Posts Tagged ‘Intervals


marathon training – week 7

Well, the Olympics appear to have got successfully under way and I am little under halfway through my 16 weeks Marathon schedule and things are becoming tougher. I’ve never followed a “training” regime before – I’ve usually cobbled together something myself or just ran as much as I could and hoped for the best. This time, because of the distance involved and the potential of total failure, I have tried as much as humanly possible, to follow the schedule to the letter. Some of my times have been a bit quicker than intended but, long runs apart, I have usually been within seconds of my target times for the shorter runs. As I learn to pace myself, things are coming easier and I am more comfortable with the idea of running something slow and steady knowing that I will come in around the required time.
Sunday’s long run of 27km was a case in point – I had planned the route so knew (within about 500 metres or so) where I would finish. I tried to keep a steady pace, picking it up on the uphills and reigning it in on the downhills as much as possible. It was a good run made better by a bit of foresight as I knew the temperature would pick up later in the run so planned a return leg that was mostly in the shade.
It doesn’t seem to matter how far I run, the last couple of kms are always a struggle – probably the psychological effect of thinking that “I am nearly there” with 3k to go and not thinking that 3kms equates to roughly another 18mins of running. What I am finding however is that my recovery times are getting shorter. At the end of Sunday’s 27km, finished with 4 mins still in hand, I spent a few minutes under the shade of a tree cursing under my breath and drinking the dregs from my water bottle before walking home and having a normal family Sunday afternoon. If I think back to my first Half Marathon and the achey few days afterwards, it seem amazing that I can now run 27k and barely feel it later that day.
Another massive boost has come from watching the Olympics. So far, it has been enormously enjoyable and I was even lucky enough to get to Richmond Park to watch the Men’s Cycling Road Race come through – you really can’t appreciate exactly how fast they travel into you see them hurtling past just inches away. And still at that speed after 9 laps of Box Hill. Truly awe-inspiring.
Unfortunately, in the ensuing days, I seem to have picked up a sore throat / head cold that has taken the edge off of things. I completed this weeks intervals under duress and have delayed on the midweek 16k in the hope that I will feel a bit better before tackling it. The last thing I want to do at this stage is get ill and miss out on training but equally I don’t want to push myself if I can take some time to recuperate… Surely, even Bradley Wiggins has dilemmas like this. So, perhaps me and a Gold Medal Olympian have something in common after all…
Soundtrack to this post – Ben Harper – Ground On Down


marathon training – weeks 5 & 6

Type “Marathon” and “Mental” into Google and you are faced with page after page on how crucial mental preparation is and how your state of mind can affect performance. This past couple of weeks have been a testament to that as I found out that my job was to be made redundant. After the initial discussion at how the position was “at risk”, I did not feel as bad as I had expected. Redundancy seems to have become an occupational hazard and, having been through the whole process before, felt that I knew what to expect.
The hardest part was after the second consultation when I was told that it was a done deal and that I was now on my notice period. Suddenly it all became very real and enormously disheartening.
Obviously, moping around feeling pissed off and angry is not perhaps the best mindset. I began to think that there was perhaps no point in continuing to train for the Berlin Marathon… after all, it was a pointless thing to do. I probably wouldn’t even be able to pay my airfare and accomodation so, really, what was the point??
After a very black 24 hours where everything annoyed me, things got back into perspective. I would train and I would be ready for the Berlin Marathon. And I’d use my training as both a catharsis and an inspiration.
This little revelation coincided with a ramping up of the distances… the training regime goes through a series of increases in distance then dropping back before increasing again. I am now midway on that upward curve. The long run of week 5 was 23kms… Week 6’s long run was 25km. This coming weekend, I have 27kms to look forward to. What should come as no surprise however is that each distance feels tough. I, perhaps foolishly, thought that as the training progresses, the runs would feel easier. This is not the case because of the steady increases… you are always pushing just a little further, or just a little faster. And if the long runs are not getting longer, then the intervals and tempo runs are getting tougher.
Sunday’s 25km was hard as this was, for the first time during this training, when the sun had come out and the temperature had crept up. Looking back at the figures on the Garmin, the pace during the last few kms dropped off quite radically as I really began to tire and the temperature increased. I am still well inside the target times for my long runs but the margin is getting slimmer all the time.
So, with some “Gardening Leave” from work on the horizon, I am hoping that I can spend the next few weeks at least hunting down a new job, training and enjoying the Summer. If I haven’t found anything by September then I shall really start to worry, but for now…
Soundtrack to this post: Sly And The Family Stone – If You Want Me To Stay


seconds out – marathon training week 2

Into the second week of marathon training and I have been feeling quite good after week 1. The training follows the same structure each week with the distances varying. This week I was to tackle 4 x 1200m intervals on Monday, an 8km run on Wednesday and a 19km run on Saturday.
Mondays session was fine although intervals are surely the work of the Devil. Oddly, I find the shorter intervals more taxing than the longer ones. The 4 x 1200m sprints were supposed to take 6mins and 6 seconds each and I completed them in 5.49, 5.49, 5.58 and 6.10 respectively. Tough, but not uncomfortably so.
Wednesday’s 8km was planned to be 45.12 and was completed in 44.04… again I have come in slightly quicker but am not too worried. It is tricky to gauge your speed over the distance of a run – even with a Garmin and split times marker-penned onto my hand, it is tough to attempt as even a slight variation in effort can yield quite drastic variations in pace over a long-ish distance.
Sunday is normally “long-run day” but owing to a packed weekend, I shunted my long run to early on Saturday morning completing 19k in 1.53.36… not a speed that is going to set the running community alight but still almost 6 minutes faster than was planned.
This weeks schedule is being “modified” owing to myself and Hauling My Carcass riding the Dunwich Dynamo on Saturday night. For the uninitiated it is a 200km overnight cycle ride from Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk Coast. Last year, with quite a lot of training and almost perfect overnight cycling weather, we arrived in Suffolk just before 7am. This year I have done so little training that it is practically non-existent so think it may hurt. And if that’s not a good reason to forego a 21km “long run” on Sunday of week 3, then I don’t know what is.

Soundtrack to this post: The Putney – Butch Cassidy Sound System


here we go – marathon training – week 1

There is no avoiding it. Marathon Training time is here. The schedule is stuck to the fridge door and, like some Excel generated paper Dalek, it MUST BE OBEYED. It is a 13 week training schedule based on your time over a specified distance (either 10k or Half Marathon) and assumes that you can already run 16kms (10 miles) comfortably. Fortunately, as I have had this schedule lurking on my desktop for some while (whilst I was still in denial about the whole “Marathon thing”) I’ve been covering between 16 and 21km each time I have run. The schedule broadly consists of 3 days of training each week, each training session is different – an interval session, a short tempo run and a slow(ish) long run.
The first week called for a Monday Interval session (8 x 400m at 1:57 each), a short tempo run on Wednesday (5k at 27.30) and a long slow run for Saturday (16k at 1:40:32).
None of which looked particularly troublesome but Monday’s intervals in the pouring rain with a Garmin that had no room left in it’s memory (I’d forgotten to clear it after a 144km cycle ride) soon showed me who was boss. The first few intervals seemed OK, if a little quick, but the subsequent ones became progressively slower until the Garmin refused to play on the penultimate interval so I’ve no idea on timings for the last two intervals. Which is probably just as well… I was panting and bent over, hands on knees after the last one.
Wednesday’s 5k was OK – I completed it in 26:55 – 35 seconds quicker than planned which I didn’t think was too bad.
Saturday’s 16km was due to be completed in 1:40:32 and I came in 7 minutes quicker at a shade over 1:33:00… again, I assume that this isn’t a problem. I imagine that the slower speed for the longer runs will even themselves out as the distance increases…
However, I do find it difficult to remember the overall times and paces that I have to aim for once I am out and running. To help me in this I have taken to writing, like that berk from Coldplay, on my hand in thick black permanent marker the targets for the session.
So, first week done and it still feels a little weird to think that in 13 weeks time I will be able to run 26 miles – especially as the training is only 3 times a week which feels very infrequent. Still, I suppose that it is the combination of speed and distance work that makes the difference. At least I hope so… otherwise all I’ll have to show for it will be the traces of permanent-markered scribblings like the weasley singer from a popular but very dull stadium rock band.

Soundtrack to this post – Iron Knowledge – Showstopper


national diversity week

I Know You Got Sole – A Few Short Bursts – Say Hello Wave Goodbye

It’s not really… I just made it up. But if it were, I think I may have inadvertantly participated.

The beginning of the week saw me dip my toes in the murky waters of minimal footwear / barefoot running. I received a few comments on the blog (more that I normally get) that seems to indicate that there are a few others out there who are “barefoot curious”, just beginning to experiment or fully fledged barefoot runners. A little trawl of the internet will also throw up many opposing viewpoints – from the zealous “Everyone should throw away their shoes now!” to the equally extreme “running barefoot is insanity!”.

I did my first Audiofuel Pyramid Interval session early Thursday morning and was pleasantly surprised. I tackled the 180 Max Pyramid and enjoyed it. The final bit at 180bpm was hard going but not impossible. I’ve used Audiofuel on longer runs before and enjoyed it but do not use it on a regular basis as I like to mix up the music I listen to keep my mind occupied. For an interval session, however, I found it worked really well. As you are running for perhaps 25 minutes, it is very easy to stay focussed on running to the beat for short bursts. It also gives you something to keep you going. When I have done intervals before, it has always been running a set distance or set amount of time, which does allow you to slack off if you are feeling weary or to extend the periods between intervals. With the session from Audiofuel, the beat keeps you going and the instructions let you know how long you have left to run / rest so I found it very helpful.

This morning, being Sunday, was long run morning so decided on a 10 mile out and back route along the canal. I set off, run along the canal towpath for 8.3 kms, turn round and come back the way I came. Nothing could be simpler… Unfortunately, I think a combination of barefoot running and interval sessions has taken it’s toll and after 10km (ish), my right calf was feeling very tight and uncomfortable. And here is the downside of running a straight out and back route… I was still 6kms from home whichever route I decided to take, so the only course of action was to have a little walk, find a suitable tree stump and have a little stretch of the offending calf and push on with the final 6km. Subsequently, it wasn’t the fastest 10 miles I’ve ever covered but does make me feel a little better about tackling longer distances. I’ve the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October and know that if I don’t start putting in some miles now, it’ll creep upon me and I’l have to cram in the distances in the few weeks before the race.

So assuming the calf sorts itself out in the next day or so, I plan to attempt another “minimal footwear experiment” on Tuesday.

Finally, whilst out running today. I was struck by the amount of runners that ignore each other when out running. I always try to acknowledge other runners but usually only about half reciprocate. What’s wrong with a little camaraderie, eh? Even a polite nod of acknowledgement… acknowledgement that there is someone running towards you with the same determination and the same goal, to get out and run and get better at it. And don’t try and say that you are so “in the zone” that you didn’t notice them running towards you as it just won’t work… Maybe I should start some sort of Facebook group or a renegade runners collective who will smile and wave at every runner they see…. Hmmmm! Brothers and Sisters, who is with me??!!!

Soundtrack to this post:Alton Ellis – I’m Still In Love With You, Girl

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