Sunday, 20 May 2012

Race report: Christleton 5k 2012

The Christleton 5k is a fast course and on Friday I ran it for the first time. Here's how it unfolded.

The gun (read: horn) went off and I was stuck behind a couple of runners who were too slow. Immediately I lost some time and then ran diagonally to get to the right side of the road. Being in clear air was more important than being on the shortest line.

I settled in and found a group, feeling comfortable. First split was 3:15, about right considering the fast start. The 2k split was near to the school where there was plenty of support. It was 3:20, right on. The third split was slower due to the people in front slowing. I had to make a conscious effort to up it, to go through in 3:26, but I knew I had time in the bank.

The field was thinning out as we crossed the start line just after 3k. I went through in 10:01, and still felt okay. I had to hold back for as long as possible to ensure I didn't overdo it, and ran a 3:24; again too slow. Thinking of Capenhurst where I ran a 3:13 last split, I started to push on towards a Wilmslow and Bolton pair ahead. They had about 3-4 seconds on me.

As we turned the corner which led us back onto the final stretch, I knew there was nobody right behind me, and glanced at my watched. 600 m to go, but possibly too early. I focused on closing the gap, but had to dive onto the pavement as a car pulled out next to the two runners ahead.

I could see them both racing now, with the Bolton runner pushing a few seconds ahead. About a second separated myself and the Wilmslow guy with 400 m to go, so I stepped it up and comfortably overtook him. My legs felt good considering the faster pace over the last 400 m and I accelerated more, closing the gap to the Bolton runner somewhat and coming in just behind.

The final time was 16:43, 19 seconds off my PB, and my second 5k race. I hope that by sorting out my 3k and 4k splits, I can knock 10 secs off and go close to if not under 16:30 next time.

As I write this two days later, I've run 8 miles at 6:58 pace (Sat) and 10.18 miles at 6:46 pace (Sun). My legs feel as though I haven't raced! Looking forward to a chance to run a 10k and a 5 mile, as well as 1500/3000 m track races at some point.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Chester Spring 5 Mile

mile.

I was starting to reel people in, and after chasing a Chester Tri guy down, I went after the South Cheshire ones as we entered the County Officers club for the finish. Turning left to the finish, I took one with about 15 metres to go, and would have had the other one, but for somebody shouting his name as I approached.

I finished in 28:25, 41 seconds off my unofficial PB, and it was nice to finish strong only a few days after my efforts at Christleton.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A major step forward


The morning of the race was a bit of a chilly one, but soon warmed up from about 8 degrees C to nearer 14 thanks to the emergence of the sun. James and I went for a jog around the last mile and a bit of the course, as I had done almost a year ago in cold conditions. The course was exactly the same; 5.7 miles (just over 9 km) and fairly flat with some obvious inclines and Roman cobblestone bridges - three in fact - which were placed in the middle of an off-road section which was about a kilometre in length.

As the temperature started to rise and the race approached, it was time to get ready. With my green Adizero Adios I waited to start, unsure what to expect with my last race being the Helsby half. There was no gun as such, so we had to make do with a guy shouting 'go!'. Times are obviously hard.

Within about a mile I heard shout of encouragement to my rival junior male. Knowing he was just on my shoulder would make it an interesting race. He slowly opened up a gap ahead of me, as we went through the first mile in about 5:30. Still feeling comfortable, I decided to go with the leading 30 or so runners as we broke into two packs.

At about 2.5 miles I was closing the gap. Catching up with them just before 3 I saw him and another runner fighting over position. I let them race for a bit, and then overtook, facing some resistance from the other guy. Pushing on again I waited for him to respond again before putting in a quick 100 m to jump in front and get some clear air. Just before the off-road section I took the chance to get ahead of another runner to allow me a clean run on the narrow paths and bridges.

I maintained the same level of effort and made another push between bridges, to get a buffer coming onto the road again. Using the applause from a marshal as guidance, I seemed to have 4-5 seconds on the next runner. I tried to get my average pace down for the last part as people were slowing, which allowed me to catch a few guys in front. One of them had narrowly beaten me a few races ago at Tattenhall, but didn't put up a fight. I then closed in on another, and then reached one of Tattenhall's runners, who was maintaining a decent pace.

With about 300 m to go I got in front to ensure a clear run, as the right turn into the club is sharp and gravelly. About 100 m separated me from the finish and I pushed without losing my form to manage 22nd place, my highest Borders League finish yet, in 32:49. I knocked 2:36 off last year's performance, which was 35:25.

All in all a pleasing race, showing that my training has paid off. I went through 5 miles in 29:03, with 29:06 my current unofficial best. Now I have to rest and look ahead to the Chester Spring 5 Mile on Wednesday, which will hopefully be a big PB. My average pace was 5:48, so running 5:41 would give me a sub-28:30 finish. It would be a big PB and a major step forward too. Luckily, I now have the confidence to go for it, with a guaranteed official PB (my current one is 30:52, from a 200 m long Spring 5 course last year).

Onwards and upwards, I say.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Get some motivation

After a long day at work, how do you find the motivation to run?

  • Think about the times you couldn't run.  There is nothing worse than being injured, or having other commitments.  Use these to spur you on to train hard when you are fully fit
  • Switch your sessions round.  Sometimes you just can't mentally or physically do a good speed session.  Instead, do a light session and continue as normal the following day.  You can also take a few days off if you're feeling it.  You'll notice virtually no change in fitness, but you'll feel fitter and fresher within a few days
  • Get out with a mate.  Regardless of pace, running with somebody else, especially someone slower, can be more enjoyable.  Forget about pace every once in a while, and just enjoy running, and not having to compete
  • Talk about your training to others.  Taking out your frustrations before your run will make you feel better when you do run, and you might perform better.  Plus, they will ask you about your training, so you'll want to get your sessions done
  • Run home.  It's a lot easier to run home as your mode of transport than to fit in a separate run, and it's when you'll be alert.  Running later on might be lethargic.  Get your run in before you start to feel tired
  • Substitute.  Bike and then run.  Run and then swim.  Brick sessions are used by triathletes but will take some of the strain off your body.  You can still run, which will maintain your leg strength, but also get plenty of aerobic conditioning in.  Perfect for rehab, easy weeks, and days when you don't feel up to the usual run.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

My lack of posts lately...

My running has been on-and-off recently, but I'm hitting decent mileage again and things are looking good. Felt awful today and dug out 15 x 400 m, 60 s rest, faster than 5k pace. Hopefully, I'll have a little more to talk about in the coming weeks.

We're getting close to the mileage drop, and the transition into faster track work, with longer recoveries. It's important not to lose sight of the final goal; a bit more work, and the track and road competitions will be coming thick and fast.

Remember that this time will be a worrying time injury-wise, so it might be best to introduce gentle strides, or do a few reps less and get some quality in towards the end of a session, rather than going head-first into this stuff.

Happy training!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The curious case of the iPod runner

It seems the same characters turn up to every race. When I see these people, I get lost in thinking about the demographics of those who run. Whilst we are often unsurprised by those who are Lycra-clad and blatant non-runners, there appear to be a collective of people pushing the boundaries of what is decent to wear and do during their race outings. Helpfully, I'm going to give you what will hopefully be an insightful and thoughtful guide into these 'characters' so you are best-prepared for their presence in future events.

Where to start but with the inexperienced newbie who has seen Chariots of Fire the night before race-day, and happens to be so pent-up with pre-race testosterone that even his anti-running engineered Nike Airs are no barrier to first-time success at a road race. After all, the difference between first and last in a 5k is about 15-20 minutes, and what can you do in that interval? Not a lot. By that logic this hero shoots to the front, expecting his forty-odd year taper to pay off. By now the glass is half-empty and filled with lactic acid. But not to worry; stopping at walking is no issue in a 300-strong race. And no sir, there are no drinks stations at 150 metres. And even if there were, you'd still have 100 metres to go.

Another incumbent of the 2011-12 Office of Poor Training is the affectionately-known headphone-wearer. I'm not sure, but from my limited sample size of about four-thousand, it seems that anyone who races with iPods in particular has an intertwined sense of what I like to call maldirection. It's on par with a sat-nav telling you to drive across a canal to reach your destination, and some people do it without even thinking. What I am getting at is the sheer effort by some to zig-zag, corner-cut, and barge through because music makes them some sort of pseudo-god. It seems that getting to the finish line as soon as possible is more important than not being disqualified. The case of other runners being present is merely a curve-ball. Like a scene from Armageddon, if you're in this guy's path, then God help you.

If you've got to here, then you probably agree with what I have said thus far. Now is a good time for a break; it's been a pretty intense couple of paragraphs, and you've done well. If you're here for any other reason, you're probably one of the aforementioned runners. In which case: no, the rest of this post will not make you feel any better about yourself.

It's quite easy to search for flaws in things that seem relatively innocuous; a few times I've used what I refer to as my 'exponential moaning theory'. Simply put, the less there is to moan about, the more things we find that annoy us, and the worse they become. People who run alongside one another are fine examples of this. They can only be described as akin to wormholes in space; determined to throw you off-track, for no apparent reason. But this strain of antisocial runners has plumbed new depths - pace teams.

Now, pace teams are in theory a good idea, but they are sort of made redundant thanks to the people that use them. Generally, the group of people following the pacer are ridiculously optimistic, and flounder in the latter stages. We might have a need for fast lanes in races before long, just like the lorry overtakes lorry issue on motorways (Americans, read: highways, Germans: Autobahns). And don't even get me started on the pacers! How often do you see the faster pacer blow up and be overtaken by the others?

I must finish here I'm afraid, but should you want to suggest more or just complain, feel free to comment, e-mail, or tweet me. Happy running!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Savour your running

Not running is no fun. Last week I took Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off. I returned on Tuesday with a 10k tempo run (which was about 10k pace, and felt easy). This was followed by a 9 mile run on Wednesday. The following day, a 4 mile warm-up gave me some discomfort, so I decided to call it a day and not do the track session. A bit of a shame, but I probably wasn't completely over Helsby HM two weeks ago tomorrow. Looking to test the waters with 16 miles easy and see how it goes.

Feel free to tweet me with what you do when injured. Do you stress, or relax and get away from the routine? Or do you risk it?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Targets for 2012

I thought it best that I post some medium-term targets on here in preparation for an exciting year of racing ahead. Last year my best event was easily my single 5k at Capenhurst, so it makes sense to start with that event and work up the distances.

5k
Current - 17:02
Also ran 17:02 in training during a high-mileage week in December.
Target - 16:40

5 mile
Current - 29:06 (not UKA certified)
Target - 28:00

10k
Current - 36:43
Previous bests - 36:50, 37:50
Target - 35:00

10 mile
Target - 58:30

Half-marathon
Current - 82:05 (windy, more like 79 mins)
Target - 77:00

I think these are definitely achievable and hopefully will be achieved in the coming months.

Later on I'll post my track targets, depending of course on how much track racing I choose to do through the spring and summer.

I would be interested on hearing anyone's targets for 2012 - tweet me or e-mail me (see my profile for info).

Monday, 23 January 2012

Helsby half-marathon - a brief summary

So, it's the day after a windy day in Helsby tackling the Essar Four Villages Half Marathon. Calves feel quite tight today, but an easy jog helped slightly.

The course had a slight change this year; mile two incorporated a more direct, steep uphill, and this had to be made up with a start further inside the social club. The race started fine but it was head-on into the wind after the third mile. I dropped about 20 seconds on that mile alone. After a brief chat with the lead lady I went through 5 miles in about 30:45 and felt comfortable.

The wind continued to gust hard and quite randomly, making it difficult to pace. Eventually I saw the clock at mile 10, going through in approximately 62:35. This was a bit of a surprise considering I'd already put in a 6:46 mile. The wind wasn't getting any better, and with the open nature of the course, worse was to come.

It seemed like the wind was cancelling out the downhills and after 11 miles of hard effort in the gale I couldn't capitalise on them to duck under 82 minutes, finishing in a hard-fought 82:05, but still a little surprised.

Not a bad first half-marathon outing, but I can't wait for a calm and flat one to see if I can get 78 minutes.