Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Club Switch to Beagles

Well- with the Eastleigh results published it looks like the cat is out of the bag as someone has picked up on it on Eightlane...

Early February I moved to London. I now work ~3 miles from the Terence McMillan Stadium. Newham consistently manage to get good teams out to events and not just A-teams but B and C teams as well which was a big part of my decision. Obviously their strength is a big part of it but generally faster runners move to a club for a reason and Beagles were the best choice for me which was why I approached Bob and enquired about joining.

They were the dominant club I knew (also the first I ever heard of!) as I grew up (in my local area Ben Hellmers who was the superstar a few years above me at school and Richard Mead who was the unbeatable guy at districts (4:30 1500 seemed very fast))  as well as Noel Thatcher who for the past 2-3 years I've regularly been training with. Seeing how it has helped propel guys like Kev Skinner who I've known for years to greater things makes it an easy choice.

Appreciate I'm going to be a marginal player at best- but I've done the whole big fish in a small pond thing and whilst it's great for the ego it's not much of a challenge and as I want to improve I need that hierarchy to try and move up through. That means taking my lumps as a weaker athlete and trying to push up to the faster guys (though it can be taken for read that Farah and Geele will always be a fair bit quicker!).

I've also done the thing where I hope that the athletes from the juniors will come through whilst at Herts Phoenix as the few seniors we had gradually drifted away. Herts Phoenix was a fantastic experience I will treasure for the rest of my life but it is near exclusively a junior club. The hard work of legends like Adrian Newman and Richard Bloom together with racing with guys like Lee Reynolds, Matt Carlisle, Chris Saville, Michael and Richard Tarpey, Paul Greaves and more recently Ed Shepherd, Adam Frith, Dave Wilson and Steve Prosser created a great atmosphere but it meant we struggled to be competitive at events even as small as the Southern 6 stage with adminstrative rules preventing us from fielding stronger teams (Prosser and Frith both running for small clubs that would never enter and Shepherd and Wilson usually ineligible due to age). The club was brilliant in a lot of ways but it is very junior centred with little focus on senior athletics and endurance in particular sometimes seemed like the forgotten child which for a club with roots in Verlea is a tragedy. It helped bring me through and for the last few years it's been okay whilst at uni but the lack of having a full team at events has been a real heartbreak at times.

At Beagles I'll get the odd race for the A-team and frequent run-outs in the B-team with committed and talented guys (okay- maybe I'll have to be in the C team then!). There were obviously some other options I looked at - in particular Serpentine who are coming on leaps and bounds and I get on very well with the faster guys there (despite what you might have heard!) and also Thames Hare and Hounds with the obvious Oxford connection where I would be competitive but still with room to move up- in the end though I decided this was the best chance to improve as an athlete.

If anyone has any questions I'm happy to answer them either below or by email. I have applied for a ban exemption but have no idea what the length of the ban will be. As far as I understand it I am able to compete in any road races, open meets etc. but not "Open Team Competition" which is Track and Field Leagues, Road Relays and XC Championships until my ban is over. Herts Phoenix have supported/not opposed my application.

On a more trivial/personal note- the Beagles are also close to where my family came from. My paternal grandparents were originally from Greenwich just south of the river (hence why I'm a Charlton supporter and have been from birth) and have gradually moved north with my dad working in Ilford early in his life. My maternal grandparents live near Telford and seeing as I look much better in yellow and black than in the confused mess that is the Telford vest it was an easy choice!

Training Week 21/03/2010

AM: 15 wu, Reading Half Marathon 14th Place 69:52 - huge PB!- calves bit sore to warm down.

PM: 44:41 @ 9:22mm - life lessons a) running the day after a half marathon is tough b) don't make it worse by eating a doubled up ultimate burger shortly beforehand... Ditched run at 45 mins and caught tube. Wasn't doing any good out there.

AM: 1:11 @ 9:18mm - very slow run into work...

PM: 18 wu, Clapham Chasers Kenyan Hill session 12 x ascents - 19:21 @ 5:45mm, 19 wd


PM: 1:32 @ 7:50mm - absolutely perfect run home. Went through deserted city and just kept on adding loops on through BP as wanted to carry on going- one of the runs that really makes you remember why you like to run.

AM: 62:24 easy - run into work - dull.

AM: 40 easy @ 7:22mm with Hayley - she kept on getting lost poor girl - plus managed to assault a poor child's bicycle with her shin- see photo below!

Time: 452 Minutes (~60 miles)
Miles: 60.37 (with miles lost near CW more like 64)
Pace: 7:29mm (again- more like 7:10ish)

Summary: Great start to the week with the stunning HM PB (see report below). Monday was in some ways a bad day (how stupid can you get?) but in other ways I like that I'm able to call a run if I'm having a bad one and make the minutes up either later in the week or not at all (in this case I pretty much traded what would have been 30 awful minutes running very slowly in pain with 30 very enjoyable minutes on Thursday evening!). Thursday's run is still carrying me on right now - meant to be 60 but ended up 90 - just couldn't stop.

Very pleased that a rest week for me now can be 60 miles - this week was intentionally very easy with no stress on the pace as I know after a HM I usually spend Monday and Tuesday doing little, recover quickly, spank a session on Thursday and then am in doldrums by Sunday/Monday. I also know that to run a decent 10k I seem to do much better off a week long taper of doing fairly little (in contrast to HM where mileage is fine from what I can tell in week preceding). Worked out very nicely that I did a "half" session on Wednesday where I ran fast but not hard (half sessions - either 3/4 usual volume or being done at one race pace down - are increasingly becoming favourites of mine as opposed to destroying myself in workouts) and was fresh, recovered and ready for Sunday- well- all but the calves!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reading Half Marathon Race Report

Really wasn't sure I was going to even be at the start for this one! Had had no response back from my late entry but finally got the okay from the organisers Friday lunch-time. With my cold and feeling pretty bleurgh I was struggling for motivation but it's so rare a chance to race in a top quality HM with a lot of others comes along that I had to really go for it. My training in recent weeks had been solid with a good leg at THR that I knew even with the cold I had a decent shot at a PB and maybe even tickling the sub 70 barrier...

Got over the day before and kipped at my brother's place. Definitely better than staying at home and going on the day. Felt much more professional even though it was only a bed, duvet and pillow - without creature comforts of home definitely helped me focus better.

Got over fairly early as still needed to pick up my number. Was struggling a bit with what to do as around 9 it was still pretty chilly and I needed to drop my bag off, run for 15 minutes to warm up in my warm stuff and get down to the start in plenty of time. Eventually settled for dropping bag off at half past and stripping down to racing kit with just a bin-bag over the top and slowly jogging down to the start-line. Met Mark (Coro) and Graham Robinson (not Breen!) from GCR who I figured I'd be in a fairly tough battle with through the race before John Hutchins and Kev Quinn joined us from the elite athletes area! Had also seen Chris Smith who I'd had a good battle with at Stevenage before he got away around mile 7/8. I always feel slightly odd racing Chris as on the country he is an absolute demon (9th place in SEAA XC to my 93rd place and 52:xx to my 58:xx) and almost a mile clear of my whilst on the roads we're pretty well matched! Odd case of a runner who loves the mud and one who hates it.

Right- to the race plan- I figured the plan had to be to go out at 70 minute pace (5:20) and see what the hell happened. Mentally I had the splits I needed down as 26:40 and 53:20 at ten miles - I was actually slightly out as whilst the pace needed was 5:20 it was 5:20 and a bit and the splits needed were 26:43 and 53:26... I also figured that Mark and Graham would both be looking to run or at least head out at 5:20s so if I stuck with them I'd probably be okay. Keith (TT) as well as I figured he'd be looking at very similar if he wasn't doing it as part of a long run!

So- race began and I was feeling pretty crap tbh. I was coughing and spluttering all over the place trying to clear my system out. The pace felt far too quick for HM pace. I fairly quickly found myself on Mark's shoulder and before long Graham joined us. Keith was nearby and then an AFD athlete (Breen) joined us shortly after and I could hear someone catching us from behind. It was Chris Smith and with that battle was joined! We clicked through the first mile in around 5:20, and the second mile very similar for 10:41 with Keith easing off from us somewhere between these I think. I was a little worried that we were only just on pace but given how poor I was feeling (thoughts of dieing badly sadly dripping through my head) I was happy just to let the pace go. The third mile contains a fairly decent hill in it which I was glad to get to the top off with our group still intact with the mile in 5:30. 10 seconds off the pace now but I figured most of that was the hill. The next mile we sped up a bit and the group was shifting along fairly nicely but I was still finding myself occasionally bumped around a bit and took the lead a few times just to get some space as well as dropping off the back. I was having a tough time and wondering if I was going to get through when we hit a fairly substantial downhill just after the fourth slightly faster mile in 5:16 and Breen started to push clear. I was lucky here as earlier I had been a metre off the back but right now I was in place and accelerated to stay with him with Chris Smith joining us but getting the sense a few of the others had slightly dropped off. We scuttled through that mile in 5:15 which gave us 26:44 for 5 miles. Okay- but 4 seconds off- given how I'd been feeling earlier I'd definitely take that though! I then took a brief stint at the front through the twists and turns after almost falling over Chris Smith at one tight turn and during this mile we caught Glenn Saqui of Highgate. That mile was a very quick 5:09 and have to admit I was definitely feeling it as we went through 10k in 33:07 (7 second road PB!). The next mile was a bit slower with the twists and some gentler uphills taking their toll together with the pace as we clocked 5:29 but were still just about reeling in Stu Huntingdon who was running a very solid debut HM despite some fairly serious stomach problems and blisters. We caught him on the monster of a hill at 7 miles - thankfully knowing this was the last one in the course we worked together and whilst I drifted a bit off the back I caught them up again on the flat with the split of 5:33 being slow but knowing we had now done all the major hills.

Our group had been working for a while now each taking turns in the lead (with Graham being the real powerhouse taking most of the slack), and we knew we were going for a good time. Miles 8-10 were actually pretty good for me. My left calf was tight but I knew I was on for a good time as we alternated and got the important miles done and dusted. 5:20 before a moderately stunning 5:04 using a downhill on the 10th mile to go through in 53:22. Queue a quick conversation with Breen, Me: "We're on for sub 70 pace" Breen "Great", Me (to clarify) "70:00", Breen "Feck!". At the time I thought we were 2 seconds out as opposed to 4 seconds under.

I really started to feel it in my legs and lungs over the 11th mile as we started really pushing with a 5:21. It felt much tougher though- especially as Chris Smith edged to the front and started building a small gap. Breen and Smith were both clear of me at the 11 mile mark but not by much and the gap wasn't growing- we were also finally reeling in Josh Guilmant who had been a tall ghost in the distance most of the race. Breen caught him whilst still 5m or so clear of me and I surged a little bit to get onto Josh, rested for a second and then pushed again. I was back on Breen as we went through 12 miles in 5:19. The last mile and I really had nothing as my legs were tired and mental fatigue was starting to set in - I clicked my garmin to lap time just so I had proof I was actually getting closer. Chris was still 30m or so ahead but I was focused on just getting to the stadium. I could hear the names (Lindsay!)being announced as they finished. I saw the entrance to the stadium and the 13 mile mark and glanced down at my watch "69:23" - I had a shot! I surged into the stadium to see Kev Quinn finishing and just threw everything into it to try and get to the line in time - I was terrified of going over on the 90 degree bend on the slightly odd and slippy flooring! I still didn't believe it even as I crossed it with 69:52- sub 70 accomplished and some awesome runners behind me. Very pleased with a 63 second PB (which was only set a month ago!). Slightly strange to have come all the way to Reading for Chris Smith to finish in the place ahead of me again but I'll definitely take it and was also made up for Graham Breen to break 70 as well which he totally deserved as the engine and workman of our group.

Hopefully a photo up soon!


1 5:20
2 5:21
3 5:30
4 5:16
5 5:15 (26:44)
6 5:09
7 5:29
8 5:33
9 5:20
10 5:04 (53:22)
11 5:21
12 5:19
13 5:19
13.1 0:29 (69:52!!)

Week Commencing 14th March 2010

AM: 2:50 / 22.84 miles / 7:28mm - very enjoyable run with Sean Renfer who might be moving to Clapham. Headed down running easy to WC where I met him, then a loop around Richmond Park (glad Sean was there as I assumed the trail around the outside was 7.2 miles - apparently it's the road which is 7.2 and the trail is much longer!) - dropped the pace a bit on way back from WC with some 6:mid miles.

AM:40:30 @ 8:14mm - recovery run around Clapham Common with 6 x strides before first day of real work.

AM: 82:44 @ ~8:15mm ran to work at Canary Wharf getting very lost in the process.
PM: 17 wu, 4 x 400,800,400 [200 jog,400 jog], 26:27 wd - session at Battersea Park with Urban Bettag's excellent group. Ran with Fernando Del Valle till the final set where he dropped a bit. 400s all ~70 with a final 67, 800s 2:23,2:22,2:22,2:18. Jogs fairly quick ~8mm.

PM: 68:36 @ 7:10mm - ran home from work a slightly more direct route this time and pushed a bit at various points. Rucksack still a pain to run with but not noticing it too much.

AM: 62:26 @ 7:49mm - finally found close to most direct route into work. Much less stressful knowing roughly where I'm going now.
PM: 18wu, 29:55 /3 laps BP  at AeT @ 5:40 - was very lazy on first 5 minutes or so dropping around 30 seconds so had  to work hard to bring it back in,  17wd

AM: 66:31 @ 7:53mm - ran into work again but a bit more relaxed this time as legs felt quite tired after last night.

Rest- First rest day in what seems like months. Went shopping with Hayley (KCHMcS) then travelled over to Reading.

Time: 632 Minutes / ~84 miles
Miles: 83.32 acc. Garmin (lost a fair few this week around CW)
Pace: 7:36mm

This was always going to be a difficult week what with starting work so I was very grateful to get my long run done on Sunday and also slightly further than I was intending. Tuesday was a great session - I was running 70s and 2:22 and I wasn't even working- lactic set on fairly quickly after the 2:18 though and the final 67 was a struggle. Thursday I just felt poor and could tell my legs needed a quick rest despite pulling the MP session back in. Thankfully next week is a rest week!

What with work beginning, a progress test already! and finally a cold hitting me on the Tuesday this was a good week - especially with what happened on Sunday!

Training Week 7th March 2010

Have the garmin times but too tired to post so here is the week roughly! Will add in important work-out splits...

Sunday: 4 miles @ 7:30mm, 20 miles @ 6:18mm at Thames Riverside 20- good run and felt like I was jogging along with bloke in second place before putting 6 seconds into him over final 100m.
Monday: hour easy running to Liverpool Street
Tuesday: hour steady with OUCCC @ 6:43 - good natter with Matt, Chris and Lee.
Wednesday: 15 warm up, Teddy Hall Relays (18:01- 4th fastest leg- huge number of big scalps - reckon it's worth ~ 15:15 for 5k), 15 wd 
Thursday: Travelling most day. 40 recovery at ~ 5 in the evening. PM PM (about 9)- 15 easy, 20 steady (~6:40mm), 15 easy.
Friday, 15 wu, 69:36 @ 5:40mm (7 laps Battersea Park, fast first lap, rest all between 9:55ish and 10:00- 10:00 = 5:42mm), 18 wd 

Saturday: 35 wu jog to WC Park Run, Ran it at tempo in 17:05 pushing last few hundred to break Andrew Mercer (course worth at least 30 seconds possibly up to /over a minute depending on conditions - is a bog at the moment), 40 wd on way back home.

623 minutes run (~83) with Garmin spitting out average pace of 7:12 and 86.52 miles which is probably a bit more accurate!

Summary: A very solid week's work. Tough stuff at times but 3 very solid runs. 18:01 at Teddy Hall was a great run narrowly behind Chris Busaileh and Chris McGurk who both ran stunningly at the Southern and Midland Road Relays respectively. The MP run around BP I was pretty worried about but actually went pretty well- especially solo and late at night. My legs felt very heavy the next day at WC ParkRun but tbh that was expected and nice to sneak the win on very heavy legs. Finally- Thursday evening- definitely a sign of a better attitude - in recent years being tired I'd have just said sod it and stayed in- actually drove to the nearby town and ran in the dark.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Training Week Commencing 28th February 2010

AM: 16 wu, 26:09 @ 6:04mm, 2 wd - Run-In XC League 1st- Absolutely ridiculous conditions. Raining and gusting wind. Course is half fields, quarter usually decent trails and quarter concrete so getting right shoes is a sod. Broke away early on, minor mistake took me off course and back into second then the ford which was meant to be calf deep was chest deep. Got clear again and won fairly comfortably despite sore legs from national. Conditions were so poor just couldn't warm down. More risk of catching hypothermia.

AM: 41 recovery @ 9:42mm (probably faster- garmin playing up)
PM: 65 easy @ 7:37mm w. Clapham Chasers

AM: 47 steady @ 6:41mm + 13 recovery / drills


PM: 2:37 easy(!?) @ 7:21mm - awful run - really struggled badly especially in last few miles

AM: 5 wu, 63:36 AeT @ 5:38mm - 11.284 miles (8 laps Uni parks (1.4105)), 18wd

PM: 86 easy @ 7:26mm - ran two different routes to work- slightly longer one by Chelsea Bridge along embankment and then back via Elephant & Castle

AM: 34 wu, 17:04 5k Tempo at ParkRun (missed start), break then 10 Tempo back + 25 wd.

Time: 627 Minutes / ~ 84 miles (ass. 7:30mm)
Miles: 86.35 miles
Pace: 7:12mm

Summary: Odd little week. Race at the start was okay but struggled in the poor conditions with the previous day's race in my legs. Monday and Tuesday I was very lethargic in both runs. Wednesday's run was a disaster and just really struggling to clump along at even 7:30mm. By contrast Thursday was fantastic and was just floating along very relaxed. Friday and Saturday more happy mediums- quite pleased to have run 17:04 at the ParkRun (10 seconds slower than 2 weeks back) but having arrived 30 seconds late and had to weave through the entire field and staying relaxed this time am not really too worried.

On whole- decent mileage (tomorrow's 24 miler will give me a 7 day total of ~104 - joint highest ever with Portugal) at a decent pace. Got through a very tough long run, won a race, did a good MP work-out and Tempo run this morning and finally some decent easy-steady running fleshing the week out.

Winning XC team. Overall, Mens and Ladies. Three of us on the back row (Me, Nick and Andrew) went 1,2,3 at the last two fixtures.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

4 Week Review - 31st January - 27th February 2010

Week 1: 579 minutes, 78 miles

19 Long-Run @ 7:01
27:21 tempo @ 5:25
22:17 AeT @ 5:34

Good week where I hit a good LR early on then a decent two tempos in the middle.

Week 2: 460 minutes, 62 Miles

Great Bentley Half: 13.1 @ 5:25 - 70:55 3rd Place PB
Easy session with Paul Evans

Recovery week following Great Bentley- just got my legs ticking over with some steady stuff on the Tuesday.

 Week 3: 602 minutes, 82 Miles

 22 Long-Run @ 6:54
5 x 4:30 off 90 @ ~5:15-20 w. CC
5 x 1200 off 90 (4 x ~3:59 + 1 x 3:32)
Run-In XC League 4.74 miles 28:18 (5:59mm) 1st 
Parkrun 5k - 16:54 @ 5:11mm 3rd

Solid week with the move and v. nice to get my first 20 (and 21!) miler in - looking back despite the "easy" sessions- this week had 2 interval sessions, 2 races and a long run in which is really too heavy...

Week 4: 600 minutes, 80 Miles 

 20 @ 7:07mm (inc. hour at 6:13mm)
4 x 1600 (lap jog)  (5:17, 5:19 ,5:11 ,5:05)
3 x lap Battersea Park (2.84km) (90) - 10:03 ,10:27, 9:47
National XC - 43:58 (5:54mm) 171st

This was an interesting week coming off a very heavy Sunday/Monday (38 miles) - the Tuesday track session was suitably relaxed and the Battersea session likewise. The National was a reasonable result- might have been interesting fully tapered and having done some hill work. Muddy courses just don't suit me though.

4 Week Period Total: 2241 minutes , 302 miles (579,460,602,600)
Long Runs: 19, 22, 20
Races: 4

Interesting 4 weeks incorporating a move and me getting used to doing some proper long runs. What has been particularly odd about this month has been that I don't think I've had a single interval session where I have had to push. A case of perhaps realising that just because I can do it- doesn't necessarily mean I should do it. The nice part is that because I'm so used to banging out hard interval sessions week-in, week-out I can realistically go to the track and run 4-5 x mile in 5:10-5:20 and it feel like a jog and not compromise the rest of the week. The results over the next few weeks might throw up a few surprises as we see how this has worked out.

This might also be contributing to my consistent mileage - this has to be one of my better blocks ever - as part of that I need to remember that my legs are going to start feeling tired occasionally and that niggles are likely to appear. That is why massage and stretching are more important than ever right now. I am very pleased to hit 3 x 80 weeks and a 60 recovery week. 80s definitely feel "normal" now and a 90 wouldn't be a huge stretch. I usually calculate mileage based on the minutes and averaging 7:30 miling- from the garmin it seems I actually average 10-20 seconds faster so am actually likely running a couple of miles more.

In terms of training theory- right now it's fairly clear that I'm working on my long run and basic endurance in this block with a decent amount of work at tempo pace. Maintenance has been on 5k/10k speed and on MP work. The next month will see a decrease in the tempo work and more work done on MP (with hopefully the gap between them closing) as my body should now be more comfortable with the long runs.

Racing-wise there has been an exceptional result (Great Bentley), two quite decent results (National XC is definitely my best ever run in a "major" over a hilly course and a substantial improvement on the Southern. In the run-in XC league I was fairly pleased to win and moved well on the harder surfaces) and a poor one at the Wimbledon Common Parkrun which I'm having to write off due to poor tactics and poor dealing with the mental side of it. It all seems to confirm I'm moving in the right direction - and also that I still can't run particularly well on tough muddy XCs - from results it appears that I lose ~30 seconds / 15 minutes run on these sort of courses to good XC runners.

On the whole- very solid month and good progress though the lack of sufficient running at MP (usually either above or below) is a worry.

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.