Category Archives: Long Slow Run

Post Juneathon

So as Juneathon finished on Monday with a whimper more than a flourish (I pushed myself to all but 100miles on the Sunday, leaving Monday for a jog with Spencer from site for as little distance as he desired) at just 2.6 miles, I was a little tired all the same.
So Tuesday was a rest from running (albeit with some weights in the evening), and then the niggles started.
Little bits of pain in my right foot, my right shin sore where it cracked the other year, tight thighs. So rest was lovely.
Then heat for the rest of the week encouraged me to enjoy a few days off, which ended today.
I was looking forward to a jog and the morning rain cooled things nicely, so 6 miles it was. My favourite Gill Lane route. Always effortlessly swift straight after June, oddly my heel hurt a bit around 3 miles. An odd pain, from nowhere, but not enough to alter my jog. So I didn’t.
And 3 miles later, I was home and happy. Looking forward to a shorter distance month with more cycling ready for France and the Alps next month.
77, 52, 31

Juneathon, Juneathon, Ra, Ra, Ra!

Yep, it’s that time of the year already. A month of exercise. No, more than that. All of my months include exercise. The ‘Athons make them special. January was a good month. Over 200 running miles is a record for me. And it’s not going to be repeated, unfortunately.

Last June saw me suffering broken ribs following a mountainbike crash at CwmCarn downhill track in Wales. Juneathon missed. This year, the run-in has been different. Wales was visited back in April with no crashes (in preparation for Morzine in the French Alps in July where there will be crashes but hopefully none too serious). I have, therefore, been out on the mountainbike a fair bit more than last year, but also the running has been better.

No massive mileage but I’ve settled in to 50/month, consisting of a midweek 4-5 mile hill run, a mid-week 5-6 mile interval run and a weekend 6-8 mile off-road run. Pace is reasonable and fitness high enough to be happy.

Weights have been thrown around the conservatory to keep upper body strength ready for the mountains. Strength is fine.

But Juneathon will be an attempt to cycle to work as much as reasonable, depending on the weather. It’s 15 miles of muddy country lane so won’t be attacked in the wet. As well as running everyday, albeit only short distances. 30 mile cycle days will be matched with 1 mile runs, hopefully allowing somewhere around 600 cycling miles and 75 running.

The Garmin took a full hour to do the download today. Hopefully that won’t become regular, but 3 miles cycled (to get petrol for the lawnmower) and 6 miles run around my favourite road loop have started the month well.

Roll on July.

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.

Infrequently slacking.

Not on the exercise front, merely the blogging about it.

I’ve been pretty much full-time flat out for the last few weeks. I’ve had my front trees cut down which has produced logs for around two years which needed moving to storage in the back garden as well as producing so much rubbish that I’ve elected to dispose of via the medium of combustion that each weekend evening is occupied with burning and the pub.

Which, while nice, is tiring!

So it’s all the more pleasing to report that since my cold at the beginning of August I haven’t missed a run. The Tuesday regular outing has been on the hills which I’ve been varying; sometimes the evil Waterworks route, last week was possibly even nastier involving Crete Road East as it did. The view from the top was superb but getting there was simply vile. A long mile downhill followed by an uphill kick before the full slog up the final push that was in fact only halfway. It felt horrendous, so must have been good!

The Thursday regular has taken the form of gradually increasing intensity as the last bits of cold have cleared from my chest. Generally intervals of a sort, last week saw use of AudioFuel’s excellent Thru The Gears on the flat bypass near my house. A long day followed by an evening clearing logs nearly resulted in a runless end but I got out and enjoyed bouncing to the music (twice…it’s only 14 minutes long!) until returning around 9pm to the happiness only a successful jog can bring.

And the weekends have been gradually increasing distance and intensity on my longer runs. Generally around 8-9 miles I’ve settled into a nice routine of Saturday morning jogging which sets me up well for the rest of the weekend. The overall result has been 60 miles over the month which I’d like to maintain to allow pace improvement onto reasonably well-stretched legs.

I’ll see if this is good for race performance if I do indeed get a few in before the end of the year. I have plans but, this year in particular, these seem to have got away from me.

Infrequent blogger. Must try harder.

My efforts to get beyond recovery from my chest injury have paid reasonable dividends and July saw a bounce back to reasonable mileage over the month which was again scuppered right at the end by a cold assaulting chest, lungs and head.

Still putting up with an irritating cough now, the pesky annoyance has been joined by sudden warmth which makes me want to do nothing (well ok, it’s an excuse to blog!) in the way of effort.

Overall, though, reasonable fitness has returned. I’ve managed a few hill runs, a couple of interval runs which have been a touch lack-lustre (coinciding as they have with hot evenings when running is already low on the list of enjoyable past-times!) and disappointing and many flat, just getting my legs used to some distance over a month efforts which have been the most enjoyable.

Pace has varied, comfort during the effort has varied and consistency hopefully will be the next to return.

I’ve built distance back to a planned 8 miles which was shortened in the heat this morning to 5.4 after which I simply lost fluid like a colander which I am now struggling to replace. Much as I prefer running in the warmth, this is ridiculous!

Fingers crossed for a settled week and more blog updates.

Ups and downs

The last week has, intentionally, been one that’s difficult to measure. The attempt is stealth improvement. The worry is no improvement or, indeed, decline in ability since last year. Which, I suppose following two stale months with injury, may be inevitable and I’ll have to accept it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, I have a product to review. The lovely folk at Under Armour contacted me and invited the use of one of their t-shirts. I’ve been wondering if they’re as good as the claims since overheating at the Folkestone Half in a dark top, so leapt at the chance. And this weekend has, at last, allowed a rise in temperature enough to assess any benefit.

The shirt arrived (a fetching dark orange…bright but on the good side of hideous) and looked, upon unwrapping, to be huge. Long and wide. But by magic, when pulled on, it fits like a tailored garment. Definitely not one to be held up in a shop for assessment of sizing! And with flat seams and wicking fabric, it feels great.

The useage test is going to sound like a product endorsement, so if you like criticism, skip this bit! Somehow the shirt seems to reflect the sun just as claimed. Despite a fair stretch with the sun directly on my back and with me focusing on the shirt to assess it, I felt no warmth at all. Not from the outside, anyway! The wicking seemed to be keeping me as comfortable as my Helly Hansen tops do as well, so all in I’m delighted. The hottest June and July days are going to be interesting to see how good it is against my pure white Brooks top and I’ll update further when I know.

So to the week in runs. Tuesday saw an assault on the steepest hills from and back to site. Downhill from site to just over two miles and then back up, it seems a bit brutal. Maybe because it is. The graph says it all:

The steepest bit makes 10 minute mile pace for quarter of a mile a fair challenge and turning left to see the hill continue is upsetting for a chest burning and thighs hurting as they were. It’s good for the soul, though, so I’m told.

Thursday had me taking the opposite direction along the tops of the hills and attempting some interval training. The plan was a half mile slow warm-up, then run as hard as I felt I could without pacing music or anything to take my mind away from my chest imploring me to slow down and catch my breath. It’s a horrible thing, along with the inevitable uphill bits getting in the way. This was followed by another slow half mile which then lead into another sprint. The plan was to go for a mile again with a turn-around half way through but traffic on the lane made me turn right and scuppered things when I had to stop again for cars, so I turned at 0.25 miles and made a shorter middle leg. I slowed as planned, though, allowing a further mile back where the first one was, to allow a future assessment of pace over averaged up and down slopes. The current answer is that I’m 17 seconds slower over the second interval. And that the first one wasn’t very quick compared to last years individual mile times. The highlight was pacing past two cyclists who’d overtaken me at the bottom of one dip and run out of steam as the hill went upward…oh how nice it would have been to have the breath to take the piss!

Maybe now I’m well over 40 it’s time to slow up after all.

But then yesterday was my long run, so I popped out for a series of local loops at slower pace and enjoyed (I’m sure that’s the correct term) 9 miles of lanes and byways. A good series of splits indicate I was comfortable from start to finish but my right leg is now sore…hoping it’s not another injury coming in. It felt superb all day, then I noticed it when moving around to a superb covers band of the Sex Pistols at a gig in Ashford and it remains a sore point now.

Hopefully it’ll improve, along with my running. The plan is to mix up my routes wherever possible so I won’t know if I’m getting better or not for a while before returning to the old route for a comparison when time might have allowed a change.

Fingers crossed. It’s race season soon, after all.

Fair Weather Runner…Rachel has the most apt blog!

I’ve been thinking that, in the same way that motorcycling seems a great thing to do all year round when you’re 20 but then falling off in the ice and snow loses appeal followed by the whole getting wet thing followed by the frustration at not being able to thrash it with abandon followed by the admission that yes, I do only go out when it’s pleasant enough to do so, my running is starting to do the same.

Having been soaked countless times and had my nipples bleed in my rain coats when I’ve plodded on regardless, this week I had enough.

A sunny day on Monday should have heralded a good run. It did, to be fair. I left site at 5.25 having had the sun go in at around 4.30 so it was warm (ish…not May warm, but better than January cold) and my mind’s eye had it as bright.

Which was wrong. Clearly. For at 1.75 miles it started spotting with rain. At 2 miles it was bucketing down. And I was on a new route along the tops of the hills towards Etchinghill which, to say the least, left me a touch exposed to the rain.

I enjoyed the run though, overall. But not enough that on Wednesday when it was tipping down all afternoon I could face an outing. So I didn’t. I got the rowing machine out and cross-trained. I hate the rowing machine. The resistance is great and the workout it gives my heart is superb, with variety given by a range of programmes to alter the resistance. But the calorie, distance, stroke rate and Watts (power produced) indicators are so inaccurate it simply demoralises. For example on Wednesday I targeted a varied programme of resistance with a 30 minute goal and 900 stroke aim. The stroke rate indicator hovered between 28 and 30 but I did 910 strokes in 28 minutes; the power reads 75 watts whether the resistance is at max or middling; Apparently I burned but 78 calories and my distance was a little over a mile. But my heart was spinning out of my chest at the same rate it would at 6.45/mile running. Bah.

But a good workout.

Which explains why, when the rain stopped on Thursday evening and I headed out at 8.30, I had so little energy that I barely plodded my way around 2.75 miles without collapsing with exhaustion. I guess it proves that mixing the training up provides much better overall fitness than focusing on one activity.

Which lead to the weekend and, again, my refusal to go out yesterday and get soaked and then take advantage of the dry evening to mow the lawn. Which meant that this morning dawning dry as it did, I headed out for 8 miles of fun.

A varied route was needed, so I opted for an out and back to the motorway on the back lanes. I fancied a loop but didn’t want to stretch my legs to 10 miles to find the best one in the direction I fancied and the route was interesting enough, being ignored since my marathon training two years ago, that it felt fresh in both directions.

The out leg was excellent. A crisis of confidence at 3 miles lead to a slow mile at  the turnaround but a fresh stride was rediscovered as soon as a) I realised I’d been running into a headwind, b) I’d been going slightly uphill (only slightly mind…it’s all flatter than a pan type cake, really) and c) if I could ease 4 miles out that easily, I could simply do it again.

And I did. A few “If I walk from here it’ll take 45 minutes” calculations went on in my head, but they weren’t serious considerations, merely ticks to make sure I carried on and didn’t suffer a late lunch. In fact, the last mile was one of the freshest of the run and a fine way to finish an outing.

Next week I may well increase it to 9 miles. With a sprint session on Thursday and some hills on Tuesday. All in the dry.

And pigs might just, too.

Repaired, healthy and improving

My couple of weeks away from running seem to have assisted my improvement no end. I ran my normal mid-week runs with little ill effect and only minor “erring on the side of caution” alteration of the outings. The 4 miles of hills was slower and only included two hill repeats, my thinking being I’ll build up if I don’t break down. But the miracle was a decently fast half mile split on the longest, steepest of the hills. And I felt fine, if a little twinge did set in on the Wednesday afternoon. My flat fast evening was along the same lines; I held off on outright sprinting, instead concentrating on swift but easy (ish) breathing, focusing on my footfall and keeping my feet steady and stable on the ground. A reasonable first mile was built on with all subsequent miles coming faster, culminating in an out-of-breath me but with legs still intact and a hope for “proper” training next week.

And then my weekend plans were to up the mileage to a decent weekend distance without going mad and again hurting myself. I fancied 8 slow miles but reduced this to 7 as a promise to slowly increase. I set a target of 8 minutes per mile and a promise to not run ahead of myself. I almost succeeded at this, too.

And everything is ticking along just fine for a change. The longer run has tightened my calves a touch and I think this may be partly brought on by my focusing on keeping a steady, flat, full foot-fall. At these slower speeds I can focus on each stride and correct myself before I’ve put in half a mile of bad running. And I already find myself having to twist and twitch my wrists less than last week to keep my feet in the right direction, so hopefully I’m curing myself as I progress.

The proof of the pudding will be as I head out again next week and see how things go. Healthy, decent running form and the optimism of spring? Wonderful.

A mixed week

Something is still grumbling in my legs as a result of Janathon. My left shin hurts most of the time but on occasion, all is well – bizarrely, I was sprinting on the spot yesterday afternoon on site in my rigger boots (long story…needless to say I need to grow up) and when finished my leg felt perfect – almost superb, in fact. Which encourages me that my new trainers will sort things out over time as long as I don’t do anything daft for a while.

Monday saw me jogging with Spencer from work. He’ll come along very nicely if he keeps his focus on steady runs and improvement – considering the hills, his pace is very encouraging. Less so were my legs which went all odd – my right hamstring tightened and my left shin and calf were all over the place which simply shouldn’t happen. Makes me think I’m probably carrying something odd in my gait so niggles are developing from these. Didn’t stop me doing the hill in a new pb of 2.48, though, which pleased me.

Thursday was odd, however. I opted to use the rowing machine on Wednesday instead of heading out into a cold, strong wind with added drizzle. A good idea for the weather, Thursday was shorts-warm and bright. But I fiddled with my Garmin in a attempt to pace myself for an interval and it went haywire. The splits around the error look ok and the virtual partner was pulling me along for about 0.8 miles at 6.05 pace but as I turned around at the end of a road I noticed my timer had stopped. No beeping or input, just a steady time of 12.51 showing; it seemes to have auto stopped or something at 1.89 miles and not re-started. Punching the virtual partner screen and pausing my running for a second re-started it but I lost a section of run (the trace shows an infill line between the hairpin and the re-start) and the average pace shows at 10.54 for that quarter mile. And I only paused for 5 or so seconds to sort it out! So I’ve no base for monitoring how quickly I’m losing performance yet. I’ll have another go next week. The nice bit of the run is that despite a mile sprint the rest of the outing was ok. Legs felt tired but so they should, the last hill was a little slower but that’s fine by me, too.

Today has seen me use my favourite loop of Gill Lane for a 7 mile outing. My shin has a steady dull ache now despite a slow pace. It shouldn’t be sore after 7 miles, but there you go. I’ll keep monitoring it.

The rest of the week has also seen two weights sessions and the brief row, so I can tick off 6 exercise units for the last 6 days…little wonder I fell asleep in the chair last night, I guess. The year should be coming along nicely. In truth it probably is. But in the back of my mind I’m wondering why I’m getting progressively slower.

113 runs, 91 exercises and 45 cycles to go.