Thursday, January 29, 2015

Training Week Commencing 25th January 2015

"Good things come slow - especially in distance running" - Bill Dellinger

Monday: AM: 38 easy with Hayley to Westminster PM: 58 easy leading the Chasers novice run (96)

This is one of those odd days you get when you run a lot where as far as you're concerned it's a really easy day as all you're doing is two easy runs but you're actually covering quite a lot of miles. Legs really stiff after a tough weekend - really pleased that I got the quality work in but now need to give them a few days of R&R (or at least easier running). Hopefully will be back with fresher legs in time for Thursdays session. 

Tuesday: AM: 36 easy with Hayley to Westminster PM: 54 easy home + strength and conditioning workout (90)

Doing better with the early starts now and really feeling like my run in each morning is just part of the routine. Quads are still a bit sore after the XC but definitely improving and the blister from the race appears to have settled. Late day at work doing some research and preparing a training session. Nice that the run home felt very "routine" as well and the quads are recovering by the run - a good sign that after 5 weeks I'm adapting to the volume. 

Wednesday: AM 51 easy into work with Hayley PM 32 recovery with Dorene and Will at lunch (83)

Few more miles in the bank - was going out for dinner with Tun and his girlfriend Hazel in the evening so no chance for a triple day again. Nice to get some miles in at lunch - weather was bloomin' awful at the start of the run but cleared up. Meal at Dishoom was fantastic in the evening although a very long wait to get seated...

Thursday: AM Rest PM long wu, 3 x 2 medium BP laps at MP off 90 seconds (avg. 9:30 per lap / 6:22mm) (120)

Details of the session can be found here. 6 seconds per lap faster than two weeks ago with the extra lap and recovery only every other lap rather than every lap. Taking the train into work in the morning helps remind me why its so nice to run in most days - horrible queueing at Waterloo for the tube!

Friday: AM 43 very easy to Westminster (43)

Ankles stiffened up quite badly overnight so this was a painful run for the first 5 minutes or so. On the plus side it's stiffness without any achilles damage and once it warmed up it was fine but clearly I need to avoid it going forward. I think it has been caused by tightness in the small muscles around the ankles so will be loosening them up and seeing if that helps. No rest day this week but today wasn't a strain at all aerobically. 

Saturday: AM 59 minutes easy over a very muddy Wandsworth Common PM 44 minutes easy with Hayley over Wandsworth Common with 6 x hard strides + strength and conditioning workout (103)

Far too excited about the Good Wife season 5 coming out on Netflix and the first 5 episodes have been some of the best of the series. Again - more easy running - this is going to be my biggest volume week in a while which I'm pretty pleased about. My body all week has been recovering from the Southern cross which shows I put in a really good effort there. Slight soreness on my left ankle has slowed the pace a bit following Thursday's session - am doing some remedial massage work and in future weeks will be alternating the direction of the reps so as to get a good balance. Added in a bit of light speedwork in the afternoon and was good to get moving fast whilst on the grass so minimising impact. 


Total: 535 minutes to Saturday afternoon.


3 x 2 laps Marathon Pace Tempo (90 seconds recovery)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Southern

So - me and the Southern XC champs ("The Southern") have an odd relationship going all the way back to 2005 where I placed 60th in the U17 mens results and realised I probably wasn't ever going to make the Olympics. That said I spent a fair part of the race chasing down a runner from local rivals Harlow and finally caught him at the top of the final hill only for him to fly past me like I was standing still to take 58th place. 58th place Harlow runner (also known as Andrew Osagie) did end up going to the Olympics in 2012 with the (ignominious?) record of being the fastest ever last place finisher in an Olympic 800 final.

I missed the race in 2007 and 2008 before coming back to run 2009 in the senior men's race at Hillingdon House farm. The Southern senior men's race is one of the greatest tests any XC runner will face. It's hard. Seriously hard. Most league races are 8k, the championships are 12k and many are broken men at the finishing line. The Southern is 15k (or longer if they get the course wrong!) - the longest major XC left. To make it worse - it's often run over Parliament Hill or a similar venue.

In 2009 and 2010 I ran in the senior men's race. It's a slog. Brutally boring and a complete mud-fest. No firm footing available. Most distance runners love the feeling of moving fast whether on the road, on the track or over trails. The Southern (by the time the junior and ladies races have broken up the course) has none of that enjoyment - you are running through the equivalent of ploughed fields for over an hour for most. Breaking the hour for the Southern is the mark of a good distance runner.

In 2009 and 2010 I slogged it out. Ran hard the whole way and finished 94th which led to me in May clocking 32:15 for my track 10,000 winning the British University B Final in probably the race I've enjoyed most in my life. In 2010 I improved by a place - and followed up with a 69:52 HM, 31:38 10k and 2:31 marathon in the following months. To make it clear - the big boys turn up and you have to be significantly better than winning your local 10k to get close to the top 100.

2011 I hit probably one of the lowest points in my running career - certainly with regards to XC. I've dropped out of very few races but in the middle of that race I didn't want to be there and it was a mistake going to the start line. My thoughts from the time are here but basically I haven't run a major XC race properly since.

So this year with my achilles (mostly) sorted, a couple of weeks training behind me for the first time in years and with a great group of Chasers going along we thought we would target the 12 to score competition - see how close to the top 5 we could get. I found myself for the first time in years seriously thinking about the race in the week ahead. I knew I was coming from an incredibly low fitness base (it was only in September I ran over 23 minutes for 6k (i.e. not breaking 19 for 5k, ~40 minutes for 10k) and I'd had a couple of injured weeks since then) so I wasn't expecting miracles or to get anywhere close to matching my top 100 performances but I thought I might be able to have a solid race.

I was back on the start line of a major XC, motivated and keen to run at my best.

The course was brilliant - all around one big hill in Brighton. It had some mud but was all runnable. One monster hill and a couple of shorter, sharper ones. Lots of tail-backs so you could see the competition and a nice long grass section from the end of the lap until about a km into the lap. A strong test without being the unrunnable bog you can end up with at the Southern. The course was one very short loop up the mound to begin with then 3 full laps.

The start was... unexpected to say the least. The gun went off without me realising that we'd even been expecting it in the next couple of minutes. If you've never gone off in a big XC before it's an odd experience (and some of our lads got held up way back). In most road races after 100m you're probably relatively clear of most runners and can run freely. In a big XC you're immersed in a sea of runners - all of whom are serious runners and looking to go at the same pace. Over the first little loop I found myself quite far back and basically jogging. The side-effect is that like a traffic jam you can think it's just started to get going and then the person in front can throw on the breaks and you come to a complete stop. I was far enough back that I was jogging and going through the field.

After the first short lap I started to get a bit of space and started moving up through the field - I couldn't see anyone I recognised but was going through runners pretty quickly - some already looked knackered! As we hit the big hill for the first time I went up easier than I expected with my legs fine and ready to run hard off the hill. As I went into the first switchback I deliberately eased off - just as bad as going off too fast in these races is going off slowly and then making all the distance back up over the course of a mile.

The rest of the first lap was a bit of a blur - keeping myself aerobic, going past runners and generally concentrating on a good running action. My Innovate X-talons were doing me proud and helping me move through well - despite my fears they might set of my achilles during the race it was holding up brilliantly.

Starting the second lap I looked up and could see some of my fellow Chasers for the first time - I knew they had gone off harder and those ahead would expect to finish ahead given their recent performances but I was hoping to close the gap. I could spot Dan's vest up ahead and beyond him Richard Peel. Up the hill for the second time my legs were definitely feeling it and once we hit the top another runner sprinted past me. Whlst individual runners had gone past this was the first time in the race I didn't feel like I was moving through the field as I was closing a big gap on my own to the group ahead.

After the switch-back I got a real boost going through the spectator area. Dan was now close but unexpectedly Rich jumped back onto the course ahead of me - he'd had lace problems and that had cost him 10-15 seconds. Rich kicked on immediately but I fixed on him and tried to bring him back in. He went away a touch on the downhill but as we hit the grass straight I caught him and moved past. Eyes now fixed back onto Dan as we started the last lap.

Dan by this point had caught Mick, a fellow Chaser, with Mike up ahead. I'd done a session with Mike on Thursday and could tell he was in great shape so this really convinced me I was having a good run. Still aerobic I finally picked it up and started whittling through the field and cutting down the 100m or so that Dan and Mick had on me. Going up the hill for the final time my legs were burning and it was a real struggle. I could see Dan was using a proper fell running walk to go up - I managed to keep running and closed it down to a couple of metres but at the top of the hill he sprinted off. I tried to push on but couldn't stay with him. Mick however was coming back rapidly and I moved past him on the switchback.

Coming into the grass stretch - thanks Mike for the picture!

The final hill was tough - I knew if I could get to the top I definitely would finish and was basically done though with just a long downhill and the grass stretch to go. I hit the top - gap closed to Dan again - only for him to absolutely fly on the downhill. I was catching people and could see Mike about 200m ahead of us.

As I came off the hill and onto the grass finishing straight I pushed - I knew I had a bit more in my legs and kicked past one runner. Over the final 100m I was flying and managed to take one more place from Mark Dooley (who competed with me at the BAL). Dan had managed to catch Mike on the line with both about 100m clear in the end.

I was 231st according to the official results in a time of 60:28. Looking at the results it suggests I'm about 4 minutes off my 93rd/94th best performance. To be honest though I'm pretty ecstatic - it's a genuinely decent result in a race for the first time in ages and a real indicator that I'm starting to get fit again. I know my current rate of improvement and whilst it'll be tough to match I think I'm on the right road now. To be able to get through a full 15k XC in light-weight trail shoes is a huge step forward.

Even better the Chasers took 12th unofficially in the 6-to-score competition - our best result in any Southern event apart from the Southern XC relays - and are looking good for a very comfortable top ten place in the 12 to score when they put out the results. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Training Week Commencing 19th January 2015

Monday: 40:30 very easy to Westminster (41)

Still feeling very peculiar - decided to take tube home in the evening.

Tuesday: AM 27 minutes easy with Will around Tower/Millenium Bridge PM: 34 steady back to Battersea then jumped on 44 to the cinema. (61)

Still taking things easy due to feeling weird - eating getting easier - very weird feeling after basically being hungry all the time for many many years. Nice to go for a run/chat with Will around London and remember what fantastic views we get around London over the Bridges. Shortish run home at a faster pace - felt like I was running strong after the flying 30s on Sunday. 

Saw Whiplash in the evening - amazing movie. Incredibly intense and close - Miles Teller is good but JK Simmons is a revelation as the conductor of the jazz band turning from hilarious to cutting to brutal on the drop of a penny. Slightly preferred it to Birdman all things considered although Birdman is a much more ambitious movie.

Wednesday: AM 44:42 steady with Andy to Westminster with a loop of Battersea Park (~6:5xmm) Lunch: 30 minutes jog/walk with the team running club PM 39:30 steady to Latchmere (80)

Sort of a triple day but the lunch run was a mix of walk/jog - probably for the best for me. It always inspires me to see people who aren't necessarily natural runners doing their best - I know I wasn't and I feel a duty to try and get people into the sport if I can and make their first experiences as positive as mine were.

Good to run in with Andy - it always gets me shifting and the evening steady was pretty respectable too pace-wise. 

Saw Foxcatcher in the evening - wasn't impressed and can see why it got nominated for best director but not best picture at the Oscars. Definitely not in the same calibre as Birdman or Whiplash - the acoustics of the movie are incredible though. Steve Carrell was a bit disappointing - I don't feel he really inhabited the character with a "less is more" approach which meant it was impossible to read what the character was actually going through. Mark Ruffalo is perhaps the most entertaining in the movie and gives a likeable performance. The movie as a whole seemed a bit confused about what it wanted to be - sports movie, thriller, documentary etc. 

Thursday: AM 37:28 easy to Westminster PM 17 wu, 5 split lap marathon pace tempo avg 9:19 per lap (46:30), 18 wd (118)

Energy levels starting to perk up again - very pleased with the split lap marathon tempo as the same pace as two weeks ago for an extra lap and at a significant reduced effort. Details here

Friday: Rest

Went to pub but moderated it - just a couple of beers.

Saturday: wu, 15k Southern XC - 231st, 60:28 - blog here. (75)

Great race - went really well and big improvement from prior races. 

Sunday: 1:50 easy (~7:38mm)

Bit stiff from the race yesterday with a minor blister but nothing too bad. Took the run relatively easy with a big group. Over the last 4 miles or so Gary, Russell and I picked it up to ~7:15mm recreating this photo....

Went to see Ex Machina in the afternoon - was an okay movie - bit slow and when you know there is going to be some sort of twist (and that twist is going to involve a significant change in pace for the movie) I think they left it too late. Impressive performance from Domnhall Gleeson and was very impressed with Oscar Isaacs. 

Total: 490 minutes / ~65 miles

Summary: Great week - not super high mileage due to a few easier days at the start. Great session on the Thursday though and really pleased with the race and long-run at the weekend.

5 Split Laps Marathon Pace Tempo

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why Some People Run Fast

So I get lots of questions from people all the time about how to get better. The below is my understanding of the science and it seems to make sense to me. Sports scientists please take pity on a layman.


There are 3 main physiological drivers for athletic performance in races of 3k and longer and less than marathon (e.g. ignoring the peculiarities of MD performance and the lactic acid complexities and the whole fat-burning lipids / glycolitic stuff). The trick to getting yourself into great shape is by triggering the adaptations required in the right way. Each of these triggers can be improved by training as hard as possible but that's almost certainly likely to lead to injury.
  • Vo2 Max
  • Lactate Threshold
  • Running Economy (or aerobic efficiency)
Now these interact in different ways but essentially your "maximum" performance potential is set by your Vo2 max. Let's say yours for arguments sake is approximately 72 which wouldn't be an unreasonable figure for a ~30 minute 10k runner. You then run most distances at a percentage of your VO2 max. Let's say your lactate threshold (which governs 10 mile / half marathon performance) is right now about 80% which wouldn't be unreasonable. 

So when you do a 10 mile or HM race you'll be taking in approximately 58 millilitres of oxygen per kg per minute - on its own the amount of oxygen you take is a relatively good proxy of speed (hence why Jack Daniels uses the term VVo2 max / V-dot and directly correlates a VO2 figure with paces). Now let's say you're racing someone with a VO2 max of 80 (which would probably be a top class MD runner) but their lactate threshold occurs at 75% of their VO2 max. They would be running at 60 millilitres - generally we would roughly expect the two of you to be quite close in the race with him having a slight edge ignoring the psychological components, drafting etc. This is if we’ve locked the two of you in separate rooms with treadmills and no knowledge of the other performance.

The final element (and the key one) is running economy / efficiency or how your use of the oxygen translates to a running pace. Using 58 millilitres of oxygen per kg per minute you may be able to produce a 5:00mm performance. On the other hand your rival may be less efficient and require 60 in order to run at 5:00mm pace - now the two of you are dead even. 

The training we normally do is designed around improving these three factors (in different priorities at different times) whilst minimising the stress on your body.

VO2 Max

VO2 max is basically the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in - anything longer than about 6-8 minutes of exercise and the amount of oxygen you can take in is no longer the limiting factor. Below 6 minutes and you will be constantly running at maximum oxygen and so your body finds other ways to compensate (mostly by hugely increasing the amount of lacate in your blood stream causing you to rig up due to negative hydrogen ions apparently!)).

There are lots of ways to improve it but the most basic one is by running more mileage. Until you hit around 80 miles per week your VO2 max will continue to increase and you need to stay a while at that volume to maximise the gains. This makes a lot of sense to me - I (and lots of others) have seen big improvements over 1500-5k performance without doing any specific work at race pace but just by running a lot more. Put another way - if you take a sedentary individual and get them to run 80 miles per week they would run a significantly faster 1500m after a year than they would have done without any training!

The other way to improve VO2 max is by doing intervals at between 3k - 5k pace and these should be done with roughly equal recovery ( if you make the reps too long, too often or with too short recovery - you either compromise pace by the end of the session or you take yourself out of action for too long). You want to maximise your time at VO2 max which means generally intervals of 2-5 minutes (with 5 minutes being at 5k pace and 2 minutes at 3k pace). One point to note is that you gain nothing by running faster than your VO2 max which is why I generally try and limit the pace people run in these sessions - you can run them faster but running them faster doesn't help maximise your time at VO2 max.

Intervals whilst they can "super-boost" the VO2 max often have only a limited period of effectiveness with the benefits after 6 weeks being significantly decreased (unlike the mileage which takes much longer to take effect) and why they are often the staple of "six weeks to your new PB" schedules. 

On a side note - due to the nature of VO2 max (oxygen per kg of body weight per minute) I'm sure you can see that there's a variable there that can be substantially changed without necessarily any training. Weight. That's the main reason why you sometimes see people who look skeletal running fast for a short time period - this never works in the long term because they then can't improve any further as their bodies are totally incapable of taking the mileage and intervals they need to improve- often bone density is compromised. 

Lactate Threshold

Lactate threshold (or more specifically maximum lactate steady state) is the intensity where your body can manage to clear the lactate from your body being generated by the intensity. You can over time gradually increase the intensity that you can run at whilst clearing the lactate successfully and keeping your body in equilibrium. 

This is a highly trainable characteristic and there are a couple of different theories about how to train it - my view from what I've seen (and from the anecdotal evidence from the Kenyans) is that you can train it in two ways which we're covering both of - shorter runs where you run slightly faster than your lactate threshold and so you get your body used to clearing it from your system. These need to be kept nice and short because you want to get your body used to clearing the lactate levels - not flooding the body with them! Once you get more than about 20 minutes in at a slightly faster pace you are getting closer to a race effort. 

The other (and potentially more effective) form of training is where you run at just below your lactate threshold whilst not quite touching it - this gets your body used to running at the appropriate state (e.g. where you are clearing all the lactate) rather than it building up.

This is far more trainable over a long-term basis than VO2 max training and can be seriously improved until you're able to run at a significantly higher percentage of your VO2 max. You wouldn't necessarily be any "faster" but you would be running at a significantly higher effort level. My own experience of this is when I went sub 70 (and ran 31:38 for 10k) I wasn't necessarily that much better over 3k than I'd ever been before but I was able to maintain a very high intensity the whole way. 

Running Economy

This is the big one that is an incredibly wide term as to what it actually means... It's really at this stage more of a catch-all than an actually measurable "thing" like the two above and I think there will be other "new" factors modelling this in the future as it just seems so vague at the moment.

Loads of things can affect your efficiency - from the obvious like tight muscles to mitochondrial development after lots and lots of running. A couple of the key takeaways of things that have been shown to consistently improve running efficiency:-

  • Running lots of mileage (mostly due to the increased mitochondrial development and capillary beds)
  • Doing hill work - particularly short and sharp efforts called "Canova" Hills due to high muscle recruitment
  • Strides
  • Drills (mixed evidence)
  • Running at or close to your target pace
  • Long runs (particularly once the fast-twitch fibres have been exhausted (pure Lydiard).

There is also evidence around things like circuits and weights. I would mostly separate it into physiological (e.g. the mileage) and the neuromuscular benefits. 


What we need to do is to maximise performance by improving each of these factors (and at a later stage the glycolictic/ fat-burning marathon stuff). The way to do that isn't going to be through nailing sessions as hard as possible and running yourself into the ground but by knowing the drivers and hitting them without fatiguing yourself overly. 

Most training does not involve running for as hard or as fast as possible, running insanely quick 400m sessions or hitting your whole steady runs very fast on a daily basis -  all that will do is tire you out hindering your recovery and prevent you from achieving your best performances and focusing on getting the sessions right that matter. You will find it very difficult at times to not worry about whether you're actually improving as you won't necessarily have any clear evidence until race day - you just need to have faith. 

Patience and smart consistent training will see you make huge improvements and when you need to be "on" you will be ready to roll!



Monday, January 12, 2015

Training Week Commencing 12th January

Monday: AM 20 minutes in pitch black over the fields followed by 10 minutes in London at far end - all very easy PM 60 minutes home from work easy (90)

Very easy day - bit tired due to the early start. Not perfect training today by any means but if this is a low day I'm happy. Struggled in my strength work-out in the evening. Did a marathon chat to the Chasers to an audience of about 40 or so and they seemed fairly pleased with the evening.

Tuesday: AM 29:28 to Westminster (6:52mm) - last 2 miles in 12:44. PM 51 easy home from work with 7 x short sprints (40-60m) in the last 2 miles. (81)

Pleased with my run in given I had a heavier bag than usual on my back and felt like I was moving pretty well. Evening run good as well - was thinking about doing more but knew Wednesday would be a big day. I'm finding the daily blog useful in motivating me - definitely feels like it's helping me make progress and motivating me.

Wednesday: AM 44:17 to Westminster with a loop of Battersea Park (6:48mm) Midday 33:30 easy with Will around Southwark Park (8:30mm) PM 40 easy to Hayley's work (8:06mm) (118)

Nice morning run with Andy albeit pretty cold today - pleased that I was able to carry on at least a bit of a conversation whilst running at that pace with him. Lunch I popped out with Will as part of our team running club and we did a good loop around Southwark Park nattering away. Final run of the day was good and pleased to still be an okay pace but definitely feeling a bit tired! Then off to Into the Woods - unfortunately nodded off midway through for 5 minutes missing the end of the first act / start of the second act. Generally okay but I didn't think the songs were particularly strong (I know it's a Broadway musical...) or that the actors / actresses were great singers which is odd because I loved Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect (guilty secret),

Thursday: AM 37 minutes easy running to Westminster with Hayley PM 41 minute run from work, 5 x 1.5 mile lap MP tempo off 60 seconds (9:32, 9:45, 9:39, 9:30, 9:35), wd jog home (144)

Details of the session and thoughts on it can be found here. Legs definitely had less pop in them today and feeling very tired right now at the end. Am in that stage right now (which I'm used to - and glad to be in) where the body is adapting to the training load and making some changes. 

It can be (very) tough to keep faith sometimes in this stage as you can start sometimes to run a bit slower - people run one week of high mileage and think that it's pretty easy and then get confused the next week when it's harder - the fatigue doesn't really hit you until you're a few weeks into proper training. 

I get reminded of the (I think) Bedford but possibly Foster quote - distance running is about going to be tired and waking up even more tired.Very pleased to be able to get this sort of training done for the first time in a long while and absolutely looking forward to coming out of the chrysalis in a few months.

Friday: Rest

Day off - went to pub in the evening and had a few too many. Think if I want to run at my best in a few months I need to cut back on the Friday pub trips - at least for a bit.

Saturday: 45 minutes easy running with Hayley (45)

Nice loop around Wandsworth Common on the grass wearing the Hokas. Feeling very peculiar all day. Have been having a bit of trouble eating the last couple of days - usually I'll eat everything in sight but it's been a real struggle which has never happened before. Odd.Very restless all day as well.

Sunday: 78 minutes steady to Teddington and then a few laps and sprints as part of CiRF course. (90)

Final day of my Coaching in Running Fitness course - achilles always seems to feel a bit sore when I'm on these courses for whatever reason. Was planning to run the long way there but cut short over the roads for both time and because of energy levels. Shattered by the end of the day. 

Total: 570 minutes / ~76 miles

Summary: Bit of a mixed week with lots of "bitty" training. A big block mid-week with a triple and a very long day on the Thursday led to me feeling a bit odd on the Thursday night and that carried through the weekend.

Very pleased with the quality of the Thursday session given it felt like I was running well within myself - definite progress.

Few more weeks and I will be ready to jump into a road race or at least a time-trial and get an indication of what sort of shape I am in - for now I have the challenge of the Southerns next week. That won't be a pretty race but it'll hopefully help get me ready for something better on the roads. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Training Week Commencing 5th January

To try and keep me updating regularly am going to post up training each day for the week and just keep updating this post...

Monday: AM 35 very easy miles PM 45 steady to committee meeting with middle 27 minutes at 6:20mm (pleased to do that with a back-pack!) - also 15 minutes jogging home after (95)

Tuesday: AM: 30:38 steady to Westminster (last 2 miles 12:54) PM 58 very easy home from work (90)

Pleased with morning pace given tired legs. Evening run was intended to be easy and my legs were giving me very clear signals they needed a very easy run. 

Wednesday: AM 29:08 steady / tempo-lite to Westminster (last 2 miles 12:24), PM 32 easy with work colleagues at lunch (60)

Morning run probably too hard but was running late - very pleased to clock a pair of 6:12 miles with a rucksack on and feeling relaxed. Was considering tripling with a run home in the evening but we decided to go to movie instead (Exodus - not as bad as expected). Legs were thanking me...

Thursday: AM: 38 easy with Hayley to Westminster in pouring rain; PM long wu, 6 mile tempo alternating 1/2 mile slower than MP, 1 mile faster than MP - 1.5 mile lap splits of 9:50, 9:28, 9:09, 8:46 so averaging 6:14 with the fastest lap at 5:52mm and slowest at 6:35mm, short wd (120)

Very easy run in the morning chatting with Hayley and trying to avoid her getting run over - relatively easy which was nice for my legs. Really good tempo effort in the evening with Brian Cronin alternating the slower and faster sections and progressively getting faster over the whole loop. Very pleased to clock a 5:34 for the last mile or so. Big progress. 

Friday: Rest day

Pub in the evening - probably had a few too manyThinking about an alcohol ban until my next major race.

Saturday: wu, 2 x 9 minutes Kenyan Hills tempo, wd (35)

Very messed up day. Plan was to go to Northampton and take Hayley's grandparents out to dinner. Unfortunately when I tried to book a zipcar we realised my license had just expired. One online renewal later and I can now drive but have no way to show that to zipcar until I get my license.  Cue a journey to Henham to pick up my car there.  Unfortunately my parents are away on holiday so when we eventually get there (trains were cancelled so we were on rail replacement buses) they have taken the car to the airport - now trapped in the countryside I only get a chance to head out on my run when it was already going dark so had a very limited session. Did get a chance to try out my new Hoka trainers though!

Sunday: 2 hour steady long run around Thaxted - very hilly and windy route. ~7:45mm (120)

Longest run in about 3-4 months I think and really pleased with how I felt. Felt relatively light and floaty. Pace was worth a lot more than 7:45mm due to the hills and wind (pretty much running straight into the wind from 6 miles to 13 miles) and I felt like I was just ticking over. Disappointed I couldn't join the Chasers for the long run as part of marathon club this morning. 

Total: 520 minutes / 65-70 miles. 

Great week's training. Am so pleased with how things are going. I wasn't sure how my legs (and more importantly the achilles / ankles) would feel with the faster sections on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday runs but it's becoming a bit clearer to me now that as long as I avoid the tight twists of the track (and over-speed - when I would struggle to break 17 for a 5km the benefits of sub 70 second 400s is probably limited) I'm able to fit in an awful lot more of sub-tempo work. It's very hard for me to estimate fitness right now but I'm starting to think that I'm perhaps not a million miles away from a 2:50 marathon right now (maybe even just 26.2 miles). 

Getting a lot of confidence at the moment. Thursday's session was more progressive than intended (you can see the session splits above - I won't do this for many sessions but will for the key ones) but each lap felt roughly the same effort as the one before despite a significantly increased pace which is promising.

After linking a few weeks of reasonable training together (and hoping that cutting track finally means the end of my 4 year injury hell) I'm thinking about a serious goal for the first time in a while. In the short-run I need to clock a sub 17 5k at some point but am seriously thinking about whether targeting a sub 75 half in March is feasible. Based on my current fitness then no but I wouldn't have thought I could put a week like this together a month ago. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Training from 15th December 2014 to 4th January 2015

So after my last post I had just built back to a decent volume after an achilles injury.

Week Commencing 15th December

Monday: Run at club leading the novices around the Common Route
Tuesday: 10k into work fast (worked late so no run in the evening)
Wednesday - Friday: Various work Christmas related activities - should have fit some runs in but didn't as I was down with a cold/cough and trying to fit in social, work and running whilst ill seemed a bad idea. 
Saturday: Travelling back to parents (again - should have run but not great)
Sunday: 13 miles easy-steady with Hayley around Thaxted and played squash in afternoon

Total: ~216 minutes / ~27 miles with no work-outs - not great and poor commitment this week. 

Summary: As my achilles started to feel a little bit better and I'm intending to play some squash going forward I gave it a go on Sunday for 80 minutes - very hard work on the body for the first time - loved playing it though. 

Week Commencing 22nd December

Monday: Rest - last day at work and commuting to/from Essex
Tuesday: AM 72 minutes easy with Martin around the Gogs. PM  50 minutes easy with Hayley around Saffron Walden. 
Wednesday: 75 minutes easy following Squash on the way back from Saffron Walden
Thursday (Xmas): 40 minutes easy around the villages with Hayley followed by a 20 minute tempo (5:54mm) .
Friday: 80 minutes easy-steady around Kettering with Hayley's family.
Saturday: 40 minutes easy in the pitch-black using the head-torch. 
Sunday: 13 miles easy-steady with Hayley around Thaxted - hit the last 8 minutes or so hard.

Total: 475 minutes / ~60 miles

Summary: Reasonable mileage - kept everything fairly easy as my cold from the prior week had now turned into quite a chesty cough and didn't want to strain - was very pleased with the tempo effort to hit sub 6mm. Most of the routes were relatively hilly.  

Week Commencing 29th December

Monday: 68 minutes steady with Hayley following Squash on way back from Saffron Walden
Tuesday: wu, 10 x 350m hard off 350m fast jog back on the roads, short wd
Wednesday: 72 minutes including 2 laps BP at steady pace with Hayley
Thursday: Rest (NYD)
Friday: 75 including mini-tempo in BP around the short-loop (7:55, 7:42, 7:29) - 23 minutes @ 6:10mm average.
Saturday: wu, 10 x 881m (90s rec) on the roads, [2:57, 2:59, 2:55, 3:00, 3:04, 2:51, 2:53, 2:47), wd - averaged 5:20mm (60)
Sunday: 85 minute long run at 7:30mm with Chasers on the Towpath - achilles tiny bit sore first thing but warmed up very quickly. 

Total: 420 minutes / ~56 miles

Summary: Really good week - volume is a little low as I've been concentrating on doing a few more sessions and not worrying about the miles at all. Generally have felt like I've been running considerably better than in previous weeks and have made some real progress. Cough has lingered this week but finally seems to be going. Very pleased the achilles has stood up to the sessions. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Achilles Heel

So - after my last post I've carried on with my policy of avoiding the track. The cycle of recovery, track session, achilles / ankle injury, 3 weeks off, slow recovery has been going on too long.

For the last couple of weeks I've had a cold which has transmitted into a bad cough - nothing so bad that I haven't been able to run but until this week I deliberately kept all of the running to easy and steady running with a little bit of tempo occasionally.

This week I've started doing some sessions again (albeit with the cough still) and have been really pleased to put together some quality work for the first time in what feels like years.

  • On Tuesday was a hard set of minute reps on the road off a hard jog recovery
  • Friday was a mini-tempo (24 minutes starting at what for lack of a better term I'll call marathon pace and building to a hard tempo)
  • Saturday was a set of 8 ~900m reps off 90 seconds recovery
The first and third session would without a shadow of a doubt had I done them on the track absolutely inflamed my achilles. The 900m reps are very similar to the mix of 800s / 1200s that took apart my achilles the last two times. 

Having managed to pull together a couple of mini-work-outs without a hugely inflamed achilles (there's still some minor irritation as my foot is clearly not driving correctly which must have been creating the issues going around the bends) I'm very optimistic about the future. 

I'm doing the sorts of sessions I always loved to do for the first time in a very long while. My ability to run at pace has come back over the last month despite not a great deal of training (the full logs will be up soon...).

The pace for my 900m reps (and more importantly the way I felt doing them) has given me a big boost. Okay - it was a pace I once maintained for a half marathon rather than 3 minutes! 

That said - I felt fantastic and the pace felt very manageable. It's only 3 minute reps right now - in a couple of months after I'm down a bit from 12 1/2 stone (which is too heavy at 5'10'' for true distance running unless you're built like Chris Solinsky), not got a bad cough and have a few more months of proper sessions - maybe I'll be able to keep that pace up for a 5k at least! It would be a good start. 

Bryn Running

Training diary and musings on running in general.