Sub 17 5k – Week 12 training diary

Two weeks until the next cross country fixture and I’m hopeful of putting the finishing touches together to run a big race.

The next fixture is at Jarrow, it’s a course that suits me as its a little shorter (just under 6 miles) and fairly benign with no real hills. The only thing that defends it is the mud.

So I’m hoping to get sharp.

Training diary

Plan – 45min recovery

The only thing I don’t like about heart rate training is how temperamental the damn things are! I’ve been having a lot of issues with mine of late and its just a bit annoying. I suppose I am a bit addicted. I like stats and I like them to be right.

Anyway, felt strong tonight despite the HRM issues. I ran 6.50 miling for 48 mins averaging about 156bpm (when it finally kicked in). Felt like I was flying with little effort.

Plan – 45min threshold

Decided to go to the gym. Time was tight so I decided to cut this down to a 20minute harder threshold. I ran 20mins at 5.45/mile. It felt tough but more due to the heat in the gym. Did a 10 minute warm up and warm down making it 40mins total running.

Plan – 50 min recovery

Felt tired tonight and had one eye on the threshold tomorrow. At about 30mins felt drained but got it done.

Plan – 45 min threshold

Bit of a strange one tonight. Struggled to keep the heart rate above 165bpm but still managed 7.4 miles @ 6.16/mile which I think is the strongest 45min threshold I’ve done. Still felt a bit disappointed but I think I’ve just lost a bit of perspective. When you start increasing the amount of running you do it’s quite easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s where having a coach helps a lot.

Plan – rest

Was glad of the rest. I was worried about the tempo run tomorrow. Tempo running for me means getting my HR >183bpm and I haven’t run that hard in a long time. I looked for a 10k race to help me but there was nothing. So I planned a parkrun and decided I’d run that hard in tempo and add an extra 20mins after. An early night for an earlyish drive to the Riverside.

Plan – 45min tempo

Got up at 7.30am and had my usual glass of water and a few dates. I had some beetroot juice in the fridge so had a bit of that as well. Enjoyed the drive over as the roads were quiet.

Although this was just a training run I did wonder whether I might have a chance to finish first, what with the Northerns being on in Pontefract.

Those hopes were slightly knocked when I pulled up and saw Terry Scott and Marc Fenwick. I had a quick warm up (it was very cold) and noticed that the pavements were fairly icy. Not to worry. Luckily the HRM seemed in good working order during the warm up. Important because I needed that to get the HR up over 183 and to help keep it there – if I got lazy I would push on.

3,2,1 and off. I started strongly and ran straight into first. This was the first time this has ever happened. About a quarter way into the first lap I glanced at the watch – heart rate 120bpm! Fuck! The HRM isn’t working!

It felt weird. Here I was running hard in first. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me. I didn’t look round. But what to do?

I pushed on, prodded the hrm but it wasn’t working. I forgot about it and focussed on running. But mentally I wasn’t there. I hadn’t really prepared. I’d prepared to run >183bpm and because I didn’t have the data (and because it’d been December since my last hard 5k) I was not in tune with how hard I was working.

I went through the first mile in 5.36. That was about what I wanted. But I didn’t feel great about it. And the icy pavements were starting to take their toll. Coming into the second lap I was aware of a long shadow of the second placed runner. I knew it would be Terry, I know him from Newcastle parkrun. I knew he is capable of 16.– 5ks. I wasn’t intimidated but I knew I’d struggle to stay in front, and I wasn’t up for trying. That said I pushed on and kept in front until about 3/4 round the second lap.

We came to lap some runners and Terry showed me a clean pair of heels. I was alone in second. A chance to glance at the watch. The HRM had come to life – 178bpm! I was still in threshold but felt like I had not much left to give…

I kind of kept on one paced for the last lap. Terry was away and I was spending my time slipping around and struggling at every corner, almost stopping to avoid falling over.

Only other thing to report was Terry taking a wrong turn at the end and having to run back down the finish straight and back again. He was so far in front it didn’t matter. I’d like to think I would have done the gentlemanly thing had it meant I’d caught up.

Coming over the finish line I’d finished in 17.57. I wasn’t that tired and I was confused as to why I couldn’t give more out on the course. Why can’t I get my heart rate above 180? My max HR is estimated at 204. I feel like I’ve got at least 10bpm I’m not utilising in a 5k. Maybe it’s tiredness, or maybe a little bit over training. Maybe running my easy runs too hard and threshold runs too easy.

Whatever the reason, again, I was a little bit disappointed despite knocking 52 seconds off my Riverside Parkrun pb. Again I think I’m losing perspective. Conditions were poor and I’m running well. Need to take the positives.

I was coughing like a dog after a 2 mile warm down. I’d decided against more hard running.

Plan – 80min recovery

Had at least 9.5hrs sleep and woke about 9.30. Wasn’t in the mood for a run but was really lucky to have a supportive girlfriend telling me “go and do it”.

Enjoyed the run and the conditions were much better underfoot, the sun was shining brightly.

Ran 10.5 miles in 75mins. The quads were burning towards the end but a strong longer run.

Weekly Totals

Running ~42 miles

Without realising my highest ever mileage week. Mentally not appreciating what I’m doing. My training paces are improving all of the time and just need to keep perspective. Just need to be positive.

Mentally I need to get stronger and learn how to channel my fitness into a performance in a race. I don’t want to leave it all I training.


Austrian break and update on running targets/plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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