Sunday, 31 January 2010

50 mile month

Monday - in the gym

Distance: 1.15 miles
Time: 15m00s

Tuesday -
Stanford 4 laps

Distance: 4.35 miles
Time: 37m56s

Thursday -
Stanford 5 laps

Distance: 5.30 miles
Time: 58m08s

Friday - back in the gym

Distance: 1.56 miles
Time: 20m00s

Saturday -
Charney 8

Distance: 8.34 miles
Time: 78m34s

Sunday -
Stanford 2

Distance: 2.11 miles
Time: 20m58s

Week 2 of my 18-week training plan is now over, and I've clocked up 50 miles for the month.

Not too bad considering I spent 15 days not running at all thanks to the lousy weather. I've also managed to run on six days out of seven. This feels like proper training now.

I kick the week off with a gym session. Only the 2nd visit in about a month, so I've reverted to a 15 minute run on the standard setting, rather than the 20 minutes I'd got used to last year. I don't want to overdo things.

Tuesday saw me aiming for a steady 40 minute run - but it was cold - so I ran a bit more quickly than planned and I finished the 4.3 miles in 37 minutes. I'd added an extra corner to my usual "mile" laps, but it didn't add a great deal to the overall distance.

Thursday, and I'm back to the standard laps, but a more relaxed pace to comfortably cover 50 minutes.

Friday and it's into the gym again, and I'm back to 20 minutes on the treadmill. Time for a catch-up next week to review my plan. Do I stick with the 20 minute hill run, 40 minutes core & strength exercises and 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer? Or do I need something more attuned to marathon training?

Saturday I decided to swap my long slow run so that I get Sunday to recover, and can maybe think about circuit training on Monday. I want to make sure I run over 8 miles today, so I do half my normal lap of the village at the beginning of my run, which only adds a quarter of a mile to the circuit, but somehow makes the whole run feel longer. Darn, I was hoping the run would feel exactly the same as usual and I'd benefit from the extra mileage without noticing. If I don't make the extra effort - this "8 mile" route can be done in about 7.8 miles. Ok, so not a huge difference, but it all adds up. It was a cold day, and again not the easiest. I'm wondering why I've entered a spring marathon that means I need to train in the winter. Maybe next year I'll run a summer marathon so I can train in the spring?

Sunday. What to do today? I haven't been swimming for months, so part of me wants to get in the pool. There's an aqua aerobics class at the leisure centre. I could go to that - so I'd be getting more out of my gym membership. However I'm worried that I'll be the only 30-something bloke in a class full of 50+ women. However, my training plan also has me down for a 20 minute recovery run today. I want a day off. But then I might be going out tomorrow evening and not manage a run at all. I should stick to the plan then, and get a recovery run in today. Again, it's cold, but I take it steady today. I don't run too fast to try to get back into the warm quickly. I know I'm only out for 20 minutes, so I can pace myself down to about 10-minute-miles. Just a gentle jog really.

So ends the busiest week for a while, but just the first of many. I just hope it gets a bit warmer soon! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Not hard. Not easy. Just another run.

Thursday - Milton 3½

Distance: 3.59 miles
Time: 33m47s

Friday - Treadmill Hill Run

Distance: 1.15 miles
Time: 15m00s

Sunday -
Charney 8

Distance: 7.86 miles
Time: 1h15m15s

So I've reached the end of Week 1 of my revised 18-week plan, and have run about 16 miles. This has been a bit of a shock to the system, given that I was unable to get out and run during the big freeze. In hindsight I should have made more of an effort to at least get to the gym to keep things ticking over, but I find that running promotes the enthusiasm to run, and days without it allows the lethargy to creep in.

No more of that now! I'm back on track, and have managed 5 runs in 8 days. Now I'm in the habit of running, I can keep it up come rain or shine. I do need to be a bit smarter about rest though, as I haven't been helping myself recently, often staying up too late watching television. And even when I do get to bed in good time, I find I can't sleep well. I had this problem last year, and it may stem from the increase in training causing extra stress on my body, mucking up my ability to get a restful night's kip.

Things will get better soon, as I get used to the amount of running I have planned over the next 4½ months. And the running will get easier too. All three runs this week (not counting the 15 minutes on the treadmill on Friday) have been, well. Not hard work as such, but then not easy either. I'm running slower than I've been used to, but that's ok, as I can't push too hard too soon. So I don't try to stick to a particular pace at the moment, and don't try to run faster if I think I've been running more slowly than expected.

Here's a question for you: Do you (if you're a runner) try to stick to a set pace? Do you always plan your runs to make sure you go faster, or further to constantly push yourself? Or do you just run roughly the time or distance you'd planned, and just let your body dictate the pace? That's what I do, and find it works for me. Over time I get better, and that just comes with the mileage I put in. But I don't mind if I run faster or slower than the previous run, I just let my legs do their job, and they take me the distance in their own good time.

Maybe I'll have to change things when I want to get my Half Marathon time down to under 1h30m but for now I'll keep on plodding along, mile after mile, enjoying the fresh air and the countryside...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A bit behind. But only a bit...

Sunday - Buckland 6

Distance: 6.02 miles
Time: 57m02s

Tuesday -
Milton 3½

Distance: 3.41 miles
Time: 32m19s

Having got off to a great start on New Year's day, I was all set to start the 20-week training plan I'd written - revised from the 16-week plan I used for last year's London Marathon. I'd added an extra Half (Liverpool in March - tbc), and doubled up three of the early weeks. Not strictly necessary, but I want to beat my 4½ hour marathon time, and squeezing in a few extra weeks of training seemed the best way to help me achieve this.

Then the snow turned up. And the ice. And more snow. So the gentle start I'd been hoping for with the odd run in London at the beginning of January soon melted away. I just wish the snow had. Then again, when the snow did go, a load of it turned to water. I'd thought of running 8 miles at the weekend, but when driving back to Stanford via the single track Park Lane I discovered it to be under water, and I drove through one of the deepest floods I've ever been through. I'd wanted to double check how big the puddles were, as this road is a 2 mile stretch of my regular loop and I'd spotted it was rather wet earlier in the week. Puddles were an understatement.

So, a new plan. I decided on an out & back route instead - heading towards Charney Bassett - and retracing my steps when I'd reached half way. The downside of this is that halfway can easily be a movable object, and it became apparent on mile 1 that I didn't feel up to 8 miles. At Gainfield crossroads therefore, I turned left instead of right, and chose to run to Buckland instead. That's about 3 miles, making 6 for the run. And to be honest that felt quite enough for my first run in over 2 weeks. Had I been able to do my normal 8 miles, it wouldn't have occurred to me to cut it short. is that a good thing, or would I have overdone it?

Monday, therefore, is now Day 1. Of my new revised 18-week plan. I've jettisoned a couple of the doubled-up weeks. Monday calls for a gentle 25 minute jog. I opt for a rest day. I'm still feeling a bit stiff after Sunday's 6 miler, and am regretting not forcing myself into the gym last week to at least get the edge of the unfitness that's crept up on me over the last month.

Tuesday and I'm determined to get back on plan. i can try out the refurbished showers & changing room at work and get out for a 40 minute jog. The only trouble is that it's been a while since I've been out for a 4 mile lunchtime lap, and I forget the route! I set off along the main road towards the centre of Milton park, omitting the ½ mile lap of the block I usually start with. Oh well, I'll have to tack it onto the end... The run itself doesn't feel much better than Sunday to begin with, but about half way, I get into my stride and autopilot takes over. On mile 3, however, I start to tire, and decide the lack of regular running recently has caught up with me. I don't want to push it, so I skip the extra loop of the block I'd need to clock up the full 40 minutes, and stop early.

So, ok, I'm a bit disappointed that a) I've missed out on 2 weeks' running b) I've had to reduce my training plan and c) I've let my fitness wain in the meantime. I start to feel annoyed that when I was in training for the London Marathon - I didn't actually just do 16 weeks - as in fact I'd already done 20+ weeks beforehand, building up my strength & stamina gradually over the 9 months up until April. This year I didn't run at all over Christmas... why not?

So hence this rather rambling blog entry. I need to get my positive vibes buzzing again. I don't need to look back at what I haven't done, I need to look forward to what I'm going to do. I have time to get up to full fitness. The base of miles I ran throughout 2009 is much larger than the previous year. Ok, so I'm not quite where I wanted to be, but I'm not far off either. Thursday will see a 35 minute lunchtime run (snow permitting!),
and a trip to the gym.

And now I'm on a roll of enthusiasm - I may even revise my training plan again - to rather radically bring it forward by 1 day. That way I get to run my LSR on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. I can then incorporate a swimming session into the following rest day and get back to doing circuit training on a Monday (which I can't do at the moment as it's too energetic on the day following a long run). I need to include some flexibility & resistance training into my plan too.

Oh, and doing my LSR on a Saturday also means I'll be free to go to London and cheer on all the friends that I know are doing this year's London marathon :o)

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year - New Challenge

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Denchworth Loop

Distance: 8.39 miles
Time: 1h18m

With only 142 days until my next marathon - it's time to dust off the blog, and keep track of my progress again, now that I'm officially back in training.

In the six months since my last blog entry:
I've run round Monmartre (a hilly few miles up to the Sacré Cœur and back down past the Moulin Rouge)

I've run the Birmingham Half Marathon (with a new PB of 1h50m)

and I've entered the 2010 Edinburgh Marathon.

I needed a challenge to keep me running, and having failed to get into the London Marathon via a ballot entry, I chose Britain's fastest marathon instead. I will do London again one day, but didn't want to run it for charity again this year. Training for a marathon is pretty tough in itself, so trying to raise £1000-£1500 at the same time makes it harder. Especially since I wouldn't want to take the generosity of my friends and family for granted.

So, with a New Year it's back on with my running shoes as I embark upon a new training plan to take me through until May 23rd. I haven't run for a couple of weeks, as I picked up a chest cold, so my last run of 2009 was a 12-miler on 13th Dec in 111 minutes.

Today I fancied a change from the usual 8 mile "square" route, so opted for a new route, a sort out out-and-back one. Out to Park Lane (a couple of miles), turn right, then left to Denchworth (a couple of miles), left and left again back to Park Lane (a couple of miles) and home again. A shade under 8.5 miles.

It was very sunny today, and it looked like a great day to run. So I got kitted out in shorts & just a t-shirt. I swapped back to the trainers I ran the London Marathon in, having just clocked up 500 miles in my other pair. I still have about 50 miles left in my marathon running shoes, but will get a new pair (or two) soon. The weather, though sunny & blue sky in abundance, was cold. Very cold. I set off at a steady-ish pace, and settled into what I hoped would be a good run. Part of me wanted to turn round and go home, because of the cold. And part of me wanted to turn round and go home because maybe 8 miles is too far to be running today? Part of me wanted to do it, and that was the part that won out.

There were a lot of cars out today, and a few horseboxes, and even some horses too. It must be a day for it, I thought. En route to Goosey, I skidded slightly on a patch of ice. Uh-oh. Maybe I should turn round and head back now? It could be a bit dodgy. Nope - I'll just take it easy. Well I'll see how it goes. If there's a lot of ice on the way to Denchworth, then yep - I'd better go back and not risk it. But on the whole the roads improved.

Miles 3 & 4 seemed to pass quickly, and now I'm heading out to the halfway point. I'm into my stride and I'm feeling good. North of Denchworth there are large patches of water, almost all the way across the road. Luckily it's not icy. I pass another runner heading the other way (togged up rather more warmly than I, with leggings, sweatshirt & hat). When I turn left on the road towards Charney Bassett, a chill wind hits my face. Brrrrrr. I must be mad being out today. Still, not long left, only 3 miles or so.

Park Lane comes up, and I feel elated that the run is nearly over, but also a bit tired. And cold. All the Christmas chocolate and new year's eve booze has taken its toll on my stamina. I cross the bridge, less than 2 miles now, and there are more cars. And more cars. Where there were one or two on the way out, there are now dozens. And more horseboxes. I'm guessing a Hunt is out today. To confirm the thought, I hear the unmistakable sound of the horn. Some spectators wish me well as I pass, one of them tells me to speed up, as they (the hunt) are on their way. Half a mile on, and I can hear a horse behind me. I catch a glimpse of its red jacketed rider as I turn my head, and I plod on. A few hundred yards later and something catches my peripheral vision. It's a dog. A light beige hound. Then another, and another. Now I realise that the Hunt is actually upon me, and the pack of dogs is running along with me, and then the lead horse is alongside me too. I don't feel like I'm being a chased, but then again that feeling is not far off! The lead huntsman tells me I'm making a great start to the year, and then 50 yards later he calls to the dogs to make sure they turn off into the field, and leave me to run along the road alone.

I don't know how much faster I was running with the hounds on my heels, not much faster than before - but I think they did keep me running at the same steady speed, where given the choice I think my legs would have been far happier slowing down. Which they do now that I am devoid of my 4-legged pace-setters.

I keep running steadily. ish. Albeit slower now. I can't get indoors quick enough though, to get out of my cold wet t-shirt and get into a hot shower, before pigging out on a large plate of pasta.

So, I'm officially on the road to Edinburgh. Just 20 weeks to go...

Running 13.1 miles in memory of Carl

I ran the Silverstone Half Marathon on 15th March 2009. I managed the 13.1 mile course in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Not a bad effort for my first Half Marathon! I returned in 2010 to run it in 1 hour 54 minutes, and plan to do it again in 2011. I decided to run this in aid of The PSC Trust and PSC Support in memory of my brother Carl, who died from liver failure in November 1997. If you'd like to sponsor me for this - please email me at PSC Trust
PSC Support Or visit my Justgiving page for PSC Support at PSC Support - Justgiving
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