Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Track session - brain training

I've had a great last 3 runs to kick start my training for the Fellsman ultra at the end of April. This replaces the MK marathon that I've ditched. As part of my trainig I have decided to adopt a back to back long runs strategy at the weekend. So with this I got in two 14 milers on Sat and Sun. One on trails and one on the road. With a young family this is really the only way I can get in the mileage needed to train as I can't be out for 5-6hrs+ . So instead I'm up and out the door both days before 7am and back at a reasonable hour to join the family for breakfast. Has anyone else adopted and had success with B2B weekend runs as part of their training? Would be interested to know of they think it's as beneficial or more so than a single long run?

Anyway that was the weekend. I had Monday off then hit the track today. When I say track - think concrete oval in middle of an estate park but pleasant nevertheless and within a stones throw of my house so very handy. Any further way that this and I know I wouldn't have the motivation or see the need to run around in circles but as it there it seems a waste not to utilise it from time to time.

I didn't set out with any real intent on this run other than to run around the track for an hour. I wore the garmin but as usual I do this to look at the data after rather than during the run. I find the feedback on the effort you are putting into a particular run e.g. Mpm pace can actually effect your ability to continue at a said pace once you know especially when it's faster than you were expecting. This was certainly true today. So I ambled around the track not hanging about but in my mind perhaps clocking 7:30-7:00 mpm miles. I had the foo fighters blasting out on the mp3 which was a nice distraction as I'm not a fan of tracks generally. But I got in the zone and cranked out the laps (1/4 mile each). 

I resisted checking the Garmin until I was quite certain I could be nearing the hour but without knowing exactly. I did a deal with myself to run another 4 laps (1 mile) before I checked. After those 4 laps I checked the numbers...  Holy crap I was averaging 6.35 mpm and was 50 minutes. Unbelievable. Had I known the pace I was running earlier in my run I'm certain that my brain would have intrepreted this information as 'you are working too hard so slow down' but instead I was none the wiser. So then with 10 minutes remaining on the clock I put the hammer down and chased down both my furthest ever 1hr run and my quickest 10 miler. I felt great and it was effortless (why can't every run feel like this!!??). Whatever it was I want to bottle it! I hit 9.25 miles on the hour mark and completed 10 miles in 1:04.11. Two PBs in one run that I only decided to do on a whim because a meeting in London finished early. My mile splits were: 6.42 6.57 6.33 6.40 6.20 6.27 6.34 6.23 5.55 5.39. You can see where the hammer went down ;-D

The reason for this post is really to highlight the affect that external factors can have on our performance. These external factors include feedback from the garmin. Sometimes they are a blessing but most of the time I think they can actually hold you back and stop you reaching your full potential. The scientific evidence for this also backs up this theory - what's called the 'Central Govenor theory' which has demonstrated the huge control and influence that our brains have on our ability to push ourselves physically..... We all know that running is both a physical and mental game but i think we rarely put this knowledge into practice during training and probably only apply it in the race situation. 

Ok I think I'm rambling now... Time to switch off the central govenor before it shuts down! Good night.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Marathoner or Ultra-runner?

I ask this question in relation to the upcoming MK Marathon. I was geared up to commence training in the new year with the aim of achieving sub 3hrs on 29 April (a big aim and not one i'm sure I can achieve simply because of the training time required. The training has started but if I'm being honest my motivation to spend the next 14 weeks fixated on speed to achieve one goal simply isn't doing it for me. What's more, spending all (or most) of that time pounding out the miles on the roads isn't very appealing either.

And so enter the solution and the answer to the question posed above. Am I a marathon runner or Ultra runner? I'm an Ultra runner God damn it! And whilst Snowdonia was the exception to the rule when it comes to marathons with its stunning scenery and tough terrain most are dull and flat. I need more than that if I'm gonna stay motivated!

As all Ultra runners know the Ultra offers an altogether different challenge and one which I'd much rather get out of bed for over the next 14 weeks on the cold weekend mornings. So comes the solution to my dilemma - I'm ditching the MK marathon in favour of the Fellsman! I think it was fate that both events fell on the same day. Unusually so for the Fellsman which is usually in May. I ran this event in 2010 and it was quite simply awesome and definitely worth a return visit.

I feel a hundred times better having made this decision and am thoroughly looking forward to the prospect of hitting the trails again in ernest. Its been far to long. Another BIG factor to this decision (yet one that still has to play out) is the UTMB ballot which takes place this Friday! I have a 1 in 2ish chance of getting in and would be gutted if I don't. I hope fate will also deal me the right card here. If I do get into UTMB the build up to the Fellsman and the race itself will be a key component to my training. A road marathon on the other hand would have been complete folly! The Fellsman is 61 miles and 11000ft of climbing. UTMB is 104 miles and 30000ft of up, and so quite comparable.

What I'm not saying is that I won't pursue the sub 3hr marathon in the future. It is still a goal of mine but one that can wait. I'm a Ultra runner and right now I wanna run some trails! Bring it on.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Pednor 10 race report

The last day of 2011 saw me and two fellow LBACers, Simon and Pete tow
the start line of the Pednor 10 with 115 other eager New Years Eve PB
chasers! This was my first 10 mile race and so a certain PB on the
cards ;-) The Pednor 10 is organised by the Chiltern Harriers and
starts in Chesham. The course 2 x 5 mile laps on rural country roads.
The loop was a very simple out and back with the first 2 miles going
straight out along a flat winding road which was followed by a big
sharp climb. The final 2.5 miles of the loop descends gently back to
the start where we did it all again!

For the 31st December it was a ridiculously barmy 12 degrees! Vest
weather for sure. Simon, Pete and I took our positions at the front of
the pack! Why not :-) Simon and Pete certainly had reason to be there
with their speed. I on the other hand was expecting to be a little way
behind them both. As expected Simon led out hard at 6 mpm pace with 5
or 6 other runners, followed by Pete with 2 other runners chasing not
far behind. I started at Pete's pace but soon dropped off realising I
wasn't going to be able to keep it going. I shuffled along at a more
sustainable 6:30 pace with a handful of other runners around me.

Simon soon disappeared into the distance and was sure to have an
awesome race. Pete continued to pull away and by the big hill at mile
2 he was gone. At this point I was caught by another runner who was
looking strong. He passed me before the hill but I pushed hard up the
hill to try and put some distance between us. That was to no avail as
he stretched out a gap on the flat at mile 3. Two weeks of no running
was starting to show. I held the gap for the remainder of the first lap.

Mile 3 to 5 was almost all gradually downhill with 2 sharper descents
where you could really let rip. I heard some heavy footsteps from
behind as another runner pushed hard past me on this section. I wasn't
going to let this runner go so easily though so hung in and stuck to
him like glue. The remainder of the first lap and the entire second
lap saw him and me jostle for position all the way. He would push and
then I would return the favour. This certainly helped both of us post
a faster time than would otherwise have been the case and kept other
runners behind us at bay.

I pushed hard up the hill on lap 2 and put quite a bit of distance
between us. However somewhat inevitably he again made it up on the
flat with is loud stomping gait. This was helped by me stopping at the
water station to drink from the cup without pouring it down me. I
still haven't mastered the ability to drink whilst on the run! I
latched back onto him as he passed and we continued to stay close. By
mile 9 he had pulled a gap which physically and perhaps mentally I
wasn't prepared to try and close again. I was already pushing hard to
stay with him throughout lap 2 and I was spent.

However the race wasn't over. A chap in a green chiltern harriers vest
was keen to make his mark at 'their' race. I was quite content with my
race and seemingly let him past without too much of a fight. It's one
of those race moments that you look back on after and think that
surely I could have stuck with him and pushed on. We were after all
less than 1/2 mile from the finish. However I didn't have anything
left as this photo proves.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

‎2011 in numbers...

Just 110 runs in 2011 covering 1,174 miles and averaging 11 miles per run (23 miles per week). Amazing this is only 2 runs on average per week.

My longest run was 101 miles and the shortest just 1 mile (on a treadmill). I only run 7 Ultras in the entire year and three of these were training runs (28m, 50k, 50k, 33.5m, 44m, 57m, 101,).

I burnt a total of 140,880 calories which is equivalent to munching through 478 mcdonalds cheeseburgers!! WOW that puts it in some perspective and makes you realise why we have such an obesity problem in the UK.

On the ElliptiGO I covered 2,467 miles in the year over 55 rides. averaging 45 miles per ride. This include the Chiltern100 which was actually 110 miles, and the Ride Around London which was 115 miles. Its not known exactly how many calories are burnt riding the ElliptiGO but it estimated to be around 2/3 of those when running. So that another 195,000 calories! Or 394 Big Macs!! :-O

So what can I read into these numbers. Well my first observation is how little running I've done during 2011. 2 runs per week was a bit of a shock. However the main factor in this has to be the cross-training on the ElliptiGO which I've thoroughly enjoyed and will continue into 2012. But I would still like to increase my running ever so slightly to get fitter, stronger and faster! I'm a big believer in quality over quantity though so think a average of 3 runs per weeks would be a very sensible and achievable target and should hopefully pay dividends.

Happy 2012 to everyone. May the wind be on your back!