Walk, Don’t Run

2014-07-27I don’t know what the heck I did to my ankle on Thursday, but it’s still not right. I’ve been resting it a lot over the weekend, but after spending most of the morning watching the Commonwealth Games from the comfort of my couch, I decided that I needed to get out and get some kind of exercise.

The pain level is pretty low, but it’s enough to know that running even a short distance would be stupid. That being said, sitting around was only making it feel tight and stiff, so I decided to go out for a brisk walk.

I’ve been introducing walking as part of my training routine for the last week or so and, even though I can still feel a bit of a twinge while I’m walking, I figured that it would be ok if I wore my ankle support. I could easily slow my pace back down and head back home at the first sign of any trouble.

My goal was to walk at a pace of around 10 minutes per kilometre for about an hour, depending on how things went. And, as it turned out, it went pretty well. I managed to cover 7 kilometres in just over 1 hour 10 minutes without any significant discomfort.

I’m not sure when I’ll get back to my running schedule, but hopefully it won’t take too long and, if I can get a few long brisk walks done in the meantime, it shouldn’t have too much impact on the training overall.

Better to ease off now than suffer later, right?

Make It Snappy

SNAPPY-logoTraining has been going pretty well over the last few weeks. I’m picking up the pace again, increasing my distance and am even adding a bit of cross training in the form of brisk walking into the mix. On the whole, things are looking good.

The only problem, however, is that the little twinge that I picked up on Thursday’s run doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I thought I could get away with it by switching my walking and running days around this weekend, but I can feel it when I walk. It’s nothing serious, but it’s there, niggling away every time I take a step. So, no running (or brisk walking) for me for a few days. Still, it’s no big deal and it does give me some time to work on my website.

For those of you who don’t know, I run a little virtual running website called VirtualRunningUK. Unlike a lot of virtual running and virtual racing websites, it’s not about making money. While we do raise a bit of money for charity by selling medals to those who like collecting bling, there’s no profit in it. And that’s the way I like it.

There are free races, points, prizes and even a little blog hop for those of us who like to blog about our running adventures; but one of the things I like best about it is when these two worlds, The Blog Runner world and the Virtual Running UK world come together to do good things for other people. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s great when it does.

This month, for example, we’re helping a fellow blogger, Fiona Sefton, raise money for her chosen charity, SNAPPY. Fiona and her son will be taking part in the York 10K on 3rd August for this small local charity which provides out of school care for children with disabilities.

It would be great if we could help Fiona and her son achieve their fundraising goal so, if you would like to join a virtual race, earn some bling and support them at the same time, please click here.

Or, if you don’t mind about the bling and just want to donate, you can go directly to Fiona’s fundraising page by clicking here.

Please note, you don’t have to pay to race with Virtual Running UK. Our monthly 5K, 10K and Half Marathon races are free to enter and the fundraiser is completely optional. 

Running Late

It’s still pretty warm in the evenings at the moment, which isn’t great for me as far as running is concerned. So, determined to stick to my training plan, I decided that I’ll just have to run a bit later than usual.

This evening, I headed down to the seafront at about 8:30. It was still quite warm when I went out, but there was a bit of a breeze to help take the edge of things, which was just as well because tonight was Fartlek night.

I started off with a fairly gentle jog and just allowed my pace to pick up naturally for the first kilometre before introducing some short sprints between lamp posts. I carried on in this way, with a couple of short walk breaks before introducing a bit more structure to the session.

One of the things that I like about Fartlek training (apart from the patterns that it makes on the Garmin timing chart) is making up games to play while I’m running. My first game was to sprint and then slow to a jog between alternating lamp posts, which was a nice way to ease into some faster pacing. I did this three times and then, somewhere in the third kilometre, decided to see if I could pick up the pace a bit more on the sprints.


This time, the aim was to run between two sets of  lamp posts, then walk between the next set, which worked pretty well in terms of picking up the pace a bit more, although it did reduce the average pace for that split. Still, it was fun being able to run a bit faster and I managed five of these before slowing down again and finishing the run at a slower pace but this time without walk breaks.

Although the session was only supposed to be for 30 minutes, I decided to keep going until I reached 5 kilometres. I wasn’t going for a PB, but I was keen to see how close I could get. As it turned out, I completed the distance in 31:43, which is only 15 seconds off the PB that I set back in April. Not too bad for a Fartlek run!


The only downside to the run was that I picked up a bit of a twinge in my ankle towards the end. It doesn’t feel too bad, but it’s not quite right so I’ll have to keep an eye on it and maybe do my weekend run on Sunday instead of Saturday to give it a bit of a rest.

What games do you play with your pace when you run Fartleks? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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.


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

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.


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.


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.