Wednesday, 26 December 2012

5.6 k ish?! - race in 20:30. Solid.

A classic for my area, random distance! BUT the "corrida" are a lot of fun, and I wore my santa hat with pride, but also achieving 18:35 over the first 5k, just three seconds off my PB under race conditions, so I must have been shifting along a bit (not that it climbed as much (73m) as Ashton court Park Run (??m) does, where I got that time!)

Very pleased and thankful! Nice festive way to round off the year too with some friends along to cheer and hearing my son doing his now classic "come on DADDY!"

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

2012 Season Review and some perspective for 2013

Following on from Marathon Talk episode 150:

1. What were the highlights andwhat were the things that helped you achieve that?

It was a very tough first half year in terms of health and injury. But through it was birthed a new approach and purpose to my running that integrates a spiritual element, and I hope some deeper perspective and humility.

AND, what are the top 5 you will concentrate on over the winter?

- hill reps

- long runs (2½ hrs or more).

− running with other people

2. List the things you would like to get better at, holes in your training.

- the fade effect that doesn't seem to occur in the shorter distances I race in.

− compacting the time around the training (i.e. quick showers, fitting it into a schedule with it becoming this all−encompassing thing)

3. Key goal(s )? And how far away from achieving that goal do you feel?

− sub 3h marathon (fairly close, maybe 3:02…)

− 100 km / Templiers race (well up for it!)

− 17:59  5 km (pretty close)

− 37:59 10 km (not so close)

− 5:14 mile (stab in the dark)

4. Identifying your A-goal. Sometimes though, there is a bigger picture involved. 

− Marseille Marathon (spring)

− Ultra (autumn, possibly with marathon support a month before, depending on where I am)

5. What is your training budget. Over-promise and under-deliver. ME: do this with Heather.

− 5 runs a week. One long run to be done outside of family time, unless other plans made. My wife is cool with this.

Off we go! 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Bringing back some speed!

8.5 km in 38 minutes

Loved it loved it, there's still some speed there, although breaking 38 minutes next year is not going to come easily!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Pain in the foot!

I've been sensing over the past few weeks, particularly after road running, a growing awareness of discomfort in the soles of my forefeet, which is leading me to question the legacy of forefoot running.

It seems like no matter where you turn in running media, the discussions about running technique seem to invariably imply that manufacturers have been overly playing to consumers supposed need for cushioning and comfort and actually encouraging poorer technique.

Not only do I understand these arguments, but application of forefoot running has resulted in significantly reduced knee strain compared with this time last year. So what's my problem? Well not only am I suffering from this sense of bruising, but I just question also the rigid application of the technique. I mentioned in a post in October following my autumn Marathon that my calves, which are prone to cramping after a time could be fully alleviated by resuming a heel-strike, which effectively stretches the calf muscle.

This is all coming off sore feet just now combined with a fair amount of laziness "preventing me" from getting out the door. Oh and my wife had gone to bed early and I didn't want to wake her...

Anyway, seriously, I need to give minimalist footware a bit of a try, but it may just be a quick dip 2013 could be an interesting year.

This is a Christian blog. I am also asking God again to afresh inspire me. Interesting to see that one of.the key inspirations behind the blog, andhero in many ways, Ryan Hall, has decided to resume being coached after the faith-based approach he had adopted. Hope it works for him.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

hill power!

Absolutely powered it up a 2k hill, I was feeling cold and only had half an hour. Bliss! Maybe slightly too hard though, as was feeling a bit wheasy for the rest of the evening. Marathon Talk episode 153 do talk about the need to build foundations in December, that tricky month, in order to really start preparations in earnest in January.

Fantastic video out on SaintElyon. Felt quite emotional just watching it!

Monday, 10 December 2012


9 km varied terrain and a couple of phone calls!
Its hard to know when to build long runs back in after a big event, especially if that big event is far bigger than anything you have ever done before. But all stiffness was gone on Thursday and Saturday saw me do 10 km in about 50 odd minutes, so I think it would have been fine to takethings further today. Unfortunately I just ran out of time. I made a concerted effort to remind myself that everything is fine, I'm not even currently training for a race, and am enjoying a drink or two!
Am still feeling really blessed at just how well everything went really last week at Lyon. Some not great choices still failed to tarnish an amazing adventure, and I came out totally uninjured too. Great.
It is time to complete my year review, which I will also blog at some point during the week.

Friday, 7 December 2012


I am signed up to a running newsletter (RunnersConnect - probably a bit too "scientific" for my liking, but I have to confess it does appeal to that side of my brain!) who sent me today a link to an article on caffeine, which is definitely something I have wondered about before. Last weekend, for example, during my first nocturnal ultramarathon, I really felt I needed caffeine, but when and how much are big questions...

If you read the ProPlus instructions, you discover that the doses seem to be quite conservative: 50mg per pill, "do not exceed two tablets in three hours, or 8 tablets per day". So does this mean that you can take 8 tablets in one go (provided that was it for the next 24 hours), and just how drastic would that be?

What I like about the RunnersConnect article, is that is actually referring to sports research which is broken down according to a person's weight. I weigh nearly 70 kg, which surprisingly placed me squarely in the middle category of 150 pounds. This means that 200 to 400 mg (so 4 or 8 Proplus tablets) are beneficial. More than 400 won't be beneficial (but won't kill me either). To be taken 60 to 90 minutes prior to exercise". 
Now the unfortunate thing here is that we are not told what kind of exercise it is. During my SaintElyon event, I started to feel real drowsy around about 2-3am after 2-3 hours of running and a quite moderate level of effort. Prior to the start, no caffeine really was required as adrenaline performs the wakefulness needs, and the subsequent effort is not sufficiently intense for caffeine to provide a fatigue-staving effect.

So the ultra-event represents a completely different scenario to the 5 km - half-marathon distances I presume are envisaged here.

Conclusion: Test taking 6 tablets 1 hour before next short race or simulation and observe the effect for distances no longer than half-marathon. Test taking perhaps 2 / hour over a 4 hour run for the lower intensity long-distance stuff.

Monday, 3 December 2012

SaintElyon 2012

I love running! And I have to say I am so glad to have run this race, despite a number of factors that probably weren't in favour of its enjoyment factor. Stomach issues, possibly the wrong shoes and people are now saying that the conditions were the hardest they have had in recent years in terms of cold, icy (think: slippy−slidy) conditions − I must have fallen 6 or 7 times, with many more acrobatics to prevent others! The cold also affected hydration − on two separate sections of over 10k, I was without water, even though I could hear it sloshing in my pack, because my hydration tube froze! But there was a great atmosphere! Imagine the excitement as 12,000 head torches bob up and down at the start−line in preparation for the starter−horn, or miles of little lights snaking their way up a mountainside, it was impossible not to think of Lord of the Rings! The camaraderie was great too − after one of my falls (I think it was around half−way), I had instant cramp in both calfs and couldn't move. INSTANTLY, there were two other runners, one on each foot, helping me stretch. 
However, what made this mostly fun, was down to luck. It's true that I run marathons, but I have never set foot over the marathon distance, and certainly not on terrain or over a profile like this, so I naturally took it quite slowly to start off with. After a few miles we climbed up into the snow where it was just very difficult to pass other runners, so I was often forced just to retain my position. A lot of this journey is blurry to be honest, but at the 50k point there were more roads, and I felt strong for the next 10k. But then I finally fell victim of an over−inflated sense of ability, and decided to power it home for the last 10 km, including an absolute whopper of a hill. This plan fell to pieces with 4 km to go, and the enjoyment finally died! These were very long kilometres, but I finally made it. As I crossed the finish line, the emotions were really intense, and I collapsed into tears for several minutes. Tears of joy, a sense of achievement, but also at disbelief at just how far and long it had all been!
One of the things I had been worried about was gaining too little (or no!) support for Refugee Support Network because of my poor organisation in getting the word out! But support from people has been really good and I am so grateful. This was definitely a tough physical challenge, probably the hardest I have ever faced, but it shows how friends and family really are willing to get behind people who are up for that. This challenge is over for me, thank goodness, but the refugees' one is on−going. Thanks for the support.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Massif de l'étoile

I forgot to post this: how come I have never come here before?! Stunning views, and quality podcast, thank you Talk Ultra!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

For my gran: "Bunny", 8 km hill climb

7.8 km in 44:24 hill climb.

Today is a sad day following on from my Gran, a.k.a. Bunny, passing away last night. Some of today's run was spent thinking about her, and prayerfully recognising the privilege of that heritage and existence and family.

This was a sprightly run up the steepest off-road hill near me, that sees a vertical gain of xxxm in the first 2k. Downhill speed peaked at 2:38/km (almost 23k/h), but this was obviously on a steep downhill tarmac section. Off-road downhill, attempted to integrate some of the lessons learned at the trail race on Nov 4, although there's only so fast you I feel I can go on that rocky, and stupid-steep section.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

not been easy, getting back on the blogging wagon...

2 x 9 km
I seem to have gotten off the wagon - not so much of running, but of updating the blog, which I think also coincides with some difficult personal circumstances and family stress. What was great about today was the way in which the runs just slotted into a commute to and from an appointment. Excellent - and I don't feel the 18 km at all, it's a great way to sneak in extra miles without my body really noticing. It really did notice, however, the other day, when I did a 36 km run around my city in 3:34. It was nice to get into the second half of the challenge ahead - the 70km SaintElyon, but yet scary, as my feet were killing by the end.

Breakthrough came though in my nutrition - running at 5:55/km pace is so different to 4:20! I can really take on board good food, and I found that both ham and cheese were welcome fuels. I will be doing the same again on the ultra, using highly-practical babybels (remove the plastic wrapper though, that was annoying).

Running has again become a time for meditation and prayer for me, and for it I am grateful. I am going the process at the moment also of wondering again how running can be glorifying to God and how I can work with other people in that vision. I'm off to work on that now in fact!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Family prioritising, urban poverty and negative splitting

Sun: nowt, Mon: nowt, Tue: 16k
Thank goodness something got squeezed in! I really wanted a long run in each week as part of the build up to SaintElyon but that has t really happened. For the first two weeks I was definitely recovering, so no regrets there. But I really should have been out for a long 'un this weekend. Sometimes though, I just have to learn that circumstances sometimes just dictate differently to my plans, and remind me that as much as I love running, it isn't the most important thing in my life. My family and my faith come higher up the list. A last minute change in weather conditions and a last minute visits by a family of nine (yes, NINE!) meant a whole load of changes hit hard. But I can't tell you just how much release it gave me after initial feelings of stress just to say: there is nothing I can do about this, I have to accept this, this is life! Also, coming tons point of peace about this in the presence of my family is valuable and scores points because they know just how precious time running is to me. 

Regarding the 16k: a "utility run" to the train station and back to pick up a ticke (for the saintelyon race as it happens), applying the usual principle of slightly faster back than out. About and hour 20 mins in total.  I was so struck by the poverty in the northern district of the city I was running through, the filth, thé people rummaging through the bins. I had a bad dream last night about my disgust of the whole situation that poverty brings. I tried to pray for the areas but then just felt quite helpless in the face of such need. I'm glad I came back a different route. 

Back on the subject of the out and back pacing strategy for a training run: when I do this, I know that my pace can be increased. Although it might feel harder to do 4:30 or 4:40/km, I just know it's still well within my scope relative to my race pace, and I do it, and feel fairly positive about that. However, I have yet to negative split on a marathon (or go sub 3hr). And I realise now that my strategy virtually guarantees that I will fail in this endeavour. My strategy really is to positive split! I set off pretty quick in first km and then average around 5 seconds per km quicker than my goal marathon pace for the next 25. But even if I'd gone those five seconds slower: assuming accurate goal-setting, I am at best going to nail an absolutely even marathon. Surely I need to be running a couple of seconds slower than average goal pace to ensure a Healthy negative split. Now this is all a bit theoretical, I know. What do I do when confronted with the reality of a hilly course next time? When running in my last marathon, I kept telling myself when on the flat that I had to run slightly quicker than average goal pace because the speed of the hills is not (and should not be) compensated for by the acceleration of the downs. I course, battered by the third quarter hills, this was not an option for me in the latter stages of the race, but maybe it might have been. Could we not suggest then, as a rule of thumb and guide for a hilly course that flat sections in the first half are taken AT average goal pace, ie slightly slow?

Friday, 26 October 2012

Picking it up

Third week after marathon and my strength and endurance are definitely coming back. So reassuring! 8 and 10 km runs were leaving me panicking that I was going to never make the saintelyon challenge. 

Last night:

8.5 km mainly uphill average 5:00/km. stop 1hr 15. Return over technical hills in night 11km. Slightly crazy moment where I had almost got off the hills, which apparently are privately owned by Lafarge, although seems to depend on how you access the hills, when I discovered Lafarge had reinforced security at the exit, meaning I had to climb back almost to the top of the hill to find another route off. This was perhaps not entirely a bad thing. I simply had the reserves and strength, and it was encouraging to see my body literally take it in its stride. Just within the last few K, a bit of general fatigue and fragility in left knee saw the downhill pace drop. Sub-4 min pace/km aerobically felt otherwise pretty easy. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

10km, with more ups and downs than a hilly hill!

As per yesterday's post, I am sounding out a return to training with the rather ominous 70 km only 7-or-so weeks away. 10 km felt hard today. Admittedly I went out making a school-boy error of not having drunk before I left, and by the time I reached my 6th K, although i was now heading back downhill on my usual 10 K out-and-back route past the plage de Corbière, I struggled to even match my uphill pace. Strangely, I started to feel considerably better as time wore on and felt pretty good by the time I got home, having stopped for a little water in the park en-route. Bit of a weird experience to be honest.

Later in the day felt quite a lot of stiffness around the ankles in particular, which was also a good reminder to not neglect stretching (which I did totally neglect). I am really looking forward to building up to the maximum long-run, which I will basically be measuring in time --> 4 hours, although I don't know exactly by when I shall be able to achieve this, with the 4 November race placed when it is. My guess is either the week before or the week after, certainly no later. Although it's more about time on the feet, which is in-line with my goal of just completing this distance, it would be good to aim for average 6 min/km pace I think, which should mean I can have a 40km route in mind, probably in the city, to give me a hopefully unnecessary bail-out fallback option in the form of public transport home.

In terms of faith, the main current news is that I am really having to rethink my reasons for running by with and for God in a time when I may be joining with a Christian sports group. I suppose it's good that we all have our own complementary approaches.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Picking it up

It's a wee bit tricky when you have two "A-races" isn't it? My Autumn goals have centred around the Luberon marathon on 7 October and the SaintElyon on 1 December, two very different challenges. The first one is now obviously over, and so is my first week of recovery from that: Tuesday = 3 mile jog, Friday = 3 mile run, Saturday = 1h50 min off-road gentle and some clambering over rocks. And I feel tired still, not that recent just run hard tired, but a deeper, still-needing-to-recover from 3h04 of grilling myself! And in some ways I should be glad. If the recovery had been really quick (last year's was quicker than this), then maybe I hadn't run as hard as I needed, and proper recovery does take time. In fact, most of us, and I am well and truly in the "most-of-us" category, need to be thinking about a very low number of very-long (marathon and above) events in the year.

But having these two races together, 1 in October and 1 on 1 December, seemed like a really decent gap. The idea was to allow my body to recover from the marathon and then use that training to benefit my first dabble in the Ultra world. I think it will work out, but what I realise now is that actually I have given virtually no thought to how I will build up to Dec 1. My thinking now is to keep it gentle until my body feels able to clock it up a bit, and keep in view a few training programmes for marathon (I use MarathonTalk ("competent") and Runner's World (sub-3) downloads and tweak as needed. The only thing is that even if I were to jump on that band wagon now, I would already be more than half way through! That is quite scary. The key change to those programmes that I will be looking at is extending the easy stuff. I really need to build up to some outings. I estimate the SaintElyon to take me in the region of 7 hours, which is I hope taking into account my lack of experience and forcing a slow 6 min/km-ish pace for the first 50 km. This expectation is of course likely to be tweaked also as I factor in the experience from my remaining long runs.

Incidentally, there is also a long trail event with 1000m of vertical assent of 28.5 km planned for 4 november. This will obviously be one of my long runs that I will be running faster than long-run pace but not flat out either as I will need to be not recovering for the next two weeks, which basically precede my taper period. This planning stuff is quite tough!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Luberon Marathon 2012

42.195 km in 3:04:15

Or at least that's what I hope happened! But more about that in a minute...

So on the morning of the race I woke up a lot earlier than my alarm, I think I was too pre-occupied with what was to come, and yet, paradoxically, the worry that my body had no idea and wasn't ready for what was about to come.

The planning had been fairly extensive (and some previous posts to this blog will attest to this!), but as ever, not quite perfect, but then I suppose they never will be. Things that got forgotten this time were:
- remembering that pinning my race number to my teeshirt the night before is of little help when you are going to be wearing a running pack over the top of it!
- an hour early before a race is a minimum when you are going with other people.
- checking the condition of my socks, and having a back-up solution here, see below.

Loads of stuff went great:
   - again the rice (and rice-pudding at lunch time) did me just fine for avoiding ginger bread man isssues and being a good energy source.
   - Energy gels - much to my surprise, I got through four of these, and could probably have done with a fifth. There impact on my general feeling of getting tired and just beginning to slow down was undeniable. I took them according to need, which is possibly not the way to go, and given that I still haven't managed the negative split (I do not think that on this course that this would be achieved in any successful way by anybody) is something I am more than willing to reconsider. Incidentally I dropped one and almost stopped to pick it up, and then remembered a good environment pact idea based on the Zacheus ratio. So I will pick up at least 4 times what I littered from somewhere that is of no advantage for me to be clean!
   - hydration: while it is good to be challenged by people such as Noakes on overhydrating, and I am looking forward to reading his latest book called "Waterlogged", it is also true that a de-hydrated runner will start to just slow down, and I think that some of my flagging in the latter stages (particularly the section immediately after Ansouis, goodness that section is hideous!) could be associated with this. BUT the conditions were at least five degrees cooler than last year and I had been taking on more liquid from the feed-stations than last year too, so I think the carrying some liquids and strongly reinforcing that was actually a good combination.

   - stopping to pray with close ones for the tough challenge ahead was a tremendous sourc of strength to me.
   - chatting a little with some runners on the course reminds me that although competitors, we are primarily pitched in together against the formidable course set before us. I like that word, "us", "us runners".
   - family and friend support. Good not to rely too heavily though if not trained together for that purpose. Really liked getting the sweatband off them in the first quarter. The elastic tube I had planned to wear for the duration was just much too warm.
   - being willing to let people go. One of the questions I ask myself is: did I stick to the plan? There were times when I was almost saying out loud to myself - let those people go, they are going faster than my race plan, and I allowed my pace to drop. In the end I achieved my 3:05 goal very precisely. The unresolvable question is, if I had gone slower in the first 3/5 of the race would i have gone any quicker in the last 2/5? And if I had would that have meant for an overall faster time? It's unanswerable, especially as with my query about race distance, my future with this race is a bit uncertain right now.
   - running pack. I think I would consider running with just a belt now, but the pack didn't really slow me down. It may be a slight false-economy to only half fill the water pouch though, as I found I had to suck hard toward the end, which is really not what you want to be doing in the latter stages of an endurance event. There are some lines of clothing that have external pockets...
   - socks, was really surprised and a little dissappointed to see that my little-used injinji toe socks had already generated a sizable hole the morning of the race! Normal coton ones got me through with a fairly big blister to the left foot. I won't be doing that injinji brand again any time soon.
   - shoes, my Adidas road shoes just about hacked it, partly thanks to a slightly-improved route, but my trail shoes would have been just as suitable really. But then I just love my trail shoes!
   - sweatband, as mentioned above, switching to a regular tennis-player sweatband was a saviour after just a few kilometres yesteday, keeping me cooler and absorbing lots of sweat, not even requiring me to reposition it as I'm sure it had done on other prior long training runs.
   - Garmin, I put a lot of effort into getting this set up as I wanted it, and it was of huge help to me in the race, for all three pages, along with all the other settings. For example, having the Distance Alert option up-and-running for every 10.55 km was a big boost at the 3/4 distance point because although I was slowing and feeling quite miserable at points, it showed me that actually I was bang-on target, 2:18, for a 3:04 marathon, which I went ahead and did. And that leads me to a completely separate point about race distance.
  - Shirt, still happy with a techncal tee or vest, although today's race was the first time my nipples felt tender after the race. I had always assumed that my hairy chest was a good protection against chaffing, but I need to have a second think about this before my next marathon, and also check that particular vest for wear (cheap Decathlon model).

Question: How are marathons measured? I have tried to google this with quite little success. All I have managed to fathom is that for bends, the course measurer will go for the shortest route around a bend while allowing 1 metre from the curb. But that's not what I want to know. What I want to know is what discrepancy can we expect from a race course measurement relative to a GPS reading when there is significant elevation gain and loss? My GPS measured 41.2 km yesterday, a whole kilometre under the publicised difference, that the race organisers were keen to stress was precisely 42.195.

At the end of the race I was initially quite chatty and just glad to have got there and in the time that I achieved, without even focussing on the distance issue. I then made the mistake of lying down. Don't do this! I actually started to pass out, and got moved to the first-aid tent, where I simply repeated the process, and of course when they finally decided I was probably ready to head off in my rather sexy golden reflective heat reflective sheet, I had intolerable cramps from having just lain there for ages! The saline solution worked pretty well there though.

After cold showers (brrr!) was brilliant to then hang out with family and extended family and await what I discovered was to be a podium appearance, and take up my son onto the stage! It did make me think though that we in the senior class really do need to get our act together. I think the first 3 or maybe even 4 were all from Veteran 1 category, the top guy in 2:44.

A very very good day. Blessed :)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Easy 5 km (6 days to go)

5 km in 28 mins

What's the difference between an "easy" pace and a "jog"? My definition is that the easy pace maintains cadence with a short stride length; a jog is slower cadence and short stride length.

Enjoyed today, although I hope it doesn't point to me being a fair weather runner (the weather is very fair relative to yesterday!)

Sunday, 30 September 2012

10 miler (7 days to go)

10 miles only on hills. 

I found this much less encouraging. Went offroad for a third of this and expierenced severe need for a No. 2. A "gingerbread man" in Marathon Talk parlance. Too many figs? Not enough starchy foods? It's difficult to know exactly why and annoying that I can now no longer experiment with different foods to correct the problem before next Sunday. The other reasons why this was less than encouraging than the previous day at race pace is I didn't sense I had my wife's blessing plus I'd got a bit annoyed when the "window" closed earlier that day (so the emotional/psychology side), plus 16 km felt far and tiring at much less than race pace.

But the miles are in the bank! I need to adopt a positive attitude, with more long runs, speedwork and hill sessions under the belt than before. Particularly in terms of marathon prep, 460 miles (you can probably add 10 or more miles to that figure by the end of the week) absolutely obliterates previous distances run in build up season.

At the same time, the struggle and tiredness of this run highlight again how important it is to stick to the plan as best as possible. I cant just "listen to my body" for this distance yet. I still find i am capable of dropping off the pace if my mind wanders (admittedly this is less likely to happen in an actual race) or going to quick. Looking at the race plan though, I did think it would be good to allow myself at least the possibility of getting close to 3 hours (target is still 3:05) should I feel strong in the last quarter. The issue here though is that because of the elevation profile, I have set myself checkpoints according to the hills and not distances.
1although realistic.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

4 mile at race pace, 8 days to go

Warmup 1.5 km
Race pace, net downhill at 4:15/km for 4 miles
200m warmdown.

It seems every time I do something at race pace I get such a buzz! Running at 4:15 on the flat just feels easy and I only need average 4:22. Today the focus was again on good, efficient running technique, keeping stridelength slightly short and the leg turnover quick. I just love the low-gear wisdom Julian Goater brings to the mix, while I also find it provides for much quicker adaptation to change in gradient. One other point before moving onto an encouragement through prayer was taking on of liquids. I ran with my pack so as to be really familiar with it being there while doing race pace running and thought I should practice slurping while running hard. Here's what worked: breathing in through nose and sucking in water. Breathing out through nose. Repeat, if space in mouth for more liquid. Breathe in and swallow. This swallow with lungs inflated only takes a fraction of a second and then I'm done! Using this method I never felt at any stage threatened with some of the choking I have experience before, but then may be that's to do with being able to control things so much more when sucking in through a straw.

Was amazing to pray with another Christian runner this evening, who really affirmed me in my goal of somehow running for God. I remain in awe of just everything he has packed into this sport and it really is a pleasure to be able to run as well as I am able for him. My prayer as I ran down a huge hill this evening was "teach me how to glorify you", as I believe that this process of honouring someone, for me at least, is a bit like the art of running, it takes time to take it forward, but take it forward I shall!

Coming back to the technicalities of the race, I have been very carefully planning the pacing structure of the race. I really believe 3:05 is within my grasp if I don't make unwise choices. Of huge help to me has been the very timely advice of the lads at Marathon Talk. Pointers that have stuck with me are:
- the tide effect (tune in for a full explanation)
- running slightly faster than comfortable on the downs and vice versa on the ups
- visualisation

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

5 and a bit miles at race pace, and a race plan emerges!

Man this was a great session! I headed down for about a K to the dock area near my flat and aimed for marathon gradient simulation. 3 km flat and then progressively steep hill and back (average 4:19/km) and then a circuit of much steeper to downhill about three times to take me close to a total of 6 miles at race pace. This averaged 4:26/km. I actually think that this second section was perhaps slightly too fast, but it was good - very good - to nail the average pace of 4:22/23 on a whole variety of gradients.

So at last a race plan is forming for the 7th October, my big race day! I have divided up the race into 6 chunks that correspond to the elevation variations. Each of these 6 are at least 6 km long and contain a goal pace for that section (see the plan here). So for instance, in the first section, which measures approximately 12.5 km with quite a lot of climbing, I am shooting for average section pace of 4:28/km. The next section, which I remember well, is almost pure downhill for a shorter distance, and I am aiming high at 4:08/km. Next 4:28 again, then 4:10, then 4:30 (this section really is tough, although more because you have to attack it on such tired legs), and then... well know knows?! There's some long slight downhill and some real slow stuff too, and then the end is very close. There's no point at fixing a goal pace for this section, as I will aim just to run it as fast as I can. However, to reach an average of 4:22 for the entire distance, I need to average 4:24 for this final section. My actual goal is 3:05, which is 4:23/km (assuming that the race organisers have correctly measured the course), but it is wise - I feel - to keep a second/km in hand so that I don't feel like I have to make it up should I struggle at one point. Like a wild-card!

So what does today's session teach me? What have I learned? The contrast of the two parts reminded me that intense hills, even if there is exactly as much descent as climb (I was doing those circuits at the end) are a lot harder work than simply maintaining pace over flatter sections. What that means then is that pace on the flat must be faster than the overall average, 4:22. And yet, of course, it's more art than science, because that perfect flat hardly exists on this course, and so the question "well, how much faster?" is totally irrelevant. A bit!

Random other factor to watch out for: the weather. Last year, the temperature on 2 October 2011 in Pertuis reached almost 30 degrees. This year, there is a projected risk of rain and possibly 15 degrees less than that. Perfect!

To conclude, I feel so much more secure and ready than I did a few weeks ago, and now even with what seems to be a fairly well-thought through race plan, I feel ready. Despite the knee hiccup, this is probably the most rigorous training I have put myself through, and over this last year, so, so, so much has changed in my understanding of the sport, technical aspects, spiritual and mental approach, and I hope a bit of extra fitness too (although I suspect this is the most minor aspect). I just pray that God continues to keep himself part of this love for running he has given me, and that I would run with a great attitude that is thankful and honouring to him, and also to my wife who has put up with much over the last 12 1/2 weeks. I also pray for wisdom on the day with the choices I will make and for health (I am so aware of my dependence on this - for me, this is a big part of the by God of my spiritual journey in running: With him, by him and for him.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fartlek and what a session!

  • Warmup while increasing pace for 800 m
  • Hard uphill with 20m of positive ascent for 330 m. Jog.
  • 1 km hard in 3:51
  • 230m jog
  • 2 km hard in 8:00 (unfortunately this was 4:06 and 3:53)
  • jog
  • 100m in 15 seconds
  • 100m jog
  • 200m in 36 seconds (unfortunately this was 20 and 16 secs)
  • break
  • 400m in 1:17 (definitely the hardest rep)
  • walk then jog
  • 800m up hill in 142+147, the consistency of which I was much happier with.

After this I started jogging home, but noticed that my endorphins were pumping, even though the 400m had been a total killer - my desperation for my Garmin had become so intense that I had actually stopped and the beep happened as I stopped if you know what I mean. The step up from 200m is just hideous! If it weren't for a prior commitment, this session could in fact have been longer, and as I picked up pace to return back home over the last km I was just overloaded with confidence as I finished with a sprint to my front door! And all that from someone who claims not to like the shorter stuff!

I think what I just love about the fartlek is the way in which it is just so specific to the runner's individual feel on that day. What I found worked so well for me on this session was that the first hard lap happened up a hill, which breaks in the cardiovascular intensity early on without the impact on the still-warming muscles. Then were the two longer stints 1 km quickly followed by 2 km, after which my body is more ready for the power of the 100m to 200m to 400m to 800m progression.

This works so much better for me than a more classic session such as: warmup followed by 8 x 400. On more than one occasion on this marathon build-up I had to abort the session due to twinges on an ankle provoked almost certainly by such sudden load. I believe that there is no progression in this kind of warm-up up to the desired intensity.

Monday, 24 September 2012

More sluggish than slug


400ml Old Speckled Hen.
Very little sleep for several days.
11 km (half off-road, all at night)


23 km in 2:17.
One positive to be taken out of today's longer run (the 23 was "supposed" to be 25, but I am trying to take things a bit more by feel, and inspired as well by Ryan Hall's approach through prayer), was that although I felt really sluggish at the start and there was rarely that much drive, and there was mysterious cramping and tightness in my calves for most of the time, that things really started clearing up after the 20km mark. I actually felt almost brighter and stronger then than at the beginning. Wow!

The important thing to note is that the combined effects of sleep deprivation and the beer had a definite effect on my energy levels, both in terms of getting out the door and just how hard it felt even to run 5:30/km. The beer is easy to sort out: don't drink it, not until after the marathon that is! The sleep needs a bit more focus. Also, I do wonder if I may have peaked a little early with going for that 36 km run the weekend before. I was on such a high after and felt so ready, but perhaps actually there was something of a longer-term recovery needed beyond the initial day or two of more tangible recovery, and ever since I nailed that consistent hill run, I've just felt really tired and unmotivated.

I have, however, been focussing of late on the notion of "how we fall", which is linked to something I am taking my PE class kids through at the moment in their current creativity module. We need to learn to be neutral. We don't need to be on strong emotional pushes the entire time. What this means for me as my motivation begins to fall, as it invariable does and will, and I feel less desire and passion for running, that I revert to a more neutral, going-about-my-business approach, neither excited nor nor deflated, until the next push. True closeness to the date will no doubt bring this anyway.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Hill sprints, finally some much-craved consistency

8 hill reps: 56, 56, 56, 55, 57, 59, 57, 57 (seconds).
I have been despairing recently about my apparent lack of consistency over the repetition training sessions, I invariably fade at the end, and go out too hard at the start. But isn't the point going out hard in a repetition? I'll come back to that question at the end of this post.

So today I felt I needed more hills work, and so off I went to my local "killer" minute hill for 8 reps. Sounds easy, but once I had done 3 I really did wonder how I'd keep the quality going. As it was, I never dipped over a minute, which was really great. I kept saying to myself that the 7th rep would be the hardest, as the last one you know you can throw everything into it. I don't feel fully consistent yet, as the second set of four were clearly struggling and secondly, what I didn't do consistently was maintain the rest time, which invariably grew toward around the 2 min 10 sec mark (1:45, 1:52, 1:56, 2:08, 2:00, 2:17, 2:14)

My only thought on those early reps is simply to say to myself: I have to be able to do 7 more like this. That alone probably just released a little self-restraint while still keeping it a true rep.

Just so grateful to be healthy, ache-free and even the stomach hasn't been this receptive in a while, and is accepting gluten and chocolate again! Woohoo, thank you! And even more amazingly, and it is so important in running I think to maintain some sort of healthy perspsective, I am going to be a Dad again. This is more amazing than all the rest! I am a grateful man.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sensational 10K yesterday

10km in 42 minutes

What a great little 10k yesterday. One reason I loved it is that after the encouraging (very) long run on Saturday, anything like this just doesn't feel very far.

But the main reason was, after about a couple of K, I realised I had adopted a two-stage breathing method I'd never noticed before, that seemed to enable me to take on more oxygen. It did, I am sure it took of at least 10 seconds / mile off my usual cruising speed. On the flat I was definitely able to cruise at around 4 minutes flat. I can only relate the experience to something like taking the brakes off. It was amazing. Of course it means that as the speed increased, and it was over two significant hills, other obstacles like my calves getting quite tight came into play. But I can't remember the last time I had such a pace breakthrough, I thought I was at more of a tweaking phase in my running!

So excited about my marathon. I feel so sure I can nail the sub 3h10 despite the hills. Bring it on.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ellie Greenwood on prize money in the ultra world

The Politics of Prize Money, an interesting article on the potentially negative effects of the increasing levels of prize money in ultra distance events, notably creating rifts between male and female competitions.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

36K marathon simulation in 2:48

This Session was inspired by last week's marathon talk (episode 139) plus the recurrent advice from all over of knowing the course to be raced. Today reminded me of how psychologically hard it was last year to a) not always know the way (eg marshalls who prefer chatting to each other than actually indictating to runners the way) and b) be unaware of the difficulty and approach to the three tough hills in the second half. I still managed to get lost on more than one occasion, but with no marshals at all I figure that's not too bad. 

As promised, the negative split (I'm pretty sure) of today's run on the marathon course was a huge boost mentally, even though trying to achieve the goal marathon pace for two 5 km sections in the latter half (three hills) was tough. 

The right knee did ache but only for a few Km around 10 k. I also had some discomfort in my "collapsed" arch of my left foot, also in the first half. These things are worth remembering to avoid over-worrying should they repeat in 3 weeks time. 

Some prayer today when I went through the point where I made a wrong turn last year and was terribly angry with the race organisation, and where I had clearly lost all sight of why I run and the immense privilege it is for me to be able to get out there. I caught myself wondering again what I would say if I did well and got interviewed. I also had time today to reflect some more on the grace and example of my hero and inspiration, Ryan Hall, as he was interviewed in the build-up to the London Olympics: "God is my coach". I have so much ground to cover.

COMMENT FROM 26/07/2013 - The strategy I think was to run at a decent pace, and then have 2 x 5 km sections at race pace when already tired. I like this. Thanks to Marathon Talk I now have quite a few long run training sessions. I love them, they are such a challenge! I will post a page under training about this as a reference.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

11 km utility run, well kind of

5 km + 6 km, with a spot of shopping in between. Felt really good at points today, not as much prayer as I would have liked, but it's coming back. I feel really encouraged to keep pursuing the faith side to my running following on from watching Ryan Hall on CNN.

I have another jog planned for this evening with a guy I recently met who needs to lose some weight. Will be good to try and balance friendship with the fitness side.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

2 x 3 miles

Warmup then 3 miles at marathon pace (4:23/ km), 6 min rest, 3 miles at faster pace (4:11/km), then jog home. Tot: 15 km.

knee felt a little tight at times esp during the second 3 mile slot, where I started behind schedule and was trying to pick it up against a strong headwind. Keeping the elbows in is starting to get a bit more natural, although after all of these months of rethinking footstrike I still found myself relapsing at the end of the 5k s into heel strike jogs, which I obviously overided. Maybe it will become totally natural one day!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Hill session

2 x 1 km jog.
Then, later, warmup followed by 6.4 km climb in 35 minutes exactly,
the first 2.73km in 13:08. I can't find my previous effort at this
hard hill climb. It was either 12:45 or 13:45. Was really tough at
times, and hot (28 deg) but managed to continue implementing Julian
Goater's cadence principle, ie just reducing stride and not allowing
fatigue to affect cadence. I think he's right!

The right knee is still making itself a bit known, although not as
much as Saturday.

It's really exciting to think that there is a good chance that I can
pursue the marathon on 7 Oct!

Got the "good" fatigue...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

18.5 km in 2hrs

Following on from yesterday's success, that is running without stiffness, I decided to attempt a longer run today in the hills. Some very technical scrabbling sections and actually the slowness, combined with the length of time on my feet, may have actually re-triggered the stiffness in this knee. I feel less concerned though somehow. 

In terms of technique, I continued focussing on not letting my arm movement go lateral and keeping the legs moving at a good cadence even when I had to slow down my pace. But yet another aspect is creeping into my focus, and really I should work out a way of drawing this, to do with where my feet are in relation to my body LATERALLY when they strike the ground (I am therefore not talking about avoiding foot striking ahead of me). For reasons totally unknown, I have in the past set myself, somewhat unconsciously, the challenge of running along a single line (eg a painted road marking), telling myself I was totally centred if I did this and in perfect balance. But I think it's since watching the end of the ladies marathon at the olympics this year, where I watched one of the later finishers (from an eastern European nation I think) with a noticeable wide gait, if that's the right way to describe it. Bearing in mind Julian Goater's advice about the arms swinging in line with the direction of travel, surely feet that are driving inwards, effectively at a slight diagonal, in order to be on some central point, could this not be putting extra strain on my somewhat fragile knees while also being less efficient?

Trainingwise, was really very good to listen in to Episode 139 of MarathonTalk for some reminders on the long run. Tom Williams recommends something like a 22 mile, 16 mile and 10 mile distance for the three weeks preceding the marathon race day. I've only just got time to do this! Martin Yelling reminds listeners as well about the art (and encouragement) of starting a bit slower and speeding up at least to marathon pace, while, Tom adds, not overdoing it so much that the whole week is taken out by something that is getting just a bit too close to race exertion itself. I'm sure Ryan Hall would describe this more in terms of "not getting too close to the well". MT's suggestion is (that I will try next week) 2 x 3 miles in the second half of the long run at marathon pace. I think my marathon pace is 4:23/ km ("A goal") while I would really love to ensure an average an average 4:30/ km ("B goal"), which would get me just under the London marathon good for age time for the first time. To get these two 3-mile stretches right in the long run next week, one of the fields on my Garmin needs to be: "lap pace" (which actually means average lap pace).

The duo's key points for the long run

  • do some sections of the second half at race pace
  • do it by yourself
  • no music
  • practice race routine. There should be a link to mine on the right.
  • Don't worry if feels hard. 
I'm not so sure about this last one, although I'll have to report back next week as it is specified as being in the second half. When everything comes together, like it did in the first half of last year's Provence Marathon (see here for the full report), it's easy to find the pace easy for quite a long time.

Here's a few pics of this morning's run, including a sunrise over Marseille.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fast, and on varied gradients!

From Evernote:

Fast, and on varied gradients!

4.5km in 20 minutes, hilly
Very excited to be almost back "up and running"! Praise God! Today I decided to take a risk. Go out after short jog in my court yard pretty quick. It felt like a risky idea, as I was still experiencing aching and stiffness on the flats and downhills as well as after the runs this week. The only explanation I can offer is that on the flats and downhills I was effectively braking and applying strain to my knee in this way. How unexpected!

Steady resumption, ache is flat/downhill related

From Evernote:

Steady resumption, ache is flat/downhill related

The last two days I have been able to go out for an 8 and 5 km run, and one thing is becoming clear: the ache is associated with flat and downhill running. The plan is to really concentrate on getting some good hard climbs in. The rather bizarre problem is to work out how to get back down each time!

− I should soon have a bus pass that will enable me to stink out the passengers and head downhill.

− I could also see about bike hire in town and ride the hire bike back downhill, although I'm not sure where this would work on a big enough hill.

− My wife works at the top of an 8 km hill, so I need to work out a way to run to her when she has the car.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

5k, frozen ice cups and refrigerated ibuprofen gel: 1.0

Saw the doctor, which I was glad for, all the usual checks plus both knees symmetrical, and nothing externally noticeable. Due to the ibuprofen triggering some mild asthma, I am back on the gel version, but what a brainwave of the doc: keep it in the fridge, and apply just before and after running. The third application can be whenever.

So I did this, went out really slowly, totalled 5.3k in something like 33 minutes, it was 10 minute miling on average anyway. I was really focussing on running and improving my footstrike alignment, and circular "pedalling" the feet, relaxed shoulders, rapid cadence, aligned arm swing, head steady and possibly more. I have to say, when I read Julian Goather's chapter on running technique (see the Art of Running Faster), I was concerned that not only for new runners but also for me (even though I know I am still quite inexperienced) that this was a lot of advice to hold in balance at once. Like telling a learner driver to take on the city centre. But actually, I found I could rotate from one focus to the next, and that their was a natural relationship between this aspects, with one exception, which I had never noticed as an issue before: the arm swing. This would frequently revert to coming across the body. Since I didn't really bring the speed up much, as this definitely seems to be linked to the knee ache, I do wonder if this is something that aligns as the speed increases.

For the moment I am avoiding the knee support. I am wary of them as I know that once (2009, Belgium) I had one that actually made the knee ache more.

I praise God, for there is still hope for this marathon next month. I have been learning so much, I feel confident that some of the lessons learned could offset some of the fitness lost.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Stiffness: 1.0

A bit stiff in the knee yesterday from knee raises only.
Stiff this morning too. Seeing doctor this afternoon to discuss the options, which will probably include physio. Trying to stay positive and focussed, eg eating well, drinking little alcohol and am looking into the swimming options, a sport I find really very dull!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Not quite identical = 0.4

Yesterday did some push-ups, sit-ups and 4x 100 knee raises, plus 1km jog. Feel good, but when flexed or lightly pushed on the patella, the two knees don't feel quite the same. I think today will maybe increase only to 1 mile and take very gently. Tomorrow - if OK today - will try a 5 km climb.

Friday, 31 August 2012


Quick update on my stomach. For the last few years I have had stomach cramps and bloating and tried all sorts of medication and an endoscopy. There's a lot of inflammation down there. TOTALLY independently of any medical advice, over the last year I had started to wonder about the effects of hydration on the stomach's irritation and inflammation. That has come and gone as an idea, but I am now nearing a point of certainty that the impact is significant.

I am now trying to get into the habit of drinking a large glass of water before meals. It's strange and unnatural because it is totally unlinked in my mind to my need to drink, so I have to consciously remind myself to do this. In an "emergency", like the other night when my Mum and had made a delicious meal for us and I couldn't ingest a single mouthful, in time and by drinking almost a litre of water, I managed to "make space" for a small helping, even though it wasn't exactly a joy, it became possible, and therefore encouraging.

Rest day 4, time is ticking and the rest seems to be working: 0.0.

Pain and discomfort = 0
I don't think I have felt anything from the knee for 24 hours. Maybe there is hope yet!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rest day 3

Woke up with stiffness in the knee. Possibly funny sleeping angle. Not great way to start the day. 1.5.

Rest day 2

Virtually unaware of knee. A couple of stretches. 0.5

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

another week of rest, it's starting to hurt!

Having dropped in to a health centre in Bath yesterday for some further advice on the knee, the advice is a full week off with Ibuprofen - to be taken orally (leaving the ibuprofen gel for the time being). I can swim, however. HOWEVER, I really don't enjoy swimming, especially when I think the whole marathon project may be failing anyway.

From the emotion you can sense already in this post, you can probably see that I am battling with frustration and regret, especially as this impact injury could have so easily been avoided. But the discipline of accepting the situation and forming and adapting a recovery plan is actually very valuable, and I will not only see the negatives. During this rest period, and into the following resumption of training (which, if my knee does recover, will probably have to "reverse taper" given the date of my marathon) it would be useful to score and record the stiffness/ache/pain/discomfort.

Yesterday = 0.5
2hr walk.

Saturday, 25 August 2012


Well, the knee wasn't sorted, so I decided to go for it and stop! I am at the end of day 2 of no running, and the memories of the first six months of 2012 are there, although I don't feel haunted by them. I am really trying to see this as an opportunity to think about my training, the blog, build in other forms of exercise like core training...

I am just listening to a helpful interview on approach to injuries with Tim Cruse-Drew. He is asking relevant questions. Check it out here.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

recovery run: my slowest shortest and best ever....

after yesterdays long run, and the decision to go the full distance, my knee has been aching more strongly again. after umming and erring for  while, i decided that a recovery run was probably a good idea still. Wow, it was so short and slow... and amazing! The next day the knee was feeling improved. For me this stimulates still further reflection about the train gently to train and race hard. I am certain I have never come close to running in a sustained way this gently before, and yet I kow that it was the best possible session for me at that time.
It took me an injury to really do justice to this method, which in some ways is a pity, but it is a light injury that is manageabl and I am learning a lot through it.  am grateful for these never ending learning opportunities :)

Still stiff, opportunities for introducing other principles

8.5 km trip to the shops to get some milk!

I am not really a fan of what I call "utility run", ie doubling up a run with some other purpose like shopping, but actually I think on occasion it doesn't matter too much!

Knee is still stiff and limiting my pace. Still applying the Julian Goater principle of running quick paces even if pace is slow. Today while thinking about to optimise this off-pace period I tried pumping my arms to work on my arm strength. At first this wasn't particularly easy to coordinate, with the exaggerated pumping and probably weak arms, but I adjusted and it soon became fairly maintainable. I am, however, wondering if I should maybe take a few days off to allow the knee more recovery and concentrate on strength and core exercises. 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

First run in Devon: running is a privilege

12 km. Easy 6 min/ km progressing all the way through to almost 4 min/ km. then very easy before a hill challenge, around a mile.

A wonderful run. First run in Devon since I was a kid. Forgot how hilly it is! The beauty and the picturesqueness of the rural setting around Bideford soon took my mind off my less-than-100% state: 
- right knee from silly volleyball incident.
- L elbow from stupid cycling accident. 
- breathing not entirely clear, especially at the start, accompanying slight cold at the moment. 
- cut on toe. 
- !

It often seems to be the return leg that God opens me up to him. Was really struck by the privilege of being able to run today. To the point that if I was never to run again I would still be happy for this. Great place to be. Also just so aware of the privilege of having a family who support me and allow me to go. Just amazing to be able to practice this releasing and liberating sport!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

5k and a stupid bump!

Craziness, for within a few metres of leaving my parents house on a
loaned bike, I succeeded in riding straight into a parked car! My Dad
who was watching nicely didn't laugh and was just concerned but I
couldn't help notice the slapstick comedy value there!
Anyway, we changed my bike for another as I had mangled the chain a
bit and headed over for what I think is one of the Uk's greatest
inventions: the park run scheme... Except it wasn't, thanks to the
bristol balloon fair at Ashton Court park. The few of us that did turn
up decided to have a crack at it anyway, and we certainly had our work
cut out weaving between the crowds and children already out in their
droves for the fair! Thoroughly enjoyed it although it has contributed
to a bigger question I am asking: why am I running no faster with all
the training I am doing, and why am I getting benefits only in terms
of recovery (as lovely as that is)?
I got to ask this question to a few people the next day so see the
next entry on this topic.

Olympic marathon

My excitement just continued to grow as we coached into the centre of London for the men's Olympic marathon. And I was going to see the man who has been such an inspiration to me, Ryan Hall. Sadly something happened and Ryan had to drop out. Fantastic though to hang out with Lee Merian's crowd, who were obviously delighted with such a strong performance from their fellow Guernsey man.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

running with God

Yesterday completed a 2 x 10 km (the longest nappy shopping trip I'm sure I'll ever do!), and it took til about half way through the return leg to really start opening up to God, and I can honestly say it changed me that day. I had a couple of attitude issues, wasn't particularly feeling like talking to Him, or praising him, but he ended up having his way, and by the time I got home my whole perspective had changed. He is good!

Otherwise, just to mention that the good form factor is still a long way from something I am defaulting to, but I can sense the increased efficiency as I focus on gentle footfall, raising the knees, and good stride-length.

Mmm, just loving the return to figs, find them so digestible and delicious!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Smoking 30 minutes!

In midday heat, I set off in the 30s for a tempo effort that ended up being slightly stronger still than that. So funny, I arrived at the surgery where I had to pick up some results and was breathing really hard and sweating buckets, the staff were actually concerned I was going to have some sort of cardiac arrest!

Gentle and increasing warm down for 3 km really encouraged me that my quality of recovery  is definitely improving. The times are not yet, but it's hard to see that not coming soon. With the marathon now less than two months away, it's hard not to already caught up in dreaming about the day and race strategies etc. There was a great quote I read from Ryan Hall yesterday about how the race is mainly run with your head until the last 10 km, then the rest is from the heart, "going to the well" as he calls it. He also stresses the importance of staying well away from the well during the tapering phase, which is so hard to imagine when your hero's easy pace is your max pace!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

15 miler this time, in 30 deg heat...

The idea was
- get used to running the heat
- do the distance in sub 2 hrs
- achieve this with a strong negative split
- squeeze in a long run in an otherwise full weekend!

Some of these were achieved, and there was another big psychological boost I wasn't expecting from such draining conditions, and poor closing strategy: I felt really good later and even today (day after). The getting used to running in the heat really is  a continuation of Martigues-Carro, under similar conditions. I'm beginning to wonder if last year's Luberon marathon was just particularly hot to reach 30 deg in early october. I'm hoping for a good bit cooler this time. In any case, what continues to work for me is really taking the prehydration seriously over the hours (if I remember), the hour, and the last 20-30 minutes especially. I am convinced by the advice that says you will never (and if you read Noakes: should never) finish the exercise with the initial hydration levels. What I find a bit weird, to be honest, especially with all the stomach issues I have had, is that I can drink so much water prior to putting my body under the strains of running hard, and it all goes in, every precious drop! Whereas, drinking more than two mouthfuls during, can be a source of stitches and discomfort. I'm even now drinking up to and over a litre in the last 15-10 minutes, and this even avoids some of the pre-race toilet trips too!

Friday, 3 August 2012

15 km in the hills

This run finally gets a fairly low score. Yes it was beautiful, yes 15 km didn't feel very far, and yes I was really able to pick things up towards the end (when I wasn't being too lazy and listening too closely to some training talk).

But, my wife was left with my son, and had really wanted to get on. She didn't ring me (which would have meant that I REALLY pick things up on the way home), which she should have done, but I still didn't organise it properly. "my bad".

This route is actually to be a night route that I hope to be doing again soon with my head torch.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Blog development ideas and ankle

My mind feels somewhat confused about an idea of organising advice and insight that I have heard and experienced, to share this on the net while also having it as a resource for myself. In fact, even the process, which would be a long one, will in itself cause me to learn a lot. Aspects to be covered will include the obvious:

Nutrition, hydration, injury and health management, kit, race preparation, race strategy and pacing, training plans...

These are obviously to be specifically focussed on sport. However, one of the key parts of this blog, which is inspired by Ryan Hall's Running With Joy, is to bridge the gap between faith and running. In fact that whole idea of gap is pretty much done away with actually by Ryan! So a separate article on that. Another possibility I would be open to, which would keep me plugged into the running press, would be to have a book review section, with a standardised, summarised section, potentially in bullets of what was good and resonated with me.

Another rather unique link, since I function in-between various cultures, would be to develop a spreadsheet of terms and their translations and that link into the rest of the articles. This document is to be freely modifiable by anyone, and will hopefully build on the knowledge that's out there. One I simply hadn't got until this week was the term "strides" which needs to go in there.

Oh yes, the ankle! Well, I can still feel it, so it seems right just to pull right back from the training schedule I am following and take it a bit easy. Today was a gentle 5.5 km. Feels right to have done that. My aim is to build things up to resume things next week, as last week was week 4: a deliberately lighter week. That said, my build-up to my spring marathon, from which I ended up having to withdraw, is a stark reminder to me of the be all and end all importance of simply getting fit at a rate my body is happy with.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Twinge once! Twinge twice! Sold!

Went out for what should have been my second "Fartlek" session. But for the second time in a week following a fast interval, I twinged my ankle early on. I wasn't lazy. I tried to run it off but felt it again after some stretches. That's it. For me, a recurring twinge like that means intervals are over. That doesn't mean the session is over though (note that the previous time this happened was before Martigues - Carro where I flew along at threshold, no ankle issues there). I later picked up pace to 160 bpm. Yep, my heart monitor is back in the game, and I hope to really build in some heart rate based training once and develop some understanding here. Hall uses it quite a lot, and there's some good stuff to be gleaned from marathontalk too.

YET another set of earphones have failed on me, but the silence is a blessing, and is freeing my mind to think and also to talk with God. For a while now I have stopped listening to anything when doing intervals as its just too hard for me to concentrate on the content.

Time for bed :)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Martigues - Carro, 16.370 km, heat, and a great tempo challenge!

We set off in a really warm 31 degrees. Prior to that I had drunk pretty regularly during the day and 1.5 litres in the last 20 minutes. It felt scary to be sweating so much just in warm-ups.
Had the usual bizarre sensation of looking down at the watch after a couple of hundred metres and noting that the pull of the crowd and the euphoria of the start had me going at something crazy like 3:30/k. The goal was to average around 4:07, so I forced myself to slow down a bit. By the time we hit the hills I was definitely almost spot on on the flat sections. Then the hills, that lasted for about 10k, one of which was so brutal many of those around me had to walk. I don't know why I thought keeping a 4:07 average would be so achievable, maybe I just thought that the downhills would compensate for it - of course they do a bit, but never totally. All in all, however, I ran a good race, really focussing on the subtle interchanges between recovery and pushing again, building in slight slowing prior to hills to attack aerobically, and progressive momentum building on the long downhills that had me sweeping past those who thought they should quickly pick up the pace simply because it's a downhill. In the end, the garmin was fairly unnecessary except perhaps in the first three or four kilometres. I was genuinely excited to do it and thrilled and privileged to be able to what I did, and it was for Him.

Really nice as well to connect with a few of the local runners I used to run with from the club in le Rove. They're all a bit older than me but Albert, who is well into his sixties, still pushed home in 1:17 for the 16.37 km course.

I hope to update this blog with some snaps and altitude info... 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Easy 10k, getting slightly lost as usual...

Easy 10k, getting slightly lost as usual...Pleasant. Involved some flexibility on leaving as Jeremy woke up as I was leaving, but that was fine (we even did some warm up circuits together around the dining room table!)
Twinged my ankle 1k from the end. Took a while to shake off. As ever round here, beautiful... (don't know why this photo has ended up upside down though, sorry about that!)