Friday, 30 October 2009

Upbeat Easy

I doubt the run category “upbeat easy” actually exists. But that doesn't matter. It's a run that starts relatively easy and develops into a tempo. Now let's be clear here: an upbeat easy is done solo. The sort of easy run you do in company where the pace keeps increasing because you (and your companion) are ultra competitive is something completely different.

So today I did a five mile upbeat easy. Initial difficulties choosing a route were resolved when a quick once round the block revealed a strong wind blowing from the east. So that was route decided: head out in a generally easterly direction and let the wind blown me home.

High points on the run included having to cross two motorway slip roads (why build a subway when you can play chicken with juggernauts?), a long slow climb (between mile 2 and 3), a short sharp climb at 3.5 miles and running past my now flattened secondary school.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Garry George Reps

So after a good night’s sleep following yesterday’s aborted tempo run I find myself up at the canal loitering at the back of the Rockets. As we walk towards the seemingly randomly starting point the group naturally splits into thee: elite, semi elite and rubbish. I guess I don’t need to tell you which group I’m with. Company today is in the form of Niall, Garry George and Steve. Although we all know Steve will run his own personally unique interval session – where recoveries are at the same speed as the rep.

Six servings of four minutes pain separated by ninety seconds intensive care are on today’s Menu du Jour and boy I feel hungry enough to eat un petit cheval.

It all starts off civil enough: three hard but fair reps out to the turn. Steve, however, just keeps running into the distance not to be seen again. The first one minute fifty seconds of rep four is tolerable and then we bump into Martin running towards us. About turn, three becomes four and it’s rumble in the jungle time. Now I’m not saying Niall and Martin are competitive but I think it’s fair to say neither like coming second. The pace shoots up and Garry George is jettisoned off the back.

Rep five and Garry George, now running with posttraumatic stress disorder, makes the classic schoolboy error of stopping a minute too early (yup been there – got the T-shirt). Rep six and with a minute to go I overtake Martin and run myself into the ground determined to stay ahead. A shallow gesture I admit given that Martin had been comfortably ahead of me on all the reps up to then. A few minutes later Garry George and his bag of excuses rolled up - hurrah!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Monday Is Still Monday

Give that Saturday is the new Sunday (Niall). And Six is the new seven (Kenny). Then it follows that Monday is surely the new Tuesday. So it must be intervals day? Well actually no, although the thought did cross my mind. Instead I decided to go for a tempo/threshold from St Katharine Docks down to Canary Wharf and back (about five miles if my memory server me right). And it might well be five miles as I didn’t actually make it beyond Tower Hill.

My legs were just dead. And this is despite, or maybe because of, having an easy rest day yesterday. But I’d spent the whole morning eating so I had to cover at least a few miles to burn some of the excess calories. Either that or buy new trousers on the way back to the office. I opted for the former and somehow managed to plod out a convoluted five and a half mile loop taking in Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and Holborn Circus. I would gladly have stopped and walked at just about any point but fashioning my bright yellow Nike Go Nocturnal top with a big 1 on the front I felt somewhat conspicuous.

I do hope the legs feel better tomorrow

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Saturday Long

My Friday evening was shattered with a text from Niall: "Saturday is the new Sunday. See you outside yours at 7:03". And them something about Heartwood and Brocket Hall! Didn't he know I'd run a hard tempo that day? Didn't he know the clocks were going back an hour on Sunday night? Hadn't he seen the weather forecast was for rain? No way Jose I thought to myself as I hit the delete button and headed into the kitchen for another beer.

By 7:25 with three miles in the bag it was time to turn off the main road and head cross-country to Sandridge. It had still been dark when we cut across Harpenden Common, however, in the last ten minutes dawn had broken and with our eyes now accustomed to the half-light we were confident of safe passage. Once in Sandridge I surrendered full navigational responsibility to Niall as we set forth in unfamiliar territory. Thanks to advanced preparation and a small printed map he did a fine job as we complete an anti-clockwise loop that conveniently brought us into Wheathampstead close to Sheepcote Lane (infamous start of the afore mentioned village's 10K).

Up to the Ayot Greenway and left but now we were in danger of short changing ourselves on the mileage front. No problem. Take the first right once on the Lower Luton Road and we have a handy little uphill off-road loop which brings us back via Marshalls Heath to the junction of the main road with Cherry Tree Lane. An easy mile and a half along the Lea Valley Walk and we're home.

Mileage for the week is 33 miles. However, cumulative seven day running total (including last Sunday's mega run) is 48 miles - no wonder my legs feel tired!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Tempo Trio

I thought I'd have a go at calibrating the foot pod on my new running shoes by doing a St James Park/Green Park tempo run armed with both Garmin and Polar running watches. And the great news is that according to the Garmin I've hit a bit a form: averaging 6:17 pace on a warm-up jog isn't to be sniffed at!

Then again perhaps GPS running watches aren't such a good idea in the City after all:

The tempo run itself went OK and the Garmin behaved itself for much of the time but really struggled around Whitehall/Horse Guards and even threw the odd dodge reading on the Embankment and in the parks. So at the end of the day the attempt to calibrate was a failure and I'll have to take the shoes home and try again over the weekend.

Also of note is that today I passed the 1,000 miles for the year milestone. This is some three weeks earlier than last year when I didn't hit the magic number until 12th November.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Thanks to Kenny easy slow runs are all the rage with Harpenden Running Fource these days. And not wanting to buck the trend I joined the ranks of zone one (heart rate not underground zone) plodders pounding the city’s pavements this lunchtime.

Route today was Westminster Bridge again, although this time cunningly in reverse. That’s reverse direction as in clockwise rather than actually running backwards! The mid-morning rain had stopped by the time I hit the road. In fact it wasn’t even spitting. So one has to wonder why some people still felt the need to walk around with their umbrellas up.

Target was to keep the speed down at around Kenny’s old 10K race pace (yes that slow) which wasn’t difficult as it felt like I was running with ankle weights on. But yet again I ended up overtaking another runner – one of Kenny’s relatives’ maybe?

So that’s three mentions today for Kenny and none for Niall – is that a record?

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Tuesday Intervals

After a rest day my legs didn't feel too bad considering Sunday's effort. The session was eight sets of three minutes with one minute recovery (two at the turn). Mindful that eight times three is (or at least always was) twenty four I didn't kill myself on the way out and so as usual finished last on each rep. On the way back I was able to keep up with Niall and Martin (today's C team) and even had the audacity to overtake Niall two minutes into the final rep. Of course he was none too pleased with this and came steaming through thirty seconds later leaving me for dust - oh well, it was worth a try.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Long (and Chilly)

I hadn't intended doing 14.2 miles. Even though Niall had said the plan was to do about 13 miles (i.e. at least 13 miles) I still had it in my head I'd turn back early and do about 10 miles. And even when Kenny headed up Beason End Lane to cut the run a mile or two short I didn't join him. I guess I must have been enjoying myself - or something like that.

The weather forecast for 7am on Sunday morning was five degrees Celsius - and it wasn't wrong. The previous evening I dug out my cold weather gear and so was fully prepared including the all important hat and gloves. So all togged up I trotted out at one minute to seven to find four runners ready and waiting - and that didn't include Kenny. We met up with Kenny on Cowper Road and then headed out across the common towards St. Albans. On the Harpenden Road as we approached Childwickbury the group split. The A team (David and Simon) surged ahead keen to cover their 20 miles at 7 minute mile pace. The B team (Niall, Kenny and me) plodded on, while John decided to call it a day and turned back for home (maybe I should have joined him).

The A team didn't speed off into the distance as expected and thanks to a few canny route 'optimisations' were still within shouting distance as we rounded the southern perimeter of The Lake in Verulamium Park. The route back was almost entirely off-road and saw some quite slow miles due to rutted, and in one case ploughed up, footpaths. We also lost some time when Niall ran into a tree (don't ask!) and came out the other side looking like he'd been attacked by a swarm of brown prickly things. The last time I laughed so hard was when Kenny assumed his sprint starting position for the 2 mile intervals a couple of weeks ago (no we're not going to forget that one anytime soon). As previously mentioned Kenny headed home via Beeson End Lane, which probably only shortened the route by out about a mile, while Niall and I, with ever more weary legs, did our best to keep the pace honest as we took the Nicky Line home.

Anyway back to these 14.2 miles. What was that rule of thumb again? Don't increase your long run by more than 10% each week. So let's see: longest run so far this month 10K. OK how about September 9.4 miles. Hmm. August 11.5 miles - that's more like it. July 10.2 miles. June 11.6 miles. May 11 miles... Right, so just how many times this year have I actually completed a run of 14 miles or more?? Ahh yes, found it. 6th March and 21st Feb 15 miles. So good to see I'm not risking injury by overdoing it.

Oh yes - did I mention Niall ran into a tree?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Sunny Thursday

What a glorious day for running: sunny, 14 degrees and no wind.

I've been somewhat lacking in the tempo run department of late so today was the day to put things right. I decided a trip round St James Park, starting and finishing at The Wobbly Bridge, would fit the bill - just like the good old day - except the old running crowd is now more and I was all on my own. Was wearing the new shoes again, without the foot pod (not much point without calibration), so had the freedom to run without getting stressed about pace - which was very refreshing. According to Gmaps Pedometer the route was 4.5 miles, which I managed to cover at a not to shabby 6:50 pace. So all in all not a bad outing - in fact I'll go so far as saying a most enjoyable run.

Plus I had the psychological boost that I was getting one over Niall, as I knew he was spending lunchtime stuffing his face instead of working on that Nirvana of a 40 minute 10K - back to zone 1 boy with the rest of the fat lads (and Kenny)!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Easy Run

Easy 3.5 mile run to loosen the legs after Sunday and to break in a new pair of shoes. Down to Tower Hill, along the north bank to Blackfriars and back. Despite running ridiculously slowly still manged to overtake some joggers - good grief and I thought I was a slow runner....

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Herts 10K 2009

On reflection I think leaving the house at 9:43 for a 10am race 1.25 miles (run) away was cutting it too fine. Anyway as it turns out I had time to get there, jump a barrier, fight my way across the main starting pen, jump another barrier, find the bag drop tent, get back to the start, jump a third and final barrier, push my way to the front (there's never a race steward around when you need one) and join up with team Harpenden Running Fource with minutes to spare. Of course I was now way closer to the front than I should have been but was happy to take the adulation when the announcer referred to those at the front as elite! Waiting to start Niall glanced down and noticed my secret weapon - shiny new lightweight running shoes. Damn so much for the element of surprise.

The race plan, such as it was, was to aim for 42 minutes which required averaging 6:45 pace. With the course profile to mile three being short flat, big downhill, short flat, big uphill, followed by three relatively flat miles there didn't seem much point checking progress until after mile three. As it happens my pace at that point turned out to be just about bang on so all I needed to do was pump out three more 6:45 miles. I didn't manage it, slowing quite considerably in mile six, however, thank to the route being under-distance I still came in under 42 minutes!

So how did the rest of Running Fource do? Well despite yet another unfriendly results website (what - you want to see the list of runners and times in finishing order?) I've managed to extract that out of 2265 finisher we came in as follows:

OverallCompetitorFinishChip time

Yup - I came last! As way of consolation on the walk back home stopped off with Niall for traditional post-race coffee and carrot cake. OK so it's a tradition we only started today but it sounds like a good'un to me.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Easy run

No signs of illness to report so my inability to keep up during the warm-down on Tuesday must be down to a dose of lazyitis.

Did an easy 4 mile loop down to Tower Bridge and back over Blackfriars. That wasn't my intended route but had a bit of the Dave's about me and kept going the wrong way. Ah well at least on Sunday I'll have lots of people in front to follow.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Easy Intervals

With the 10K this Sunday and Kenny already a week and a half into his taper the plan was to do a shorter (as in less repeats) interval session. So when the Rockets decided on 6 sets of 3 minute we went for 4. Niall was taking it easy saving himself for the big day while I ran flat as I attempted to keep up.

Had to work hard just to keep up on the jog back to Chiswell Street. Maybe I'm going down with something...

Sunday, 4 October 2009

For the first time ever in the history of Harpenden Running Force the Sunday run was shorter than advertised. Niall's text said he was planning an easy one hour run so I naturally anticipated a 75 minute gallop round the local highways and byways. But no, today we did indeed do an easy (8:09 min/mile pace) 50 minute run.

Dave was somewhere else and Kenny had to duck out after a couple of miles when the pace became too much (although he claimed he had to get back to his wife because she was about give birth or something). Either way I'm pretty sure he only came out to show off his snazzy new trainers (no, not Green Flash this time).

We finished the run with a short sprint along the old railway line path from Crabtree Lane to Station Road. I came last but more amusingly we scared the living daylight out of some all dear out for an early morning meander(now I did leave the gas on didn't I?).

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Back for more

I'm sure the Regents Canal has its own micro-climate. What else could explain why it always seems warmer and sunnier there than in the murky old City of London.

Thursday means shorter reps so today we were treated to 12 repeats of 1 minutes with 30 seconds recovery. We were a bit lacking in the slow runners department, however, from rep 6 onwards I was pleased find myself in the company of a returning from injury semi-elite. And then at the turn point our numbers swelled to three when another semi joined us (sorry I'm hopeless with names). This made the 6 reps back good fun with more than a couple of glances over our shoulders between the final few reps to check we stayed well ahead of the fast boys.