Tuesday, 30 June 2009

W15KW#1 - Intervals

Gah - I hate running tracks. Not because the sessions are tough (which they are!), but because I can never figure out where to start running from! Sure there's markings everywhere, but what the hell do they all mean? After my disaster last week, I found out that there's usually little plaques along the inside of the track with the different distances marked beside the lines - and sure enough there are on my local track.

Problem solved you think - well maybe not! It turns out a lot of distances (basically anything over 400m), even if they've a staggered start, basically all come to the inside lane at some point. So while I easily found the 800m staggered start line, doing two laps of the outside lane still had me "going long". I gave up on the outside lane after the second attempt and ran along the inside for my other two attempts this evening - apparently not the done thing for training as it wears the track out!

I came across an interesting race from the 2004 olympics on youtube earlier (when trying to find out how to run the distance properly on the track). Check out where the guy came to win it from in the last 200m - unreal!

Anyways, tonights session consisted of the following
  • 10 minute warmup
  • 10 minutes walking around the track trying to figure out where to start!
  • 4 x 800m at 4m 10s pace
  • 10 minute warmdown
Aside from being long in my first two runs, I got through the session ok. Times were not too consistant (based on average pace), which they're supposed to be, but I'll work on that over the next few sessions. Warmdown was tough enough - bit of walking needed there.

Monday, 29 June 2009

W16KW#3 - Long Run

I have to admit that I wasn't looking forward to Saturday's run for a few reasons. Probably the biggest one was the distance - 13 miles and 2hrs 20mins at the scheduled pace. Yes, that's a full half marathon - in training. That said, a look forward to the upcoming long runs has me thinking this distance will seem like a stroll in the park by the time I get to NY in November.

The other thing weighing heavily on my mind is the fact that the UK is in the middle of a heatwave and as we all know, I tend to struggle in the heat. I figured that at a minimum I'd need to take plenty of water on board, but after trying to run with a normal bottle earlier in the week, I needed a some sort of hydration system - either a standard drinks belt or something like a camelbak. I'd actually gone to a few sports stores in Cambridge and Reading, before finally deciding on a Camelbak - probably the priciest option, but I couldn't really find a belt system I liked.

While in the shop, got talking to the assistant who is also doing NY - he gave me a few tips (especially about running in the hot weather). So after enough procrastination, I headed out for the run around 6pm - thankfully it'd cooled down a bit. My initial plan was to run from Reading, along the Thames to Henley - just under the required 13 miles (getting the train back), but gave up on that after some advice that it might be more responsible to stay a little closer to home if things went wrong. First forty minutes were fine, but I started to struggle soon after that - lapsed into a run\walk after 4 miles and I think the longest run after this point was about 10 mins.

Going to cut a long story short here - even though I was struggling, my legs were fine, but it was my "engine" that was failing me. Don't know the reason behind this, I'm guessing the weather again. I finished up with 12.6 miles on the clock, could have stretched it out to the 13 but really couldn't have been bothered.

Legs were fine the day after, a little stiff. Had a nice 13km round trip walk for a pub lunch (along a nice canal this time) to stretch them out.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


16 Weeks, Key Workout #2 (Tempo)

Plan called for the following
  • 2 miles @ 10.43 pace (mins per mile)
  • 2 miles @ 9.08 pace
  • 2 miles @ 10.43 pace
Really struggled to be slow enough on the first section, completing it 20m 40s (including a minute walking). Actually ended up splitting the second part into two as I was absolutely dying - done the mile in 9m 32s (part of which was walking). A minutes rest and I set off on the second mile, completing it faster than the required time (8m 57s). Another minute walking and just done 0.8 of a mile to finish off as I was really struggling.

Two lessons to take from it - I really need to get my pacing a bit better. Second is that I can't handle hot weather - probably almost as hot this evening as the day of the Wokingham Half marathon and I probably felt as bad.

Next workout is the long (slow) run - 13 miles at 10.43 pace - that's 2hrs 19mins 19s. Rest day tomorrow (might swim at lunch) and planning on doing the run on Saturday.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


I'm 19 weeks away from the NYC marathon and I've officially started training tonight. Despite my previous post on marathon plans, I've finally decided to go with the FIRST training program. I ordered the book last week and it was waiting for me when I got into work this morning. I probably didn't need the book as they more or less give you all the information on the website (main thing that's missing is the training paces) but I always prefer to have a physical book instead of reading from a screen - plus it cost less than £10.

It's actually a 16 week plan, but I figure I'll start this week as I've got Gael Force at the end of August which may require a certain amount of flexibility. This plan calls for three key run workouts (the KW in the subject) plus two cross training exercises per week (which will be cycling for me). The key workouts are a track (interval) session, a short (40 min or so) tempo run (i.e. faster than 5km pace) and a long run.

Tonights run was the interval session - luckily enough the university has a track so I decided to give it a go and see if I could go around. Didn't seem to be any problems (the place was more or less deserted apart from another girl) so I done a 20 minute warmup. The intervals themselves consisted of three mile (1600m) repeats at 8m 35s pace - which I got nowhere near. I ran around the outside lane (lane 8) and looking at the distances, I definitely over-ran on the intervals.

I actually didn't do the whole thing either - I done the first one in 9m 32s (apparently 1.82km), second one I only done three laps (1.36km in 7m 19s) and just ran two minutes for the final interval. Tough going, that's for sure. A quick warmdown and I couldn't get home fast enough.

Next session (Thursday) is the tempo run - 2 miles easy, 2 miles at 9m 08s pace and 2 miles easy. Will probably go for a shortish (40km) cycle tomorrow.

Lazy weekend

Was away at the weekend down in the South West of England - Devon. Lovely spot, it not a little bit far away (around 5-6 hour drive from Cambridge). I'd come down with a head cold on Thursday (though rumour has it may be swine flu (this college is where I normally go swimming at lunch)), so wasn't really up for going out for a run, though to be honest, that was an excuse more than anything.

Had two lovely days down by the beach, unfortunately didn't get any surfing \ body boarding in though.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Last few days

Haven't done a lot since Wednesday last week, mainly due to my right foot hurting. Got down to the pool on Friday for a 800m swim in 32m 40s, including the first ten laps non-stop. My previous best was eight in a row and it's probably less than a month since I was struggling to do two in a row! Really happy with that progress.

On Sunday, after going into work for a few hours, I got down to the outdoor pool (Jesus Green Lido) here in Cambridge. Why would I go to a cold outdoor pool you might ask? Well click on the above link and you'll see that it's 100yds (or 91m) long. It was a gorgeous day, so it mightn't be that cold anyway. My main problem with it actually is the price - I don't remember the exact charge but think it was £3.80!! Fortunately, if you plan on going there regularly, you can get a season ticket for £83.

I'd been to the pool a few times last year, but one of my main reasons for going yesterday was to test a "theory" that I had. When in the 25m pool, I'm generally fine for the first 25m (fine meaning that I'm breathing ok, every three strokes) but on my second lap I really start to struggle, often breathing every stroke or a mixture - certainly not fishlike. I wanted to test wheter the brief turn-around at 25m was the cause - well based on yesterday's experience, it's not - I'm just as useless turning every 91m! Still enjoyed the session and will get back there a few times over the summer (might need a wetsuit).

Tonight, got out for my first run since Wednesday - was debating going for one yesterday, but foot wasn't quite right yet and my knee was acting up a bit (slightly worrying - never had knee issues before). Didn't have a lot of time, so just done a small lap - 5.5km in 32m 10s. Breathed through my nose for the distance - I'm going to try and keep this up for the slower runs I'm doing.

Over the next few days, I've got to sit down and plan my training runs for the marathon - I've already decided the plan, but need to print out a schedule, hang it up somewhere and stick to it. I guess I also need to have a look into at least one half marathon beforehand as well.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Last few days

I've just had three of my toughest days training in the last few months (probably since last year). I was on a training course for the first two days of the week, which meant I was home early enough. On Monday, I was busy in the evening, so I done a 7.26km run in 42.37mins (5.52 min / km) where I started off way too fast and had two stop twice. Still happy enough with it, as it's always good (for me) to do a sub 6 min pace run.

On Tuesday, I'd a totally free evening and the plan was to get a brick (bike followed by a run) session in. As Gael Force is a run followed by a cycle, it made more sense to do that here as well. My initial plan was to do 1hr of each discipline, but decided a while into the run to push it out to 90 mins (mainly thinking of the 2.5hr runs that are coming up in the next few weeks). I was planning on sticking with a 7 min per km pace (as recommended by Jack Daniels based on my last 5km race time) but seemed to settle in a more "natural" 6min 30s pace. This is something I definitely need to work on. Done 14.31km in 1hr 33m 24s (6.32 min / km) with an average HR of 166bpm.

After stopping for a drink and a quick nibble on a cereal bar I was off on the bike part of the brick. For the first few km's, it was touch and go whether or not my calves (both legs) were going to cramp. I decided to push on for another few km and thankfully it seemed to settle down, with a few minor twinges for the rest of the ride. It was a bit of a struggle over all, but managed to do 36.71km in 1hr 27m 17s (average HR 149bpm). Was absolutely wrecked afterwards though.

After yesterday days exertions, despite my tiredness and a stiff tendon \ ligament on the sole of my right foot, I'd previously committed to a regular bike ride with a friend here in Cambridge who's also signed up for Gael Force in August. The idea was to start pushing the distances on the bike out a bit and the aim was to get 50km in tonight. The weather's been pretty poor here today, with some heavy showers during the day, but we decided to brave the elements anyways - weather in Mayo is notoriously unpredictable, even in August, so there was no guarantee the weather at Gael Force would be any better.

We kept a pretty steady pace throughout, which suited me fine after yesterdays exertions. Got absolutely drenched a few km's in, but all in all (despite wet and cold feet) it was a pretty enjoyable cycle. We done a total of 58.72km (+ an extra 4.8km for me to get to the start) in 2hrs 11m 41s, an average pace of 26.8kmph - not too bad for a relatively easy cycle. Average HR was 146bpm.

I'd throw up some maps, only this post is long enough as it is. The links above are to the MotionBased details of the activities.

Marathon training plan

Starting to realise how big a commitment the marathon is going to be. I've finally decided on a training program, which is comes from the book Jack Daniels Running Formula. The programme is his "Complete A Marathon" one, which essentially boils down to running most days at an easy pace and two "quality" sessions per week. One of these quality sessions is (normally) a 2.5hr run at easy pace.

It's an 18 week course including a base phase which I'm currently in - this calls for 7 days running of at least half an hour, but I haven't actually been doing this yet - so much for sticking to the plan.

Next week I move onto phase two, which is where it starts to get interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Any Old IronMan - final results

Had to pull in a final cycle on my last available day in May to get the numbers, but I actually completed the challenge. I did find it quite a struggle to get all the distances in over the course of the month, never mind the thoughts of doing it in a single day. So here are the totals (excuse the formatting).

Distance Time Average Pace Percentage Estimate Time Time Remaining
Swimming 3.90 3.00 46.14 101.04% 2.97 -0.03
Cycling 198.75 7.66 2.31 110.27% 6.95 -0.71
Running 48.75 5.33 6.56 115.63% 4.61 -0.72

My main aim for July is to knock some time of the above. I'm almost half way there now, but while my swim and run times are (much) better, my bike times are actually slower and given it's such a big part of the total distance, it looks like I might actually be slower! That said, I'm probably going to do a 50km fast-ish cycle tomorrow with a friend, so that should improve the stats.