Monday, 27 August 2012

Week 9

So, 9 weeks into training and for week 9 I mostly ignored the plan. That's not to say I've done no training, but after a bit of a chat on Facebook with my friend Ben who has run a lot more races than me, I came to realise I've not been doing myself any favours by pushing quite as hard as I had been, then continually battling pain with every run... Stop trying to run your race during training was basically his advice, and I think it hit the nail on the head.

So this week I slowed down, and actually I've enjoyed it.

Tuesday was just an easy run, 3 miles @9:47 pace.  My legs still ached from the weekend, but the slower pace must have done me some good, as the next day I was actually walking around with much less aching, and I felt a lot more positive than I had in recent weeks.

Thursday and again I ignored the plan, which was telling me to do 8 miles at a pace far faster than I thought I could. Instead I decided I should take my previous aches and pains into account and go back to what I know and just do some good miles. I decided I'd pick up my usual Sunday run of 6 miles but mix it up some faster and slower miles keeping most of them a bit quicker than I need to do in the race. I went faster up the hills, and slower on the flat, and ended up only being a few mins off the last 10K race pace I ran.
Duration  55:04  - (Spilt times: 8:36, 10:21, 9:01, 9:05, 10:05, 7:51)
Avg Pace 9:10 min/mi

Here I should have done a 3-4 mile run, but cycled 8 miles instead.  I think it's probably a good swap.

That left just the long run to go...

Friday, 24 August 2012

The continuing saga of.. Week 8

So, I'm late at updating, but it's allowed. I'm on holiday this week and trying to avoid computers.

Anyway, a quick update on last week's running...

Thursday I ran 4 miles at a 9:12 pace, then with slightly more tired legs I did it all over again on Friday, but at a 9:23 pace. Nothing much else to say about them really, other than 4 miles really doesn't seem like a big run any more. I was fairly happy to get back to normal, I'd still got a few aches and pains as expected, but the limp didn't come back, my hip sort of worked OK with only a minor protest every now and again, and whilst I took it carefully, overall I felt quite positive about running which was a welcome change.

Sunday was a bit new, a whole 10 miles. I've never run 10 miles before, in my mind it's been a something  of a mental barrier too, could I really run that far?

I've got to admit I procrastinated all morning, by the time I was actually ready to go it was already warming up to be a really hot afternoon, and at least in the mid 20's - I'm good at picking the hottest part of the day to run.. it's a skill.  I'd planned out a route that mostly got the hills out of the way on the first half of the run with the halfway point being the cricket pavilion in Darley Park, pretty much five miles away.  The route I picked also meant the first half of my run was nearly all uphill... "Luxury!" as they (probably) say in Yorkshire.

So, retracing my steps, I set out at a steady pace uphill along Stenson Road, then carried on uphill along Warwick Avenue to the crossroads, pausing only to be heckled by a cheeky young lad telling me to run faster, then deciding I was mad after I said I'd about 9 miles left to go... At the top of the hill I paused at the crossroads, the traffic was against me so I took a breather and stopped my watch...  Te lights changed and I made a dash for it, then things got a bit easier, I was running down Manor Road, I hate running up that hill so much, but running down it is actually great - it's made me think I might have to try my regular 10k route back to front one of these days..

By the time I got to Sainsbury's I realised I probably should have restarted my watch when I'd started running again, swore at myself, then hit the button. Too late to do anything about it now so I carried on along Kingsway and Queensway towards the next hill.. Broadway.

Hills are hard work, but I think having them on my training routes is probably a good thing, that way I get used to running something a bit harder than I'm likely to in the race. They're also tricky to avoid around here really. By the time I'd got to the top of Broadway I imagine I looked a proper wreck, it was definitely hard work, so a big gulp of my ever depleting drink and I pushed on towards Darley Park, where to my surprise the carefully planned route was blocked as the Cancer Research Race for Life was being run there on Sunday.  Oops!

Now there's no way on earth I'd pass for a woman in a pink tutu, so discretion being the better part of valour, I hung a left, ran down into the village, and entered the park by the Abbey Inn entrance instead, taking the path around the back of the cricket pavilion and along the river. After a couple of minutes I actually found myself running alongside the finish straight for the race I'd just avoided - I'd probably done about 10K by then, and really wished that was actually my finish line.

Onwards, and past the rowing club I went, now heading back towards town along the river, my legs started to ache at this point and I'd got up to nearer seven miles, I knew I'd make it and allowed myself a slow mile as I kept on going towards Midland Road with only 2 gulps left in my drink bottle.. From there it was a bit of a zigzag route from Railway Terrace, round the back of Post Office, and then down Derby's shortest road (Osbourne Street) which can't be much more than 30 feet long! Finally the drink ran out as I took a twisty path across Peartree down roads I don't know the name of, and dodging wheelie bins.  I just kind of slipped into auto-pilot (or dehydration) at that point, and the next thing I remember I was back at Stenson road again jogging downhill at a steady pace.

Running 10 miles is hard work, but I'd done it, and not broken myself in the process.. Next, on to week 9.

Total Distance 10.65 mi
Duration 1:40:48   - (Spilt times:  10:00, 9:45, 9:30 (at a guess), 9:05, 8:01, 9:01 ,9:03, 10:31,9:56, 9:51, 6:05* )
Avg Pace 9:27 min/mi

* 0.65 miles

Total Weeks mileage: 26

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Broken tempo, and bad running.

Tuesday had turned into quite a nice day, as my weeks tend to get busier towards the end I thought I'd bring my tempo run forward, and make the most of a bit of spare time and the good weather. Right after work I got my running kit on and set out - this time remembering to take a drink.

I set out at what was supposed to be a jog to warm up, but ended up 3/4 of a mile down the road and running at a 9 minute pace, this might have been a clue things weren't going to go quite to plan..

I've still not got the hang of tempo runs at all. The aim as I understand it is to run at about 90% of your effort constantly for mile after mile, that pushes up your ability to deal with lactic acid, and allows you to keep going longer.  Maybe it's just me, but even after about 18 months of fairly regular running I almost always run out of breath long before I hit problems with lactic acid and burning muscles, I also prefer short fast runs to longer steady paced ones, as holding a long steady pace is the thing that really wears me down. As a preference I go for a burst of speed, then coast, and repeat. My cardio is getting better though, for about a year all my runs were 95% effort, and when I got the Garmin it showed my my heart rate usually got up near 190..  I just didn't know better. Now I'm doing long runs around 150-160BPM.

Old habits die hard, and having not done much steady running in the past couple of weeks I set out too quick.. I was supposed to do 5 miles at 8:36 pace, which if I'm honest seemed a bit faster than I'd be comfortable with over that distance.

The first mile I ran an 8:04 average, and I burnt myself out pretty much hitting a wall just as I my watch beeped for mile 2. I kept going, but the pace just got slower and slower - by mile 4 the hip pain I've been experiencing on my long runs was back too, it always seems to come back when I run uphill, and this time I'd made an effort not to rotate my foot outwards. It really dragged after that, and I became frustrated that I can't work out what's causing the pain, or why it keeps coming back on my long runs. I really hope it doesn't get worse, or I'll be left doing 13 miles entirely on stubbornness.

I'm not sure how to feel about it all at the moment, on one hand I didn't do what I was supposed to against the plan, I felt like I was miles off the target, and completely missed the training goals.  On the other I managed seven miles with only a day's break since having run nine - both further than I ever used to run in one go.. Also I didn't need to stop, and for such a warm day I didn't make bad time. The only thing I can do right now is keep on pushing.

This half marathon stuff is harder work than I imagined, the kind of things you can dismiss on a two mile run just get amplified over a ninety minute one. I probably shouldn't admit it, but right now I'm quite looking forward to getting the race done and being able to go back to my old routine of a couple of 2-3 mile fast runs in the week, the occasional flat out sprint simply for fun, and a 'long' 5 or 6 miles on a Sunday.

46 Days to go...

Total Distance 7.39mi
Duration - 1:08:32 (Full mile spilt times: 08:04, 09:09, 08:57, 09:28, 09:58, 10:25)
Avg Pace 9:16 min/mi

Monday, 13 August 2012

Not exactly a marathon

After last weeks record mileage everything hurt. My hip pain had been getting progressively worse, not to the point of stopping movement, but bad enough that each step made me wince.  Not a good sign really, my calves also weren't far behind, so time for a break... Six days of not running, right in the middle of my training.

I actually enjoyed the time off, it's quite surprising how much time running seems to have stolen from my usual routines in the week, especially when trying to fit in a run after work but before evening meals... Then again, the Olympics somehow has managed to steal all that time, and more... It's been a great couple of weeks.

By Sunday the long run had come round, and I decided I'd had enough rest , I'd run early and get back in time to see the start of the Olympic Men's Marathon... 9 miles was order of the day.

The marathon started at 11, I hit the road at 9:35, nothing like a looming deadline for motivation.  I decided on roughly the same 9 mile route as the week before, but with a few less twists and turns.

Things I learned:

- After 6 days off I can't run at the steady pace the plan tells me I'm supposed to, at least to begin with, I go too fast.
- Taking a few days out from the plan doesn't make running again harder, but after a few miles it doesn't make it easier either.
- Music really makes a difference to the speed I run at, miles 3 and 4 were at Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream pace, but I wasn't actually aware I'd gone a lot faster.. (I really need to get around to making some running play lists - I'm goiing to pretend my slow miles might be down to the wrong music).
- After about 5 miles my hip started to hurt again, but I can still ignore it and just get on with doing the miles without it getting loads worse.

9.5 miles in 85 minutes was bad planning.. but thankfully I only missed the start of the Marathon by a couple of minutes. I'd love to be able to run even half as well as those athletes can, seeing Stephen Kiprotich make 26 miles look almost effortless is something I can't even begin to fathom.

Overall I'm happy, I ran further than I have in one go before, and still as fast as my fastest 9 miles was, plus my legs are a bit more rested than they were.  Now just to work out what I'm doing that makes my hip hurt, I've a feeling it's down to me unconsciously rotating my right foot outwards slightly as the distance creeps up, something I can get away with on my old 3 mile runs... but not now I'm up to 9's. I've another run tomorrow so I'll pay attention to keeping my toes forward and see what happens...

Total Distance 9.56mi
Duration 1:28:59 - (Spilt times: 9:24, 9:19, 8:59, 8:25, 9:48, 10:10, 9:30, 9:24, 9:55, 4:04* )
Avg Pace 9:24 min/mi
*half  mile

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The week that was.

Last week didn’t really go completely to plan.. I've not really had the time to blog about it until now, so here's a quick catch up.

I had a meeting in Warwick, got stuck in traffic on the way there, then the car developed a fault..

Once I'd figured out I wouldn't be getting to the office on time to get a slice of toast in the canteen, I bit the bullet and decided a tactical Sausage McMuffin was the order of the day.  Some meetings, 2 cups coffee and a packet of mini cheddars later I finally managed to escape, I'd not managed lunch and it was 8PM before I got home. By that time running wasn’t all that high on my to do list. Not least because the plan said I needed to do seven miles, and 3 of them needed to be below 8 minutes. No chance.

I decided I'd just go out and run the fast bit of the day's miles, first mile's warm-up seemed harder than usual then I really went for a fast one as I'd not manage the full distance.  About half a mile in and I was below a 7 minute mile, but felt awful as I pushed on.. eventually slowing back down to a 7:23 pace.

My watch beeped to say the mile of hell was over, I collapsed on the grass, and tried desperately not to be sick, for about 5 minutes. Eventually I got back up, and still feeling rough started walking back in the direction of home. After a mile I managed to run again, but at a more sensible almost 8 minute pace.

Total Distance 3mi
Duration 25:08 - (Spilt times: 9:50, 7:23, 7:55)
Avg Pace 8:23 min/mi

So, by Friday I was 4 miles behind the plan, and had 3 more miles to run for that day.  And, I had no spare time thanks to plans to go and watch The Dark Night Rises that evening.. Watching a film is  much more important than running, obviously..  Thanks to fate I still managed to fit 3 miles in though, jogging a few miles to go and collect my car in the middle of the afternoon. Following Thursday's events it had been into the garage for an investigation to find out what expensive things have gone 'phut'! Looks like I'm now without a car 'til at least Wednesday, when it might get mended..

Total Distance 2.9mi
Duration 26:03 - (Spilt times: 7:55, 9:23, 8:43)
Avg Pace 8:58 min/mi


Saturday should have been a rest day, but I decided that as I'd missed lots of miles last week I was going to get my full mileage done this week.  Nothing much to write home about, did the 4 miles all on the right pace, but my right hip and left calf were definitely hurting afterwards.

Later that evening my friend Matt popped round for a cuppa and noticed I was limping quite a bit,  I really didn't think it was all that bad, and had put it down to a slight ache.  Decided I'd see how things were the following day, and if I hurt then I wouldn't run, but I'm useless at working out if something is just an ache, or actually an injury until it gets worse.

Total Distance: 4.21 mi
Duration: 41:33
Avg Pace: 9:52 min/mi


Sunday I ached, my hip was really tight and a bit painful, especially when I twisted it going around corners. I wasn't going to run at all and settled in and watched the Olympic women's marathon, whilst drinking copious amounts of tea. Despite my hip hurting,  as the race unfolded I started to change my mind and decided that completing the weeks mileage was actually something I needed to do. I figured if I got much worse I'd know about it, and could always walk home. On the other hand I might get better by loosening things up a little.

Well, I didn't get better, but I also didn't seem much worse at the end of the run. I'd also managed to somehow shave a little bit of time off the route compared to a couple of weeks ago, and run an almost negative split over the last few miles so I'm classing that as good progress.  The best part is I seem to have got my keeping hydrated on a long run routine sorted - a gulp every half mile seems to do the trick without me ending up a mess.

Total Distance: 9.01 mi
Duration: 1:24:45.7 (Spilt times: 9:49, 9:48, 9:49, 9:46, 8:50, 9:47*, 9:25, 8:43, 8:24)
Avg Pace:     9:24 min/mi

*up Manor Road hill (my nemesis)

So, that was my week - I'd managed a bit over 22 miles, and done 4 days running in a row without rest days. The most distance I've ever run in a single week before. Not perfect, but it still felt like an achievement.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Stop.... Carry On.

Well, the running continues, it's not been so great over the past few days, and I've not really felt like updating the blog.

For starters I missed my mid-week run out completely last week, and I cut the following one down to two miles just to test how my legs were recovering. I came to the conclusion 2 miles was about my limit, it was perhaps my hardest run ever. Everything still hurt.

By Saturday it was time to have another go, my hip had been giving me some grief, and the occasional stab of pain whenever it twisted, but walking around was ok again and the rest of my legs didn't feel too bad.  The plan said I had 4 miles at just below 10 minute miles... 

The early part was fine, but as the distance progressed so did the lingering hip and thigh pain, thoughts of turning round and going home filled my mind. I'm stubborn though, so rather than just giving up I tried to experiment and ended up changing my running style completely, running entirely on my forefoot and barely letting my heel touch the ground. It felt a bit unnatural but took the impacts out out of my hip, and thighs (at the expense of my calf muscles admittedly)... "Be a gazelle, and not a rhinoceros" - I told myself (normally the further I go the more stompy I get). No idea where that idea came from, and it's probably nonsense, but I made it round, so that's got to be a good thing. In total I did 5 miles at the right pace, but the grand total for the whole week was still only 11, half what I'd run the week before.

I think I'm at that weird stage of training at the moment, my body still hasn't fully worked out what it needs to mend, or how quickly, so I'm carrying silly little injuries and every run just seems to take a bit more out of me.  The strange thing is I can still sprint with no problem or pain.. It's the slow 'easy' runs that hurt.

Last night I had to do 3 miles at just under 10 minute mile pace. I'm still worn out, my legs hurt, and  I had to resort to my normal slightly stompy rhinoceros approach, topped off with an added helping of wincing quite a lot. Thankfully rhinoceroses are also stubborn, so far stubborn is just about enough...

Tonight I'm supposed to do 7 miles, with three of them at a sub 8 minute pace. I think this might be the toughest run yet, but as Yoda put it... "Do, or not do. There is no try."

(Update: Checked the plan and I got it wrong.. Tomorrow is my 7 mile run. I really have never been so relieved it's a rest day.)