Week 2 training diary

The plan for Week 2 was to pretty much repeat week 1 but with slightly increased running mileage. Having zero bike maintenance skills the cycles out of action this week. Hoping to get it back on the road for some light cross training soon.

Week 2 diary

Plan – 35mins Easy (grass)

Notes – change of plan here what with it being a Bank Holiday. Got out early and hit the pavements. Was feeling the weekend exertions and ended up running over 6 miles in around 50 odd minutes. Took in Cow Hill on the route which got the heart rate up.

Plan – 3 miles threshold

Notes – decided to run 20 minutes threshold on Kenton Dene which is a flat XC type course. I’m looking to see my heart rate controlled at 175-185bpm and for average pace to improve week on week. I was really happy with the session and felt full of running. It turned into an acceleration type session with each mile getting slightly faster from 6.33 in mile 1 to 6.18 mile 3 and although I was working harder towards the end I was at or around lactate threshold throughout.

This will be a key session each week and I’ll be looking to increase time up to around 40mins (average length of XC races). In terms of pace, if I can operate at around 6 – 6.15 minute miles at lactate threshold I’ll feel in shape to really challenge to qualify for the medium pack in the North East Harrier League which is a key objective this season. So I’m really pleased with where I’m at given its only August.

Plan – 35mins Easy (grass)

Notes – felt like a run on the pavements so just had a look round the streets of Kenton. Annoyingly my HRM has been playing up and I don’t feel like I can trust it so just tried to run on feel, monitoring my breathing. Felt great, as if I didn’t need to breath. Ended up with 4.5 miles in the time allotted, so sub 8 min miling.

Plan – 30mins threshold

Notes – got up and pottered around the house. Got a few social things to do so didn’t want to do a full 30min threshold so broke it up into 5min on 5min off, 15mins total at pace. Very windy on Kenton Dene but felt fine, again running on feel and each 5 minute effort got faster from 6.34 average to 6.01 so happy overall with the session.

Weekly totals

Running ~20 miles
Cycling zero

Busy week next week with the Jesmond Joggers club champs on Monday and GN 5k on Saturday. Haven’t quite worked out how I’m going to structure my training between the two but I’ll work it out on feel. I might even restrict my running to the two races and 1 other easy run midweek as I want to feel fresh for the 5k. Looking forward to giving it my all.


Training load, illness and Heart Rate Variabilty – my 2014 experience

Most regular readers of my running blog will know that 2014 hasn’t been a good year for me. I came out of the New Year a little run down (nothing new as I always go to London for NYE and invariably pick something up in the smog) and I have since had two further illnesses – a bug in February from which I probably didn’t fully recover and then a heavy head cold in March. The remnants of the head cold still remain as I have a problem with my right inner ear which I think was picked up on an aeroplane coming into land in Cyprus at the back end of March, probably due to the head cold and cabin pressure. I don’t want to make excuses, just merely understand whether the running could be a contributing factor to my having had more than the average incidents of illness this year. Throughout my life I have rarely been ill more than once per year and to be honest if my new running regime is a factor then it is that which would need to change rather than the various other stressors that can lead to illness such as work, having an actual life outside of training etc. Running will never pay my bills and therefore has “hobby” status. Me being me I may have become a little engrossed in it admittedly. I don’t think this blog will help to rubbish that sentiment. Running is important to me. The fact that I have even contemplated giving up completely on more than one occasion this year upsets me. I do not want to give up. I want to be as good as I possibly can be. But I want to enjoy the process, not fear it. I haven’t enjoyed running in 2014. And I have feared it, especially lining up at XC, just knowing I didn’t feel “there”. I do wonder how much of this is physical and how much is mental… Anyway, I digress.

The reason running could be a factor in my increased illness is I have completed more training mileage (all be it much of it at a slower pace than previously – Long Slow Distance or LSD) January through March 2014 than the same period in 2013. In Jan-Mar ’13 my training diary shows 153 miles logged versus 265 Jan-Mar ’14. That’s a 73% increase. In 2013 I had the same slight cold/sore throat issues coming out of new year following the trip to London but was able to recover by the back end of January and get stuck into some decent training and XC performances and run a 5k pb of 18m 53s by the end of March (bettered in May ’13 with a 18m 23s pb). This year, as I have blogged about before, my XC performances literally went down the toilet and at the end of March I was only able to put a 5k marker down of 19m 33s, 40s slower than a year previous. I don’t deny that I may be to blame this year for not listening to my body and taking rest time to fully recover.


Training volume – red bar = miles, blue line = 3mth average

To try to help with this aspect of training I invested a little bit of money in the ithlete heart rate variability (HRV) monitoring app. Usually this is considered a tool for elites and I’d probably agree as it requires daily monitoring (if only for a minute or two when you awake). However, it tells the story of 2014 quite nicely –


HRV – red line = HRV, blue line = HR, black lines = 7 day avg., green bars = training load (1-5, 5 being hard or race)

I only started monitoring in February so unfortunately I don’t have a good baseline but from what I know now my “normal” morning resting heart rate is around 53-60 and HRV around 90-95 when I am rested, fit and feeling healthy. So you can see the “double dip” where I fell ill ~20-26th February and my HRV was predicting this well in advance of me actually having to go to bed and ring in work sick. My HRV was down to the mid 60s. The black 7 day average line shows that I didn’t really fully recover until early April, the second dip back end of March depicting the head cold. Bearing in mind my Wrekenton XC pull out was 8th February (before I started HRV, in fact the deciding factor that I wanted to start monitoring) and poor Alnwick (1st March) and Wrekenton #2 (22nd March) performances I think it’s clear that I haven’t been in the best shape health wise to perform at the peak of my ability.

Apart from the health issues, I’ve been looking in further detail at my training diary and Garmin records to try to understand more what has changed this year versus last. Here is a list –

  • Training intensity or pace has reduced this year versus last (LSD) to accommodate the increased mileage. For example, last year I would class 7.15-8min miling easy (for right or wrong) and this year I have been running more like 8.30-12min miling. Note all my lower leg issues disappeared this year (which is a positive) but what impact has it had on my health and fitness levels? In other words, spending more hours trudging around slowly in the winter cold rather than just nipping out for a swifter 6k in <30mins etc…
  • This year I have tried to train more closely to heart rate, using the Phil Maffetone formula. Perhaps I have struggled to adopt or understand the approach but I think I have regressed as a result. In fact, you spend more time worrying about trying to train to 148bpm than anything else…
  • I have completed less cross training sessions this year versus last, again to accommodate the increase in running mileage (supposed specificity).
  • I have completed less strength and conditioning sessions this year versus last.

One particular 4 week block of training that has really caught my interest from last year was September 2013. I had returned from my two week summer vacation in Morocco (no training of any description for two weeks) and pretty much set about building back up to ~20 miles per week before starting a 12 week training plan with Luke Adams (which led to some of my best performances in the XC fixtures Oct / Nov / Dec 2013). During that month I trained only 60-65 miles (av. 16 miles / week). Around 70% of that mileage was what I deemed to be easy, say 7.15 – 8min miling (a pace I decided was too fast for easy later in the year). Other than that in Week 1 I did a 10*100m session in 20s each. In week 2 I did a 5*200m session in 40s each. I did one Cow Hill session in Week 4 which was a tough 3k circuit incorporating about 6 hills. Other than that I did 3 runs at more like marathon pace, say 6.40 – 7.20min miling. Week 3 was pretty much all easy as I had a work trip in Greece. Finally, at the end of the month (end of Week 4) I did a Newcastle Parkrun effort to put a marker down for Luke before we started the 12 week plan in October. Result was a fairly carefree 18m 36s time, 5.54min miling…my second fastest 5k ever.

The plan is to get back to this simplicity in my approach…