and got my first 6:30 AM run in for a while- lovely watching the countryside go into colour over the hour
PM: 57 @ 7:09 per mile - headed to Stortford and ran the 8 mile loop- quite pleased with pace

AM: 33:49 @9:03 per mile- very busy day today with work, cleaning house and driving to Gatwick to pick up parents
PM: 45:37 @ 7:24 per mile- got to Striders about 20 minutes late (amazing I got there at all though- flew around M25) and started jogging 'til I met Ian halfway through the time trial and paced him to end so was nice having company for a bit of faster running over the hills- then went and jogged back to car cheering on the others finishing.

AM: 39:02 @ 8:56 - 3rd morning run in a row- going well.
PM: 75:07 @ 7:31 per mile- run around Stortford 10 mile route - nice to have a big bunch with faster ones easing off a little bit at start and slightly slower guys pushing it- some great running towards the end and great to be able to get 10 miles in with company at a decent clip.

AM: 26:53 @ 7:30 per mile with Marcus from work- kept up a very decent pace and was impressed- just around the airport and down along the runway. Debbie was very sweet and did me a squash for when I got back!
PM: 16 wund, 3 x mile [120] - with Lee, hit 4:59,4:55,4:59 - pace felt ridiculously quick for what we were running and both really struggling. That was the plan for the session with the option for 4 or 5 but it just wasn't going to be worth it so instead joined the young 'uns after a 3 minute recovery for their 2 mile tempo (5:25/5:20) which felt incredibly easy compared to the miles, couple more minutes then a final mile of 5:17 to finish which was again easy. Very odd session - got some decent work in though...

AM: Rest day

PM: 15 wu, Met League XC 28:44 for 30th place- went out way too hard with the leaders and died the slow death for about a lap until I rallied a bit- dissappointed but 30 seconds quicker would have moved me into the top 15 so might just be a case of getting my tactics right.

PM: 76:53 @ 8 per mile IIs-Vs dinner previous night + dancing so already tight calves had seized up so just went for a relaxed jog over the mud - did 6 strides towards the end of the run and was moving okay. Thought about adding on an extra 35 minutes for a bigger week and proper long run but decided that given recent niggles a smaller week probably wouldn't hurt.

Total: 535 minutes / 71ish miles

Summary: Overall a much better week- lack of a long run and decent Tuesday session was poor and still a bit annoyed/dissappointed with Saturday race but on the whole to get back up to 70 miles this week and, now I'm reviewing, those miles being much quicker than expected (and also with having started work this week me struggling for time a bit) am really quite pleased.

Training to slightly alter for next two weeks in specific build up for Telford but really looking forward to it now and think I definitely have a shot of a) running a significant road 10k PB (33:14) b) running an overall PB (32:15 track) and c) breaking 32. Looking forward to it.

Weeks Commencing 9th and 16th November 2009

Sorry for the long delay guys- after the fairly epic 16+ miler on the 8th November the wheels started coming off a bit so I backed off - here, roughly, is how the last few weeks have gone...

Week Commencing 9th November 2009
Rest day; after the 16.7 miler just to let myself recover a bit

AM: 40 minute recovery run @ 8:36
PM: 15 wund track session at NR - 5,4,3,2,5,4,3,2 with 90 seconds recovery between each rep hitting just short of 1600,1300,1000 and 700 for reps respectively- finishing most reps either with or just ahead of Hendrik

AM: 43:03 rec/easy run @ 7:34
PM: 82:26 rec/easy run @ 7:58 - done with Jamie and Phil from BSRC - unfortunately got a bit lost - pleased to help Jamie maintain 8 mm though. Slight knee pain on last few miles of this run which got much worse as I got near the finish. Legs generally tired and sluggish.

AM: Rest- knee pain had abated but not totally gone so skipped morning run
PM: 15 wund, tempo run 28:39 /5:40 for 5 miles going 6:00 down to 5:20 - struggled in wind and just generally felt carp- knee definitely not happy and decided to see physio and take a few days off.

Rest- knee felt a bit better but not risking it

Rest- same as Friday

AM: 30 minute run v. v. easy at 9:06- knee held up fine
PM: 40 minute ex. bike ride- knee was fine

Total: 325 minutes / 43ish miles

Summary: Week going well till the knee- hopefully few easier days will let it recover

Week Commencing 16th November 2009
AM: Rest- just giving the knee one more day with this weeks rest week

AM: Physio- confirmed knee should be fine and just a tight quad muscle directly above it pulling on it- huge relief.
PM: 46:03 steady/tempo @ 6:49- odd experiment at Saffron Striders with lots of extra loops and people trying to catch up etc. Not totally sure if it worked but a good experiment and something to definitely be considered. Had some decent bits of pace running with Nick

PM: 67:00 @ 7:44- out around the BSRC 8 mile(ish) loop tonight and added a little on- nice run.

PM: 15 wund + strides, Tempo with the lads at Herts Phoenix running a straight tempo with the young 'uns dipping in and out- 27:26 for 5 miles- 5:29 pace which was dead on the target- felt tougher than it should have done- but then I was running up front all by myself bar two laps and those two laps felt a lot easier and were a few seconds faster as well! Wind on the home straight was brutal.

AM: 30 rec @ 8:53
PM: 58 steady @ 6:55 per mile- first double day since the niggly knee and did this with Anupam around a three bridges/marston ferry loop which was good fun having not done it for a while. Pace varied with some fast sections at v. low 6 minute miling and quite a bit in the low-mid 7s whilst we chatted.

Saturday: Rest (yes- second one for the week- I had a long drive back from Ox hungover and shattered so with Hereward the next day I decided to take a break)

Sunday: 15 w/u 1:00:47 for 9.84 awful miles (a good run- effort-wise close to 5:30 or so per mile) 2nd on stage and 3rd team

Total: 336 minutes / 45ish miles

Summary: A marginally better week across the week- really quite pleased with the Hereward run and whilst the mileage was low- I got a good race, tempo run and some faster running on Tuesday including a few hills. Mileage is perhaps slightly better than reported because this week I ran very few of my recovery runs and just concentrated on getting one decent run in a day. Must say I'm pleased when my "down" weeks are now 45+ miles - okay, by a lot of standards that's still carp but for me right now making sure I am injury free and remain so is priority one and so if running two weeks at 40/45 is needed then I prefer that to one more week at 70 and then three off!

Hereward Relay Report
I had high hopes of the Striders managing to take the title with a strong squad this year and we'd been up for it for the previous 3 months. Chris Dodge started the team well with a 5th place on the first leg only 2 minutes behind the leaders- if that could be kept constant we were in with a shot! At the second leg we saw Mayezar Firouzi coming in a very good time of around 1:03 and thought it might be game over - but Nick absolutely pulled it out of the bag and managed to take 15 seconds out of him coming in 1:45 later in second place overall and individually on the stage (as a Bury St. Edmunds runner was ominously behind him but had cut our lead on them marginally). Unfortunately whilst in a very solid third place and catching the Cambridge Tri guy Ian was sent the wrong way by a misdirected arrow. As I waited for him to come in to Welney ready for the final leg to Ely first and second went through (with Bury St. Edmund starting a minute ahead of Cam Tri and with Kev Murphy on last leg the whole thing being a bit of a foregone conclusion- wish I'd had the chance to start level with him and try and hang on) it was a long wait and after fourth and fifth started about 5 minutes after the two leaders Ian finally came in after rhaving gone around 3/4 minutes off the route. I set off into the driving wind (it is point to point and all South into the wind) and thankfully the leg started on the road- I rapidly reeled in the two who had set off ahead of me over the first 3k and was then faced with the prospect of a very gloomy 45+ minutes running totally on my own over narrow tracks and muddy fields with the fens all around me. Then it started raining, and hailing, oh yay. I kept pushing hard pretty much the whole way in miserable conditions with the pace eventually falling to 7 minute miling despite the effort being consistent (and on a road it would have been ~5:30 pace I reckon) - I actually at one point just yelled "Oh F@:k" when I still had half an hour to go in the sleeting rain which is a first for me in a race (though not in a training run...). Really very pleased to just finish and quite surprised the time stacked up so well compared to others. I reeled the Cam Tri guy in massively but never quite got him in sight so I could really kick on. Striders will be back next year to try and take on Bury St. Edmunds once again! It was however our highest ever finish and I think fastest legs by Striders ever on legs 2 and 4 so an awesome effort. We got very cool pint mugs to go with our well earned horse brasses.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Week Commencing Monday 2nd November

AM 30:46 @ 8:47 easy Post HM

Rest day - drove to Oxford- ChCh social - too much red wine (my nemesis)

AM 64:31 at 7:13 per mile steady. Really nice run up the canal and back through Godstow with Matt, Jess and Hayley with Anupam joining in from time to time.
PM 41:23 at 10:01 per mile v. easy - absolute shuffle with MC gurk - nice chat though!

AM 15 warm up, 30 minute tempo @5:35 per mile, 22:15 warm down. FIrst session post HM so took it very easy - ran with Carl and we several laps of Uni Parks at a comfortable rhythm- very pleased with how relaxed this felt.
PM 39:45 recovery at 9:08 per mile - hate running in the rain but this wasn't too bad.

AM 40 recovery at 9:01 per mile- met up with college mates previous night and quiet night ended up with me leaving the night club when it closed... avoid anything called a "happy" bucket.
PM 40 easy at 7:25 per mile after driving home.

PM 25 w.u. RAF vs. EAA vs. Filthy Tabs race at RAF Halton 30:35 8th 17 w.d. (65)

PM 1:50:34 steady at 6:36 per mile - first half done about 7:00 and then dropped pace without meaning to to 6:00 for most second half. 6:0x pace felt incredibly easy and finished the run very strongly.

Total Running: 505 minutes

An odd week coming as it did post HM and with my trip to Oxford. Total volume is a little down on what I'd hope but not particularly worried about that as it would only have been a second run on the Monday or Tuesday of about 35 minutes which in the big scheme I decided would be a poor move due to the HM and decided to let my legs recover a little bit more. Legs were still a bit sore on Wednesday but the shuffle helped that and then the Thursday tempo was very pleasing with how relaxed it was- my true tempo pace has almost certainly dropped to more like 5:25 rather than 5:30 I think - I'm sure that a combination of little sleep on Thursday (and not a great amount on Friday either) with the tempo affected Saturday's race.

Saturday was my debut as team manager and really enjoyed it and thought the squad did superbly with particularly good runs coming from Carl and Paul I would say. In addition to have 4 of us finishing within 10 seconds showed that the squad was all fairly balanced. Personally I was quite disappointed being ~20-30 seconds down on where I would hope to be- I set off extremely fast, then died very badly in the woods before being caught by the rest of the East runners before rallying and staying in fairly close contact. In retrospect I probably should have pushed on a bit more when feeling good in the second half of the race.

When I consider the poor tactics (well- it didn't work but I did intend to try a fast start), lack of sleep and maybe some residual soreness in the legs from last weekends 5k/HM double I reckon it was an okay run but I definitely hope to run much better in a month or so's time.

The Sunday run by contrast was awesome- first time doing a 110 minute run as a "regular" long run as opposed to a one-off longer effort. First 45 minutes was very relaxed at 7:00 in gloves and jacket, stopped for a minute to grab some water at home before carrying on - without realising it I must have been running faster even though I felt very easy and for the last 40 minutes or so was dropping 6:0x and sub 6 minute miles. Very pleasing to average 6:36 and feel very strong though doubt I'll be able to do it long-term. 2 more 110 minute runs and then will be attacking the two hour mark which will be a real indicator of how I'll deal with marathon training.

To cover 20 miles I reckon I'll be running between 2:00 and 2:30 depending on how I feel from day to day- the idea of during a 3 week training block doing a 2:30 time on feet run over 20 miles @7:30 per mile, a 2:00 run at 6:00 or probably not a huge amount off marathon effort (as untapered and not as fit as I will be come marathon day!) and a shorter 3 mile warm up, 10 miles @ MP, 2 mile warm down effort- seems very tempting but that's just me ruminating!

So- for a post HM week covered ~67 miles with a not great race, good tempo and very good long run. Not bad at all!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Week Commencing Monday 26th October 2009

This is intended to be my substantially lower mileage week with a decent tempo run on Tuesday, and then 3 very easy days before racing a 5k XC leg on Saturday and a HM on Sunday for my second serious one.

40 minutes easy

Hard tempo- 36:36- course record at Striders averaging 5:30 per mile over an extremely hilly course. Took 1:32 off my own record on the course we run most weeks of the year.

80 minutes at 8 minute miling

Rest day

Friday: 45 easy

15 warm up, 16:39 5k XC leg - reckon that it's worth around a minute if done on a track from others times, 5 warm down

very short warm up, Stevenage half marathon in awful conditions and a tougher course than I remembered, ran 73:50 - not sure how much it's worth but probably a bit. Finished 4th behind James Lawler, Martelleti and Chris Smith. Generally very pleased- especially with champs qualifier.

Total running volume: 310 minutes ~40 miles

Aim was about 340 so losing a decent warm up and down for Stevenage was pleased.

3rd Half-Marathon- Poor time; Good run!

So today was the Stevenage Half-marathon. I did this as my debut 4 years ago running 77:42 and aside from a monumentally stupid run at Roding Valley (I was in excruciating back pain) where I DNFed this was my second serious HM effort. This time after a hard 5k leg at the ECCA relays yesterday- maybe a little silly!

Reasonable performance but poor time from me I'm afraid. Course was much tougher than I remembered and the conditions were awful. Constant rain and fairly high wind speeds.

Got absolutely soaked walking about a km to the start and didn't have anything to change into so ended up spending ~ hour in wet clothes before the race- didn't do much of a warm up as conditions were so poor- still had a little stiffnes in my groin and hamstrings due to the 5k XC race yesterday. Set off and two runners disappeared off into the distance (I'll leave you to guess who!) leaving me in about 15th place - I went past my original two guides for ~72/73 minutes ( this guy Andy - 72:46 and Grant- 2:37) and a lot of other runners very quickly. Thankfully one of my friends from yesterday was pacing me to half way so I always had company. The miles were badly out so won't bother you with too many of the splits

First few miles were mostly uphill and tough work- I found myself in 5th fairly quickly with 4th about 30m ahead and 3rd Chris - 14:50 5k / 31:40 10k/ 21st National XC! similar. and around 3/4 miles we entered a strong headwind and my mate started pushing- went with him and he pulled me up to 4th very quickly and onto 3rd place who we steadily caught up with over the next mile until at around 5 miles we caught him- he slowed slightly and I could hear 5th coming up beind fairly quick. My mate was quite keen for me to push on but he was dropping out in about a miles time and on this horrible day I was going to struggle running on my own in the second half - went through 6 miles in just under 34 minutes.I was feeling very comfortable still (aerobically was comfortable) - our group of three with me and Chris running pretty much level and 5th just off the back stayed together for about another 1.5 miles and then Chris started pushing on a long uphill drag and whilst my lungs were fine- my legs struggled with the extra pace and I dropped a metre or two back and tucked in behind 5th place.

I saw the gap was only ~10-20m so wasn't too worried but as I stayed behind 5th he kept on moving away and didn't realise just how much he was getting away- was planning to try and kick on at 10 miles (very pleased when I went through in a 56:1x PB and knew I had the sub 75 in the bag) and in retrospect after taking a quick recovery behind 5th I should have tried kicking on much earlier but in horrible conditions I lost a bit of nerve - right on ten miles though you go into the worst headwind in the course so I stayed tucked in and didn't kick on till mile 11- then went pretty well (got away from 5th without an issue) and was reeling in 11th but by now he was well clear ~180m I'd guess without me realising at all- reeled in a few seconds and cut him down to 28 seconds but finish came too quickly.

Odd race- final time of 73:50- which on the whole is a bit disappointing. On the other hand I don't think it's a particularly representative time (the runners I was planning to use as guides for 72/73 finished in 77 and 79 minutes, Chris has run 71:27 before, my friend who ran 59:07 at the BMAF champs in Portland for 10 miles finished outside 80 minutes) and to be as close to an athlete as good as Chris was very promising. The weather was horrendous and the course much worse than I expected- on the whole I'm relatively pleased with the performance, especially with the flat-out 5km yesterday, and as my second completed HM it's ~4 minute PB on the same course in the same conditions 4 years ago. At the 6 stage 4 years ago I ran 20:10 (awesome run) and this year I ran 19:47 so the difference over 6k isn't necessarily huge but over HM it's substantial showing my improved endurance.

That said: championship qualifier - tick, huge PB - tick, huge trophy as ARC winner - tick, got some good scalps and felt very comfortable running a HM coming through injury free- tick. Now taking a few days of just easy running before starting training again- hamstring little sore but nothing too bad.

Really not sure what it's worth on the "comparison-meter" - estimates ranged from a minute to up to 4 minutes! As it is am very enthusiastic for my next HM where I think on a decent course with decent weather I can aim for 71.

Finally I have to say an absolutely huge thank you to Lee for getting me around the first half- if I'd been on my own I would have shot off after 3rd place way too hard and early but Lee steadily worked me up there and took the wind when it was at it's worst. Couldn't ask for a better pacer or friend to come out there in that weather and help out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week Commencing Monday 19th October 2009

Sorry- none of the usual witty banter in log this week- report on Sunday League XC should be up once results are out!

PM 58:36 @ 6:28 per mile (might be slightly out as dodgy last few ks but definitely in 6:3x range) inc. ~8 strides mid-run.

AM 38:26 recovery at 8:10 per mile
PM 15 w.u inc. strides, 4 x (1600 @ 77/lap, 90, 400@~70, 90) 5:04,08,08,08 for miles feeling v. easy, 68,66,65,64 for 400s feeling easy as well. 15 w.d. (65)

AM 39:47 recovery at 7:47 per mile
PM 57:19 easy at 8:01 per mile with BSRC

AM 41:36 recovery at 9:19 per mile
PM 18 w.u. 17 w.d. 10 x k off 200 jog @ 3:20- hit 3:20 +or- 1 second- last one in 2:55 as a blow-out- felt easy 3:20 pace was extremely relaxed (44 minutes running)

PM 100:12 at 7:09 per mile (14 miles) inc. 6 x Canova Hill Sprints


10 w.u. 15 w.d. Sunday League doing it at tempo. Somehow came 1st- 27:55 staying at tempo effort whole way.

Total Running Volume
535 minutes

Week Commencing Monday 19th October 2009

Sorry- none of the usual witty banter in log this week- report on Sunday League XC should be up once results are out!

PM 58:36 @ 6:28 per mile (might be slightly out as dodgy last few ks but definitely in 6:3x range) inc. ~8 strides mid-run.

AM 38:26 recovery at 8:10 per mile
PM 15 w.u inc. strides, 4 x (1600 @ 77/lap, 90, 400@~70, 90) 5:04,08,08,08 for miles feeling v. easy, 68,66,65,64 for 400s feeling easy as well. 15 w.d. (65)

AM 39:47 recovery at 7:47 per mile
PM 57:19 easy at 8:01 per mile with BSRC

AM 41:36 recovery at 9:19 per mile
PM 18 w.u. 17 w.d. 10 x k off 200 jog @ 3:20- hit 3:20 +or- 1 second- last one in 2:55 as a blow-out- felt easy 3:20 pace was extremely relaxed (44 minutes running)

PM 100:12 at 7:09 per mile (14 miles) inc. 6 x Canova Hill Sprints


10 w.u. 15 w.d. Sunday League doing it at tempo. Somehow came 1st- 27:55 staying at tempo effort whole way.

Total Running Volume
535 minutes

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week Commencing Monday 12th October 2009

AM 40 minute recovery run @ 8:03 per mile
PM 15 warm up and down. 10 x 1000 @ ~Tempo pace (off 200 fast jog) Was shooting for 3:32.5 per k- reps were: (3:31,30,29,30,29,26,31,31,29,19)with me kicking the last 200 in ~31so AVG 3:28.5 or 5:35/mile. Whilst the 200 recoveries were average 54.1 so my recovery was at 7:12/mile - nice trying this out. (75)

40 AM recovery- 8:26 per mile hamstring sore
PM 40 hilly tempo - ~5:56 pace over very hilly route. Best time is 38:08 and I ran 39:11 so a good strong run. Hamstring still a bit sore

AM 50 recovery @ 9:00 per mile- hamstring sore- decided not to do track session in PM.

AM 50 recovery @ 9:22 per mile- hamstring attachment still a bit sore but better.
PM 56 at variety of paces - 35 with lads before Sunday easy/steady, then 4 x 400 on track off 200 jog keeping them relaxed @ 72-74 bar the 67 first one then 10 minutes warming down.

AM 58:30 @ 8:19 per mile- hamstring still quite sore- drove to Nottingham.

Rest- In Nottingham

PM - drove back from Nottingham- 100 minutes @ 7:27 per mile - started slow and finished quicker but getting dark so did last 10 minutes on treadmill.

Running Total: 510 minutes Cycling Total: 0 minutes
Total: 510 minutes

This was a weird week- concurrence of illness, my hamstring getting quite bad DOMS on Monday and that carrying over onto Tuesday which I've reclassified into a hilly tempo run as it was really quite quick together with going to Notts on weekend (awesome trip) meant that I wasn't able to give my hamstring a break all week and I think that's shown by the pace of the recovery runs getting slower over the week from Monday where I was barely walking for 8:03 to Thursday where I was struggling with 9:22. The 67 really pleased me on Thursday oddly as it was in clunky trainers and I really didn't feel like I was running hard- having done no conventional speed work I thought it might have gone slightly but it seems to still be there.

So- plus points- I got the running volume in which is one of my bigger weeks, two very reasonable runs/sessions and I've finished the week healthier and with a decent hamstring again. Negative points are I'm definitely down one session for the week, pace of runs was a bit slow and most importantly I didn't get any cycling in.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week Commencing Monday 5th October 2009

AM 30 minutes easy (7:10/mile) wet but still an okay run. Pace felt steady at the start and very easy at the end despite being ~45 secs/km quicker.
PM 51:30 recovery run at 9:01/mile with 8 x Canova Hill sprints - broke 10 seconds for three of them moving well on the sprints.
PM 15 wund 6 x 1300 on a 6:30 loop. 4:01,4:03,4:03,4:03,4:02,4:02 avg. 74.6/lap warm up excluding speed ladder, drills and strides and warm-down including 2 x 200m strides @ 10k pace
AM 39:11 recovery @8:52 per mile. Legs a bit sore esp. top of right hamstring
PM 45:14 steady @ 6:06 per mile. Awful rain. Splits on garmin seemed a little dodgy so average pace might have been a bit slower but generally moving pretty well in some awful conditions and muddier than usual forest paths.
PM PM 40 rec. on cycle 22.22km
PM 15 wund, 27:33 5 mile tempo run (5:30 AVG), (60) miles were 5:51,5:42,5:27,5:18,5:07
Friday: Rest - played about 40 minutes tennis.
Saturday: 15 minute warm up, Met League 29th 15 minute warm-down!
AM: 101:16 long run AVG 7:26/mile (5:04,5:04,4:07,5:02,4:37,4:37,4:17,4:20,4:08,4:13,4:50,5:04,4:20,4:43,4:28,4:16,4:24,4:15,4:58,5:30,4:21)
PM 40 minutes cycling recovery 21.16km

Total Time Running: 454 minutes Total Time Cycling: 80 minutes
Total Training Volume: 534 minutes

Managed to miss out one 40 minute recovery run.

Met League Race Report
Messed up pacing totally. First lap was fine as people charged off and I set off well but was running comfortably and aerobically- then when I usually throw in my early semi-surge to move up a fair few places I was stuck behind people and unable to get past. Just sat in rather than forced my way through and continued to do that when I should have been running harder. Second lap I actually pushed a bit on the second half of the second lap and flew away from the people I was with (who were catching others anyway) - only person to come past me was Rich Williams absolutely storming past after stopping for laces or something.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Training Camp 2009 : A Review

Having finally arrived back from the Lake District I feel the week should be memorialised somehow so here's my brief journal of what happened (or not!)

I wasn't going up with the minibus (I never go up with the minibus - I say it's because it's more convenient than going over to Oxford but really it's so I can take a huge bag and enough trainers to last a lifetime) as I was racing the South of England Road Relays and then taking Carl and Anupam up as well after our legs. Anupam and I both did first leg and I then went and did my usual walk and talk around the place before we left. We did a quick warm down and I decided that seeing as we were both ready to go and all together, it probably wouldn't hurt to wait a few more minutes and cheer people. Big mistake. Anupam promptly came up with the knowledge that his racers were currently halfway up the first hill and doing another 2 loops of the course on Daniel Thompson's feet as he'd stolen his trainers. Once plans for a citizen's arrest midrace were mooted we decided to go over and shift Anupam's stuff from Martin's car to mine (including a guitar...) and despite protests we'd be able to take it all, Anupam stayed to supervise before finally heading back to pick up his racers. On the whole I think Martin and I's plan for Daniel to send them piece by piece through the post over the term would have been much more satisfying.

Anyways- we finally set off- only an hour after we were meant to! Despite the application of the Brucey factor (extra half hour just in case) we were still an hour down and not making good time.

(Bonus points for naming the show and the episode this came from in the comments section)

Once on the road things started flowing though. Despite numerous debates about one and two stop strategies and whether Anupam had to wear clothes in the car (he did) and whether the cut price Jelly Babies were edible (they weren't) we actually did make good time and opted for the two stop strategy. A quick break and enough grub to last us most of the week from M&S (having just about managed to resist the temptation to grab a Burger King - Anupam's squeals of disappointment as we went past the next Services with a KFC were audible from back in London) we finally got into the Lake District and then began arguing as to whether we trusted the Tom-Tom or Tash's directions. We eventually decided on Tash's directions (in 30m take a right turn, then when you see the pub go left - missing out on the 20 miles inbetween!) which got us there safely at around 10. The minibus had managed to arrive earlier despite struggling up hardknot pass which resulted in everyone having to get out and walk. They did eventually realise this meant no one was actually driving the minibus up the hill so Cathy got back in and drove it up.

So- being an OUCCC training camp by the time we got there everyone had left for the pub and with only half an hour of drinking to go we set off in furious pursuit. Having accosted a bus depot and a mnin-railway we finally found the pub were everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and remarkably sober and being served by the charming Naomi. Time to put an end to that!

*** The rest of the evening is somewhat of a blur- I vaguely recall making a hilarious joke at Chris' expense which was apparently mean, making a very large bluff in a poker game and button-holing Andy for around an hour in the Men's loos (no- that isn't a euphemism) before finally stumbling up to bed with Anchorman blaring in my ear***

The next morning I arose with a little bit of a headache to the sound of very loud talking downstairs. Unfortunately the bunkhouse was very small and sound carried through-out the whole thing but we were off on a run! Tash used to live in the area and led us on a "3 mile loop" which I swear was actually much longer but took us through some very pleasant countryside and was my main run for most of the week. We were then led up a scramble to see what was apparently a very deep waterful which had Mcgurk and Titheradge sprinting to see who could reach the top first before realising the hill was about 400m longer than they thought it was. Oops. The waterfall was breathtaking and we then carried on climbing having to walk a little bit due to the steepness. We then went down through the moor and some of us added on an extra half hour once we got back with Ms. Badouin showing herself to be in excellent shape kicking away over the final 400m!

Afterwards we headed out to Whitehaven which as it turned out, wasn't really that interesting but we did have a very pleasant walk along the coast together with making our mark. Then a quick trip to Tescos to buy food (booze!) and we were back home.

In the evening we enjoyed ASDA value burgers cooked admirably by Mr. Gold. Then again to the pub but this time still slightly tender from the previous night I managed to admirably abstain whilst Anupam took himself down in thoroughly excellent fashion. By this time Mr. Duncan formerly of the terrible tabs had joined us and introduced us to the wonderful game of "mine" whereby everytime someone said the word mine they were forced to do press-ups. Increasingly ingenious plots to get the word said evolved through-out the week "I'm struggling with this cross-word- Seminal work of Adolf Hitler?" "Where does Copper come from" or from Mr Gold " Anupam- whose is that pudding?" repeated several times at increasing volumes. Some epic jenga was played.

We also had a very pleasant walk to see a field Sean had found for the session. This turned out to be a field which Sean had made up. We were unable to find the field and Sean's reputation as someone who likes to make things up to get attention continues. He also took advantage of a sheep.

The next day we had a session of 3/4/5 x mile planned off 60 seconds recovery on the roads. Well I say that, but it really was no simple task as approximately 57.21% of the previous day had been spent arguing about whether to run it on the road or the field, for time or for distance, what the distance should be, and whether Anupam was to be allowed to do it without clothes. Some nice running especially from Mr. Heyes and Mr. Assmundsen who is rapidly emerging as Oxford's secret weapon. Be scared Tabs. Be very scared.

(Yes... I'm aware he's not much to look at....)

In the afternoon we all just chilled out, watched Iron Man whilst some of us did oil massages and then a few of us headed out for a second run of the day around the three mile loop with Tom, Andy, Carl and Anupam (I think...) with my watch eventually giving up on me.

In the evening we went back to the original pub for a meal. It was pretty good with my black pudding starter being excellent followed by a very reasonable sirloin steak (rare). Much a pennying went on followed by a return to the bunkhouse and some interesting games which will never be repeated including a shocking Never Have I Ever performance from some of the group featuring Mile High clubs, public transport and the defilement of school libraries. The evening concluded with Jamie adding in his third run of the day in minamilist clothing.

Wednesday we were out for a much easier day as a group ran out to Ravenglass and a smaller group of us were following in the minibus and running back. Thankfully in the later group (old man Reynolds needs his sleep) we got there in time for hte changeover with it raining and debated which carpark we were meant to be in for a fair old while. Finally the other turned up having gone the wrong way and we headed off with Cathy starting off saying "Ouch" every step having done too many press-ups. This still didn't stop her nailing it up the hill though with some of the better bloke runners in the club out of breath. Mr. Samuel's displayed excellent navigational skills and is considering becoming an orienteer if it wasn't so declasse. As the "motor" of the group I ran in the centre. Jet engine Heyes ran behind whilst Carl was the windscreen spotting stuff out. Ms. Heyes was of course the pilot deciding where we were going whilst Tom Tom Samuels gave the directions in a stiff upperclass tone. This was possibly my favourite run of training camp.

During the day we went to visit the world's oldest working water mill. It was old. There was water. Some pretty ingenious machinery though. More entertaining was the nearby rockpool which Tash insisted you could and she had jumped into despite the water appearing about 50 cm deep. Off a escarpment about 3/4 metres high. David Taylor managed to slip on the rocks and nearly put himself on. On the way back Matt Gold invented the game with one rule "What Matt Says Goes" - whilst personally I think this is potentially akin to giving a 15 year old a 24 pack, the car keys and a funnel the game worked fairly well with the principle aim being to touch a species of animal and once touched that species no longer counted. After invading private property to find a chicken and Anupam harrassing some cows in a field he took an early lead through Duncan managed to find a squashed frog on the road.

This was unfortunately followed up by one of the world's first slug eating competitions. Yes. Slug eating. Duncan had a truly awesome specimen to devour and despite it's beer flavourings it did appear to be a struggle to get down.

Then followed up with a very pleasant 45 minute recovery run whilst everyone else did circuits and we wondered where on earth Gold, Heyes and Ansell had gone to on their trip to the supermarket. Finally we left for the restaurant (pub) leaving them to fend for themselves. The pub was very pleasant with a succesful trademark simultaneous double penny of a pennied glass leaving Mr Duncan in a precarious downing situation. Unfortunately I didn't get my gammon steak as ordered but was instead left with an overdone rib-eye steak. Thankfully Chris switched roughly half of his gammon steak for a tiny portion of my rib-eye. Sucka!

After the meal quite a few headed back (losers!) whilst the rest headed out on the mini-bus to Whitehaven in vain attempt of a rocking night out. With the only nightclub in the town closed we ended up in spoons with a pitcher of Purple Rain (+ 2 Vodka shots- excellent value) - arguing selection policies, politics and whether we could get away with calling Social Services and getting them to take Andy away.

Sadly we were now onto our final day after arriving back at the bunk-house in a relatively poor state. Something might have happened- I really can't remember. Dave and Martin threw up - it was a poor effort.

The final day was a hills session in the morning where most were doing 15 x minute with a 90 second recovery (girls only 12-14) with me stepping it up to 20. After Tom managed to lead us down a very wet trail for our warm-up and Anupam led a drills session along an incredibly pot-holed trail (If I don't have a straight,flat, tarmaced road to run on I get cranky) we started the session with me carrying my trainer and dropping it at the end of the first rep. For the next 18 reps I hit that trainer everytime before pushing a bit clear of in the final rep with Sean taking photos of us all running. Very pleased with the consistency here and everyone seemed to have a pretty reasonable session.

After everyone had waited for me to finally finish warming down we headed back and settled in for another afternoon of massage, Old School and general lazing. Quite a few people headed off on walks of varying length (apparently someone saw a Lake- I managed to avoid seeing one my whole week there...) and the like and seemed to have fun before my final run of the week with Anupam and David Taylor (who kept on pushing the pace!).

A group headed off to the pub whilst some of the others concerned themselves with abusing a set of frozen chickens. Arriving there I was informed that Tom had just told them to come back for food as it was ready. Promptly ordered a pint and started enjoying it before we headed back and were told firmly that we were going to have to queue up single file because we were late. Sadly immediately after food no-hands desert started and whilst some good efforts were made we could definitely use some coaching...

Promptly followed by no hands milk, rice pudding and in mine and Hayley's case red wine which was not succesful (and might have been the beginning of the end for her...).

After this "Cafe Disco" was opened and whilst beer pong was frantically organised dominated by Ms. Hanstock, some chatted and others began a "Ring of Fire" something wonderful happened. People started emerging in towels. Towel day was back with a vengeance baby! My hangover-brainchild last year of combining the towel with a belt to create a garment was being rapidly adopted (even by the girls) and a full blown towel party emerged! Then we got down to some serious boogeying after a masterful speech by Chris and a demand for Beer and Vodka funds from penny-pincher Das. Whilst for some the night ended quickly! for the rest we carried on into the early hours of the morning with McGurk's rocking tunes. There may have been a speech again. I really won't comment. But it did seem to go better than last year's. I think the difference this year was that I was topless. Definitely. Maire and Claire were under strict instructions to guard the girl's dorm which unfortunately failed when Mr Titheradge was found upstairs having Claire giggling along and feeding Maire Vodka Jelly. Fresher Sam was opening up some fantastic moves on the dance floor and the evening finally came to a close with Anupam cooking a load of chips. Danny T and Anupam decided to try and combine a naked mile with leaving a note and money for Naomi asking her to call them. On the way to the pub they lost the money leaving us with the enduring image of the two of them crawling naked on the road searching for money. Full moon that night...

Possibly having some notes on the Oxford Spirit helped as well...

So with the night drawn to a close we were leaving the next morning. Old men Darling and Reynold's had a decent lie in (seperate beds- though admittedly it is difficult keeping Darling out of mine and/or Ian's bed once he's had a few...) before venturing downstairs to say goodbye to the minibus as it took most home. Only for us to try the cars and discover Jamie's had gone. Popping the bonnet would be a mere formality for most of us but Jamie actually knows about cars. It didn't really help. The bloke from next door wasn't much use either agreeing with Jamie that it was the "electrics" and "modern engines" (key words for me to remember for next time) before we finally had to leave him having called the AA (Mr. Darling being the only OUCCC member to have had to call out the AA twice on training camps after his previous tight squeeze through a narrow hole) with the journey back commenced training camp was over for another (final?) year.

Many thanks to Chris and Tash for working so hard on the organization and Mr Gold for some excellent grub.

Week Commencing 28th September 2009

AM 90 minute long-run in Lake District 7:30/mile- tough terrain

AM 8 w/u, 7 x mile (60) all at around 77/lap but on roads, mile out downhill mile back uphill. 15 warm down
PM 45 Easy

AM 60 minutes steady @ 6:51 - huge hill then downhill before protracted flat straight. Really nice run with Carl, Tom, Cathy and Andy.
PM: 45 v. easy/recovery @ 8:08/mile

AM 10 warm up, drills and strides, 20 x 60 Hills (90 recovery), 10 warm down
PM 36 recovery

REST- but ended up driving 7 hours to get home dropping Carl off in London. Sad training camp is over.

PM 15 easy, 30 steady, 15 easy. K splits; easy (5:52,4:45,4:44) steady (3:38,4:19,4:18,3:57,4:00,4:14,3:42) easy (4:28,4:58,4:48,2:29)

AM 15 w/u, strides Manuden 10k 35:44 2nd, 15 w/d Splits of (3:28,3:52,3:43,3:40,3:42,3:43,3:49,3:22,3:17,3:03) AVG 5:46/mile Really more of a tempo effort.

Total: 525 minutes running No biking

Overall a very good week though I drank a bit too much at training camp. Still got some "good training without going crazy" as DC put it and this was definitely a solid week. Everytime I finish that hills session I am pleased and the strength it gives me mentally really helps- doing last 5 reps solo was good. 10k was a lot of fun. Really brought to bear though that (even though I lost!) I'm not just able to win these level of races now but actually feel like I'm jogging through them which is a huge step up. Might have been interesting to see what would have happened had I gone hard from the gun - Lee reckoned I'd have taken him but not certain about that as he looked good. Really looking forward to my first Metropolitan League in the best part of 4 years next Saturday.

Race Report from Manuden 10k

10k for me this morning. Not an A, B, C or probably even a D race but just a nice jog in the countryside picking up a win if I could. Field of about 450 I think so bigger than expected. Had the club young 'un running whose 15 with a 35:mid 10k PB and Lee who ran 31:57 this year and potentially a lot faster.

Course was very hilly and a straight out and back. Was fairly sure that if I put the boot in from the start I could drop off Lee but that really wasn't the point so we jogged with Ed having a lot of fun (throwing water at each other, elbows, pulling vests, I swear if there was a 100m stretch we weren't chatting in I don't remember it) and another bloke who went off a bit harder then we overtook but managed to latch on. Ed commented afterwards that half of the race it didn't even feel like he was running because he was giggling so much at our antics. At 7k the other bloke tried to break clear so I went past and dropped down to ~10M pace with a 3:22 and a 3:17 for the next two ks. Lee sitting behind me and as expected with 300m to go he kicked clear leaving me to finish off with a 3:03 final k and total time of 35:44.

Average pace was 5:45 so pretty close to tempo with till 7k averaging around 3:40 or so per k I'd guess. Very enjoyable morning and nice to feel so relaxed running at that pace and feeling like it was jogging at TMP.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Week Commencing Monday 21st September 2009

AM 42 minutes recovery running ~8:10mm felt pretty crappy and just bleurgh
PM 15 w/u inc. strides. 8 x km (200m/65 second recovery) 15 minutes warm down, was doing this with two of the younger ones Ed and Dave and also Adam. Started off at ~76 pace and ran a 3:07 but they were all struggling badly so slowed it down to 78s with a 3:13, still struggling so again to 3:17 and they just about stayed with that so next one was 3:19, then took a slightly longer walk recovery (was struggling to get them jogging the recoveries) and at this point Ed/Adam were going to alternate doing half with full reps and Dave was only going to do 2 more. 5th one in 3:04 with Dave taking it on quite hard. Then slowed back down again with a 3:20 before a solo 3:08 before finally me and Dave pushed the last one (him having taken last two reps out) and running 3:03. So 3:07,3:13,3:17,3:19,3:04,3:20,3:08,3:03 very inconsistent but it helped out the lads and gave me a nice taste of running a bit quicker.

AM 49:30 recovery
PM 44 alternating kms. Easy kms in about 4:30, hard kms in about 3:20 avg. pace around 6:30 on a hilly route.

15 minute warm up and down. 6 x 2000 @ 80s per lap with a 90 second jog recovery. 6:38, 6:36, 6:37, 6:38, 6:38, 6:32. Really quite pleased with this session - good volume and intensity and the last two laps felt very easy.

51 minutes easy - 8:17/mile with 8xCanova Hill Sprints (10 seconds) Moving okay but not great.

Rest day

40 minutes steady (39:48) in the dark with Nike Zoom Road Explosions. Seemed to be working very hard for a slow pace. Maybe just the dark.

15 warm up, SoE Road Relays 19:47 (9:41/10:06), 15 warm down

Total: 415 minutes / 55 miles

A low week which served as a pseudo-easier/recovery week. I'm relatively pleased with the 19:47 as it is a substantial improvement from 2005: (20:12) 2006:(20:48) 2007:(20:50) and off very limited training. Looking at some of the names I was running with there are some quicker runners there and hopefully a few more solid weeks training and I'll be closing in on others.

Special mention to Matt Carlisle for absolutely destroying his leg and to Pony for running 4th quickest leg of the team despite being weeks into his recovery from injury.

I reckon a rough conversion of about 4 minutes to 5k time. At least for the slower runners. Maybe that's wrong though. If it is close to that it'd show I'm in PB shape for my comparatively poor 3000/5000/5 mile/10kmR/10 Mile/Half marathon shape but still a bit off my 1500m/10,000m PBs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Training Week Commencing 14th September 2009

Training Week Commencing 14th September 2009

AM Did 50 recovery with 8 x Canova Hill sprints (9 seconds flat out)
PM 52 easy averaging 7:49.
PM PM 30 mins Ex. Bike 16.88km

PM 10 minute warm-up, 5 x 6.5@10k pace [90] 10 min warm down. AVG ~78/lap Was absolutely tipping it down with rain. First one averaged about 79 and was really struggling with vest constricting breathing. Then with vest off and Hugh turning up was running much better and most reps were either over or just before the 2k mark. Good session- pleased.

AM 40 recovery AVG 9:06 ~7km Felt really dull on this run and body didn't wake up at all till after half way (6:14,5:54,5:42,5:39,4:10,5:53,5:58,0:28)
PM 60:12 steady AVG 6:43 ~14km + Drills Meant to be an easy run but body was struggling to run that slow so let it have it's way and went faster. Very good run. Hamstrings felt tight at the end. (4:25,4:39,4:21,4:18,4:07,3:58,4:06,4:07,4:01,4:09,4:03,4:09,3:56,4:03,1:44)

AM 30 recovery ~8:30
PM 15 w/u and w/d Strides + Drills 28:21 AVG 5:42 tempo plan was to start at 90/lap and cut down by a second per lap every two laps- didn't quite manage it but a good effort and general trend is there... Very pleased to see Adam run a huge PB over 5 miles with 28:41. (88,86,90,87,86,86,88,86,86,85,84,84,82,83,84,83,80,82,81,80)

Rest- legs itching to run

AM 7:30 warm up,Hills all with jog down recovery 4 x 24 secs, 1 x 70, 5 min jog, 5 x 45, 5 min jog, 4 x 24, 1 x 68 7:30 warm down (45)
PM 34 recover @8:23 - unplanned but legs felt real antsy and just had to get out and run for a bit.

Sun: 90 easy/steady with Lee and Matt around St. Albans. Really nice run and some good athletics banter. Pace varied as various niggles played up so we were going at mid-low 6s for most the first half and the second half was a fair bit slower. Felt really good at the pace and moving well up the hills.

Running total: 512.5 Cycling Total 30

Really good week and my highest mileage since about February I reckon with exams, niggles and the groin. Saturday I actually wasn't able to resist going for a 34 minute unscheduled recovery run and it was difficult on Sunday as well! Very pleasing Tempo run and session on Tuesday at New River. Not perhaps the best sessions I've ever posted but Tuesday was good volume in horrendous conditions and Thursday was very pleasing with how easy it felt. Really pleased and now a slightly easier week in prep for the 6 stage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marathon Announcement

Hey folks,

Well I'm imagining that I must have told 99% of people who come on here in person anyway, but after realising yesterday that I still hadn't told my parents!, decided I'd make the announcement on here as well.

I've decided to make my marathon début next year and the aim is to do so at London. This really means three things.

1. I need to run a sub 75 half OR get in via the ballot OR get in via a club place.
2. I'll begin my marathon specific training after the Herts County X-Country in early January.
3. My track season next year probably won't begin till very very late after which I'm intending to shift all the way down and have a go at running a 1500m PB.

The target to begin with will be 2:30. This obviously might get shifted slower(likely) or faster(I wish!) as I go along but given my performances over 10k and a few long-runs I've done together with my aerobic profile- I think I've got a serious chance. Added to this I'll hopefully be aiming to run a serious 10k PB by the end of the year at either the Leeds Abbey Dash or the Telford 10k (accommodation in Leeds the night beforehand would be appreciated!) .

I'm well aware that this is relatively early to run a marathon but having watched London the past two years I really wanted to be out there running and it was killing me not to be. I've known since I was a kid that I'd have to run the marathon to make up for my complete lack of base speed and whilst I still have a lot of unfinished business at 10k- I think a while of training for a very different event will be fun as well and probably help my 10k time. After my first marathon unless I run an absolute stormer the intention would be to wait 18 months until my next one - probably Berlin though I'd love to run New York or Chicago.

So - what does this mean? Well for a start I'm going to be bulking up my long run. My rather paltry 90 minutes, whilst sufficient for a 5k/10k runner, is going to need to upped to a regular 120 and probably look at running it faster as well. Even though I'm not starting the block until January I'm keen to start getting used to a few of the work-outs now and in particular I want to be doing some of the work-outs suggested by Canova. Big volume interval sessions which most people seem to hate I really enjoy doing.

Tempo running I'm relatively poor on at the moment but will become an integral part. An easy 8k tempo run on Friday went really well keeping up 5:40 pace very easily on rough terrain, which is exactly the marathon pace I need! An awful lot of my training over the next 5 months will be at 5:40 pace and I want to be able to lock into it automatically. Thankfully it's slower than the current 80/lap I lock into but the difference will be continuous efforts as opposed to reps of a couple of miles at the most.

I guess that's about it at the moment. Race plans, training emphasis and goals! I'm really very excited about shifting up to the marathon and hopefully it'll be a success. If I'm ever going to run internationally I really only have one race as an option and that's the marathon. I need to start getting used to them now so that when I'm 27/28 I'll be sufficiently conditioned and experienced to make a serious drive for a quick time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Proper Long Run Back

Did my first proper long run in a while today. 90 minutes split into 30 easy, 30 steady, 30 easy. Average came out at 7:35 per mile whilst I covered just over 20km. Really nice to actually get out and on my feet for that length of time. I also quite enjoyed experimenting with the steady section in the middle which was mostly at about 6:45 pace but the last few kms dipped down to sub 6 territory which was really a little bit too fast. Wore long tracksuit bottoms and they were really getting whipped around in the wind but was thankfully warm enough for a t-shirt. Not particularly looking forward to the winter months and wrapping up tight.

After run had about 20 minutes recovery during which I watched Alistair Brownlee storming home in his triathlon to win the world series. Made me think a little bit about the choice that a talented young endurance athlete has- years of mediocrity as a runner being possibly even the best 10k runner in Britain but not being allowed to run world championships by your federation (for fear that they'll embarrass them?? which seems ridiculous) and even if you do being beaten into oblivion by the majority of the East African athletes or going to Triathlon and having a legitimate shot, if you work hard, at being a world champion or at the very least being competitive. Triathlon also being a sport with far greater financial rewards, glorifying the distance athletes as opposed to the sprinters and increasing publicity. Given the choice I'm almost shocked that so many opt to choose endurance running and yet, I'm in exactly the same boat and can't easily see myself going multi-sport. In many ways I'd almost prefer to just switch to cycling rather than multi-sport which seems crazy. I do intend to continue incorporating work on the exercise bike into my daily training which is something I've been neglecting in the last two weeks.

The thing I have been very good on is incorporating more running drills and hopefully that'll pay off in terms of a more efficient form, stronger muscles with better flexibility and fewer injuries Whether it will or not remains to be seen.

Almost immediately after the long run I went to play tennis with my family. We actually managed to get through a whole set without arguing- must be some sort of record! Was quite a surreal experience returning to a tennis court after not playing more than a couple of times in the past three years. Was very pleased with how well my surve went (bloody thing seemed better than when I left!) but was shocked at how poor my groundstrokes were. Might be nice to get back playing again a little more frequently as I did used to really enjoy it- unfortuantely it's so hard to get quality singles games and whilst doubles is interesting I do eventually find it frustrating. I'm a loner at heart and enjoy the pitting of my own strength against that of an opponent and with two extra players on the court you just can't do that!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Making the Transition Part 4 - Easy and Recovery Weeks

So you've done 8 weeks solid training? Good work- odds are that you're in the shape to run faster than you've ever done before. You're probably getting pretty excited about how fit you are and starting to look at how fast you can run and whether you can add more mileage, an extra session or two - right?

Wrong. Time to step back and relax for a bit. You've been working hard and your body is exceptionally tired right now. Maybe you can realise it with sore legs and each easy run feeling just a little bit harder; or maybe you don't feel it but right now you need to make sure that all of the good progress you've made so far isn't lost to a silly injury or that you lose enthusiasm for your running as the thought of week after week of hard work mounts up.

So, to put it simply, enjoy yourself for a week. It's time to take a quick break, have a look at how far you've come and think about where you're going.

Easy and Recovery Weeks

What Are They?
An easy week is a week that you take off every 3-4 weeks. Generally you cut your mileage by around 25-50% and do less hard sessions and easier paced running.

A recovery week is a week that you take off generally at the end of a season so after a 12 week block of training is generally useful (so 2 easy weeks and then a recovery week). Once a year you'll want to take a longer break. Mileage is cut by 50%-100%.

The Theory
The theory of both easy and recovery weeks is fairly similar but can be split into two main areas. Psychological; physical.

Physically the process of training is a process of breaking down the body. Then it rebuilds itself back up stronger than before. Each run you do is straining the body and causing microscopic tears in the muscle fibres - obviously an actual tear in the muscle is an injury but these micro-tears are a positive - once they are healed up. It takes time for these to heal up though which is part of the reason why you take time in order to run faster after training as the muscles don't heal up immediately. A rest day allows the muscles to partially recover but the knots and problems that can present themselves in the body with weeks of consistent hard training don't relax in simply a week. Taking an easier week allows the muscles to fully recover and all of the little niggles which are present from day to day are given a chance to ease themselves out of the body. Similarly a recovery week does the same. Think about how long it takes for an injury to heal up. Whilst some injuries are acute (instant) many others are chronic. You are already partially injured! What an easier week does is allow the body to recover from that mini-injury.

Psychologically as much as you enjoy running it is the very rare athlete that never feels tired and constantly stays motivated. Many athletes train for a few months as hard as they can, then lose a bit of focus, maybe have a bit of a niggle and before you know it they've lost a lot of the progress they'd previously made. As athlete's have tired and fatigued muscles it does wear having to go out and run almost every day with little relief. Similarly when you have a niggle the knowing that in a weeks time you have a recovery makes it much more manageable. A week off allows you to regain your focus and get you ready to charge out the door once again.

The Practice
For an easy week I generally think that you want to reduce mileage by around 25-50%. Many suggest just a 25% decrease but personally I prefer a much more rapid decrease and I really just don't focus at all on running during that week. I usually include a few strides during the week but I wouldn't suggest that at this point for an athlete (yes- you're an athlete now-not a runner!) following this program but it shows how you incorporate more as you raise your training standard. The way to reduce the mileage is by cutting the "sessions" and cutting the number of runs so if you're regularly running 6 times a week for 40 minutes then just do 4 runs of 40 minutes. Sometimes I add some stretching as well more regularly and occasionally a few weights.

For recovery weeks do the same but cut the mileage even further and don't do strides- simply jog and enjoy yourself. If you've got a friend who's not as fast then go for a jog with them or at your running club go with the slow group for a change- sometimes they're just as interesting as the fast runners!

X-training during the week is fine but do it recreationally. Playing tennis or table-tennis or going for a gentle bike ride is fine. Hammering out hard sessions on the bike is bad!

Sometimes going for a sports massage during this week is helpful as you don't need to worry about running on tired muscles.

Finally (and this is perhaps a little counter-intuitive) - whilst a recovery week is always a recovery week if you're running a competitive schedule over the winter or summer then you're probably hoping to race at some point. With a week of very little running you're pretty well tapered for a good race performance. My "easiest" weeks in the past year have been directly before Herts County XC which was a breakthrough for me and the BUCS XC champs. Your muscles recover and you're in great racing shape so why not treat yourself and get into a race and show off your new abilities. Just make sure this is at the end of the week so you've had a good chance to recover. Similarly if you're thinking about racing a half marathon or longer then an easy week immediately afterwards combines recovering from the race and general recovery from training.

The Schedule
So right now we have an easy week schedule that looks like...

4 x 40-60 minute recovery runs

and a recovery week schedule of

2-3 x 40-60 minute recovery runs

Weeks 1-4 - Get used to running 5/6 times a week
Weeks 5-8 - Incorporate threshold running and strides into your schedule.
Week 9 - Easy Week

With the recovery week to come later on! This program still has a lot to go but I would imagine the average athlete as outlined at the start of this programme would already be running perhaps a minute or two faster over 10k already.

In the next part we look at fine-tuning your motor and getting ready for some serious racing (though if you've added a race at the end of the easy week you'll already be seeing benefits). We'll be doing this through 5k/10k Pace Work together with our earlier threshold work and strides.

After this Part 6 will be Mile Pace Work concluding the series.

Catch you on the trails,

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.