Category Archives: Running training

Not this year…

I’ll open this post with my last running event of the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, I should have completed my final long run before the Jersey Marathon but due to a nothing-y sort of injury giving rise to problems elsewhere I’ve decided not to do the marathon this year.

I hurt my back doing nothing any more sinister than reaching down to my desk drawer at work and a week later it’s not sufficiently better to be able to train properly so rather than struggle through the final bit of marathon training, probably complete the marathon itself in five-hours-something and generally feel dissatisfied about the whole thing (again) I’ve decided to just withdraw.

Perhaps surprisingly it’s not a hard decision. On one hand I’ve gone so far with my training such that I ran 20 miles only a couple of weeks ago, but essentially I’ve just got no appetite to take part at anything less than approaching 100%. I’m prepared to say it’s possible I may never do another marathon – all my previous comments about really not enjoying the training for it still hold true, although at the moment I’ll probably try and defer my entry to next year and then worry about it then.

I had most of the past week off of running entirely hoping I could rest my back enough to try a long run this past weekend. I tentatively took part in Parkrun and that went as well as I could have hoped so I faced Sunday’s 22 miler with reasonable confidence, however within the first couple of miles I realised very quickly that my back wasn’t much better and what’s more I’d probably been running in an unbalanced manner the day before as my left ankle had started acting up too. Today my back is a bit worse again so I’m going to listen to my body and rest further.

Instead of thinking about the marathon I’ll now devote my running energies to more enjoyable distances, and particularly a 10k. I want to see how much more I can improve on the Jayson Lee event from a few weeks back, and I’ll probably work on my 5k / parkrun times too. I’ve had a succession of low-24s at parkrun including the very busy 100th event so I do think there’s a mid-23 out there somewhere sometime soon.

So, in running terms I get to look to the future, rather than worrying about the next couple of weeks and I’m very happy with that decision. Not happy with the end result maybe and the circumstances, but I can’t be upset at making the right decision rather than running just for the heck of it. Onwards and upwards…

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I don’t like marathon training

Ok let’s be quite clear about this. If you’re looking for inspirational tales of someone preparing to run a marathon, this is not the post, or indeed the blog for you.

I don’t like marathon training. I don’t mind racing the marathon distance, having done it once. Sort of. But the training and preparation required in order to safely and hopefully effectively run the 42km distance is just more than I care to do. I’ve said it before – I’ve got three marathons in me – and while I suppose it’s not impossible that if I find a spring marathon and end up training for it over the winter I might enjoy it more, at the moment I can’t imagine that.

Anyway, I have my second ever marathon in the diary so here I am in the latter stages of a marathon training programme. A couple of weeks ago, I ran 16 miles and did pretty well doing so. Judging by last week’s 10km effort, my running is in ok form at the moment but today it just didn’t translate. Whether that’s poor preparation and nutrition, or a reaction to the hotter weather today I don’t know but it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be.

I set off this morning hoping to run 30km in around three and a quarter hours and in the end it was about 3:27 which in fairness isn’t terrible but I think it was just how I suffered and faded over the second half of the run that I didn’t enjoy.

It was the fastest 30km I’d ever run by about four minutes so that’s positive and I can justifiably say I’ve never run that distance better but it wasn’t quite enough for me. I’ve felt pretty tired ever since too so I’m glad that tomorrow is a bank holiday so I can relax properly.

The slightly irritating thing today was that the uphill run through St Peter’s Valley went better than the nice downhill run down the Railway Walk, but that was just a function of how much I’d run before hitting the railway walk. Today during the second half of the session a lot of walking was necessary, but unusually I allowed myself to do that and I think it made for a better session as a result.

One more long run to come now. A 22 miler the week after next. Not looking forward to that session either!

Miles and holiday smiles

After today’s run I decided it was about time I posted here, but thought I’d focus on my recent running exploits, rather than whatever we’d been up to on holiday recently. I’m going to hold to that save for some running we did in Greece, but suffice to say our holiday in Greece was absolutely fantastic. A brilliant week and we’d certainly love to go back to the same place sometime.

So about that running then. Well our first run was on the way out for our holiday. Sort of. We had an extra day in the UK before our flight to Greece and we decided, on a recommendation, to visit Reigate and go for a run.

I’m struggling to remember now but I think I’d planned to do 12 miles around Reigate Park and its neighbouring Priory Park. It was a hot day and the terrain was decidedly lumpy, as well as more unstable and trail-like than what I’m used to, and in the end I was pretty much spent after 6 and a half. But I hadn’t run very much in the immediate period prior so I had to be happy really.

While we were away we took the opportunity for lots of swimming and a bit of kayaking. Some football too which reminded me that I probably can’t run up and down a football pitch for the full length of a game like I used to be able to.  But we did also make some time for running. Firstly a two miler, which was enough to run to the nearest town and back then towards the end of the holiday an early morning 4.5km around the same sort of route but extending one end of it as far as I could without crossing any main roads. Those runs were tough but fun.

The proper distance training has kicked in since we’ve got home. Last week I completed a scheduled half marathon in exactly 2 hours 10 minutes. I was really happy with that and it made me think I was slightly ahead of schedule in terms of my marathon training.

Which pretty much brings us to today. Today’s run was designed to be 16 miles although it was eventually a little bit more than that. I wanted to explore a new running route and to do that I decided I would start with the course of the Durrell Challenge and then return home.

The day before I’d done Parkrun #96 and I think that despite lots of signs of good fitness including a run of 24:14, there was still a great deal of tiredness in my legs. I walked up the steepest hills and had a couple of other walks but it didn’t do any harm to the ultimate pace and performance.

Today’s run was solid. Only my 8th fastest half marathon, but it was, of course a training run so it didn’t really matter. That being said it was also my fastest 15 miles ever. A brilliant run really.

During the course of the week we decided to register for the Jayson Lee 10k here and now that’s only two weeks away. I haven’t raced over that distance since last December so it is about due. The last time, though, still stands as my second best 10k ever. What with my current 5k form, i don’t really know how well it might go, but i do know however that I’m looking forward to it.

I’m taking this week as a recovery week so I’m hoping to have a little more rest before building up to my final couple of long runs in the run up to the full Marathon. 

Guernsey, Newham and a lull in the running

It’s been about seven weeks or so since my last post here but I’ve still managed to squeeze in a couple of races in that time.

Training went ok. After Liverpool I did a couple of gentle runs then a ten miler on the Sunday after the half marathon. Then a few more little runs including an aborted effort at trying to beat #mymile record and the following Sunday another great long 8 mile run.

A couple of days on from that I had another go at my mile record and achieved it getting a 6:49 – a brilliant effort. Which pretty much takes me up to the Guernsey Milk Run.

In the build up to the run, my wife and I had decided that we’d try and run this one together, ideally in order to get her a best for the half marathon, but probably just to enjoy ourselves. While we were in Guernsey, we stayed at this lovely pub with rooms, the Longfrie Inn. The staff there were just brilliant and I really hope we find a reason to go back next year, although if I do the same run next year I probably wouldn’t stay at that hotel.

The first couple of miles in Guernsey were great. We both had lot of fun.

But as the race got on the heat took its toll on Jean so we didn’t do as well as we wanted too but the 2:54 time was perfectly ok in what were actually horrible, hot conditions.

After Guernsey I had only a couple of runs before running the Great Newham London Run two weeks later. Work had got really busy so training ended up taking a lower priority.

I think my wife and I had differing views about Newham. I thought it was an amazing event and I hope to be able to return one day, but again it was very hot and there wasn’t a lot of shade out there on the course.

Again we didn’t really meet any speed objectives but we had a good run. I really enjoyed finishing in the Olympic Stadium and while yes there could have been bigger crowds it still had a great atmosphere.

Then since Newham I’ve done very little running at all. Work has still been stupidly busy so running time hasn’t been available. But the Jersey Marathon is still a fair while away yet.

Before that though we have the pleasure of an all inclusive week in Greece and after the past couple of weeks I can’t wait.

Running into form

There was a time – shortly after December 2015 to be reasonably precise – when I could, and occasionally did, bore anyone within earshot about how good my running form was.

I would babble on about how I’d got myself into such good running form that I broke just about every personal best I track in a period of a couple of weeks. What was (slightly) interesting in the preparation of this very blog post was that this was a complete fabrication – lots of PBs were broken but not all. And it took a couple of months too. But evidently my brain has re-worked this period as a golden age of my running.

For what it’s worth, I should have been talking about what was actually a two-and-a-half month period from the final leg of the Jersey Marathon relay where I set my 5 mile best as part of a sightly longer run to Jersey Parkrun #13 during which I broke every best from 2km up to 5k, and took in the Poppy Half and my first Regent’s Park 10km on the way.

Anyway, the point of all this is that i seem to have run myself into some pretty excellent form again just in time for some big races. It’s about time too really. I’ve had a few too many races spoiled recently by injury or illness so I’m determined to make the most of a good run of success. Up until very recently all of my personal bests were set in 2015 with the exception of all those longer than a half marathon, mainly because I’d not run beyond a half until 2016.

That’s all changed in the past couple of weeks.

I’d previously mentioned breaking my 5k / Parkrun best with my first time under 24 minutes but I’ve followed it up with much more. On Tuesday I set out to have a crack at my one mile and 1km bests. I broke both of those plus every other shorter distance best as well. 6:55 for a mile was just brilliant.

At Parkrun on Saturday I had resolved to run steadily, like a threshold run I guess, keeping my heart rate under good control. I did that well but evidently my basic steady speed has increased to such an extent that I could still run a 24:22 without really thrashing myself. I was really happy with that effort.

For today’s long run, I had originally planned to run 8 miles but decided this morning that I’d make it 12 miles. I used an unusual route combining the seafront promenade with a more inland path, just to make up the extra distance without finding too many hills.

Then on the way back home I still felt strong albeit starting to slow up a little, and I’d decided I could add a loop around the harbour to find an extra mile or so to take me up to an unplanned half marathon. I continued to slow up but kept a pretty reasonable pace and ended up finishing the GPS measured half only eleven seconds slower than March’s Reading Half Marathon. I think with proper race day preparation and tapering I’ve definitely got a really special run in me.

So it’s the Durrell next weekend. I’m feeling a little anxious about all of the hills but I’ve run it before so at least know what to expect. Then two more weeks to Liverpool. Certainly exciting times!

Greenwich, Southend and a new Parkrun best

My last sort of catch up post was reasonably thorough about the number of runs I’d done in the past few weeks since Reading – and boy doesn’t that feel like a long time ago now. But what it did omit was a rather lovely trip to Greenwich and Southend.

We went over on the back of one of my fairly regular trips to London so met up on a Friday evening in our favourite Premier Inn hotel around Gatwick. We headed over to Greenwich in the late morning and aimed to get out pretty quickly for a run. Having been to Greenwich Park last in December we knew it would make a pretty fair site for a hill interval session 

but it was loads tougher but better than we thought. With the hills of the Durrell Challenge in mind we knew it was important but we did well. A nice pint or two was consumed in a sun-trap garden of a pub just down the road but we feel pretty spent at that stage.

We went back to the park the next day to have a look around the Royal Observatory, a really lovely walk around the park and a wonder down to the Cutty Sark to get the river bus across to North Greenwich by the O2. From there we took a ride on the cable cars which was something we’ve wanted to do for a little while. I was quite surprised how close City Airport is to them really.

On Sunday afternoon we went down to Southend and discovered a pretty fantastic Chinese on that first night which I’d seen good reviews for but which if I’m honest didn’t look up to much from outside. It was really well worth it though.

Monday morning saw us go out for our long runs. Mine was 8 miles and I enjoyed it. The fog was pretty thick so the views weren’t what they could be but it was fun – and even better it was followed by a great breakfast. We had a great relaxing break, had some fun and did a bit of running too.

So bang up to date then and today saw us going up to Parkrun. We weren’t definitely planning to but this morning we felt good so got on with it. On the first lap I went out strong but felt fresh. I faded a little over the second half of the run but still came in in a PB time of 23:55 – my first sub-24 race ever, although my Strava time had me down as low as 23:37. I set three other records on the way round so it’s fair to say it was a great run.

Tomorrow morning brings us another 10 mile run, with the Boat Show in the way of where we’d normally run to but I’m sure it will still be fun.

Building towards Liverpool

As I’m writing this I see that I’ve completed 18 running sessions since the Reading Half Marathon. That’s 18 sessions in a month and three days. Reading was really successful in a sense but still wasn’t enough due to irritating illness. The past few weeks have really seen my pace and strength improve.

I’m not going to attempt to list all of those training sessions but there have been some real highlights. The Parkrun I did last weekend was much better than I’d expected seeing me over the finish in only a little over 25 minutes despite not really having worked on my speed in a little while.

Then today’s run, which was planned to be nothing more exciting than a threshold run but actually turned into being a little bit special. The run had a block of ten minutes run at Heart rate zone 3 so tough, yes, but not something i can’t persevere with.  In the end I stormed through that middle section of the run including my seventh fastest ever 2km section – second fastest if I take away Parkruns and races. And I’m not going to say it felt easy but it did feel like i could carry it on. I came away thinking that a sub-24 minute Parkrun is properly within reach but of course I’m focusing on the hills and half -marathon at the moment and probably for the next couple of months too.
The next challenge is the Durrell Challenge in three weeks time and once again I’m not really looking forward to the hills that it will feature. I wasn’t massively happy with my effort in the event last year but I’m feeling like I’m coming back into something resembling decent form. Then there’s the two Liverpool events at the end of May which are going go be great fun.

We’ve also added an additional run into our schedule for the year – the Guernsey Dairy Milk Run on Fathers’ Day in June. I’ve looked at different events in Guernsey over the past year or so and its great to have one signed up.

But for now its still the routine of training. Tomorrow sees me running ten miles using Waterworks Valley. That could be painful!