Category Archives: Running training

A Virtual Run instead of Polar Bear hugs

Pretty much every few days in the past month or so I’ve been saying internally that I really need to get round to posting here. And then forgetting to do so of course. But finally here I am.

But what I’m not going to do is recap the whole period of running. It’s been quite varied and would take too long frankly. However, I will say that in January I ran a fraction over 100 miles but they were really good quality miles.

Today’s run probably summed that up. A 10k including parkrun in just over 56 minutes – even quicker if you consider I was queuing to have my barcode scanned for a minute. It was my fastest 10k outside of races since 2015. Very very strong. I’ve also had a whole sequence of really quick 5ks too.

In the end today’s run was a virtual 10k race designed to earn the Winter Run 10k medal from the cancelled event last weekend. Storm Ciara made sure we couldn’t run the streets of London but it only stopped us temporarily.

The other races this year comprised the New Year’s Day parkrun double. This year we visited Dinton Pastures (too busy and too wet) and Maidenhead (evil hill at the end of each lap but still great).

Recent runs tell me that I’m in some really good form at the moment so I just need to keep the progress coming all the way to my first, and most promising, half marathon of the year in Fleet next month.

But I’m taking nothing for granted. Largely due to the weather, I’ve had a couple of slightly lighter training weeks so I need a couple of tougher high quality weeks. And that will take me to a 5k at Kempton Park racecourse on 1 March. Got high hopes for that one.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars”

I love the saying above. It applies so much to my Silverstone 10k race. I had a crack at something special, didn’t quite get there but still did so so well.

I know I’ve said it before but the whole experience of visiting Silverstone is one I find really inspirational, whether that’s through 35 or so years of watching motor racing there or the memory of our first half marathon back in 2014. When you drive to the circuit, the road is actually only the width of a car park from the stands on the outside of the start/finish straight and you can clearly see the new Wing complex and even the podium. It just means the excitement builds well before the start. I love it, and probably always will.

The week before my training winding down to the race included a run on the Tuesday before in Jersey where I got grouchy with a rather inconsiderate running group feeling they had to take up the whole width of a path while warming up. The run went ok. Then a couple more efforts before the event on the Sunday.

As usual we drove up the night before and stayed at the Premier Inn down the road. That went well enough and we had a nice night, but could have slept a fair bit better ideally.

This was the 6th time I’ve visited the circuit – 3 for half marathons, once for a brilliant driving experience and then for the European Le Mans Series earlier this year. Then this – the return of distance running to Silverstone.

I felt ready as I’ve said before, perhaps not “in the shape of my life” ready but still set up for a strong run. Our regular Silverstone pre-race routine went well and why people don’t get changed and ready where we do I’ve no idea but that’s to our benefit. It just helps us get ready in our time and space and to relax as best we can as well.

We were not running late but race time sort of crept up on us suddenly. We found our pens quickly and got ready to go.

The race start had a good atmosphere, and there was plenty of space to run in. Just before the start, and thanks to some quick maths, I realised that I could follow the 1h45m half marathon pacer for as long as our two courses coincided. I should explain here that races over three distances were all going on simultaneously – 5k, 10k and half-marathon. So I knew I could follow the pacer to about 6k where the half-marathoners went off for a half lap of the Stowe circuit and service roads around the whole complex. That sort of pace would bring me in under 50 minutes. Stretching but I felt I could at least start that way.

And so it played out. The first 3km clicked over in 4:47, 4:49 and another 4:49 so actually well under 49 minute pace. I was sitting in with the 1h45 pacer group and just starting to feel it getting tough. I remember running in front of the Wing around the far end of the circuit and feeling like I was working really hard considering how early in the race it actually was.

I plodded on though past the Wing, around the infield section, then towards Woodcote but turning in to go through the old pit lane.

After that there was a short section where there was good support. That stood out largely due to the lack of support elsewhere around the circuit. I guess the weather will have kept many away.

Not long after this section I decided I was feeling sufficiently worn down to walk and recover a bit. I’d thought seriously about it a little earlier, perhaps around the Brooklands corner, but kept going then. I’d just pushed myself too far, too fast and too hard. My 4th and 5th kms were 4:54 and 4:52 so I’d lost some time but not much but I’d definitely used a lot of fight and strength to hang onto the group. Towards the end of the 6th km I walked a bit, letting go of any thoughts of PBs. It felt long but it couldn’t have been because that kilometre was 5:02 and my next was 5:26.

I walked a couple more times in the run. I was more or less spent. I’d thrown everything at it in the first half of the run – enough to have run my 9th fastest 5k ever, a good half minute or so faster than any race over this distance. It was bold and brave and ultimately not quite good enough to hold that sort of time. I fought on though. The final 3k were perfectly respectable coming in at 5:26, 5:17 and 5:17 and with a slightly long course I came in at an official time of 51:22 – my 3rd fastest official time ever.

Actually this was either my third or fourth fastest 10k. This course ran long and was slower in time but quicker in speed than when I ran around The Regent’s Park in 2015 but I also don’t have an official finishing result from one faster 10k (the Jayson Lee event in 2017, due to a timing foul up which the organisers couldn’t fix). Strava said this was my third fastest. That’ll do.

I could easily look back at Silverstone as a missed opportunity. I could say I was in great shape and misjudged my pacing, but I don’t. I look back and say I went hard and tried but I wasn’t quite in the shape I wanted.

I landed among the stars for sure.

But we go again tomorrow night (as I write this). A 10k around the Olympic Park. I’m ready to go hard again. Maybe the 4-lap format might suit me better. Let’s see…

Race week build-up

I’m writing this on the Tuesday night 5 days before my next 10K race and in the unusual position that I’m going into race week with a justifiable positivity. As I said last time I posted here, running has continued to go well.

Since the last time I posted here I’ve been running 4 or 5 times a week pretty consistently.

Not all of these runs have been particularly beneficial. There was one of those on Halloween where my heart rate was misread completely and somehow my GPS interpreted me as being about a mile away from where I actually was. Very odd.

There was also a parkrun where the weather was utterly foul – there was wind, it was raining, there was mud and I was not really enjoying it very much despite that coming in to it I had been hoping for a course personal best.

Training has really built up to a place where I am developing some confidence going into Sunday’s race. It probably started at the beginning of this month when I had a long 6 mile run with a fast finish where I ran faster than I have done, if I exclude all races, since the middle of 2016.

Then, this past Sunday I went even faster again – about another minute faster. To me and it really bears some repeating but these are the fastest runs I have done over this kind of distance – excluding all races – since June 2016. My 10km personal best was achieved in November 2017.

Does that mean I’m in better form than I was before? To be honest, I doubt it but I feel like I’m in really good form but not necessarily better then those brilliant days around 2 years ago. But you never know.

I am looking forward to Sunday as I could be on the verge something really brilliant. Or it could just be a great weekend away. Either way I’ll be happy.

I’m not sure I really mind how it goes actually but I’m certainly looking forward to it, am confident of running well and whatever will be will be.

What does come to mind though, considering where I’m running at the weekend, is the finish of my very first half marathon back at Silverstone Circuit in 2014. I finished that day having run the whole thing which I hadn’t really expected. Then, I stopped after the race, posted photos on Facebook and loved the reaction that came back.

Now I don’t expect reaction every time but back then it was still great and while I can’t imagine any reaction like that this weekend, to me this event could be just as special as that first time. I better let you know how it goes next week.

Progressing well…

Since last time running has continued to go really well.

There was a really strong speed play session along the Thames one Tuesday morning. I ran a 400m time quicker than I had in a little while, at least if we ignore a little Strava segment chasing in Lanzarote last month.

Just over a week ago I had an amazing Fast Finish session taking an hour in which I covered a little over 10k. At the time I’d only run 10k quicker in races this year, and there probably weren’t many training sessions ever that have gone quicker over that distance.

Last Friday, I squeezed in a session during my lunch hour, which I haven’t done in a little while. Again this was a speed session and I did a half mile time under 4 minutes. I have to go back to my last Greenwich Park race to see one faster than that.

I had a steady effort at parkrun at the weekend as part of a longer recovery run, and then a slightly longer Fast Finish effort over 65 minutes but this one wasn’t quite as impressive as the previous week’s.

However, ultimately things are all in a good place. Fitness is good. Health is fine. Injuries are clear. Have to say I’m really positive about races to come and looking forward to them.

To Greenwich Park and beyond

Usually a long gap between posts here is a bad sign but on this occasion it’s just indicative of being busy. And probably also indicative of there being a lot of running to consider in that time so I’ll try and be brief.

I’ll probably fail but I’ll try.

First of all these 8 weeks or so have been defined by variety in running. Particularly in location. Ranging from holiday (and running) in the Canary Islands, racing around Greenwich Park and dodging festival goers near the Thames August and September have covered a lot of bases.

I’ll just pick out the highlights somehow.

After Chasing the Sun very successfully I took a few days off running and then came back to it with a very positive Sweatshop 5k followed by 45 minute run and then 70 minutes / 6.5 miles at the weekend. That last one began a run of what now feels like running in the rain a lot. Every. Single. Time.

The following day to that I had the bright idea of running from work in Jersey up to the Airport. It didn’t go well, other than helping me to know I shouldn’t run uphill over a fair distance while carrying a reasonably heavy rucksack.

The following weekend saw us travelling south for a wedding but we managed to squeeze in a visit to a new parkrun at Hogmoor Enclosure, and then during the drive back home took in another parkrun location for a run, California Country Park.

The first week of September saw an unusual midweek evening run, but one that seemed to go really well. Then a trip to Prospect parkrun which wasn’t quite as good. The speed work I enjoy in my training was just starting.

Unfortunately the hill work hadn’t really happened so 5k racing around Greenwich Park with its unlovable long hill wasn’t brilliant, but I still enjoyed taking part.

During the next week I spent a few days working in London so I took the opportunity to run through some of the parks, and naturally enough the centre of one of them was closed.

On another week and then we spent a lovely week on holiday in Lanzarote, even squeezing in a bit of time at the hotel gym and pool as well as some enjoyable running. Our hotel was just off the rather hilly looking route of an Ironman event. Sooner them than me.

Since getting back proper training has really kicked in in preparation for our next race, returning to where it all began – what was our first half marathon – at Silverstone Circuit, this time running a 10k distance and if training can be used as a guide I have reason to be pretty confident.

So that’s a very vague selection of recent runs and things and hopefully I’ll not take so long to post the next one.

My spiritual running home?

Now there’s a click-baity, attention getting title isn’t it. Which in the spirit of all such titles we’ll get to in a bit, after I’ve made you read a bit more rambly stuff as usual.

Last time I posted here was incredibly just a little over a month ago, a couple of weeks after processing what happened just after the start of the Guernsey Half. I look back on that day fondly now, but with a resolve to go back and finish the job properly. Maybe next year. But, my, that feels an incredibly long time ago now.

So what has been occurring since that last post. The following weekend after my last post I had an exploratory run around the outskirts of Reading / Norcot / Little Heath / Churchend. For some reason this involved running past a lot of pubs, and then along the platform of Reading West train station too.

We came back to Jersey for a little short of a couple of weeks last month which we enjoyed. We got the boat across so stayed the night before around the outskirts of Portsmouth and had an enjoyable run one morning around Port Solent. The harbour of which was gorgeous and I’d have probably enjoyed it more had one end not been gated off to mere riff-raff such as me.

Port Solent became what I think is my 30th place I have run, although having looked at the original list I think I’d missed more, particularly creeping into the towns around Reading. See above…

While in Jersey I enjoyed a lovely birthday including one of my better 10-pin bowling games – 174 as I recall. Might have to alter my theory that a beer is good for my game. Probably needs more research though!

The following day I thought I’d do parkrun. I went out reasonably hard but it didn’t feel massively comfortable or quick but I hung on to a time of 26:05 which was my fastest 5k for a little short of a year. I was delighted with that.

Having got back home to Reading around the end of July, we had decided there was a nice loop of parks around the town using bridges across the Thames as ends of a loop. 9 miles flew by in 94 minutes. Not quick but definitely fun.

After having had a few pretty good runs I was intrigued to visit Prospect parkrun. It was tough again and I probably went out too quickly but I was still pleased to get an event PB. At the moment I’m still not sure if the course is two minutes slower than Jersey parkrun or I’ve just not done it very well up until now.

Anyway, that brings us right up to Wednesday night’s Run Through Chase the Sun event. I went into it planning to do my best 10k possible, but was keeping a pretty open mind about my expectations. I did not have to decide between the 5k or 10k race beforehand so I chose to focus on the 10k but if i wasn’t feeling it then I might drop down a distance.

Conditions were pretty much perfect for me. A little damp from earlier rain but not at all hot or humid.

We have done this specific event twice before but also two other events around the Olympic Park too and pretty much all of those have gone well. I think I just love the idea of the Olympic venue and ultimately I have, along with my wife, run along the running track inside the stadium waving a Jersey flag. A special memory for sure. My spiritual running home? Despite having achieved precisely none of my PBs there. Yeah possibly.

But this one had a new course to those we have done before, as we were allowed to run right up to the edge of the Olympic Stadium (yes I know it’s not called that anymore and I don’t care). Close enough to read the words to “I’m forever blowing bubbles” on the stadium doors and across the paving slabs dedicated to fans and players outside the ground.

Not that I saw those until my wife showed me them the day after the run.

Anyway, the first 2.5km lap of the run went very well. Towards the end of that lap I caught up to someone wearing a Jersey Triathlon shirt which was worth a bit of conversation which was fun.

The second lap didn’t start well. Speed seemed to fall and Heart Rate seemed to rise, but I didn’t feel I was running slower. What actually happened was a GPS glitch but it definitely threw me a bit. During the lap you turn away from the stadium about 1k in so on lap 2 it meant about 3.5km in, and I felt I was still struggling a little but had some speed.

Over the next few minutes, I was contemplating strategy for the rest of the run. I saw my time at around 4k, which was around 20 minutes so decided I’d switch to the 5k event and just drive for the finish. And I really drove hard. The last half mile of this run was my 4th fastest ever. Funnily enough though I don’t remember overtaking anyone, at least apart from Jersey Triathlon Lady, but I just shut everything else out of my mind and ran hard.

The finish took a while to get to but when I got over it I came in at the finishing time of 24:35 – my fastest 5k since September 2017. I was stunned.

Looking back I ultimately made the decision to trade a sub-25 5k run over a sub-52 10k and if that was the choice – and of course as I won’t run that 10k we’ll never actually know – then I made the right choice. I loved it. I look back on Wednesday’s run so proud of what I did. Not my fastest ever for sure but still incredible. I managed to finish 3rd in my age group too – out of 11 – which was great.

And actually given I’m still looking forward to possible events later this year then actually it’s a really positive step towards something else.

Whatever that might be isn’t decided yet. Will be a great experience I’m sure though.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool 2019

Liverpool 2019 has been and gone. It did not live up to the PB setting efforts of 2017 but it still was an amazing weekend and not a bad run.

But first let’s sweep up the pre-race running and training. There was a 10 miler involving me getting a train down to Theale and running back which I quite enjoyed. The following week saw me back in Jersey and I had a fairly tough 12 miler along a different run in quite hot conditions but I sort of enjoyed it.

Then another first time route running in Reading which just went really well. Finally the Wednesday before Liverpool, I had a great 30 minute Foundation Run which felt really good and I enjoyed doing – a real confidence boost.

So that brings us to the Liverpool long weekend itself. This year since we started the trip in Reading, rather than Jersey, we decided to drive up, knowing that it would be a fairly challenging drive. We planned to have somewhere between 2 and 5 stops en route, and eventually settled on one – in Stratford-upon-Avon – but still got held up by a petrol detour and every set of road works on the way too. Stratford was lovely though.

The drive took the best part of 6 hours with the delays and detours (for context, the run back took about 4) but we left early enough that it didn’t really affect anything. Actually we had time for a drink near our hotel, and the race start, around Albert Dock.

or is it “The Albert Dock”. Whatever.

We had a chilled rest of Friday, before the first event of the weekend being the 5k on Saturday morning. Once Jean had decided to run, I’d decided to run with her and I’ve got to say it went so so well. I’m a little reluctant to tell the story of my wife’s race but she finished in a time she never expected and I don’t think I had reason to push her during this run but I’m proud that the two of us went under 33 minutes for that run. I loved the experience again.

For the rest of the day, we visited the runner expo, buying the official entrant shirt with my name on it – hey you’ve got to don’t you

– and just for the rest of the day relaxed visiting the Cavern Pub (across the road from the Club) and going for a lovely steak.

So Half Marathon day then. The build up was fine – not putting it down – but the atmosphere was ok but not brilliant. The runners were up for it and we got going quickly. The opening of the half marathon went well but I had a few concerns at my heart rate numbers and sure enough going up the biggest hills around a third of the way in, my HR rocketed and I decided to take that as a sign to back off the pace dropping from the two-hour group.

In the end I ran quickly but needed to break those runs up quite a bit, but still did enough to finish under 2:10. The last 5km running back to the Albert Dock was really tough with headwinds all of the way along, and this was possibly the least fast finish of any of my half marathons but as I said I got in under 2:10 and on the day I was happy with that.

So the following day, I decided, with my wife’s kind support, to have another dig at a half marathon in Guernsey in a couple of weeks time. I just need to keep the fitness going for a couple more weeks and I do think there’s a sub-2 time in me around that Guernsey course. I really look forward to it. Should be fun however it goes.