This week’s running – 8th to 14th of February 2016


Tired. So very, very tired…

Eugh. Some much needed downtime after this week!

5k from work

Hmmm. The saga of my Achilles tendon continued… At the moment, it’s never painful but it does still tighten up on occasion; simply leaning forward shows the one in my right leg has less flexibility than the left leg.

Slowly, I’m starting to regain more and more daylight on my evening runs. I’m finding I don’t even need to switch my head torch on until maybe a mile from home at the moment!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

8 mile canal fartlek

Through my own carelessness, I ended up leaving my keys at work and only realised when I was mere minutes from home. I tried calling Lis for her whereabouts, but there was no answer, so I assumed she was stuck somewhere on the M6. Back I went to work, only to discover that she had been at home all along! With all the to-ing and fro-ing, I lost almost an hour before I had even started my scheduled run…

Once I finally started running, I was at least more warmed up than usual to allow me to dive straight into the fartlek run. As before, the top end paces didn’t really appear and were once again maybe 10 to 15 seconds off from what I wanted them to be. Technical details aside, I felt tremendous by the end for a very positive run; I’ve not started going backwards yet, so clearly this approach is still working!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

6k from work

Darryll Thomas made me laugh when he commented on this run from the office, “What’s going on? It’s 5k from work. Always 5k!”

The irony of this longer commute was so I could pop into Tesco on the way home to pick up some Deep Heat for my inflexible Achilles tendon, likely caused by too much running… It’s amazing how quickly you get used to the smell of Deep Heat, though Lis has requested I limit its use to when I’m at work or outdoors only.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Training for a marathon, using a marathon?

With my autumn A-race set as the Yorkshire Marathon, I already know I want to get one last hard effort in about four weeks before race day. Whether that hard effort is a half marathon (possibly Kenilworth), or a fast 10k (Cardiff), my choices are limited and would have to coincide with one remaining long run in the region of 23/24 miles. Ideally, I’d like to schedule in a 20 mile race, but my research shows there are hardly any of that distance in the autumn. Most occur in the spring as a way for people to get a catered marathon training run in with other people.

Browsing the autumn race calendar, I did see the Wolverhampton Marathon listed as taking place on the 4th of September, so roughly five weeks before race day. And then came my slightly crazy idea of using Wolverhampton as a training run…

It’s common belief that to race a distance well requires being able to run beyond said distance, except when it comes to the marathon, when it becomes a balance of training just far enough to get away with it without leaving the race behind in training. But what if I were to cover the first couple of miles (2, 3 or even 4) at a very easy recovery pace, with a view to completing the remaining distance at target long run pace? Or alternatively, hitting target long run pace from the gun and then dropping out of the race after 23 or 24 miles.

I spoke with a few peers and the responses were varied. A handful thought it was a risky idea if I wasn’t able to be disciplined and hold back. Dropping out with only 5k or less remaining as an option was also contrary to what I’ve ingrained in myself over the years about never dropping out from races.

Another handful thought it would be an ideal primer ahead of race day. Wolverhampton’s on my doorstep and would allow enough time for recovery, so long as I was strict with my pacing. Others shared that it would offer valuable insight to reacquaint myself with how I should feel in an actual marathon with no performance pressure.

Just an idea for the moment…

10 canal miles

The combination of lower leg stretches, ankle mobility exercises and Deep Heat seemed to do the trick – both Achilles tendons felt like their old familiar selves once more!

It was a rare, wind-free evening, so I took the opportunity to cover a bit of marathon pace on the out leg; the return featured the usual 2 faster paced miles. Disappointingly, GPS interference scuppered my chance at perfectly formed splits.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun


Don’t let the clothing choice fool you – it was cold! Photo by Geoff Hughes

Gah. How I needed sleep!

For the first time in what felt like ages, Cannon Hill’s course was bone dry but in its place was a vicious headwind that was maximised due to the new route.

I wanted to hit the run hard with a scheduled cutback week due shortly.

After promising myself I would run more steadily from the line, I still managed to shoot off like a lunatic. A bit of start line confusion also meant there were a few improperly seeded folks to box me in, requiring a few surges to get into the right place. I spotted Richard Keep with a handful of other guys ahead, prompting me to try and reach them but forgetting that Richard is a sub-18 runner… The inner-lap around the lake wasn’t nearly as claustrophobic as it was last week, with ample room to freely move about. I finished lap 1 feeling generally over-worked and motivation flew out the window to try and hang on – 3:41 for my troubles.

The headwind smacked me about as I approached the bandstand. After being dropped once already, I again spotted Richard and his group about 15m in front. I had about 400m with a slight descent to utilise, so I daringly surged again to reach them. Success! Contact was made! I managed to stay with them for another 400m before they crept away once more.

I grew progressively slower and slower, and continued to further lose time as I entered and exited the triangle.

The stretch from the little bridge to the MAC was fully exposed to headwind, robbing me and others of more time on the clock. 17:00 ticked by on my Garmin; most other days, I’d have been convinced to kick the remaining 400m to the end but I really wasn’t feeling it that morning. One chap came past me to at least give me an interim target to chase down and broke the monotony of running alone. I was able to take him on the hill, finishing with a 19:08. I really should have been more disciplined and held myself back to simply running sub-20 pace!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Afterwards, Dave revealed he was just behind me by a couple of seconds. He ran progressively and it transpired that I would have been his next target to stalk; it was only thanks to the final hill that he was kept at bay from reaching me!

An extended warm-down with some of the Cannon Hill Crusaders and Neil Muir rounded things off for another week.

This Parkrun wasn’t a total loss – my upward trend on runbritain continued with a -1.2 performance, pushing me to an overall 4.1 handicap. It was only October when I was on 5.2!

14 canal miles

I began to feel ropey after Saturday’s Parkrun; thoughts turned to whether a 14 mile long run the following morning would be such a good idea. Thankfully, a good night’s rest did just the trick and I was right as rain once more.

It was positively gorgeous out there. Sunny, dry and chilly – the perfect winter’s morning for a long run. The only fly in the ointment was some aggressive headwind that unusually appeared on the return, coming straight from the north.

Rather than tempt fate, I purposely kept the pace dialled back. Given how cold it was, I took an absolute age to warm-up, so I couldn’t have gone much faster even if I wanted to!

Whilst out there, I began thinking about how to extend the distance to accommodate training for a marathon. Including the loop out to Spaghetti Junction and the Aston Junction would make for 20 to 21 miles, and chucking in a lap of Edgbaston Reservoir could bump the distance up to 22 miles or so.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.


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