This week’s running – 2nd to 8th of December

Spanked by 16 miles

Spanked by the long run, not William Shatner

This week was all about getting back into the marathon training groove.

Tuesday Treadmill Session

I do love a good session and Tuesday’s treadmill intervals were great. I’ve been increasing the speed each week by 0.1kmph, settling on 15.8kmph this week which felt in control. Part of me is thinking that it may be time to push it up to 16kmph.

At the end of the fifth rep, I was tired as always but there was no nausea and had a burrito to recover with later that evening.

Here’s the Garmin data.

Thursday Fail

Due to a boiler mishap at home, I had to abandon the 6 miles I had planned on Thursday. I need to be a bit more consistent with my mileage where my longest run of the week is no more than half the week’s total distance.

Marathon Talk

Marathon Talk t-shirt

Now with added man-suit goodness!

On Friday, I finally managed to bag myself a lovely Marathon Talk t-shirt. I’ve wanted one of the above t-shirts ever since I first started listening to the show a year ago but the only sizes available for a long time were large and above! I was in such a good mood that I thought I’d include a segment here about Marathon Talk and why I love it so.

Marathon Talk is a weekly running podcast in the style of a radio show with two hosts, Martin Yelling and Tom Williams. The enthusiasm of these guys is incredibly infectious where once, the show was criticised for being too positive! Both come from different athletic backgrounds, allowing for different views on the world of running – Martin is a former track runner and is married to GB Olympian, Liz Yelling; Tom is a regular bloke that came to running later in his life and is currently the MD of Parkrun UK. Tom is the straight-laced guy, loving his stats and takes a very methodical approach to his training, coming from a sport science background. Martin is much more care-free, playing the goofball of the two.

Centred around one core interviewee a week, they’ve had all manner of guests from world class athletes like Haile Gebrselassie through to regular folks that have turned their lives around through running.

What started as just a little bit of fun between two running enthusiasts has spawned over 200 episodes since 2010.

One of my favourite segments of the show is Tony’s Trials; similar to a column in a newspaper or magazine, it’s presented by Tony Audenshaw, better known to some as Bob Hope from Emmerdale. Each week, Tony will talk about something running related, sometimes with humourous results. He’s given us race reports, training commentaries, songs, comedy sketches and everything else in between. I remember the first time I ever listened to Tony’s Trials where he was having a conversation with one of his feet – a bizarre introduction to the world of Marathon Talk to say the least!

Another feature on the show that scores highly with me is Training Talk. As its name suggests, Martin and Tom focus on an area of training that becomes part of a wider discussion. Sometimes, the discussion is seasonal such as running through the winter or hydration in the summer. Other times, it may be about a specific session such as speedwork or threshold running. I’ve incorporated some of the featured items before into my own training and is arguably what keeps me coming back to Marathon Talk.

The show has also developed its own lexicon, a collection of words and phrases where understanding their meaning makes you a regular listener. Below is a non-exhaustive list:

  • A Gingerbread Man – the need to or action of pooping whilst out on a run
  • Martin Yelling inverse taper – increasing your training load as race day gets closer
  • Zipping up one’s man-suit – to man-up and stop being a girl
  • Zipping up the Yuki-suit – to be more like legendary Japanese runner, Yuki Kawauchi
  • Foosing your legs – to push your legs even harder

Any fan of running should give the podcast a listen. It’s easily downloaded either directly from the website or through a regular subscription through iTunes or similar. Each episode varies in length but is typically 90 minutes or so; easily listened to whilst commuting to and from work. There’s a real community of Marathon Talk listeners out there, easily identified by the above 26.2 t-shirt; I remember a Parkrun where I was racing against a Marathon Talk listener, telling him to “zip up the Yuki-suit” and being told to “foos my legs”!

By reading this running blog, you clearly have some sort of fascination with running so do yourself a favour and listen to the best running podcast out there.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

I was at odds over how to run Saturday’s Parkrun. I’d arranged with Mike Green to try and complete a Strava challenge afterwards, so I didn’t want to go all out. Equally, I didn’t want to go too easy given my recent progress with speed.

On my way to Cannon Hill Park, I drove past Jonny Costello and pulled over to offer him a lift.

Fergal Bloomer won the Parkrunner of the month award which received rapturous applause and cheers. Before Fergal began running again, he used to volunteer on the final corner and really gave runners that last bit of encouragement to spur them on to that elusive PB. I’m just amazed it took this long for him to receive the award given all the work he’s done over the years!

Dave also made a reappearance after telling me the previous evening that he wouldn’t be out running.

Once we started running, I saw Dave take off into the distance and pretty much remained about 15 seconds ahead of me at all times. I decided to run with Neil Muir who seemed to be going at a decent pace. After a mile of running, I asked him if he was going for a time only for him to tell me he was taking it easy due to a race the following day – d’oh!

I decided to merely hang on to the pace and take it steady, running very even splits and finishing in 20:12. I’ve tried running even splits over 5k before and it just doesn’t suit my style. I find it much harder to hold myself back early on when I’m feeling good, knowing that I’ll end up in oxygen debt and will go lactic anyway later on. My usual manner of going out hard and then hanging on for dear life has produced some very favourable results in the past and has scientific evidence to support it as the optimal method for races up to 5k but no further. Have a gander at the Garmin data here.

Dave put on a good performance with 19:55 – a nice come-back PB as its known in these circles.

Mike’s 1k Strava Challenge

You’ll have to forgive me if I have some of these facts wrong – I’m not on Strava and only have a passing knowledge of how it works.

Several weeks ago, Mike asked if I was tempted to help him achieve a particular challenge on Strava by running a rep session with him. The challenge in question is 900m – 1k from Cartland Road to Fordhouse Lane at a particular pace. We both agreed that second place on the leaderboard was easily within reach whereas first place would require running at roughly 5:14 mile pace for the distance. Of course, I agreed to give it a shot and we made our way to Cartland Road after Parkrun.

We decided to give ourselves a running start to maximise our chances and shot off like bats out of hell; at one stage, my watch registered 4:59 per mile pace!

Our opening pace was a little too enthusiastic and we gradually slowed as we got closer to the end of the target finish. Originally giving ourselves 3 attempts to hit the mark, we’d only gone and done it on the first go! We jogged back to the start to give it another shot, this time with a more controlled, steady pace throughout. I don’t know about Mike but my second attempt was considerably slower than my first, again supporting my go out hard style for shorter distances truly does work out better for me. Take a look at the Garmin data here.

Mike invited me along for a coffee with a few members of Kings Heath Running Club at a really nice little cafe on York Road in Kings Heath. Despite being a resident of Kings Heath for over 20 years, I had no idea the place we went to ever existed!

16 miles of north Birmingham canals

Boy, oh boy! I have no idea what happened – today’s 16 miles were like running the gauntlet and I hope the rest of my marathon training is more positive.

I had plenty of carbs last night in the form of macaroni and cheese. I had plenty of sleep last night and almost slept all the way through to this morning, getting 9.5 hours which is almost unheard of for me these days. The temperature was quite mild outdoors so I opted to wear a t-shirt rather than a long-sleeve top but still took gloves and my shades – function over fashion. My CamelBak had been loaded up with 1 litre of Lucozade for fuel, along with one energy gel for the run.

The first 10 miles rolled by without issue. I did forget to revert to auto miles on my Garmin, so I only had overall average pace to go by without mile splits. Then, out of nowhere, I was hit with cramp in my legs. All of sudden, they felt as heavy as lead and the range of motion available to me was greatly reduced. My pace nose-dived to slower than 9 minute miles, yet my lungs and heart weren’t taxed at all. The sensation was incredibly similar to that of the final 6 miles from the London Marathon earlier this year when fatigue kicked in. I wasn’t hungry but I seemed to lack energy despite the steady stream of carbs from the Lucozade on tap.

What happened? I can only guess that it was a combination of too much weight from my CamelBak and the rolling hills. The flat sections felt great and the pace was nice and steady, but the up and down portions seemed to take their toll on me. I’ll head out with 750ml of liquid again in future until I’m getting closer to 20 miles.

I also have an inkling that I may be running my long runs a touch too fast, given my target marathon pace is somewhere between 7:50 and 8 minute miles. During this base building phase, I just need to get the distance in my legs by hook or by crook and at whatever pace gets the job done. No need to kill myself at this stage of the marathon training cycle.

Take a peek at the Garmin data here.

Another Rule from The Runner’s Rule Book

As is customary, here’s another entry from The Runner’s Rule Book by Mark Remy:

Get to Know Pre

Steve Prefontaine

Movember would be proud of Pre

Pre is Steve Prefontaine, an Oregon native and legendary middle and long distance track star who died in a car accident in 1975 at age 24. Apart from holding the American record, at one point, everything from the 2,000 to the 10,000 metres on the track, Pre inspired two major motion pictures (Prefontaine and Without Limits) and had an outstanding mustache. Also, the following quote is widely attributed to Pre: “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.”

Not a bad quote to remember when things get tough.


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