This week’s running – 3rd to 9th of February

Andy Yu will be racing at the Bramley 20 and Silverstone Half Marathon

It’s nearly time to race! Silverstone Half Marathon and Bramley 20 race bibs.

After three weeks of full on training, this was a much needed scale back week.

Threshold Tuesday

Whilst it saddens me that I’m some way off being in contention of my current 5k PB (and probably the 10k, too), I do have a rather important marathon to run in just nine weeks and with that in mind, what I do now will ultimately make or break that marathon.

Threshold pace should have more benefit to me than 5k pace, which ultimately convinced me to run my 5x 800m reps at approximately 6:45 pace to get the lactic juices flowing through my muscles. For comparison, 6:52 is my target half marathon pace to hopefully some day break the 90 minute barrier.

The session was manageable with only the final rep feeling tough on the treadmill. The air conditioning in the gym is understandably not very high at the moment due to the cooler temperatures outside, where going full pelt for prolonged periods time quite difficult. The lack of airflow means the sweat you produce just clings to you and never evaporates, similar to running in high humidity. I also opted not to wear my heart rate monitor for fear that it may have triggered another stitch like last week.

Take a look at the Garmin data here.

6 miles with the Garmin 910XT’s custom workout mode

After last week’s successful pacing experiment with the Garmin 910XT’s custom workout mode, I set about editing the program slightly to rectify some of the previous quirks. One such quirk that proved annoying was the inability to record mile split data if you create a block of mileage at a particular pace, i.e. 4 total miles at 8:00 pace. To correct this, I actually need to create each mile individually or set the first mile up as one step and have the program repeat this step a set number of times.

So, I headed out for my 6 miles along Hagley Road in the wind and rain. The first warm-up mile went by without issue. The second mile at 8:00 pace (with a wider 15 second tolerance) also went by without a peep. I was bang on target pace and rather pleased with my metronomic performance; I then entered mile 3 and the 910XT started spazzing out, telling me I was now all of a sudden 45 seconds too slow, and then 15 seconds too fast!? How do you go from running a rock steady 8:00 minute mile into the next for the pacing to suddenly be all over the bleeding shop? I did my best to stabilise the pace again with the usual run a little faster, then a little slower to try and coax it back. Going into mile 4, the pacing schizophrenia occured all over again. What appeared to be happening was with each new mile split, the 910XT seemed to need to relocate my position again, requiring I wait for the pace to settle. This continued for the entire run and grew tiresome.

So it seems I can either block miles together and have the steadiest pace feedback I’ve ever experienced, but no individual mile splits, or I can have individual mile split data and pacing feedback that has a tantrum at the beginning of every new mile. Helpful, Garmin, helpful. I think I’ll stick with the virtual pacer from now on.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Saturday rocked up and off to Cannon Hill Lis and I went. I wanted to score something around 19:45 to get my legs turning over and given it was my easy week, I should have been fresh enough for the task. Seth was also back after a bit of an absence, joining Dave for their first experience on the new winter course.

I bumped into Ed on the startline who had just completed 17 miles, with a planned total run of 22 miles that day. What was more amazing was he was happy to pace me around at my planned 19:45 pace! Incredible fitness indeed. The first mile was very congested, with Dave zooming off into the distance amongst the crowds. Just when I thought he was gone for a 19:3X finish time, he somehow reappeared behind me! Clearly, he’s perfected the art of race teleportation but uses it sparingly to avoid potential disqualification.

Impressively, there were three girls taking part in a three-way battle with each other at around our position out in the field of runners.

The wheels came off at mile 2 and I was forced to let Dave and Ed go. One of the girls had slipped off the pace and was now just ahead of me, giving me a target to work towards and for much of this mile, the two of us would repeatedly overtake and surge past each other.

Approaching the hill in mile 3, I simply didn’t have enough get up and go to really push on. My legs were heavy and refused to go any faster up the hill, but I did manage to find a little something at the very top to return home for 33rd out of a total of 514 runners and a time of 20:08.

Congratulations are also in order for Barbara Partridge of Kings Heath Running Club, winning Parkrunner of the month.

10 miles with Dave Burton

Apart from in half marathons, Dave and I have never actually run together for more than 6 miles before. I wanted to take on a shorter long run of just 10 or 11 miles but at slightly faster than target marathon pace. Long, slow runs are the bread have been the bread and butter of my build-up so far with sprinklings here and there of specific marathon pace work. This run was meant to really zone in on what the pace feels like.

We ended up on a tour of Bournville and the surrounding areas for a nice change of scenery for me. What was also pleasant was running with somebody else with the miles simply flying by. The pace was nice and steady, with neither of us two physically taxed if our conversations were anything to go by. Running with Dave really did seem to take the edge off the intensity, where I most likely could have completed 10 miles on my own at the same pace, but with a lot more added mental stress.

It was almost like therapy, having a fellow runner of similar ability to talk to about upcoming races, targets and plans for the rest of the year. The whole experience was so positive, we’ve agreed to try and collaborate on long runs more often to reap the benefits!

Take a look at the Garmin data and route right here.

Upcoming races

I do love a good race and as the above bibs show, I’m gearing up for the Bramley 20 and Silverstone Half Marathon in just one and three weeks respectively.

A 20 mile race is a relatively unknown territory for me, where I’ve only covered the distance in training or as part of last year’s marathon. To say I will be racing 20 miles is disingenuous; rather, I will be using it as a catered training run where I plan to run at just slower than marathon race pace to hone into the feeling of 8:00 minute miles over a prolonged distance, but also to aid recovery by not going all out. If I feel good at the end of the ordeal, it’ll really boost my confidence for London, which is what I really need right now. My old uni buddy, Kevin Yates of Lordshill Running Club, will also be there for a good catch-up.

Whilst on our 10 mile run, Dave and I did discuss how we would both approach the Silverstone Half Marathon. I’m almost 100% confident Dave will be able to PB there, given its much flatter course profile in comparison to the Great Birmingham Run from last October. Me on the other hand, I’m definitely at least 2 – 3 minutes away from besting my 1:31:09 set in Cardiff last year. Given Silverstone’s close proximity to the London Marathon and also my need to still complete 21 and 22 mile training runs, I’ve decided not to go all out and hammer myself in the race, merely using it as a fast training run and a fitness benchmark. Target pace will be around 7:10 and then if I have more to give after 6 miles, I’ll try and up the pace.

Here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Join a local running club

I am a proud member of a running club called the Lehigh Valley Road Runners. (Don’t ask me for proof, because I don’t have any. They have never sent me a membership card.) My membership dues get me a sporadically published newsletter, a discount on some local races, and 10 percent off at the local running store. I think.

Truth is, I rarely take advantage of those perks. And even if I didn’t get them at all, I’d still pony up my 20 bucks a year to be a member of the LVRR. Why? Because my running club is full of nice people doing nice things. And it makes me feel good to be a small part of that.

They sponsor a scholarship. They organize races, including a fantastic kids’ series every summer. They have a potluck after their Wednesday night 5-K Summer Series races. It’s good stuff.

Plus, the LVRR clubhouse down in the Parkway has a nice bath-room. That perk has come in handy more than a few times.


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