Friday Sep 04, 2009

The Exterminator

Well, almost 9 months on from my first fell race, I've now got 12 under my belt and 8 months preparation for this weekend's Exterminator.

When I ran the first race in this series back in January as my first fell race, I got the bug and set myself this race as the target. I actually thought it would be reasonably easy to increase my mileage to 16+ on long runs to prepare for the event, but as it turns out, the mileage wasn't the problem - it was developing the strength and stamina to cope with the almost 4000' of ascent over that distance!

I first reccie'd a large part of the route back in the early spring, and bumped into a guy who'd run it before who thought I was starting preparation very early. He was so wrong! In that first run, I adopted the "if it looks like a hill, walk it" mentality - keeping my heart-rate under 160. This enabled me to get round most of the route without premature death - albeit somewhat slowly. A good tip well received from Clive when I read his report of the Highland Fling.

Since that first reccy, I've done all or large parts of the route (with slight variations to test the times) 4 times. Each time, it's been an extreme effort in lasting the distance. In part that's because I normally do my long runs on Sunday afternoons, and twice they were warm, sunny afternoons which resulted in me being impacted by dehydration. However, I did do one run on a cooler day with plenty of fluids on board, and that convinced me that not only was I nearly ready, but I should also be able to put in a reasonably respectable time.

The event is now less than 48 hours away and I'm in a good state of preparation. Began tapering last week, with a short race on Thursday evening followed by a 9.5 mile moorland run on Sunday. This week I had intended to run with the club on Wednesday evening for an easy leg-stretcher, but the weather was so foul and depressing that I decided that I could easily excuse myself as part of tapering ;-) So now, it's carb-loading for dinner from last night through to Saturday night - pasta with everything. Also plenty of fluids, although a little more alcohol than I should! The weather forecast is looking good for a reasonably mild (19C max), but cloudy Sunday. Perfect running weather!

I was hoping that I would be able to enter the Highland Fling next year, but I'm not sure that I can get in the preparation I need to extend to 50+ miles of running by April. I was also hoping to enter next year's Ben Nevis race, but I know I need much more strength to be able to cope with 4500' of ascent in 9 miles. Hopefully, this Autumn's training should help me make a decision on both, but even if I don't enter either of them, next year I'll be aiming to complete some 20 and 30-mile fell/trail races.

Friday Jan 30, 2009

First Fell Race

I've been running for just over 5 years now, and despite the ideal landscape for fell running in the Derbyshire Peak District around where I live, have never actually braved one of these beasties. Until last weekend, that is!

One of our local clubs puts on a fell racing series each year which is so close to home I can jog too and from them, so this year with a little encouragement from some of my club mates, I took the plunge and entered the first race of the series: the rather strangely named: Tigger Tor.

By the more direct routes between checkpoints, this is around 9 miles with 1700' of ascent, so it's moderately challenging in general fell running terms.

After recce'ing the route a couple of times with friends from my club, I set myself a target of 1:50. I actually thought I could do it 5-10 minutes less than this, but being my first fell race, slightly unfit and not knowing what to expect (except wet feet), I set myself up to be happy with something around this time.

One of my team mates said that it's okay to walk in fell races, so I should expect to have to do so in this race. Indeed, I did need to walk a couple of times, but as I was already mentally prepared for this, it didn't bother me, and I think it helped overall in that I was able to refresh myself and carry on running at a reasonable pace afterwards.

Once the race had started, I didn't look at my watch again until the finish. It's not like a half-marathon or 10K - where you can check your pace and adjust accordingly, so the time at any particular point during the race is largely irrelevant. However, when I did check my watch at the finish, I found that I'd come home in 1:32. Not only that, but I was well into the top half of the finishers list too. To say I was chuffed to bits is a bit of an understatement as I didn't think I was anywhere near fit enough to do that!

What Wikipedia doesn't tell you about fell running is that you have to be ever-so slightly demented to take part. I mean, what kind of person willingly runs through calf-deep mud, crosses streams by the shortest, not driest route, and throws themselves downhill with all the abandon of a mountain goat?

It turns out though, that I have become one of those people.

My motivation for racing has now returned after over a year of apathy, and I now know I will try to get fitter and stronger for the next race... After the next slice of pizza that is.

Monday Dec 17, 2007

2007 Bolsover 10k Race Report

Well, another year has gone and another Bolsover 10k was run at the weekend.

It was a typical cold and frosty start again this year, after last year's relatively mild day, although thankfully there was no ice around to make it treacherous underfoot as there was the first year I ran this race. Unfortunately, unlike the past 3 years, it was a cloudy day, so no winter sunshine to cheer us all up!

As usual, the start was near the bottom of the lane by Bolsover School. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst part about the organisation of this race, as everyone has to make their way down from the school to the start line and then turn around because the race goes up the lane. Of course the faster runners tend to clump around the start line ready for the big off, and that means that the late-comers end up either having to squeeze their way through or (as seems to be the case) simply push into the crowd just behind the 'elite' runners. The end result of this is a somewhat chaotic start where the faster runners have to work their way past a lot of late-arriving slower runners.

Last year, I think I complained that I/others couldn't hear what the starter was saying and that he should get a loud-hailer. This year, I couldn't tell whether or not the starter said anything - there was much too much babble in the throng where I was at the start. That said, though, the start was clean and away on time at 10.30 (at least from my perspective).

Marshalling and general organisation was as good as in previous years, and it was cheering to be encouraged on by these folks who gave up their free Sunday morning to stop whinging motorists and encourage sweaty runners. Although I didn't make use of it, the drinks station at 5km seemed to be a welcome sight for a lot of runners. I pity the poor folks who had to walk down the lane and pick up all of the discarded cups, though!

As usual, the finish was in the grounds of Bolsover School, with lots of support from friends and families of runners (and the obligatory burger/tea van). Thankfully, since they started using chip timing in this race, the finish has got much easier, without the funnels which quickly got backed up in previous years.

The memento this year was a long-sleeved t-shirt, as it was 2 years ago (only a different design). Although I like it, my T-shirt drawer is getting full, so maybe next year they will pick something different like hey have in previous years (wall clock and stop watch, to name but two).

Overall, this was a well organised race with good support, and I heartily recommend it as a good bit of fun just before Christmas.

Oh, and I ran it it 42:36 - bang on my target time. A minute down on last year, but I expected that. Maybe next year I'll be fit enough to set a PB on this course (which the organisers claim the course is good for)!

Monday Nov 19, 2007

Kalenji "Protect 5000 Windbreaker" Review

I thought I'd write up a separate review of my new Decathlon running jacket for the benefit of anyone considering buying one.

What attracted me to this jacket was the fact that it is windproof, waterproof and lightweight. It also seems to be cut for skinny runners like me, and I quite like the dayglo yellow colour too (although my wife and kids think it's ghastly, but what do they know?).

There was a RonHill lightweight jacket on the peg next to this one, and it was about £25 cheaper, but on close inspection, it was a lot thinner, only good for light rain, and didn't appear to be "breathable". I have a cycling jacket that fits that bill already, so no point in buying something similar!

Features

All seams and zips are taped to prevent water ingres. This is a good feature which is missing in many cheaper jackets and which is why they aren't good for really bad weather.

The jacket has a hood, which seems to be a good fit, but which I'll probably never use as I prefer a woolly hat. Fortunately, it unzips from the jacket and the jacket has a nice little flap which folds down over the zipper when the hood is removed. Nice touch! The hood itelf has a draw-tie at the back and a loop and hook (aka Velcro) tab on the front to make for wrapping you up well against the elements.

Ventilation on the jacket is by means of a concealed vent on the back of the jacket, and two zipped vents on the sleeves. I guess that's what they mean by "breathable", although I tend to prefer GoreTex - at least for hiking (I have heard that GoreTex can't release vapour fast enough for runners, but haven't ever tried it). The one thing that concerned me about the vent on the back of the jacket is that it is not closeable. So, with a strong enough wind, you may notice cold air or even water getting in (more on that later). The zipped vents on the sleeves are good quality with water-resistant taping over the zipper when it is closed (this is also repeated on the front of the jacket).

The cuffs have two hook & loop patches which allow you to adjust how tight the cuffs are when the jacket is on. I found that getting these right with a pair of gloves on to be a bit tricky, but the fit was good in the end and the sleeves did not ride up or let the cold air/rain in as my cycling jacket has a tendency to do.

The neck is a reasonably close fit when the front zip is fully up. I don't have a fat neck, but I imagine that someone with an above normal neck size might find it difficult to zip all the way up and still remain comfortable. There was no draw-tie on the neck as some jackets have, which I thought was going to be a problem, but turned out not to be!

Performance

I will caveat this by saying that I've only worn the jacket once, and although there was wind and rain, neither were particularly heavy.

The jacket material is fairly thin, so I opted to run in a vest under a Lowe long sleeved base-layer. I thought that this combination might lead to me overheating - even in the cold conditions, but I'd rather be too warm than cold when out running. It turns out that this was a pretty good combination for the prevailing conditions. My shoulders wer cold for the first 10 minutes or so, but once I'd warmed up, I didn't have any issues until I was cooling down again after the run.

The most problematic aspect of all foul-weather jackets I've tried is that under exertion (eg hills or fast road work), you tend to heat up a lot quicker than with normal running gear. This jacket is really no exception to this. However, I did find that I didn't overheat as I thought I might - even with hat and gloves on. Not only that but once I got home, I found that I wasn't soaked with sweat as I usually am when running in my waterproof cycling jacket with similar levels of exertion. I can only attribute this to a better "breathability" of the jacket.

I mentioned earlier that I was concerned about the vents on the back letting in cold air or even rain when it is very windy and wet. This did not occur during my run, and although it was not a particularly strong wind or heavy rain, I am confident that the jacket will hold true even if the weather were that bad.

I supsected also that because the neck was a little loose, I would get rain in. This did not appear to be the case, although I have to confess that the Lowe base-layer does have a high, close-fitting neckline on it, so even if rain got under the coat collar, I probably would not have noticed it unless it was significant enough to wet me through.

Price

Lastly, let's talk about the price: £64.95! Fortunately, my son works at Decathlon, so I got a 20% discount off, but even so, it is an expensive piece of running atire. I've seen Gore Wear jackets much more expensive than this (and was indeed tempted by one), so in reality, it is a mid-priced jacket.

Verdict

Overall, I'm very pleased with the jacket. It appears to do everything Declathlon claim of it, and does it well. I think the price is probably a little high, but knowing Decathlon, they will have pitched it well against what they consider its opposition.

The only minor negatives for me are the slightly fiddly hook & loop patches on the cuffs and the lack of a draw-tie on the neck. However, these are very minor issues.

There ar undoubtedly cheaper jackets on the market, but for the features, overall, I think this is a fair price.

First wintery run of the season

Yesterday was a cold and miserable winter's day, despite the official start of winter being some 5 weeks away. The temperature peaked at 3°C (38°F for the metrically challenged), it was windy and it rained with some sleet for most of the day.

Being a bit of a fair weather runner, I was in two minds whether or not to go out in such miserable conditions, knowing full well that I'd be in for a good soaking! However, I have a goal to get fitter in time for the Bolsover 10K in mid December, so needs must. Not only that, but I spent a fair amount of cash on a wind and waterproof running jacket a couple of months ago, and it needed a performance evaluation.

Now it has to be said that I pride myself on being a hardy Northerner and will run in shorts even when the weather is 0°C or slightly below outside. However, I hate the combination of wind and sleet so I slipped into my trusty pair of RonHill Bikester DXB tights to try to keep some warmth in my muscles. I tend to wear these a few times over winter on the coldest of days or if the wind is up, but other than that shorts are best.

Completing the rather fetching outfit with a woolly hat and a pair of running gloves, I was ready to go.

It actually turned out to be quite a nice run, except when the rain/sleet was blowing straight into my face. I managed to average 12.4km/hr (7.65mph), which is a little faster than my normal training pace of around 12km/hr, but it felt easy - even up the hills. Total distance was 15.2km (9.4 miles). I'm glad I made the effort to go out!

Late yesterday evening it snowed heavily and we had about 5cm before the snow turned to rain. By this morning the snow had completely disappeared again. This was the story of last winter, but it has come earlier this year, so I'm hopeful for a nice cold winter with plenty of snowfall.

Friday Oct 12, 2007

Cheap running shoes as good as expensive ones?

Yahoo! has an article today which describes some analysis done by researchers in Scotland that concluded that low-mid price running shoes were as effective at cushioning the foot as more expensive (GBP 70+) shoes.

The researchers added two caveats to their findings:

The kinetics of running on the treadmill may have been different for the volunteers wearing the test shoes, when compared to wearing their own personal shoes.

The durability of the shoes' mid-soles and in-soles -- whether the "cushionability" of the footwear either faded or endured with prolonged use -- was not put to the test.

That's quite some cop-out, if you don't mind me saying - particularly the durability issue.

I am not a scientist, but I have been running for a while, so I think I know a little bit about it by now...

Firstly, as most runners will attest to, the kinetics of running on a treadmill are vastly different to running on the road:

  • The treadmill is a moving surface, so this requires less effort to "move" the body forward than would be required on the road. I therefore suggest that the amount of pressure on the forefoot on "pushoff" would be lower on the treadmill than on the road.
  • Most treadmills have a cushioned bed. Whilst this might not affect the pressure measured in the test shoe, it does alter the way a runner runs because it adds "spring" to the running step.

Secondly, by adding a pressure plate ("Pedar") inside the shoe presumably between the insole and sole, the researchers would seem to be completely ignoring the effect of the cushioning provided by the technology in the shoe's sole, or at the very least skewing their data. In my research for shoes for myself, I can safely say that the more expensive shoes tend to have different technology in the sole to cushion and/or provide better running dynamics, so this is not something that can be ignored.

Finally, this research only focussed on cushioning. Whilst I prefer a well-cushioned shoe, it is not a priority for all runners, some need motion control, some want the shoe to be very responsive to their running gait. Whilst not all shoes are strong on these three details, the cost of the shoe is generally related to its ability to do one or more of these things very well.

I am not suggesting that everyone invest in a pair of expensive shoes. Buy what you can afford - particularly if you are new to running. However, I would not blindly accept this research as being gospel. Test shoes for yourself in the shop and figure out what is comfortable for you.

Wednesday Dec 20, 2006

Bolsover 10K Race Report

I really find it difficult to comprehend how fast this year has gone by. It barely seems a couple of months since I last ran the Bolsover 10K.

Amazingly enough, for the third year in a row, the weather was great for the race. After some overnight rain, there was a chilly start in glorious winter sunshine. Although the temperature was only around 5°C (40°F), it would have been okay to run in shorts and T-shirt, but I opted for a long sleeve thermal top and shorts instead. Next time, I think I'll go with the T-shirt as I got a little too warm in the latter stages of the race.

The race was over the same course as the previous two years, and after a bit of a squash on the start line we were underway pretty much on time.

Having done very little speed training over the summer, I wasn't expecting great things from the race, but I set off at my normal 10K pace with the idea that I'd try to bag as many seconds as I could in the early part of the race, knowing I'd be slower later. And so it worked!

I felt pretty good for the first 7K, but then began to tire a bit. It's a gentle uphill pretty much all the way from the 7km mark to the finish, and whilst I'm reasonably good on hills, my lack of speedwork was the telling problem as we plugged our way toward the finish. The last Km was the worst for me - it's flattish for the first 500m, then uphill for the remainder of the race into Bolsover School. That's been the real killer for me every year so far, and my club colleagues also said the same this year. A guy caught me up at the 9Km mark and I thought he'd be off as we neared the finish, but I managed to keep with him up to the last 250m when my legs finally decided that they were at their speed limit as far as propelling me forwards was concerned. He finished 6 seconds ahead of me in the end, but due to the beauty of chip timing, had the same personal time as me.

The difference in this race for me this year was that I actually enjoyed it (well, apart from the last 500m). I felt good most of the way round, and the lovely morning made it all the better. In previous years, despite the weather being good, I've felt so knackered part way round that I just lost all of the enjoyment. I set a new personal best for the course of 41:20 - taking a whopping 10 seconds off last year's time. I was pleased with that, although judging by the number of people in front of me, if I'd been as fast, comparatively, as last year, I would have taken more than 10s off the time. Still, I'm not grumbling and it has got me remotivated again to try to beat 40 minutes in a 10K in 2007.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the race organisers and marshalls, all of whom did a wonderful job! I liked the stop-watch memento (although I must confess to preferring the usual t-shirt).

For a change, this probably won't be my last race of the year as my club is organising a cross-country race in a local park on December 30th. I haven't run a proper cross-country race since I was in school (all of 30 years ago), which I remember disliking a lot. However, I have done a fair amount of off-road running over the summer and autumn, so this will be a bit of post-Christmas fun to finish off the year. I haven't started planning next year's runs yet, but I will over the Christmas break.

Thursday Oct 05, 2006

Britsol Half Marathon 2006 race report

Well, despite my obvious shortage of blogs on the subject, I am still running and a couple of weeks ago I ran the Bristol Half Marathon for the third (and probably last) time.

In the past two years, the course has done a quick loop in Bristol City Centre before heading out along the Portway, under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. A couple of miles along Portway, the course would turn back on itself and we'd head back into the city with the final couple of miles around the centre.

This year, however, the organisers decided to change the route, so this time we started around the old docks area and headed into the city centre in a quick loop before a long run out much further along the Portway. The turn on the Portway was on an uphill stretch at about 8.5miles, and then there was the long run back towards the city, with the finish fairly close to the start in the old docks area.

I have to say that I much preferred the old route. We spent more time in the city centre, which gave supporters a better chance of spotting us. It also seemed to me to be easier, and a quick comparison of runners times between last year and this would seem to support the fact that the new course was harder.

As for my race, well I probably hadn't prepared as well as I should. Although I've been doing 20+ miles a week during the summer, not much of it was fast miles, and I think that may have compromised my race performance. My first 3 miles were on my target race pace (around 6m 50 per mile), but after that, things just went horribly and by 10 miles I really wanted to give up and walk (my pace dropped to over 8m miles at that point). I can't tell you how glad I was to get to the finish, but it was nearly the end of me. Given all of that, I still managed a very respectable 1hr 35 for the distance, and 620 place out of 9700+. Most people would be very happy with a time like that, but I know that I could have done much better, which kind of took the pleasure out of it for me. Oh, and somehow I missed the people giving out the race medals, so I don't have one of those to add to my collection this year.

Up to now, I've really enjoyed the Bristol race, but this year it just didn't do it for me, despite the great crowds of enthusiastic supporters all around the course. Given that it's also expensive for me to run - £25 entry, £40 in fuel and £100 in hotel charges, I no longer think it's worth the effort. So, I think that's my last - at least for the time being, and next year I'll give the Nottingham Half Marathon a try as it's only an hour away from home, but has a great course and great support.

One final note is that I noticed that someone from "Sun Microsystems RC" also took part in the Bristol race, and I didn't even know that we had a running club!

Thursday May 18, 2006

A new half marathon PB

Last Sunday saw my second go at the Sheffield 1/2 Marathon. Last year was my first go at it, and I ran a PB (Personal Best) time of 1:30:29. This year I think I am less fit, but I paced myself better and ran another PB of 1:30:04!

Throughout the whole race, I was convinced that I was on a 1:31 pace, so it was a significant surprise to me to see the clock showing just past 1:30 when I was trying to sprint down the finishing straight. The clock showed just 1:30:12 when I crossed the line, but since the race organisers were using chip timing, my time was corrected to 1:30:04. If I'd known how close I was to getting under last year's goal of 1:30, I'm sure I could have found another few seconds in the last two miles, which is when I slowed up.

I'm very pleased with the outcome though. I think I can do better than that when I run the Bristol Half Marathon in September, and with a bit more focussed training, might even be able to take off more than just a few seconds!

My next scheduled race is a 5-miler next Wednesday evening as part of the South Yorkshire Road Race Championships. This is a club-only event, so the competition is much more severe, and instead of being in the top 10%, I'm nearer the bottom 10%, but they're fun events with a great turnout from my club, so I don't really mind where I finish.

Monday Apr 10, 2006

Sheffield Lord Mayor's 10K Race Report

I've suffered from an excess of work, travelling and a bad head-cold over the past 3 weeks, so managed to do no training whatsoever. As a result, I nearly didn't go to Sunday's race.

At the very last minute, however, I decided that if nothing else, I could use it as a training run, so I quickly changed into my running gear and headed out across town to the location.

In my enthusiasm to enter, I'd managed to forget to put a stamp on the envelope for the organisers to send back my number in, so the first task was to locate the organisers and pick up my number (apparently I wasn't alone in this transgression - there were at least 74 others who didn't do it!!). This proved to be a quick and easy job, and I was soon out doing a warmup on the track which is used for the start, finish and a couple of loops in the middle of the race.

Last year's race was on a very cold March morning. This year it was a few degrees warmer, although the periodic snow/sleet showers did their best to keep things cool.

I set off a bit further down the field than I normally would, figuring that I was probably going to run around 2 minutes off my normal pace just due to the lack of training. Often, this leaves you struggling not to trip over the feet of other runners and having to dodge those people who are not as fast but like standing near the front at the start. However, yesterday although there was a little bit of that, the first lap around the track spread the field out a bit, so I didn't have much issue in getting up to speed.

Other than the sleet/snow, the race itself was actually pretty uneventful for me. I did push myself a little more than I intended and came home in 42:05 - 1:30 off my best time, but acceptable given my lack of training. That gave me 91st position out of a field of over 700. Positionally, it compares with 40:47 and 89/732 last year. I'm pretty sure that had I been able to train these past 18 days, I could have come in at under 40 minutes - a lingering goal from last year. I'm not disheartened or disappointed though - there are plenty of people (even within our club) who'd be extremely gratified to be able to run a 42 minute 10K, and I salute them for their achievements too.

This week, I'll be competing in a 5-mile club-only road race on Wednesday evening and then another 10K (plus 2K fun-run with my daughter just before the 10K) on Sunday. I'm not expecting to do anything close to a personal best in either race - the challenge will be just completing 3 races in 8 days!

Hopefully, I'll get back into my proper training routine next week and improve my fitness before my next scheduled race which is the Sheffield Half Marathon in mid May.

Monday Mar 06, 2006

Another 40 miles under the belt

I had a great week last week for running, which included 17+ mile club run on Wednesday night, a 2mile run/walk with my daughter on Sunday and two speed sessions.

I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my legs were rather tired when I got home (a bit late) on Wednesday night, as the most I've ever run before is a little over 16 miles!

This week, I think I'll take it a wee bit easier and aim for 13 miles on Wednesday and _maybe_ a track session on Thursday night with the club plus some treadmill work and 7-10 miles on Sunday.

Tuesday Feb 28, 2006

Another couple of runs with my daughter

We set off Saturday for a distance of around 2.5miles, of which I intended to run some, walk some so that my daughter didn't become to tired. However, events conspired against us, and we ended up walking all but a few hundred metres. Needless to say, we were both rather disappointed :(

However, on Sunday afternoon, we tried again and this time managed about a mile and a half with just one short walk up a fairly steep gradient. This was an excellent effort and my daughter even managed to do a couple of short sprints up the long hill to our house to finish off with. Roll on next weekend!

Indoor track running

Last Friday, at the end of my "feeling knackered week", my new club organised a session at the indoor track at English Institute of Sport - Sheffield.

I went along out of curiosity more than anything else, but was keen to have a run round a track to compare it to road running.

There was a disappointing turn-out from the organisers point of view - only 6 people ran, although a few others turned up to watch or help out. However, it made it fun for those of us who did run as we weren't hanging about waiting for a chance to run.

The indoor track at EIS is a 200m loop (I assume that's standard for indoor tracks because of the size of stadium needed for anything much bigger), but the wierd thing is that it is banked on the bends at the ends - similar to a velodrome, but they tend to be banked slightly on the straights too, which this is not. What this means is that the outer lanes are actually quite steeply sloped around the bends, which is wierd to run on. An additional quirk is that because the straights are flat, there is actually a hill up to the bend and down onto the straight for those running in the outer lanes. I think this makes it more difficult, although I confess to not noticing it when racing - even in lane 6.

In the end, we did one race of each of 200m, 400m and 800m. I managed a respectable (I thought) 2nd, 3rd and 3rd (out of 5 each time), although I must confess that the guys behind me were a little older ;) My times were:

  1. 200m - 31.7s
  2. 400m - 1m 12s
  3. 800m - 2m 44s
Nothing world shattering about them, but at least now I have times for these distances (albeit indoors).

The indoor track environment is certainly radically different to road running - there's no wind and the track is much more cushioned than the road, yet not as soft as grass. The air in the arena is also much drier, making me a little wheezy afterwards. However, I enjoyed it a lot and it has encouraged me make an effort to attend outdoor speedwork sessions at a local track too.

One slight downside to the indoor run is that I had aches in all sorts of wierd places on my legs over the weekend. However, worst was that my hamstrings were very tight (even after stretching) so that put paid to any idea of a decent run on Sunday - which I was kinda thankful about anyway.

If you enjoy running, I'd heartily recommend you try an indoor track if you can - preferably with some fellow runners to test you - it is hard, but also rewarding too.

Oh so tired

Last week, I managed a mere 20 or so miles, after a record 42 miles the week before.

I started the week okay with a pyramind speedwork session at the gym:

2.5min @ 15kph + 30s recovery jog
2min @ 16kph + 1min recovery jog
1.5min @ 17kph + 1.5min recovery jog
1min @ 18kph + 2min recovery jog
1min @ 20kph + 2min recovery jog
Then go back down again (1min@18, 1.5min@17,...).

I actually really enjoyed this, although it was a little tiring. However, come Tuesday night, my tempo run was pretty much anything but that. I really struggled to get my legs going, and came back around a minute off my best pace. I was disappointed by this - not by the time, but by how tired I felt.

Wednesday was club run night, and despite my legs still feeling very tired, I ventured out - stupidly running the 4 miles to the leisure centre we meet up at (although that wasn't too bad). Fortunately there was a good turn-out, and the guys organising it split the runners into a group who wanted to do a fairly fast pace (sub 8min/mile, which I'd normally thrive at) and those who wanted a little more relaxed pace. Being almost completely shot, I opted for the latter - which I think ended up at around 9min/mile pace, and even then I struggled to keep it going for the 7 miles that we ran.

So, I gave myself Thursday and Friday off to recover, and also ended up not doing any significant running over the weekend either (but there was a slightly different reason for that).

I think I'm now fully recovered, but can't work out why my body was so tired last week, unless I'd picked up some sort of virus. I don't attribute it to 42 miles the week before as I was still feeling fine on Monday for the speedwork. Anyway, it's all in the past now and this week has had a good start, although I doubt I will take it much over 35 miles.

Wednesday Feb 22, 2006

42 miles last week

I think that might be a record, although I got close on a week off during the summer.

I had a week off the previous week due to a combination of different factors, not the least of which was a streaming cold. However, after a good rest, I was ready to go, and had a great week of running.

I've decided that my mid-week club run will be the long run of the week. This takes the pressure of the weekend and also means that I'm a bit fresher for the speedwork at the gym on Monday. Two long runs a week just aren't necessary as I'm not training for a full marathon, so just don't need that many miles.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, being a club member entitles me to a £2 discount on race entry fees, so I've made the most of that and entered two races so far. The first is a local 10K, which is run over a route we regularly use on Wednesday night club runs. It's a little hilly, but nothing too severe, and judging by last year's times, I should be the second or third club member to finish, which will be a positive start to membership. The second race I've entered is the Bristol Half Marathon. It's not 'til mid-September, but fills up within a few weeks of applications starting to be taken, so I needed to get in early. More on this race nearer the time.

I have a few more races lined up to apply for, but am waiting a couple of weeks as they aren't until April/May and don't fill up quite so quickly. In fact, if I go ahead with these, I'll have three 10K races over 3 consecutive weekends in April, which will be entertaining!

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