Training Tweaks

2014-07-22_OverviewI’ve had to tweak my training plan a little bit this week for a couple of reasons. Firstly, things went a little bit to pot last week due to work commitments and I ended up training on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, leaving myself feeling a bit too tired for Monday’s run; and secondly, it’s the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Wednesday, which is when I had planned to do my Fartlek session. So, instead of running on Monday and Wednesday, I decided to have my midweek runs on Tuesday and Thursday instead.

Today’s session was the usual 30 minutes pacing, with a target pace of 6:35 – 5 seconds faster than last week. The temperature is still pretty high at the moment, so I decided to wait an extra hour before heading out this evening, which turned out to be a good call.

The air was nice and cool and there was a gentle breeze down on the seafront to keep me from over heating. This helped to keep the pace comfortable, although there was a lot of smoke in the air due to all the barbecues on the beach, which really isn’t very pleasant to run through, but I guess I’ll have to get used to that if I’m going to be running there throughout the summer.

Pace wise, I managed to stay within the 6:30 – 6:35 range for the first two kilometres but soon found myself speeding up in the third. I wasn’t pushing too hard and the faster pace still felt pretty comfortable, so I decided to just go with it and see what happened.

I could feel that I was still picking up the pace in the fourth kilometre and, when I glanced at the Garmin, I was surprised to see that I had broken the 6:00 pace. Although my breathing was becoming heavier, it still felt comfortable enough so I kept it going until I reached the fifth kilometre and then started to slow things down a bit until I finished my 30 minutes.

2014-07-22_Splits

In terms of pacing the run, it wasn’t what I had planned to do, but I’m pleased that I went with it. It has made me realise that my fitness is getting back on track and that I am making progress again. As for my Tuesday pacing runs, I’ll still work with the pace that I originally planned, but instead of staying within a 5 second range, my goal now will be to use it as a minimum pace for the workout.

How’s your training going? Do you use a tried and tested training plan? Or do you prefer to experiment and tweak it as you go? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

After The Storm

storm

Max Langran Photography

Last night’s thunder storm was amazing! As well as providing the very talented Mr Max Langran with yet another opportunity for some awesome photography, it also helped to clear the air a bit for this morning’s run.

According to my self-styled training program, the brief for today’s run was to build on last Saturday’s session, running for 55 minutes (instead of 45) at a pace of 6:45 – 7:00 minutes per kilometre. At this stage of the training, the main objective is to work on my aerobic endurance so that I can keep running for longer, which means learning to control my pace.

Despite this morning’s cool damp air, I was feeling a little bit sluggish to start with, making my first kilometre slower than planned at 7:04. I wasn’t too worried about it though and managed to pick up my feet a bit for the second kilometre. Of course, this time, I went too far the other way with a 6:40!

Fortunately, by the time I completed the third kilometre I was starting to get my pacing more under control and, with one or two exceptions, managed to stay within range for the rest of the session.

2014-07-19_Splits

In the end, I completed just over 8 kilometres with an average pace of 6:48, which I am very pleased with considering it that it was only a few weeks ago that I was struggling to complete a simple 5K.

I guess there’s something to be said for this whole pacing thing after all.

How’s your running going? What is the main focus of your training at the moment? Whether you are working on speed, endurance, or just running for the sheer joy of it, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Too Hot To Run

I haven’t done much running this week and, for once, it’s not due to injury, fatigue or an over ambitious training plan. In fact, the training plan seems to be pretty spot on so far. It’s just that this week other things have got in the way a little bit.

Wednesday was supposed to be my Fartlek day and, in case you haven’t read my blog before, you should know that Fartleks are one of my favourites. Much as I enjoy setting myself specific objectives and pace or distance goals, there’s something about the freedom of running purely by feel, pushing myself as hard as I like, taking breaks when I want and not worrying too much if I change my mind about what I’m going to do half way through. It’s like being a kid again, running for the fun of it. But unfortunately things didn’t quite work out that way on Wednesday.

Work is pretty busy at the moment and I had been looking forward to letting off some steam in my evening run. But as well as being the first week of our ‘busy’ season, we were three members of staff down this week, which is a pretty big deal when there are only twelve of us in the office to start with. So, when one of the bosses asked me if I could work late, I couldn’t really say no. As bosses go, they are pretty good to us and in the two and a half years that I have worked for them, they’ve never asked me to stay late so I didn’t mind. I could do my Fartlek session on Thursday instead.

However, Thursday turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far and, to make things worse, instead of cooling down in the evening, the temperature was still rising even after I got home. I wanted to run, but the fact that I was drenched in sweat from my thirty minute walk home was a good enough sign that it was going to be too hot to run. So I had to call it off.

This evening wasn’t much better so I decided early on that I wasn’t going to run. Besides, tomorrow is my longer run and there’s no way I’m doing Fartleks the day before a long run. For me, that would be a recipe for disaster!

However, I couldn’t really justify yet another evening without training, so I decided to go for a brisk walk instead. The plan was to walk for an hour and try to keep my pace at less than 10 minutes per kilometre. That didn’t quite work out either, possibly because of the heat, but judging by the Garmin data, I think the GPS was probably out a little bit too.

Still, the important thing was to get some exercise in without jeopardising tomorrow’s session. Let’s hope the weekend pans out a bit better!

What do you do when life gets in the way of your running? Do you skip your session, reschedule or do a different type of workout to make up for it? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Pace v Effort

I wasn’t sure how this evening’s run would go after yesterday’s brisk walk in the rain. In fact, I almost didn’t go. My lower calves were feeling a bit tight and I was worried that I might aggravate the old achilles injury, but at this stage of the training plan the idea is to keep the pace fairly slow, so I figured I might as well give it a go. If it started to hurt while I was running, then I would simply slow down or stop. As it turned out though, my legs felt much better once I got going.

The aim was to run for 30 minutes between 6:40 and 6:45 minutes per kilometre and, for the first two kilometres, everything seemed to be going according to plan. The pace was comfortable and, with a good head wind to keep me in check, I managed to stay within range.

However, when I turned around to head back, the tail wind seemed to lift my pace a bit more than I would have liked. I wasn’t running any harder (if anything, it was much easier on the way back) but I just couldn’t keep the pace down.

2014-07-14_Splits

In the end though, I realised that the pace itself isn’t too important; it’s the level of effort that counts. The whole point of controlling the pace is to make sure that I don’t push too hard and end up feeling too tired to train later in the week. So as long as I stick to an easy to moderate level of effort, then I should be ok. And, lets face it, a 26 km/h tail wind is going to knock at least a few seconds off anyone’s pace.

So, all in all, I’m happy with the result. My legs feel good, I don’t feel too tired and I’ve got tomorrow to take it easy before my next bout of speed training.

How do you plan your training runs? Do you aim to run at a particular pace or make a judgement based on the level of effort needed to complete the workout? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday Stroll

This morning I went for a Sunday stroll to introduce some cross training into my training plan and see what kind of impact it would have on my Training Peaks data.

The aim was to walk for one hour at a fairly brisk pace of under 10 minutes per kilometre. This is a bit faster than my normal walking pace and, although not nearly as tiring as running, it did get my heart rate up enough to make it feel like a workout rather than just a long walk.

I managed to keep my pace to an average of 9:47, which was pretty good considering that I had to stop for traffic a couple of times. The roads were still fairly quiet but there was enough activity to make me have to pause a few times. In saying that though, the fact that it started to rain quite heavily towards the end of the walk probably helped me to keep the pace up.

Looking at the Training Peaks data, it seems to suggest that doing this once a week will make the difference that I need to get my general fitness moving in the right direction; and, if it all goes according to plan, hopefully it will help to prepare me for the increase in the number of training days required for half marathon training in the Autumn.

2014-07-13_Chart

Click On The Chart To See A Larger Version

Of course, I still need to make sure that I don’t do so much walking that I’m not able to run the next day, but I don’t think an hour or so on a Sunday morning will interfere too much with the running schedule. Well, we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

How’s your training going? What type of cross training do you do to improve your general fitness? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Trying To Pace Myself

I completed the first week of my Base Training program this morning and, I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good so far.

Today’s run was all about building aerobic endurance, with a 45 minute run at a nice easy pace somewhere between 6:45 and 7:00 minutes per kilometre.

The first two kilometres went according to plan and, on average, I managed to stay within the prescribed pace range. But once I got into the third kilometre, I found it difficult to rein it in and ended up averaging around 6:30 or 6:29 for each of the final four splits.

2014-07-12_Splits

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I do need to be careful to stay within range as I build up the distance in order to avoid overdoing it.

According to the Training Peaks performance manager, however, at this stage I’m definitely not overdoing it. In fact, I’m not making any measurable progress at all.

2014-07-12_TP-Chart

Click On The Chart To See A Larger Version

Even though my fitness is levelling off now, rather than decreasing, if I continue with the current phase of my Base Training as planned, it doesn’t look like I’m going to make any real progress in terms of fitness. Which leaves me with a dilemma.

Do I ramp things up a bit and run the risk of being too tired to complete some of my workouts later in the week? Or do I continue as planned, ignore the chart and just enjoy getting into the habit of running regularly for the next few weeks?

I know myself that the first option would be a huge risk. Running three times a week every week isn’t easy for me and I need to get better at running more frequently before I start my half marathon training; but I’m also motivated by data. I know the chart doesn’t tell the whole story, but I also know that seeing progress mapped out in this way will help me stay on track. Once that blue line starts to go up, I won’t want to see it go back down again!

So, I’ve come up with a plan that might just help. Instead of adding extra running sessions or trying to run too hard or too far too soon, I’m going to introduce some walking into my training program. Nothing quite as strenuous as my day long hikes in the earlier part of the year, but something a bit more challenging than my daily foot commute to and from work.

I’m not sure how or even if it will help, but I plan to do an hour of brisk walking tomorrow morning to see what difference it makes to the chart as well as its impact on Monday’s training run. I guess time will tell.

What training do you do other than running to help increase your fitness? Do you walk, cycle or swim? What impact does it have on the rest of your training?

Fartlek Freedom

After Monday’s pacing run, I was really looking forward to some farlek fun this evening. According to my self-styled training plan, Wednesday is speed work and my favourite type of speed work is, you guessed it, fartlek training.

The aim of this evening’s session was to spend 30 minutes playing and having fun with running at whatever pace I felt like and, hopefully, getting some good sprints in.

I headed to the seafront after work and decided to start off fairly slowly with some short bursts of speed before dropping back down to a comfortable pace again.

Then, when my Garmin beeped at the end of the first kilometre, I picked my feet up and sprinted to the next lamp post before dropping down again and then, eventually, slowing to a walk.

Usually, I would feel bad about walking, but since farlek training is supposed to be about running by ‘feel’ and I ‘felt’ like walking, I decided to go with it.

The rest of the run followed a similar pattern but with shorter breaks between sprints and, consequently, more frequent walk breaks.

2014-07-09_Chart

I basically decided that every time I passed a lamp post, I would alter my pace by stepping up or down a gear between walk, run and sprint. This worked out quite well and, even though in the end I was doing less sprinting than in the middle section, I still came out of it with an average pace of 6:28, which is pretty good considering how much I walked.

2014-07-09_Splits

So, on the whole, a pretty successful session. I achieved what I set out to do and had a lot of fun in the process.

What’s your favourite type of training run? Are you a speed bunny, an endurance monster, or do you like to mix it up with a bit of both? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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