Category Archives: Intervals

Still doing stuff

Honest, I’m still alive!
An absence of ability to upload stats to Running Free has lead to me just doing stuff on my own, enjoying it and getting on with things, really.
I finished last year with an detached run distance of just over 6 miles which, combined with only 3 runs being over 7 miles and no runs after April of under 6 miles means, yep, I just about ran a while year of 6 mile jogs.
This year I’ve already mixed it up more with a couple of hilly interval repeats, a 7 miles outing and some shorter distance cross-country jogs, which I’m enjoying.
Also finished the year and am carrying on with some more upper body strength work, plus some bmx and mountain-bike fun.
So yes, active, just not involved!
But enjoying things.

Oddities keep life interesting. Or something.

I’d like to have a regular training schedule update to be able to proudly proclaim is doing me wonders in my preparation for the Bupa Great South Run but I’d be lying. A bit.
I haven’t been truly convinced I’ll be running, I guess, but I’ve been preparing anyway in a roundabout fashion. My mid-week runs have continued, one hilly and one undulating but a little quicker. My weekend runs have extended to 10 miles and a few have now been logged (including the laps of the local field from another post). But it hasn’t been straightforward.
A couple of weeks ago, following the Nuts Challenge, I opted to plod around the roads since rain in the days before turned the local trails to a slippery slimebath. It was a dull outing, but did the job – roads seem to lost some allure after the summer of cross country. And my legs felt the impact, as well.
After a recovery run on Tuesday (albeit on the hills; can’t be allowed to recover fully, after all!), Thursday was knocked on the head due to sore calves despite copious stretching and massage. Then, on Saturday, a more interesting 10 mile loop had me suddenly sat at the side of the road with 3 miles to go and no option of a short-cut with my right calf going into spasm, halfway between what felt like a tear and cramp.
With no option but to get home, I massaged some life in to it, started off with a very short gentle stride and managed a mile before a brief massage saw me continue the change in style to the front door. Not a catastrophe, but a concern.
Which demanded rest, which was booked for Sunday watching Cathy complete the London Duathlon.
Which turned into such a disappointment, it’s frustrating. The decent weather of the morning ran away for the Super Sprint category (5k run, 11k cycle, 5k run) so it was to be wind and rain for the three laps of Richmond Park. Even the deer gave little rise to the spirits. And, without music to run to (it’s in the rules), Cathy was disheartened enough that she was going to pull out after the cycle bit. It was a lonely race, with groups of 20 or so started in waves to avoid carnage at transition from cycle to run; the problem was that everyone was alone on a course with no spectators and little in the way of inspiration. Except the marshals, who were absolutely fantastic.
I know this for a fact. Because I couldn’t let Cathy pull out, so ran the last 5k with her. Complete with damaged leg. In jeans. And jacket. With wallet and phone and keys bouncing around.
And I could see how she’d become dispirited. But the finish was excellent and my leg seemed ok, so I was happy enough.
Until yesterday when my calves were, again, as stiff as anything. Not sure what’s going on, but today I decided to run to music. I haven’t really been upping my pace and fear I’ll be slower than last year around Portsmouth and the calf issue is a concern. So I selected Audiofuel’s Thru The Gears (a 15 minute fun interval session, I guess – never particularly fast but it keeps your feet to the beat and focuses the mind when the legs are a worry!) and loved it. Only 4 miles total (I did it twice as an out and back route) but the pace was good, I wasn’t fatigued at all and am fresh for an outing tomorrow.
I’m going to sort my legs and report back shortly.
And I will beat 1.09.53 for the 10 miles. 1.09.52 will do, despite earlier hopes for something altogether more impressive!
The only spanner in the works might be the new push bike I’ve just purchased…

Quietly progressing

Life has been busy of late, even to the point of prioritising proper life (doing stuff, enjoying spare time and that), over Juneathon and the last week.

But exercise has been continuing.

I’ve missed out two weekends of long runs, though. One because of time, the other a combined problem of that and – at last – warm weather. I don’t perform well when the temperature exceeds 21C and yesterday was well above that, so a trip to the seaside combined with stripping the suspension on the mountainbike filled the day without a jog.

Still did weights in the evening, though, as a warm-down routine ready for the week ahead at work.

Runs have been good in the week, though. After work mileage has gradually increased so that, while I’m still only out twice the distance is ok. Monday saw 5.8 very hilly miles in a scenic route around the hills. Tuesday was weights in the conservatory. Wednesday was a mountainbike ride on the jumps and berms around Seabrook in preparation for the trip to Morzine in two weeks, Thursday was an interval session of 6.25 miles around Paddlesworth; it’s hilly and scenic and the splits were slow, what with uphill gradients in all the intervals at some points (the worst was 0.4 miles up a vile hill towards Etchinghill, averaging 7.15/mile – more average flat pace than interval!) but my breathing was pushed, so hopefully they’re keeping me fit. Friday was 15 mile mountainbike ride night, again on some superb hills – the climbing was rotten but the descents more than made up for them.

So the summer is here, I’m enjoying the weather and keeping fit without feeling a slave to running. It feels good for a change.

And this time last year was a few very easy runs following my broken ribs, so all in all I’m in a much better state than then. If I do enter any races as the year wears on, hopefully I won’t disgrace myself completely.

Roll on France…hopefully nothing will break but occasional online videos of the terrain and speed keep reminding me I’ll need to be on decent form while out there.

I’ve a little plan for a jog while in the Alps, too…

Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood couldn’t give a shit, more like.

My outing today was planned as the same 6 mile jog I executed last week but with added intervals.

Not looking forward to these over shorter runs, I was apprehensive to commit to  what distance/spread I should aim for, and a sporadic start included isolated sprints of a couple of tenths of a mile followed by recoveries. A sustained push for half a mile up to 1.5 miles allowed me to recover on a flat section, the  next down being filthy and on the narrowest of lanes around Acrise.

At two miles, the run changed. Several sheep were on the road. My approach made them scatter, three trying to get through the broken fence back into the field (behind the hedge; I wasn’t about to try to help them), two simply ran in circles making funny noises before butting the fence next to the gate in a attempt to get home. So I stopped, forgot to pause the Garmin (always useful to see some 10 minute miles when trying to assess if you’re getting faster!), did my best open the gate and herd the sheep through, successfully repatriating two before more became visible from the road behind me. So I decided I’d jog back to the farm I’d passed and ask if they owned, or even knew who owned, the sheep.

The place on the left greeted my enquiry with a gruff “I couldn’t care less. They’re not mine”. Upon enquiry about whether they might be the place opposite, the response “Couldn’t care. I think he’s just shot one of my doves, the bastard!” encouraged me to jog away.

The place opposite was no better. Knocking the open door (complete with keys hanging in the lock, including the key to the new VW Golf that was sat in the drive attached. Trusting folk, these gruff farmers), no response except for being greeted by the friendly Collie lead me to look around the back where the owner came and, upon my enquiry about whether the sheep were theirs or who I might contact to alert them to the wandering nature of the beasts, again a response of “they’re not ours. Don’t think I’ve got the number of the owner. They don’t live close”.

I thought isolated rural folk might at least take an interest in looking out for each other. Obviously not. The fact that the bloke who was accused of shooting the dove sighted his gun on me as I jogged past the clearing he was shooting in before pulling the trigger to make a clearly audible firing pin strike (I presume in order to prevent me taking a further interest in their activities), makes me glad that my preconceptions of the cunts who live around Hawkinge are truer than I care to accept.

Upon return to Paddlesworth and upon seeing two people tending their verge, my similar enquiry about knowing who’s sheep they might be (by now I was a mile from the beasts, but thought I’d try one last time), I finally got a positive reaction and the lady picked up her phone to at least see if she had the number. She didn’t, but started calling a man who did.

Paddlesworth – the village sign states “Highest Church, lowest steeple, poorest parish, fewest people”. And over 75% of them are oxygen thieves.

So an optimistic outing turned into a farce of a run. 5.5 miles, maybe, but again of poor quality and with my opinion of the human race lowered to disappointingly low standards. I hated everyone before. I hate them because they’re willfully nasty as well as everything else, now.

Juneathon 2013. Not going well.

A little bit of inspiration

Following the cold, miserable weather that brought me to a halt through February and March, how nice April has been.

A complete absence of motivation in the form of planned races has kept the month sensible, re-building my mileage from near nothing to nearer 15 per week as the weeks have worn on. Last week saw a trip to Wales to thrash the mountainbike which saw a missed longer run but kept fun levels high and fitness possibly higher.

But yesterday saw a new form of motivation entirely. The marvelous girlfriend who is JogBlog wafted a book under my nose just as I was finishing the Telegraph Book Of Unpublished Letters but before I started the Telegraph Book of Obituaries (I love the absurd nature of a correspondent who takes the time to write something so abstruse just for the sake of personal entertainment but which is enjoyable to all, alongside an occasional write-up on a war veteran who undoubtedly carried out his service with unbelievable enthusiasm, often having been captured, escaped, been injured, recovered only to get captured again before settling down to a life as head gardener of a nursery. Or the simply unbelievable obit of the man who almost single-handedly perfected the lobotomy process, having been offered “troublesome children” by the aristocracy to quieten them down to avoid embarrassment at social functions for practice. I can read them forever, it seems). Not sure if I’d like it (but having trudged on through one “classic” title in the recent past, only to give up at page 273 having decided I’d given it enough chance to warm up by then if it was going to – if you haven’t read “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, don’t. It’s impenetrable shit. And that’s coming from the author of this blog, so it must be really, really bad by my reckoning. There, that’s a review for you!), I gave it a go by skipping the introduction. After about two paragraphs I decided it was good. After the first chapter I was hooked. The style and passion in the writing and the content are superb – I can honestly say I love it. And it’s the direct reason for today’s run.

“Feet in the Clouds” by Richard Askwith. It’s an old book but has aged superbly. About fell running, basically, and while a certain paper once wrote (completely wrongly, I might add) about a fellow runner’s blog that it “Simply made you want to tie up a pair of laces and go running”, I’ll repeat the quote about the book with the assurance that it indeed does make you want to get up, get out and get amongst it. Tales of endurance, adversity, ridiculous accomplishments, camaraderie, mishap, recklessness…superb reading.

There are no fells near Ashford. The hills I run around between Hawkinge (aka the shittest place in the universe) and Folkestone are steep but short and will be thrashed off-road before long again. But are also 15 miles away. The Greensand Way is flat but at least off-road and goes past my front gate. I decided to run 7 miles today, slowly and off-road, in the style of an out and back. The decision was entirely attributable to the book. I even turned my ankle around the 2.5 mile mark in a track made rough by countless horseshoes. The discomfort was deemed mild in fell-runner’s law because there were no bones or claret visible so I continued to run away from home without breaking stride. It hurts a bit now, but not enough interfere with anything in life beyond being something to comment about.

I think I particularly love the attitude of the athletes to injury, following my ability to hurt myself in everything I do (incidentally, I didn’t even fall off the bike in Wales. Following my broken ribs last year I think I either took it a lot easier, practiced a bit more or had better luck. Superb fun). I now have confirmation that there are lots of others out there who will finish a race on broken limbs, who will run on through torn ligaments and who thrive on finding a way around injury. I think I have a new calling.

Until the novelty wears off, at least. And I hope it does wear off. Travelling to find fells to practice on and then race around might be beyond my wallet or diary. But until then I’ll carry on reading. And being inspired. And hopefully carry on enjoying my runs and staying fit through the year.

Fastest mile of the month was a 6.06. Fastest overall run the Maidstone parkrun at (what felt gentle, honest.) 6.45/mile average (well it’s a run, not a race apparently, I just loved the scenery what with it being along the banks of the river Medway and got a little carried away running and chatting to a couple of experienced parkrunners in their 50 and 100 run tops – before I knew it the run was over). Not going to break any records at that pace but it makes the 7 minute pace that much more enjoyable and the month average pace of 7.22 for all runs is equally encouraging. A few more miles alongside a few more longer runs and I might get race fit before Christmas.

A training goal looms

And as it does, a gert big hiccup occurs in my training schedule.

Since my injured legs started recovering from Janathon I’ve had half an eye on this, the later part of the year, and achieving some longer term goals. I was planning a several pronged assault on a 10k, a half marathon and finally a run around a race that JogBlog has been looking towards since the earlier part of the year. That race was the Bupa Great South Run.

I’m sure many of you know about it; it’s big (25 odd thousand entries), fast (proper athletes like Olympic Gold Medal winners have a go and complete it in under 50 minutes – that sort of fast) and hopefully fun. I’ll find out in a few weeks. For worriers, people  who like to enjoy an event build up and the like an active series of media links exist, two being the Facebook running page and Twitter. Not sure which category I fit but I don’t Twit so it’s fb for me!

So my hiccup in training is this week. I should be at the peak of my training but I got involved in a slow jog with two joggers from work last night (3.5 miles at slow pace instead of 4.5 miles of hilly sprints) and tomorrow, I’ve only just come to realise, I have a complicated car service/work commute and return home along with a dinner out at an earlier than usual time so JB can review a restaurant in her other identity. I might not get a run at all instead f the 5 miles of intervals (on undulating roads) that I targetted. And with 11 miles planned for Saturday, putting it off until Friday isn’t sensible. Nor running again tonight. Nor running Sunday to allow a Friday jog since I won’t recover for next Tuesday’s hilly plan. It seems so complicated. And I haven’t even mentioned my fear that I’ll be held in a slow group from the start and not be able to run freely at my own target pace. Or that my target pace is 30 seconds slower than I wanted following my broken ribs in through June putting my fitness back a few notches.

So many fears, one small (in the scheme of things) event.

But I won’t be tempted into injury. Better to underprepare and enjoy it than blow out before the run even starts. I’ve put the big preparation in, I’m sure this week won’t ruin me. Just wish it was planned as a cut-back, not planned as a peak!

Patience. And then hopefully a fun run as a round up to a frustrated year of injuries (again!) and some good jogging outings. Yes. Forget target times; enjoy the run.

Once again getting there

But where?

Mainly back where I started, only now the pace is occasionally a trifle quicker.

I’ve been dodging the worst of the wet weather on my forays into running improvement having only got properly wet once. Had to decide on a location change a couple of times (It amazes me the difference 14 miles and being at the foot of the North Downs instead of on top of them makes, but two dry runs have come my way as a result) but I’ll not grumble too much.

The style of run has been for longer or harder outings. The mid-week runs have been hard. I messed up this Tuesday in that I realised when I got home I hadn’t pushed as hard as I might have but my lungs over-ruled my brain and I settled for a hard pace instead of a ruinous one. Last Saturday was one of my favourite outings yet. 10 miles to Mersham and back, predominantly flat, all reasonably even-paced, the odd and nice bit being my superb energy at 8 miles. I felt superb and had to ease my pace to make sure my calf (which felt sore through to 3 miles) wasn’t overly strained.

And tonight’s run was again excellent. I wasn’t sure whether to do intervals or try a longer burst of more evenly spread effort. The first half mile was easy in both pace and effort but I didn’t think I had a lung bursting run in me, so opted for a longer duration pace. The undulating route seemed to fly past as I enjoyed a rare sun drenched evening and I felt fine as I turned for the car and tried to maintain pace. Which I managed and enjoyed.

The first outing for ages with a pace I’m happy with and is consistent.

The only sad bit is that I’m only now back to where I was at the end of May when I broke my ribs.

Ah, well. I’ve accepted that my time at the Great South Run will be a few minutes worse than I was hoping for earlier in the year, I’ll just hope for a pleasant run and hopefully enjoy the surroundings now instead of possibly exploding in my efforts to feel quick!

Happy running as the autumn closes in.

Things could be worse.