Friday 31 January 2014

Do some empty miles?

I had to make a hard decision. This was the first time that I had the possibility of achieving a 200km month.

It would be great to have achieved it, although there isn't a Strava badge this month,  but in the end the evening weather was foul. Should I have made the effort? No, it would have been empty miles just for a number. I'd done the training I wanted to do so I needed to save myself for saturday. My almost-coach is keen that every run should have a purpose and I don't think a number counts.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Against the grain

A few runners have mentioned Tim Noakes' anti-carbohydrate stance to me over recent weeks. The issue had largely passed me by until a recent hospital review mentioned that due to previous illness I have a slightly increased risk of metabolic syndrome. Two events didn't feel like a coincidence.

According to conventional wisdom my current diet and lifestyle mitigate this substantially but what if a contemporary 'sensible diet' is not as healthy as it's made out. This is where Tim Noakes comes in:

Perhaps my dyspepsia is carbohydrate-induced and could I recover faster on a fattier diet?! This is controversial stuff and goes against my diet for the last 25 years.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Just one more km

My pace on my 'Dore Loop' has improved substantially over the 10 months or so that I've been running it. In fairness, early on the roads were snowy, but even ignoring that I've progressed steadily and what used to take just over an hour is now below 58 minutes. So this evening's goal was to add around 1km to the route, acknowledging that the time will then exceed an hour and then to work on it for 6 months or so to get it within the hour. I'm hoping to achieve this by picking sections and working on them to improve my pace until the sum of the whole route is faster. 

When I set out the weather was mediocre at best but I was glad of wearing my 'good' jacket as at the extension along Baslow Road sleet started and continued until I reached Dore village. The extension was a little over 1km but was forced upon me by the railings in the centre of the road.

I wad very pleased with my performance as even with this addition I achieved an average pace better than 5min/km.  

Saturday 25 January 2014

Aiming for a slightly easier long run

After 4 weeks of achieving 40km plus per week and some longer long runs, today was a slightly easier and potentially slower long run. I ran my Blacka Moor half marathon loop fairly steadily but was 7 minutes slower than my best time just before Christmas. I think this is due to the heavier routine that I'm committed to at present. On the fast week I'd only run 2 easy 5km sessions during the week whereas this week I've done 17km of which 12km was fast and tough. So I'm bound to be a bit more weary! This is a crucial stage in the plan presently, to keep above 40km a week whilst avoiding injury. This should form a solid base for the 100km.

The sky was clear when I left home and when I returned, but 'atmospheric' inbetween.
I was also a little too hot this morning. The forecast suggested that early on would be OK with rain coming in later.  After my soaking a few weeks ago I wasn't taking chances and so wore my waterproof jacket. In  combination with the winter-weight tights it was too much. At a few points I was tempted to take it off but then I suspect I would have been cold very soon and had to put it back on. Overall I'm satisfied with the pace as it was better than 6min/km and generally felt pretty relaxed.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

So fast!

This evening I made the plan to go at a steady pace and aim for a good time up to Hathersage Road. However from the start my pace felt spot on, breathing well, good cadence, good speed and no irritating wind or rain. I arrived at the start of the ascent feeling relatively fresh and took on the hill with a bit of effort. Not so fast as to wear myself out at the bottom, but hopefully fast enough to be fast but slow enough to be able to maintain the pace to the top.

I managed that very well and achieved a time well under 13 minutes. I still had energy so kept up the effort towards home. At the 10km mark the time looked to be a record which gave me the incentive to keep up the effort on the final 2km easy descent.

Altogether  I earned an amazing 12 Strava awards, mostly PB's on segments but also my best 5km and 10km times too!

Somehow everything was in alignment and I wonder if this will be an occasion that will never be bettered, or one that shows potential to be repeated. I suppose I'll know over the next few weeks. The last time I made dramatic progress on this loop I was 'powered by cake' (19/11/13) and it might be notable that I'd eaten a slice of the fruitcake earlier this afternoon. Maybe that's the key factor?  Anyway, much use of the roller was needed when I got home and I'll have to keep it up over the next few days.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Running backwards

Today I took the Round Walk backwards, that's Brincliffe Edge at the beginning rather than at the end. I don't know whether the change of direction or the fairly busy week had an adverse effect, but whatever the reason, the whole route felt very tough, as if it was all uphill! The average pace mirrored the apparent effort being 6:12 min/km which is a little slow for me below 30km now although in fairness, this is my longest single run since mid September's ill-fated 20 miler.

I'm not too upset, it's been a longish week (49km now) including a short run last night, and also the fourth week of over 45km. I think next week should be a bit slacker to allow some additional recovery.

There aren't any photos or videos as the weather was grey and drizzly all the time that I was out and that has an adverse effect on anything. After last week's experience I wore my proper waterproof and was comfortable for most of the run. Occasionally I was too hot and occasionally a little cool (when I needed to slow to a walk) but overall fine.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Using a plan

Today's plan was to take my usual Tuesday loop via Dore but to have some specific aims. These were to try for good times on the Millhouses 1km and the ascent to Wyvern Gardens. The time on the rest of the loop wasn't to be important.

The 1km attempt was fairly rapid but still 6s slower than my PB whereas on the hilly 0.5km I gained a new PB by a 2s margin. The time for the whole loop was slightly longer but not major and so I can take this as a successful trip. For the next time I take this route I need some new aims.

I've avoided using my bum bag for a few runs as I suspected that it might hurt my stomach (vaguely, was it my guts or abdominal muscles?) but today decided that I'd try it again. Although the bag didn't cause clear discomfort it wasn't especially comfortable and I found it unstable on fast descents. Even in the absence of clear evidence I think I will be abandoning it. I just don't want to use the rather pricey UltrAspire pack for routine runs.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Over two days isn't quite the same as within one

I managed to fit 13km in before lunch today and so I've done 29.8km over the weekend; instead of the 28km-ish I'd hoped to do yesterday. That'll do and gives an experience of consecutive days of running. I didn't take anything with me and that might account for a PB up Limb Valley. As I've seen in the past, just going at a gentle pace can result in the fastest outcomes. This is a very positive observation as it suggests that I wasn't too tired after yesterday.

Importantly todays run means that I've achieved by 45km this week. I think I have mentioned in a recent post that I've had a few pieces of advice recently:

  • 45km per week (in addition to at least 35km walking) isn't a bad goal
  • Try to do this every week, avoid sudden increases that result in injuries
  • Have a goal for each run, perhaps aim for a PB on a section, or to do 1km further, or longer on my legs  

Saturday 11 January 2014

Time to retreat

Today I'd planned to do around 28km as  a long slow run, probably via Stannage. After a pleasant forecast and a mild few km the light drizzle turned to horizontal snow. Moreover, this occurred just as I reached the edge of the moorland, knowing that the most exposed stretch, but hard underfoot (so probably slowing my pace) was yet to come. Due to the forecast and weather on departure I was terribly under-dressed and under-equipped in my pack. 

There was no alternative to turning around and heading for home, taking as much as a sheltered route as possible. It was still 8km home and as much of it was downhill I was bitterly cold when I reached shelter. I know from bitter experience that I cool very quickly once cold and damp and so I just had to keep going.

After a hot shower and drink I felt much happier, especially as by then the sun had come out! So more to carry with me next time.

 Anyway I still covered nearly 17km with 390m of ascent. My aim now is to do at least 11 km tomorrow so that I've done the long run distance, albeit over 2 days, but that has the 'running on tired legs' aspect too.

Friday 10 January 2014

An ultra-ultra journey

Today I I had been invited to deliver a lecture in London and arrived early as I always hope to do. That gave me an opportunity to visit Stanfords and browse maps. Naturally I left with three and have enjoyed scanning them on my train journey home.

One of them was a very ordinary OS map of Cannock Chase; quite a few trail events are held there and I've often driven through and wondered what countryside lay either side of the road. A map of Tenerife was simply for background knowledge as my parents had visited a year or so ago and suggested to me that there were lots of outdoor activities available. The third came from a large display that caught my eye.

From the website of the publisher, Deep Books
As a long distance route this appealed and I can appreciate the self-reflection that would arise through 5 weeks of travel. I was pleased to see on wikipedia that the presiding authorities recognise that heathens may undertake the route without a belief in the divine nature of Saint James. The vast numbers (hundreds of thousands per annum) that complete the pilgrimage though makes it seem almost run-of-the-mill and perhaps a bit too popular!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Fairly average

I'm trying to start the New Year routine. Yesterday the physio felt that things were improving although my left leg is still delicate compared to the right. Saturday's 25km had made it a little tender. This evening I ran my usual 12km road route in the dark and damp. The pace was much as usual despite spending the first 20 minutes running into the wind. The key outcome was completing in under the hour, it's not easy, but having breached that wall a few months ago I don't want to fall below that average pace.

Now, a few hours on, my left leg is feeling slightly upset and there's a nasty know in my calf. It has been a little improved by the use of the roller.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

End of 2013

I feel that the year has ended on a downbeat as I feel a little delicate and for the first time in some time only managed 140km through the month, including walks. The physio often stresses to me that walking is training and should be within my total so I've no guilt about including short hikes in my running distance. More irritating is that the running distance must therefore be even lower.

Anyway, I still received a few virtual badges for my efforts - the 20+13 is interesting as it's a modest target of 33 miles, suggesting that Strava expect pretty poor performance at this time of year.

First run of 2013

I made a start as soon as there was some light as the weather forecast predicted more rain as the day passed. I wanted to do something requiring a bit of effort but nothing too hard as I am a little out of practice after various ailments.

So the obvious solution was to do the saturday run with its additional hills, that's 15.5km with 390m of ascent. It was an OK experience, no pains from legs or abdomen but I could only manage a rather dull performance. Nothing worth photographing either.

Incidentally, despite the shortness of the run I wore my Ultraspire pack rather then the usual bumbag as the latter has irritated my abdomen before now and that was the last thing I wanted. Plenty of room for improvement in the rest of the year.