This week’s running – 6th to 12th of October 2014

Recovery week

Time to kick the feet up for just a little while

This week was mostly about recovery. And eating. Lots of eating.

Recovery is also training

Racing well also means there’s a need to recover well. My quads were well and truly fooked on Monday and Tuesday after the Cardiff Half – much more so than last year’s race, so I must have seriously thrashed them during the final downhill mile. That first time on the foam roller after the race was not a pleasant experience…

I’ve been eating almost everything in sight as well. Cookies, sweets, cake, huge meals. The body needs fuel to recover after all!

On Wednesday, I ran my easy 5k from work along a very damp and soggy canal towpath. It’s remarkable how much the climate and conditions have changed in just two weeks. To quote Ned Stark of Game of Thrones fame, “Brace yourselves… Winter is coming.” I don’t know whether it was simply a matter of not acclimatising to the temperature, but I seriously felt how cold it was. I had a similar problem last year and I anticipate it won’t be long before the running tights, arm warmers and gloves come out again.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Thursday saw me run to Edgbaston Reservoir for two easy laps. It won’t be long before I’m no longer able to use the reservoir during weekday evenings. As per recent weeks, there were plenty of folks out and about putting the finishing touches to their Great Birmingham Run training.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

It had been a couple of weeks since I last ran at Cannon Hill; the last time had me going for a new course PB and failing miserably. But boy, was it was good to be home. Apart from a few larger puddles on the ground, the weather was spot on for anybody wanting a crack at a PB.

Conscious of how hard things felt last year the week following the Cardiff Half, I reined my expectations back somewhat with the intention of just finishing in under 20 minutes. The run did indeed feel tough, but I managed to hit my target almost perfectly with a time of 19:54.

Post-run, everybody was talking about the hot topic that is the Great Birmingham Run. I remember seeing so many fellow Parkrunners during last year’s race and will be on the look-out again on Sunday.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

11 miles via the canals

Sunday morning made for a nice change from all the dodgy weather this week had brought. On Iain’s advice that the canal towards Bournville had ‘unofficially’ reopened, I ventured out on to the towpath for 11 miles. The tarmac surface was fantastic to run on; the tarmac and stone chips less so. I was surprised by how noticeable the impact of running on the bricked path through Brindley Place felt on the return back home. I’d also eaten a tad too much the day before so I purposely ran in a somewhat fasted state, leading to a runner’s high – something I’ve not experienced in months.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Great Birmingham Run tips and advice

For the last month or so, I’ve seen an increasing number of visitors in the analytics for this blog reading the accounts of my 2012 and 2013 Great Birmingham Runs. I figured I’d put together a few tidbits of advice for anybody that’s running it for the first time (or improvers looking to shave a few extra seconds off here and there) and for what to expect. Please note, these are purely my own thoughts and opinions and are by no means gospel – I’m just a regular enthusiast runner that’s run the race a few times before.

Great Birmingham Run elevation

Start on the right-hand side of the dual carriageway

The startIf you are focused on going for a time and want minimal congestion or slow-down, start from the right-hand side as if you’re facing the start line and about to set off. The start funnels are divided into two waves for each colour (striped for elites, orange, white, green and pink), with the right-hand side going first (it goes orange-right, orange-left, white-right, white-left etc). This holds true for each coloured start, so whether you’re in a faster coloured start pen or a slower one, starting from the right will always mean the group that went before you will be faster and should give you a better chance of a clear run.

Great Birmingham Run elevation

There’s pain in them there hills!

Hills, hills and more hills – For anybody that has run the course before, but not since 2012, there have been two modifications. Starting last year, there’s the inclusion of a new hill on Kensington Road (approx mile 4), off Pershore Road. It isn’t particularly long, but it will slow you down unless you can make up the time lost using the descent on the other side. This was done to simplify the final mile of the course where it used to twist and turn, albeit on the flat – I’d have preferred a flat over the addition of another hill any day!

Altogether, there are three significant inclines on the course, and a few minor ones here and there. Save something in the tank for the mile long drag up Charlotte Road/St James Road – this part is tricky because it’s preceded by a climb out of Lee Bank Middleway with only a short flat afterwards for minor recovery.

Use the pacer or not?My advice would be a big fat “no”, based on a previous experience. Last year’s sub-90 minute pacer completed his first mile in 5:54; an 89:59 half marathon is roughly 6:52 per mile, so people would have inevitably blown up if they followed him. Last year’s sub-90 minute pacer also failed to hit his target, finishing in 90:41 – simply unacceptable especially if you’ve dragged people through with a stupidly fast mile. Pacers should be running well within their own capabilities on the day, so there’s a strong likelihood they’ll run even splits, even when going up hill. Run your own race and if during the later stages you happen to come back into contact with a pacer, use them to your advantage, but I would strongly dissuade following a pacer for the entire race.

Finally, make sure you enjoy yourself out there. The crowds are good and there’s nothing quite like a sprint down Broad Street for the finish to thousands of cheers. I’ll be out there along with Nigel from Parkrun running at around 1:37 pace – do say “hi” if you see us on the course.

And as usual, here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Dogs are harmless except when they aren’t

Most dogs, when they see a passing runner, will bark. This is the natural order of things. Just continue along your way – and don’t make eye contact with the dog, which he may consider threatening. The dog will yap until you’re out of sight or until something else captures his attention, such as a blade of grass. And that will be that.

Occasionally, however, you may encounter a dog who is not content simply to bark at you, but who wants to put parts of your body between his teeth. Dogs like this are known, in veterinary science, as bad dogs.

Avoid such dogs whenever possible.

If an aggressive dog does threaten you, yell “No!” in a deep voice and try to put something between you and the dog, such as a bicycle or a small child.

Just kidding about the small child. They can bite, too. And they don’t recognize the word no.


5 thoughts on “This week’s running – 6th to 12th of October 2014

  1. Good luck with this years GBR! It will be my fourth run, and I am hoping to bring my confidence back after last years shambles. I hadn’t looked after myself, training or nutrition wise and I flopped big time, I was a mess! I am hoping to do much better this year!

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