Race Preview: NEMAA Open Relays 2023

My first race of 2023 is the North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA) Open Relays.

This is a race I’ve done 3 times before in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The race is approx. 2 miles and my best time was in 2019 where I ran 10m 07s.

Last time out at the NEMAA Relays in 2019

My Stryd app is currently predicting a time of 10m 09s based on a power output of 388 watts. I think this is the best I can hope to achieve as the course is quite challenging due to the number of quite hard twists and turns which really ask questions of your ability to firstly get round the corner efficiently but also accelerate hard out of them.

Current race predictions in Stryd

It’s a 2 lap course which means the hard 90 degree corners need to be navigated twice and all in all I’d say it’s not a really fast course.

My running club Tyne Bridge Harriers will have a strong A team who should be in a very good shout for gold. We may also have a pretty decent B team in the 35 to 44 age category and I’d hope to at least sneak into that.

My race strategy will be to start the race “tall and strong” and probably check my overall average power heading towards the first left hand turn which may be approx. 300 to 400m into the first lap. I don’t want to over cook the first lap and hang on.

So if I can enter the second lap around 375-380 watts I’d be looking to click the lap on my watch heading past the time keepers and then aim to nail a very hard second lap of at least avg. 388 watts. Looking at my run data from the Quayside 5km in August 2021 I was able to hold 393 watts for that race, so I’d like to think I can have 388-390 watts as a target for a hard effort in lap two of this relay race.

Something I will be analysing post race will be my 10 minute average power as I can use that to calculate my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) which is basically the power I could hold for 1 hour. I can then use that information to dial in my training zones and also get a clear indication of what I can hope to run at next week’s Les Allcorn 10km. But more on that later.

I’ll hope to come out of this race well and target another decent long run at the weekend before easing off for the Les Allcorn 10km on Tuesday 9th May.

Thanks for reading.


2023/24 plans

2023/24 plans

So far I’ve just been chipping away in 2023.

Nothing major. I’ve managed to just “stay in the game” and, although mileage is still relatively low, I feel ready to try a few races.

Behind modest mileage target so far this year…

My main immediate aims with racing are to basically see where I’m at and push my fitness on towards a good go at bettering my 10km PB in July as I’ve entered the Great North 10km.

Before that I’ll be lining up at the NEMAA Relays (approx. 2 miles) this week, the Les Allcorn 10km and (if everything is Ok) the Gordon Smith Relays (approx. 2 miles).

That’s quite a lot of racing in a short space of time for me but it’s deliberate. The short relays should give VO2 max a little boost while the Les Allcorn is more of a hard training run as it’s a mixed terrain course with some hills.

To give some perspective on my current fitness level, when I ran 16:01 for 5km and 73:34 for the half marathon in 2021 my Stryd Critical Power (the power I can hold for 30-40mins) was 383 watts. As it stands today it is currently 360 watts. I’m hoping following this bout of races that my CP will edge closer to where I was in 2021 which would give me some confidence that I could certainly run something sub 34 minutes at the Great North 10km.

But we will have to see. My CP of 360w is predicting approx. 17 minutes for 5km which feels about right.

Current Stryd race predictions based on CP @ 360w

Some recent positive training runs have given me cause for optimism but also lead me to believe that my current CP of 360w is still quite challenging, and I’ll need these little race tests to confirm or deny where I’m at.

I completed a 30 minute threshold run at right around my predicted half marathon target power of 345w (1:19 predicted time). Note: I managed to hold 369w at the Manchester Half where I finished in 73:34.

I ran it as a 15 minute out and back with the first half feeling great. The second half was much more challenging as I ran it solo back into a headwind. But overall a good workout although I was left wondering how I could hold it for another 50mins.

And then on Saturday just gone I ran a full half marathon at around 3hr marathon pace. Again I ran to power (avg. approx. 306w) on an undulating course with the first half net downhill and the second net uphill (point to point course). Aerobically I felt very good although at an average heart rate of 157bpm I feel I have scope to improve around 10-12bpm. In addition my legs went quite badly at around 18-19km, mainly around the hips. I put both the heart rate and leg issues down to a lack of long runs generally.

Overall this week’s training was quite risky as I vastly increased both volume and intensity which isn’t recommended but I feel it was a calculated risk which gets me ready to race hard and see how things come out the other side.

I haven’t yet thought too far beyond the Great North 10km in July but I was inspired by the London Marathon and I can’t help but feel the full marathon is something I need to try. I’m also keen to have another go at earning a Masters England vest. One option may be to see how things stand after the Great North 10km and potentially aim to have a go qualifying at that distance before deciding on any approach to the full marathon in 2024.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming races.