Race report: NEMAA Track and Field Championships 2021 – 5000m

Race report: NEMAA Track and Field Championships  2021 – 5000m

I finally got my 2021 race account opened up with an outing at the North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA) Track and Field Championships.

I’ve been a member of the NEMAA since turning 35 back in 2016 but I haven’t really participated (certainly not as much as I would have liked), having only raced a couple of road relays.

So my track debut was very overdue.

As regular readers will know, I haven’t posted a blog since February as I again succumbed to another injury – this time the right knee – mainly through my own over zealous training error.

So it’s been a slow and very patient return to running.

In many ways this race came far too soon in my training return as I have only just begun a 14 week program to take me through to the Great North Run in September 2021. And this race came at the end of week 2(!) and is only my second week of running approx 25 miles per week!

So my running training load is very low. But I was keen to give the track a go and see how things are over a race distance I am familiar with, on the roads at least. I aim to use the information from the race to inform my training going forwards.

I have posted a couple of YouTube videos for those interested in hearing more. The first is here – a general introduction to my Great North Run half marathon training plan.

The second (here) talks about my expectations going into my 5000m track debut. I plan to get more active on YouTube so please watch, like, comment and subscribe!

In summary, I felt I was at best in shape to run 17:30ish. This was based both on my current VO2 max as predicted by Garmin and my Stryd power meter running data, although some extrapolation was required on both fronts.

My current Garmin VO2 Max rating is 58 which predicts 17:43 for 5k.

Now I know a lot of people are sceptical about the VO2 max ratings on Garmin.

However, I’ve now been using Garmin for many years and feel the watch is fairly well calibrated to my own physiology. Critical to this is an accurate maximum heart rate reading. I have mine currently set to 192bpm which I feel is pretty accurate for me.

The only potential issue is that my low training volume means that my aerobic fitness is lower than normal whereas my top end (ability to run a fast 400-1600m) is probably still there or thereabouts. So I have to believe I am fitter than 58 VO2 Max.

Another indicator I am now using is based on power data from the Stryd foot pod which is essentially a running power meter. Power meters are much more prevalent in cycling but Stryd are making strides(!) in this new area for runners.

I like this alternative view as a contrast to Garmin although I feel the pod is still learning about me, given I have been injured and running low mileage recently (the pod needs as much varied running data as possible from the last 90 days to give accurate forecasts).

Going into the race my Critical Power (this is the threshold at which the dominant type of fatigue your body experiences changes) was 332W with a predicted 5k time of 18:58. The prediction was based on a forecast average power for 5k of 342W. You will note that 5k predicted power is 10 watts higher than Critical Power.

Although I’ve never raced a 5k since getting the foot pod in November 2020 I felt confident that I could hold more than 342W for the distance. That said, this race was a chance to wear the foot pod in a competitive situation, give it a good go and see what came out of it.

In preparation for the race I completed some very light workouts (light in terms of volume) on grass wearing my Saucony spikes which I planned to wear on the track.

The key workout was 4x 580m (one lap of Kenton Dene on grass) with rest allowing heart rate to return to 120bpm – Strava link here.

As a general rule this recovery was to last no longer than 90 seconds. If it took longer the workout would cease.

As it happened I completed the workout although the recovery was tight going into the last rep.

The efforts were generally around 3:20/km pace. This was pretty much the pace of my 5km road PB (16:44 ran in 2017).

Usually what this means is I could probably run around that pace for 5km. However, the key to running a good 5km is speed endurance.

That comes from consistent training load, a consistent long run, threshold work and some 5k race pace work to put the cherry on the cake. I didn’t have any of these in my locker really (other than the light session described above) going into this race so in many ways I’d be relying on muscle memory to get anywhere near to 16:44.

I arrived at Monkton Stadium in good time to pick up my race number. The facilities are excellent with a gravel track outside the stadium to warm up.

Conditions were perfect, a little muggy but the sun was starting to show and really nothing to be concerned about.

I jogged about 4 laps of the gravel track, about 2km in 10mins or so. I then ran some 20 second strides (5 in total) with full recovery. Everything felt fine, I didn’t worry about the pace of the strides. It was pretty warm and it didn’t take much to feel ready for the race.

I made my way through to the stadium.

It felt exciting to be running a track race for the first time. I felt nervous which was good. I put the spikes on and waited to be called for the race.

It definitely felt like the sun was coming out stronger just in time for the off. In the end there were only 7 men running the V35-49 race and I didn’t really recognise any of my competitors both in terms of which were in my age category or indeed what they were capable of 5k time wise.

With hindsight this would have been useful to know. That said, my main goal was to experience a track 5000 and find out where I was at with a full effort very early in my training cycle. So I didn’t worry about the competition except for the loose aim to sit in off the front pack.

After some formalities from the officials the gun went and we were underway.

The race gets underway (me second from left)

Quite quickly 3 of the lads were at the front and I sat in behind another lad but we were swiftly a little adrift.

I continued to sit in for a lap or two (maybe 3?) feeling OK until the point I felt like we were losing too much ground too quickly to the front three.

Me tucked in behind #79 Paul Wilson first few laps

I decided to overtake what I now know to have been the 3rd V40 in the race (the front 3 consisted of 1 V35 and 2 V40s). It took a little acceleration down the home straight which was slightly wind assisted. I’m not sure how many laps were to go but I’d guess 8 or 9.

I don’t regret it and I was able to keep a slight advantage over my V40 bronze medal competition for quite a few laps. But I was never able to break away. He was always there and breathing quite heavily. This meant I thought he would drop off if I kept it honest. Meanwhile, my idea of also trying to bridge the gap to the front 3 was all but gone as the distance had grown too great.

Pressing on gamely but not shaking off

I started to notice a slight dread at the number of laps remaining. The officials had a board counting down at the end of each lap. Although the laps were going by quite swiftly I still had 6 laps to go and it didn’t take a mathematician to work out there was still pretty much half way to go.

I managed to maintain my 4th place position and just tried to focus on my breathing and stride rate. I wasn’t referring to my watch at all. I was taking note of the official reading out total race time each lap. He seemed to be positioned at the start line but I didn’t entirely know what the times meant in relation to distance completed.

Indeed it only meant something on the very last lap and aided the push to the end…

Meanwhile my nearest competitor was hanging on gamely and I sensed myself slowing. I couldn’t help but consider I was lacking strength endurance. I didn’t necessarily think I’d gone too hard too soon. But I definitely felt like he was readying to overtake…

The resistance soon became futile…

I did resist this a few times by relaxing a little and just increasing cadence slightly. But I did succumb to the challenge with about 2 or 3 laps remaining.

In being overtaken I allowed myself to reveal the full extent of my tiredness… Letting go of quiet, controlled breathing and letting it be known I was gasping for air!!!

I stayed in touch until the very end but in my heart of hearts I never seriously contemplated getting back in front. I turned my attention to my finishing time and trying to avoid complete capitulation. I knew when I got to the last lap it was in the bag. Yes the last lap would hurt but the risk of completely blowing up would be averted. And I sensed a chance to sneak under 17 minutes based on the times I had heard being read out.

Coming down the home straight I was able to pick up. I simply closed my eyes, holding on, only opening them in the hope that I was closer and closer to the finish.

Getting over the line was a relief and the Garmin watch time of 17.01 was pleasing. I finished 3 seconds behind 3rd place in the V40 race which was a shame and certainly it isn’t inconceivable to think that a bronze medal was possible with a little more fortitude when it came to the crunch in the last third of the race.

I am planning to post a YouTube video with my full post race reflections so I will not go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that I was correct in my feeling that both the Garmin and Stryd apps were under estimating what I could run.

Very interestingly my Garmin watch kept my VO2 max reading at 58 despite the race registering at 5,080m and an average HR of 161bpm. Unfortunately my heart rate data is unreliable in the early part of the race and only kicked in the second half. But having ran 17 minutes flat for 5km, the VO2 Max rating should be more like 60.

My heart rate topped out at 192bpm at the end of the race meaning I am confident in using that as a reasonable and perhaps conservative figure. This ensures the Garmin VO2 Max reading remains honest and also means any improvement in training should be genuine.

The Stryd data on the other hand has registered the performance with my Critical Power rating jumping from 332W to 371W.

My predicted half marathon time has improved to around 1 hour 18 minutes which is a great step in the right direction this early in my Great North Run training plan.

And with that I move onwards and upwards!

Thanks for reading! If you have any comments or questions I would love to hear from you! Happy running!

Training update, 1st-7th February

Training update, 1st-7th February

Thoughts of the week...

So last week things weren’t quite “clicking” and I wasn’t able to run my usual 6 days out of 7 with a rest day on Friday.

In many ways that’s fine and it is important not to stick too rigidly to a plan come hell or high water.

You need to be able to make decisions that are the best, depending on how you feel both mentally and physically.

Getting fit and getting good at running is a long game, and consistency always wins out.

Having thought about things I decided to change a few things this week, the main one being trying to reduce the pressure I was feeling on myself, somewhat bizarrely, on my easy days scheduled for Monday and Wednesdays.

Typically on these days I will run 60mins easy around 8 minute miling or no higher than 140-142bpm heart rate.

For whatever reason I was really hating these runs. 60mins trudging around at a slow pace is no fun. I dreaded these runs and found them boring and they would drag really badly.

So I’ve decided, if my diary allows, to break these runs up into double run days. So I’ll do 30 to 35 mins in the morning and the same again in the evening.

This has multiple benefits. A couple here. 1, I get an aerobic run in before breakfast which is good for metabolism. 2, I get to relax on pacing. I typically run the morning run at 9 min miles and the pm run at 8.5 min miling. I can more easily get more time on feet than the single run that I just wanted to end! It relaxes me mentally. And it ultimately makes me feel better.

I also decided to treat myself to a new bit of gear – a bone conduction set of headphones which basically means you can listen to music whilst still being aware of what’s going on around you.

I have to say they are outstanding.

The brand is Aftershockz. I bought the Aeropex version.

Admittedly they are expensive (I paid £149.95) but I think they are well worth it. Initially I was concerned as I wasn’t sure I could use them with a winter hat but they actually grip nicely to the outside of my head (they are supposed to fit round you ears) and work really well.

Mon, 1 Feb: New month, fresh start

This was the first double run day I had done for a while and I enjoyed the process.

For whatever reason I find it easier going through (the not inconsiderable) process of going for two short runs than one longer one.

I was rewarded for my morning efforts with the most beautiful crisp morning. Not too cold, and not a breath of wind. That is very rare in the North East of England.

I enjoyed every minute. Running 9 min miles is so easy you can actually notice the birds singing. I realised this is what I need… 4.4 miles in just under 40mins.

In the evening I quickened it slightly to 8.5 min miling. Still very comfortable. This time just over 4 miles in 35 minutes.

Job done.

I posted a YouTube video here which shows some footage of the evening run and some more of my thought process.

Tue, 2 Feb: very wet threshold sesh

The weather on Tuesday couldn’t have been more different to Monday. Lashing rain welcomed my threshold session of 3x 3km off 90s jog.

Rather than run exactly 3km I decided on 3 full loops of St. Andrews (see Strava map) which is about 1,090m per lap.

It was cold and wet so I had all of the winter gear on. I knew this wasn’t going to be the fastest session I had done but my key goal was to get the volume.

The wind was blustery and blowing in different directions.

It was a tough session in many ways but I got it done. Overall 6.4 miles in 42 minutes. Paces on the reps were nothing to write home about. Heart rate averaged 162bpm and maxed out at 168bpm. In hindsight I could have pushed a little harder on the last rep in particular.

Wed, 3 Feb: another double easy

This double run day couldn’t have been more different to Monday’s…

This time it was torrential rain and wind. So I got wrapped up and kept it easy again. Another jog at 9 minute miling. This time my average heart rate was 6 beats higher than Monday but I think that was explained by the session the evening previous and the weather conditions.

That afternoon I got out for the second jog of the day, this time 4.2 miles. Again the weather was terrible but there is a feeling of satisfaction that comes from double running (no matter how slow). A total of 7.8 miles for the day.

Thu, 4 Feb: faster sesh success

The plan was 3x 1 mile at 5.45 pace and 3x 800m in 2:45 (approx 5.30 per mile pace). There was two minutes rest to be had.

I have to say I was feeling a bit apprehensive. I think it was because I had been doing so much sub threshold type work, I was worried I may have become one paced.

Also, I hadn’t been running to specific paces for so long. I had been working to heart rate or power. So I was worried about how I would feel if I was struggling to hit pace.

In the end I needn’t have worried and I executed the session pretty perfectly. And most pleasing of all: it felt good. Very aerobic and never felt under pressure to run to the paces.

I was also able to run the two minute jog recoveries as more of a purposeful float. That was encouraging as the recoveries were back up a slight incline back to the start of the St. Andrews loop.

The total session ended up as 5.92 miles in 35mins 23s. Part of me wishes I’d finished with another float at the end of the last 800m rep as it may have comfortably closed it out as a decent training 10km. But that is by the by.

So I was effectively running 6 minute miles averaging 167bpm heart rate. My heart rate maxed out at 177bpm.

Heading in the right direction.

Fri, 5 Feb: rest day plus runners S&C class

Fridays are always a planned rest day and this was no different except I signed up for a runners strength and conditioning class at 6pm.

The class is run by Dave and Jenny at Blizard Physio.

The classes are different every week but this week had a dynamic warm up, foot conditioning, resistance band work, plyometrics, some HIIT and then a cool down.

I really enjoyed it and will be trying to do it more regularly to try to strengthen some areas and become a less injury prone runner.

If you are interested in giving it a go here is a link.

Sat, 6 Feb: first hill sesh in ages

In many ways this felt like the main session of the week. Not because of the volume but because of the hills.

Hill sessions are never easy and it had been a long time since I had even done one. In fact I can’t remember the last time I did a hill session.

The plan was 10x 300m off 2:30 jog back recovery. I would then do some drills and 5x 80m hill sprints.

First up was a 15 minute warm up. As soon as I got out the door it started raining and got progressively harder as the warm up went on.

Not to worry. I felt in a pretty good mind space, quite positive about giving it a good go.

The hill I used is very close to my house. Its a path that runs up from Town Moor to the top of Kenton Dene. Overall it has a gradient of 5% with parts probably >7.5%.

I felt I should be covering the 300m reps in between 60 and 70 seconds. And that’s how it turned out.

I probably overcooked the first rep feeling fresh. Covered it in 64-65s. The rest of the reps were averaging 67s.

It was one of those sessions where on rep 4 and 5 you wondered if you were going to fall apart by rep 7 or 8.

But I stuck to task pretty well, the 2:30 recoveries felt generous and allowed me to always feel ready for the next rep.

Overall I was pleased with how the session went and I knew it would make me a stronger runner. It’s both physical and mental.

I did some fast feet uphill which really feel alien to me. Being tall I have a naturally slow cadence and getting the feet to turnover quick is a challenge.

I decided to skip the 1 legged bounds to ensure I didn’t overstress the shin. I completed the 5x 80m sprints. I think they were more like 100m.

On the 15 minute warm down jog I felt good, another good training day ticked off.

I posted some footage of this workout on YouTube here.

Sun, 7 Feb: another unplanned rest day

Waking up on Sunday, total mileage for the week was 42.9 miles which represented an 8.6% increase on last week.

The plan was just to jog easy for 30-35 minutes but on balance I decided on complete rest to both allow full absorption of yesterday’s hill session and also give the shin a chance to rest.

Next week is a down week and I will focus 100% on putting this shin issue to bed and continuing to build consistency as we hopefully move closer to some racing opportunities in the next few months.

Thanks for reading!

Training update, 25th-31st January

Coach Tom Schwartz (Tinman Elite) podcastkey takeaways (available here)

• Remember 80% rule, i.e if you can do 10 reps then 8 is probably enough in training;

• Seek to avoid “instant gratification”, i.e. try not to let the ego win. The ego wants instant gratification but gratification must be delayed in training;

• Respect your current fitness level;

• It takes a long time to improve running economy (reducing the amount of oxygen consumed at a given running speed);

• Self discipline is more important than motivation. Motivation wanes, self discipline at all times is key.

Mon, 25 Jan: run on golf course

Managed to get out for a lunch time run on Newcastle United Golf course on the Town Moor in Newcastle.

I wouldn’t usually run on the golf course but the conditions were still freezing and so the ground was hard underfoot, almost like concrete.

It was pretty windy (Strava said >20mph). I was planning to run around 50-55 minutes total. I jogged up the hill over Town Moor and onto the golf course and did 3 full laps. I used to play golf here when I lived in Fenham. It was pretty cool. I’d walk up Wingrove Road with my clubs after work. I had an agreement with the green keeper. I’d just play the front nine. He would meet me on the 4th or 5th and I’d just give him a fiver. Brought back some memories…

I had deliberately tinkered with the settings on my Garmin as follows – auto lap turned off, pace and distance measured by my Stryd power meter foot pod instead of GPS (I think it’s more accurate). I changed the display so I was only looking at a timer. This made the run much more pleasurable and I just ensured to run within myself.

Ended up with just over 10km in just under 52mins. Average heart rate was 144bpm. Felt like I’d judged it about right. You can tell by how you feel after a run. If you feel tired you’ve overcooked an easy run.

Tue, 26 Jan: baseline tempo run

Prior to my second physio appointment I got out for a little line in the sand tempo run of 5x a loop of St. Andrews.

You may be wondering what the St. Andrews loop is. Well it’s named after a nearby church on the housing estate where I do pretty much all of my uptempo running.

The loop I run measures out at 1,090m (based on my Stryd footpod). So today I was doing 5x about a 1km tempo which for me is usually an effort at around 10-11 mile effort, sometimes even HM. I usually work it to my current Stryd power metrics. So I’m looking to push out 315-320W which is approx 4.3 to 4.4 watts per kilo for me.

On this day the conditions were pretty good with little wind and I was ticking the laps off just over 4mins which translated to around 3:41 – 3.45 per km. This is approx 6 min miles or just under. I am conscious that this is quite a bit slower than my current 10 mile (avg. pace of 3:27/km) and HM (avg. pace 3.38/km) PBs. However, I am training at a lower HR (typically <170bpm) than I raced those distances (approx 173bpm for HM and 178bpm for 10 miles) so I think it’s fair to say I am slightly undertraining versus race pace which is fine.

I’ve only had the Stryd foot pod since the back end of November so in many ways it is still calibrating and I believe it is underestimating my real ability at the moment. However, current fitness and ability are two completely different things. The power meter wants to know what I am capable of but my current training is not feeding it such data. The main thing on this session was that everything felt in order and in control. If you can’t manage a smile then you are probably going too hard.

At physio that evening, I had my foot re strapped as I felt like it had helped my shin. I agreed with the physio to come back in 2 weeks. I had some Hoka One One Arahi 4 stability running shoes ordered to try to see if they could also help.

Wed, 27 Jan: another easy run

My new Hoke One One Arahi 4s arrived so I wore them for the first time.

The right shoe felt a bit tight but I put that down to the strapping I had on the foot. Overall I liked them. For a stability shoe they felt very light and also the sound on the pavement was nice and quiet.

I continued with the approach of just referring to time and no other metrics. The plan was another 50 to 55 minutes.

This time I ran down to the Town Moor which is mostly downhill and then looped back up which is back uphill.

Just ran well within myself. Ended up with 6.8 miles in 54 minutes averaging 143bpm. I enjoyed running on without the metrics but still feel I am not as aerobically fit as I need to be…

Thu, 28 Jan: unplanned rest day

For whatever reason I woke up on Thursday not fully recovered and ready to do a planned session.

I use the Oura ring to track metrics such as resting HR, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and respiratory rate. From this data the Oura app is able to produce a “Readiness” score.

On this day the score came out low and my resting HR higher / HRV lower than normal.

So I decided to take complete rest and see if tomorrow was a better day.

Fri, 29 Jan: replanned tempo session

My Oura stats had returned to normal so I got out for my session.

I reduced the total volume from the original plan just to be on the safe side given that I was still returning from injury and the recent unplanned rest day.

The session was 3x 3 loops of St. Andrews (i.e. 3x 3km+). I ended up with 2x 3 loops plus 1 extra loop. The plan was 2 minutes jogging between the reps but I’d mis read it as 90 seconds which made it harder than plan.

The laps times were pretty much identical to those 1 loop efforts completed on Tuesday (just over 4mins per lap or 6mins per mile pace).

Unbeknownst to me my chest strap Heart Rate monitor had ran out of battery so my watch had reverted to the wrist strap which was typically inaccurate. Again, I hadn’t referred to it during the run but it would have been nice to have been able to do some meaningful post session analysis.

Overall, although it felt hard, it was a decent session.

Sometimes it’s important to remember training sessions alone are hard. It callouses the mind ready for racing. Wanting things to feel easier and faster is unrealistic…

Sat, 30 Jan: 10 mile run with pickup

I usually wouldn’t do two sessions back to back but needs must. If at all possible I prefer to run my longer runs on a Saturday when Jasmine is working so we can better enjoy a day off on Sundays.

Runners seem obsessed with “church of Sunday long run” but to me it’s important to have a plan that suits your life and Sunday long runs rarely suit mine.

So it was a case of shoe horning this run in somewhat. My Oura stats were OK, not ideal but on balance I thought it was alright to run 6 miles easy followed by 4 miles pick up then warm down home.

I ran the 6 miles averaging low 140bpm heart rate and around 5 mins per km. I then picked up to approx. 4:05/km.

I still hadn’t had chance to replace the battery on my heart rate monitor so, again, the wrist HR was well off and not reliable. But the pickup felt pretty good.

Overall including warm down I ran 11.8 miles in 1hr 29. Nothing special and still not feeling amazing but I felt much better than I did after last weeks 10 miles where I felt totally wiped afterwards.

Sun, 31st Jan: another rest day

Again, the Oura stats didn’t make for good reading so I felt it was prudent to take another rest day.

For whatever reason I am not quite getting and absorbing the training like I was before I got the shin injury.

I’m trying not to worry about it but I’m also trying to work out why. I’ve tried to reduce my coffee intake this week for example.

Despite the two rest days I was able to run 39.7 miles total for the week which represents a decent stepping stone from the week previous. And it invites me to shoot for somewhere between 40 to 45 miles next week which seems sensible given where I am at.

Thanks for reading.

Training update, 18th-24th January

Injury Update…

Of course it is always frustrating to succumb to injury but it’s always important to remember that running is a high impact sport.

Risk of injury is high but niggles and injury are normally preventable. I have had my fair share of injuries but I blame them all on one person and one person only – myself.

I strongly believe all of my injuries were preventable. Even the unfortunate injuries that could be put down to accident, I still blame myself ultimately.

Self accountability is important but it is also useless if you keep making the same mistakes. And with my latest shin problem I have to hold my hands up and say it should have been prevented.

But I won’t dwell on the past. I am where I am (again). So the focus this week is to get to the physio on Tuesday 19th and work out what is wrong and what can be done to fix it.

I’ll keep an open mind on cause of problem and solution. It may be my shoes. It may be my running form (I have struggled more than usual with cadence these last few months). It may be that I need to consider custom orthotics. We will see.

Thoughts on cross training…

As mentioned in last week’s blog, I took complete rest from running and ended up with 15.5 miles total for the week which were the runs completed on Monday and Tuesday. I decided on complete rest but options are very limited for cross training in the UK given the current lockdown and inclement weather. I would usually get out on the road bike but with the snow and ice it isn’t worth it.

I’ve actually come to believe that obsessive cross training isn’t always the healthiest thing to do. Ultimately you are injured because your body has been unable to handle the load you have given it. If you keep your cardiovascular fitness too high whilst injured you run the risk of almost being too fit cardio wise when you do return to running. In my case that could mean immediately asking too much of my body (in particular my lower legs). It would require extreme discipline to not go out expecting the legs to pick up where you left off. You need a slow and steady rebuild. My point being that it may not be such a bad thing being slightly unfit cardio wise.

On this point I would observe that runners are generally far too paranoid about losing fitness. Of course fitness gained can be quite quickly lost. However, fitness gained is easier to re gain and I’ve come to the conclusion that the paranoia of losing fitness is a mental issue and that the physical body is better helped if the mind is more positive about the recuperation process.

If runners were a bit kinder to themselves they may find their bodies haven’t lost that much really.

Another way of looking at it – approach returning from injury like you would preparation for a race, the race being that first injury free run. Everything leading up to that can be approached like the challenge of training for a race. Put as much into it in a positive manner as you would preparing for a race. Easier said than done but worth trying…

Tue, 19 Jan: Physio appointment

The physio appointment went well and I was pleased that we were able to rule out any potential boney stress reaction (a runners worst nightmare). He also felt there was no neural or nervy type issues. He was able to determine that there were no significant gait issues by observing me running both barefoot and with my shoes.

There is a question mark around the strength of my right calf versus left. I need to work on strengthening the right calf more in line with the left.

I also need to consider shoe selection. It seems like the toe box on the Nike Zoomfly 3 that I use mostly is too narrow and I need to look for something with a wider toe box. Hoka may be a brand I take a closer look at.

For now my right foot has been strapped pretty firmly with tape to try to give more support and to see whether this helps take some load and pressure off the shin. The physio has asked me to try as close to normal training as possible to see how I get on.

So I was able to manage an easy 35 minutes run that night after the physio. I must admit the feeling of the tape was weird but strangely it had me thinking more about form and trying to improve cadence. I didn’t feel any shin issues. I also wore my new Nike Vomero 15s for the first time. These seem to have a wider toe box and so fit the bill for the time being.

Wed, 20 Jan: more easy running

On Wednesday I went out for a bit longer but still keeping it easy. The weather this week has been non stop rain. So I got fully kitted up in the waterproofs. I try not to get stressed about hitting paces or heart rates in these situations, just try to focus on breathing and keeping it relaxed. I ran my usual route around the estate near Newcastle Town Moor. Ended up with about 6.5 miles in not much over 50 odd minutes. I felt a bit sluggish but that’s to be expected with a bit of lost fitness and sharpness.

Thu, 21 Jan: re intro to “session”

On Thursday I was keen to try some slightly faster running without taxing the body too much. I made up a session of 5km at 4min per km, 2 min jog followed by 2x 1km at approx 3.41 per km off 1 minute. I was hoping for the 5km to feel very relaxed. Unfortunately it didn’t but there was quite a strong wind (Strava said 20.4mph!) against for most of the loop including the slight incline at the end of each lap. So my heart rate was getting up to 168bpm towards the end of the 5km. My breathing felt off, all in my throat.

I decided to aid the 1kms by running the loop in reverse and starting at the end of the long straight with the wind assisting. I didn’t refer to my watch. The first rep came in bang on 3.41 and the 2nd was done a little harder coming in at 3.36. My heart rate peaked at 177bpm on the second rep.

Overall I wasn’t displeased considering the conditions and having a little bit of rust from the missed training. I had hoped I would feel fresher given that I’ve effectively had a taper but I am where I am and I need to gradually return to full training whilst ensuring the shin doesn’t relapse. On that front things felt pretty good and I am coming to the conclusion that the foot strapping and / or new trainers are helping.

Fri, 22 Jan: rest day

I took Friday off as rest as per normal and actually my resting HR and other recovery stats suggested I needed it. So that was welcome with the plan to do a re-intro to long run on Saturday. I have been considering moving rest days to a Sunday but I need to work out how to do that safely.

Sat, 23 Jan: re intro to Long Run

Looking at my training diary, my last long run was 21km or 13 miles on Sunday 13th January. So it was important to be careful with this re introduction to a longer run.

I decided on 10 miles in total with the first 5 miles easy and then a 5km pickup around 4min per km pace. Then finish off easy to make up to 10 miles in total.

I had finally taken delivery of my GoPro so I was hoping to get a bit of footage during the run, especially given that conditions were freezing with perfect sunlight to get some nice shots.

I was also going to use my Stryd power meter to gauge effort. So first 5 miles would keep power below 260 watts and the 5km effort would be around 295-300W (approx. marathon effort). These are based on my current zones given to me by the app.

So, although I was wearing my heart rate monitor I wasn’t referring to it at all. Nor was I referring to any pace readings except the odd 1km lap split.

In all honesty the 5 mile easy felt fine (kms averaging around 4.40) and my legs felt good as well. The 5km effort was completed around the frozen lake in Exhibition Park next to Wylam Brewery in Newcastle.

Underfoot conditions weren’t ideal with some icy sections. There were also a lot of walkers out. But overall I felt fine, perhaps working a bit harder than I would like in the 4th and 5th kms. But I would say long runs are my least favourite of the week and I do find them challenging, especially with these harder portions.

I was shocked, however, to see that I had averaged 159bpm for the 10 miles averaging 7m 21s per mile. My heart rate had peaked at 175bpm on the 5km efforts which hit the target 4min per km (6m 27s per mile).

The effort hadn’t felt that taxing but on the jog for home my HR was elevated at approx. 150bpm (5min kms).

So I just need to monitor my recovery with the option of taking Sunday as rest.

To add “insult to injury”, all of the GoPro footage I had taken had not saved to the camera for reasons unbeknownst to me. I guess I should read the instruction manual!

Sun, 24 Jan: recovery walk on Town Moor

Waking up on Sunday I felt pretty well recovered but on balance decided to take rest. It means I ended this week with a total of 34.6 miles (Strava stats below). I felt that was enough and still represented a big jump from the 15.5 miles done last week. It was also higher than the week prior to that (just under 31 miles).

Keeping it sensible this week, returning from injury…

Instead of a run I took a nice walk on Town Moor with Jasmine. We walked across Newcastle United Golf Course which was completely frozen.

Given the complete GoPro fail of yesterday, I decided to give it another go so that next time I actually have some footage to make a YouTube video out of. Things seemed to be working following a complete re formatting of the SD card.

A still from one of my trial GoPro videos

Plans for next week

Next week I will be looking to get back to a decent week of training, aiming for around 45 miles in total. I’ll also be re visiting the physio just to check in on how things are going. I’m hoping to get a pair of Hoka running shoes to try as well. These will provide a bit more stability and a wider toe box.

And hopefully I’ll have a video update on YouTube once I get my head around this GoPro!

Thanks for reading!

Training update, 11th-17th January

Training to run competitively doesn’t always go smoothly and even the best laid plans can come unstuck and so it was this week that I succumbed to shin pain in my right leg.

I’d had some niggle back in late November but I’d managed it via icing and ibuprofen gel. I’d also effectively moved all mileage to grass surfaces to avoid the non stop jarring of road running. No training was missed and I never felt like my running was compromised.

I felt like I’d put the issue to bed, one of those growing pains that comes and goes as you progress volume. A right of passage so to speak.

I (perhaps too soon) resumed most of my training back on the roads. This also became some what of a necessity as we got deeper into the winter here in the UK.

Looking at my Strava run mileage summary (see below) you can see that I had built up steadily to just over 50 miles per week through November and into December.

Steady build in training Oct-20 to Jan-21

This progression was deliberate and very considered. It also included two “down” recovery weeks of approx 30 miles, the first the 7th to the 13th December and the second only last week. This week I’ve only managed 15 miles or so.

All my recent training has been completed with 6 days of running out of 7 per week and one day of rest on a Friday.

Harder running has been Tuesdays and Thursdays with a progressively longer run building up at the weekend (flexibility on whether to run on a Saturday or a Sunday). The long runs featured a faster portion of running towards the end.

All other runs (Mon, Wed, Sat or Sun) were easy/recovery with a guide to keep HR below 140-142bpm.

Things were developing really well…

The stronger running on Tuesdays and Thursdays hasn’t involved anything harder than sub threshold pace, say around 11-13 mile pace (sometimes as slow as marathon pace on opening reps to ease in to the session or if I felt tired or conditions weren’t ideal). It’s quite hard to judge these efforts but I was improving, just focusing on keeping the heart rate under 170bpm (Note of reference: I held approx avg. 178bpm for my 10 mile PB of 55.37, about 5.30 miling) . Example sessions were 5x 1 mile and 4x 2km with 90s recovery. I’d typically run approx 3m 45s per km on these efforts.

So although I didn’t feel in the type of shape I was in to run my 10 mile PB in November 2019 I was certainly getting there. And the consistency was all to see in the Strava chart. In fact, I don’t think I’ve achieved such consistency (and motivation) since I started running again in 2012.

But unfortunately the shin pain in the right leg has returned and I took the decision on Wednesday to stop running.

It was very frustrating to succumb to this on essentially what was a down week of mostly easy running with greatly reduced volume and intensity. Bizarrely the shin got worse in these circumstances.

So I’m now on a heavy ice and ibuprofen recovery protocol.

I feel like the injury has settled a bit. I had suspected this was a “nervy” issue. However, I had become concerned merely pushing through could exacerbate the issue into something more serious. So the wise move was to rest. It could be nervy, it could be the dreaded shin splints (whatever that is) or it could be the oft feared “stress reaction” AKA the onset of a “stressy” (fracture). The problem with running injuries is you just never know…

I have a physio appointment booked for next Tuesday 19th January. I’m also hoping to get a gait analysis to see if there is anything going on with my trainers etc. I predominantly train in Nike Zoom Fly 3 but I’ve also been using Tempo Next% for the sessions. I had noticed more issues after sessions in the Next% but I don’t know. Maybe I need to downgrade to a less flashy shoe that gives me more support?

The main reason for my concern actually is that the pain this time is on the front of my shin. Usually it is lower down and to the side and manageable. I’ve never experienced shin pain in this front area before.

Looking at the bigger picture, the announcement this week that the Blaydon Race (scheduled June) has been cancelled indicates that there won’t be much in the way of meaningful racing opportunities in the immediate future. So it will be important to get this fixed rather than ploughing on with no real race targets to speak of.

This weekend I will try some easy jogging on grass to see how the shin reacts prior to the physio appointment next week.

I hope all is well in your running world and don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel here.

I may or may not have some new videos uploaded soon although my GoPro is still stuck in the Netherlands such are the massive opportunities that leaving the EU have given us! But the less about politics we mention on this running blog the better!

Adios!

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 🐈 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!

Marathon Project 2:34 – thoughts on “Target Pace” and “Comparable Performance Pace”

When I decided that I wanted to debut over the marathon distance I was keen to set myself a challenging target.

There is no doubt that 2:34 is a very challenging target for me but I do not believe it is necessarily “away with the fairies”.

Once the target is set it would be very easy to get obsessed with target race pace. To achieve a 2:34 marathon (for arguments sake 2hr 34m 29s) I would need to run each kilometre at 3:39 pace. I like to use the online tool “Jack Daniels VDOT Calculator” for these types of calculations.

But just as important as target race pace is “comparable performance pace” in my opinion. Again, the VDOT Calculator tool is very useful for this as it gives “equivalent” race times.

To give some examples, below are some comparable performances to a 2:34 marathon over popular distances –

– 1 mile: 4:41 (2:54/km) {PB: 4:49}

– 5km: 16:05 (3:13/km) {PB: 16:44}

– 10km: 33:24 (3:20/km) {PB: 34:49}

– Half Marathon: 1hr 13m 45s (3:30/km) {PB: 1hr 16m 32s}

First and foremost, it is obviously clear that I haven’t achieved any of these performances yet based on official PBs given above. But it’s worth noting that I have ran faster than my official PBs over 5km and 10km in longer races, albeit on fast openings of courses. For example I ran approx 16:30 to go through 5km at the Blaydon race some years ago and 34 low through 10km at the Brampton to Carlisle 10 miler.

The closest performance according to the calculator I have is that 10 miler covered in 55:37 in November 2019.

I can compare the 10 mile in 55:37 closely to the 2:34 marathon by looking at the calculated VDOT ratings (read VO2 max ratings). The 10 mile is rated at 63.6 and the marathon at 64.1.

Crucially I think I am capable of the mile time (I’ve ran a 2:42 1km in February 2019, rated 66.5) and I don’t think I necessarily need to go out and do it as such. However, some speed work at 1 mile pace would be beneficial in my opinion. The ability to run fast is inherent in all human beings to some extent but it is also a skill that needs to be nourished.

I ran a 4:49 mile (rated 61.9) on the road in late 2018. To take 8s off to achieve 4:41 would increase the VDOT rating to 64 and equivalent to the 2:34 marathon.

That said, the 5km, 10km and Half Marathon performances are extremely important if I am to have real confidence in achieving my marathon goal.

Not only do I feel that I need to get comfortable running these paces, I also feel I need to prove myself in racing as well.

Obviously the longer the race distance the better in proving my chances over the marathon and so the half marathon will be key.

In the meantime I will be looking to practice race pace as follows –

– 5k pace: for example 2km @ 3:13/km

– 10k pace: for example 3km @ 3:20/km

– HM pace: for example 4.5 miles @ 3:30/km

In terms of practicing marathon pace itself, I feel the best way is to build progressively. Yesterday I completed 3x 1k at 3:39/km with walking rest allowing HR to settle to 120bpm. My HR topped out at 176bpm on the 2nd rep and recoveries were taking in excess of 2 minutes. I would like to see improvement in both aspects. Although I am still not 100% sure on exactly what my optimum marathon HR is, I am considering ~165bpm (note: I held approx. avg. 179bpm for 10 miles and 174-5bpm for Half Marathon for my PB performances and my Lactate Threshold was last measured at 175bpm) as an average or a range of say 160-170bpm.

As and when I see things improving (e.g. HR maxing out <170bpm and recoveries coming in <2 mins) I will start adding reps aiming for maybe as many as 10-12 1km reps. In addition I will consider continuous runs at target marathon pace starting at say 5 miles and building to 9 or 10. This could be a faster paced segment within a long run. I expect I need to build a regular long run in the range 15 to 20 miles. As racing resumes I could also consider low key half marathons up to 20 milers to practice target marathon race pace to see how the body copes.

This brings me on to 2 key gaps in my historical training…

Both my average total weekly mileage and longest run are nowhere near where they need to be to achieve a good result in the marathon. I believe I need to safely increase my weekly mileage to 60-70 per week. This would allow a long run of 15-17.5 miles based on a rule of 25% of total weekly mileage (a rule I try to follow and believe in). For context, leading up to the 10 miler in November 2019 I was probably averaging 50 miles per week. One slight anomaly was that I ran my longest and fastest ever long run in late October 2019, averaging around 6:30/mile pace for 18 miles feeling good.

In addition to building a real aerobic base, I am a big believer in the idea that “speed can kill”. As I approach 40 years old I am all too familiar with the risk (and indeed increasing risk) of injury.

I belive that access to speed work must be earned. I will define speed work as race pace and faster. So for me, I will say anything faster than 3:50 per km is speed work. That must be earned and earned through easy aerobic running.

Access to speedwork can be earned on a ratio of 1 in 20. So for every 20km of aerobic running 1km of speedwork can be performed. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out a large base of aerobic running will be needed to access a decent proportion of speedwork. For example, a weekly total of 100km (approx 62 miles) will only “release” 5km of speedwork. That would be enough to practice some race pace reps (say 5x 1k) but it wouldn’t be enough to access the aforementioned 4.5 miles at HM pace or 9 miles continuous at MP.

I acknowledge that this is a conservative approach. I should also add this philosophy comes from Ernst Van Aaken if you wish to learn more. However, I believe in undertraining being better than overtraining especially if the latter means being sidelined with injury and/or illness. It may be possible to increase the ratio to 1 in 10 if things are going well. But this leads me on to the final point I want to make…

The fact of the matter is, a marathon of 2:34 is a big challenge for me. But it is one that excites me. I do not expect to enter a marathon (whenever they become available again) and run 2:34 first time of asking. My aim is to run 3 or 4 marathons in the next few years (as a 40-45 year old). For example, target a sub-3hr marathon in my debut, get a feel for the distance and go from there.

Wish me luck!

I hope this blog has been interesting and would welcome any comments.

If you haven’t had a look yet check out my YouTube Channel (K R Runs) and subscribe here.

Thanks for reading!

Project 2:34

It’s been a while since I posted so I thought I’d give a quick update and introduce a new running VLOG I’m starting on YouTube named “Project 2:34”.

It would be amiss of me not to mention the pandemic that we have all been experiencing – it was certainly a different world when I last posted in early February.

I’ll stay away from general points and stay focused on my running since this is a running blog!

Generally I’ve struggled with my running since late March. Not because of lack of motivation. Without exercise I’m not sure I would have gotten through lockdown in one piece mentally. But I was pretty much forced to rely on cycling to get my aerobic fix.

Basically I couldn’t shake a hip injury which appeared in mid March. This time it was the left hip which was really frustrating as I’d only just gotten back to full flight after a right hip injury stemming from the 10 mile race in November 2019. I probably struggled to process what to do and continued to train hard when really the lockdown meant the wisest choice would have been to back off, especially given all competition would be cancelled (I was training for 3 races – Great North 10k in June, Bridges of the Tyne 5 mile in July and the Great North Run in September).

Despite feeling very frustrated I was able to get some good cross training in. And I was really grateful for the freedom cycling gave me during lockdown. I was able to really appreciate the local countryside and scenery we are blessed with in the North East. It only takes a short while to get out on the country roads and feel away from the city.

But my running has now started to come back and take precedence again as the hip injury subsided with rest and recuperation. Sometimes you need to accept when continuing to push through pain isn’t the answer. And I know I can now come back stronger.

I have now built back up the mileage to around 40-45 per week which is my usual sweet spot. The time off has allowed me to reconsider my goals. Although there is no real signs of races and competition as we know it or knew it, I do want to feel like I have an overall purpose to my training. I have hinted before in this blog to a softening view towards the marathon, having said a few times in the past that I would never do one.

I’ve always believed in “never say never” and I have decided that it is something I simply must do! Not only that, I would like to see what I can do. I don’t just want to complete the distance. I really surprised myself with 55:37 for 10 miles at the Brampton to Carlisle and that performance gave me confidence that I could translate it to a PB over the half marathon distance and also a stab at a full marathon.

I’ve also always wanted to have a go at a running VLOG. So I have decided to start one called Project 2:34.

The VLOG will track my progress towards a debut over the marathon distance and, ultimately, an attempt to complete one in 2hrs and 34 minutes.

I am under no illusions about how tough a challenge this will be. It also doesn’t mean I am abandoning the sub sixteen 5k dream! I will need to have confidence to run 16 minutes low for 5k to have some faith in my ability to run 2:34 for the marathon.

In terms of the VLOG, I would like it to be 1) Serious (2:34 is a serious goal!), 2) Entertaining and 3) Funny. As you will see my first attempt is pretty amateurish but I hope it can maybe provide some motivation to others to set a goal and go for it. Also it may (hopefully) make you laugh!

The link to the first VLOG is here, following my Monday Long Run.

Give it a like (if you like it) and please subscribe for more!

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!