Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two of the same

There's not too much to record yet this week. I went for a 5.5mile run yesterday at lunchtime and again tonight at 9pm. The runs were over the same route so I thought it might be interesting to compare the two. The route was an out and back and I planned to run a steady pace on both days.

Monday (27/10/2008)
5.50miles 39:05mins @ 7:06min/mile @ 153bpm

Tuesday (28/10/2008)
5.48miles 39:53mins @ 7:17min/mile @ 152bpm

So tonight I was 11sec per mile slower even though I tried to run at a similar pace. I wonder why? Maybe I was feeling the cumulative effects of the runs on Sunday & Monday. Or maybe the fact that tonight's run was in the dark, which meant I had to be a bit more care underfoot. Also tonights run was after a long day and within 2 hours of eating dinner. Anyway, who knows the reason?

Hopefully tomorrow I'll go for an easy 6mile at lunchtime and I plan on doing my first hill interval session since 1994 on Thursday....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

12 miles ... easy

It's the end of another week. I didn't get to run yesterday (probably just as well the weather was awful!!) but today I went out for my usual 'long' run this am. Today it was a 12mile route and thankfully yesterday's autumn storm had subsided. The sun was out, cool but mostly blue skies, a light sprinkling of rain at times and light westerly breeze - ideal conditions.

This was to be my longest run in 3 weeks so I planned to run relatively easily. Distance rather than speed was the plan. The first mile is a steep downhill so my pace was faster than planned but after that I settled into a 7:30(ish) pace. I felt surprising good at the 8 mile mark so I thought I'd push a 'bit' harder over the final 4 miles. The run went as follows....

Looking at the plot above my pace was very erratic. I wonder was I really changing pace as often as my Garmin suggests (it didn't feel like I was) or is the plot a function of the error in the Garmin?? Averaging the pace over my mile splits looks much more uniform...

Mile 1 - 7:06 - 143bpm

Mile 2 - 7:16 - 151bpm

Mile 3 - 7:19 - 156bpm

Mile 4 - 7:23 - 152bpm (Sundays Well - uphill)

Mile 5 - 7:50 - 157bpm (Sundays Well - uphill)

Mile 6 - 7:25 - 152bpm

Mile 7 - 7:26 - 156bpm

Mile 8 - 7:24 - 158bpm

Mile 9 - 7:13 - 159bpm

Mile 10 - 7:21 - 158bpm (73:44)

Mile 11 - 7:04 - 160bpm

Mile 12 - 7:01 - 164bpm

Overall 12.19miles in 1:29:10 @ 7:19min/mile average 156bpm.

Despite my heart rate being a couple of bpm higher than some of my previous long runs and despite averaging 7:19min/mile this was an 'easy' run that felt very easy too. I wasn't even out of breath at the end!! I've often felt worse after shorter runs at a similar pace maybe I'm finally developing into a long distance runner!!

Week Total (20/10/08 - 26/10/08) - 4 sessions

29.55miles - 3:35:28 - 7:17min/mile - 156bpm

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Annual Review

About 9 years ago while living in Aberdeen, Scotland I went down to the athletics track for a training session with the local club. The coach on that day said that it would take at least 2 years for me to reach 'race' fitness. With my youthful idealism (ignorance) I didn't really believe him - I thought that 2 to 3 months should be plenty!! On that occasion I didn't keep running long enough to find out who was right. But given my progress over the past 2 years I think that he may have had a point. It's nearly 2 years since I decided to start running regularly again and I'm only now reaching near the level where I want to be...

Since the Great North Run I've been reviewing my training records in the lead up to both the 2007 and 2008 races. Last year was my first year back running so I viewed it primarily as a 'base' year. The focus was just to get out regularly and try to cover the distance comfortably. In all I covered 991miles in 2007. I was injured during the start of that year and this year again I was injured at the start of the year but I had a good base from last year so I tried to introduce some more 'quality' runs into my weekly programme.

This resulted in significant improvements in my times for 5k, 5miles, 10miles and half marathon.

In comparing the 2007 and 2008 training period I've taken a very simplistic approach essentially comparing the number of sessions and weekly mileage. I've plotted the following graphs showing the data for the 39 weeks prior to the GNR i.e January to October. Fairly variable isn't it!!

In 2007 I completed 119 sessions and covered 733 miles in 39 weeks. This year I completed 136 sessions and covered 957 miles during the same period. A 14% increase in the number of sessions but a 30% increase in miles run and almost equal to my total mileage for the entire 2007!!!

Drilling a bit deeper into the data this breaks down as 3.1 runs/week (avg 18.8miles) and 3.5 runs/week (avg 24.5miles/week) for 2007 & 2008 respectively. I was a bit surprised with this stat for 2008 as I had thought that my average mileage would have been in excess of 30miles / week. I was injured at the start of the year so this is probably the reason for the low weekly average.

Now, I don't follow any prescribed programme (maybe I should) but analysing the typical '12-week' period prior to the GNR shows the general trend as I tried to focus on this single event.

Looking at the above numbers it shows that this year I did not get out as much as last year (52 vs 54 sessions) but my mileage was a bit higher (3.4%). The big difference was in the 8 week period before the GNR where my number of sessions, average /and max mileage were certainly better than last year.

I'm not sure what all the above means (probably not too much!!) but I thought I'd record it in my diary anyway. Maybe all I can conclude is that this years training was in general more consistent and more intensive which built on last years solid base. The seemingly random nature of teh data is a bit surprising to me so I think I'll have to be a bit more scientific about my training going forward.

Hopefully that will allow me to continue to build my speed and endurance and take the next steps towards a sub 1:25 (or better) half marathon next autumn. Only time will tell.....

Friday, October 24, 2008

The waiting game

My running plans for the end of last week were put on hold when we thought that Pamela, my wife, was going into labour. No such luck and after 3 days in hospital the doctors decided to release her to continue her wait at home. So suffice it to say family took priority and I had to be satisfied with my 2 sessions early last week. Just as well that it was my end of season recovery week!!

This week hasn't been much better. I did manage a run on Monday night - an easy 5.46miles (7:24 pace). My evening runs are typically on an 'out and back' route from my home. I live at the top of a steep hill which is good for the 'out' part but generally proves to be challenging on the way back!! Essentially the first 1.4mile drops 75m but that includes a drop of 64m in 0.66miles (approx 1/16). My heart rate tells the tale (see below from Monday's run)!!

Tuesday and Wednesdays runs were a washout for weather and work reasons. But, suffering from serious cabin fever, I did manage to get out again on Thursday night. This time for, at bit easier, 6.25miles @ 7:38 pace.

Today, being a bit frustrated with running in the dark, I reverted to regular lunchtime session and I decided to put in a progression (steady to tempo) session. No real plan about the target pace - I just felt like a good burn out!! The distance was 5.65miles and the average pace was 6:45. However that doesn't tell the full story. The mile splits were 7:00, 7:04, 7:09 (uphill), 6:40, 6:27 and 0.65miles @ 5:55 to finish. I finished the run feeling good and surprisingly not out of breath - maybe I should have kept going!! I must say though that over the first 3 miles my legs felt a bit heavy - I probably need to get back running more regularly..

BTW still no progress on the new young Bricey - He/She seems to be happy to stay put for the time being (much to Pamela's dismay!!). The waiting continues....

Best of luck to all those running in Dublin this weekend (Thomas, Richard etc). May the force be with you and may you get the just rewards from all the hard effort you've put in. If the weather is favourable PR's should be on the cards. Good luck.

My running so far this week comprised:

Monday (20/10/08)

5.46miles - 40:25 - 7:24min/mile (avg 157bpm)

Thursday (23/10/08)

6.25miles - 47:43 - 7:38min/mile (avg 156bpm)

Friday (24/10/08)

5.65miles - 38:10 - 6:45min/mile (avg 162bpm)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recovery phase

Since the Great North Run I've been in 'end of season' mode hence I've not been running (or posting) too often. I think it's important to give the body (and my typing fingers) a rest every now and then - any excuse!!

Last week I successfully completed a massive 2 runs easy runs. The first was on Tuesday and the second on Sunday. This was always going to be my 'recovery' week so that was OK. For the record that weeks summary is:

Tuesday (07/10/08)
5.65miles - 44:39 - 7:54min/mile (avg 145bpm)
Sunday (12/10/08)
9.71miles - 1:12:48 - 7:30min/mile (avg 156bpm)
Week Total (06/10/08 - 12/10/08) - 2 sessions
15.37miles - 1:57:27 - 7:39min/mile

This week my intention is to get out a bit more often say 4 to 5 sessions with 1 steady/tempo run and 1 long run of more than 10miles. Not the toughest of weeks to plan but between work and home commitments 5 sessions may be difficult but we'll see.

The week started well when I got out on Monday at lunchtime and managed a 6:08 mile run averaging 7:10 pace with a couple of sub-7 miles in the middle. I felt generally OK but my legs certainly felt heavy and I even began to wonder how I managed sub 6:30 pace for more than 10 miles a week previous. My right knee and calf also felt a bit sore from the previous days run, nothing serious but enough to remind me that I was right to take a short break after the GNR.
Tuesday's run didn't happen - I forget why - oh yes, the rain, a late lunch and work!!
Although I ended up working very late on Tuesday night I made sure that I got out for a run at lunchtime on Wednesday. I had planned Wednesday for my steady/tempo run and as it was the only 'quality' session of the week I made sue not to skip it. The plan was to run approx 5.5miles starting steady and gradually increasing the pace. I hadn't thought about any specific mile splits. The actual mile splits were 7:12, 7:21 (uphill), 6:56, 6:44, 6:41 and a 0.69mile at 6:20 pace to finish. Interestingly my average heartrate was lower than my slower run on Monday. I wonder why? I felt comfortable during the run so maybe the day off on Tuesday and only 3 hours sleep that night did some good??

Monday (13/10/08)
6.08miles - 43:33 - 7:10min/mile (avg 160bpm)
Tuesday (14/10/08)
Wednesday (15/10/08)
5.69miles - 39:18 - 6:54min/mile (avg 157bpm)
Thursday (16/10/08)

I've been thinking a bit more about my running hopes, dreams and aspirations for the next 6 months but I'll save those thoughts for a future post. It's time to get some sleep now....
Week Total (13/10/08 - 19/10/08) - 2 sessions
11.77miles - 1:22:51 - 7:02min/mile

Monday, October 13, 2008

GNR Images


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Great North Run - update

This is the 1km long start area for the Great North Run. Last year I was in Zone H (Green) and it took me approx 35mins to cross the start line. This year I was in Zone B (Orange) and I crossed the start line within 10 seconds... a much different and better racing experience!!

Earlier today I finally got around to uploading the data from my Garmin for last Sunday's race. The picture is clear. Surprising from mile 8 onwards I was starting to feel the pace and slowing. The slowing pace may also have been as a result of the 'hills' on the course which started after the 7 mile mark. This was a surprise to me because after the race I had thought that it was from mile-10 onwards that it all fell apart.

I was talking to a fellow runner at the start line and we were warning each other about the dangers associated with the downhill start (approx 1.5miles). Unfortunately I was carried away with the occasion and I didn't take my own advice!!!

These are the splits which speak for themselves - my target pace was 6:29 - I really stuck to that plan!! I've also put in my recent Cork Half Marathon splits for comparison in brackets. Just goes to show that regardless of whether you start slowly and pick up the pace or run fast from the off the end result will be the same!!

Mile 1 6:14(6:54) - 158 bpm

Mile 2 6:07(6:43) - 171 bpm

Mile 3 6:09(6:41) - 175 bpm

Mile 4 6:22(6:42) - 178 bpm

Mile 5 6:33(6:50) - 181 bpm

Mile 6 6:21(7:05) - 181 bpm

Mile 7 6:28(6:35) - 181 bpm

Mile 8 6:31(6:19) - 181 bpm

Mile 9 6:55(6:23) - 182 bpm

Mile 10 6:53(6:20) - 182 bpm

Mile 11 7:20(6:28) - 183 bpm

Mile 12 7:32(6:28) - 180 bpm

Mile 13.1 7:35(7:14) - 185 bpm

I'm very happy with my splits up to the 10-mile mark so I think I'll record them as PB's with a (*) on the sidebar until I manage to better them in an official race... Targets to aim for in 2009!!!

I also did some analysis of my official timing and position for what it's worth....

Tyne Bridge (3k approx) - 11:11 - 207th position
10K - 00:39:10 - 219th position
15K - 00:59:53 - 272th position
20K - 01:22:30 - 373th position
FINISH - 01:27:03 - overall 387th position

Spot the trend!!

I was the 8th Irishman home, 370th male finisher and 65th in the M35 category.

BTW the most important statistic is that I was only beaten by one man in fancy dress and he was dressed as Batman - so that's OK!!

This week will essentially be a recovery week with alot of rest days and some 5 to 7 miles runs. There won't be much to report so I'll leave any posts until the end of the week...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Great North Run - Mixed Emotions

The official record of todays Great North Run (Newcastle to South Shields) event will show that I completed the Half Marathon course in 1:27:03. A respectable enough time and one which at the start of the year I would have been very happy with. Last year I ran the same event in 1:34:51 and came 1288th. Today's time placed me 387th out of an estimated 52,000+ i.e. within the top 1% of finishers. This is a meaningless statistic however as the vast majority of competitors would be classed as fun runners!!
I titled this post as "mixed emotions" as, right now, that is exactly how I feel. Since the Cork Half marathon on September 14 I re-evaluated my target for this years event and I decided that my goal would be to run sub-1:25 today. Obviously I totally failed in reaching that target!! :( It may just have been a bridge too far given my current physical condition?? Today I was 16 seconds slower today that Cork so on that level I am dissappointed with today's run.
On another level today was a successful run. I went out as planned and ran a true run race from the gun totally focused on my sub-1:25 target. This resulted in at least three personal bests of the current millennium i.e. 5miles (31:27), 10K (39:10) and 10miles (64:36). All PB's were achieved relatively easily so on that level I am happy with today's run. But I can't help feeling that I left a PB for the Half Marathon on the road today. If only I had been a bit more conservative during those early miles!!
As you can probably gather up to 10+miles I was going fine. I was on target and I even felt good(ish). The course gets a bit hilly over the last 3 miles and as we approached the seaside finish at South Shields a headwind picked up. But as much as I'd like to I can't blame the course or the elements, weather conditions were perfect (dry, mainly light winds, cool and sunny). It's simple really - I was just not in the right condition to run sub-1:25 today. I totally fell apart over the last 2.25 miles - it wasn't pretty (more anon). In time I'll evaluate my training over the past few months and see what needs to change but for now I have to be satisfied with my new PB's and the fact that the initial goal for 2008 of running a half marathon in sub-1:30 has been achieved (not once but twice!!). Roll on 2009 and some new goals.....
I'll post again with the blow by blow race report and some more detailed analysis but now it's time to look at the race highlights on the BBC....
Thursday (02/10/08)
0 miles
Friday (03/10/08)
5.65miles - 45:30 - 8:00min/mile
Saturday (04/10/08)
0 miles
Sunday (05/10/08)
14.66miles - incl 13.1mile race - 1:27:03 - avg 179bpm
Week Total (29/09/08 - 05/10/08) - 4 sessions
33.55miles - 3:51:17 - <8:00min/mile>

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And now for the weather...

Maybe it's that I'm still a newbie wrt to blogging but I find it amazing that since I started this blog I feel compelled to post even though I've not got much to report. Anyone who knows me (in the real world) would be surprised by this because I'm generally not the most talkative of people. Maybe it's that I feel that if I don't post I might forget critical details of my previous runs or maybe it's just that I like talking about running and this is a good way to spend some time in the evening. It certainly beats watching the tv!!

So enough rambling and on to what I've been up to since my last post. Monday was meant to be an easy run at lunchtime. I had good intentions I woke up, packed my gear bag (with clean gear as opposed to the usual...) and went to work. At lunchtime I put on my gear but when I got to my socks... they weren't there... I contemplated running sockless but last time I did that the blisters on my feet lasted 3 weeks!! Not a good idea before next Sunday's race. So off with the gear and back to work again and I promised myself that I'd get out after the girls had gone to bed i.e. 8:30 or 9pm that evening. For once, I stuck to my plan and headed out at approx 8:50pm. BTW I've noticed a trend on the running blogs from Ireland in recent days - almost everyone has mentioned the weather and I'm not going to buck the trend. It certainly has become cooler here - I've even thought about putting on my 'Skins' for the first time this Autumn. But at least we don't have to deal with any hurricanes on this side of the Atlantic!! Anyway back to my run which consisted of a 5.5mile easy 40:59, 7:27 pace (153bpm) - really exciting. The pace certainly felt faster than 7:27 maybe it had something to do with running in the dark with poor street lights. Still though this is my 'taper' week so 7:27 is OK.

Pamela had an 'obs' appointment on Tuesday afternoon so that meant a late lunch for me and no running so I planned to run that night. But the rain didn't have to be very heavy for me to successfully persuade myself that I'd benefit from a day off - so I did.

Today was a different matter though. I made sure that I got out for my "tempo/interval/fartlek" run at lunchtime today despite the wind and rain. I realise that a "tempo/interval/fartlek" run is an unconventional description but that was the plan in my head before I started - essentially no plan other than to give the legs a good "blow out". In summary, the run went well enough with 6.45 miles in 43:13 (6:42 pace, 160bpm).

For those who are interested, and for the record, the blow by blow version is:

2.65miles - 17:32min - 6:37min/mile (151bpm)
1:04min recovery
0.56miles - 3:14min - 5:49min/mile (160bpm)
1:27min recovery
0.56miles - 3:10min - 5:38min/mile (170bpm)
0:56min recovery
0.28miles - 1:37min - 5:51min/mile (167bpm)
1:15min recovery
0.93miles - 5:59min - 6:28min/mile (167bpm)
1:25min recovery
0.11miles - 0:39min - 6:01min/mile (164bpm)
0:52min recovery
0.55miles - 3:34min - 6:28min/mile (169bpm)
0:23min (cool down!!)

So that's it for today. Two more easy runs planned between now and race day and all this weather talk reminds me that I must check the weather forecast for Sunday...