This week’s running – 20th to 26th of January


Water, water everywhere…

This week was all about getting stuck in again with a solid week of running.

Threshold Tuesday

Not wanting to push myself too hard getting back into it, I opted to make my Tuesday session a short threshold run to dust off any lingering cobwebs.

I’ve always been troubled by what pace a threshold run is and it’s basically the point at which the lactic acid your body is producing cannot be adequately shifted away. Others say it’s the pace you could sustain for an hour’s all out effort.

The intention was to run 3 miles at threshold pace on the treadmill, so somewhere between 6:45 and 6:50 per mile. Easier said than done! The first mile was perfectly fine but then mile 2 hit. There simply wasn’t enough airflow in the gym and I was starting to overheat at the pace I was going at, and treadmill running is always mentally a touch harder than the equivalent pace outdoors. I had to cut the session short for fear of passing out.

Ironically, intervals have proven to be easier in the same environment because of the 90 second rest period between reps.

Here’s the Garmin data for the threshold run.

6 miles along Hagley Road

Conscious that I don’t do nearly enough marathon pace running, I now try to push the pace a little on my Thursday runs. It’s a great time to have a bash at getting the legs turning over after a long week at work, helping to lock in what marathon pace should feel like.

Problem is, I like to attempt to maintain an average pace and the opening mile always lets me down because I treat it as a warm-up. This inevitably means I need to run the remaining miles a touch faster. My aim currently is to run each mile faster than the last, simulating the need to go faster when your body doesn’t necessarily want to.

Anywho, I was able to Royal Flush again and the buzz from the runners’ high at the very end is always intoxicating.

Here’s the Garmin data.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

As ever, I wasn’t sure how hard I wanted to push at Parkrun. The threshold paced run I ran with Nigel two weeks ago was rather pleasant and packed with benefits. But there’s always that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I want to try to nail that sub-20 minute finish again. Something I worked so hard for was simply too much to give up, marathon or no marathon.

So, I punched in 6:22 pace into my Garmin which would have brought me in with a sub-20 minute finish with a few seconds to spare. Rocking up at Parkrun, we were greeted with good and bad news. The good: the run directors are thinking of trialing a new course. The bad: the finish will be at the top of the uphill path that leads to the Russell Road carpark… If the new course is implemented, we can all kiss PBs goodbye for a long while!

In the opening scrum, I found myself running with Ed Barlow from BRAT. Nigel tagged along too at our rough 6:20 pace. Ed was finishing up the end of a long run by participating in Parkrun and despite the brisk pace for most people, it seemed to have no effect on him at all (his PB is 17:32!) which made Ed perfect as a pacer; this for him was almost literally a walk in the park!

Following Ed definitely took the edge off the task at hand. I normally find myself running on my own for long stretches at Cannon Hill where I’m not fast enough to hang on to the group in front, but I’m definitely faster than the chasing group behind me. We started to slow a little on the approach to the triangle, which is normal, but managed to pick the pace up again on the return home. The last mile most definitely hurt; my lungs were on fire and my legs were bathing in a pool of lactic acid, and my choo-choo train impression reared its ugly head again after a well-deserved break (apologies to those around me, I know it’s off-putting).

On the approach to the finish, I was seriously blowing and didn’t have much more to give. Urged on by Ed, I kicked with about 100m left to go and tried to pass another runner on the outside; he counter-attacked with a kick of his own and just managed to pip me by a second to the finish, clearly fresher than I was that morning.

And my finish time? 19:37 according to my Garmin, but Parkrun have officially logged it as 19:38 (boo-hiss). Nigel was in close pursuit and finished with a superb 19:41; an unexpected but not undeserved PB. Dave managed to cut it very close with a 19:54, with his last four runs ranging in times between 19:49 and 19:56 – Mr Consistency he shall be known from this day forth.

In a rather humorous post-run moment, Khalid showed us his new running toy – a GPS watch. It just so happened to be the exact same Garmin as what I have, the 910XT. He even had the footpod (I’ve never seen anybody else with this apart from me before) and the heart rate monitor for the ultimate assortment of data to chew through. It’s a great set up and I know it’ll really benefit him in training and races to come.

Take a look at the Garmin data here.

Yu versus Yu

I like competition. It helps me improve and keeps my eye on the ball. Imagine my delight when my brother challenged me to a 5k race in July! My brother is not a long distance runner, but specialised in sprint events in his school days. He hasn’t run for years and has recently embarked on some training for a 10k race in December. His furthest so far? 2.2k in over 12 minutes. His thoughts on what he could do a 10k in? Somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes…

Now, some of you might call this an unfair race but it was my brother that called it. To make things even more interesting, there’s £50 for the winner. Watch this space to see how this develops.

18 mile long run

Who sang that song from Four Weddings and a Funeral? Wet, Wet, Wet wasn’t it? Yep, that’s exactly how you can describe my long run today. Rain, wind, puddles, a knee ache. Everything was against me today.

I made the mistake of venturing out on to the canals, thinking they would at least be in reasonable shape. The puddles became tiresome and with the long straights of the canals, the frustrating headwind quickly took its toll on me. I would not have lasted long out there so I took the decision to exit the canal at Bournville.

Pershore Road took me back to Cannon Hill Park where I embarked on 3.5 runs of the Parkrun course (once in reverse). This was a real test of mental strength but there were no puddles to dodge and the wind was unable to follow me constantly. I ran 1 mile or so with a fellow Parkrunner (didn’t catch his name, sadly) which turned into the easiest mile of the 18 today. At 16 miles, my right knee started to ache again; not constantly but it would come and go making a sustained effort at the end of my long run difficult.

I’m pleased with today’s performance. I managed to run a negative split today and had it not have been for my legs giving in, my lungs could have kept going with relative ease. What is clear is I need to use my foam roller more often to iron out the kinks.

Here’s the Garmin data for the run.

Here’s your weekly dose from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

You may safely skip ice baths

You have probably read or heard a lot about ice baths. The idea is that sitting in a tub of ice water for several minutes postrace, or post workout, speeds recovery. Many elite runners swear by the practice. Or so we’re told.

Can’t you imagine some running bigwigs sitting around in a bar, unwinding with a few beers after a hard day of bigwigging, and having the following conversation?

BIGWIG #1: “Guys, I’m telling you, runners will do just about any crazy thing we tell ’em to.”

BIGWIG #2: “You got that right. You could tell a runner to sit in a tub full of cold water for 20 minutes after a run, because it… oh, I don’t know, because it’ll help his legs be less sore… and he’d fall over himself on his way to the cold-water spigot.”

BIGWIG #1: “Ha!”

BIGWIG #3: “Forget cold water. How about ICE water?”

BIGWIG #2: “Well, come on now, Bigwig 3, even runners have SOME sense.”

BIGWIG #1: “I gotta agree, BW3. Great idea, but sitting in ice water is just too dang much.”

BIGWIG #3: “Care to make it interesting?”

I can’t say it went down exactly like that, of course. They may have been drinking scotch instead. All I know is I’ve never sat in an ice bath and I don’t intend to.

The drinking, however, I’m totally on board with.


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