Sub 17 5k – Week 18 training diary

Starting to build back up after the last few lower weeks and was glad to have a week in the office at work so I could get back to a normal routine in training.

On reflection the run at Alnwick in the XC was ok but definitely not quite as strong as Bedewell Park so I was keen to get back to it.

Training Diary

Plan – 45min recovery

6.4 miles in 45mins with an average HR of 157bpm. Not much to report.

Plan – 45min Threshold

Decided to get back in the gym to see where I was at. These are always tough runs but definitely character building.

Ended up knocking out 7.45miles in 45mins with an average HR of 173bpm. I was happy to be able to crank up the pace and HR over the first 6 miles, eased off a little the 7th mile and then really went for it last half mile at 5.17/mile. HR crept a little into Tempo (>183bpm) but overall felt strong in the quicker zone. Feel in good shape.

Plan – 50min recovery

This is always a tough run but didn’t feel as tired as I have done in the past.

Ended up completing 6.9 miles in 50mins in a nice low end recovery HR of 153bpm.

Plan – 40min threshold

Was considering going back to the gym but then had the idea of parking next to the Town Moor and doing a session on the gravel track part of the parkrun course.

Got changed into my gear in the car and after a 5 minute warm up got into it. Almost immediately it was feeling testing, just a result of the loose gravel footing and the headwind – both of which you don’t experience in the gym! But mixing it up is good. That said I was quickly pleased it was only 40mins rather than 45!

Often just getting these runs done is enough for mental strength more than anything else. If you can tough out hard runs in training it translates into racing where you are trying for best ever performances. You don’t need best ever performances in training but you do need to complete them.

That I did and in the end completed 6.5 miles in 40mins at an average HR of 173bpm. Was really pleased to get that done.

Plan – rest

Plan – 45min Threshold

Decided on a trip to Riverside parkrun with Michael Hedley. I was a little concerned about the wind but knew it would be better at the Riverside than on the Town Moor at Newcastle parkrun.

What I wanted was a good hard run, at least trying to get to the top end of my threshold zone. I wasn’t really sure what time I had in me but I was hoping to put the first mile in at around 5.30 and see how I felt / where my heart rate was.

There seemed to be a bit of a buzz at the parkrun and there looked to be a few runners out for a hard run.

Got started and 2 lads flew off and I settled in around 4th. About quarter of a mile in I looked at the watch, I was averaging 5.20/mile and feeling good. Settled in and got the first mile under my belt in around 5.30.

Had a couple of runners on my shoulder so put in a decent effort for 1 to 2 minutes and dropped them. Felt great and moved into 3rd with the first two in sight, one of which was a strong looking Hedley. I didn’t really have much in mind, wasn’t thinking pbs or anything. I knew I was just operating at the top end of my threshold, nothing over the top.

Ticked off the 2nd mile pretty much identical to the first. This is where I typically fade but I noticed a quarter into the 3rd mile that I was maintaining pace. Around the same time I noticed the 2nd placed lad coming back to me so I had it in mind to aim for second.


A great workout at Riverside parkrun, 17.18 PB

Coming up to the last 400m I got on his shoulder and put in an effort past him. I heard him respond and he was blowing hard so I tried to kick on again whilst navigating around lapped runners. He was trying hard but staying on me. Unfortunately I didn’t have the fight and I eased off.

Coming into the finishing straight I’d lost concentration and that was disappointing. Anyway I picked up a little and finished in 17.18. That’s a huge parkrun pb, knocking 26s from my Newcastle parkrun pb.

Really chuffed and know I have a lot more to give.

Plan – 80min recovery

Didn’t sleep great but met Mr Hedley at 8.50am and planned on a 70 min run, maybe around 10 miles.

It ended up eventful. I struggled a little up some inclines and as the legs got heavier I managed to take would could have been a nasty trip and fall. As it happened I employed the action man roll and ended up with only cuts on my right arm and hand. I was straight back up and off again.

Got back round and up to home and completed 10.5 miles in 75 mins at an average HR of 155bpm.

Job done.

Weekly Totals

Running – 44.5 miles

Really pleased with how this week has gone and looking forward to taking it all into a big performance at the last XC fixture at Wrekenton. Beyond that I feel like I have the sub 17 5k in me with a proper race effort and it’ll be a case of dialling into that in April.


Sub 17 5k – Week 5 training diary

Check out for more of my thoughts on running

Overall last week was a bit off target training wise. The motivation wasn’t quite there and the focus was elsewhere in my private life but I ended well at Wallington Hall with a good performance, in the top 70 of >500 so that has galvanised some confidence and put a spring back in my step.

Going into week 5 I’m looking to re focus and I have one eye on a little time trial at the weekend if conditions suit.

Training Diary

Plan – 45mins recovery

As always seems to be the case on a Monday I went out full of running and bagged 6.4 miles in 45mins averaging 157bpm.

These runs are still hovering around the 7min mile mark and feel like they are energizing rather than tiring which is the purpose here. Pace isn’t really important, sticking to my recovery zone is.

Plan – 45mins threshold

Got out late for this run but felt absolutely full of running. I had one eye on the Norman Woodcock 5 miler at the weekend but as I started ticking off the miles on this run I started to become aware that I might be on for a PB on this training threshold!

Kept on strong and went through 5 miles in 30.45ish which is a pb versus the 31.16 I did in 2012. All in all very happy and only averaging 168-9 bpm.

Plan – 45mins threshold

The weather was very cold so decided to move this indoors to the gym treadmill. I’ve always liked the idea of treadmill running and if it’s good enough for Jack Daniels its good enough for me. The reality in the past though has been that I’ve never really enjoyed it.

It’s been a while and actually I did enjoy this session. I started steady and then put the machine to 15kph and kept banging out the miles. I was tracking pace on my Garmin foot pod which was recording average 6.08 miles and therefore faster than the treadmill speed. Heart Rate got up to a max of 178 although averaged 171. Ran slightly further than yesterday’s 45min threshold, was soaked in sweat and generally felt ace. Things definitely coming together strength wise.

Plan – rest

Plan – 30mins recovery

Just nice and steady and nothing to report really.

Plan – 30mins tempo

Having effectively PB’d over 5 miles in training on Tuesday I lost interest in the Norman Woodcock and my mind was made up that I wanted to try a 5k. My coach agreed so got down to Newcastle Parkrun. The only concern was the frost on the ground. Indeed it was hard to get full purchase with the footing but I set off strongly in a group of maybe 4 behind a runaway leader.

Went through the first mile in 5.44ish. Wasn’t aware of the split but felt we weren’t running hard enough so I pushed on into clear second. First place was away so felt I could give a good go for second.

Second mile was done in 5.35. I was aware of one runner right on my heels but still felt like I was pushing on strong. Pace dropped off beginning of third mile which is normal but picked up again before being taken into 3rd a little way past 4km. I was also aware another runner was sniffing around as well. This was all good as I needed the incentive to keep pushing. I settled into 3rd and waited for a chance to go again. About 600m from home I pushed back into second before fading slightly back into third. Again about 250m from home I put it on the line, got a nose in front but didn’t fully commit. The other guy seemed to picked it up without full effort and I didn’t try again for an all out sprint. Still from 3 miles to home I averaged 4.50/mile so a strong finish.


Finishing off at Newcastle Parkrun

With that I was able to hold onto 3rd and crossed the line in 17.44. Strava is reporting 17.27 for 5k and 5.37/mile average pace overall.

I had planned to average 5.38/mile based on my recent threshold pace of 6.08/mile on the treadmill and it’s incredible how accurate the Jack Daniels VDOT training tables are.

A great result and line in the sand and it’s still early days in my continued progressive training with Dave as coach. Really happy.

Plan – 60mins recovery

Was feeling a bit tired and not too keen in the morning so left it til later in the day. Was quite chilly and windy.

Deliberately kept it sensible although turned into a bit of a battle against the elements in the second half up hill into the wind. Just over 8.4 miles in the hour.

Weekly Totals

Running – 36.6 miles
Cycling – zero

Very happy with how this week has gone and moving strongly in the right direction towards my big goal of sub 17 for 5k.

I think this is my highest mileage week and also the quickest in terms of average training pace as well.

All eyes now on the North Eastern counties cross country championships next week. I’m not going to lie, this is going to be a really tough one and more than anything I just want to give it my best shot.

Week 7 training diary

I feel like I’ve come through a little illness period unscathed. I wasn’t worried about it as I was aware a lot of people have had the same so it was just a case of patience and doing nothing silly. I’ve definitely learned my lesson about the importance of listening to what your body is telling you.

That said it’s only two weeks until the opening cross country fixture so I want to get a great weeks training in this week before final preparations for Cramlington.

The plan is to get two good threshold runs in on grass. One hard around 20-25 minutes on the limit and another slightly easier approx 30mins.

Other than that a few easy runs and hopefully get the bike out for a few work commutes for active rest.

Hopeful of a productive and confidence building week…

Week 7 diary

Plan – 40mins easy

Decided on a change of plan and went to Jesmond Joggers for a club session. Turned out we were doing a 5-6 mile steady run with a few efforts which suited me. Was a good group with a fair few new members which was good to see. I don’t know why but I enjoy the darker nights and I find myself more keen to go to the club in the winter versus the summer. Ended up with 5.7 miles and av. HR at the top end of easy so good session and enjoyed it.

I cycled to the session and back so that was another 6 miles cycling as well. Good start to the week.

Plan – active rest

Plan – 22mins hard threshold

Felt knackered as really busy of late and so it turned out. I always know things aren’t quite right when I struggle to get the heart rate up. I feel like I’m going full pelt but yet the heart rate won’t get to the top of threshold and I’m only running 6 min miles. In the end I battled through and did the 22mins averaging about 6.05s and av. HR 179.

If it had felt like a normal threshold I would have been happy with the session but didn’t feel good, felt forced so I’ll monitor how I feel next few days.

Plan – rest

Out with work, beers and curry.

Plan – 35min easy

Felt very tired and not great but glad I got out and ran for 30mins averaging around 8mins per mile. Need to make a decision on session tomorrow as not sure it’s worth pushing a hard one. See how I feel when I wake.

Plan – 30min easier threshold

Woke up to not feeling great and the weather was poor. I didn’t fancy running round in circles on a muddy field (won’t have a choice next week, ha) so I had the idea to go for a 10k training pb which I think is currently 42.11.

So got the running tights on for the first time since last winter and set off.

Actually felt much better than I expected and I was ticking off miles between 6.30-6.40/mile and well below top end threshold.

That was until I came to turn onto a bridge and slipped badly, losing my feet and landing hard onto my left knee and hip. The side of my head and lip kissed the pavement. It was a very light blow and I was extremely lucky.

I instinctively jumped straight back up and hammered it over the bridge. I could feel a bit of pain in the left knee but I was in no mood to stop.

After about 10 minutes I’d forgotten about the fall and I was averaging around 6.36s/mile for 5 miles with the remainder of the 10k into the wind and rain up hill to Kenton.

I was starting to work a little bit harder but was enjoying the run!

I finished off maintaining the 6.36s/mile average for the 10k and only 170bpm which is 15bpm below my Threshold top end. So a new training 10k pb of ~41 mins.

Really happy and feel ready to give my all at Cramlington. Great to get a practice fall in as well (bad joke)!


Battle scars! Lucky to escape with just a few cuts!

Plan – rest

Weekly totals

Running ~21 miles
Cycling ~6 miles

I can’t believe the new cross country season is upon us. I have not felt so determined to prove to myself my ability than I do now for this season.

BUPA Great North 5k – race report

I’d put myself under quite a lot of pressure for this one. I’d ran an 18.05 in July and I was happy but a little disappointed I’d missed the opportunity to post the sub 18 5k which was planned for May. I’ll not dwell again on the reasons for missing that target, suffice it to say the BUPA Great North 5k was selected to get it done. The only problem was I had a fortnight away on holiday leaving only 2-3 weeks to get tuned back up.

In terms of this week I had a great run out at the Jesmond Joggers Anniversary Champs (see Week 3 training diary) and it was a great over distance effort for a timely confidence boost. I felt in shape. Problem was I had a nasty reaction in my shins and had to have Tuesday and Wednesday off. On Thursday, still feeling a little discomfort, I put in an easy 35mins. The legs felt better as the run went on but on Friday were really sore again! Not to worry, a bit of foam rollering would loosen off the calves and relieve some of the tension.

Even so it was fueling some doubts. Have I done enough training? Do I feel fit enough? How should I pace it? Should I go off hard? What if I blow up etc? What can I say, I’m an over thinker. I made the decision to leave the Garmin at home and promised myself to just run with the mantra “keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing”.

Alarm was set for 7.30. I was lying awake at 6.30 which is when I get up for work. Felt ok, very nervous. Nerves make you feel bad but you have to tell yourself it’s good. Your ready to try, to really make an effort.

As is my new preferred routine I had a small glass of water, a few sips of beetroot juice and a few bites of a nectarine. This is key! You do not need a proper breakfast for an early 5k. You want to feel pretty empty on the stomach. You will burn yesterdays energy. I made sure to eat very well in the week leading up to the race. That said I still felt a bit sick on the way down. I cycled the 4 miles from home. Again, this is a new routine. It is my preference to the other options which would be jog down (waste of energy in my opinion) or bus (would only fuel the nerves).

As I cycled down I thought to myself what would I do when it gets tough (all 5ks will get tough, to try to not accept or ignore that is to not face up to the challenge of giving your all). Tell yourself “keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing” I thought.

It was quite busy, more busy than I imagined. I deliberately avoided the mass warm up. Its just not my thing. It is the opposite of what I need to get in the mood. I found a quiet side street and jogged backwards and forwards. The sickly feeling subsided which I was somewhat relieved about.

I got on the start line about 3 or 4 rows from the front. I noticed a few people ahead who looked a bit far forward. Politely asked a lady what sort of time she expected. Getting a quizzical look in return I decided a polite excuse me was better and I squeezed past.

The gun went off and I quickly decided on a 100m spurt to get in good position. I quickly found myself next to Danielle Hodgkinson who I knew was capable of sub 17. I had no intention of trying to get anywhere near that sort of time but I decided to go with it, no need to deliberately slow down, just relax. Actually I was running ahead of her at least until 2k, at which point she showed me what strong, controlled running is all about and showed me a clean pair of heels. She went on to win the ladies race.

The great thing about not wearing the Garmin was no distractions. No “oh no, I’m going to fast” or “oh no I’m going to slow”. I was fairly settled. There wasn’t streams of people passing, I was holding my own. The course was a little undulating with a few full turn arounds which disrupt your rhythm.

As always I started feeling it around 3k. I could hear maybe 3 runners on my heels. A Gateshead Harrier past on my right just before a small incline. I took the decision to put in an effort right to the top of that incline. I probably stole 5 metres or so but couldn’t maintain the effort at the top. I was running on grit now and was aware my foot falls were getting heavy, slower and inefficient. The 4k sign was a welcome sight. I got over the section of running track and turned onto the millennium bridge for one last push. At this point the Gateshead Harrier went past me. Coming onto the Newcastle side I gritted my teeth for one last flourish. It wasn’t enough to reel the Harrier in and my focus turned to the ticking clock. I could see 17.32 in the distance. I kept closing my eyes then opening them again. I knew the sub 18 was on, just needed to finish the job.

I had it in my mind throughout this week that I was in shape for a 17.52 or 17.53. Sure enough 17.53 was my time. Who needs a Garmin!

I was pretty spent and not really aware of my position. It wasn’t about that for me. I’d researched the race and knew it wouldn’t be highly competitive as the region’s best runners will be in the HM. But still I’m very happy with 13th place and I can now focus on the cross country.

Thanks for reading! Good luck to those running the “proper race” tomorrow!


Milestone achieved! Onto the next!

BUPA Great North 5k – Race Preview

This Saturday I’m racing the BUPA Great North 5k which I’m really excited about. It’s the first time I’ll have gotten involved in what is undoubtedly the busiest running weekend in the North East. It’ll make a change to the usual runners envy experienced on the Sunday whilst watching the Half Marathon!

For me this race is an out and out time trial. I want to register a 5k pb before getting stuck properly into cross country training. More specifically I want to get a sub 18 minute clocking which gets me back on schedule for my longer term aim of sub 17.

I feel in shape for it. On Monday I ran the Jesmond Joggers Anniversary Championships (I’ll write more in my week 3 training diary), covering over 3.8 miles in just under 22mins 30s. That gives me confidence that I can run the pace required and this week is all about ticking over and keeping loose for Saturday.

In terms of thought process for the race, this will be an all out effort but I’ll be looking to clock around 5.35 for the first mile. This is a deliberate plan to get ahead of schedule. I know miles 2 and 3 will hurt from there but the over distance run on Monday was a reminder that I can dig in. So I’ll pace myself through the first mile and then just get stuck into running as hard and as controlled as possible and get my breathing in a sustainable rhythm.

So all going to plan I’ll have a new pb to share at the weekend. After this race I’ll put the 5k on the back burner and focus on Farringdon XC relays the week after. I’m really excited about this one having last run the race in 2012 and I love the course. The distance gives a really good opportunity to just let yourself go, but then the sting in the tail with the hill towards the end – a proper XC course. We have high hopes of a strong team this year and hopefully we can show that at Farringdon.

A key focus for me over the coming weeks will be technique as I’m still not getting my stride rate anywhere near high enough leading to overstriding and I’m convinced I need to improve here to advance beyond my current level. Anyway, that’s the subject of another blog.

If you are running the Great North Run – good luck! I’ll be posting my 5k race report and week 3 training diary at some point over the weekend.