This week’s running – 14th to 20th of September 2015

40 mile week

BOOM! Another 40 mile week

This was a solid week of training in the quest to return to peak fitness.

5k from work

Right now, my body needs a blast of volume so hence the increased frequency of runs (6 days a week).

Monday’s run from the office was an odd one. I fortunately missed the heavy rain that hit during the afternoon and evening, but in my haste packing my bag that morning, I had a vest rather than a t-shirt. Unexpectedly, the vest was actually perfect given how warm I felt and how much I was sweating on just an easy jog.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

2x laps of Edgbaston Reservoir

Last week’s occurrence of this session was a real shock to the system, but one that I hoped would spur on some much-needed adaptations. I wasn’t disappointed when I busted out the 2x 1.5 mile laps of the reservoir, slightly faster than last week at 6:35/mile pace. The cherry on top came from the recorded heart rate, which reported I also came in a few beats lower per rep compared to last week. Not so pleasant was the return of heart rate monitor chafe…

I debated internally whether I should try and go for 3x laps as mentioned last week. Recovery after the 2x laps was unbelievably swift; I’d have quite readily been able to squeeze out a third rep if asked, but I opted to save that for next week – gotta have something to work up to!

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

5k from work

My legs definitely felt it the day after the reservoir laps, so I held back even more so than usual on this one. Plenty of folks out on runs in preparation for the upcoming Great Birmingham Run; I’ve still yet to decide whether I’ll run it or not, but I’m hoping I might be able to blag a free place…

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 canal miles

No, your eyes do not deceive you – we’re very much only on Thursday in my training week!

I vaguely recall hearing or reading somewhere that faster runners should train for a half marathon more like a long version of a 10k race, whilst slower runners should train as if it’s a marathon. Whilst I consider myself belonging in the first camp, I’ve chosen to join the queue in the latter. Why? Training volume. Looking through my Strava training log (it really does do it better than Garmin Connect!), the last time I hit 40 miles prior to last week was once in mid-June, and before that it was once in late December! Last week’s accidental 10 miles proved to myself that I could upscale my mid-week 8 mile run to 10 miles without much difficulty, and thus became the inspiration for this run.

“Progressive” was the order of the evening, with the aim to have each successive mile slightly faster than the last. This largely went by without a hitch apart from mile 9 due to the tunnel. I usually always run with my Garmin’s footpod to fall back on should I ever lose signal temporarily; the problem I had was that the signal was faint enough that the Garmin decided to stick to GPS pacing instead and didn’t correct itself once on the other side of the tunnel. The 1 second difference between mile 8 and 9 was probably more like 5 to 10 seconds!

I felt great afterwards and mused over how to make this a more regular thing once the half marathon season is over. Sadly, the opportunities to use the canals in the evening are quickly disappearing with diminishing levels of daylight now that winter is coming (any GoT fans out there?) Cruelly, this is also my favourite time of the year to run, with cooler temperatures and a change of focus after the summer.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Andy Yu at Cannon Hill Parkrun

Pain is weakness leaving the body, or so they say… – photo by Geoff Hughes

Commuting to Cannon Hill by bus saw me arrive with plenty of time to get a relaxed warm-up in with Nigel. Conditions were top notch; the sun was out but the air had that oh so pleasant crispness to it that only autumn brings.

I wanted to hit this one hard after last week’s 19:33 shocker. I punched in 3:50/km into my Garmin, but proactively decided not to utilise the Virtual Pacer. I wanted a bit more precision from split to split along with trying to minimise the typical pace nosedive in the 3rd or 4th km.

This was supposed to be the 3rd annual smackdown between Dave and me, though given he had an extended lay-off from running, and I wasn’t in peak 5k shape, a fair or exciting fight wasn’t even likely!

Despite being a regular, I still very much felt like a visiting runner due to it being only one of a handful of appearances on the modified course. I made sure I staked out a prime spot on the line for an unimpeded getaway. I charged off on the shout of “Go” and went with the fast pace of those immediately around me. After 800m or so, I glanced down at my Garmin and saw 3:36 pace – I slammed down on the brakes and got closer to 3:50 as per the original plan.

Going into the second lap, I had to do a double take and was pleasantly surprised to see Nigel scoot past. “Bit fast!” I said to him in jest. “I won’t stay with you for long” came Nigel’s reply. To give you an idea of how fast we actually were going, we normally don’t begin lapping runners until we reach the tea room, but on this occasion, we passed the back markers as early as the MAC. I still felt great and tried convincing others to stay on the pace. Nigel managed to stay with me for the remainder of the second lap before dropping back slightly.

The 3rd km reared its ugly head and I knew I had to knuckle down to maintain the average pace. I made a conscious decision to fly down the slight hill for a boost, locking on to a young Birchfield Harrier in the process but never quite reaching him. This km turned into a fairly solitary affair with the only real distraction being a Sparkhill Harrier, that shared the same course PB as me, dropping out of the run. I’d done the job and a 3:52 split was the reward for my effort.

I knew the 4th km was going to be tough with a slightly uphill rise. Teeth firmly gritted, comrades going in the opposite direction could see my anguish and offered a few cheers. I chucked in a few focused fast spurts to try and desperately bring the split on the Garmin below 4 minutes for the km. There was nobody to work with at all, but I just about pulled it off for a 3:58.

I could see a pack of runners about 20 – 30m ahead – just what I needed to catch to try and make the final km a fast one. I was on their coat tails by the time I reached the MAC. The mother of the young Birchfield Harrier was pushing him on, shouting “Faster, Alex! Faster!” I put in a burst of speed after the mini golf course and joined Richard Keep, a runner that I used to find myself finishing alongside from time to time, who’s now firmly become a sub-18 runner with regular top 10 finishes (he must have been taking it easy that day!) We hit the hill and final straight, with Richard having just a touch more inside him to get to the finish first for 19:11 versus my 19:12.

Screaming a few times through the finish funnel, I was pleasantly surprised to see Nigel finish just a little more than 10 seconds behind for a new well-deserved 19:25 PB – the only PB from our little gang for what must be months.

I was pleased as punch with the 19:12 to further confirm things are moving in the right direction again. I do now wonder what the outcome would have been had I not have dialled the pace of the first km back so dramatically…

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

12 canal miles

With just two weeks remaining until the Cardiff Half Marathon, another Sunday long run called. I wanted to spice it up a little, so peppered a couple of swifter miles in amongst the 12. The first was at target half marathon pace and felt perfectly fine early on into the run. The latter two miles were more like tempo pace; I spied a guy ahead covering the ground at a decent clip, so rather than slog it alone, I trailed behind him by about 5m for a tow.

Bumped into Carl out there, too, for a brief chat.

Only thing that stopped this run from being half marathon distance was down to me forgetting I’d taken a long detour home last week. Nonetheless, this capped off another 40+ mile week of positive training. The plan is to cover much the same next week before I start tapering down.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

This next entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book is particularly relevant given we’re quickly heading into diminishing daylight territory:

Don’t dress like a ninja

You know what I’m talking about: the dressed-head-to-toe-in-black thing. Black tights. Black shirt or jacket. Black gloves. Black hat.

It seems that many runners are darting around dressed like this, even at night or when visibility is very low. I’m noticing more and more of them each year.

And those are only the ones I can see.

I first noticed this trend while living in Manhattan. But then, a black outfit seems to be the de facto uniform of New Yorkers, so it seemed only logical that NYC runners would dress that way, even at night. And even if it renders them near invisible to insane bike messengers and cell-phone-chatting cab drivers.

But now it seems the trend is spreading. Why?

Is it because black is slimming? Because it hides stains? Because it makes “matching” a no-brainer? (And should I say something to the invisible man who runs by me at 9pm? Like “Friend, are you aware that what you’re wearing is essentially nighttime camouflage? And that many cars weigh 2 tons?”)

Maybe the simplest explanation here really is the correct one: Those guys aren’t runners. They really are ninjas, out doing road-work.

If that’s the case, I think I’ll just let them be.

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