Mojo Working

Another good week for the mileage log with no injury setbacks…things may be looking up.  For the first time in over nine months I experienced the elusive feeling of it feeling quite easy to run at a decent lick in training.  At last I am making progress rather than incessantly worrying about which bit of me might wear out or fall off next.

Seventy miles is my biggest week in almost a year.  Unsurprisingly I feel tired, but happy to be seemingly recording improvement.  I am hoping to run well at the Dewsbury 10K in three weeks.  I was on for a probable personal best time there last year only to be thwarted by a course that was more 10.2 than 10 kilometres.  I’m sure they will measure and mark it out right this year.

To get the mileage in, I’ve had to do some double days, which I find hard.  On Thursday I ran to work (5.5 miles) and for the return I took a longer route of 13.5 miles.  It was an unappealing run against a constant stream of glaring headlights on a cold, dark night.  However, I get a perverse enjoyment from completing this sort of run.  I wrapped up well, plugged in my headphones and caught up on my podcast backlog and drifted away with my thoughts.  I was home in what felt like no time, though it actually took me an hour and three quarters.

We tried a new parkrun on Saturday – Selby.  The course is around the bumpy perimeter path of an airfield, amazingly one lap of the airfield is exactly five kilometres. It was a chilly day and a brisk old breeze was scuttling through the windsocks.

The course was billiard table flat so I was aiming for a sub 19 minute time, hopefully nearer to 18:30. It’s quite a new parkrun (this only was the fifth event), the field was around two hundred or so.

Soon after the off, I was up in the leading group and after a kilometre I was off the front, running alongside a young lad in leggings and a club vest. I’d gone off hard, so my heart rate was up and I was gasping in the air, he casually turned to me and started chatting as if we were out for an easy walk.  I gasped out a couple of one or two word responses, which I expect were entirely incomprehensible.  He then asked me if I knew the way, “Erm, no, I was following you” I managed to blurt out.

Thankfully, it was hard to go wrong, we stuck to the fairly obvious perimeter path and didn’t head down the runway.

I managed to run the first (partially wind assisted) mile in just under six minutes, but the next was directly into the strong wind, we slowed to 6:30 pace.  Just as we were turning back towards the finish, with the wind again on our backs, another runner breezed past. I tried for a few strides to stick with him, but clearly he had been holding a lot in reserve and he zoomed away easily.

In addition to being bumpy, the path was covered in a couple of centimetres of mucilaginous mud. I had made a bad shoe choice and struggled for traction in the worst of it.

With around 400m metres to go I decided to have a dig to try to steal second place from the young lad.   I opened up my ‘sprint’.  I am pretty good at reading other runners body language in races and as he floated effortlessly past me, his body language was saying “don’t be ridiculous, you have no chance of beating me”.  He was right.

I finished third in 18:56, given the wind and the mud, I was satisfied with that. On a dry still day I am fairly sure I could have maintained sub six minute mile pace the whole way.

Next week – hopefully more of the same.

 

Comrades 2018 -21 weeks

11 stone 1.6 lbs

70.3 miles, longest run 17 miles. Parkrun (Selby, 3rd 18:56)

RunBritain Handicap 2.9

Aerobic efficiency on Long run 1,047 heartbeats per mile

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Putting my Foot in it

Only a short report this week, mainly because I’m still struggling with injury and I don’t want to sound like a moaning sod.

I wanted this to be a real big mileage week of at least 70 miles, culminating with a race on Sunday – the Vale of York half marathon. I ran for about an hour on both Monday and Tuesday and then drove up to the reservoirs on Wednesday morning hoping to run at least 20 miles, maybe even 24 if I felt up to it.

My ankle didn’t feel too bad for the first two hours of the run, but then the pain returned and quickly got worse and I was forced to stop after about 15 miles and hobble back to the car.

I rested until Sunday and went across to the Sherburn Aerodrome for the Vale of York Half Marathon.  I had a reasonably good race – finishing in just outside 82 minutes and apparently winning second prize in the MV50 age category.

Although my performance was OK, I wasn’t happy with my running. I was feeling the ankle throughout the run and I wasn’t able to run completely freely.  My gait was different – I was heel striking more than usual on my right foot, subconsciously I was trying to protect the injury. Unsurprisingly, I felt twinges in other parts of my body.

I finished quite lame and as I write this on Monday I can’t walk without pain.  Often it isn’t wise to self-diagnose using google, but this artcle:

https://runnersconnect.net/posterior-tibial-tendonitis/

describes my symptons accurately.  Worringly, it says that one should not try to run through this injury.  However, as Chester on October 8th is almost certain to be the only opportunity that I will have in my lifetime to wear a National vest then I am going to risk it.

There are four weeks remaining until Chester and I am fairly confident that I will be able to make the start line.  I am not so confident about making it to the finish, but we will worry about that on the day.

My plan from now until 8 Oct is to hardly run at all, allow my ankle to heal as much as possible and to try to keep as fit as I can by cross training.  I am going on a week-long cycling holiday in Italy next Saturday, so at least I will keep active and won’t have to think about running much.

 

CM -4 weeks

52.5 miles, longest run 18.3 miles

Parkrun – None

Weight 11 stone 3.4 lbs

Aerobic efficiency (HM 971 beats per mile)

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Cor Baby, that’s Relay free

I treated my aching bones to any easier week, so there isn’t very much to share about the last seven days of running.  Although I am trying to compress a 14 week marathon training block into about 7 weeks, even I realise that it would be foolish to completely run myself into the ground, so a bit of rest and easy running is mandatory at my age.

In Iceland, Jock told me about his training philosophy – he has read a book by an author whose name I have forgotten, but the key point was that training runs for older runners should to be easy.  The best way to measure this is by using heart rate, which should never exceed 180 minus one’s age.  Therefore, I have been running to a target heart rate of 130, which feels quite easy, it equates to something between 8:15 to 8:30 mile pace.

It also requires one to run very easily up inclines and a bit harder down them.  As mentioned on Marathon Talk a few weeks ago, for even effort, nearly every one goes much too hard uphill and nowhere near hard enough coming down.  Hard runs should only be done occasionally – ideally not more than once a week.

I like this training philosophy, it accords with the Kenyan way – i.e. you should either by running very easily, or very hard, but hardly ever with medium effort.

Saying all that, I ran hard on both days at the weekend – on Saturday at Roundhay parkrun; and on Sunday for Leg 6 of the Leeds Country Way Relay.

The Roundhay parkrun course is tough, it includes a two+ minute hill which is climbed three and a half times.  I was leading the pack at the top of the hill on the first lap, but I was soon passed by Huw and a young woman whom I didn’t recognise.  I held third place until the finish, the young woman cruised round to finish first overall quite comfortably, pursued by a string of gasping old men like me.

I was reasonably satisfied with my time of 19:11 – on the same weekend last year I ran 18:34, so I am definitely a little way behind my form of 2016. Hopefully, I still have time to sharpen up a little before I start the taper.

The Leeds Country Way is a 6 leg race around a 60 mile footpath that circumnavigates Leeds, contested by most of the local running clubs.  It’s a great event, requiring excellent logistical management and navigation and wells as good runners.  The legs are run in pairs.  I ran the final leg for the Vets team with Kevin. We enjoyed a strong run, covering the 9.5 undulating miles of rough paths and roads in just over 69 minutes.

LCW1

Valley Striders had a good day, winning the Vet’s category and finishing second in the main male and female classifications.

My aim for this week is to cover at least 60 miles, but to front-load the week so that I can be fresh(ish) or the Vale of York Half Marathon next Sunday. I will have to fit in my long run mid-week, probably on Wednesday morning.

 

CM -5 weeks

41.3 miles, longest run 10.1 miles

Parkrun – Roundhay 19:11 (3rd)

Weight 10 stone 13.4 lbs

Aerobic efficiency (LCW 1048 beats per mile)

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One Step Forward…

I got some miles in this week – 65 of them, although my 20 mile run on Sunday morning didn’t go exactly as I wished.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wasn’t sure how fit I was after not running at all during my holiday in Tanzania.  To ease back into it, I did a few easy training runs at home followed by a steady effort at the Reyjavik half marathon last Saturday.  I ran the final three miles quite hard there and it felt good.

The Even Splits 5K race at the Brownlee cycling track on Wednesday night was a good opportunity to see exactly how I was going.  Liz and I did a nice long warm up and on the start line I tried to focus my mind to make sure that I concentrated fully, embraced the pain and ran a true hard race. 5K racing is meant to hurt!

The track is exactly a mile long, so the course is three laps plus a bit at the end. I completed the first lap in a very aggressive 5:38. Unsurprisingly it was hurting; I decided not to look at the watch much, I may have been scared by how high my heart rate was.  Instead I looked ahead and picked out some of my usual rivals and tried to reel them in. Forgetting the watch and just racing is usually the best way to achieve a good time.

The second mile was a 5:52, I was still progressing through the field as others were slowing more than me. I dug deep and completely rinsed myself on the final lap, with a 5:51 third mile, leaving 170 or so metres left to the finish line.

I could feel Aidan from Abbey Runners bearing right down on me so I stared ahead and tried to unleash my best sprint finish. I stole a couple of places in the finishing straight to record a chip time of 18:06, which I was absolutely delighted with. It was much faster than I thought I was capable of. Even better, Liz knocked a minute off her previous time with a storming run.

(photo Kath Robbins)Even Splits

Looking at the Garmin data after the race, I saw that my heart rate maxed at 172 bpm just before the finish, the highest I have ever recorded, so it’s not surprising that I collapsed in a heap on the grass after the line.

What with the high mileage and very hard race, I felt very tried and sluggish during the remainder of the week.  I dragged myself round to a respectable but heavy-legged 19:18 on the tough Bradford parkrun course on Saturday morning.

I wanted to round the week off with a minimum of a 20 mile run on Sunday morning. I fancied running it on my own, I thought I might be quite slow.  I chose a simple 10 mile out and back route along the canal towpath. Although I was tired, the first 13 miles felt reasonable at just under 8 minute miling.   However as I became more fatigued, I felt my ankle getting gradually worse and after 17 miles I had to stop running and walk-jog back to car.

Hopefully, it’s just a symptom of the volume of miles and nothing too serious.  I’ll take a couple of days off and have an easier week before stepping up again. I want to be in reasonable shape for the Leeds Country Way relay next Sunday – I’m running the final ‘glory’ Leg 6 with partner Kevin in the Vets team.

 

CM -6 weeks

65.6 miles, longest run 20.1 miles

Parkrun – Bradford 19:18 (6th)

Weight 11 stone 0.4 lbs

Aerobic efficiency (5K race 940 beats per mile)

 

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Under Pressure

There are six weeks and five days to go until I toe the line at the Chester Marathon wearing an England vest.  I am woefully under-prepared.  I haven’t been able to shake off the problem with my bothersome ankle and managed not one single step of running during my 18 day holiday in Tanzania. I need to get my arse in gear.

Tanzania

This long-planned trip was the intended jewel in my summer sabbatical. It didn’t disappoint, I had a great time.

The first part of the trip was a guided trek up the 5895m of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa (and the highest free-standing mountain in the World), followed by a five day safari around several National Parks and conservation areas in Tanzania.

I love the wonderful haphazard craziness of Africa. The people appear infected with joyfulness and have a carefree resourcefulness that (eventually) solves most problems. They aren’t the World’s greatest timekeepers though.

There are several approved trekking routes up Kilimanjaro. Backpackers looking for the cheapest way up face a five day race up the crowded Marangu route. As well as being cheap and quick, this route also isn’t particularly picturesque and has the lowest success rate of about 65% (due to poor acclimatisation).

We chose the longest and slowest route – the Northern circuit, which takes nine days in total including the descent. It is an expensive option, but the main advantage is the high success rate (over 90%) due to plenty of opportunities to acclimatise. The route takes in the quieter more unspoilt slopes on the Kenya-facing ‘back’ of the mountain.

Our party comprised eight trekkers (mainly Australian friends with whom I walked the Inca Trail in Peru in 2012), four guides and about 32 porters.  That may sound a plethora of porters, but it’s about the average walker to porter proportion.

Kili13

The guides and porters were simply wonderful, they pampered and pandered to the softy Western tourists and never once failed to smile, laugh or sing whilst doing it.  And they had to lug dozens of 25KG packs up the mountain….

 

To be honest, the first few days of the walk were fairly easy for me. There is a phrase in Swahili that you hear all the time on the mountain: “Pole, Pole” (pronounced: “Po-lay, Pol-lay”).  It means “Slowly, slowly” and it is the absolute key to success on Kilimanjaro.

At first I was surprised just how slowly we were made to walk – to call it funereal would be to exaggerate the pace, it was much slower – something around 1 mile per hour.  As we got higher and the air got thinner, we walked even more slowly – on summit night we covered six very steep kilometres in around ten hours.

Our head guide, Davis, had summited over 250 times, so we trusted in his counsel.  My breathing and heart rate was comfortable at Pole Pole pace, but as soon as I tried to go even slightly quicker I felt my heart rate shoot up and breathing become laboured.

The ascent of Kilimanjaro is a trek, a walk. It’s a long and arduous walk and the summit night and day is very long and testing, but provided you stay healthy and can cope with the altitude the main requirement for success is patience and determination.

Here are some photos from the first few days of the trek (photo credit Andrew Miley and Mervi Minshull)

 

Summit Night

We camped at School Hut – at an altitude of 4800m.  We dined early – at 5.30pm and rose at 10.30pm for an 11.30pm start for the push for the summit.

It was a stunning place to camp, I have never been to a place that felt more other-Worldly, way above the clouds and many thousands of feet above the vegetation line:

 

We were blessed with a full moon, which washed the mountain in a pale argentine light. I turned off my head torch for most of the summit climb, I could see perfectly well by moonlight alone.

The moonlight reminded me of my favourite poem – Silver, by Walter de la Mere, which I recited to myself as we slogged up the steep slopes below the summit:

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

The most difficult time physically was around 3 – 4 a.m., the body is used to being in a deep slumber at that time of night, not creeping up a freezing mountain in sucking in diluted oxygen. I resorted to listening to some favourite music to keep me going – The Hounds of Love by Kate Bush and Grace by Jeff Buckley.

It was very, very cold – between -10 and -15 degrees C during the night and thankfully Davis had meticulously checked our kit before we set off to ensure we would be warm enough. He made me rent an additional thick fleece jacket and leggings and I was very thankful he did – I was just about warm enough.

At around 6.30 a.m. we stopped to watch the sunrise:

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At 7:30 a.m we made the first of the three summits on the crater – Gilman’s point. Two hours later we got to the highest point in Africa – Uhuru Peak:

20170807_094057

 

The summit peak was unusually quiet and we were able to spend around 20 minutes posing for photographs and generally larking about.  After having the highest possible pee in Africa, we started a long and exhausting descent down trails of broken stones and talcum powder-like dust. At times it was almost possible to ski down.

After the exhilaration of the summit, the descent was a pain in the backside. We eventually made it to the Millenium camp (3800m) at around 4:30 pm. We had been walking for 17 hours and it had been 23 hours since we had eaten hot food. We were knackered.

Most porters don’t summit and they treated us to an extra special song and dance as we shuffled exhaustedly into the camp. We ate and collpased into a deep slumber in our tents.

Safari

I won’t bore you with lots of the details of the safari, I’ll just insert a load of pictures mostly taken by my mate Andrew who is a far more accomplished photograper than me:

 

I was absolutely transfixed watching two lionesses hunting a hartebeest, though the scene was slightly spoiled by the fact that there were around twenty five jeeps all parked up with occupants gawping and snapping away.  The lionesses didn’t seem at all bothered by the vehicles.  Quite the opposite, one walked distractedly away from the prey up the track alongside the line of cars. She then quietly turned around and then snuck around the other side of the vehicles.  She was using the jeeps as cover – how amazing.

The hartebeest spotted one of the lionesses in the grass just in time and then legged it for all he was worth.  Antelopes 1, Lions 0.

We visited a traditional Maasai village in the Serengeti. The chief greeted us warmly in beautiful English and politely requested USD 50 from each car.

He was a magnificent human being – tall, elegant and serene, he reminded me of David Rudisha (who is also Maasai). He wrapped his red shawl around my shoulders and invited me to compete in a Maasai jumping dance (used as part of the courtship to impress the Maasai ladies).

Kili20

I was impressed enough to buy his shawl off him for USD 35 (he wanted USD 50, and later I saw them for USD 10). He was a pretty savvy businessman.

 

We learned about the Maasai way of life.  They eat only three foodstuffs – blood from live cows, milk and meat. A lack of vegetables and carbohydrate doesn’t appear to do them any harm, Maasai are tall and thin and probably very good runners.

Although I enjoyed my African adventures, after 18 days away, I was happy head to home, well aware that I needed to get running again.

Iceland

Just four days after landing back in the U.K., I was off again, this time to Iceland for a long weekend primarily to run the Reykjavik half marathon with Valley Strider mates. Liz and I were staying in an Airbnb apartment with Jock, my Comrades mate. Unfortunately his partner Karen couldn’t make it.

Iceland was an absolutely brilliant place, albeit eye-wateringly expensive, especially for a Scot and a Yorkshireman. My meal in a trendy tapas bar in Saturday night was basically posh fish and chips and cost me nearly £50!

Iceland blessed us with perfect running weather for the race on Saturday morning. It was crisp and cool with a massive cloudless azure sky.

At the last moment, I decided to run with Lizzie, for the first few miles at least. I wasn’t sure how fit I was. I was unsure of my ankle, so there seemed little point in smashing myself to finish in around 90 minutes.  Liz was hoping to run about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Rey1

The first part of the course was flat and fast, but at around 10 miles Lizzie was feeling the pace after an aggressive start and told me to bugger off. I felt OK so decided to push the final 5k and test my legs. I lifted my pace to around 6:20 per mile.

I saw Jock a few hundred metres further on. He was having a storming run – well under his 1 hour 40 target pace. I was passing dozens of runners, and I expected to go sweeping past him but he latched onto me and we ran the next mile together in under 6:30.

I decided to pace him in as best I could, it seemed the least I could do after he had shepherded me home safely at Comrades last year when I was a gibbering wreck.

Rey2

We finished in just outside 1:37, a great time for Jock and testament to four 70 + mile weeks of hard training.  He is also running at Chester and I need to get my act together or he will be giving me a beating.

Liz finished just after us in  1:40 and a few seconds and nabbed a top ten age group finish to boot.

After a few days back home, I’m finally focussing on training again. Although my ankle isn’t right, I will just have to ignore it for now and try to train through. If I break down again, then so be it. I have to gamble on four big mileage weeks so that I can line up in something like decent shape and then just try to bury myself on the day.

I’m running the third Even Splits 5K race tonight at the Brownlee cycling track. I’ve run 19:05 and 18:38 in the first two races. I doubt that I’ll go quicker tonight.

Despite my lack of miles, one bit of good news is that my weight has remained quite low – I’m hovering at around 11 stones, which is about my racing weight. My aerobic fitness isn’t too bad, its my legs that are letting me down. Time to get running!

 

CM- 6 weeks 4 days

10 stone 13.2 lbs

Aerobic efficiency (half marathon 992 beats per mile)

 

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Mind the Gap

 

After my wobbles over the last few weeks, I’ve felt better this week.

The knee and hip pain has eased off. I’m still aware of soreness after a run, but it doesn’t hurt much whilst I am actually running.

The deficit in mileage over the final month of the training period means I am not brimming with confidence about next Sunday, though I’m not too apprehensive either. I am fit enough to run well, hopefully sub three hours, but probably not to run a sub 2:55 PB time.

I ran steadily last week then ventured over to York for a blast around the flat parkrun with a few other Striders on Saturday morning. I was pleased with an even paced 18:12 for 13th place. I ran very hard, but not completely eyeballs out and I had to do an extended cool down run back to my car parked about half a mile from the finish because  I had left my barcode in it. That’ll learn me.

The Sunday one week before a marathon is a bit late for a proper long run, but I chanced a 12 mile run along the canal, with about 7 miles at 2:55 marathon pace, sandwiched between some steadier miles running with Liz.

As is the custom, the marathon paced miles felt rather hard, but not obscenely so, and in the main the heart rate stayed below 145 bpm.

My lowered expectations may work in my favour next Sunday. I am setting myself some ground rules for next Sunday. Assuming I arrive at the start healthy and fit, I want to run a conservative first 18 miles – with a target average pace of 6:40 – 6:45 per mile.

If I feel OK, I will try pick it up a little in the final 8 miles, hopefully overtaking a lot of runners and running a negative split.  However, my lack of long runs may well scupper those intentions, we’ll see.

My sore knees and hips mean that I will wear my Hoka Cliftons for the race, I’m sure they will thank me for the extra cushioning.

I haven’t run a London marathon this century, I am really looking forward to the experience. There are lots of teammates running and quite a few friends will be there in support.

Whisper it softly, but as I write, the weather forecast looks quite good:

London weather

 

 

LM-1 weeks

34.8 miles, longest run 12.1 miles

Parkrun – (York) 18:12 (13th)

Weight 11 St 0.8 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 968 beats per mile

 

 

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Waltzing Matilda

I am progressing towards London a bit like a drunk trying to get off the Waltzers, i.e. I’m just about managing, but it isn’t graceful and it all might come crashing to an abrupt halt.

My sore knee and hip felt better in the early part of the week.  I knocked the mileage back and got my bike out for a first run of the season.  My white Italian carbon steed looked beautiful in the sun – clean and glinting, shod with fresh 25 mm tyres. The white carbon frame perfectly complemented my pasty Yorkshire legs, seeing the sun for the first time in seven months

On one of the lovely Spring evenings, I bombed around my standard 18.5 mile hilly circuit as hard as I could in just over an hour.  With a nice fresh tailwind on my back, I recorded my fourth best ever time on the classic Strava segment from Otley up the hill to Pool Bank, in just over 6 minutes.

Although I was due to run the Vale of York 10 on Sunday morning, I still fancied putting in a decent effort at Roundhay parkrun on Saturday.  I went for a progressive run, with the third and final circuit at max pace.  I wore my chunky new Hoka Odyssey shoes and they felt OK, a bit spongier than my beloved Cliftons, but not bad.

I ran the final mile in under 6 minutes and finished 4th in just under 19 minutes.

Perhaps it was the hard parkrun, or maybe it was an afternoon spent digging over my vegetable patch, but during the warm up jog with Tim and Liz before Sunday’s race, my left knee felt really sore.

I knew straight away that I couldn’t race. The pain was not agony, but it was bad enough to be worrying. I might have been able to get myself round 10 miles, but I would not have been quick and I am certain that I would have aggravated the problem.

So I cheered off Tim and Liz for their race and treated myself to a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea.  Tim maintained his good run of form with a new PB and a win in MV50 age category, I guess if I had been fit I would have had a fair chance of grabbing second place.

My perfect day was rounded off when a young BMW driver reversed into my car in Homebase car park. Cosmic!

I’m more frustrated than worried about London. I think with two weeks rest, my knee should be OK to run on.  I’m going to try to keep fit by riding my bike and rowing and possibly by jogging on grass, but not for a few days.

I will lose some fitness so a PB is now unlikely, but London was never going to be the number one target marathon for the year – that is Chester in October.

LM-2 weeks

20.6 miles, longest run 8 miles

Parkrun – (Roundhay) 18:58 (4th)

Weight 11 St 4.6 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run N/A

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Dem Bones

My old bones have not been feeling good over the last couple of weeks, something has been amiss.  I have suffered from knee and hip soreness which has precipitated a premature and involuntary taper.

In the ideal World, the training diary entry for the Sunday three weeks before a target marathon would read thus:

last long run – 24 miles, steady start then felt strong and pushed the last six miles at marathon pace. Finished tired but quietly satisfied. Bring it on.”

An honest training diary for my last long Sunday run is:

  • Got to the reservoirs at 8.00 a.m. ready to tackle a 22 mile long run with teammate John. At 8.05 a.m. John hadn’t arrived so checked my phone.  Saw that he sent me a text last night explaining he couldn’t make it, but I hadn’t had the gumption to look at my phone until now…. Will have to do this run on my own with no iPod.

    Set off running at shuffling pace, don’t feel great. Felt dull soreness in my left knee and right hip. Told myself to man up and get it done. It felt chilly and I wished I’d brought some gloves.

    First mile took nearly nine minutes, but it was  uphill and I wasn’t warmed up yet, told myself to dig in, it will get easier.

    Slogged around first lap of 7.5 miles in just under an hour. 8 minute miling felt hard. What was going on?  Set off on second lap without stopping. Tried to raise my speed a little.  It started to rain, the kind of rain that really wets you. Thought ‘Hmm, I’m not enjoying this, I’m wet, cold, slow and lonely….zip it up!’.

    Path blocked up with hundred of long distance walkers doing the Blubberhouses 25, spent my second lap dodging around them…

    Finished second lap in two hours feeling effing dreadful. Thought, there’s no way I can do another 7 miles…Decided to do a short lap of 3.5 miles instead…

    Set off for final short lap. After two minutes stopped abruptly feeling sore and incredibly fatigued. Muttered ‘Sod this for a game of soldiers’.

    Walked back to the car and drove home.

 

I can trace these problems back to the Trimpell 20 two weeks ago. I think I went too hard and I haven’t recovered from that race very well. I’ve obviously picked up niggles in my knee and hip and on top of that I’m short on sleep.

However, I’ve had an easier few days since Sunday and I feel a little better now (Tuesday afternoon).  I went for a 2.4 mile spin around the block last night and it was pain free.

So I’ve missed out the last proper long run and I’ve lost a bit of sharpness and top-end fitness because I’ve had a very easy couple of weeks. However, I still think I can run OK in London and I’m still hopeful of a PB, but its no longer the slam dunk certainty that it was a month ago.

I have a race on Sunday – the Vale of York 10, hopefully a decent run there might boost my flagging confidence a little.

 

 

LM-3 weeks

39.4 miles, longest run 15.0 miles

Weight 11 St 2.8 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 985 beats per mile

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25 amazing facts about running that will completely blow your mind…

…the title is just a little social experiment.  I wondered if a ludicrous Buzz-Feed style click-bait title would have any effect on my blog traffic.

Well you clicked, so I guess it worked with you…

The Trimpell 20 last week must have taken more out of me than I realised – I felt jaded all week.

It’s not surprising– running 77% of the marathon distance at sub PB race pace is a significant effort, and one would expect to take a week or two off completely after a marathon.

So I’ve had a low mileage week, not really what I had planned for. A month out from the target marathon should really be one of the biggest mileage weeks.  However, if your legs feel dead and there are pains in your knees and hips, there is no future in flogging the horse just for the sake of it.

After the clocks sprung forward on Sunday, a group of Striders met on a sharp but stunning morning up at the reservoirs, a runner’s heaven.

I hoped for a 21/22 mile run, but early into the run I knew it wasn’t feeling good.

I felt a niggling soreness in my left knee, although I could run on it with moderate discomfort, I saw no point in risking aggravating it and perhaps putting London in jeopardy.

I bimbled round for 14 miles and then jacked in after two of the planned three laps. I don’t think it is serious, but I am going to take a few days off running. I’ll try to do some cross training on the bike or rower.

As well as being a runner, I’m quite interested in the science of running and would like to progress into coaching in the future. I’m currently a volunteer coach for the first Young Tritons Running Club group in the country – a programme for boys leading up to a 5K run after 9 weeks.  It’s basically the boys version of the Mini Mermaids running club run by my friend Hannah Corne.

Our boys are boisterous and challenging, but it is great fun and I am certainly learning plenty about myself and how best to interact with children.

On Saturday, I completed the Leader in Running Fitness Course run by British Athletics, a starter/foundation course and hopefully I will build on this with more courses and more experience in the future.

Provided I recover during the week, I’ll do my last long run before London next Sunday at the reservoirs. I have two races during the taper period – the Vale of York 10 the following Sunday and the Salford 10K on Good Friday.

 

LM-4 weeks

44.7 miles, longest run 14.1 miles

Parkrun – none

Weight 11 St 3.2 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 1002 beats per mile

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Three Hundred and counting

Last Saturday at Roundhay, I ran my 300th parkrun.

I have run most of my parkruns around the paths of Woodhouse Moor in the heart of Studentville, Leeds.  Although I still enjoy the occasional spin around Woodhouse Moor, I’ve transferred my primary allegiance to Roundhay parkrun.

The records will show that I was the first finisher at Roundhay on Saturday, a lovely way to remember my 300th parkrun.  However, although strictly true, that doesn’t convey fully what actually occurred.

My 300th run was announced by the Run Director during the pre-start announcements.  I wanted to give it a real go, so I pushed off hard up the first hill, settling into fourth place, just behind two Abbey Runners.

The leader was way off ahead – a talented young athlete whom I know well called Alex Pagdin.

Alex is just 18 years old and is already a brilliant track runner with an 800 m personal best of 1:50. Look out for him in the future; I think he might be quite good. I knew I wouldn’t see Alex again during the run.

I kept the hammer down and managed to reel in and pass both Abbey guys, so I was in second position.

I pushed all the way and crossed the finish line in 18:36, but I was somewhat surprised to be handed the “1” finisher token.

Despite finishing well over a minute ahead of me, young Alex had swerved the finish line in order to allow me to be recorded as first finisher. What a remarkably selfless and generous thing to do.

Thank you young man; you are a credit to yourself and your parents. I will gladly buy you a beer at the first opportunity!

***

After last Sunday’s half marathon, my legs felt tired this week and I struggled to run a respectable volume of miles. Running was an effort.

I shuffled my way half-heartedly through the Tuesday track session.  I had intended to do a medium long run on Thursday by adding on miles before and after the Thursday 8 mile group club run.

However, after an awful three mile warm-up, I realised that I just wasn’t up for it. I felt deeply fatigued and hungry and although I could have just about dragged myself around the club run, I decided the best course of action would be to sack it off and go home and put my feet up. Sometimes a man needs his rest.

On Sunday,  along with teammates Myra and Tim, I ventured across to the dark side (i.e. Lancashire) to run my 20 mile pre-marathon tune-up race – the Trimpell 20 in Lancaster.

I like to run a 20 mile race about 5 weeks out from a marathon, hoping to run it more or less at target marathon pace.

The weather forecast was dismal – torrential rain and 40mph winds.  Although there was a very strong gusty breeze and persistent light rain, we were certainly fortunate to miss the worst of the weather on the day.

The course was basically flat and consisted of three out and backs along cycleways – a short one, then a slightly longer one around the Trimpell triangle and then a longer one of several miles alongside the swollen River Lune.  The finish was back at the castle and the last half mile included a thigh burning spiteful climb up a partly cobbled street.

Tim got the better of the traffic in a slightly chaotic start on the narrow cycletracks and surged off in front.  As the race settled down, I caught back up and we ran together in a nice comfortable rhythm, knocking out consistent miles a second or three either side of 6:30.

Partway into the medium out and back section, a little peloton of about seven runners formed. I think we all realised that it was in our interests to stick together given the wind and knock out a few miles as a group.  We chatted and passed drinks around.

Trimpell

 

I could tell Tim was strong and I felt good also. We went through the half marathon point, 13.1 miles in just over 1:25.  At this point we were heading eastwards along the River Lune path with the wind on our backs, it felt great.

I got a little annoyed with one of the other runners in our group who threw me a dummy at a drinks station, meaning that I completely missed getting a drink. In a bit of a pique,  I went to the front and pushed the pace. This fractured the group. I was joined by Tim and a lad from Chester Tri in a mini pack of three.

We made the final 180 degree turn; we had 6 miles back into the wind with the nasty climb up to the castle at the end.  I knew it was going to be tough.

Tim was the strong one, always pushing it at the front. The Chester lad and I were merely hanging on. However, despite running back into the wind, we were somehow maintaining the 6:30 pace. Rather than feeling easy, it was now really hard work.

With about three miles to go, the Chester lad fell away, leaving me running a couple of steps behind Tim like a faithful but tired old Spaniel.

We hadn’t said anything but I know that we were going to race out the finish; there was a chance that we would be racing for the first MV50 spot.

I didn’t fancy my chances, my only hope would be to cling on and try to win in a sprint, though how I would manage to sprint up a steep cobbled street with jelly legs, I had no idea.

With under a mile to go, there was a twisty section which included a few swerves around barriers and a run through a pedestrian subway. Tim took a racing line and put in a spurt on the slope out of the subway and took a crucial few metres out of me.

Repeating the familiar pattern from recent races, Tim pushed on up the hill to the Castle – finishing in 2:10:30, with me eventually limping in 17 seconds later. We were second and third in our age category as it turned out.

Myra ran really well and finished fourth lady in a very good time of 2:21.26.

As a marathon tune-up, the race was ideal.  I ran 20 miles at 2:50 marathon pace on a windy day without any nutrition during the race and without the benefit of a taper.  I’m hoping for a 2:52 something time at London as my A goal in five weeks time.

 

LM-5 weeks

44.7 miles, longest run 20 miles

Weight 11 St 0.6 lbs.

Aerobic efficiency on Sunday run 942 beats per mile

 

 

 

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