Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Manchester Marathon Build up Week 3

You know you're a marathon runner when......

Last week a slightly disappointing week of training if you look at quality of sessions and total mileage.  You know your a marathon runner when you are disappointed not hitting your scheduled mileage and 59 miles is a low volume week.  Quite a tough week balancing training , work and pre-christmas build up so on the whole 59 miles is not something to be disappointed with.  There is still 15 weeks to make up for this week and so far I feel like I'm on track.

Other than a few tempo sessions during the week (7 miles on Tuesday and a 3miler on Thursday) the week has been fairly steady and not much to write home about.    A rare complete rest day on Saturday meant Sunday was the opportunity to salvage something from the week and get the long runs back on the agenda.

My schedule said 18 miles.  In the end I did 21 miles.  This included 8 loops (16 miles) of the seafront (or pink) path around the seafront at Redcar.   Not everyones cup of tea but an opportunity to test out my mental resolve with some work on pacing.  

After a steady 2 mile warm up mile splits were 6-36, 6-39, 6-40, 6-38, 6-39, 6-36, 6-36, 6-39, 6-31, 6-27, 6-30, 6-31, 6-34, 6-30, 6-32, 6-34, 6-38 followed by a 2 mile warm down.  

For anyone tackling a marathon in the Spring its worth checking out this article by Alberto Salazar who knows a thing or two about running marathons...


GOLDEN RULE No 9. TACKLE DOUBT HEAD-ON At some point you're going to push yourself harder, you're going to enter into a gray area that can be painful, and you're going to doubt yourself. Push through it. Never think you are mentally weak.

That was kind of the point of my Sunday long run this week....

Stats for the week:

Total Miles:   59.5 miles
Longest Run:  21 miles
Ave Speed:   9 miles per hour.
Best Run: Long run 21 miles @ ave pace 6-43.
Weeks until Manchester Marathon:   15 weeks
Next Race:  Helsby Half Marathon.

Merry Christmas...

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Manchester Marathon build up Week 2

Week 2 of 18 done and a little bit of jiggery pokery in terms of the "plan".  The thing with plans is that when they work they are great, when they don't work you can blame the plan, when you find the plan too restrictive you can juggle it a bit.  So what about when you have written the plan?  Well you can change it can't you?

On the plan yesterday was a 10 mile tempo at marathon pace to be followed up by a steady 16 miler today. Almost a replica of last weeks plan.  

What wasn't in the plan was spending the best part of 8 hours on Saturday on a poolside coaching and organising club swimmers to make sure they were all in the right place at the right time.   So the Saturday involved two runs.  One at 6:30 in the morning and the other a 4 miler at the end of the day!  Sundays "planned" 16 miler also went out of the window after a late night Saturday night and an early start on Sunday taking one of my boys to a junior football game.  

So Sundays 16 miler was split into two parts.   10 miles at marathon pace in the morning followed by 6 miles later in the day on the treadmill at the gym.  

Where there is a will there is a way!

Stats for the week:

65 miles
Key sessions:
Tuesday - Road based tempo including 6 x 800m at 10km pace with marathon pace recoveries.
Thursday - track session with. 5 x 1200m at 10km pace with a 400m jog recovery.
Sunday - 10 miles at marathon pace followed up with a 6 mile treadmill run.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Manchester Marathon Build Up Week 1

Week 1 of 18.   Had a very decent week.  65 miles of running with some good sessions in the bag.   Highlights of the week were a tempo based session using my usual interval loop.  This involved alternating half marathon pace with marathon pace for 30 minutes and managed to clock up over 5 miles.  Saturday's run was a decent effort over 10 miles at marathon pace (around 2-40 marathon pace) and this was followed up with a 16 mile effort on Sunday at a nice relaxed 7 minutes per mile.

All good?   Well its a decent start but it made me think about recovery runs?   As the marathon training progresses so will the need to include some proper recovery runs.  Using the very popular Pitzinger book my recovery runs should be around 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile.     My "recovery" runs have been based more on feel and at a nice easy pace.   Probably not quite slow enough for me to feel the benefit so the learning point from this week is to slow down!

So the weekly stats....

Total miles for week:   64.2 miles
Longest Run: 16 miles - comfortable!
Average Speed: 9.1 mph
Best Session:   10 miles at marathon pace (6-07 per mile).  Consistent run with the heart rate nice and low (around 132bpm).
Its a long road ahead...

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Dashing Good Race!

Perfect conditions today at the Dash and some super quick times.  The course was slightly different to last year but followed the same basic out and back course.  It was a super loaded field at the front end and the times on the day reflect the quality of the field.  Local athlete Matty Hynes took the win in a super quick 29.23.  14 athletes went under 30 minutes and of these  10 set personal bests including Vet 40 winner Andrew Ward of Clowne AC in 29.57.

In the Ladies race Louise Damen took the win with a quality 33.04 (pb).   Ist Vet 40 Lady was Emma Stepto of Cornwall in a pb of 33.23.    Emma ran 2:35.02 at the Amsterdam Marathon which shows what a quality athlete she is.  

My own race went to plan.   I was hoping for a sub 34 and managed to just achieve that with a 34.02 gun time translating into a 33.58 chip time.   First 5km 16:50, Second 5km 17:08.   In comparison to last year I'm two seconds down so don't think Ive hit the downward slide yet.   Half joked today that I would like to do a sub 34 every year until I'm 50!   1st Vet 50 today was Keith Smith of Tyne Bridge Harriers in 34:05.   Think I may have found a nice long term target for myself!

Setting off with intent!  Honestly I enjoy this running lark!

The finishing straight.   Clock ticking towards 34 minutes!

That's it now.   End of the season and no more races until Helsby Half Marathon in January.  Time for some rest and recovery and a few easy weeks.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Dashing Ahead!

A week tomorrow and it's the Abbey Dash!  Looking back at last years training diary I'm in much better shape this year than last.  I have a marathon pb in the bag just five weeks ago and have had the most consistent year that I can remember.

So far in 2014 I have averaged 57 miles per week and clocked up 2561 miles.    In the world of Garmin stats I can also say with confidence that this is my best year in recent times as my average speed is 9.2 miles per hour.  That's what the stats say but actually more importantly for me is that I feel like this has been my best year for a long long time.  The stats just confirm that! Ive also managed to stay relatively injury free.  My training has been a bit different this year with a bit more emphasis on endurance and less on all out speed..maybe that's a sign of ageing as a runner!

Next week at the Abbey Dash will be the end of my racing season and time to put my feet up for a few weeks and look forward to some marathon training again. 

I'm hopeful of a decent run but although my fitness seems in a great place my speed post Chester Marathon doesn't seem to be quite there.  Ive put in some decent sessions in the last two weeks and don't feel too far away from being in top shape but I know I haven't done the sessions to think about smashing the sub 34 barrier.  I managed 33.56 and 130th place last year and all being well I will be in that region again.  I'm sure it will be a great race and competitive at all levels.  its one of those races!

Last two week block of training looks like this:

Sunday 27th October - Steady 7 miles in the wind @ 7 minute miling followed by a treadmill session later in the day 5 miles in 29.20.

Monday 28th October - Easy 4 miles @ 7 minute miling

Tuesday 29th October - 4 miles am then an interval based session on the road (pm).  6 x 800m (2.46 to 2.48) with 600m recovery at marathon pace with a 5:50 mile to finish.

Wednesday 30th October - 5.5 miles am @ 7 minute miling.   Treadmill session pm 4 miles in 24 minutes.

Thursday 31st October - Tempo based session at the track with efforts at 10km pace.  1 x 1200m, 2x 800m and 2 x 400m with 400s at marathon pace as recovery.   Managed 4.5 miles in total!  

Friday 1st November - Easy recovery run on grass.  5 miles @ 7 minute miling.

Saturday 2nd November - 10 mile tempo run @ 5-53 pace. 

Sunday 3rd November - Easy 4 miles am recovery run @ 7-30 miling.  Opted for a treadmill run later in the day and did 2 x 4 miles in 23.01 and 22.50.  

Monday 4th November - Easy 4 miles am @ 7-15 miling.

Tuesday 5th November - Easy 4 miles @ 6-35 miling.  Pm run 8 x 800m with a 2 minute recovery between.  All reps between 2.41 and 2.45. 

Wednesday 6th November - Easy recovery run am 3 miles @ 7-30 miling.  pm.  Treadmill run 4 miles in 23.44.

Thursday 7th November - 4 x 1 mile on the track @ 10km pace.  5,27, 5.27, 5.26 and 5.25 with a 400m jog recovery between.

Friday 8th November - steady 5.6 mile recovery @ 6-50 pace.

Saturday 9th November - 11 miles in 65.07 (ave 5.55 pace).  

Taper time now and all set for the Dash!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Race Plans

Race plans for 2014 are starting to take shape.  The main focus over the winter will be the next step to mastering the marathon.  Entries are in for the Helsby Half Marathon in January, Pocklington 10 in February and the Manchester Marathon on April 6th. 

The only other possible race will be the Thirsk 10 although this comes two weeks before Manchester so it may be used as a tempo race pace effort or a full out 10 miler.  the jury is still out on what the best way to do that particular race may be.  I'm keen to do it as I have done it for the last two years and its a good indicator of what shape I'm in.

I feel fully recovered after Chester Marathon now and have managed some great sessions in the last two weeks.  I feel a bit guilty though when I put on the lighter shoes and put a bit of a speed session in.  The guilt is because in the back of my mind is that nagging voice.....You've just done a marathon you should be taking it easy!   I haven't pushed myself too hard in any session and have limited speed work to 10km pace or half marathon pace only so not quite firing on all cylinders yet.

I actually haven't felt overly fatigued since the marathon other than the first three or four days post race.  I know from reading about marathons over the years that sometimes there is "hidden tiredness" that stays in the legs for about a month post marathon and can come back and mug you when you next race but in all honesty I feel great!  Maybe I didn't put enough effort in on the day! 

It will be four weeks on Sunday since the marathon and once past this milestone it will be all systems go for the Abbey Dash in November.  Last year It was a sub 34 on that notoriously fast course and I feel in better shape this year than last year so watch this space!

There will be no getting away from some hard miles this winter and Ive promised myself an easy few weeks after the Abbey Dash to recuperate and get ready for the marathon training which will begin in earnest in December.

On the subject of marathon training a massive congratulations to my club mate Shaun O'Grady who clocked a fantastic 2:30.19 at the Amsterdam Marathon which is a New Marske Harriers Club Record and places him 68th on the Power of 10 rankings for 2013.

Power of 10 is a great motivational tool for me and as the years tick by its a great way of seeing how you are faring against other athletes of your age group.

Since turning 40 in May 2011 my rankings have been fairly consistent....

2011 - Ranked 67th over 5km,  102nd over 10km and 55th over the half marathon.

2012 - Ranked 86th over 5km,  85th over 10km, 33rd over 10 miles and 102nd in the marathon.

2013 - Ranked 58th Over 5km, 100th over 10km,  50th over 10 miles,  89th over the half marathon and 67th over the full marathon distance. 

It looks like I need to pull my finger out at the Dash to stay in the Top 100 Vet 40 across all the classic road distances!  I reckon a sub 34 should do it!  No pressure then !!!!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chester Marathon 2013

Its been quite a journey.  I entered Chester in 2012 but due to some hamstring issues I didnt make the start line.  The build up last year wasnt great with some injury issues and a lack of marathon focus.  In the school report it would say something like "Andrew is easily distracted!" or "Andrew has potential for the marathon but he lacks a consistent approach!". 

2013 has been a different but equally challenging build up to the marathon.  My build up started around Mid June with a few long runs thrown into the usual training plan.  Nothing any where near marathon pace but long enough to put a decent marker in the sand.   The more specific stuff with marathon pace sections started in July, continued into August and early September ready for an experimental four week taper throughout September into early October. 

To be honest I couldnt ask for a better build up, that is until the final week when I raced a 5km around the Coast Road.  Although I finished 4th in 16.36 I struggled for a good week or 10 days post race with hamstring issues.  The knock on effect of that was that the last  long run planned to be a 22/23 miler with the last few miles at marathon pace became a 14 miler struggling to get anywhere near marathon pace.  The final week of 80 miles became a 60 mile week and there was a general feeling of the taper just not being a taper but actually about rehab and trying to overcome niggles.   To give me the confidence back I opted for a 2 hour run two weeks before the marathon.  Recovery from this coupled with a few decent paced runs and a couple of light 10km based interval sessions meant that despite the taper issues (Im sure every marathon runner will get these!) I would start on the line at Chester with the best possible chance of a personal best. 

And so race day...

Fantastic day, couldnt ask for better weather and the event was run like clockwork.  Chester was Number 1 marathon in the UK last year and it is easy to see why!

The aim for the race was to get under 2 hours 45.  This would be an all time personal best and open up the opportunity of racing at london next year through the championship entry route.


10km - 38:28 29th Position
20km - 1:16.56  28th Position
Half Way - 1:21.10 - 27th Position
30km - 1:55.12 24th Position
40km - 2:34.35 20th Position
End - 2:43.42 20th Position.

My fastest 10km split was between 20 and 30km where I posted 38.16.   My fastest (Garmin) mile was mile 15 with 5:58.  The slowest mile (6:43) was mile 26.   I wasnt overtaken at all during the marathon and went from 29th place at 10km through to 20th place at the finish. 

Compare this to Sunderland in 2012 where my fastest mile was mile 9 with a 5:53 and the slowest mile being Mile 26 again with a 7:39.

In fact the major difference between Sunderland in 2012 and Chester in 2013 was the fact that in Chester I felt more in control of pace for longer and actually found myself holding back in the middle section of the race.  The middle section at Sunderland where I got myself too involved in the "race" meant five consecutive miles at sub 6 minute pace - too quick by far and I paid for this in the last six miles.

Direct comparisons of the last 6 miles :

Sunderland   vs   Chester

6:18               vs   6:17
6:17               vs    6:16
6:41               vs    6:20
7:13               vs    6:17
7:18               vs    6:29
7:39               vs    6:44

Whilst I was certainly slowing at Chester in the final few miles I certainly wasnt slowing as rapidly as I did at Sunderland last year.

What are the key learning points for future marathons?

-   Stick to the plan and commit to the training.
-   Be confident in your training to stick to race pace on race day

Chris and winner
Race Winner Marius Ionsecu with Race Director Chris!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Building up nicely....

What do you think about when you run?   

I have been asked this question a few times recently as a result of people enquiring how my marathon training is going (well I'm sure they asked but maybe I'm becoming a marathon bore....you know when you are training well when remarks go from...you are looking fit....to.....you look a bit gaunt.  Are you ill?).   It's generally a question asked of runners by non runners.  A runner would never ask such a question!  

So what do I think about when I run?  Its a hard question to answer.  For me it usually involves thinking about how I'm running, how many miles to go, am I on the right pace, hows my heart rate.  Occasionally its about family, forthcoming events, planning things, work...in fact anything really!


I recently read this book by Murakami.   Its an extraordinary book full of snippets of inspiration and thought provoking statements.   Its not a book that will teach you how to run faster, or how to train for a marathon but it does help you understand that golden nugget of a question..Why do I run?   

" It doesn't matter what field your talking about - beating someone else just doesn't do it for me.  I'm much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself, so in this sense long distance running is the perfect fit for a mindset like mine"  

"Most ordinary runners are motivated by an individual goal, more than anything:  namely a time they want to beat.  As long as he can beat that time, a runner will feel he's accomplished what he set out to do, and if he cant then he'll feel he hasn't.  Even if he doesn't break the time he'd hoped for, as long as he has the sense of satisfaction at having done his very best - and possibly having made some significant discovery about himself in the process - then that is itself is an accomplishment, a positive feeling he can carry over to the next race"

Its been a while since I read a book that made me think as much as this one.    It put into perspective years of running and the fact that even after all these years I still have that urge to put my running shoes on and go for a run.  I know that most of my best running years are behind me but there is still that motivation to beat that time...its just that the times are inevitably going to get a bit slower as the inevitable ageing process kicks in.

That said the goal that motivates me at the moment is the marathon.  This will be my fourth road marathon.   Previous runs of 2-48 (London, 2000),  2-52 (Nottingham, 2005) and 2-46 (Sunderland, 2012) have all been tinged with an underachievement - injury in the build up, injury in the race, hitting the wall early, lack of pace judgement, not enough training etc etc.  

What they all have in common is the process.   They have all been a learning experience and have all contributed to my experience as a runner.    My build up to Chester in October so far has been excellent.  Ive concentrated on three key sessions a week.  

Long runs up to 23 miles finishing off at marathon pace
Weekly tempo type runs of up to 10/12 miles at or close to marathon pace
Interval based session on the track with variable recoveries.

What has really made the difference this time around is a focused build up with recovery built in to make sure I hit the key sessions, lack of distractions (last year I tried to build up to an Autumn Marathon AND complete a track season - the result...persistent hamstring problems! - hindsight is a wonderful thing!).   Ive found a routine that works for me.   Or rather I have travelled so far down a journey and only time will tell whether that journey has been successful.   Taking a leaf out of Murakami's book the process has been one of discovery and even if I don't achieve what I set out to do then at least I have added some more experience to the pot!

Away from marathon training I enjoyed a visit to Albert Park run on Saturday.   Having done the very first park run at Albert Park in 2008 (crossing the line first in 17:27 with 26 runners taking part) it's always nice to go back and enjoy the atmosphere.   Over 5 years on the whole parkrun initiative has grown massively and it was amazing to see 235 finishers there this week (and this was a quiet week!).   I crossed the line first again in 16:54.  My next park run will be my 50th in total - I'll wear my T-shirt with pride!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Discipline..its not all about speed!

Its almost a month since my last post and during that time I have raced three times and clocked up a decent few weeks of base mileage towards the main goal of the year (Chester Marathon). 

At The Coast Road 5km on a balmy summer evening in Marske where I clocked 16:36 for 11th place.   This didnt quite go to plan and I struggled a little with the intensity of the race particularly the start.  I'm becoming increasingly aware and concious of people who start races like they are doing an 800m or 1500m race then come back to me after a mile or so and wonder at the end why did it all go wrong.  There have been plenty of times when I have done that but more lately I have become a lot more disciplined with my pace judgement and take some pride in maintaining a steady (but decent!) pace and look to try and start the race at an intended pace and build on that rather than go for a fast start and hang on.  This race was just twinged with disappointment as the last mile I just dropped off the pace and allowed two or three (Younger!) runners to edge me out in the final stages of the race.

This "steady away" tactic was definitely going to be tested to the full in the next race.  I had built this race up in my head as an A race.  Had a sensible pre training week and (apart from the hot weather) all seemed set to smash another Vet 40 pb.  The race was the Sunderland 5km also incorporating the North East Champs.  Some unbelievable results at the front end underlined how quick the course is with 18 runners going under the 16 minute barrier. 


My own race was decent.   Set off at a decent but sensible pace and avoided any issues at the start with a 5.13 first mile taking advantage of the downhill start.  2nd mile felt actually very comfortable with a 5.17 so all that was needed was a sensible last mile and I was home and dry.   I think in my head I must have relaxed a bit too much and then realised my legs felt dead coming off the back of the lake.  A slight incline was enough to send my legs to jelly and a group came past me.  A last mile of 5.23 and despite a fast finish I clocked 31st place in a time of 16:32.   The positives were that this was equal to my time of two years ago (proving the ageing process is not slowing me down!).  The negative is of course the feeling that maybe just that slight loss of concentration was the difference.   Its a fine line but onwards and upwards. 

Sunday saw me toe the start line of the New Marske Victorian 10km.  I had never really saw this as a target race so was contemplating using this as a marathon pace test.  That is until I realised there was a decent field assembling for this race and there might be an opportunity for me to test myself against some quality opposition as well as (I confess!) not lay myself open to be "scalped"

"5:30 miling all the way" was the aim and to some extent this was achieved.  First mile was a crazy affair with a mass of runners ahead of me.  I counted about 25 at one stage as I went through the first km.   First mile of 5.24 despite being a cautious start meant that there were a few people who had clearly set off too fast and would pay for it later on.  Miles of 5:29, 5:26, 5:32 and 5:30 gave me some daylight on those that were paying for early exertions and those in front who possibly ran a more sensible race.   The last mile was a bit of a harder effort and unfortunately I slipped out of the intended pace and clocked a 5:40 to finish 9th overall in 34:24.   Not bad as I predicted a 34:30 on the start line (quietly of course!).    The 10km at Abbey Dash remains my post Chester Marathon aim!

There is no lying sometimes when it comes to pace judgement and knowing where you are. You know when you feel good, you know when you just don't feel right. There are a fair few people out there who need to take a step back and look at themselves and ask the question. Is a five minute mile appropriate for me at the beginning of a race where my average pace overall will be almost a minute a mile slower? I suspect I know the answer to that but please continue to test that theory out as I like working my way through the field and picking you off one by one!

Anyway I wont be racing for a few weeks as I build up another block of mileage for the marathon.   Sensible disciplined running for me now as I build up the mileage and avoid the injuries that plagued my unsuccessful Autumn Marathon training last year.    74 days to go as as I write this blog.  

I'm going to be road testing these over the next few weeks.  Firstly I definitely would not normally contemplate the price of these.   Secondly I am not easily taken in by gimmicks but I do like buying new shoes!

That said its an interesting concept and I'm willing to give it a go.  My first run definitely felt quicker and less effort needed to run fast.   Lets see how they go over the longer distances over the next few weeks. 
Finally another plug for the Redcar Half Marathon.   Here are a few of the exciting things that as a runner I feel is taking the race forward:
1.   Chips in the number itself - no messing about with chips on shoes!
2.   Water pouches that are easy to use and more runner friendly
3.   Quality goody bag, T-shirt and medal
For those yet to enter but thinking about it please enter early.  As a race organiser it makes life so much easier and we don't need to spend as much of the race fund chasing runners to enter.   Secondly this race is in its 31st year but as with all public sector led events under so much scrutiny as councils feel the pinch of the recession.  
Happy Running everyone :)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mo...you are cleared for lift off!

Mo Farah claims 5,000m win as Britain enjoy five winners on first day of European Team Championships

50.89 seconds final lap.....what more can you say!  Mo...you are approaching the bell....passengers please put your seat belts on..Mo you are cleared for lift off....whoosh!    Ive never seen anything quite like the acceleration in a 5000m...quite literally breathtaking!

Saturday at Gateshead was a fantastic day of athletics.   So much to see and so much drama.  As well as the predictability of the Mo win we saw the drama of Holly Bleasdale in the Pole Vault, the gutsy Jess Judd in the 800m, the cruising style victories of Perri Shakes-Drayton in the 400m and the majestic Elidh Child breaking the Scottish Record in the 400m hurdles.

It was also a reminder of how brutal sometimes our sport is.   You had to feel for poor Holly Bleasdale who pulled on the GB vest but didn't register any points after bringing the bar down three times on her opening height at 4.25m.   Fair play to the girl though she signed autographs and posed with kids for an age afterwards despite the horrible feeling of defeat and probably wanting to simply disappear from the stadium rather than smile for the camera.  I guess that's a part of the life of a top class athlete.

Even the sprint teams managed to keep hold of the baton...happy days! 

My own training is going well.   Last week was a shift in my focus towards the Chester Marathon.  A 20 miler a week last Sunday and a 16.5 miler last Sunday have both gone well.  Not too fast and my recovery has been good from both runs.  I'm mixing up a few long Sunday runs as baseline preparation for the marathon build up proper and trying to maintain leg speed to get a few decent 5kms under my belt in the next three weeks.  
Tomorrow nights Coast Road run should be a good tester.  The speed is definitely there and on paper I should be close to the 16:29 clocking at Middlesbrough.  Three decent weeks of 60 miles per week and three solid track sessions since that race should have at least maintained my level of fitness post Middlesbrough 5km.  You never know you are going to race off high mileage so it will be a case of seeing how it goes.     The speed sessions are going well and there seems to be a general move towards a bit of speed in the old legs.  
Don't forget to spread the word about the Redcar Half Marathon...entries are coming in nicely now so don't delay...we only have 1675 entries left!
Half Marathon Logo

Friday, 21 June 2013

Technology 1 Runner 0

Imagine my excitement.  A new Garmin 610 arrived for me today.  After months of price tracking and indecision I hit the button "Place Order" on the well known tax evading site named after that long river in Africa (alledgedly I might add!) and it arrived today.   Opening the box I thought simple...plug it in, charge it, put the ANT + dongle thing in the computer and away we go.  

In reality it was two hours of cursing, scouring support websites, emailing supportive experts and still the same result....non connection with my existing Garmin Connect and an inability to upload the fruits of my labour on the PC. 

Then my dear wife comes in....

Have you read the instructions?

Yes of course I have...

10 minutes later the Garmin is connected, working perfectly and ready to upload! 

I didnt read the instructions of course!

Time to test it.  A three miler would do me.  Screens all set up to give me optimum information on the run...new fangled features such as the touch screen ready to be explored and the vibration auto lap primed.   Techno heaven!

3.2 miles later, a great run, feeling good and job done.  Cant wait to upload this beauty .... no wires needed and the start of a new friendship with my sparkly new Garmin.

What did I do...only pressed the wrong bloody button when i finished...reset the watch and lost all my data!

Bloody Technology!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Redcar Half Marathon

This year I am proud to be Race Director for this long established road race.  We have almost 300 entries so far and preparations are going well.  Please support this event and spread the word. 
Redcar Half Marathon online entry

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

818 miles run since my last blog.......

Since my last blog in February I have enjoyed 818 injury free miles of running.  Ive run 5 road races, 1 track race and a park run.    I've run my fastest 5km since around 1995/96, joined a new training group and entered the Chester Marathon in October. 

Here goes a quick whistle stop tour of the last few months races.

24th March - Thirsk 10 Mile Road Race.    This was definitely a "game of two halves".    After hitting half way in 27.55 the turn onto the Thirsk Road was like going into a wind tunnel and the early fast pace slowed considerably.  It seemed the only person unaffected by the wind was Alyson Dixon who stormed through the field in the second half to finish in 8th place with a fine 57.10.   Aly was using this as a build up race to the Brighton Marathon where she went onto record a superb 2:31.08.  I ended up 13th in 58.13.  

29th March - New Marske 10km.  One of the local race series and a run that I can literally step out of my door and I am at the start line.  Actually its a few minutes jog away but you get the picture!   Fairly decent conditions with just a slight breeze meant some decent times so I was happy with my 34.45 as a "starter for the season".   7th place overall and 2nd Vet 40.  It was also a welcome return to the original "stray" path course that we have all missed in the last 18 months as a result of regeneration work.   as is often the case in these sort of races I was left to curse my lack of sprint finish as I moved into 6th with about 200m to go only to find myself overtaken again by a "younger" rival!  Its great being a vet at times!   Mental note to self...work on your sprint finish!

17th April - the second run of the New Marske series and another breezy night!   That said my 5km of 17:01 for 4th place was memorable for the fact that unlike the previous race my sprint finish was not needed as I managed to put a decent gap between myself and 5th place (who happened to be the "younger" rival who outsprinted me three weeks or so earlier...progress! - Sorry Andy C if you read this!).

28th April - Sunderland Half (not quite) Marathon.   Well enough has been said about the fact that this was short by 0.1 miles or so.  Human error happens sometimes and other than that this is a decent event and well worth having in the local calender.   I was very happy with my run of 75:12 which was probably worth around 76 minutes had we not taken a "short cut".   The last three miles were 5.44, 5.45 and 5.41 miling after a few miles battling into the wind and through the inclines of Barnes Park.  In fairness to the organisers they admitted the error, have apologised, kept people up to date and I understand have cut a deal with the London Marathon to ensure good for age times were still able to be used using this race albeit adjusted for the short distance.  I'll be back next year (using my 25% off of course!). 

12th May - Sheffield Half Marathon.  Entered as an after thought following Sunderland.   I was warned about the course profile and was generally pleased with my run of 75.40 for 16th place.   The finish was a bit of a tough one and the final hill before coming into the Don Valley was one climb too many and I died a death coming into the stadium approaches.   I have raced twice before at the Don Valley in the 90s in 6 stage relays and should have remembered those inclines and stadium approaches!  Mile 12 was hard (5.55) and Mile 13 was even harder (6.07).   These were my slowest miles of the race by some way and the sub 75 slipped away from me!   A lot has been said and written about the Don Valley being knocked down but to be fair it has seen better days and the vastness of the stadium just isn't viable in the long term if it isnt hosting top class athletics.   Im sure the Sheffield Half will continue and its certainly a race that I will be doing again!

Final race update...phew!

2nd June - Middlesbrough 5km.   Finally a race that was perfect conditions, flat course and a top class field!   Finished 20th in 16.29 which was my fastest 5km since around 1996.  In music terms the top 10 albums in 1995 included Robson & Jerome, Oasis, Michael Jackson, Blur and Pulp!   I seem to be running well and this was a "B" race for me.    Splits were 5.16, 5.18 and 5.21.  Even managed a sprint finish with an average 4.43 per mile for the final run in (obviously the Chariots of Fire music hit the right buttons!).    Well done Dom Shaw of my own club New Marske Harriers who won the race in a cracking 14.43.

Despite this being my fastest 5km since 1995, a Vet 40 pb, my third fastest age graded run of all time and 2nd Vet 40 on the day  it seems Run Britain are not convinced that this was a good enough run to move my rankings.  Prior to Middlesbrough my Run Britain ranking was 1.0.   Afterwards...still 1.0 and no movement!    Interestingly of the top 25 across the line 20 recorded pbs and the other 5 recorded seasons bests.   A sign of the times we live in that some people's first thoughts were that the course must be short!   I'll settle for the fact that conditions were perfect and the course was fast (my Garmin recorded exactly 5km!).

Technology is a wonderful thing and we all love (and hate at times) our Garmins and GPS watches, chip timing and text results.      I still remember the days when we had to cue in funnels to have our numbers recorded manually, you left a self addressed envelopes for the results and you waited for the post to come to see if you had officially recorded the time you hoped for.    How times have changed when you don't even have chance to do your warm down before your phone beeps and your time and position is confirmed!   This was a race where the second counted..... I'll take the chip time of 16.29 thanks...sounds so much quicker than 16.30!

Come on Run Britain give me some credit for that race performance!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Races like buses.....

I'm not a frequent bus rider but you know the saying.  You wait ages for a bus then three come at once....

A barren spell of races for me...nothing in January due to the cancellation of the Brass Monkey so it was training (of sorts) for events later in the year that took priority.  A steady seven week block of base training after Christmas has been just that...steady.  Averaging 50 or so miles per week with little or no quality work except for a few treadmill sessions meant that the first race of the year was going to be a tough one.   I was happy that this was going to be a 2.2 mile relay leg at the Signals Relays.  I was happily in the B team so no pressure.  In the days leading up to the event it seemed an appearance in the A team was looking likely...Pressure?  Defending champions and a quality line up - a little maybe!  

Taking over in the lead (thanks to a brilliant run by Russ Best) meant an old hand like me could be sensible, not get carried away and run a steady leg to hand over to a younger faster team mate.....if only...yes i went way too fast on the first lap, paid for it on the second lap and felt like I ran through treacle at the finish!  

For at least three days afterwards my legs reminded me of my stupidity!   We did however end up with the Bronze medal which was a great bonus and my first North east medal.

It also gave me a welcome boost as I  trained well that week and did my first interval based session of 2013 with a 6 x 800 set at around 10km pace....got to start somewhere.

Onto the weekend just gone....the Friday night conversation went like this:

Me to Eldest Son:   Do you fancy going to watch the National Cross Country tomorrow?

Son to Me:   OK!  Are you running?

Me to Son:    No I'm running on Sunday at the Snake Lane 10!

Son to Me:     I don't fancy it then.

Me to Son:     If I was running would you come and watch?

Son to Me:     Yes.

Me to Son:      Well I quite fancy running it....

So on it went and I realised I did actually quite fancy the "national". On my doorstep. greatest race in the domestic calender and on a course that was quite entertaining when I last ran on it in 2007.  Three things quite oddly stick out from the day:

1.   The sound of mud was quite intense for the first mile...mud is loud when there is a 1000 plus runners travelling at speed in it!
2.    There was a runner called Henry who was running with me on the second lap who must have had a bus full of supporters with him...greatest number of shout outs for an individual!
3.    The start of the National is one of the most awesome running experiences you will ever have...everyone should experience it at some point in their running career!

The 2013 National was quite probably the muddiest cross country I have ever run in I ended up more than pleased with 290th on the day.
Not quite my best ever National (267th in 1995) but pleasing all the same!

Start of Senior Men

The "slog" that was the "National" meant that the planned run at Snake Lane 10 would be a different race.  I knew from the training I had been doing (lots of steady, not a lot of speed) meant that a fairly unspectacular run at Pocklington was on the cards.   Running the National the day before gave me a perfect excuse to treat the race as a decent race pace effort and see where I was for Thirsk 10 in four weeks.  
Stood on the start line at Pocklington I realised that actually I was pretty tired...legs were aching and I thought a target of 57/58 minutes would be a good target to build on for Thirsk 10 in four weeks time.   A tough headwind in the first four miles gave way to a super fast section between 4.5 and 7 miles.  At 7 miles I knew that I was on borrowed time!  The last three miles saw me dig deep, count down the miles and hang on.   Turning into Pocklington High Street the clock showed 57.50...I went for it and mustered up a final sprint to cross the line in 57.59..job done sub 58 and happy days....
Official results showed 23rd place and 58:00 exactly...if only I had done a dip finish!
The weekends efforts have focused my mind...given me some food for thought...some targets to beat and some people to target...that is once my legs stop aching! 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Year old goals!

2013 Goals

I want to run under 34 Mins for 10K
Sub 2-45 Marathon
I want to run a Sub 16.30 min 5km
Sub 56 for 10 miles
Sub 75 Half Marathon
Run Five Key Quality Races in 2013
2400 training miles!
My 2013 goals are much of the same from last year.   Some key performance targets that are within my grasp and if acheived will provide a solid base moving forward.   There are some goals that I have had for the last two years and either only just missed out on.
First race in 2013 will be the Brass Monkey Half Marathon two weeks today.  I am not expecting much having been laid low with the flu over christmas.   Note the use of the word flu and not a cold or man flu.  I am claiming flu for a number of reasons:
1.  Excessive time over christmas in bed..
2.  Very little enthusiasm (or ability) for running....
3.   Almost half a stone lost
4.   After three weeks a steady run still feels like an interval session and yesterdays park run effort of 17:58 at Redcar felt like it should have been about at least a minute quicker based on my inability to breathe properly and the effort it took!
My intended outing at Ribble Valley 10km was a non starter and this will now form one of my 2013 goals.
As always I'm excited about a new running year and hope that I can just find that edge in 2013.  2012 was a strange year...started the year with a badly sprained ankle delaying my marathon training.   2nd place at the Marathon of the North and some good track races over the summer then led to a frustrating few months coping with hamstring injuries that niggled on and on.  Ended up with a decent end to the year and a sub 34 10km at the Abbey Dash which will definitely be one of my focus races in 2013.
Mileage in 2012 was an average of just under 53 miles per week which is a solid effort.  I think my body copes ok with this sort of mileage.   My intention in 2013 is to stick to a mileage of between 50 and 60 miles per week with a weekly interval based session and some tempo running depending upon what the end goal is.  Main thing will be to listen to my body and be aware when rest and recovery make more sense than training hard.
Lets get to it!  Hope you all have a good 2013 and achieve your running goals!