Friday, July 24, 2009

Injury et al.

Okay so after 2 weeks of fairly successful racing my injury eventually overcame me. I was improving with every run from Thursday to Sunday night. Sunday night's run I was actually okay and almost pain free with my quad and groin a lot better. I took Monday off and didn't run till Tuesday evening with the hope that I would be totally pain free. How wrong could I be? I was in complete agony far worse than anything yet. When I eventually got in to see the physio I found out I had a grade two muscle strain/tear on my adductor magnus.

I've gotten onto my stationary bike and doing an hour a day- will be up to 90 or so minutes next week and just been given the go-ahead to start running and got 5 minutes done today.

The message that comes though is this. When you've got a niggle- stop running. Even if the niggle is getting better in itself the net effect may be negative as your body is a set of links and chains and you'll be overcompensating elsewhere. The quad was due to my right ankle injury and the groin due to the quad.

In the long-term though it will possibly be helpful as I now have a variety of exercises designed to correct my biomechanical problems and hopefully solve the issue long term and make me a stronger runner so maybe there's a silver lining!

Part 2 of "Transition" out tomorrow!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making the Transition Part 1

So - you've taken up this running lark. You're running a few times a week and you're realising that actually you're not half bad at it! For a bloke you're probably running something around 45 minutes for 10k and for a lady maybe just under 50 minutes (times set for individuals 18-40 in good health generally). You've joined a running club and done a few race. There's a lot at your level and a fair stream of guys up to the local "club elite" who run 36-40 minutes for 10k and usually finish in the top 10 at the local races.

The aim of this series is to explain to the average club runner how to take the steps to not only be running the same sort of times as those "club elite" but to do so in a way that you will be able to out-race a runner of similar ability. More importantly- you'll have a foundation that could seriously take you down to being a sub 35 10k guy. The difference you'll have is that not only will you be running at the level of the 36-40 minute 10k guys - you'll do it in less time and with much more upside.

Step 1: Run more often. Run slower. Run shorter.

The first part is fairly self explanatory as to how it helps but the other two may well be counter-intuitive. The first step in becoming a serious runner is to run more frequently. Ideally you want to look at building up from a few runs a week to running every day but there is nothing wrong with doing this over the course of a fair few months. Most progress to it naturally when they realise they want to get better or more likely start training for a marathon and hit a serious training plan for the first time. Ideally you want to be running at least once a day, 6 days a week, and more likely in the long-run then you want to be hitting two runs a day. For right now in making that first step into being a sub 40 10k guy then just running once a day is likely to be more than enough.

The second part is controversial. Most would assume that if you want to run faster you need to run every run faster. This is dead wrong. One of your first steps has to be slowing down your runs so that you can get an awful lot more time on your feet and more importantly make it a very positive experience. Whilst we can all go out and slog our bodies and actually find it quite enjoyable it's still a tough experience. Maybe tomorrow you'll have a bad day at work or the weather won't be as nice- still fancy going out and working hard? By making it slower you help yourself enjoy the run much more and it becomes a really positive part of your day.

Running shorter is perhaps slightly misleading. For lots of people though running a few times a week they try and get the absolute most out of those runs. Stop it. If you're committed to this then you want to be doing much more frequent runs of a shorter length. I'd opt for someone running 40 minutes a day 6 days a week more than someone running 120 minutes twice a week. I'd say that running 60 minutes per day is a very good level to reach but I'd much rather people ran 30 minutes every day than a huge amount at the weekends. Less than about 25 minutes and you'd be better off doing 30 minutes for 5 days though.

Of course you obviously don't want to just run the same 30-60 minute run every day! Which leads to the next step which is how to start structuring your week and adding in some different elements.

+Aim to build up to running 6 times a week with the runs ranging from 30-60 minutes.
+Accomplish this by slowing your runs down and really just enjoying it. At this stage pace is irrelevant.
+Once you've done this for two weeks then move onto the next step.

Right - that's it for now. Catch you on the trails.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Two Race Reports! MWRRL Welwyn and Summer 5k League Haverhill

Had a double race week this week (and have just about managed to avoid getting myself into another 10k tomorrow!).

Midweek Road Race League Div. 2

The first was the Midweek road race league division 2 at WGC, 5 miles, 1st 27:53, over the old PUMA 5 course and I think the CR is something like 22:xx! and was a former world record though course didn't seem lightning fast to me.

One bloke went out very hard and I covered him but he had died off by about 1k so by a mile we were back with the pack. Real sign of inexperience by me going with him but he looked like a very serious runner and it was an impressive pace he started at and he looked very smooth at it. Once I realised he was slowing after about 800m I could have tried pushing on and going clear but there was no way I wanted to be running solo from that far out with a race the next day. A pack quickly developed of me, very young team-mate Ed Sheperd, Steve Prosser from Bishop's Stortford who is often a local rival and Paul Greaves another team mate who had won the past two fixtures but had taken third in the first behind me and Dom Easter and by the start of the second lap it was just us 4. Pace was consistent 5:30s. Eventually me and the bloke who'd won the last two went clear though we tried to keep it slowish so that Ed could stay in contact but it was clear that Steve's age and experience was going to keep him clear of Ed. With 800m to go I just drifted clear of Paul and then relaxed for the run-in for a nice win and my first individual win in the league despite a fair few second and third places! Whilst still waiting for team results I'm certain Paul has taken the richly deserved individual title.

Summer 5k League

Having done my best for Herts Phoenix the previous night it was time to don the yellow, black and purple of the Saffron Striders. Despite having twice won the series title here I had never actually won an individual race due to over the years combinations of injury, the wrong competition at the wrong race, peaking wrongly and a lack of marshalls (causing me one year to go storming past the final turn-off through a gate, totally prepared to kick for the gate to get through first the second I saw the marshall but in this case there being no marshall...), getting beaten by a bloke one week and the next taking him apart as I returned to form but Greg Billington (boy wonder) having turned up and taken the win comfortably.

Anyways! I knew that despite my leg being quite painful I stood a very good chance of winning this race. I warmed up with team-mates Anthony Bonelli, Nick White and Tim Ellis. The course consists of a 100m straight before a km vertical hill which eases off into a gradual incline for the next km before very rapidly descending in the 3rd km whereupon the 4th and 5th km are undulating but generally downhill.

I surged into the lead over the first 50m and then slowed down to see if I could convince people to run it slowly as I still wasn't sure about my leg especially with yesterdays race still in it. Unfortunately Harry Fowler of Newmarket Joggers was having none of it and surged into the lead and led us up the hill. This meant I was able to take my customary position of dead on the shoulder of the lead runner as a pack of around 5 or 6 of us was forming comprising Harry Fowler (NJ), Vincent Coogan (NJ), Nick White (Saffron Striders), me and a Cambridge runner. This pack stayed intact all the way to to the top of the hill. As we began the descent though Vincent Coogan pushed through to the front and launched a powerful surge which I stayed with but rapidly broke up the rest of the field with Fowler being the only one to stay with us. Vincent took great advantage of the downhill and we eventually dropped Fowler though we could still hear him behind. I was still cruising and as Vincent slowed I slowed with him still lurking and at about 3.5k I could hear Fowler rapidly catching us before catching us at 4k with now the sound of a Cambridge runner behind as well. I had a quick look back to make sure the Cambridge lad wasn't storming home as Fowler took the lead and started pushing but checking my watch I stayed relaxed until it hit 15:30 and I knew I couldn't be more than about 4-500m from the finish. I then drifted wide, put in a moderate acceleration shifting up to about 10k pace from 10m/HM pace and was clear in about 200 metres whereupon I slowed slightly and relaxed on my way in with a quick glance over my shoulder with about 100m to go to ensure they weren't catching.

Whilst pleased with the win I was also pleased for Tim and Anthony who both shifted up a number of positions to 8th and 12th respectively whilst Nick had a good race to finish 5th considering he'd cycled all the way there! The Striders managed to get second in both mens and womens races behind C&C who to be honest are so much larger than most clubs in this league it should be a runaway victory for them.

Afterwards had a chance to chat to a bloke called Bob Watson who's just short of 50 and having taken up running again is in 35 minute 10k shape. I always make a point of asking the older runners who had run fast in the past (Bob had run low 31s for 10k and 68 for HM) for some advice and he passed on what seems to be one of the most helpful tips around. Find a good training group so that if you let up for a second there's 10 athletes ready to come past you and swallow you up.

Anyways, my little jaunt back into the local road racing scene has been a lot of fun with 4 race wins (Henham 10k, Stortford 10m, MWRRL Welwyn 5m, 5k Summer League Haverhill) all done very comfortably and now I can focus on getting my leg sorted and doing some more serious competition - possibly including getting myself beaten up over an 800...

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.