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

Two Castles 10k, starting at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle – an impressive start to any race!

This week had me going fast and storming some castle gates.

4x 800m reps at Edgbaston Reservoir

I don’t have many regrets about this year’s London Marathon, bar not including enough speedwork into my training schedule. Not having access to a running track makes winter speedwork quite tricky, you see. Sure, I had the endurance during my marathon training but I never felt strong or nimble on my feet. With 6 or so weeks of dedicated speedwork behind me, I’m actually starting to feel strength in my running again.

Tuesday’s session had me set the Garmin to pace me at 3:50/km again, so roughly 19:10 pace for a 5k. The weather was spot on for a bout of intervals, which always helps.

On the second rep, I overtook a bloke running with his wife leading on her bike. She hadn’t realised that I was now running alongside her and she continued to speak to me for maybe 15 seconds as if I were her husband – cue major embarrassment from her upon realising!

I started to lose it a little on the 4th and final rep, where I came back in 2 seconds slower than the other reps on average. I felt quite ill upon finishing, like I was going to dry-heave. Even a gentle warm-down afterwards couldn’t shift the feeling of nausea.

Me thinks I’ll hang on to the 3:50/km target for another week before moving on to 3:45/km. At this rate of progress, I’m really hoping it’s not too long before I can start seriously attacking my 5k and 10k PBs again.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

6 miles along Hagley Road

Despite it being such a pleasant evening on Thursday, I didn’t actually spot that many fair-weather runners out and about.

I decided to run on the left-hand side of Hagley Road for a change to break things up. The first thing that caught my attention was how much more undulating that side of the road feels. The second thing that caught my attention was how easy the run was compared to the pace I was actually hitting. I felt like a million quid but I wished I was wearing my heart rate monitor for the stats.

The only thing that marred the run was a car that almost hit me whilst I was on the pavement. I was running past the drive entrance to a Tesco Metro when a car suddenly pulled in off the road and into the car park. There was no kerb separation here, with the pavement merely dropping in height for cars driving through, therefore I have priority. Only 1.5m or so separate me from this car that clearly hadn’t seen me. Had I have been running slightly faster, it would have gone straight into me. I’d dare say the driver would have also attempted to speed off and drive away too!

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Half marathon dummy run

As my PBs become less frequent, my training and racing strategies must therefore become more refined.

One such example of this is including a half marathon before my Cardiff Half A-race, where I simply run it slightly faster than my typical training pace (1:37 – 1:40). It would serve as a good fitness benchmark to help adjust my Cardiff Half plans and expectations, and also act as a good training boost.

There’s only one problem – there aren’t actually that many half marathons in September and the few that exist are too close to the Cardiff Half. Bristol is a natural choice but it’s only 2 weeks before Cardiff. The Chesterfield Half is a possibility where it’s 3 weeks out, but it’s part of the bigger Chesterfield Marathon and it’s the inaugural event as well, so there isn’t even a course certification certificate yet. I suppose by me not racing it, this is less of a problem but I would still rather be part of a slick, well-oiled race rather than one that’s been organised on a wing and a prayer. Decisions, decisions…

Cannon Hill Parkrun

How do you top a Cannon Hill Parkrun like last week’s without disappointment? I don’t think you can. Anyway for starters, it was chucking it down prior to the run to make for slippery and humid conditions. Numbers were also down compared to the previous week by over 200 runners.

The aim of the run was to zip around at approx 10k pace to try and prep my body for the Two Castles 10k only 24 hours later. It’s a strategy that’s worked well for me in the past without any residual fatigue. I found myself running with Neil Muir who was back in town visiting family and also to run the Two Castles 10k. We casually chatted away and must have inadvertently put a few people off who were going full pelt for the same pace as us.

Here’s the Garmin data for this Parkrun.

Two Castles 10k 2014

For my full Two Castles 10k review, please click here.

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

One day a week, run naked

When I was in college, before I really got into running, I was a bike racer. I trained regularly with a small group or guys, and we had a tradition called No Helmet Mondays. Which is exactly what it sounds like: every Monday, we would meet for our ride, as usual, but sand helmets.

What a dumb move.

Still, reckless as this example is, it was fun to have a standing sort of theme 1 day each week. As runners, we don’t really have much in the way of safety equipment – and if we did, I would never suggest you skip using it 1 day a week. But here’s a similarly inspired idea I think you’ll enjoy.

Once a week – maybe on an easy day – leave your running watch at home, head out the door, and just… run. While you’re at it, leave your GPS at home too, and your heart rate monitor, cell phone, MP3 player, and whatever other modern gizmo you normally carry on a run.

You’ll be amazed at how liberating it can be.

And for the record: now, when I get on a bicycle, I always wear a helmet.

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