Sub 17 5k – Week 25 training diary

So the plan was to sneak in the sub 17 5k last weekend at parkrun but I came up 11 seconds short.

With the trip to Dubai this week I felt doubtful of running the Terry O’Gara 5k on 26th April but decided to keep options open and not rule it out completely. That said was aware that a couple of long haul flights and trying to adjust to time zone wouldn’t help.

A maintenance week seemed like the best plan and to not get too stressed about a reduced week. Focus is really turning to Blaydon now and perhaps moving the sneaky sub 17 5k to an appropriate Saturday in May! I remain convinced that a better pacing job will see me do it.

Training Diary

Plan – 40min threshold

Flight wasn’t until 13.45 so got a run done early in the morning. I hate running in the morning. Just never feel right – tired and usually stomach issues.

Got 42mins done and didn’t enjoy it. 5.7 miles. Didn’t wear HRM for a change.

Plan – ?

Arrived in Dubai at midnight and was going to work at 10am (7am UK time). To get a run in would mean getting up too early and what I needed was sleep so decided to call it a rest day.

Plan – ?

Not sure how I did it but got in the hotel gym for 7.15am and did 35mins in my recovery heart rate zone on the treadmill. The sun was blasting through the window and there didn’t seem to be any air con on. Sweated it out but overall felt fine and pace was strong.

5.3 miles completed in 35mins at an average HR of 152bpm.

Plan – ?

Again couldn’t face a morning run after a few beers and a dodgy curry at the world famous Ravi’s.

After work I felt a bit ill but decided that a run would make me feel better. And so it did.

Again 35mins with 5.2 miles completed with an average HR of 153bpm.

Plan – rest

I was hoping to get another 35min easy run in at some point in the afternoon.

The flight back home was 7.35am local time which meant getting up at 1am UK time. The flight was fine but when I got back home it hit me and a few hours kip in the afternoon didn’t do the trick so I decided to take a rest day from running.

Plan – 30min recovery

Had a good nights sleep so felt ready for a run in the morning.

Decided to do an easy hour. All was fine until I got onto the town moor and it started lashing down with freezing rain. Battled through it and finished up with 8.4 miles and an average HR of 156bpm. Not bad overall.

Plan – Terry O’Gara 5k???

Got up to watch the London Marathon. Always scary watching the elite men ticking off 4.42s.

Felt inspired to get out and run a more threshold type run. Ended up with 50mins averaging 6.19/mile. Heart rate was getting into the low 170s.

Probably lost a bit of fitness overall I feel like but nothing major.

Weekly Totals

Running ~33 miles

One of those weeks where running had to take a back seat. It means that the plan to run a sub 17 5k before the end of April 2015 has been missed but the key thing with goals is to never give up and I’ll be looking to get back in over the coming weeks.


Sub 17 5k – Week 24 training diary

Week 24 has a nice ring to it and because of that it’s going to be the one where I get the sub 17 5k!

Following the Blyth 10k race last week I feel in the best possible shape to do it.

Therefore I won’t wait until the Terry O’Gara on the 26th of April and the plan now is to do the sub 17 at Riverside parkrun this Saturday. Doing this would be the culmination of 3 years of training towards it.

Obviously if I achieve the goal it will bring to a natural end this blog. However, I have plans on the “what next” so watch this space!

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery run

It’s great having a strong race and feeling extremely motivated to get straight back into training. It’s a great sign.

And this recovery run felt very strong and I completed 6.8 miles in the 45 minutes averaging 155bpm.

Plan – 45min threshold

Back to the gym for another threshold and was a good, hard, sweaty run (as usual).

Took a while to get the heart rate in the threshold zone. Ran 7.7 miles in 45 mins averaging 163bpm which is a little low. In reality I spent about 31 mins in my threshold zone.

Plan – 50min recovery

Travelled to Barcelona for work in the morning and as it transpired couldn’t get a run in and wasn’t sensible to do so. Decided a re-jig of the plan was the best option.

Plan – 40min recovery

Luckily this time the hotel had a treadmill so got in early around 6am. Had to get reception to open the gym up.

I think the treadmill was as old as me but finally got it too life. It was hot in the gym but felt like my heart rate was really controlled and low despite the heat. A little annoyingly the treadmill automatically stopped after 20mins. Got it re-started for another 20 and ended with 6 miles in the 40mins. Average heart rate only 148bpm! Weird!

Plan – rest

The plan was for rest but I wanted to make up for the missed run on Wednesday. Had one eye on the sub 17 parkrun tomorrow so kept it easy. Not much to report – about 5.5 miles in 38mins and average HR of 152bpm.

Plan – Riverside parkrun – sub 17 5k!

I felt very very confident of the sub 17 on waking. The sun was out but it wasn’t hot. No wind and perfect conditions.

I got up about 7.30. Had a few grapes and a glass of water. Espresso about 8am.

Left the house picked up Michael Hedley and drove over to the Riverside. We were both confident of strong runs following Blyth last week.

Getting to the course the car park was packed. Later found out Durham parkrun had been cancelled leading to extra runners heading over to Chester le Street instead. As a result it was a record turnout of well over 300 runners.

My coach had recommended I run 3 minutes hard 5 or 10 minutes before the start to get the lactate going and prepare the body properly. I’ll be honest this is not something I’ve done before. I didn’t find it very pleasant for obvious reasons but I know it’s something I need to make part of my regular routine.

I knew Michael would be running ~16.30 pace so the loose plan was to hold onto him for as long as possible and see from there. Again, I deliberately had all Garmin settings off and no HRM so as to avoid distractions.

We got underway and I was quickly into second behind Michael and it felt like a decent lick. Coming to the river for the first time I already was into my breathing. By about 3/4 of a mile I was dropped into 3rd with eventual first place Michael Openshaw (ex GB international runner) passing easily and him and Michael getting away. I later found out I’d go through the first mile in 5.11. This was too exuberant and not what the doctor ordered.


Already under pressure in the 1st mile

Unfortunately it was overcooked and I then felt a slow down in the second mile that I was wondering how to prevent. Not long after I was convincingly dropped into 4th by Sam Beckett who I recognised had beaten me last week. He would go onto get well under 17 mins but he pulled away quite rapidly.

It’s easy to get negative at this stage. “A lonely run for home” etc. I was disappointed to not try to fight for 3rd but this was a symptom of the overcooked first mile.

What then followed was a battle to keep the legs turning and to negotiate the lapped runners. That was no easy task given the record turnout.


Working hard to keep legs turning over

I felt like I picked it up a little coming to the final push along the river. I had to shout “excuse me” / “thanks” a few times and a few river flies were swallowed! I had no idea what I was on for at this stage. There were still quite a few people to get past. Coming to the last bend before the final straight I looked to muster a sprint finish…


Attempted sprint finish...not quite

Crossing the line I looked down to 17.10 and disappointment…

As I said I felt the sub 17 was a dead cert but it wasn’t to be. Michael had held pace well for a 16.18.

On reflection I’m probably being hard on myself for the following reasons –

1. I ran a 2 mile pb (10.37ish)
2. I ran an 8s 5k pb (17.10)
3. I gave it a go and didn’t give up

I also do well to remember that this time last year I was anaemic and struggling big style. This time last year I was pretty much out of action from April to July (missing the Blaydon Race in the process).

This was a big learning experience and I certainly expect to grow a lot from it.

The sub 17 remains a target…

Plan – 60min recovery

Having had chance to sleep on yesterday’s parkrun I remain convinced it was an underperformance. I strongly believe the 35.37 at Blyth in difficult conditions represented a sub 17 5k effort and, given the perfect conditions at the Riverside yesterday, I simply didn’t do it on the day unfortunately. No excuses, I just didn’t perform in that 3rd mile.

So a reflective 60 minute recovery today and chance to further think through how much I want this. I feel I need a competitve 5k to deliver the performance and commitment required to break this little barrier before moving on to challenges new.

8.9 miles were completed in 60 minutes at an average HR of 158bpm.

Weekly Totals

Running ~40 miles

Time to move on. Next week I’ll be in Dubai all week with work and that’ll present a challenge to keep this run of good training going. A “maintenance” week could be a good thing but I’ll have the decision about whether to enter the Terry O’Gara 5k or whether to wait for a more appropriate opportunity…

Sub 17 5k – Week 23 training diary

A little bit of a down week last week with the Easter bank holiday weekend but kept ticking over and aim to safely navigate through this week and leading up to my 10k debut on Sunday.

I’m hopeful of a strong first outing and line in the sand, a benchmark from which to progress.

Looking ahead from the Blyth 10k I’ll be hoping to follow it up with the sub 17 5k in April but that may need to be a parkrun only. We’ll see.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery

Got back home from Liverpool and got out for a 45min blast round the usual loop. Seemed a lot zippier than normal and so it proved on the Garmin with 6.4 miles completed in 41mins (6.27/mile average). Heart rate averaging 158bpm. Feel like I’m getting stronger in my recovery zone.

Plan – 45min threshold

Regular readers will have seen that I am looking to move running clubs. The resignation went into Jesmond and I will (as it stands) be an unattached runner come the end of April.

The England Athletics system for changing first claim clubs is at best bereaucratic and its unlikely that I’ll hit the 10th April deadline for submission of my form. I don’t want to rush into anything.

That said I am keen to join a club like Gateshead Harriers and with that in mind I met up with them for a training session. I’d been in contact with Steven Medd a few times on Twitter so it was great to meet up with him at the stadium and try out a threshold type run with Tony Gardeners group.

The session itself was great with Steven leading the way around an undulating loop. Pretty much straight away after the warm up and start of the threshold I felt like I was working more deeply into my threshold zone at around 175-178bpm. Recently I’ve been finding it hard to push myself on my threshold runs and have probably allowed myself to take the foot off the gas.

Running with better runners will help avoid that. Towards the end of the threshold I started to tire and Steven got away but I resolved to keep on and I think I ended up with about 5.8 miles in 35 minutes. We then had a 2.5 mile warm down.

Total for the night was 9.6 miles. Enjoyed it and feel like I can only improve with being taken out of my comfort zone. Fully expect to tag onto some more sessions before finally making my mind up.

Plan – 50min recovery

I usually feel tired come Wednesday but felt fine today. I went out with one thought – CADENCE. I’m convinced cadence is the key to free speed and moving more efficiently at a lower heart rate.

When I had my first lactate test my cadence at threshold was 164spm. On my 3rd test last month I was up to 180spm. That is great improvement but I’m aware that I can’t quite match my treadmill stride rate on the roads.

In my recovery zone I usually average around 168spm and if I get a bit lazy (and don’t focus on it) it can slip down to 163-164spm. I’ve certainly lost some focus of late and so I went out with only this on my mind.

The target was to get to at least 174spm and in the first 4-5 miles I was on that level. The problem is always the last few miles which are slightly uphill. As I begin to tire the cadence goes.

The other thing I noticed was that I was knocking out miles at about 6.30/mile in my recovery zone. I felt like I was working but my heart rate was fine at 158-161bpm.

Unfortunately in the last few miles my average cadence slipped to 172spm and I just couldn’t get it back up.

In the end though I ran 7.7 miles in 50mins with an average HR of 158spm and cadence of 172spm. A strong recovery run.

Plan – 40min threshold

Got in the gym for the final workout before Blyth as I wanted to keep it controlled. After a warm up got into it. The weather was warm outside and it was even hotter in the gym.

Took a little while to get the heart rate up to threshold level but once there I was ok at around 5.55-6.00 miling according to foot pod. I’m never quite sure how accurate it is but it always feels about right.

Must say I struggled again on this session. I’d forgotten my headphones and so didn’t have any of my own music and the main issue then is mental. I literally can’t stop looking at the clock ticking and the time really dragged. At 30mins I tried to comfort myself that there was only 10mins to go. Heart rate was only around 170bpm so it shouldn’t really have felt so bad. I managed to turn the mind round to focussing on finishing it off and I knew this was great mental prep for Sunday’s 10k.

In the end did 8 miles in 50 minutes and felt quietly confident the work was done.

Plan – rest

Enjoyed the rest!

Plan – 30min recovery

Got out the door about 9.15 for an easy run. First time running outdoors in my new Brooks Pureflow 4s which I was well overdue for. They are a lovely shoe. Probably more so for training than racing but I love them for both.

Nothing to report. About 4.5 miles in 31mins.

Plan – Blyth 10k

Got to say I was nervous for this one. I’ve been running properly now for over 3 years and still hadn’t done a 10k road race. I suspect this will be my bread and butter distance over the next few years and I was very keen to get a good line in the sand.

I looked through Daniel’s and, based on my recent parkrun efforts, I felt like anything quicker than 36mins would be a good debut time. My coach said the same.

I knew I was in the best shape of my life but was still a bit scared of pushing hard past 5k.

My nerves weren’t helped by a trip to Alnmouth on Saturday. A great day out but it was blowing a gale! I felt convinced it would be the same the next day. Having said that it got me focused into thinking everybody had to deal with it, I just had to deal with it better than most. Also, like most Newcastle based runners, I’ve been training in the wind all winter!

Got up at 7.15. Had a small banana smoothie and some water. Out the door 8.30. Picked up Michael. Had a relaxed drive over to Blyth including a couple of wrong turns.

Getting to the course it was clear it was windy but not so bad. I think me and Michael were both a bit nervous, wanting to do well.

On the start line I was keen to get on the front which I did. Tried to get focussed. I didn’t really have a plan. I had the watch on but all alerts switched off so no distractions. I was surprised to be tucked off the leading group for the first mile.

In hindsight I probably went off too hard and then between miles 1-3 the wind became an issue. I was now a little isolated. I’d probably gone harder than a few better (and more experienced over 10k) runners behind. This was my least favourite bit of the race. Got a little negative. But then again was pleased to snap out of it and dig in for the turn around.


Working against the wind in the first few miles...

Following the grass turnaround I had my strongest section of the race, probably from 3-5 miles. I was able to catch and overtake two Morpeth Harriers. I’d been neck and neck with an Elswick Harrier for some time and had also managed to steal a few yards on him. The wind was now across/slightly helping and it felt like a slight gradient in our favour.


Feeling strong around 3-5 miles

I was in a rhythm. It was hurting but breathing was ok. Was feeling the burn just above the knee but felt strong.

It was only at 5 mile when a switch flipped. It’s something I’ve noticed in training. I run hard for 30mins and then I tire. It’s only a strength/stamina thing, something we are really working on. I undoubtedly slowed, evidenced by the Elswick Harrier coming along side and quickly dropping me. Didn’t feel great about it but I was starting to dream of the finish.

I feared losing a few more places but I think the hard work was done. Only 1 North Shields Poly runner passed me.

Coming into the home straight and last 0.2 mile I had some mental maths problems on how far was left (in metres or laps round the track) and was pleasantly surprised that the finish line was closely in sight. I sensed that the young Morpeth Harrier was finishing strongly as there were a few shouts of support for him I could hear.

Managed to pick it up to the line. Clicked the watch and looked down to 35.37 and job done.

Really pleased with that debut. Placed 27th. A strong run in less than ideal conditions and I can look forward to –

– a sub 17 5k attempt
– another 10k
– The Blaydon Race

Weekly Totals

Running ~43-44 miles

Great to get a good 10k race time in and I’d say it confirms I’m in shape for the sub 17 5k given the conditions at Blyth. So the next few weeks will be spent planning that and probably hunting down a May 10k to lead up to Blaydon on 9th June.

Sub 17 5k – Week 22 training diary

After my third lactate test last week I got ready for an increased level of threshold running in training as final prep for the Blyth 10k on 12th April (my 10k debut).

Although I have raced 10k (and further) in XC I am a little nervous of racing this distance on the roads. That said, I plan to run hard and put a marker down from which to improve. I don’t want to go into specifics about what time I’m hoping or aiming for at this stage.

Despite feeling strong on the longer run on Sunday I noticed a reaction in my left foot around 10 miles which is basically pain in the arch / plantar so just need to keep an eye on that.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min Threshold

Decided on an outdoor run for this one. Took some time to work the heart rate into my threshold zone and once it was there I felt like I was having to work really hard to keep it there. I’ve felt like this before and always felt like it’s a negative sign, probably tiredness. I would prefer to get into the middle of the zone and feel comfortable with the pace but this time it felt like a struggle to get there and uncomfortable in doing so.

Managed to complete 6.4 miles in about 41mins with an average HR of only 164bpm. I spent about 32 mins in my threshold zone (165-183).

In other news I took the decision to leave Jesmond Joggers. I will be looking to join a new club for a fresh start and to get the chance to compete at a higher level. See other blog post – “time for pastures new”.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Following the slight struggle yesterday I faced up to another threshold, this time in the gym.

Threshold running in the gym is always a sweat fest and a bit of a mental challenge more than anything. And so it proved with the time dragging somewhat. In the end got 43mins of running in with 7.1 miles completed at an average HR of 165bpm. About 33mins were spent in threshold.

Plan – 50min recovery

Always find these a bit of a struggle but felt ok today. A little tired towards the end but 7.4 miles done with an average HR of 156bpm.

Left foot still sore but manageable at this stage.

Plan – 40min threshold

Was pushed for time so took gear into work for a lunch time run. As a result knew I would struggle to get the full 40 in.

The route near work is along the river Tyne and down towards the Millennium bridge (about 2 miles) and then turn back around for the run back. Therefore was looking to make it a four mile threshold.

First 2 miles were ticked off in 12.10 and turned round for what felt like a more uphill return. Pace suffered somewhat and generally felt ready for it to end.

Averaged 6.10/mile spending 18mins in my threshold zone and averaging HR of 163bpm.

Ready for a rest. Was surprised to be awarded March runner of the month at Jesmond Joggers.

Plan – rest

Good Friday and felt really ready for a rest. Easter weekend trip down to Liverpool.

Plan – 18min tempo

This was supposed to be a hard parkrun effort but with trip down to Liverpool had to change plans.

Bed at 2am, up at 9.30. Straight onto treadmill. Warm up. Stomach probs. Sort that out. Back on treadmill and put it to 17km/h. Watch is telling me 5.18s. Get to one and a half miles. Sweating buckets. Breathing hard. A struggle. Heart rate around the high 170s. Stomach still not right. Have to get off treadmill. Have about 1 mins rest. Back on treadmill. Put it to 5.43 miling. Get my rhythm back. Put it back to 5.20s. Finish off the 18mins.

Averaged 5.28s for the 18. Not sure what to make of it. Strange session.

Plan – 80min recovery

Still down Liverpool so got back into the gym. The facilities at the Aloft hotel are first class with the treadmills pretty much state of the art. I was even able to put youtube on so I decided to watch Haile and his 2006 pretty much solo HM world record (at the time). I think it was 59.16. His pace makers had pretty much gone at 5k and I love watching him bang out km after km at around 2.43/km. Great stuff.

As for me, felt much better than yesterday and did just over 5miles in 35mins. Admittedly well shy of plan. Comforted myself that I’d usually do nothing on these weekend breaks so ticking over a bit more.

Weekly Totals

Running – ~35miles

Doesn’t feel like a great week all in all but resolving to stay positive ahead of the Blyth 10k and still confident of a strong run. Attention turns to final preps and still a few confidence building runs to tick off.