Heat, Dan, and Mary Keitany – Week Beginning 16 April

Monday 23rd April 2018

Yesterday reminded me why I don’t run marathons.

After my morning run I settled down in front of the TV to watch the coverage of the London Marathon. Taking place on a unseasonably warm day, it provided plenty of entertainment. If you are a massive sadist who likes to watch people suffer, that is. Fortunately I am so had a great time.

Neither the men nor the women set off at a pace appropriate for the conditions and as a result there were some ugly scenes towards the end as titans of the sport crawled home like the charity runners several miles back down the road. Watching Mary Keitany, normally such a graceful and elegant runner, shuffle the last mile, cooked from having gone out inside world record pace on a hot day, was excruciating.

The men’s race was no different, and in the opening miles the men resembled a group of 9 year old boys throwing rocks at each other to see who would get hit by the fewest. Mo Farah managed to dodge several of them but still grimaced his way to a 4 minute positive split.

It wasn’t just the elites. My friend Dan, in a message afterwards, said “I can remember nothing from the last 12km and woke up under a pile of ice in the medical tent.” Sounds like fun.

I’m sure running a good marathon is a hugely satisfying experience but it seems to go wrong more often than it goes right. This must be hard to take in an event you only get a couple of chances at every year and that requires several months of dedicated training. I’m sticking with steeplechase.

My Week

Monday: AM 8km easy / PM 12km easy (20)

Tuesday: 16km easy (16)

Wednesday: 16km easy (16)

Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM 13km moderate, weights (23)

Friday: 15km easy (15)

Saturday: rest (0)

Sunday: AM 17km easy / PM 8km easy (25)

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Better Safe than Sorry – Week Beginning 09 April

Sunday 15th April 2018

I love the National 12 Stage. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is one of my favourite events of the running year. I enjoy the drama of the race and the story lines that evolve over the course of four hours of racing. I enjoy taking over from a team mate and charging down the incline from the start line that takes runners to the start of the famed Sutton Park hill. I enjoy trying desperately to hang on to anyone who passes me and I love the feeling of chasing other athletes down and passing them. In a strange way, I enjoy the agony of turning the corner before the finish and sprinting uphill past the crowds of spectators, trying to get every last second out of my race-worn legs.

I had been looking forward to this year’s edition for weeks. It took place this weekend on a sun-drenched day in Sutton Park and was every bit as exciting as it has been in previous years. But I wasn’t taking part.

Unfortunately I started feeling tightness in my left calf on Wednesday morning after a heavy track session the night before. It was no better on Thursday when I tried to run a couple of fast miles in Cannon Hill Park; I couldn’t get the full range of motion out of it and it felt like it was going to get damaged if I ran any faster. Just like it did before I tore it in October. At the National Road Relays.

After spending several hours wrestling with the part of my brain that was telling me it was just ghost pain that would disappear with a good old fashioned bit of hard road running, I decided to call Dave, my coach and team manager, to tell him I wouldn’t be able to run. Better safe than sorry.

With an unexpected Saturday afternoon ahead of me and ’12 Stage’ now removed from my calendar, what was I going to do with this free time? Put a camera in my bag and go and watch, of course…

My Week

Monday: 14km easy (14)

Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM hurdle drills, track session 1000,10*200,1000 off 200 jog – 2:52,31,31,30,30,30,30,31,30,30,30,2:53 (25)

Wednesday: AM 9km easy / PM 11km easy (20)

Thursday: 10km with 2 miles tempo (10)

Friday: rest (0)

Saturday: rest (0)

Sunday: AM 8km easy / PM 8km easy (16)

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Rest – Week Beginning 02 April

Monday 9th April 2018

Last week I took my customary rest day on Sunday. To many, missing the Sunday long run is blasphemy, akin to not turning up to church (in a future post I may theorise about the similar roles that running and religion play in people’s lives but I am both typing this on a phone and desperately trying not to go off on a tangent) but I don’t care. I missed my long run this week but gained something more valuable, rest.

I’m away for a long weekend in the Lake District with my brother and dad celebrating his 60th birthday. My dad, that is, not my brother. With three heavy weeks of training banked and some races coming up I have taken the opportunity to enjoy a couple of easy days and to allow my body to absorb the training I have thrown at it in the hope that some of it sticks.

My Week

Monday: 16km easy (16)

Tuesday: AM 7km easy / PM track session 10*400 off 75 in 65-67, 4*200 off 200 jog (21)

Wednesday: AM 10km easy / PM 10km easy (20)

Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM track session 6*1000 off 200 jog in 2:57,57,56,56,58,56 (26)

Friday: AM 16km easy / PM 9km easy (25)

Saturday: parkrun in 15:30 (15)

Sunday: rest (0)

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Carrot and Stick – Week Beginning 26 March

Sunday 1st April 2018

I haven’t broken 15 minutes for 5k yet.

This troubles me greatly; I regularly think about the fact that I have not yet ticked this off my list despite years of trying. (As an aside, this is not even a joke. I literally do have a ‘to do’ list by the front door with a series of tasks crossed off, with a sad, lonely ’14:59′ uncrossed at the bottom of it. It has been sitting there since last July.)

Not realising that I possess ample amounts of intrinsic motivation already, my wife has decided that doubt and provocation are now the best ways to ensure I achieve my goal. Where carrot has failed, stick is its substitute. It started again yesterday:

“I don’t think you’re ever going to break 15 minutes.”

“Yes I am”

“How do you know?”

“Look, I’m going to alright, I just haven’t done it yet”

“I don’t believe you”

And so on.

As it turns out, I need neither carrot nor stick right now. I give myself plenty of stick already. I know I’m going to do it. Those 5.6 remaining seconds are going to be sliced off my PB and one day I will wonder what all the fuss was about. I just hope that day is soon.

My Week

Monday: 15km easy (15)

Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM hurdle drills + track session – 4*1000,4*600,4*400 off 200 jog – 3:03,00,58,58 1:47,45,46,44 70,68,68,67 (27)

Wednesday: rest (0)

Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM 15km easy, weights (25)

Friday: AM 12km easy / PM 13km easy (25)

Saturday: road session on 12 stage course – 1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1 minutes, strides (18)

Sunday: AM 16km easy / PM 12km easy (28)

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Getting into Good Habits – Week Beginning 19 March

Monday 26th March 2018

Just over a year ago when having a clear out, I was faced with a decision. My guitar was sitting in the corner, unplayed, unloved and out of tune. I had bought it aged 14 but not played for the best part of a decade. I didn’t want to get rid of it but it felt foolish to leave it gathering dust if I wasn’t going to play. So I did. Badly.

For the last four months I have been playing every day and am now at around the same level I was in my late teens. I am improving with regular practice. I rarely go on a four-hour guitar bender like I did when I was 16 but nor do I go a day without playing. It turns out that if you really want to get good at something you just need to be disciplined; all the stuff I tell my students about practice and hard work might actually be true!

I have no problem getting out for runs but have more trouble forcing myself to carry out the other elements of training that are beneficial like stretching, strength and conditioning exercises, sleep. Last week I did two core sessions and a weights session but nowhere near enough stretching. I am going to take the approach I have tried to take with playing guitar; little and often. Setting myself achievable but regular goals is the way forward.

My Week

Monday: AM 10km easy / PM 12km easy (22)

Tuesday: AM 9km easy / PM road session – 4 sets of 1300,800,500 off 75s (27)

Wednesday: 15km easy (15)

Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM 16km progression run 57:33, weights (28)

Friday: rest (0)

Saturday: AM parkrun in 15:39, 6*45s grass hill reps / PM 9km easy (25)

Sunday: 24km easy (24)

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