Saturday, 25 February 2012

Going in the right direction.

Tomorrow (Sunday) represents 10 weeks to go until the Sunderland Marathon.  Good then that I seem to have put all injury niggles from my ankle injury behind me and have put in a very solid and satisfying 75 mile week.   The long runs continue to be my focus and have managed a solid 21 miler last Sunday, a midweek 13 and a long one today of 20 miles.  I opted for my long run today purely for ease of getting it out of the way and will go easy tomorrow as a result.   My aim was a 20 mile with a focus on a slightly quicker pace than previous long runs with the obligatory negative split thrown in.
Managed the 20 with an average pace of 6.29 per mile and a negative split with the first 10 in 65.19 and the second 10 in 64-21.  

I tried out my new hydration pack/bum bag device today with mixed results....great to have energy/water available and went through two small bottles of liquid - much easier to use this than previous weeks where I have had a re-used orange juice pouch (Capri Sun to be precise but other varieties are of course available).   It also felt relatively comfortable and didn't annoy me half as much as I expected it to.  

On the downside I opted for music on the run which I dont often resort to....Set up my ipod with a variety of tunes on a playlist.  Unfortunately I must have repeated various tunes a number of times with the Bruno Mars song "Talking to the Moon" appearing at least five times on the playlist throughout the run....I did however make the same mistake with a classic Bob Dylan number called "Shelter from the Storm" from a version made for the charity album "Japan".    Listening to this song a number of times made me wonder what the guy was on when he wrote this....definitely more than Lucozade Sport I bet!

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

Imagine how much that makes you wonder about life 19 miles into a long run! 

Think I will stick to my own company on my long runs in future.

Seems like long runs are going to remain a feature of my running this year as I have entered an October Marathon in the picturesque city of Chester.    As a resident of Chester for a number of years I know the route pretty well and know it is always a great place to go for a weekend.  The Marathon has established itself as a great race and it expected to get in the region of 5000 entries.  

Entries are still open and can be accessed at...

It also has the added bonus of crossing the Welsh Border - Croeso i Cymru as they say!

Happy running all !

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A quality week

This week has been a quality week - last blog post I was trying to kick start some quality with a fast session wearing my racing shoes.  Whilst that session may not have been particularly quick it certainly set me up for a decent training week of 76 miles with plenty of quality runs included an 8.5 mile run @ about 6-20 pace on Monday. 9 miles @ marathon pace on Tuesday, 14 miles steady on Wednesday, Easy recovery run on Thursday followed by a 9 miler at marathon pace on Friday.

Saturday was kept clear as we were in Birmingham for the Aviva Grand Prix but as it turned out I enjoyed a steady 6 miler around Solihull on the morning of the event followed by some strides to get the fast twitch fibers re-invigorated.  

Today's planned long run of 21 miles would be the longest run for some time (I am talking at least four years here!) so I was going into unknown territory but having seen progress on my long runs in the last few weeks I was confident the distance would not be beyond me.

As it was it turrned out very nicely with 21 miles completed without any real hiccups in a time of 2-18.20.   According to my schedule I should be doing my long runs between 6.43 and 7.19 minutes per mile.   Today my average was 6.35 pace at the end thanks to a strong finish.   Splitting the long run into three seven mile sections I went from 47.11 (Miles 0 to 7), 46.11 (Miles 7 to 14) then 45.58 (Miles 14 to 21).  Very happy with that and good progress being made with the marathon still 11 weeks away.

Lots to report on the world of athletics this weekend with some absolute stellar performances at the Aviva Grand Prix.  This was the first time I have been to an indoor athletics event and it certainly did not disappoint.   What is great about being at the event live is being gripped by the events I dont normally watch or to be honest pay a lot of interest in.   The field events (Womens Pole Vault, Mens and Womens Long jumps and the High Jump) were all fascinating encounters with lots of british interest with the star performer being Shara Proctor who broke the Britsh Record in the womens long jump twice.  JJ Jegerde breaking the 8 metre long jump and Holly Bleasdale winning the Pole Vault were all dramatic but for me the real interest was in the distance events.  

An unbelievable world leading performance by Meserat Defar in the 3000m with 8.31.56 was a true grit performance, local athlete Lewis Moses (New Marske) was impressive in the 1500m breaking his pb with 3.41.33, Joe Thomas (the one with the popstar hair!) was very impressive in the 800m with his 5th pb in five races clocking a speedy 1.46.35.

Asafa Powell (60m) was certainly a fans favourite but for me looked a bit too casual in the heat and was then beaten into third by two fellow jamaicans with Lerone Clarke taking the win in a Jamaican National Record. 

Jess Ennis was outstanding in the 60m hurdles smashing her personal best by a mile....she must be a medal favourite in 2012!

The event most of the crowd were looking forward to was the final event - the 2 miles with Mo Farah.   The atmosphere in the arena was electric and the crowd went wild every time Mo went past - like a mexican wave that lasted 8 minutes!    In the end despite a cracking and competitive race Mo ran out of track and steam and finished second behind Olympic silver medallist Eliud Kipchoge (8:07.39).   Mo's second place in 8.08.07 was still a British Record and he earned every dollar of his bonus for the record!   Cometh the hour cometh the man and I am sure Mo will be using this race as a stepping stone for future glory this year!  

In the same two mile race there were three other GB athletes - two found the pace too hot to handle and dropped out but Liverpool's Jonathan Mellor had a gutsy and lonely run to finish the two mile race in a pb of 8.40.50 some 30 seconds behind the 5th place athlete.

Check out the report and results here...

For some time after the event Mo stayed around and signed autographs, shook hands, signed shirts, posed for photos - what a truly fantastic ambassador for the sport he is.   I was one of those who waited round with my two boys for the chance to get an autograph and in the end we ended up with autographed postcards and high fives from the man himself!    I also bumped into one of the greats of British Athletics - John Regis who still looks like he could put in a decent 200m!   What a day!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Dusting off the racing shoes!

The week gone has been a good week for mileage - plenty of  steady running and a few long ones to prepare me for the Marathon on May 6th.   One element of the training I have been lacking in is the tempo type effort at race pace.

I decided tonight to put that right and despite having yesterdays 18 miler in the legs still I decided that I needed a boost and put on my racers for a bit of a boost !  It worked a treat as I was able to smash out nearly six miles at a shade under my marathon pace of 6 minutes and 6 seconds.   A great boost to the training as I build mileage but so far have not been close to marathon pace on my long runs which have been more like marathon pace plus 10%.

My original aim for the marathon on May 6th was to look towards a sub 2-40 time.  After my ankle injury I revised my thinking to a sub 2-45 which would be a pb by over three minutes....that run tonight got me thinking though.............

Well done to Lewis Moses of New Marske Harriers who today picked up a National Title at the UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield and now stands a good chance of going to the World Championships in Istanbul.

I am looking forward to my training week this week and hope to get close to 75 miles in the bag.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Crash Crash Crash!

Thankfully not me this time but two of the worlds greatest athletes of the moment have crashed this week.

Mo Farah crashed in a mile race in an indoor mile race in Boston but unfazed he went onto record a personal indoor best of 3.57.92  finishing fourth in the race which I am sure he expected to win...however a personal best is a personal best and I am sure he will pick himself up (literally!) and go onto bigger and better things in 2012!
The second big "crasher" of the week was Mark Cavendish who crashed out in the Tour of Qatar cycle race.  I loved his matter of factness in the interview - his helmet had disintegrated, he had scraped his head along the tarmac resulting in a bit of a bad neck which might need some treatment oh and not forgetting half of his skin from his elbow and shoulder left on the tarmac...usual cycle injury stuff he said with a smile!  Wow that guy is one tough cookie!

Check it out here...

Mark Cavendish

I would like to think I have found some toughness this week with a decent week of 73 miles which included long runs of 11 miles, 14 miles and today an 18 miler.  

My run today was a pre 7am start and the first mile easy jog soon turned into a decent effort where I ran the 18 miles at an average of 6 mins 44 per mile.   Very happy with that but once again happy with the negative split with the first 9 miles covered in 62.04 minutes and the second 9 miles covered in 59.11.   Those who train with me regularly know I bang on a bit about negative splitting but it is important to finish a long run positively - I am sure there were a few miles left in the legs this morning as I felt strong but with 12 weeks until marathon day there is plenty of time to go!

Next race I think for me will be Thirsk 10 on the 25th March hopefully in my new "New Marske Harriers" vest as long as UKA are lenient in my "ban" for changing clubs.

A great performance from New Marske Harriers Andy Wiles in Armagh this week clocking a cracking 14.11 for 5km which is a New Marske Harriers club record....testament to the hard work that he puts in I am sure.   Check out the results and a link to a pre race interview he blogged.

Onwards and Upwards !

Monday, 6 February 2012

Guess what race I'm doing!

Aa went to Blaydon Races,
'Twas on the ninth of June,
Eighteen hundred and sixty two
on a summer's afternoon,
Aa tyuk the bus fra Balm-bra's and she was heavy laden,
Away we went along Collingwood Street
that's on the road to Blaydon.

Oh! me lads, ye shud a'seen us gannin,
Passin the folks upon the road
Just as they were stannin.
Thor wis lots o' lads and lasses there
All wi smiling faces Gannin' along the Scotswood Road
To see the Blaydon Races.

We flew past Armstrong's factory
And up to Robin Adair
Just gannin' doon to the railway bridge
The bus wheel flew off there.
The lasses lost their crinolines
And the veils that hid their faces.
I got two black eyes and a broken nose
In gannin' to Blaydon Races.


When we got the wheel put on
Away we went again,
But them that had their noses broke
They went back home again.
Some went to the dispensary
And some to Doctor Gibbs'
And some to the Infirmary
To mend their broken ribs.


Noo when we got to Paradise
There was a bonny game begun There was four and twenty on the bus
Man, how they danced and sung.
They called on me to sing a song
I sung them Paddy Fagan,
I danced a jig and swung me twig
The day we went to Blaydon.


We flew across the Chain Bridge
Reet into Blaydon toon.
The bellman he was caaling there,
They caal him Jacky Broon.
I saw him talking to some chaps
And them he was persuading
To see George Ridley's concert at
the Mechanics Hall at Blaydon.


The rain it poured all day
And made the ground quite muddy
Coffy John had a white hat on
They were shootin "Who stole the cuddy"
There were spice stalls and monkey
And the old wives selling ciders,
And a chap wi a Happenny Roondaboot
Shootin "Noo me lads for riders".


Sunday, 5 February 2012

A perfect week?

After my christmas mishap and weeks of rehab this past week has almost been the pefect week!  63 miles, some decent long runs of 11 miles, 10 miles and 17 miles plus a great track session of 10 x 800m off a short recovery!   I say almost perfect because there is still that little niggly feeling of the ankle not being quite 100% - it may be a confidence thing or just that little bit of stiffness around the ankle as I start a run.   My session of 800's this week on a freezing cold night on the track was a massive step forward for me with an average of 2-41 for the set.   This set was a good indicator for me for my forthcoming marathon and although not quite a Yasso's 800 it was close enough for me to get some confidence from it given that I "negative split" the set with a faster second half.  For it to be true Yasso 800 set I would have done a 1:1 jog recovery between 800's but I opted for 90 second rest recovery instead.   Read up on Yasso here...

I was particularly pleased with the set of 10 as it would have been easy to "ease off" but as the ankle felt good I pushed on to the full set and was left with that "job done" feeling!

Today was my longest run for some time with 17.25 miles completed in just over 2 hours.   Now I feel like my marathon training has started.  It is 13 weeks tomorrow to the Marathon of the North so plenty of time to up the miles on my long run and get a bit closer to marathon pace.  Given that it is snowing outside at the moment which could make a long run a bit more tricky I was pleased with my choice of long run today.  

There are still a few aches and pains associated with the ankle and I have got hold of a hi tech device that is easing a bit of plantar fasciitis that I am putting down to my left calf being slightly tight still following the ankle strain.    The relief that this thing gives is out of this world and I would recommend it to anyone suffering from PF!  For a bit more info on PF see Gary Dunns excellent blog...
 The Plantar Fasciitis Relief implement of choice!