Medium Long Run: 14km

FullSizeRender.jpg

This is the view at the top of Cleveland Park in Ealing looking back across North and West London. In the hidden distance the A40 hurries to the City and away to Oxford. The houses are large and proud. The park represents a sincere incline away from the River Brent, a polluted and opaque affair, a sorry tributary to the pumping vein of the Thames. By this point I had completed some 13km of my run and paused to capture the scene. On my way up the hill a man slipped and fell and was picked up by some concerned dog walkers. Embarrassed, he picked himself up and continued. I watched him run out of the park and having caught my own breath, pulled out my phone and took the picture.

I was in no mood to run in the morning. The was no real sense in recovery from the previous days hiatus and it was everything I could do to get myself to the point of beginning the run. My legs felt weighted and I felt aware of them more than I have done in recent times. The ground was wet but the skies were clear. Two cars countered each other belligerently in the narrow recesses of the road, each refusing to move. I began.

Irritatingly, there is still no data to show you given the very notable absence of my ANT + stick and so you will have to take my word for this excursion. I completed 14.3km at a 4:55min/km pace and felt every footstep. There were countless times I wanted the run to be over and in many circumstances found myself willing my psyche to the end of the road, the next tree or the top of the hill. One more kilometre. One more kilometre. My average HR was 151bpm with an average cadence of 92spm. The kilometre splits (min/km), I have hand written below, so you better fucking read them

  1. 5:00
  2. 4:55
  3. 4:55
  4. 4:47
  5. 4:53
  6. 5:04 (big hill man, you had to be there)
  7. 4:44
  8. 4:49
  9. 4:52
  10. 4:55
  11. 4:56
  12. 4:56
  13. 5:13 (big hill man, you had to be there)
  14. 4:55
  15. Only 260m (in 1:15) Screenshot 2015-12-29 17.56.30.png

So given how tired I was, not a bad pace for me overall. I obviously joke about the hills but they clearly continue to hit me hard. On lap 13, I genuinely cannot convey how difficult it was to put foot in front of successive foot. I didn’t fall but I would have happily ended the run at the park’s summit, such was my exhaustion. To date, there are many many runs that I have not wanted to do. There are many many runs I would have happily ended prematurely and walked the remainder of the distance. There are many runs, like today, where every step almost required a conscious battle to progress from A to B. As it happens and despite all of this, there are no runs I have regretted on completion and as I sit here now, I am conscious that every run only makes me stronger now matter how weak I feel whilst in it’s oblivion.

*Addendum. The Garmin is now connected. Rejoice in the data that is the Strava application.

Screenshot 2015-12-29 17.52.59.png

The Long Run: Kew(l) Loops

FullSizeRender-1

The real problem and only one if we’re being particular, with the Garmin 610 running watch is the ANT + connection. Fundamentally, it is to great detriment of the good folk at Garmin and a colossal oversight that they did not think to include a hardware connection between the watch and it’s receiving computer. ANT + is a fine gadget when it works, but this is choice and seemingly more temperamental than a girl with her arms crossed on date night who is very definitely “fine”. I cannot tell you how many countless occasions I have sat by my watch coaxing it into cahoots with my macbook, only to languish after the most recent episode of pavement pounding I have undertaken. Today the problem was defined by its absence – i.e. not ANT + stick altogether which meant no workout to upload and hence share with you. It is beguiling that there is no other means to access that workout but that’s the way the world works. There are greater injustices in the world but right now I can’t think of them.FullSizeRender-2

The following chart is taken from walkjogrun, a fine application that is well worth looking into for route planning. My older brother and I rose with the dark dawn skies for our long run.The plan was to cover a looping 19km from Ealing, through Brentford (where these industrial monochromes are taken) via Kew back to Ealing. I strapped my GoPro head mount on using a time lapse which didn’t bear much fruit but I’ll have to look into that to see if there was anything worth salvaging. Halfway through it turned itself off and I reverted to film which itself turned out to be a staccato and irritating affair.

Screenshot 2015-12-27 23.54.35.png

The final route didn’t quite resemble this but it did serve a fantastically sad meander through industrial London as it previously stood. I will touch on this again in the future but we shared some interesting conversations as we coursed quietly through this decaying Kingdom. A total of 15km were realised together and I completed the final 4km on my own. At points he wanted to walk and I would be lying if I said that my legs didn’t feel thankful for the respite. This only really occurred at the 10-11th split. The pace was very gentle and overall settled at 6:05min/km, incorporating the shameful walking. A total running time of 1hr 56min was observed.

FullSizeRender

I returned home weary and fatigued. The run had been enjoyable but was the signature on a seemingly heavy week on the legs, a total of 77.6km banked in earnest. In conversation the other day I mentioned that I felt exhausted and I was met with the appropriate reminder that exhaustion is not tantamount to improvement and indeed does not corroborate a healthy running lifestyle. I thought about this and realised that I both understood this completely and not at all. While I assured myself that exhaustion would be in keeping with near collapse – I was by no means close to this point, but that said, I had no idea how I should feel if I were.

In the same manner in which someone might point at a sky and comment on how blue it is, I often wonder if our blues are of the same spectrum. When I say I am tired, I don’t really know if I’m as tired as I should be, or even as tired as you. I don’t know if I’m tired enough. These circular arguments often repeat within me and are as confusing to me as they are comforting. When the lights go out and I let myself slumber I wonder, does anyone feel as tired as me and realise that there are people who don’t and somewhere in this peculiar world of ours, some of those will be running.

Parkrun No. 10 Gunnersbury Park

This is the backdrop awaiting you as you arrive in Gunnersbury Park. 6 towers furnishing the southern most point, arms up to the sky. I don’t know what purpose they serve but they have been there ever since I can remember on my earliest visits to the park. One of them may be a Sega building but I can’t be sure. Does anyone still play the megadrive? As you approach them, the rumble of traffic increases and in such lazy and unfurled grounds it’s easy to forget that the M4 comes into existence here in it’s storming relentless passage to Wales. It is quite abundantly, a classic example of life in London; we play under the smog of traffic that surrounds us.

After yesterday’s yuletide 5km personal best in southampton, today was to be a gentle affair. The plan had been to do the ParkRun in Gunnersbury as a warm up and then retire to it’s mid town neighbour for a series of 10x1km repetitions at 10km pace. That was the plan anyway.

As soon as I left the house, I knew this wasn’t going to be easy or even possible. As I cycled through South Ealing, the wind reminded me that even though South England might not be flooded, it wasn’t going to let me get away without a slap in the face. My legs, stiff, heavy and unrecovered grumbled beneath me. They’re never particularly happy with most things, I didn’t expect any different now.

image2

The start. That lady looks a little un-impressed. He definitely forgot to put the seat down.

I ran the park run at a gentle-ish effort. The 5:00min/km I was aiming for quickly became 4:40min/km odd and I registered a final time of 23:34. I would link the Strava data here but, pleb that I am, have lost my ANT+ stick and so have been using my iPhone instead. Looking at the splits, they couldn’t be more dissimilar to my watch and so there’s not point in commenting further. The race itself was seasoned with a good helping of wind throughout, with little to no crowd cover. The field itself was only of 172 odd patrons and so there weren’t too many running groups.

Just some pictures of the end funnel there. There was quite a big bridging pause between the <25 and >25 runners in my mind. Not sure as to what the reason for this discord was. As I left, some runners were still trickling in. I have to admit, I didn’t give any encouragement as I was more concerned about the repetitions awaiting me.

By the time I arrived in Walpole Park I felt tired and the decision had been made, with extreme guilt to reduce the workout to only 5 repetitions. This guilt was consolidated by the circulating runners whirring their way across the park’s perimeter. Clearly lots of folk trying to lighten the Christmas day dietary damage. I locked my bike up and began the workout which is here (and remember this is iPhone data which is about as useful as taping a cat to my wrist and getting it to pace me).

Screenshot 2015-12-26 12.19.00.png

Needless to say, I was fucking dying. If you look, and you really don’t need to, the pace drops off incrementally and by the final rest I have succumbed  to walking. The pace was supposed to register around the 4:30min/km mark but it was way off and I think on average it would have been closer to 4:35 or so. I was disappointed to have performed so poorly and perhaps the smarter of you might have suggested leaving this workout out altogether. Personally I think that you need to identify your running needs and a big weakness of mine is running whilst fatigued. Clearly we can’t all have the burst of acceleration of a certain Mo Farah but it would be nice to be able to hold a reasonable pace with out flapping like a fish, long out of water, being prodded by an idiot toddler.

I leave you with the new improved Walpole Park.

image6.jpeg

This was what I previously and lovingly called Paedo lake (please note, I don’t know if any bonafide paedo-ing went on here). There was a conglomerate of bushes that had once stood in quiet contemplation around this water whilst all sorts of naughtiness went on under the drooping arms of the English Ivy canopy. Basically I think this was the place to be if you either wanted a little bit of drugs from that bloke Trevor or to lose your middle class virginity. I did neither of those, in case you were wondering. Still haven’t.

Toodles.

 

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.

Screenshot 2015-12-23 12.01.30

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.

Screenshot 2015-12-23 11.49.07

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.

MLR with the elder brother.

I think I am more or less on course with the running now. I am about a third of the way into my training for the Brighton Half Marathon (which is on 28th February 2016) and I am feeling pretty good. I don’t think feeling good is particularly synonymous with objective improvement but I’m not injured, I’m running, things are going well.

Today I ran 14km in West London with my older brother as part of my MLR (medium long run). I’ve added the link to my Strava so you can see it. He ran the first 1okm (to a PB I should add) with me and I finished off the final 4km on my own. I do love running through London. I am by some considerable measure, an urban runner. Nothing quite inspires or invites me to run as the turning of road upon road. It’s an amalgamation of the history of the city, the buildings in ascension, the feeling of something significant happening; yesterday today and forever more. The space is bombarded by the blitz of relentless human endeavour. I’ve enjoyed many runs through fields and countryside but they never get me quite like urban running does. There’s only so many things you can do with a horizon.

I’ve added the pace chart from said run below.

Screenshot 2015-12-22 14.14.23

We kept a nicely gentle and comfortable pace of about 5:30min/km in the entirety of the joint run. The suggested pause just after 9km isn’t at all, merely a venture over a bridge and British Rail. I think he had begun to turn by this point as the pace had begun to drop off towards 6min/km. I continued onwards with the goal of keeping the pace of 5min/km for the final 4km. This more or less was achieved.

I’m getting to the point now where 5min/km is a fairly comfortable pace for me at distance. I’m probably teetering on the edge of my aerobic capacity. A venture toward 4:50 begins a tugging of breath and by 4:40 I am fully aware that I’m running.

4:40 is the intended goal pace for the Brighton Half. The goal time is 1″40. The current PB is a somewhat embarrassing 1″43. I feel I can do much better than that and hopefully now I should do, given that never before have I trained for a half marathon. There is something thoroughly depressing about watching 40 year olds cruise to 1″30 (I am 30 years old myself) whilst steam pours out of my ears. Happily, 4:45 should get me my goal time, but I am keen to arrive comfortably into the next time zone. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

2 mile intervals tomorrow in Lammas Park which I am looking forward to. I know, I’m a little strange.

Last post before my 2nd Half Marathon (Ealing Half Marathon)

I’ve got to say I’m a disappointed at myself. This was the year I was supposed to return stronger to the half marathon and crack my goal of 1″40. Unfortunately this has been far from the case in no small part, the result of a heavily encumbered right Ilio tibial band sustained on a long run in Birmingham. In fact this has been a problem ever since March of this year, leading me to pull out of the Colchester Half Marathon. Entry was deferred to the following year but the damage was done. I didn’t run for the best part of 3 months after that. Thanks for nothing Birmingham. (FFS)

Nevertheless, I cycled from John O Groats to Land’s End. I ran across Egypt, South America and all over the UK and it has served to do little else apart from maintain a reasonable level of fitness. The cycling particularly surprised me as I had been expecting a degree of transference of fitness but this was in fact far from the case. It transpires that running fitness does little to contribute to cycling and vice versa. When I first ran after the tour I could barely complete 5km. It was hardly the best preparation for a half marathon!

All the same, I have decided to use this as a spring board for future achievements. In honesty, though I run regularly, I do not adhere to any strict training program. I don’t particularly take nutrition seriously and I do not adequately push myself to my capabilities. This will all change from now – I promise!

The immediate goal for this Sunday is to run 1″45. I don’t think this should be too onerous a task and in honesty would probably be easily possible if the course was a little less undulating and contoured but the miserly organisers have only gone and put Greenford Avenue in twice. I mean twice! Come on! (I love you all for it really, fantastic course!)

So for those of you who will be running, good luck – I hope you achieve your goals, whatever they may be. To the organisers, thank for for what will undoubtedly be a superb second year. The first was truly exceptional and enjoyable from start to finish. And to the slumbered residents of Ealing; Come out and cheer on your community!

Image

The flowers, the glass.

DSC02562

My mother was upset so whilst I was gardening (guerilla) I collected some little white flowers with thorns in their stems, chopped them up and put them in a vase for her. Not because I’m nice, but it is apparently a nice thing to do. I think she liked them but I can’t be sure because I had my earphones in.

DSC02564

DSC02566

They smell pretty darn good too people. If you have a friend, or significant other, or a mother, perhaps you could do the same. Also, if anyone knows what flowers these are – please tell me.

The flowers, the glass.