This week’s running – 26th of January to 1st of February 2015

No, not that kind of habit!

No, not that kind of habit!

This week was all about getting back into the groove of a routine.

A creature of habit

It’s with some irony that I managed to run my highest mileage week ever of 47 miles at the very beginning of the month, but then due to illness, work commitments and race tapering, I’ve not been able to even get close to it. I simply ran when I could and bided my time until I could get back into the swing of a 5 run week, which just so happened to be this one.

10k fartlek

Bar the Brass Monkey Half, I’ve not really done much of any faster paced running for the last few weeks. I knew this fartlek sesh would sting going into it, and boy did it deliver. I was well and truly trashed by the end of it; I’d even thought I’d gone too hard and had compromised my immune system again when I couldn’t stop sniffling that evening…

Deep down, I believe the fartlek sessions have done me good. Some of the fast sections are longer and faster than others, and conversely some of the recoveries are slower or shorter too. I’m getting some variety in which should pave the way nicely for specificity once in the spring and summer.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

5k from work

Oddly, there were plenty of runners out and about on the canal stretch from Smethwick through to Brindley Place. And oddly again, all of us had head torches too.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10k out and back via the canal

Tuesday’s fartlek sesh along Hagley Road worked because the traffic lights and road junctions allowed for natural breaks. And yes, I did have to pause at almost all of them. I didn’t want the interruption on a straight run through, so felt the canal out towards Bournville would be ideal.

And then it snowed. With my head torch on, it made the snowflakes glisten but also had the unfortunate side effect of glare right back in my face. I’ve not run in the snow or whilst it’s snowing for a few years, and certainly never before when night’s been thrown into the mix too. It was all quite unnerving at times with too much to focus on.

Unlike the previous night, I saw only one other runner mad enough like me to be out and about on the towpath. He too wore a head torch and as we crossed paths, we greeted each other with a mutual respect that only a fellow runner could give and also appreciate.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Weight-loss wonders

Weight-loss goal achieved

Weight-loss goal achieved

Well, I can safely say I’ve shifted all of the excesses of Christmas because I’m now actually lighter than before the festive season and at an all-time low as an adult. Scarily, I now weigh less than I did when I was twelve years old, although to be fair, I was the fat kid at school to bring things into perspective.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Andy Yu at Cannon Hill Parkrun 230

Me and Gareth chasing after a 19:20 finish – photo by Geoff Hughes

Ah, my beloved Cannon Hill Parkrun. Oh, how I’d missed thee. It had been almost three weeks since the last time I ran there. Based on recent finish times, I appeared to be sandbagging slightly and to correct this, a course PB attempt was called for. Which would have been all well and good had the weather have been playing ball, but sadly the brief snowfall from the previous evening had created a whole lotta slush. My warm-up lap with Nigel was enough warning to tread gingerly. Nonetheless, I punched 19:20 into my Garmin as a target to see how comfortable or uncomfortable things would be in such conditions.

Carl was in attendance and reckoned a course PB was on for himself, mainly because previous appearances were sandwiched in during longer runs, causing him to keep things sensible. Simon was also running for the 100th time milestone.

On the start line, I bumped into Nigel’s friend, Gareth. Curious of my target for the day, he was ready to commit and run alongside me for as long as possible. The man knew no fear! After many warnings of the conditions ahead, we were off.

Gareth followed diligently for the first km. The pace was just a touch faster than target, but felt relaxed and comfortable so early into the run. I advised Gareth to follow my line to avoid going wide, adding unnecessary distance when every second and additional step counts.

Running with Gareth took some of the edge off from the task at hand, especially when the field thinned ahead.

Things continued to run smoothly up until we hit the triangle, when the slush proved most hazardous when we suddenly changed directions at speed. Running through ice-cold puddles had also soaked my shoes, making them heavier than usual during the already slowest split of the morning.

We both ramped things up in the final km, chasing runners down to close the gap and make up for lost time. I was shagged when I reached the hill and urged Gareth to crack on. With each step of mine, Gareth doubled the distance between us until he was several seconds ahead. No matter what I did, I couldn’t reel him in and simply maintained my position for the line.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Checking my Garmin after regaining my breath, I was amazed to see I had clocked in at 19:20 to be right on target despite the slowdown of the 4th km. This was my 3rd fastest run at Cannon Hill and also one of the least stressful! Gareth scored 19:17 and quickly proceeded to ask me whether he could get down to sub-19 again in a few weeks; I told him to stay steady for now and to attack the course properly once the weather improved. I loved his enthusiasm and he reminded me of myself when I first started at Cannon Hill, where every week was a new opportunity try and achieve a new PB. Those days are now long gone for me, with real progress taking more than just an additional week of training.

A warm-down lap with Steven and Carl wrapped up a thoroughly enjoyable morning back at home.

And just as I returned home, I’ll be off on tour again next week because I’ll be dashing off to Bushy Parkrun! Expect a report to follow next weekend.

13 miles – Bristol Road and Pershore Road

After a massive Indian meal on Friday night and a pizza on Saturday night, I figured I was more than a little well nourished so ran this particular long run in a fasted state.

The tried and trusted route took me through a 13 mile tour of Bristol Road, Selly Oak, Bournville, Cotteridge, Pershore Road, Cannon Hill Park and back on to Bristol Road. Long flat stretches and a few short, sharp climbs and descents offered enough training stimulus variety.

An aggressive headwind hit me on almost all of Pershore Road and the return leg of Bristol Road. I signed up for a long run, not resistance training!

A few more of these in the bag and I think I’ll have a fighting chance of shaving that minute off at the Silverstone Half that I’m hankering after.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

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

Acknowledge bands along the course

As a group, musicians do not like to wake up early. But these particular musicians did just that, loading their vans in the predawn darkness, driving to whatever godforsaken mile marker they’ve been assigned to, setting up their stuff, and rocking out.

Or, you know, jazzing out. Or tribal drumming out, bluesing out, calypsoing out. The point is, they are out there for you, playing their hearts out so that you may be motivated. And you really should acknowledge them to the best of your ability.

Just how you acknowledge them depends on how fast you’re going and/or how much you’re suffering.

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