Month: August 2017

Whistler Parkrun – 5k personal best

On my holiday I decided I would do the local Parkrun for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would be a good way to get to know the area and meet some people. Secondly I haven’t done one for a while and it’s also a short run so wouldn’t take up too much time but I could push hard to get some training benefits.

I didn’t know much about the course or its profile in advance just that it would be a cool thing to do. It turns out that it was by a lake which we wanted to check out called The Lost Lake. We got there early and had a little stroll before I headed to the start area. There was two Parkrun volunteers there to run the event and I had a nice little chat with them and another runner about the area and general Parkrun chat. As we were called for the brief briefing, about 20 of us (if that) wondered over. After asking how many people had done it before, it was soon revealed that we were all tourists. It was a quick explanation of the route which had also been coned to further guide us round. We were told about a couple of points that might confuse us: a u turn after 2k and a cut back after 4K. Good to know I thought and felt confident with the reassurances of it being marked out so put it to the back of my mind.

As we set off the weirdest thing happened – I was in the front! I had opened up a small gap to some people behind me and as I realised this, I had a slight panic that a) I might have gone the wrong way b) what if I go the wrong way and they follow me! After a couple of minutes there was a fork in the road and I instantly wished I had listened better to course info. I thought for a bit that I was meant to turn left but just in time I spotted a cone in the distance and carried on straight forwards. Phew. As it went on I stayed in the lead and even passed Dani who was walking the lake whilst I ran. Asked how I was doing I declared that I went off too fast and expected to be caught.

Not long after this I approached the u turn sign and had a second moment of doubt. Do I turn before the sign? Or do I turn before it? Do I come back on myself or up the slope back towards myself? After a brief pause to check the slope and with nobody around to check I decided it must mean run back on yourself. It turns out it did mean this. Phew!

Turning back I was able to see the gap I had which was more than I expected but I also still thought I’d be caught at some point. I then moved to go round alongside the lake. The views of the lake and the backdrop were an amazing view to have. I was glad that I would have time to go back round it afterwards and soak it in properly.

Passing the 4K marker I was still expecting someone to take me before the line so I tried to just maintain my pace. The slight decline towards the line helped me out. I got to the line and stopped my watch. Having not looked down the whole run I had no clue what it would say. It said 20:32. A new PB. Delightful. And on a slightly hilly course. I also managed to cross the line first. I know it is not a proper race and it depends on who turns up but it was a pretty cool and surreal feeling. I came first in a Parkrun. Not sure how many people can say that. I know I won’t repeat that again in any race for a very long time, if ever, so I will appreciate that feeling.

Training has been going well so a PB is good but I feel that on a flatter 5 k route I think I could manage a 19 and change. Something I will leave until after the marathon in 6 weeks time!


Autumn marathon – week 12

This week I was on holiday in Canada. It is the first big holiday that I’ve probably done as an adult as I’ve only done beachy holidays before and it has so far lived up to and maybe actually surpassed my expectations. But this isn’t a holiday blog, it is a running one so let me tell you about how I attempted to balance my training with making the most of such an awesome holiday. 
I went into the week with an idea of the sessions I wanted to run and on what days so that I could try to keep the consistency with the normal routine. Then, we came up with a plan for each day regards activities we wanted to do. It was at this point I had to think about how I was going to get the most out of the running I was able to do. I didn’t want it to take over my holiday but with seven weeks to race day, neither did I want to not run. I realised I had to prioritise the specific run sessions and be flexible with the steady and recovery runs. My mindset was that the tougher sessions are where I get most of the gains so these should be priority. I also knew we would be doing a bit of walking and cycling so could count those if I needed.

On the Monday it would normally have been a steady run but with the long run being done on the Friday before I decided to make it a session day. The reasoning for this was to bank my runs whilst I could in case activities later in the week impacted on them. It was also down to a frustrating event with Dani’s contact lenses which meant we had a slot of time to be waiting around so I went out on a run.

The run was about 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was properly out for my tempo session. I found a running track on a map and headed over to it for my run as it would be easier than stopping at a crossing on my fast interval. However, when I got there it was not a tarmac track but a slight dusty gravel track. Good enough so I got on with my run. Considering I hadn’t fuelled properly due to my morning activities I was pleased with the speeds I hit and maintained. Not sure my mile PB on my Garmin was truly accurate!

The Tuesday was whale watching day which was an early start so managed to get out for a steady run of about 45 minutes to get about 6 miles under my belt. It was a good shakeout from the previous day and meant I wouldn’t be too tired for standing up whale watching.

On Wednesday we had planned to take on a tourist challenge know as the Grouse Grind. It was a 3k hike to the top of Grouse Mountain before you caught the cable car back to the bottom. You could catch it up also, but then you miss out on the grind. After reading reviews about it, I decided that this should be the main session of the day and it was a good thing to. The climb was awesome but quite tough in places with it getting really steep at some points. They break it down with quarter markers which helped keep me and other hikers motivated. They have a scanner down the bottom and at the top for those who want to time themselves and go back to beat their time. I really would have liked to have tried doing it as fast as I could, just for the challenge and to see what I could do. Hating hills like I do I am certain that running up it would have been one of the toughest things I’d have ever done. I think we did it in about an hour and 45.

Thursday started with a gentle tourist cycle around to a local market on Granville Island before I had some time to get another session in. Again it was super hot but I decided to take myself down to the sea wall to do the run. It was short intervals and dodging through the crowd wasn’t super easy – I nearly got taken out by a child, or nearly took a child out who ran across the path without looking. I had some good speed but the heat soon began to take its toll. I had taken water with me but it wasn’t enough. I also had a deadline to be back at the apartment for, so the few miles after the intervals were quite tough as I was tired but knew I couldn’t slow down and walk. It was probably a good thing.
There was no run on Friday as we moved to the second part of our holiday in Whistler and travel time took out the day. However, I was up early on Saturday to take part in Whistler Park Run. I’m pretty sure I got a PB in this event so I will talk more about it in another post (here) but all I need to say is that it was a really awesome place to run and I got to go in a lake afterwards. It also turned out that by the end of the day we had walked quite a few miles.

The week finished with this morning’s long run. I was really looking forward to exploring the trails on offer, even more so after chatting to people after Park Run. I had planned to get out at a normal sort of Sunday run time and be running for between 2 hours and 2 and a half hours. I knew I would not get high mileage because there would be hills but the time on my feet would be good for me. It started off fairly cool and the tree cover in the trails helped this. I was running with a bottle and managed to find my way to some water fountains when I needed to. The route was really cool with some lovely views and it was awesome just to hear my footsteps and no traffic. I didn’t go exploring as far afield as I hoped but that was partly due to my lack of forward planning. But, the trails and route I did was still cool and I think I did one section a couple of times and it didn’t get boring at all. After the run I went straight to the lake to meet Dani and dipped straight in for a natural ice bath. A refreshing way to end my week of running.

Things I will take away from this week are:

  • I need to develop better hydration strategies as I am getting thirsty quite a lot when running at the moment
  • I need to find opportunities to just run for the pleasure of running and not focusing on splits, speed and distance
  • I really need to learn to swim better so I can be more confident in the water
  • Running in the afternoon after lunch and in hot weather is not ideal
  • Sometimes it will work out okay if I just get out and run without worrying about it.

Autumn marathon – week 11

At the end of this week I went on holiday to Canada which I am very excited about. However, this meant that I would need to try and make sure that I squeezed in all the important runs and sessions before I left.

We were flying on Saturday and I knew there was no chance I would be able to squeeze a run in on this day. Although I did consider running against the little airport travelators but thought better of it This meant that I had to be really flexible with my runs at the same time as wanting to up my mileage.

I managed to keep things pretty much the same as normal but the main difference was that I had to move my long run to the Friday. I have never done a long run on a Friday before and it did feel really weird having to do it, especially as I didn’t do my normal evening before high carb meal. Also, the run session I had the day before was a short interval session with 12 fast 90 second reps. These normally leave me feeling a bit fatigued the day after but I didn’t have time to be affected by this as the long run had to get done. In the end the long run went well and I even got in my highest mileage run of my programme so far.

When I do a long run I take my bladder bag with me so I can drink as I go and this has normally been really useful and easy to use. However, I have begun to find issues with it as it is really hard to drink from when I am out of breath which means to get a really good drink I find myself needing to take a walk. Not ideal and this is something I may have to review soon but will have to make do for the rest of the training block.

With my flight to Canada taking the whole of Saturday – getting into our hotel at 1am Sunday, Canada time I knew my body would need a shake out and after all this travelling I knew a long run would be detrimental, which is why I did it on Friday. I decided to go and do a steady 45 minutes along the roads of Canada which was cool but there was not much scenery around our airport hotel. I managed to find a little park along the way which was nice change from the shop fronts. As there is meant to be no jay walking in Canada I found myself having to stop at a lot of crossings which affected my rhythm but as it was only a loosener it didn’t matter too much.

We move into Vancouver central next week and I am very excited about exploring the city through my runs.

Things I will take away from this week are:

  • Travelling for a whole day can leave your legs restless
  • Sometimes you just have to wake up the person next to you on the plane to go to the loo and stretch your legs
  • A long run on a Friday is weird but possible if I’m not working
  • I need to add squats or something every time I stop at a crossing
  • I need to keep myself hydrated and start working out some strategies for race day
  • I need to buy new shoes before my current ones begin to fall apart

Autumn marathon – week 10

I’m a little bit late writing this week’s update because I’ve been a little bit busy travelling around. I went to see a friend who moved down to Cornwall last year with his family. He is a big cycling fan so took my bike down with me and I knew in advance that he would take me on quite a challenging ride. With this in mind I had to once again change my schedule.

I drove down on Wednesday which meant an early drive, leaving at 7am. When I got down there, it was straight onto the bikes for a cycle over to Lands End from Penzance. A lovely ride but there are some proper hills down that way. They were tough but I did alright and my friend only had a short wait at the top of each hill.

This meant I didn’t run on Wednesday but got up early for a sunny run along the sea in Penzance. The nice scenery was a good distraction from the pain of my intervals and it is a really cool thing to be able to go and run in different locations.

On the Saturday I drove back from Cornwall but it was not as enjoyable as it could have been because of the roads and traffic. By the time I got home I was shattered and we ended up getting dinner from the chip shop. Lining up my long run on Sunday, this was not the best option for fuelling and in hindsight I should really have predicted it. Being sat in the car for so long probably did not do my legs any favours either. 

The long run on Sunday was a 16 mile speed play session which meant for every mile I ran a quarter hard and recovered for three quarters. It started off well and my pace for both parts was good and comfortable enough but it soon became tough.

This was also the first time I encouraged Dani to come out and cycle alongside me because it was a sunny day. In my head this would have been a really enjoyable experience with smiles, laughter and chat. However, it soon turned out that because I was struggling, I did not enjoy her being there for parts of it. When I needed to walk, her encouragement was not welcomed by me and this happened a couple of times. I think I was really struggling because of my dehydration. It was so hot out there. We managed to make it back okay and we were still on quite good terms as we walked back up the hill.

I think next time I will only invite her along on more steady runs!

These sessions and long runs are really tough and I know I am not where I want to be but in my head I keep telling myself that these sessions are what will make me stronger.

Things I will take away from this week are:

  • Cross training can have good benefits and I should do it more
  • Driving seems to make my legs tired
  • Chips for dinner the night before a long run is not really sensible
  • Running with a non running partner has the potential to be enjoyable but it is important to choose a good run
  • Finding new places to run keeps training fresh and interesting
  • Sessions are hard but they are what will make me stronger
  • My arms got tired in the long run so I need to build up a bit more strength

Autumn marathon – week 9

This week was meant to be a dip in sessions as the third week in the mini cycles, allowing me to have a slight break before the subsequent two weeks step up. However, I feel that I need to get more mileage under my belt so that I can stay strong in the second half of the marathon. With this in mind, I ended up doing more mileage than perhaps I should have but I still focused on the intensity of these runs.

Due to my flexibility with the plan in week 8, my long run was going to kick off my week. I got 16.5 miles under the belt at a steady tempo. I tried to explore a little bit more on this run and entered a few footpath trails and even had to turn back on some due to how overgrown they were. I miss running on trails every now and then because it always distracts the mind allowing me to enjoy my running. After this marathon I am really going to focus on finding some trails to explore for my training runs. 

I decided to get myself a massage this week too as I haven’t been for quite a while. I decided at the start of this sequence to try and get myself regular massages just to help the body recover. This week was the first time I went with no real problems to target. My knee has had a slight niggle which links to my hips but I had a general leg massage which always feels good after.

I ended the week with another long run today and although my plan said 11, I wanted a little more so pushed to just past 13. I also wanted to check my marathon pace so put that into action for the last 3 miles and I have mixed feelings about how it went. I managed to keep it fairly consistent but the pace was still a little tough so more to do in the coming weeks.

Things I will take away from this week:

  • Massages are helpful at being proactive with regards to injuries.
  • I really enjoy exploring trails and finding new routes but I’m not quite ready to invest in trail shoes.
  • I need to keep working on my hips flexibility and strength and avoid putting it off.
  • My upper body strength is still not good enough so I think I might start a press up challenge.
  • I can finish at a pace after a long run.
  • My feet are wide and it makes it tricky to get new shoes.

Autumn marathon – week 8

First week of the school holidays and my plan to really step up my training didn’t really happen. There is always tomorrow. That’s what I found myself thinking. Even though I know how stupid that is and sounds. I had to rearrange some runs so my long run was on the Monday and I just found it impacted on the rest of the week as a consequence. 

Being the holidays, I like to make a visit home to Kent and the beaches of the Romney Marsh to visit my family. I planned a first week visit to help my dad with his bungalow. Before I could go on my travels I had to squeeze in 13 miles. It was a tough slog and didn’t go as well as hoped. I only managed 12.5! I don’t think I need to say much more about it. It was one of those but I got the miles done. 

Then began a couple of days of driving and a lot of time sat behind the wheel in my car. I don’t mind the idea of driving, but I really do begin to feel discomfort when driving too much. It has been a niggle in my back and legs for quite a few years now which I can cope with when driving but can ache subsequently. I got to my dad’s house later than planned and after and extra hours driving thanks to motorway works. This meant I was tired when I woke up the next day and this continued. It led me to not feel like doing all my runs. 
I did manage to sneak in a 6 miler at decent pace which became a royal flush in the most part. But I skipped My run the next day as I felt fatigue and tiredness catching up. 

I spent the rest of the week out of sync and didn’t do my long run on Sunday either because of a social event on the Saturday. Just got in feeling exhausted so decided to push the 16 miler to Monday. I did want to run and wanted to do more than just a plod but didn’t fancy going too long. In my head I had 8 miles (4 out, 4 back) as a nice challenge but knowing I could stop for 6. I soon got a nice rhythm and began noticing I was comfortable picking up the tempo each mile and I soon had a royal flush in my sight. I got 6 miles in before having to back out of the flush and accept the last two miles would not be counted for it. Still pleased to know I could pick the pace up like that and finish on a good pace. 

As I got to 1.5 miles from home the skies opened and I got drenched. I see that as karma for not doing the long run. A nice change from the sunny runs though. 

Things I will take away from this week are:

Listen to your body and rest if you need to

Being flexible is okay but I feel much happier with a routine 

A Royal flush is a great way to make a run more exciting – make each consecutive mile faster than the previous

My control and consistency of pace is still not quite where I want it

My pace is not quite at my target marathon time and I really need to keep my training focused and commit more