Archive for June 2014

A good Weak(est Link)   Leave a comment

Monday Monday, so good to me. Well it was this week as track was 400 paarlaufs which is my all time favourite session. It suits me down to the ground as it is short reps with a relatively long standstill recovery. Love love love. I paired with Rob as we are similar speeds, though at this distance he is probably faster than me, but not significantly, so it would be a good balanced recovery for us both. The session was 3 x 12 minute paarlaufs with 3 minutes recovery between 12 minute efforts. I think Rob and I managed 4 400s apiece on the first set then he did 5 to my 4 on the second as he started so I made sure I started and did 5 to his 4 on the last to make us even. All in all I did indeed love this session.

On Tuesday I decided I was ready to do the 3 x King George VI that I couldn’t do last week due to post vet’s league calves. It was another hot day so there was much sweating to be done. I slowed on each ascent and barely jogged home. I think the trick is to keep doing this until I can hold my pace on each ascent and the homeward leg then add an extra hill rep. This circuit is just under 10 miles all told so a good medium length run as well as the hills.

Wednesday meant the Weakest Link relays in the evening so in the morning I just went out for a short slow 5 miler to get the three King Georges out of my legs. Just a little jaunt out to Shoreham Arm and back. It was sunnier than I envisaged so I ran the whole thing with my left eye shut. Oh for a sunglass monocle!

The evening drew around and it was still a nice day which made a change as often the Weakest Link is shrouded in a freezing sea mist. As last year this year the Arena Crew would be split into teams of mixed ability.

Another excellent Arena turnout

Another excellent Arena turnout

This race is a relay (hence the name) whereby each of the four team members run a loop of 2.5k in traditional relay style but when the last leg runner gets to the finish the rest of his team join him for another lap meaning everyone one runs 5k all together with the last leg runner doing it all at once. The theory is everyone runs the last leg at the pace of the slowest runner as teams’ finishing times are taken from when the last finisher crosses the line. I was drawn to run the second leg after Marc, handing over to Duncan with Anthony (the strongest runner) on the last “double” leg.

Pre race tactic chat with leg one man Marc

Pre race tactic chat with leg one man Marc

Marc led us out with a storming first leg. I careered out after him like a flimsy gazelle heading up and over the hill. The long stretch along the bottom was slightly slowed down by a headwind but in no time I was dragging myself up the zigzag then pelting along the gravel to hand over to Duncan. I felt happy with my leg although in retrospect it was hardly speedy. After a nice rest it was time to join Anthony on the final team leg. As we set off it seemed all the other Arenas did too and alas we were overtaken by Jenny’s team. They ended up being first Arena team home making us second. Anyway that is irrelevant as this is just a fun, sociable event and I thoroughly enjoyed it as always.

Crossing the line - well done Marc for putting everything in

Crossing the line – well done Marc for putting everything in

On Thursday I went straight to Hove Park after work and decided immediately that it was a day for a recovery jog so I spent a pleasant 4.5 miles doing just that (1 mile warm up while Garmin struggled to find satellite).

I had planned to do Preston Park this week having not done it for a while. I felt that I could give it a proper go as my brain was having a rare foray into “race brain”. So off I set. Even my bike decided to go into first gear so I took this as an omen that this would be a good run. Strangely everyone starts really far back from the start line at Preston Park so I started right on it with Emily and Joe as it was emptier there than anywhere else. I had set my watch to beep if my pace slipped above 6.30 minute miling. This meant there was quite a lot of beeping (sorry everyone in my vicinity) but it reminded me to concentrate. I managed to stick with a girl and overtake her near the end so that it would be an Arena 1 – 2 for the ladies as Emily was first. I finished in 20.17 which is my best run since December 2013 when I managed 20.06. Somehow I paced this run pretty well. Next time I must go off faster though as all my best times come from a faster start.

In the afternoon I went bouldering and Lydia said I was ready to advance to the mint routes. My first attempt was unsuccessful as the holds are very finger strength specific and I have none. I did however have no panic attacks and climbed onto the duck with no problems – in terms of the height I mean – obviously I flopped about on the top like a deranged seal in the traditional style.

All in all a good week.

Track, track and more track   Leave a comment

Another Monday another trip to track. My plan this time was stick to Caroline as much as possible. This failed after the first 600 metres or so. The session was 5 x 600f, 100j, 400f, 100j, 200f (3 minutes rest between sets). Bob split me off from Caroline’s group as I was too slow so I was now in a group consisting of Trevor and I. This was good as Trevor dragged me along at a decent pace. Although I didn’t manage to do what I set out to do this was an excellent session thanks to Trevor pulling me along. Quite a lot of eyes shut running which is my gauge of effort. The more the eyes are shut the greater the effort.

On Wednesday I needed to fit in a long run as I haven’t done one for ages. I plumped for a flat one as I had vet’s league T&F in the evening so wanted to keep as much leg strength as possible for that which meant no hills. I ended up only doing 10 miles but this was fine. It was a nice sunny day and not too windy so it was just nice to be out.

In the evening it was Worthing’s turn to host vet’s league. This is basically school sports day for old folk. I love it soooooooooooooooooooooooo much. For once I can actually run for fun as people are always saying is the point. I love sprinting like an absolute windmilling buffoon and couldn’t care less where I come in any of the races as long as I know I had a jolly spiffing time. This outing I did the 200m (2nd place).

Not winning the 200m

Not winning the 200m

Followed by the 800 (650 jog, 150 sprint finish), then the long jump (3.96 best jump – not great but OK seeing as I had just finished the 800), then the 3000 that was basically a recovery/warm up jog before the 4×400 relay where I commandeered three B&Hers to make up a non scoring team. Obviously I loved all the sprinting and the long jump. The 400 was my favourite even though there was no-one to race (I was on last leg and the field was so spread out by then the person in front was about 100m away). I really enjoyed just hammering it round like a flappy armed goon.

Cobra shadow puppet arms (makes a change from the usual T-Rex)

Cobra shadow puppet arms (makes a change from the usual T-Rex)

I have no idea of my times. I don’t think they were much good (I KNOW my 800 and 3000 were awful) but I couldn’t care less. I just LOVE these evenings and wish there were more than 3 or 4 a year. I must say thank you to Joe for driving us there and to Rob for helping me with my long jump run up and taking the exceedingly attractive photos showcased in this post.

Having run and jumped mainly in spikes on Wednesday my calves were concrete on Thursday so I just took the Hove Park intervals session as a recovery jog. Rob was also broken from Wednesday so we hobbled round together at the speed of really slow people.

I had planned to do 3 x King George VI hills on Friday but severe DOMS put paid to this idea so I decided a full rest day was a better idea.

Even by Saturday I was still pretty much destroyed so Hove Park parkrun was yet another recovery jog. Rob joined me too along with Rick who has just completed an almighty cycle through some bits of Europe. He suggested we start from the absolute back and work our way through slowly so this is what we did. I think this run was most helpful for recovery as we wound it up slowly but surely romping home in just over 25 minutes.

Another pretty poor week in terms of mileage (28) but a good test of being sensible as trying to run on DOMSy track death calves would have been very foolish.

I have added to my arsenal of recovery tools. Hockey ball for soles of feet and hip/buttock poking and The Stick for all over rolling (much easier on the arms than the foam roller).

Additional recovery tools

Additional recovery tools

Happy Blog Birthday to me!   Leave a comment

Finally track was actually back at the track after around 4 weeks off or of alternative sessions in Hove Rec. I decided that I should move up a group as I shan’t improve (or re-improve?) otherwise. (Un)fortunately there was no interim group so I was forced to attempt to hang on to the pretty gosh darn speedy group containing Paul and Joe. The session was 10 x 600m, split into two sets of 5. Each 600 was 3 x progressively faster 200 metres with a 100m jog recovery between each 600 and 3 minutes between the two sets of 5. I managed to keep pretty well with the group for the first three reps in each set but my usual lack of speed endurance let me down on the last two where I dropped away though still near enough to (almost) say I was part of the group. Anyway the main thing is I tried hard as told by the fact my eyes were shut for most of the session. For some reason Garmin Connect decided it did not wish to upload this session but on the watch it shows 6.5 miles run and I know that I put in the effort so sod off Garmin Connect if you don’t want to speak to your own watch.

On Tuesday I was able to go to Core & Stretch so I did and I did. It was rather hard because of my sudden return to faster and better running (neither fast nor good). Tired legs and many standing poses. I’m sure it did me good though as always. Pleased my core is still steely even though I can’t now attend the class every week.

In the afternoon I set out on my new MSHR (medium length, slow, hilly run) route of 2 x King George VI (my nearest and longest hill) which after a nice long downhill and a slightly undulating return is just under 9 miles. This is my vain attempt to keep up a bit of hill running after the Minehead trip. As I am only training for 5 and 10ks at the moment I think this will do as a “long” run for now. Once again Garmin decided not to import this run from watch to site but it was 9 miles of not very fast hills.

On Thursday I decided I would try not to do an lsr in the morning to see if it helped my Hove Park session in the evening. It was quite hard actually as it was a nice day but I went to Tesco instead. Duly fresh I set off for Hove Park on a fine sunny evening. Steve was taking the session and it was based on a figure of 8 on the grass containing a flattish tempo section followed by an uphill faster section. We did this for a while before finishing off with a few downhill half laps on the path getting progressively faster. Over all I enjoyed this session and managed to keep up the effort throughout. Garmin deigned to allow this activity onto Garmin Connect so if you wish to view it it is here.

On Saturday I wanted to do another vaguely acceptable parkrun but failed dismally. However in the afternoon I went climbing with Lydia and managed to do some stuff on the duck which I usually fail to do. I even tried to conquer my fear of heights by standing on top of it. Alas I looked like an insane shaking lunatic but I stuck at it until the fear faded slightly.

Conquering the duck (sort of)

Conquering the duck (sort of)

I dashed across the top again for good measure. So infernally sweaty but a massive success as I haven’t been able to do anything but crawl along the top like a mental caterpillar thus far. I even used my face and ear as a climbing aid this time which was interesting and something I must add to my repertoire as it helped me conquer a yellow Lydia and I spent ages contemplating and falling off in various stylish and elegant ways. Face to carpet was one of my most accomplished. I managed to re-conquer the infernal blue and white which is good as they are being changed tomorrow. I am still most rubbish at going round corners and I have great trouble when any splits style stances are required what with being a massively inflexible runner type. Lydia was standing perfectly comfortably in a position that nearly caused my legs to shear off at the groin even though I am taller than her and thus have longer legs. Oh well, perhaps the more I do the more flexible I shall become? Either that or my hamstrings shall actually snap.

I have just been informed by WordPress that I have been writing this blog for a year so Happy Blog Birthday to me!

Hills   Leave a comment

There was still no track on Monday as someone else was using it (how dare they) so it was off to Hove Rec for an alternative track session. I felt completely fine after Worthing which I took as a good sign as it means I am still physically capable of fast times just need to work on the mental aspect, regain last year’s confidence etc. The first half of the session was up-hills. 5 x short up-hills with jog down recovery followed by 1 x long uphill (x2). I felt I was running these pretty consistently and was pleased with my effort level. The second half of the session was 4 full laps of the park with the top and bottom lengths to be run fast and the sides to be tempo. This I did. Over all a good session. Pleasantly warm evening though with quite a strong breeze in parts. IM now stands for Ian McCaskill it seems…

On Tuesday I was able to go to Core & Stretch having not been for weeks. Although I am pretty crap at everything being massively inflexible I like this class as I assume it is doing me good in some way.

I rested on Wednesday (hardly Craig David).

On Thursday I wanted to do a hilly LSR. My plan was to do 2 x King George VI and then onwards. I did do the hills but it was so stupidly windy IN EVERY SINGLE DIRECTION that I became enraged so only managed 9 miles. This was acceptable though as I knew I would be doing Hove Park later and I had done the hills I wanted. I duly headed over to Hove Park for the interval session. I started off OK but suddenly lost the will to live half way through. Never mind. 13 miles for the day.

Knowing I would be helping at the annual Arena 80 Hove Park races on Sunday and feeling like I should get some more hills in whilst the mood was upon me I set out on another hilly LSR on Friday. This time it was a hot and sunny day and nowhere near as windy (or at least the wind was following the laws of nature and only blowing in one direction). I was still incredibly slow but more hills (and miles) in the bag.

This morning (Saturday) I wanted to test that my success (in the brain) at Worthing wasn’t a fluke. I set my watch to 6.35 pace this time as I hoped to go sub 21 as I haven’t done that for about 6 months. The weather forecast was for torrential rain but in fact there were only two short downpours during the run and it had been dry beforehand so it was fine and quite nice and cooling. I reached 1k in 4.06 which is still quite slow in comparison to my pb days when I would go through in around 3.45 however I chose not to allow this to put me off and continued. Somehow,miraculously, I ran this exceptionally evenly paced (by my standards) and managed to finish in 20.50. Still over a minute adrift of my pb but I was pleased with my effort, especially on the up-hills, and not having given up at any point. Also I hope this will give me confidence that I can get back to 19.30 (and beyond).

35 mostly hilly miles this week.

A bit less running   1 comment

This week I decided I would have a taper/rest week to allow the running holiday’s benefits to sink in so I rested on Monday as there was no track due to it being a bank holiday.

On Tuesday Rob and I decided to try a 10k tempo in preparation for Worthing 10k  on Sunday. The plan was to run it in approximately 46 minutes, possibly throwing in a faster mile if we felt like it. This we duly did.

I rested again on Wednesday as I was at work.

I thought I should actually try and do Thursday’s Hove Park session properly having not done so for ages. Bob had fashioned a session to suit the many Arena members who were to be running Worthing 10k on Sunday so I knew I must try as if I didn’t I’d only have to take myself out on Friday for mile reps or something which I would blatantly either not do at all or not do properly on my own. Thus I set off down the hill on the first, longest, rep around the far end of the park. It is unlikely I was going particularly speedily but at this stage I just want to practice actually running as well as I can at each session. The main bulk of the session was 5 x ever decreasing “laps” of the park. I made sure I put in the effort on each rep. It was easy to go out fast as the first 500 metres or so was downhill so it was just a case of keeping up the effort on the flat sections. We finished off with 2 x small downhill laps in the opposite direction. I was pleased with this session as I have finally managed to get myself to try. Long may it continue.

Friday was a bouldering day so off I went to traumatise myself with heights once again. I managed not to snot all over myself in terror this week which is an improvement though I sweated like a lord on occasion and got stuck at the top a few times. I did however climb onto the duck though I did then have to slide along the top like some kind of deranged snake as I can’t stand on it and walk along like normal folk. I even sprinted up and down a couple of yellow routes though I couldn’t do my blue and white nemesis of old that I conquered. It has conquered me again. I think the trick is to conquer it then NEVER GO BACK. I have still not fallen off properly and the worst thing I did this time (in addition to scraping off much skin) was strain my armpit when failing the infernal previously-conquered blue and white.

On Saturday it had been arranged that Arena would commandeer the volunteering at Preston Park parkrun. Thus a small group congregated to wear hi vis and generally be most helpful to the parkrunners of Preston Park. Luckily it was a perfect day for marshalling – sunny, warm and breezeless. I think a good time was had by all and as we have done our duty we can do many more parkruns without volunteer guilt (though I know we all volunteer regularly anyway).

This photo is possibly the best thing I have seen. Ever

This photo is possibly the best thing I have seen. Ever

Then it was Sunday (today) which meant one thing: Worthing 10k! Last year this race was my one and only venture into sub 40 10k territory with a PB of 39.45. I knew this year there was no way in the world I would be getting anywhere near that time but I wanted to get as close to 42 as possible. I set my Garmin to beep if my pace got slower than 6.45 (I knew it would at some point) and decided to go out as hard as I could and see how far I got before the inevitable slowing down. Not very far as it turned out (not surprisingly). I haven’t done any training specifically for speed endurance. Everything has either been too long and way too slow or too short and fast. I hoped that the week away running hills etc would help but I think that just added to the category of too long and too slow. I set of what I felt was quite conservatively but reached 1 mile in 6.16. Dammit! I then slowed down a lot as I expected but managed to keep just under 7 minute miling with the help of my Garmin beeping to make me attempt to speed up slightly.

Worthing 1 crop

Just before both Arena Marks overtook me (along with many many other people)

I hoped that the speedier first and second(ish) mile would keep me on for sub 42 even with the few lapses into being behind pace and this turned out to be the case as I crossed the line in 41.57 on the race clock. Luckily my chip time put me down for 41.52. Phew! Although this is of course still way off where I should be I definitely put in the effort so now it is just a case of getting my legs and lungs used to sustaining a faster pace for longer than a mile or so. Last year was no different in terms of effort but I was able to sustain the speed for the full distance. Anyway all in all I think this means I am over the hump and can now get back towards the speeds and times I feel I am capable of running.

Some of the Arenas post-race

Some of the Arenas post-race

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