The Art of Running Faster

art of running faster

The Art of Running Faster book review

Written by Julian Goater and Don Melvin

Words that sum it up : Training smarter, the five S’s : Speed, suppleness, strength, stamina and skill. Psychology

 What’s it all about : I have long praised the book “Advanced Marathon” for changing the way i train for, plan and run marathons. It is a book, that for me, changed everything and made me the runner i am today. This book, i feel, having read it, will take me up another step. It will improve the training I do, outside of marathon preparation. It will give me, what i have lacked outside of my traditional focused 18 weeks of the week, it will give me structure, guidance and i suspect results. I think this book will, without doubt change my training habits and actually it already has.

Following the books advice i am stretching twice a day, in addition to any stretches i do before and after a workout. I am also planning on developing a year long plan, split up into six distinct phases as per the books advice. As the authors say, it’s not just about the milage, it’s about everything. Its early days but i just have a good feeling about this book and what i will gain by following it as closely as i followed “Advanced Marathoning”.

Now i realise, i am going on a bit about how great this book was for me, rather that listing what its about…..basically it is a guide on, how to adapt your training, to improve your pace as a runner and there is a lot in it, that i am not doing. So you can’t fail but learn something new and ultimately improve your training after reading this book.

For : Runners like me, who want to running faster paces, runners who want to improve their training methods and runners who are seeking that next PB.

Best bits : Without a doubt, the five S’s a simple system, easy to follow.  Also the bits were they use Lance Armstrong as a good example…….tut tut tut come on publisher, let’s get that guy out of this book.

For more book reviews see here [click this folks…..]

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Helena Tipping 10k

Helena Tipping 10k.jpg

Sunday July 31st and having taken the advice of the coaches at Harriers, i found myself down in North Wales,the country of PBs……well I have done three races in Wales prior to this one and all of them have ended in PBs…..so PB country it is!

Arriving with 30 minutes to go, I was in unusually good time. But having driven an 1 hour 30 to get here, i needed plenty of time to warm up and stretch out ahead of the race, so it was an early start for me and i arrived with enough time to do those things, collect my number, make two bathroom trips and jog the 800 metres or so to the start.

This race promises to be flat and fast….with the course route [race route] having a maximum elevation of just 35 metres. However, whilst the race is relatively flat although it does feature a one mile section of gradual incline which will be a tough section to maintain a fast pace over.

I set myself the task of running 6:05, which would see me sneak a sub 38 minute PB, however having not run a 10K for two years i was confident I would obtain some sort of PB but I wasn’t sure what it would be. My training isn’t currently at the level it was prior to Boston but my mileage and gym trips are slowly increasing.

Mile one; as usual I had set off far too fast and despite slowing down a little i completed the first mile in 5:53 pace. The slight downhill nature of this part of the course and the wide open road helping the faster runners get away and those like me who were running two fast.

Mile two; was much better 6:00 pace, almost on target, helped by finding runners who were running at the pace I wanted to hit and sitting just behind them.

Then over the following three miles I got increasingly slower, the first two miles (miles 3 and 4) i wasn’t too concerned about as I had time in the bank from miles 1 & 2, completing them in 6:13 and 6:18.  Mile five, however, did go completely wrong, I don’t know if it was the effects of the gradual incline or the fact that I was unaccustomed to running the shorter distances but I fell back to what would be a half marathon pace for me. Completing this mile in 6:26 pace. I could still make my sub 38 target, but I would have to work hard for it!!

And work hard I did!! Picking up the pace over mile six I passed a runner of runners who earlier in the race had dropped me off as I tried to pace of them. I was on a section of the race, very familiar to me, a section from the Village Bakery Half Marathon. I knew what to expect, I knew how long there was to go and what it felt like to run this section hard on the back of 12 miles. A big advantage and I think I used it well, covering this mile in 6:09. Fast but not fast enough to get my target time.

Slightly disheartened, I congratulated runner who went past me over the last few hundred metres, but then as he got a metre or so ahead of me and I looked up and saw the finish. I thought you know what, I won’t get my target time, but I could get very close to it and so I picked up to a sprint, in fact, one of the best sprint finish I have ever had. Covering the final 0.2 of the race in 5:23 pace and the final 160 metres in 4:18 pace!! Not only did I easily pass that runner I had congratulated, but I also passed a female runner was heading towards the finish, way ahead of me. This slightly shocked me and I went to slow, but then I heard the commentator say “Come on, all the way to the finish”  he could have been talking to either of us, but I switched back to sprint mode and beat her to the finish and that is what is happening in the picture attached to this post. A picture, which no less appeared in Athletics Weekly and as blurry as I might be in it, its a great honour and pretty cool to have featured in the magazine.

Finishing chip time : 38:17, a new PB by 58 seconds! a great days work!! a fast course and really well organised race. If you can make, i recommend doing this 10k next year.

Race information page here

Race results here

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One week, almost two races

Cows

So last week (Mon 18th – Sun 24th) was a week where I almost ran two races in the space of five days…hot on the heels of narrowly missing out on my sub 1:03:00 10 mile target at Elswick.

Wesham Interclub 2016

First up was the Wesham Interclub on Monday, a 4.5 mile run held just outside of Preston [here]. It’s a route that features a couple of up and downs but nothing major and I was feeling good and ready to race.  As were plenty of my Preston Harrier team mates, as the team turned out in force to try to maintain our 100% record in the 2015 interclub series.

Setting off on the first mile, I had decided to set a fast pace then ease back to comfortable face for miles 2 and 3 before finishing strong for mile 4.  Well, that was the plan and the first mile flew by as I recorded my fastest ever time for a mile split of 5:48.  However, not long after the first mile marker, things went wrong and it wasn’t something that happened to just me, it was something which affected the first 110 or so runners…..

Now in some ways, I can see the funny side of it and in other ways, it’s a tad annoying. Someone had switched one of the race arrows and instead of making a right turn, we went straight on, onto a mud and cow dung covered hill climb through a farm. Now I can understand the runners following a tampered with a sign, but the lead marshal, cycling ahead of the race, should have known better. Whilst I was thinking to myself that this route seemed nothing like the map I had studied, I just thought that perhaps the route had changed.  It was only on turning a corner before I had reached mile four and seeing the finish just up ahead.  That I started to be sure that something was not  right.  But by this time my legs were feeling heavy, id just run Elswick and set a very fast first mile in this race, so I headed to the finish tried but still fighting with what energy I had left, crossing the line in 23:00. A great time, however, I then saw on my watch that I had run just 3.8 mile rather than the required 4.5 miles……..come again!!!!

After the race, seeing half the runners covered in mud and the other half clean, confirmed the rumours that were circulating that something had gone very wrong with the route and later that evening it was decided to declare the race dull and void.  Which is a real shame for the 294 runners that turned up and a big shame for the organisers as its unlikely that the race will be re-run.  It is fairly annoying on a personal level, to know that the hard effort I put in counts for nothing and my 22nd place finish is assigned to history. Hey ho…..onwards and upwards.

Lancs Fire 3 Person Relay

So Friday and race two, a 3 person relay run, of sorts……There are no batons exchanges or tagging of the next runners in this relay. Instead, the teams set off in three waves, one minute apart from one another.   So more of a staged start team race, than a relay.  I would be running in wave two, which I thought was a good wave for me, as I wasn’t the fastest in my team and wave three would probably require quite a bit of weaving. The distance, 2.68 miles, a strange one and the shortest race I have run since my school days.

Having run Elswick on the Saturday before, Wesham on the Monday, had a track session on the Wednesday and run 10 miles on the night before race day. It was safe to say I was in no shape to run my best time. However I was determined to do my team mates proud and as with the Wesham Interclub I flew through this first mile, breaking my mile split record for the second time in a week, completing mile one in 5:36 pace. I then intentionally slowed down for the second mile, having slightly shocked myself at covering a mile so quickly .  Although that said, I still completed that mile in 6:01 pace and then there were just 0.6 miles left.  Not only was the race coming to an end, but having done so few races of this distance, I wasn’t quite sure how to run what was left.  In the end, after 2.2 miles, I decided to pick up the pace to try and shave as much time as I could, off the teams total time. I found  soon found myself battling with another runner who went by be me two times in fairly quick succession.

Interestingly…..sort of….as mentioned earlier on in this blog, this race was being run around the perimeter of Blackpool Zoo and having undertaken work experience at the zoo during my college days. I recognised the building through some bushes and trees to my left, this told me we were really close to the finish. I took this as a sign to move into sprint mode and I flew towards, what I hoped would be a turn straight to the finish line, catching and passing another runner in the process. luckily my gamble paid off and the finish was indeed straight ahead.  I covered the final 300 metres or so of the race in 5:31 pace, giving me a finish time of 15:41.

It was a great time, although I do wondering if I had more experience of shorter races, would I have completed the race in a quicker than, braving working hard for the full distance. But that said our collective team time came in at 46:46 minutes earnt us a fourth place finish and a box of chocolate covered truffles each….yummy…..so all in all a good days work.

Summing up

In both races, I broke my mile split record, in both races I then slowed down all be it intentionally. At Wesham, i eventually ran out of steam, whereas at Blackpool I was able to finish in a sprint. Something that no doubt reflects the different terrains these races covered (pancake flat Vs undulating).

It is becoming more and more common for me to record sub six minute mile times, reminding me of my days of running seven minute mile times and dreaming of being able to consistently run races with an average time of sub 7 mins. This is good to see, as I am still not back to full training since Boston, after a series of annoying injuries. It shows fantastic progress as I approach the end of the first year of being a club runner.

My immediate target is to bring that 10 mile time down to 1:02:?? , small achievable targets are always best. I am not far off that now, just 15 seconds with another opportunity in a couple of weeks time. But if I can achieve that before my next round of marathon training begins (December), I will be very happy with myself. Although the coaches at Harriers have advised me to find a 10k, as it has been two years since I ran one and if I can set a new PB in one, then it will help me with my 10 mile target.

To do these things I think, I need to get back to running strict pace plans and I need to get back to doing all the extra training I was doing ahead of Boston.

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The Elswick 10 mile 2016

Elswick village

Elswick Village Elswick Village the kind of lovely little place, you’d love to go and stick a fracking drill…..well if your the UK government that’s what you want to do.  To runners, it’s a place you go to try and set a fast 10 mile time, over a relatively flat and pleasant route.

I ran this race last year, where I set a 10 mile PB of 1:04:24, although I did face a few moments of heavy wind which took way some of the advantage of what is a fairly flat route.

So here I was again a year later, the weather conditions were overcast, but there was little wind…or so it seemed at this point…and it was still fairly warm.  I am guessing the runners took too long getting into position for this race, as we set off with half the field still walking from the side road, where the pre-race talk was delivered, to the road where the race started. Myself included, as I was in the middle of giving some advice to a fellow harrier.  Race organisers i dont know. a bit of warning and i am sure the runners would of quickly lined up.

Setting off, I knew I was going at a good pace as I was within touching distance of the lead runners. So I took the sensible decision of falling back in line with my race pace plan of 6:15 mins per mile.  A plan I never achieved, although most the miles I ran were around that time.

By mile five I was pretty much out on my own, except for a couple of Wesham runners down the road ahead of me, I couldn’t hear anyone behind me and they looked too far way to catch. This is the kind of situation I hate, there is no one to pace off, it is all down to you and if you are trying to run at an unfamiliar pace it can be hard going.

As per last year, the second half of this race featured a number of unprotected sections and you felt a strong enough breeze, to make you feel the need to put in an extra shift just to stay on pace. I myself found my face down at 6:40 a couple of times, during the windier sections. Although that is still very fast and it showed that I have become stronger than I was last year. When i dropped to over 7 minute per mile pace during these sections.   However, I was still out in no mans zone and despite following this great “How to run a 10 mile race” plan, I found very difficult to up the pace and maintain a faster pace with no one around me to pace off.

However by mile eight, i started to realise that the two chaps ahead of me were actually getting closer and by mile nine, i decided to would try and catch them.  As i pushed on, they split up with one of them moving on ahead of the other. This changed my focus to just one runner but also meant that they were in a battle and were now picking up the pace themselves.  I did my best to try and close down at least one of them  and despite reaching sub 6 minute pace at times, completing the final mile in 6:05 pace and covering the final 321 metres or so, in 5:35 pace, i narrowly missed out on catching them up.

It was a really good finish, but a shame to have spent so long out on my own and i also missed out on my 10 mile race target of going sub 1:03:00, finishing the race in 01:03:15. Close but not close enough.

Disappointed but in high spirits, is how I will sum my feelings up of this race. It’s a great PB of over a minute, just one year after setting the time. But i still think I have it in me to go under 01:03:00 for the 10 mile, so I have my eye on a couple of other 10 mile races this year. I have my new 10 mile race strategy and I have decied on a new pace plan and that plan is to set a 6:20 pace for the first six miles, as trying to 6:15 for 10 miles clearly didn’t work out for me, as my Garmin Connect splits show [here].

But I have a plan and an aim. Sub 1:03:00 for 10 miles is within reach and reach it I will!!

This race, also saw me try out my new running belt. The Fitletic Double Pouch, that I have bought, as I cannot find my other belt and rather than stress myself out looking for it. I thought it would be easier to get a new one. It fits better than my old one, although one pouch is smaller than the other for some reason. Something that might annoy me when it comes to my  next marathon. But is fine for all distances below that, as you won’t need that many gels. Also, it stayed in place and was very comfortable to wear, so it was a good purchase.

Race stats : Elswick 10 mile : Saturday July 16th 10:30 am start

Distance : 10 miles
Total runners : 113
My position : 10th
My time : 01:03:15

First male : 54:47 | First female : 01:04:34
Last male : 01:46:07 | Last female : 01:54:44
Would i run it again : Yes

Special thanks to @Mrsschoie for tracking down the offical race results for me. The power of twitter!
Twitter : @SJPC14
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Two hours : The quest to run the impossible marathon

 

Two hours the quest to run the impossible marathon

Two hours : The quest to run the impossible marathon : Book review

So I have read the above named book and my thought’s in a nutshell, are that it is a generally great book for running geeks like me. Who have an interest in running, the marathon and the history of the marathon. You will learn a little about running reading this book, but it is not a book for learning how to run a fast marathon. But it is a really interesting read and gives a good insight into the world of elite marathoning.

Summing it up :

Two hours : The quest to run the impossible marathon : By Ed Caesar

Words that sum it up : History, inspiration, fasinating

 What’s it all about :  This book examings elite marathon performance over time and asks the quetion, we all want to know the answer to. Can someone run a sub-2 hour marathon.

For :  Runners with a genuine interest in the marathon, its history and its future. 

Favorite moment : The inside details of how East African runners see the outside world and how they live their lives, the school motto “Strive for Zenith”, Mutai’s little phrases to motivate himself and as well as the touching note from his wife he had pinned up on his wall “My Darling, i promise to always be there for you in favourable and unfavourable situations, anywhere, anytime. Know that you hold a specail place in my heart”.  And i also liked finding out that Madison Square garden has a pivital place in marathon history, which made staying near it. When I went to New York after Boston, even more special to this running geek.  Oh and you get to find how how exactly the 26.2 mile distance came about……interesting reading.

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Preston Interclub 2016

Preston interclub buffet

For those who don’t know what interclub is, it is a mini road running series involving small number of running clubs that local to one another.  For me and i am still not quite used to being a club runner, my series involves my club the Preston Harriers and the following clubs :

Each club hosts one race and in most cases an after race buffet (The picture above shows the Harriers preparing a well stocked buffet ahead of Preston Interclub 2016). The races are free for club members to take part in and range from 4 miles to 5 miles in distance.   Each race and the full series is made up of six championship  categories  – Open, Ladies, FV40, Vets, Vet 50s and Vet 60s.  The points system works as follows

Open – First 10 to count, any age, any sex
Ladies – First 5 to count
Vets – First 6 men over 40 or women over 35 to count
Vet 50 – First 4 over 50 to count, either sex
Vet 60 – First 3 over 60 to count, either sex

This Wednesday (May 11th 2016) saw the staging of race two in the 2016 series, with Preston Harriers as the host team.  Now for me, since Boston, i have done very little training. Not due to lost motivation or lack of interested but due a foot injury i am not sure quite what it is, but it has kept me from running to the extent that this race would be just the fifth time i have run since the marathon.  I knew wasn’t in top shape, but at the same time i knew that i could at least get around the 4.2 miles course and at affect the scoring of our rivals. So there was motivation to get out and run, plus it would be good work for me as i try and over come my injury.

The race route is fairly challenging featuring two hill climbs on a two lap route (so four hill climbs) before finishing along a uneven path full of pot holes.

As i expected i found the race tough going, but i surprisingly managed to get around the first mile in a fairly quick pace despite my lack of training, with mile 1 completed in 5:52. Passing a number of runners who had started ahead of me, which in some ways was good as it ensured i didn’t set off too quickly but in others way i had made things harder for myself as i had to weave in and out of runners.

When i came to the first hill i intentionally slowed down, i knew this hill from parkrun Preston and i knew it was a tough one. Featuring a sharp climb followed by turning onto short gradual incline. Go too fast on the sharp climb and you’ll be found out when you find  out what you thought was the top the climb, is in fact another climb.  As expected many runners where caught out by this and on both laps, eomplying this tactic saw me go by several runners. However, the downside of the slowing down tactic and my lack of fitness was that miles 2 and three were completed at slower paces than i am capable of (6:16 and 6:23).  However the upside was that i felt fresh enough to make one final push over the last mile, particularity over the last half mile as i raced to line in a group of four runners, each representing a different club.

I passed two of them fairly early in this move but the third pushed on hard and i didn’t have enough left to close him down, as each time it seemed like i had gain ground on him,he moved further away and then on home straight he took off.  Feeling i had no sprint left in me, due to lack of fitness I deiced to just push on hard for what was left of the race. hearing a member of the crowed shouted “200 to g0”,  I pictured our many track sessions and the many times i have made the last set the hardest of the session. This helped motivate me for one last push, working hard to making it as difficult as possible for those behind to pass me. As i knew, if they caught me, i didnt have it in me to fend them off.

The plan worked, but boy was i exhausted at the end, it was tough going, i had worked hard, completing the final mile in 5:51 pace. Good enough to earn me 29th overall (out of 321) and eight place Harrier, meaning my position would count towards our points tally.  Time wise i completed the race in 24:22 not a personal best but a very respectable time.

After the race buffet was consumed with as much enthusiasm and effort as the race was run and the points were tallied up, with Preston tacking first place in the Open and the Vets categories.  Two great victories on home territory leaving the series tables looking as follows :

league tables after two races

Some race stats :

  • 321 finishers
  • 65% (210) males : 35% (111) female
  • 65% (209) aged 40 +
  • 14% (44) aged 60 +
  • 35% (113) of runners from Red Rose Runners, 5% (17) from Thornton Cleveleys
  • Winning time – 20:31 – male 20:31 , female 23:30
  • Median time (all) – 30:28 – average time (all) 31:22
  • Median time (males) – 28:33  average time (males) 29:42
  • Median time (females) – 33:49 average time (females) 34:30

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Boston 2016 : Boston Strong

DSCF2347.JPG

So on Monday April 18th 2016 i ran the marathon, i never thought i would run. I once said to a friend wouldn’t it be great to be able to say you had run both the London and Boston marathons.  I then ran my first two marathons, one of which was London, they both took me over four hours.  Subsequently i resigned myself to never running the Boston marathon.  But then over the years, as i learn more about running and improved my training, i gradually and sometimes rapidly brought my marathon times down. Going from 4 hours to sub3 at Manchester in 2015 (More about that later). And so it is was that i got into Boston and headed for the US of A.

I found Boston to be a great city, very clean, very green and with plenty of options for eating out.  I also found out that where ever you went to eat, you got as much free water to drink as you wanted. So carbo-loading and hydrating for this marathon seemed fairly straight forward.

Well that was until i released that my bus to the athletes village sets off at 6:30 a.m, the exact time my hotel (the Revere) starts serving breakfast…….brilliant hotel other than that, really comfy beds and a short walk to the expo, bus pick up and finish line. Perfect.

boston hotel

Luckily being a paranoid runner i had smuggled my own breakfast cereal and high protein milk into the US so i had at least something to eat before i headed to the bus. I topped this up with a protein bar which i had also taken across with me, a banana and a porridge pot that i bought from a nearby 7/11. Taking these things with me on the bus to the athletes village.

So the breakfast panic was over and as per my last post, i had trained as hard as last year in regards to running but added in a load of cycle session and increased my core work out.  To top this off, i recently run a 20 mile race at 6:29 pace. I had added hills into my runs and i had done numerous constant incline treadmill sessions. So it was safe to say i was feeling good ahead of this marathon.

But there was one thing, i hadn’t banked on, and it was something i hadn’t really considered until weather forecasts started coming out for marathon day, around a week before i was due to fly out………that’s right the weather.  Spring and Autumn are great times to hold marathon,  as you are more likely to get favorable weather conditions than summer or winter. Hence why most of the marathon majors are held at these times.

However, once forecasts of 18 degrees started coming out, i knew i might be in for a rough ride. I packed my run cream, but still hoped for a cooler weather front. As the days went by the forecast moved down to 15 and back up to 18 and one time 20 degrees……But on the day, I believe it was 18, whatever it was it was hot and dry.

The hottest day i had run prior to Boston, was 12 degrees and that only happened once. The UK is slow to warm up.  On top of this, the only times i have run a marathon on a hot day, where my first two marathons. Both of which took me over four hours, partly due to my poorer training and partly due to the heat. Which on both occasions melted me, and subsequently had me worried ahead of this marathon.

Temperatures and spirits high for 120th running of Boston marathon

Weather is heating things up for the 2016 Boston marathon

I tried my best to stay in the shade as long as i could, but knew as soon as we started running that things would heat up.

Boston marathon start

So we were off and i downloaded a customized pace plan from RunnersConnect, which was based on the Boston course and it called for a slow start……easier done than said when you’re in the mix and the gun has fired.  Although i did try and hold back, using other runners to slow me down, i still managed to complete the first mile in 6:33 pace, which was seven seconds faster than planned. I admit it, i did print out a 2:50 pace plan……

Things carried on pretty much this way and i covered the first 13 miles of the marathon in an average pace of 6:31. But i was suffering, it was very hot and the water stations, which are every mile at Boston were crowed. Each time you had to slow down or weave around runners to get a drink.  Before the marathon, i had thought that having drink stations every mile, was too much, but during i the marathon i was very grateful for them, as they became the best way to stay cool. I took a sip of water at each station and then threw the rest over my head. It was a nice feeling.

It was the second half the race where things went off track, having made it to 16 miles at 6:33 pace i was still on for my dream time. But with the heat taking it toll, i now entered the toughest section of the marathon featuring eight miles of constant up and down. Initially i managed ok with these, but as the hills continued roll by and sun continued to shine down on me  i slowed down. With miles 16-24 covered in 6:59 pace, i was struggling but i was fighting back with miles 22 and mile 23 covered in 6:35 and 6:45 respectively. I wasn’t going to give up on getting a good time just yet.  I wasn’t going to let nature or the course beat me, but as the below snap shows i was finding it hard going.

boston hard work

I pushed on, as any experienced marathon will tell you, you just keep going, you smash on through the wall, you get to the end anyway you can.

Reaching the last two and bit miles, you find yourself back in Boston and here the crowds rival London. Both sides of the road where packed with loud cheering supports urging the runners home with cries of “You’ve Got this”, “Come on Preston” (i was wearing a Preston harriers top) and “Your almost there” helping to pick me and several runners around me up and on we went to the finish.  Runners left and right tried picking themselves up to fast finish, which i was great for me as i latched on to a few of them and followed them along.  A couple dropped back, a couple went off ahead of me. It didn’t matter as it helping me as i turned the corner for the home straight.

Boston corner turn

At this time point my body was more than happy to stick to the pace i was running, i had slight cramp in my right quad, although no where near as bad as what i had experienced in Manchester in 2015 when quads in both legs where cramping up (my new training system is working) and i was ready to stop running. But my mind said no, go for it, i knew my time was close to my Manchester time (so i thought…..more on this later). So go for it i did, pushing on to the fastest pace i could manage, which turned out to be 6:14, passing several runners as went on to complete the Boston marathon.

boston finished

The stress fracture at the end of 2015 with the race day heat and hills had all conspired against me, but they hadn’t beaten me.  The extra training, the joining a running club and the arriving in Boston three days early had all paid off.

boston finish time

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2016 Boston Marathon medals. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

2:57:31, not my dream time, but a great time. Sub3 again and a PB of 23 seconds….or so i thought…………………

…………Whilst i had been in Boston, it had been discovered that the Manchester marathon course of 2015 was short. Now when i ran Manchester, i had recorded it as being short on my Garmin, but i hadn’t thought anything of it.  Smashrun had provided me with a interpolated time of 2:59:14 for the 26.2 distance but I trusted the course to be correct in length i stuck with my Garmin time of 2:57:54.  But now i know its short, i will adjust my time, which means my actual official marathon PB for 2016 should be 1:41.

Although to make things even more confusing i actually ran 26.47 miles in Boston with Smashrun giving me a interpolated time for 26.2 of 2:55:47 , which would be a PB of 3:27.  However as tempting as it is, to use that time until i hear that Boston was also incorrectly measured, I will accept that it was my own fault i ran 26.47 miles and a PB of 1:41 is good enough. It was tough conditions and a far harder marathon route than Manchester. Plus the only thing i did differently this year was to introduce extra cross training and join a running club. Which ever times i use, those two things delivered results. The experiment was a success. Running extra miles, really inst the only way to get quicker and if it hadn’t been so hot and if i had run the right distance i would be looking a bigger PB.

Admittedly i did spend a few days disappointed with my time, but then it sank in that Ive gone sub3 at Boston, that the conditions weren’t favorable and as recent as December i was worried that I wouldn’t be able to race at Boston.  In the end, 2:57:31 is a great time, and i am really pleased with what i achieved. That’s not to say i am not itching to race again, nature may have robbed me of a 2:50 finish this time, but i am not done with the marathon……i will be taking on 26.2 again next year with my additional core work, my additional cross training, my continued membership of a club and quite possibly an increase in training mileage……

One final blurb on Boston, if you get the chance to go this race, do it. Its really well organised, really well supported and it is a very special race. Boston is a really nice city to visit, there is plenty of sight seeing to be done and if you give yourself four days like i did. You will be able to do it all at a causal pace and run the marathon.

Oh and the girls of Wellesley are as crazy as everyone says!!! – Had to move away from them because the screaming was too loud to bare! But i guess it wouldnt be Boston with things like that. A fantastic marathon, one of the best i have ever done.

Thank you Boston, i enjoyed your marathon!

DSCF2343

@SJPC14

 

 

Boston 2016 : Training complete

Bost here i come

SO training is complete, what with flying out to the US tomorrow, there will be no more runs. Finished with a runventure mostly off round along the side of the River Ribble, that Ive never run down before.  A nice way to finish training.  Normally i wouldn’t go three days without running before a marathon and in fact if circumstances allow it, id be running the day before.  But this is life, I cant make the trip all about me, but marathon Monday will be all about me as have the last few months. So its a small sacrifice to pay.

I head to to Boston to put the experiment to the test…..by this i mean, i  was once told that i could get faster without having to increasing my weekly mileage, if I improve both the amount of cross training I do (last time out it was core work and nothing else) and if I improve the quality of my training.  So this time out, for the first time ever, i have repeated the same marathon training plan that i followed last year. The Advanced Marathoning 70-85 miles per week plan with the aim of increasing my cross training and quality work outs.

Going off the rails

Well that was the aim….but sometimes things don’t go to plan

derailed train

In my case…..it was a stress fracture, the most serious injury i have ever had, which resulted in me missing ten weeks of any kind of training at the end of 2015 and completely disrupted my training plan.  So much so that in December 2015, when training for Boston was supposed to being, i ran just 82 miles whereas in December 2014 i ran 271 miles as training for Manchester began.

Fitter, faster, stronger

However in someways maybe this was a blessing in disguise, as when i could return to training i compensated having to ease off running, by completing intense 30 minute cycle sessions aiming for a minimum of 90 RPM and as it was cycling (in the gym) became my cross training session of choice.  So much so, i have managed to complete at least one session a week throughout 2016, with some weeks seeing me complete three cycle sessions and recently i have been taking part in one 45 minute spinning class session a week. So that side of things has really took off.

In addition to cycling i continued with the core workouts that i started doing last year, where the target was at least one session a week. This year, id say i have done at least two a week, but i haven’t kept a record of this.  Although what i do know, is the number of core workouts in terms number of sit ups and the like completed per session, has tripled compared to last year.

And finally, completed my threat to join a running club, joining the famous Preston Harriers, and so far in 2016 i have only missed one session with them. So i have also consistently doing speed work and thanks to them, I have been doing better quality sessions than i was doing last year.

Running wise, despite the injuries the i have run almost the same number of miles over the past 20 weeks as i did in preparation for Manchester (1065 V 1068). There are two reasons for this, firstly in February 2015 i picked up a knee injury which caused me to miss a number of sessions that months, whereas this time i haven’t picked up one major issue during training. I have had niggles two days lost worrying i had re-fractured my leg, four days lost during taper (a worrying / ok time to miss training) after slightly twisting my ankle but apart from that thinks have gone well.  On top of this, i feel fitter, than ever before and core strength is the strongest its ever been.

pudding

The proof is in the pudding as they say and i have put my training to test on three occasions during 2016.  The Wrexham Village Baker half marathon, where i turned up to run my first race since the fracture with a plan to run an even 6:30 per mile and test out my marathon pace. The result an accidental PB of 1:23:06 – a new PB, down from 1:24:25.

The Trimpell 20, which is my usual training race ahead of a spring marathon and this time i stuck to my task of running average of 6:30 per mile, coming home in 2:10:41. A PB of over six minutes!

Finally and recently (April 6th) it was the Blackpool inter club 4 mile race. This was my second ever experience of such an event and this time i was a lot more prepared for how competitive it would be.  I also set myself a target pace of 6 minutes per mile, which would bring home a PB and apart from mile 3, i blew that away completing the race in 23:26 despite not reaching top speed or sprinting for the line. A PB of 1:49.

Now its time to head state side and put this training to the test, months of hard work and at times frustration. Here’s hoping it pays off!!

@SJPC14

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston 2016 : Trimpell & taper

Boston taper time.png

The time has arrived…….the time that all marathon runners look forward to…the time when the weekly mileage finally starts heading in reverse.  That said, its also the time that tells you that you are just weeks away from your marathon challenge and regardless if its your first or like me your seventh marathon, you start to get butterflies. You are at the business end of your training and there isn’t much you can do over the next three weeks that will greatly improve you as a runner.   Everything you have done up to now, will be what dictates your marathon day performance…….well unless you go completely off the rails or get a major injury in the next few weeks or perhaps even opt to take a load of performance enhancing drugs.  Soooo, the training you have completed up to this point will have the greatest influence on your race day performance.  The next three weeks are all about ensuring you arrive at the start line rested and ready to give your best performance over 26.2 miles that you can, at this point in time.

Trimpell 2016

Last Sunday (March 20th 2016), was the big best, the dress rehearsal, the practice run.  Call it what you want, i was running my traditional spring 20 mile race in Lancaster, the Trimepll 20.  I have completed this race three times before.  Having first used it to see what running a marathon would feel like in 2009 and returning in 2014 ahead of the Wales marathon and again in 2015 ahead of Manchester.  Its fairly local to me, well organised, the course is 99% traffic free and its a fairly flat route, which makes it ideal to sneak into your training plan.

Well that’s what i thought…..the race has actually relocated to Lancaster castle this year. So gone was the fast track finish that i used to love and in its place a steep climb all the way up into the Castle itself. A nasty way to finish a 20 mile race, but great practice for heart break hill i thought (There’s always a silver lining).  The race also wasn’t quite well organised as in past years either, as there was some confusion over where the start line was and there wasn’t enough toilets.  Although to be fair, there were more toilets than in previous years, there was just over 200 more runners than last years!  A big turn out and i wonder if that’s the impact of the newly returned Manchester Marathon.  Either way, its still an idea marathon practice race and that’s what i was here to do.  With a plan of running the race in 2:10 achieving an average pace of 6:30.  If i could do that, i could set myself quite a tough target for Boston as i seek a seventh marathon PB in a row.

Annoyingly it didn’t start well…..as the new course start involved fairly narrow section of running and this contributed to me reaching the first mile marker in 6:37, so i was seven seconds down, but no need to panic as there were another 19 miles to go. It may also have not helped that i got into conversation with another Harrier as we ran the first mile together…….

Mile 2 was completed in 6:33, better but I was still behind schedule. By mile 3 i had latched onto another runner and he was clearly also aiming for 6:30 pace (The constant watch checking gives a runner with a plan away) and together we passed the third mile point bang on 6:30. Better.

Mile four (6:32) was off pace, but i close enough, then five went in 6:25 pace and 6 in 6:24 so things were going much better and i was gaining time back.   At this point my companion shot off down the road, but i stayed on course knowing i was happy with what i was currently doing and that i didn’t want to over cook it, there was a long way to go after all.

The miles ticked by fairly uneventfully, as i stuck to my task we great determination :

7 – 6:31
8 – 6:28
9 – 6:29

 The around mile 10 another runner had caught up to me, although he stayed on my shoulder and every so often fell back only to return. I could hear his heavy breathing and foot pounding, he was struggling and had another ten miles to go. I was feeling in control and relaxed, hearing his other chap struggling added to that to my confidence. 

Not long after mile 10, I came to one of the only hill of note in the race, which we would run twice of the course of the race. In past years i have had no problem getting up and over this hill the first time around, but struggled on the return.  The toll of having run around 17 mile at that point usually hits me.  So per previously years i was up and over this incline, i think its only around +58 and there is actually a worse climb, which you also do twice a little further on. 

10 – 6:33
11- 6:28

It was at this point, that i could see my companion from earlier in the race.  I tried pacing his movement for a while, which was hard from a distance, but i soon (Thanks to Garmin) found him to be running off pace. So i abandoned that plan i stuck to my task. Mile 12 – 6:30

I decided to as i was near the turn around point, that i wanted to catch him up, for whatever reason so i pushed on.  Mile 13 – 6:22

Having caught him, we reached the hilly sections again, Mile 14 – 6:35, Mile 15 – 6.38. 

But this time on the hill climb that had caused me some issue in the past, i found myself feeling strong.  I then found myself drawing level with my former companion and passing him by, beating him to the stop and using the drop to speed up and push away. For the first time in the race i had gone by him. It was a good moment.

I have thought about, why for the first time, did I not find that hill any trouble as i haven’t been doing hill repeat sessions.  But what i have been doing, is runs with stairs in them and treadmill runs of between 4 & 8 miles on a constant uphill climb of between 4% and 5%.  So i think a combination of these two training tools, had clearly increased my leg strength. it was a great confidence booster, to pass him on that damn hill and onward i pushed. Mile 16 – 6:26

The next runner ahead of me, was maybe 600 metres up the road, it was a big gap. So big i ruled out catching him, but i could see him passing other runners. So i targeted them instead. Mile 17 – 6:20, Mile 18 – 6:22. I was on him!

I hadn’t expected to catch him, but now i had and i was still feeling strong whereas i could tell he was slowing, so i decided to pass him when we reached mile 19 (6:23) and thats what i did. 

Pushing on for the last mile i passed one runner as we reached the turn that took us back onto the narrow start. I knew the steep climb was coming, as i had walked up it ahead of the race to see how tough it was and to ensure i knew what to expect.  

I passed two runners at the bottom of the hill walking up it and for some reason, i powered on. This could of been due to high fiving a man in a superman outfit holding a sign saying touch me for power….i am not sure, further research would be required to prove or disprove that……maybe….. Either way, i powered up the hill passing another runner on my way up the steep climb.  Reaching the end of the steep climb and the up hill cobble section into the castle (its a tough finish!!) i caught up with another runner.  He tried to hold me off as we turned to head into the Castle but i had too much left for him and pushed passed him and headed to the finish.

2:10:41, i run the last mile in 6:27 pace and i run the final section in 6:06 pace……a great finish and a great race time. 

So i got the time i wanted and things are still looking good, another marathon PB could be on the cards.  There’s a few weeks to go and you never know how the race will go, but despite the stress fracture i am where i wanted to be be. Incidentally this performance also represents a 20 mile PB of 6 minutes 17 seconds with an average pace of 6:29 so a timely confidence booster.  I dont know if i could hold this pace for another six miles, but i am starting to think about trying too……

The Trimpell 20 : My performance and race route

 Taper

 Back to Boston, and its now taper time. My weekly mileage will drop to 70, then 54 and then finally 36 miles. But this this comes on the back of twice breaking my monthly mileage total (February 301 miles, March (to date) 312 miles) and running more long runs (14 miles +) during the run up (Jan-March) to a marathon than ever before (22). I have continued with my cycling gym sessions, my Harriers training and my core strength work.  So i am feeling fitter than ever before, although right now I am a bit stiff after running a tough 22 miler.

Interesting find alert!!

I found this great pace calculator that it designed for the Boston marathon factoring in all the hill climbs and drops.  If you are doing or planning on doing Boston i recommend it.

Boston Marathon Pace Calculator

 @SJPC14

 

 

Boston marathon : 7 weeks to go

Boston 100

There are now just seven weeks between me and the 120th Boston marathon start line and I am in a lot better position than my last post when i was gradually recovering from a stress fracture. A long period of building up my miles, avoiding speed work, hills and weights, nervously wondering i see a re-occurrence of my injury.

Suffice to say it wasn’t a nice period, but training is going well and i just completed the biggest milage week of the my training plan.  Covering a whoping 88 miles over just seven days, taking my February mileage up to 291 miles with one day of the month to go.  It is a great change in fortunes and now i am starting to think less and less about my leg and more and more about Boston.  In fact just yesterday morning i woke up with the London marathon tune in my head :

Although admittedly, i do have the occasional tweak and twinge and not to long ago I missed two days of running as a precaution.  So i am not out of the woods, but those are the only two days i missed this month.  One thing that London marathon tune does, it make me really want to return to that race one day…….its certainly an atmosphere that no other marathon has come close to yet.

But 2016 is all about Boston and unlike last year and partly due to the injury i had. I have set about my mission to do more cross training and speed work with great enthusiasm.  I have only missed one Preston Harriers speed session this year, i have continued with my cycle cross training with ambition of completing a least one intense 30 minute session at 90 RPM per week (This week have completed three session).  I am continuing to do core workouts (i have completed two this week) and i am fitting in not just hills but occasionally stairs into y runs, which if you are lucky can be found in your park or woodlands.  I have also been lucky enough discover i work for the organisation as a chap called Rob Hope who is a three time British Fell Running champion and has represented England and Great Britain at international level.  So i am getting out on at least one run a week with this guy and he certainly makes it tough and fast. I have spent my Saturday runs, partly due to the injury and partly inspired by Kenyan runner and two time Boston marathon champ Moses Tanui running on a treadmill up a none stop incline (4% at the moment).  This is in preparation for the tough Boston run and to limit the impact of the roads on my shin and joins, ahead of the Sunday long run.

I have also managed a faster average past than previously of 7:54 compared is 8:00 in 2015 and 08:09 in 2014. Also despite my injury troubles my total mileage isn’t that far off, what it was last time round as i prepared for Manchester. Where at this point last year (Dec 1st 2014 – Feb 28th 2015) i had run 659.7 miles, this time round i have covered 623.1 a difference of just 36.6 miles.  So with all the extra work i am doing, perhaps i will end up in a better position than last spring.  Which is just as well given Boston is a tougher route than Manchester.

——–

Doing all these things however would be meaningless with out results and on February 14th i found myself once again in north Wales running the Wrexham Village Bakery Half Marathon.  Which I arrived at on the back of two days out worrying about having re-fractured my shin. However a short 4 mile treadmill run the day before re-assured me that i was worried about nothing.   That said, i turned up on the day with a plan of running 6:30 per mile and testing out my marathon pace rather than going for a PB.  This was after all my first real race since the injury

First mile, like a lot of first miles was a fast one, completing it in 6:04, which i thought was great because it takes the pressure trying to run a consistent pace if you know you can miss a mile or two.

I slowed down and found myself running alongside a chap in a yellow top and my Garmin was telling me was on pace once more. But he sped up and i followed him  competing mile two in 6:19.

I slowed down once more and found myself in a group of five runners going along at what felt like a comfortable pace. 6:24, 6:27 on to mile 5 which was run in 6:23 and the group of five was now a group of four.

I starting to forget about my 6:30 pacing strategy and our group was pushing on. Up ahead was another group of runners but not too far ahead that we couldn’t real them in.    And that’s exactly what we did completing mile six in 6:11 and it was me of all people who closed the gap.  Speeding up and pushing away from my small group and catching the back running of the next group.  The chap in yellow.  Before the rest of my small group caught up.

Mile 7 – 6:14 and the group had split again with yellow runner behind left with me and my group.    6:15 on to mile 9, 6:26 and mile 10 was completed in 6:30 as the group slowed down a little after what had been a tough period.

But then one of our group pushed on down the road, I thought about it for a few seconds and then i gave chase catching him and passing him by within the mile.  During our passing he gave me some words of encouragement and we talked briefly about there only being a 5k left. 6:18 mile 11 was gone and so was that chap id left him behind and passed a number of other runners.

Behind me all this time, i could hear a fast moving female runner, ahead of me what i knew was the third placed female runner.  I decided to play pace maker and catch her, but despite this mile 12 was a slower mile – 6:25

Picking up the pace, I closed in on the third placed female passing her by around the 12.5 mile mark, with the chasing female runner continuing to be just behind me.  Together we caught and passed two more runners and at 12.7 miles she drew level with me and i said to her, “You’re 3rd place, and there less than half a mile to go, keep pushing”  and with that she, pushed on.

I was happy enough to leave her to go on, i was on for an accidental PB. But that said there was another runner not to far ahead so i decided to chase him down,passing him before the 13 mile marker went by.  6:14.

Just a few metres to go and runner not to far behind me, big PB achieved.  What do i do………do i push on to sprint or take a fast run finish. This was what was going on in my head.  I knew from my Harrier track sessions, i could get up to fast enough pace without sprinting, that most couldn’t catch.  So i opted for the later plan, unless of course he caught me, in which case i would go for the sprint.  Reaching 5:24 pace i ran home over the line, with out hearing the sounds of any incoming runners, it was a great, comfortable and relaxed way to finish a come back race.

Time 1:23:06 – a new PB, down from 1:24:25.  So i am on track, surprisingly and the next big test is on March 20th at the Trimpell 20 my traditional spring marathon preparation race.  Although it turns out they have changed the route this year, which is a shame as I used to enjoy the race track start and finish.  But at least it keeps things interesting i guess.

On wards and upwards!

@SJPC14