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


Hello, Falmouth!

Week 14 of the 22 week marathon schedule was quite literally a break from the norm, featuring some running in Cornwall.

8 miles around Falmouth


Not a soul in sight on the beach at 6am…

Lis and I are like a lot of Brits come summer time, preferring to holiday abroad for the culture, its more stable climate, and relatively lower costs. That all changed with Brexit and our house purchase…

Instead, we settled on a staycation, zeroing in on Falmouth in Cornwall for a short break to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. Whilst I’m able to grind out runs and races with some spectacularly dull surroundings (Silverstone Half Marathon, anyone?), I looked forward to the 8 mile route I’d plotted to take me past some of Falmouth’s haunts.

I took in sights such as Falmouth’s Cliff Road beach, Pendennis Castle, the port, The Packet Quays, and even Penryn’s harbour. The sedate pace allowed me to take it all in, and at 6am, there were hardly any other souls out. I even uncharacteristically stopped to take photos to make the most of the sightseeing tour on foot.

There was a crazy-ass climb on Union Road that lasted for 800m, with a 70m height difference. At the top, my legs were coursing with lactic acid and I just about kept the feeling of throwing up at bay…

As a life-long city slicker, I couldn’t get over how I was able to run an entire loop of Falmouth’s outer periphery in just 8 miles; a recent walking tour of three local Birmingham parks took more than 6 miles to cover with some short cuts thrown in!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles – to Penryn and back


Penryn Harbour at dawn

This was another leisurely jog, taking me right along Falmouth’s main road, the A39, to Penryn and back. Far less picturesque than the prior day’s run, with such sights like the local McDonalds and Lidl, though was made up for by stops at St Gluvias’ Church and Penryn’s harbour at sun-rise.

For a coastal town, Falmouth sure loves its hills! The steep descent out of town came back to bite me on the return by becoming a 900m long climb with a 40m height difference…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill Parkrun


Cannon Hill Parkrun replacing a scheduled speed session – photo by Lis Yu

There was originally a 5x 800m at 5k pace session on the schedule, though I quickly shelved it upon returning to Birmingham. Early starts, late nights, lots of walking on top of the above runs whilst away had taken their toll on me; I felt out of kilter and knew an aggressive track session would only send my likely fragile immune system tumbling down. Instead, I opted to take an additional recovery day and would run hard at Cannon Hill Parkrun as a substitute, and what a substitute it became!

With all the cancellations and tourism of late, I’d not actually run at Cannon Hill in six to seven weeks for what was probably my longest absence from the venue. Numbers were also dramatically down with the summer holiday season in full swing to add to the feeling of unfamiliarity.

Off the line, I ran controlled and tailed the leading female runner for the first km. It all felt a touch too easy and I had to quickly remind myself that I would have to grit my teeth in the closing stages if the effort was applied correctly. The split came in at 3:41.

Coming out of the first km and into the climb back towards the band stand, the pace dropped and the huffs and puffs of those around me became apparent; I made a move to get the climb over and done with ASAP to join the next group ahead, featuring Zac Minchin. Zac is a faster runner than me with a couple of sub-18 runs to his name, so I was struggling to comprehend how I was able to keep with him and figured he must have been having an off day. The second km came in at 3:43, so still pretty steady.

Once more, the group I found myself in was slowing, so I pressed on to join a guy ahead that was running a wonderfully metronomic pace. He showed no signs of struggle and provided ample shelter from the head wind we were faced with, helping me to produce a 3:44 split.

Somebody from the group in front drifted back towards us. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the guy I was following actually lifted the pace to have me run my fastest split of the morning for 3:35; this was remarkable because that’s normally the pace of my opening split in a 5k and here I was running it in the awkward middle section! Maybe, just maybe, a 5k PB was on the cards…

With only a km remaining, I tried latching on to the two guys in the hope that they could tow me along. They crept away and after a few blinks of my eyes, 2m became 5m, and 5m became 10m. At the time, the sensation was most odd where, much like at Walsall Arboretum Parkrun several weeks ago, I found I could keep the pace going but lacked that last bit of oomph to shift into a higher gear. In retrospect, a clear lack of VO2max and 5k work was my limiter. Reaching the final hill, I cursed its inclusion because I’d have otherwise begun my finishing kick from about 400m out.

I crossed the line in 18:19; 12 seconds faster than my former course best at Cannon Hill and only 6 seconds from a new 5k PB. I thanked the chap that I drafted behind for his impeccable pacing, only to have him turn it around and thank me for staying on his shoulder and pressuring him on – if only I’d piped up during the run and the two of us could have more effectively worked together! runbritain liked what it saw (1.1 course condition and -0.9 performance) to promote me to a 4.0 handicap – I just need something to sneak over to 3.9…

Several people have commented that a sub-18 finish can’t be far off, especially if I pick the right course and have the right people around me. Any volunteers for pacing assistance?

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles – to Brueton Park and back

On paper, this looked like an easy-peasy medium-long run. Actually completing it was anything but!

I was lulled into a false sense of security by the cooler temperatures, lower humidity and overcast skies, so I left my ultra vest and its liquid refreshment behind. I was well fuelled and hydrated beforehand and thought nothing more of it. The first half had me feeling damn good with light foot strikes and no detectable tightness after the previous day’s speedy 5k.

Once in Brueton Park, things began to fall apart. Whilst my splits remained resolute, fatigue was kicking in and I had a major case of “cotton mouth”, where all I wanted was something to drink.

A few laps later and I was ready for the return for home, straight into the head wind and on the largely up-hill second half of the route. Passing by a guy having a garage sale, I was so tempted to stop and ask him for a glass of water, but decided against it. At mile 12, I wanted to stop and sack off the remainder of the run, but came to the realisation that I had no money, no travel pass and no phone, so would have had to make it back on foot anyway, albeit slower than if I carried on running.

Once back at home, I was a touch unsteady and quickly necked down a bottle of Lucozade – it had never tasted so good that I was even tempted to have a second bottle, which was unheard of for me and hopefully a rarity during this training campaign!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon

Yet another unusual week, I think the shift did me a world of good because it gave me a renewed desire to return to normality.

The next week of the schedule sees me likely to hit out 55 or 56 miles, with a mammoth 22 mile run to cap things off on Sunday. This may or may not be the joint longest run of the campaign; I have a 23 mile run planned for mid-way through September, though we’ll see whether it looks likely to be help or hindrance closer to the time.


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