Second week thoughts

Sometimes I wonder what the point of week 2 on a training plan is? Not much happens does it?

Most runners know you should devote 4-6 weeks (or as long as you’ve got!) to “base building” in a new program but the XC season starts soon and I’m in a bit of a hurry.

To be honest I’m still a bit miffed by my lack of fitness. Despite my last post, deep down I thought there would be a quick bounce back. Not so.

I’m still struggling with effort and pace. The mind and body naturally wants to run at the same pace as before. But it’s not happening. 

Patience is key here. I shouldn’t be in a hurry. Should just treat the start of the XC season as “part of the game”

Still, I felt some work at threshold intensity would be welcome this week, if only 10 minutes here and there to remind myself what that felt like.

So on Wednesday out I trotted. Plan was to keep the heart rate in the 170-180 range. Was surprised to see it rush quite quickly to 180.

I didn’t feel like I was running fast or very efficiently for that matter. Ended with 1.6 miles in about 6.13 per mile averaging 177bpm.

Not great but not a disaster. A start.

Back out on Saturday and decided to repeat the exercise. Felt a bit more purposeful. This time averaged 6.08/mile, again at 177bpm. Progress of sorts. Followed that up with 4-5mins at 5.40 miling which corresponded to a decent 1km interval pace based on Wednesday’s threshold pace.

Felt OK. HR held around 182-183 and peaked at 185.

So I don’t think some faster work has done any harm. And overall I’ve got just shy of 5hrs training in, 37-38 miles.

Onto week 3 and I’m back in Barcelona my second home with work. On Bank Holiday weekend(!).

I’m finishing this blog in my hotel room, alarm set for 6.15 so I can get up and get out for a run round Parc de Joan Miro…

To reach my potential I need to navigate through these work trips which inevitably add some barriers to training and keeping fresh, motivated. It’s tiring but I want to do better this winter season than ever before.

So it’s a challenge I will overcome.


First week back after 5 weeks no running: thoughts/feelings/learnings

I’m not sure what I expected but I didn’t expect what I got.

The 5 week break was the result of a few factors:

  1. No real summer plans, no goals or targets;
  2. Summer is never great for me, outdoor running not so fun given hay fever and other allergies;
  3. Work schedule was heavy and not leaving any time spare.

As a result I stopped running on 13th July and didn’t run again until a jog on the beach in Sri Lanka. And then on returning I laced up again on Monday 15th August.

Out I went probably expecting the usual 6 miles in 40-45 minutes. Not so. Heart rate high, hamstrings and calves screaming, right knee ready to pop – 8-9 minute miling!

It wasn’t in the script.

Tuesday worse if anything.

Wednesday another hard slog.

By Thursday things felt a little better.

Friday rest day… Saturday I decided to leave the HRM at home and just go on a “freedom run”. It felt good leaving the “shackles” of the HRM at home. I enjoyed the run much more, ignorance is bliss and all that.

So basically I’ve lost a lot more fitness than I expected in the 5 weeks off. It feels very much like I’m starting from scratch again. The mind plays tricks.

But was I wrong to feel surprised by my lack of fitness?

Probably yes. I also probably did myself a mis service as I was a lot more travel weary from the trip home from Sri Lanka than I realised.

Anyway, a proper and scientific answer to the question can be found in the training book “Jack Daniels running formula”. Not only does Jack give advice in narrative terms, he provides some excellent guidelines on how to adjust intensity based both on time off and body weight changes.

Prior to going away I was training at VDOT 60 (VDOT is basically the same as VO2 max) based on my 17.05 5k clocking in June. My weight would have been around 73-74kg.

I had 5 weeks off and following my holiday my weight increased to just shy of 77kg.

The formula for weight adjustment is –

  1. Pre break weight x Pre break VDOT
  2. Answer divided by post break weight.

The answer gives a new VDOT reading. Then this figure is multiplied by another reduction factor based on the time away. For me 5 weeks meant a VDOT reduction factor of 0.910 as I did no cross training at all.

So my calculation –

  1. (60 x 73)/76.7 = 57
  2. 57 x .91 = 52

This provides the new VDOT I should reference on my return to running. 

A quick look at the training pace tables shows that a VDOT of 52 translates to an Easy training pace of 8.16 per mile and gives me some comfort on where I need to be and allows me to have faith that I am training sensibly to ease back up in both distance and pace terms over the coming weeks.

Otherwise I just expect to go out and run the same as when I left things, at best leaving me downbeat and tired and at worst injured.

Good old Jack…

For any new runners who are interested in training to run faster Jack Daniels Running Formula is a must read…

Another month off from running and eager to return to it

So my last proper training run was 13th July and it feels strange how quickly the past month has gone.

Running wise this year has been one to forget. Nothing bad has happened, the fact is nothing has really happened. 

Perhaps it proves a point that I know about myself – if honest I need a coach. Without coaching I am liable to make decisions irrational to my progress as a runner. I think that’s the truth.

But I’m determined to reach my potential off my own back.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh about 2016. The key point is I haven’t hit the mileage and this is my second lengthy self imposed break I’ve had. The first was in February / March and was a little bit of burnout (at least mentally) as I’d gotten a little over zealous on the training front. 

To be frank I was racing in training and frazzled myself, a case of too much too soon.

Looking back I was in great shape actually and probably just needed to come back off the throttle a little and I could have still finished the last XC season quite well. As it was I took close to a month off.

When I returned it took longer than I had imagined to start to feel myself again, culminating in a couple of decent relays. I was particularly pleased with the Gordon Smith relays with the Elswick A team finishing second. But then the mishap in a 10k where I stupidly forgot to put my timing chip on leading to a DQ. I was very close to PBing despite a tough night where I literally fought to stay in the race in the last 3rd and felt quite ill afterwards, exhausted.

And that has pretty much been that apart from a 17.05 parkrun PB in June. Perhaps this is the highlight of 2016 but it doesn’t feel like it.

I continued training fairly well until July, a half eye on perhaps the Sunderland 5k or maybe a sneak at a sub 17 parkrun but it never materialized and my training fizzled out mid July. I will admit losing the will to battle through a mixture of hayfever and an extremely busy month at work leading up to my 2 week holiday in Sri Lanka which I am still on and fly back this weekend.

Running is not a thing in Sri Lanka and it is arguably too hot and basically unsuitable aside from a possible jog on the beach.

I’d never planned to bring running shoes to Sri Lanka. So what it has meant was a chance to forget about running and let it come back to me.

Maybe it would maybe it wouldn’t?

Whilst away I’ve been reading only one book – George Sheehan’s “Running & Being”. To be honest it hasn’t blown me away but I have enjoyed it and I have taken some key pointers from it –

  • Running should feel like “play” not work. Too often the pressure I have put on myself has made training like a 2nd job. I know I have to work hard to succeed, but it should never feel like a chore. I have some ideas to help with this, especially given how many hours I do work, and how much I travel with work
  • I need to make my training time sacred to me, eventually getting to 6hrs a week
  • Training should never be racing, and racing should be the place you give absolutely everything
  • Being undertrained is better than overtrained
  • I have time on my side to achieve my goals and with the correct approach I can do it

When I get back home and back into the swing of things I do want to keep running a key part of my life (as it has been since 2012). And I do want to keep chasing my goals. But I want to do it my way.

So I will be running for fitness, looking to nail the sub 17 5k (still) and also keen to get stuck into the 2016/17 XC season.

I know what I need to do, and I’m looking forward again to getting back to the roads again. I’m an autumn / winter / spring runner…