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!

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.