My Journey to Sub 3

manchester 3From the surprising heat of Edinburgh in 2010, to the torrential rain of Preston 2012 and the near perfect conditions of Manchester 2015 my journey from a 4:13 marathoner to a 2:58 marathoner has been long, hard, educational, depressing, joyful and worth while.  I found out what a mesocycle was, that a long run isn’t a long run until you’ve passed the 14 mile mark and experienced doing doubles for the first time.  I met the author Andy Holgate, olyimpians Richard Whitehead, and Helen Clitheroe, tri-athlete Tanja Slater and local hero Ben Ashworth. 

It’s been quite a journey and i feel privileged to have met and in some cases run with some amazing people, as well as making lots of running friends both the in real world and online where a vast net work of running communicate through all manor of sites including Garmin Connect, Smashrun, Runners World, Twitter and of course, wordpress.  I usual go by the handle SJPC14, which is also some sort of Japaneses component it would seem………Google a fountain of knowledge

The quickest way to asses my progress is to simply put my training mileage against my times, and in this case i have counted up all the miles i ran in the 20 weeks prior to each marathon.  I chose 20 weeks, because whilst my first training plan last just 16 weeks and most my the plans i have followed have been for 18 weeks.  There have been several occasions when i started training two weeks early to factor in any possible injuries that may and often do, crop up.  This is a training tactic i recommend to all runners as it means you can take up to 14 days out injured without panicking about the affect on your race day…….unless you get injured within the two weeks just prior to your big day that is……..

marathon progressOne of the first things you can take away from the above table is just how unprepared i was for my first two marathons, no wonder they both finished with me staggering over the finish line.  In the case of the Edinburgh marathon i was following a Runners World smart coach plan, whilst for London i followed the beginners plan from the Runners World guide to running.   Both plans proved adequate enough to get me around and at the time i was also supplementing my training with gym sessions and swimming.  As I had a thought that you needed to be doing, that kind of thing on top of your running.  Which actually is correct, but not at the determent of your running, which is what i ended up doing hence i struggled big time.

Additionally in these first two marathons, i reached the half way point very close to my half marathon PB time, in fact in Edinburgh i was just minute off it, so i trained poorly and i raced poorly and when you add in some baking hot race day weather, you guessed it, i had a torrid time.  There were times during both these marathons when i wasn’t sure i would finish the race and in both cases, i wondered afterwards if i should give up on the marathon.  I certainly never thought id one day run a sub 3 marathon!

Advanced MarathoningNext came the Preston Guild marathon, a once every twenty years event, in my adopted home town.  This time i put the miles in, following a training plan from the Advanced marathon book for the first time ever.  I also kept up with my gym and swim sessions and was able to train on parts of the race route beforehand, so i was far better prepared.  On race day, the weather couldn’t of been any more different from my first two marathons torrential rain and cold winds, it was tough going and i even had to break off for a bathroom break.  Which i put down to the coffee energy gels they were giving out and me and me not being a tea or coffee drinker.  After this, i now always take my own gels to races so that i am not taking anything that i am used to.  I also raced smart this time, covering the first half in a comfortable pace before gradually increasing my pace over the second half and finishing with a fast sprint to the line in 3:48, which considering i was aiming for sub 4, was really pleasing.

medalThen there was Dublin and another increase in miles, which sadly resulted in the dropping of my swim sessions.  Something i am only now looking to correct, as low impact training, that touches muscles that running doesn’t play a key role in keeping you injury free.  On the plus i added speed work to my training in the form of interval training. Ensuring that i learned from another of my past mistakes.  As i had found that by simply thrashing out mile after mile, you end up loosing your speed over the shorter distances.  So long slow runs, great for marathons, rubbish for 5ks.  So in came 100, 600 and mile repeats.

Another great lesson i had taken on board, was race day travel, booking a hotel right by the start line, giving me all the time i needed in the morning, a stress free morning is just want you need before the big day.  However i did learn one hard lesson in preparation, as all the nearby Italian restaurants were completely booked up.  Luckily Advanced Marathoning had taught me that actually most elite runners, eat rice before the big race, as its easier to digest and they can take more on board.  So off to the Chinese it was.  The book proved to telling the truth as one race day not only didn’t i feel any ill affects but i came home in 3:31 another huge PB.

TenbyIf i had learned anything from the first four marathons it was that preparation was key to success and this time i was heading to Wales for what is billed as the UK toughest marathon, The Wales marathon in Tenby, as part of the long course weekend.   This race includes something like 12 hill climbs, so i knew, i would have to learn to love the hills.  Not only did i ensure that every run included at least one hill, but i also often took myself off to neighboring areas such as Longridge and Rivington to find and run far harder and tougher hills than i would face in Wales.  This was a brilliant tactic as it not just physically prepared me for anything Tenby could throw my way, but it also physiologically prepared me.  As when i was taking on the worse this marathon had, i knew in my head that i had faced worse in training.   I also ensured that i endured a good few hill repeat sessions, which again are great for strength both physically and mentally.

On race day, the weather was sunny, but with a cool breeze, perfect for running.  I tackled the course with a plan, of easing up the hills and flying back down them to make up for lost time, then taking the flats at a good pace.  Hard work over the course of 26.2 miles, but the result was another sprint finish, coming home in 20th place in 3:12 and for first time ever i felt that a marathon had gone how i wanted it to go.  I taken back control of the distance and afterwards i knew, if i could i do Tenby i could do 26.2, i had mentally conquered the distance.  A key moment, for any runner wanting to succeed at this distance, losing the fear of running non-stop for 26.2 miles.

manchester 2015 finish timeSo then came Manchester, which in itself it perfect for running a PB, not only is it the flatted marathon in the UK, but also it features numerous long straight sections, it was right for take on and aiming for sub 3 and i was ready to go for it.

But to go sub 3, i knew that i would again needed to increase my mileage, which resulted in me dropping my gym sessions to make time. Something i regretted over the last few miles as my quads became so sore, i had to numb them with water to keep going.  I had also made the mistake of limiting my hill work, so effectively i turned up on race day weaker than i should of been.  But i had increased the amount of speed work i had been doing, and added core sessions to my training.  The latter of which i added, as i had began to notice that over the longer races, my stomach would start to hurt and i would be forced to slow down.  By bringing in core work, i no longer had this problem and i could hold a higher pace for much longer.  The result, a sprint finish and a fantastic 2:58, but it could of been quicker if my quads hadn’t failed me, resulting in a positive marathon split, when i was aiming for a negative (a faster second half) and this was the first time since London, this had happened.  So the big lesson here is strength work and hills must play a part in your training even if the race is held on a flat course.

Summing up, the key eliminates to achieving my sub 3 marathon were high mileage (you should probably aim for at least 50 miles a week), speed work, hill work, strength work, know the course you are to run and practice it.  If you cannot practice it, perhaps its a marathon aboard, then try and re-create running routes locally that replicate the course profile.  Pasta is not king for runners, rice is actually better and gives you a far more options the night before, as your competitors pack out the local Italians.  Start your training plan two weeks early, that way if you get injured its no big deal, you’ve 14 days to heal up, which for a lot of running injuries is all you need.

Other lessons learned include :

  • Your mid-week long runs are just as, maybe even more important than the long slow run, do not neglect these.
  • Keep track of your the miles you have covered in your trainers, so that way you can change them before they become warn out and that you can change them in time to run the marathon in a fairly new, but warn in, pair.
  • Doing doubles (Running both A.M and P.M) is a great way to fit in extra runs and increase your mileage
  • Know exactly when the water and energy stops are coming, write it on your arm if you need to.  As this helps you physiologically, as you will know exactly when your next drink is coming and you can be prepared for it.  Similarly make a lot of where the portaloos are along the route…….
  • Pick a hotel near to the start (walking distances is ideal) and find out what they serve for breakfast beforehand so you can get in a an order for your pre-race favorite.  Oh find out about parking.
  • Research local restaurants and book a table for the night before the race
  • Plan your race in stages and no matter how good you feel do not push on till you’ve least passed the half way point
  • Speak to and learn from as many runners as you can, even if they are slower than you they might still have one or two tricks up their sleeves that could make all the difference on the day.
  • Oh and mesocycles are stages of training. Usually there are five, with the fifth stage being a five week recovery period after your marathon.
  • Always use your taper, as a taper.  Do not try and throw in extra miles, you are ready, take it easy and make sure you line up on race day refreshed.

Learn from my mistakes and you too will achieve a great marathon time.

WP_20150831_002_kindlephoto-3447757

@SJPC14

The Greater Manchester Marathon 2015

Manchester marathon in numbers2So Manchester lived up to its reputation as the UK fastest marathon, with 6% of competitors managing to duck under the three hour marker, an extraordinary achievement.

So how did my face go…..

Well as ever i was running late…..making it to the start line, via climbing over a barrier, with around 3 minutes till the off.  Learning from my mistake at Trimpell , i had already found my signal and set my Garmin.  I also had my gel belt in place and five minutes prior to this, had downed a bottle of Lucozade sport, i was ready to go.  What could go wrong….

What did go wrong, was that i didn’t start my Garmin on the start line, or before it, in fact i started at the first chip time mat.  Which for some reason it turned was not at the start line itself.  In fact the organisers had decided it would be a couple of metres down to the road, and It was only after i reached and passed that first mile marker and then noticed my watch beeping out a pace time around 20 seconds later that i released this mistake….i mean who puts a chip time mat just down the road from the start line…… to be fair the real start line was probably the temporary bridge they had built for us to run under, but arriving late, i hadn’t released that or had any time to think about my surroundings.

Hey ho, not to worry,  i had my trusty Asic pace band, so i knew what time i had to reach various markers at and I had my watch set on 6:50 as a warning that i had slowed too much.  So between the two, i would still be able to monitor my progress, particularity as I had set my watch to display the total race time and average pace time.  The result however does mean that the limited split times provided by the oranisers are probably a more accurate picture of my race but looking at both still adds value.

So i set off too fast,  reaching what i believed to by my first mile in 6:24,  the second in 6:34 and the third in 6:43.  I knew this was too quick and i knew that if i was not careful i could blow up later in the race.  So i pulled myself back letting a number of runners go by me as i started to recorded times around the 6:50 which is more what i wanted to be doing.

The hilly section of miles 11-13 arrived and with time in hand, i didn’t have to worry about pushing on up over any inclines, even if it wasn’t these weren’t exactly challenging hills.  covering mile 11 in 6:53 , mile 12 in 07:01 and mile 13 in 6:47

For some reason i found miles 15 and 16 really hard going passing them in 6:56 and 07:02 , i wasn’t sure if my fast start was catching up with me or if i hadn’t eaten enough the day before.  But i kept telling myself not to worry about it, just get back to 6:50 you achieved that in Trimpell over 20 miles, you can do this.  So i tried to pick up the pace a little and when i heard someone in the crowd mention here comes the flag…. i knew it could only mean one thing.  And a quick look over my shoulder confirmed this.  About 40 seconds back down the road was the 3 hour pace runner.  I had no choice but to pick up the pace and put some more day light between me and him covering mile 17 in 6:40 and mile 18 in 6:47 with my top speed each sub 6:30 pace at times.

Mile 19 was another tough mile, not only had i just been pushing on for two miles but i was starting to feel a blister come through.  I have never had a blister appear mid-race before.  And one reason for that is that i usual Vaseline up my feet before a long races, this time i had forgotten, my left toe was in pain and it was slowing me down.

Eventually, i was able to ignore that pain and get back tracking and passing miles 20 – 23 between 6:43 and 6:52 pace.  Then came mile 24 and more pain, this time my quads and here is where my lack of speed or strength work came crashing home.  Every move caused me pain, but i knew i had passed the 20 mile mark in 02:15 , a PB, i was on for sub3.  Surely this wouldn’t be my undoing…..

Various phrases of encouragement came into my mine such as ‘when the tough get going……’  , ‘hope in your heart, wings on your heel.….’ ,  ‘Berlin 1989…..’ , ‘think of those who have come to watch you or are watching online.…’ , ‘ think of those you could inspire….’ and ‘fight for every inch.…’ these random phrases combined with shouts of encouragement from the crowd such as ‘come on simon’ , ‘you’re almost there‘ , ‘not long to go now’ , ‘ sub3 is around the corner‘  and making use of each water station to cover my legs in cold water to numb the pain, kept me going through some tough miles. 07:04 and  07:12 pace.

Then i could see it, i could see the stadium, raising above the houses and neighboring buildings.  As a Liverpool fan, I cannot stand Manchester United, but i so pleased to see their stadium appearing ahead of me.  I looked down at my watch and it read 02:54:12.  I could do this, if i could just pull something out of the bag, i thought to myself, i am too close to fail now, i have to go for it.

And go for it i did, pushing on as hard as i could, turning into the home stretch, the streets now three-four thick in crowds cheering the runners home.  I remembered my measurements, less than 200 metres to go.  I could see the clock up ahead 02:57:?? it read……. i moved into what seemed like a sprint passing a number of runners 02:58:?? the clock read, and up i went, jumping as i crossed the finish line, replicating my Wales finish from the previous year and bringing laughter to the crowd in the process.   But i didn’t care about that, i just broke what some call an arbitrary measure, and others a milestone.  I had run a marathon in sub3.  Joy , shock and amazement, I couldn’t believe what i had done it,  my greatest running achievement to date and still now i cannot believe i managed it.

When i crossed the finish line in Edinburgh in 4:13:05 , i though there is no way i would ever run a sub3 marathon and now here i am, with a net time (i assume that means chip time) finish of 02:57:54 and a gun time of 02:58:23, which ever way you look at it, i am a sub3 marathoner……..and i am so pleased about it!  A PB of 14:52 meaning i have maintained my average marathon PB of 15 minutes , recording six PBs in a row now. Marvelous stuff, if i dont say so myself!!

manchester 2015 finish timeIt gets even better looking at the splits, as it would seem despite the pain and struggles i went through, i actually managed to stay fairly consistent

event splitsNow for a couple of days off and , working up my training stats and plan my next move…..Ive i year or so to beat better this result, so no time to waste.

And finally here are those out of sink Garmin stats manchester garmin splits@SJPC14

Manchester 2015 : Training complete

Well almost……i am supposed to run 4 mile tomorrow but with my traditional pre-race day lay in and traveling it might be tricky to fit that in. So bar that, I have completed every run of taper week three.  So that is almost four complete weeks in a row! Which is fantastic on whats been my most injury interrupted marathon training to date.

So how has it gone…..well the simple stats are as follows :

Runs : 1068 miles out of a target of 1292 (83% of target)
(This works out as an average of 59 miles per week and does not include the runs              completed during the two weeks when things were really bad, injury hit hard this year)

Core sessions : I completed 41 core work outs – which is a huge improvement for me and a massive step in the right direction.

Speed work : I completed 10 speed sessions, which nowhere near enough.
A lot more work needs to be done here.

Walking : I walked to and/or from work a total of 83 times since training began, covering    212 miles, which is a fantastic effort and great work on a low impact exercise method often overlooked (see here)

There is nothing more i can do now, but write up a to pack list, pack, print out anything i need to print and then off to bed ahead of tomorrows journey to Manchester.

——————-

Some inspiration

There lots of great inspirational speeches, quotes and videos there. Some like to read Rudyard Kipling’s ‘IF’ (see here) others enjoy watching Al Pacino’s speech from ‘Any given sunday‘ and others love the London Marathon theme tune.  I recommend all three by the way, they are all fantastic.  Personally, i love the quote ‘With hope in our hearts and Wings on our heels‘ from Chariots of Fire, two things all runners need particularly if you are running the marathon.

But the best source of inspiration is yourself,  IF you have been wise and completed your training, you are true runner.  And with hope in your heart, determination in your mind and wings on your heels……you will conquer those  1,660,032 inches that make up the marathon.   You’ve made your sacrifices, giving up time with loved ones, time with friends and put running ahead of work and study.  Now it is time for you pay them back, to line up at that start zone and give everything you’ve got until you’ve crossed that finished line.  And when you do that, with nothing felt, having giving your all, you’ll know you’ve paid them back and you’ll be a marathoner my friend!

Run smart, race well and finish strong! –  Its time to go and take on Manchester!

#KeepRunning

Twitter – @SJPC14

SmashRun and Runners World – SJPC14

Interesting reads :

Athletics Weekly :Expect domestic battles at ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon

Manchester Evening News : Everything you need to know about the race

Manchester 2015 : Taper week 2

manchester pace bandTaper week two, brought me the completion of a third full week of training, for the first time since January.  Things are still not 100% but there have been a couple of runs were i have returned home and had to think about whether or not my right shin had caused me any major problems.  Things are looking positive, or this could be the eye of the storm……hopefully i am healing up just in time.

I finalised my custom pace band,  which you can see at the top of this page.  Its ambitious but if i can complete it i will have my goal and set a 20 mile PB along the way.  Something which seems daunting, but then i remind me myself that in the three times i have run the Trimpell 20, i have never actually raced it….. So i need to put that fear to bed, before the big day.

This weekend was a huge weekend in European marathon circles with the Brighton , Paris and Vienna marathons all being run.  So twitter has been awash with stories and pictures from all over the place, making you want to get out there and do your thing! Thankfully, in some ways, for me there is just one week to go now, for those in London you have another two weeks of marathon news to get you motivated.  And how can you not be motivated when you see so many running such amazing races,  in what appears to have been fantastic conditions.

Meanwhile in Preston, it has rained for most of the day, meaning that i had my first run in miserable conditions for a few weeks and in some ways that’s probably a good thing, the mental strength that comes from that will help.  But there isn’t much joy in a 13 miler facing wind and rain…..although when i finished it, it occurred to me, that’s the last time i will hit double digit miles before the big day!! Eck! scary darey!!

Aside from the required 54 miles, i completed three speed workouts including two lots of 8*100m and one lot of 3*1,600m and i completed three core work out sessions.  Although my body is become used to the core work i have been doing, so i need to increase that from next week i think.

The Big day, one week to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So its finally time to start studying the race route and i have noticed a few interesting things.  Firstly there is a hill towards the end of the 11th mile, it goes on for 1,271 metres so it is the kind of long gradual incline that can take a runner by surprise and knock them off their stride.  I am thinking that i might tackle this , in the same way that i tackled the hills of Wales last year and ease off this point.  Particularly as it is then followed about 7 miles of gradual decline…..Granted the hills in this race are nothing to be scared off, but over the course of 26.2 miles even the slightest incline can take its toll.  I remember the Edinburgh marathon, which previously held the title of being the UKs flattest marathon, was in fact quite demanding in places, so i wont be taking this hill lightly.  Additionally, after the seven miles of gradual decline, the race finishes with six miles of gradual incline which almost certainly finish off those that have pushed too hard in the race to reach this point.   So i think i might need to be ahead of plan , when i reach this point, that way i can limit the impact of this incline.  Finally, the finish, is a bit funny.  You turn a corner then have just under 200 metres of straight, so my plan is to make a note of the were the final 100 starts and using the beginning of the home straight to move up the gears to a sprint finish over the last 100.

So its…..stick to the plan for 12 miles, easy on the hill (not too easy mind) speed up between miles 13 and 20 and then stick what i am doing (hopefully that being, me ahead of the plan) for miles 20-22, then go use up every last big of energy till i have crossed the finish line.   What could go wrong……. #GULP

manachester marathon course profile#KeepRunning

@SJPC14

Manchester 2015 : The first week of taper

manchester no

The first week of taper brought me my race number 2741, so almost a 14…..which is good but an uneven number which may be bad…..but in reality it doesn’t really matter what number i am, just that i have one and its arrived……..its on…gulp!

I also completed a full week of training for the second time in a row, which is the first time since early February that i have achieved that which further highlights how bad things have been this time out.  I also completed two core work outs and two speed work outs, so it was a good week.

I have also made use of the Asics ‘Pace your Race‘ offer, which allows you to create your own pace band, which not only will they create and print for you.  But also they will create a map based on your pace band.  Allowing any spectators you’re bringing with you to see when you will reach certain parts of the course.  This is the first time i have come across such a thing and its free, so i thought why not.  Its a great idea, i hope other big races start doing the same.  Just need them to start providing free photos then races will have got back to been good value, we do play a lot to enter these things after all.

In slightly more interesting news i made an interesting discovery.  Whilst searching around for a better run analysis tool than Garmin Connect, which lets face it, is slow and poorly designed.  I came across SmashRun , which is a running analysis tool created by runners, is free and works with a number of running devices and apps (so you can simply transfer over any runs you’ve recorded on sites such as Garmin Connect).  The design and layout of the site is fantastic and you can customise it, even changing the colour theme using their currently selected favorite user picture submitted via Facebook (Which at the moment is from some sort of zombie race) should you wish too.  The level of detail they provide you with is fascinating with a dashboard ‘one page’ display style allowing you to easily see your personal bests, total miles run, number of days of consecutive runs, runs split by AM and PM , your average training pace, your average run length and a whole host of other great stats.  The site also features a feedback form where you can submit ideas for development and as i found out, the developers are happy to discuss your ideas about the site on Twitter.  So I fully recommend this site, it is free to sign up, simple to use and very informative.  If you are a running geek you’ll will love it.

Here’s a screen grab…..

smash run screen grabIf you sign up, as with here, twitter, runners world and garmin connect i am on as SJPC14.  Feel free to say hello.

And another discovery if you are in England or Wales you will find some great canal maps  here allowing you to see what is along the canals and which ones that be walked (run).

#KeepRunning

Enter the taper

enter the dragonSo the training is over…….well the main bits…..there is just the three week taper left to go and here is my over due training up date.

To say mesocycle 2 has been tough would be an understatement, it was incredibly frustrating and hard going as i failed to shift my shin issue.  Which left me wondering if perhaps that first injury which cleared up after four days was a shin splint, but the second injury which came after i completed two full weeks of training was / is perhaps something more serious….. i am not sure but i know things are still not perfect but mescocycle 3 went a lot better (soooo behind on blog updates!).  This has been by far the most injury interrupted marathon training programme i have ever experienced.

So mesocycle 2 went so badly that i only completed 72% of the runs that i was down to do and if i hadn’t had the two weeks in hand, from starting training early that would of been even grimmer reading.  This left me going into mescocyle 3 having completed 81% of all planned training.  Meaning it would now be impossible for me to meet the minimum 85% target for my training programme to be truly affective.

Mesocycle 3 went a lot better, not only did a secure a 6:51 average pace 20 mile race PB (see previous post) but also i only dropped 7 runs completing 80% of all training miles i was down for.  So now i have run 908 of the 1,146 miles i was down for giving me a total percentage completed of 79%.   But i am not going to get to down about things as my times in Wrexham and Trimpell put me on course for sub3 and i have been doing a lot more core work than i have during past training programmes and i have start getting back to doing speed work, although i took the last week off from that to aid my recovery from Trimpell.   Additionally i am walking further to and from work (2.6 miles each way) than previously and i have the work that i have been on trying to improve my running form.  So hopefully all these things will come together on the day.

So the taper begins tomorrow with a 70 mile week, then a 54 mile week and finally the race week of 36 miles….. I might sneak one of two extra miles on to my long run.  For example i am down for 17 this coming week, but i think I’ll do 18 instead and for the following week i am down for 13 but i am tempted to push it to 15.  I know it wont make too much of a difference at this late stage but it might be good for my confidence.

I will continue to get in core work aiming for three sessions a week and i am going to try and get in six more speed sessions.  Oh and hopefully one more session with Helen Clitheroe. 

Then thats it….. heck!! Its feeling very real and very close! And my mind is a whirl of yes you can do this and ooh im not going to do this, i’ll come close but i wont do it……..

@SJPC14

The Trimpell 20 2015

homer-dohFirstly apologies for my lack of updates, Ive been pretty snowed under with work and uni and there wasn’t too many exciting things to write about as im still not 100% fit more on that in my next post which will come soon…… However……. This Sunday gone (22/03/2015) was the day of the Trimpell 20, this 20 mile race sits perfectly for anyone planning a spring marathon and a race i set as my marathon dress rehearsal day.

The race is held in Lancaster and boasts a 99% traffic free route with only a few slight inclines, making it very much a perfect test run for your marathon.  Also it starts and finishes on a race track, which is pretty cool.

Arriving early for a change, mainly as i was giving a guy from work a lift to the race, i had plenty of time to warm up , check out the finish route and take in the atmosphere.  Over 500 hundred runners had turned out, the majority of which would of no doubt turned out to prepare for a marathon.  It was sunny but there was a slight breeze, perfect running conditions and despite still not being 100% i had taken the day before off training and i was feeling good to go, with a plan of running an even pace of 6:50 pm , which would get me just under the 3 hour mark over the marathon……if i can manage it of course!

As we lined up at the start i remembered i had forgotten to set my Garmin…..panic struck this could be a disaster…..luckily the race was delayed as the organisers kindly waited for two other runners to finish getting their numbers and this gave me just enough time to get a signal and set my watch, i was now ready and then we were off. Using the inside lane of the track i made my way up the field as we looped the track one time before heading off out onto full race course.  My Garmin telling me off in the process beep beep your going to fast dummy……it didn’t use those words and i did kind of ignore it completing the first mile in 6:35.  I then eased off and found myself along side two chatting runners talking about the various marathons they had done and with my Garmin telling me i was on pace i decided to stick with them and sure enough i passed miles 2 and 3 exactly on 6:50 they were great pace makers.  But sadly we were then joined by two other runners, which caused one of my adopted pace makers to push on ahead.  I was then left having to try and pace a speed i had never tried out before by myself.  Note always try out your marathon pace in training!!!!!!

Any way what followed was a load of miles that were either below or above the 6:50 target, as i caught up to the one that pushed on and occasionally eased off.  A pattern that lasted for a few miles before i latched on to the woman, who according to the marshals was the second placed female, so i figured id pace her for a while.  But after just two miles she eased off and i was running alone, this took me to around the 13 mile point, where i was joined by another runner who seemed to be pacing me, every now and then trying to get a few yards on me, for to me to then pull him back in.  It was good to have the company but i was recording a lot of miles over the 6:50 target which was worrying.

At mile 15 i pushed on a little recording an average pace of 6:38.  I completed mile 16 in 6:55, yet recorded a high pace of 5:15 – im not sure when – but i lost my shadow with gave me a confidence boost. I continued to push but my pace must of been all over the show with mile 17 covered in 6:50 with a high  of 5:12 and mile 18 covered in 6:52 with a high of 5:53.  I suspect with the 5:15 and 5:12 paces i had made great use of the down hill sections.

I then reached mile 19 and feeling good and feeling strong, i kept pushing passed a number of runners and seeing several runners ahead of me were in reach.  So i again moved up another gear, covering the final mile of the race in 6:33 my fastest mile of the whole race and securing myself a 44th place finish with an average pace of 6:51.

The 6:50 plan , had kind of worked although clearly i need to practice this pace more often.  Despite my injury issues, i finished this race feeling strong, it was a PB but i have only ever used this race for marathon practice, so im not sure it really counts.  But it is interesting, if i can finish a 20 mile race with a 6:33 final mile, is 6:50 too slow of a pace plan for the marathon, but then if i run 6:50 for 20 miles, i could cover the final six miles of the marathon at quite a fast pace perhaps……. hmmm plans are formulating!!

Trimpell 20 in numbers

My time 2:16:58 – A PB of around 10 minutes – Splits first ten 1:08:04 , second ten 1:08:56 – both times faster than my 10 mile PB ( I need to run a 10 mile race at some point!!)

Total finishers : 530 – 61% (321) males / 39% (20) females

Winning time : 01:53:49 Male / 02:10:40 female

Average time : 02:54:28 Male / 02:57:16 female

Last place : 04:14:48 Male / 04:48:00 female

Pace wise just 9% of runners compelted this race with an average pace fast enough to dip under 3 hours.  How many of those 9% could of run another 6.2 miles at that pace i dont know, after all many could of been like me and simply practicing their marathon pace, but no doubt some would of been racing the 20 miles. This again highlights the challenge of the sub3 marathon.

Route :

https://connect.garmin.com/activity/embed/727543200 http://www.runningahead.com

/scripts/maps/5e9cae7152fe4b4eb6b7ecda4f3d06fa?unit=mi

Runners world review page : Trimpell 20 Event rating

My splits (Ignore the final time and this distance covered, this was a a 20 miles and i didnt stop my watch stright way nor did i start at the front…..so that does slightly affect things)

trimpell 20 splits

#KeepRunnig

Village Bakery Wrexham Half Marathon 2015

In my last post I reported how I had planned to take a couple of days off to try and shift a knee niggle and a bout of shin splint. Well that turned into four days, followed by an 8 and 16 miler, day off and a 9 mile run. Things seemed to be going well. But then I attempted another 9 miler, this was Wednesday (11/02/2015) but this time things didn’t go so well. As shin splint bit back with vengeance result in me cutting my run short and taking the decision to hold out till todays Village Bakery Wrexham half marathon in a hope that things had settled down enough for me to attempt to go sub 1:25. A key indicator if you want to run a sub3 marathon.

Well this morning, I could feel the shin splint, it was still sore and I was still on anti-inflammatory gels to try bring it under control. The result was, I lined up in Wrexham knowing that there would be pain….

Thankfully, it was not as bad as I feared but it did give some discomfort for the first five miles, then suddenly the feeling full movement returned to my leg and for the rest of the race I was able to run , as if injury free. In side , I was smiling a lot when that happened.

SO how did the race go ? Well this was my first race using a Garmin watch and I had set my virtual pacer to 6:25 as this was closest to sub 1:25 pace I could set it, with the watching seemingly only allowing you change the seconds by 5 seconds at a time…..bit of a pain that really!

The first mile started off well and I completed it in 6:20 , so a little fast but close enough. Usually I fly out of these things and cover the first mile at 5k pace to spend the next two miles settling back down the correct pace. So I was pleased with that. However the next four miles where all completed at over 6:25 pace, with mile four the slowest at 6:40 pace.

SO I knew I had work to do and I aimed to finished ahead of pace for the next couple of miles, and with the exception of mile 7 which was completed bang on pace at 6:25, but I reached mile 10 having regained my lost time. Now I am not sure if it was because this was the mile that I took my SIS gel and that, that slowed me down or if it was because I came across a couple of slight inclines but mile ten was another slow one, as I completed it in 6:35.

Knowing I didn’t have much time and that the miles where running out I picked up the pace once more, competing mile 11 in 6:25 and mile 12 in 6:27.

Then came the final mile and a bit and I really did give everything I had left reaching the 13 mile marker in 6:08 my fastest mile of the race!! Over the final, section of the course I was still pushing it, I could hear feet pounding behind and see a clock ahead of me, so I kept pushing, and every time I heard those feet come pounding closer, I sped up then finally I moved into a sprint crossing the line in 1:24:25 a huge PB!! And im still smiling about it!!

—-

The race, this race has had some bad press in recent years. But this year a new team was managing it and it went without incident, there were plenty of marshals about , plenty of signs, plenty of drink stations (3) and plenty of fruit bread for all at the end. There is a lot of parking, but unlike me turn up before 10:25 otherwise you will have to park down the road. There is a bit of a walk from race HQ to the start, but if you use it for your warm then its not an issue. The route is just as flat as they claim, this is very much a PB course. If you get a chance, run this race, its fast and competitive at the front but the flatness is also great for runners of other abilities and first timers.

And in the video at the top of this post you’ll see my sort of glorious finish, im on at 14:03, enjoy.

In regards to using the virtual pace, what a great tool!! but boy did it work me hard. I doubt I would of got the time I got without mind you I am now feeling very sore. But very pleased, so it was worth it.

And for the first time ever…..here are my splints :

wrexham HM
Oh and im on Garmin as SJPC14 if anyone wants to connect , feel free.

@sjpc14

Splurges, niggles and Burnley parkrun

the splurge

Splurges

January is a great time for the endurance sports enthusiast, as the cost of over priced sporting goods comes tumbling down. Allowing us to justify our purchase of possibly needles but must have products at fantastic prices. Taking advantages of the sales, Ive added to my collection of 1000 mile socks, you really cant beat them, throwing away several worn out pairs and bringing in four brand new comfort filled pairs. I have already worn all four pairs and they are as good as you would expect, this is brand i trust to make a quality product.

After advice from a chap on twitter, who goes by the name of @FoxyDavy and who has run over 200 marathons i splashed out on a pair of SealSkinz gloves, that claim to be waterproof , windproof and most importantly warm yet breathable. Which is exactly what i needed as the only feature of my karimoor gloves seems to be that they are gloves. And after two years of returning home from cold runs with frozen hands i decided its time to get proper gloves for the truly cold nights. So far i have warn these on two runs, they are certainly windproof and warm and as soon as i have warn them in rain, I’ll let you know how they stood up.

Finally, the big one……I have bought a Garmin Forerunner 10, which was going for a knock down price of £70 on Amazon, so i could not resist it and before one my friends could respond to my text questions about the product i have already bought it…..oh well. I have completed three runs with it and i find the virtual pacer an invaluable training feature that will no doubt improve my running, whilst ensuring that i do not slack off or over do it. A fantastic buy for the serious runner and if you can justify the price to yourself go for it. Three runs in, i already can already tell what a valuable tool this will prove to be.

Niggles!

In my last post i mentioned my fight with a bout of shin splint, well its still not 100% cleared up, despite this i have run every day for the last 20 days and picked up a knee niggle. A slight twinge about the right knee. I suspect, it because of how i have been running to compensate for the shin splint. In both cases, the discomfort and any pain vanishes after just 10-15 minutes of running, suggesting that neither injury is a serious injury. And the fact that i have completed runs of up to 22 miles over the past 20 days with any reaction or serious injury occurring backs this up. However, today (Tuesday 3rd February) i working from home and tomorrow i need my car for work, for a meeting out in Rising bridge, a middle of nowhere kind of place. So i have decided to give myself an easy week of running including taking these two days off running, moving this weeks planned running schedule over to next where it fits in with Wrexham Bakery half marathon i have signed up to.

The reason being, that this Sundays long run, is just 16 miles, which means if i complete all the runs scheduled for this week, next week, except on the Sunday where i will run the half marathon i will only loose 3 miles, as opposed to 11 miles i would loose if i stick the training plan , which has me down for 24 miles next week. So its time to cash in one of my weeks in hand and hope that it a) helps me recover from this niggles and b) leaves me fresher for next weeks half marathon where i really want to go sub 1:25 the first indication that a sub3 marathon is in sight.

The Burnley parkrun

As part of my quest to run all my local park runs, in a row, in 2015. Last weekend i head off out the door to Burnley, to run their parkrun……..I guess you saw that bit coming.

As per tradition , i set off late arriving at Towneley Park, Burnley, at 8:52. Luckily this is a parkrun with a massive car park and toilet facilities right near to where the parkrun starts. Which was fantastic for me, although you do need to pay to use the car park.

So i had arrived, i also had forgotten my watch and missed the pre-run talk…..two slightly disastrous things for newbie to the run. Also this run in corporates a few section of grass running and not owning any trail shoes, i knew i was in for a tough run. Finding myself having to slow down on the grassy sections was a pain, but better than falling over and without my watch or a real idea of the route, i prevented myself from over doing it. Which in hindsight was probably a good thing completing the run 20:35, which although is some way off a PB for me, is a fantastic tim.

The parkrun in Burnley is well set up and everybody seems friendly enough, the grass sections are a nice reminder of cross country running and the route is very flat so idea for first timers. On a sunny day, i imagine it would not matter if you wear trail shoes or not but park run is an event not a race, so i guess it does not matter too much either way.

Training update

So i am three weeks into mescocyle 2, i have completed 23 runs, covering 214 miles. Although i was supposed to cover 26 runs and 256 miles at this point. So niggles have cost me 42 miles. But i am without serious injury and there are still 10 weeks to go till the big day and i am using one of my weeks in hand.

In addition to pounding the streets i have completed 2 speed work outs and 14 core work outs during mescocycle 2, which i am fairly pleased about. I still need to be doing more speed work but i am pleased with the increase in core work, which has been aided by this 30 day core challenge here :

30 day core challengeOne other new product i have obtained, but not mentioned so far, is a Fitbit activity monitor, which i was given at Christmas. It is not the most sophisticated gizmo but as well as monitoring my activity and calories burned it is also monitoring my sleep. And it is proving a very handy tool to ensuring i get enough sleep and take on board enough food and water to compensate for the work outs i am doing. So it is proving to be a valuable little tool, each has seen more eating and drinking a lot more that i was. So i cannot really complain about that.

In other news

I found this great running watch comparator tool, courtesy of DC Rainmaker

Womens Running : The Basics of Foam Rolling

A great video from kinetic-revolution.com, of Haile Gebrselassie Running in Slow Motion – which is great to study

And finally a great tool from Run England, allowing you to find running groups and clubs near you can be found here

@SJPC14

Mesocycle 1 – Endurance – Complete

Ron hill then and nowSo i am now in the second week of mesocycle 2 and i thought it was time i gave a long overdue update on how mesocycle 1 went.

This first cycle of training is all about endurance and building it up…… and as expected, and as per my previous step ups in training i found there first three weeks quite tough as my weekly mileage reached a peak of 78 miles and I started running seven days a week. Both firsts for me and both challenging physically and mentally, in fact by the time i got towards the end of this cycle i picked up a shin splint injury.

This is an injury i have had before, so i knew it could mean up to two weeks without running. So i acted quickly, i instantly stopped running, i got some ibuprofen tables, some deep relief gel and for the first time ever i applied compression to a shin splint injury. Now i wasn’t popping pills constantly, i would take a couple in the morning and again in the evening, before removing the strapping and applying the gel at night. The result, five days later i was back running, i had only missed four days of running the last two days of this cycle or training and the first two of mesocycle 2. By far the fastest i have ever recovered from a shin splint and i suspect it was all down to my rapid response to the injury and the compression. That said, i am still not 100% but i am pain free which is a good sign.

Out of the 30 runs i was scheduled to run over this first phase i completed 26 despite the injury and Christmas commitments. Covering a total of 374 miles out of 422, around 89% of all the planned miles. The minimum target being to complete 85% of your training. So a good, but not perfect start, however i still have my 14 days in hand so i am sitting pretty.

The biggest downside is that i did not manage to fit in as much speed work as i should of and wanted too and i also got slack with my core work. However of late i have made up for that, fitting in at several core sessions each week, i just need to get back on to the speed work.

mesocycle1Although ending on a positive note, i have booked two pre-marathon prep races. The village bakery half marathon, in Wrexham, in February, were i will aim to go sub 1:25 for the distance, a key marker for someone wanting to go sub3 for the marathon. Then in March i am off to Lancaster for my third outing at the Trempell 20 which sits four weeks before the Manchester marathon thus making it the perfect preparation race in which i can test out the sub3 pace of 6:50.

So its onto Mesocycle 2 – Lactate Threshold + Endurance