Keep On Going

2015-03-03_SummaryWe all have tough runs sometimes. It’s all part of the ups and downs of training and racing. But whether it’s a training run or the last few miles of a marathon, the only way to get over it is to keep on going.

After this weekend’s bum run, I knew that the only way to stop myself from losing my mojo was to figure out what went wrong, get out there again and have another go. So that’s what I did this evening.

The main mistake that I made at the weekend was that I had started out too fast. I’d been feeling really good after my mid-week recovery run and assumed that I would be back up to speed after the half-marathon the weekend before. But I was wrong. I’d tried to go too fast too soon and paid the price after only a couple of kilometres.

So, this evening I decided to take it nice and easy. The weather was cool and there was a good strong breeze, which for once was a help rather than a hindrance. Instead of pushing against the wind, I allowed it to slow me down and let myself relax into a nice easy pace.

I stuck to the 3:1 run/walk ratio for 5 kilometres and, although it was very slow compared to my usual easy pace, I didn’t mind. In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that after 5K I decided to keep going for another kilometre, but this time without a walk break.

And you know what? It felt fantastic! I’d paced myself well enough to finish strong but without having to push too hard – this, I am gradually learning, is an important lesson in terms of how to tackle training runs. Yes, it’s important to push hard and work on improving speed; but not every run is about chasing a PB.

Sometimes, it’s more important to just get out there and have a nice easy run, while leaving yourself with enough energy to keep on going for the next one.

How’s your training going? How do you recover from races? Do you get straight back into hard workouts or take it easy for a few sessions to keep things ticking over? Please share your thought in the comments.

A Bit Of A Slog

This morning’s run was a bit of a slog. I’ve been taking it easy this week after the Brighton Half, so I didn’t really have any goals in mind, other than that I would do at least 5K.

I headed out at around 9:00 am. It was bright and sunny outside, and the temperature seems to have lifted a bit, so I didn’t wear as many layers as usual – I figured that a t-shirt and thin running jacket would be plenty.

As I headed towards the seafront, I decided to start running a bit earlier than usual and set off at a faster than usual pace. I knew right away that it was probably too fast, but I told myself that some speed work would be good after all the long slow running that I’ve been doing recently.

I kept the pace going as I headed east along the seafront with the wind behind me, but pretty soon I started to feel too hot. I didn’t want to slow my pace too much to take my jacket off, so I decided to keep going until I reached my walk break at around 2.5K.

This was also my turnaround point and, for the first few minutes it felt really nice running into the cool breeze. But then something went wrong. I don’t know if it was because I’d set off too fast, or if it was because I had overheated in the first half of the run, but I just didn’t feel good.

Rather than stop completely, I decided to slow down and take more frequent walk breaks. I was heading back home anyway, so I thought I might as well jog for some of it. This seemed to help and, although I still didn’t feel great, I still managed to complete the 5K in just under 34 minutes – including the few minutes when I popped in to the public toilets and forgot to pause the Garmin!

So, all in all, not a great run. But these things happen from time to time and I feel fine now.

Next week, it’s back to marathon training. Only six weeks to go!

How’s your training going? How do you deal with a bad run? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Post Half Marathon Recovery Run

After Sunday’s Half Marathon, I thought I would need most of the week to recover, but I’m feeling surprisingly good. Yes, the old muscles are still a bit stiff and sore, but energy wise I feel great, so I decided to take myself out for a nice little recovery run this evening.

The temperature was quite mild and there wasn’t much wind to worry about, so I went easy on the layers and headed down to the seafront and the usual 5K route. My plan was to take things fairly easy, using a 3:1 ratio, and to try not to think about my pace.

Although I did check my Garmin a couple of times to see how I was doing, it was nice to just run by feel for a change. After all, the main objective of the run was to simply get out and run.

Of course, I had to give myself something to think about while I was running, so I decided to focus on my form. I’m very aware that when I’m running I don’t seem to lift my legs very much – my left leg in particular often feels stiff, almost like I am dragging it.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the left leg is the one that has had all the injury problems, but I’m not sure if my running style is the result of injury or the cause of it. Either way, I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could even things up a little bit by trying to lift my left heel more as I pushed off.

To be honest, it felt kind of weird at first (I guess it always does when I’m experimenting with form), but after a while I started to get into it and it didn’t feel too bad, so I’ll probably work some more on it and see if it makes any difference.

How do you recover after a race? How long do you wait it before your next run? Have you tried to correct your form and running style to help deal with niggles and injuries? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Brighton Half Marathon 2015

HM LogoYesterday was the 25th annual Brighton Half Marathon, and my very first Half Marathon. Ok, so I have run the distance before and taken part in virtual half marathons, but this would be the first time I had ever taken part in an organised event of 13.1 miles with other runners.

Naturally, I was a bit nervous, but very excited about the whole thing. My main concern was getting to the start line on time, but as I live fairly close by, it wasn’t a problem. I had laid everything out the night before, set my alarm for 6:00 am, and checked the bus timetable and weather forecast the night before. All I had to do was get up, get dressed and catch the bus. So far so good.

I arrived at the race village just before 8:00 am, which gave me plenty of time to relax and soak up the atmosphere, drop my bag off, use the toilet and find my start pen. Despite the fact that there were around 12,000 people there, it didn’t feel overcrowded as everything was spread out enough along Madeira Drive to give people space to mill around, stretch and warm up.

The start pens were easy to find with different coloured flags to match the colours on the race bibs according to your estimated finish time. I was in the 2:15:00 to 2:29:00 pen and stayed close to the back. My PB for the distance was around 2:27:18 and, although I was hoping for sub 2:25:00, given my recent bout of flu, I told myself that I would be happy with anything under 2:30:00. After all, it’s a whole different ball game when you’re running in a crowd.

As far as I could tell, the race got underway on time, but being so far back I didn’t cross the start line for another 9-10 minutes. Still, it wasn’t a problem as everything is chip timed, so I started the Garmin as I crossed the line and reminded myself to relax.

BHM7483-1024x683I had planned to use my usual 3:1 run/walk ratio, but as the pace for the first few hundred metres was very slow due to the crowds, I decided to just keep running until things thinned out a bit. I figured that I wouldn’t worry too much about my pace, but I’d try to keep it at around 6:50 – 7:00 minutes per kilometre (including walk breaks) for the first half of the run at least.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I was feeling really good and the weather was much nicer than it has been on any of my long training runs so I decided to not worry about easing off and just run at whatever pace felt comfortable.

I checked my Garmin after the first 5K and noticed that I was around 33 minutes. This was a good sign as it meant that I was well ahead of time for a PB. Nothing to get excited about, of course, as I still had over 16K to go, but it was good to know that I was on track as I ascended the only hill on the course.

To be honest though, the hill was not as bad as I had imagined, so much so that at one point I even skipped a walk break. I wouldn’t normally do this as it doesn’t really do anything for my time overall, but at that point the route was getting crowded again and it would have been more hassle to pull over to the side to slow down and stop than it would have been to keep running – so I kept running.

At 8K I took my first gel. I didn’t feel that I needed it, but I’d planned to take one at 8K and 16K to make sure that I refuelled before I got in to trouble. This meant taking a slightly longer walk break, which did slow my average pace down a little, but I figured I would make up for it later.

As we ran back down the hill and into Brighton, the support was amazing. I never realised before, when I was out there cheering people on last year, just what a difference that makes – especially when you are starting to feel tired, which I was at around 16K.

By that point though, I was on familiar ground, running along Hove promenade past the beach huts as I do pretty much every time I go out for a run – one of the advantages of running in your own city.

2015-02-22_Map

Still, I took a slightly longer walk break for my second gel and reminded myself that I was still on track for a sub 2:30:00, and might even manage to get under 2:25:00 as long as I didn’t let the pace drop too much.

Of course, the pace did drop, but I ignored it. My legs were hurting, so I just tried to focus on the ratio. Three minutes running, one minute walking, nice and easy until I got my second wind, which came just as we turned off the promenade by the Peace Statue and back up to the road.

We had just over 2 kilometres to go and my time was around 2:08:00, so I knew I was in with a really good chance of beating my goal of 2:25:00. All I had to do was keep moving and pick up the pace where I could. And somehow, I did.

HM Medal 02 (2)As we approached Madeira Drive, the crowds gave me another huge lift and I decided to ignore the Garmin, ditch the walk breaks, and try to pass as many people as possible in the final kilometre. I knew by then that I was going to get a PB and it was going to be under 2:25:00, but imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line, pressed stop on the Garmin and saw that I’d finished in 2:21:27.

My official chip time was 2:21:23 and, although it’s not a fast time by most people’s standards, I couldn’t be happier. And the medal isn’t bad either, even if it is pink!

How’s your training going? Did you run this weekend? Do you have a race coming up? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Post Flu Test Run

It has been over a week since my last post and my last run. I had planned to get a couple of runs in last weekend and early this week in preparation for Sunday’s Brighton Half Marathon, but unfortunately my immune system had different ideas.

I wasn’t overly concerned when I woke up last Friday morning with a bit of a sniffle, but by lunchtime I knew it wasn’t good, and by the time I left work all I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep for a week – which is pretty much what I did, give or take a couple of days.

Thankfully, I was feeling a lot better today but I was a bit worried about how I would cope with Sunday’s race, so I decided to go for a short easy run to test out my legs and lungs.

I ran on the seafront as usual and couldn’t help but notice that everyone else who was out for a run seemed to be taking it easy too – I like to think that they were also preparing for Sunday’s race, but it’s hard to tell.

Anyway, the run was fine. My legs still feel a bit stiff and my cough was a bit annoying, but my breathing was fine so I’m feeling pretty good about Sunday’s race.

How’s your training going? When’s your next race? How do you deal with winter colds and sniffles? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Switching Off

After Saturday’s 32K training run, I decided to take things easy for the first half of the week by not running at all. While it was good to allow some time for the old muscles to recover, I really missed the way that running helps me to get my head straight again after a busy day at the office. So, when I got home this evening, I decided to get changed right away and head straight back out the door again for a nice evening run.

There wasn’t really a plan for this evening’s session. Just a minimum of 5K at whatever pace I felt like to help me switch off the brain and relax. And it worked.

I used the usual 3:1 run/walk ratio and tried to keep things at a fairly moderate pace. I didn’t want to go too slowly as it was pretty cold; but I didn’t want to over-do things either as I still needed to get another two runs in before Sunday to meet my Jantastic target for this week.

Luckily, there was a bit of a headwind to help keep things in check and, even though I was running hard when the wind was behind me, it was nice to slow down a bit and enjoy its cooling effects on the return journey.

Time wise, I finished in just under 32 minutes, which is about right for an easy to moderate run. But more importantly, my mind feels much more relaxed than it has done all week.

Tomorrow, I plan to pick things up a bit pace wise, but for now I’m just happy that I finally got a run in this week.

How’s your training going? What effect does running have on your mind? Do you run to relax and unwind? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

32K LSR

2015-02-07_SummaryNormally I like to blog about my run straight afterwards, but yesterday’s LSR left me feeling pretty tired, so I thought I would leave it until today.

While most marathon training plans have you running a maximum of 20 miles in one run before the race, I want to get as close to the full distance as possible before the Brighton Marathon. With the Half Marathon in two weeks time, this meant I would only have time for one long run this month and then two next month before I start tapering for the full marathon in April.

As my last long run was 27K, this would mean an increase of 5K for each long run between now and April if I was going to reach 42.2K before the race – sounds crazy, I know!

So, knowing that this could be difficult, I decided to let myself off the hook a little bit and not worry about getting the full distance done. Even an increase of 3K for each long run would still take me closer than most marathon training programs, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I ended up running the full distance for the first time on race day. In saying that though, I still want to get as close as possible, so I decided that although my minimum distance for yesterday’s run would be 30K, I would still aim for 32K as long as I was feeling ok.

The weather was pretty good for once. The sun was shining, the temperature was reasonably mild and the wind was behaving itself on the seafront, so I decided to run east under the cliffs towards Saltdean, turn around and run all the way up to Shoreham Power Station and then back along the seafront to my starting point.

I wore my new hydration pack for the first time, which was great as it has a small pouch where I could keep my gels and keys, although it did take me a kilometre or so to figure out how to stop it bouncing around so much. The trick, it seems, is to keep it low on the hips rather than around the middle of the waist.

I took things fairly slowly, and my pace was pretty consistent for the most part. I took a gel every 8K, which kept me going, particularly towards the end of the run when I was beginning to flag. The lowest point was on the road to the power station at Shoreham, between 24 and 29K. My legs felt like lead and the walk breaks weren’t helping – in fact, the pain seemed worse when I slowed to a walk, but I knew that I had to keep my head straight and my mind focussed, so I kept plodding on.

Once I got back onto the promenade again, I started to feel much better. I knew that another 2 kilometres would take me back to Hove Lawns (my usual starting point) and, if I jogged back though the streets towards home, I could easily complete the 32K. It wasn’t hard. It hurt, yes, but as long as I took it slowly, I knew I could do it.

In the end, I completed the 32K in just under 4 hours. It hurt like hell, but I felt good. The IT band had behaved itself thanks to some mid-week stretching, and the milder weather probably helped too. But the most important thing was that I managed to stay positive and get the distance done.

In saying that though, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to not having to do another long one this month. For the next two weeks I’ll be getting myself ready for the Half Marathon, which will involve some shorter runs, a couple of speed sessions and hopefully a bit of a trail run next weekend.

How’s your training going? What’s the longest run you do before a marathon or half marathon? Please share your thoughts in the comments?

 

 

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