Training: Relay Race Speed Session

Another week, another speed session! These sessions are what you need though if you’re trying to improve your times at  shorter distances in particular. 5k, 10k and even 10 mile times can be dramatically reduced by introducing weekly speedwork.

Sometimes, doing sessions week in week out you begin to get a little… dare I say it, bored! So it was great to do something different last night that incorporated faster running, but wasn’t just outright circuits.

After 2.5k warm up we stopped in a small, badly lit cul-de-sac called Cauldron Crescent. This had a road that went up hill for 100m and then followed round to the right in an oval shape back to the starting point. We split in to three teams of two and raced around the loop which was approximately 400 metres in total. With a steep hill right at the beginning my legs were DEAD by by the end of the second lap! Always a good sign that you’re working hard… we did four laps here in total.

A short recovery jog later and we were at the next relay start point. This time split in to two groups of three as it was a longer loop of 600 metres and larger teams would allow us a longer recovery time between each loop. We ran several of these before heading off for a 2k warm down.


Distance: 9.3km
Time: 47:26
Max heart rate: 208bpm
Average pace: 5:16/km

Next Training

A very easy 5k this evening to wind down before the Bournemouth Marathon Festival 10k this Saturday.

Race Review: Bournemouth Autumn Open (Track & Field)

This seems to have become my month of trying new things! Last week it was my first triathlon and this week I partook in a little track and field. Athletics seems to generally be split between two types of event; invitational and open. Invitational is as it sounds, whereas for an open event, ANYONE can turn up! This had to be entered into prior to the day and each each you enter costs just £3. Seeing the entry form and the list of events I was swayed to enter three; the 200 metres, the 400 metres and the long jump. Seemed like a good idea a the time…

Bournemouth Kings Park Athletics Track

Bournemouth Kings Park Athletics Track

Track & Field

The first event on my list was the 200m which began at 11:10, I was then set to do the long jump at 12:45 and the 400m at 1:45.

200 Metres

Me mid-200m!

So arriving at the track for 10:30 I registered, stuck my numbers on the front and back of my vest and went for a warm up. Rather than the light jog I’d usually do to prepare for a 10 mile run, I did the warm up properly as a) my body is not used to sprinting and b) I had a whole day’s events to get through and didn’t want any pulls, sprains or other injuries. So I jogged for 10 minutes, before doing a series of dynamic stretches (heel flick, knee raises, high jumps etc) for another 10 minutes, followed by 30 metres fast, 50 metres fast and 30 metres fast. Feeling warmed up and ready I jogged around to the start area.

The vets were called first and before long, off they zoomed. I then had a panic about blocks! Did I have to use the blocks, should I have bought my own, would I be loads slower without them. We were called up to race and a number of the other competitors suddenly appear with bags carrying their own, customised running blocks! They deftly pinned them to the track in their lanes whilst I walked over to the trolley I’d discovered holding a load, saw how complicated they looked and opted to go without. To my relief I saw the guy on the inside lane to me was going ‘block-free’.

ON YOUR MARKS… we all walked forwards to our lines. GET SET… we crouched into the ready position. Click. Yes, that’s click not bang! We had three false starts as the gun wasn’t firing! I thought I was going to die of an adrenaline overdose!

Finally the gun went off. Head down for the first twenty metres looking at the ground and powering my legs as hard as I could, gradually raising my body to the upright position. Fully upright, I hit my stride and headed for the finish line, finishing in 23.8 seconds – not bad for my first sprint in about 15 years since school! Here’s the proof results.

Long Jump

This was the one where I felt like a rank amateur. The four other lads in the long jump had special track spikes for this event and they used tape measures to precisely mark the start point of their run up. Before each one started they did the strange pose that long jumpers do before doing that slow-getting-faster run up that you see them do on TV.

Haha look at that face – CHEESE!

We had four attempts, with me being variously way over the board, way short of board or in jump three, doing a quite big jump before toppling backwards (I got sniggers from the judges on that one).

Anyway, my best jump was 5:11, about 20cm behind the others but at least I now have an official long jump distance to my name!

Long jump results here

400 Metres

Ok I performed so dismally in the 400 I feel I need to give it some context! First off, the long jump is surprisingly tiring. Four lots of 40 metre sprints, each with a big jump at the end – after the 200m all out only an hour before my legs were feeling pretty empty by the long jump’s close. Looking at my watch I saw I had 20 minutes until my heat of the 400 so I ran off for a jog. I knew I needed to raise my body temperature and get my heart rate up ready for the 400 so this seemed like a good idea! At this point my legs were really complaining about having to do more work but I gently upped the pace, so after ten minutes I still felt heavy legged but aerobically ready to run. With ten minutes to go I figured I’d go and sit down for a few minutes to get my breath back after the warm up and register. Jogging round the the track and official clocked my number and shouted at me “You! 487! Get in lane 8, you’re on now!” Due to the small amount of competitors for the 400m, they decided to bring it forward and put everyone together

So all this explains why, at 1:40 I found myself legs hurting, out of breath lining up for the 400m. ON YOUR MARKS, SET….. GO!

I knew as soon as I kicked off from the start line that it wasn’t going to be good. I managed to keep up with most of them for 200m but being in the outside lane, on the final curve I dropped behind  and the usual ‘kick’ that I have in my legs for a sprint had completely deserted me. By the time I crossed the finish line I was pretty much walking.

Lesson learned – don’t enter loads of track and field events right next to each other when you’re a 33 year old doing said events for the first time!!

Time for the 400m – 56 seconds. Next time, I’m just going to do 400m and I’m SURE I could get it down to 53-54 seconds… we’ll see!

What a fun day though! I’d recommend anyone give it a go. Next time I’m just signing up for one event though : )


2oom in 23.8
40m in 56.4
Long jump in 5m 11cm

Full results on Power of 10 here

Now back to my long distance training, what with all these triathlons and track meets I’ve been neglecting my longer runs – so back to it!

Bournemouth Kings Park Athletics Track1

Running Training: Try Something New – Athletics Track Competition as a Speed Session

Kings Park Athletic Stadium

Kings Park Athletic Stadium

Of all the advice I’ve digested over the past couple of years around running training – varying what you do has to be one of the consistent suggestions. We’re only human and if you run the same routes and the same distances week in, week out you’re going to get bored. With my short attention span this happens sooner rather than later, particularly through the long, dark winter nights. This is why I always try and mix thing up with track sessions, club nights, long (boring) runs and cross training. I’d rather try something different than let my running career fade into repetition induced decline. This was part of the reason why I did my first triathlon last weekend. It’s also why I’m competing in an athletics open meet this Sunday – what better way of doing a speed session than entering a track competition?!

There will nearly always be an open track competition somewhere near you between the months of March-September. Check Power of 10 to see what events there were the previous year, then apply!

King Park Athletic Track

King Park Athletic Track

Doing the Triathlon scared the sh*t out of me, giving me a near enough sleepless night before. This track meet is doing the same – but I love it! It’s exciting and something I’ve never done before. My heart races with adrenaline when I think about slotting my feet into the starting blocks, waiting for the gun, as it did when thinking about jumping in to the swimming pool for the Triathlon.

So Sunday is looking like this (full timetable here):

11:10 – 200 metres

12:45 – Long jump

13:40 – 400 metres

I have absolutely no expectations of times or distances for any of the events and fully expect to by lapped by the youngsters (yes, lapped in the 200 metres, that’s how slow I’ll be). I don’t even own a pair of running spikes! I’d be happy with the following outcomes:

1) To not come last in the 200 and 400 metre races.

2) To make a jump that isn’t a foul! Bloody tricky getting your long jump run up right and I haven’t done it since school!

If you HAD to pin me down to a time/distance then I’d be over the moon with:

200 – 26 secs

Long jump – 6 metres

400 – 55 secs (I ran 56 seconds midway through a 12x 400 metre repeats training session a couple of months back).

All of this of course is just different types of training for my regular longer distance club running : )


Running Training: Speed Session

My favourite kind of running training – the Speed Session! Well, usually it is but this one was flippin hard work! Led by our coach Ross at Purbeck Runners, we headed off in to the quickly diminishing light of a September evening for a easy paced warm up for two kilometres. We stopped at the edge of an open stretch of grass called Day’s Park and out of his bag, Ross produced cones and batons…

Day’s Park, Swanage

The Speed Session

Shuttle Drills

Eight cone shuttle drill. Eight cones laid out in a line, close to far, with another set running parallel three metres away. Run to first cone, touch the ground, run back. Run to second cone, touch the ground, run back… etc etc. By the eighth and furthest away cone it got quite tiring and we repeated this three times.


The park is 0.5 km in circumference and we had to run this first at 80%, then at 10k pace and finally 5k or 100% pace. That’s 3x 500m with a one minute rest between each – by now my lungs were beginning to beg for a bit more air.


Split into groups and did repeats of 300 metre relays (with batons and everything!), I somehow drew the short straw and ended up having to run twice on the final race – now my lungs were really on fire!

Warm Down

Always important after a hard speed session, I knew I must have worked hard as my legs were shaking from effort and even the 1k warm down run was hard work!

I’ve a feeling I’ve left something out as there was a point where I stopped my watch and then forgot to start it again… but you get the gist!

Circuit route (outer) and relays (middle) at Day’s Park, Swanage


Distance: 5.5k (approx)
Time: 30 minutes whole sessions inc rest periods.
Max heart rate: 195bpm

Next Training

Going to practice ‘brick’ training tonight for triathlon, that is, riding my bike and jumping straight off into a run to try and get used to the wobbly legs you get after bike riding! Not sure it’ll make much difference three days before but good practice!


Running Training: 1k Intervals Session

I’m going to try and temper my fury at my TomTom GPS watch. It froze midway through this session, started working again only to now refuse to upload the session to the app. Technology eh! So I will have to recount the session from memory…

I’ve really been feeling the benefit of speed sessions recently, I love how you can almost feel yourself getting fitter as you do them! Whenever I can, I go to Poole AC’s track session however I can’t make that this week so had to do a self imposed speed session using my watch as a guide.

Intervals – 1k Fast, 500m Slow

The TomTom has a ‘training’ section that includes intervals – you just set a time or distance for the warm up, each set, rest period, number of set repeats and cool down. This was where I made a small error that resulted in me running 11k instead of 8k! I set the warm up for 2km, following this with 5 sets of 1k repeats at 3:30 m/km pace. I then set the rest periods between each at what I thought was 50 seconds, but what turned out to be 500 metres. So instead of a 50 second stop-and-rest between each 1k sprint, I ran at a slow pace for 500 metres between each. I then finished the session with a 1.5km jog back home/cool down and some static stretches.


Distance: 11k
Time: 55 mins
Average pace: 4:30 m/km

Next Training

After a long run on Sunday and a speed session last night, my legs are noticeably tired so I’m still deciding what to do. I need to use some different muscle groups, so may do some really short sprints OR go swimming… Will see how the evening pans out!

Running Training: Speed Session on the Track (7x800m)

My favourite type of running training – speed work on the track!

This is held at Ashdown Leisure Centre and this week, there were a lot of us so we split into two ability based groups. We started with a warm up of 3x400m, increasing the pace slowly with each lap and I followed this with some Achilles stretches and ankle rolls.

And we were off! Seven sets of 800m sounds fairly daunting at the start, so everyone took it slowly on the first set. We began with a 2 minute rest between sets, knocking off ten seconds each time so at the end of the sixth 800, we had 60 seconds to recover. Ouch!

It’s all here in detail

In summary:
Total distance (inc warm up/down): 8.3k
Time: 30:06
Av HR: 159bpm
Max HR: 209

You can see how today’s heart rate zones in a speed session (below), differ to the easier run I did yesterday (see here).


Next Training
3.5 mile race on Fri, followed by 5k off-road race on Saturday.