Week 2 training diary

The plan for Week 2 was to pretty much repeat week 1 but with slightly increased running mileage. Having zero bike maintenance skills the cycles out of action this week. Hoping to get it back on the road for some light cross training soon.

Week 2 diary

Plan – 35mins Easy (grass)

Notes – change of plan here what with it being a Bank Holiday. Got out early and hit the pavements. Was feeling the weekend exertions and ended up running over 6 miles in around 50 odd minutes. Took in Cow Hill on the route which got the heart rate up.

Plan – 3 miles threshold

Notes – decided to run 20 minutes threshold on Kenton Dene which is a flat XC type course. I’m looking to see my heart rate controlled at 175-185bpm and for average pace to improve week on week. I was really happy with the session and felt full of running. It turned into an acceleration type session with each mile getting slightly faster from 6.33 in mile 1 to 6.18 mile 3 and although I was working harder towards the end I was at or around lactate threshold throughout.

This will be a key session each week and I’ll be looking to increase time up to around 40mins (average length of XC races). In terms of pace, if I can operate at around 6 – 6.15 minute miles at lactate threshold I’ll feel in shape to really challenge to qualify for the medium pack in the North East Harrier League which is a key objective this season. So I’m really pleased with where I’m at given its only August.

Plan – 35mins Easy (grass)

Notes – felt like a run on the pavements so just had a look round the streets of Kenton. Annoyingly my HRM has been playing up and I don’t feel like I can trust it so just tried to run on feel, monitoring my breathing. Felt great, as if I didn’t need to breath. Ended up with 4.5 miles in the time allotted, so sub 8 min miling.

Plan – 30mins threshold

Notes – got up and pottered around the house. Got a few social things to do so didn’t want to do a full 30min threshold so broke it up into 5min on 5min off, 15mins total at pace. Very windy on Kenton Dene but felt fine, again running on feel and each 5 minute effort got faster from 6.34 average to 6.01 so happy overall with the session.

Weekly totals

Running ~20 miles
Cycling zero

Busy week next week with the Jesmond Joggers club champs on Monday and GN 5k on Saturday. Haven’t quite worked out how I’m going to structure my training between the two but I’ll work it out on feel. I might even restrict my running to the two races and 1 other easy run midweek as I want to feel fresh for the 5k. Looking forward to giving it my all.


Week 1 training diary

As I explained in my last blog my goals for this block of training (taking me to Christmas) are –

1. Sub 18min 5k (more specifically 17.45 – 17.59)
2. NEHL XC – qualify for medium pack
3. NE XC Champs – goal TBC

Coming into this week I’d done very little running since the 5k pb on 18th July and then had a complete rest for holidays the first two weeks of August. So Week 1 coming back was always going to be light but also knowing I only have two weeks to sharpen for the Great North 5k on 6th September. I also have the Jesmond Joggers Club Championships 4 mile race on 1st September which I’ll treat as a good tempo session.

It’s so important for me to stay healthy this winter. I would much rather undertrain and stay healthy and energetic than push too far the other way. I know my body better now and I have the knowledge that I can run better undertrained (and fresh) than I can overtrained and tired. I want to achieve my goals on as little mileage as possible.

Week 1 diary

Plan – 35 minutes easy (grass)

Notes – The first run back after a break is always rusty and so it proved. My easy runs before the break were around 8min miling at 150-155 bpm. I deliberately ran this session on grass and will seek to do the majority this way (with XC in mind) in this training block. It was difficult to keep my heart rate below 156 and I ended logging just over 3.8 miles in 35 mins averaging just over 9min miles. I know these runs will quicken with less effort.

Plan – 2 mile lactate threshold

Notes – This is a “test run” on an 800m loop in Kenton. I did this very same run on 14th June, just after the Lactate Threshold test I had in Doncaster. So I wanted to repeat as a “see where I’m at” type session. In June I averaged 6.45 miling which was bang on what the LT Test had shown on the treadmill (6.49 @ 185bpm) a few days earlier. So that’s the line in the sand so to speak.

As it happened I pushed on a little harder than plan and I ended up averaging 6.08 over the 2 miles with an average HR of 187. The course has a small incline of maybe 100-150m and I was aware I was pushing into the 190s but kept with it.

Felt ok. Enjoyed the initial burn in the lungs. Too early to take anything from it.

Plan – cycle to work

Notes – Good chance to spin the legs over and an hours easy workout for the day. I usually try to not work up a sweat but I always do, especially driving my way up the few final hills on my trusty single speed bike. Way back is harder uphill so try to minimise extra time it takes to complete. These little internal competitions keep things interesting…

Plan – 35 minutes easy (grass)

Notes – the weather was good so decided to cycle to work. The run is a repeat from Monday but decided to reduce it to ~3 miles. Tried to keep it even easier as I planned Newcastle Parkrun in the morning, but listened to some African music which always makes me want to up the tempo. I didn’t though and finished with 3miles in 27 minutes averaging 155bpm.

Got athletes foot on both feet which is mildly annoying!

Plan – 3 mile lactate threshold (or parkrun at LT)

Decided to try Newcastle Parkrun. As it turned out there was some disruption on the moor so it was a revised course. The plan was to keep it lactate threshold but my HRM was playing up the first mile so I tried to run on feel. As always though I got in a rhythm and wanted to go with it. I was undoubtedly working harder than LT from mile 2 onwards. I went through 1 mile in 5.56. The second mile was perfect with not a breath of wind. I felt good and clocked a 5.40. For the GN 5k I’ll be looking to run 5.45s even so that’s a good sign so early. The 3rd mile was much tougher and I felt myself slow. My split was 6.13. By this point I was in a little dual with an Elswick Harrier. All felt good so I pushed home in 18.37 for 3.2 miles. Strava has me at 18.14 for 5k. Happy with that.

After the run I went for breakfast with Glen and chewed the fat. Luckily we finished before the heavens opened. This was a storm close to biblical proportions and I had to cycle home. I think I was the only sucker mad enough to cycle in it and I got some quizzical looks! But I loved it. It was sunshine again on the moor. I felt slightly less mad seeing the legend Kev Lister still out running with Roberto Marzo.

Unfortunately with a mile and a half from home I had a rear tyre puncture. So, dripping wet, I had to push the bike home. Still good fun. Decided to have a hot bath, watch the brownlees then bed for a nap…

Good to be back and hopeful of exciting weeks ahead…

Weekly Totals

Running ~14 miles
Cycling ~34 miles

Austrian break and update on running targets/plans

Holidays are always a good time to step back and reassess things I think. Admittedly I’m one who struggles to fully switch off. So when I go on holiday as I have in Austria for the past two weeks I spend quite a lot of time thinking about my life and what I want to do and achieve over the short, medium and long term. Running plans are an important part of this.

As far as my running goes, before leaving for Austria I had a breakthrough following only 4 weeks of training an average 18-19 miles per week, running a 5km pb of 18.05. I was delighted obviously. Following that I struggled to get back to it both mentally and physically. I had a very busy period socially lined up and I decided to ease off from the running and I didn’t miss it. To be honest I felt exhausted as well. I still don’t think I’m fully recovered from my recent health problems and the last thing I want to do is dig that hole again. I’m still supplementing iron and vitamin B12. I’m still visiting the doctors for blood tests as my readings are still not “healthy”. So with that backdrop I need to keep it steady.

That said, I’m as ambitious about my running as ever. The subject of this blog has always been sub 17 5k dream. But I’ve decided to put in place a more concrete goal. Following my lactate threshold test at Blizard Physio in June my knowledge about my physiology and potential has improved. I am capable of going sub 17 with the correct application, commitment and training. Critically, I’ve also met someone in Dave Tune who has conveyed this message in the clearest possible way, and in doing so has given me great belief in my ability. This is so important and I’m grateful that I made contact, paid the money (well worth it) and made the trip to Doncaster. People would question why a non professional runner would do this. My answer is I want to be the best I can be.

So my target now is to run a 16.34 5k pb by my 35th birthday which is 10th March 2016. The landmarks to achieve that on the way remain unchanged namely –

Sub 18min in 2014
Sub 17.30 in first half 2015
Sub 17 in second half 2015
Achieve goal by 10th March 2016

I’m under no illusions about how challenging this is but I’m committed to achieving it. I’m aware that I have fallen behind this year due to my health issues and I probably can’t afford to end up in that situation again. So, again, I’m committed to looking after myself and training very smartly.

Key to training smartly is getting the sessions right. In the short term I will be continuing the training plan that preceeded my recent 5k pb which was given to me by Dave Tune. This was very simple. I ran 4 times per week with 2 easy runs and 2 lactate threshold runs based on the test I completed in June. For those that are interested, my easy runs are based on heart rate with an aim to not exceed 156bpm. My lactate threshold is around 185bpm so I run those at or below that level. What I’m wanting to see is the pace at that HR improve over time. The reason I knew I would pb at the LBGT 5k was that I was running at around my old 5k pb pace at approximately my lactate threshold, meaning that I could reasonably expect better with a race effort. Indeed I wore a heart rate monitor for the race and averaged 188bpm. I need to condition myself to push to around 194-195bpm in a 5k to really dig deep into the sub 18 (and eventually 17) area. That’s what I’ll be looking to do but I can’t do that in 4 weeks so I’ll be looking for a good training block starting next week. Note that my estimated maximum HR is 204 based on my lactate threshold test. Incidentally I am an ardent believer in using a heart rate monitor and I plan to write a full post on this later. The eagle eyed amongst you will realise that my estimated HR max of 204 is a good deal higher than an estimated max HR that would be found using the oft referenced “220 less age” formula which is far from accurate in my case, a full 17 beats per minute in fact!

I have entered the Great North 5k on 6th September which could come too soon depending on how I react to getting back to training but I now have the beauty of knowing my heart rate and training paces so I will know with some certainty whether to go for a pb or use it as a decent session. Otherwise I’ll just look to go sub 18 at a parkrun in Oct/Nov.

The Jesmond Joggers 4 mile Club Championship will have to be a threshold session as it comes before the GN 5k race but still a chance to compete before I knuckle down for Cross Country training. My goal here, as it has always been, is to qualify for the medium pack and help my club get promotion. Last season was a tale of two halves with a peak at Wallington Hall before my anaemia wreaked havoc with the pull out at Wrekenton and general poor performance elsewhere. I’ll look to build stamina as the season progresses and take that into a sub 18 attempt but also a debut over 10km. In that regard I’m hopeful of entering the Town Moor Memorial, a race I’ve watched the last two years…

Come December I hope to be in the best possible shape for the North East XC Championships.

So a lot to look forward to, watch this space.

Any questions please let me know. I want to put some more effort into this blog going forwards and I also plan to start writing an ebook about running and specifically my thoughts and experiences on improving 5k times. I would plan to publish it on achievement of my goal.