Confidence Boost

This past week’s training has been pretty good. After last Sunday’s slow 3K on the treadmill, I topped up my training with a 11K walk along the seafront. It’s not the same as running, I know, but I figure that if I can’t run the distance then walking it is the next best thing. And, let’s face it, chances are that I’m going to do a fair bit of walking in August’s South Coast Challenge 50K.

I also managed to get a mid-week run in last week – another slow 3K on the treadmill, but slightly faster than Sunday’s effort and with fewer walk breaks, so again, it’s all good progress.

Today, I planned to do another treadmill run, but as I was getting ready I changed my mind and decided to head outside instead. For some reason, I’ve become a bit self-conscious about running outside again. I’m not sure why. Probably because I’ve slowed down a lot over the last year, but my slow treadmill runs had been getting me down a bit and I wanted needed to prove to myself that I’m not as slow as the treadmill would have me believe.

In order to get a better idea of how slow/quick I really am, I decided to head for the seafront. It’s nice and flat along the promenade, so any walk breaks would be because I needed recovery time, not because there was a great big hill in front of me.

I didn’t have any fixed plan about how to approach the run, but once I got going I decided to try a 3:1 run/walk ratio. This worked really well for the first 3K, which I completed in 20:35 (Take that Mr Treadmill!), but as the run went on I found that I was tiring and had to reduce the ratios. By the final kilometre I was down to a 1:1 ratio, but still managed to complete 5K in 35:29, which is pretty much what I was hoping for at this stage.

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As far as the treadmill goes, I’m still not sure. Maybe I am just slower on the treadmill and, if that’s the case, then it’s no bad thing as running slowly is good for endurance. However, getting outside in the sunshine really did boost my confidence and I’m finally starting to feel that I’m making some progress again.

2016-05-28_Splits

How’s your training going? Did you get out for a run this weekend? 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!

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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.

Circle Hop

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.

Hitting The Year Running

2015-01-01_SummaryHappy New Year! I’m going to skip the New Year’s Day formalities of reflection and goal setting, except to say that it has been a great year and I reckon 2015 will be even better. Starting with today.

I had planned a nice long slow run for this morning. I mean, what else am I going to do with a day off? It would be a shame to waste the whole day lounging around, watching TV and stuffing my face.

So, I headed out at about 9:30 am, a bit later than planned, but still early enough for a slow 24K. The plan was to use the usual 3:1 run/walk ratio but to try to keep the pace nice and slow – around 7:30 minutes per kilometre would bring me home at around the 3 hour mark. Just in time for lunch!

The original plan was to run along the seafront and take the coast road out beyond Saltdean and then back again. However, as I got closer to the seafront, I realised that the wind was pretty strong and that it might be better to stay a but further back from the sea itself.

So, I changed my plan and ran in the other direction, taking the road towards Shoreham instead. I was running against the wind, but it wasn’t too bad as there was a bit of shelter from some buildings along the route.

I reached Shoreham round about the one hour mark and decided to take a Power Gel. I’ve never used gels when running, but as this was going to be my longest run so far as part of my marathon training, I figured it would be a good idea to try them out – one at the one hour mark, and another at two hours.

I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it didn’t taste as bad as I’d thought it would – nothing like real bananas and strawberries but not as synthetic tasting as some of the Power Bars I’ve used before. It actually tasted quite good and the consistency was fine too, so no problems there.

As I hadn’t really planned a route, I wasn’t sure which way to go once I reached Shoreham. I was only at around 8K, which was far too early to turn around and head back to Hove, so I decided to just follow my nose and then turn around again at 12K.

This made the run a lot more enjoyable as, apart from the fact that I was no longer running into the wind, I was running through streets I’d never seen before. But it didn’t take too long before I found myself on Old Shoreham Road, heading for Brighton and Hove. I really liked this stretch of the route as, despite having to stop for traffic occasionally, it has a few inclines to keep things interesting and challenging – even at my very slow pace. So I decided to keep going and complete a loop (of sorts) rather than my usual out-and-back approach.

Things were going well until around the 2 hour mark. I had just had my second gel and was jogging along nicely when I felt the twinge in my upper thigh get a bit tighter, followed by a sharp pain in my knee. I knew right away what it was. I’d had the same thing after my last long run.

I knew that stopping would make it seize up, so I slowed down, took lighter steps, and sure enough the pain eased off. The outside of my thigh was still tight, but I kept going, taking it easy and stretching it out when I had to stop for traffic. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete the 24K, so I decided to turn off the main road and back towards Hove, just in case it got any worse.

I don’t really like running around the streets because there is usually too much stopping and starting for traffic, but today it wasn’t too bad. I guess everyone was still recovering from last night’s festivities!

So, I kept going, stopping and starting at the traffic lights and then took in a lap of Hove Park and a turn around Hove Rec for good measure before completing the 24K in just over 3 hours. Not bad for a morning’s work.

When I got home, I stretched out my IT band right away and that seems to have done the trick. No real pain, just a few aches, but that’s not a problem as I intend to spend the rest of the day with my feet up, eating the entire contents of the fridge.

How was your New Year’s Day? Did you get a run in? Please share your thoughts and adventures in the comments.

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.

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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.