It’s A Bling Thing

JG 13.1With all of last week’s running avoidance, I completely forgot to mention that I finally received my Jeff Galloway 13.1 race medal!

I ran the JG 13.1 back in December and it has taken this long for the medal to arrive, but it was well worth the wait. The medal is pretty big compared to any of my other medals and has a really nice silk ribbon too. My only gripe, however, is that the t-shirt is massive! I ordered a men’s medium because women’s t-shirts tend to be fitted and I like my clothes to be fairly loose, but this is more like a tent than a t-shirt. Still, I suppose I can always use it as a night shirt.

Talking of bling and virtual racing, I’ve also been developing my virtual running website and recently partnered up with UK Run Chat to host some virtual races for them. I even designed my first Virtual Running medal! It’s not as big and colourful as the Jeff Galloway medal, but it’s certainly very shiny and I think it looks pretty cool with the white ribbon too.

UK Run Chat MedalAlthough the medal was designed for the February Virtual Race Series, we’ve still got a few left so we’re keeping it going for March and April too. If you’d like one, all you have to do is visit Virtual Running UK, sign up for the UK Run Chat Race and then run 5K, 10K or a Half Marathon before 22nd March.

Shameless plugs aside though, I really need to find a better way of displaying my race bling. At the moment I’m using an old canvas covered in red fabric which is sitting on a shelf above the fireplace in my bedroom. I think it looks ok, but the medals keep falling off every time I try to add a new one, so any ideas about how to display medals would be much appreciated.

Medal Display

How’s your training going? Have you ever taken part in a virtual race? What’s your favourite race bling that you’ve won 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.

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.

Another Long Run

2014-12-07_OverviewWith only a few weeks left to complete the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 by the end of the year, I really needed to get a long run in this morning. So, at around 8:00 am, I headed for the seafront for a nice slow 19K.

I was expecting it to be cold and windy (which it was) so I took a pair of gloves with me to stop my hands from freezing off. Unfortunately the only gloves I have are the fleece type, which were a bit too warm once I got going. I tried taking them off during my walk breaks but they got pretty sweaty and were difficult to put back on again, so in the end I just carried them. Note to self: buy some gloves for running!

The run itself was pretty good. I was aiming for 19K using a 3:1 run:walk ratio and decided to start off with the wind behind me. Usually I do it the other way round, to get a helping hand from the tailwind on the way back, but I felt I needed to push myself a bit more this time.

So, I headed East along the seafront, through Brighton Marina and the undercliff path towards Saltdean. Despite the chalk surface on the undercliff path, I love running this route and, judging by the smiles and ‘good mornings’ from the other runners, cyclists and dog walkers I encountered on the way, I’m not the only one.

At my 10K turning point, however, I discovered that the headwind was much stronger than I had anticipated. That’s the problem with running on that path – you’re right on the sea and there’s absolutely no protection from the elements!

Still, I needed this to get my head back into training mode. Recently, I haven’t really been pushing myself hard enough and it has been too easy to say ‘that will do’ when I feel like I’ve had enough; but as I was 10K from home, that wasn’t really an option.

So, I pushed on against the headwind, sticking to the 3:1 ratio that I’ve been using and tried to stay relaxed. And, funnily enough, I actually enjoyed it!

It took 2 hours 17 minutes to complete the distance and my legs were pretty much done by the end of it, but apart from that, it felt really good.

I plan to do the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1 in two weeks time to give myself a benchmark for the Brighton Half Marathon in February. Ideally, I’d like to complete this one in under 2 hours 30 minutes, as the only other time I completed the distance was back in April with a time of 2:33:36. It will be interesting to see what difference (if any) it makes using run-walk-run before making a final decision on what strategy to use for February’s race.

How’s your training going? Do you have any more races before the end of the year? Have you taken part in a virtual race? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. To join the fun and meet new running bloggers, click here.

Jeff Galloway Virtual 13.1

Circle HopAs today is Virtual Running UK blog hop day, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for a virtual race.

I’ve been using Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method to get back to training after injury and, now that I’m back to running again regularly, I figured it would be interesting to see how close I can get to my goal half-marathon time using run-walk-run.

JG131It just so happens that Jeff Galloway himself is hosting a Virtual Half Marathon, so joining his race seemed like a good way of giving pay back for the help that his training strategy has given me over the last few months – that, and the fact that you get a medal and a t-shirt for taking part!

I plan to run the virtual half-marathon in December, which should be do-able if I stick to my current training plan, and of course I will submit my time to Virtual Running UK as well, just for good measure. I don’t expect it to be particularly fast, but it will give me an idea about how fast I can run using run-walk-run.

In other news, Virtual Running UK are hosting their first annual Blog Awards next month. Of course, I’m exempt from this as Virtual Running UK is my website, but if you want to nominate your own or someone else’s blog you can do so by clicking this link; or you can click here to join the weekly blog hop. Either way, it’s a great way to connect with more running bloggers and who knows, you may even win a prize!

So, that’s it for today’s post. No run for me today as I ran last night, but hopefully I’ll get one in tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

Back To Continuous Running

Circle HopUsually on a Saturday morning I’m pretty keen to get out the door and get my run in, but this morning I just wasn’t feeling it. However, as Saturday is now VRUK Blog Hop Day, I decided to spend the day getting my head together and eating well so that I could run this evening and get a blog post in for this week’s blog hop. And I was so glad that I did.

It has taken me a while to get back into a regular running routine and to be able to run without taking walk breaks, but this evening I managed to run my first non-stop 5K in months! It wasn’t particularly fast and I’m still a long way from my Sub 30 5K goal, but that didn’t matter. The important thing was to get the distance in.

Once I had completed the 5K, I was still feeling pretty good so I decided to continue back to my starting point, which would take me up to a bit over 6K. Of course, I had to take a short walk break to get that far, but I still did it and it felt really good.

2014-11-22_Overview

As far as run-walk-run is concerned, I’m still going to use the 3:1 ratio for my long Sunday runs as part of my marathon training, but in between I’m hoping to gradually build up my continuous running in the hope that I might be able to run the distance for February’s half-marathon.

I’m also thinking of taking part in the Virtual Jeff Galloway 3.1 in December. According to my training plan, I should be able to complete a half-marathon run-walk-run by the end of the year, so it would be a good benchmark to start from as well as a great opportunity to earn some bling!

How’s your training going? What do you think of run-walk-run? Have you taken part in any virtual races recently? Please share your thoughts in the comments and pop over to Virtual Running UK if you fancy signing up for a weekly running blog hop.

Mixing Things Up A Bit

Running the same old route can be useful in terms of motivation and progress as you run past points that you struggled with in the past, but it can also become a little bit tedious after a while. That thought, along with the fact that the Brooks Brighton 10K was taking place on the seafront this morning, prompted me to try something a little bit different.

My goal for today was to do a 13K Run-Walk-Run, using a 3:1 Run:Walk ratio, but instead of running along the promenade and out towards Shoreham Power Station, I decided to mix things up a little bit and get some much needed trail and hill running in.

Knowing that this was going to be a tough run, what with the hills and the muddy trail that I planned on taking, I decided to start off with three laps of Hove Rec. The nice thing about this part of the route is that each lap is about 1 kilometre and has some nice gentle inclines, which would be a great warm up for the rest of the run. I kept the pace nice and slow, enjoying the cool breeze and drizzle, before heading down to Hove Park.

The park was pretty quiet as I jogged along the eastern side of the parkrun loop, sticking to my ratio as I took in the steep incline before descending and heading into the wooded area and the first major challenge of today’s run.

The first part of the trail wasn’t too muddy, but before long I found that the incline was a bit more than I could handle. Still, determined not to give up, I altered my ratio to 30 seconds walking, followed by 30 seconds running. This worked for a while, but proved to be pretty hard going, especially as the trail started to become a bit muddier.

The hardest part, however, was yet to come. Once I emerged from the trees, I was faced with a lovely grassy slope which, although not particularly muddy or slippery under my trail shoes, proved to be difficult to run on. The problem was that as well as running up the slope, I was also running across it, with one foot always slightly more ‘uphill’ than the other. I knew right away that any attempt to run in this way wasn’t going to do my dodgy ankle any good, so I did the sensible thing and walked until I got to the top.

After that though, the rest of the run was great. I crossed the road and ran on some nice open grassy trails, made friends with some dogs and got back into my stride. I stuck to the 3:1 ratio as much as possible, stopping only for mud, dogs and gates, before crossing back over the road and returning to reap my rewards on the run down the hill.

Funnily enough, the run back down was a breeze and didn’t feel half as muddy as on the way up. I still took it fairly slowly though as the rain on my glasses meant that I couldn’t see as well as I would have liked, but I emerged unscathed and feeling very happy having completed 9.5 kilometres of the 13 that I’d planned.

Of course, I wasn’t going to give up there, so I headed back to the park to complete a lap and two thirds before heading for the pavements and a nice jog along the roadside to bring my distance up to 13K.

2014-11-16_Summary

In the end, it was a very slow run, what with all the extra walk breaks and having to stop to cross some roads, but it was good to do something different for a change. And, with 13K in the bag, I’m feeling pretty good about getting myself ready for my first half-marathon and marathon next year.

How’s your training going? What do you do to mix things up a bit? Have you tried something new to help pull yourself out of a slump? Please share your thoughts in the comments.