Friday, August 30, 2013

Why I haven't signed up for an autumn 10k yet

It would seem slightly odd on the face of it that I haven't signed up for one of the local 10k races this year, and there are a couple of crackers on the doorstep (Cardiff 10k and Swansea 10k). My reason is simple - I don't trust myself! I don't trust myself to run a contained sensible 10k race in the build up to the marathon at the end of September. In the past I ran a 10k a week before a half marathon and got the pacing so wrong for the 10k (I ran a PB) that it contributed to a DNF in the following half. I got carried away with the feeling of strength training for the longer distance had given me.

Once bitten twice shy, or something, I suppose but after missing my last marathon attempt through picking up a last minute injury I am kind of wrapping myself in cotton-wool before the next one. I suppose it is a side-effect of investing so much time and a considerable amount of cash in attending a major city marathon that I am feeling a little cautious. Any event after the race (Sept 29th)? Bring them on, of course I have been too distracted to look yet ;-)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yummy breakfast - a mini-revolution

Over recent weeks I have morphed my breakfast routine into something with a bit more variety and dare I suggest a bit more balance than my carb heavy breakfast of choice for the last many years (toast and big box cereal).
So, three small eggs (from our kind hens), small piece of sourdough bread (I didn't say it was a carb free breakfast - also homemade), organic Greek yoghurt, six dried apricots (hiding under the yoghurt), glucosamine tablets, cod liver oil capsule (the last two to help my knees - ahem, joints), and finally a glass of High5 Zero electrolyte drink.

It is not that I am on any kind of nutrition crusade, but I am certainly feeling many benefits of a varied breakfast. It fills me up for longer, doesn't sit on my stomach as heavily, and seems to fuel training that much better.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My French adventures with training

On holiday last week I went running, in fact I went running three times in a week whilst on a family holiday in France. Why am I telling you this? Well, I don't do running on holidays normally, and this year has seen a change. Running on holiday on home soil seemed to be running in a relatively controlled environment, whilst running in France felt altogether edgier - and mostly because if I got into any difficulty I can't speak enough French to explain to anyone what I might need. Plus, I was running in a fairly rural area where near enough every gateway seems to be holding back a canine based alarm and defence system.

I completed three runs and learned a lot in a short holiday about the sense of adventure these challenges can bring while at the same time giving a sense of freedom to the process of running. Once I had stopped worrying about dogs, getting lost, and not being able to ask for help in the local language, I really enjoyed myself. There is something oddly liberating about running down a hill and not knowing either how long you'll enjoy the benefits of gravity or just how steep the inevitable next incline might be around the next corner. The scenery of course contributed to the sense of enjoyment, the countryside of Normandy is such a lush, verdant, rolling, and variable landscape. The most fun I had was on the middle run where I ran a course based around a crossroads at the centre of the hamlet we were staying in - basically I ran a ten minute out and back on each arm of the crossroads. Quite apart from the challenge of maintaining my desired training pace over each of the four stages I really got a quite fabulous sense of how this hamlet sat with the countryside and a sense of what made it what it was.
My lovely GPS pattern in the French countryside - not a bad set of out-&-backs
Yes, I know I am getting a little lyrical about running abroad, when the driver for doing so was so blunt - I have four and a half weeks now until the challenge of the Berlin Marathon - so you see I could hardly have had a week off the training schedule (which is in the full roar of the bigger run sessions before the downhill of the taper). I take it as the best of all signs that quite apart from all the lyrical stuff the process of running while we were away 'on holiday' brought home to me how much I am enjoying the process of running right now. Perhaps I should write in smaller print as I write this, but my body is beginning to feel the benefits of a block of training injury and illness free and thus my passion for running just now seems to grow with each completed run. Putting this in some context, since I've been home (3days) I have been out and turned out a half-marathon distance run (not a race) that was controlled, measured, successful, informative, and not unduly stressful on my system. I completed the distance at target marathon pace and could see where I hope to be in four weeks time pace wise. Most happily I was no more than appropriately tired after the session.

How else do I know I am feeling better about all things run? Well just don't make the mistake of asking how my marathon training is going... two friends enquired yesterday and by the time I finished and took a breath I could see the look of 'oh, good grief, wish I hadn't asked' on their faces. Still, whatever they might have really thought, I am happy that right now things are moving along nicely.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Next years plans (?) and the VMLM

VMLM? Ah, yes the new acronym for the catchily titled 'Virgin Money London Marathon'. I am strongly considering throwing my hat into the charity ring in order to get a place in next years London marathon. Why? Well because I have been ridiculously unlucky on ALL of the occasions I have applied before and because I ran into a charity close to home that may actually have spots available. Also, having paid out quite a bit of money to go to Berlin I figure I could have paid for my entire charity spot with an equivalent amount (!!) - although NO I absolutely wouldn't do that as it would run contrary to the spirit of charity berths. Plus, anyway I am the kid of fool who sort of likes chasing people for sponsor money.

In the time it took me to commit this post to the blog I had word back from the local charity that they don't have any places for 2014, but I can express interest for 2015. And so I will pursue that and see where it leads. Although with all of the above said I did manage to get into the draw this year by staying up past midnight to be one of the first in the queue once they opened the online entry system. In the end I was kind of glad I did stay up late as the public ballot closed in record time [follow the link to read about the speedy fill-up ].

So really it looks like I don't actually have any major plans for the start of 2014 event wise, and it does look in all likelihood like I will be casting around for other runs next spring. It is funny that I have such a strong urge to run London, it must be a very British thing to want to run the "big British marathon".

Talking of big British marathon things (in a fame sense of course as she is actually extremely trim and not at all big in a size sense) I saw this on the web from the Express Newspaper yesterday (14-8-2013)...
Athletics: Paula Radcliffe vows for one last shot at London Marathon glory
PAULA RADCLIFFE has vowed she wants to end her career with one last shot at the London Marathon.
I was amused by peoples reaction to the news that she might run London again, most were waving the London Olympic spirit and wishing her well, whilst others were carping about her strolling in and getting a spot in the race that is so hard to get into. Hmm, now people, she is still an elite athlete and holds a pretty decent good for age qualifying time (or as its also known - the current women's marathon world record time). Some were groaning that she would only be doing it for the money, hmm yes she probably is in some small way as a professional athlete whose profession is sport. I myself regularly head to a large busy building and pass through security checks, health checks and the like to do something I love doing and get paid for it - as a 'professional' scientist. People really do love nothing more the a good whinge somethings... speaking of which if you're the people spamming my blogger tracker / stats please give it a rest... ##climbs down from soapbox and heads for the "Publish" button before he goes on## ;-)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Just a third

I finished my run last night and then pondered that I had just run one third of the marathon distance at my intended target marathon pace. The burning thought of course being "could I do that twice more?", and the answer was fairly loose and uncertain "I might if the rest of my training goes well!". Which sounds all a bit noncommittal of my chances on one level, but also is a fair reflection of the experience I have gained over time. I don't do standing on the start line with one plan any more I set out with a loose set of guidelines that I'd like to run within (best case through to worst case scenarios).

The run was a really good 14.4km over a route that I used to run regularly one winter and winds through and around the city centre in a figure of 8. The centre of the run is a foot-bridge which isn't ideal but works as a good mental break and chance to reset my rhythm if its going off a bit. As a run it is pretty up and down over small hills and undulations which is good and the variation in effort helps me gauge my progress. I remember it as a tough run, and whilst it wasn't super easy I managed a really sweet speed up in the last 1.5km - which reminds me I must upload my run profile, see just how good that real was and make sure I didn't imagine it.
I have even been looking after the basics of nutrition and tracking some weights and measures of late.
Image courtesy of 
Grant Cochrane, /
Training in the round is looking promising, I have found that I am feeling the benefits of following (ahem, almost) a good progressive training plan. I am now around half way through the 12 week schedule, in the middle of week 6, and my thoughts are beginning to swing towards race day and just how broad (or narrow) my best and worst case plans might be on the start line.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Training, training, training (wherein I couldn't think of a clever title)

So things have been going okay with my marathon training, my biggest single issue (aside from time) has been my knee and it seems as if that is easing finally. Of course I blame the shoes and not in any way a likely muscle imbalance that might be resolving. Seriously, I have stopped wearing running shoes all day and have a pair of decent walking shoes for everyday use, it seems like the change of shoe geometry might be helping. The only lingering issue in my mind with my knee is long runs, I haven't been over 2hrs on the road for a few weeks now and I do worry that it will be with long run fatigue that my knee injury might make an unwelcome return. I will be testing it soon.

The runs I have been doing have been above marathon target pace and have been that bit shorter than the training plan asks for but I am feeling good progress so I am not too troubled just at the moment. I have gotten on the calorie tracking band-wagon again and have been attending to some of the stuff around running that should all help (cycling, walking, diet, hydration, kit, etc.). A busy week lies ahead with much to do... if I can though I need to squeeze in that 2hr+ run to really determine that state of my progress.