Posts Tagged ‘training’

The main (and most important) reason  for not doing the Marathon des Sables is that I don’t think I can pronounce it properly. The potential embarrassment of this is paralysing.

A secondary (and less significant)  reason is that it looks really hard and I’m nowhere near fit enough. This is a minor detail, however.

Also… I’m not keen on running on sand.

I like the idea of running on sand, just not the actual doing of it.  This would hold me back somewhat, I do believe.

Furthermore… sunsets and sunrises – I’m a total sucker for them. And in deserts apparently, they are particularly brilliant. So I would end up stopping every five seconds to take a photo and I’d miss the cut-offs as a result.

  
So there you go. All things considered, I think it probably best, on balance, that I do not enter ‘the toughest footrace on earth‘ or however they like to refer to it.

It has taken me many years of running to reach this conclusion but it was this morning’s run along a Norfolk beach that cemented it in my mind. I’m away for a few days holiday on the east coast (well, about three miles in from the coast) and with the Ashby 20 coming up next month, I figured I really ought to get a few miles in my legs. Now we all know that running on the beach (along with running in the rain/ running in the morning/ running in the dark/ running while listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘the Trap’, ‘Chariots of Fire’) instantly makes you hardcore and therefore doubles the training effect*… so I marked out a little route, charged my Garmin and set out my running gear the night before (I can be organised on rare occasions). 

*science

I woke before the sun did the next day and I ended up running for 7 or 8 miles. On the journey I …

  • Got totally splattered with mud while running a very dark bridleway.
  • Reached the beach before sunrise.
  • Chased, caught and disposed of some random balloons blowing around on the beach.
  • Got a massive nosebleed for no reason!
  • Scared a few dog-walkers (due to the nose bleed) who must have thought, “why is it always us that meet the early morning psychos?!”.
  • Took far too many pictures…     

    I really must work on my selfie-taking technique

     

  

  • Actually realised I had a nose bleed and realised why I was getting those funny looks!
  • Noticed my Garmin was actually set to ‘ride’ instead of ‘run’ for the duration – doh!
  • Saw some interesting graffiti…  

Close up…?… 

 

  • Generally enjoyed a very pleasant morning run 😊

In other news: My daughter ran her first junior parkrun the other day (this deserves its own blog post another time).

My dad has recovered from his ‘episode’ AND look to be moving closer to us soon.

That wetsuit I optimistically brought with me looks like it might stay dry… 

 
Looks a bit rough to me…

…and worse in black&white… 

 

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    Ashby 20 review

    Posted: March 25, 2015 in Marathon, Reviews, running
    Tags: , ,

    I’m not actually very good at straightforward race reviews. A few things usually end up happening: I start boring myself, it will follow no chronological order, and will have no point… but nonetheless I think it would be useful to do anyway for this twenty-miler before the memory of it fades and I miss my opportunity to reflect and learn any lessons.

    A couple of other blog posts I have come across reviewing the same race, worth a read can be found HERE and HERE.

    I entered the Ashby 20 a while back after considering it for about….oooo…all of 20 seconds. One of those ‘last twenty places remaining’ posts on social media spurred me into action I wasn’t even sure it was a twenty mile event at that point (I just hoped it wasn’t a 20 hour, endurance one!). But it was close enough to home to not disrupt family life too much and was perfect preparation for Huddersfield marathon.  I had thought , “If I can’t manage this one, I shall pull out of the marathon for sure”.

    The day began beautifully. The sun was shining, I felt recovered from my midweek half marathon effort, and I could find all the running gubbins that I had failed to prepare the night before.

    The journey was straightforward. I was on my own, but even with my less-than-perfect navigation skills, I didn’t get lost and grabbed a parking space right next to the finishing area. Desperate for the loo and sufficiently blind not to see the rows of portaloos over the other side of the cricket field, I walked through town to use the ones at the leisure centre. There, you see, important stuff… I totally rock at this review-writing malarkey!

    Returning to the cricket field I had a bit of time to kill so I set up a justgiving fundraising page via my mobile phone, in preparation for next month’s marathon.  I then pootled over to the start gathering area where I placed myself with the 3 to 3.5 hour pace group. Here, I recognised a chap from Colwick parkrun… There is a photo somewhere of us crossing the finish line at a similar time…but I’m wearing a dressing gown And dark sunglasses… I’ll see if I can find it…

    Yup… Here it is…

    

    Anyway, we had a nice chat before we were led to the actual start point… and we were off!

    It was essentially a two-lap course, running about a mile out of Ashby-de-la-Zouch doing two 9-mile loops, then hobbling back in to Ashby again.

    Inevitably, I went out faster than intended. I know, I know… It just seemed so easy… I know!

    However… Having managed to maintain sub-nine-minute miles fairly comfortably for 11 miles, I figured, “let’s see how long you can keep this going for then, shall we?” 

    At least to cover the half marathon distance, I thought.

    The original plan was to attempt to run a half-marathon in approximately 2 hours, which until my final training run last week, was pretty much as fast as I had ever done that distance. I would then inevitably slow down, but would attempt to cling on to ten-minute miles for the final seven.  This would give me a 3:10:00 finish time and was therefore my target.

    This was not taking into account the undulating nature of the course, so I thought this was perhaps an ambitious target.

    The course was indeed undulating and the first lap was significantly but perhaps unsurprisingly somewhat flatter than the second one :-/

    Here are my splits (I don’t normally do this but, well, I am doing so today so you’ll just have to deal with it)…

    

    I think it is fair to say that mentally as well as physically, I let things slide a little after the 13 mile point.

    My total, chip time  =  3:04:19

    Happy with that.

    And a few more personal bests to add to the collection…
    image

    Support was great, the whole way round. Fantastic organisation. Lovely weather. Regular drinks/sponges/’nutrition’ stations brimming with wonderful volunteers.
    The only negative I can think of is – despite the wonderful pre-race information pack and well-signed placards after drinks stations saying, “no rubbish to be dropped past this point” some runners were obviously still just chucking their cups/gel packets/bottles/lids at the side of the road wherever they fancied. There was even a bin at every mile marker so there really was every effort made by the organisers but some selfish runners still somehow see it as their right to throw rubbish where they like and expect someone else to tidy up… Grrrrr!

    Now… ‘Nutrition‘… 

    There were a number of things on offer: Gels… Jelly Babies… Chocolate… Bananas…    But up til this race I had always done my long runs on just water (I’m still not Jesus though), convincing myself that I was training my body to use my fat stores for energy.

    If this had truly happened, then I would not have run out of energy for a very long time, but as it was, I was suffering from about mile 15, I would say (the splits show I was slowing before this but that’s when I felt it), so I accepted a banana half… Then later – a few Jelly Babies… Then later still – a square of chocolate.  I didn’t have any gels (It’s easy to resist the gels – they’re disgusting!)
    So I’m still not sure of a nutrition strategy for the marathon :-/

    I think the mental boost gained was greater than the physical one and I was too mentally weak to resist at that stage.  I also got a good mental boost by playing ‘Chariots of Fire Theme‘ by Vangelis over my iPod for the final 0.5 miles (using its internal speaker, of course – no headphones allowed).  That felt good. 

    http://youtu.be/CSav51fVlKU

    My phone GPS actually measured my route as 20.4 miles … Here’s that last 0.4 miles pace…

    

    8:02 minute mile pace! – I should have had that tune on loop since mile 15!

    One final thing…

    I won!

    Well… Not the whole thing – obviously, but I got an ALDI sponsored ‘spot prize’ of £5 in an envelope after I crossed the line – presumably just for being brilliant 😉

    This went straight to the Rainbows charity who were collecting donations in exchange for a post-race sports massage at the cricket pavilion.

    Painful but great!

    Which is a summary of the massage and the Ashby 20 itself.

    I wasn’t intending to post again before the weekend but on Thursday, I found myself worrying that I hadn’t done a proper long run for a while (giving the ankle a bit of a rest) and was concerned that I had lost some fitness ahead of this weekend’s Ashby20 road race.

    So with approximately two and a half hours to dedicate to a run after I had taken the children to school/nursery, I headed off on an out-and-back run along the canal path.  I figured if I kept the pace up, I could easily manage a half-marathon distance with time to sort myself out before needing to collect my youngest from nursery again.

    I felt like I was flying. 

    At about 6 miles or so, I passed a big open field and felt a sudden urge to do some StravaArt. If you are reading this and have no idea what I’m on about, you are probably my parents… So predominantly for their benefit… It is where you use the GPS tracking of your run/cycle to ‘draw’ an image on a map.  With the bird’s eye view of your whole route effectively providing you with your image.

    By far the best examples of which I’ve seen can be seen >>>here<<< , but I’ve included an example below in case you haven’t got the time or inclination to click…

    

    Well, don’t expect anything like that from me.

    I had been listening to Marathon Talk during my run, (a running podcast with news, stories, funnies, interviews, etc from the running world – worth a listen if you don’t already) and the presenters, Martin Yelling and Tom Williams had referenced this activity in one of their conversations, deciding that they would, before next week, create some Strava Art each in a competition with each other to see who could produce the best piece.

    So there I am feeling like I’m flying through my run, and reckoning I’m well below 2 hour half-marathon pace when I decide to go into this field and make the various dog-walkers there think I had gone barmy by running up and down, backwards, in circles, etc – like I had repeatedly remembered that I had left the iron on at home and was indecisive as to whether or not I should return to turn it off.

    Here’s what I did…
    image

    Ok… To be fair, that’s a bit far away…
    image

    Can you see it yet? A bit closer perhaps…
    image

    And finally… properly zoomed in and flipped…
    image

    Ok…Perhaps that was too close…revealing my poor form, but in my defence, apart from the lower, straight-ish line, which was the footpath running along the edge, the field itself had no lines or markings at all, and the dodgy-looking initial ‘M’ aside, I’m pretty pleased how that came out.

    What’s more, despite this little folly (which I subsequently shared with Martin and Tom themselves) I still made it back to nursery just in time to collect my little girl.
    Better than ‘just in time’, in fact…
    image

    PBs (Personal Records) galore.
    Thank you very much!

    I didn’t need to worry about losing fitness at all…

    …Now I’m worried that I’ve peaked to soon though, of course!

    I can certainly be very ‘all or nothing’ at times. If I’m motivated, I’m well motivated, running most places, cycling everywhere else, eating well, etc… But when I fall off the wagon, I seem to land squarely in the biscuit tin.

    For some reason the looming hilly races on the horizon haven’t been working their magic. Maybe they were too far away… WELL THEY AREN’T TOO FAR AWAY NOW! The Ashby20 is this coming weekend (22nd March ’15) and the Huddersfield Marathon on April 19th.

    I’ve been looking at the profile for the Ashby20 and it seems to match my motivation of late…

    

    This week = be super-good week.

    Nothing that will make the weekend harder.

    I have been doing the odd, very short run, more to help me mentally than physically and the ankle has settled a bit…

    

    Ankle update

    

    …and I think I’ll be fine.

    The arm bruise is looking less interesting too…

    

    (I might have been tensing a bit .., the best i could anyway)

    Bruise update

    I don’t think I’ll make it to the Mr Universe finals this year.

    So I’m sat here post-dinner, drinking a pint of water and watching with envy as my kids tuck into some ice-cream and I’m wondering if I should run the 20 miles on Sunday with no fuel (as I have with all my long training runs) or have a slap-up breakfast and an ice-cream that morning, by way of a scientific experiment, like.

    It’s the law of running that a few weeks before a big race/event something will go wrong. 

    This includes (but is not restricted to…):

    Broken bones. 

    Getting a cold.

    Mojo deficiency syndrome.

    Slightly poorly ankle.

    …and it is the most serious of the above ailments with which I am currently suffering.

    Yes. The slightly poorly ankle.

    I played tennis yesterday and picked up another mystery injury. The random arm bruise from last week is still colourful, by the way…

    

    (I shall be providing weekly bruise updates because I know that’s what you want.)

    The new injury was a hurty-ankle but I couldn’t work out if it was an outside (oh-dear-I-must-have-hit-myself-in-the-ankle-with-my-racquet-without-realising-at-the-time) sort of pain, or an internal (oh-dear-I-have-inadvertently-placed-excessive-strain-on-the-already-overused-and-under-recovered-soft-tissues-of-an-unstable-joint) sort of pain.

    So… to assist in diagnosis, I went for a 9 mile run this morning.  It was supposed to be 16 miles, but prudence suggested otherwise. 

    (I normally don’t listen to prudence, she can be a bit bossy and boring, but it’s important to hear people out sometimes, I think).

    And the revised diagnosis is…

    A hurty and slightly swollen ankle.

    

    I seemed to run on it ok, but I don’t want to push it. Next weekend is a big tennis match again, and the week after that is the Ashby20, a hilly 20-mile road race. So I think I might just take things down a notch running-wise before then. If that then goes well, I shall just keep myself ticking over until the marathon a month later.

    Prudence and I are chilling out together this week. I’ve decided to get to know her better.  I’ve been a bit hard on her in the past.

    In (less than*) three weeks, I shall be running the Ashby20 road race.

    ‘Race’ is a bit grand, really. I shall perhaps instead be running the ‘Ashby20 road get-round-in-one-piece’.

    When I entered, I saw it was very close to its limit and I got pretty much the last place. I didn’t even have time to check that the ’20’ in the title related to the number of miles and not something else like kilometres…or the number of hours in this endurance race… Or… (And here’s an idea) that runners set off and then every 20 minutes, the last 20 runners get run over by the sweep vehicle and are eliminated from the race, which then goes on for as long as it takes to get a winner/survivor.

    Disappointingly, I was right in my first assumption – it is indeed a 20 mile event. The Ashby20 is also apparently quite hilly and in a rare moment of planning and preparation I thought it would be the ideal pre-marathon event to help motivate, test and inspire me before Huddersfield’s hilly 26.2 miles in April.

    I have been building up my miles over the past few weeks in conjunction with the jantastic challenge.  Over the past four weekends I have done 15 miles, 16 miles, 17 miles and then (the day before the day before the day before the day before*) yesterday, I did 18 miles. I have managed each of these runs before breakfast having woken at stupid o’clock in the morning and the best bit about that is that I’ve covered a half-marathon before I’ve even woken up properly and become consciously aware of what I’m doing.  Bonus.

    You’d think I’d be confident of managing 20 miles in (less than*) 3 weeks time but  there’s nothing like a long run to make you realise that running even further is going to feel horrible.  I think this is very normal, though… right?

    I am still targeting four runs a week with one of those weekly outings being a ‘long run’ but I’m not sure whether to taper before the Ashby20 or not. 

    On further reflection, I may not have much choice… I’m off early to go and  see the England/Scotland 6 nations match in (less than*) a couple of weeks and then the day after that I’m playing in our final league tennis match of the winter season… Win, and we stay up… Draw or lose and we’re likely to be going down a division . So I have to be on form for that one – DOMS free! Given that I will not end up seeing my family all weekend, and especially as it’s mother’s day on the Sunday, I don’t really think that a long run is on the cards that week.

    Motivation has been strangely wavering. I think I’ve been a bit fed up at the lack of significant weight loss despite massively increased output and massively reduced  sensible input … to the point where I end up thinking ‘stuff it’ (healthy eating) and so I stuff it (unhealthy eating) all in my mouth in very short space of time.

    Not so sensible after all.

    In other news I bought a nearly new pair of my currently favorite running shoes on eBay a few weeks ago, paid on the day, heard nothing, sent message, was told they’d be posting the next day but have received no shoes and no further contact since then. I’ll get a refund, no problem…but I’d rather have the bargain shoes!
    On a more positive note I have been to my favorite place for quality clothing – my local charity shop….these three beauties, as good as new for £11. Thank you very much. 

    

    Changing the subject, while not wanting to compete with my injured co-bloggers, Plustenner and Shazruns, I have assumed for the past few days that I had a splinter/thorn in my right arm, acquired (so I thought) when hunting out lost tennis balls from the pine trees last weekend. I even attempted extraction of the imaginary thorn with now unsurprising failure.  You see, this morning, it was as though someone had painted it lots of pretty colours…

    

    …and at that point only, I remembered running into the metal fence post at the back of the tennis courts mid-way through my match last week.  I don’t recall who won the point**.

    So there we have it. I’m still running. I’m not injured (well not running-halting injured), I’m not ill and my mileage has been steadily increasing.

    Put like that, things are pretty good really.

    *I started writing this post on Sunday and have only just got round to finishing/publishing it today (Thursday). Hence some time edits.

    **That is generally accepted code for ‘I lost it’.

    Less than twelve weeks to go until Huddersfield Hilly* Marathon. So I thought I would at least attempt a weekly round up of training/excuses here.

    *It’s not officially called ‘Huddersfield Hilly Marathon’, I just thought I’d mention its hilliness (obviously the correct spelling – based on silly/silliness) in case I have previously failed to mention its hilly/challenging nature.

    So…. crunch time! I’ve got to keep serious now…you know me…always serious…
    Friday afternoon is also usually crunch time for me as it is when I am at my weakest, motivationally speaking. I need to see if I can avoid the temptation to sustain the last few hours of the week at work by munching at the various boxes of biscuits and chocs that do the rounds. Folks at work know I’m ‘in training’ so they don’t offer me stuff now…which is good….

    …but away from their eyes I can be a secret eater. I’m not proud of it. I know I shouldn’t do it. But staying late to finish work an hour after everyone has gone, and knowing that I wasn’t gong to be eating until late this evening due to a tennis awards evening, the box of chocs were all mine.. 😦

    Cross with myself for my secret eating, when I returned home from the tennis awards where, incidentally I ate reasonably well (apart from repeated trips to the crisp bowl) I then ate another big packet of crisps very unsecretively. CRUNCH TIME!
    Take that secret eating! Ha. That showed you!

    * * * * * *

    Obviously this was all just a cunning plan to shame me into running extra hard to get that parkrun PB that I publicly proclaimed I would get last week…

    I woke this morning (Saturday) and foolishly stood on the scales to assess the damage…
    I was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d actually lost weight. Go figure. How does that work?
    I was spurred on by the knowledge that if I run at the same effort as normal, my reduced weight should mean I’m faster, right?

    That’s just what I did, and the results are demonstrated by the following graphic…

    image

    …by nearly thirty seconds too!

    To complete a successful jantastic week, I just need to take it easy with a steady 15 mile run before breakfast tomorrow, now :-/

    Every cloud

    Posted: January 28, 2015 in Janathon, Jantastic, Marathon, running
    Tags: , , ,

    Yesterday, I worked out…

    Stop! Hang on…

    No.

    No I didn’t. That is the problem.
    I shall rephrase…

    I calculated that if I ran 5 miles a day for the rest of January, I could still make it into the Janathon 100 club, even if my blogging has been a little erratic over this final week.

    Unfortunately, shortly after calculating the ‘5 miles a day’ thing, it didn’t take a huge intellectual leap from a mathematical genius such as myself to work out conclude that I could just go to bed and do 10 miles the next day. So that’s what I did…

    …well…    …a bit…

    The going to bed bit.

    Because the next day (today – Wednesday) I had agreed to meet a tennis club member for a set or two at the club after today’s school run.
    We warmed up and got two games in before we got massively hailed on…
    (…and cue the obligatory photo that never fully conveys how hard and wet and cold it actually was…)

    image

    The weather looked set in, so we called it a day there, postponed it to tomorrow (when it’ll probably be under a few inches of snow) and I went for that (somewhat wetter than anticipated) run after all. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.

    Not quite enough time for the 10-miler, but I got 9 in at least before nursery pick-up time.

    I didn’t enjoy it.

    I was tired, I was aching, I wanted to be playing tennis really.

    I wondered why I had bothered entering another stupid marathon if I didn’t enjoy running anyway.

    And then I thought…”Brilliant! This is close to how I feel towards the end of a really long run, but without the hassle, the pain, the time issues of having actually just run 18 miles or so”. So I convinced myself it was mental training. I needed to keep going, even though I didn’t feel like it, because that’s exactly what I’ll have to do in a few months time, anyway.

    Every cloud and all that.

    It certainly felt like every cloud that could have passed overhead today, did.

    Today, for no particular reason (other than, of course -Janathon, Jantastic and the fact I’m supposed to be doing a marathon in April), I decided to go for a little run.
    So I ran to the end of the road.
    And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town.
    And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around.
    I’m pretty tired after my speed training.
    I think I’ll go home now.

    Janathon (day 14) – involving no particular reasons – Done

    Seriously

    Posted: January 12, 2015 in Janathon, Marathon, running
    Tags: , , ,

    A funny thing happened to me on my run this evening….

    …absolutely nothing. And that’s very unusual.

    I didn’t punch any lampposts,

    I didn’t have to call in the air ambulance

    and I didn’t witness any night ninjas correcting any signs with wayward grammar.

    I just ran.

    10k in the rain.

    And it was lovely*.

    🙂

    .

    .

    .

    *…when I stopped

    Janathon (day 12) – involving nothing of any note whatsoever – Done.