Sunday, September 28, 2008

Race week minus one and counting

Well I've nearly made it.... Today's run marked the end of the last week of 'training' for the Great North Run. In marathon parlance I'll 'taper' for the next week. Using my own words I'll just tick over and try not to get injured!! I know that at this stage any 'hard' training will be of absolutely no benefit for next weeks race. But having said that, apart from easy / steady runs during the week I'll probably try a tempo interval session mid week just give my legs a blow out.
As I've mentioned previously my wife is pregnant with our baby due towards the end of October. Here's hoping that it doesn't decide to come early or I'll have to change my plans for next weekend....
Today I settled for an 'easy' 7-miler which felt very comfortable and no adverse effects from yesterdays run. Interestingly and coincidentally the average pace was exactly the same as last Sunday's long run which was over twice as long. Maybe my internal 'pace clock' is telling me that 7:24 is my 'Sunday pace'. Also interestingly this weeks overall average pace and heart rate exactly matched the pace and heart rate of last weeks long 'easy' run. I wonder what the sports scientists could conclude about my condition from this statistic??? Probably nothing...
Sunday (28/09/08)
7.07miles - 52:17 - 7:24min/mile - avg 149bpm
Week Total (22/09/08 - 28/09/08) - 6 sessions
43.59miles - 5:22:26 - 7:24min/mile - 152bpm

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Steady(ish) miles

I was pretty happy with the way last Tuesday's interval session went particularly as there were no 'ill effects'. Previously my left knee had given some trouble after this particular interval session (I think the tight bends on the circuit were causing a bit too much strain but that problem appears to have sorted itself out). Wednesday's run comprised a 6-miler at lunchtime which was planned to be a 'steady' 7:15 - 7:30 pace but I felt good and decided to turn it into a steady/tempo progression run. The run went as follows 6.52miles (45:09 @ avg 6:56, 156bpm) and the pace progression was 7:10 (146bpm), 7:06 (154bpm), 6:58 (155bpm), 7:08 (156bpm) [uphill], 6:51 (161bpm), 6:34 (162bpm), 6:25 (166bpm).

Thursday was a busy day at work and home. I was also feeling the cumulative effect of my Sunday - Wednesday runs so not wishing to overdo it I gave myself the day off.

Friday was a 'recovery' pace run with Grellan at lunchtime 6.75miles in 55:18 @ 8:12 (144bpm).

Today, Saturday, I got up early but so did my children.... As a result I was nearly an hour later than planned leaving the house. However a later than planned 8:30am start was not necessarily a bad thing 'cause it gave me a bit longer to recover from the unplanned 'multiple' glasses of wine I had last night!! The run consisted of approx 13miles and is to be my last 'long' run before the Great North Run so I really hoped it would go well. Apart from the first mile, which includes a 40m climb over the first 0.5mile (just to get the heart rate up!!), the run went to plan. Psychologically I tend to break this run into 5 mile segments which I always hope to negative split with a 2-3 mile uphill recovery at the end. Today was no different and the 5mile splits were 36:10 (7:14 pace) & 34:16 (6:51 pace) respectively. I even kept a sub 6:45 pace going for Mile 11 which was a first for this particular run and I felt good without killing myself. In total 12.68miles (1:31:57, avg 7:15, 153bpm) including 11miles 77:10 (7:01, 153bpm). It looks like the wine didn't do me any harm after all!!

Wednesday (24/9/08)

6.52miles - 45:09 - 6:56min/mile - avg 156bpm

Thursday (25/9/08)


Friday (26/9/08)

6.75miles - 55:18 - 8:12min/mile - avg 144bpm

Saturday (27/9/08)

12.68miles - 1:31:57 - 7:15min/mile - avg 153bpm

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Impatience and speed

Yesterday's (Monday) lunchtime run was scheduled to be 6 miles 'easy'. It started well enough with Miles 1 & 2 on pace (7:08 and 7:13 respectively) but I got a fit of madness over miles 3 and 4 which I covered in 6:35 and 6:10. Some sense prevailed in mile 5 which I covered in 7:03 largely due to a 100m jog at the end of mile 4. But impatience got the better of me again over the last 0.94mile which I covered in 6:07 (6:32 min/mile pace). The 'easy' run turned into a 'tempo' / interval type run but overall not a bad run and I felt good even though yesterdays 16miler was still in my legs!!
Unsurprisingly my legs felt 'sluggish' this morning (Tuesday) but I stuck to my plan which was to generally repeat an interval session that I had last done on 26 August. In August I completed 7 reps of the 0.3mile grass circuit but today I decided to complete only 6 reps at a slightly quicker pace (sub 1:30) and with a shorter recovery recovery (1:30). The primary aim was to be consistent in each rep. The following is a comparison of the 2 sessions with the August session shown in brackets.

Stage - Distance (mile)- Time (min) - Pace (min/mile) - Avg bpm - Recovery (min)
Warm up - 1.11 (1.13) - 7:50 (8.31) - 7:03 - 140 (139) - N/A
Lap 1 - 0.30 - 1:26 (1:52) - 4:54 - 148 (142) - 1:32 (1:31)
Lap 2 - 0.30 - 1:26 (1:32) - 4:46 - 156 (147) - 1:24 (1:37)
Lap 3 - 0.31 - 1:27 (1:27) - 4:45 - 159 (150) - 1:32 (1:39)
Lap 4 - 0.30 - 1:27 (1:30) - 4:49 - 158 (154) - 1:40 (1:36)
Lap 5 - 0.30 - 1:27 (1:29) - 4:53 - 161 (154) - 1:37 (1:44)
Lap 6 - 0.31 - 1:26 (1:28) - 4:43 - 163 (156) - N/A (1:53)
Lap 7 - 0.00 - 0:00 (1:27) - 0:00 - 000 (159) - N/A
Warm down - 1.14 (1.12) - 9:02 (9:12) - 7:55 - 157 (158)

As you can see today's session compares very favourably with the August session. My lap and recovery sets were consistently quicker and much more repeatable. Obviously the training is doing some good!! My heart rate was slightly higher than previously but I put this down to the shorter recovery. Mondays unplanned 'tempo' session may also have been a contributing factor. Still all-in-all a satisfying session. Interestingly my left quad began to cramp on the warm down today probably due to lactic build up (?).

Also I think I'd better start introducing some strengthening exercises into my weekly plan if I want to improve my mile pace. I'd like to run sub 5mins some time next year. Mike mentioned this in his comment to my previous blog and I think he's got a point. Today's pace certainly felt like it was the quickest I could sustain for the session and I certainly felt that I could do with some increased leg strength in order to gain those precious seconds...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The week ends

FINALLY the week has ended. For various reasons this has been a long and, as recorded in previous posts, a changeable one. It has taken until today for me to feel fully recovered from the effects of last Sunday's half marathon and although I had a worrying 'new' pain in my right calf yesterday all seems to be well now - so no obvious ill effects from last weeks dress rehearsal....
I got out at lunchtime on Friday as planned for a 6mile easy run. I was joined by Grellan and although it was nice for a change not to be running 'solo' I think that the chatting certainly slowed us down - no harm there though!!
Saturday was a busy one on the domestic front so no time for running. I should have gone out early as originally planned rather than having a sleep-in and convincing myself that I could run in the afternoon (lesson learnt!!). Domestic duties also meant that I didn't even get to the Munster vs Cardiff Blue rugby game in Musgrave park. Munster won relatively easily in the end (28-20) so the Red army marches on. Hopefully they can maintain this winning streak all season!!
I didn't make that same mistake today and got up early for my regular long Sunday run. The weather was dry but a thick blanket of fog covered Cork City and for most of the first hour of the run visibility was only approx 100m!! No wind though so the conditions were perfect for me. Today's run started in Douglas from where I ran into the City Centre, out over Sundays Well, onto the Straight Road, back in the Model Farm Road, up to Wilton, through Ballyphehane, Turners Cross and back to Douglas. In total 15.70miles at average 7:24 pace; a total time of 1:56:03. The first mile was in 7:36 and my pace progressively increased to a peak at mile 10 (6:58) which was followed by some marginally slower miles at max 7:10 pace to the distance of 14.76miles. The remainder of the run was an uphill 'recovery' at approx 7:45 pace. All in all a very satisfying run. Looking back through my diary I've run this route a total of four times since the start of August and today was certainly the quickest and most comfortable. The previous runs were:
Date - Time - avg bpm
10/08/08 - 1:59:28 - 156
17/08/08 - 2:04:31 - 157
31/08/08 - 1:57:36 - 151
21/09/08 - 1:56:03 - 152
It looks like I'm reaching a peak just at the right time....

Friday (19/09/08)
6.02miles - 49:46 - 8:16min/mile - avg 144bpm
Saturday (20/09/08)
Sunday (21/09/08)
15.70miles - 1:56:03 - 7:24min/mile - avg 152bpm

Week Total (15/09/08 - 21/09/08) - 5 sessions
37.06miles - 4:44:25 - 7:41min/mile - 150bpm

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The best laid plans...

They say that "plans" are made to be broken and that's certainly how this week seems to have transpired.
The week started well enough with the planned recovery run on Monday. But since then things have been well - changeable...
I had planned an interval session for Tuesday but after working late (until 9pm) I had neither the energy nor the inclination to go for a run. So I told myself "you can always do today's session tomorrow..". So that's what I planned...
I woke up on Wednesday morning with a splitting headache - not a good start!! At lunchtime the headache was gone so off for a run I went. But within 1/4 mile the headache was back with a vengeance so all I could do was struggle around at 'easy' pace for the remainder of the 4 miles. Determined not to waste the days training I also went out for a 'steady' pace run on Wednesday night. I was surprised how 'hard' 7:30 pace felt over the first half - maybe my lunchtime run took more out of me than I thought?? But I managed to pick up the pace on the way home to complete the run in a semi-respectable 7:17 pace.
A trip to Dublin with work this morning and a 'parents evening' at the girls Montessori this evening meant that today's planned run also had to take a back seat. I'll use to day as my 'rest day' but no more excuses for the rest of the week..
Since Sunday I've been thinking some more about my 'new' planned pace for the upcoming Great North Run. I had initially thought sub-1:26 would be the 'plan' but I do know that the course is relatively fast so I've decided to aim for sub-1:25 and hope for ideal conditions. The tactic of setting out at a planned pace and 'hanging on' worked well last Sunday so I think that's the 'tactic' that I'll adopt in 2 weeks time. Also 6:45 pace felt 'reasonably' comfortable on Sunday even though it was uphill (although you wouldn't know it from this video at the 12.5mile mark...I seem to be just loping along!!!) so I think that 6:30 (i.e. 1:25 half marathon) may just be achievable...
Incidentally, my older (and wiser) brother also suggested sub-1:25 and he's a discus thrower so he should know!!! We'll see....
5.62miles - 44:55mins - 7:59min/mile - avg 147bpm
(am) 4.22miles - 33:32mins - 7:57min/mile - avg 145bpm
(pm) 5.50miles - 40:05mins - 7:17min/mile - avg 156bpm

Monday, September 15, 2008

The aftermath

This picture was taken at the 12 mile mark and tells a story all of it's own. I think that it accurately reflects how I was feeling at that stage of the race....

Yesterday's race also doubled up as the Munster Inter-Club half marathon championship. Apparently I came 37th in the Senior Men category which according to the Masters results was 22nd in the Masters Category. Just goes to show the the majority of the runners at this distance are oldies (i.e. at least 35 years old)!!
Apart from being a bit tired my legs felt fine today so my 5.62mile recovery run at 7:59 pace (avg 141bpm) was no bother. The sun was even shining!!
Yesterday was also a special day for our family for a totally different, and much more serious, reason. Last night Pamela and I attended a dinner hosted by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) where over 100 people received awards for giving over 50 blood donations and 10 men and women got awards for giving over 100 donations. This is a truly amazing achievement given that you can only donate blood 3 or 4 times a year - truly a lifetime of giving.
Although I'm a donor we weren't at the dinner to receive any award but rather to represent recipients. Pamela and my daughter Una both received multiple transfusions following the birth of the girls and the IBTS felt that it would be good for donors to hear of our success story (both Pamela and Una are now perfectly fine but without receiving the necessary blood transfusions the story may well be very different). It is amazing to think that even in this day of genetic and medical advances the blood transfusion services are still dependent on individuals taking time and effort to donate their own blood to save the life of others.

We were sitting at a table with a Cancer survivor Bernice Glavin who was there to tell her story of survival. Coincidentally, Bernice also ran yesterdays half marathon - it's a small world. In fact Bernice set herself a goal of running 50 marathons by the age of 50. She'll be running her 54th marathon next month in Dublin and she's still 49!!! Well done Bernice.

We awoke this morning to our story being featured in the Irish Examiner newspaper as part of the national campaign for Blood Awareness Week. As I'm sure that the image is illegible I've extracted the text of the article below.
‘We survived because of blood donors’
By Evelyn Ring

Irish Examiner, Monday, September 15, 2008

When Pamela Brice looks into the eyes of her beautiful four-year-old daughter, she sees the generosity of blood donors reflected back. Neither she nor her daughter would have lived without the precious gift of blood they both received. “We are hugely grateful that we survived because of those people who gave blood,” said Pamela, from Douglas in Cork. Pamela, 37, gave birth to identical twins, Eva and Úna, by emergency Caesarean section on June 14, 2004, coincidentally the date of World Blood Donor Day. Both babies, who were born prematurely, were very ill after developing twin to twin transfusion syndrome, a condition that resulted in an imbalance in the blood from one twin to another. Eva, who was overloaded with blood, was in the early stages of heart failure while Úna, the smaller baby, was completely anaemic and required a transfusion as soon as she was born. Pamela received six blood transfusions following the births after doctors at the Erinville Maternity Hospital discovered that she had a rare blood clotting disorder. “I will never forget how cold I was in intensive care and how much better I felt after another transfusion,” she recalled. Pamela, who is expecting her third child, said plans had been made for the birth in Cork University Maternity Hospital and there was a possibility that she will need a further transfusion. Initially very pale, it was only after Úna received another blood transfusion that she blossomed into health, said her mother. “I often think of the people who gave blood and I have met some of them. They are truly humble because they do not expect any thanks for such a precious gift,” said Pamela, a part-time accountant .
During Blood for Life week, which began yesterday and runs until Sunday, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) is hoping stories like Pamela’s will encourage more people to become regular donors. The theme of this year’s Blood for Life Week is “be the type that makes a difference”. “You never know when you, a relative or a friend will be depending on the commitment of donors,” said IBTS chief executive Andrew Kelly. “We need existing donors to give blood regularly and we need new donors to replace those who are no longer able to give blood.”

This afternoon the local radio Red FM interviewed Pamela for their News bulletins. Overnight she's become quite a celebrity. I'd better watch out or the fame will go to her head!!!

Apparently only 5% of the population can donate. In Ireland only 3% donate so my message to all who 'can' would be to "Give blood, Save a life and make a REAL difference".

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Despite not going to bed early last night I woke up this morning before the alarm clock went off. The weather was awful (rain, rain and rain) and really encouraged me to get ready for the 13.1mile race (not!!). I briefly contemplated convincing myself that my calf was still sore and I should not risk the race. But (un)fortunately my calf felt fine. Maybe the ice and spiky ball had done some good after all.

So at 9:15, a bit later than planned, I headed off to Blarney. Pamela and the girls were going to follow on later hoping to avoid most of the rain. (as if that was likely - it is Ireland you know!!)

After registering it was time for a warm up otherwise known as a light jog in the rain just to acclimatize i.e. get wet!! I had joked with Grellan on Friday that it would be mad to go for a 2 mile warm up before running a half marathon. But that is just what I found myself doing (2.55miles @ 8min pace). My leg was fine and despite the rain being 'wet' it was 'refreshing'. Maybe today will go OK - I thought to myself....

The race started on time at 11:00 and I had positioned myself in the back half of the pack. In hindsight this was a mistake as there was a lot of pushing / jostling for position in the first half mile or so and I found myself getting a bit frustrated. It reminded me of the Great North Run last year where I started well back and spent the whole race running around people. However the pack opened up shortly after the first 0.5m and space was not a problem. Time to settle down I told myself. My plan before the race was to run an even 6:45 pace for as long as I could. This would give me a good benchmark for the Great North Run. I knew that the course was reported to be hilly so I didn't hold out much hope for running 6:45 for the entire race.

Mile 1 was reached in 6:54. A bit behind plan but not bad considering the congestion at the start.
Mile 2 (6:43). Time to settle in I told myself and run to plan.

Mile 3 (6:41). Still on plan, still uphill but still picking off runners.

Mile 4 (6:42). I took a brief look at my watch. Still going strong and not feeling too bad (Picture below is near the 4 mile mark). I picked off another couple of runners during this mile too. Hopefully they don't know something that I don't. Maybe I'll pay for this pace in the second half.

Mile 5 (6:50). Took on the first water here. I planned to take water at approx. 4, 8 and 12 miles as per the Great North Run water stations. I don't know how anyone can drink from plastic cups while running. Got a few sips in without drowning and onward up the hill I went!! Picked off 1 or 2 more but I was conscious that the worst was left to come and there was still a long way to go.

Mile 6 (7:05). Yeah all the reports were correct. The hill into Grenagh is a beast.

Mile 7 (6:35). Just as I reached the village all the locals were coming out from Sunday Mass. Keep going Brendan. It's amazing how not wanting to give up in front of others can motivate you!!

Mile 8 (6:19). A steep downhill out of Grenagh saw my heart rate drop pack down to 170 for the first time since mile 2. A welcome relief!! I even picked off one or two more. I could hear multiple foot steps behind me an feared that the pelaton was about to reel me in. Time to pick up the pace I told myself. So I did.

Mile 9 (6:23). I'm waiting for the downhill section to begin. It seemed to be uphill most of the the way!! Surely there must be a downhill section too?? I passed a guy and commented on the hills. He said the worst was over but I didn't believe him.

Mile 10 (6:20). Although I didn't know it at the time this translates to a 66:35 10mile just slower that my Ballycotton 10 earlier this year but I felt a lot better than I did when I finished the Ballycotton 10 which was just as well 'cause I was still over 3 miles from home!!

Mile 11 (6:28). Only 3 miles to go and the downhill section will come soon. I thought to myself!! This section of the route is over the same road as miles 1 - 4. I think to myself I'm running uphill now so this must be been downhill last time. I didn't know that!!

Mile 12 (6:28). Only 2 miles to go. Passed one more runner and saw another target ahead. It's nearly over....

Mile 13 (6:37). I was still chasing the guy about 20m ahead but I didn't seem to be gaining on him. There didn't seem to be anyone close behind me. At this stage my stride was shortening and I really just wanted to finish as soon as possible. I was tired of all the hills!! Just before the 13mile mark there was one last short steep section. I pushed hard and as I reached the top I saw my fan club (Pamela and the girls) standing by the side of the road shouting 'go daddy go'. Just what I needed and I picked up the pace for the last 0.1mile.

Mile 13.1 (0:37). A slight downhill to the finish saw me cross the line and stop my watch at 1:26:47 (avg heartbeat 176bpm). A big PB by over 8mins and well under my goal for the year of a sub-90 half marathon. Happy days!!

The race report as recorded by Garmin 305 is shown below. Although I can remember all the uphill bits over the first 6miles I don't recall there being too many downhills over the second half. Just as well I brought Mr Garmin - he remembered them for me!!

Coincidentally my official time is also 1:26:47 which is strange given that I didn't start my watch until I crossed the start line approx 7sec after the gun. This is confirmed by the photo of me below crossing the finish line. There is some more discussion on this issue on the
Running in Cork blog..

All in all a very enjoyable and well organised race and I don't think I was passed once during the whole race!! My official placing is 64th out of 508 finishers and it appears that I was the 11th in the M35 category.

A big congrats is also due to Grellan and Thomas who both had excellent runs in the same race and made big PB's. Well done lads.

So now that my goal for the 2008 is reached I think I'm going to have to revise my target for the Great North Run (assuming I get a pass!). I'm not sure what target I should aim for. Maybe sub 1:26 would be realistic given that the race is in 3 weeks time? I'll think about it a bit more and devise my new race plan...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dress Rehersal

Tomorrow I'm plan to run a local half marathon in Blarney. Since I'm theoretically training for the Great North Run in 3 weeks time it may seem odd to run a 13.1mile race at this late stage in my preparation. I'm sure that not many training schedules would recommend it. In my defence there is method in my madness. Firstly, the race is 'local' and I believe that if I'm willing to travel to England for a race of the same distance I should at least make the effort to drive the 10miles to Blarney for a race. Secondly, as Pamela is pregnant with a due date at the end of October I may not be able to get a 'pass' for a free weekend in Newcastle at the start of October. So just to make sure that all my recent long runs aren't wasted I'm heading to Blarney in the morning.
Well that's the general plan anyway. I woke up this morning with a painful left calf as well as the 'usual' Achilles pains. I don't think that it's anything serious and probably as a result of a cramp I had during Thursdays fartlek. But, as a precaution, I've been icing it all day and in fact as I'm composing this post my leg is up with an ice pack strapped on. Pamela also suggested that I massage the muscle with her 'spiky ball' (like a tennis ball with spikes). Sounds painful I know, but apparently it's very effective in promoting muscle hearing and reducing inflammation and was recommended by her physio. Afterwards my calf felt like it did after my last trip to the physio so it may have done some good. We'll see...
One thing I've observed over the last year or so is that my legs are very prone to injury and these injuries usually occur during the immediate run up to a race. Maybe I'm pushing myself too hard? A work colleague of mine Grellan (also a runner) has said that I should run more 'recovery pace' runs. He may be right. I tend to think of anything over 7:30 pace as being 'recovery'. But maybe I should look at introducing a few 8min+ runs into my schedule. These injuries may be a sign of my muscles being more fragile now that I'm that little bit older (note emphasis on 'little') and possibly I should start to listen to my body....
So as you can probably guess, once again, my plan for the week has changed (I like to think of it as having 'evolved' or 'adapted to circumstances' but this is really just semantics. No run this morning although I don't think that I'd have benefited much from it anyway. In my youth I had a policy of not running the day before a race and I still think that there is logic to this.
Here's hoping that tomorrow my leg will feel OK and that I'll survive the run.... more to follow...
6.13miles easy/recovery - 46:28 (7:35min/mile) Avg bpm 155
On another thought I wonder has anyone noticed the lack of coverage of the paraolympics this year. I remember that previous paraolympics were well covered on the TV but I haven't seen anything on this years event....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lovely weather (not!!)

My planned runs for yesterday and today were to be a 9mile easy and 6mile fartlek respectively. However, a late night's work on Tuesday meant that I only got 4 hours sleep and a long day at the office yesterday meant that I wasn't home until after 9pm. On top of that when I did eventually get home the autumn rains and wind were really in force. All-in-all it would be an 'uphill' battle to get out and run, never mind complete my planned 9miler. So I decided to be sensible for once and reduce my run to a 10k. Once out I felt better but really noticed for the first time that the summer is gone (did it ever arrive). It must be the first time a since last winter that I had to run in the dark! The run well enough all things considered but the steep hill back home was one hill too many and I gave in to the temptation to walk for 1min (unforgivable I know). On the positive note my hip, which was bothering me on Monday, showed no signs of distress but both calf's were a bit tender afterwards - strange...I'll have to keep an eyen on that.

Today's session was closer to the programmed 6mile fartlek. I got out at lunchtime which has two advantages. Firstly, it's the one time of the day that I can set aside (most days) and keep from other commitments and secondly it's 'time limited' which means that I have to run fast to get the session done!! I set off steady enough with 2 miles at 7:29 pace. I then put in various steady/tempo intervals of 0.33mile (6:15 uphill), 0.29mile (5:54 uphill), 0.17mile (5:30) 0.74mile (7:10), 0.55mile (5:54). Varying recovery lengths (see below). All-in-all an OK session.

Wednesday - 6.3mile - easy (ave 7:33) - 48:26

Thursday - 5.63mile - fartlek - 40:19

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In the beginning....

So, today (9th September 2008) I'm finally entering the world of blogging. My wife, Pamela, has been saying to me for some time now that I should start a blog (I think that this was just so that I'd have another outlet for my fanatical ramblings rather than her having to listen to me!!!). So I here I go...

I'm a 36 year old 'would-be' runner. I used to run a bit when I was in school and college mostly track and some cross country / road. But life during 'Celtic Tiger' Ireland of the late 1990's early 2000's got a bit too busy and between one thing and another I drifted from my running dreams.

In 2005/2006, with my hopes of ever running in the Olympics gone, I decided that if I didn't start doing some form of exercise before I was 40 I never would again. Running is what I knew so run is what I did! Mostly at lunchtime, not very far (max 3 miles) and not very often (1-2 times per week). Hence it never got any easier and I never got much return from my limited effort.

In January 2007 I decided it was time to s**t or get off the pot! I entered a lottery for a place in the Great North Run (half marathon Newcastle to South Shields UK) the following September. I've wanted to run in this mass participation event since the early 1990's. If I was accepted I would have a serious goal that was realistically far enough in the future to be achievable.

I was accepted and my training began. From 0miles per week to 20-30 miles. Totally ignoring the 10% rule with the result that I suffered a string of calf injuries and invested alot of money with the local sports physio. Eventually my training proper started in April / May 2007 with regular base mileage. Still plenty of time.

Training went well, ran a few local 5k (~19:30) / 5mile (~33mins) road races during the summer and saw some improvement in times. The important thing was that I was getting out regularly and getting into a good routine of consistent running 3 - 4 days per week.

The GNR came and went. Starting well back in the field with about 20,000+ runners ahead of me I resigned myself to running through a lot of traffic and settled into a steady 7min - 7:15/ mile pace and content with just enjoying the experience - which I did. My time was respectable (for me) 1:34:51 which placed me about 1200 out of 36,000+ runners. Some might say - not bad. The important thing for me though was that I was back running far and regularly and I even lost some weight (approx 13kg)

Since then I've kept with it (in between various calf injuries) and in 2008 my training has been more consistent that ever. A 66min 10miler in March, a sub-18:30 in May and a sub-32min 5mile in June. In fact, I'm running more miles now (up to 50+ per week), more quality miles (2 interval sessions per week) and longer long runs (regularly 13miles +) than ever before. I got the bug!! And yes I entered the GNR again this year with a new target. This year I want to run sub 1:30. Here's hoping.....

So on to my running diary.....

Although a strange pain in my left hip appeared last night today's session consisted of a lunchtime steady 6mile run at 7:00min/mile pace (avg). The run went well and I felt good afterwards particularly considering I had taken a 4 day break since last Thursday. No ill effects on the hip after the run. Average heart rate 161bpm.

The plan for this week is a 9mile easy/steady run tomorrow, 6mile fartlek Thursday, 6mile easy Friday, 5mile recovery Saturday and 13.1mile race Sunday. Let's see how it transpires.....