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! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Training 14th Feb 2011

Mon AM Roughly 3.5 miles easy around Common with Hayley - tried out new trail running shoes
PM 9.5 miles to Clapham Chasers and round 2 commons loop.
Tue AM
PM Easy run home after 2 beers - 8 miles 7:55 pace
Wed AM Easy run into work - 8 miles at roughly 7:30 pace
PM Easy run home after Japanese meal with the girls. 8.5 miles at 8:15ish. 
Thu AM
PM Session of 5 x k (90) on road, 3:15,04,06,06,02 - not great but first real one back. Have been struggling for breath recently and whilst legs were fine here was breathing very hard. Odd not being on track.  Left it way too late (9ish) and tired from work
Fri AM 8 miles easyish into work at 7:23 pace - got to admit I was fairly tired for this one and harder work than usual.
PM 32:22 with Harold at lunchtime - fairly quick, probably mid 6s on the Canals around Canary Wharf
Sat AM 2:27 / 20 miles / 7;19mm - run with Chasers Sub 3 group for first 13 or so miles then 3 laps of BP at 5:40 pace (29:45) w. James then a jog back. Good run.
Sun AM 90 minutes at 7:21mm around Clapham Common in X-talon 190s. Didn't intend to run so fast but pace just flowed. Progressive.
Running minutes 688
Miles 92
Cycling Minutes
Total Minutes 688
Summary Fairly good week on the whole with some consistent training and my first interval session back. Also good to get a proper long run in and add some faster stuff in the middle which was tough but definitely added some value. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

20th February - Weekly Round-Up

Will try and get an actual training log up tomorrow (it's stuck on my work computer!) but to sum up the week roughly...

92ish miles. Session of 5 x k off 90 (3:15,04,06,06,02) on the roads. 20 mile long run including 5.25 miles (3 laps Battersea) at 5:39mm.

I mean as for the rest of it - do you really care how long I spent commuting in and home each day?!

I've seemed to find myself getting annoyed by quite a bit this week - just with general stupidity and people failing to see the forest for the trees. But here's a round-up of little bits and pieces about my training and the sport generally.

New Shoes - Innov8 X-Talon 190

Might as well start on a positive note then!

I got my new pair of X-talon 190s from Pete Bland Sports. I'd ordered 3 pairs of shoes and unfortunately 2 of them they didn't have in stock and are contacting me with alternatives but this pair arrived very swiftly and in particular the postage costs are very reasonable.

So - basically I'm in love. I've always hated wearing spikes as they seem to really irritate both my heels and my calves. These on the otherhand are just like a pair of racing flats and are really flexible on the underside adapting to your feet. The lugs on the bottom really grip in very well and make you confident and stable in mud.

The heel is nice and flexible which is really rare in shoes I've found recently and why I've had to stop using the Mizuno Wave Rider as the most recent edition made the heel a bit stiffer and got rid of the foam cushioning protecting the heel.

The most surprising thing - is that from looking at them you'd imagine the lugs are very plasticy and you'd imagine they'd clatter along. Actually even on the road they're soft and flexible. I wouldn't chose to run a marathon in them but they certainly hold up well if you've got some road bits in an off road run.

The one thing I haven't tried them out on yet is seriously thick mud. Speaking of which...

National Cross-Country

So yesterday was the national XC. It's a fantastic event in a large number of ways. I didn't run it this year as I've decided I'm not running in the sort of mud you can see below as I just don't enjoy it. That's my personal choice and I appreciate many others love it.

Unfortunately on the day it was really tough conditions out there and mud ended up being six inches deep. Personally I can't really see the point in racing in conditions like that - you're not seeing who has trained hardest, is the toughest or most naturally talented - just who can wade through the mud best (though huge congrats to Steve Vernon - for those at the very front they're all hugely talented and I've always admired Steve's drive and persistence in races). I just find it interesting that we choose to do this in stark comparison to the European XC...

Kenyan XC champs...

and that our number one runner chose to race indoors, Thompson wasn't there, Lemoncello wasn't there, Overall wasn't there, Vernon wasn't there, Beattie wasn't there. The list goes on.

I'm sure I'll come in for a lot of flak for this - but I think we could do with having slightly firmer, less muddy courses. Not natural mud - that's fine, more the better! But the mud kicked up by hundreds of feet going through it.

A way of doing that might be to limit teams to 6 or 8 runners just like in the old days. Make it a real aim to make the team. Maybe seperate out the junior and senior competitions.

That said huge congratulations to the winners of the races and those that had stormers. Particularly Jon Pepper who was hardly mentioned in the run-up to the Southern or the National and took 2nd and 5th. Jon was a youth prodigy just like those being hyped up at the moment. Went a little bit off the radar for a bit with injury issues and is now clearly running better than ever. Also Dave Norman who in addition to being a top bloke managed a career best of 12th with a series of 10 consecutive runs in the top 40. Amazing consistency.

Also as per eightlane thread - the contribution by the volunteers to put on and organise the race is absolutely huge and under-recognised so a thanks to them as well. Unsung heroes of our sport.

The "Lufbra" Echoe has its usual entertaining take on the issue.

There's also a personal account here by James Lawler - a top class athlete on the road who after a decent run at the Southern had a similar experience to me this time around (albeit he finished) and pretty much sums up my feelings about, as he puts it, the national quagmire championships!

Group Training

This is one of my personal bugbears. The sport is way too fragmented and there isn't a focus on getting athletes of similar abilities trying to train together.   I go to a track occasionally on a Tuesday and there are three different groups training together all at the same time. This seems absolutely crazy to me. Often groups are doing identical sessions. Each group tends to have a mix of abilities with big gaps in the groups.

Look at the Keynans by contrast on group runs. Huge groups all working together. This post by Ryan Mcleod puts it into context. 60 athletes all of international calibre. Unbelievable. We have a limited number of reasonable athletes and they seem to be being divided up by too many coaches and too many clubs.

One of the things that irritate me the most is when clubs and coaches get in the way of athletes training. The purpose should be to facilitate quality group training rather than divide it up. If that means some people need to look at how best to support athletes rather than having their own little group then so be it. I know some people think coach education is absolutely huge and we need as many coaches as possible. I must admit I'm unconvinced. What most people need is to be told to get out there and just plain run, ideally in big groups, for a fair number of miles a week. The sport is getting overcomplicated for no reason. The more coaches the more they try and keep small close groups without looking at how best to integrate local runners together. People go to the track year-round rather than put the solid distance work needed to run well. The ego takes over as the coach needs to monitor them. Often this is just for a single run a week rather than a year round intensive look at the athlete.

This is just my view but we need more of a focus on what the TOP coaches are saying and encouraging athletes to realise that themselves and supporting them as best we can rather than trying to live out our own dreams.  A 2 week coaching course does not a coach make. The best coaches have been involved with the sport for 10+ years and always look at the best outcome for the athletes and the sport as a whole.

Personally I find my own coaching set-up excellent. We look at how best to integrate the training I need to do with local groups to have the assistance. There's no jealousy if I need to do sessions with another coach to achieve that. We simply looking at the best way forward for the athlete. I wish more coaches were capable of doing the same.

Aviva Grand Prix

This was a really great event to watch. I loved the 400 hurdles - I just couldn't believe it when they broke after the first lap! Entertaining and a fresh look at the sport and how to market it.

The dual national record for me was the highlight of the meet with fellow Beagle Mo Farah setting the UK indoor record for 5000 after his coaching switch and Galen Rupp taking down the American record.

Farah has taken a lot of stick recently for a coaching switch to the US to work with Alberto Salazar unfortunately having to leave his coach Alan Storey. I reckon this might have more to do with endorsement contracts but it's a fantastic move for Farah. He now has Rupp, Webb and Ritz all to train with. Hopefully the 4 of them can push each other to better things.

It was also really good to see some of the British lads really taking a shot at hitting the indoor QT for Europeans of 7:54. I'm surprised more (lower) key races don't try doing this with faster and slower runners working together over longer and shorter race distances to get the best time possible. It's a real pity McLeod ended up a touch short but hopefully there'll be a possibility of some lenience. I thought Murray was incredibly brave to try and go out with the pacemakers.

Other highlights of the day was Helen Clitheroe's incredible run of 8:39 showing hard work can really pay off. Jenny Meadow's run confirmed her as a consistently world class performer.

Okay- think that's about it for the week - hopefully log will be up soon. Take care all.

See you at the races.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Sometimes you forget...

... just how damn tough K reps are!

I did my first k session in probably over a year - in previous years these have been my absolute staples. When I can do a session of 8 x k off a minute hard then I know things are going well - at times it has been "my" session.

Thursday night I returned to the fold with a couple of little twists from the past.

- Firstly I did them on the road. This was WEIRD. Nothing to gauge my progress. Not being totally sure how much was left (albeit on an approximately measured road straight) of each rep. It felt really weird.
- Secondly I've rarely left it so long before doing any sort of speedwork and never been in this sort of shape pre-speedwork. Usually when I can bash out a really good set I'm in sub 33 shape but I've never started doing them when already in sub 33 shape
- Finally I was doing them after a hard days work, late at night, on my own. Always a tough one.

So - how'd they go? At first I was annoyed but I can see the plus points now. The session was 5 x k off of 90 secs. The times came out at 3:15,04,06,06,02. I might have been able to run faster for the last one but I'm sure I gunned it out of the blocks way too hard.

That's some way off the best I've ever done this sort of session but I'm not too annoyed now. Generally I see big improvements on a weekly basis doing these sessions. Seconds per lap. If I could be running a similar session at 3:00 or better I'd be quite happy and I think that'll happen soonish. It also confirms that I'm running quite decently whilst still utterly unfit from an aerobic capacity point of view (though my anaerobic conditioning and aerobic conditioning are both solid).

This was also backed up by the way I felt during the reps. Usually during these sessions it's my calves which are killing me and limiting me by the end. For the first time in years it was my lungs! Clearly the work at strengthening the body has helped to a decent degree and aerobic capacity tends to come fairly quickly for me.

Anyways - some optimism going forward I hope! I've now entered my peaking phase unfortunately probably a little bit late for Reading but hopefully I'll be able to race successfully the second half of March and then look at returning to the miles and LT stuff for a bit before hitting the speed again for 5-6 weeks and bashing out a good 5/10k. By the time that's done it'll be marathon build up again!

Run on friends.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week Commencing 7th Feb 2010


AM 14.65 miles at 7:35mm with Clapham Chasers leading fast group

AM 54:55 run into work - Magneto PB! - 6:39mm average- felt good.
PM 65 run home from work - quad completely tightened on me on way home - lot of pain and difficult to walk

AM Rest - did a massage, possibly a little deep

AM Rest - leg less painful at work today and walking normally

PM 5.75 mile run home stopping at Oval on way back and catching tube - leg mostly okay but felt a small tightening.

AM 4.28 short easy run around Clapham Common to test leg - held up well but being cautious

AM 10 miles at 8mm with Hayley - really dreary run in horrible weather.

Minutes 394
Miles 53

Very much an unplanned lower week but I was back running again by the weekend which is positive. Really quite scared on Tuesday as from the way the leg felt I thought something fairly serious had happened.

If I've got niggles and can still card in the 50s I'll take that though. Unfortunately any sort of speedwork got delayed by another week.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Bentley Half - Race for Runners Award

So an idea I had about a year ago but never got around to implementing was for the races I did to grade them according to how I personally felt about them on a number of criteria that mattered to me and I would hope the rest of the running fraternity. Whilst Runners World have a rating system, given that it includes negative ratings for tough courses and being "clubby" (way to get people involved guys...) I never really felt that it was a good way to evaluate a race. Generally I relied on word of mouth as to the best races. Hopefully if a few others fancy contributing reports on "Races for Runners" and equally "Races for Non-Runners (or Rip-Off Races)" then it'll help focus the best runners on the best races!

So - one of the reasons that has driven me to do this is that after my 3rd place finish last year Great Bentley went to great lengths to contact me and offer me a complimentary place this year. I'd always planned to try and do a review on the races I'd enjoyed and figured that if they could go to that effort I could get around to doing a short review!

The criteria I'm marking a race on are:- Entry for the Semi-Serious, Pushing to the Front, So "Undulating" Means F:!@:##! Big Hill, Twice, Was Anyone Else Running Out There Today?, 3000 runners at £20 a pop less £4 for the Winners Trophy and Movie Time (AKA The Big Picture)

Great Bentley Half

Entry for the Semi-Serious 

Now this one is a year ago so my memory is a little foggy. From my recollection though there was a fairly reasonable deadline before the race. The fee was reasonable and not extortionate. I didn't enquire before the race as to whether free places were available at the time nor whether late entry was possible (as I was actually organised for once!).

Given that they were willing to offer me a free place based on a 3rd place 71:55 finish the previous year I'm sure that they would at the very least be willing to listen to faster runners looking for a late entry though you'll have to speak to them personally. Offering free entry to high placers from previous years is a great way to build up strong local race support and make sure it's down in the calendar as a definite.

Pushing to the Front

I was fine to get right to the front of the start last year which is a pleasant change from clambering over barriers that I usually end up doing. At the start of the race most went off at a reasonable race pace. The only issue that seemed to be was a slight lack of loos in the immediate vicinity. (You'll get any problems as well as praise!)

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

This is a potentially very fast course. I ran a decent PB there of about 2 minutes (taking another one off at the slower Reading comparatively). There are from memory 2 very minor rises. One I think was a motorway bridge and the other was a train bridge so fairly short in both cases. The rest of the course was basically flat.

The only problem with the course is that it is exposed to wind and hence "potentially" - if you get a calm day you will run a PB. Get a huge wind going and it will be a tough one. The time of year is great for a decent temperature.

Was Anyone Else Running Out There Today?

Field is an interesting one. Last two years James Connor has won with ease. Last year Paul gave him a bit of a battle. I was trying to keep the faint sight of a vest in the distance and there was another biggish gap behind me. That said - there were a lot around the 73-80 mark and the same again this year I believe (though the front end suffered). If you want to run in the 73-80 mark this is a very good race. If you are faster you can still run a fast time but might end up time trialling a bit.

If you can get a few faster runners interested then you could really fly on this course.

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

Last year in an absolute rarity for a mid-level East of England road race they actually gave out some cash prizes! Whilst they're not giving out thousands I think any step in this direction is to be highly encouraged. I picked up enough to have covered the entry fee and part of the petrol which is nice and doesn't really hurt the bottom line too much I'd hope. *

As far as the rest of the experience went - the goodie bag had quite a bit in and the T-shirt was actually quality. Technical from a decent fabric rather than the really cheap stuff. Blue colour with a nice white reasonable design. In terms of race t-shirts it was definitely worth it. I've even found a picture of me wearing it!

Movie Time (AKA - The Big Picture)

 Overall - a very good experience last year backed up with a complimentary entry this year. I was actually quite annoyed I couldn't manage to get back that weekend and compete as I would have liked to support a race that supported the community.

The number of negative things I can say about the race are limited. Basically if you're really fast and want to run a fast time you might be out there on your own!

I'd seriously recommend this race to any semi-serious runner and in particular those in the 73-80 minute range for which this would be an excellent opportunity.

Race for Runners Award (I'd do some logo but I'm crap at art)

Link to GBRC site

*Side note:
Given my experience to date in the East races are very "economical" when it comes to sharing out the entrance pot. I can't think of more than twice when I've actually picked up cash despite a fair few wins and no more than one or two more a reasonable prize. The vast majority offer a cheap trophy (yes - I've organised my own race and get copies of the Running Imp catalogue - I know exactly how much you spent on it! In my race we made a decent money off a low entry fee and had a prize list worth over £500 for a relay race of ~700) which if you're up to much you'll not know what to do with all of them fairly soon. If races can focus on offering either cash prizes or reasonable alternatives (bottles of wine are always appreciated!) it would be appreciated by the serious runners and they will return to the race!

Anyways - that's my first race review and hopefully I'll do a few more over the next few months. It'll be more entertaining when it's a race that's really cocked something up.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Imposter & Training‏

So I got an interesting email from my mum this week with the below picture attached saying I found this running photo of you its quite good! to which I had to reply mum thats not me. Parental fail.

In all fairness I had to take a fairly good look myself. Its a worrying resemblance of me when I have long hair! Ive already got one evil twin and I dont need another one!

So how has training been going? On the whole I think Im making a lot of progress. Two big weeks followed up by this easier week which will hopefully be around 60 miles is quite reasonable. I think when 60 becomes an almost trivial weekly mileage youre doing well.

What I have learnt is that my ankles start to suffer after more than about 10 days of high mileage means Ill need to slightly alter the structure of my weeks perhaps in a 100,70,90,80 format or the like. 

Flexibility and strengthening work is still going well. Can consistently touch the floor and starting to get a bit more than just the finger tips down now! 

Just generally Ive been running a lot fewer sessions. Quite often just one a week. It seems to work for me during this base period. I think this will eventually shift to 2 sessions per week and then finally when Im really trying to peak 3 sessions per week but reducing the volume drastically. You can’t do 8 x km 3 times a week but 4-6 x km at 5k pace is much more feasible plus it allows me to attack a much wider variety of paces. Also at that point all the rest of my running would essentially become easy whilst right now Im hoping to include more general steady running to try and get to that aerobic tireless state.

Hope all is well with everyone.

See you at the races,

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.