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.

Playing With Pace

I decided to go for a run this evening. I don’t know why, but for some reason I just felt like it.

With less than a week to go until the Race For Life 10K, I realised that it would be a bad idea to do two long runs back to back, so I opted for some speed work instead. Nothing too strenuous. Nothing too rigid. Just a quick short run along the seafront.

To be honest, I’ve kind of missed doing speed work. Much as I love pushing through those long slow runs on a Sunday morning or after work, there’s nothing quite like that feeling when the momentum takes over and your legs really start moving, going  faster and faster until your lungs start to burn and your heart feels like it’s going to burst through your chest. No, really, it is a good feeling. Honestly. Although, to be fair, I don’t have to run very fast before that happens.

Anyway, this evening I wanted to run fast so I set off at a good pace and managed to sustain an average of 5:44 for the first kilometre before slowing to a walk break. Now, I know I’m not even close to being able to maintain that kind of pace over a longer distance, but it didn’t feel as hard as I thought it would, so maybe this is something that I could work on after next weekend’s 10K.


The second kilometre, however, was made up of a couple of shorter walk breaks and running segments, working out at just over 50% running (in terms of distance), so the average pace was much slower at 7:13. In saying that though, the running sections were a bit faster than in the first kilometre, which was good in one sense, but was probably the reason I had to walk for longer.

The final 500 metres was kind of interesting though. Although I walked about 100 metres of it, my average pace came out at only ten seconds slower than in the first kilometre, which has got me thinking about the whole run/walk thing again.


I know Jeff Galloway has built this whole training philosophy on how to use run/walk ratios and, much as I hate to admit it, I’m starting to like the idea of it.

Of course, I’m not going to give up non-stop running. A huge part of what I love about running is the ability to push on and to keep going without stopping or walking, even if it does mean that I’m slow, but in terms of achieving quicker times over longer distances, it is an interesting idea.

How do you feel about using run/walk ratios in races? What type of difference does run/walk make to your average pace? Have you tried the Jeff Galloway program? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Short and Sweet

My legs were still feeling pretty tired this evening, but I really wanted to go out and get a run in, so I opted for a very short run (3K) along the seafront.

Part of my reason for doing this was that I need to get used to running on tired legs for my first Ultra Marathon, but with my last couple of runs being long and slow, I figured I should also get in some kind of speed work before the BM10K next Sunday.

I wasn’t aiming to set any kind of PB. Just try to get some speed back. So I started off at what felt like a reasonably quick pace for the first half kilometre and then picked it up a bit and tried to hold on for as long as I could. This seemed to work and I didn’t really start to tire until the start of the third kilometre, when I slowed down to what turned out to be pretty close to my average pace for the first two.

3K Splits-2014-03-27

What was really nice about it though, was that unlike the 5K speed sessions that I normally do, it didn’t leave me feeling completely spent at the end. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps it’s because it was only 3K; or perhaps it’s because my body is expecting to be running for longer now. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. I don’t know.

Whatever the reason though, it felt good to get out there and get some more Ks in for the week.

Speedy or Slow?

I usually like to blog about my run soon after I get in. But as last night’s run was a bit longer than usual, I decided to leave it until today to write about it.

According to my training program for the BM10K, I’m supposed to do speed work on Tuesdays, but after Sunday’s long run my legs were still a bit tired so I decided that I would take it easy and see how it felt once I got going.

It was dark by the time I got down to the seafront but there were still plenty of runners around as I followed my usual 10K route down towards the Peace Statue and up towards the Lagoon and then back again. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good once they got moving and by the 8th kilometre I I knew that I didn’t want to stop at 10K. So, instead of doing my usual shorter loop that takes me to 10K, I decided to head back up to the Lagoon a second time and just keep going until I felt that I’d had enough.

By the time I got to the Lagoon again, the place was pretty much deserted, other than a few dog walkers, but I was enjoying the peace and quiet of the dimly lit promenade. Even though I wasn’t paying much attention to my Garmin, my pace felt pretty consistent and I began to wonder if I could get to 15K without stopping for a walk break.

When I returned to my starting point for the second time, I had pretty much covered 12K and my legs were starting to feel tired. I knew that this would be an obvious place to finish the run, but something inside me just wasn’t ready to stop, so I kept going and going until I completed 15K, my longest non-stop run to date.

15K 2013-03-25

I was surprised that I had managed to go that far, but when I checked my Garmin later I discovered that my average pace was just under 7 minutes per kilometre, which is quite a bit slower than I usually run but more in the region of what I am aiming for when I do the London 2 Brighton Challenge at the end of May.

I guess it’s ironic that what should have been a speed session turned into a slow session, but being able to keep going for 15K gave me a real boost in confidence as far as my ultra marathon training is concerned.

It was good to get a longer run under my belt, but for the rest of this week and next I need to focus making sure I’m ready for the BM10K.

How’s your training going? Do you prefer speed sessions or slow runs? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Kicking It Up A Notch

After last week’s rest and recovery, I’m starting to feel a lot better. The main difference is that I’m thinking more about nutrition, not in some crazy obsessive food fascist kind of way, just in terms of making sure that I’m getting enough calories so that I don’t feel like I’ve been hit by a bus after every run.

This was particularly important for this evening’s run as I was scheduled to do a 30 minute speed session. I love these sessions because as well as allowing myself to run faster (which is so much more fun than running slowly), I’m not too strict about the specifics of the workout. Sometimes I might try a structured tempo run or a few sets of 400 metre sprints, and other times I might just have some fun with fartleks. But however I decide to do them, these sessions are all about pushing myself harder and teaching my body to run faster.

Tonight though, I wasn’t really sure about what I was going to do, so I decided just to run and see what happened. I started off nice and slowly for the first kilometre and tried to get negative splits for the next two. I was feeling pretty good and each kilometre was about eight seconds faster than the last, which isn’t difficult when you’re starting off so slowly. So, when I turned to head back to my starting point at the 3K mark, I figured that it was time test my pace and give it a bit of a kick for another kilometre or two.

As I have mentioned in many previous posts, my main goal for the 5K is to achieve a sub-30 time. This means being able to run faster than 6:00 minutes per kilometre. So, with two kilometres to go and just under 20 minutes into my workout, I decided to try get myself to a 6:00 pace and see how long I could hold it for.

As it was fairly dark along the seafront, I couldn’t keep a very close eye on my Garmin without using the light, so once I knew that I was at the right pace, I tried to focus on my breathing to make sure that I didn’t slip back. The breathing itself was pretty heavy by this point and must have been really off putting to anyone that could hear it, but for me it was like a tribal drum urging me on as I fell into an almost trance like state and let my legs move in time.

At 4K, however, my Garmin beeped and brought me back to reality and the fact that I was starting to feel tired. But I didn’t want to stop. So I kept going and tried to relax back into the breathing again.

Even though when I glanced at the Garmin it said that I was going faster, I could feel myself getting more and more tired as my breathing became even harder. I needed to slow down, so I let myself back off just a little bit to get me to the 5k mark.

5K Pace 2014-03-11

I knew that I had run faster in those last two kilometres than I had ever managed before, so I was really pleased to see that I’d achieved a new PB of 31:32, beating my old PB by almost 30 seconds! But the best part was that when I got home and uploaded the data, I realised that I had not only managed to achieve negative splits, but that the last two kilometres were well under 6:00.

5K Splits-2014-03-11

I don’t know if it was the rest days, or the nutrition, or the last few weeks’ training starting to pay off, but whatever it was, it felt pretty damn good to know that my goal pace is starting to become more sustainable than I ever really believed it could be.

5K Map 2014-03-11

How do you use speed sessions in your training? What’s your favourite speed workout? How long does it take before you start to see the result? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Speed Work

Tonight was the first 30 minute speed session of my new 10K Training Plan. I’ve been deliberately vague about what these sessions will involve as I’m still experimenting a bit with speed workouts and, with the British weather being typically unpredictable for this time of year, it’s just as well.

Before I headed out this evening, I thought it would be fun to try some short sprints along the seafront but, with 26 km/h winds coming in from the south west, I soon changed my mind.

As with last week, the wind was ok for running in, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go very fast running against it; and while I could probably pick up a good pace with the wind behind me, it would kind of feel like cheating if the wind was helping me with my sprints. So I opted for a longer continuous run instead.

I’ve been reading up about tempo runs because, even though runners talk about these a lot, there seems to be a bit of ambiguity about what a tempo run actually is. While some define it as a run where the pace increases steadily and peaks in the middle before tapering down to the finish, others describe it as a continuous run at a steady pace. I’m still not sure what the right definition is, but in reading about tempo runs I did come across some interesting ideas that I thought might be worth trying.

One article that I read suggested that a tempo run should be about twenty minutes of running at a pace slower than your current 5K race pace. With the wind blowing strong, I thought this would be a good one to try out while running against the wind.

My average pace for my last few Parkruns has been around 6:20 to 6:30 minutes per kilometre, so I was aiming for between 6:50 and 7:00 for the first half kilometre with the wind behind me and the next two and half kilometres with the wind in my face.

As I expected, running against the wind kept me from going too fast and I managed to keep the pace fairly consistent throughout, albeit with a few spikes here and there when the wind dropped off. And even though I ran negative splits, I didn’t stray too far outside of the range that I was aiming for.

5K Splits-2014-02-25

After the first three kilometres, it was time to turn around and head back to the starting point with the wind behind me, so I decided to use this part of the run to pick things up a bit and see how long I could maintain a faster pace.

Although I am focusing more on my 10K than 5K training, I still have that goal of running a sub-30 5K in the back of my mind. To do this, I need to be able to run faster than 6:00 mins per kilometre so, with a bit of help from the wind, this seemed like a good opportunity to see what that would feel like.

I managed to pick up the pace to around 5:50 and, judging by the graph from my Garmin, this was fairly consistent throughout the fourth kilometre. Even with the wind helping me along though, it was hard going and I couldn’t keep it up for the final stretch. However, I did still manage to stay pretty close to 6:00 for most of that final kilometre.

5K Pace 2014-02-25

I’m not sure how much benefit any of this will have long term, but I am pleased that I managed to keep my pace a bit more constant than usual. And, most importantly, I learned that running in the wind can be a lot of fun if you don’t mind changing your workout plans!

Do you adapt your training when the weather makes things difficult? What’s your favourite bad weather workout? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Negative Splits

This evening I completed the second run in my new 10K training plan. The aim was to run 5K at something close to my 10K pace, which going by my one and only 10K race performance is about 6:49 mins per kilometre. But of course it didn’t quite work out like that.

As I approached the seafront, the wind seemed to be picking up, but I figured it would be ok to run in. So I set off at a conservative pace with the wind behind me for the first half kilometre.

When I turned to head west, however, I realised that the wind was a bit stronger than I had first thought. It was ok to run against, but I knew that there was no way I could sustain a pace of less that 7:00 mins per kilometre until my turning point at the 3K mark. So I changed my plan.

Instead of aiming for a consistent pace, I decided to use the wind to my advantage and try to run negative splits. There was no way I was going to go out too fast against 29 mph gusts; and I figured I could easily pick up my pace for the final 2K with the wind at my heels. And for once the plan actually worked!

With the wind against me, I was careful not to push too hard but gave it enough effort to increase the pace slightly as I went, checking my watch occasionally to make sure that I stayed on track; then, when I turned around to head back to the starting point, I picked it up even more and and gained a good momentum with the wind behind me.

5K Splits-2014-02-20

Even with a good tail wind, it wasn’t always easy to maintain the pace, but somehow I managed to run the final kilometre in under 6 minutes! I know, it’s way too fast for what I was aiming for this evening, but on balance, I think the effort level was probably about right as I finished with and average pace of 6:40 mins per kilometre, which is pretty close to my 10K pace.

So, all in all, it was a good run and the graph doesn’t look too bad either!

5K Pace 2014-02-20I guess even bad weather can be useful after all.