Monday, 26 March 2012

Thirsk Ten Mile Road Race Part 2

What a difference a year makes!    This years Thirsk 10 was a much different affair than last year.   A "sensible" start saw me hold back a touch and go through the half way point in 27.53 (8 seconds slower than last year!).   A second half of 28.13 was a world away from the disastrous second half of the 2011 Thirsk 10.  This year I even managed to gain a place in the run in finishing 9th in 56.06.  

As this race was the Yorkshire Vets Championships there was a high standard of vets in the field so overalll was happy with my third place less than a minute behind Gavin Felton of Barnsley (55.16) and Darren Newbould of Hallamshire Harriers (55.21).  Congratulations to winners Yared Hagos of Wallsend (49.40) and Claire Simpson of Jarrow and Hebburn (1.01.10).  

Also pleasing was being part of the winning New Marske team so all in all a good day!

Well done to Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers for a top day of racing once more!  Results are here:

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Thirsk Ten Mile Road Race Part 1

The instructions are clear....better than last year please.  A negative split would be nice as well...finishing the race without my calfs going into cramp and having  a dozen or so runners pass me in the last mile is essential!   Last year a brave attempt at a fast 10 mile race saw me slip from 9th in the Thirsk 10 (inc. the Northern 10 mile champs) to 27th at the end.   What happened was simply me running out of steam after a fast first half in 27.45 followed by a slow and painful second half in 30.12!

6 weeks tomorrow until the main goal!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Quality over Quantity!

Since my last long run a week yesterday I have seen a breakthrough on my tempo speed with some decent runs during the week starting steadily but finishing at sub 6 min mile pace.   Thursdays track session of 1 mile hard (5.27), 6 x 600m (averaging about 1.55) and 1 mile hard (5.25) set me up nicely for the weekends efforts.  

The plan was Park Run Saturday as a first race of the year and then a long run on Sunday.   Having put in a decent effort on the track on the Thursday I opted for a change of plan and did a tempo Saturday.  A four mile warm up was followed by a 10 mile tempo effort completed in 58.04.   On paper this was a better long tempo than any I did in 2011 and made even more satisfying by the fact that it was a negative split (29.21 then 28.43) and it was off the back of some high mileage.   Even better is that it come just 1 week before I try and make amends for last years Thirsk 10 where the wheels came off big time!   57.58 at Thirsk is still down on Power of 10 as my pb.   My actual pb was in 1995 where I came 5th in the Llandudno 10 mile race in 52.26 but this was pre Power of 10 - I would love to get hold of the official results as I have misplaced them but I do remember the winner posting something like 48 minutes.   How the world of running has changed in 17 years.   There are a lot fewer 10 milers around now that is for sure (more the pity!) - also nobody had Garmins but managed to run using their head and their heart!
Today was a good opportunity to get a long run in and because of the end of the junior football season it meant a later start.  So an 8am start for my planned 23 miler this morning not the usual 6.30am start!   I was one of about 15 runners out at that time all looking like would be marathon runners doing their long Sunday run.   I opted for a pace that was slightly easier than previous long runs mainly due to the legs being tired from the weeks efforts.

23 miles completed with 5 mile splits of (34.16, 33.42, 33.27, 33.01) and the final three "marathon" miles in 6.36, 6.35 and 6.36.   I bumped into the great Paul Evans at the London Marathon Expo in 2000 and he gave me a bit of sound advice...the marathon is a race of two halves he said....The first half is 20 miles long the second half 10km.  As Paul was a 2.08 marathon runner I have always remembered that gem of advice - so for all those who have posted great 20 mile times in the past few weeks...well done but remember you are only halfway!

Paul Evans - one of the greats!

Happy long running!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

When is fast too fast?

This week has been a good solid marathon training week for me with two of my three key sessions (an interval based session and my long run) gone really well and the third session ( a medium long run) not completed.  There are reasons for this and it is simply  a case of adjusting the week to fit in work, family things and other commitments.

The interval session on my 18 week marathon plan was a 6 x 800m session @ 5km pace with a jog recovery.    Having missed a few interval sessions lately and concentrating on the longer stuff I was a bit apprehensive but in the end hit target times comfortably (if an 800m session can be described as comfortable).  Most of the 800s were in the 2.35/2.36 region which was slightly quicker than 5km pace and the jog recovery just ended up being long enough for recovery to take place between work intervals. 

Saturdays long run was planned as a 22 mile effort (I made the executive decision to increase the long run from 16 to 22 as I had missed the midweek 11 that was in the plan).   I set off at the ungodly hour of 0620 for the first of four 5.5 mile loops.   Surely nobody else would be out at that time but surprisingly there were a few of us (I assume) marathon training folk catching an early long run.   Also out was Graham Hall of New Marske Harriers who was calibrating his bike ready to officially measure the forthcoming New Marske Harriers 5km and 10km series (details here...

I chose "loops" for one reason...not to give me an option to cut off the run early if I got into difficulty but simply to provide the temptation to give up the long run - resisting that temptation would make me stronger for race day!   The Marathon of the North apparently goes past the finish line at 18.5 miles meaning that "temptation" to finish early if things are not going well will be there and will need to be resisted!

My 5 mile splits up to 20 miles were 32.56, 31.59, 31.52 and 31.42 satisfying my craving for a negative split.  Last two miles along the Coast Road at Redcar on my last of four loops were 6.17 and 6.21 making the whole run a solid 22 miles in 2 hours 21 covering the distance at an average of 6.25 mins per mile.

It did make me think about my long run pace in particular the question of "Am I peaking too early?".   According to my programme (based on Pfitzinger) suggests long runs at 6.43 to 7.19 pace.  In my early long runs this was fine and all long runs were ok at this pace but as I have got fitter and running longer so the pace I have run them has increased.

This raises the following thoughts....

1.    Is my target marathon time too soft?   Have worked on a sub 2.45 marathon which would be a pb by over three mins.  Maybe I need to be a bit more ambitious?

2.   Am I running the long runs too fast too soon?   So far none of my runs have resulted in me hitting the wall and my recovery is fine afterwards so I don't think there is an over training issue going on.  Also most of my long runs have been negative splits so I'm confident my pacing is about right.

3.   Am I a responder to "long distance"?   Those people that watched the Horizons programme about the "truth about exercise" will know what I am talking about.  A guy does 12 mins of high intensity training in a four week period and his VO2 max does not improve.  Not because he has not done enough exercise but because he is a non responder.   A responder, according to research, shows adaptations to exercise even at this apparently minimal level. 

Horizon: The Truth About Exercise

Maybe 25 years or so ago when I started running I should have invested a bit of cash in a genetic test to see if I was a responder or not to exercise or to tell me if I was more suited to endurance or power sports!   I think I probably know the answer to that after years of training but what if a test said to me - forget this distance running lark concentrate on the 200m or the sprint hurdles because you'll never be a marathon runner.....kind of takes the fun out of it a bit doesn't it!

Saturday's long run was a statto's delight....It was my longest run in about 6 years, it marked 70 miles for the week and 500 miles for 2012 so far, it was my fastest long run yet and was a negative split by 85 seconds.  

Not really managed to catch up on all the news from Istanbul but generally it seems GB athletes have performed well overall.   A bruising encounter for Mo Farah in the 3000m being out kicked by the 37 year old Lagat was a highlight along with medals for Osagie (800m) and the womens 4 x 400m squad.  In the womens 3000m a superb finish by Obiri of Kenya subjected favourite Meseret Defar to a rare defeat - great to see another "older" athlete perform well with Helen Clitheroe "mixing it" in the early stages.

No doubt there will be talk of failure for Farah again but you cannot ask for any more in terms of effort as he hit the floor at the finish with just 3 hundredths of a second separating 2nd and 4th.  Lagat was like a wily old fox and you cannot beat his sprint finish in a situation like that....Like Farah says - you just go out and train twice as hard!  I'm sure he will!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Failure ? I dont think so!

Regular readers of my blog (Are there any?) will know that I have a huge admiration for Haile Gebrselassie - I'm sure almost anyone who has a knowledge of distance running and is a runner will respect Haile for the longevity of his career, his many world records and  his never ending smile and the ambassadorial role he has in the sport.   Here is a man currently under pressure to gain selection for 2012 and prove that there is life in the old dog yet!  

Haile ran 2 hours 8 minutes and 17 seconds in the Tokyo Marathon last week to finish fourth
Haile Gebrselassie (ETH), .February 26, 2012 - Marathon : .Tokyo Marathon 2012 .at Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan. .(Photo by AJPS/AFLO SPORT) [1045]prompting a flood of headlines such as "Geb's bid falls short"- Athletics Weekly and "Haile Gebrselassie Olympic hopes in doubt" BBC.   Haile himself described the last 5km of the marathon as the worst he has ever run!

  Lets put his performance into perspective here....2 hours 8 mins 17 has only been beaten once by a British Runner - Steve Jones who ran 2.07.13 in Chicago (1985) and is the current British Marathon record holder.   2nd on that list is Charlie Spedding who ran 2.08.33 at London in the same year 1985.  In the all time top 25 Brits performances only two runners appear in this list with performances post 2000 - Tomas Abyu and Scott Overall. 

Currently Haile is ranked 22nd Ethiopian Marathon Runner in 2012 and will have to pull something like a 2:05 out of the bag soon to secure selection!   Now thats pressure!

My own marathon training is going well.   I opted for a midweek interval session of 15 x 400m this week instead of a midweek long run.   Bit of a shock to the system but overall averaged under 5 minute miling for this set - am hoping this might just give the fast twitch fibers a jolt as they have been resting up a bit lately.

That meant todays long run was going to be a bit tough.  On the cards was a 7 mile warm up steady run (aim was under 7.15 pace - completed in exactly 7 min miling) followed by a 12 mile marathon paced run (pace target was 6.17 miling completed in 6.12).   All in all it was a tough run but I managed it and feel like some progress has been made towards the marathon goal.

Here is a really awful story that I had not heard before but possibly there is a lesson to us all about being prepared for all eventualities and weathers!

28 year old Kenyan runner Marko Cheseto spent two days lost in snow whilst out running in Alaska.  When he was found his feet were frozen solid and paramedics were unable to remove his shoes from his feet eventually leading to amputation of his feet - here is a link to the full story!

This week my UKA clearance came through and I can now compete for my new club New Marske Harriers....having not raced yet in 2012 I am desperate to get on the start line.  Thirsk 10 on the 25th March is still my target race but this will be a build up to the big one in May...9 weeks tomorrow is the First Marathon of the North.  This will be my third road marathon having done London in 2000 (2.48) and Nottingham in 2005 (2.52).  It must be an age thing but I aren't half enjoying the long stuff at the moment!