Sunday, 29 April 2012

7 days and counting...

Ok its the final hurdle.   The countdown has well and truly begun and its less than 7 days until race day.   This time next week it will all be over.   In my head I know 2 hours 45 is more than achieveable but it will be a pb for me by almost four minutes.  In London (2000) I ran 2 hours 48 mins 56 seconds.   My build up for that race was a bit haphazard, I injured my hamstring at 16 miles and couldn't run post marathon for about 6 weeks.   My longest run was about 22 miles and in all honesty I did not really know what to expect or how to prepare.

At the London Marathon expo that year I met 2:08 marathon runner Paul Evans who told me to think of the race in two parts - 20 miles was the half way point and then the race begins!   Great advice.   2.19 marathon runner Steve Way was interviewed on the fantastic "Marathon Talk" podcast and he describes the fact that at the end first half of the race you should feel pretty easy if you go out at the right pace and be able maintain that pace until 21 miles or so then see if there is anything left in the tank!  This pretty much follows my race plan which will be to go out at a shade under 2.45 pace and maintain that until past 20 miles and see what is left in the tank....hopefully there will be something to call on!
Training this week has gone well.  My last long run was Thursday when I did a steady 16 mile run followed by a rest day on Friday.  Saturday was an opportunity to have a bit of a blow out as the new Redcar Locke Park run started.  I have been organised in developing this run and so it was great to see 91 runners turn up for the first run.   After a steady first mile in 5.33 I pushed on with a 5.31 mile and a 5.27 mile to finish 1st in 17.16.   A good sign that training has gone well over the past few months but also an indication of the work that needs to be done to get under 16.30 later in the summer. 

Locke Park Park Run up and running!
Check out the Redcar Park Run site and join us on Saturday mornings at 0900.  Please register in advance via the Park Run website.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Kippers - the perfect marathon breakfast?

It's 10 days tomorrow until the Marathon of the North and I am at the point in the taper where the body feels a bit lethargic, doubts are creeping in and I'm itching to get to the start line and forget about Marathon training for a while.   Last week was a relatively low mileage week with just short of 50 miles in the bag (or the watch!).   Saturdays run was in the beautiful setting of Northumberland as we were away for a family wedding.   Brother in law Phil (Musgrave) arranged an early morning run and we met at 7am on the landing of the farmhouse we were staying in....8 miles of stunning scenery, deer, hares, hawks and lambs (lots and lots of lambs) were our company...8 miles of local roads and only one car...heaven!  Feeling smug about 50 miles being done for the week I checked out the stats on the dreaded Garmin...bugger....49.78 miles.    This usually bugs me and I had two choices...put the garmin on and run round the grounds of the farmhouse or round it up....needless to say I rounded it up but it reminded me of pre- garmin days when we used to estimate all of our runs.  I often wonder how accurate we were...My Monday night 10 milers at the club were possibly 9.5 miles or maybe they were 10.5 miles - who knows...who cares?  

A few people have made comments post London that the Garmin showed not 26.2 but 26.5 or 26.7....I haven't done London for some time but I'm sure my Garmin (had I worn one!) would have shown a similar distance as i weaved in and out in the early stages not to mention the weaving at the finish as my legs went a bit wibbly wobbly!

Are we all becoming too reliant on the GPS watches...?  Probably I guess!

I repeated the run the following morning and added an extra mile to make sure the excesses of the night before were worked out...Kippers followed for breakfast so wanted to build an appetite.   As it was the day of the London Marathon I was particularly keen to get a run in and this time came across human contact with an elderly gentleman walking his dog.   "if you speed up now you might make the start line" he shouted....blimey even in remote Northumberland people make funny comments about us runners....better than 118 or Run Forrest Run I suppose! 

I enjoyed my kipper from Craster!

Last night I made a return to the track for a local 3000m race.   Happy with my 4th place in 9:42.2 as I set a target of 9.54 for myself.   Happier still with the way that I was able to pick up the pace in the second half and pass the runner in front to finish 4th.   Brother in law Phil clocked an impressive 10:05.05.   I predict this year will see Phil out kick me in a race as he is showing a good turn of speed at the moment.  Training partner Jayne Parkin also had a great 3000m (and track debut) with 11:59.5.  Cutting it fine to make my target of a sub 12 but done all the same!

Results are below:

Well done to all who did the London Marathon...only managed to catch the highlights so far but massive well done to Claire Hallissey who took the last remaining marathon place for London 2012.   Also well done to my good friend Belgrave Harrier Louise Blizzard who completed her 18th London in a super fast 2:58.10 and was part of the winning team.  Well done Lou!  Lots of other people to mention but Good luck to Paul Cleasby (New Marske Harriers) and Mark Brown (NYMAC) who are running the Marathon of the North just two weeks after London..rather you than me!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A frank training session!

Tonight I was looking to do a track session that would be a marathon type effort to give me the confidence going into the taper that I was in good shape and ready for the marathon on May 6th.   After a bit of research about tapering etc I came across an article by Frank Horwill.  For those who dont know Frank Horwill there is an excellent profile of the man on the Serpentine Running Club website.   He sadly died in January this year but his legacy lives on.   I have read a number of his articles and they are absolutely fascinating and thought provoking.

One of the articles is entitled Leaving No Stone Unturned and is about marathon training.  In it he describes a variable pace session that he calls "the greatest training aid for the marathon".   The session is a 10km continuous run alternating laps at 5km speed with marathon pace laps as recovery.   He describes an athlete who he was coaching being able to (eventually) run 25 laps alternating 80 second laps with 90 second laps for 25 laps.  The athlete in question went onto run 2.37 for the marathon.   With that in mind I decided that tonight was the night to try this for myself.  Only time will tell if this session is too close to marathon day but here was the outcome.

82 (88) 82 (89) 81 (91) 81 (91) 81 (90) 80 (90) 81 (89) 80 (90) 80 (90) 80 (91) 80 (90) 80 (91) 80.  

The full article can be read here....Article Number 11

Frank - I salute you Sir!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

More running less blogging!

Its been a while so this blog captures the crucial weeks pre taper as I build up to the Marathon of the North on May 6th. With two and a half weeks to go and the race pack imminent in its arrival it is now TAPER Time!

Here is a run down of the last few weeks since the welcome distraction of the Road Relays.

Week Ending 8th April - started the week with a few days recovery post Relays trying to shake off a tight hamstring.  Wed - 10 miles at marathon pace (actually a bit quicker in 6.13 per mile), Steady Thursday and a 23 miler on Good Friday at average pace of 6.35 per mile.  Most pleasing was the final four miles of this run completed in 25.53 which was the quickest four miles of the run with a bit left in the tank!  A recovery run Saturday was followed by a 10 miler again at Marathon pace on Sunday.   This ended my biggest week of the build up with 80 miles.    4 weeks to race day!

Week Ending 15th April - spent a few days away so opted for early morning runs before taking advantage of the hotel's all you can eat cooked breakfast washed down with lots of fruit, yoghurt and danish pastries....carbo loading right? What too early! Damn!  These early morning runs were all 8 miles and all completed at around 6.30/6.35 pace.  Thursday - easy run am followed by a very satisfying 5 x 1200m on the track.  These were meant to be at 5km pace but ended up being slightly quicker with reps of 4.02, 3.54, 3.55, 3.55 and 3.57.  Recovery was scheduled as 400m jog recovery.   As a warm down I decided a mile at marathon pace was in order - it ended up being a 2km warm down at 5.40 pace.  Amazing how easy this felt after running a set at 5km pace.   Not so easy the next day when my body refused to go any quicker than 7.15 miling!      I decided to finish the week with my my final long effort.  After much deliberation I opted for a marathon pace run for the first half of my long run then a steadier pace to finish with the aim of a total run of about 19 to 20 miles.   As has been the theme of my long runs I broke down the runs into 4 mile blocks.  First four miles (24.45) felt fairly easy and comfortable.   Miles 5 to 8 (24.57), 9 to 12 (24.52) all completed at a pace slightly quicker than marathon pace so decided to continue in this vein.    Miles 13 to 16 was completed in 24.54.   At this point I felt that continuing at this pace would have started to become counter productive so "eased" down and finished at around 6.30 miling.   Ended the week with an easy recovery run on the Sunday to notch up a 70 mile week.   3 weeks to race day.

So far this week I have opted for shorter runs mainly at a steady pace but did throw in a few "tempo" miles yesterday at the end of my steady run (three miles @ 5.45 pace).  

So.....the main work is done.....In 2012 so far I have run 850 miles....10 runs have been completed over 2 hours......longest run 23 miles (twice) and now 17 days to taper, sharpen, recover, carbo load.      I have read a fair bit about tapering and there is a lot of different opinions out there but generally a reduction in mileage, less long running, more easy days should see me right.     I will be watching the London on Sunday but unlike previous years where I have been motivated to the point of going out before for a long run and pondering if the marathon distance is something I should have a serious crack at I will be sitting there pondering my own race strategy for two weeks time!

In the words of Mr's time!

Check out a great new running website with news, results, blogs and advice for the North East running community...

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The 12 Stage Northern Road Relays

With 5 weeks to go until the Sunderland Marathon it was time for a sharpen up race!

   After four legs New Marske Harriers (Mark Shaw, Andrew Wiles, Lewis Moses and Elliott Jackson) were leading in the Northern 12 Stage...step forward me! 

After a long leg (two laps of Sefton Park) completed in 25.20 I managed to hold the team position in the Top 6.  Flying past me were...

Ben Riddell taking Salford into 1st place with 23.11
Steve Vernon taking Stockport into 2nd place with 22.48
Daniel Cliffe taking eventual winners Liverpool into 3rd place with 23.20
Anthony Ford taking Sale into 4th place with 21.53
Matthew Nicholson taking Morpeth into 5th place with 23.03

After a fantastic day of racing New Marske finished a very respectable 11th!   Not bad for a small club!

Today was back to the Marathon training with a 2 hour long recovery run completed at a nice steady pace.  Back to earth with a bump after the dizzy heights of Sefton Park!