Monday, 12 September 2011

Wind, Wind and more wind.

The last week or so has been unbelievably windy and the this has not helped the pacing of my harder runs. I read somewhere this week that the equivalent of running a 5:00 minute mile into a 20mph wind is a 5:40 or so when considering the VO2 impact it has. Whether this is true or not I have no idea, but what I know for certain is it is extremely hard to even run at half marathon pace for a mile or so into a strong wind. Talking about wind, I learnt a few months ago why you never seem to get the benefits of the wind on your back and why you feel the wind a lot more when you are running directly into it. This is because if you are running at say 10mph into a 10mph wind you are therefore going to be running into a 20mph wind (the 10mph wind and the 10mph resistance you are creating). It then means that if you are running at 10mph you will not feel the push of the wind unless it is any stronger than 10mph. I think I have got that right, but at the end of the day I am only repeating what I have read on Letsrun or somewhere and could have easily got this all wrong. But, it does makes sense if you think about it and I am definitely going to label the wind as the reason why I was unable to hit my target pace on the lactate threshold runs this week.

I have been doing a lot of steady mileage in the last few weeks and am starting to feel strong as a result of this work. My coach and I have sat down and said that over the next four or five weeks that I would just been running steady miles with a few progressive or lactate threshold runs thrown in. Lactate threshold runs are efforts where you run at a tempo effort so for someone like me I would run at 5:05 to 5:10 pace (half marathon pace) for a period of time. We are just easing into things this winter so are combining these efforts with progressive running and say do a warm up of three miles (7:00, 6:30, 6:00) then two miles at LT pace, one steady (6:15), two miles LT followed by two mile easy. The LT efforts will progress over the next few weeks so that by the end of this training block I can run 5 or so miles at LT and feel comfortable. This sounds easier than it appears as for example I could quite easily run a 5 mile road race tomorrow at LT pace and feel easy. The problem being is that in training it is always a struggle to get up to this sort of pace on your own, so hopefully with the help of Steve Robinson and if the wind ever eases off we can start stringing a few decent LT sessions together.

This weekend I ran the Grunty Fen half marathon, I was due to go on holiday this weekend so had already pulled out of two much bigger races, Bristol Half and Cardiff 10k. The attraction of Grunty Fen is that it is fairly flat and has some good prize money on offer and the incentive of setting a new course record. On the day it became apparent that the wind would prevent any records from being broken (in reaction to this the hairband came out!) and as soon as I ran into the wind at the one and a half mile point I had decided against killing myself. I went off at a decent pace and was around 5:05 at the mile and was already clear of a good group of runners who I thought might challenge me if the wind slowed the pace down (I think the above picture is about 200m into the race). Once I got out of the wind I picked things up for a few miles but only to around 5:15 pace and went through half way in just under 35 minutes feeling controlled (the pic below is around this point). The second lap is a lot longer and although the wind wasn't as brutal as early on it still had an effect. I looked over my shoulder at the 8mi point and could see I was a long way clear and knowing the course record was out of sight just eased off. I had spoken to my coach about this earlier and the week and he wanted me to ease off if I was well clear as it would do more damage than good by pushing on. The only problem I experienced in the last 5 miles was a tight right ITB because of the excessive camber on the fenland roads. I tried to run in the middle of the road at some points to stop this but kept being blown back into the gutter. I ended up winning by a minute and a half or so from John Clarke and Paul Halford, I expected James Lawler to be a bit closer to me but he was having a few problems with his stomach. Hopefully, James can put his run behind him and stay confident in the fact that he can run a good marathon when he represents England in Toronto in a few weeks time. All in all it was a good workout and gives me (or I should probably say Jenny) a nice little bit of spending money for my holiday on Friday. Excellent organisation and prizes at Grunty Fen, the course is perfect just a pity the wind is always likely to slow things down out on the fens. Profitable day for Philippa and I who went across from Stamford together over £600 worth of prizes accumulated by us both!

Below is the last two weeks of my training diary:

W/C 29/08 – Plan was to do a good solid week of mileage with some progressive running.

Mon 29th 9:39AM: 76:30 (11.29mi, 6:46/mi)- Easy run out on the Southorpe loop, plenty of off road. Ran a bit further than normal as one of the fields had been ploughed. A little tired.

Mon 29th 7:57PM: 36:51 (5.0mi, 7:22/mi) – Really easy run around the streets as it was getting dark and Burghley closed for Horse Trials. Just had a roast dinner so pretty heavy!

Tues 30th 12:31PM: 35:02 (5.11mi, 6:51/mi) – Easy run around ferry meadows at lunch time.

Tues 30th 6:14PM: (10mi) – Splits 6:50, 6:33, 6:23, 6:02, 5:59, 5:38, 5:30, 5:05, 5:00. 8 x 15 secs strides. – Times after 6mi approximate as watch died, ran with Steve and pulled away from in the last 2 miles and it felt pretty quick!

Weds 31st 6:49PM: 84:22 (12.27mi, 6:52/mi) – Very tired got home from work and slept for half hour before run. Felt a bit sluggish but got it done. Ran the Belmesthorpe loop, nice and undulating just got in before it was dark.

Thurs 1st Sep 11:55AM: 35:12 (5.14mi, 6:50/mi) – Easy run around Ferry Meadows at lunch again as I was too lazy to wake up!

Thurs 1st Sep 6:10PM: 67:00 (10mi, 6:42/mi) – Fartlek out to the rowing lake easy for 2.1mi then 4mins (5:00/mi), 5mins (5:05/mi), 3mins (4:55/mi), 90 secs (4:37/mi), 40 secs (4:02/mi), 40 secs (4:18/mi), 2mins (4:48/mi) with easy running in between no more than 2 mins rest on most. Then back to the track and forgot I had agreed to run an 800m which I ran in 2:03, with a 60 first lap then died off. Finished off with 2 x 100m strides.

Fri 2nd Sep 5:27PM: 36:39 (5mi, 7:22/mi) – Easy run with Stu around Ferry Meadows, warm and humid.

Sat 3rd Sep 8:51AM: 59:44 (10mi, 5:58/mi) – Lactate Threshold 2mi, 2mi steady, 2mi, run splits were 6:21, 6:13, 5:01, 5:07, 6:26, 6:28, 5:10, 5:18, 6:48, 6:44. Did the session on the road out through uffington and struggled with a stitch and the wind. Second rep was especially into the wind and I got the same stitch as last week after half a mile. Need to eat something before I do a session on a Saturday morning.

Sat 3rd Sep 5:42PM: 34:11 (5mi, 6:50/mi) – Easy out and back on the meadows.

Sun 4th Sep 8:51AM: 2:02.17 (18mi, 6:47/mi) – Long run, felt terrible as I did first 8mi on my own on the uffington loop, very humid and felt awful. Joined Philippa for rest of the run as she ran long the day before. Felt a million times better for rest of the run despite the wind, rain and humidity. Ran a lot of the run off road and felt strong towards the end.

Total Weekly Mileage – 97mi – Decent week, need to sort out the pacing on threshold runs though but hopefully will get better over the next few weeks.

W/C 05/09 – Idea to run another good week of mileage and to keep with the progressive runs. Doing Grunty Fen on the weekend and looking for a solid run in the region of 67:45 or 5:10s.

Mon 5th Sep 7:06AM: 36:44 (5.06mi, 7:15/mi) – Easy morning run measured some of the hills around the meadows to see suitability for hill training in the winter.

Mon 5th Sep 5:29PM: 96:42 (14.02mi, 6:53/mi) – Easy run with Philippa out to Pickworth via Casterton. Was only intending on doing 10mi but we got a bit carried away. Mostly offroad which was nice as it sheltered us from strong winds, felt good. Inc. 4 x 100m strides at 4:30/mi.

Tues 6th Sep 18:13PM: 68:19 (10.6mi, 6:26/mi) – Session of 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1,3,2. Was really windy and we just ran the loop from track out and back along the river. Splits were 1:00(4:56/mi), 2:00 (4:49/m), 3:00 (4:50/mi), 4:00 (5:03/mi), 4:00 (5:06mi), 3:00 (5:13/mi), 2:00 (4:47/mi), 1:00 (4:21/mi), 3:00 (4:45/mi), 2:00 (4:40/mi). Ran fully into wind on the 4mins and 3mins where the pace was slower. Felt very strong. No morning run as I was at the NEC all day. Inc 3 x 13 secs strides at 3:55/mi.

Weds 7th Sep 7:29AM: 37:27 (5.16mi, 7:15/mi) – Easy run around Burghley and back, tired and windy.

Weds 7th Sep 17:25PM: 72:25 (10.54mi, 6:52/mi) – Run with Philippa out through Ketton offroad. Felt nice and controlled and good. 4 x 100m strides 4:30 to 4:10 pace.

Thurs 8th Sep 7:32AM: 36:20 (5.12mi, 7:06/mi) – Easy morning run on the out and back Burghley route, no problems.

Thurs 8th Sep 18:15PM: 63:42 (10.15mi, 6:16/mi) – Lactate Threshold run of 2mi, 1mi steady, 2mi. Out and back along the river with Steve splits of: 7:14, 6:36, 6:31, 5:10, 5:15, 6:39, 5:11, 5:15, 7:30, 7:00. Very windy once again and didn’t choose the best parts of the river path to do effort on. Ran on gravel over the bridge and into wind on the last one!

13:05 (1.76mi, 7:26/mi) – Easy cool down with Laura then a 3 x strides at 4:30 to 4:20 pace on the track.

Fri 9th Sep 7:24AM: 34:52 (5.0mi, 6:58/mi) – Easy out and back at Burghley again really didn’t want to wake up and run in the wind. 99% humidity this morning!

Fri 9th Sep 17:03PM: 68:42 (10mi, 6:52/mi) – Came home ill from work as couldn’t stop sneezing and had a head cold. Slept and felt better so went out in the humidity again. Felt Ok but not great.

Sat 10th Sep 11:23AM: 36:30 (5.12mi, 7:07/mi) – Easy run out and back in Burghley then 4 x 15 secs strides at 4:15 to 4:05 pace.

Sun 11th Sep 9:57AM: 17:00 (2.25mi) – Warm up for Half Marathon with Paul, Chris and Michael.

Sun 11th Sep 10:30AM: 70:31 (Grunty Fen Half, 5:21/mi) – Extremely windy and was in the lead from the gun, went through half in 35mins feeling easy and realised record wasn’t on so ran nice and controlled. Mile splits of 5:04, 39, 35, 14, 16, 13, 21, 23, 28, 26, 24, 19, 17, 4:52 pace for last 0.16. Was in comfort zone most of the way, only problem was tight right ITB because of the camber and wind blowing me into the gutter!!!

17:37 (2.15mi) Cool Down with Paul Halford, Chris Wright and Andrew Thake.

Total Weekly Mileage – 100mi – Another good week and happy with half marathon in such bad conditions. Feeling strong.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Summer is over... bring on XC

The track season has come to an end and to be honest I can't wait to get stuck into cross country. My track season didn't completley go to plan, but after a sluggish start I managed to get to a level where I feel I can now build from. The main reason for not running PBs was tiredness from the winter mileage, I went into the track season incredibly strong but lacking the raw speed necessary to run a decent 3000 or 5000. I spoke to my old coach, Mark Baddeley, in early June after a disastrous performance at the first British League in Exeter. He soon got me to reduce my mileage to around 80 miles a week and get three good sessions a week in the schedule. In hindsight, I think if I went to him in March to speak about this then I would probably be writing about how I had run some new PBs this summer, but as my Mum says "if ifs and buts were pots and pans there would be no need for tinkers!"

I may not have run anywhere near the times that I wanted to run on the track, but I have come away a more intelligent athlete after the problems I have experienced. I sort of got it into my head that more miles would be the solution to evertything and this is definitely not the case for me. Don't get me wrong I run well off high mileage and think that in the winter I will again be running up to 120 mile a week. But, to run fast on the track I need to be doing three hard sessions a week and the rest of my mileage to be easy and of course incorporate a rest day. It is hard for me to tell myself that having a day off running is beneficial, however having a Friday off for the last couple of months has been brilliant. It allows me to really get stuck in on a Thursday night in the knowledge that I can just relax the following day. It also means that I feel fresh when I do the tempo or longer session on the Saturday and can then hit the times that I have been set.

The summer has also taught me that I need to prioritise the races that I do, as I can not expect to run fast week in week out. I had a couple of England race opportunities this summer, dunfermline half marathon and berlin 10k, that I would have been stupid to turn down. They may not have been especially fast, Dunfermline being hilly and berlin being extremley windy and wet, but they were not ideal races when focussing on racing over 5000m. So, for the winter I have set a couple of target races in November and then only put in races that are either compulsory, road relays, or fit into my schedule in the lead up. Also knowing that these races in the lead up are not my priority lifts off some of the pressure as I know that I can't expect to run PBs at these races if they are simply just part of training. Again, this is not saying that I won't run PBs, but simply a good, fast race will just be seen as an added bonus to the training benefits I get from running.

I am off on holiday in the middle of the month, so I will use September as a month to take it a bit easier. The cross country season in this country is exremley long so if I want to run well from November through to early March then I need to build up sensibly and not rush into things. To be honest, I doubt whether I will do any hard sessions at all over the next four weeks and simply do some progression runs and a couple of tempos. The next race on the calendar is the midland road relays, which is the day after I get home from Greece. Hopefully, by then I will have some good steady miles in the legs and be feeling strong and ready to get stuck into the real cross country work.

Below is last weeks training (w/c 22/08) in which I slightly upped the mileage as I did intend to call the track season to an end at Watford on the wednesday.

Mon 7:18 AM: 41:16 (6.02mi, 6:51/mi) - Easy morning run around Burghley, horse xc course set out and immacuately cut so makes good running!
Mon 5:28 PM: 68:03 (10.16mi, 6:41/mi)- Easy run on Barnack loop, felt amazingly good and then had a massage after!

Tues 7:11 AM: 37:42 (5.18mi, 7:16/mi) - Easy morning run around Burghley, calves sore after the massage last night.
Tues 6:49 PM: 70:02 (10.02mi, 6:59/mi) - Easy run on Barnack loop.

Wed 7:18AM: 24:17 (3.3mi shakeout) - 3 mile easy and then a couple of strides before work ahead of 3000m tonight.
Wed 8:58PM: 25:57 (3.05mi w/u)
Wed 10:15PM: 8:27.73 (3000m RACE @ Watford) - Good solid race, despite the time it started! Fairly slow up to 2000 as we reached it in 5:41, so pleased to dip 8:30 of that sort of pace. Grice ran a sub-60 last lap to win in 8:21 and I was never going to have the legs to finish that fast.
Wed 10:30PM: 10:00 (1.15mi c/d)

Thurs 12:14PM: 36:59 (5.15mi, 7:11/mi) - Easy morning run, a bit later as I didnt get back till late from Watford.
Thurs 6:05 PM: 67:33 (9.52mi, 7:05/mi) - Ran from track with Steve Robinson, nice and easy along the river and back. Did 6 x 70m strides at the end.

Fri 12:22 PM: 36:05 (5.10mi, 7:05/mi) - Easy lunch time run at work, felt amazingly good!

Sat 7:25 AM: 18:57 (2.5mi shakeout) inc 2 x 16 sec strides.
Sat 3:26 PM: 19:00 (2.5mi w/u)
Sat 4:10 PM: 15:16 (5000 race) - absolute shocker, must have been tired from races on Weds and last Saturday. Felt heavy from onset and then got a massive stich when the lead group made a move at 2k. Really struggled to keep breathing and running, only finished it to get the points for the team!
Sat 4:30 PM: 15:00 (2.0mi c/d) - Did a lap of the grass by the stadium with Matt O'Dowd, hopefully be able to join the Loughborough group at weekends in the winter.

Sun 12:12PM: 2:02.05 (18.54mi, 6:35/mi) - Good long run after watching Mo in the 10000. Hit it harder than I should at the start, which was probably something to do with Mo running that 52 last lap. Was a bit windy out in the countryside, but all in all a good solid run.

Weekly Total: 89.29mi - Good solid week of mileage, but a disappointing finish to the track season. Felt I was in shape to run a PB of sub 14:30 but wasn't the time or race to do it in.

Below is the video of the 5000 the week before last in Birmingham, where I ran 14:43:

Watch more video of BMC Grand Prix Final on