Race: Southbourne Fast and Flat 10k

The Southbourne Fast and Flat is a fast, out and back course which is usually primed for PBs. Starting at St. Katherine’s CE school, the route makes it’s way through surrounding streets before hitting the promenade. The only problem in this race however was the wind! Running out for the first 5k felt amazing as the wind was behind us. Thinking I’d better take advantage of it, I upped my pace to 3:35m kms however turning around into the wind, I realised I should have saved my energy for that part! Shoulders hunched and head bent in an effort to become more aerodynamic, I shuffled to the finish line in 40:55 – a very disappointing time but still a minute and a half quicker than last year at the same race.

Next Training
I’m away with work in Hamburg for two days now (writing this on the plane 3000 feet up!) so going to try and run with a colleague while we’re there!

Training: Upping The Mileage, Keeping The Speed

I always try to maintain a balance between long runs and short runs, easy and hard pace, flat and hilly, for both endurance and speed.

Wednesday was club night and this was a gently paced but hilly 9k. The mist on top of the hills was so bad, at one point I could barely see 20 metres ahead of me! Fortunately it was in the National Park that I grew up in, so I know my way around pretty well… This easyish but longer run followed a pretty high tempo speed session the previous evening so worked well to keep the mileage up and so allow my legs to recover.

On Thursday my wife and I ran in shifts! Her club nights begin at 7:15pm and I get in from work at just after 6pm, giving me 30 minutes to go for a run! As I take 10 minutes to warm up and stretch this left me with around 20 minutes left to run, so I decided to do a fast but hilly 5K. This I did in 21 minutes – a short but intense workout. I then took Friday and Saturday off running due to no time and as I have a race on Sunday a 10k entitled the ‘Southbourne Fast and Flat’. The weather is meant to be appalling so whether it’s fast or not, we shall see!

Next Training
10k fast race tomorrow, recovery 8-10k on Monday.

Training: A Different Kind of Speed Session

Heart Speed Sessions

I love a good speed session – I find them so much more enjoyable than long, slow, drawn out runs mainly due to my very short attention span. The chopping and changing of speeds and the short yet intense bursts of speed also favour my naturally sprinty, fast twitch leg muscles. I often attend a local track session with Poole A.C. which is excellent but difficult to attend as my wife’s club night is on the same night (my club night’s a Wednesday night). So yesterday evening with the light fading and a chill setting in, I slipped out of the house for my own speed session.

Track or road , speed sessions are important

Solo vs Group?

First things first… a solo speed session will never, ever be as intense as a group one. I find it impossible to push myself to the same limits when I’m alone, compared to when I have people to race against, so my preference would always be for a group speed session.

The Session

I decided to take a different approach to a standard speed session with the same aim – to run at faster than 10k pace for a minimum of 40 minutes, including rests between intervals. To begin with I ran a hilly 5k in 20:30, this ended on a very steep hill! I then did a set of 10 x 200m repeats at 90% effort, with between 60-90 secs recovery between each. I then finished with a 1km slow warm down – a total distance of 8k in 36 minutes

I would say that this combination of 5k, plus repeats worked my legs for the first 5k (I could feel the lactic acid claiming my leg muscles) and busted my lungs in the 2k’s worth of repeats. I rarely feel my legs tire in a race, it’s nearly always my lungs that are screaming for air so this work on my aerobic/cardio fitness is definitely required!

Next Training:

Club night tonight with Purbeck Runners – need it to be 6 or 7 miles to keep my weekly mileage up to 30 miles although it may be a hills session. You never know!

Training: An Evening 10 Miler

It rained and rained all day on Sunday as I put off my long run with each passing hour of precipitation. “I’ll go when my breakfast has gone down… I’ll go after lunch… I go when it stops raining… I’ll go – Ah the rain’s stopped.” Even then I was thinking to myself, “I’ll just do a short 5k today and my long one tomorrow.”

The Run

So I shot out into the evening sun on what I initially intended on being a quick out-and-back 5k. When I reached the turning point at 2.5k, I felt good so carried on to 5k. I still felt good so turned down a road I’d never run down to add on a bit of mileage. This took me on a very hilly loop back round to my village. I can’t stress the words VERY HILLY enough. There were a lot of hills. Bearing in mind I’d started out at six minute miles planning on a short jog, this was a good workout. You know it’s been a good training run when you can’t get your legs to move any faster when home is in sight! 10 miles in 75 minutes – bearing in mind the hills I was quite happy with this (my 10 mile PB is 66 mins).

Upping The Mileage

The training is on now for June 1st’s 10k. This was a race that I did two years ago in 50 minutes in 30 degrees c heat – fingers crossed for cooler weather this time! With the lighter evenings it’s now easier to up my mileage to 35ish miles per week. 10 miles done on Sunday, 7 tonight incorporating a speed session, 6 on Wed, 6 on Thurs and i’ll try and fit in a quick morning 3 miles on Friday. On Sunday there is the Southbourne Fast and Flat 10k race. sometimes I think a 10k in race conditions does a lot more for your fitness than a gentle jog for twice the distance…

Next Training

Tonight, 6 miles + 20 x 200m repeats.

A Naked Parkrun!

Drink? Check. Sunglasses? Check. It was only on the start line for Saturday’s Parkrun that I realised I’d forgotten my Garmin! I actually felt at a loss without it, even though when I DO have it I only look at it once I’ve finished.

So round the two laps of the lake I went, having to guess at my pace using the position of other runners that I knew were roughly the same as me. Well I did the 5k in 19:18 which I didn’t mind, having not run much in the last few weeks.

Next Training
Easy long run of around 10 miles. Aiming to run 30-35 miles this week, including a speed session….

Back To It: A 10k in the Sun

One thing I’ve learned this week is how, when you’re running regularly you take it for granted how used to running your body is. After not training for 10 days, I went out with Purbeck Runners on Wed evening which involved a bit of a hill climb and 10k of running – crickey my legs hurt the next day!

So it was with still achy legs that I set out on Friday morning in to the sunshine for what I intended to be an 8k run. The weather and views were so nice though, I wound up running 10k again! Took some pics as it was so picturesque:

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Next Training
Parkrun 5k today (Saturday). Not going for any PBs due to lack of fitness, more as a training run.

Back to it With a 10k Trail Run

Back To Running

So from mid February until the end of March I used every piece of floundering will power I have to adhere to my five-days-a-week training motto. Through rain, wind, freezing cold temperatures and under dark starlit skies I ran through all in a push towards my championship 10k race on March 3oth. I did ok in the race but ignored the fact that I was feeling under the weather…

That was two and a half weeks ago now and I believe I’ve now had two separate colds since then, one after the other! This second one is still hanging around like an uninvited guest, but last night was club night with Purbeck Runners so after getting in from work I forced myself into my running gear and jumped into the car, before my mind had time to make up excuses why not to run!

A Lovely Evening Run

Was it worth it? Too right! Swanage is a town nestled in a valley, with rolling hills to the north and south and the sea and beach to the south-east. At 7:15pm our group set off, the sky a dying blue and the low sun casting long shadows, towards a particularly large hill to the north called Nine Barrow Down. A 2km jog took us to the foot of the hill where we began a steep climb up a rocky path to the top. Rounding the corner at the top, the sun blazed in to view and even the most dedicated, focused runner would have joined us to take in the view across the valley.

The View From Nine Barrow Down

The View From Nine Barrow Down

The remainder of the run took us along the hilltop for about 2km before the lovely long downhill, through farmyards and winding country lanes back to our start and finish point. Possibly a tougher workout than those hoping for a gentle, post-London Marathon recovery run but just what the doctor ordered for me. Feel much better this morning and ready for another easy 10k tonight as I ease back to running five times/30 miles a week.

Entering Race Season

May-Sep is race season in these parts – my favourite time of the year and why I need to get back to the increased training load – a pleasure on bright summer evenings. Good riddance winter!

Next Training

Gentle 10k this evening.

@LondonMarathon 2014 – A Spectator’s Tale

The London Marathon

The London Marathon has been running since the year I was born in 1981. Each year it’s something that I flick the TV on to watch, leaving it on in the background as the race progresses from start to finish.

This year, I had the privilege of watching the race in London as my wife was running for charity. I say privilege as this is what it is – the chance to see 40,000 people putting their all in a single run, having trained for months previously, raising money for worthwhile causes and achieving their own personal goals.

Getting There

We left early on the Saturday, taking a coach up to London arranged by local running club, Poole Runners. An excellently organised affair; the coach dropped us off at our hotel (which was directly on the marathon route), took the runners to the start line on the Sunday morning and picked us up from the finish at the end.

So after a nice catch up with family at Jamie Oliver’s Piccadilly restaurant we took the underground back to our hotel, ready for the activities of the following day.

Marathon Day

Fletcher ready to cheer on mummy!

My wife (Jem) said goodbye at 7am, creeping out and down to the waiting coach in the early morning chill. My son and I on the other hand had a leisurely breakfast and watched the wheelchair and women’s races begin on TV, before heading downstairs and out into the marathon atmosphere. Stepping out of the doors we were hit with a wall of sound, from the Caribbean band playing outside the hotel, the thumping party music blaring from speakers around the corner and an endless line of supporters leaning over barriers to waiting for the first athletes to approach – all bathed in sunlight and blue skies.

Our spot really was great, allowing us to see the race pass us one way at 14 miles and coming back on the other side of the road at 21 miles.

My son (5 years old) was asking where Mo Farah was every 2 minutes and so we were both jumping excitedly when the Olympic and World double champion approached and sped past. And I mean sped. The guy ran past us faster than I would do 400 metres. He did the first 5km of the race in under 15 minutes and the first 10k in under 30m. Incredible!

An Amazing Achievement

The London Marathon website lets you track any athlete’s progress at every 5km, so it was to my phone that my eye’s kept glancing nervously to, to see how Jem was getting on. We were standing at about 22k so I watched her move from checkpoint to checkpoint until there she was, right in front of us waving away. When Jem passed us at 21 miles, she was STILL smiling and gave a little wave. Apparently it got tough just after that, but she finished in 3 hours 51 minutes. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING

When Mo came running back past us at 21 miles and I was a little surprised to see someone who does our local Parkrun follow swiftly behind – 8 minutes behind Mo! Steve Way was then the first ‘amateur’ to finish – amazing!

Ice-creams followed before finding our way to the coach for the trip home.

Entries open for the London Marathon 2015 on April 22nd and I may just enter….

In pictures:

Mo Farah running – look at that stride length!

Jem giving a wave and a smile!


London Marathon 2014 medal!


Weekend’s Running

A mixed bag of running this weekend – a tale of two halves if you will…

Saturday morning brought with it the early morning amassing of 627 people for Parkrun in Poole. This was a record turn out – and it felt like it! I usually love Parkrun and still enjoyed it this week but it just felt a little too massive – so many people in a small space! It was a week for fast runs too as I came in at 18:48 and was still 47th, this time would usually get me inside the top 20… Even the winner did a PB of 15:08. 15:08! Can you imagine! I may try one of the other local Parkruns soon as they are generally a little quieter.

Note to self: Buy some longer shorts and smile when I see a camera. This must have been the final lap ; )

Poole Parkrun

Poole Parkrun 5th April 2014 – Photo: Rob Steele

Then on the Sunday and The Long Run. It was my wife’s last weekend before doing the London Marathon next Sunday so she went out for a relatively short 10 mile run at 8:30am. When she returned I headed out into the rain, making the mistake of wearing my running jacket, a big mistake as I was boiling hot within 10 minutes! The worst thing however was my ankle, which began to twinge slightly 10 minutes in and by the time i’d run 4k was hurting so much I was limp-running – never a good thing. So frustratingly I had to limp-run back home and instead of my planned 90 minute run, I’d run for 20 minutes – not good!  I’m hoping it was a one-off thing and will try making up the mileage by doing 8-9 miles tonight but I don’t want to risk making my ankle worse.

Nike LunarGlide +5

My Nike LunarGlide+5 trainers

I have a theory that it’s because the foam in my Nike Lunarglides has stiffened. I used to have a dodgy ankle but found that Lunarglides negated whatever it was that was causing my pain so they have been my shoe of choice for the last couple of years. However, I’ve read that the foam can stiffen up if they’re dried too quickly after a wet run and goes after around six months of running anyway. I bought my latest pair in January 2014 but the weather has been so wet, that in 90% of my running they got soaked and were then dried under the radiator, damaging the foam slightly each time. Plus I’ve run around 400km in them! That’s the theory anyway!