Monday, 30 August 2010

a little extra help

When the UK team met at Heathrow Airport on the way to the World Championships earlier this year Jim Rogers mentioned that he had read about a study promoting the benefits of beetroot juice for improving stamina in endurance running.  I remember a few of us not taking him particularly seriously as he began drinking from a large bottle of the red stuff.

However, a couple of days later he ran a very good personal best and I began to take notice and find out for myself about this mysterious elixir.

The best report of the benefits of beetroot juice is on the NHS website and I'm now into my third day of my own trial.  Obviously I won't know whether it worked until next week but it'll be in my report.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

things are going well

Just a couple of days ago I managed to find a replacement LIVESTRONG wristband in Leeds and since then I've taken part in a club handicap and a local 5k race - both of which produced very good times.

On Thursday I took part in a 3000m handicap at Carnegie track in Headingley, Leeds.  Didn't run there this time and I had no plans to run home either.  Expected a decent time therefore and as I'm not doing much training at the moment - tapering - I was rewarded with 10:57.

That's my fastest 3000m time in ten years.  Happy with that.

My next event (and final race before Perth) was the Park Run in Leeds.  Based on Thursday's performance my target was an ambitious 19:00.  I was a bit apprehensive for a few reasons:

- my M45 personal best was 19:15
- 19:00 equates to an age graded 17:05 and my age graded personal best was 17:28
- although the weather was warm and sunny, it was also a bit windy in places.

Anyway, I arrived in plenty of time and walked around the course and noted where the undulations were and where the wind would be at it's strongest.  After my usual warm up I was ready to go ... and the first kilometre passed in 3:30.  I knew that was 18 seconds ahead of schedule but I also knew that it was downhill.

I felt good though and kept the effort as equal as I could into the wind and up the slight hill to 2k which I passed in 7:16.  Still feeling good I was now beginning to pass those who had set off too quickly and this gave me an extra impetus as I ran into the wind for much of the third kilometre (11:10).  The fourth kilometre was mostly flat and I reached that point in 14:57 ... then pushed on up the hill into the wind for a finishing time of 18:17.

My kilometre splits were:  3:30, 3:46, 3:54, 3:47 and 3:20

I now have a new M45 pb and a new age graded pb.  See my 'personal bests' page for full details.

Very happy, only a week to go before the Perth 24 hr race and everything seems to be coming together brilliantly.  The only thing out of my control seems to be the weather and that too looks good according to this forecast.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

a good day

This morning I ventured out for an hour or so for a fartlek session in the rain.  Well, more like monsoon really.  Character building training I call it ... I only hope the weather will be better in Perth.

Back at home, after a good hot shower I made myself a large amount of porridge.  Amazing recovery food, lots of oats and milk with the addition of salt, sugar, fruit, etc as required.  I wasn't happy though to discover that my favourite addition, cinnamon, had disappeared !!!  Later found out that someone had used it and neither replaced it nor told me that we needed more.  Added apple and ginger instead.  Nice but not the same.

I do know someone who makes a very good porridge, trackside too if asked nicely.

Must remember to take some cinnamon to Perth.

Keir received his GCSE results this morning.  One A*, nine B's and a D.  Overall better than his teachers had predicted and we're very happy for him but at the moment he feels a bit low.  I think it may be because he tried really hard in the months leading up to the exams and felt he deserved a few more A's.  The most important thing, though, is that he is now able to study his chosen subjects at A level:  history, geography, politics, psychology, religious studies.

We're proud of him anyway.  Well done Keir.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Less than two weeks to go now and almost all the planning has been done.  Transport has been arranged and so has the hotel (or so England Athletics tell me ...).

Nutrition and hydration has been planned according to my expected speed and the average temperature in Perth at that time of year.

When finding historical weather data for Perth, must be careful to choose Scotland not Australia.

Just a few items of food to buy:  rice pudding, baby food, sultanas, custard, grapes and crystallised ginger.

All the training/hard work has been done now and I've recovered well from the crash training week.  Now I've just got to keep myself fit and healthy for almost a fortnight.  Mustn't do so much that I'm starting the race a bit tired ... but I've got to do enough so that I don't lose fitness.  Like all training there's a very fine line between getting it right and overdoing things.

The race website has begun to add news items now, hopefully things will be added on a regular basis over the following days and weeks.

My target ??  Ah yes, well I plan to go out at the same pace as I did at the Commonwealth Championships but have a much better final four hours.  Hopefully I've learned why my speed dropped so dramatically after 20 hours in Fitz Park, Keswick.  Whatever, the main points are that I know I can run further than I did last September but after the World Championships my confidence took a bit of a knock (I don't want to repeat that experience, thank you very much).

For next year it is beginning to look more and more likely that I'll be attempting a different race distance which  will be a challenge I'm really looking forward to.  That will be in the second half of 2011 ... more news as it happens.

One more thing ... there's a very good piece about Martin Fryer on the Commonwealth Championships website.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

statistics - part 2

Well, here goes.  This is how I interpret the previous post.

Except for the crash training week my mileage appears to be slightly less than last year, so does the actual time spent running.  I'm not too bothered by this because I believe I'm now training smarter by including far more appropriate strength and conditioning exercises.  I'm doing far more of this type of training and lots more cycling too, both of which I believe will have a positive effect on my race performance.

Stretching, on the whole, takes about the same amount of time per week this year as last.  During the actual crash training week things were different though.  In 2009 I included two daily sessions of stretching whereas this year I stuck with my usual one.

Frequency of running is slightly reduced this year but the average distance of a training run has risen from 13.0 miles (21.0k) in 2009 to 13.6 miles (21.9k) this year.  This partly accounts for an apparent slowing in my running speed, other factors include age and that it included warm ups, cool downs and recovery time during speedwork.

It has been impossible to compare races this year with last as there is nothing similar between the two 4 week periods analysed.  I also appear to have been less tired at the end of the crash training week than when I did this in 2009 ... fitter perhaps (although my resting heart rate is slightly higher than last year).

I believe this year's training to have been better overall in terms of preparing me for the demands of a 24 hour race.  I've learnt from past performances and other runners.  This has meant cutting back on some of the 'junk' mileage and replacing it with cycling for endurance and weights for strength.

As a last thought.  Does crash training work ?

I'll let you know after Perth but it has worked for me in the past.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

crash training statistics

Now that the hard training is over - until next time - let's compare this year with last.  My last week of crash training was just before the Commonwealth Championships in September 2009.

First of all I'll compare the week immediately before crash training, last year's figures are in red.

1 - 7 AUG 2010 ... 15 - 21 AUG 2009
mpw:  80 ... about 88.5
running time:  11h 20:18 ... 13h 11:24
average pace per mile:  8:30 ... 8:56
cycling time:  2h 23:31 ... 1h 42:41
stretching time:  1h 41:08 ... 1h 20:11
strength/conditioning time:  3h 14:17 ... 0h 30:10

total training time:  18h 39:14 ... 16h 44:26
races:  none ... 4 mile club handicap (25:54)

running sessions:  6 ... 6
cycling sessions:  3 ... 2
stretching sessions:  6 ... 6
strength/conditioning sessions:  6 ... 1

resting heart rate:  45.1 ... 42.1
my weight:  57.5 kg (126.7 lb) ... 57.7 kg (127.2 lb)

Now let's take a look at the crash training week itself:

8 - 14 AUG 2010 ... 22 - 28 AUG 2009
mpw:  about 164.5 ... about 162.5
running time:  24h 10:57 ... 23h 41:39
average pace per mile:  8:50 ... 8:44
cycling time:  5h 51:00 ... 3h 20:22
stretching time:  1h 53:01 ... 3h 05:01
strength/conditioning time:  3h 04:27 ... 2h 13:56

total training time:  34h 59:25 ... 32h 20:58
races:  5k (20:56) ... none

running sessions:  12 ... 14
cycling sessions:  7 ... 4
stretching sessions:  7 ... 14
strength/conditioning sessions:  9 ... 4

resting heart rate:  44.5 ... 43.0
my weight:  56.6 kg (124.8 lb) ... 56.5 kg (124.6 lb)

Now let's take a look at an 'average' training week during the 28 day period ending with crash training day 7:

18 JUL 2010 - 14 AUG 2010 ... 1 AUG 2009 - 28 AUG 2009
mpw:  almost 99 ... about 104.5
running time:  14h 42:20 ... 15h 11:16
average pace per mile:  8:56 ... 8:44
cycling time:  3h 03:23 ... 2h 19:25
stretching time:  1h 44:54 ... 1h 47:13
strength/conditioning time:  3h 22:24 ... 1h 15:52

total training time:  22h 53:01 ... 20h 33:45
all races:  5k and 2.75 mile relay leg ... 4 mile club handicap

running sessions:  7.25 ... 8
cycling sessions:  3.75 ... 2.75
stretching sessions:  6.5 ... 8
strength/conditioning sessions:  7.5 ... 2.25

resting heart rate:  45.0 ... 43.4
my weight:  57.3 kg (126.3 lb) ... 57.2 kg (126.1 lb)

And what do all these facts and figures mean ?

I'll let you know my thoughts in the next post.  Please let me know what you think ...

Saturday, 14 August 2010

crash training (day 7)

0740 ... ran the 8.5 miles to Lister Park in Bradford for this week's Park Run.  Finished the race in a disappointing 20:56 (10th position) before running home again.  No foot or other problems today.  In two weeks' time I'll do one of these Park Runs properly ie without running there first and not at the end of a very hard training week.  Maybe I'll come away with a new M45 pb ... currently 19:15

1350 ... 50 minutes on the bike followed by the usual extensive selection of exercises.

Well, that's all ... no training AT ALL tomorrow.  Complete rest.

Friday, 13 August 2010

crash training (day 6)

0730 ... tempo run.  Planned to run 8.4 miles at about 6:45 per mile.  Unfortunately the wind and the rain put paid to that idea (this week's heavy training didn't help either) and I managed the 8.4 miles at about 7:23 per mile.  RUBBISH.  Developed a nervous twitch during this run !!!  After training I had a Clif Builder's Bar for protein replacement - it was very good, definitely moorish.

1350 ... 50 minutes on the bike followed by stretching and strength & conditioning work.

1900 ... about 6.5 miles steady.  For the first two or three miles of this run the outside of my right foot ached quite badly.  Iced it for 15 - 20 minutes when I got home.  Should be OK for tomorrow's race.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

crash training (day 5)

0740 ... 15 miles fartlek.

1340 ... 50 minutes on the bike followed by stretching and strength & conditioning work.

1915 ... 5 miles + with a few members of Otley AC.

Still feeling OK, not too tired but it's starting to get hard work maintaining proper hydration.  Blister and bee sting caused no problems at all.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

crash training (day 4)

0735 ... long run of 23 miles.  Used an out and back route from Otley through Ilkley and Addingham and then to the crest of the hill on the Silsden road.  The first half took just under 1h 42, the return journey took 1h 33 which was very pleasing indeed.  Two unfortunate things happened whilst running though:  (1) I now have a blister on the big toe on my right foot - not sure why, I wore the same shoes on the same route only a few weeks ago; (2) I was stung on the palm of my right hand by a wasp or a bee - very painful.

1355 ... the usual cycling followed by strength and conditioning exercises.

1840 ... stretching

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

crash training (day 3)

0740 ... 19 miles a bit slower than yesterday morning (a few more hills though - or it may be tiredness !!!).

1340 ... cycling (the usual 50 minutes) followed by strength & conditioning exercises.

1745 ... stretching.

1915 ... about 7 miles with Mick Jeffrey and Tom Potter from Otley AC.  A good run at a nice pace.

Monday, 9 August 2010

crash training (day 2)

0735 ... approx 18.5 miles at about 8:25 per mile.  Not bad on an undulating course.

1430 ... 50 mins on the bike during which my LIVESTRONG wristband broke.  Not sure how but I hope it's not a bad omen.  I've had it about five years, that's about 12 months longer than I've been running ultras.  Followed my stint on the bike with strength and conditioning exercises.

1855 ... fartlek (about 8.5 miles).

2020 ... stretching.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

crash training (day 1)

0855 ... approx 22.5 miles steady.  Met another runner who was lost, he was apparently training for the Leeds Country Way Relay and had taken a wrong turning near Rawdon Crematorium.  I managed to direct him back to the correct footpath.

1455 ... 50 minutes cycling followed by strength & conditioning exercises.

1840 ... speedwork.  12 x 100m with 100m recovery.

2020 ... stretching.

Friday, 6 August 2010

recent running

Just a short post about the last three days running ...

WEDNESDAY:  long run ... 25+ miles in about 3h 30.  Basically ran from Otley to Silsden and back, quite boring but a good run with a few largish hills.

THURSDAY (am):  long run ... not quite 25 miles fartlek.  This took about 3h 15 and included the large hill from Kirkstall to Headingley and also the hill from Burley almost to Guiseley.  Also included 5.7 miles of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

THURSDAY (pm):  a steady six miles with Colin, Jack and Matthew of Otley AC.  Good to see Julian running again after his recent health scare.

FRIDAY:  eight miles tempo.  The target was somewhere between 52:48 and 54:15.  I could only manage 55:36 but I suppose that wasn't too bad after the previous two days which also included the usual cycling and other exercises.

Rest day tomorrow then seven days of crash training beginning on Sunday.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


Only eleven training days left before I go into 'tapering mode' for the three weeks before the 24 hr race in Perth.  Of those eleven days, the last seven (ie all next week - Sunday to Saturday) will be crash training.  Regular readers will know that I've used a seven day crash training period twice in the past with very good results, the first time was just before the Tooting Bec 24 hr race in 2008 and the second time was in the lead up to last year's Commonwealth Championships.

This is what I've got planned ... very hard work:  160+ miles of running, seven cycle rides of about 50 mins each, strength and conditioning exercises every day, stretching every day ... and lots of sleep !!!  The running includes two speed sessions, a 9 mile tempo run and a 5k race on the last morning.  Something to look forward to then.

I'll try find the time every day to briefly post with details of what I've done and how I'm feeling, etc.

In the meantime I've got a 25 mile run tomorrow and a 25 mile fartlek on Thursday morning leaving home at about 7.30am.  Probably run along the canal between Apperley Bridge and Kirkstall (or vice versa) for the second one.  See you there perhaps ...

Also, at the moment I'm putting together a hydration and nutrition plan for the race.  Hydration is partly based on the temperature of course and it appears that in Perth (Scotland) in early September the temperature ranges from about 20.6 C (69.1 F) to about 11.7 C (53.1 F) on average.

In my last few 24 hr races I've been experimenting with caffeine, usually not having any in the three weeks before a race.  However, I'm not convinced that caffeine during the race has been beneficial so I may well try my normal caffeine intake right up to the race itself.  If anyone out there knows of any articles relating to caffeine and ultra distance races please let me know - I'm always interested in ultra running research.  Leave a comment or email me using the address on this page.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

European T & F Championships

This morning I watched the men's marathon in Barcelona and was pleased to see that Viktor Rothlin, from Switzerland, emerged victorious.

Twelve months ago he was in hospital with a very serious heart condition which eventually required him to take a variety of medicines including Warfarin.  This made him seriously consider giving up the sport, especially when, at the end of 2009 he suffered a running injury and was unsure whether it would be possible to be fit enough to compete at these European Championships.

He made the decision to compete only a few weeks ago after a race in Gateshead, England and I bet he's glad he did.

I find it very inspiring to see other people overcome serious medical problems to run better than ever ... things like this definitely help my mind-set sometimes.

Good news too for team GB, especially Mo Farah with golds in the 10k and 5k.