Archive | December 2014

Last Run of 2014

This evening I completed my final run of 2014 and, despite the ups and downs of my first full year of running, I’m pleased to say that it ended on a high. In fact, this past week has been one of my best so far in terms of progress.

At the weekend, I managed to achieve two 5K PBs. The first was on Saturday, when I started off with the intention of running the whole 5 kilometres but then switched to run-walk-run after the 3K mark. As I’d walked part of it, I was surprised to beat my PB of 8 months previously, so I thought I’d run the same route on Sunday using run-walk-run for the full distance to see if there is any truth in the claim that you can achieve better times using run-walk-run than you can by running alone.

To cut a long story short (it’s in my previous post of you want to read about it), it worked. I beat Saturday’s PB by 22 seconds and achieved my first ever sub 31 time for 5K. But who’s to say I wouldn’t have been quicker by running the whole way? After all, it made sense that Sunday’s time would be quicker as I was using the run/walk ratio throughout the entire run, rather than waiting until I felt I needed a break because I hadn’t paced myself properly. So, this evening I decided to try to get a more accurate comparison by running the whole way.

It was pretty cold when I went out, just a couple of degrees above freezing, so I layered up with a long-sleeved t-shirt, short sleeved t-shirt, my new winter running top (the kind that has holes for your thumbs so that you can keep your hands warm) and an old hoody that I could easily remove and tie around my waist in the unlikely event that I got too hot.

Luckily there wasn’t much of a breeze on the seafront so although it was very cold it wasn’t too uncomfortable. I set off at a comfortable pace and tried to keep an eye on the Garmin as I passed under the street lights. It was important not to set off too quickly and tire myself out early as I really wanted to see if I could beat Sunday’s time.

The plan was to do the first kilometre in under 6:30 and gradually pick up the pace so that I could finish with a good kick. I was aiming for an average pace of under 6:11, so I figured it should be doable. The only problem I had with this was that, as it was dark, I couldn’t check my pace as much as I would have liked. But still, I kept it going, trying to increase the pace gradually as I went.

By the final kilometre, the pace had increased to 6:00, but I was feeling pretty tired. My legs didn’t feel like they were turning over as quickly as I would have liked, and there certainly wasn’t any kick left in them. However, I still kept pushing, trying to up the pace until the Garmin finally beeped at 5K.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to beat Sunday’s time, but I wasn’t too far off it and finished at 31:03 – just 9 seconds slower than with run-walk-run, but still faster than Saturday’s PB.

2014-12-30_Splits

Of course, whether you are using run-walk-run or running the whole way, no two runs are ever the same, so I can’t really claim at this stage that run-walk-run is always going to be faster. What it does show, however, is it doesn’t seem to make that much difference to my 5K time as both runs were around 31 minutes.

As I continue with my training over the next month or so, I plan to continue to use both methods for my 5K runs, so maybe a pattern will start to emerge – or maybe not. Either way though, it’s good to see some progress.

How has your training gone this year? Have you completed your final run of 2014? Are you happy with your progress so far? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Run-Walk-Run Experiment

After yesterday’s unexpected PB, I thought it would be interesting to see how close I could get to the same time using run-walk-run for the whole 5K. The theory is that by using short run/walk ratios, you can actually run faster than if you run the whole way. By allowing your body time to recover between running sections, the idea is that you will be able to run fast enough to compensate for the walking and come out with a better time overall.

Now, I know I’ve been going on about how much I’m enjoying run-walk-run and how it has helped me get back to running again regularly, but on the whole I have found that it tends to give me a slightly slower average pace than when I run the whole way – not by much though, and it is difficult to judge when you’re running different distances each week, so I decided that I would try a little experiment to see how much difference there is between run-walk-run and running the whole way.

Yesterday’s 5K run was a bit of a mish mash, running continuously for the first three kilometres before breaking down into a 3:1 run/walk ratio, but it earned me a PB of 31:16, which was 12 seconds faster than my previous PB. However, it’s difficult to judge whether this would have been faster or slower had I stuck to the same strategy for the entire run. So, curious to find out, I decided to do another 5K this morning using the same 3:1 run/walk ratio for the entire run.

Conscious of the fact that I really wanted to put run-walk-run to the test, I started off at a good strong running pace and trying to keep the average at around 6:20 per kilometre. This can be difficult to judge when you’re switching between running and walking, especially as some splits have more walking than running in them. However, I didn’t do too badly and was averaging 6:16 over the first 4K, which is pretty much in line with yesterday’s run.

By the final kilometre, however, I was starting to feel pretty tired. The walk breaks had helped a lot, but it was tough keeping the pace in the running sections. When I finished the final walk break at 29 minutes though, I realised I only had about half a kilometre to go. So I went for it!

I pushed hard, trying to get my legs turning over as fast as they could. I accelerated, then decelerated, then pushed again, then dropped again. I glanced at my watch. Just another 100 metres and I would be done.

I didn’t feel great. My legs were numb. But I kept going and then, finally, the Garmin beeped. I pressed the stop button, and looked at my time. It was over. I’d done it. A new PB of 30.54! That’s 22 seconds faster than yesterday!

2014-12-28_Splits

The question now though, is how close can I get to that if I run the whole way? Well, I still have one more run to do this year, so I guess I’ll have to try it out if I really want to know what difference run-walk-run really makes.

How’s your training going? Have you experimented with different running and training strategies? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Running On Lemsip

It took longer than usual to get motivated this morning, partly due to waking up late but mostly because I’ve got a bit of a cold and couldn’t decide whether or not it would be ok to run. After a Tesco imitation Lemsip and a couple of mugs of coffee, however, I figured that I really ought to make the effort. Even if I didn’t manage to complete the 5K that I’d planned, getting any kind of run in would be better than festering on the couch in my PJs. So, at about 10:30, I headed to the seafront for a let’s see how it goes  kind of run.

I thought it would have been busier on the promenade, but was pleased that there weren’t too many people around. A few runners, dog walkers and people out for an nice morning stroll in the sunshine, but nothing compared to Christmas Day.

I set off on my usual route, with the wind behind me, towards the Peace Statue and turned around just before the cafe to face the headwind. The wind was a bit stronger than I was comfortable with, but I kept going, knowing that I had already given myself a sick note to finish early if necessary.

Once I returned to the starting point at the 2K mark, however, I didn’t feel too bad. Having the wind in my face was still a bit annoying, but the temperature was fairly mild and the sun was shining so it seemed like a shame to throw in the towel.

So, I kept going, trying to keep a nice steady pace, and then, as with yesterday, dropped down to a 3:1 run/walk ratio at the 3K mark. As I continued on to the 4th kilometre, I realised that my pace had dropped a bit. It was still ok, but I could probably run a bit faster in the running sections, so I pushed a little bit harder. Not too much, just enough to feel it a bit more, and then something unthinkable happened.

I know they say that you can improve your overall time using run-walk-run, and I have found that on the whole my pace doesn’t very too much whether I use run-walk-run or continuous running for the whole distance; but when I came to the end of my walking section at 28 minutes (just under 4.5K), I realised that if I picked up the pace and kept going until the end, I might just be in with the chance of a PB.

I knew it would be close as my PB was 31:28 and I reckoned by average pace was around 6:20 minutes per kilometre, so I went for it. I picked up the pace again, being careful not to go too fast. Then, at 31 minutes, when I should have stopped to walk, I pushed as hard as I could until the Garmin beeped to let me know I was done. 31:16. A new PB!

2014-12-27_Splits

But the best part was that I had run that final kilometre in 5:57 minutes using run-walk-run. Now, I don’t know if I could manage that for the whole 5K, but I reckon it’s worth a go. I have two more runs to do before the end of the year, and I’d love to get that elusive sub-30 nailed down once and for all, so I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

Of course, it could just have been the Lemsip. 😉

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. To join the fun and share your weekend runs, click here.

Circle Hop

Christmas Day Run

Merry Christmas! As it’s Christmas day, I decided to treat myself to a nice early morning 5K. Unfortunately, I accidentally drank too much alcohol on Christmas Eve and, not being much of a drinker these days, wasn’t ready to head out the door until the afternoon.

It was pretty busy down on the seafront with lots of people taking advantage of the mild weather and sunshine for a Christmas Day stroll by the sea, but still plenty of room to run.

I took it fairly easy, running the first 3K before switching to a 3:1 run/walk ratio and finishing with a time of 33:15 – not as fast as I would have liked but I was still feeling a bit rough. Still, I was glad to get the run in and felt much better after a bit of fresh air and exercise.

Did you run on Christmas Day? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1

2014-12-21_SummaryAfter months of training using run-walk-run, today was the day to put Jeff Galloway’s training method to the test. And what better way to do it than by taking part in Jeff Galloway’s own virtual half-marathon?

I set out early-ish and headed for the seafront to revisit the half-marathon route that I had used back in April. Back then, I hadn’t been training for a half-marathon but just wanted to see if I could go the distance. It had been a bit of a struggle but I’d tried to run as much of it as possible and ended up with a time of 2:33:36. Not too bad considering I hadn’t been training for it, but I wanted to see if I could improve on that time having now trained using run-walk-run.

I was hoping for a time of under 2:30:00 so I figured that I needed to try to hit an average pace of 7:00 mins per kilometre. However, one of the problems with run-walk-run is that it can be difficult to gauge your average pace – depending on the ratio that you are using, some of the splits are going to have more walking than running, which will slow things down a bit. So, with that in mind, I decided to try to keep each split under 7:00 minutes where possible.

The first half of the run went really well. Despite the cold and drizzle, I felt pretty comfortable and was surprised to see that I had managed to keep my pace well below the 7 minute target. Which is just as well really, because when I reached the end of the path at Saltdean and had to turn around, I was confronted by a 19 kph headwind (according to my Garmin). This probably explains why I had found the first half so easy, but now it was time to redress the balance.

As I was running on the undercliff path, there was no protection at all from the wind, but I plugged on, sticking to my 3 minutes running and one minute walking ratio, and trying to run as close to the cliff wall as possible to avoid the waves that were starting to crash over the sea wall, soaking the path and anyone on it. Luckily, I didn’t get drenched by any waves, but I did get pretty soaked from the spray. I think it was probably raining too, but it was hard to tell at that point.

Pushing against the wind, it was pretty much impossible for me to sustain my sub-7 minute pace. Even walking was tough! But I decided not to worry about it and just focus on completing each running section. This really helped as I wasn’t thinking about the distance at all. All I had to do was run for three minutes, walk for a minute, wipe the rain/spray from my glasses and then start running again.

Once I was off the undercliff path, things seemed a little easier. The route was still pretty exposed, but being a little bit further from the waves meant I wasn’t getting quite as wet and I knew I would soon be back on the familiar ground of Hove promenade.

As I approached Hove seafront, the wind was starting to get pretty strong again – the kind of strong winds that usually send me back up to the more sheltered streets around central Hove. But with only a couple of kilometres to go, that wasn’t an option. Besides, I knew that when I reached my starting point I would be a little short of the 21.1 kilometres that I needed, which meant I could allow myself to turn around again and take advantage of the wind behind me.

With or without the tailwind for the final half kilometre or so, however, I knew that I was on target to achieve my sub 2:30:00 goal. I even allowed myself to keep going for a bit longer than 21.1K, just to make sure the Garmin hadn’t gone wrong anywhere, and finally crossed the virtual finish line with a PB of 2:28:02.

Ok, so I know it’s not a very fast time by a lot of people’s standards, but by my standards it’s exactly where I wanted to be at this stage in my training. I guess it goes to show that run-walk-run can work after all.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK weekly blog hop. Have you taken part in a virtual race? Click here to find out more about virtual running or join the blog hop to connect and share your racing adventures with other running bloggers.

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.

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