Richmond Nice Work 10km

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Sunday was a gorgeous day. On the back end of Saturday’s meteorological erraticisms and angry skies, the sun rose and beamed on South West London. We made the pleasant and uneventful commute from Southampton fairly early to arrive in time for the gun at 10am. On arrival, Sheen gate (in the North East corner) was positively bustling and seemingly, as far as the eye, a human engine coughed and chortled into action. Two men with designer coffees and presumably occupied prams wandered carelessly through the Tamsin Trail. The queue for the toilets grew ever longer. Underneath the sprawling canopy of trees the beginning and end of the Richmond Nice Work 10km was found.

On arrival, having not been entirely familiar with the route I decided to canter along it, 1 km in each direction. It seemed reasonable enough. I would openly refer to the course as an enjoyable run. With a good mixture of terrains and gradients, it makes for a particularly interesting but not easily accomplishing course. I wouldn’t personally seek it out for a PB. The opening 3km take the form of an insidious climb, confusing the eyes but not the legs as the course brings you along the Tamsin trail to the Western most aspect and the peak of Richmond Hill. From there and acute turn almost back onto oneself is made onto a paved road, tumbling down Sawyer’s Hill lasting some 2km. From there a further kilometre began a grass lined ascent to the start.

Safe to say, I found the course difficult. Undulating, muddy swamps reflecting the preceding month’s weather, uneven grass patches – it did not make for straightforward racing. This said, I was still fortunate enough to register a chip time PB of 45:36. Although not a “Garmin PB” – I suspect it’s calibration may need some attention, I am holding this official time as my PB. The following is the race and the splits. Screenshot 2016-01-11 15.57.53.png

As can be seen, the second lap was a real pain. I overtook an older chap in a white cap as we passed 6km but was rapidly overtaken in the onslaught of an oncoming hill. As he crept away from me I decided to hold on to his pace for as long as possible with the intention of jumping an attack on the hill and getting away from him. As it happened, he sped up more than I could counter and I watched him peel away from me slowly but ever so deliberately. He must have maintained a minute’s gap at least as we passed the finish line. After the race we had a chat and I lamented with him on his fitness. He told me of his upcoming London Marathon  qualification via good for age. Disgusted, I shook his hand as he left.

All in all, another PB on the back of a non taper week and difficult (for me) course. I cannot help but think that perhaps what is required is a flat fast course for the required <45. Perhaps after Spring’s two half marathons a 10km is back in the picture. We’ll see.





Troublesome 10km

The intention of today’s run was to run a 5:00min/km pace in anticipation of Saturday’s Richmond Park 10km. The idea was something in the way of keeping the legs ticking over, without pushing the limit too hard. As the run got going, the pace picked up and I couldn’t quite strike the balance between what felt comfortable and what began to teeter on a tempo. The end pace finished at 4:51min/km. I was tired and a little concerned, primarily because  of my inability to sustain the pace comfortably over a relatively short distance.

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By the time I staggered to close, I was suitably out of breath. I hadn’t pushed the pace at all but it had all been enough to require a solemn sit down by Itchen River and think about what had gone wrong. I watched the clouds for a long time, passing weightlessly and quietly above me and listened to my breathing quieten and my chest settle.

Bad runs happen and sometimes it’s difficult to know why. They come by often enough and hence the giddy abandon with which most runners celebrate a “good run”or a personal best. Good runs are not the norm. Certainly, I feel good after most runs, but it is rare to feel good whilst within one. I have felt closer to crying than laughing on more occasions than I care to list. Not that I cry during runs.

In my opinion, bad runs are down to five principle reasons, alone or in combination:

  1. Poor cardiovascular fitness
  2. Fibromuscular fatigue
  3. Poor preparation (sub-adequate clothing/weather)
  4. Failure to manage one’s own expectations.
  5. For no demonstrable cause.

As can be seen, most of these are straightforward and can be anticipated. If you have run every day for the last 2 weeks and you run a marathon straight after, you will have a bad run (Point 2). If you cannot run 5km but you undertake a 10km run, you will have a bad run (Point 1). If you expected to do speed work at 3:50min/km pace and your best 5km pace is 6min/km, you will have a bad run (Point 4). If it is snowing outside and you go out in a t-shirt, you will have a bad run (Point 3). In short, it is nearly always possible to anticipate why your run might not have gone as well as you might have intended.

Apart from when it’s Point 5. Point 5 is the unconsciouble nightmare that skirts around the fringes of most running careers. Sometimes, a run happens and it is bad for no other reason than that it was bad. Those runs are incredibly difficult to deal with and the runner is left panting on the side of the road wondering what the fuck is up. That was today. Today was point 5.

I’ve had a day to think about the run and I’ve decided to let it go. I was contemplating a genuine surgical dissection of the case but its best just to let some things be. I’m going to run 13 miles tomorrow and hopefully at a gentle and forgiving pace that will allow me to enjoy the run as oppose to rue it. The answer to any bad run is always the next run. It isn’t putting your shoes away, it is getting them ready for tomorrow.

Final Run of the Year: 10km


The last run of the year took place in Poole Park. I woke up several times in the night in anticipation, quietly unrested and in the sonic assault of the lubricious south westerly wind. The windows rattled and rocked and I slept  a little more. I woke myself up at 5am to prepare myself for the run but didn’t actually head out into the world till 6am. I wish I could tell you of some more romantic interim that occupied me for that hour, but I simply lay in bed and as these things do, the hour passed by with a timely celerity.

The plan today was to end with a gentle paced 10km, perhaps laced with a series of 200m strides. I chose to keep things simple however with a gentler 5:00min/km run which quickly settled into 4:50min/km average pace overall. The workout is linked above and the splits and route are shown below.

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There was a momentary pause just after 3km where my left shoe lace wriggled itself free and I had to pause to do it up. This literally never happens to me and it’s rarity was rewarded with 500m of questioning why it had come undone in the first place. To ensure it remained done up, I added some tightness for added measure into the double knot and as a result, spent the rest of the run wondering if my foot was going to fall off.

Poole park reveals itself fairly clearly on the enclosed map. The greatest part of it’s composition is water, much like the people who use it for their pleasure. This water is enclosed exclusively in the large boating lake across the centre of the map. After dark, there are a choice selection of lights both in the park and around the lake which can make for a treacherous affair. Of them all, the westerly side is the most taxing with almost no light whatsoever owing to an imposing raised train track running briefly alongside it. At appropriate intervals a series of lights appear that quickly conform into the shape of a train which hurries past, seemingly as keen to distance itself from the park as you are to remain.

The run today was something of a solitary affair. Not uncommonly, as the run progresses another runner or at least the morning dog walkers arrive and do their best to hinder your progress throughout your run. Today they kept their notable absence perhaps mourning the loss of another year and their slow inevitable march into oblivion. Under the suggestion of the rising sun a cyclist passed by at the north end of the park as I sought to complete my final split around the cricket bowl. As I finally rested I sat on a bench and if by magic a young female runner appeared out of nowhere, doing a frighteningly good and uncompromising pace. She looked strong. I was glad I had finished.

I have spent some time reflecting on the year’s numbers and as a well seasoned statistician who only believes in quanta, these are my achievements. I should add that my running calendar only seriously began in August and hence my embarrassing numbers. There’s no easy way to sell mediocrity.

Total mileage: 1,620km (total runs 177)

The trailing 90 day km gives a good example of when my running really began. See. SEE?

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I have broken all but my HM and Marathon distance PBs. Screenshot 2015-12-31 12.35.14.png

The ones I really care about are 1 mile, 5km, 4mile, 10km, 10 miles and HM and FM. To be clear, I have not tried to run a mile or 8km to speed. I will come back to PB goals for the new year in a post, well, next year.

In any case, I am aware that my running career has been somewhat remiss and anergic. I can’t really explain why that might be the case but I suppose  to some extent, this reflects my parochial views on health and fitness. 2016 is only a date but that cannot mean that we cannot endure. The pain is a part of it but even that is not so bad. At some point the endurance will become tolerance and hopefully a galvanised inurity.


10km, Kew and the Wind

It was windy today. The weather forecast suggested a 21mph wind WSW, which according to the Beaufort Scale is a Category 4 wind and a fresh breeze. I don’t know who described these scales. There was nothing fresh about the breeze today. As soon as I left the house, I was hit by a sucker punch of wind that had probably originated from a fart in Guernsey. This persisted throughout the first 6km or so of my run, culminating on Kew Bridge. It was a miserable affair. I hate the wind.

Today was supposed to be a recovery run but I decided to decorate each kilometre with 200m strides at 800m. See, I like the idea of fartleks but I lack the intuition to do them. If I am running and I have to randomly assign myself a period of running harder, then I assure you, as day follows night, I will not run any harder. Therefore regulated strides work well for me. I know they are coming, I fucking hate them, but I do them anyway because I hate giving up on things. So that’s what happened.

Here is the workout and the pace chart below.

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The pause was at the junction of Ealing Road as it passed underneath the A4/M4. It wasn’t intentional. In fact it was a real ball ache. I hate standing and waiting for traffic to pass. However, not being run over is contingent with life and so I let this pass.

This is the map of the route if you are interested.

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It’s actually a fairly nice route. There’s some racy stuff on the A406 back up to Ealing and the traffic just never seems to quieten down but it’s a relatively nice route. It’s actually well worth extending the loop through Kew which is beautiful to run through. For the point of the 10km today it was excess to need and so I reigned it in.

The strides went well overall. The wind was pretty relentless as I headed southwards and by the first 5km I was honestly contemplating cutting them to only 5 repetitions. As I came back up Gunnersbury Avenue, my legs were really feeling stiff and I was pretty tired. I have no idea how I managed to make it back into Ealing, I was puffing like a steam engine.

All in all it was a good run, coming in as my 3rd fastest 10km which is no bad thing. I feel the strength is beginning to build and hopefully the strength in combination with a stronger aerobic base will serve me well. We’ll see. Christmas Day Parkrun tomorrow.

Oh yeah, merry Christmas Eve!

2 Mile Intervals: Lammas Park

It’s a resplendent morning here in West London. The sun has crept out from the clouds and the wind has settled enough that the day can be considered a pleasant one. There is genuinely, nothing quite like a morning run under the sun.

Today the plan was to undertake 3 x 2mile intervals with a 3:00 minute break in between. In honesty, this was supposed to be a 2:30 break but after the first 2 miles I realised that clearly wasn’t going to happen and so there was a mid work out addendum.

I chose Lammas Park in Ealing to undertake the splits. I have to concede it is one of my least favourite parks in Ealing and I have always been drawn to the gentle middle class pleasantries of it’s bloated neighbour, Walpole Park. I have to stress, it’s not a particularly bad park at all, I just never particularly warmed to it. My older brother does seem to enjoy it a little more than me and so on family runs I have been dragged through it and I suppose it’s not so bad. Importantly, it doesn’t have that air of disownment that the once impressive Gunnersbury Park seems to shoulder. True, it hosts the Gunnersbury Parkrun as some form of consolation but it does feel somewhat broken and forgotten, sitting as it does, beneath the roar of M4. Along the broken paths and the murky lakes, even the dog walkers leave the dog shit where it lands.

I digress. I chose Lammas Park for the principle reason that it equals a mile in its perimeter, no less. This is very helpfully marked by the 100m distance posts that circle in an anti-clockwise manner from the main (Walpole side) entrance to the park. Here is the Strava segment for the Lammas Mile.

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It’s actually remarkably suitable for the repetition. There is a slight incline from the SW corner to northerly most point but it is not enough to compromise your interval. I should add, I felt it, but it was manageable. Also the middle waist where it seems to pinch is also quite sharp as you turn for the final 300m. There were some yummy mummies (they weren’t that yummy) doing some odd lunge type activities on that very corner which wasn’t odd at all. They kept this up for the entirety of the workout.

Here is the pace chart for the workout.

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The pace was maintained relatively suitably. I aimed for a 4:30 min/km split for the first 2 intervals and then a 4:35-4:40 for the last one. The overall times were 14:05, 14:08 and 14:34, all of which I will live with. I managed to keep trotting for the first rest interval but after the second one, it was everything I could do to not collapse on the floor, so I walked. I’m not a big fan of walking during interval workouts but I was completely spent, it was a necessity.

Overall I was happy with the outcome. I was disappointed to feel that I needed to extend the rest periods and walk during one but I completed the workout and that should count more than anything. Overall, the run paced  at about 4:45 min/km which is satisfactory at my current level. A 10km recovery run awaits tomorrow. See you Anon.