Tuesday, 29 September 2009

4 minute reps for all

Doing 4 minute reps I usually go for 4 sets with 2 minutes recovery. So the prospect of 6 sets with 90 seconds recovery was a tad daunting.

Luckily Captain Niall was there to skipper a sustainable pace and keep us off the rocks (or more to the point out of the canal). But there was to be no lazing in the glorious midday sun as the Commodore gradually increased his pace during each 4 minute effort. Set 5 was a killer when we were overtaken by a semi-elite with a minute to go and the Admiral decided to ratch up the speed a notch (or 2, or 3) to keep up.

The final rep wasn't what I was expecting. Karen and co caught and overtook shortly after the start. I upped my pace and tailed the group for maybe a minute or so. However, the Admiral of the Fleet hadn't followed and I soon found myself becalmed in clear water. As I couldn't keep up with the faster runners I eased off slightly and waited for the trailing fleet to catch up. But they didn't. So when I was overtaken by an elite with 45 seconds to go there was nothing for it but to hoist the main spinnaker and leg it.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

For every downhill (rep) there's an uphill

Rep One

Rep Two

Which is probably just about all Niall and Kenny are interested in.

However, for anyone reading this who isn't wearing an anorak then there is more. Firstly it was jolly cold at 7:00 this morning. And after yesterday's experience with Harpenden Cycling Fource I had no hesitation digging out my my hat and gloves. Also, with the summer holiday season now officially over, today's run was the first to see all five of us in attendance. Although having had only three hours sleep Dave was barely really with us. Niall and Kenny, however, were as enthusiastic and eager as ever while Simon was just very fast.

And in case it isn't obvious from the above, rep 1 was downhill (Nickly Line) while rep 2 was uphill (Beesonend Lane). The bit in between was either a slow jog (Kenny and me) or an extra eight minute interval (Niall, Simon and Dave).

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Reduced Rockets

There's some sort of whizz-bang race this weekend so there weren't many elites out at rockets today. And those that were there had no appetite for a hard session so we did 6 reps of 1 min with 30 seconds recovery out and 9 reps of 30 seconds on 30 seconds off back.

The sun shone, I ran OK and the birds were singing (OK I made up the bit about the birds). Why can't it always be like this?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Very Easy Westminster Loop

I accidentally deleted a file I really needed this morning and naturally, being an IT professional, didn't have a backup. I was so annoyed I gave serious consideration to joining Lockett's Rocket's for some hard lunchtime running.

I didn't because after the exertions of the previous few days, and despite a rest day, I was still exhausted. Instead I did an easy plod to Westminster and back. Starting pace was 9 minutes per mile pace and I didn't really get much quicker.

Coming back along the Southbank I caught someone running even slower. Rather amusingly as I drew close he started glancing over his shoulder and sped up. But he couldn't maintain this killer pace and so within a few minutes I was back on his shoulder (by now doing 8:30 minute miles). Again lots of glances over the shoulder and then a sudden and short-lived burst of speed. It was hilarious - I mean the guy was running even slower than Kenny but was still determined not to let me pass. Oh well - I guess it made him feel good and it certainly brought a smile to my face. Oh happy days.

Sunday, 20 September 2009


On reflection it probably was a tad ambitious: intervals on Thursday with Lockett's Rockets, tempo on Friday with JPM Runners, cycling on Saturday with Harpenden Cycling Fource and then intervals again on Sunday... OK it was way over ambitious.

Today's plan was to run the Herts 10K route as three 2.08 mile reps with hotly debated three minute recoveries. Up at the race start point in Rothamsted Park Niall and Kenny could hardly contain their excitement with Kenny assuming a sprinters starting crouch. A few minutes later after Niall and I had finally finished laughing we started running.

My quads were aching like crazy and my stomach didn't feel too good which, without going into too much detail, explains why I finished my first rep just as the others were starting their second. I jogged through the recovery and started rep two where the path joined Kinsbourne Green Lane by the golf club. Second rep would have been a lonely affair had Simon not kindly jogged back to check I was OK. Met up with Niall and Kenny again on Roundwood Park. Fifteen seconds later they were off. Not being sure of the exact route back thought better of taking a three minute recovery, so hit the lap button on my watch and was off again. If I'd been on my own I probably would have abandoned the third rep but I seemed to be holding the gap on Kenny so kept going. It was only in the last half mile he accelerated and I lost touch.

At the end Niall and Kenny were jubilant with much pressing of buttons on watches. I did a slow warm down jog while they completed their post run analysis and then headed home for breakfast and a large mug of hot tea.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Bonus Three Bridges Run

I recently watched the film Yes Man. So when Niall asked if I'd like to come out running on Friday lunchtime I had no real option but to say YES. Hey it could have been the start of an amazing adventure... but it wasn't.

Instead four of us set off from JPM on a mid tempo down to Westminster Bridge, round the Three Bridges route and back. The initial pace was dare I say it perhaps a touch slow. However, I needn't have worried as mile by mile, bit by bit, the speed gradually increased. I hung on as far as the Wobbly Bridge on the way back by which time we'd hit a full-on tempo 6:38 mins/mile and my vision had started to blur. Jogging back from there I took the scenic route to avoid a marching band, Niall didn't and received a stern whistling at from one of City of London's finest keepers of law and order.

All in all a pleasantly tough run on what turned out to be an unexpectedly fine and sunny day.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Back With The Rockets

After an eight-week absence I finally made my triumphant return to Lockett's Rockets. I guess they weren't expecting me, as the bunting was nowhere to be seen. Maybe Niall (also nowhere to be seen) had it.

The session was apparently a Thursday classic: 12 reps of 75 seconds with 45 seconds recovery. At first the timings sounded a bit complex - until I realised 75 + 45 = 120 seconds - duh!

Steve Scrutton was there but is clearly still well below par, as I had no problem keeping up with him and towards the end of the first six reps was actually running quicker. On the way back I managed to more or less keep up with Karen's group of three which felt good. OK I had taken it far easier on the way out but that's not what the elite guys saw when they came flying past on the last couple of reps.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Wet, Wet, Wet.

Original plan was to join Lockett’s Rockets for intervals. However, the weather was really, really miserable so based on the premise I’d keep warmer doing my own thing I headed down to the river. On the way to the Wobbly Bridge was undecided if I should go for intervals or a tempo but in the end made a last minute decision to do a 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute pyramid.

Flew down to Westminster Bridge with the wind behind me while on the way back the buildings on the Southbank bank provided some protection from the worst of the winter weather. It was actually warmer than I had expected and low pedestrian density meant I avoided getting my eye poked out by an umbrella. I probably didn’t push myself hard enough (nothing new there) but at least I was out running on a day that had ducks thinking twice before venturing out.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sunday Three

This morning we had Running Fource Bloggers Three: Fit Scottish Bloke, Another Scottish Bloke and little old me.

A spot of advanced mis-information from club captain Niall set our expectations for a long 8:24 pace run. Which is pretty much what we did - except we covered the ground a lot quicker (first mile in 7:26) and only ran 9 miles (did I really say only?).

We also displayed an interesting range of running attire. Being a wimp, I opted for my favourite daygo yellow long sleeved dri-fit top. Niall went for sunglasses and short sleeves while hard as nails Kenny wore but a running vest. Shorts were worn by all, however, venturing further down threw up further differences. While Mr 160 BPM and I were happy to fashion conventional ankle cover Niall decided to push the boundaries of public decency wearing his finest High School (Musical?), high performance white knee-length compression socks. Now while Niall might (and I hasten to emphasise might) have looked like a bit of a plonker he did have science on his side. These socks are possibly the greatest thing since split side shorts: excellent for reducing the build up of lactic acid, accelerating blood circulation and preventing muscle oscillation, the socks also minimise muscle fatigue and soreness, enabling faster muscle recovery after training competing, or injury. Phew - someone's marketing department has been working overtime.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Another Early One...

At 6:05 it was still murky and felt cold so I opted for my dayglo (now slightly faded) yellow Nike Go Nocturnal Run London long sleeved top. Went for the standard anti-clockwise loop of Lea Valley Walk north to the big hill, over the top and then back down the Luton Road to Harpenden.

Took it generally easy, although had to push in a bit towards the end when I realised I was at risk of getting back late. In the end I was late and not wanting to sacrifice breakfast ended up catching a later train (standing room only) but still made it to the training course on time.

The path from Harpenden to Cooters End Lane is now 95% tarmac and a viable route for road bikes. Unfortunately the section behind the sewage works is still not great - OK for running or perhaps a mountain bike if you don't mind the steps but a no-go for roadies. Can but hope that the funding to complete the missing link comes through soon.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Early Morning Wheathampstead (again)

Back on a training course for work this week so it was out of the door at 6:15 for a dash down to Wheathampstead and back following the official Harpenden Running Fource 5.2 Mile Handicap route. This time went the right way through Wheathampstead which, for what it's worth, cut 0.04 miles off the distance compared with my previous running.

First few miles where dispatched at a reasonably healthy tempo pace, but faded badly towards the end. However, in the end what mattered most was I'd burned enough energy to allow me to stuff my face with around 500 calories worth of yummy cake at break time during the training course.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

I'm Back...

After three weeks radio silence I'm back!

First two weeks were spent mountain biking and learning to sail/capsize dinghies with Neilson in Greece while last week I did a handful of easy 5-milers to get the legs back into the swing of things.

In my absence Harpenden Running Fource Four has grown into Running Fource Five with the addition of SES: Super Elite Simon. This guy is just too fast for his own good but luckily is tapering for next Sunday's Robin Hood Marathon (anything sub three hours will suffice!) and so joined Niall, Kenny and me for our 7am wakey, wakey run. Niall had to be back by 8 so we decided on a quick circuit down to Heartwood and back. As summer turns to autumn the nettles seem to be dieing out, so no stings to report, and rather unusually my feet stayed dry for the whole run. We did, however, manage to include a new footpath round the side of Pudler's Wood so all was not lost. The run wasn't long enough for the all new and improved Kenny (talking all the way up Crabtree Lane no less) or maybe he was finding the pace was a touch too slow. Either way he stayed on Ayres End Land when we turned off left heading for the woods.

Just for the record here are the mountain bike routes from the holiday (Spetes and Kosta and a Caravan were done in both the first and second weeks).

And a couple of on-road rides (be sure to check the elavation profile of the last ride - higher than Snowdon!):