This week’s running – 7th to 13th of September 2015


OMG Cat can’t believe it!

This week was about finding and losing my way, literally.

Half marathon focus

After last week’s mis-step at the Cardiff 10k (was I the only person to not PB there???), these last few remaining weeks until the Cardiff Half Marathon are being used in earnest to get into some sort of respectable shape for the race.

To get into 86:XX territory is the dream, and right now, I’m unsure whether it will continue to remain only a dream… 86:59 equates to something like 6:35 per mile with a little buffer in there for going slightly long (13.18 miles is likely). As long as I don’t go bananas in the first couple of miles of the race, I’m reasonably confident I can bring it together with a negative split and strong finish.

I’m being purposely aggressive with training, opting for a bout of functional over-reaching – if I fail then I’ll simply have to wait until next year to come good. I need to sharpen up and damn quick!

Out and back to Edgbaston Reservoir

The day after the Cardiff 10k, I knew I hadn’t given the race my all because of how fresh I felt.

So, off I trotted to Edgbaston Reservoir for one lap at half marathon pace as a tester. I felt great, even whilst running into a headwind that usually pisses me off. I intended to complete 2x laps of the reservoir later in the week at half marathon pace and work my way up to 3x laps (hopefully next week).

Here’s the Garmin data for this run (we can’t really call it a session now, can we?)

10 miles around Peterborough

Lost in Peterborough

It all went Pete Tong at around mile 6…

Work sent me and a few colleagues to Peterborough on a training course, so the running kit naturally came with me. Two of said colleagues also turned out to be Parkrunners (Perry Hall and Walsall Arboretum), albeit infrequent!

The plan was to cover 8 miles in total via a simple long, straight road en route to the city centre from a Travelodge on the A1. The problem with some of Peterborough’s roads is that they lack pavement, and instead have plenty of off-shoot paths for pedestrians/cyclists to use – all well and good if one knows where they’re going… Many turnings later, I reached a critical point on the route and none of the paths looked familiar; I was well and truly lost. I don’t carry a phone when I run and the Back to start function on my Garmin wasn’t loading, so I carried on running in the direction that felt most correct…

I stumbled across a Tesco Express next to a housing estate and decided to pop into there to ask for directions. The guy behind the counter gave me vague instructions for how to get back to the hotel, but then he threw me off completely by saying it was a “fair old jog” to get there. Did he mean “fair old jog” for a non-runner like himself, or a “fair old jog” even for a runner like me? I was reasonably confident I hadn’t gone that far off course!

Following his directions, I trundled off in my own race against time to try and be back at the hotel to meet my colleagues for dinner at 7pm (it was already past 6:30pm by this point). I bumped into some ladies from a local running club, the Bushfield Joggers, who just so happened to be going very close to the hotel and invited me to tag along with them. They had a good laugh at my situation, but were equally as impressed that I was able to keep going beyond my 8 mile target and remain looking fresh. Three of their male club members came storming past; the ladies asked the guys to take me with them and get me back to where I needed to be at a faster pace, so I swapped groups and thanked them profusely for their help.

The blokes also had a good laugh at my expense, but seemed to better appreciate my ability to keep to their pace and continue the conversation. Two of them had run a local half marathon only days prior, one finishing in around 74 minutes, and were treating the run as recovery. We chatted about Parkrun, and the 74 minute runner revealed his 5k PB to be 16:51 – I was certainly in esteemed company.

True to their word, they got me back to the hotel with a couple of minutes to spare so that I could jump in the shower and freshen up before dinner. I ended up covering 10.6 miles that evening in total versus the original 8!

If the lesson has taught me anything, it’s that I should take a phone with me, just in case – DC Rainmaker has confirmed the Back to start function on the Garmin 910XT indeed does not work… Looking back at the map of my run, I frustratingly crossed paths back on to the original route a number of times but was unaware!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

3 mile recovery

After being sat down all day, and then a long-ish drive back to Brum, this 3 mile recovery run was just what the fictitious coach ordered to stretch out the legs.

One thing’s for certain: I can tell a big local race is coming up from the number of people out pounding the pavement that are both red in the face and look like they’re experiencing their own personal hell.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

2x laps of Edgbaston Reservoir

I returned to Edgbaston Reservoir for a pop at this session, consisting of 2x laps at target half marathon pace (6:40 per mile) with 2 minutes’ rest.

Without thinking, I chose to run around the reservoir in a clock-wise fashion, which meant I was hit by a headwind for much of each lap. Pleasingly, each 1.5 mile lap came out pretty much bang on target pace with each feeling pretty similar in terms of required effort, though the second rep used up a couple of additional heart beats.

Roll on 3x laps next week! Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Last week was Cannon Hill’s fifth anniversary. I’ve still never been to a single anniversary run due to them taking place on bank holiday weekends.

Sticking with the theme of not being around, this was my first run at Cannon Hill in almost five weeks! Bar the early days when my attendance was sporadic at best, this is the longest gap I’ve had there.

Andy Yu at Cannon Hill Parkrun

Why does it always rain on me? Photo by Geoff Hughes

Weather-wise, it was soggy and rather miserable with all the marshals and volunteers huddled underneath the bandstand for shelter – a stark contrast to the warm sunshine and blue skies of the previous day.

It was nice to see a few familiar faces, namely Dave and Nigel, who I hadn’t seen in ages.

The plan was to hit it hard to try and reap some training intensity benefit. Somewhat unsure of my own fitness, I decided to punch in 3:53/km into the Garmin as a target, which would have produced a 19:25 finish.

I managed to keep things under control in the first km, though I question whether this was more a lack of ability to dramatically go faster! The first lap of the park felt very alien to the mind and body. Puddles were everywhere and required nimble feet to avoid without going long on the course.

Surprisingly, the second lap of the park produced another decent split only a second or two off target.

I began trailing a runner, rocking those barefoot Vibrams, that seemed to be going at roughly the same pace as me. I used the slight descent after the bandstand to slingshot me ahead into the third km, but it seemed the Vibram runner had some fight in him and came with me, and thus began our mini-duel.

On the approach to the triangle, he started to drift backwards. I urged him to stay with me and he let out a distressed, “How much further have we got?” We had a new runner on the cards that had clearly burnt himself out too soon. I told him there was roughly a mile left and he let out a groan; that was the last I ever saw of him and I now thank you, mystery runner, for keeping my third km on target!

The fourth km was a tough nut to crack and had me running on my own. The guys behind me were ages away, and the next group ahead had at least a ten second lead.

The final km remained a solitary affair, though I came close to the next group a few times before they took off again. Even with a kick at the end, this split still came up as my second slowest of the bunch for a 19:33 finish.

After a tough week of training, the result felt about right. I reckon I could have pushed out a 19:20 or so if I were fresher and less sleep deprived that particular morning.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Canal half marathon

With a lie-in needed, the Great North Run on TV (Stanley Biwott ran a great race!), and a lunch appointment on the agenda, the long run was re-scheduled for much later in the afternoon.

I needed to get some distance in, ahead of the Cardiff Half Marathon due to take place in only three weeks, so I opted to cover my usual route from the Jewellery Quarter on to the canal to Stirchley, and back again, but taking a detour towards the Soho Loop (but avoiding it) and then home.

The weather was almost spot on, with extensive cloud cover and cool temperatures to make the run rather enjoyable. I said a number of weeks ago that I prefer cool temperatures – you can do something to warm yourself up when you’re cold but there’s little to be done once you start heating up.

Unsure of my fitness, I played it slightly safe and kept the pace steady and under control with it hovering around 7:40 to 7:50 per mile.

After half way, boredom struck and I decided to have a bash at counting to 100 to distract myself. I was surprised by how effectively the distraction technique worked and continued it all the way through to the end. This run coupled with everything else this week totalled more than 42 miles – it’s been months since I last hit the 40s!

I’ll repeat this run again in a week’s time, hopefully with a few fast stretches thrown in for good measure.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Time for this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Before you remove new running shoes from the box, you must smell them

Open the box. Peel back the tissue paper. Behold those pristine shoes. Then lift the box to your face and breathe deeply.

Mm-m-m. Smells like… potential.

And possibly formaldehyde or something. But mostly potential.

2 thoughts on “This week’s running – 7th to 13th of September 2015

  1. Hi Andy

    Think you mean 86:XX on your half marathon timings, unless I’m completely misunderstanding you

    Enjoy the blog, it is very inspiring to see how you put it all together.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s