Thursday, 28 April 2011

plans, plans and more plans

OK so I like plans.  Plans are good ... they make things easier.

PLAN 1 - running to Grantley on Sunday morning to take part in the annual Fountains 10k.  That way I get to do a long run and a race at, more or less, the same time.  My route to Grantley - via Pool, North Rigton, Killinghall, Ripley and Sawley - is about 22 miles.  And then another long run on Monday (24 miles)

PLAN 2 - a very long run on Monday 9 May.  From York I plan to run back to Otley along the Ebor Way long distance footpath.  This is a distance of 37.75 miles and I'm looking forward to a good day out.  When I last did this run it rained so much during the middle third of the route that I had to buy another map in Wetherby to replace the one which had become too soggy to use.  Looking back through my old training diaries to find when that was I was surprised that I had to go all the way back to July 2004 - almost two years before my first ultra race.  I guess even then I must have been seriously considering 'moving up' ... but that was even before my one and only marathon.

PLANS 3 & 4 - putting together pacing and feeding/drinking plans for my first ultra of the year.  The ULTRArace 100 on Friday 24 June.  All this information will have to be given to my crew when finalised so that between us we can iron out anything that may be impractical or that I've forgotten or that's just plain wrong - yes that does happen sometimes so it's always worthwhile having someone else check things over.

Then it's on to Llandudno in September for this year's big race ... and more plans.  It gives me something to do between training sessions !!!!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Good few days running

On Monday afternoon I set off for my first long run of the week - 19 miles to Bradford and back via Hollins Hill.  The idea was to run this fartlek style with the fast segments being lasting about 4 minutes and the recovery phases just over 3 minutes.  Exceptionally pleased to get back home in 2h 23.  Just over 7:30 per mile (4:40 per km).

Then, on Tuesday, came another long run in the morning and the club's handicap in the evening.  The long run was 21 miles to the far side of Addingham and back.  Planned to be a relaxed run but not a flat route.  This took 3 hours exactly.  Then, 8 hours later, it was time for some speedwork !!!  4 miles around Fewston Reservoir.

A very good event with over 30 others from Otley AC.  I was exceptionally pleased with my 26:05 on the undulating course.  My fastest time since the year 2000.  The training is obviously going well.

Oh yes ... in the afternoon I spent half an hour with the weights.

On Sunday I entered the Fountains 10k.  A local race near Ripon in North Yorkshire.  That event takes place on Sunday 1 May and the idea is to run the 22 or so miles to the start before the race ... and for Mick Jeffrey to bring me home after the race.  Something to look forward to if the weather is as good as it has been recently.

Click here to see the other races I plan to take part in this year.

Sad to hear the news of the recent death of the great Norwegian runner Grete Waitz.  One of my all time favourite runners and someone whose career I followed and admired in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

marathon or 26.2 miles ?

What's the difference I hear you ask.

Well, I think there are quite a few and I guess this post may be a bit controversial so I must stress that these are are only my opinions and not facts or scientific in any way.  And I am not undervaluing, in any way, the performance of anybody who's been for a run around the streets of London earlier today.

For me the main difference is that the word 'marathon' describes a race not a measurable distance.  Here's an example of where people often confuse the two:

When asked about my training I often mention that I do two long runs per week (on consecutive days) and that when getting close to a race those runs will be somewhere between 25 and 27 miles.  The reply is often 'so you do two marathons on consecutive days then'.  Well, no I don't ... those long runs are not at race pace and they are only training runs.  A means to an end, if you like whereas a marathon IS the end product.

It also helps the mental aspect of what I do if I think of things this way ... but that's another story.

Make no mistake though, running for over 26 miles isn't easy ... it's a very long way to run.  But racing a marathon is harder still as that involves covering the same distance as fast as one can.

Congratulations to Running Bear on winning her debut marathon recently and on all those from my club, Otley AC who ran the London Marathon today.  I'm know they all tried their best to run well and not just run 26 miles 385 yards.

I think sports commentators are at least partly responsible for this confusion among many members of the public ... and I wish they would stop it.

Friday, 15 April 2011

easy week

As I'm just coming to the end of an easy week's training I thought I'd briefly review how the past seven days have gone.

Saturday 9 April ... (am) 50 mins cycling ... (pm) strength work and stretching
Sunday 10 April ... rest and recovery
Monday 11 April ... (am) 27 miles steady ... (pm) strength work and stretching
Tuesday 12 April ... (am) walking ... (pm) strength work and stretching
Wednesday 13 April  ... (am) hill reps ... (pm) strength work and stretching
Thursday 14 April ... (am) strength work ... (pm) 7 miles fast-ish and stretching
Friday 15 April ... lazy day !!!

Let's look at some of those things in a bit more detail:

Monday's long run was, as I mentioned in a previous post, very enjoyable and I plan to repeat the experience in four week's time during my next 'easy week'.  Then it will be 34.5 miles (55.5 km).  A very good confidence builder.

The walking is something that I've started this year because during a 24 hour race I'll walk for about 230 minutes.  So it makes sense to spend that time wisely and hopefully the training will help.

Hill reps.  Seven times up Farnley Lane on the outskirts of Otley.  Beginning at the post box on the right at the bottom and ending half a mile up at the footpath on the left which goes over the fields to Copmanroyd Farm.

Thursday's fast run.  Planned to run somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 per mile using the Otley 10 mile markers.  Easily managed 6:35 per mile which I'm very pleased with.

Looking forward now to some shorter races beginning next month with the first event in the Harrogate League.

Feel good at the moment - hope it continues.

Next week the training is back to normal with two long runs (approx 20 miles each), club handicap, fartlek and hill reps as well as the extras ... strength, flexibility, walking, etc.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

a very good run

Yesterday's 27 miler went very well indeed.  In fact I was surprised at how well it went.

After a large bowl of porridge for breakfast I headed for the 7.15am bus to take me to Skipton where I re-fuelled with another coffee and a croissant.

Leaving Skipton at about 9.20am I headed to Apperley Bridge along the canal - a journey of about 21 miles.  As you would expect this was almost entirely flat but the ground was muddy in places and uneven for at least half of the distance.

I wasn't complaining though, the weather was fine and I was enjoying myself.  After leaving the canal I headed north to Rawdon - up the hill - and again I was surprised at how easy it seemed.  Between miles 21 and 22 I probably climbed about 70m (225 feet).  Not easy at that stage of a long run.

And then the next few miles were again uphill (slightly) but by now it was raining and I was getting wet.  It was unseasonably warm though and I was still enjoying myself knowing that the final mile and a half were downhill.

Overall time ... about 3h 45 ... but that's not the point.  I wasn't running to any pre-determined pace, just building the mental confidence needed to run a long way.

Job done then.

Congratulations also to Elizabeth Grayson on completing her first ultra.  The Glasgow to Edinburgh race.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

plans for the next two weeks

On Monday the plan is for a nice and steady run of about 27 miles (43 km).  The idea is that I'll catch the X84 bus from Otley at 7.15am and arrive in Skipton at 8.10am.  Then for a cup of coffee and a snack before running along the Leeds Liverpool Canal to Apperley Bridge near Bradford (via Bingley and Shipley).  From Apperley Bridge it's up the rather large hill to Rawdon and then to Otley via Guiseley and Chevin End.

A good route I think and if the weather is as good as it has been for the last few days it should be really enjoyable.

If anyone would like to join me for part or all of the run please feel free to come along.

The following week, at the moment, looks like:

Saturday ... 10 miles (16 km) fartlek
Sunday ... 10 miles (16 km)
Monday ... 19.8 miles (31.9 km) fartlek
Tuesday ... 19.8 miles (31.9 km)
Thursday ... 8 miles (13 km) hill repeats

The problem with this is that Otley AC are holding their monthly handicap on the Tuesday on one of my favourite courses - around Fewston Reservoir to the north of Otley.

I could change that week's schedule so that it becomes something like:

Saturday ... 10 miles (16 km) fartlek
Sunday ... 6 miles (9 km)
Monday ... 19.8 miles (31.9 km) fartlek
Tuesday ... AM:  19.8 miles (31.9 km) ... PM:  4 miles (6 km) handicap
Thursday ... 8 miles (13 km) hill repeats

That sound feasible to me.  Especially as Wednesday is free from running.  What do you think ?

Congratulations to Sharon on her recent British record in Athens and also to Andy McMenemy who's doing a marvellous job at running 50 km every day for 66 consecutive days.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

This morning I spent an enjoyable couple of hours running around Swinsty reservoir in the beautiful Washburn Valley about 7 miles north of Otley.

Exceptionally warm weather for the time of year.  Very humid and windy though.  Hilly too but that's OK because the upcoming 100 miler isn't exactly flat.

Feel like everything's coming together now.  Looking forward to some good summer running and racing.

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Sunday, 3 April 2011


The weather has been lovely here for the past week or so - except for the strong wind.  I can confidently say that wind is my least favourite weather.  It's the one that interferes with running the most.  Running is possible in snow, rain, the cold and the heat if one wears appropriate clothing, but the wind causes all sorts of problems with speed and /or pacing ... making fast running twice as hard.

On Friday though I aimed for about 4.5 miles in about 29:50 (give or take 35 seconds).  Eventually I managed 29:56 which was very pleasing considering the strength of the headwind on the final 2 miles.  My splits were about 6:10, 6:31, 6:56, 6:43 and 3:36 for the final half mile.

No gloves, hats or long sleeves for a few days now ... lets hope this continues.