Where am I now?

Where am I now?

It’s safe to say that after the Manchester Half I needed a break.

The trip down to Manchester and the whole experience of running well was amazing and probably (definitely) my running highlight.

But I couldn’t help feel like I needed a break. Stupid things like feeling the urge to eat McDonalds, not train, not have some race to think about. Felt good.

In many ways I felt like I couldn’t really go any faster. Having ran 16.01 for 5k and 73.34 for HM I thought it would be difficult to do much more.

Unfortunately I failed in my goal to qualify for England Masters. I wasn’t disappointed in any way and I mean that. I was very proud of the effort I put in and I was beaten by some very talented and dedicated athletes. Simple as that.

But it’s been 8 or 9 months since then and I’ve done very little. I’ve had little spurts of motivation but I’ve slipped away again.

But I don’t think anything has been lost and I’m ready to “go again”.

My 10km PB of 34:49 is the obvious place to start and I’m keen to get it more in line with my 5k and HM PBs. My 5k PB of 16.01 predicts 33.13 and my HM PB of 73.34 points to 33.19. Indeed I went through 10k in approx. 34mins flat on the streets of Manchester so I know I can improve on my current PB for sure.

It’s something to aim for and so I’ve set myself a target of building back up to approx. 10km/day average or 70km per week. I know that is an achievable level of training for me and sustainable for the amount of time I need to get fit enough to run sub 34 for 10k.

The way I like to structure my training is to get back in the habit of doing a regular light run before breakfast. I think the benefits of clearing out the lymphatic system and bump starting the metabolism are huge.

Also, adding in a few manageable double runs which helps make the 10km/day average very achievable. For example, 2x 6km runs per day is pretty manageable a few days out of 7.

It’s important to note that the majority of the 70km per week (approx. 80%) is very easy aerobic running. I’m talking 5:17-5:35/km (8:30-9:00/mile). I would expect my average Heart Rate to be around 130-135bpm or even lower when I’m fit.

I also like to put in a Long Run on a Saturday or Sunday no more than 25% of total weekly distance. So based on 70km for the week that would be 17.5km, again very achievable. Once I’m used to the distance I could consider playing around with faster portions or make it more like a fartlek.

The real key though is to start introducing some “easy tempo” running and race pace running.

The easy tempo would be no faster than 4mins slower than 5km PB. So for me 16.01 plus 4mins = 20.01 or 4min/km pace. Obviously I need to be honest with myself and if I’m not in 16.01 shape this needs to be scaled back. So on a Tuesday and a Thursday I would consider a 2.5k warm up, 5k in 20-22mins and then a 2.5k warm down for the 10km total.

In terms of the race pace running. I am aiming for a 10km in 34mins so I’d sprinkle in the odd 1km race pace effort at around 3:25-3:30/km. Based on a 70km week I wouldn’t want to do more than 3.5kms at this intensity because I don’t want to do more than 5% of total at this effort level.

Once I’m feeling strong enough some of this 3.5km could be at 5k intensity. So I could do a 1k effort at say 3:12/km which is 16min 5km pace.

All of this is based on my interpretation of the Ernst Van Aaken method.

I credit this methodology with my 55:37 for 10 miles back in 2019 and also my success over 5k and HM in 2021. It works.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.

I needed to almost hate running to start to try to love it again…

I needed to almost hate running to start to try to love it again…

It’s been about 5 months since I ran 73:34 at the Manchester Half Marathon, a race where I had registered my interest to represent England Masters in 2022. To do that I needed to finish in the Top 3 in my age group. I ended up finishing 5th.

I was delighted with my performance.

It represented the culmination of a prolonged period of training and racing from April 2021 to October 2021, taking in a 3k and 5k on the track in early summer, a 5k PB of 16.01 on the road, the Great North Run HM on a tough altered course (1.17.46) and finally the Manchester Half.

Although I felt great and proud in what I had achieved (undoubtedly my most successful year as an amateur athlete) I don’t think I realised how tired I was. When I say tired, with the benefit of hindsight, I realise this was much more mental than physical.

It meant that I was unable to really get back into any kind of rhythm both in terms of my training and racing. I ran one XC fixture shortly after Manchester which didn’t go amazing. I put that down to a lack of off road training (specificity) and also a bit of residual fatigue.

But since October 2021 I have struggled to train and the idea of setting goals and identifying races had become repugnant.

This was very strange for me. Of course, having trained for the last 10yrs, I have had many times where motivation has waned but never a feeling of complete dissatisfaction with the whole thing.

Winning Tyne Bridge Harriers veteran male athlete of the year did briefly serve as a wake up call and a reminder of what I had achieved in 2021, despite not achieving my overall aim of qualifying to represent England Masters.

But that boost of motivation was short lived.

What followed was more stop/start training. The general process was to note down a basic 6 to 8 week plan to get me back into some kind of shape. But invariably desire and motivation would break down again.

Overall since Manchester I have averaged around 17 miles per week with no real useful outings such as threshold. I have run one parkrun in windy conditions where I struggled to hold 75-80% of effort held in Manchester.

But that’s running. It’s honest. If you don’t train you won’t stay fit.

The facts of detraining are quite simple. You hear people say “I’m unfit”. It’s a feeling but simply all that happens is your legs lose conditioning, your resting heart rate slowly but surely increases and ultimately you put on weight. Your ability to clear lactate decreases and overall your VO2 max will decrease as well…

The danger is you lose patience in your training… For me this manifests in training runs ran too fast. Everything I learned in my training from 2018-2021 (about patiently building aerobic base) that led to my successes and PBs is cast aside as I seek to maintain something on nothing.

So here I am in March 2022. I can honestly say in these 5mths that I have gotten close to hating running. I had to stop listening to the podcasts, stop following athletes on Instagram, unsubsribe from the running channels I followed on YouTube. I needed a break, something akin to going cold turkey.

But ultimately I couldn’t stop thinking about running. I know that overall I am capable of more. The 16.01 5k in August 2021 was only my 5th official 5k race ever. My 73:34 HM was only my 3rd official HM ever.

Although in many ways I surpassed my expectations last year I feel like I have much more to offer in the next few years. And so I am determined to fall back in love with running again…

Thanks for reading.

Return to blogging in 2021!

This will just be a short blog to say that I hope to get back to more blogging (and vlogging) in 2021!

This year hasn’t started the way we hoped. We had been promised that 2021 would be a much better year than 2020. However, I can’t remember January 2020 being as bad as this!

But we must be positive. And we must hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In many many ways this lockdown is harder than March 2020, not least because we are in the deep mid winter.

We all need to find someway of keeping sane. For me, the things that are keeping me sane are Jasmine, Jesse the cat ūüźą and running…

Although there have been no races to speak of, and I haven’t really competed since November 2019, I do live in hope that my Great North Run entry for September 2020 (that has now been carried over to September 2021) might come to fruition.

I’ve started training with more purpose again since November and I’d like to start documenting things more.

So I’ll be posting more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

But this WordPress blog was always my way of getting my thoughts down on what it’s like to be trying to run fairly competitively. And I hope to get back to it with some consistency.

I’m also an aspiring YouTuber. Check out my channel here.

I subscribe to many running YouTube channels and I’ve always admired what must go into running a good channel.

I must admit its not easy. Its actually bloody hard work!

But I’d like to improve and I live in hope that I can get better and maybe someone out there may get something out of my videos.

I’m hoping the content will improve, not least because I have a GoPro ordered. Unfortunately its stuck in the EU somewhere and can’t get into the UK.

Who said Brexit brought new opportunity?

Well that’s it for now…

As I said, I will be posting more regularly.

Potential schedule could be a weekly WordPress training update, a weekly YouTube video covering one of my runs and also some videos on running shoes or other running related stuff. For example I’ve just bought recently an Oura ring which is great to track rest and recovery so hoping to review that.

I’ve also been using a Stryd running power meter which is pretty cool. Again, hoping to do a video on that.

Anyway, I hope you are keeping mentally well and sane in these crazy times. I’d love to hear from you wherever you may be.

P.S. don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel – if you could like and subscribe that would be cool!

Til next time, happy running!

Running is a ladder

Running is a ladder

I like to think of running as a ladder in a competitive sense.

When you run that first race you step foot on the ladder.

If you are competitive you may care to take a look up the ladder. Or if you are defensive you may wish to look down.

At the very top of the ladder you may see Kipchoge. An estimated VO2 max of just under 85ml/kg/min. Lactate threshold pace below 4:30/mile. Impressive. World leading. But you have to find your own place on the ladder and get going…

I stepped on the ladder just over 8yrs ago, running a parkrun in my pumas in 22:39. I stepped on the ladder out of shape and sore with a VO2 max estimated at 43ml/kg/min and a lactate threshold of approx 7:45/mile. I was 30 years old.

Fast forward to November 2019, at 38 years old, I had climbed up some rungs of the ladder.

It wasn’t a simple process. At times I went up some rungs and slipped and fell back down a few. But, determined, I kept on looking up and never down.

I may have tried to hold on to some people’s ankles hoping they would lift me up. I looked for help, hoping someone could drag me up the ladder.

But I realised running is a lonely sport. Fuck, I wouldn’t want it any other way. You have to find your own way.

So here I am.

My estimated VO2 Max has risen from 43ml/kg/min in Feb 2012 to just under 64ml/kg/min in Nov 2019. My lactate threshold has gone from 7:44/mile to 5:38/mile.

Having struggled in Feb 2012 to hold 7:17/mile for 5km I can now hold 5:34/mile for 10 miles.

I don’t have a crystal ball but I feel like I can do more. And, critically, enjoy more.

You see running is a ladder. Get on it, look up, never give up and see where you can go!

xxx

A long overdue update and some running ideas to consider…

I listened to a podcast the other day where Coach Brad Hudson was discussing a range of advice for runners.

Below are some key takeaways I am currently considering as I try to return from injury since running the Brampton to Carlisle 10 miler in November last year.

It has been a particularly frustrating time having run what I believe to be a lifetime best race, with 55:37 (only good for 29th place in a fairly stacked field) for 10 miles. I was extremely excited to see that time for 10 miles pointing to capability ranging from 16 minutes low for 5km, comfy sub 34 minutes for 10km and just over 74 minutes for Half Marathon. These are all times I would be proud of and also times I know I can achieve as I move towards 40 in March 2021.

However, I went into the race slightly injured and came out of it very much injured. I don’t regret the decision to race but I do regret the months of neglect and ignorance leading up to the race.

Pinpointing exactly what has been wrong has been difficult.

My right leg has been the key issue with hamstring pain and gluteal, thigh, knee and calf pain as well. So best diagnosis was hamstring tendinopathy and deep gluteal syndrome – very likely sciatic nerve related. I have been working hard on S&C and also started doing Yoga. On the S&C side I’ve rejoined FIT (formerly Smart Fitness) at Regent Centre with a targeted approach to improving core, hamstring and hip strength.

I am starting to turn a corner and hope to build back up to maybe 40ish miles per week run training through February and then see from there. I have acknowledged that I need to be fit and healthy before I can even think about proper training, sessions and race plans etc. I also have a long holiday in April, so don’t want to really rush anything prior to that. Further afield I am looking at Blaydon (June) and the Great North (September). As always I also want to get on the track. I say that every year but just maybe 2020 is the year to crack that. Longer term I am more welcoming of the idea of the marathon.

Anyway, that’s where I am at. I am still here and still working hard on my running.

I felt the podcast with Brad Hudson was useful to think about so here are some key points which may be helpful –

1. Mix things up whether that be shoes, surfaces, hills, flat etc. (I have really neglected this leading up to the injury)

2. Run at different paces to work different systems – have a purpose with every run

3. Set short, medium and long term goals (I haven’t been clear enough in this area the last couple of years. Indeed my Power of 10 shows I’m not competing enough)

4. Understand your optimum heart rate (I take this to mean threshold heart rate, again I have rarely worn a HRM of late but I think I could incorporate it more. I have heart rate data for the November 10 miler and I was operating around 180bpm for 10 miles at approx 5:30 miling. This is important data. My LTHR is probably in the range 175-180bpm)

5. Check cadence- 180-190 steps per minute is optimum. Avoid overstriding (I am woeful in this area. I have always put it down to being tall and long legged but, if unchecked, my cadence can be as low as 164spm on training runs which is far too low)

6. Don’t lose sight of lactate threshold training (I will be bringing back in to my routine as soon as able, starting with approx 20 mins at 4min per km and building from there. This wont be as intense as true threshold effort but as an intro to build confidence is fine. I will also plan a few parkruns at 180bpm and convert to harder VO2 efforts once injury is fully behind me)

7. Consider a 10 day training cycle rather than 7 days with key sessions spread over the longer period (I will adopt a 10 day cycle from now on)

Earlier I mentioned Yoga and I feel this has been a real key to moving my injury forward. After the 10 miler in November I started an hour of directed S&C per week at FIT through December. Although I was seeing some progress it wasn’t enough to really even get back to safely jogging. My right leg just couldn’t support my running gait. Swift walking was just ok. Into January I stepped the S&C up to 2hrs per week and also began a 30 day Yoga schedule (Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for those interested).

This is a daily practice which I have been doing first thing in the morning upon waking and I have found it extremely helpful to work on my core strength, work on flexibility issues and also my breathing – all of which truth be told were woeful.

My intention has been to get injury free and get back to some running. I’ve seen some great improvements and, as well as the daily practice, I’ve also started doing a specific 7 minute Yoga warm up and warm down designed for runners. Too early to say for sure but this really opens up the key areas important for running. I am convinced it’s the right thing to do.

Thanks for reading and hoping to get more regular with my updates and hope to have some race reports soon!

Running goals on hold (again)!

From Wikipedia –

D√©j√† vu is a feeling of familiarity, and d√©j√† v√©cu (the feeling of having “already lived through” something) is a feeling of recollection.

On the 28th May 2014 I was nil by mouth, admitting myself into the hospital for an operation that would see me recovering slowly back to running over the following weeks and months.

As it happened I came back strongly, running a 5k PB in July 2014 (my first sub 19min 5k at that time),

Roll forward 4 years and it’ll be a case of deja vu as I check myself into the exact same hospital again on 21st May for a double Gillmores groin operation.

I must admit I’m a little apprehensive.

My running has been extremely frustrating since November 2017.

Having ran my best cross country race at Aykley Heads in the North East Harrier League I suffered a freak fall on the Town Moor a day later which led to a broken rib.

That had me out once detected until early 2018.

I was then able to build back up to a 10k PB of 35:23 in early February.

Disappointingly that was found to be “not official distance” and from there fresh injury woes emerged.

Indeed on my warm down I felt a pain in my right shin which developed into a stress reaction. Continuing to train led to issues in my left ankle and lower shin.

And then in early March another freak incident out on the Town Moor…

My training diary states “core wrecked”.

Unbeknownst to me I had probably torn something in my groin area causing suspected Gillmores Groin.

In hindsight I feel this was done on the snow and ice. The Town Moor was bottomless that day and I recall a moment where my left foot sunk deep and that, coupled with the constant slipping and sliding, probably caused the injury.

Again I continued to train until eventually admitting defeat.

Incidentally around this time I was pleased to confirm my best ever finish in the Individual Grand Prix of the North East Harrier League, finishing 23rd senior man overall despite missing the last fixture and failing to follow up my excellent start to the season in the two 2018 fixtures I did show up in.

Things came to a head at a training session with my new club Tyne Bridge Harriers on 13th March. In hindsight stupid, at the time clinging on to a dream to run in the North Eastern 12 stage relays. Ruefully not heeding the alarm bells…

A couple of weeks of walking followed and a few different physios opinions, mainly focussing on the lower leg issues and masking the abdominal problem underlying it all.

It finally dawned on me on a weekend break to Girona, where the lower leg issues were slowly resolving themselves with rest but the groin issue not, that I may have a hernia type issue.

Finally I saw a physio who had seen this before and felt pretty confident I had Gillmores Groin AKA Sportsmans hernia. He recommended I see the consultant Kevin Clark.

Skip forward and last week I finally saw Dr Clark and was quickly assessed as needing a double Gillmores Groin operation procedure which I will have on 21st May.

At this point I must say how grateful I am for having access to private medical insurance through my employer.

From there I will need at least 4-8wks trying to rehab and return to running.

As I said earlier, I am apprehensive I will admit

I am still running a little and I don’t suffer pain as such. Certainly nothing close to sharp or continuous pain. Basically I would describe the issue as a stitch that will not resolve itself (mainly during running) and it makes it hard to “stride out” or train properly. Other times I am aware of the issue are during the night, turning in bed or getting out of bed in the morning.

So I am resigned to an operation that will lead to pain but hopefully and eventually a resolution to the issue so that I can train properly.

Mentally I have to accept the summer season is a write off.

The consultant surgeon has suggested I will need at least 1 week and preferably 2 off work and driving.

I have to really consider a return for the next cross country season.

Although in many ways that could be considered slightly depressing(!) I have to be as positive as possible and keep motivated.

What this has done is allow me to assess (again) where my running priorities lie.

I can’t help feel a little bit unlucky with the recent injuries I have suffered.

Both the rib injury and this Gillmores Groin were not genuine training errors as such – a little foolish maybe and I have to take responsibility for not fully listening to the signals my body gave me. Frustratingly both injuries have been difficult to both diagnose and resolve. Difficult to diagnose (and at times quite subtle) meaning I continued to train and therefore exacerbate and lengthen the recuperation.

All that said I remain motivated to return stronger and focussed on what I really want to achieve.

I will focus all of my attention on 5 and 10k and Cross Country. I’d also like to try out some shorter distances on the track.

In the meantime finding the key to unlock my potential continues. And I’ll be working on that during my rehab over the coming weeks.

And this blog remains a therapy of a kind so thanks for reading.

As always happy running to you.

Feeling strong…

The usual injury process in my experience is as follows –

1. Denial

2. Realisation/submission

3. Confirmation

4. Fixing

5. Planning

6. Returning

Strictly speaking I am still at stage 3/4.

As usual for me stage 1 and 2 went on too long.

I continued to run with many doubts about my physical health. I thought time and time again that one more run might resolve the issue.

Actually I was distracted because I had discomfort on 3 fronts. My focus was on my shins and left ankle but through rest I came to realise my real enemy was my left groin and abdominal issues.

But I refused to submit and admit to myself that I had a problem that wasn’t resolving and that running was causing and persisting the symptoms.

I am still in stage 3 because I have just confirmed an appointment with a specialist on Tuesday 8th May. I still do not know exactly what my issue is although Gillmore’s Groin AKA sportsmans hernia is suspected.

I am slightly into stage 4 fixing because I am cross training to maintain cardio fitness and also completing a conservative programme of stretching and core work to ensure I am as strong as possible pending any requirement for a minor operation.

And I’ve come to terms with plans shelved and goals delayed.

I’ve been here before but I am older and wiser now. I can see this process for what it is – a process.

It is not the end of the world.

Unlike previous times I don’t feel annoyed at missed races etc.

Time will pass but I will come back stronger and even wiser.

Seeing Callum Hawkins strength in failure last week and the amazing performances at the Boston marathon this week gives me great motivation to see through this set back and come back a strong runner with a smile on my face and an appreciation to be involved in this great sport of ours.

Never take it for granted.

Special mention to my running mate Michael Hedley who is also in this “process” with an injury that will take time to recover but can also be overcome.

Thanks for reading.

A new challenge to overcome…

Well it’s been over a month since I last posted a blog here and it’s been a tiring period for me both physically and mentally as far as my running is concerned. That’s despite there not being much running happening…

The shin issues I was experiencing worsened particularly on the left leg and developed into an ankle issue which meant I had to rest from running.

Unfortunatly I was tackling injury issues in 3 areas – both shins right and left plus left ankle (suspect post tib related) and also the strange abdominal pain on my left side that was reappearing anytime I decided to try a run.

I trace that back to some running I did on the snow and ice where I had noted that my core muscles were really sore.

To cut a long story short I have been told by a physio that I am showing classic signs of Gillmore’s groin which is known as Sportsman’s hernia and is very common amongst footballers.

As it’s not fully confirmed I’m not sure it has sunk in yet. I need to see my GP and then perhaps a specialist in this area if the GP confirms the suspicion of Gillmore’s groin.

It sounds like if it is this issue the advised solution is an operation meaning perhaps 4-6 weeks rehabilitation.

As I said it hasn’t really sunk in as it’s not fully confirmed but I can say I am feeling pretty low as this is the 2nd injury following the broken rib in November 2017 where I feel a little helpless with what to do. Like the rib it seems like there is nothing I can really do.

One of the things I am coming to realise is how much time is flying by with these injury issues and how little is being achieved in the way of my racing. And the doubt is always in the back of the mind about whether you can get over another injury and come back stronger – of course so much in life is about positive mental attitude and overcoming negative mental attitude.

On the positive side I must report that I finished the 2017/18 cross country season in 23rd position overall in the senior men’s individual Grand Prix which was my highest ever placing.

Back to the injury, the physio has given me some core exercises, some of which are uncomfortable and feel like they could only aggravate the thing.

I am trying to keep up with the cross training – mainly bike and elliptical. I’m pleased that the non impact nature of the elliptical means I can do that as it’s the closest thing I have to running and I’ll be able to mimic run training hopefully both in terms of duration and intensity.

I feel a little resigned to this spring/summer being a write off. I’d like to think not but I’ll hopefully know more in the next few weeks.

It has been particularly disappointing to miss out on the chance to compete for my new club Tyne Bridge Harriers at the Northern 12 stage and the National final but it is what it is.

I contacted the club today and I’ve already received a lot of support and advice as it seems a number of lads have experienced this issue or something similar. That gives me a lot of hope I can come back stronger and one things for sure I will not be giving up…

Thanks for reading.

Week 1 of a new journey – sub 16 dream

This week is what I consider to be Week 1 of my new target – the sub 16 5k.

Someone once said the journey is more important than the end goal and in my case that holds true.

Although in all honesty I didn’t celebrate the sub 17 enough it did not stop me thinking about the “what next”. Having entered the Great North Run already by the time I achieved the sub 17 in May my focus and attention turned to that and any new 5k goal was put on the back burner.

As I’ve said previously I was happy with my performance in the Great North Run but in truth I was really looking for a 1.17 showing based on my 5k PB of 16:44. That didn’t happen mainly due to training not going as well as planned and overall I loved the experience and can’t wait to do it again in future.

In the meantime I have been focussing on my physical and mental health and fitness.

Since the Great North Run I have not been doing a lot of pure running. I gave my body time to heal from the half marathon. So I’ve only been running in the range of 20 to 30 miles per week. That said I have been very pleased with my first two outings in the North East Harrier League cross country.

I have qualified back into the Fast pack and also finished 38th and 37th respectively in the field outright.

I feel I have an excellent platform now. For me 2017 has been an amazing journey in terms of my personal development. Although not perfect I feel on a much more even keel emotionally and mentally. I feel ready to take on more again in my running. Since I feel like I am performing at least as well as I was when I was coached in 2014/15 I feel I can now push on again and surpass my current achievements.

This feeling allows me to set the following goals in the short to medium term –

  1. Run a sub 16 minute 5k;
  2. Run a big 10k PB;
  3. Push into the Top 20 in NEHL XC fixtures;
  4. Strong showing at the North Eastern XC in December 2017;
  5. “A” race aim of Horwich 5k in June 2018 with a view to selection for an England Masters vest.

I cannot do this alone and part of my development this year is to look around me and realise that I need help to achieve my goals.

So this week I finally got down to Elswick Harriers on Tuesday night for a great training session. I need to ensure I attend more sessions as running in a group has nothing but benefits. The session ensures a good warm up and warm down and also ensures I put the required effort into a session, something I would struggle to do alone.

This week it was 5x 4 minutes with 1 minute recovery. To me it should be run as a VO2 max type session, looking to push 5k pace. At the moment I am in a little bit of a grey area and so I am torn between trying to run current 5k type intensity (16:44 say 5:20-25/mile) and an intensity based on my recent half marathon (more like 5:35/mile).

In the end the first 4 reps were ran around 5:30-5:35/mile and felt comfortably hard meaning that I was straining on the leash the last rep. I set off strongly and a quick look at my watch revealed I was cruising at 5:10 pace. Something clicked in my head to push on and I was away from the lads at the front. I felt like I wish I could feel in a race but never have – running hard and strong and breathing well. Granted the last couple of the minutes got tough and I lost a bit of pace finishing the rep averaging 5:17/mile. On analysis I feel like I need to be aiming for at least 5:20-5:25 in this session next time.

Given this “grey zone” I am currently in I felt it was important to get back down Doncaster to meet with Dave Tune of Blizard Physiotherapy who offers an excellent lactate threshold and coaching service. Indeed Dave coached me (as I have mentioned in the Blog) from 2014-2015 – this was my real breakthrough period at the time.

Many amateur runners may think it is a bit serious for a club runner to get Lactate testing, something that may be deemed only for the Elites. Personally I disagree and I feel strongly that the service is completely accessible and can reveal a great deal of vital information for anyone in the pursuit of improvement.

It was great to catch up with Dave as it had been probably a year since I was last down to see him. It was also good to get back on the treadmill and understand how my body was performing. My lactate threshold heart rate was pretty much unchanged at 180-181bpm and a pace of low 6 minute miles. Although I am not in the type of shape I saw in October 2015 that is to be expected because I am simply not running the miles this year following a very quiet 2016. However, as I said earlier I see this as a massive positive and opportunity that I now have the springboard to push on.

We were also able to test my body for a couple of minutes at sub 16 5k tempo. It was tough and I was sweating profusely. It reminds me what I need to do and my heart rate was elevated to 195bpm which is something I am currently seemingly unable to do in a race. The key is to unlock that extra gear that I know I have when pushed in a controlled environment. Dave informed me that my body was producing 6.2mmols of lactate at that intensity which I should be able to handle for 5k with the right preparation and training.

With that in mind I will be following a plan for the next 12 weeks set by Dave which will involve cementing more consistency in my running, particularly my threshold sessions (2 per week) and a regular longer run although no more than 75mins.

My next target will be the 3rd Cross Country fixture at Aykley Heads where I will be trying a slightly different tactic as part of my goal to improve my mental toughness in racing. I need to start being prepared to fail in races to improve. I need to discard the “self preservation” tactic which will only allow me to achieve so much. Unless I can let myself go (like I did on the 5th rep at the Elswick session and on the treadmill down Doncaster) I may not achieve my goals…

In other news I am planning on starting a YouTube VLOG to capture my experiences training for the sub 16 5k and leading up to the Horwich 5k in June 2018 so watch this space!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Getting back, Radiohead and Durham parkrun…

Since my 5k PB in May I’ve gone a bit quiet!

I was really pleased to finally crack the sub 17 minute 5k. That had been my key goal since 2012/2013. It felt like it might never happen. This year I really focussed, made some subtle changes to routine and mindset and achieved it.

Everyone says the journey is more important than the destination.

I can confirm that is true.

Perhaps its the yearning for wanting something, and to feel like you might not get that keeps you going. And then when you get it, yes there is elation but why not celebration?

With hindsight I didn’t celebrate enough. In fact the very next week I was in Dubai. Another work trip. I tried to keep up the training, even step it up a notch. Even to the point where I was running 50m up and down alongside a motorway in Dubai centre, in 35 degree heat – the locals must have thought I was crazy.

I had Blaydon in my sights and a desire to build on my 2015 performance.

After Dubai it was back to blighty. I was feeling distracted. It feels like the country is going down the pan… I had done well to ignore politics leading up to my 5k but I was getting sucked back in by the election fever. It felt like deja vu from the Brexit debacle a year earlier.

It started to suck my mental energy. But I pushed on to the point where a knee and hip injury suddenly flared up out of nowhere.

I was forced to treadmill walk in the week leading up to Blaydon, still every intention of running.

Waking up on the 9th of June and the deja vu was confirmed. Surely May had to resign!

As the day went on and my mind refused to contemplate Blaydon and my right leg refused to stop being cranky the decision was made to pull out of Blaydon. Very disappointing.

The mind turns now to GNR. This will be the first year since I started running that I will be trying to train with purpose over the summer. I confess to not being a summer runner. I am a winter runner. Couples of reasons – firstly I suffer from Hayfever which doesn’t help what is an already difficult endeavour! Secondly I always have a 2 week holiday where I try to forget everything – including running!

This year is no exception. The difference now is I have 11 or 12 weeks to get on the start line at the GNR in the best shape possible. I have had a few hayfever episodes but my mindset is better than ever before and I will not allow it to bother me. I am also going on holiday for 2 weeks in July. So I will need to navigate through that getting some running in where possible, seeking to maintain fitness so that when I get back I can hit the final 6 weeks preparation and have the confidence to get out and perform.

The last 2 weeks have been a slow build up. The knee and hip injury has subsided and this week is probably the first proper week back training.

Today I got out for a parkrun and the first real leg stretch since a 20 minute threshold run in May, not long after my 5k PB.

It was a reflective day. I had spent Friday evening watching Radiohead at Glastonbury. Very emotional, exciting and amazing – always a band that make my hairs stand up on my arms. So many songs that remind me of different periods of my life.

The Bends and OK Comptuer the real teenage angst of my secondary school years – loner, getting lost in the melancholy.

Kid A and Amnesiac the lost University years… Still angsty, still lonely, still confused but now fuelled by alcohol etc…

Hail to the Thief leaving¬†Uni with a 1st and signing on the dole…

In Rainbows – being in work and hating every minute – nothing but living for the weekend.

So its always emotional to watch them play some important songs that resonate 100% every time.

And so I set off for Riverside, OK Computer the soundtrack to the drive. On arrival at Riverside I noticed that there was another event on. Parkrun was cancelled. So I quickly looked up Durham parkrun which I had never done before and set off with an expected arrival of 8:52.

Luckily the parking facilities were good and I was able to squeeze in a short warm up.

The course is good but challenging. It starts on the Durham Uni running track and then onto grass, over the bridge and more grass, a loop round and back to the bridge and to the finish.

Running a new course is always a bit of an unknown. I didn’t really have a plan other than to not look at pace and just see what happened. Deep down I knew I wasn’t looking for a hard effort. Although it wasn’t too hot there was a slight breeze.

Starting off I didn’t feel like the pace was strong. Mark Snowball of Morpeth Harriers (who I met at the Clive Cookson 10k in 2016 where I was DQ’d for not wearing my race chip) came alongside and we had a small chat. He said he was just jogging which made me push on.

I was shocked to go through the first mile in 5:22 which is around PB pace (16:44). That didn’t help me as I felt I’d been rash and¬†overcooked it as I was probably looking¬†for something sub 17:50 given I hadn’t done any harder running since May.

The second mile slowed considerably and Mark was back with me. We exchanged some more chat and¬†I’d accepted I wouldn’t be pushing any¬†harder. Actually Mark held pace and I dropped off. The second mile was 5:50ish and the 3rd mile slowed to¬†>6:00 minute miling.

I didn’t feel good at all. I was able to finish off in just over 18 minutes. The Garmin had the course as slightly long and I’d averaged 5:46 miling.

Given that I’m looking for a target of 5:45-5:50 miling for the Great North Run this is a gentle reminder that I need to get back to some proper training and just start getting some confidence building runs in the bag.

On¬†to the next step…

Thanks for reading.