Saturday 31 December 2016

Higger Tor

We'd not managed to go to Higger Tor on our Christmas Day walk as my hiking companion is awaiting a shoulder operation and didn't want to tackle the very short scramble needed to crest Higger Tor. So having set off today a plan formed to include it although I'd not thought of the way home.

The route included a bit more ascent and descent than I'm used to and also the rocky section on the lip of Burbage Edge. I could have done without that but it was preferable to running along the road on a busy holiday Saturday. The thought crossed my mind to go along Stanedge but that seemed that it would be too far although looking at the map I don't think it would've been more than a km or so extra. It would have involved a rocky path though, so not significantly easier.

That's the second time I've done this particular route, not really an achievement...
So, for me it was a hard 25km, my right ankle is fine so far but my left knee and thigh feel distinctly fatigued.

Friday 30 December 2016

September 2016 Week 11 Session 2

Today's long swim was a struggle with technology as much as being in the water for 90 minutes. Would my Garmin Swim work and could I manage to press the buttons on the TempoTrainer correctly. Well, the former appears to have worked but I failed at the latter!

My plan was to pace at 45, 44, 43 and 42 seconds for the first superset. I started fine and was a little ahead of the pace. For sets 2 and 3 I thought I was flying as I was keeping up with little more effort. Anyway when I checked prior to set 4 I was still on 45s! I set to 42s but couldn't keep up with the beeps, partly due to effort and partly due to occasional holdups in the lane. My average was 43.3s so not too bad and is a spot faster than last week. The progression wasn't good as I let myself get ahead, perhaps if I had done 45s initially I would have had the energy for the 4th set?

For the second superset I planned 47, 46, 45 and 44s but really I hovered around 46.5s for each set. Simply I'd run out of power. Nonetheless, faster than last week.

For week 12 I think I need to do the series from 46s and 48s, making sure that I start gently and then adjust the TempoTrainer correctly.

Thursday 29 December 2016

September 2016 Week 11 Session 1

Data lost again! A different fault. After studiously recording every interval (49 by my reckoning) and presumably saving the session as I've done for the last year I had a week total visible of 1933m. That sounded about right. However when I tried to view the session it wasn't visible and of course couldn't be downloaded. At that point I'd adjusted my weight on Garmin Connect and that couldn't upload to the watch. I tried another ANT+ stick and that was just the same.

So I went through the remove watch from system/reboot/reinstall ritual everyone will be familiar with and things seem OK. I even managed to transfer a swimming mime so it worked on dry land. I'll have to see how it goes next session, I've just checked and the watch is around 18 months old so out of guarantee.

It is a pity that the data was lost as I thought I'd done some pretty fast lengths and sustained the pace through the session. But as I said last time, it's the effort that counts, not the numbers. For this session that's what's written on my training plan by the coach too.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

September 2016 Week 10 Session 3

Today I went to Pond's Forge in the city as the University pool is closed. It was good to return to the 50m pool that had frightened me a few years ago. Now it posed no concerns and it was pleasant to be able to swim without thinking about the end of the lane.

I set the TempoTrainer for my 'fast lengths' and for the first set and perhaps the second, I managed to do 3x100m at a sub 2:00min/100m pace. I suspect that for sets 3 and 4 I didn't achieve this. Unfortunately I couldn't transfer the data when I came home.

Moreover today's swim didn't appear in the history. That's a little irritating but I know that I put in the training effort and ultimately that's more important than the data. The ANT+ only interface on the Garmin Swim seems to make it hard to do transfers manually, at least I couldn't find anything about it online. Having accepted that today's swim was lost I've done a hard reset on the watch in case something was 'confused', better to start afresh than risk the loss of new data.

Friday 23 December 2016

September 2016 Week 10 Session 2

Having used the TempoTrainer in novel situations whilst on holiday I decided that it would be worth using on this long routine to help me regulate pace. Ideally the pace would be intrinsic, something I can feel, but unfortunately I don't seem to be a very good judge currently. Using the TempoTrainer I get feedback on my pace for every length as it happens and can adapt accordingly. This might even show me how a faster pace feels.

So today's pacing was 47, 46, 44 and 43 seconds for the first super set followed by 49, 48, 47 and 46s. In both cases I failed to maintain the fastest pace by a small amount. I also swam further than intended, and possibly a record distance of 3866m because initially I targeted 16 lengths per set rather than 12! If I'd done a bit less early on perhaps I could have hit the pace? Although the slow pace was slower than previously, and sometimes I had to pause briefly to wait for the bleep, the fastest pace was better than I've managed previously. I wish I'd thought of this at the beginning of the programme. I wonder if Julian, my coach, thinks it's a good idea or not.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

September 2016 Week 10 Session 1

Intervals of one 33m length aren't too bad and I am able to do a reasonable pace. The first 3 sets went OK this evening including a few fast lengths at better than 1:50min/100m. For the fourth set I tried to keep going, alternating between fast and slow but really I was tired. The fast lengths weren't really any faster, just more strokes per length! Just before finishing I recorded 20 and 25 strokes per length for length times with less than half a second difference.

Sunday 18 December 2016

A busy week...

Costa Blanca swimming

Whilst on holiday I've swum twice, although I had hoped to manage a little more. Irritatingly the pool in the hotel closed before we left. I was told many times that the sea was too cold and although I didn't try it I didn't see anyone in it, which must mean something.

Anyway, the two swims that I did do went fairly well. I didn't take along my pull buoy so most of the distance was done with my legs anchoring me down. That should be good training, surely? The first session I worked on fast intervals and was initially disappointed that I struggled to repeat 30s for 25m lengths. Really that was hard work as that equates to 2:00min/100m which is my target pace with the pull buoy.

In my second session I focussed on increasing pace to give negative splits through 1600m, again without the aid of a pull buoy. I started at my warmup pace of 2:30min/100m and was able to speed up  fairly well. Unfortunately I can't remember the length timings I used (the final set was, I think set at 35s/25m and I couldn't sustain it). What was clear though was that the TempoTrainer was helpful in regulating the progression and should be used in future.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Southern Bernia Trail Run

I've been visiting the Costa Blanca for almost 30 years now and have always wanted to hike on, or up, the famous Bernia and Puig Campana. Until today I've not managed it due to them being 'too far to get to', 'too big to attempt alone' and other rather weak reasons. Having noted that hiking routes on Bernia are plentiful online I decided that I had to start to get a feel for the mountain, although avoid the scrambles for now; I've not got a head for heights.

Using the excellent ViewRanger app on my Android tablet I planned a loop of around 25km using a combination of IGN and open source mapping. A large proportion of the distance was on minor roads and forest trails but that fits with my running programme.

Bernia is prominent above the suburbs of Altea
From the hotel to the base Bernia was easy but the ascent through rather upmarket urbanisations was steep enough that I walked quite a lot. Gradually the building stopped and after a short, undeveloped section of road, a stone track led off steeply.

This track was restored in 2014 and is clear on ViewRanger's free mapping
For the path I assembled my poles and used them to help keep a good rate of ascent. It didn't take long to reach the wooded slopes and the small fincas hidden amongst the trees. I contemplated continuing uphill further but decided I didn't have enough time. Even though  I'd ascended over 600m the sharp ridge was much higher and not very welcoming unless you're a proper climber.

I passed two signs for the fort on my way to the tourist road down the hill and must return to visit the fort as it's reported to be pretty straightforward. Once on the road my descent wasn't rapid as it was too fast for my aged knees and it wasn't until I was on the flood plain that I could pick up speed again.

A very pleasant 24km circular route from Altea
I was very content with a pace of 7:20min/km over a trail with mixed terrain and would happily extend it by the few km needed to pass the fort.

Friday 9 December 2016

Week 9 Session 2 (half of it!)

I was short of time today so chose to do just one superset of today's routine and put some effort into it. I did mange a clear negative split across 1600m with the final 400m at an average pace of 2:11min/100m. That's not great but as good as I've done in a while. I'll make an excuse and say that for some reason the pool was rough, odd as there were only a few swimmers.

In terms of stroke rate I was around 28SPM without the pull buoy and a range from 23 to 30SPM as I upped the pace. Notably strokes per length increased markedly, 18 to 22SPL which is why the pace increase was only modest. I really need to work on keeping the power and distance covered per stroke as consistent as is feasible at these higher rates. At the slow arm turnover I'm covering as much distance as might be expected. Take a look at this.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

September 2016 Week 9 Session 1

It went well today with 22 of 23 fast lengths being at sub 2:00min/100m pace. I'm not sure where the 24th went! Importantly I felt comfortable throughout the session and gauged effort early on to have power left at the end. Through the session my strokes per length crept up for both fast and easy lengths which is usual.

I tried to finish with a fast 100m but only achieved 2:07min/100m which isn't great, Ok I suppose after 1600m

Sunday 4 December 2016

September 2016 Week 8 (again)

This week I've gone around on the Week 8 programme again in the hope of doing it a little bit better. Naturally I didn't succeed! Session 1, short intervals, wasn't too bad but trying to keep up negative splits across 3200m in Session 2 was poor. Today I adapted Session 3. The programme called for pairs of 100m fast sets but knowing that was unachievable I tried pairs of 66m.

This was a good idea and did allow me to work at a fair pace during the second 66m; after 100m the second has been too hard to be 'intense'. Even so, the supposedly fast lengths weren't at a good pace and by the end of the session I'd slowed to my medium-slow pace even though I was trying hard.

I've worked hard this week, managing 3 swims, and at least I know I've made an effort even if the numbers aren't exciting.

Sunday 27 November 2016

September 2016 Week 8 Session 3

This weekend I've swum, run and swum and found the two disciplines excessively hard work. I think that the stress of work hasn't been helpful especially as it's meant that I've missed swims and condensed efforts together. I have noted that my morning heart has been raised for weeks - 10% on Saturday morning and that isn't a good sign!

Tuesday 15 November 2016

September 2016 Week 8 Session 1 (and Week 7 Session 3)

I lost some data today but I could still work out that I managed sub 2:00min/100m for 18 of the 20 sprint lengths. I suspect that I was faster on one of those too, but fumble my watch. Overall though that's not as good as last week's beginning but as i undertrained last week that wouldn't have helped.

At the end of last week I did a cut-short Week 7 Session 3 swim. That wasn't great either. Even though I did only 5 of 10 'fast' 100m sets I surpassed 2:00min/100 on just 3 of them.

Really this work on going a bit faster is proving hard work and with slight gains so far.

Thursday 10 November 2016

September 2016 Week 7 Session 2

I had to cut today's long session by a quarter but even so I was slow. The warm up time was good, and I had a clear lane to work in. I'd hoped I'd have been faster therefore, but it was OK.

The main sets were a mess. Really I didn't speed up beyond the first set and I thought that I was taking that very steady. The supposedly fast set, in which I worked hard was only 1 second faster than the first! I suppose that count as a negative split which isn't too bad across a total of 1800m. I'd certainly put in some effort as the next set was very slow even though I was trying. This is a hard routine.

Friday 4 November 2016

Sunset to Oxstones

DIY work today was fairly tough, working under the floor and coming back up to cut insulation. I estimate that I placed 12 sections so that amounts to 11 or 12 trips. The combination of crawling, cutting, adjusting and knocking panels into place gave me a good work out.

After a late lunch and a break with Columbo I ran up to Oxstones. I got there after sunset but whilst the sky had some red light, with the clear sky it was a good view to the lights of Sheffield. There was a strong breeze and it was cold so I was right in my decision not to try to stop out overnight. I think my muscles would have seized up!

During the run I did filtered and although I was aware of my knee and ankle I think they were as trouble free as they have been for a long time. Even though the run was only 14km it felt to be enough when I returned home. After some rolling my legs felt much better.

September 2016 Week 7 Session 1

Today I read the programme and executed it correctly. The alternate fast and slow lengths felt more comfortable although I know that I was holding back at the beginning as I knew I'd 40 lengths to do. It is important in interval training to work hard, but it is essential to be sensible at the beginning so you can  do hard work near the end. Early burn-out means that the intensity level won't be sustained as long as intended.

Anyway, the result of the pacing was that all of the fast lengths were better than 2:00min/100m, with four at 1:50min/100m or better. Overall the numbers are pretty similar to last week except that stroke count might be a touch higher.

Monday 31 October 2016

September 2016 Week 6 Session 3

Now I'm supposed to do 2 x 100m each in 1:54min or less; and repeat it five times. That's not going to happen and indeed it didn't happen. The first pair of 100m were done in 1:56min/100m which I was very happy with. Unfortunately from then on my pace slackened until the best I could manage was 2:11min/100m. (As an excuse, the water was incredibly rough by the end of my session.)

I'd only just worked up to 9 of 10 100m sets at a sub 2:00min/100m pace so doubling up was destined to fail. Anyway I'll work at it and probably find after a few weeks that I'm struggling but could achieve an earlier goal readily.

Sunday 30 October 2016

September 2016 Week 6 Session 2

Session 2 is hateful.

Maybe by the end of the 12 week block I'll feel that I've mastered it but currently I hate the combination of pace and the duration. Having to make an effort when tired is tough.

The chart shows distinctly how my strokes per length increases as I fatigue but also as I increase stroke rate. That tends to mean less efficiency and more fatigue...

Today I didn't manage the intended negative splits as well as last week but this actually hides an improvement. In the first 1600m my final pace was with a second of last week but my starting pace 8 seconds better.  For the second 1600m the difference was much more marked. For the first 400m my pace was 42 seconds faster and for the last set 26 seconds better.

I knew that I'd started the seconds super set faster than last week and assumed that I'd not pushed myself as much in the first superset as I didn't feel as worn. That might well be true, but if so I've basically worked less hard to achieve the same outcome! (Looking back over a few weeks it's clear my pace has improved by a few seconds for each set.)

Now I need to capitalise on this slight increase in fitness by trying to establish distinct negative splits again without setting off artificially slowly. That means more effort at the end.

Friday 28 October 2016

September 2016 Week 6 Session 1

Now I'm up to 20 pairs of slow/fast lengths. I exceeded 2:00min/100m for every one of the fast lengths with a best pace of 1:46min/100m. Most lengths had a stroke count of 20 per length showing that with these short intervals I generated more power per stroke than in yesterday's 100m intervals.

Thursday 27 October 2016

September 2016 Week 4 (again) Session 3

It's really Week 5 but as I've failed to achieve the goal of Session 3 in the Week 1 to Week 4 block I elected to try Week 4 again. There has been progress as I achieved 2:00min/100m pace on 9 out of 10 100m sets and with good pace consistency. In previous weeks it all collapsed after 5 sets but today it seemed fine until the 7th or 8th.

The initial sets were great, being around d 1:55min/100m and with only 20 strokes per length. Clearly I was applying power well.

My maximum stroke rate was 34spm in the final third of the session as I struggled, and managed, to maintain pace.

The pull buoy-less warmup lengths are easy to see as a distinct, slow cluster. Although the stroke rate is faster than in my easy lengths it's below that of my hard lengths. I wonder what my pace could be with anchor-legs at my maximal stroke rate? Perhaps I couldn't maintain it for more than a length?

The second question is whether I can achieve a sub-8 minute 400? Interval training is, of course, based on the premise that you can work harder for a number of brief periods than can be managed as a block. But what about 4 sets of 100m sequentially?

Friday 21 October 2016

September 2016 Week 5 Session 2

The second session in this programme is awful. It's tough, long and I really do not enjoy it. Doing a fast set and then having to start the repeat the superset again is draining. I managed negative splits for 1600m but after that my arms were like lead and the second superset was slow. I did manage negative splits, which I think is a first, but the pace was glacial even for the fastest set.

Looking at previous sessions I did manage to control and raise the pace better today than in the past so there is slight progress. The pool was incredibly rough today, although I know I've written that before, so that increases the impact of fatigue.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

September 2016 Week 5 Session 1

I thought that today's session had gone well in that I managed to do 15 of 16 fast lengths at a pace better than 2:00min/100m. My best lengths were at 1:47min/100m which isn't quite as good as last week but the difference is around 1 second per length which is probably within my error in stopping and starting the timer. I should have managed the 16th length at target pace but I set off thinking I'd try 2 or 3 lengths and I suspect that I reduced my commitment to the first one of the three and thereby failed on all counts!

I did achieve a stroke rate of 35spm within the session and there is a slight tendency for strokes per length to be reducing. Together I feel these number imply that I'm starting to get more power and by keeping distance covered in each stroke the length pace is improving.

As a note to self though, for Week 5 of the programme I should have done sets of 5 pairs of lengths. It makes sense to add more intervals to maintain the training intensity.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Forerunner battery dead?

Before yesterday's run I'd changed my Forerunner 100 overnight but half way through it showed 'Low Battery'. I put it down to the cold, and perhaps poor connection with the charging clip. Last night I made sure the clip was well positioned and by this morning charging was complete. I disconnected the charger and within an hour I heard the beep of 'Low Battery' again even though the watch was on standby. The battery indicator is low, of course. I've tried rebooting the watch and it still shows an empty batter but no inclination to charge. Maybe it's the end of the line for it? Although batteries are available online I wonder how easy it will be to get a good outcome. These things aren't built to be repaired.

September 2016 Week 4 Session 3

Starting with a positive, at least I know that my Garmin Swim is still water tight after changing the battery. Conversely I found today's session hard work. The goal is for 10 sets at 1:54min/100m pace with easy bits in-between. After Week 1 I realised that this was beyond my ability and focussed on achieving 1:57min/100m pace. So far I haven't managed that either!

Today I did 4 reasonable fast sets and then some others slower than 2:00min/100m. Some of the lengths were great at around 1:55min/100m although as I tired I couldn't manage that. The current in the pool was apparent although whether 2 lengths with the flow has flattered my overall pace I'm not sure as I have the fight against the current to cope with.

A faster pace with the 'flow' is clear on first and third lengths of a set
I am managing to increase my stokes/minute and did a few around 35spm. Although these lacked power at least I was able to move my arms quickly!

Saturday 15 October 2016

Autumnal evening

My legs were typically leaden for the first few kilometres but they gradually fell into rhythm within the woods and worked well on the ascent of Blackamoor. Just as I started the climb through the trees I heard 2 cyclists splash through the form on the bridleway and all the way to Hathersage Road I kept expecting them to overtake me. They didn't so I suspect they must have turned off somewhere, I can't have been that speedy.

The evening was cooling by the time I reached Houndkirk Road but it was a calm and mild nonetheless.

Last week I was concerned about stiffness in my right foot/ankle and this is still an ongoing problem  but I tried not to 'grip' the ground so much and it didn't seem so bad. Some areas of hard skin have become irritating on my toes and I put this down to the 'gripping' and perhaps a show that's starting to rub. The strange thing is that my feet and knees were great in Tenerife, in these shoes, even with substantial distances being covered. I think a starting point is to find a new chiropodist to have things smoothed off competently.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

New battery

I'd hoped to swim today but work was too much work. On the walk home the Garmin Swim flashed up 'Low Battery'. Although this has been the first warning I don't want to lose data so swapped the battery this evening. I had spare CR2032 cells in stock as they are one of those sizes that fit a multitude of gadgets nowadays.

The swap was easy as per the instruction manual.

The estimated battery life is 1 year, my first use is recorded as 14th July 2015 so that's a pretty reasonable prediction. I've barely used the light which I'd assume is a substantial drain.

I hope the seal is OK, the O-ring is slender!

Monday 10 October 2016

September 2016 Week 4 Session 1

Today's interval session was a great success. Warm-up in under 5:00 minutes and then all 16 fast lengths at better than 2:00min/100 pace. I managed a few lengths in around 35s corresponding to a pace of 1:45min/100m. I'm impressed that my strokes/length averaged 20 for the first 12 fast lengths although in the final set it rose to 22. This shows that I was managing to apply some power.

The rests were a bit longer than scheduled to ensure that I had a clear length but I don't think that is all that important.

Sunday 9 October 2016

September 2016 Week 4 Session 2

I messed up the sessions today and did session #2 instead of #1. That maybe wasn't a bad thing as the pool was quiet and so i could get on with the long routine. For the first 4 sets I managed a slight negative split across 1600m as intended.

Going into the second block my arms were tired and I set off very slowly. I managed a pace increase for 3 sets but the 4th and final was slow. I was finished!

Friday 7 October 2016

September 2016 Week 3 Session 3

It had a been a fair day at work and I couldn't find an excuse not to go for a swim. At least I knew the session would only take an hour or so. The 100m intervals were once again set at 39s/length and for the first 5 fast sets I managed to stay within a 2:00min/100m pace. Once or twice I could have gone a little faster but had to slow to wait for, or go around slower swimmers.

Gradually I managed to pick up the pace to 1:54min/100m which is supposed to be the maximum at the moment but I can't maintain it. After two sets at this pace I started to fade until by the end of the session my best was 2:07min/100m. Both of these parameters are better than I managed in Weeks 1 and 2 so maybe there is progress.

I'm getting better at managing the TempoPro and watch as I only lost timing for one set today.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

September 2016 Week 3 Session 2

This was a pretty rubbish session. The pool was fairly busy when I started although I don't think I can really blame that for my poor performance. Really I find it hard to up the pace after three 400m sets. Before I could start the second superset of 4x400m I was moved as the swimming club were arriving. This meant that there was a range of abilities pushed into two lanes.

Washing machine-like swimming from slowtwitch
The club swimmers combined with densely packed recreational lanes made the water a turmoil of arms and waves. I didn't enjoy the swim and left before completing the second superset as I couldn't focus on my pace. At least I did an hour's swim.

Saturday 1 October 2016

September 2016 Week 3 Session 1

That went well! I jogged to the pool and managed the warm up in under 5:00 minutes. Then it was on to 16 sets of fast/slow and for every set I managed to beat 40s/length, the best being 30 seconds. This is the first week of this block that I've achieved this basic goal.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

September 2016 Week 2 Session 3

Last week I couldn't match a 38s length timer so set a 39s interval today. I just managed to keep below 2:00min/100m for four 100m sets but in the second half of the session my pace faded away markedly. My last fast 100m set was done at 2:12min/100m pace which wasn't great.

This chart from Swimming Watch Tools illustrates that I am managing a higher cadence now and as some lengths have a low stroke count at a high turnover there are some faster paced lengths in the session.

I could feel that my arms were tired by the end of the session and even striving to gain pace I made negligible headway. However this intensity is the goal of the session; I really need to keep up the frequency of the programme to maintain the overload.

Sunday 25 September 2016

September 2016 Week 2 Session 1

So, catching up with myself. My left knee is uncomfortable and the muscles stiff after yesterday's run. I don't know where that has come from as everything was fine on Monday when I saw the physio!

Anyway, today's swim included 16 fast lengths and I'm pleased that 14 of these were at or better than 2:00min/100m pace. I managed 1 length at 1:45min/100m, that's 35seconds. My timings are bound to be a spot out as I can't push off and press the watch button simultaneously from the deep end. As the routine called for 4 sets of 4 I alternated the blocks so that I worked in both directions along the pool as I know it's got a distinct current. This approach worked well.

I tried to finish off with a pair of lengths and whilst the first was fine the second had slowed considerably. With this data and that from Week 1 Session 3 it's clear that I can't stay on a substantially sub-40second pace as Julian wants. I think I'll set the TempoPro to 39s and see if that is achievable.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

September 2016 Week 2 Session 2

Somehow I missed doing Week 2 Session 1 as I misread my programme. Oh well, at least I did some swimming! The 200m warm-up went well, coming at at 5:00 min, assisted by a final effort to keep ahead of an adjacent swimmer. Today's main block comprised 4 sets of 400m with a progression in pace, all repeated. The first superset went Ok with a small but distinct step in pace between sets from 2:19 min/100 to 2:11min/100m. No length better than a 2:00min/100m pace though. The second superset was poor, even as I set off I knew that my arms had taken a beating and I struggled to maintain a pace of 2:23min/100m by increasing my stroke rate. I suppose that maintaining a negative split across 1600m is fairly good going and I've got room for improvement in coming weeks.

Saturday 10 September 2016

Back on the road

For a change I ran 12km on the road this morning. The route through Totley and Dore used to be my regular winter Tuesday evening run but for some reason I stopped. I think I felt it was too long to run fast and too short to run slowly. Either way it's quite a challenging route as although it's tarmac the whole way the central 2.5km has 100m of gradual ascent. It doesn't sound much written down but it is quite an effort.

I was pleased to complete in a shave under an hour which is benchmark for having made an effort on the route. I once managed 56 minutes but that was a chance event!

I've used the timings to reset my pace analysis on Strava as today's pace was in VO2 and anaerobic zones for an unfeasible time.

Thursday 8 September 2016

September 2016 Week 1 Session 3

Session 3 in this block focuses on pace and needs a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro to guide the time for each length. Julian set a goal of 1:54min/100m for 100m sets based on me being able to achieve 1:52min/100m with him. I set the metronome to 38seconds per length and left to beep all through today's session which was only slightly irritating. I didn't bother timing the rests as I aimed to set off on a fast set with the next beep.

I found that, once settled in, I could achieve the first length within the time, the second was tough and the third unachievable.

Thus in the middle of the routine I managed to beat 2:00min/100m for both individual lengths and 100m sets a number of times but couldn't do this at the end of the session when I'd covered 2000m. Of course there are timing errors as starting the watch and setting off at 'three beeps' takes time and indeed stopping the watch at the end too. Late in the session the lane was getting busy and I stopped to wait to focus on a single fast length rather than completing  a slow 100m set. This seemed the best approach as the goal was pace.

The first week in a block has always been the worst as I don't know how to adapt and I've not trained into it so I hope that I'll be able to achieve the 1:54min/100m goal so that I can move onto the next block feeling that I've succeeded.

It's a small point, but I found wearing a cap (to hold the metronome) rather unpleasant and tight around my head although perhaps it kept water out of my ears. It certainly dulled my hearing.

Saturday 3 September 2016

Miller's Dale

For some reason I didn't fancy a long run today, perhaps due to hard running intervals at Thursday's circuit or hard swim intervals yesterday. I also felt a bit bored at going to do a usual route yet again so turned to Peak District Trail Running.  Route 13 in Miller's Dale isn't too far from home and at 11km seemed a good plan. The book gave a bit of a warning about slipping in Monk's Dale but that didn't put me off..

The start of the route was easy along the Monsal Trail and it's really good that over the last few years a number of tunnels have been reopened.

Of course the GPS was upset a bit but it soon caught up. After a few km the route turned off to follow the Pennine Bridleway of which some bits were especially pretty, and would be tight on a bike.

I followed a combination of the map and the written instructions although I didn't find the latter very easy to follow. As is so often the case, things were mentioned that were obvious on the ground and some aspects didn't really match at all. The final leg was down Monk's Dale which started easily enough, then became pretty, or Tolkein-esque according to the description.

After this I couldn't be bothered taking any pictures as the terrain became, to me at least, unrunnable. The scattering of slimy limestone rocks separated by claggy mud was terrible, the rocks placed just to catch ankles and at an infinite array of orientations. I met a walker who said 'ankle breaking territory' and I had to agree.

This slow section really brought my average pace down and so my total time was 1:40 hours. The book said to allow 0:50 to 2:00, I'd like to see the 50 minute runner.

Anyway, I've had the book waiting to be used for a year and I'm glad it provided some inspiration. I'll be reading between the lines rather more next time!

Friday 2 September 2016

September 2016 Week 1 Session 1

So today we're off with a new focus on effort. Julian has asked that I focus on working hard, ignore technique and don't think of holding back. So here is the pace for the early part of the set, I messed up and lost the latter part...

Quite clearly I was working harder and going faster although only one length is 'fast'. I have to bear in mind that there's a second or so between pressing start on the watch and setting off and there's a delay at the end of the length as it determines whether I've turned or not.

It was obvious to me early on that I was able to catch people up readily when trying, more so than usual I'd say. I tried a final 100m sprint and that only came it at 2:04min/100m.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Push harder!

After 14 weeks I returned to Acton for my review with Julian.  He was pleased with my general style on the warm-up but we were both disappointed with my performance on the 400m time trial. I've been hoping got break 8:00minutes and only managed 8:02minutes although my pace was better than 2:00min/100m to begin with.

After  much discussion it was clear that I'm not working hard enough in either my training sets or on the time trials with him. Apparently some will feel nauseous after giving it everything. I don't think that' in my character!

Anyway we tried again with single lengths of 25m and I managed to get down to 23s. Ok, that was a one off and quite different to 400m but it showed that I can go faster if I make the effort.  So we tried a 100m timed set and I managed 1:52minutes on that and I suspect I could have done more...

I was concerned about a loss of technique, too much splashing and so on but looking back over the video my techniques isn't all that much worse and I'm going so much faster. Looking back at my sets it seems that my need to keep going means that I'm too fatigued to work on the speed and I'm also not putting enough effort in to get to the power. I've been here several times with running! Basically I do have good low level aerobic ability but shy away from anything approaching anaerobic effort if I think I've got more to do.

Now I've a new programme including some focus on effort and I must take the breaks and go slow between the hard work to allow for recovery. I'll have to get my Tempo-Trainer out as one routine has specific pacing that seems unachievable at 1:54min/100m even though I've just done 1:52min/100m.

Week 1 is bound to be tough and I might not achieve the goals but experience suggests that I'll get there.

Friday 26 August 2016

August 2015 Week 14 Session 2

The interval swim showed very nice distinction between slow and fast lengths but this was perhaps due to the background pace being a little slow than usual. There was some fade too! At least I managed a few lengths faster than 2:00min/100m and some very close to that pace. It is possible that I'm tired from circuits yesterday evening as it was quite demanding, especially of the core muscles.

I thought the warm-up had gone nicely but that was on the slow side too. I know I can break the 5:00 'barrier' but it is there once again. At least today I did pick up pace over those 6 lengths rather than start fast.

Tuesday 23 August 2016


So it's Tuesday again so I made the effort to do some faster running even though the weather was hot and sunny. I based my run in the woods but left it to take a steady tarmac incline rather than a more uneven woodland path. Today's pace data is far more in keeping with my goals and is made easier to interpret by setting the lap on my watch.

Five high-effort laps are clear, separated by recovery periods and book-ended by a warm up and a steady run home. The Zone 4 and Zone 5 intervals are just over 10 minutes in total.

I wonder if my heart rate zones are set incorrectly as I didn't record anything over 156bpm despite pushing up a slope as hard as I felt able.

Monday 22 August 2016

April 2016 Week 14 Session 1

I'm on an extended block as I've not been able to book in with Julian. Today was the long swim and pacing was consistent although not snappy.

Saturday 20 August 2016

Part of the Round Walk

Today's weather forecast was grim so the Round Walk  seemed to be an obvious destination. I chose the eastern two thirds so as to avoid my usual routing. Overtime I do parts of this circuit it amazes me how hard it is. I think it's due to the repeated small ascents. I didn't watch the heart rate monitor closely but followed a perceived effort more closely as some of my recent reading has suggested that might be more reasonable whilst trail running.

Anyway, once home and having recovered the data, my heart rate was pretty much what I'd aim for on a long run.

Having started with an indifferent (or even poor) weather forecast, the morning turned out quite pleasant and there was an excellent view of urban Sheffield from Bishop's House.

Thursday 18 August 2016


During the Bay Challenge I came to the realisation that I lacked power for when the going gets tough. One of the books I've been reading comments that ultrarunners tend to work close to their VO2max. This sounds like a good thing although the problem is that their VO2max is low due to too much low intensity training. Or rather too little high intensity training.

Even though I can barely call myself an 'ultrarunner' I don't do hardly any intense training.

"Train slowly, run slowly"

It's great to do long runs into the Peak District and they do have a training benefit; perhaps much of it being psychological, mostly a confidence to keep on going. That knowledge enabled me to settle into a routine to complete the Bay safely but my lack of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal power was glaringly obvious whilst running into a strong coastal wind.

With this in mind I started with an interval session today and considered that I'd worked hard. Looking at my pace and heart rate data I was shocked/disappointed to find both were low! I knew that my average pace was mediocre but hoped that there were peaks of speed. Maybe next time?

Friday 12 August 2016

April 2016 Week 13 Session 1

I'm into extratime beyond my 12 week block now as I couldn't arrange a session with Julian for a few weeks. That gives me an opportunity to consolidate my progress.

Today's long swim started very leisurely, I suspect that I am still tired from last weekend's run and the activities since then. I made an effort in the third and final set and pulled the pace up a little so the net result was fairly consistent pacing. A little slower than some weeks but within my current variability.

I think my lethargy passed onto my Garmin Swim watch as it missed counting many laps. The worst ever! I spotted the error after the  first set and ensured that I did a good push-off at each length thereafter. That didn't seem to make the slightest difference. On previous occasions when lengths have been missed I've been going with long slow strokes and I suppose that was the case today too.

Must try harder!

Monday 8 August 2016

Cross Bay Challenge

It's rare for a race cut off to be a matter of life and death but for the Cross Bay Challenge it truly is. This half marathon route crosses Morecambe Bay, a 'short cut' that has been in use for at least 700 years. I understand that every year the course changes to reflect a safe route across the river channel and quicksands that make any crossing of the Bay treacherous. This year the start was moved north 8 miles to Silverdale so that the River Kent was fordable.

The date is selected to be the weekend day with the deepest low tide at mid-morning giving a window of 4 to 5 hours to cross. That time is then shortened by the need to place way markers and have the safety team in place and you're left with a 3 hour cut-off.  That seemed a pretty achievable time even allowing for running on sand and mud.

The registration area was vey well organised although almost everyone seemed to be very cold by the time the race briefing got underway. At last we were allowed to start and within a short time we were in the water, much deeper than I'd anticipated.

By the first mile marker I was tired. I'd set off cold and stiff, I was wet and more cold and to make matters worse the route was directly into a 30mph wind. By mile two I had an abdominal cramp and wondered how I'd ever finish. I recalled all the advice I've read and decided to walk as required, keep taking small drinks and try to eat something. Really I didn't need to eat and my mouth was too dry anyway.

The 200-plus runners gradually made a snake curving across the sands and from an early stage the leaders were visible as distant dots, converging on the next strategically placed tractor.

I chose a plan of two minutes run and a minute walk and counted this strictly to myself. This worked and I gradually started to catch up with runners who'd passed me earlier. My abdomen settled, my breathing seemed less strained against the wind and eventually a 3:1 cycle felt right. With this rhythm the miles started to pass. Eventually I reached the 8 mile marker. For a little bit I'd expected a turn back to shore as we'd been heading offshore, into the wind since we started. This was it, a welcome relief.

Now the wind was to our left and there was a psychological boost that the path was towards the finish, which was just visible on the horizon. A 5:1 cycle was now achievable, albeit interrupted by small water crossings. I'd decided that it was far too much effort to run through anything over ankle depth, again this was a successful plan.

The final few miles became easier as the wind played on our backs and the finish solidified from a mirage. Then I could keep up a reasonable run pace.

After 2:25 hours I crossed the timing mat feeling very relieved and very slightly disappointed at my time; although considering how I'd felt during the first 15 minutes it was a good result. Being in the top half is good enough and completing such a unique race, reward in itself.

The scenery is so unusual that I spent a few minutes every so often just looking around, but the vast flatness can't be readily captured in a quick snap.

By comparing the route and my pacing splits it's clear how much effect the wind had on me and perhaps, unbeknown to me, I'd worked far too hard in the second kilometre. Luckily I took action early enough to not become too tired.

I recommend this run both for its 'challenge' (definitely an example of 2nd degree fun) and the charity it supports.

Monday 1 August 2016

April 2016 Week 12 Session 1

I've completed the last 'long swim' in the current block although it'll be a couple of weeks before I go for my next review lesson. Today's pacing was good, both consistent and a little bit more rapid.

There was the usual fatigue but by working hard in the 3rd set it doesn't look too severe. There is some variation in pace as the lanes were a little busy at times and so I was occasionally held up, and occasionally work to accelerate past.

Looking back over the block of 12 weeks there's a distinct improvement in pace although it's uneven and only of the order of 8 seconds/100m from start to finish! Having said that 3.5% gain isn't bad, this article suggests that over 10 weeks an average improvement of 2.5% is reasonable.

Friday 29 July 2016

April 2016 Week 11 Session 3

The pump at the pool seems to be on '11' this evening! The swimming felt tough and the chart shows how much of an effect it had on my pacing.

Just look at those castellations. A pool with a current.

I did get off to a good start with the first 200m (with legs) in a PB of 4:52 minutes. Perhaps that was too much effort as after that things weren't great. I only managed 1 length at a pace better than 2:00min/100m and the effect of the current was more potent than my attempts to pick up the pace. Overall I think I was tired, as in the past, fast lengths were simply more splashy.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

April 2016 Week 11 Session 2

This session showed a data error on the Garmin Swim which makes me wonder about the  accuracy of all of my previous swims! One set was recorded with a total time of just under 15 minutes and yet adding up the individual lengths it was closer to 18 minutes. Oddly, the watch knows that this is the case as the average pace of that set is shown correctly. The 'missing' time seems to have been allocated excessively to a 'rest' as there is now way that I stopped for over 2 minutes, in the same way that  800m in less than 15 minutes isn't going to happen in the next day or so.

On a more positive note I did manage 6 lengths at a pace better than 2:00min/100m and I didn't fade as much as I have previously at the end of the session.

Looking back it's great that today I managed all three 800m sets in under 18 minutes, corresponding to less than 9 minutes for 400m. This is distance for the time trials I've been doing and 1 year ago in August 2015 my time was 9:07 minutes. Today, in my final set, I beat that having already swum 2000m.

Monday 25 July 2016

April 2016 Week 11 Session 1

Today's swim is aimed at endurance. I'm getting very slightly faster and finding it a spot easier each week. I am pleased that today my average pace was a few seconds better and my pacing pretty consistent.

Of course there's a slight fatigue but not much. The warm-up was rather badly paced, partly due to lots of people in the lane.

Sunday 24 July 2016

Review of Alcatel Pop D1 for navigation: 3. ViewRanger further testing

In part 2 of this review I reviewed ViewRanger on a basic Android 4 phone.  I've used it on and off frequently now and have found that it even works well as a 3G modem as a tether to a tablet on a budget £5 Virgin SIM.

This post is just as a brief update to comment on today's use. This is the first time that I've used the GPS all day as my principle mapping and GPS device. We walked for a little under 18 miles in around 8 hours. The battery was freshly charged before setting off and at the end of the hike it was down to 69% charge. That implies it might mange 24 hours. I checked the route occasionally but I must confess that I know much of the route from memory and so the screen wasn't activated very often.  The GPS was being repeatedly activated by a helper app but the phone was in 'airplane mode' to disable 3G and WiFi sections.

Note that this is a 1:25 000 OS map

 The screenshot gives an indication of the GPS accuracy. The wooded section in the Haddon Hall estate just east of Bakewell has substantial tree cover and the contours are such that it is in a gulley. This is as good as one could expect from a retail GPS unit.

The sun was mostly screened by mist although I'd classify the day as 'bright'. The screen was readable throughout.

Saturday 23 July 2016

Blacka half marathon

It was a hot, humid morning. I didn't want to irritate my ankle so went slowly!

At least my heart rate reflected my lazy approach! I did get tired and once home I was aware of my right ankle and left knee, but just niggles.

Friday 22 July 2016

April 2016 Week 10 Session 3

Today's swim has at least 1 PB in it. The warm-up was a best time, I think, in 4:54 minutes which is 2 seconds faster than previously.

The spike set was as tough as usual but I got some good times. In the first set I managed 3 out of 4 fast sections in 2:00min/100m or better which isn't bad going as that included the last length after over 1000m of swimming. I'm putting that down as a second personal best.

Above, or touching, the 2:00min/100m pace a few times

In the second and third sets  I showed a distinct speed-up for the fast lengths but couldn't manage to beat 2:00min/100m pace again. By the 4th set, which are all supposed to be fast lengths, I was clearly fatigued as my pace had dropped to average despite my faster arm turnover. Even so this last set was faster than last week.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

April 2016 Week 10 Session 2

I was on 4:56min for the warm up today which is great having swum yesterday. The main sets of 8 slow and 4 fast were indifferent though in that I managed only 1 length at a pace better than 2:00min/100m. Perhaps I was trying too hard on the easy sections as my total average pace was fairly good and the last set was markedly faster than last week.

I'm still struggling with how best to apply the power. I'm currently thinking about swimming 'tall' with good reach and I think this is making me a bit smoother but also a bit slower.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

April 2016 Week 10 Session 1

A fair session today. The warm-up came in 1 second under 5 minutes and the 3km long slow swim felt fairly easy to finish. Unfortunately my average pace was little slower than in Week 9.

The pacing is a bit scatty as the lane was quite busy so I was slowed, and passing, fairly often. The pump was also running so there was a distinct current to add to the mix. Clearly I faded during the session, managing some fast lengths even with no pull-buoy, and then slow near the end despite trying to keep good form.

The stroke data showed that I managed some very good powerful lengths in the first set with a low SWOLF score. Not that this is everything, an increase in stroke rate is a good option if it helps a net increase in pace.

I would have done a bit more distance but the pool had become busy and I didn't have the appetite to be tired and fitting in around others!

Saturday 16 July 2016

Second time on an introductory open water course

Some months ago I booked with Swim The Lakes  on an open water intro course as my first foray into lake swimming. In the meantime I fitted in a course in Hatfield which made the Lake District seem a little less threatening.

Pete and Tori welcomed our group of 13 to the Ambleside shop and after taking orders for teas and coffees we introduced each other. As I found last time, there were aspirant triathletes, those up for a new challenge and some of us wanting to broaden their swimming horizons. Pete did a short presentation covering key safety matters, cold water immersion and a finally a good demo of how to put on a wetsuit.

Around half of us were hiring wetsuits and I was allocated a Blueseventy Fusion in Small/Tall sizing which made perfect sense. Then we dispersed to our cars to travel to The Badger Inn on Rydal Water; everyone had transport but it is a pity that a minibus isn't organised to facilitate the use of public transport. Perhaps no-one would use it?

It was a lovely countryside walk from the carpark (well once the road was crossed) to the beach area on the lake. The southern bank appeared to offer several bathing spots and two other groups of swimmers were making their way into the lake as we arrived. Some time was spent getting changed but the day was fairly warm and so this was fine. For once I wasn't the last one to be ready and so started to acclimatise by standing in the shallows. My recently bought Zone 3 socks did a good job of buffering the cold on my feet although I wonder if the top fastening is a bit tight.

The swim started with a few laps of some buoys, around a 80m loop, with Pete in a canoe and Tori leading in the water. After each lap we were given a few coaching tips, mostly a need to relax, reach and not gasp for air! Then Tori demonstrated two ways of sighting so that we had a chance of staying online. After a 'race' around the buoys, which resulted in a bit of a scramble around the first turn, the main swim was explained to us. We were to swim to the next beach, to the island, then around it and then choose a route back to 'our' beach. Pete outlined the approximate distance of each leg and options for stopping if anyone didn't feel they could do it and off we went. I was very much mid pack and at my steady pace found that I was warm enough, not tiring, but veering to the left a little.

After the loop of the island I set off across the lake at which point I got cramp in my left calf. I stopped to massage it a little, Tori noticed that I'd stopped and came over to check up which showed that the leaders were looking out for us. After a few seconds I was Ok to set off, although the cramp moved to the left. Of course the wetsuit gave a lot of buoyancy so I tried to ignore my legs and just got on with the swim.  My tendency to the swim to the left was very apparent in the open part of the lake and I had to repeatedly sight and correct to keep a good line. I'm going have to relearn non-dominant side breathing to help to keep me straight.

Back on shore everyone struggled to get the wetsuits off and clothes back on whilst feeling slightly dizzy and hoping not to get a chill. The sun was warm but I was very happy to walk back to the pub in my Dry Robe. Tori reckoned that open water swimmers are often recognisable by the vast amount of clothes being worn.

Despite Pete's planning we were running a little late and so the group started to break up during coffee at the hotel. Everyone seemed to have big smiles and to have had a good time, I was certainly very happy to have been in the water again and achieved a 'proper' swim beyond the edge of the lake.

I wasn't very keen on the wetsuit even though the Fusion is a well regarded model and the sizing right by the manufacturer's guidance. I found the shoulders tight and thought the legs could have had bit more buoyancy. Perhaps I was merely more aware of these aspects on this swim than I was on my very first time out? On the positive side, I noted little ingress of cold water during the morning.

Thursday 14 July 2016

April 2016 Week 9 Session 3

Today's Spike set felt to go OK but the data aren't so positive.

Clearly I faded through the session and only managed to touch 2:00min/100 once. There's a good distinction between fast and slow lengths which is good. On the fast lengths I'm trying to reach a bit further and although this is a spot slower it feels far more sustainable and less grabby.

Tuesday 12 July 2016


My legs have felt tired today after yesterday evening's interval runs. To make matters worse I've managed to tweak my 'delicate' right ankle whilst watering hanging baskets in the garden. I hope it settles quickly and is barely a sprain. I've got ice on it.

April 2016 Week 9 Session 2

Again there's a change of routine with the new session requiring 4 fast lengths after 8 slow. This is both a longer duration of effort and an increased ratio of fast to slow. The data show that I didn't do well and achieved 2:00min/100m or better pace on just two lengths.

Perhaps I worked too hard on the warm-up in which I broke my 5:00min threshold (4:56.3). Hooray! My best kicking pace is now similar to my lazy pace with the pull buoy.

Sunday 10 July 2016

April 2016 Week 9 Session 1

The warm-up went well and, once again, I feel I could have beaten the 5:00 threshold if I'd not got behind some one slower. Oh well, it's supposed to be a warm-up!

This is the start of a new block and so that gives me a new challenge. The long swim has now gone to 3 sets of 1000m which automatically reduces the rests. At the beginning I thought that I could do the 100 lengths non-stop and wondered why I had to bother with sets but by the end of the first one I was pleased to take a few seconds breather.

I took each set fairly gently but tried to keep focus on length and power as I tired. Even so there was a loss of pace. Even though I slowed my strokes per length only increased a little which as supportive of maintaining good form.

One thing I'm very pleased to see is that my early lengths with trailing, sinky legs can be at a pace close to that with the pull buoy. Of course I found the pace a lot harder with my legs working as an anchor but 4 of my 6 lengths were faster than 2:30min/100m.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Wet on Blacka Moor

The weather forecast was indifferent when I set off on my Blacka Moor loop and for the first 40 minutes or so a T-shirt was fine. As I came out of the trees rain started which became progressively heavier as I approached the summit of the moor. It was clear that I'd have to put on a jacket if I wasn't going to become cold.

On Houndkirk Road the rain was at least on my back but the wind had got up and I couldn't face doing the short exposed section to Oxstones. Dropping through the plantation the ground was wet and slippery and I half wished I'd chosen shoes with a bit more tread.

My right ankle/calf coped until after 19km, so perhaps the slightly greater drop of the Ultra 290s is important? My left knee was fine although I set off with a little shin tenderness (where did that come from) and now it's a bit more noticable.

Friday 8 July 2016

April 2016 Week 8 Sessions 2 and 3

I've been away from hone for a few days and that as slightly messed up both running and swimming routines. The hotel had a 12m pool so over 2 days I did the Spike Set without a pull buoy. Basically it totalled over an hour of swimming with some intense intervals; that'll do.

After finishing my key job for today I went over to Goodwin to catch up on Session 2.

For the second block I managed very clear distinction between 7 easy lengths and 3 fast ones. This was my fastest block in this session so I can't have been too lazy on the slow lengths. The fast ones were just below the 2:00min/100m pace, so this is still being a barrier.

Sunday 3 July 2016

April 2016 Week 8 Session 1 and fatigue

This morning my resting heart rate was raised by 10% and I did feel fairly tired. I committed to a swim and luckily on my programme I was timetabled for my steady endurance swim with no intense lengths at all. The warm-up 200m was the slowest I've done for many weeks (although still within 5:30min) and as I started the first of four 800m sets I wondered if I would finish.

Of course I did see it through although my average pace was slow. Naturally I fatigued during the session and the current in the pool is evident in the castellations of the charts. My weakening strokes are clear but actually at the beginning my stroke count per length was pretty good; I was making an effort to push off!

I'm sure that I'm just generally tired due to the longest running week I've had for around 10 months. Interestingly in Week 4  I did a similar swim after a long run and performed better than I did today, but I didn't have as much tiredness accrued from the week's activity.

It now seems important to start next week with a rest.