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.


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.

Fartlek Freedom

After Monday’s pacing run, I was really looking forward to some farlek fun this evening. According to my self-styled training plan, Wednesday is speed work and my favourite type of speed work is, you guessed it, fartlek training.

The aim of this evening’s session was to spend 30 minutes playing and having fun with running at whatever pace I felt like and, hopefully, getting some good sprints in.

I headed to the seafront after work and decided to start off fairly slowly with some short bursts of speed before dropping back down to a comfortable pace again.

Then, when my Garmin beeped at the end of the first kilometre, I picked my feet up and sprinted to the next lamp post before dropping down again and then, eventually, slowing to a walk.

Usually, I would feel bad about walking, but since farlek training is supposed to be about running by ‘feel’ and I ‘felt’ like walking, I decided to go with it.

The rest of the run followed a similar pattern but with shorter breaks between sprints and, consequently, more frequent walk breaks.


I basically decided that every time I passed a lamp post, I would alter my pace by stepping up or down a gear between walk, run and sprint. This worked out quite well and, even though in the end I was doing less sprinting than in the middle section, I still came out of it with an average pace of 6:28, which is pretty good considering how much I walked.


So, on the whole, a pretty successful session. I achieved what I set out to do and had a lot of fun in the process.

What’s your favourite type of training run? Are you a speed bunny, an endurance monster, or do you like to mix it up with a bit of both? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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.


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


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 Fartlek Session

Tonight was my first fartlek session, or at least my first proper one. I had a go at fartleks a couple of weeks ago and failed miserably because I ran at full throttle for the first fast interval, leaving myself completely exhausted and unable to complete the workout as planned.

So, this evening, I was better prepared. Although farleks are generally supposed to take away the rigid structure of interval training, I decided that having some kind of plan at this stage would be useful.

My plan was to do a 30 minute run, broken down into three repeats of 9 minutes slow/steady and 1 minute of steady/fast. This worked quite well as I was able to focus on increasing my pace for the 1 minute sections, knowing that I had enough time to recover before doing it again.

What I found was that even though my first steady/fast section wasn’t particularly fast, this improved as the workout went on and my confidence increased. So much so, that the final minute was the fastest of all.

The graph below gives a fairly good indication of my change of pace, although I do find that the RunKeeper app tends to be a little bit generous with the pace at the start of the run.

Fartlek 2013_10_17

Overall, my average pace was nothing to shout about, but I am starting to get a feel for the whole fartlek thing, which will hopefully help to improve my speed in the long run.

Next week, I plan to do another 30 minute fartlek session but will see if I can push myself to go faster in the speed sections and shorten the length of time I use for recovery.

Fartlek 2013_10_17_Splits

Have you used fartlek workouts in your training? Do you have a plan before you start or do you do the whole thing purely by feel? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

So Now What?

Now that I have completed C25K, I’m kind of missing the structure of the program. Tough as it was at times, knowing that every training session was designed to push me further towards my goal of running a whole 5K without stopping was a great motivator and gave me an amazing feeling of achievement at the end of every run. But now that it’s over, I’m not really sure what to do.

I know that I want to bring my 5K time down to under 30 minutes, but without a tried and tested program to follow, the prospect is slightly daunting. While there’s plenty of information on the internet, it’s hard to know what advice to follow and, to be honest, I think I’ve reached the point of information overload.

So, rather than worry too much about following a set program, I have decided to just have some fun and experiment with some different types of workout.

As with any experiment, I’m fully aware that some things will not work for me, but that’s ok. The important thing is to listen to what my body is telling me and enjoy the process.

So, last night I decided to do some speed training. I’d read a bit about fartlek training, which is a bit like interval training except that it’s not as structured. The idea is to run at a fairly gentle or steady pace, speed up for short distances such as the distance between two lampposts and then slow down to a gentle or steady pace again to recover. Doing a few repeats of this is in a supposed to be good for building up your race speed, so I thought I’d give it a go.

The session started well. I set of at a nice steady pace and was feeling pretty strong and confident. After about five minutes of jogging, I set my sights on a couple of lampposts and decided to sprint between them. This was a big mistake!

Instead of just increasing my pace to something a little bit faster, I ran flat out as hard as I could. According to my RunKeeper app, I maxed out at a pace of 4.28 minutes per km! A great pace if you can sustain it for more than a few seconds, which I clearly can’t!

The effect was brutal. I was puffing and panting and wheezing, but I still kept jogging. Very slowly, of course, but I didn’t walk. And I didn’t speed up again.

I decided to stop the session at 1.33 km and head for home, but after a few minutes I felt like I wanted to run a bit more. So I ran another 0.82 km with a couple more fartleks. These were much more controlled though, as I only increased my pace enough to get below 6 minutes per km.

On the whole, I enjoyed the session and will definitely incorporate farleks into my 5K training schedule. I just need to remember to maintain a degree of control and, no matter how tempting it might be to run as fast as I can, I still need to pace myself.

Have you tried fartleks as part of your training schedule? How did you find it? Has it helped to improve your overall pace for longer runs? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.