This week’s running – 8th to 14th of December 2014

Cold temperatures

Oh the weather outside is frightful

This week, the mercury dropped…


As we edge ever closer to the New Year, it also means the new season of Jantastic is nearly upon us. What is Jantastic? It’s Marathon Talk’s “spring motivation campaign”, where runners commit themselves to increasingly challenging targets through January to March. January requires a commitment of X number of runs per week; February is the same as January, but with the addition of one set long distance run per week; March is the same as January and February, but with the addition of a precise time target (arguably the hardest to achieve). Points are earned and lost for completion/non-completion, and runners can participate as individuals or as teams (I’ve already enrolled on to the Cannon Hill Parkrun team).

The 2015 edition looks like more of the same, but with the addition of swimming and cycling (a triathlete’s dream come true) as sessions that can be logged.

Last year was the first time I participated in Jantastic, despite having some prior knowledge of the campaign. It came in very handy during my marathon build-up, keeping me on the straight and narrow, especially on days when I would have much rather done something else. I remember being wiped out by a cold from hell during January, scuppering my attempt at a 100% score. Other people weren’t so lucky and were actually injured as a result of Jantastic by either setting goals that were too ambitious, or choosing to run whilst injured or ill. I recall reading one lady’s account where she felt she still had to run despite spraining her ankle, all because she didn’t want to let her team down. Please take care if you’re going to embark on Jantastic and don’t forget to listen to your body whilst you’re out there.

Hagley Road fartlek

After last week’s PB at Cardiff Parkrun, I was reminded that I have a half marathon to knuckle down and train for only 6 weeks away (5 now by the time you read this). I’ve been a bit lost this winter season regarding speed work and opportunities to practice race pace workouts, due to my usual haunts either being difficult to access or unsafe during dark evenings after work. Carl had suggested I consider the loop around The Vale as an option; paved, flat and lit, it made a lot of sense so was certainly worth investigating.

So on Tuesday, I began heading in that direction along the canal towpath, only to find it was still closed off (I now know until the 21st). Frustrated and annoyed, I made my way back up to street level to complete a fartlek run along Hagley Road. The gale force winds made some stretches tricky at effort, but at least that’s compatible with the casual nature of a fartlek sesh.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

In a total 180 to what I would normally be like, I’m actually quite relaxed about the Brass Monkey Half in January. I’ve already come to terms that my winter training will not be identical to that of the summer. I do believe the fartlek runs have had a positive impact, where I’m continuously running for the entire 6 miles compared to intervals with a standing rest.

Wet, wet, wet

No, not the band often associated with Four Weddings and a Funeral, but rather what Thursday’s run was like. It was absolutely bucketing it down before I had even stepped out on to the street; I have no problem with rain if it starts when I’m already running but it takes some real determination to get out there when it’s already wet and miserable.

There was absolute carnage out on the roads, with two separate collisions on Hagley Road and what looked like a cyclist getting knocked off their bike near Five Ways.

I was soaked to the bone after only 10 minutes out there, not helped by passing vehicles driving through puddles as they passed me. A bus kicked up a massive tsunami for a truly bracing moment!

The only objective out there was to complete 10k as quickly as possible, without crashing, leading to a faster dinner and warm shower. I kept saying to myself, “Champions are made in this weather”, and shortly afterwards, changed my tune to “Champions die in this weather from pneumonia…”

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Brrrr! Cannon Hill was graced by yet more frost and ice, making for some tricky turns on the course. I had decided beforehand that a sub-20 finish would be more than enough for me to target. Gareth, a buddy of Nigel’s, was also seeking a similar time, so we told him to just stay ahead of me.

I ran much of the course with Jonny Costello and a few other guys for a nicely paced pack, each of us sharing the lead occasionally. Gareth stayed with us, slowing only slightly during the usual middle section. A few icy stretches made for some hairy moments, even with my Adios Boosts on my feet.

We managed to push Gareth on to a 19:47 despite the tricky conditions. To the best of my knowledge, nobody fell on their arse out there either!

Here’s the Garmin data for this Parkrun.

Cannon Hill have announced their New Year’s Day event is due to take place at 10:30am, giving me about an hour or so to get from the finish line of Brueton Parkrun for a double day.

12 miles of Birmingham

I’m not a particularly imaginative person when it comes to training routes, and with the canals being closed off to me, I’ve been forced to rethink where my long runs have taken me – a welcome benefit actually.

Today took me down Pershore Road towards Cannon Hill Park, Moseley, Kings Heath, Edgbaston, and then on to Bristol Road for home. I purposely plotted an undulating route to build some strength after having been spoilt by flat canal towpaths.

I felt great afterwards from the aerobic workout. In fact, I’ve been feeling great for the last few weeks and for the first time in a long time, I’m happy with the balance of endurance and speed in my arsenal. I feel stronger and fitter now than I did going into my autumn races, so I must be doing something right with my less regimented training schedule.

Here’s the Garmin data for this long run.

Right, time for the weekly dose from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Write on your bib

You know that form on the flip side of your bib number? The one that includes blank lines for info like your name, address, and emergency contact? Yeah. Fill it out.

I know, I know. It’s silly. And a pain in the neck. (Where’s a ballpoint pen when you need one?) And chances are excellent that it will never make a difference.

But maybe one of these times, it will.

Take a minute, find a ballpoint or a Sharpie, and fill it out. You’ll feel better. Your loved ones will feel better. The race’s medical director will feel better. And the ballpoint pen industry will definitely feel better.

It’s a win-win-win-win!


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