A Wet and Windy 5K

According to my new training plan, I was supposed to run yesterday, but unfortunately life and Christmas preparations got in the way and I didn’t have time after work. Not a great start to the first week of training, I know!

However, I wasn’t about to give up at the first hurdle so I made sure that I got my run in this evening instead. The weather wasn’t ideal. It was cold, wet and very windy on the seafront so I decided not to worry about the pace and just focussed on completing 5K.

I started off with the wind behind me and ran 2.5K to the Palace Pier before turning around and heading back to my starting point at Hove lawns. I usually run the other way, towards the lagoon, but I thought that this part of the seafront might offer a bit more protection from the elements.

The headwind was pretty strong on the way back and the rain drizzling on my glasses didn’t help matters, but when I got back onto the section of the promenade by Hove lawns, I realised that I had made a good call. The wind felt a lot stronger on this part of the route and usually gets worse towards the Lagoon, so I was relieved that I had decided to go the other way.

In the end, it was a fairly slow 5K for me, but I did manage to run the whole distance without any problems, so that in itself was a win.

I’m going to have to adjust my training plan slightly to make sure I get all my runs in this week, so I’ll probably cross train tomorrow and run another 5K on Friday before doing the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 at the weekend.

How’s your training going? Are you getting out there and getting it done? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

It’s Time For A Training Plan

Since my return to training in September, I haven’t really had much of a training plan. Sure, I’ve mapped out when I need to up my distance to make sure I’m ready for the half marathon in February and the full marathon in April, but beyond that I’ve really just been winging it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with winging it for a couple of months. If nothing else, it has helped me to figure out how much running I could cope with as I eased myself back into training again. But now that I am getting back up to speed, I feel it’s time to get some structure and routine back again.

One thing I have realised is that I have to make a choice between continuous running and run-walk-run. Originally, I thought I could use both to work on my distance and endurance, but the reality is that there just isn’t enough recovery time to do both if I’m going to be race fit for the February and April events. So, I made a decision and came up with a plan… of sorts.

I have decided that I’m going to stick with run-walk-run when it comes to increasing the distance and that I will use this strategy for both races. Apart from the fact that I can increase the distance more quickly in this way without affecting my overall pace too much, run-walk-run also puts less strain on the joints and muscles, which is the main thing that has got me back on track over the last couple of months.

The other deciding factor in adopting the run-walk-run strategy is that ultimately I want to be able to run ultra-marathons and, for most ultra-runners, running the whole distance is not an option. Unlike with marathons and half-marathons, when it comes to ultra-running, using a run-walk strategy is pretty much the norm, even amongst the fastest runners – not that I’ll ever be one of them, but if it makes sense for them, then who am I to argue?

Of course, those of you who read this blog will know that I do love continuous running and I’m not about to give up on it completely. I’m still going to work on my 5K time in my midweek runs by running without walk breaks, but I’m not going to push myself to run more than that for the time being – it’s just too much if I’m going to get to where I need to be by April without picking up another injury.

2014-12-14_SummarySo, this morning, instead of trying to push for the 7K I had originally planned, I decided to just get a continuous 5K in. No walk breaks, no worrying about pace, just a nice easy run. And it felt great!

Hopefully, this will mean that I have the energy levels that I need for one or maybe two more 5Ks mid-week. I’m making my first attempt at a half-marathon using run-walk-run when I do the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 next weekend, so this should be a good test to see if the plan works or not.

How’s your running going? Are you using a training plan or do you prefer to run according to how you feel? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Brighton Santa Dash 2014

Brighton Santa Dash 2014Today was my favourite racing event of the year – The Brighton Santa Dash! Apart from the fact that you get to dress up and jog along Hove seafront with 500 or so runners dressed as Santa, the reason that I love this race is that it marks the first anniversary of my first ever 5K race.

The weather was uncharacteristically calm and sunny for this time of year, but there was still a bit of a chill in the air when I met up with my friends at the start line. Luckily the Santa suits kept us warm as we waited for the start.

We set off a little after 10:30, along Hove seafront, and settled into a nice pace for the first kilometre or so. I was running with three work colleagues, which was nice as I usually run on my own.

As we approached the second kilometre, one of my colleagues started to run on ahead, while the other two decided to take a walk break. I was feeling pretty good, if a bit hot in the old Santa suit, so I decided to ditch my hat and see if I could catch up with our leader.

I managed to catch him at around 3 kilometres but then decided to take a walk break myself. Really, I should have ditched my Santa jacket but that would have felt wrong somehow, so I decided just to keep going and enjoy myself, taking walk breaks as and when I felt like it.

I eventually crossed the finish line in 32:19, which is almost a minute faster than last year, so I was happy with that. I met up with my colleague at the finish line and waited to cheer the other two home a few minutes later as they sprinted across the finish line together.

It was really nice running with some friends for a change and even better to enjoy a celebratory coffee and bacon sandwich at the end.

Have you taken part in a festive fun run this year? Do you run on your own or with other people? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK blog hop. Click here to sign up and join the fun!

Circle Hop



Another Long Run

2014-12-07_OverviewWith only a few weeks left to complete the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 by the end of the year, I really needed to get a long run in this morning. So, at around 8:00 am, I headed for the seafront for a nice slow 19K.

I was expecting it to be cold and windy (which it was) so I took a pair of gloves with me to stop my hands from freezing off. Unfortunately the only gloves I have are the fleece type, which were a bit too warm once I got going. I tried taking them off during my walk breaks but they got pretty sweaty and were difficult to put back on again, so in the end I just carried them. Note to self: buy some gloves for running!

The run itself was pretty good. I was aiming for 19K using a 3:1 run:walk ratio and decided to start off with the wind behind me. Usually I do it the other way round, to get a helping hand from the tailwind on the way back, but I felt I needed to push myself a bit more this time.

So, I headed East along the seafront, through Brighton Marina and the undercliff path towards Saltdean. Despite the chalk surface on the undercliff path, I love running this route and, judging by the smiles and ‘good mornings’ from the other runners, cyclists and dog walkers I encountered on the way, I’m not the only one.

At my 10K turning point, however, I discovered that the headwind was much stronger than I had anticipated. That’s the problem with running on that path – you’re right on the sea and there’s absolutely no protection from the elements!

Still, I needed this to get my head back into training mode. Recently, I haven’t really been pushing myself hard enough and it has been too easy to say ‘that will do’ when I feel like I’ve had enough; but as I was 10K from home, that wasn’t really an option.

So, I pushed on against the headwind, sticking to the 3:1 ratio that I’ve been using and tried to stay relaxed. And, funnily enough, I actually enjoyed it!

It took 2 hours 17 minutes to complete the distance and my legs were pretty much done by the end of it, but apart from that, it felt really good.

I plan to do the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 in two weeks time to give myself a benchmark for the Brighton Half Marathon in February. Ideally, I’d like to complete this one in under 2 hours 30 minutes, as the only other time I completed the distance was back in April with a time of 2:33:36. It will be interesting to see what difference (if any) it makes using run-walk-run before making a final decision on what strategy to use for February’s race.

How’s your training going? Do you have any more races before the end of the year? Have you taken part in a virtual race? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. To join the fun and meet new running bloggers, click here.

Running In The Dark

Despite having had most of the week off work, when I had the freedom to run at any time of the day I wanted to, I seem to have ended up doing all of my runs in the evening. This is a bit strange for me as I usually prefer to run first thing in the morning, but for some reason I just didn’t feel like it until it started to get dark outside.

Thinking about it though, this isn’t such a bad thing. Being in the habit of only running on Saturday and Sunday mornings was making it hard for me to find the motivation to run in the evening when it’s cold, dark and usually either rainy, windy or both; but now that I’m getting into the swing of it, it’s not so bad and I’m starting to feel like I’m ready to up my running to three times a week again.

This evening’s run also helped in that respect. I didn’t run on Saturday so I wanted to make sure I got 5K in at some point today. I’ve been struggling with running without walk breaks since I started training again, but have managed it a couple of times in the last few weeks so I wanted to build up consistency by getting a few continuous 5Ks in.

At this stage, pace doesn’t really matter, so I set off nice and slowly, running by feel and only looking at my watch occasionally to check on the distance I had covered. I was feeling pretty relaxed and the weather was pretty good too – a bit warmer than I had thought it would be, but with a nice cold breeze to keep things comfortable.

The way I had planned my route, I would run East along the promenade for just over a kilometre and then turn back, run past my starting point until I had reached about 3.6 and then turn around again and run back to where I had started to complete my 5K. I like to run like that, rather than just out and back, because it means I have to do the maths in my head while I’m running to figure out when to turn around, which gives my brain something to focus on.

However, when I reached 3.6K, my pace had picked up a bit and I didn’t want to slow and turn back round. So I decided to just keep going and turn back at the Lagoon, which is at the end of the promenade. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to run all the way back to the starting point but I didn’t really mind either way. All I knew was that I was feeling good and I didn’t really mind as long as I got the 5K done.


At about 4.5K though, I started to feel a sharp pain in my right shoulder. I couldn’t really understand it as I was still feeling quite relaxed, but I gave my arms a bit of a shake to try to loosen it up and tried to find something else to focus on. This seemed to do the trick and before I knew it I was back where I started, having completed just over 6K without stopping for a walk break.

I’m not sure if it’s the cooler temperatures or the fact that I’ve been taking it easy and eating well throughout the day, but running in the evening this week seems to have given me a much needed confidence boost for these continuous runs. So, starting from next week, I plan to get at least one mid-week evening run in so that I can start working on my speed. After all, I’ve got a very important Santa Dash to run in a couple of weeks and I don’t want to mess that one up!

How are you getting on with your evening runs? Do you find you run better in the evening or first thing in the morning? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Jeff Galloway Virtual 13.1

Circle HopAs today is Virtual Running UK blog hop day, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a virtual race.

I’ve been using Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method to get back to training after injury and, now that I’m back to running again regularly, I figured it would be interesting to see how close I can get to my goal half-marathon time using run-walk-run.

JG131It just so happens that Jeff Galloway himself is hosting a Virtual Half Marathon, so joining his race seemed like a good way of giving pay back for the help that his training strategy has given me over the last few months – that, and the fact that you get a medal and a t-shirt for taking part!

I plan to run the virtual half-marathon in December, which should be do-able if I stick to my current training plan, and of course I will submit my time to Virtual Running UK as well, just for good measure. I don’t expect it to be particularly fast, but it will give me an idea about how fast I can run using run-walk-run.

In other news, Virtual Running UK are hosting their first annual Blog Awards next month. Of course, I’m exempt from this as Virtual Running UK is my website, but if you want to nominate your own or someone else’s blog you can do so by clicking this link; or you can click here to join the weekly blog hop. Either way, it’s a great way to connect with more running bloggers and who knows, you may even win a prize!

So, that’s it for today’s post. No run for me today as I ran last night, but hopefully I’ll get one in tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

5K and Onion Bhaji

One of the best things about running on Hove seafront on a Friday evening is that, if you get out early enough, you can get a free onion bhaji from Azaro’s on Church Road. Of course, I’m not usually early enough to get one on the way back from my run. By the time I get home from work and get myself out the door again, it’s gone 6:00 and, much as I hate to decline any offer of free food, something tells me that eating onion right before a run is probably not such a good idea. This evening, however, I was in luck.

I’d taken a few days off work this week, which meant that I could pretty much go for a run whenever I felt like it. Ideally, I would have gone in the morning but I’ve been feeling pretty tired since Tuesday’s long run, so I decided to leave it and see how I felt later. If truth be told, I almost didn’t go out this evening at all, but somehow I managed to persuade myself. Something to do with the fact that I’ve been feeling a bit fed up with the cold, the lack of daylight and my inability to keep running for 5 kilometres without slowing to a walk.

In the end though, that was what got me. Much as I enjoy run-walk-run, it doesn’t seem to be helping me get back to running continuously for the shorter distances. The only thing that will do that is to actually get out and practise. So that’s what I did.

I headed to the seafront just after 5:00 to see if I could complete a nice easy 5K. The words 5K and easy aren’t something that have gone together for me for a while, so I started off very slowly and allowed my pace to pick up naturally without pushing it.

This seemed to work quite well. I felt relaxed and comfortable for the first 4 kilometres and was running negative splits (not hard when you start off that slowly, I know), but by the 5th kilometre the head wind was starting to pick up.

I knew I wasn’t going to run a particularly good time, but I still felt strong enough to push a bit harder. Not too much, as I didn’t want to feel like crap again tomorrow, but enough to match the pace that I had set in the 4th kilometre.


In the end I completed the distance in a very slow 33:39 but that didn’t matter. I had run 5K without stopping and it felt really good – even more so when I received my free onion bhaji on the way home.

How do you reward yourself after a run? What’s your favourite post-run snack or treat? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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