Tuesday, 22 January 2013

P.I.T. #1: 22nd Jan 2013

After introducing the "Point in Time" approach to blogging my training in my last post, here is the first instalment, taking us from the start of the year to the present day.  It'll be a long one...

2012 ended with a so-so marathon pace (MP) session, but I was in pretty good fitness, a decent weight and mostly healthy (physically anyway).   In the final days of last year I had been getting in a mixture of VO2 max workouts and long runs (inc. 20M @6:53pace and 30M@7:40pace).   The most notable difference in the last few months had been a distinct lowering of mileage.  This was partly as I focused on getting faster, but mostly just due to not having the mental strength to double on the dark evenings.  Either way, the one good sign was that, while I have had to maintain high mileage to maintain weight in the past, this time I even lost a few pounds.  I will post later about health/nutrition, but I feel so much more free from the shackles of bad food than I ever have done.

The plan for the beginning of 2013 was to try and crank the mileage back up and maintain the speed then, if I adapted okay, keep progressing the faster stuff while holding a higher mileage.  I had been doing 50-80mpw at the end of 2012, but have always found 100-160 to be my favourite zone; 140-160 has always been a sweet spot from which great things come.  We'll see...

Jan 1st
15.5M in 2:06:15 (8:07 pace) @103bpm - very easy run.
4M easy double with Tim (15) and his pal Dec (14) (another quality runner in the making) as they did hill reps.  I let them shoot of after the warm up and ran with my youngest daughter Lydia (11) to ensure it was a recovery run. 2 reps of Liverton Hill done by all. Well, all except Mat Brooks who bailed on us due to a hangover...

At this juncture, let me point out a couple of things.
  1. Yes, 15.5M can be an easy run. I'm not naturally fast, but I have discovered that with the right approach and the right shoes I can maintain a lot of miles. It's my gift, so to speak, and so it's what I do when I can.
  2. Yes, 103bpm.  I have a low resting HR (31bpm is personal best) and a low maximum (no idea - I don't run hard enough to find out), so I get some silly HRs for some easy runs.  At my best fitness in 2010 I did lots of sub 100bpm runs to see how fast I could get at such a HR.  Got it down to 7:40s over 10M.  I distinctly remember thinking, "I could do this all day!" and then, "How long could I do it for?"  I knew I'd be doing ultras at some point.
Jan 2nd
15.5M in 2:09:06 (8:18 pace)  - HR data sporadic (100bpm?) - feeling the return to mileage a little already. Letting the legs lead pace-wise.
YRG Fatburner workout video (will post about these later, but this series of workouts are what Arthur did - great for old, inflexible, weak runners too).
5M treadmill run - slow and easy - watching "Unbreakable" again (90% of treadmill runs are spent watching that movie).

Jan 3rd
Got to meet Nick Clark and run 10M with him. 1:18:06 (7:51 pace). HR not working properly - corrupt data.  Great time but longer and faster than I'd normally run before a track session. Wasn't going to miss the opportunity though.

Track night. 10M total. 1M w/u; 2M @6:40 pace; 4 x 1M (1min rec.) in 5:41, 5:41, 5:42, 5:38; 2M @6:24 pace; 1M c/d. Legs tired, but strong. Very pleased with this session.

Jan 4th
15.5M in 2:08:51 (8:19 pace) - started out slower and picked up as I loosened up.  The key to high mileage is keeping as easy as the legs want on easy days.
7M with Lydia in 1:09:30 (9:50 pace) - easy for us both. The girl's getting good again.

Jan 5th
15.5M in 2:07:51 (8:16 pace)

Jan 6th
23.5+M in 2:39:50 (6:46 pace). Short w/u and c/d with 3 laps in the middle: #1 50:39 (6:42), #2 50:24 (6:40), #3 52:02 (6:53 pace).  Very pleased, despite slowing slightly at the end: first 100+M week for months and I do my 2nd fastest long training run ever. Another step forward in the journey.
6.5-M with kids - first 1.6M with my youngest son (Joe), Tim and Lydia. Tim did a little bit more but wasn't feeling great. Lydia did the rest with me.

Week #1 (inc. Dec 31st 2012)
Total = 143M

Jan 7th
16M in 2:14:30 (8:25 pace). Legs tired, but plodded around okay.
7M in 1:10:41 (9:59 pace) with Lydia

Jan 8th 
15.5M in 2:07:03 (8:10 pace).  Really starting to feel like I'm adapting to this increased mileage now. Was ready for a longer run today.
Rare opportunity to visit gym and do some weights - took it! Not ideal the day before a race, but then it's only a C race at best.
7M in 1:00:27 (8:34 pace) - relaxed and easy. Started slower and picked up as I loosened up. Threw in an effort on "concussion hill" - sharp climb, flattens out and dips ever so slightly - 38 secs of effort flat out.

Jan 9th 
7M in 58:48 (8:21 pace) - another effort on concussion hill (37secs). Feeling ready for race tonight.

10km race in Gravesend on the Cyclopark courtesy of Nice Work.  I had planned to run with the Matt "the Tank" Britton for as long as could and then slow down as little as possible in the latter stages when he inevitably dropped me. But "The Tank" no-showed. In a last minute change of plan I said to Tim that we should not go out too hard and just wait see what developed at the front.  Within the first 400m or so I said to Tim's friend Dec (who had ran an excellent 17:38 PB in the earlier 5km), "we've got this!" as we ran past him.  I was comfortably aerobic and the only person around me who wasn't clearly in the red was Tim.
My thoughts immediately turned to my recently written New Year's Running Resolutions and in particular #10: "Finish a race in first place (equal), arm in arm with my wonderful son, Timothy."We soon got into a lead pack of 5 and within a lap we were down to 3.  I expected to be clear by 5km, but the third runner, Dan Walsh, was chasing a PB and doing really well to cling on.  At this point I was trying to simply hold place (which was sub Lactate Threshold and pretty comfortable), but once we had a small gap on Dan it was clear that I was going to have to slow a bit if I wanted to finish with Tim.  Resolution #10 has been a dream for years and it definitely trumped any notion of holding pace for a slightly faster time, so it became a question of making sure we dropped Dan without dropping Tim.  After plenty of geeing up and encouraging, Tim, not in the greatest of shape right now, did what was required and we crossed the line in 36:59 arm in arm.  A dream realised!
Lydia and Joe ran as well. Joe struggled in the cold, but finished okay, while the ever improving Lydia ran a new PB of 54:57.  Great job, Looby!
As for me, I definitely could have run under 36min and I could've kept the pace going for another lap or so.  Pleased with that after all the miles. (8M total for the night).

Coming into the finish line ticking resolution #10 off the list

Jan 10th
10M in 1:19:10 (7:52 pace).  Surprised to see the pace pick up after the race / tempo run last night - legs leading the pace as always.
7M in 58:05 (8:15 pace).

Jan 11th
5K(ish) reps @MP (marathon pace).  Best done with a HRM, but mine is still playing up, so I estimated it. #1: 18:58 (6:10 pace), #2 18:53 (6:08), #3 19:11 (6:13).  15M total. Wasn't really up for any kind of effort today, but chugged it out.  The pace is feeling more comfortable biomechanically (which has been a real issue for me historically) which is a plus; bit annoyed at the third rep though. Just mentally not there.
8.5M with Lydia in 1:26:21 (10:12 pace) - lovely time together.

Jan 12th
12M - first 7M alone (other than Buddy the dog who is with me for most of these runs) in 56:10 (7:59 pace) and then the other 5M with Lydia in 50:27 (10:04).
5M on treadmill which I hate. 42:41. Easy plod.

Jan 13th 
Longest run ever - 37.7M! Having done some mostly flat 30M runs at the end of 2012 to get me ready for proper ultra training, this was the real beginning.  I took the course up onto the North Downs in places and got it from 10ft of climb per mile to 30ft/mile - three times more hilly, but the 50M races and, more importantly, the 100M are all 100ft/mile - three times hillier still! And, of course, three times longer too! Early days, but here it begins...
4:57:12 (7:53 pace) - very happy with that. 8mm pace had been my best case scenario! Felt comfortable throughout (apart from first few miles) and definitely could have run for a good while longer.  So, early days, but a very good start!

Week #2
Total = 155.5M

Jan 14th 
10M on North Downs Way (NDW) n 1:27:35 (8:53 pace) - Snow has arrived and hillier route hence slower pace. Slow plod, but felt relatively good after yesterday.
5.5M in 59:35 (10:45) with Lydia. We were going to do 7M but cut it short as she wasn't feeling great.

Jan 15th
Okay, I hate snow. 5M treadmill (which I also hate). 42:00. Done. Ugh!
Was supposed to do a workout today, but couldn't face it on the treadmill.  Did a kind of progression run for 7.5M mostly involving incline rather than speed. Got HR up more than usual, all aerobic though - incline tested the legs sufficiently.  On the plus side, I watched all of "Unbreakable" yet again between both runs.

Jan 16th
16M on NDW in 2:30:04 (9:18 pace). Hillier as I go further out (83ft/mile now). Lots of snow, ice and mud.  Consoling myself that conditions will be better in July.  Trying to embrace the conditions like a true ultra guy would, but not so much as to do a double in the evening...

Jan 17th
10M on NDW with Lydia and Buddy in 1:43:55 (10:32 pace) - her first 10M for 18 months! And how come she doesn't slow down in hills and snow as much as I do?
Track session. 8M total. 800m w/u; 2m @6:16 pace; 3 x 1M (1min rec.) in 5:36, 5:36, 5:38; 2M @6:16 pace; 800m c/d.  Too icy, even with track spikes on. Had to cut the session short on the faster stuff as I was really starting to slip and it was getting uncomfortable. Very frustrating. On the plus side though the reps were slightly faster than 2 weeks ago and felt a chunk easier too.  Feel like I'm moving forward.

Jan 18th
20+M on NDW all the way to Detling. Now climbing 2000ft = 100ft/mile = same as on ultra race days! YAY! 3:08:50 (9:20) in -2C, snow and horrid wind chill. Water bottle nozzle froze! 105bpm (new HR strap arrived!)  Pretty easy run - didn't feel like a long run physically or mentally, which I guess is a good sign for the ultra season ahead.  Really embracing this weather now, but no doubles when it's like this.

Over looking Hollingbourne on the way out - it was much whiter on my return
Steps! UGH! Like a snowy rollercoaster out there.

Buddy waits for me on some of the steps that make the NDW much tougher than the elevation suggests

Jan 19th
Did the YRG Fatburner Plus workout video this morning - much tougher than the Fatburner. Ouch!
10M on the NDW with Jenny and Lydia (and Buddy) in 1:47:23 (10:49 pace) at 91/92bpm. Used Yaktrax Pros - very icy wouldn't have got round without them.  Pleasant run.  first 10M for sometime for my wife who has struggled with chronic fatigue for years due to Lyme's Disease.  Utterly delighted for her!

Jan 20th
29M on NDW in 5:22:02 (11:06 pace) @103bpm.  Heavy snow and -1C. Broke Yaktrax on the trail. Then struggled with them falling off for the remainder of the run - very frustrating. Should've taken them off for the trail and put them back on for the road sections.  Fed up with the weather now - beautiful, but a real pain for running.   Fell over a few times too.  Legs were fine though and it is my longest run time wise. Getting used to running for this long which is good I guess.  2900ft of climbing = 100ft/mile again.

Looking up from Detling onto the Downs.

Steps (again!) up through Westfield Woods - my favourite sections of the NDW thus far.

Week #3
Total = 121M  
Lower mileage due to weather, but pleased with the effort this week.

Jan 21st
12M on NDW to Charing in 1:55:06 (9:30 pace). No HRM. Easy plod with Buddy.  Legs okay. Conditions suck - fed up with the snow now.  Really fed up. Novelty long gone.  Want to do doubles and speedwork on the road.

Jan 22nd
UGH!  Just didn't have it mentally today.  Token 2M done on the treadmill just before midnight to maintain running streak (since Boxing Day) - a real "streak saver" run.  Heart just not in it today.  Need to get some miles done tomorrow and get back into it...

So that's where I am at. Phew!

Overall very happy with the progress.  The weather is for a short season; it will pass in time.   Just need to keep the fitness in place until it goes.  But ultra training is under way and going well. So far, so good.

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