Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Mid Week Mayhem

Three days into the new job and I already need another holiday. How tiring it is to be a newby; everywhere I turn I'm reminded of all the stuff I don't know yet. There's so much stuff coming from all kinds of directions and I've yet to discern the important stuff from the mere fluff. I've got brain ache and just long to get home and clear my head with a good run. Late finishes this week have made the evening run a squeeze leaving no time for blogging, whether it be reading others or writing my own. I'm thinking that I might start experimenting with my BBerry for some mobile blogger action...
On a more positive note, the sore foot has been grumbling less on the even road surface and a return of some hill efforts last night were a good workout though a bit of a shock after very little hill work of late. M came too and the bad bum cheek is now well and truly grumble free.
The late & long one tonight could have been tough had I not been giddy with some good news. I was very chuffed to hear on Monday that some running sponsorship will be coming my way. With the kind support and advocacy of Mr Complete Runner, Brooks have offered some sponsorship support, meaning this Runningbear now has a kit deal for the next year. So, I will be very well turned out indeed for all of my running adventures in the coming months. I get to pick my shoes and 'apparel' this weekend with a very glitzy Brooks racing kit for my non-team events. I'm hoping for the best when it comes to a choice of pants, it could be a deal breaker.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Three Dirty Letters

It's been a slightly miserable weekend after what was a very tiring week. An easy 5 miles on Friday left me feeling a bit human again following a tough week of training as well as work. I was almost recovered enough for the Yorkshire Champs XC at Wakefield so M & I made the trip over to support club mates. I'd promised to turnout for the ladies team and the pace would do me no harm even on wooden legs.
After a couple of miles warm up I was feeling reasonable if not entirely fresh and quite up for the 6k lung burning chase around the muddy but sunny parkland. My right foot had other ideas. The course kicked off with a fast and furious 400m before a steepish climb to a muddy ridge with a fair stretch of camber sliding to the right. I was still adjusting to my spikes, having raced so little XC this winter and my right foot then had a sulk. The little blighter tweaked big style as I skipped then half hopped along the mudslide before the sharp left and straight descent to drop back down and rejoin the start for loop 2.

After a bit of foot pointing and scrunching of my face M got the picture that I was not good. On my way around loop 2 I picked up the pace again but then hit the same mud slope; the foot tweak was very sharp this time and caused further hopping and cursing. I lost 5 places then hopped to a halt. Not good. Runningbear DNF! I hoped I'd never have to write those dirty letters. I hung my head in shame and disappointment as I trudged back to the tent, right foot in tow.

It's a strange feeling not finishing a race. A feeling I hope I won't have to repeat. Needless to say, after waking up to more snow this morning, the wobbling plans for a long one wobbled and lost balance altogether. A brief test on flat road confirmed that said right foot might cope with even ground. I stuck to a safe treadmill run today; 18 miles shorter than planned with a steady 6 miles but better be safe than sorry, right?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Not Just A Pretty Face

I've been thinking through the practicalities of running, no... racing 26.2 miles. In particular I've been thinking about how mashed my feet could be racing the full 26.2 miles in skimpy little racing shoes.
I've been doing my marathon shoe research and thought I'd invest early in some research testing and ordered a couple of racer-trainers with my pile of race vouchers yearning to be spent. The new shoes were delivered to the office this week.
The beauties have been perched patiently atop my piles of files and boxes of books as I pack up ten years of working life in Leeds and move on out to HQ. I start my new job proper on Monday (yikes). The Glides have been itching to get out of the box but my Sunday shenanigans and trashed quads have focused my mind on a gentler approach; the plan is to slip on the lightnin' slippers for the odd recovery run first.
Last night was the medium long run. The original plan was to include a bit of tempo but I was just too wasted after Sunday and all that intervals work on Tuesday. I managed another 14 miler at a steady 6.50 pace but squeezing in any tempo or even marathon paced miles would probably have been a step too far. Sometimes I reckon it's knowing when to hold off that's the smart part of training too.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Dreadmill Daze

After the frustrations of Sunday I was determined to make my first quality session this week count. An easy 5 on Monday night gave the very tight quads time to calm down and relax before my weekly visit to the track for some interval action. Tonight's session was a change of tack; a mixed pace session of alternating marathon pace (6.10) with steady aerobic pace (6.50) 1k efforts; completing 16k in total. After a couple of laps warm up with M by my side we set out at 6.50 pace for the first steady rep.
The mental arithmetic alone was sufficient challenge as we worked out our pacing sums through each 200m split. By rep 2 we began to notice an icy glint on the track and after 20 minutes of running it was clear that the temperature was plummeting and the track had just completely iced over. It was incredible to see running surface transform in such a short time. I could have cried. The constant cold weather up north is a right pain in the a*** and I'm starting to lose my patience. I managed to slip my way around a third rep before agreeing with M that it was another bum cheek injury waiting to happen. Thankfully after a quick chat with the bloke at the desk we'd wangled our way into the gym to finish off the session on a machine. A great decision it was too.
The treadmill felt tough at first, mentally more than anything else as we stared at our spot of whitewashed wall or the few red digits on the miniature screen. After rep. 4 things started to feel good and the rhythm of running started to feel pretty smooth and hypnotic. I ended finishing the full 16k with plenty of juice left over and averaged an excellent pace for the total 10 miles. It's a bit bonkers I know, but I'm beginning to wonder if intervals on the treadmill might be quite a good thing. No wind or rain or ice to contend with and no easing down the pace when things get tough. I can't believe I'm writing this but, I actually quite enjoyed it. Yes. Really.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

A Rough One

The long one planned was supposed to be a bit of a jolly. It was supposed to be a longish pootle for my weekly Sunday run. I'd even opted for an off-road option to take advantage of the chill-out-recovery tone to the session. I set out early under a very fresh blue sky with my bright yellow and mucky off roaders ready for the dirty stuff and a hop over the odd stile or two. After a couple of miles bumbling along the River Wharfe I noticed that the ground was not its soft and squidgy self and more rock 'ard after an overnight freeze. Rather than reconsider my route, or more sensibly run back for a shoe change I pressed on; venturing into the icy February sunshine with my porridge in my tummy, smiling at the plump mummy sheep and feeling rather satisfied that I could just relax and enjoy this one.

Clocking mile 7 took me through Barden Bridge, after much dog walker dodging and still running with a moderate spring in my step I was hello'd by a very friendly running posse (who I now I know to be Ian et al from Horsforth Harriers - hello there again if you're reading). I must have looked reasonably alive still and knew then that my plans to be out for 2h30 would take me on to Burnsall to turn at 10 miles. I hadn't expected to get so far on my bumble but all was good. The turn came quickly and I kicked myself for forgetting my camera and failing to capture the heart stopping beauty of the run into Burnsall. The sun showered the river with glittering shards and the slow thaw with the morning sun formed a fairytale mist across the valley. I congratulated myself on the route choice and regretted no running pal for company to share the bliss.

The running started to feel hard by mile 12, my feet were feeling very sore and my quads rather tight. It was beginning to dawn that the effect of running on hard frozen mud and trail was the equivalent of 20m of concrete, in very knackered fell shoes. What a noodle. As I lurched on for home my quads no longer whined but screamed. By mile 16 I had to resort to a stretch and a bit of walk. What a plonker. I can't remember ever being forced to walk before. It just felt all wrong. I ashamedly confess that the 20 planned ended at a very mediocre 19 miles with bits walking and four more quad stretch stops. Needless to say I was very annoyed with myself and had done more harm than good; mashing quads in great style all on a recovery week! My moans and grumbles when I got home were met luckily with a fantastic massage to ease the pain. M did a great job and managed to reduce the tennis ball sized lumps in my thighs to mere peas of pain. Note to self: never ever wear silly, ill cushioned shoes for long runs again.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Planning Plans

I'm still absorbing the contents of the Daniels text but would recommend this to anyone who wants a bit of a refresher in approaches to training with some idiot proof science thrown in. It reads as a very accessible integration of common sense and basic physiology and I really liked the style of writing and structure of the book. The final chapters provide schedules for different race distances, including three different marathon schedules (of 24 weeks). These offer a framework for sequencing the different types of quality training for the most effective speed and endurance development. He avoids quoting mileage at you, which is refreshing and enables you to tailor the plans to your specific needs; thus focusing the mind more on what you are actually trying to achieve with each training session.
The threshold training explanations provide some suggested workouts and are mind boggling but excellent sessions that I'm looking forward to weaving into The Plan through the coming weeks. To clarify the language, threshold training is described as 'tempo' running and equates to your 10 mile race pace. If there's anything I'd moan about having read a few running books in the last year or so, it's the interchangeability of how the terms threshold and tempo are used by authors and a lack of clarity of what these terms mean. Daniels defines this pretty clearly and even includes his VDOT tables to assist you with identifying your optimum training pace. Tempo or threshold pace for me is about 5.50, which makes any such run over 5 miles seem a bit of a daunting prospect without any race adrenalin to get the heart pumping. All the more reason to race long ones regularly I reckon.

I'm now tucking into my cheese and bean toastie (I'm officially addicted) after an easy day's running. This being a recovery week I'm giving the body a break to adjust to the building mileage. A steady 7 miles with a few controlled strides this morning helped wake up the legs from Maggie the mauler's massage last night and also to pep me up for the long one tomorrow. I might even stretch to an off road run, my little legs feel like they deserve it.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Jack Daniels Formula

The Jack Daniels text of choice came through a couple of days ago and I've been hungrily consuming its pages for running tips - as if I haven't researched things to death already! The book has been recommended by several running afficionados and a fine text it is, both in the accessibility of the writing and the science of the approach. I'm still reading the initial chapters so it's a bit early to report my findings but the process of using race times to determine appropriate training intensity and pace is a real and present need for me which I hope this approach will help resolve.

The additional long runs through the week are certainly helping build up my general strength and the pace feels pretty comfy but I'm still a bit anxious I'm running too fast. A phrase I've noted in the early chapters is the 'avoidance of quality junk', i.e. avoiding sessions that fall between intervals, threshold and easy running pace. I might just be in danger of making that exact mistake. Anyway, I've more reading to do so will suspend any immediate action for now and stick with reading the whole book.

It was a steady 8 miles tonight with a bit of company for a refreshing change. M dragged his glute out for a run with me along the frosty pavements in Ilkley. No real twinges indicate all is well with said bum cheek with just a bit of fitness now to be regained. A massage with Maggie the mauler tomorrow should do the trick in preparation for the weekend; our sports massage is a regular treat highly recommended to regular runners out there. Go get one!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


Just a quickie tonight as today is a very special day. I did good and got in my track work last night, though times were a bit slow as I slid around the first 100m bend of each rep over the newly formed ice. I also squeezed in a steady 14m tonight, in between unwrapping pressies and the birthday messages. Today is M's special day. He's had lots of special birthday treats, including some rather nifty running kit. He's also managed 8 miles himself at a good steady pace. A great birthday present on its own and a good sign that the unruly bum cheek is now well and truly on the mend.

Birthday Graphics

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Silly Hills

I really should think it through a bit more before I start wittering on about 'wanting to be pushed' and training with faster partners to get 'dragged along' and experience greater training benefits. I certainly did experience the 'training benefits' today. I was a bit daunted by today's long run prospects. Not only did I know the pace was gonna be challenging over this 20 miler, I also knew it would be very hilly. Stewart M had forewarned me that this was a bit of a toughie but it would 'make me strong' for my marathon adventures. Most people would have heard the alarm bells ringing and the sensible sirens sounding loud and clear. He's such a nice bloke that I was somehow reassured that it would all be okay.
I pulled up bang on the button at 10am eager and a bit nervous for the start for this long pack run. After a bit of a bender last night celebrating XC success one or two were a bit ropey and so bowed out of the full 20M. We were joined too by Nigel B from Keighley who is a very useful runner [he got me round the brass monkey HM last year in 76mins] but he was also turning back at 10M. It then sunk in that I would be alone again chasing Stewart at eyeball popping pace but this time on the horriblest, hardest and never-ending hills out of Bingley to Oxenhope, on to Haworth and back.
It was hilly alright. It was silly hilly. All of this whilst trying to respond to the pleasant chat and marathon talk. You can imagine I'm sure. My legs were pretty much blown half way round and the knowledge of another hilly 10 to follow was a mental challenge that would make a Mensa member's eyes water. Anyway, my determination and eagerness to be fit and strong for my first marathon somehow got me round. I was even feeling reasonably human up to mile 19 but then the last one, with the last sting of a climb just finished me off. To top it all I have no Garmin record to show off how good I did. Mental calculations approximate around 6.55 miling average today. Not so bad going given the climbs that were conquered and the massive training week I've had. So, another biggie in the bag, another week running strong, another run with the fast boys survived. Thankfully a recovery week next week. P.s. Well done to blogger boys at the Dewsbury 10k today, great runs were had in what was a very classy field, (congrats MH), results here.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

The Spring Is Back!

After all my adventures in the murk on Thursday, Friday brought the second toughie of the week; a medium long run with tempo efforts. I set out for the 12 miler in misty, cold and damp conditions feeling uninspired and rather shivery for the first couple of miles. The route is an undulating one for a couple of miles before the tempo efforts kick in on the edge of Ilkley. This time I opted for a slighter easier ride; 3 x 2M efforts to split up the hard work. As usual the return leg was heading back into gale force winds (I exaggerate mildly). Despite the dead feeling in my legs the effort was a steady threshold pace and a decently paced run by the end of the final 12. Another quality sesh in the bag that I can enjoy ticking on THE PLAN.
The prospect of today's strides held even less appeal as I shambled down the stairs with wooden legs this morning; a perfect opportunity to return the spring in my step you might say. This is a new approach for me; a steady aerobic run interspersed with short, pacy strides to get the leg turnover cranked up during high mileage weeks. The strides certainly did the business today; the brisk 7 miles left me feeling pretty nifty and ready for my hilly long run tomorrow. Sunday has a 20M route planned with company; the fast boys once again. I've been assured they'd be very tired after the XC at Sheffield today. All digits crossed, they're knackered. P.S. M's cheek also survived a road run last night.

Thursday, 4 February 2010


I'm truly pooped after a very busy day; I've run 12 miles, walked 5 and been unusually sociable (for me) and with half a cake in my tummy I think I've earned an early bedtime. An easy 5 with Mr Complete Runner for company this morning turned into an easy 7 around town, picking our way through the slush and murk before a morning coffee, a slice of home baked cake and some running shoe talk. A hurried lunch and M's return from spinning class was followed by an afternoon's walk out into the murk with visiting friend Julian M. Our ambles along the river included some racy talk and running plans for the spring to cheer us in the freezing fog.
Another coffee and cake refuel was just enough for my steady 5 tonight. A double day and a tiring one was rewarded with hot bath & hopefully a good sleep. M's cheek survived another run tonight so all things crossed. Night, night.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Snow Good

It was a wise move to get my middle of the week long run done and dusted this morning with the return of the white stuff tonight. I got going fairly early for the steady 12 miler from Addingham, out to Burley and back. The route was a tad dull and again the tormentor followed me from Lancs to revel in blowing me backwards on the return leg along the Skipton road. After clipping along at a comfy 6.40 pace on the way out I was puffing to hit 6.50s into the wind on the way back.
A healthy sub 7 average in the end made me feel virtuous enough to have a naughty & nicely sized lunch including a bit of pudding. I'm getting a but comfy in this daytime training routine and am fantasizing about what life would be like as a pro athlete; run, eat, run, nap, run, eat, sleep. Oh, what a life it would be. Reality is soon to kick in though; only 4 days of leisurely living left to go before the money earning machinery kicks in again. Am I too young to be thinking of retirement...?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Well 'ard.

I'm back, I think. Today was a toughie. After my long fast one on Sunday I was expecting today to hurt and wondered if my old legs might even give up. I'd planned a threshold and VO2 sandwich of a session; a whopper it was though I don't think I bit off more than I can chew, (ha! apols for the cheese).

After the nippy 18 with Stewart M on Sunday I wasn't expecting much pep in my legs today and at that pace, I thought I'd overcooked things to the point that today might be a waste of time. The session kicked off with a 3 mile warm up, run at tempo to goal marathon pace. A swift intervals set of 12 x 400m reps with reducing recoveries was the tasty filling with another 3 miles to warm down again at tempo to marathon goal pace to finish.

There were no easy miles and I managed it all pretty good. My trusty M joined me for the trip to Seedhill track to test out his misbehaving bum cheek. His gentle jog soon finished leaving him bags of time to clock my splits and shout at me a lot when I started to look lazy. Apparently I never really look like I'm working very hard.

The splits were very even, all well under 3k race pace and I even managed a bit of a spurt for that final rep, despite the usual Lancashire 'tormentor' headwind on that evil back straight. So, after what seemed such a daunting session I'm buzzin' with the running mojo and counting the hours until my next run. It's been ages since I've felt this hungry to train and I'm loving every minute. A medium steady run tomorrow and from the state of the roads tonight I'll be better off with ice skates. M's cheek is still a bit of a worry; another test run for him tomorrow too. A demain.