This week’s running – 11th to 17th of April 2016


Exploration continued..

Ye gads! Three whole runs this week, but still far from the norm. And apologies for the late entry…

4x 800m at 5k pace

What better way to mark my move to Kings Heath than with an 800m interval sesh? The path in the park I’ve carved out for myself is just a little over 800m and perfectly flat, making for ideal training ground compared to the lumpy and bumpy Edgbaston Reservoir.

Two things came to mind in regards to the structure of the session: how many reps and how much recovery? I’d not completed an 800m interval sesh for over six months, so three to four reps seemed wise to break myself back in. I opted to set recovery between reps at 2 minutes; I would normally settle for 90 seconds, but much like with the number of reps, I wanted to see how easy or difficult things could possibly get.

Target pace was 3:43 per km, or just under 6 minutes per mile for fans of imperial measurements. The first rep felt entirely manageable; my form and posture felt spot on with just the right amount of power and exertion from each stride. Remarkably, my lungs were also willing to go with me despite the lack of any real sharp efforts for several weeks. The 2 minute recovery felt a touch too easy initially, though I reserved final judgement for when I really got into the swing of things.

Reps 2 and 3 crept up in effort, but I stayed on course to be right on target. The 2 minute recovery became much more welcome; searching inside made me conclude that 1 minute and 45 seconds would have been the best compromise between effort and adequate recovery.

Lactic acid pooled inside me for the final rep and upon finishing, I was about ready to throw my guts up…

The splits came out as:

  1. 2:59
  2. 2:58
  3. 2:59
  4. 2:59

Not bad, huh? The next time I attempt 800m intervals, I plan to up the count to 5x reps but will keep the recovery at 2 minutes to compensate for the additional 800m thrown in.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Stoke Gifford Parish Council and Little Stoke Parkrun

Dear, oh dear. How did things get so bad that a Parish Council decided to charge £1 per runner that participates at Little Stoke Parkrun?

Proving that Parkrun has transcended into the mainstream, non-runners at work stopped to talk to me about the situation, and a motoring forum I belong to has a thread about it that spans 11 pages. 11 pages about Parkrun on a car forum!

I thought my council tax contributions covered the upkeep of public parks? The flawed argument that Parkrunners are using the paths more than others, and therefore deserve to pay more towards their maintenance is ridiculous. I don’t have kids, yet pay into a system that provides funding for schools; I very rarely become ill, yet pay into a system that provides healthcare for those that need it. It makes no sense at all that Parkrun can be targeted for for the supposed additional maintenance  requirements – must be one shoddy path!

Cannon Hill Parkrun

A number of weeks ago, I agreed to help my pal, Darryll Thomas, acquire a much-coveted 5k PB after his several near misses at the smaller Arrow Valley Parkrun; we’ve all been there where a crack at a PB across any distance gets scuppered due to a lack of fellow runners in the field to work with.

For the first time in a long time, I arrived at Cannon Hill feeling very fresh. My legs were full of bounce and my lungs had sharpened up nicely since that Tuesday’s 800m interval sesh. The warm-up felt tremendous and almost felt superfluous to needs!

There was obviously banter and discussion regarding the demise of Little Stoke Parkrun. “So, have you paid your £1 this morning?” and “Do you accept chip and pin?” were thrown about amongst regulars in jest.

Stood with Darryll on the start line, I gave him a low-down of our plan of attack that comprised of a not too fast start with the ambition of maintaining around 3:50 per km, or just under 6:10 per mile. The crowded opening had every potential to derail our plans, though thankfully the field thinned out by 800m in. The first km clocked in at 3:45.

The effort began to creep upwards. Whilst there were fewer runners than before, those that were around us had also locked in on our pace and remained with us in a steady fashion. The second km came in at 3:55 with the rise back to the bandstand factored in.

As anticipated between the third and fourth km, several runners ahead were tiring and drifted back towards us. Darryll’s breathing was still steady, so I knew I hadn’t lost him; I was feeling pretty damn good having fully warmed up, so opted to press on with the pace just a smidge to counteract any rot setting in during the difficult second half of a 5k PB attempt.

With just 1km remaining, I kicked things up another notch to offset as much damage as possible from the final hill. Darryll remained firmly on my tail, though I sensed he was struggling a little more than before, so he was clearly in PB effort territory. The gap between us grew slightly by just a few steps and I myself was within spitting distance of a sub-19 finish; if I pressed on, I thought I might even be able to drag Darryll along to a sub-19 finish, too. On the home straight, I kicked and glanced backwards to see my pacee had just crested the hill to be some 5 or so seconds behind me.

I crossed the line in 18:56 for my fastest 5k in weeks. Darryll followed suit in 19:03 to net his PB, though between us was a random bloke that had stumbled upon Parkrun and ended up running through the finish line and funnel. He declared he wasn’t part of Parkrun, but had nonetheless triggered a recorded time and declined to take a finish token, further adding to the confusion and congestion in the funnel; had I have been more with it, I’d have simply let the guy wander off as per his wish and I’d have taken his token on his behalf, but mental agility is a skill that’s in short supply at the end of a fast and sharp 5k…

A successful morning and I remain confident Darryll can get under 19 minutes with another PB attempt in the near future under favourable conditions.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles – to Solihull and back

The previous day’s Parkrun concluded speed was still on my side, but I remained cautious in regards to endurance. Rather than tempt fate, I opted to cap this run to just 10 miles by heading towards Solihull town centre and then switching back for home.

By now, you must be all well aware of how much I dislike running in blowy conditions; despite the approximated wind speed of just 5mph, my over-sensitivity to wind made me feel like I was running constantly into a headwind in both directions!

Heading for home on Brook Lane, I witnessed two guys on road bikes give up their climb halfway up the hill and both pulled over to walk; this lit a fire underneath me and spurred me on to conquer the hill in just one take to produce one of my fastest splits of the morning.

All said and done, this turned out to be a most enjoyable run and some valuable time to simply become lost and absorbed in the moment. As much as I savour the competitive side of running, running also gives me some most welcome headspace to be with me, myself and I – something I’ve sorely missed in recent weeks with a million and one things to do in my personal and professional life.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.


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