This week’s running – 9th to 15th of February 2015

A BOOM just for Nigel

Just for you, Nige!

After the antics of last week, this week was pretty dull in comparison and thus a shorter entry.

10k fartlek and dialling things back

I had been feeling on edge towards the tail end of last week and into the early part of this particular week. I was a little fatigued from both training and work, and also showing minor signs of cold-like symptoms such as sneezing a lot and a constantly runny nose. I thought it would be wise to scale things back a touch and give my body some chance to recover, even if only slightly.

So, this particular 10 fartlek up and down Broad Street and Hagley Road wasn’t all out. I logged the splits for the fast and slow sections, but took no notice of pace and ran to what felt like 80% of capacity when needed. Certainly not an easy pace, but one that was comfortably within myself.

Here’s the Garmin data for this fartlek run.

I took the same approach to my 5k from the office, scaling an already easy pace back even further. Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

And that was it for the weekday runs!

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Andy Yu at Cannon Hill Parkrun

A course PB attempt, you say? Photo by Geoff Hughes

Come Friday night, I was desperately in need of some sleep and found myself nodding off at around 21:30 – very rock and roll, I know. The early night did me a world of good and I woke on Saturday morning feeling super-fresh ahead of Parkrun.

The warm-up felt significantly worse than usual. I was gasping for air whilst only at jogging pace, but this had happened before in the past ahead of good performances. I was somewhat anxious because I fancied my chances at a Cannon Hill course PB; my last few performances had pointed to an improved level of fitness without going all out and a realistic attack to get as close to 19:00 as possible was on the cards. The only element missing was Nigel’s friend, Gareth. We work well together and our abilities are close enough to push each other on. But there was still no sight of him… Toeing-up on the start line, Gareth miraculously appeared as per Nigel’s words and he was in for my 19:00 attempt. Game on!

Recalling my most recent PB attempt at Cardiff Parkrun, I made sure the pace for the two of us did not exceed 3:40 in the opening km. There were loads of runners towards the sharper end of the field and I figured I would finish in the high 20s to low 30s – where had all these additional runners come from?

Rather bizarrely, the 2nd km split came up almost 20 seconds slower than the first. I have no idea why this happened and it’s not normally until the 3rd km when my pace nosedives. I seem to recall we had filtered into a fairly sizable pack and perhaps we were just following the group’s pace.

The pressure of the task started to hit me on the approach to the triangle portion of the course, so nothing new there! Seeing all the runners ahead on the return really hit home how loaded the field was that morning.

For the remainder of the run, the pack we had worked with had almost completely splintered; two guys went ahead of us by maybe 10m and the rest fell behind. One guy remained with us and gave both Gareth and I someone to try and stay with and chase down.

From the MAC onwards, I switched over to the stopwatch and gave us regular time checks. Approaching Fergal’s/Dave’s corner, we had a little over a minute left on the clock and I urged the three of us to kick. Gareth started creeping away and clearly had another gear to shift into. Me on the other hand, I simply tried my best to not let the gap grow any wider between us, whilst still saving a little something for the final climb and finish straight.

I crossed the line and everything was a blur; my lungs seared from the intensity of the run and my legs were suffering from a major case of acidosis. I let out a few cries of “argh”, believing that it would help take some of the pain away whilst I slowly walked to collect a finish token. I had to kneel down beside a wall to help steady my breathing – one thing I miss from the classic flat finish on grass was simply collapsing on to a forgiving surface for a few minutes.

Gareth still looked in reasonably good condition compared to me. I’m still in awe how a man built like a rugby player can be so nimble over 5k! We checked my Garmin and BOOM (this one’s just for you, Nige!), a course PB of 19:12 was achieved! The two of us guesstimated Gareth had finished a rough 5m ahead of me with something like 19:09 or 19:08 to his name. Neither of the times were the 19:00 or better that we wanted, but they were signs of progression in the right direction nonetheless. A 20 second leap to 19:00 from my typical 19:20s with no focussed 5k training was possibly a big ask, but 19:12 gives me something more tangible to work with. I will continue to save myself for bigger PBs at flatter courses, but it sure felt good to see that PB text message and email come through on home turf!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

I’m set to be funnel manager at next week’s event, so no queue jumping and please try to stay in order!

14 miles – south Birmingham

Another Sunday, another long run.

I wanted to stretch the legs out a little and decided to go for 14 miles. The last time I ran that far was before Christmas. With a possibly disrupted week of running whilst away in Germany for work, I decided to get this one in whilst I could.

The route took me down the Bristol Road through to Selly Oak, Bournville Cotteridge, Stirchley, on to the Pershore Road to Cannon Hill Park, and then back home again via the Bristol Road.

It was pretty desolate out there, with few fellow runners out and about. I finally lucked out when it came to traffic lights because every single one changed in my favour for the entire run!

Conscious that I’d not done any half marathon pace work at all ahead of next month’s Silverstone Half, I opted to run mile 8 at target 6:35 pace to see how it felt. The beginning of the speed increase was jarring, having already covered a few miles at around 8:30 pace; the latter stretch felt much more natural and left me feeling like I had a real chance to hit 1:26:XX at Silverstone.

Mile 11 onwards had me gritting my teeth. I had gone out fasted again, due to a rather large dinner the night before, followed by a bread and butter pudding with ice cream designed for two people. Ahem…

All in all, a pleasing long run that ticked a fair few boxes. One peculiarity was how trashed it left my quads and hamstrings – it’s probably the cumulative damage of yesterday’s fast 5k and these 14 miles. Here’s the Garmin data.

And here’s another weekly dose from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Keep it clean

Races are family-friendly affairs… or should be.

This doesn’t mean that ever second of every race needs to be squeaky clean. But please, for the sake of community standards and for the occasional tender ear among you, keep the four-letter words to a minimum.

Think of a race like an outing to the movies, except instead of watching a film and munching popcorn, a bunch of strangers have gathered to breathe hard and spill Gatorade down their chests.

Here’s a useful rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t blurt it out during a Harry Potter matinee, try not to do so at a race.

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