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


I hoped the Force would be with me as I continued my quest for a 5k PB…

5k from work

My legs felt surprisingly chipper on Monday morning and you’d have been none the wiser that I’d raced 10 miles the previous day. By Monday afternoon, my quads were starting to suffer from DOMS, no doubt due to the faster stretches of downhill running at the Sneyd Christmas Pudding Run. I feared the dreaded “Tuesday Legs” would make a reappearance after a long absence…

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

8 mile fartlek

Gah. “Tuesday Legs” did indeed reappear on Tuesday morning. My quads and IT bands were tight, despite vigorous stretching and foam rolling on Monday evening when I got in. My core and lower back were also aching, which were completely new ones on me. I have consciously been trying to improve my form and posture whilst I’m running hard, so I guess the soreness was simply another by-product of Sunday’s race.

With yet another 5k PB attempt lined up for Saturday’s Parkrun, I chose to keep Tuesday as a fartlek run to allow for enough recovery time.

What I wasn’t prepared for was quite how easy it all felt. Even running into a 16mph headwind on the out leg, my stride felt long and swift, and my form felt tall and strong despite the earlier protestations from my body. The return leg felt just as positive, if not more thanks to a slight tailwind behind me.

The sheer number of runners out on the canals on Tuesday was astounding. I’m lucky if I see another runner out there at all during winter evenings, but I counted 10 or so of us; all independent of each other before you think it was a club out on a run.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

4 miles out and back to Edgbaston Reservoir

I wasn’t able to run home from the office on Wednesday due to a post office visit (hellish at Christmas), so I braved a trip to Edgbaston Reservoir for one lap. It was my first trip there with my current headtorch and it held up beautifully; the spread of light was more than enough to light the immediate vicinity and some distance ahead.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 canal miles

Iain and I went to a midnight launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, finally getting home to bed at around 03:30. Several hours later, I went to work feeling worse for wear, though thankfully, only for the morning. My afternoon was freed up to make way for this run in daylight – such a novelty!

Needless to say, I didn’t feel great out there; an intense headwind slammed into me on the out leg to further chip away at my waning resolve. To try and give the run some sort of higher purpose, I slotted in 3 miles (1 on the out, 2 on the return) at my adjusted marathon pace of 6:55 per mile. They each came out on, or just a smidge faster than target for an injection of positivity.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Carl kindly volunteered to pace me for this 5k PB attempt. The goal was somewhere between 18:35 and 18:45, which worked out at around 3:43 per km, or just under 6 minutes per mile.

The odds were stacked against me, even with Carl’s help. Strong winds blew that morning and it was unseasonably warm. My endurance has come on leaps and bounds in recent months, but speed has sorely been missing with the fastest run of each week being a Parkrun. Throw in being a tad under-recovered from the busy week and it looked incredibly unlikely to happen.

Carl and I started a little further back than I would normally be for a PB smash up, with the plan calling for controlled and even splits. The first km started quickly, but balanced out with a slower second half to come in exactly on target.

Race pace effort was killing me; it felt unnatural and completely at odds to what my training bias was aligned with. The second km still came in close enough on target with 3:45 for the challenge to still be on.

The wheels finally fell off in the third km. I wasn’t able to hide from the wind, even whilst drafting behind Carl. The gap increased between us and I simply wasn’t able to regain contact with him; I told him the game was up and to continue with his run without me. The third km produced an ugly looking 4:09 split…

The fourth km was run solo, with only the odd straggler for the briefest moments of company. Surprisingly, the split came in at 4:11 so I’d at least stabilised myself with some recovery.

I managed to inject some much needed pace into the final km, thanks to a couple of guys that were close on my tail, eventually producing a 3:54 split and an overall 19:44 finish.

Yep, a massive positive split and an incredibly difficult run under difficult conditions. I’m consoled that my performance wasn’t that poor in the grand scheme of things; others that I normally finish with or close to also produced comparatively slow times on Saturday. runbritain has only ranked the conditions as 1.0, suggesting there were too few with handicap profiles to generate an accurate course condition score that should have been higher.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run. Thanks go out to Carl for his help – I’ll produce the goods next time!

Injury woes – part 2

All week, in the back of my mind, I could tell that a potential injury was brewing. I’d been incredibly busy, both in and out of work, yet still managed to get all of my scheduled runs in. Stretching, foam rolling and massage took a back-seat to everything else.

Predictably, a niggle did appear after Cannon Hill Parkrun. My left Achilles tendon became tight and a tad sore and mirrored the niggle I picked up only a few weeks ago in my right Achilles tendon. Me thinks some strengthening exercises need to be continued because there’s clearly some sort of breakdown in my biomechanics somewhere.

14 canal miles

I was conscious that my last couple of Sunday long runs were a little short on distance, capping off at 11 miles being the longest. Injury, recovery, racing and so on made their contributions to the mileage deficit. With only 3 weeks remaining before I taper for the Brass Monkey Half Marathon, I needed to get my arse back into gear and get a few 13 and 14 mile runs in.

The intense wind stuck around to be the only thing that marred an otherwise beautiful winter’s Sunday morning. I kept the first half easy so as not to be wrestling with the gusts that came my way, but also to give myself a fighting chance of 3 continuous miles at marathon pace on the return leg.

Annoyingly, this was one of those runs where the presence of headwind was felt at every turn. This didn’t stop the 3 marathon paced miles coming in on target (6:55, 6:52, 6:52), though the increased effort of staying on pace took its toll eventually in the closing stages with around 2 miles to go. The metaphorical well was empty to make for an incredibly unpleasant end; further proof that the lack of longer runs had caught up to me.

There was some good news – I finally clocked in with over 45 miles for the week; a new record high!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Christmas plans

By the time you good folks read this, I’ll have finished with work for 2015 until Monday 4th of January. Plenty of time to get some good running in during daylight hours for some much needed vitamin D.

On Christmas Day, I’ll be found at Brueton Parkrun, followed by Cannon Hill on Boxing Day. New Year’s Day will see me run the double at Brueton Parkrun and then Perry Hall Parkrun only 90 minutes later. With all the additional Parkruns slotted in, I’ll have to move my rest and recovery days to accommodate; I’ll also have to make sure my recovery runs are very, very easy to compensate for the additional mileage, though I also welcome to possibility of a 50+ mile week. Without work to worry about, I should just about get away with it…

Whether you decide to get some extra running in over the festive period like me (remember, calorie deficit means more food to be eaten), or choose to put your feet up, I hope you have a merry Christmas/joyous other religious holiday/successful secular gift exchange!

10 running rule shorts for you from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

  1. If you see a porta potty with no line, use it. Even if you don’t need to.
  2. If you have to ask yourself, Does this driver see me? The answer is no.
  3. If you have to ask yourself, Are these shorts too short? The answer is yes.
  4. When packing for a race: If you ask yourself, Will I need this? the answer is yes.
  5. When running in winter: If it’s shiny, it’s slippery.
  6. If the person on the next treadmill can identify the music on your iPod, the volume is too high.
  7. For an estimated marathon finish time, double your half-marathon time and add 10 minutes.
  8. Never take a cup from the first fluids table.
  9. When running winter: If you’re warm before you begin running, you’re overdressed.
  10. Err on the side of too much massage.

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