This week’s running – 26th of October to 1st of November 2015

Alexander Stadium

Following in the footsteps of the pros at Alexander Stadium

This week saw me return to the track along with the beginning of scaling things back.

6k from work

My recent upwards push for additional mileage got me thinking about where the opportunities are to tack on an extra mile here or there. I’m loathe to make my long run further than 15 miles outside of training for a marathon, and I also want to avoid double days unless absolutely necessary. That leaves only my existing runs to build upon, starting with the humble jog home from the office.

By taking a long detour once I left the canal towpath, I was able to stretch it beyond the usual 5k to 6k without much difficulty at all.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

6k from work

Due to how my week stacked up, I moved things around to run home from work two days in a row. On paper, this was simple but in practice, it required a bit more additional planning. I try and leave as much stuff at the office as possible when running home to keep the weight of my bag down; a piece of piss in the summer when I’m taking next to nothing into work, but tricky in the colder months with coats, scarves etc. Two days running home on the trot, and a day off on Wednesday meant a lot of stuff was accumulating in my office!

Anywho, logistics aside, I boosted this run to 6k also. For a complete contrast to the evening before with deathly quiet roads, coming off the canal towpath presented wall-to-wall grid locked traffic. I have no idea what had happened in and around the city centre to make traffic so bad, but Lis even had to abandon a yoga class because she simply couldn’t get to it on time. I’m sure plenty of motorists looked on at me in envy as I effortlessly ran past, measuring my run in minutes per mile whilst they measured their journeys in inches per minute.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

2x 400m, 4x 800m, 2x 400m

Alexander Stadium

Having Alexander Stadium all to myself was pretty inspiring!

I had a couple of days off remaining for the year to use up before I lost them, so I took Wednesday off to get a head start on Christmas shopping (!), but also to visit the track for a session. Rather than utilise Fox Hollies leisure centre as before, I made my way over to Alexander Stadium for a pre-8am start.

Expectedly, the place was dead so I had the entire stadium all to myself. It was pretty cool to set foot on a track that so many athletic superstars had used in the past. Thankfully, the forecasted rain never came but the previous night’s wet weather had left the track and everything around it rather damp; an easy 2k jog left my feet soaked due to water I kicked up…

The plan was to cover the following:

  • 2x 400m at 3k pace (3:35/km) with 60 seconds’ rest in between
  • 4x 800m at 5k pace (3:45/km) with 90 seconds’ rest in between
  • 2x 400m at 3k pace (3:35/km) with 60 seconds’ rest in between

The 400m reps were fast, but didn’t feel impossible once I got into my stride. The only difficulty was running at the correct target pace; 400m was a tad too short for my Garmin to track accurately and it always ended up ever so slightly over or under. Nonetheless, the 400s did the job and primed me to go into the 800m reps.

I was slightly apprehensive of the 800m efforts, not having completed anything remotely similar since mid-July. I need not have worried because they felt spot-on in terms of difficulty, and I nailed them all to be within a single second of each other.

Going back into the final 2x 400m reps, they felt easy after the 800m reps and capped off a stellar session – all completed before 9am! The same GPS issues as before occurred, but in all, the splits came out close enough to target.

Here’s the Garmin data for the session.

10 canal miles

An early start, a late night, and exposure to various people in and out of work suffering from colds left me feeling rather weary come Thursday afternoon. I was in two minds about sacking off the 10 mile run, but I cajoled myself into it with the promise of a recovery week after Sunday.

With Halloween around the corner, the canal towpath towards Bournville was suitably eerie with a distinct lack of users. I only spotted a handful of cyclists and only two other runners braved it like I did.

With how I felt, I opted to keep the pace easy and without heroics. Even with my new headtorch, the perception of effort was totally off kilter until maybe the remaining third of the run.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

With the topic of Christmas and time off in discussion, I mentioned to Lis that this year would see the potential for 5x Parkrun opportunities in the space of nine days due to Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Fridays. Some events lay on a Christmas day run (Brueton and Perry Hall are notable examples in the West Midlands) whilst New Year’s Day often sees staggered start times for events (9am and then 10am are common), allowing for a maximum of two runs to be counted on one’s profile for that particular day. That week involving the New Year’s Day double could even be the birth of a 50 mile week for me…

Moving on!

I felt wiped out on Saturday morning and the warm-up confirmed as much. The sensible side of me opted to make it more of a tempo run with an arbitrary sub-20 pace in mind, and potentially Dave in tow.

Ignoring the slightly iffy 4:05 first km, I kept my splits rock steady at around 3:58/km. Dave remained just in front of me for much of the run, though he drifted off back a few places between the fourth and final km. I finished in 19:49 and dragged Dave through to a 19:54 – his first sub-20 for months.

It was certainly a touch warmer than what would be typical for the time of year, but I couldn’t stop sweating. I was still dripping even after my slow warm-down! I later checked my heart rate just in case there was something underlying to also explain how tired I felt, but nope, everything looked right as rain with a rate of 48bpm, with a figure in the high 30s or low 40s upon first waking being normal.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

14 canal miles

Watered? Check. Fed? Check. Rested? Sorta.

I knew I wanted to cover 14 miles, albeit at a more sedate pace compared to last week. I really didn’t enjoy the closing stages that saw me head out on the canal towpath towards Smethwick and back for more than 3 miles – it was soul destroying, not to mention very muddy on the unpaved sections!

To address this, I modified my route by exiting the canal at Bournville train station, covering two miles through Cotteridge and Bournville before returning to the canal.

I had two pacemakers – one for the out leg and one for the return leg. The guy I followed on the out ran steady sub-8 minute miles; I kept back by 20m or so rather than trigger an impromptu race between him and me. The guy I trailed on the return ran somewhere between 7:40 and 7:45, and I applied the same 20m gap as before for five miles or so before he left the canal near Edgbaston Reservoir.

Time for a recovery week me thinks!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Time for this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book. Can you believe it’s been two years since I first started including these excerpts into each weekly post? And funnily enough, I’m watching the NYC Marathon coverage on the TV as I write this, having picked the book up at the event expo…

Diversify your wardrobe

If you head out for a run and notice that your cap, shirt, watch, shorts, socks, and shoes are all from the same manufacturer, head right back in and change at least one of the above.

Well, unless you’re an elite. In that case, you’re all good.

Wearing one brand of gear and apparel from head to toe is okay if you happen to be sponsored by, or are the CEO of, the manufacturer in question. Otherwise, you’re kind of inviting good-natured ribbing, at best, and flat-out ridicule at worst. It’s like pulling the lever of a slot machine and coming up all NIKE or ADIDAS or MIZUNO.

I used to see a guy running in Central Park, years ago. Invariably, he was wearing Fila stuff – and only Fila stuff. (He also was a dead ringer for Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but I digress.) He seemed like a perfectly nice guy, and I’m sure he was. But man, did he look odd. And he wasn’t even that fast!

If you don’t mind ridicule, by all means, wear the matching stuff. Otherwise, mix it up. For your own good.

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