Saturday, 26 June 2010

Hungarian training week

A quick post to update on the week of training in Hungary. My expectations weren't high as there aren't normally many good places to run in Györ tending just to stick to pavements and an out and back on a main road. However with a new running track surface which goes around a nearby lake it was perfect.

I got four good runs in in total. These included Sundays warm up 5 miler, Mondays 10km PB of 39:27 (see previous post), and on Wednesday I ran a marathon around the 1/3 mile circuit totalling 78 laps and finishing in 3h45m. It was a really good run for all sorts of reasons. I wanted to test my mental ability in coping with the multiple lap format in preparation for the impending 24hr Thunder Run. I actually enjoyed it far more than perhaps I thought I would. There weren't any lows to talk of and I felt good both physically  and mentally for the duration of the run even managing to put in a 7.30 and 6:45 for the last two miles. So more miles in the bank, and if you count back from the previous Thursday I racked up over 80 miles in total over a 7 day period which is far higher than any previous training week. My recovery from this run and the previous week has been good too which is pleasing.

The final run of the week after a day off was on Friday where I wanted to give the barefoot running another go. I managed 2 miles on the same circuit and felt good in the main. However I speeded up at the very end to about a 7m/m pace see how this felt on the feet and tore the skin on my little toe. This was probably due to the abrasive qualities of the running surface (a bit like sandpaper at that speed), more so than because I was barefoot. However after two barefoot runs  now  I'm not convinced that the benefits (if there are any) really outweigh the greater risk to mashing up my feet. So for now the shoes are staying firmly on both feet in the lead up to the Thunder Run as can't afford to take any more risks.

So back home to blighty today before another week of training begins and more of the same.

Monday, 21 June 2010

10km PB attempt

Naturally I'm on holiday so what else does one do but find the local track and attempt a 10km pb. The local track that I talk of is in my wife's home town of Györ in Hungary. Its a great track 1/3 mile in length that circles a lake so pleasant surroundings. Recently built too to provide much needed recreation to residents in the surrounding housing estate. So whilst the in-laws went to the garden to pick vegetables for tea, my dad and I went to track. This was straight after being fed pancakes with cottage cheese and lemon filling. Perfect pre-race food :-/  however I only had 1 whilst I watched on as my dad ate 3! He wasn't going for a 10km pb though.

I set the garmin to metric so I could accurately measure pace and distance. I was aiming for a sub 40 minute 10km (my 10km race pb is 42mins whilst in training I've clocked 40:08 but from memory that was 6miles not 10km so probably need to add a minute to that time). A sub 40min requires a sub 4 minute km pace (which is sub 6:30 min/miling). It felt relatively easy early on but there was a wicked head wind on the back straight which was quite a fight on every lap, but kept me focused. I kept to the task though and pounding out the laps and kept an eye on the pace which started on 3:56 and rose to an average of 3:58 for much of the distance. It did creep up to 3:59 too as I tired a little but with the last few kms closing in I knew I couldn't throw it all away now and had to stick to the task. After 8km my breathing was hard and I fought to stay on pace but did just this and managed to complete the 18 and a bit laps (10km exactly according to Garmin) in 39:27. My mile splits were 6:21, 6:24, 6:24, 6:25, 6:27, 6:09. Plus 1:14 for the last 350m.

I went back and celebrated with more pancakes! yummy :-P

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The future of cycling...? The Elliptigo

Check out this beast!!!! Despite its high price I'm very very tempted. Looks like the perfect answer to cross-training and a lotta fun too! Would make my commute to work a joy :-)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

To work and back...

I took a day off today before going to Hungary tomorrow to to see the in-laws. The reason for the day-off was to get my long run in before jetting off so I don't feel so guilty sat in front of the tv watching 3 World Cup games a day for a week! :-D

However my plans were thrown into disarray when a meeting was arranged at work (which I had to be at) so I decided to kill 2 birds with 1 stone (where does that phrase come from !?) and run to work and back. Nothing unusual about that you might say, accept work is 22 miles away. So it was that I set off this morning at the crack of dawn to make the 9am meeting. The route is all on road, and when I say on road I actually ON the road, as there are no pavements down the A4146 (from Leighton Buzzard to Hemel Hempstead). Quite a fast road too but being early in the morning meant that I missed rush hour came through unscathed. Only 1 lorry driver took exeption to me being on his road!

It was actually a nice run (as nice as running on the road can be!) with lots of countryside around with the morning fog sitting over the fields like a blanket, and the sun rising in the clear blue sky. So much better than being in bed and driving in! I managed the 21.74 miles in 3h20m averaging 9:20 m/m. Not bad for a morning run when the body and mind hasn't yet woken up!I made it in plenty of time for my 9am meeting too.

That was the easy bit! Evidently as it hotted up during the morning the return leg was going to be a bit tougher. Meeting over and few other last bits and pieces to sort out and I was back into clean running gear for the journey home. My legs felt surprisingly ok in the first few miles, and didn't grumble. I took an extra bottle of fluid in the back pack equalling 4 litres in total. I needed it all! It was once again a pleasure to run. Over this distance you expect negative thoughts to enter your head but that never happened. I think mostly because I was concentrating on the oncoming traffic so couldn't afford to get distracted with unimportant thoughts like 'my feet hurt'. If anything the return leg felt like it went faster than morning. I finished the total distance in 6h54m (43.71m). Great!

Now I can enjoy my holiday, watch the World Cup, drink hungarian beer, eat lots of food, sit in the sun, and perhaps go for a light run.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Barefoot running =


Of course it does.... what else did I expect from the pounding of bare soft flesh around a concrete quarter mile circuit this morning.

The background to why I tried this and am interested in barefoot running stems from a book I've just finished reading called Born to Run ( Its not actually about barefoot running (not for the most part) but about an ancient mexician tribe called the Tarahumara ('the running people') who are the best ultra runners on this planet. They live and run in the most hostal terrain in the depths of cooper cannons of southern mexico for 100s of miles at a time with little more than old tire rubber strapped to their feet. Its well worth a read.

There's another element of the book which explores why runners get so many injuries with the author Christopher McDougall trying to answer the simple question - Why do my feet hurt? and looking for answers to his own running injuries. It focuses on the humble running shoe and outlines many studies and research carried out over the past few decades that conclude that it is the way running shoes effect the way we run (e.g hard heel strike) rather than a lighter forefoot strike which is why 8 in every 10 runners get injuried every year. And the finger is firmly pointed at Nike who invented the modern running shoe in the early 70s with its cushioned heel (which never existed before then). The result - running form fundamental changed from this point forward as these shoes allowed runners to heel strike with much greater forces on the body than ever before. Of course the cushioning makes for a very comfortable ride, and thats the problem. Whilst its comfortable at the time with the cushioning masking the impact forces that running on the heel creates, the result is a much greater risk of injury effecting our ankles, shins, knees, hips and lower back.

So what's the solution!? Well that's why I was up this morning running barefoot because there is a growing movement whose spokesman Christopher McDougall believes that barefoot running is the answer. I went to a talk by the author in London on Tuesday with a few friends and listened to what he had to say. A good speaker and a nice chap who tells some great stories (taken from his book), and provides a very convincing arguement that supports the above case. But what was missing for me were real answers on HOW to run barefoot. He talks about just going out there and doing it, running on feel and listening to what your feet and body is telling you. So that's what I did this morning. I went out to the track which is a nice smooth surface and did about 6 laps barefoot. It felt different but not uncomfortable, and immediately you notice that you do run on the forefoot (despite me being a heel striker in shoes). You really don't have any choice as heel striking would be far too painful. After six laps (1.5 miles) the trainers went back on so I could complete a speed session with reps of 400m / 300m / 200m repeated 3 times. I was knackered after that.

So I'm home now and nursing blisters on both feet due to running just 1.5 miles barefoot! So where from here? Is that it? Do I take this as a signal that despite the rehtoric the reality of barefoot running is blisters, sore feet and very low mileage. Or do I try again? I'm not sure yet.... All I do know is that on tomorrow morning's long run I will be lacing up my shoes as normal and hitting the trails once again.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Ridgeway - Wendover to Watlington

This week's long run was along the 2nd section of the Ridgeway National Trail from Wendover to Watlington. A 17.5 mile section so 35 miles in total, which makes it my 5th longest nonstop run to date (Kent 50 mile Challenge, Ultrarace 45, Wiggle 12hr (67m), and Fellsman (61m) being the other 4).

I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of this one. Suffice to say that the trail and the scenery was once again stunning. There was also a stark difference in part of the Ridgeway with the first half being mainly undulating woodland trails with some steep decents and the second half being a 7m very flat but long trail that just went on and on. The equilivent to a motorway in the trail running world is how thought of it as I ran.

Watlington was a lovely picturesque english town with traditional farmer market opposite the cafe that I stopped at for a cuppa and a cheese and ham pasty. Yummy. After I'd refueled and refilled my water bottle it was up and back for the return leg to Wendover. Things got tougher for the first part mainly because I was back on the motorway! (which also incidently goes under the M40 at one point - see route map here

Once that part was over though it was like finding new legs for the remaining 10 or so miles, as I was back on my favourite type of tree lined trail as it wound up and over the Chilterns. What a super feeling. A solid 6hr run and i'm feeling stronger and better for it.

Bring on my next long run which is going to be a slightly different format! I've decided that I need to get some serious mental strength training in which will be required for running a 24 hr race round a 10km loop!! My idea therefore is to run round a local 440yd track for 12hrs. And to make it even more interesting I'm going to do it from 6pm to 6am to get use to running tired throughout the night. If I can survive that I should be able to survive anything! Bring it on :-)