Thursday, 8 March 2012

8 March - Postponed, possibly...

I'm unable to commit to the 30 June for the PBR this year.  I have just won a new contract which will mean working in London for about 3 months full time and for a big chunk of the week for 9 months after that.  It's a brilliant development professionally, but it means that I can't train during the week like i would need to.  For my family's sake, i am not going to be away all week and then train all bloody weekend. Something has to give, and it's this.

I've also been uneasy about committing to a fixed date because from that spills a schedule and a plan, and the whole thing starts to feel different to the low key event i want this to be.

What I'm going to do instead is to train as much as I can, and spend the summer racing.  Races are easy to organise and I love competing against my peers.  I'll train to race over some of the big classics (Ennerdale and Wasdale I have yet to do) and aim for a sub-4 hour Borrowdale in August, something I've got close to but never done.

The idea, which was the original idea, is to decide quite suddenly to go and do it.  To get to a point when I think i'm fit enough, make a few calls, pick a clear warm day in the later summer and go for it.  This way it's low key stress free and it means I'm not working away panicking about not training enough.

It's the only choice really.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

w/c 27 Feb - Busy and fast!

Another short blog entry this week, because I only managed to get out twice - Saturday and Sunday.  The working week was very busy and crucial as we were starting with a new client.

But what a great couple of runs!  It feels like I'm stronger - there is no better feeling for an athlete that knowing that the effort of training is paying off.  I ran what i glibly call my 1:15 run on Moel Famau on Saturday.  It's a run that I've only run under 1:15 twice before - it's a 7 mile rollercoater that has 2,300' feet of ascent and descent in and very runnable, which is what makes it so tough.  I managed 1:14:42, which is a personal best.  It was a shock - i felt good but it was muddy underfoot and so I was not expecting to fly.  But it clicked, I ran and it was good!  I pushed very hard when i sensed it was 'on' and was knackered at the end.

The next day the snow fell and Moel Famau was transformed from a spring like breeze to a wintry scene again, which I was fed up with.  I managed another strong run of 6M and 2600' (some reps up Fenlli thrown in) the day after and ended up having a good weekend.  But the need for a long day is growing.

If i carry on like this, i'll get fit, but not fit for a round.  Hoping for a long day out next week.

Week Summary:

Sat - 7M, 2,300 feet - fast hard run
Sun - 6M, 2,700 feet - snowy brisk fell run

Total - just 13M and 5,000 feet

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

w/c 20 Feb - At last, a full training week

10,000 feet climbed, 40 odd miles run and lots of enjoyment this week - exactly what training should be, especially training for a round.

I felt well, after 2 weeks of illness, and had some time to run most days.  It was great.

It was kind of brilliantly unremarkable.  I want every week to be like this, although the long days will have to start soon.  I just want to get fit now for the Edale Skyline in March and feel this week has gone some way towards this.

So there is not much to report, just a good solid week.

Mon - 3 miles in Birmingham
Tues - Speedwork pyramid 1,2,3,4, 5mins, 4, 3, 2, 1
Weds - Edale Skyline (2/3 of it) with Nick.  Very wet day.  15 miles, 4000'
Thurs - Rest
Fri - 4 railways, 1350'
Sat - 6 Pistyll Hill reps - very hard intense session 900'
Sun - Moel Famau * 4 (Bottom Car Park, MF, Loggerheads, MF, Cilcain, MF, Clwyd Valley, MF) - 9 miles, 4000'

Total - 40 miles, 10,250' feet climbed

Monday, 20 February 2012

w/c 13 Feb - Not much better, but better...

Another poor week.  I was away on a new client site which means training is nigh on impossible.  Plus I was still feeling pretty poor.  And then away in Nottingham seeing family at the weekend meant being nowhere near any hills.

This though is OK.  I managed to get out a few times and do some leg weights in the hotel gym.  The gym was a soulless place but the quads were burning when I'd done and those four sessions may well have had more physical benefit than I thought.  Mentally though it was dire.  But it was OK because I rested up for the most part and now, after two weeks of enforced low level training, I feel great!

I'm not tired.  I ran on Sunday in Nottingham (on my 39th birthday!) and felt the best I've felt for ages and ages.  What a nice present.  I felt like I was bounding along.  I felt the same today (Monday) as I ran along the towpaths of Birmingham (away again....).  This two week tempering of the training has made a huge difference and I can't wait to get onto the hills.

It's also made me realise that the chances to squeeze in a run are a constant preoccupation and it's not a nice way to live.  Every time I'm home after a few days away with work, it's always on my mind to get out.  This is what running does, especially when training for a round.  It's a great thing when you have time to train like mad, but I don't.  So I'll train when I can enjoy it.  That doesn't mean filling every gap with a negotiated run.  It means going out when there's time to relax and enjoy the run.  It means doing a smaller number of bigger runs.

But rounds demand respect and preparation.  This is why I will do this one differently.  My BGRs were done on quantity.  This one is all about quality.  It has to be.  It's not about the miles I put in, but what I put into the miles.  I like that maxim and it will be in my head until June.

Quality miles often come from races, long races especially.  I usually stop racing for rounds and focus on long solo days at a slow pace, much like the rounds themselves.  This is sensible and right, and I'll do one or two days like this.  But I want to race a bit more.  I love my sport and it's races where it comes alive.  So unlike before, I will use some big races to work bloody hard and get fit.  This means very few mammoth days.  I'll do a 48 hour PBR in April, so 2 12 hour days there, but the focus thereafter will be local runs on Moel Famau and some serious racing in May and June.

I've entered or will enter....

March - Edale Skyline (21miles, 5000 feet ascent)

April - Teenager with Altitude (17miles, 7500 feet ascent)

May -
Great Lakeland 3 day (3 days, each of @26 miles and probably 6000 feet ascent),
Sandstone Trail race (33miles, 2000 feet ascent),
Old Counties Tops (40miles, 10,000 feet ascent)

June -
Ennerdale (23miles, 7500 feet ascent) and...
...Helvellyn (15miles, 4,400) on consecutive days,
Great Lakes Run (13miles, 7000 feet)

Then the PBR at end of June

Looks like a great Spring and Summer ahead!

Week Summary:

Monday - still ill
Tuesday - Gym * 2
Weds - Gym
Thurs - 9.5 miles, 600' hilly road run (felt bad)
Fri - 4 miles (still felt bad)
Sat - Rest
Sun - 9 miles, 1000' - felt fantastic, at last!

Week summary - 23 miles, 3 gym sessions.  5 days feeling crap, 2 days feeling great - bring on next week

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

w/c 6 February - Ill

A frozen Kinder Downfall
This week, after the snowy Long Mynd, I was ill.  I managed two runs, and it was awful.

On Monday, I was sore after the LM but felt good, if a little snotty.  On Tuesday, it all went wrong.  Let's just say that a few sudden trips to the loo were required for the rest of the week.

I managed to get out and run on Kinder on Thursday in the snow, but didn't feel great and it put me back a bit.  Took some nice photos though!

My wife and daughter were ill later that week and so when i felt better at the weekend, my planned run on Sunday on the Moelwyns was not going to happen.  This was a blow as I need to get some long runs in.

A road run on Sunday once the Immodium had kicked in (ewww!) and that was it.  Just 13 miles and 2300' for the week.

Next week I'm away with work and running is going to be tough, esp as I'm nowhere near the hills at the weekend as I'm visiting family.

All of a sudden, this thing feels very hard to train for...

Monday, 6 February 2012

w/c 30 Jan - Time to go long...

Typical Long Mynd slope

Well the plan last week was to hit the Long Mynd hard and see if I could beat my pb on that course of 2:13.  I missed it by quite some way, taking 2:26 to complete the course.   I was 76th from 210 runners, which was ok.

There are 3 reasons for this.  One - a stinking cold which had me feeling pretty ropey after half an hour's strong running (i stopped, expelled an alarming amount of snot using the fell runner's favourite 'one finger on side of nose and blow' technique and ran on feeling a bit better!).

This has now turned into a horrible virus and i'm pretty poorly now, 2 days later.  Strangely, this is reassuring as i now know why i couldn't get close to that time.

Two - plenty of snow to make the going a bit slower (i did 2:32 last time it snowed) and Three - I'm just not as fit as i hoped to be, nearly, but not quite.I've also adopted a John Wayne style walk.  Part of it is the satisfying tiredness one gets after a race.  The rest of it is the fact I now have an arse injury because i had no choice but to bum slide down three of the descents in that race - the ground was too unsafe to run down.  So I have a new injury to add to the list!

I'll keep the quality going, but now it is time to go long.

The last few weeks have been great as I've gone from a low base to a reasonable standard and feel that I have a platform to move onto bigger, better, longer things.  If I'd have gone to long days from nothing, I'd have really suffered.  Now, I think I'm ready for some bigger days out.  And it is these big days out change the rate of improvement.

This week, sore legs after the Long Mynd, a sore arse after the sliding descents and a stinking cold mean I'll be running less often.  But a gap in my work diary means I can get two log hill days in.  So, I'm going to run the Edale Skyline route on Thursday (21 miles, 5000 feet ascent) in order to recce the new route (including the down-and-up option at the end) and the long leg of the PBR on Sunday (20 miles, 7000 feet of ascent).  This will be my first 10,000'+ week of the campaign and the start of longer, harder runs.  This is where the training starts to look towards a 24 hour round and not simply a return to fitness.  It's about time.

Improvised descending

The Long Mynd was all about confirming that the low fitness ebb of 2011 was over, which it just about did.  The Edale Skyline in March will be the next test.  I should be running well there, well under four hours.  My pb is 3:42:52, set in 2006 when I was training for the London Marathon (where i went on to break 3:15).  I would really like to beat this, which means some serious training because I was pretty damn fit then.

The plan is to keep on doing a couple of quality sessions each week, but to try and do two good hill runs. One will be a long day, over the mountains with loads of climbing and at a slow pace and the other being more runnable an done at speed.  The two runs this week fit this perfectly.  The Skyline is a runnable joy of a route, esp if the bogs are frozen, and the PBR leg is a long and slow march over many mountain summits.

So I'm looking forward to some real mountain running, as soon as I can walk properly again.

Week Summary:

Mon - Rest
Tues - 9 miles, 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 minute efforts - hard session 9 miles
Weds - Rest
Thurs - 4M tempo during the day, 9M hill efforts (eve)
Fri and Sat - Rest
Sun - Long Mynd Valleys - 11M, 5000'

Totals - 33 miles, 6,500' climbing

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

w/c 23 Jan - Less is less

A very light training week - just 20 miles and about 3000' of climbing with no long run.

This was because of a combination of work and life events.  I was away for 4 days in Buckingham on a (very good) course and then it was time to enjoy my beautiful daughter's first birthday on Saturday.

Family, friends and neighbours were in attendance for the oblivious Rosie's big day.  More than anything, it was a day for reflecting on the progress we have made in a year as a family.  Not always easy, but always wonderful.

A regular easy week is said by many as a vital part of any training plan - a less is more approach, if you like.  This may be so, but I was not trying to be clever but was simply busy remembering that obsessed by getting fit for PBR I may be, it isn't the most important gig in town.

Rosie, Mummy, Daddy and Cake
Week summary:

Monday - nothing
Tuesday - easy 3M in Buckingham after course
Weds - nothing
Thursday - 8M, 2000' Night run with the club on Moel Famau - brilliant
Friday - 3M tempo, quite a good pace actually
Saturday - Rosie's birthday party!!
Sunday - 6M - 5 * Marford quarry intervals (ranging from 6:15 to 6:23)

Total - 20M, 3000' ascent

Next week: The Long Mynd Vallays fell race - let's see how fit I'm getting....