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.


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Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.