A difficult, easy run. 10 miles.

Number of days till Brighton Half Marathon: 34 days

Number of hurting Achilles tendons: 1

Number of times I felt a headwind: More times than care to fucking explain.

Given the fact that I’m just coming out of a rest week, I should feel good. I don’t. Last week’s mileage still went north of 55km and I was left genuinely wondering where the ground had been made up. By the time Sunday’s LSR revealed itself, I was no worse off than any other week. My body felt tired and weary. Looking at the incoming 16km this morning, I could have felt further from enthused.

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It was still dark as I left the house. I turned out onto the Northam Bridge and was hit instantly by a cruel headwind. Fucking great. I wanted today to at least feel like a recovery run but already, I found myself in channeled vortex. I reassured myself however that, within a kilometre or so, I would be turning away from the supposed wind direction and running up towards Southampton Common. I turned. The wind hit me again. Fucking great.

It wasn’t so bad for the most part. There were fleeting moments when I felt the wind behind me and it felt truly glorious, like a hug from a big fat person. At points it seemed to tuck behind me at just the right time and that couldn’t have been more welcome. The route itself was a climb for 50% and a descent for 50% more or less, as can be seen from the relief profile.

I am aware that I have most likely been running my long slow runs at a good 10-15s faster than perhaps what it necessary for me and perhaps this is what is contributing to my exhaustion. I have decided to take my ego hat off for some time and replace it with my “it’s fucking necessary” hat instead. It doesn’t look as cool but, well, it’s necessary. I can’t have every run feeling like a workout. I’m thinking of tomorrows 4x 2miles and already fatiguing.

Overall my pace settled at 5:13min/km. There was very little pace control and splits varied from 5:00 to 5:30 min/km. Ideally I should have been ever slower than this still (5:20 average) but when you’re running, it can be so very difficult to resist the temptation not to push a little harder.

Tomorrows workout should be a good one. In similar workouts that I’ve done over the last few weeks, I’ve run 2nd and 3rd best 10km times which is either a really good or bad thing. 2 miles. 4 times. Let’s do it.

 

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MLR: 14km

Today was a straightforward run. I decided on a tour of Southampton, something of a canter around it’s central perimeter. The course, as far as my questionable cardio-respiratory physiology allows, is a reasonably taxing one and effectively involves going up a big hill and then down a big hill. Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 19.13.05Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 19.12.50

The run was taxing in terms of its ascent. I am sure veteran runners would snort in derision at its elevation but for me, the climb up Burgess Road (the northern aspect of the main quadrilateral) is as stimulating as it gets. From it’s origin in Swaythling and termination in Bassett at The North-West spine of The Avenue, the 2km is a relentless 2% climb.

Furthermore, from start to finish it provides no element of inspiration or encouragement. It is a miserable passage of crawling traffic and kebab shops. Bus stop passengers who refuse to move out of your way and narrow paths at the origin of the Common. Old ladies with iceberg like movements. In short, it is a route I avoid with an honest and unchanging passion.

Having completed this the middle 3-4km were really nothing to comment on. More or less downhill throughout their entirety, they passed without issue. Towards the end, I began to feel sick and developed some strangulating and persistent abdominal cramps. I could feel my stomach churning in a familiar and insidious manner, in solemn anticipation of events to come. In short, I wanted to shit myself.

I was thinking about expanding upon this comment but I’m going to stop. Partly because I don’t want to relive the feeling, partly because this is a family blog and no one wants to read about a grown man soiling his shorts like a fucking dickhead.

Anyway, all in all I completed the 14km at a 5:05min/km pace which was, as it happens the exact pace I had aimed for. The goal pace for this years Half marathons is 4:45 and +20s off goal pace is allowable for a intended paced run. I will try and keep the 10kms at 4:45 from hereon in which will hopefully give me a feel of what I can and can’t do. We’ll see. Tomorrow, the MONA fartlek.

Medium Long Run: 14km

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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.

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The Long Run: Kew(l) Loops

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.