This week’s running – 23rd to 29th of March 2015

I know how you feel, cow

I know just how you feel, cow…

After last week’s disaster, this week was a major improvement apart from the weather.

10k fartlek

I had hoped the ever-increasing amounts of daylight would provide me with enough time to make it to Edgbaston Reservoir and back for some 800m reps, but alas it was not meant to be.

The trusty 10k fartlek made a return and crucially felt pretty damn good. Only one car tried to mow me down on this occasion!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

5k from work

Strava reported this was the second fastest instance of this weekly staple. I was originally rather reluctant to jump on-board the Strava bandwagon, but I’ve got to say all the statistics and data appeals to my inner nerd.

Currently, I find myself managing my profiles on Garmin Connect, Nike+, Strava and Jantastic…

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

7 canal miles

Ignoring the warm-up mile for this run, the 7:20 miles are a rare pace for me to cover these days and probably went some way towards making this an exhilarating run. I felt positively alive out there and want to try and make an effort to include this pace in my weekly quota. The only downside with this outing was the sun had completely disappeared on me during the final two miles on the canal; thankfully the well-paved towpath offered some air of predictability to get me back home.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships

I will be attending the World Half Marathon Championships to be held next year in Cardiff. No, I did not suddenly become an elite and qualify, but rather handed over the king’s ransom of £64 for the privilege. Why so expensive? It takes place on a Saturday during the Easter weekend, so road closure costs will have definitely bumped things up. And I’m sure the organisers are price gouging us for the novelty of the experience. Having said that, we’re still nowhere near what the US typically pays for races. I recall the Dash to the Finish Line 5k I ran in New York costing American citizens $50 compared to the $25 or so it cost me as an international runner!

I expect the course will likely change, given the 25,000 limit, and even accounting for the 10% of no-shows, that’s still in excess of 22,000 runners to accommodate on Cardiff streets. The regular half marathon route just about copes with the 14,000 or so who turn up each October.

I’m genuinely looking forward to this race, along with the pomp and ceremony that it’ll come with. I was asked to provide a finish time estimate and had to gulp a little as I typed in “1:24”. That time is currently 3.5 minutes away but with a year to go, I’m reasonably confident I can get there, even if a 1:24:59 finish does equate to an 18:21 5k and a 38:07 10k… *double gulp*

Cardiff Parkrun

We were in Wales at the weekend, so I paid a visit to Cardiff Parkrun and roped Vince Nazareth in to join me. I’ve mentioned before how Vince is my lucky charm – three races and three PBs each time we’ve run together, so the pressure to keep the streak going was on.

The weather forecast for the weekend was rotten, with strong winds and torrential rain predicted. We didn’t fancy our chances but were still keen to have a bash at getting as close to 19:00 as possible.

We set off at 3:45 for the first km with the odd random gust of wind getting in the way. A clear break in the pack appeared, with the front-runners charging off and leaving the rest of us behind. We found ourselves in a small pack of four or five runners, trading places amongst ourselves.

As anticipated, my lack of 5k focus was revealed going into the third km. Sensing I had slowed, Vince went past and I struggled to latch on to him to pull me through. I found myself drafting behind an older runner, who was also fading but I decided staying in his slipstream was for the best; if I went out on my own to try and catch Vince, I’d have probably been left in no-man’s land as per usual.

With 1km left, I decided to kick the pace up and left the old boy behind. Vince was battling against a 10 year old kid and they both proved to be good targets on the horizon for me to try and reel in. The gusts of wind returned for almost the entire final stretch of the course; I simply didn’t have the fight in me to push on any further to come back in with 19:18. No disappointment on my part – breaking the run down into its component parts and this was probably the best I could have achieved under such conditions. My PB streak with Vince was over! Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Vince finished with a 19:05 and said he began to feel especially positive in the final km, regretting he didn’t push on a lot earlier.

Vince and Andy meet Peppa Pig

Never to be left to our own devices ever again…

Post-run, we even bumped into a celebrity for some selfie-action!

10 miles – to Usk and back

Right on cue, the weather worsened further on Sunday morning when I was due to head out for a long run. Crazy high winds caused the rain to go almost sideways!

Early into the run, I came into contact with two guys on a 20 mile training run for the London Marathon, and ended up covering the first 5 miles with them.

On the return, I was running almost dead on into the head wind for an incredibly challenging time. My gear was completely saturated from the rain, and despite being made of technical fabric, everything was clinging and weighing me down.

The final uphill drag for home with a raging head wind was all I needed at the end, with my climb feeling more like a walk. Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

I was incredibly pleased to have gotten out there, especially when I didn’t have anything resting on the run. It would have been far easier to just sack things off for another day under such circumstances and conditions!

Farewell, Jantastic

Andy Yu's 2015 Jantastic score

A slight improvement on 2014’s score…

Jantastic has come to an end once again. I finished with only a 91.9 to my name, but still marginally better than 2014’s 91.5 due to improperly playing my joker cards.

I probably won’t participate next year, only because I couldn’t see any tangible benefit for myself given that I was running when I could anyway.

And without further ado, here’s this week’s piece from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Avoid crashing

And we don’t mean the “hitting the wall/running out of energy” kind.

Most people don’t associate footraces with crashes, the way they might with bike racing or stock-car racing or downhill skiing. But even runners can go down during a race, alone or in a pileup.

Usually this occurs during crowded starts, when adrenaline and flailing limbs can combine with unpleasant results; in a race’s latter stages (particularly the final stretch), as exhausted runners lose fine motor skills, and small cracks and bumps in the road seem to reach out and grab you; and whenever several runners stream around a sharp corner.

All it takes is one clipped heel and wham. You collide with another runner or with the road. Or both. You won’t cartwheel down the street and burst into flames, the way a NASCAR driver might. (Wouldn’t that do wonders for marathon spectating, though?) But it sure can result in some nasty road rash.

So: Keep your wits about you, and keep some distance between yourself and the runner in front of you.


This week’s running – 31st of March to 6th of April

This sums me up perfectly

Yep, that’s me exactly!

This week was all about running somewhere new and being in the thick of the taper.

Jantastic – mission complete 

Three months later and the Jantastic challenge is finally over. Well done to everybody that participated and a real hero’s cheer for Dave who achieved 100%. Only a few hundred runners managed to achieve 100% out of the tens of thousands that participated. Shame he was late to the party when it came to joining Team Cannon Hill Parkrun – 100%’s worth of points and none of them were of recognised because he wasn’t there from the beginning!

January was a shaky month for me where I’d caught the mother of all colds and foolishly played one of my jokers too soon (it grants you immunity for half a week’s runs), giving me grace for one missed run but completely wrecking the following week where I didn’t run a single step.

February was a perfect month, with 100% of my prescribed runs and distance logged to perfection.

March wasn’t bad with just 10 seconds between me and my predicted max effort target of 19:30 over 5k. I did let myself down with mileage that was a little too ambitious at the end of the month (I forgot it was taper time), losing out on 5 miles.

In total, I scored 91.5%. I should have been nearer 95% if I’d have played my joker properly but looking on the bright side, it definitely made my running more consistent over the three months. My training normally goes like clockwork anyway, but knowing that there’s a score to be had and several people following your progress, it keeps you on the straight and narrow.

Will I do it again next year? You betcha!

Brighton runaround

Before Monday, I had never visited Brighton before despite all the positive things I had heard about the place. Due to a meeting near the south coast, I opted to stay overnight in Brighton and get a taster of what it had to offer.

After driving non-stop for 3 hours, there was nothing better than lacing up for a run to stretch my legs. The sun was out and positively begging me to set foot on Brighton’s seafront for a run. Conscious that I’d covered 10 tough miles at marathon pace the day befor, all I wanted was a 5k-recovery run at a very easy pace. I took my Garmin with me but paid no attention to it at all and instead relied on pacing by feel.

I chose to head left of the pier towards Brighton Marina. It was so nice to be able to run in a straight line on well-maintained paths without having to stop for traffic or other obstacles. Early on into my run, I saw a guy in the distance wearing a red t-shirt not dissimilar to the ones you see at Parkrun. As I got closer, I realised it was indeed a Parkrun 50 t-shirt, but rather an old-school one from Nike and not Adidas. Nike was the original sportswear sponsor before Adidas took up the mantle, and from various reports, the Adidas t-shirts are actually superior. Anyway, I was wearing my Marathon Talk t-shirt (black t-shirt in the sun – big mistake) and he noticed the 26.2 emblazoned on my chest and we both gave each other a knowing nod in regards to our chosen running kit for the day. Yes, I am sad like that.

I felt fantastic on the run and incredibly free without the pressure of pace or distance etc. Here’s the Garmin data.

The following morning, I decided to head out again but this time, covering the western side of the seafront from the pier. There was a distinct chill in the air at 7:15am and this was despite the sun coming out to play. There were already plenty of runners and dog walkers out on the seafront doing their thing; it all kind of reminded me of New York and Central Park where if you’ve got a location and scenery that’s so pleasant, why wouldn’t you? I’d not run that early in the morning for almost six months and it caught me off-guard. I was still half asleep, slightly dehydrated and hungry but the novelty of running on pancake flat ground on the south coast kept my spirits high. The pacing of the run was similar to the previous afternoon where I warmed-up gently for the first mile, ran steadily for the second and brought it all home for the third. I even estimated the distance perfectly to finish right outside my hotel.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience to run in Brighton. I’m going to miss the well-kept paths to run on, especially when I return to Hagley Road… Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Thursday hill work

This wasn’t really a session, more a part of the tapering process to try and stay sharp. I was talking to a French colleague of mine recently who has run the Paris and New York Marathons in the past and when I asked how he typically tapered, he told me he didn’t run a single step in the two weeks before either race. “THIS IS MADNESS!”, I thought, followed by Gerard Butler bellowing, “THIS. IS. SPARTA!!!”, whilst kicking me into a bottomless pit. Ahem… Anyway, I’ll talk more about tapering later on in this entry.

Conscious that I didn’t run any fast efforts in Brighton, I wanted to get some hill reps under my feet. I normally do six reps but I cut things right down to just three; enough to get my legs turning over and my lungs working hard, but not enough to leave me fatigued. I did wonder about the smog but in the end, I zipped up my man-suit and just got on with it.

After a decent one mile warm-up, I charged up and down the hill at faster than 5k pace for what felt like some good speed. I did find the pacing a little awkward on such short reps of only 0.18 miles (the length of the hill); only one or two seconds too fast or slow and it ended up showing wildly different times for pace per mile. Perhaps switching to kilometres will help with accuracy.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

Ed and I were speaking earlier in the week about how to tackle the final Parkrun before our respective London Marathons. I was originally thinking to run it as a tempo run of around 6:45 per mile but Ed had raced a 10k last year the week before his sub-3 hour Manchester Marathon which left him feeling sharp and confident for the following week. With that alone, my mind had been made up to try and run a swift 5k, so something between 19:4X and 19:5X.

The warm-up had me feeling rubbish as usual and my triple espresso didn’t help things either.

The first mile was more or less on target pace but as always, the second mile/4th km rot had made its mark and I my pace dropped. I decided to knock things back a touch, knowing that I couldn’t make up 25 seconds; the aim of having a run with a faster leg turnover had been achieved so I need not batter myself senseless during this taper period.

Dave had run a strong 19:24 and Nigel ran a PB of 19:35 despite visiting a beer festival the evening before – well done gents!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 miles with 3 at marathon pace

The plan for this run was to head out for a few miles with 3 or so miles at marathon pace. I originally wanted to run towards Bournville via the canals but Iain’s mud bath experience from earlier in the week put me off, so it would be the northern canal loop again.

Despite the sky being grey, it was a balmy 14 degrees outside and there was a definite humidity in the air. The first mile had me sweating like a pig but I managed to settle into approx 8:20 pace without much trouble. After 4 miles, I launched into marathon pace and also strong headwinds. The relative warmth had caught me off-guard and thankfully, I had an Isogel to sink which perked me up for the final mile at marathon pace; the instant sugar hit made my pace spike and I had to rein myself back into running 7:50 per mile. Once 3 miles had been completed, I dropped my pace back to warm-down but found my body wanting to constantly drift back into marathon pace – not a bad sign at all.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Taper twitches and race week plans

I don’t know about the rest of you with spring marathons that have just been or coming up but I’ve finally reached that stage of the taper that I loathe the most. I’m full of nervous energy at the moment and I can’t stop thinking about next week. Almost everything I’m doing at the moment has a direct or indirect link to next week’s race.

Aaaaand breathe in. Breathe out.

This happened last year before the London Marathon and has typically happened each and every time before a major A-half marathon. It doesn’t seem to happen to me before 5k and 10k races, mainly because I race them so frequently and the losses are easier to bear.

I’ve brought my mileage right down where I only covered 10 miles last week at marathon pace with Dave and covered 10 miles this week, with 3 at marathon pace. Intensity is still present where I’m still doing sessions but with less volume. My energy levels are high and unlike last year, I’m watching what I eat during this taper period to ensure I don’t put on weight. And speaking of weight, I’ve surpassed my race-weight goal of 9st 5lbs and am now rocking in at 9st 4lbs! I guess my body repairing the trauma of marathon training and my reduced calorie intake have worked hand in hand to bring my weight down where I was steadily weighing in at 9st 7lbs before. Theories out there suggest that for every pound of weight that you can shed, you’re then potentially between two and five seconds faster per mile thanks to an improved power to weight ratio. Of course, you can drop too much weight at the cost of muscle loss. In terms of BMI, I’m still half a point out of being in the dead centre of normal for my height and weight category.

I know I feel less than stellar right now but I accept it’s for the best and it’ll all soon be over in less than seven days.

I am planning to get next week’s update out on Friday, followed by an entry all about my 2014 London Marathon out on the Monday after.

Training-wise for race week, I’m going to knock volume and intensity down even further with the following:

  •       Tuesday – 3x hill reps at 5k pace
  •       Thursday – 3 miles easy
  •       Saturday – 1 mile easy

I have also booked Friday off from work to make the trip down to London to visit the expo and collect my race number. The running gods clearly see potential in me, otherwise they wouldn’t have put me back into this year’s race. All I need them to do is also put me into a starting pen that’s between 3 and 5 and I’m good. I want to soak up the atmosphere at the expo and I would like to add a detailed section about it in my race report. I’m also hoping I might spot Martin Yelling and Tom Williams there so will of course be wearing my Marathon Talk t-shirt.

On Saturday, Lis and I will be making our way down to London to check into our hotel (the Ibis at Blackfriars) to be later joined for dinner by our respective parents. I’m hoping I get a decent night’s sleep in the hotel unlike last year. People say the night before doesn’t matter so much as long as you’ve had a good few days’ worth of sleep. I call bullshit on this because I know if I’ve had a bad night’s sleep before a race and it makes a world of difference to me.

Race day itself will consist of an early start of maybe 06:30, breakfast, and then wandering over to Waterloo station for my train to Blackheath. Conveniently, Waterloo is only 10 minutes away by foot. I also plan to try and get a little bit of easy running in to warm-up on race morning; I know most guides say it’s not necessary but I know I personally take a long time to warm-up properly and a cold start doesn’t do me any good at all. The rest is up to my training and the running gods upstairs to look after me.

Goal-wise, I have the following:

  •       C-goal – to simply PB
  •       B-goal – to run sub-3:30
  •       A-goal – to run sub-3:25
  •       A*-goal – to run sub-3:20

The C-goal should be achievable under most circumstances. Last year’s finish time saw me back home with 3:52:31; in other words, if I run at my long run training pace from this year for the whole 26.2 miles, I should PB.

My B-goal is actually last year’s A-goal, which is to run sub-3:30. In hindsight, I would have been lucky to have achieved this last year; not impossible but it would have required everything to be right such as the weather, the starting pen and so on. I ran my long runs far too slow last year and the jump from training pace to race pace was just a little too much to sustain. If I run a steady race at 8 minutes per mile, I can do this.

My A-goal has the potential to happen if I run well and conditions are ideal. There’s 10 seconds difference per mile between this and the B-goal of 3:30 and realistically, I think I’m somewhere between the two, erring more towards this one.

And simply because miracles can happen on race day and I may have totally underestimated my fitness, sub-3:20 has been thrown into the mix. Pacing calculators are saying I can do 3:14 (somewhat generous) based on my recent 1:32 Silverstone half marathon. If we use the more conservative formula of doubling your half marathon and then adding 10%, I end up with a figure of 3:22 so not wild at all. I didn’t run Silverstone flat out and due to the windy conditions, I probably lost out on a minute or so.

You can of course follow my progress on race day by visiting the London Marathon website and typing in my name (Andy Yu) and my race number (8316). Each of my 5k splits (and half marathon I think) will be shown live so you can see whether I’m on, ahead or behind target.

Best of luck to everybody running a spring marathon. We’ve put in all the hard work and now’s the time to reap the rewards.

To close, here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Use your head when you stash your keys

If you’re like me, the vast majority of your runs begin and end at home or at the office. Every so often, though, you will drive somewhere to race or meet friends for a run. You will strip down to shorts, shirt and shoes. You will lock your car. And then you will stare at the tangle of keys, fobs, frequent-shopper cards, bottle openers, rabbits’ feet, Mini Mag-lites, and other assorted tchotchkes in your hand and wonder what the heck you should do with them.

You’ll be tempted to place them atop one of your tires. Don’t. That’s the first place a thief will look. (If you’re this person, you also “hide” your wallet in your shoe at the beach. Am I right?)

There are any number of more creative – and less thief-friendly alternatives.

One is to remove just your car key, then stow it In the pocket of your shorts or jacket, or in a special shoelace pouch designed for that purpose.

Another method, which I’ve heard of but never witnessed, involves placing your keys atop the tire of somebody else’s car. Which I guess would work well, unless that driver leaves before you do. Yet, another method is to drive a jalopy in such poor shape that no one in high right mind would ever want to steal it.

Personally, I encounter this situation whenever I meet friends for a run at the nearby Parkway. Usually, I lock up the car and take my keys with me – just for the first few minutes of the run, at which point I tuck them into the crook of a tree branch just off the path. Hasn’t failed me yet.

(Hint for car thieves in eastern Pennsylvania: It’s the tallish tree next to another tallish tree. With leaves.)

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

What's that strange bright thing in the sky?

Hello sunshine, my old friend!

This week was all about going hard and going long.

Massage Monday

The Silverstone Half Marathon had left a tiny bit of DOMs in my legs, particularly my quads, so I asked Damian to focus there during my sports massage session at the college. Curious to see how the regular stretching and massage has affected my flexibility (along with the race the day before), we measured the range of motion in my hamstrings and were left in shock – over 150 degrees of flexibility versus just 130 degrees one week earlier! Now, granted this only brings me into average for flexibility but it’s a huge step up from where I was with 112 – 119 degrees only a couple of weeks ago.

Damian also provided me with a theraband to help stretch my hamstrings further – perfect for when I’m on the couch watching TV.

Jewellery Quarter hill reps

On the way to the Silverstone Half Marathon, Dave and I were discussing the pros and cons of doing intervals on a treadmill. The one major con that affects me is the variance of treadmills that are supposedly ‘calibrated’. I try and stick to three treadmills at my gym and personally, I feel that’s still one too many but what can you do if it’s busy and there’s only one treadmill free?

I wanted some new speedwork stimuli and given the slightly brighter evenings we’re now encountering, I figured I would give some hill reps a bash here in the Jewellery Quarter. The hill I have previously run up and down is a touch short in my opinion at just shy of 400m. It starts off flat and then turns into an incline, so it’s not an out and out hill but it does at least allow for a lead up to attack it hard. I decided to forgo pacing assistance from my Garmin, running each rep on feel alone. As you can see from the recorded Garmin data below, the splits are remarkably close in pace from just a gut feeling!

Take a look at the Garmin data here.

6 miles along Hagley Road

I don’t know what happened to me on Thursday but it was another one of those runs where nothing seemed to click. I never really settled into the pace and the headwinds followed in both directions (how is that supposed to work?) to really drain me of resources. I still managed to get a few miles in at marathon pace, so not a complete write-off but enough to leave me licking my wounds.

Here’s the Garmin data.

Cannon Hill Parkrun and the Jantastic target

This is the first year where I’ve participated in the Jantastic challenge, designed by the guys at Marathon Talk as a way to help motivate runners, and to keep them motivated through some of the toughest training months of the calendar. January was relatively easy where runners simply entered how many runs they thought could be committed to per week. February upped the ante slightly by having runners commit to one specific distance for a long run per week. March is without a doubt the toughest of the bunch, requiring runners predict a finish time for one all out effort over a distance of their choice. The reason why this particular target troubles so many is because it is based on an honest self-assessment of ability, rather than an idealised goal target. Run slower than your target and you’re penalised; run too fast and you’re penalised. My particular target over 5k is a finish of 19:30; realistic but I knew it would hurt!

Dave and I had decided before Cannon Hill Parkrun that we would try and hit our identical targets in the form of a race between the two of us. A lot can change in 24 hours, where we were both feeling pretty damn good on Friday but both felt like shit come Saturday morning due to late nights (me), pizza and booze (Dave). I still wanted to have a stab at 19:30 and went out accordingly…

Mile 1 flew by superbly, with a split just slightly faster than target race pace. This is normally how I run my best 5k times and everything was shaping up nicely. I continued to chase runners down but at some point in mile 2, I found myself running on my own for several minutes and this was enough to allow the pacing rot to set in; the chasing group behind me were too far back to drop down to and the group in front of me were just out of reach and would have made me blow if I attempted to close the gap. Mile 3 was even more of a shocker in terms of pace and the distance I had put between Dave and me had been completely eroded away. To his credit, Dave did make his presence known to give me a chance to latch on to him and sprint the remaining 400m to the finish; I was spent and had nothing left in the tank and let him go off into the distance. The girl just in front of me was slowing ever so slightly as we attacked the hill and I managed to reel her in, crossing the line with her for the same finish time of 19:40.

Despite the less than stellar performance, I was quite pleased with the outcome and if I was in better condition that morning, I’m sure I would have hit 19:30.

Here’s the Garmin data for the run.

21 miles of north Birmingham canals

Judging by me currently typing this blog entry up whilst wearing shorts, a vest and flip-flops, I think it’s safe to say we’re firmly in spring now and winter is but a distant memory behind us. I only had 15 miles scheduled for today but given how pleasant the weather was outside, I wanted to tackle 21 miles under warmer conditions as an opportunity to acclimatise to a potentially warm race day in London. Last year, the UK had a dumping of snow just 4 weeks before race day leaving no chance to prepare. Race day was a warm 15 degrees with no cloud cover, leaving myself and many others to wilt in the sun. Not this year!

I loaded my CamelBak up with a litre of Nectar fuel – 250ml more than usual to account for the additional mile and warm climate. I also wore my vest for the first time outdoors in a non-race environment; a real contrast to the tights and long sleeve shirts I’ve been wearing as of late on my long runs!

It took a few miles for me to settle into long run pace but once there, I was quite happily just knocking the miles back one by one. Early on into my run, three older women on bikes decided to overtake me, which was fine. Shortly ahead, I caught up to them as they were dicking about through the canal gates and then up one of the lock inclines! If you’re going to overtake me, then you’d better bloody well do it and not hinder me any further! I think they quickly realised that they needed to let a bit of distance develop between their group and me; I never did see them again for the rest of my run.

The sun was slowly taking its toll on me, especially as I was running from 10am through to 1pm where it was at its highest in the sky. There was also a slight headwind on the portion of the canal beside Star City, making me work ever so slightly harder to maintain the same target pace. During the first lap, this was not a problem but I prayed it would subside by the time I came through on my second and third laps.

At around mile 16, everything suddenly became a lot tougher. It was hotting up all around me and there was no hiding from the sun apart from when I ran under bridges or through tunnels. Carrying the additional liquid in my CamelBak had obviously weighed me down more than usual and I was starting to regret not carrying any additional energy gels. Whilst I was regularly sipping away at the Nectar Fuel, I was also conscious that I didn’t want to over-do it and run out with several miles left to go. Mile 19 nearly broke me, mentally, and it’s not surprising that it was also my slowest mile split after warming up.

I had miscalculated the distance slightly, originally thinking that  3 laps of the canals would bring me home with 21 miles under my legs. The actual distance was more like 20 miles, so I decided to run through Brindley Place towards the Soho Loop and back to top everything off. My brain finally decided  to let me open up the throttle in the final mile for my fastest split of the day (though not dramatically so). I’d done it, in the sun and heat but now I was almost a mile from home so I began my very slow walk back to the flat.

This particular long run definitely felt tougher than my most recent 20 miler, with or without the finish at Edgbaston Reservoir. Mind you, if marathon training was easy then every Tom, Dick and Harry would be doing it and that’s definitely not the case.

Here’s the Garmin data for the run.

It’s time for this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Acknowledge fellow runners in public, but be cool about it

This assumes, of course, that you can identify fellow runners in the first place.

How can you spot a fellow runner out of context? Lots of ways. Tan lines, for starters. Telltale wristwear. (A Timex Ironman, funky Nike watch, or chunky GPS unit is a strong clue.) Sporty sunglasses. Race tees or technical shirts. Beat-up running shoes. (They’ve outlived their usefulness for actual running, you know, but are great for wearing out and about.) A copy of Runner’s World or Running Times tucked under an arm. And above all: a certain lean, gaunt look in the face – even if the person in question is not otherwise particularly lean or gaunt. (You know “the look” when you see it.)

Acceptable forms of acknowledgement include the following:

  • Brief eye contact and subtle nod

… Actually, that’s about it. We runners are a dignified, understated bunch. If we weren’t, we’d be golfers.

Under extraordinary circumstances – e.g., if the fellow runner is wearing the t-shirt of a race that you have run – you may verbalize this fact. This is especially true at airports, for reasons that have never been made clear.

Otherwise, the nod is plenty.