Sunday, 28 February 2010

Water and Mud Part 2!

Well with the rain never ending it made for a very wet Gade Valley Harriers organised 17m London Training Run today. This event is first class and very good value. Every year in the lead up to London they organise a 12, 17, and 20mile training run to fit in with the 16 week marathon training schedule. And for a £5 which includes a well marked course through Ashridge estate in Herts and all finished off with steaming hot coffee and more cakes than you can shake a stick up (I consumed a large chocolate muffin and 2 danish pastries today :-P

But back to the start it the pouring rain. We set off along the grand union canal from Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead towards Berkhamsted, and this set the scene for the rest of the run. Ankle deep puddles for the entire length of this 3 mile stretch before we headed up onto the roads. Many try to avoid puddles by going left and right, but its really all in vain. I instead adopt the pough strategy of going straight through them and keeping my stride and pace consistent. Yes very wet feet but better this than a sprained ankle from all that twisting and turning.

I was looking for a 8 minute mile pace today, but despite wearing the Garmin to measure this didn't intend to look at it, instead wanting to get a natural rythum and just seeing how it goes. The previous 4 days of little running due to feeling a little under the weather were telling in the early miles, but I hoped this was just a case of finding by sea legs and I would get more comfortable as the miles wore on. And so it was that this is what happened. After the first 5 miles were out the way things calmed down and I found my stride.

The route itself it a large loop that takes in some significant long hills that test ones reserves. I have learned to love hills and found that they are actually one of my strengths. Both up and down I try to up the tempo which is great for morale. A map of the course can be found here -

Back to the road and off the canal and the first impressive hill of the day was upon us - Bullbeggers Lane. At this early stage in the run it calls for a bit more caution as blowing yourself up here would lead to certain difficulties later on. The rain was relentless with the lanes resemebling small streams. The rest of the course cuts through Ashridge and the many small villages that are dotted around including Frithsden, Great Gaddesden, Nettleden, and Potten End before coming back down along a steep downward finish towards Chaulden and rejoining the canal path back to Boxmoor.

The highlight of the day (apart from finishing) was seeing a hurd of 20-30 deers strong running at full pelt in a line through an open field and into the woods. I certainly wished I had their speed at that point!

All in all this was a strong run for me especially considering the conditions and my lack of any real running since the previous Tuesday. My time for the 17miles was 2h 7min. Avg pace 7:30 m/m. My mile splits were:
8.45; (Slowest - bullbeggers hill!)
6.54. (fastest!)

My next race is the MK half next Sunday where I hoping for a new PB and go under 1h 30m for the first time. We shall we....

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

water, mud and slush...

well what a week of running and its only tuesday! On saturday (technically last week) I run from home to Woburn Abbey Estate. An 18 mile round trip along the Greensands ridge walk trail. a great trail made even better (i think) by all the snow and mud! glorious. somehow though I thought I had ran further than I did which is always a little annoying. But a good workout. Highlight was the sight of a strange looking animal (and whole herd of them actually!) that I had never come across in my life! With its big sticky up ears was a funny sight! But I had no idea what it was. It turns out I was in the deer park and face to face with the Barasingha or Swamp Deer as it is also known. see here for a photo - a great place!

Monday was the return of the snow and slush! yuk. the normal lunchtime jault turned into a slush fest with the feet sodden wet but I was still smiling (just). A big kick for home (or work as it was) certainly got the heart pumping at the end. So much so that I could feel it in my lungs for the rest of the afternoon!

Tuesday (today) was my first outing with the BRE training recruits bidding to get a place on the BRE UK challenge team. This all sounds very serious I know but its not so... The Uk challenge take place in June (last year was the Microsoft challenge) and consists of 4 days of running, biking, canoeing and generally being up at all hours chasing shadows in the dark in a bid to score maximum points. A great team event. We placed 16th last year out of 100 teams so pressure is on to go better this year. You can read all about last year in my epic blog post in june 09.

anyway back to today. it was another drenching with the rain and snow still falling and the rivers swelling beyond bursting point making for an extremely enjoyable run with 9 or so others. We even threw in a few hard hill reps before the finish through waist high sub zero waters. nice!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

today's run on Garmin Connect...

Today's run....

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Untitled

Another 10 miles in the bag...

It was a 10 miler for me today in Bricket Wood just next to where I work. I certainly never take my job foregranted in that I can go out for such runs at lunchtime and get back after 1h45m with not so much as a look from colleagues. Of course they know all about my running exploits so probably just think... oh he's at it again...why does he do it! if only they knew...

So back to the run. Well I told myself that this was just going to be a slowish/steady run and that I certainly wouldn't push the pace. And it did start that way as I moved at a steady 7.48 pace for the first mile. But that was more to do with the fact that I had road shoes on and was slipping all over the place in the mud. My shiny new white trainers didn't stay shiny or white for very long. However I felt good and so slowly pushed the pace on a bit, and then a bit more and a bit more... The result was mile splits of 7.35, 7.52 (hill), 7.26, 7.00, 6.51, 6.56, 6.55, 6.54, 6.40, Total avg pace of 7.12 which for all the mud and little grip felt pretty good.

Quality over quantity is definitely paying off. And I'm hopeful that my half marathon PB attempt on 7th March @ the MK Half is looking good :-)

Interval session tomorrow :-O

Saturday, 13 February 2010

I'm finally off and running

Its been a while since my last post which was after the Ultra45 race on 23rd January. I guess from this I can ascertain that it has taken 3 weeks to fully recover which is about right. I've continued to train for the london marathon following the Ultra45 but my weekly mileage has been low. The last three weeks have been 15m, 26m, 31m so very low by london standards but this doesn't matter because I've got a high endurance base to work from so my training plan this time round is not about stacking up the miles but focusing on 3-4 quality runs per week.

And i'm keeping a lid on the length of my weekly long run too focusing on speed over distance to help increase my speed endurance. This was recommended my Liz Yelling herself who offered me advice on the Runners World forum, and it certainly appears to be working :-)

I had an absolute storming session this morning. Whereas I would normally run 20+ miles and keep ticking over, I instead run 15miles last week, this week and will do the same next week.
I was up at the crack of dawn to pound down the grand union canal. My goal to run at 8 minute miles (marathon pace) from start to finish. I tried this last week but it didn't quite happen for whatever reason. I felt laboured, and unfit and wasn't sure if I was even going to be capable of a sub 3:30 at london.

Today though was a different story. I felt stronger and ran faster and faster as the miles wore on. The garmin splits tell the whole story. 8.37; 8.01; 7.49; 7.51; 7.42; 7.51; 7.42; 7.36; 7.21; 7.27; 7.29; 7.20; 7.22; 7.23; 7.11. An avg pace of 7:38 for the 15 miles.

I haven't run that well for ages and am well chuffed with the pacing. So what can I learn from this that I can apply to other runs in the lead up to London? The fact that I only ran twice during the week (16.5 miles), plus two gym sessions has a lot to do with it. So I wasn't feeling drained and had lots of energy. And I didn't hang around either in my mid week club run. That was an 11 miler with a sub 8 m/m avg pace. The first 5 miles I was running at 8:30 - 9's and then upped the effort levels running 7's.

So unsurprisingly perhaps its about quality NOT quantity (didn't we always know this!?) Many don't. There will be 1000's of runners out there right now preparing for London with only one thing in their mind which is to run as many miles as possible perhaps running 50, 60, 70 mile weeks. Its madness really. A 30-40 mile week made up of 3 or 4 quality runs is just the ticket and will hopefully see me go sub 3:30 on 26th April. Of course there is the small matter of my 12hr ultra race 5 weeks out from London but I think that as long as I recover properly I should be fit and raring to go. Game on :-)