This week’s running – 21st to 27th of December 2015


Was I good enough this year to receive a new 5k PB from santa?

Merry Christmas everyone! Welcome to this festive edition of “This week’s running”.

4 miles – out and back to Edgbaston Reservoir

“Work’s out for Christmas! Work’s out forever!” (well, for 2015 at least)

In total, I have 15.5 days away from the office for the festive season, which inevitably means more opportunities to run and sneak in a few extra miles. Much of this week’s mileage was covered at a relaxed pace to compensate, with this particular run to Edgbaston Reservoir and back clocking in at around 10 minutes per mile.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

8 mile fartlek

Despite all the time off, I still ended up slotting this fartlek run in once it became dark – Christmas errands took priority during daylight hours.

A very strong headwind tore into me on the out leg as always. Heavy rainfall further dampened my spirit. Due to the sudden change in routine and rhythm, I simply didn’t feel right out there. The return leg wasn’t much better, though I at least had a slight tailwind to push me along.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

5k around Edgbaston Reservoir

For what was just an easy run, I felt terrible out there. The plan was to cover 3x of the 1.5 mile laps around Edgbaston Reservoir, but given how sluggish I was and how mentally un-stimulating multiple laps can be, I only managed 2x to ultimately make up 5k.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 canal miles

My brother and his girlfriend cooked breakfast for Lis and me, and foolishly, I didn’t leave enough time before hitting the road. As somebody that doesn’t eat that much meat, it caused all manner of distress as it worked through my system, most notably triggering a stitch at around mile 3 that almost caused me to stop running entirely.

Stitch aside, I didn’t want to push the pace on this one with grand plans for later in the week to have a stab at a 5k PB, and to also make an attempt at hitting 50 total miles.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Brueton Christmas Day Parkrun


Festive colours for the season – photo by Lis Yu

It’s now a tradition that I run a Parkrun somewhere in the world on Christmas Day – with the average person consuming around 6,000 calories on the day alone, every bit of exercise is most welcome for a guilt-free January!

Lis and I made our way to Solihull’s Brueton Park for their festive event, along with some 200 other Parkrun devotees, including strong representation from Kings Heath Running Club and BRAT. I quickly realised this was my penultimate chance to produce the 5k PB goods for 2015; the shocking performance from last week’s Cannon Hill Parkrun shook my confidence somewhat and left me wondering what I’d be capable of.

Stood on the start line, I found myself surrounded by some fast looking runners. Once permitted to go, I was caught up in the red mist and was pulled along with the other racing snakes. There were some parts of the course that had minor flooding, so nimble feet were required to avoid running through ankle deep water. I felt quite spritely and surprised myself with a 3:45 opening km.

Thoughts immediately turned to whether the pace was sustainable or not. I’ve only ever run at Brueton Parkrun when it’s Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, so the novelty of the course has yet to wear thin. I’m convinced this added bit of mental stimulation helped to keep the pace up, especially between 2km and 4km when I was pretty much running on my own. The splits came in at 3:54, 3:50 and 3:55.

With only a km remaining, I could see I was just within reach of a coveted 5k PB if I could throw down a fast final split. I pumped my arms and lengthened my stride with the knowledge that it would be down to just a couple of seconds either side of a PB. I crossed the line as a wheezing mess, but had I done enough? Nope! Santa didn’t deliver the PB I asked for… I was off by just 7 seconds with an 18:57 result, but still pretty pleased all the same and figured I’d get something back for my runbritain handicap.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Christmas 2015 running presents


Adios Boost 2s in yellow, of course!

I love Christmas and birthdays because they keep me in stock of running shoes! I hope you all received a couple of running related goodies under the tree on Christmas morning.

A few bits and bobs:

  • Adidas Adios Boost 2 Haile Gebrselassie edition
  • Nike long-sleeve technical top (hoping it cools down a bit so I can wear it!)
  • Like The Wind issue 7
  • Box of Isogels (not pictured)

Cannon Hill Boxing Day Parkrun

Confusingly, the gates to Cannon Hill’s main car park were closed, so I ended up parking outside the posh flats when I saw the traffic backing up on to the main road.

I went for the usual warm-up jog with Nigel and was delighted to hear he was a fellow turkey briner (seriously, try it). I shared my tale of woe about that morning’s Cannon Hill Parkrun acting as the battleground for one last opportunity to try and score a 5k PB for 2015. Conditions weren’t at all inspiring, with strong headwinds and water overflowing on to the course from the main lake in the park. I even mused about running at half marathon pace with Dave, unsure of how the previous day’s sub-19 5k performance would affect me.

Stood on another start line for the second time in 24 hours, I found myself positioned next to Zac Minchin, who’s always a good comrade to help push the pace along. I thought, “Sod it,” and decided to grasp the final opportunity of the year with both hands and really give it everything.

It was an incredibly fast start with runners all jockeying for position. I scooted past one guy with a very odd and wide running gait, doing my best not to come into contact with him. The first couple hundred metres had some assistance from a tailwind.

As I turned the corner to complete the first km (3:44), the roar of the headwind made its presence known and I immediately searched around for somebody to draft behind. As if by divine intervention, a young chap in headphones and a baseball cap (didn’t recognise him) drifted into contact and I tucked myself in behind him. Remarkably, he wasn’t slowing down and had no pacing aid from a Garmin or similar.

Entering the second lap, the tailwind returned and I stepped out of the mystery runner’s slipstream to take full advantage of the boost. He was still on my tail, along with another runner that had latched on, to keep the pressure up. The second km was unusually faster than the first at 3:38. Once more, I fell back into his slipstream as we turned the corner for the third lap. He started to fall off the pace on the slight descent, so I took up pacing duty as we approached the long straight towards the triangle. Unsurprisingly for a km that went entirely into a headwind, the pace dropped and came in at 3:51.

With the triangle on the horizon, I could see Zac Minchin had stopped to walk; I gave him some encouragement to join my group and he slotted himself in just ahead of us. Exiting the triangle, I chucked a slight surge in, attempting to recover some of the damage from the sharp turns. The split eventually clocked in at a fairly typical 3:56.

With a tailwind on my side, I opened up the throttle to reach the MAC with as much time in the bank as possible. Zac had pulled away by 50m or so to leave me on my own in the chase. I knew it would be close, by no more than a few seconds either side of a PB. Turning the corner before the hill, I was reacquainted with the headwind and a further reminder to check my Garmin. “18:25” appeared on the display, leaving me with just 25 seconds to charge up the hill, and charge up the hill I did. I closed the distance down between Zac and me to cross the finish line with just a second’s difference.


My one and only 5k PB for 2015!

Once again, for the second time in 24 hours, I found myself wheezing away unsure of whether I had done enough. “18:49” was paused on my Garmin’s screen, so naturally I let out a massive, “YES!” whilst fist pumping the air. The volunteers around the finish line looked at me, puzzled; I explained I’d secured my one and only 5k PB for the year and all was right with the world again. Nothing like mounting pressure to get your arse in gear, is there!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

15 miles around Llanhennock and Caerleon


Due to localised flooding, the normal 10 mile route I cover whilst in Wales (with options to bulk it out) was a complete no-go. After 30 minutes with a route planner, the above monstrosity was created – it’s a 17.5% gradient at its steepest point!

In all the years I’ve been running, I’ve only ever once had to stop to walk and that was during the 2011 Cardiff Half Marathon when I blew to pieces at around mile 10. There were two occasions during this run that nearly beat me. Mile 9 was a vicious climb to a place called Trinity View that affords pretty decent views of the surrounding area. I ran past an old lady walking her dog, who stopped in her tracks to watch this nutter attempt such a crazy feat. At the brow, my legs were saturated with lactic acid and I was close to throwing up! The second point on the route that nearly broke me began at 11.7 miles, and didn’t offer any recovery until almost a mile later (this climb featured the 17.5% gradient)!

With the boosted mileage of the week, it still wasn’t enough to carry me over into the 50s, where a discrepancy between Garmin and Strava caused me to fall short by just 0.15 miles. I couldn’t be arsed to get back out there once I’d realised, so hopefully next week will produce the goods.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

And here’s the 10 more running rule shorts from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Running rule shorts – 11 to 20

  1. One glazed donut = 2 miles.
  2. When tapering before a race, don’t stand when you can sit; don’t sit when you can lie down.
  3. Drink when you’re thirsty.
  4. If you vomit at the finish line, you kicked too hard. Or just hard enough.
  5. The more expensive the car, the less likely it is to move for you.
  6. All other things being equal, treadmill is easier than road.
  7. Whenever possible, begin an out-and-back run into the wind.
  8. Try to eat some carbs and protein within an hour postrun.
  9. If you can’t maintain a conversation during an “easy” run, slow down.
  10. In the real world, cars have the right of way.




2 thoughts on “This week’s running – 21st to 27th of December 2015

  1. Well done on your PB for the year! I’m so jealous. I’ve been out for 2 weeks with a cold and now a bad sinus infection :'(. With Cov half only 9 weeks away, im feeling the pressure!

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