Sunday, December 14, 2014

Training from 24th November - 14th December 2015

Bit of a delay as I had another bad achilles flare-up in the week starting 24th November. I was totally out of action for 3 days, back jogging at the weekend and actually did a half decent long-run.

I kept the following week relatively easy without any intensity and relatively low volume letting my achilles fully recover - leading to this week's training.

Monday: Recovery

Tuesday: 50 into work (50).

Wednesday: 76 steady run over Wimbledon Common - moving well (76)

Thursday: AM 35 easy to Westminster station with laptop (35)
PM wu, 3 miles MP, 2 minutes recovery, 2 miles tempo, wd [MP @6:30mm, tempo @ 6:05mm] (75)

Friday: 50 into work (50)

Saturday: 75 steady with James around Clapham Common ~7:30mm (75)

Sunday: short wu, 20 x 45-50 second hill (jog down), 4 minutes tempo (52)

Total minutes: 413 minutes / ~55 miles

This was a fairly high intensity week with almost all runs at a steady pace or faster and very few easy or jogging miles. The achilles has held up really well.

I've come to the conclusion that my achilles just can't take track work. I'm not particularly sure why but the trend of starting to get a little bit fitter and then putting myself out of action after a track session totally for 3 days and realistically away from faster running for 10 days is just getting too frustrating.

I think it's the combination of the increased intensity and the sharp bends on the track that is setting me off. Ideally I would work on a proper strength and conditioning programme to strengthen my achilles to the extent that it can stand up to the rigours of fast track work but (realistically) at my age I'm having to work-around it.

I'm really disappointed to not be able to do the track work as I really love it (and more the atmosphere at track) but equally I'm looking forward to replicating the sessions on the roads (and I am at heart a road runner). I can still go to track to coach and *I think* that at lower intensities I may still be able to pace people around without injuring myself.

So - slightly new chapter - hopefully this one will be the one where I don't get injured and start performing at my potential.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Training Week Commencing 17th November

Monday: Rest day - Clapham Chasers AGM
Tuesday: Run to track, 6 x 800 over small hurdles (~2:50-55), run home (80)
Wednesday: 50 steady into work, 40 at lunch, 80 including Novice run (170)
Thursday: 36 at lunch including 10 x minute hard off 30 secs jog recovery - felt good albeit wasn't moving that fast, 52 home after promotion drinks - easy (88)
Friday: 44:41 steady into work (7:10mm), 45 easy home (90)
Saturday: Run home from CiRF (long way  - calf muscle on right leg struggling a bit) (90)
Sunday: Run back from course (quick way - calf seems better) (66)

Total: 584 minutes / ~ 74 miles

Nice to get a bigger volume week in and still injury-free. Struggled with getting sessions in this week but managed to include a bit of faster running into sections. Friday was a new "PB" on my commute of over a minute for what felt like the same effort so good progress.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Training Week Commencing 10th November 2014

Monday: Rest day (day after Clapham Chasers anniversary do - 34 miles over weekend)
Tuesday: Steady run home from work (46:40)
Wednesday: Steady run into work (46:01), Steady run to Novice session then Novice session (103)
Thursday: Steady long wu, 2 laps (1.5) tempo (18:50 / 6:17mm), 60 seconds, 1 lap tempo (9:15 / 6:10mm), wd  (90)
Friday: Rest (Hayley's speech to Kettering Old Grammer School) - no time for a run with travel / work
Saturday: Steady run with Hayley and her parents around Kettering off-road including 6 x 10s hill sprints (90)
Sunday: wu, Ware XC for Saffron Striders (8th place), short wd (54)

Total: 429 minutes / ~53 miles
Sessions: Short tempo, XC race, medium-long steady run
Weight: 12 stone, 1 pound

Good week despite being very busy at work which scuppered the changes to get any lunch runs in and various things coming up meant that I couldn't get morning runs in either. Ideally I would have gotten another run in on Saturday / Sunday as well.

Race report - Ware Inter-club XC (Saffron Striders), 8th place

The race on Sunday went well - my last two races have demonstrated that I'm definitely fitter but just haven't raced quite as well as I did at Newlands Corner. It was great to see all the Striders again and I had a great race with Chris Dodge.

The race funnels into a bottle neck very quickly and I was caught very much off guard and going through the first muddy section I was probably back in the 80/90s). One runner similarly wanted to move through the field and was trying to shove his way through so we had a brief philosophical discussion on that.

Out onto the field I then hurtled down along the outside moving myself into the top 20 over the next couple of minutes. At this stage I could see 3 had broken away in a lead and then a big pack of about ten runners. We then hit an exceptionally muddy patch - my Merrell All-Out Rush are doing me a treat this season allowing me to do XC even with my achilles injury but unfortunately I probably hadn't tied them quite tight enough and I could feel my heel slipping leaving me wondering whether I would lose them!

Once we finally got off the mud about a mile later I had caught one or two and was sitting probably about 14th. Unfortunately having not recced the course I had it in the back of my mind that we would go back the same way and I would have to go through that mud again and we would have a mile and a half or so to go at that point.

On the slightly harder stuff I was moving well and even up the hill was gaining on people. I could see Chris in the big pack ahead of me together with runners from a couple of clubs. The leader had now gone well clear but second place was still only about a minute ahead. I was picking off the odd runner and feeling pretty good but definitely saving my energy as I *knew* I had to go through the mud again...

Coming off the hard stuff I was catching Chris and a Ware Jogger but couldn't quite close the final 10m gap. On a slight-downhill on the ploughed field I opened up my stride and reeled in Chris and the Jogger (that feels really harsh to say but it's the club name!) and managed to stretch it out through a short forested section. At this stage I was starting to wonder whether we actually did go back over the mud. I went around a turn, expecting to hit the mud and realised we were about 500m from the finish.

There were 3 fairly close ahead who I was catching anyway so I kicked on past one of them - of the other two one ended up almost dropping out 100m from the finish with some calf issue and the final one had just enough to stay clear.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the result. I ran the equivalent of probably just under 36 minutes for 10km which off roughly 8 weeks of what I'd call training I'm pleased with. More promisingly my fitness was definitely better than I raced today (mostly due to me not recceing the route). Even thinking I was still a mile and a half of tough running or so from the finish (and hence holding back) I was still catching people.

Then I got the chance to head back and cheer the other Striders in!

Hopefully I'll be back for the next one in December - this league is where I first started running XC, where I won my first real races and fingers crossed come February I'll be in a position to be competitive again.

Friday, July 04, 2014

There and Back Again – a Tale of Hobbit Feet

I’m staring at my suitcase. I’m packing for a week abroad in Spain with my family. It’s going to be a week with loads of time to run, twice most days, in the quiet hills of the Asturias. I’m wearing a pair of, to use the most accurate term, clodhoppers (big cushioned trainers) and trying to decide whether to take a pair of barely used racing flats with me or another pair of the heavy beasts which will leave me less room to pack clothes than the average driver leaves a London cyclist. On an impulse I threw the flats in. 

I’ve always enjoyed running barefoot but with a gravel road in front of my parents house and living in cities since then (Oxford and London) I’ve never really done a lot of it. 5 minutes around the track infield was pretty much the limit. At the age of about 16/17 after reading a lot on the net I switched to minimalist shoes and a forefoot strike. It took a long time to transition but was worth it as I clocked faster times with very few injuries as I padded around the countryside in my NB150 RCs with my high arches and naturally supinating (under pronating) feet.

At some point – I stopped and started running on my heels again. Thinking back I really can’t pin-point exactly when it happened. I think it was after buying a pair of Nike Frees which are a wonderfully built pair of shoes but which, due to the heavy heel cushioning (don’t let anyone tell you that Frees are minimalist!), had encouraged me, just gradually to start running more frequently on my heels. Possibly it was after the Green Belt in 2010 where after running the leg from Hertford along the canal path I badly injured my Achilles and was unable to take the strain of running up on my toes for a while and just forgotten to transition back.
Regardless – my stride at this point had detoriated to the stage where I was described by an old friend as running with an old man’s shuffle. Heel striking most of my runs were hard work and I really wasn’t enjoying my running. For the first time in my life running was feeling like a real chore. So I needed to make a change! I’d been aware of this for a while but hadn’t really thought about what was making me feel so uncomfortable in my running stride. My Achilles were sore enough after just a few strides on the track on my forefeet that I’d almost forgotten I used to do 20 mile long runs on my toes.
With my whole body struggling and reading various messageboards (mostly Letsrun) and with Born to Run on my “to read” list for years I decided to start running barefoot. It began around a cricket pitch, just a couple of minutes, but it was enough to realise where I’d been going wrong. Free of shoes I was enjoying the run with light, barefoot strides and for the first time (in what felt like years) I wanted to carry on running rather than feeling like I was hauling my sad carcass around.
And so, having done a couple of barefoot runs I chucked my flats into that suitcase and headed to Spain.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Week Commencing 10/02/14

Not the most interesting of blogs on the training front this week but two interesting bits to talk about.

The first is the session - this wasn't a particularly fast or a particularly interesting session but the most important thing was I actually did something. A tough day meant I wasn't able to get started until about 9:20 and was on a pretty deserted track.

Initially I'd been tempted to go for something a bit longer both in total distance and rep length but as I've been struggling so badly with soreness post-track session recently I decided to keep it short and sweet with relatively limited recovery.

These sort of "roll-on" sessions where you jog the recovery and limit it to 100-200m are really good for developing a strong rhythm and the short distance and volume help encourage you to really focus on your mechanics.

The second was that on Sunday I got a chance to run with the Emperor Haile Gebresellaise courtesy of Adidas who are launching their new "Boost" shoe which looks pretty sweet. I started using the Adidas Energy Boost a while back for my longer runs where I wasn't concerned about pace and my recovery runs and find it a great shoe to help my feet recover. Here's the photo I took of Hayley in the new shoes. Hayley was there as part of her work for the RunningBug:-

I've developed a new found appreciation for Adidas shoes following the event and have actually got myself a pair of Adidas Adios 2 racing flats which got me through my best tempo session in a while recently.

Tom Cragg led us through a set of really useful drills including a few I hadn't seen before in all of my years of running and actually found incredibly helpful in terms of glute activation and correct running form (plus a really good tip about how to get going when you're really not feeling like a run - just lean forward!) and then we went for a run with Haile.

During the run the lovely Sophie Radcliffe took a great shot of us all running in Green Park featuring me with Haile. Really like this picture despite the fact I'm horrendously overstriding. Sophie's website which catalogues all her challenges to date can be found here.

It was interesting to talk to Haile afterwards and hear his views on life and running. Sweat is good was the main theme and given how much better I feel any day I've been for a run I'm inclined to agree. 

On the running front the most interesting thigns he had to say were that he stretches (static) both before and after every run in addition to the dynamic warm-up work he does. He also explained that due to his busy work he often has to do his second run on a treadmill (often using the mirrors to work on his running form) and often uses the exercise bike as an alternative. Given how many reasonable runners I know who would never dream of using an exercise bike to supplement their mileage this was interesting to find out. It backs up some of my own experiences including running a marginal 10km PB off only a couple of months training following some intense exercise bike sessions to recover from an injury. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Week Commencing 03/02/14

Not a great weeks training on the whole - my foot has been really struggling after track sessions. Ever since I sprained my ankle quite badly last year I've been finding that in that area after hard running it seems to be relatively sore but worse it really affects my left heel quite badly. Still looking for a good solution. Recently I've started trying to do shorter track sessions to see if that helps reduce the pain.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Marathon Pace Training for Slower Runners

So often when I have slower runners attend my Thursday sessions they're  surprised when I explain at the start that their session will be tougher than for the guys at the front of the group.

They've seen the pre-session blurb (72 minutes alternating 6 minutes at MP, 6 minutes at MP + 30 seconds) and wonder why they're not doing that. The reason is that they would find this pace too easy and finish the session feeling like they hadn't really done a proper session.

This is a great example of the slower runners paradox - that slower runners generally run faster than fast runners.

The Slower Runners Paradox

Where you plot up the average training and long run pace against race pace (I found a great graph of this once but am really struggling to find it - please shout if you see it in the comments!) as a precentage of race pace slower runners run considerably faster than elite runners.

When I take my guys who are planning to run in the 2:45 region and put them through the "simulator" workout (16 miles at race pace (no faster) in full kit and shoes they will wear on race day and using their nutrition strategy ) they find it a difficult session despite them being able in 2 weeks time post taper to do the race at that pace. By contrast if you take a 10 minute mile marathoner and put them through the same session it'll probably be slower than their weekly long run!

There's a couple of reasons for this but the main ones are:-

+Faster runners generally tend to be doing a higher weekly mileage and are often training in a semi-fatigued state.

+Whilst faster and slower runners are covering the same distance on the day in terms of how your body deals with the intensity is very different if you're competing in a 5 hour race to a 2 hour race.

For this reason slower (but not novice) runners would probably get more out of following a elite ultra runners schedule where they are training for a 5 hour race than an elite marathoners schedule which is more like a half marathon training plan for them.

Adapting Time Based Sessions

So where slower runners train at MP + 30s for them that is probably closer to their 6 or 7 hour race pace and will feel like a dawdle. By contrast the 2:45 guys at MP +30 are running at probably closer to a 4 hour notional race pace

Slower runners thereby need to adapt training sessions and schedules to ensure they're training at the appropriate intensity. Far too many slower or novice schedules back off and reduce the intensity compared to the faster schedules when in reality slower runners can cope significantly better and for longer durations at 5k/10k/HM and Marathon pace (which is probably more like the steady pace for faster runners).

As an example if I prescribed 4 x 10 minutes at 10k pace off a minute recovery they would probably revolt en masse half way through the third rep. Runners with a 60 minute 10k PB by contrast would find this a relatively easier/standard session.

Distance Based Sessions

This applies for distance based sessions as well but with a slight tweak - here it may be necessary to reduce the distance you are running. If you have a group doing 800s which varies from people finishing them in 2:30 to 5 minutes then you have people training at very different intensities.

Those running them in 2:30 (with say a notional 5k PB of 16 minutes) will be training at fairly close to their VO2 max pace (say 95%), By contrast those finishing them in 5 minutes will be training significantly slower than their VO2 max pace and will not experience the same benefits.

These runners will need to instead run a shorter duration rep (say 400) and considerably faster - at more like their notional 3km or even 2km race pace and take the same recovery length.

By the end of the session they will have clocked the same duration of running at the same intensity as the faster runner and see the same benefits rather than have run considerably further (increasing injury risk) at an intensity which doesn't really match the purpose of the session.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Week Commencing 27/01/14

Let's give this a try again... To help motivate me I'm going to start posting up my training more regularly again. It's pretty low-key at the moment as I'm working at an exciting but demanding new job and have been struggling for time. Especially whilst commuting to and from Essex.

Having now moved back to London and with a tiny bit more time on my hands hopefully I can get this going again and start seeing some improved performances.

The above was a pretty decent week. The 800 session was my best in a long while and the tempo session I was pretty pleased with as well.

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.