Not Every Run Has To End With A PB

The weather was looking quite good this morning, so I decided to do a slightly belated Birthday Half-Marathon – well, it’s only two days late and I’m still on holiday, so I reckon it still counts.

I’d scheduled this run into my training program for two reasons: firstly, I thought it would be a good way to spend my Birthday/ day off; and secondly, I wanted to make sure I could cope with the distance for the Brighton Half Marathon in February.

Of course, I had some goals for this run too. I wanted to see if I could improve my time of 2:28:02 from the Jeff Galloway Virtual 13.1 that I ran in December, but I also wanted to see if I could get under 2:25:00 – a bit of a long shot, I know, but it’s good to have something challenging to aim for.

I figured that I would have to average around 6:50 – 6:55 per kilometre to be in with a chance and was pretty much on track for the first half of the run.

I used my usual route (only slightly altered so that I could start and finish by the public toilets), heading East along Hove lawns to Brighton Marina and along the Undercliff Path towards Saltdean, and then back again. I had considered taking the hilly option on the road above the cliffs, but decided against it as the weather is still very changeable at the moment.


Once I reached the wall at Saltdean (an actual wall, where the path stops, not the runners wall that makes your legs turn to lead and your brain to mush) I turned around and started making my way back. The wind was strong enough to give a bit of resistance but nothing to cause too many problems and, when I checked the Garmin at half way I was pleased to see that I was on track to achieve my goal time of 02:25:00.

2015-01-30_Splits 1-11

And then it happened. At 12 kilometres I felt that familiar shooting pain in my left knee. It wasn’t the full on kitchen knife to the outer knee cap pain that I had before; it didn’t go that deep and lasted for less than a second. But it was the same pain, a warning shot, and I knew that I would be in trouble if I didn’t back off.

So, for the next few kilometres I eased off and allowed my pace to drop until I felt that I was out of the danger zone. I wasn’t happy about it and made a mental note to myself to remember to do my ITB stretches every day between now and the Brighton Half, but I kept going and reminded myself that it’s better to slow down now than to create an injury I would be sure to regret later.

At around 16K, however, I realised that I could still be in with a chance of achieving 02:25:00 if I could pick up the pace again and keep it just under 7:00 minutes per kilometre. So I allowed myself to push a little harder on the running sections and reminded myself to walk a bit faster on the walk breaks. But it wasn’t enough. My pace dropped again and, as I approached the final kilometre, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

2015-01-30_Splits 12-20

But then something else happened. Something good this time. I realised that, even at the reduced pace that I was currently running, not only would I be under 2:30:00, but I could still get a PB! This gave me a much needed boost, so I picked up the pace (still mindful of my ITB of course) and pushed for home, finishing in 02:27:18.

2015-01-30_Splits 21-Finish

Although I was delighted to achieve a new PB, I also realised that PBs aren’t everything. The important thing is to finish the run without injury and, looking back, I realise that I’m pretty lucky that I got a warning signal before my ITB seized up on me.

So, from now on, I promise that I will find time to do my stretches every day, whether I think I need to or not. Prevention is better than a cure, right?

How’s your running going? What injury prevention measures do you take as part of your training program? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

It’s My Birthday And I’ll Run How I Want To

Today is my 41st birthday and to celebrate the occasion I had planned on running a half marathon as  practice for next month’s Brighton Half Marathon. However, as the weather has turned yet again, bringing more wind and rain to the south coast, I decided to postpone and go for a quick 5K around Hove park instead.

It has been a while since I’ve run in the park. This is because I don’t really want to run in the park at night, and on the weekends I prefer to get a long run in along the seafront. But since I’ve taken a few days off work, the park seemed like a good option for a rare mid-week morning run.

As I was doing a shorter distance than planned, I decided to try out my new GymBoss Mini Max. I’ve had my eye on these for a while now and, since I had some Birthday money to spend, decided to treat myself.

gymboss mini max

The GymBoss is basically an interval timer that you can use to pre-program your run/walk ratios, which will be useful for my longer runs as my maths brain tends to go to pot after an hour or so! Also, it’s good for trying out different ratios that aren’t as easy to keep an eye on while you’re running – if your running and walking segments don’t add up to whole minutes, for example.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to try anything too complicated today, but thought it would be interesting to try out a shorter ratio of 2:30 running and 0:30 walking. Apparently shorter ratios can help you to go faster, although I didn’t quite manage that this morning.

I started off by running my usual pace for a 3:1 ratio, thinking that it would be easy because I wasn’t running for as long, but I soon found that the shorter walk breaks meant that I wasn’t recovering as well as I usually do. By the third kilometre I was really starting to struggle, so I decided ad lib and take some longer walk breaks just to get the distance in.

In the end, I completed the 5K in 31:52, which isn’t too bad all things considered.

In terms of the half marathon, I will stick to the ratio that I have trained for, and will hopefully get my birthday run in later in the week; but for my 5K runs, I plan to try out the shorter ratio a few more times just to see how it goes once I’ve figured out how to pace things a bit better.

How’s your training going? What apps and gadgets do you use to help your training? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Getting Closer!

I’ve been trying to focus on pace this week and, since I didn’t have a long run scheduled for today, I thought I’d see if I could improve on Thursday’s 5K PB using a 3:1 run-walk-run for the whole distance, rather than trying to run continuously and then reverting to the ratio when I got tired.

I started off at a good strong pace and made sure I kept things nice and brisk for the walking sections, completing the first kilometre dead on target at 6 minutes flat! This gave me enough encouragement to keep the pace going for the second kilometre. Although it came out at a much slower 6:18 due to the fact that it included two walk breaks instead of one, I wasn’t too worried as I knew that my average pace was still good and I could pick it up over the next few kilometres.

I knew that I needed to shave at least 18 seconds off my average pace and that, if I kept going as I was, I’d have one walk break in the third kilometre and two in the fourth. So I increased my pace by about 10 and 5 seconds respectively, and completed the fourth kilometre at 24:24.

This still left me with a bit of work to do for the final kilometre. I’d have to pick things up considerably to finish in under 30 minutes, so I figured I wouldn’t worry too much about the sub-30 today and just try to beat Thursday’s PB of 30:32, which seemed more achievable.

The old legs were feeling pretty tired by the final kilometre so I had to ease off a little bit, but after the final walk break, I knew I had to go for it. So I picked up the pace again as best I could and managed to finish in 30:03! Not quite the sub-30 I was looking for, but not far off either. And, more importantly, I earned myself another PB!


I probably won’t attempt another PB until next weekend as I want to run a Half Marathon for my 41st birthday on Wednesday; but I’m thinking that maybe when I do try again, I might try a slightly shorter ratio of two and a half minutes running and thirty seconds walking to see what difference that makes.

How’s your training going? Have you experimented with different run/walk ratios? What are your thoughts on shorter v’s longer ratios? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. To join the blog hop and check out some more running bloggers, click here.

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Picking Up The Pace

My pace has been pretty slow during my last few runs. I put this down to the fact that I’m working on increasing my distance and have to go slower in order to go further, but even on my shorter runs my pace hasn’t been great. So, this evening after work I decided that I would try to kick things up a notch.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel like going out for a run this evening. But, as the wind had died down and the temperature was a bit milder than it has been over the last week or so, it would have been a shame to miss out. So, after a quick snack and a nice hot mug of coffee, I switched off my brain and got myself out the front door for my evening run.

I didn’t really have any kind of plan other than that I wanted to go faster. Ideally, I would do 5K, but knowing that I was focussing on speed, I figured that 3K would do, or somewhere in between.

I set off fairly quickly, completing the first kilometre in 6:02, but I knew I couldn’t keep it going for long. So, after 10 minutes I decided to revert to my 3:1 run/walk ratio. Usually, when I’m running ratios, I try to pace myself for the overall distance, but this evening I decided to just focus on going as fast as I could for each three minute segment.

Not long into my third walk break, my Garmin beeped to let me know that I had just completed my third kilometre. I wasn’t sure of my exact time as the Forerunner 110 pauses for a few seconds to show the summary at the end of each split, but knowing that I was still under 19 minutes, I realised that if I could keep going for 5K I might just be in with a chance of a PB.

Of course, I hadn’t been pacing myself for 5K, so I was doubtful about whether or not I could do it, but I figured it was worth the effort to keep going and see how close I could get.

Even though I could feel the pace slipping in the fourth kilometre, I kept going. I tried to focus on just completing each three minute running segment and walked as quickly as I could in the walk breaks to stop the average pace from slowing down too much.

At the end of the fourth kilometre, I glanced at the Garmin again and saw that my time was around 24:30. I did some quick maths and realised that, as long as I didn’t slow down by more than ten seconds or so, I could probably get close to my PB. So I kept going, took my final walk break as briskly as possible, and then tried to pick up the pace and run as fast as I could for the final stretch which, if I was going to beat my PB, would have to be under four minutes.

And it was! I reached 5K in 30:32, knocking a full 22 seconds off the PB that I had set at the end of December!

2015-01-22_SplitsSo, it seems that my fears of becoming slower by focusing on distance were completely unfounded; in fact, I suspect that those long slow runs have probably helped. I could be wrong, but I think it’s possible that my pace may have improved as a result of the run/walk ratios making me run faster than my average 5K pace (albeit for three minutes at a time) over the longer distances.

How does training for distance affect your pace on shorter runs? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Getting Lost Game

This whole Jantastic nonsense really seems to be doing the trick in terms of getting me off my backside and out the front door in the evening. take tonight for example. The temperature was 5 C (might as well call it freezing really) and there was an icy breeze blowing in from the sea. It was cold, dark and damp outside, while inside the heating had kicked in, the cat was looking for cuddles and the couch was calling. Which would you choose?

Ordinarily, like any vaguely sane person, I’d opt for the latter. However, as it’s the beginning of the third week of Jantastic and last night was the coldest night of the year so far (not quite as dramatic as it sounds since we’re only 20 days into the year, but it was pretty damn cold nonetheless), I figured I’d better get a run in before the temperature drops even further. So, wrapped up in double layers of everything, I headed out to… not the seafront!

I know. I usually head for the seafront for my evening runs, but the thought of walking for ten minutes in the cold to get to the promenade wasn’t very appealing. I wanted to start running as soon as possible, so I decided to head in the opposite direction, into the residential rabbit warren known as Deepest Darkest Hove. I didn’t have a particular route in mind, so decided just to have a bit of a run around and get myself lost in the winding streets before trying to find my way home again.


The pace was pretty slow, partly because I had to pause to cross roads, but mostly because it was dark and the headlights from the oncoming traffic was glaring on my glasses. But I didn’t mind. It was nice to run somewhere different with plenty of hills and dips to keep things interesting. That and the fact that, once I was off the main road and the streets started twisting and turning, I didn’t have a clue what direction I was running in, never mind where I was on the map that I had going on in my head. At one point I even managed to run in a complete loop without realising it!

After about 5 kilometres, however, I found myself back on familiar ground and decided to head for home. I retraced my steps to the point where I had started running and then continued a bit further to complete a total of 7 kilometres. Not bad for an evening run on an unfamiliar route!

How’s your training going? Do you like to vary your routes or do your prefer stick to the same well trodden paths? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Painfully Slow

2015-01-17_SummaryThis morning’s run was to be all about upping the distance for my marathon training. So far, my longest run was 24K; so today I wanted to improve on that. The plan was to run for three and a half hours and try to get somewhere in the region of 28K, although I’d be happy with 27.

Weather wise, it didn’t look too bad. The wind had died down and there was a bit of sunshine for a change, although the temperature was still pretty low. Still, anything can happen in three and a half hours, so I decided to wear my waterproof jacket. It’s more for hiking than for running, but it’s still fairly lightweight, windproof and breatheable, so it would do the job.

As I was going to be out for a while, I decided to take my CamelBak and use the bladder for water and a separate bottle for my electrolyte drink. This made it much easier to carry other things, like my phone, keys, PowerGels and my jacket if I decided it was warm enough to take it off.

Funnily enough, I did just that. It was lovely and sunny down on the seafront and I warmed up fairly quickly, so after a couple of kilometres I ditched the jacket and carried it in the back pack. This was so much nicer than having it tied around my waist!

I ran East along the seafront towards Saltdean, taking in the hill on the marathon and half-marathon route. Unlike the road that is used for the races, however, the path along the side of the road undulates along the line of the cliffs. While this probably made the uphills a bit steeper, it did offer a welcome reprieve on the downhills, so I guess it balances out.

I took my first gel after an hour and turned round at Rottingdean to head back to Brighton with a moderate headwind to keep things interesting. Although it was hard running against the wind (I was basically on top of a cliff after all!), it wasn’t as bad as last weekend. For one thing, the wind didn’t feel too cold, and for another, it wasn’t raining… yet!

The rain did come though. Just as I was nearing the end of Marine Drive, the wind picked up and the rain started. I didn’t want to stop running to get my jacket out, so I put up with it until my running segment was finished. And in the nick of time too!

Just as I’d got the jacket on, the wind picked up some more, driving the heavy rain straight at me. Luckily I was about to head down to sea level at that point, which I hoped would mean the wind wouldn’t be quite as bad. As it turned out, the rain didn’t last for very long, but the sky was looking pretty stormy over Shoreham so I decided to keep my jacket on just in case.

I took another PowerGel just after the two hour mark. I was feeling ok, but the old legs were starting to get a bit tired. The pace had slowed down quite a bit, what with the wind and rain and everything, and I knew that I would have to pick things up a bit if I was going to hit 28K.

I passed my starting point at about 17.5K and did some quick maths to figure out how far I would need to run before turning back. I figured that I would have to use the full stretch of the road along the industrial estate towards Shoreham Harbour to get the distance; or just run for 40 minutes out and then 40 minutes back to get the three and a half hours in.

This particular stretch of Industrial Estate is also part of the race routes so it’s not unusual to see other runners out there. It is also affectionately know as ‘The Road To Hell’, which lived up to it’s name after only a kilometre or so when I ran straight into ice cold horizontal winds and rain.

Needless to say, I promptly turned on my heel and ran, or rather shuffled, as fast as I could to escape it. This, of course, meant that I would return to my starting point too early and, as my legs were pretty much ready to fall off by this point, I was worried that I might be tempted to call it a day once I got there.

Luckily I still had a couple of kilometres to sort my head out and, once the rain stopped driving into my back, I realised that it wasn’t going to be a problem. If I slowed down, relaxed and just shuffled along, I could still get 27 kilometres done in the time. I just had to ignore the pain, focus on the ratios and get the job done.

So that’s what I did. I passed the starting point, did a little loop, passed the starting point again and started following the path home until I’d completed 27K.

I was pleased that I’d managed it in just under three and a half hours and, even though my legs were starting to seize up, the old IT band had managed to hold out.

After today’s run, I’m doubtful as to whether or not I’ll have time to run 42K before the Brighton Marathon in April, but time will tell. For now, I’m just glad I got the job done.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. Click here to find out more and join the fun!

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Another Chilly One

It’s bloomin’ cold on the south coast at the moment, but now that the wind has died down I figured I’d better get a quick 5K done this evening. Well, it is Jantastic and I didn’t fancy playing one of my two Jokers so early on – it’s only the second week after all.

It was pretty quiet down on the seafront and I only saw a couple of other runners, which is quite unusual, although perhaps not that surprising given the current temperature and the fact that it’s Friday evening. Still, that didn’t bother me too much. I was more concerned with getting my run done as quickly as possible so that I could get home and warm again.

I set off at a fairly decent pace, completing the first 3K in 18:52, which is pretty fast for me. So much so, that by the 4th kilometre I was starting to feel a bit tired and decided to take a short walk break. I still managed to pick up the pace  again, completing the 4th a couple of seconds faster than the 1st.

By the 5th kilometre I knew that I was’t going to get close to my PB, so I took another short walk break before picking up the pace again to complete the distance in 31:32. Not my best time, but certainly better than average so I’m happy with that.

All in all, the training is coming along nicely. The big test will be tomorrow though, when I plan to do my longest run so far. Let’s hope the wind and rain hold off… for the morning at least!

How’s your training going? Are you getting your runs in despite the weather? Please share your thoughts in the comments.