Archive | January 2014

Pre-Birthday Run PB

I had hoped to be able to run a sub-30 5K by the time I hit 40, but as the big day drew nearer I realised that the chances of that happening were slim to none. Still, that wasn’t going to stop me from trying to improve my time!

On Saturday I completed my final Parkrun in my current age category with a time of 32:50. Not a PB unless you take off the 30 seconds logged for starting further back than the start line, but a decent enough time for me, especially considering I stopped and walked for some of it.

Being used to training on the flat route along the seafront, I find the gentle inclines of the Parkrun a bit tricky sometimes. So, as I don’t turn 40 until tomorrow, I decided to go for another run in the park this morning to get some practice in. I don’t usually run in the morning or in the park other than at weekends but I’ve taken a couple of days of annual leave from work so the opportunity was just too good to miss.

I headed out at around 8:00am. The temperature was quite cool but it was dry and there wasn’t much wind, so I figured I would see if I could beat my PB of 32:25. My main strategy was to try to achieve negative splits for each kilometre but I wasn’t going to try any quick bursts as I wanted to make sure that I could cope with the inclines.

The strategy worked well for the first three kilometres but, as usual, my pace dropped a bit in the fourth. I realise that this is probably due to the fourth kilometre being mostly uphill, so I was pleased that my average pace only dropped by a few seconds.

By the final kilometre I was feeling pretty exhausted, but a quick glance at my Garmin confirmed what I had hoped. If I could maintain my pace, I might just about beat my PB. So I pushed on.

It wasn’t easy keeping the momentum going, but with a nice downhill slope about a quarter of the way through the final split, I was able to pick it up a bit. I relaxed, focused on my breathing and let my legs do what they had to do. Then my pace picked up.

I don’t know how it happened. I think the breathing helped, but there was also the fact that this would be my last chance to get a PB before I turned 40. I knew I wasn’t going to get a sub-30, but I needed something. So I pushed on, trying to go faster with every stride until my Garmin finally beeped to let me know I was done.

And boy was I done! I was exhausted. But it was worth it. 5.01K in 32:01 and a new PB for yours truly. And if I take away the extra 4 seconds that it took to press the stop button, that makes it 31:57 for 5K.

Splits_2014-01-27

The best part though, and the part that really shocked me, was that I ran that final split in under six minutes – my goal pace for a sub-30 5K! I don’t think I’ll achieve the sub-30 anytime soon, but it’s nice to know that I can achieve the pace that I need and hold onto it for more than just a few seconds.

Effort

I’ve been trying to come up with a word to describe this evening’s run – tiredflatdisappointing, but none of them quite hit the mark. They all seem a bit too negative and although it wasn’t the best run, it wasn’t that bad either.

When I got home from work, I wasn’t sure if  I should go out running or not. Physically, I was feeling pretty tired but mentally I felt that I needed a bit of a boost, so I thought why not? Just a quick 5K to get the blood pumping and practise some speed work. So, I ate a banana, drank a small glass of water, tied on my trainers and headed for the seafront.

It was a pretty calm evening, with no wind or rain to battle against and the temperature was around 5C, which made it nice and cool for running. I figured that this would be a good opportunity to try to pace myself into some negative splits, possibly using the same technique that I used on my last couple of runs where I picked up the pace for short bursts between lamp posts.

I set off fairly slowly to make sure that I didn’t burn up all my energy too soon and gradually picked up the pace for each kilometre as planned. This worked really well for the first four kilometres but by the time I got into the fifth, I was starting to run out of steam. I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps I just hadn’t eaten enough earlier in the day, or maybe my body was still recovering from Monday evening’s 10K, but I just didn’t have any oomph left in me.

Splits_2014-01-22

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t feel that I needed to stop. I was still doing ok. It was just that I was finding it difficult to maintain my pace, never mind pick it up for a strong finish. So I decided to just relax and let myself slow down.

To be honest, I felt pretty flat and more than a little bit disappointed that I couldn’t find what I needed to push on; but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it had still been a pretty good effort, all things considered.

Besides, with just over two weeks until race day, there’s no point in taking any unnecessary risks. Better to slow down now and preserve some energy for a more beneficial workout later in the week than over train and run the risk of injury.

How much effort do you put into your training runs? Do you always try to run at maximum effort, or do you find it pays to take things a bit easier from time to time? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

An Unexpected Achievement

After feeling rubbish and not running all weekend, I decided to go for a run this evening. I don’t usually run on Mondays, but work has suddenly become very busy and I needed to unwind. So I took advantage of the fact that it wasn’t wet or windy outside and headed to the seafront.

I didn’t really have much of a plan for the run. I was feeling pretty tired and very irritable, so I figured I would just go for a nice long slow run to empty my mind and give myself a bit of a boost. I suppose deep down I really wanted to run 10K, just to prove to myself that the last time wasn’t a fluke, but I didn’t really expect what happened next.

The first 5 kilometres were nice and slow and steady as I jogged along, watching everyone run past. My pace was very slow, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t even look at my watch to check how slowly I was going – just a couple of glances to keep an eye on my distance. But that was all.

As approached the 5 kilometre mark, however, I realised that if I kept the same pace going I could probably get a 10K PB. Ok, so I know I’ve only run 10K once before and most people get a few PBs early on in their training as they get used to the distance, but I’d covered 5K in something close to 36 minutes, so I was on track to beat my previous time of 1:14:23.

I also realised that because I’d been going very slowly, I still felt pretty fresh; if I could pick up the pace a little bit, I might even hit my target of 1:10:00. I remembered reading somewhere that when you run 10K, the race really happens in the second half, so by taking it easy for the fist 5 kilometres I’d set myself up for a better time without even really thinking about it. And so the second half of my run became a race, not just to get a 10K PB, but to run it in under 1:10:00.

I decided to try the strategy that I’d used on my last 5K run – maintaining a good  steady pace with some short bursts of speed between lamp posts. The frequency of these short bursts dropped off a bit after the 6th kilometre, but from then on I found that I was achieving some good negative splits.

Of course, with my goal time in sight, I was keeping an eye on my Garmin and had to really push myself for the final half kilometre in particular, but I did it! 10K in 1:09:12!

Splits_2014-01-20

I know it’s still slow by race standards, but for a second attempt at the distance in less than two weeks, I was over the moon to have knocked more than five minutes off my time and to have achieved my 10K goal.

With less than three weeks until race day, I have to say that I’m starting to feel pretty good about the whole 10K thing – nervous of course, but nervous in a good way.

Virtual Run Fundraiser

It’s almost three weeks until my first ever 10K race and, while the training is going well, I realise that I haven’t done much in the way of fundraising yet. So, I came up with a plan.

In order to help raise my £250 goal for The British Heart Foundation, I am inviting you to join me in a Virtual 5K or 10K Run. All you have to do is donate £10 to my JustGiving page for The Chichester Priory 10K Road Race and in return I will send you one of these awesome medals!

running4

Because you are donating directly to JustGiving, you can be sure that all of your money will go to the charity and I will foot the bill for the medals and postage.

To receive your medal, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Donate at least £10 to my JustGiving Page
  2. Include your name with the donation
  3. Email me at hartk74@gmail.com as soon as you have made your payment (then I know it’s you!)
  4. Include your postal address in the email so that I can send you your medal
  5. Run/walk/crawl 5K or 10K anytime between now and the end of February

I will also create a post on my blog with everyone’s race times and a link to their blogs or websites at the beginning of March so that you can see how well everyone has done, so don’t forget to email me your results once you’ve completed your run.

Many thanks and happy running!

Fartlek Fun

This evening I decided to take advantage of the calmer weather and headed to the seafront for some fartlek fun! 

My goal for this evening’s run was to attempt to run 5K with negative splits and the strategy was pretty simple – basically, I would try to keep a fairly consistent pace, but by increasing the number of short sprints between lamp posts in each kilometre I would aim to achieve a faster average pace for each split.

The first kilometre was pretty slow. My legs were a bit stiff and I was distracted by the police car that was creeping along the seafront. At first I thought, that’s nice that the police are patrolling the seafront to make sure that everyone is safe – after all, it is pretty dark down there and even though there are usually plenty of runners, joggers and dog walkers within sight, sometimes it can be eerily quiet. But then I thought, hang on… it’s a bit unusual to see police cars on the promenade. What if they are looking for a dangerous and violent criminal? 

With these thoughts swimming around in my head, I soon forgot about the stiffness in my legs and decided that it would be fun to try to outrun the police car, which was behind me by this point as I had turned around and started heading west. So, I picked up the pace and completed the first kilometre in just over seven minutes.

Now that I was warmed up nicely and the police car had faded into the distance, along with any associated thoughts of muggers and marauders, I settled into what felt like a comfortable pace for the second kilometre. When I felt ready, I chose a lamp post in the distance and picked up the pace until I reached it – not a full on sprint, but enough to make me push myself quite hard. I repeated this for the rest of the first kilometre, making sure that I left myself enough energy to return to my initial comfortable pace.

The thing I found interesting about this strategy, however, was that my comfortable pace seemed to increase with each kilometre – not so much for the third perhaps, but by the fourth I was running a lot faster and with fewer sprints. In fact, by the final half kilometre, I really didn’t have enough energy for short sprints, so I just tried to focus on a slow steady acceleration to the end of the course.

Pace_2014-01-14

Overall, the strategy was pretty successful, resulting in (mostly) negative splits and an overall time just ten seconds short of a new PB!

Splits_2014-01-14

I’ll probably take a break from speed work for the rest of the week to allow my body to recover properly, but I’m thinking that it might be fun to try this as a strategy to improve my Parkrun PB on Saturday, as well as to build up my overall ability to run faster. It certainly added a bit of variety and a lot of fun to the run!

How do you add variety to your running? What’s your favourite type of training run? Are you a fan of fartleks or do you prefer a more structured approach to speed training? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

The Speed Experiment

Now that I have achieved 10K, it’s time to start some speed training. While I am tempted to create a whole new training plan to improve my 5K and 10K pace, I realise that when it comes to training plans I just don’t stick to them – partly because I tend to over estimate how much I will be able to run each week, but mostly because I have a tendency to change my mind about what I feel like doing on each run. So today I decided to forget about training plans and just have some fun.

It was nice and sunny again this morning, although a little bit windy, so I headed for the seafront for what was going to be a 5K run with some fartleks. The idea was to try to get some short bursts of speed into the run, sprinting between lamp posts and then jogging to recover before sprinting between some more lamp posts. In the back of mind, I was hoping that I might see some improvement in my 5K time, but really the purpose of the workout was just to get used to going faster again.

The run was going really well, and I was achieving good negative splits, but when I turned round after the first 3K to head back to my starting point, the wind was just too strong and I had to stop.

3K Splits-2014-01-12

However, I wasn’t done. I wanted to keep going so I headed back up to the streets where the wind wasn’t so strong. Here I decided to change the workout and do some 150 metre sprints at about 95% effort followed by some walking to recover. This worked really well as it gave me enough distance to run without having to stop and cross the road. I also found that my pace increased each time, which was a great motivator.

After four 150 metre sprints, I felt pretty good and decided to see how long I could sustain my 5K goal pace for. My aim is to run a sub 30 5K, so to do that, I would have to run at less than 6 minutes per kilometre. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to sustain the pace for very long, less than 0.7K, so I decided to stop and walk the rest of the way home.

All in all though, it was a pretty good workout. I’ll probably do some shorter speed sessions mid-week, as well as a longer run to keep myself on track for next month’s 10K, but for now I’m just enjoying the fact that my legs are capable of going faster than I thought they could.

First Parkrun 2014

I know, this week should be my second park run of the year, but I had to skip last week on account of the fact that I was feeling lazy. Well, that and the fact that I wanted to do a long run the following day and didn’t want to tire myself out too much. But now that I am happy that I can run 10K, a return to the park this morning seemed like a good idea.

After so much distance and endurance training, I’ve found that my running has slowed down quite a bit. Well, running slower does help you run for longer, right? Or at least, that was my thinking for my longer runs over the last few weeks.

While this strategy has certainly worked in terms of achieving my goal to run 10K, it seems to have resulted in an inability to pick up the pace on the 5K runs.

Don’t get me wrong. This morning’s Parkrun wasn’t bad. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the temperature was just about right. I even managed to run at a fairly consistent pace for the most part, without wanting to walk, stop or quit. It felt good. I felt good. But I just couldn’t pick up the pace in the 4th kilometre.

Splits 2014-01-11

Perhaps my legs were just tired, or maybe my muscles are still recovering from Tuesday, but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s time to bite the bullet and get back into some speed training!

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