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Quantity not Quality – Week Beginning 11 December

Sunday 17th December 2017

This week the quality of my training was limited by the lack of places to run. My usual go-to route on the canal towpath was an ice sheet for the whole week and the pavements on the main roads locally were hazardous for the same reason. Weeks like this are pretty much the only time I ever wish I had a treadmill. Boring though it would be, it would enable me to run at pace on even terrain, something I normally take for granted. Yesterday’s planned session of 9 miles alternating hard and easy quickly became reduced to an hour’s easy running because to push the pace when patches of ice were still lying on the ground would have been foolish.

Still, the snow and ice have largely cleared now and I’m looking forward to getting my lungs working again instead of just my legs.

My Week

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

Tuesday: 20km moderate (20)

Wednesday: 15km easy (15)

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

Friday: rest (0)

Saturday: 17km moderate (17)

Sunday: AM 18km moderate / PM 10km easy (28)

The Worry – Week Beginning 30th October

Sunday 5th November 2017

This week was the first proper week of training after tearing my calf at the National 6 Stage four weeks ago. Since starting with some light jogging last week I have gradually built up the volume, whilst adding slightly more intensity towards the end of the week.

My calf is fine. I know this, not just because I managed to run 127km this week, something I am told is not possible with a calf tear, but because the scan last week showed that what once resembled a large hole was now a smooth meaty chunk of well formed muscle tissue. However, this doesn’t stop me worrying that it is suddenly going to go again. I find this amusing. As runners we train ourselves to be able to ignore pain; it is an incovenience that needs to be overcome at all costs, a sign of weakness and I’m not weak, thank you very much. But when you return from injury the opposite happens. You become aware of every little tightness or sensation of discomfort, convinced that it is a sign that the injury is returning. The kind of small niggle that would barely raise an eyebrow under normal circumstances now becomes a clear indication that the injury is back again, and probably worse than it was before.

This may well be down to the fact that in order to succeed in this sport you need to be all-or-nothing with it. You will not manage to put in all the hard, difficult training if you aren’t convinced that what you are doing is the most important thing in the world. Sadly the flipside of this belief in the importance of what you are doing is the sense of loss when you cannot do it. The fear of this triggers irrational reactions to pain and a heightened feeling of worry.

I hope it passes soon.

My Week:

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

Tuesday: AM 8km easy / PM 12km progression at 4:03 average, 2km easy (22)

Wednesday: 13km easy (13)

Thursday: AM 9km easy / PM 16km progression run at 3:45 average (26)

Friday: rest (0)

Saturday: AM fartlek + parkrun in 16:26 / PM 8km easy (24)

Sunday: AM 16km easy / PM 6km easy, drills and hurdles (22)

Six out of Seven

Friday 28th July 2017

I have surprised myself this summer.

This time last year I felt I had reached a plateau with running and that any further performance gains were unlikely. Whilst I wasn’t seriously considering quitting, I was starting to think, with my 30s approaching and 10 years on the running clock, that it had been fun while it lasted. Pretending to be an athlete was a laugh. Not going to get better but it doesn’t matter. At least I’m not fat. And then I made some changes.

In February I started training with a group from Birchfield and a few months later I moved club. Here are the races I have done since (yes, I am annoyed about the 5000 that broke the streak):

23rd May – 4:07.4 1500m (PB)

4th June – 9:46.09 3000mSC (PB)

20th June – 15:23.4 5000m

8th July – 15:05.6 5000m (PB)

15th July – 9:38.57 3000mSC (PB)

18th July – 4:27.3 Mile (PB)

25th July – 8:47.4 3000m (PB)

It would be foolish to attribute this improvement exclusively to a change of vest, and whilst I am under no illusions that this is just a honeymoon period, there are a few important changes that I feel have contributed.

For a start I am no longer doing my sessions on my own. I have never lacked motivation and have always been fortunate enough to have the mental toughness just to get out there, lace up the trainers and get it done. Shut up, don’t ask questions. Start the watch. As I have discovered, this stubbornness will get you a long way in running, but not always where you want to be. With a group to train with, most of whom are fitter than me, I am pushing myself harder than before in training. I am accountable to more than just myself. It is easy to convince yourself you are doing well because you are doing the training and logging the miles. What matters more though, is the quality of the training, not simply that it is happening.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, I have experienced a change in mentality. Surrounded by good athletes, your aspirations rise. When people you train with are running times that you would once have considered to be beyond you, you adjust your mindset. Why not break 4 minutes for 1500? Why not get under 15 minutes for 5k? Everyone else can. I realise now that the people who run fast times are just normal people like me, not genetic freaks who I have no chance of beating. They just happen to be a bit better than me at the moment. The other facet of this change in mentality relates to competing at a higher level. Aiming to be a decent steeplechaser at Midland level and to pick up a few points for the club is not enough any more. Winning the British League is a minimum requirement; the goals of my clubmates are far loftier than mine once were.

So with this in mind I hope to keep the streak going for as long as I can manage. I will continue to have troughs as well as peaks, but a reminder that I can keep improving and hold my own at a much higher level has been welcome.

Training – Week Beginning 19 June

Sunday 25th June 2017

I skipped a few runs because of some hamstring trouble that may have been caused by the race on Tuesday night.

Monday: 8km easy (8)

Tuesday: AM 8km easy / PM Tipton BMC 5000 – 8th in 15:23.4 (18)

Wednesday: 16km easy (16)

Thursday: 10 easy (10)

Friday: rest (0)

Saturday: 8km easy (8)

Sunday: 16km moderate (16)

Taken from my training log.

Training – Week Beginning 12 June

Saturday 17th June 2017

This was a tough week of training. I feel in great shape and am looking forward to racing on Tuesday.

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

Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM grass session – 1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1 mins off half previous effort recovery (27)

Wednesday: 16km easy (16)

Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM track session 10*400 off 3:00 in 63-65 (24)

Friday: 14km easy (14)

Saturday: 16km moderate off road with 5 long hill efforts (16)

Sunday: rest (0)

Taken from my training log.