Just when I thought I was making progress towards reclaiming some speed, Christmas and the New Year had to get in the way. Add a cold for good measure and all that hard work came undone in the space of just two weeks.
I popped into my gym for the first time since before the Christmas break and it was heaving. There were plenty of folks there on New Year’s resolution missions and extra staff on hand to help people become acquainted with the equipment, and to help sign up any passers-by. I still question why people feel the need to commit to a new fitness regime in the New Year? The statistics are there to prove that most people give up by February because they’ve gone at it too hard, too soon, and burnt themselves out before the regime has had a chance to become a habit. Anyway, that’s my moan about people that join gyms in January.
After lacing up, I found the treadmill I typically use was free and jumped on board for my 1 mile warm-up.
Setting the system up at my normal 16kmph speed, I dived right into the first rep. My Garmin left me unsettled by reporting a slower pace than usual; what should have been at or very close to 6 minutes per mile was showing as 6:15 per mile. Had I punched the wrong speed in? Perhaps my footpod was playing up (it was a replacement after I lost the previous one…)? No, the speed on the treadmill display was definitely 16kmph and the footpod had the same calibration factor as the previous one. The only thing left was that the treadmill itself was either inaccurate or had been recalibrated over the Christmas and New Year down time, meaning all my previous indoor runs were no longer accurate.
Accuracy aside, even the slower pace was taking its toll on me and I found it difficult to sustain. My form was there but I didn’t have the speed endurance that day to keep up with the pace. I ended up throwing the towel in after 3 reps, which whilst not a complete set should still leave me with some benefit from the session.
I felt defeated and deflated, and had to walk home in the mother of all rain storms. Woe is me.
Reviewing the run data, I can only conclude that the cold did have an effect on me because my heart rate peaked at 206bpm; my historic maximum (my usual treadmill rep sessions have peaked at around 193bpm). I’ve not been able to get my heart rate to top out at 206bpm since the early summer, so it was a nice confirmation that I still have the capacity but rarely push myself to such heady heights.
Here’s the Garmin data.
6 Hagley Road miles
Looking back at my training for the 2013 London Marathon, there was one area I neglected to focus on and that was race pace training where all of my runs were either dramatically slower than race pace, or significantly faster. Once bitten twice shy – I will be incorporating far more race pace training into my schedule this year.
Thursday has always proven to be a tough training day for me, where it’s nearly the end of a tiring week. I wanted to really give marathon pace a go and shake up the Thursday run.
Setting my Garmin to 8 minutes per mile pace, I headed out to find I had lost satellite lock-on and had to stand around for 5 minutes in the cold before I could start running!
Despite the weariness, 8 minute mile pace felt rather good and this continued to speed up throughout the run for a royal flush (woohoo!). Fingers crossed next week’s Thursday will be equally as positive.
Here’s the Garmin data.
Cannon Hill Parkrun
There were some rumblings on Thursday and Friday about the course condition of Cannon Hill ahead of Saturday’s Parkrun. The park has a tendency to flood during periods of heavy rain and this includes parts of the course, notably the stretch by the lake after the Mac and also a portion towards the triangle. Thankfully, most of the flood waters had dispersed in time for our Saturday jog so normal service would resume.
Attendance seemed good; busy but not crowded. It was only afterwards that I found out Cannon Hill had smashed its previous attendance PB of 434 (achieved thanks to a Parkrun ambassador weekend) with an impressive new record of 481. Must be all the New Year’s resolution folks! Back in the summer, I asked Mary Ross and Helen what they though the upper attendance limit would be and they replied with “around 500”. This figure is based on additional runners around the 20 to 25 minute mark, which is already crowded especially entering the triangle portion of the course. Helen and Mary reckoned 600 could be possible if the additional runners were mostly slower than 25 minutes. Other UK events also achieved new attendance records, including Cardiff with 596 – I can only imagine how insane the startline must have been!
I spotted Nigel who had returned from his break in France. Neither of us were in the mood to chase after a PB, so we agreed to run the course as a tempo run at around 6:45 minutes per mile. I’ve more or less given up all hope that I’m able to achieve 5k PBs at this stage of the year, so I’m better off using Parkrun as an opportunity to simply run hard and try and gain some benefit towards my upcoming half and full marathons.
6:45 minutes per mile was about 8/10 in terms of difficulty; brief conversations were possible but required intent to do so. I rarely get to run at such a pace, missing out on lactate threshold development almost entirely. In the end, we managed to pace it fairly evenly with only a 10 second drop in the second mile, which is a much smaller drop than at almost all other times.
Here’s the Garmin data.
Long run a-no-go
At some stage on Saturday, my cold evolved into the bigger and badder version of itself, making me cough and flaring up my sinuses. I didn’t feel any better come Sunday so I reluctantly cancelled my scheduled 18 miler for a forced recovery day. Thankfully, I have purposely built in additional long runs where I stick with a new mileage distance for two weeks before upping the distance. Sadly, I’ve also had to use a joker in Jantastic already, so I’m not off to a great start.
As ever, here’s this week’s entry from The Runner’s Rule Book by Mark Remy:
Look before you expel
The human body is an amazing machine. An amazing, disgusting machine. Particularly when you’re running hard, various parts of your amazing body will produce vile substances that must be expelled from various orifices via various processes.
Most runners understand this instinctively, if not through hard experience. Most runners, therefore, are fairly forgiving if they happen to get hit with said substances. (During a run, that is. It is not okay to spit on a fellow runner in, say, the porta potty line or at a dinner party.)
All that said, please make a good-faith effort to ensure the area immediately around you – experts call this Loogie Radius – is reasonably clear of others before you spit, blow, or hawk.