This week’s running – 5th to 11th of January 2015

Struck down by cold

Not again… The one thing runners fear before a race!

This week was about being ill and trying to recover…


Almost as if decided by fate, I became ill on the first day back at work. For the last 3 years, I have always managed to pick up a cold either during the Christmas-New Year break, or upon returning to the office. You see, my body functions best on a routine and has a certain rhythm that it likes to go at; disrupting it has some consequences. Of course, my crazily high mileage of last week could have also had some part to play in catching a cold.

Good news is I’m pretty much back to full strength with only some minor congestion as a sign that I was ill at all. And not a moment too soon, which brings us nicely to the next item…

Brass Monkey Half Marathon

A couple of months ago, I made sure I was up stupidly early to make sure I got a place in the Brass Monkey Half Marathon – one of the UK’s flattest half marathons.

The plan is to finish with a very modest PB of only a minute or so. I feel like I’m in better long distance shape than I was at the Cardiff Half last autumn, which I felt I held back in ever so slightly. Aerobic training has been my bread and butter this winter period, with less focus on quality sessions. I’m aiming to get to mile 10 at an average pace of 6:40 per mile; anything left in the tank will be left out there in the final 5k.

Of course, there’s always something in the background conspiring against me and this time, it’s the weather. It’s crazy windy out there up north with the long range forecast reporting a 13mph easterly wind.

Tune in again this time next week for the usual race report.

Jantastic 2015

Jantastic has started and I already know I’m not going to score 100%. I’ve only logged 4 out of 5 runs this week and I’m going to have to play a joker next week to compensate for the race week taper. Normal service should resume soon.

Look me up and add me as a rival if you’d like.

Great Birmingham 10k

Great Birmingham 10k elevation

Not the flattest or the fastest 10k for these parts…

Shortly after last October’s Great Birmingham Run, the organisers announced they would be laying on a 10k race, unimaginatively called the Great Birmingham 10k. The route has just been announced and, like its unimaginative name, does little to inspire. In fact, the eagle-eyed amongst you will even see how remarkably similar the course is to the Great Birmingham Run, sharing much with its older sibling including the exhausting hill towards the end. Discussing the course with Ed, he was the voice of reason and highlighted that there would be few other original route options, starting and finishing in Birmingham City Centre.


Or the most original of courses…

But anyway… At a cost of £25 to enter, it’s neither cheap nor a guaranteed PB for many. At least with the Cardiff 10k at £25, you get a swift course where you stand some chance of a crack at a PB, along with a warm fuzzy feeling about a proportion of the entry fee going to charity (Kidney Wales). I will most likely give this race a miss, unless I have a sudden change of heart nearer to race day due to peer pressure or some such…

Faster Road Racing – 5k to Half Marathon

Faster Road Racing - 5k to half marathon

From 50% of the team that brought you Advanced Marathoning

During my first marathon training phase, I discovered a handy little book called Advanced Marathoning by Pfitzinger and Douglas. Affectionately referred to as “P&D”, it has developed almost a cult-like following over the years; such is the respect of its schedules and advice contained within.

At the tail-end of 2013, the Marathon Talk podcast released a pretty hefty interview with Pete Pfitzinger, where it was revealed he was also working on a new book with a focus on distances below 26.2 miles. Over a year later, that book has finally seen the light of day, and my copy recently landed as a little belated Christmas present to myself.

10k along Hagley Road

I finally felt fit again to venture out for a run on Thursday. Nothing too strenuous; I only wanted to test the legs and lungs out and need not have worried – everything felt fantastic and simply clicked into place.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Judging by how ferocious the winds were lashing against my window the night before, I was pretty sure conditions would be far from ideal at Cannon Hill. Newport Parkrun had to cancel their event due to a massive tree branch that had come down right on the course!

I had a rather nice catch-up with Suz West and Fergal Bloomer upon arriving at the bandstand. Fergal was thrilled to hear about my first place finish at Perry Hall Parkrun and confessed to me that he’d often had dreams of leading a race, only to go the wrong way at a crucial turn.

The warm-up lap of the park confirmed the winds were out in full force that morning; my target of a 19:25ish finish was quickly going up in smoke.

There were plenty of new faces at the new runner briefing – lots of New Year’s Resolution chasers no doubt. Simon joked about them being late to the party, having missed the New Year’s Day run and last week’s normal event.

Toeing up at the start line, I could tell how busy it was from all the new faces up at the front. There was a cross-country meet later that afternoon, so imagine how many more runners there could have been with a true-blue full attendance.

I quickly found myself drafting behind Andy Young for the first lap. I figured he must have been taking things easier than normal since he’s usually much faster. I wasn’t complaining since he was shielding me from the onslaught of the wind. The pace for 19:25 felt perfectly fine, with hardly any stress at all.

Going into the second lap, I decided to break out on my own and in retrospect, this was when I lost my opportunity to set a new course PB at Cannon Hill. The wind hit me hard and I tried my best to move ahead into the slipstream of the guy ahead of me, wasting energy in the process. Andy Young came gliding past me, making it look effortless; I needed a moment for recovery and knew I’d blown it.

The rest of the run was pretty much by the numbers, bar the closing stage. In the last 800m, I found myself next to a younger runner and we were both slipping from the pace for a fast finish. I told him we needed to work together to catch the guy in front. He surged for a few seconds and got us halfway there; I picked up the rest of the task and led both of us to the final 400m. Our target still had some fight inside him and continued to lift the pace, with me in pursuit. The final hill hit me but must have hit him harder because he slowed dramatically at the top, allowing me to pip him to the finish by a second or two.

My Garmin threw 19:25 back at me, so right on target and without feeling too uncomfortable. Oddly, the official results bumped me up by two seconds for 19:23. Simon also mentioned a quirk to me where his original finish of 100 had become 101 in the results, so clearly some manual adjustment here or there had occurred.

All in all, rather happy with the performance and it bodes well ahead of next week’s race.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 miles of Birmingham canals

Another Sunday, another long run.

The sun was shining with blue skies aplenty. The only fly in the ointment were the lashing winds that continued to strike.

The plan was 10 miles at my typical long run pace, but with miles 6-8 at target half marathon pace of 6:40 per mile. Sadly, by the time I’d reached halfway, the winds had knocked it out of me somewhat and not wanting to overcook things, I opted only to cover mile 6 at 6:40 pace. In hindsight, I probably could have eked out the planned 2 miles, but would have risked making recovery that bit tougher.

Bumped into Alex and Iain a few times out there too, for some friendly faces and high-fives.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

There aren’t too many of these entries left from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book, so enjoy them while they last!

Write off the first mile

The first mile or so of any large race is pandemonium, as folks ride a surge of pent-up adrenaline and try to run half a step in front of everyone else.

You’ll see a lot of frantic people jockeying for position during those first few minutes. Ignore them. Be cool. Run your own race. The people sprinting, weaving, and darting around you are wasting tons of energy, and you’ll likely pass them later. Probably sooner than you think.


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