Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mo running

Today was day one return to running after a 5 day enforced rest thanks to a mean old cold taking over my head and filling me with snot all week. A special training session was being held as part of the Kent London Athletics Network (of which Petts Wood Runners are now a part) by experienced endurance running coach Neville . 
I prepared by volunteering at parkrun in my stick on moustache in a Movember special - extra special because the attendance record was broken with 292 runners!
We arrived for the special training and set off on a warm-up run. this was followed by 10mins at a 5km pace, 5 x 3mins at a 3k pace although I'm not sure I was maintaining that one, it was getting tough. Maybe special training is not the best idea after a week of cold. We finished with some 30second sprints and headed back to the clubhouse for a talk about training. This would have been much better had the room not have been like a freezer but cups of tea and a couple of party rings did the trick to cheer me up! 
I have a feeling my legs will be sore tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fog and Chips in Brighton

I signed up to this race so long ago that I got number 60... uh oh.... luckily I was not confused with an elite athlete! 
As I departed my friends place I was immediately submerged in rolling fog making it difficult to see the road ahead, it continued like this on and off for the journey through to Brighton. A near miss was had when a car nearly pulled out in front of me but luckily my brum was lit up and he spotted me in time. 
I arrived early and got a great parking spot just a short walk from the start line. After a few toilet breaks and a catch up with a variety of PWR's I made my way optimistically to the 50min point. Last year I has got my PB on this course and have since beaten it during the summer. I wasn't feeling race ready today, my body was just in a world of its own and not a super fit and fast world.
The first mile went well with a good fast pace and feeling comfortable, due to the hairpins on the course I was able to see lots of PWRs so I offered my encouragement with shouts and clapping as the speedy ones passed me by. By the halfway point my pace was dropping ever so slightly. By the time I got to around 5 miles I started to feel quite queasy and despite trying to dig deep my pace had begun to slow. Doing some quick maths I knew I would be hard pushed to break 50mins but I did what I could and came in at 50:26 so despite everything a pretty good performance and a third 10k at this sort of pace does signal a sort of consistency now rather than a fluke! Lets hope I can continue like this. 
After the race we reconvened and went down onto Brighton pier for fish, chips and mushy peas, well deserved although probably more calories than we burned!

John Travolta and the magic toadstools

Saturday morning and I went with my Mum to walk/run a route a route for her walking group next Saturday. The car park we had planned to start from was blocked off so we went to Saint Hill Manor. As we parked up I was reliably informed that this was the HQ for Scientology and that everyone was welcome - oh good but at least it was free parking. we set off on the circular route and before long my Mum shared with me a recent celebrity based local happening. So it goes, one of John Travolta's peoplel from the Scientolgy HQ called up KFC and tried to reserve a table for him and some friends as he was away on a conference/event and fancied some finger lickin' goodness. Not even dubious that this could be a crank call, the Colonels finest told them that they would have to queue up like everyone else as they don't book tables, whoever they are! so it seems that JT and his crew went to a cafe up the road - it is unclear whether he ordered the chicken. 
The next part of the run was slightly less celebrity based and a bit more magic toadstool like. It seems that all sorts of wild mushrooms and toadstools were popping up all along this lovely, trail based run. The most spectacular finding was a cluster of red toadstools, they almost didn't look real but they most certainly were. Bounding through the woods, toadstools everywhere, when a horse trotted over to us I almost expected it to start talking to me... instead it saw that I had no food for it and made a swift exit!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Faster than a car

So for the second Friday on the trot I replaced my Thursday evening run with a pre-work easy run in the morning. I started on the roads and as I ran up the A20 overtaking traffic I noticed that some drivers were deliberately driving at the pace I was running (I guess there is not much else to do when the traffic keeps backing up). This then made me more wary of my speed as I tried to beat them along
Old Perry Street
towards Chislehurst. I was winning overall I reckon but it was getting a bit silly!
I decided to detour into Scadbury to escape the traffic (before the traffic started to clear too much) and relax my pace a little. Much better, the ground was damp but firm and the trees were golden with their leaves scattered on the ground. Surprisingly I didn't see another soul in the woods, not even a dog walker which surprised me on such a lovely morning. Lovely way to start the day.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Technique application

Tuesday night runs are never the easiest after a race on Sunday, this week was no exception although as we ascended hill after hill I felt fairly strong and was able to maintain a good consistent pace. I tried to put into practise some of the techniques I had learned at the track on Saturday, so I pumped my arms and focussed on breathing out and who knows if it helped or not but I suspect it did especially on those hills. 
It feels rather odd trying to change things about my running and to focus so much and things like my breathing or the movement of my arms but I'm sure soon enough it will become second nature to me if it works.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Swanley XC Race (5 Miles)

With an 11am start and a race so local an early morning was not required (except to be up and eat my porridge 3 hours pre-race). I was collected by John and Hannah and we set off to Swanley ready to run in the latest PWR grand prix event. I was expecting a pretty tough and muddy race today and following the track session yesterday it was anybody's guess as to how my legs might behave themselves. I had sort of given myself the target of 9min/miles for the course knowing that it would be tough and ultimately I wasn't far off (well a minute under). 
The race started after a 2minute silence for Remembrance Sunday and it was immediately tough with a quickly narrowing route and a huge number of runners still clustered together. After the first lap the field had thinned somewhat but this seemed to make little difference as we entered the woods and a single file trail, my pace soon dropped to over 11min/miles as the runners jammed up and no space for overtaking. I took the opportunity to catch my breath and prepare for the next opening when I could step it up. Before long we were out into open ground again and I was able to pick up my pace. Despite the course feeling tough I tried to concentrate on breathing out and pumping my arms as we had been practising yesterday at the track. It started to work and managed to pass a few runners, gradually increasing my speed again. It was great to see support around the course and as there were a few double backs I spotted several other PWRs and tried to shout encouragement as they did to me too. The second lap through the woods the field had thinned sufficiently that I could maintain a decent pace and emerged pretty shot with a little over a mile to go still. breathe out, pump arms, breathe out, pump arms I continued and then I could see the finish, I wasn't sure how close anyone was behind me but they wouldn't pass me now. I dug deep for the sprint finish, made it over the line and promptly started to heave, it was done, and so was I.
I didn't have much time to chat with the other PWRs as I had to shoot off pretty sharpish but glad I went along and great to have so many familiar faces and support around the course and running - feels good to be part of the club. 

Breathing, stride length and pump those arms

Saturday morning was our bi-weekly Petts Wood Runners track training session. This week led by super coach Peter B. With 10 of us turning out we were ready to run, following Peter with some techniques to improve our speed.

The new techniques we practised were in summary: 
1. Work on breathing out.
2. Working on using your arms to drive your legs remember, forwards and back and not across the body.
3. Extending the stride at the end of a race.
Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint something that is improving your speed but as we added these techniques we ran 400m timed laps, I managed to knock 10 seconds off the first lap time when adding the new techniques so I was pretty pleased and will do as advised and start trying to bring them into my other runs during the week. Hopefully in two weeks when we are back at the track I may even know a few seconds off my 1km timed run.
The track sessions are so good, I really feel the benefits and as a few of us discussed many of us hadn't run on a tracks since we were at school. In my case I think that was perhaps a one off at the Don valley Stadium (Sheffield) when it first opened so it still feels a bit special and it makes you want to perform. For £3.50 and improved times I am certainly not complaining! 

Anyone got jumper cables?

And so begins the first in a little round up of the last few days, on Friday morning I was up and out early doors for an easy run. This included checking out what was going on at 'The Bridge' (which incidentally has it's own twitter page now)... mostly lots of workmen getting ready to start for the day. A good 5 mile circuit at a decent pace. I was pretty pleased and hoped that after a tiring week this would give me the boost I needed to get me through Friday - a kick start to my system, it seemed to work although by 6pm I had well and truly flagged and was looking forward to getting home and chilling out!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Keeping regular

For the first time in almost a month (for a variety of reasons) I made it back out with Petts Wood Runners tonight, and so glad I did, it was definitely what I needed. Whilst I have been out and about running in the meantime, Tuesday have just been a bit tricky of late.
Arriving early - I was pessimistic about the bridge closure and allowed far too much time for the alternate route - I had a little time for my recruitment drive for next years Thunder Run 24 hour relay. There is now a team of 5 from Petts Wood and I will get the entry off this week. The event isn't until next Summer but I am pretty excited already!
I was unsure whether to drop down a group after my poor run on Sunday but I decided to stick with my regular group and was glad I did. About half way through I dropped to the rear to catch up with the sweep and a couple of others. having a lovely chatter - mostly myself and Chris T - we trotted away the miles without really noticing them as they clocked up. I did feel sorry for one point for Ruth, sandwiched between two chatty northerners for so long, but it must have kept her going if only to get to the end and away from our incessant jibber jabber!
Great run tonight and I must try and make sure to get along more often on a Tuesday night, it really is good to run with the club and have a natter.

Monday, 7 November 2011

8 mile

Yesterday morning I sort of realised that whilst I have been doing regular long runs they have been of a different sort which has meant a bit of stop starting and not so much of a continuous long run. So I decided to go for a nice 8 miler and lose myself into a bit of distance running, long enough for a long run but not too long if I struggled and struggled I did.
Less than a mile in and my legs felt like they had syrup running through the veins it was tough going and my route included a long slog uphill from just over 1 mile to 3 miles into the run. I decided to change my route slightly to try and inspire myself and my legs from stopping, still on an incline but just a different route I hadn't run before. I made it to the top of the hill and with only a momentary walk break as I slowed to cross a road I managed to keep going for the full 8 miles. When I returned home I saw that my pace was pretty good for a long run but it had felt tough. It's strange how a sometimes a pace can feel so natural and another day it feels so much slower and more painful but looking at the numbers it could be exactly the same.
Today I woke with aching calves and to be honest I was more than a little disappointed with myself. This run shouldn’t have beaten me but I feel as though it might have done as I certainly didn't feel satisfied when I had finished.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Lucky Number 7

This morning I was back at the Petts Wood Runners beginners running group, after being volunteered to lead one of the groups in their first outings from Willet Rec into the roads of Petts Wood I decided to arrive early to test out my route.... tasking with a 2.5 miles route to lead I measured this perfectly taking in some gradual inclines, flats and a couple of good downhills.
Just before 9am the runners began to assemble, ready for the group warm up and dynamic stretching led by Emma and Richard. Then we spilt into 3 smaller groups to walk 1min, run 9 mins (and repeat). I was paired with Mike R to take out a group and off we went.. but much to my dismay not on the planned route I had tested this morning! Instead we headed towards Jubilee Park over the railway bridge with the 1 minute walking coming a just the right time for most so we could walk over the bridge without disrupting our plan. The runners are progressing really well, now 7 weeks into the plan and with only one more training week before the 5k parkrun to end the course. I look forward to seeing them all achieve their first 5km run.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Getting the cross back into training

Not sure where the week has gone... cannot believe it's Friday already. I have managed 2 swims, 2 treadmill runs, a bit of gym work and a body pump class between Tuesday and Thursday so I think today will be a day of rest. That and the fact that it has been raining for about the last 24hours at a ridiculous level and I don't fancy running in it after work.
Running on the treadmill is (as I have probably mentioned before) great for pacing or intervals but using for a hilly workout was pretty tough. In normal conditions when running up a hill you would naturally slow your pace a little as you go up but on the treadmill the pace remains the same - pretty tough! Still I gave it a good go and got through the session doing my warm up on the cross trainer and cool down a 10km cycle on the exercise bikes. Just trying to shake things up a bit, as marathon season is fast approaching I have remembered how much my speed and endurance benefitted from cross training last year so I am making a conscious effort to keep up with these activities.
So far I am managing 2-3 swims per week, mostly doing about 1km in breast stroke. Throwing in the odd length of my questionable front crawl. The next step is to reintroduce regular classes, at the moment I am trying to get Body pump back into my routine and then when that’s settled I intend to go back to pump.
On top of that I am hoping to get my mileage to average about 25 miles per week as I reach Christmas to put me in good stead for the increased mileage that a Spring marathon requires. Wish me luck!