Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moving the Blog...

Hey all,

I've decided to shift the blog over to googleplus - combines the best bit of both blogger and twitter - can write as much as I want and people can comment and see it all -plus it makes it easier putting photos up. Just search Bryn Reynolds (even if we don't know each other personally yet!) and add me (probably in the "following" circle would be best and I'll add you onto the distribution circle for the blog which is now going pretty much daily as I return to form.

There may be the odd post on here but it'll likely be full length articles as opposed to just snippets of training!

See you at the races.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 7 - Then we really have to go

Progress of a sort I suppose. I ran 18 minutes today and whilst the glute/back felt itchy I wasnt in pain. It was a weird one as it definitely didnt feel as good as it did on Saturday when it was strong at the start  but it was the same for the whole run and felt much better at the end.

Anyway an 18 minute run, then I put in a hard 75 minutes on the exercise bike (progressive work-out, increasing the tension every 15 minutes, finished level 5 this time which is as far as Ive got so far) followed by 5 minutes running immediately after which was totally pain-free (and really quite pleasant albeit raining). 

As a whole a very good session.

Then headed out to the pub to catch up with the Chasers whod had some very decent runs at the Richmond 10k earlier and managed to win the men and womens county championships very impressed with both teams! Lucie also managed to win the individual Surrey Ladies.

Sadly we were less successful at the pub quiz. A second place finish was scant commiseration though winning the bonus round and a free drink made it a worthwhile evening from my perspective.
Having managed to remain teetotal I headed back and got an easy hour in on the exercise bike whilst watching Day of the Dead

As usual lots of work using The Grid (think Im finally starting to make progress on a horrible set of knots where my outside quad joins my knee) and stretching followed by watching this inspirational video of Tim Don training here. That Kenyan day just looks like plain hard work!

Think thats about it for today keep well everyone.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 6 - Going nowhere slowly

Well - not quite but it does feel that way sometimes when you're doing most of your training on a stationery bike!

With Hayley over and doing two runs it made sense for me to break up my usual long ride into two sections. In the morning I nailed out a pretty decent 80 minutes on the bike with the effort level relatively low.

The afternoon I went for a short run and then followed that up with my second session on the bike - this time watching the European Team Champs.

The run was an odd one - I felt really good for about the first 9 minutes and then the back/glute definitely tightened up a fair bit and last 4-5 minutes were whilst not painful clearly not totally right - definitely need to avoid pushing it too hard right now but still huge strides from where I was a week ago (basically almost able to hobble without pain whilst on a huge amount of pain-killers). I do suffer the usual runners worry as to whether my extra training is slowing down my recovery.

After I was back there seemed to be no problems and a solid 45 minute bike left me with 2:05 biking for the day and 15 running for 2:20 worth of aerobic exercise. Not a great rule but I generally feel if I'm going over 2 hours even if I lose a bit of fitness I'm still in decent nick. Combined obviously with a lot of stretching, various exercises (mostly calf raises to build up my calf strength and protect achilles) and using "The Grid" for massage which is really getting well into my ITBs which have just been too knotted for me to really get into with "The Stick".

Right - shattered now as had a tough day training (more on that tomorrow) but there'll be another update tomorrow.

Looking ahead - to have a reasonable chance at Amsterdam I need to be running at least 60+ miles a week with 14 weeks to go which is in 3 weeks time. I think it could be doable but I'll be starting a relatively short build-up from an unfit state. It's gonna be tough.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 5 - Need for Speed

5 minutes at 7 minute miling. Progress.

Yesterday wasn't a huge training day but I managed to get a bit done - 90 minutes on the bike wasn't amazing but a decent session and then straight off the bike for a 5 minute (deliberately short) run which was painfree and I was finally moving at a half decent pace.

Currently hacking an old pair of shoes to pieces using a bread knife to try and make minimalist ones. They were too old to wear normally anymore but figured this might give them an extra lease of life. They look pretty sweet at the moment but unfortunately I'm not sure that wave riders were the best ones to do as the wave goes right up to the base. Can see a bit of the shoe liner through but sure that's fine.... Picture below of the shoes and the hacked remnants.

(Yes that is my bread-knife - sorry Jan!)

Just been watching the European Team championships and raelly impressed with fellow Beagle James Shane's run and also Andy Vernon in the 5k with a very gutsy effort. Espana is probably the number 2 5000m runner in Europe so no shame to lose to him and Lebid is obviously a legend when it comes to European running.

Right - got Hayley over so that's all I can post for the moment.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 4 - And that's all I've got the say about that.

Little bit more progress yesterday managed to get 9 minutes of running in which still sounds utterly pathetic but is a big deal for me at the moment. Unfortunately there was definitely some tightening up but the difference between the 30 second shuffle I was doing at the start of the week and what Im doing now is pretty huge. Im hoping I can have something vaguely like a normal run by Sunday.

I also managed to put in a good exercise bike session. 1:45 spending most of the time watching Forrest Gump. Hard work as for the first 75 minutes every 15 I put the resistance up a level with the final 15 minutes being very hard work before spending an extra 30 minutes just spinning relatively easily. 

The final bit was having just bought a foam roller I used that pretty heavily as well. Whilst work makes things tough it does mean you usually have a bit of spare cash in order to get yourself some kit. Unfortunately due to sitting down all day your hip flexors are utterly frozen!

The first time using it despite extensive work usingthe stick I could immediately feel some very sore areas in particular the lower section of my ITB/ outside of my quads was incredibly tight. I already knew this and had worked on it with the stick but never had much luck actually breaking the knots down. I could definitely feel some progress from the very start and hopefully some time on this each day will help ease up my muscles during the marathon training.

The other area its useful (aside from easing the muscles up) is that it is a great core workout constantly balancing on a single limb and rolling over it makes it pretty functional as well rather than just working a single muscle hard. Im not saying its going to be the absolute best core session ever but for someone as horrendous at core as me it certainly seems like a useful addition.

Finally big congrats to Aaron Scott on his selection to run for England. Hes made huge strides over the last couple of years and great to see it rewarded. Similarly Andy Norman who has recovered from some horrendous injury problems.
Right thats it for now got a cycle to do this evening and then hopefully a 15 minute run tomorrow! Hopefully pain free!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 3

Apologies for the delay I will be updating daily (or near as) but will be doing it in the evening now discussing the past day just when I have time to blog!

So on the running side. I managed 4 minutes yes 4 WHOLE minutes. And I was actually definitely running rather than shuffling this time. No pain though I could feel the muscles tightening up a little bit. 

To be honest I spent about the next 10 minutes hopping about in happiness which has to be worth something as well?

I then managed to put a decent stint in on the exercise bike 70 minutes. Starting at the lowest level and gradually building up the resistance every 15 minutes with the last 10 minutes as a cool-down.
Im not sure how much it helps but I notice a big difference coming back from an injury when Ive been x-training every day compared to when I havent been. In particular with the exercise biking my legs generally feel really quite strong and I end up running hills a lot more strongly than I would before.
In terms of the build-up to Amsterdam I need to be running close to 80 miles per week within about 4 weeks. This shouldnt be impossible as once the irritation caused by the ligament is gone there should be no reason I cant run properly but its still a tough ask. Im also working on strengthening up my achilles and loosening up all my muscles. Its going to be a tough and hard campaign given the brevity (12 weeks) and Im going to need to be as strong as possible to avoid injury. 

Thats all for now hopefully a bit more running and a bit less biking tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 2

Sadly a dull day - all I did was 2 minutes running which was sortofI'mnotreallysurebutprobably painfree not quite as good as yesterday but it was an actual run rather than a shuffle.

I decided not to X-train tonight - right now the main pain when walking seems to be coming from the muscles in the glute which remain incredibly tight - which is also how I spent most my day just rubbing small knots of muscle that have formed up.

It's always an odd one - working in an office and trying to seem normal whilst actually being a runner. Elite athletes have it pretty easy - no one asks why they spend all day stretching, getting massage, doing odd drills.

The life of the office athlete consists of furtively rubbing your glute whilst you think no-one is looking, covert stretching in the bathroom stalls, heel dips on the stairs whilst prepped to pretend you were just walking up them should anyone come along, trainers and wet kit shoved under desk when back from a lunchtime run.

It's an odd life!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Amsterdam Gambit - The Beginning

The Thursday before last I broke down a mile from my house and was reduced to a walk, not even a normal walk, a wretched hobble with my back/glute in agony. A simple walk down an escalator had triggered a reaction in my back that reduced me to spending the evening unable to walk between my bedroom and the kitchen.

It's been a painful two weeks but I've finally seen some light at the end of the tunnel. After a session with super physio Noel Thatcher last week (Holly House) I knew what I'd done (irritated a ligament around my sacrum) and now I've finally done it - I've run again pain-free.

Okay- it was for 30 seconds and it was more of a hobble than a run but for the first time there wasn't a shooting pain going through my sacrum.

So - that officially launches the campaign - not with a bang but with a whisper (to mis-quote a famous phrase). I'm targetting Amsterdam and I've got an ambitious target (certainly more ambitious than someone currently running for a grand total of 30 seconds should have...) - it's going to be tough (and my coach is going to kill me for putting this up here!) but I like the challenge of the public appeal which keeps me accountable. After all - no-one's impressed when you go for the possible- it's possible!

This time round I'm planning on keeping a detailed log of how I'm feeling each day and sharing it via the blog. It isn't always going to be fascinating - it'll just be the tale of how a normal guy in a normal job goes about trying to do his best as a runner.

So - training today...

Running: 30 seconds
Exercise Bike: hour
Lots of stretching.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Green Belt, Track, Brockwell Park and Achilles

Last weekend was one of my favourite in the year - the Green Belt Relay. For those who aren't in the know the Green belt is a 22 stage, 2 day relay race around London with each team member running a leg on day 1 and day 2. It tends to attract pretty competitive teams and has a great atmosphere. Highly recommended.

So day 1 I was racing over roughly 10 miles from Staines to Windsor with the first and last third or so offroad and the middle section on park roads. From the start it was clear that it was going to be between myself and Jeff Cunningham. Jeff is a top class competitor and rival but he's clearly still struggling to get London out of his legs a bit! We were even until about 3/4 miles in when we hit the top of the hill ( I hate hills). I managed to push away off the top and despite a minor misturn in the park stayed clear and pushed on to get a new stage record. It was nice getting my stage done early as it meant I was able to a) have a drink and b) cheer on the rest of the team going around! Unfortunately my achilles (not that bad one, the other bad one) decided to play up so I spent a lot of the day getting acquainted with ice cubes (of course to get the ice cubes I had to buy a pint of cider first...)

Day 2 we very nearly missed the stage - we were headed in the wrong direction and going fast until some local knowledge got us re-directed and we made the start with minutes to go. Day 2 was against my frequent rival Hugh. I tried to go with him but after a mile or two it was clear he was a man on a mission and I was floundering! He broke away and I ended up staggering to the top of Reigate Hill (did I mention I REALLY HATE hills). I was still clear of third and fourth until my garmin decided to take me down a very nice driveway. By the time I got back onto the path Steve Whitehead had caught up and with Hugh well clear, the team being more than 2 hours behind Steve's Stock Exchange mixed team already I decided to take the easy route and run around with Steve rather than get myself lost again. We had a nice natter going around. I was planning on breaking clear with about 400 to go on the 8.7 mile leg and kicking in. Unfortunately the Garmin beeped for 8 miles, we turned a corner and there were some people in pink bibs standing near what looked awfully like a finish line. I half started to sprint, still not totally sure with Steve likewise - as I got a little closer I realised it must be and went flat out - Steve wasn't dropping though! As someone commented afterwards - normally in these sprints for the finish one party gives up and the other coasts in - that didn't happen here! Thankfully I managed to get my carcass over the line first.

The team as a whole did really well and with a roughly 50/50 split of men and women I felt it was a very strong performance in the mixed category which only required 2 women. Personally I was a bit disappointed on both days - I just didn't feel myself with very heavy legs. Hopefully back to normal soon!

Wednesday seeing as Hayley was doing a BMC at Eltham I decided to give it a go as well - it was so close to my work I figured it'd be a laugh. Looking at the entry list it was clear that there was going to be two races - a sub 4 one and a ~4:10-15 one. From the gun I was at the very back as we went through in 67 and I'd moved past Justina my club-mate. Tucked in behind Buzz Shepherd we caught one youngster relatively quickly hitting 800 in around 2:14. I then pushed past and caught another youngster with around 600 to go and started trying to maintain the pace. I didn't catch the lead group but I put a few seconds on the chasers and was generally quite pleased with a 4:14.9 showing. My second fastest ever and with no specific pace work done I'm sure in the next few months I can post something a little bit quicker. Definitely an improvement over the paltry 4:22 I ran at SML!

So on to Brockwell Park on Saturday. My lunchtime run partner Mike Leong was taking a stab at a sub 18 clocking on the mildly difficult Brockwell Parkrun 5k course. I like Brockwell as it's all on tarmac and has a small(ish) hill that you go up both laps which on lap one seems fine but seems very tough on the second lap!

The pacing went pretty well. We were through the first 3k roughly on pace, a hard 4th k up the hill meant we lost around 20 seconds on the pace but the last k Mike really rallied to run his fastest of the race and drag back a lot of the time for an 18:10 which is worth sub 18 for sure on a really fast course. Lots of room for improvement as well there.

My left achilles hasn't been totally happy since the Assembly League 5k - minor tweak and it's never been really painful but I'm aware of it. Hence I've now embarked on an aggressive strengthening, icing and calf massage campaign on both achilles - it's fine now but marathon training is approaching and I need them both to be in tip-top shape and strong as an ox for that.

Right - enough for this time - take care people and see you at the races.

Monday, May 16, 2011

General Update - Races, Training and Iron

Things have been pretty hectic over here. Reading as I'm sure most heard was an unmitigated disaster. Last year I was very pleased in that I managed to time my peak so I ran best in the most important races - this year I ran, to be fair, shockingly at Reading. I was struggling almost from the get-go. I was just about able to hold it together til halfway and then I was gone. Boom. Now I think I was on track two-three months previous with a 7 mile 5:20 pace tempo feeling strong. Here I was all over the place and almost instantly dropped to 6mm and just slogged it out to the finish. I'm glad I did - I don't like to drop out and do so rarely (3 times I think in 15 years).

Anyways - post-race I went and got blood tests for the first time ever and they revealed a low ferritin level. Not critically low but well below the normal and far too low for a young male athlete. It also explained the almost regular fatigue I was feeling, waking up after 7-8 hours sleep and feeling like I'd had about 2. I just ascribed it to running high mileage but in retrospect it was much worse than that.

So - some simple dietary changes and an iron supplement and I've been back to my usual bouncing off the walls most of the time. Not to say I don't still occasionally feel tired but it's much more normal now and hopefully the longer-term iron supplementation with increased vitamin c intake (together with steak for dinner and 2 black pudding for breakfast - it's a hard life at times!) will mean that's the last of the problems. Looking back I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happened at London last year as it was a similar sort of feeling - and both times off the back of a block of high mileage. I'm not sure I entirely believe in haemolysis (red blood cells burst by foot impact) but with a very heavy footfall and a short stride it seems likely.

Just generally my stats for stuff like red blood cell count, haematocrit etc. were all well below normal - I'm intrigued to see what'll happen if I get them up again!

So I also started changing some stuff around after Reading. Whilst "regenerating" with reduced but much faster mileage. The run I'm slower than 7mm is rare now. It's taken a while to get the mileage back up to anything even vaguely reasonable (combined with a couple of really quite bad niggles) but either the training is working, the huge base I put in is paying off, or my body is finally recovering as I'm racing pretty well at the moment. My garmin clocked 15:27 for a road 5k the otherday (official 15:33) which is a good step forward and I was really pleased with how the race went being sandwiched between the two Torry brothers (hmm... that sentence might need a re-write...) who have both since had really good runs at Bristol. Nick I think pretty much ran back to back the same pace he ran for the 5k!

Aside from the 5k, on the previous Sunday I'd done the Sutton 10k and clocked a relatively pedestrian 32:51 but tbh was very happy with the race as I really wasn't going for time! (and a set of 10 x 200m off walkback recovery on the Wednesday meant I was still hobbling - my body was not built for speed!) I set off very conservatively tucked into the pack whilst Brian Wilder put a very big move in early on and had 50m on us before we even got out the park! I stayed very comfortably tucked in with the chasing pack. Not much progress was being made but we weren't losing huge amount either though I could tell most were likely to die off. Basil Wallace from Herne Hill (who has a fantastically efficient looking stride) zipped past after a couple of km and I tucked in. As we completed the first lap of three and hit the 4km point I could tell Brian wasn't getting any further away so made a big move and started reeling in the 50-80m he had going clear of Basil. I think it was too big a move as I caught him pretty much at 5km! I sat in for a bit, then pushed and got a small lead, at about 7km but Brian fought back and we were back level going into the park. As we were heading back out I got the feeling Brian was working a little harder than I was and decided to try and get clear so a hard burst and I had a small gap. Unfortunately I know just how strong Brian is and knew I needed to keep on pushing. I didn't get a halfway split but had to have run a huge negative split (most in my early pack ran outside 34) and kept the effort level up to the finish line. I didn't particularly kick as I wasn't sure how my legs would hold up at the faster pace! It sounds like Brian was coming off a tough few days and I'm looking forward to having a few more duels on the Surrey road racing scene.

So with the 10k on the Sunday, 5k on the Thursday I'd already promised Leroy I'd run the 1500 and 5k at the SML league in Wimbledon. The 5k I was really pleased with. I'd asked to be B-string and that meant I could conserve energy for the 1500. Pete Tucker took off from the start with John Clarke, Met Police B-string and myself all in a mini-race. I was very much just shadowing the Met Police guy (I felt I was stronger and could kick harder and it's a race - it's the other guys job to either break you or out-think you). With about 6 laps it was clear the guy was struggling a little and I was still feeling pretty strong - John had gone clear and Peter was 150m or so clear. With a mile to go I put a single big lap in, going past John and seeing if Peter was slowing down at all. He clearly wasn't so I eased back a bit and John and I waltzed in together for a comfortable 9 points. Running 16:07 I was fairly sure I could run a touch faster than that pace for 10k which backed up my 5k.

Unfortunately the 1500 was a bit of a disaster. My achilles was a touch tight and I just wasn't driving right off of it. From the start I was flat footed and a 70 second opening lap felt very hard. Whilst I'd felt easy as anything in the 5k (I actually think if I'd pushed flat out for the last 1500 of the 5k it might have been quicker than my 15!) and strong, in control, by contrast in the 15 it was a straight out sprint. Hopefully I'll have a better one soon!

So - limited training with days in general quite hard (including one midnight run home from work including a 5 mile stretch with 4 5:45 miles and a 5:20 to finish!) and lots of racing. I've generally been doing races instead of sessions with regular "half" sessions on the grass. Be interesting to see how it works out!

Let me know any questions or thoughts you all have.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watford 3k

Sorry - this'll be fairly short as I'm tired but wanted to get a little something up before I went to sleep!

 3k tonight - had made very concious decision to ignore time entirely and concentrate on racing whicever little group I got into (usually I get very stressed about splits) - first lap was in around 72/73 and I was practically off the back but managed to get back on and gradually move up til I was tucked in a little group. Went through the mile in 4:51 still feeling very relaxed. Knew I was running well within myself but decided just to stick in and concentrate on beating this little group. Was going to make a big move at 600 but just as I was going someone sprinted around the outside and blocked me until the home straight! Went through the bell in 7:55 and kicked like crazy fairly certain I'd get a PB (9:07) but no thought of breaking 9, was possibly slowing a touch when I got to 200 to go ("8:28"), and started kicking all over again. Clocked 9:00! If I'd just gone at 600 sure I'd have got it!

Still - very pleased to actually go and have some fun in a track race.I've been spending all night with a big smile on my face. Apart from the last 400 the whole race felt exceptionally easy and not having done anything close to this pace in a long time (I think the last 400 is probably my fastest in about 2 years!) I was very pleased. Hopefully next time I'll clock a sub 9, but given how easy it felt after 6 1/2 laps I'll be interested to see if I can maintain that pace to 5k.

Vaguely confirms something I've been pretty sure of for a while - to race people rather than to try and hit even splits gives you the best race. I felt so good tonight because I wasn't even worrying about the splits (couldn't tell you what they were!) and was letting how I felt dictate the pace. I just wish the group had been moving a fraction of a second a lap quicker!

Also nice to finally meet Aaron Scott (Twitter) and have a short natter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thames 20, Richmond Half and Olympic Tickets

Hey all,

First up I guess current state of training - ran 10 x km off a 100 jog to see if target pace for Reading was achievable. Ran roughly a 3:18/19 average exactly as planned so very pleased with that and felt relatively relaxed. Considering I'd had a long lunch and day at work it's good. Certainly since starting to work full time I've found track sessions are definitely a touch slower than before - that said tonight I was very much in control and chatting to people as I was going around. Looks like setting off at 5:20 is a goer.

So- as I said I'll be doing frequent race reviews on here - full disclosure I'm indirectly involved in Thames - is run by my second claim club chasers but I'll mostly try to be impartial. The organisers last time around seemed happy enough with my review despite the irreverent tone so I'll continue as before.

Thames 20 - Race or Pace

Entry for the Semi-Serious 

This year - very simple entry online system. Last year I didn't know about the race until the week before and I was "squeezed" in - so top marks on that front and were very approachable. Was very simple to pick up the number on the day. Very early start though!

Pushing to the Front

Pace groups are easily set out so you get a nice clear run. Absolutely perfect and almost everyone seemed to line up in roughly the right one. The one thing is that due to council regulations etc. you have to run the first mile at around 7 minute miling which isn't great but then the race isn't super serious anyway! Here's a photo of me and the 7 minute mile group starting last year...

So "Undulating" Means F:!@:##! Big Hill, Twice

Course is straight out along the Thames and straight back all on the towpath this year (last year there were a few diversions). I actually really like this sort of course but I know it's not to everyone's tastes. You won't run a really super fast time as it's along the towpath, rough aggregate worn away and gravelley stuff - you probably lose a few seconds a mile. This year I really felt the wind coming back though. The course was also marginally long by ~200m - not a huge issue in a non-certified/measured race.

Was Anyone Else Running Out There Today?

Nice big official pace groups so you get plenty to run with at your target pace - more races should do this! In terms of the pointy end it was a much quicker race this year with the course record being dropped by about 10 minutes. If you're in one of the target pace groups (7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 etc.) - then you'll have plenty of company. If you're much faster than that you could end up on your own for part of the race.

3000 runners at £20 a pop less £4 for the Winners Trophy....

£8 for entry - in miles per pound that's definitely better than most! (if a race is less than a £1/mile I think that's good value as a rule of thumb). Gatorade set out at miles 5,10 and 15. Lots of cakes at the finish. Definitely VFM. In terms of the winners prizes they've taken the trouble to arrange vouchers which is much appreciated and given the low cost of the race is very reasonable.

Movie Time (AKA - The Big Picture)

Pleasant early morning race. If you're hyper serious about running an official 20 mile PB this probably isn't the one but if you're looking for a friendly 20 mile hard training run/off-road race this is absolutely perfect. The cheers from the guys going the other way are much appreciated as well. Definitely a good race so it's getting a Race for Runners Bronze award. It's a great race and good value for money - for a training run last year huge steps have been made forward.

Race for Runners Award (Bronze)

Link to Clapham Chasers Site

Richmond Half

Entry for the Semi-Serious 

Race isn't until mid-May but is already filled up. Fair enough must be doing something right. The course record is 68:57 - now I don't mind if I sent an email to GNR, London, GSR etc. asking if they had a place and they blew me off - they're bloody huge races with top class runners. Unfortunately the big ones are always courteous and it's the little ones that are often small minded, petty and rude. I sent a polite email enquiring if they kept back any places for the sub-elite (yes - I know I'm crap in the big scheme but when the course record for a half marathon they claim is fast is less than a minute faster than my best then in relation to the status of the race I'm not that bad) explaining that I'm in good shape and would be looking at hopefully taking a shot at the course record.

So I get back an a fairly rude rejection email explaining to me (as I'm clearly slow) - "The race is FULL.  There is no reserve list." - you know when they're using CAPITALS, BOLDING IT and UNDERLINING IT they really think you're too stupid to get the message.

I'm a little surprised at this as Ranelagh are always friendly and are a well-established club but clearly there's not much of a thought for trying to put together a half-decent field for the race. Therefore the race gets my first...

(bolded, capitalised, underlined and italicised to really explain the message). 

Olympic Tickets

Okay- now this has really annoyed me - the tickets are being sold and ballots are being operated - perfect. Unfortunately people don't know what tickets they are going to get when they pay for them! The money is being taken before you know which tickets you have (they can literally take several thousands pounds for a month and give you no tickets). For me - this doesn't make a huge deal. 

For some of the people from Newham, Tower Hamlets - the guys who have been really paying for the Olympics with council tax and all the disruptions and a lot of whom aren't particularly rich - if they want to guarantee themselves tickets they need to book a lot of different events, pay for all of them, and still potentially not get any tickets. This really disappoints me and seems so badly organised.

Huge thumbs down for this.  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Training 7th March 2011 - (No Round-up as I'm Shattered...)

7th March 2011
Mon AM

PM Easy run home from work – 7:50mm – 8
Tue AM Easy to steady run into work – 7:04mm – 8

PM Easy run home from work – 12 miles at 7:47mm
Wed AM Warm up, Teddy Hall Relays – 18:26 – 5:04mm – fairly pleased and ran well on tired legs – slightly misjudged finish, long warm down with Franco

Thu AM

PM Recovery run home – 10 miles – first 5 very tough with heavy rucksack weighing me down – generally not great.
Fri AM 5 miles easy into work at 7:24mm

PM 10 miles recovery home from work at 7:55mm
Sat AM

PM 1:53 at 7:24mm – first 1:15 easy running around Battersea and Clapham Common then a 10 x ~160m hill sprints with jog recovery before an easy warm down
Sun AM Long run done early doors(ish). 21 miles done in 2:30. Took a split every 4 miles and paces were: 7:37mm,7:19mm,7:06mm,6:57mm,6:51mm and last mile in 6:27. Nicely progressive (though first half very hilly) and average of 7:08 bit faster than intended.


Running minutes
Cycling Minutes

Total Minutes

In comparison to last weeks very solid week – this was a very tough week. Work/study wise it was a tough week (midnight run...) with a lot of travelling to Oxford, a late night after Teddy Hall and just generally I don't think I had a single day that you would describe as “restful” all week. Even the weekend on the Saturday I needed to travel home for my cousin's wedding on the Sunday! (Lovely event and absolutely made up for Tosin and Kirsty – many thanks for having me!). Despite that I still managed to knock up a 100 mile week after having a very tough race on the Sunday previously. To run as fast as I did at THR off 54+ miles in 3 days was shocking. Unfortunately my plan to run hard on Saturday morning at Parkrun was slightly hi-jacked when I woke up with agonising calf-cramp 20 minutes before I was meant to head off – I was still utterly shattered so took another 2 hours sleep and did a run in the afternoon instead. Still – the hard work is done now and I can relax and look forward to having a good run-out at Reading – and of course an easier week! 4 weeks at 95 average is still very tough work for me!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Most of the readers of this blog know that running is a confidence sport. If you're not confident in yourself and your abilities when you go to the starting line then you're screwed. You need to have a pretty singular purpose and the best athletes all tend to have an almost effervescent bubbling self belief that they "will" win. This is related to this blog - but only indirectly because this blog is about having confidence in your training.

This last winter it's been particularly relevant to me. Most of you who know me know that until my marathon build up I was pretty much a dyed in the wool track year-round kind of guy - or at the very least similar tough interval sessions year round. Following last year's succesful marathon build up (and subsequent injury in the recovery period) I started taking a slightly different approach in conjunction with my coach. Very few interval work-outs at all and simply a tempo run once a week. I knew this would be difficult to do and would be hard - especially as I knew that with just a few weeks interval training my fitness level would sky-rocket. Unfortunately-  after that sky-rocket initial start if you're not careful you can rapidly end up with a halt to any progress.

So I've had to pretty much sit back, run the miles, feel the fitness building (but only slowly) and have trust that I'm getting there. There have been a few glimpses - strong tempo runs or long runs for the most part the key one being a 7 mile tempo at 5:20 pace which let me know I was improving - but mostly I've just had to keep the faith and have confidence that it was there. As Mike Boucher (who runs marathons better than just about anybody) once put it I believe "You don't grow potatoes by uprooting them and checking they're growing every week".

So - the first race of my season is rapidly approaching. Since London last year my perspective has changed quite a bit - I'm now focusing much more on a single race and building towards that. It's intense but I think helps me  concentrate far better on what is important and bringing the effort for that one single day. Obviously I've had a bit of fun in the last week ( a 20 mile off-road race I won, and a pretty decent Teddy Hall Relay's leg on very tired legs!) - but I actually have very little idea of what shape I am in for the Reading Half next week. I'm sincerely hoping it'll be sub 70 - the real impact will be this final week of tapering.

I'm coming off a very strong block of around 4 weeks averaging in the mid 90s - for me that's a big step forwards. Now we just need to see if it pays off. Unfortunately my speedwork got delayed about 5 weeks ago for a week due to a quad problem (ideally I would have done a couple more weeks of faster work) but I still hope to put a good marker down and then see how the rest of the season goes.

Take care everyone - have confidence in your training and be glad - the summer is rapidly approaching!

See you at the races.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Training Log and Weekly Round-Up from 28th Feb

Okay - so in an attempt to get stuff regularly up I'm just going to start a weekly round up post each week and update as I go along together with hopefully my training on Sunday evening. So there won't be a huge amount right now but over the course of the week more snippets will appear!

Training log now included at the bottom. Summary - just short of 90 miles. Good track workout. Few hills. Poor parkrun. Quite decent 20 mile offroad race on Sunday.

Kawauchi - Japanese Style

For those of us interested in marathoning and in particular the top non-Africans (because let's face it - it's a different world!) a lot of the focus goes on the Japanese. Unlike the Africans and even the Americans they rarely have the really fast 5k/10k times but tend to knock out fast if not spectacular half-marathons (or equivalent Ekiden legs) and correspondingly better marathons. They have a knack for picking up the minor medals at world championships.

So it was fascinating to see Kawauchi - with decidedly average in the world of sub 2:10 marathoners shorter PBs of run a huge PB of 2:08 at the Tokyo Marathon. Brett Larner's excellent JRN has more details here. Kawauchi left the Japanese university system and corporate system at a young age. Runs considerably less miles (it looks like something in the mid 90s per week) and works a full-time job (admittedly with time in the morning to get a lot of training in). For those of us working full-time and without the quick shorter times it gives hope when a guy like this can make the huge jump to world class with a great PB.

The guy apparently runs every marathon like he might die during it, needing the medical tent on multiple occasions. For the final 6 odd k of the race watch the below...

Brockwell Park Run

 Okay so I've had a Parkrun going for 10 weeks now, I thought it was 2 miles away but it's actually 1.7 odd. I've unfortunately been either training on a Saturday morning or been away. Just generally talking to some runners there is a temptation I know for fairly decent runners to want to just go and do a park run on a Saturday rather than perhaps try and put a harder session in. Great for 5k/10k runners and not so great for marathoners. Non-specific work potentially compromising the long run. That said if you did a parkrun at the end of a long run...

Anyways - so I got down to Brockwell Parkrun. I've got a 20 mile race with a 4 mile warm up tomorrow so was never planning to blast it. Looking at the previous 9 results aside from Tobias winning the first one in 16:54 all the rest were over 17 minutes. I figured I could do a fairly easy "mini-tempo" sitting on the next runner and kick for the win.

So what do I see as I jog down but a bloke wearing a SoE vest. Damn. It's my mate Carlisle and I know he's in reasonable shape. That's the win gone. There's another guy in a T-shirt looking loose - James Trapmore. Anyways - race sets off, I stick in behind the two of them for the first 800, realise I'm going way too fast and ease off. They rapidly disappear into the distance and I poodle around for a 17:01. Given the plan was at the very worst (best?) to run at 17 minute pace and kick like mad I'm fairly pleased with the effort on the whole as there's no way it was near flat-out. In all honesty it felt like I was just trying to run a bit faster than usual on a steady run. Lead two were well clear - sub 15:30 for sure.

So anyways - just a couple of thoughts - firstly the course. I actually think it's a really good course - fast with a bit of a hill in twice but not really all that bad and a long sweeping downhill. Potentially you could run a very fast time on this course (and so I'm very pleased it's in my backyard). The one thing which would slightly improve the course time-wise would be to start the run at the top of the hill and take advantage of a big net downhill!

The second is more on parkrun itself as a concept. I've run 4 now and I think the fastest is 16:54 on Wimbledon Common. In each of them I've been in fairly good nick. The 3 I did last year were all just before the 31:38/69:51/2:31:16 series. This year I think I'm in good shape. So why are they all so slow? It's partly the course - but the courses ain't that bad. I want to say that it's early in the morning but this started at 9 and I'm usually putting in a hard tempo by 9:30. The main thing to me is that it's "sort" of a race. I really struggle to motivate myself to push the way I do in a race or even a hard training session. It's just sort of a "bleurgh - can't be bothered" feeling (not that far off what I felt at the Southern). Next week I may do it again and this time try and run it more seriously. Hopefully I'll get something a bit more reasonable!

On the whole - great event, thanks to the volunteers and you'll see me again soon. Hopefully soon!

Training Log

Mon AM

PM 14 miles with a real variety of paces. Set off at a steadyish 7mm intending to try and link with Chasers- ended up racing an oldish guy with a 5:27 mile along embankment then back to 7s. Felt really bad when finally caught chasers - faint + ready to throw up, so jog/walked mile home.
Tue AM 4.8 easy miles at lunch- standard Canal run

PM warm up to Battersea,2 x 3k off a 2:30 lap jog, then 3 x k off a 90 sec / 200 jog. 9:52,9:40,3:07,3:12,3:07 - Hendrick there for 1st and 3rd ks of 3ks. Progress - ks hard work though - not much speed.
Wed AM

PM Rest day - Burger King for breakfast, lunch and a Curry for dinner - all allusions to being an elite athlete disappear.
Thu AM

PM 11 miles - first 5 or so with James easy at low 7s, few more easy then 10 x ~32 second hills hitting them hard - tough work but worthwhile, easy jog home.
Fri AM

PM 84 minutes fairly easy - did the same hils as the previous night but just jogging them and checking out the route to get to Brockwell Parkrun the next morning
Sat AM Warm up to Brockwell, 5k Parkrun, 3rd 17:01, warm down - felt really flat here even though wasn't trying to go fast but not great.

PM 5 miles easy around Common - quite surpised to see I was running 7:22 pace for this. Managed to sneak it in between 800s and 3000 final - go Mo!
Sun AM 4 miles warm up, Thames 20 - was hoping to jog 15 miles and push last 5. 2:28 man Mike Helman turned up and made it hard work. First mile had to be 7 minutes. After that we still clocked 57:42 first half. I went clear on second half and ended up with

PM 58:52 for a 1:57:44 total. All offroad . V. pleased - splits of 6:38, 5:57, 5:44, 5:25, 5:34, 5:32, 5:35, 5:40, 5:53, 5:44, 5:53, 5:35, 5:48, 5:51, 5:54, 6:01, 5:59, 5:58, 5:53, 6:00

Run minutes
Approx Miles
Garmin Miles
X-T Mins

Total Minutes

Another solid week - pace was definitely faster than usual on a lot of my runs this week hence I've included Garmin mileage to give a better reading. Tuesday track I was very pleased with the 3k reps but felt it on the ks. Thursday it was good to get some hills in. Saturday was a bit disappointing but I knew I was holding back (but still felt like tough work). Sunday was a bit of a stormer - I didn't know I could run 5:30 miles and it feel so easy offroad! Also nice to come out on top in a good race. 20 miles offroad at 2:34 pace shows I'm in pretty decent nick right now over the longer stuff - just need to get my body used to some faster stuff right now!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Racing Schedule

Okay so I've gotten a few comments asking about what races I'm doing etc. and if I'm running London so might as well set out a very basic plan for the next few weeks and the rest of the summer...

Next couple of weeks
All about Reading Half and 12 Stage from now on. Basically whacking in a load of 5k and 10k pace stuff now together with a final long run. Sunday am doing the Thames 20 and will be running "hard" for part of that and hopefully clock a decent time for that portion- rest will be relatively easy. Wednesday I'm doing the Teddy Hall Relays - 3.6 miles! Saturday means I'm back home for a Wedding and so going to give the Cambridge Parkrun a quick once-over followed up by a second loop 5-10 minutes later at target HM pace.

Then it's easing up for Reading and sharpening for SoE 12 stage!

Medium Term

After that I'm basically just looking at having some fun for a while. Mileage will go back up a bit. Back onto focusing on the tempo runs. I'll probably be doing more races than in previous years - often as tempo efforts instead of flat-out runs. A few long races (HM+) at probably close to marathon pace and a few track races as well to really blow the cobwebs away. It's going to be a fairly eclectic mix. The main aim though is going to be to bash out a half-decent 10k. 5k, 10M or HM PBs also acceptable.

Long Term

A marathon in the autumn is the goal. At the moment I'm thinking either Berlin, Amsterdam or Abingdon and really not sure which! A PB and sub 2:30 clockings are obviously what I'm hoping for (that really shouldn't be any surprise).

Why no London?

Well - last year I got to this stage and was getting pretty fit and as much as I wanted to make my debut, after running huge PBs over 10k, HM and effectively 5k at 12 stage (15:18 short leg > 15:51 track 5k no matter what conversion you use - plus I had to set at least one at some point during my 10k!). This year I'm not having that regret and can enjoy being fit and hopefully really push on. An autumn marathon fits my yearly schedule an awful lot better in terms of being able to enjoy lots of racing in the Spring/Summer and training for the marathon whilst there's still some sun instead of just gloom! Also being in the Autumn I really don't care that much about racing in the first half of the winter so am quite content to spend a bit more down-time and ensuring I come back injury free. A spring marathon (good or bad) would have me chomping at the bit to get training again.

I'm also not totally convinced by London. Lovely atmosphere no question but being the shy retiring flower that I am, at some points I found the crowds quite distracting - I sort of wanted them to go away and just let me get on with trying to run. The personal support was fantastic - I'm hugely indebted to everyone of you who came down and watched me and really kept me going but the big crowds of people I didn't know howling at me did get to me at times - especially when I was running badly (is it really bad that I quite liked going into the tunnel in the second half?). The course is quick but not lightning fast. The big crowd of runners at my pace was also very good but did have me focusing on what other people were doing rather than what I was doing and concentrating on my own race.

Ah well - that is the plan at least! Hopefully I'll end the year with a fair few PBs and a couple more medals!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Training Week 21st February 2011 & Round-Up

Weekly Round-Up...

Okay - first up there is the weekly round up on a couple of things and then the training log. Log is below if you want to skip to it. Basically ~100 miles, one good 5 x 2k session, one okay but not great 7 mile tempo. Job done.

Just Do It

 Some weeks make me think this more than others - this was one of those weeks. It brings to mind an old but very apt "once a runner" quote.

"And there were questions: What did he eat? Did he believe in isometrics? Isotonics? Ice and heat? How about aerobics, est, ESP, STP? What did he have to say about yoga and yogurt? What was his pulse rate, his blood pressure, his time for 100-yard dash? What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes." 

Which sums up my view very aptly. Just get out there and run as many miles as you can is the most basic thing any runner can do. Is it necessarily the best and most optimal training - possibly not? Does that matter - not so much. People end up quibbling about that final 1% be it diet, stretching, plyometrics that they forget that if you just focus all of your energies on running a lot consistently - you may not win an olympic medal but odds are you'll be an awful lot better than you were when you started.

Change is good...

And now to totally contradict my above advice... Perhaps the one thing that is equally important if not more so than just plain getting the miles in is avoiding injury. Now some injuries are acute - there's not an awful lot you can do about them. Some might be non-running related (falls, trips etc. - Chris Tomlinson put himself out for most of a season stubbing his toe on his bed) and some might be running related but generally there's not a huge amount you can do about those other than warming up properly. On the otherhand overuse injuries are something you can often do something about...

Whilst specific strengthening advice from your physio is key - the most simple thing I think you can do is to change things up? What things?

- Pace
- Terrain
- Shoes

These seem to be the easiest 3 to change to me - if you run across a variety of paces (from very slow to fast), a variety of terrains (some muddy runs, some asphalt, some hard trail, some grass) I think you're well set. The last one of those (and possibly most contentious) is shoes. I think overuse injuries often come from a very specific set of circumstances - I don't know about you all but I certainly find I tend to run in a very different way wearing one pair of shoes to another. By having a variety I hope it constantly challenges muscles and tendons in slightly different ways rather than working the same ones constantly. Not sure whether there's any truth in this but seeing as it doesn't hurt to change the pair of shoes I wear for different runs I figure I might as well do it. 

Hyde Park Relays (and jogging around a course)

Went to these on Saturday after my tempo. Never really appreciated what a great way to rack up some miles just going along and running around a race in reverse really is. Something I've always planned to do but never really got around to. Got some more miles in and had a good chat with lots of people. I think these events seemed a bit bigger this year and there was a great spirit despite the slightly miserable weather. Particularly nice to seem some club and training group teams having a go as well as the universities.

Post-race food definitely gets a 10/10. Chilli and potato went down a treat.

Training Log

Mon AM

PM 9 miles easy at 7:30mm with Chasers - including a 7 minute MP tempo @ 5:38 pace in the middle.
Tue AM

PM warm up to Battersea, 5 x 2k, 6:30,29,34,32,29 off 2:30 lap jog, warm down
Wed AM Easy lunchtime run - 35 minutes at 7:30 pace up Regents Canal

PM Recovery run home very slowly - 8 miles at 8:30 odd pace - legs felt track the previous night. Didn't feel anything from ankle but still aware of it.
Thu AM 36 - easy lunchtime run - 7:30 pace

PM 8 miles home - first 5 recovery last 3 easy pace.
Fri AM Steady lunchtime run with Harold - 32 minutes at ~ 6:30mm

PM 10 miles home very slowly - about 8:10 pace- legs really struggling for last section - muscles just very tired.
Sat AM warm up, 7 miles tempo at 5:27mm, warm down - really struggled here on last of 4 laps as my legs were just shattered and struggled to lift them much- aerobically fine

PM 8 miles - had to get to Hyde Park to watch Hayley run Hyde Park relays, very easy recovery running and legs actually felt okay
Sun AM 2:07 long run - just over 15 miles so a slow pace but glad to get one in with good company in Chasers 3-3:30 group


Running minutes
Cycling Minutes

Total Minutes

Very solid week – I was pleased with my 2k session on Tuesday as when I started I thought that'd be brutal. Bit disappointed to drop off on the tempo but aerobically was fine – legs were just mashed from the week. Nice to have gotten into a solid routine during the week with lunchtime 5 and post-work 8 being a nice training routine. 8 miles Saturday afternoon probably not smartest thing I've ever done but it just seemed simplest way to get there! 

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.