This week’s running – 5th to 11th of June 2017


No cock-ups whilst on our watch!

Week 5 of the 22 week marathon schedule.

“Ones to watch” at the Yorkshire Marathon

Having blogged about running for some five or so years, my contact details have been added to a lot of PR mailing lists. Sometimes, I actually get some decent products to try and review, or complimentary entry into races (Nottingham’s Robin Hood Half Marathon, as a notable example). Often, it’s PR junk.

Without thinking, I recently received an email from the PR team behind the Yorkshire Marathon and assumed the communication was yet more junk. Filtering through my emails, I realised it was actually addressed to my personal email, and not the one I have listed on this blog. The author of the email asked if I would be willing to participate in an upcoming feature for this year’s Yorkshire Marathon race pack magazine. Provisionally titled, “Ones to watch”, they arrived at me by identifying that I’d entered the event with a predicted time of 2:59 or faster.

Initially, they wanted me to answer some fairly open-ended questions to gain a better understanding of my background and how I reached the target time. Reading through the question set, it was easy to tell it was fairly generic and some of the questions were tailored towards charity runners with lofty fund raising targets, making for a diverse cross-section for the proposed feature. And there’s the keyword, “proposed”; they stressed the caveat that the feature may not run at all, or I may be too much of a running bore to be included. We shall have to wait until closer to the time to see if I make the cut, or not!

5k recovery

Lis has had the misfortune of a minor foot injury, so no running for her for a couple of weeks.

It was particularly wet and windy, so I donned a long-sleeve top and tights whilst I shook my head in disbelief. Surprisingly, my legs felt great and you’d never have guessed I ran 17 miles just a day prior.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

The spate of poor weather continued and I side-lined any thoughts of work at pace for later in the week. Turning the corner on the Gas Street junction of the canal, I physically had to lean into the wind to gain some traction to give you an idea of how strong the gusts were!

I forgot how regularly I chew through shoes during a marathon training cycle, with three pairs, that were otherwise in decent health only several weeks ago, now needing replacement due to reaching their lifespan (500 miles for training shoes, 250 miles for racing shoes). How do I know when their time is up? I have a nerdy shoe spreadsheet that I’ve maintained for years before the likes of Garmin and Strava included a shoe-logging feature (and Nike+ actually had such a feature before the rest), where I record the mileage used against each pair. For the training shoes, I apply a secondary factor of how much cushioning they have left in them by feel; if after a medium-long run and the cushioning feels dead, then it’s time for them to go. For race shoes, I eyeball them, especially in the upper for tears and the sole for thin or missing rubber.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

The adage that you don’t regret a run largely holds true for me. The only one I do regret is the when I tweaked my Achilles tendon before Christmas, but all the others have been worthwhile in some way, shape or form. That said, I really was not in the mood for this run-commute. I was tired from an entire day’s worth of training at work, and I felt like I was coming down with something where I felt fuzzy and was carrying a chill. I also had limited time to run and have dinner before heading out to catch Wonder Woman at the cinema (great watch).

I decided to sack the run off, despite carrying all of the gear into the city centre for the run-commute home. Reaching the bus stop, all of the ETAs for my bus were snarled up due to the cricket taking place at Edgbaston, so I let out a sigh and got dressed into my run gear rather than wait the travel situation out.

I felt perfectly fine by the end of 5 miles and probably took just as long as if I was sat in traffic. Regretting runs? Nope. Not me!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

The canal by my workplace has finally been paved after several years without, and several weeks with the annoying gravel foundations in preparation. Whilst not an athletics track, the buttery smooth fresh tarmac was an absolute joy to run on, with just the right amount of give and traction.

With no runs at a taxing pace up to this point in the week, my legs were noticeably fresher than normal and so I allowed the pace to sharpen up slightly. Only the knowledge of covering the then upcoming Aldridge 10k at marathon pace stopped me from going completely bananas.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

The summer brings a lot of scope for interruption to Cannon Hill parkrun. There are countless festivals, live shows and whatnot that makes holding an organised run with some 800 plus participants especially challenging. It was the England versus Australia cricket match across the road that nearly cancelled parkrun, but dissuading as many runners as possible from attending and a trial temporary course allowed business to sort of continue as usual…

Lis and I both volunteered; she was positioned by the Mac along with Liz Dexter, whereas I and Suz West had the slightly nerve-wracking role of holding the makeshift lap number board and directing runners towards the finish. Starting over Fergal’s Corner and where the Ronnie Bowker 10k kick-off, runners were to cover three laps of the main perimeter of the park, cutting out the inner paths and excursion towards the triangle. Suz and I had to keep our eyes peeled for anybody that had miscounted and, thankfully, nobody did from what we saw. Scouring through the results, it would have been obvious if an entire lap had been cut out because PBs (of which there were very few) would have been minutes, and not seconds faster.

Cannon Hill parkrun will unavoidably be cancelled on Saturday 24th of June as a warning.

Aldridge 10k 2017 review

Please click here for the full race report.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon II

Not a bad week of running at all and marathon pace continues to feel both less challenging and more manageable across longer distances. Compared to a year ago, I’m a few beats lower for the same effort, though I’m now thinking I need to add more variety to the marathon paced sections I cover, instead of just running the miles on the flat canal repeatedly…

There’s still a lot of work to do, with meatier 18 mile plus runs soon to become a regular fixture in the plan.

This week’s running – 29th of May to 4th of June 2017


No camels on the Camel Trail. Disappoint!

Week 4 of the 22 week marathon schedule, with part of it in Cornwall!

7 miles to Padstow and 6 miles to Wadebridge

After mine and Lis’ Scottish break back in April, we both discussed going away again at the end of May for a couple of days to Cornwall as something to look forward to. We ended up in Wadebridge for a couple of reasons – mainly cost, but also because a friend of mine lives there and recommended it as a base of operations to visit surrounding areas of North Cornwall. Imagine my delight when I also discovered the Camel Trail was less than a mile away from the hotel and could take me all the way to Padstow! Disappointingly, I later found out it got its name from the adjacent Camel River, and not because it was used to transport camels from Britain’s colonial trade days…

Bleary eyed, I woke on Bank Holiday Monday with the intent of getting 13 miles in by running to Padstow and then turning around for the return back to Wadebridge. As a bank holiday, there was already a decent level of activity on the Camel Trail from cyclists, walkers with and without dogs, horse riders, and of course, runners. Unsure of the etiquette in that part of the world, I decided to adopt what I do whilst running in Wales and simply wished “morning” to everybody I came into contact with.

Whilst it was overcast, there was a lot of humidity in the air to add to my lack of mojo whilst on the trail. I can’t pinpoint what was up with me, but I lacked that spark I normally have when I’m running whilst on holiday in a new locale.

I began to perk up once I neared Padstow, and was surprised to see a lot of hustle and bustle at only 8am or so. Turning around for Wadebridge, the sudden need to visit the loo took over, and no, a tree would not have sufficed… Thankfully, with Padstow being a tourist town, there were plenty of toilets available for free-of-charge use.

The run back to Wadebridge seemed more picturesque, with more users of the Camel Trail joining me. Returning to town, I had the joy of tackling 0.8 miles of climb along Trevanson Road and West Hill, with the gradient peaking with 9% at its steepest point. I guessed that there was likely a Strava segment for that portion of the run and as luck would have it, there was one and I ranked third on the all-time list. We’ll revisit the segment further down…

Not a bad morning’s work, though I was disappointed that I had to break the run into two, but when nature calls and all that… One thing I was surprised by was how much of a thrashing the Camel Trail gave my legs, with a dull ache present in my calves, quads and glutes at not even that fast a pace. I suspect when it was converted from a railway line to a cycle path, they simply filled it with concrete and finished it off with some paving. Whilst it was incredibly flat, it was akin to running on block paving that you sometimes find on seaside promenades to really take it out of your legs.

Here’s the Strava data for the run to Padstow and the run back to Wadebridge.

9 miles with 4 at marathon pace

I concluded that some days you have it, and some days you don’t, to explain why I found Monday’s split run challenging and this run far more approachable. The sun was out in full force but I’d somehow left my sunglasses behind at the hotel. At least I wouldn’t have panda eyes to worry about!

Much like Monday, there were already a few souls out and about, getting their runs in, walking their dogs or simply commuting into Padstow by bike. Most nodded or responded back with a reciprocal greeting of, “morning”; one couple running were positively beaming as they approached me, acknowledging that I was just like them and part of the running whilst on holiday tribe.

Just outside of Padstow, I turned around to begin my scheduled 4 miles at marathon pace. The old adage of having “nothing to fear, but fear itself,” held true – the pace felt perfectly manageable, even with trashed legs from several days of walking and sight-seeing. Rather embarrassingly, I was covered from head to toe in dead black flies from how sweaty I was…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Trevanson Road climb Strava segment

Upon finishing the above 9 miles, I paused for 90 seconds and looked inside to see whether I had it in me to tackle the Strava segment I’d identified earlier in the week. This was my last chance to do it, and after telling Lis I felt I had a realistic chance of taking the segment record, I didn’t want to go back home empty handed; it was then or never and I’d at least already warmed up from the marathon pace miles.

The night before, I reviewed the segment’s elevation profile, along with its beginning and end points so as not to over or under-do it. I knew exactly which points to hit hard and which to hold steady on.

The first 200m or so were relatively flat by comparison and allowed for some strong, early gains to be had.

Once on Trevanson Road and West Hill proper, the climbing began; gradual at first, allowing for not too much of a drop in speed before hitting a sharp section in the middle. My legs quickly saturated with lactic acid and my face turned to a grimace, whilst my arms pumped harder as I tried maximising any forward and upward motion up West Hill.

Towards the end of the sharp middle portion of the segment, a truck pulled out of a driveway just ahead of me, but then decided to reverse back in as I got closer… Unsure of whether he would pull out again (he did), I ended up having to look over my right shoulder to make sure the road was clear as I went wide of the truck whilst signalling with my hands for him to stop, costing me perhaps 1 or 2 seconds.

The record stood at 5:19 for the 0.8 mile long segment, with my result from the Monday ranking me third at some 30 seconds slower. With the knowledge that the segment flattened out significantly after the hill’s steepest portion, I went hell for leather as if Olympic gold was on the line, stopping only when I was certain the segment had ended.

I was a wheezing mess and understandably had to walk the remaining few hundred metres back to the hotel. With crappy signal in the room, I had to wait for what felt like an eternity for my Garmin to upload the data before I could check Strava. Turned out boy done good and by 10 seconds for 5:09! I quickly grabbed a screenshot of the results table before the former champion reclaimed the top spot as a local…

A pretty decent souvenir of my time away in Cornwall! Here’s the Strava data for this run.

4 mile run-commute

With my schedule shifting by a day or so, I opted to cover the run-commute from Birmingham city centre and drop the 9 miles from the office to give myself a slight break.

Whilst others enjoyed the summer surroundings of Cannon Hill Park, I found myself in peak pollen season, even though heavily medicated; it’s going to be hellish for the next two months, isn’t it?

Here’s the Strava data for this run. Excuse the distance – my Garmin really struggled as I started the run within an artificial canyon.

Cannon Hill parkrun

A rare occasion where I had to drive to the park, due to dropping Lis off at New Street Station beforehand, meant a warm-up that was almost halved, though was at least spent catching up with Carl.

I shan’t bore you with the details, but it was a very average and steady 19:36 performance and I continue to remind myself that I’m not training for faster 5k times, rather I’m in the process to achieve a sub-3 hour marathon.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

17 miles – to the Soho Loop and back

This was a day of firsts, for 2017 at least. This was the first outing of the Salomon race vest, loaded up with electrolytes and a gel (not needed), and also the first run of the year that was longer than 14 miles. The schedule only called for 16 miles, but doing some preliminary mapping showed heading out for a full lap of the Soho Loop equated to over 17 miles, so that became plan A.

I bumped into Dave Sansom on the way out and joined him for a couple of the early miles, whilst he sold me the benefits of joining the BRAT club and helped the time pass by rather quickly. Whilst the last 2 miles were somewhat of a challenge as anticipated, I finished feeling pretty strong with stiffness or soreness to speak of. Typing this up the next day, my legs feel chipper with no evidence that I’d covered a not insignificant distance with a mile in the middle at marathon pace thrown in for good measure.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon II

After the 9 miles with 4 at marathon pace and the 17 mile long run, positivity for the marathon schedule is high. Marathon pace feels more manageable than ever and 17 miles provided tangible psychological boost, paving the way for more regular 18 mile runs to come in the not too distant future.

Later this week, I have the Aldridge 10k coming up. Whilst I was in pretty sharp shape going into it last year to run sub-40 with plenty of change, I know I’m in nowhere near the same form and would only be setting myself up for failure; instead, I’m going to treat it as an opportunity to cover another 6 miles at marathon pace as a view to playing the long game. There will be plenty of 10k races for years to come, but this may be the last chance I have of a sub-3 hour marathon before life’s responsibilities beckon my attention elsewhere…

This week’s running -22nd to 28th of May 2017


Tomfoolery with Simon at Cannon Hill parkrun…

Week 3 of the 22 week marathon schedule. Apologies for the later than usual post – Lis and I have been away in Cornwall, which will make for a more interesting read for the next entry.

5k recovery

Due to schedules not coming together, Lis did not join me for the normal Monday 5k recovery jog. Even at a gentle pace, it was clear the amped up temperature was taking its toll and bringing me out in a sweat… It’s going to be a long, old summer, isn’t it?

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles with 4 at marathon pace

I dreaded this planned run, really I did. With the heat jacked right up and four miles at marathon pace to contend with, I knew it was going to be a rough ride with the splits reflecting as much, where only the final mile on target:

  1. 7:04
  2. 6:59
  3. 6:55
  4. 6:48

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

Running through Cannon Hill Park at the height of winter and summer makes for some pretty stark contrasts. In the winter, I’m led entirely by the light of my headtorch and only occasionally spot the odd other soul. In the summer, I’m assaulted by harsh sunlight and fighting my way through throngs of other park users.

This run-commute was the first time this year where I was able to change at the office and hop on a Metro straight into the city centre, leaving almost all of my work gear behind. I am still carrying a bag on my back, and even at a slow pace, sweat is still collecting on my back for an unpleasantly warm time of it all.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles from work

Much like the previous day in Cannon Hill Park, the good weather brought a noticeable uplift in canal towpath users to accompany me on my run back home.

I fully acknowledge it’s a shared space and treat it as such. I run on the left of the path, following normal UK road traffic rules so that cyclists pass me on the right. The problems creep in when people have other plans, such as walking three abreast on the towpath, or racing me into the tunnel, only to then bumble their way through. The worst offender on this run was a cyclist that decided to turn to speak to his companion rather than keep his eyes looking ahead; he unpredictably weaved all over the towpath, leaving me little room to negotiate around him, so I clapped loudly to grab his attention and yelled, “Oi! Watch it!” In exchange, I received a glare as if I dared to question his cycling ability or spacial awareness! Grumble over…

The onslaught of warmth continued and the first few miles were a real slog. I was tired from work and tired from a lack of sleep due to said warmth. Unexpectedly, even with only a modest reduction in pace, my heart rate sat lower than I would have pegged it to show positive adaptations are starting to creep in.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Gah. Humidity struck to make this a pretty challenging run.

Drawing my curtains, a grey and damp morning greeted me, which was actually quite welcome after the onslaught of warmth. Problem was the weather decided to perk up again once I hit the park, with the sun coming out to dry everything up, leaving ghastly, humidity behind.

Adding to the challenging conditions was how tired my legs felt. The last couple of weeks have been pretty full on to leave my legs without a certain snap, crackle and pop. This was quite readily apparent when I struggled to maintain the same pace for the awkward middle splits, which were both 5 or 6 seconds slower than the opening km.

At the end of the sweat-fest, all I had was 19:34 to show for my troubles. I did at least drag one guy along to a PB, though recommended he lose the compression vest and tights he wore underneath his vest and shorts for an almost guaranteed PB on the next occasion under such warm temperatures!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon II

There was no long run as part of this particular week, instead opting to cover it whilst I’d be in Cornwall for a change of scenery from the Birmingham canal towpaths. As commented on earlier, the last couple of weeks have been taking their toll, so having a Sunday with no run planned made for quite a refreshing change, even if it was only deferred for just one day.


This week’s running – 1st to 7th of May 2017

Running 26.2 miles marathon

5 months. 22 weeks. Time to get serious again…

And so the road to the Yorkshire Marathon II begins!

5k recovery with Lis

The title is slightly disingenuous because it suggests that we both ran together at recovery pace… For Lis, it was more like a fartlek run with walk breaks.

The two of us have tried running together multiple times in the past, but it’s never really worked out because of the pace disparity. I’ve agreed to run with Lis on Mondays as recovery, allowing her to dictate the pace; this should give me a bit of additional easy mileage, which will see me running from Saturday through to Thursday with only one day of complete rest.

Our goal is to build Lis up to being able to run the 10k distance at September’s Wolverhampton Marathon (Dave and I will be tackling the half marathon). This particular run reasserted that she doesn’t need to jump back into the Couch to 5k programme from the very beginning, but rather week 4 or 5.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

4 x 1600m at LT pace

After almost a year with my Garmin Fenix 3, I was thrilled to finally see it auto detect lactate threshold pace from a recent run-come-race. Sitting at 6:24 per mile, I decided to try out 4 isolated miles during the run home from the office.

Effort-wise, hovering just marginally faster than LT pace felt about right and I finished feeling like I could have squeezed out one more rep:

  1. 6:23
  2. 6:19
  3. 6:19
  4. 6:15

One alteration for next time would be the length of recoveries; 3:20 per rep was far too generous and left my legs cooling down too much, turning to jelly for the first few steps of each subsequent rep.

Definitely heading in the right direction again!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

Run-commuting in the warmer summer months is definitely easier than in the cooler winter equivalent; overall, there’s less to worry about and carry, which makes my life a lot simpler when I’m preparing kit to take into the office. One downside of run-commuting in the summer is chafing from bag straps, especially when I’m trying to balance staying cool by wearing a vest and ensuring there’s enough coverage and protection of potential hotspots – Body Glide is a skin saver!

I saw a very, very near miss between a somewhat inebriated chap leaving a bus, and then step out in front of said bus without checking for overtaking traffic. Thankfully, both parties stopped in their tracks just in time!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

What a pleasant evening after work for a run! The sun was out and the smell of summer assaulted my senses, reminding me that summer must be just around the corner.

As intended, I slotted in a mile at marathon pace somewhere in the middle. In an ideal world, I would finish off runs with a mile at marathon pace, though living in Kings Heath means I’m inevitably ending my runs with a climb of some description.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Records fell again, courtesy of the John Enright memorial run, with attendance hitting 1,025 and further cementing Cannon Hill’s status as second largest event behind only Bushy parkrun (Southampton has also broken 1,000). The memorial was, sadly, extended to the departed Darren Hale who passed away almost a year ago.

The start was certainly crowded with so many bodies present, and I found myself having to run wide several times to either avoid being blocked in or just to get some breathing room.

Unintentionally, I found myself tailing Carson Tweedie for much of the run, utilising his pacing. Not having run much faster for months, the steady pace felt much faster than anticipated and I was prepared for a swifter finish, only to be disappointed with 19:24. Encouragingly, my heart rate data continues to drop and indicates some work at 5k pace or faster will set things moving in the right direction again.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

14 miles – to Brueton Park and back

It was months ago that I last ventured all the way to Solihull’s Brueton Park, so much so that I had to wade through my Garmin Connect and Strava logs to confirm as such.

A single mile at marathon pace (Strava interpreted it slightly differently to Garmin) did just the trick to wake my legs up, with everything feeling far more comfortable in the second half, even considering the far trickier return for home.

Apart from that, it bodes well that there were few surprises when I’m trying to take on marathon training once more.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon II

To those new to this section of the blog – welcome! And to those returning to hear me share more of the wins and misses of marathon training – welcome back!

First things first; here’s this year’s modified P&D advanced marathoning plan that I’ll be using to get me race-ready for the Yorkshire Marathon.

So, a couple of answers to questions that will help explain things.

Why Yorkshire again?

The race and organisation (2016 review here) was first class, with little to nothing I would change. Accurate distance, ample crowd support with pockets for breaks, and a course that’s free of congestion makes it a winner in my eyes. Sure, the profile could be a touch flatter, though none of the climbs were particularly troublesome for me and I’d trade in a few climbs against miles of road blocks and anxiety any day of the week.

Oh, and it starts and ends in York, so it has Lis’ buy-in. We both adore the city and there are few surprises to catch us off-guard.

Basically, I want everything that happened on race day in 2016 to be replicated, but with upgraded fitness.

What’s changed with this year’s plan?

In principle, very little has changed between this year’s iteration of the plan and last year’s. The biggest difference is the inclusion of several more half marathons to serve as marathon pace outings. Whilst I didn’t struggle per se with marathon pace in 2016, running at such a pace for extended periods did tax me at times; this year’s goal is to cover the paces whilst leaving me recovered enough to continue training. An odd mile or two of marathon pace during most other runs will ensure ample practice.

Like last year, I have stripped out formal sessions at half marathon pace in the belief that they would leave me too fatigued, but also that parkruns when not run at easy or PB pace will cover that area without getting too hung up on it.

The recovery runs with Lis will get at least an extra 3 miles in each week.

Anything else?

Dave and I will potentially be covering some runs together, seeing as he’s running at the inaugural Birmingham Marathon a week later (which isn’t actually the inaugural race – there was a Birmingham Marathon in the early 80s).

I’m also looking at marginal gains that may have an added impact when compounded with training improvements. Simple things like more sleep, better hydration, eating well ahead of big sessions or training runs. You get the idea. None of these things have a training cost and I’m serious about getting all the advantages I can.

What’s this year’s goal?

Sub-3. 2:59:59.

With my PB of 3:03:05, it would be rude to not go after sub-3, which equates to fewer than 10 seconds per mile when breaking it down. Several of my peers at around my ability are shaving off some 3 to 4 minutes a year in marathons, which gives me confidence in seeking the time.

Here’s also hoping for a sub-3 pacer, where 2016 was the only year without since the race’s inception.

So, there you have it. It’s all been laid out there and I just need to survive the training. My biggest worry is my left Achilles tendon; it’s been pain-free for months, though I can’t shake the feeling that it’s perceivably less supple compared to before.

This week’s running – 3rd to 9th of April 2017


Back running. Back racing! Photo by Liz Dexter

Huzzah! My first full week of uninterrupted training since December!

10k – 1k off, 2k on etc

Identifying that I currently have proportionately more pace than endurance, this off the cuff session was cobbled together in a bid to try and better bridge the two disparate elements. Target pace for the 2k intervals was in the region of 7:00 per mile, so 2016 marathon pace or thereabouts.

The session wasn’t as tough as I envisaged. I was able to hit marathon pace without much difficulty with my legs often wanting to go faster. The only struggle appeared during the climb on Holders Lane at pace, though that’s hardly surprising. All in all, a positive outcome on both physical and mental fronts in terms of training effect and confidence building.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

4 miles commute from the Bullring

Much like the last time I had a complete and uninterrupted training week, it was December when I previously embarked on a run-commute. I even gave that lengthy interview about my experience run-commuting – I feel like such a charlatan! Anywho, what’s in the past is in the past and I’m doing what I can to move onwards and upwards once again.

One of the first signs of how alien run-commuting had become was packing my kit the night before. I used to have a routine that was all completed on auto-pilot, whereas I found myself having to think quite long and hard about what was needed.

Needing to pick something up in Waterstones, I opted to get changed into my gear there, though John Lewis is still my first choice for availability and cleanliness of facilities.

Looking to keep things easy, where I’ve typically treated these run-commutes as recovery runs, I aimed for around 70% of max heart rate, which translated to 8:50 to 9:00 minutes per mile (excluding climbs).

Whilst not the most exciting of runs, this was once a staple of my weekly recovery and training – re-introducing it did wonders to re-establish training normality. Sometimes, it’s the sum of the parts that delivers the biggest bang.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

Ah! Another of my old faithful runs that made a re-appearance!

Some of you may be wondering why I’m so keen to get back to something that bears some semblance to a full training week. Well, it’s my desire to begin the P&D marathon schedule again in mid-May as preparation towards October’s Yorkshire Marathon. I thrived last year whilst under the tutelage of Mr Pfitzinger and Mr Douglas, producing a rewarding marathon PB that would have been the stuff of lunacy based on my previous marathon performances. I want to be in the right kind of shape to be able to tackle the training, which, as many of you will recall, was pretty intensive at times.

I’d seemingly learned nothing from last year, where doing whatever I could to make runs and sessions comfortable was the priority. I normally eat a banana mid-afternoon to top myself up for an evening run, but because I wasn’t feeling hungry, decided against it. This, naturally, ensured the first half was awful, mired by hunger and low energy levels. Somehow, I found second wind from seemingly nowhere to at least have the second half feeling much stronger.

I won’t be repeating that mistake anytime soon, hopefully!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

I adopted somewhat of an inverse taper strategy towards Sunday’s Ronnie Bowker 10k. Not recommended, normally, but I wanted to get back to running five times a week rather than sacrifice another week for a low-key 10k.

Having said the above, I still wanted to give myself a fighting chance at the race, so Simon and I took parkrun nice and slow, settling on 7:30 per mile/4:40 per km. “Nice and slow” is of course all relative; whilst we were fully conversational, having a natter about Simon’s recent holiday, there were people blowing up all around us – we even heard people whispering, “How are they able to still talk???”

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Afterwards, I previewed to Dave the adapted P&D Advanced Marathoning schedule that I will use for October’s Yorkshire Marathon. The plan is to tweak and modify the schedule so that Dave can also utilise it, albeit without as much mileage, but leaving semblance of the core marathon pace and mid-week medium-long runs intact.

Ronnie Bowker 10k 2017 review

Please click here for the rundown of the race.

So, am I back?

In total, I clocked just over 35 miles for the week, which is the most I have run since mid-December.

It’s taken much longer than originally anticipated, but I think I’ve finally turned a corner and am excited about running again. The past week felt as close to normal as I could have hoped for with some training, some racing and some planning.

Yes, you read that right – planning! I’m not quite ready to share my modified P&D marathon plan with you, just yet, but I will say there will be more races squeezed in to take the edge off the marathon pace sessions.

Am I back? You betcha!


This week’s running – 20th to 26th of March 2017



Know just how you feel!

The previous week’s stag-do hit me harder than I thought to result in yet another incomplete week of training…

General malaise and feeling out of it

I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking (almost exclusively teetotal) and I’m a lightweight when it comes to sleep. Saturday night/Sunday morning’s stag-do shenanigans from the previous week ensured I was suitably sleep deprived, netting only 3 crappy hours to leave me feeling pretty rotten for the days that followed – God help me when/if I become a parent…

Tuesday and Thursday hit me hardest, with low-level cold-like symptoms and lethargy. Wednesday was really the only day where I felt like I could handle a run, so I made the most of the already narrow window of time available to me, which leads us neatly on to…

5k fartlek

I’m really digging the 5k fartleks of late. Short enough to be back at home within 25 minutes, and taxing enough to keep the system ticking over, if not eliciting some small gains from my current low volume situation.

I am aware that at some stage, soon, I do really need to pull my finger out and stop accepting this as being satisfactory…

Here’s there Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

After the 19:35 from two weeks ago, I quite fancied stretching myself a little more. Lis volunteered as a marshal again, setting herself the soft-goal of attaining a 25 volunteer t-shirt.

My warm-up jog to the park was a touch too exuberant and I feared I’d left it all out there before even toeing up on the start line. In reality, this was anything but! Due to how amped up I felt from the fast warm-up and strides beforehand, I charged off with my Garmin registering sub-6:00 mile pace a few times during the opening km! For comparison, that’s basically PB pace for me over 5k…

In the past, I’ve read interesting pieces about “crash and burn” workouts, where the uncertainty and anxiety from not knowing the outcome when at your limit can prove to be a useful training aid. Well, I was certainly crashing and burning, with my splits looking somewhat ghastly:

  1. 3:47
  2. 3:54
  3. 4:01
  4. 4:00
  5. 3:42

That final split is a bit of a red herring, due to it measuring shorter than normal. I still finished in 19:23, which is my fastest 5k since early January; with tighter pacing, I’m pretty certain I would have hit 19:15 or so.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

12 miles – to Brindley Place and back

This was supposed to be my inaugural visit to Great Run Local’s 5k event at The Vale, near the University of Birmingham. It was to be called The Great Run Local sandwich, with the plan to gently jog to that part of the campus along the canal for approximately 5 miles, run the 5k distance, and then jog back home for something in the region of 13 miles.

After getting everything prepared in the days preceding, such as finding my registered RF wristband and studying the route layout, the event was sadly cancelled beforehand due to lack of available first aiders in attendance. Dave and I reasoned that majority, if not all, of the volunteers for the event must be students to coincide with the end of term exodus. My calendar’s pretty full until the end of April, so Great Run Local will have to wait a little while longer – expect a full debrief of my experience, along with how it compares to parkrun.

Rather than deviate from plan too much, I headed out towards Brindley Place for almost 13 miles. As commented on previously, I found my legs constantly wanted to go faster – such is how fresh I felt, even factoring in the 5k sufferfest only 24 hours prior. First run of the year in sunglasses, too!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 27th of February to 12th of March 2017


Whoop! 10 miles covered for the longest run in 2 months!

Running regularity has still not resumed, with work getting in the way…

Still not much running

So, yeah. Outside of a few sporadic runs here and there, I’m still not completely back on it, but will be soon enough. The main culprits are work (a very important trade show for the business, in Germany) and simply having no specific focus or event to train for. I’m not beating myself up over it; I’ve simply come to accept that I’ve been able to healthily sidestep from running for several months with no deterioration to mental or physical well-being.

And whilst we’re talking about physical well-being, let’s take a look at my Achilles tendon’s state of health. Any signs of the injury site have now pretty much disappeared. The tendon is practically smooth to the touch, and can be pinched, prodded, stretched and compressed with no pain at all. Happy days!

So, without further ado, let’s move on to the runs I actually did embark on…

5k fartlek

This one stung! With so little run volume in my legs, I decided to ramp things up a few notches and maximise the little training time I had at my disposal during those busy weeks leading up to my work exhibition.

Over 5k, I played it casual and loose for when I would speed up, and for how long. Sometimes, it was dictated by lamppost placement; other times, it was the length of a street and so on.

The ambition was to reintroduce intensity that has been sorely missed for such a long time. Others will differ from me, but I usually feel at my fittest when I’m able to handle and feel controlled at pace; out and out endurance is always secondary.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5k progressive

Much akin to the run above, this one was about turning the intensity screw in a progressive manner. As before, I felt like I was firing on all cylinders in relative terms.

I’ve said previously that the extended break seems to have had somewhat of a reset effect on my form, with my stride perceptively feeling longer at the expense of my historically high cadence dropping slightly. I am entirely welcoming of this unexpected development and will continue to observe it with great interest!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Winter is coming… And has gone

One other welcome benefit of being laid off with injury and recovery for so long is I appear to have missed the entirety of winter!

I was joking with somebody recently that I’d stocked up on long-sleeve tops from various races and invested in another pair of tights, but have hardly worn any of them. My headtorch has also barely been used.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

This was Dave’s 100th run, which really should have taken place weeks ago, but various things conspired against it. This was also Iain’s return to Parkrun, after only having run previously at Cannon Hill the day before Lis and I got married, and also at Singapore’s event for some extreme tourism. Oh, and Lis volunteered as a marshal, with Elsa in unofficial tow, to add to the unconventionality of the morning.

I wanted to put my theory to the test – where I perceive my pace to not have nosedived nearly as much as initially believed. The ambition was to attempt to get under 20 minutes, or at least as close as possible.

Heading out at 3:56 per km pace, this was exactly where I wanted to be to factor in a slight buffer for later. Unexpectedly, I was able to churn out km after km at pretty much 3:56 for each split! Gear shifting was even possible; slowing slightly to bide my time and speeding up to join a group or to seek shelter from the wind.

Ultimately, I finished in 19:35, which I’m absolutely stoked with. Weeks ago, I felt 20:30 would take several weeks to build back up to!

Celebrating Dave’s 100th run, we ended up having the largest post-run coffee-gang meeting, comprising of no fewer than 11 people. Thanks for the coffees, Dave!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles – to The Vale and back

On a morning as pleasant as Sunday, it would have been simply rude to not head out. Continuing with the previous day’s theme of pressing on – this time, distance-wise – 10 miles was on the menu.

What’s important to remember is prior to this particular run, the furthest I had covered since my injury-imposed break was a little over 5 miles…

I need not have worried at all; whilst expectedly a little aerobically challenged, the miles ticked by thanks to the joy of being back at home in familiar surroundings, bumping into familiar faces (Carl Stainton, Harry Fowler and Liz Dexter).

Typing up this entry, tiredness invaded, which is no surprise, but I’m entirely pleased I went out for 10 miles. This paves the way for my return to training regularity in a bid to not embarrass myself at upcoming 10k races.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.