Tuesday, 26 July 2011

An odd week!

Had a bit of an up and down week really since Sunderland 5km last week.   My tender knee and tight ITB has definitely improved...its not quite fully cleared up but I have not missed a run because of it and am managing to keep on top of the tightness in my ITB and the resulting pain in my knee.   The advice from the physio has been spot on and the tendoachilles retraining exercises have really helped the sore achilles...managing the ITB with foam rolling has been helpful and self massage on my knee to cause a "bit of havoc" has managed to reduce the pain to a dull ache.

I managed 52 miles last week (including two races) and this week have put in two good quality sessions so things are really back on track.   The first session was a tempo session of almost 9 miles out and back on my favourite Lazenby course.  After a first mile of 6-11 to get into the "groove" I clocked miles of 5-54, 5-54, 5-55, 5-54, 5-53, 5-53, 5-59 and finished with a 5-56 average!   Mr Consistency strikes again! Runs like this will become a feature of my training in August as I build up the mileage again looking towards the Nottingham Half Marathon on 11th September.   Looking for anothr sub 75 clocking on a challenging course.

A slightly different session tonight was on the cards as I met up with Messrs Hepples and Mussett for a "bit of short stuff!".   After a steady warm up we decided on 16 x 1 minute hard with 1 minute recovery.    I knew from the start this session was going to be a tough one - its the kind of session where the recovery starts to reduce and disappear...more time on each interval is spent with hands on the knees sucking in air and all the time the legs are filling up with lactate.   The other thing about this type of session is that you do not get a reward for running fast...You run eyeballs out for one minute...no extra few seconds recovery for finishing a rep in 57 seconds!   The session just gets harder as it goes along...great when you finish but it just hurts!  

Actually it turned out to be a good session.   First five intervals only one was at an average of under 5 min miling...slow start!   From interval six we seemed to bounce off each other a bit and the pace picked up...maybe getting a bit competitive as well which is one of the advantages of being in a group.   The next eleven intervals were all at an average of under 5 minute miling so we really finished off with a bang!   Session done and dusted and shuffled home to the foam roller!

The feeling of finishing a session like that is great...leaves you on a big high!   Just got to prepare myself for the big low tomorrow morning as I struggle down the stairs and shuffle out for the morning run....In the bigger picture the session will help no end but there are no instant results...you dance with the devil and now and again you get burned...I'm not sure of the relevance of that but what I think I mean is tonight I felt like I was flying...tomorrow I will be well and truly grounded!    Might even hit the pool for a bit of aquajogging!

So far this year I have clocked 1515 miles which equates to 51 miles per week...I think it is probably my most consistent period of running ever and the results seem to be showing...just got to be careful not to dance with the devil too often!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A Flying Start!

Enjoyed the experience of the Sunderland 5km tonight.   Lots of quality athletes on show and with a couple of Northern Veteran legends in Brian Rushworth and Stewy Bell in the field this race was going to be ultra competitive!

Very fast and furious start (reminded me of the start of the Northern Road Relays only loads more people crammed into a small space!).   A first mile of 5-12 didnt do it justice as I probably went off too conservatively and ended up being boxed in!   I didnt really pay any attention to times tonight as I was concentrating on fast running and racing.   Ended up reeling in Stewy Bell only to see him out run me in the last 800m...that guy is super strong!   Looked at my watch at the finish and clocked 16-31.  (Official time 16-32 and 20th place!.  Bell 16-29 and 19th place!)  

Mixed feelings about the race really...happy with the time although with a stronger finish a sub 16-30 was definitely on the cards.  I think the time was lost in the first mile to be honest as the fast downhill start was an opportunity to hit the ground running and bank some time instead I had to use energy to get past people which was difficult at times.

Splits tonight (for the record) were 5-12 for 1 mile, 10-29 for two miles and 15-51 for three miles.

Well done also to training partners Phil Musgrave and Steve Mussett who both had decent races tonight.   Results are here:  http://www.sunderlandharriers.org/results/2011/sundlnd_5k_2011.htm
Thats three races in six days for me...think I will have an easy week now and allow a bit of recovery time.   When did I become Mr Sensible?     Thoughts will now be turning to distance again with a focus on 10km as I am entering Middlesbrough 10km in September and the Great Yorkshire Run in October. http://www.greatrun.org/Events/Event.aspx?id=11

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Hills of Gateshead!

Undulating...hilly....challenging...tough....some of the words I have seen used to describe the course on Sunday.   Actually I didnt think it was too bad but I must admit that hill at 9km was an experience not to be forgotten in a hurry! 

Having struggled with my knee in the lead up I was glad to feel ok and up for the race as I stood on the start line.   I had a yellow number which got me into the elite pen at the front of the field.   It was all a bit hectic in the hour leading up to the race...first the struggle to find a toilet, the persistent rain, checking out the start and then finding somewhere to warm up and get focussed on the task ahead.   I managed to find some quiet space in a building adjoining the stadium...turned out to the the English Institute of Sport....no queues for the toilets, space to get changed and a chance to get out of the rain.

The race itself was a good one for me.  Two groups were established early on...a lead group consisting of some big names - Overall, Hudspith, Swinburn etc and a second group with Louise Damen (2:30 Marathon in London this year) setting a good strong pace.   I decided this was the group to be in and hung on for the first two miles at a decent pace (5.13 and 5.24).  It was clear the course was going to be a tough one - lots of ups and downs that would soon become down and ups on the way back!   These fast miles did whittle the second group down to just three of us with Louise Damen looking strong setting the pace.  I hung on to halfway and at the turn was on my own...Damen increasing the distance in front and the group behind becoming more detached.  

My halfway split of 16-48 and 11th place had been hard work and any thought of a sub 34 was going to be tough.   Maybe the past few days of managing a sore knee, the first 5km of racing and thoughts turning to the Sunderland 5km on Wednesday meant a more controlled second half might not be a bad thing.   I went through 5 miles in 27.22...still on my own.....just the "hill" to get up!   Finished in the stadium in 34.40 for 11th place overall.   Very happy with that....especially considering the tough course.   Well done to Louise Damen for a great sub 34 posting on a testing course.

That result was a Vet 40 pb that puts me almost in the Top 100 V40 rankings on power of 10...101st...just a couple of seconds off the top 100 - there will be other races on less challenging courses to really have a go at a time before the end of the year!   Still happy to finish 2nd Vet 40 overall behind the legendary Ian Hudspith.

Woke up this morning (Monday) to a tender knee again....talk about coming back down to earth!   I decided to get a physio appointment to get it checked out....after an assessment and an hour of deep massage on my insertion point, massage on my ITB and my calf, a bit of ultrasound, lazer treatment on my achilles and (nearly forgot!) acupuncture on my ITB - ouch!.   The diagnosis - probably ITB, left glute not helping my hamstring enough, some friction on my knee and some irritation over my hip - thankfully all treatable and nothing major so I should be ok to run another race!   All being well with a rest day tomorrow (that is except for a few prescribed exercises, stretches and a bit of foam rolling I should be good to go on Wednesday for the Sunderland 5km. 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Day Before!

Today I'm still nursing a bit of a niggle!   Yesterdays day off has improved my tender knee no end but it is still there...niggling away.   I know I will be ok to run it's just a case of getting to the start line in the best possible shape.   The diagnosis from "Doctor" Rose the medical man is that it might be linked to tight calves...or a hamstring problem...remedy...rest and ice should do the trick and plenty of stretching....Do you Stretch?  Not as often as I should! 

I tried a steady jog this morning and managed 5 miles at a fairly leisurely 6-40 ish pace without too much of a problem with my knee except for a bit of low level uncomfortableness (not sure if there is such a word!).  On a pain threshold level of 1 to 10 I would give it a 5...it was there being annoying!   I then hit the pool for a quick swim (is this the Triathlon comeback or just a runner with a niggle?  Answers on a postcard please!).   Actually it was far too busy for a swim so I decided on Aquajogging...if it is good enough for Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah it is good enough for me.  

The good thing about aqua jogging is that you dont need much space or equipment!  I dont use a belt as I find that I float relatively well.  This is an article about aquajogging and its benefits! 


25 minutes of aqua jogging has to be the most mind numbingly boring thing to do but it made me feel much better....now for some of that Ice and Rest that the "doctor" ordered!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tees Forest 5km at Cowpen Bewley

Despite a slight mishap at the start which sent the leaders off course (I may have been the culprit missing the first turn!) it was an enjoyable night in Cowpen Bewley for the Tees Trail 5km.   The outcome of the mishap was that I found myslelf going from leader to something like 15th and had to put in a 5-25 first mile to recover my position.   I then enjoyed a good tussle with Gary Grounds before he gained an advantage going into the last lap.  

Finished in 2nd place in the end about 25 seconds behind Gary who looked as strong as ever.  That is three 2nd place finishes for me so hopefully I have done enough to win the Vet 40 section!   Averaged 5-44 pace overall for the race so it was a good workout in the end.   Now easy for a few days before Sunday.   Hopefully I wont find myself in the position of leading the field off track again!   The moral of the story is always listen to the Race Directors instructions on the start line!

Tonight post race (compression socks on and using a bit of ice on the knee) I was flicking through Athletics Weekly and was reading about the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Sacramento.  Curiosity took me to the results to se what the World M40 guys were doing.  The mens V40 5000m was won in a very creditable 15.22.30 by an Argentinian Athlete called Castro...good work.   What really caught my imagination though was the M95 - 99 category.   It seems this guy is the one to look out for...Antiono Fonseca
Antonio Fonseca - Brazilian Legend!

Triple World Champion in the 100m (26.27 secs) the Shot Putt (7.01m) and the Discus (14.97m).....I bet he is a total hit on the beach with the ladies as well!  Nice Work Antonio!   I bet he cant wait to hit the 100 to move up another category to bag some more medals!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Troublesome knee and Stupid Dog Owners!

Yesterday I did an impromptu 8 x 400m on grass.  Times were ok with most around 73/74 seconds which i thought was reasonable on grass.  One was a bit quicker - 71 seconds - not sure why but I am not complaining.  Two were slower - around 78 seconds.  The reason - dogs!  or more accurately dog owners!   One lady with some sort of fluffy white terrier thing could see me coming towards her at speed for at least 200m along the path that I was on.  Why then did she leave it until the very last second to control her dog when it tried to savage my ankle!   Luckily I was quicker than the pesky thing and it didnt connect - Grrrrrr!  the second dog incident on the same session was a pack of three bigger dogs - think they were a sort of doberman type dog...according to the owner they are only playing...Thanks for that missus - I am only playing at getting quicker...I'm glad I also entertained your dogs..why not get them a ball!   Apart from those two incidents the session was decent.

I worked out after the session that was the fifth hard session (5km race, 400 session, 800 session, tempo run and a 400m session) in eight days.     A few easy days are definitely called for I thought after the session.   As if by way of a reminder I woke up this morning with a slightly inflamed knee.  

The reasons could be:

1.  Lots of speed sessions and hard workouts = solution to have an easy few days and refresh myself.
2.  An early sign of ITBS = solution to have a few easy days and use the foam roller/ice
3.  My body telling me I have done enough quality and now time to taper/rest up for next weeks races.
4.  Did I twist awkwardly on a 400m interval to avoid a dog....Grrrrrrr
5.  Am I just getting old!  probably !

I have now switched into active rest mode - which basically means jogging/easy running only, ice and anti inflammatories, stretching little and often (the work photocopier comes in nice and handy for stretching).

Tapering is an art that is very difficult to get right.  The intention for the next few days is not to run anything hard.  Will continue to run steadily as long as the knee is not any worse.  On Thursday I will either do a short set of intervals possibly 600s or 800s or the final Tees Forest 5km race.   Whichever option I choose it will be a case of a final sharpener rather than an all out effort.

On a final note I met John Mayock on Sunday while marshalling on the great north walk.
John has represented Great Britain in three Olympics 1996, 2000 and 2004 and has been a top athlete for many years.   John was walking with his family as part of the event and Tom, my 6 year old decided to challenge Johns's son (of a similar age) to a quick sprint across the Moor.   Tom used his speed to win the race (almost coming a cropper with his dip finish into a gate!).   Needless to say I was tempted to challenge John to a quick race up Roseberry but decided it was best not...I will let John enjoy his well earned retirement.   He was a class athlete in his day with a 13.19 pb for 5000m!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Return of the Virtual Partner..

Another Saturday tempo - a chance for my virtual garmin partner to gain his revenge!   After a four mile warm up where I managed to maintain a decent pace of 6-30 miling I repeated the session of two weeks ago with a four mile tempo back from Lazenby to Marske.

I set the Garmin a target pace of 5-56 per mile and set off with the intention of smashing it to the ground!   Miles of 5-42, 5-35, 5-33 and 5-33.   22-26 for the four mile course it was a full 20 seconds quicker than the same run two weeks ago - more sign of progress!   With this being my third hard session of the week at the end of a 53 mile week I hope I will reap the benefits of a few easier days this week as I sharpen up for the Great North 10k next week.

Now it's time to get suited and booted and off to racing of a different kind!   York races here I come :)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Speedy Sessions

Its been a while since I can say I have done three top quality sessions in six days - happy with all the sessions and definite progress being made which all bodes well for the next few races starting with the Great North 10Km and followed up with the Silksworth 5km.   After my 16.39 track 5km on Sunday I feel like I can run low 34 in the 10km (or even sub 34) and 16.30 or under for the 5km.  To be honest the races can't come soon enough and I hope that with a few more sharpening sessions I will be ready and raring to go in 10 days time.

I followed up the 5km with a session of 400's on the Coast Road.   The session was hard work (I dont think 400s are meant to be easy though!) and a little bit wayward as there was the usual strong breeze along the front but I completed the intended set of 12 with 90 seconds recovery between.   For the record the intervals were:  77, 75, 73,75, 71, 74, 73, 74, 72, 75, 75 and 73. 

Today I opted for 800's on the usual saltburn circuit.  Its been a few weeks since I last did them and I was in good company tonight - its always easier to do these with a partner.   Phil M who has been matching me on these 800s over the winter had a great session - he must have been working hard as he claimed he could "taste his lungs!"   - a new one on me but I was impressed that he was willing to push himself to what seemed to be an extreme state of  exertion - top man - I like to train with people who push themselves like that!

Without a doubt this was my best ever 800 session on this course....After a decent opening of a 2-36 I clocked 2-32, 2-30, 2-29, 2-30 and a final 2-29.    

Good luck to all those running in the Kilburn Feast Race this weekend...one of my favourite races in a real traditional village atmosphere.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Tracking Progress

Today was hot!   The thought of doing a 5000m race in the heat of the day filled me with fear as I drove to York.   With the air conditioning in the car going all the way I tried to convince myself that by 4pm the heat of the mid-day sun would be less - who am I kidding!   We stopped at Monks Cross for a bit of pre-race shopping and then headed off to the stadium...25 Degrees no less was the temperature but it somehow felt warmer.

No need for a long warm up today given the heat more like a cool down needed before the start!  My aim was a sub 16-45 which seems to be the "power of 10" standard for the 5000m.   After the last few weeks I was confident I could do this but the heat would be the deciding factor.

Make mine medium rare!
As we set off and settled into the early pace I found myslelf in 2nd place behind the eventual winner from Morpeth (I think Ian Harding of Morpeth but await the official results!).   What followed was an interesting race with Ben Mukherjee of Scarborough who had beaten me at Clairville in the last meeting.  In our last meeting he went off fast but came back to me but held on.  With approximately 400m complete he went past me and soon opened up a lead to put me in third place.  I thought I would try and hang onto the back of him for a while and see if he faded.   A 5-07 first mile could put us both into trouble but I held on as I felt him slow enough to allow me onto his heels.   I made the decision to go past him and test him out and I soon opened up a clear lead to put myself into 2nd place.   The heat was almost unbearable and I was glad to get some water from the NMH team manager (appreciated!).   Slightly slower miles :( then inevitably due to the heat allowed me to make a conscious decision to hold on for 2nd and hope that I could at least clock a sub 17 minute for my efforts.   A big push over the last mile and I was home and dry in about 16-39.   Happy with that!

This represents a personal best (as a V40) and a 12 second improvement since the last fixture in probably more difficult conditions than the cold, wind and rain of Clairville!

The highlight of the afternoon was the flying foursome of Best, Wiles, Piggford and Stevenson smash the opposition in the 4 x 400m....the heat was good for the short stuff but I would have preferred a cooler day today!    This must have been the inspiration for my 6 year old to join his Dad for a final lap of the track as the officials packed away...I'll have to watch him in the future lulling me into a false sense of security and then sprinting the home straight to claim victory!