12x1km and Sunday LSR

12 x 1km is a pretty nice work out all in all. It’s actually preferable to the 3km mini-tempo/intervals which, as I have described, can be galling in more ways than I can describe. The nice thing about a 1 kilometre rep, is that no matter how bad you feel on it, from literally moments of starting it, you can think about finishing it. 1km into a 3km rep is just no fun. No sir.

I chose Riverside Park in Bitterne Manor (Southampton) for the rep again. It’s as nice a place to do workouts as any, certainly in Southampton. Pleasant surroundings? Yup. Good path? Yup. Pedestrians? Yup – but more than enough room to negotiate. Perhaps the only thing lacking in the segment is its lack of loop. The park is one of my favourite areas in Southampton, but it is very much a commuters park. I often think that one of the reasons that so few people choose to walk there is because your options are limited walk through or walk back. I much prefer a nice loop.

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And so, all things considered, I felt fairly good about things. I ran a mile to the park, in the way of a warm up and felt fairly optimistic about things. It was early and I was silently pleased at the notable absence of people in the park. The first rep passed by easily enough and was performed at a 10km pace (4:30min/km). The 2 minute rest almost felt a little generous but my opinion on this had changed half way through. On turning back to come to the north end of the park, I realised a slight headwind would accompany me on every odd rep which was somewhat disheartening. Given the hurricane esque escapades of the preceding weeks however, I was willing to accept a little gentle breeze.

With a 1/6 of the workout completed, I felt a little worried. The thought of doing another 10 series of kilometres left me feeling uneasy. As I began my 3rd kilometre I realised on my way back for my 4th I would be a 1/3 of the work out in. There on in I divided each there and back loop into one segment into one repetition and it felt a lot better. By the time I’d returned for the third time, I had completed 1/2 of the workout.

I was suitably happy with my times also. Based on the intended pace of 4:30min/km, the splits were all happily well within this time and I can quite categorically say they felt pretty manageable. I should make it clear that the rests made this much much easier but, all in all I felt strong for the entirety of the workout. Here are the run details.

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The pace chart is far too big for me to screen shot – but all times as you can see are <4:30min/km. Quite happily, the rests were all well within 2 minutes as well, so not too much time spent hanging around for the next rep.

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The day ended with a gentle jog home and 17km in total. I felt great, all things considered. The following day I spent in London and ended up running 28km with my brother – 4 unintentional kilometres but you can’t miss an opportunity for a London tour though can you? There was a Royal Parks 10km also in Hyde Park when we arrive which we chose to run past and ignore.

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For those that care – don’t make the mistake of running along the Great West Road/A4. At 18km or so I told myself that it might make things better for me but really, it was just a noisy fucking nightmare. I cut back up through Stamford Brook and rejoined civility in Acton once again. From that point onwards, it was just counting down the kilometres home. I’ve paid for it today with DOMS all up in the place. I’ll never learn.

4 x 2miles. DNF.

The fucking storm is back. It was was positively biblical this morning. I woke up from one of those once in a lifetime sleeps that is so gloriously comfortable, it makes you question whether life is worth living and perhaps you might be better off with ending it all now, to save another 30 years of fucking bullshit. I realised that dying on a Wednesday would be pretty pathetic and so I may as well go for my run. I put my shit on. I walked down the shitting stairs and put my shitting shoes on. I opened the shitty front door and out into the shitty shitty wind and rain.

I began to commute to the run, in the form of a run and by way of a warm up. The pace was no more than around 5:20min/km, but the weather wasn’t having any of it. As I reached the top of Northam Bridge (and bear in mind this was only some 300m into my run), my pace had dropped to 6:00min/km. I looked at the thrashing water of the Itchen River underneath and once again contemplated ending it all. Dying on a Wednesday isn’t cool, I reminded myself.

By the time I got to the start of my loop I had felt enough of the almighty’s wrath to realise today was going to be a difficult run. The plan had been to run 4 x 2 miles at a 4:30min/km pace, but I quickly realised this would be near impossible in the circumstances and therefore decided to drop to 4:40. Like the bottler I am, I rounded the split down to 3000m also.

Here is the workout.

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The loop is essentially a quadrilateral that begins at the NE corner of St Mary’s Stadium. You then proceed in an anticlockwise direction. For the most part it is flat but for a gentle ascent at the northern most border. In all it creates a useable 2km loop that is for a good part, run-a-ble. Given its position, it is in no danger of winning beauty spot of the year and the circulating drivers, hurry into the docks without notice or care. I cannot imagine your safety is at the top of their agenda.

As I expected, the run began and immediately I began to struggle. No more than 500m into the run I had already begun to entertain thoughts of abandoning the whole thing. You have to understand the circumstances. It was dark. The rain was torrential, the wind equally so. The noise of the traffic was in equal parts distracting and irritating. The ground was uneven at places and along certain corners and craters, huge puddles filled like lakes in a jungle. I was not having fun and this was only the first rep.

In as much as 2 mile intervals are beneficial, they’re also a right fucking pain in the arse. Particularly when you have 4 to do. So you start. You begin to struggle and you realise, you’ve still got well over a mile till your first break and even then it’s only 25% of the workout. 25%. TWENTY FIVE PERCENT. You still have another 3 circuits to do, I swear to Jah, they are fucking miserable.

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All in all, I performed as poorly as I expected. By the time I got to fourth rep, I had had enough. Soaked to the bone, I just wanted to go home. I completed 1km of the 3 and stopped my watch.

Although this run will be chalked up as a bad run, I’m still relatively happy with myself. I am hoping that the commitment to push on days when you struggle like today will come in handy during the race. I know Brighton is a there and back course and so I am aware of how possible it might be for a solid 10km headwind accompaniment. I really hope that’s not the case but I’d be foolish to not anticipate it.

-4

It’s freezing. I mean it is literally fucking freezing. This isn’t Russia. This isn’t Canada. I’m not in the Arctic circle. I woke up this morning in Poole and looked at the thermometer/iPhone and as sure as the day is long, read -4 degrees on the screen. I got out of bed and got dressed, ready for the incoming run.

In all honesty, the cold doesn’t bother me as much as it does some people. Certainly not the Youtube wankers. I wouldn’t particularly care if it dropped another 5-10 degrees. For me, it’s the precipitation that ruins it all. As long as there is no sign of moisture on the ground, in the air, or on my fucking face I really couldn’t give a shit. There seem to be a lot of YouTube posts on “how to dress up for the cold” and “how to prepare for winter runs” and “how to brush your teeth without central heating on” and frankly that is bullshit. If you need a 12 year old with an eating disorder and a devastatingly profound obsession with themselves to teach you how to put on some fucking clothes and put one foot in front of the other, than fuck you. You have failed as an adult. You have failed as a person. Just fuck off.

As it happens, I don’t. I run because it’s simple. I don’t need to do anything beyond, bring my kit and go. I certainly don’t need a how to video. With that in mind I began my run this morning.

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I’m on my recovery week this week. What this pertains to is a rest week every five weeks of training, so to allow my body to recover and presumably “absorb” the efforts of the preceding four weeks. Whilst a period of rest is always welcome, it is equally interesting to reflect upon  whether exactly improvements have been made. Without a doubt, this has been the case in some respects and I feel that my baseline aerobic capacity has improved markedly. My running discipline has improved – I feel more in control of my cadence, posture and most importantly – my mind. In other places there are still large gains to be made but on balance things feel like they have improved.I will discuss this in more detail on my next post.

Back to my run today. Planned was a frosty 6km at a recovery pace. Goaded by my own ego, some 400m into the run I decided to convert it into a progressive tempo of sorts. As you may or may not know (you should fucking know), my goal pace is 4:40/45 for the upcoming Brighton Half and so I decided to aim at around 4:45, for an all round good time. As the run progressed, each successive split got faster and faster (see above) and the final splits looked a little like this: 4:56 – 4:44 – 4:40 – 4:37 – 4:32 – 4:26.

HOW ABOUT THAT FOR SOME NEGATIVE FUCKING SPLITTAGE. How nice. I finished the run positively gleaming, teetering on 5km pace. I felt tired but I could have continued, if co-erced. On the first loop of the pool I was amazed I hadn’t slipped on the ice lining the edges of the path and broken my neck. On the last I was amazed at how good I felt. For the first time in a long time, I feel good and on top of my training.

 

 

 

The MONA Fartlek.

I really like this workout. The MONA Fartlek, the eponymous tribute to its creator (Steve Monghetti) is a fantastic test of anaerobic fitness. Not always so, but I have been using it as such. I don’t always look forward to the speed workouts; they are a relentless ordeal on the body – a compound of extreme pain and an insidious fatigue, but this one I have enjoyed so far. My enjoyment is likely tantamount to a inefficient workout overall however and I will explain this later. For now though, I like it, whether it is benefiting me or not. I feel like it is and the rest of you can shut up.

To digress briefly, I am sat here writing this in the canteen of Southampton General Hospital. To my right is a large gentleman putting away a cooked breakfast for his lunch. I am trying not to look but he does not look like he needs the calories. I believe he is sweating. I run for many reasons, but a significant and enduring one is my refusal to conform to my genetics. Cardiovascular disease runs rife through my lineage. I just do not want a heart attack.

Back to the topic at hand. I won’t go into the detail of this workout as there are plenty of blogs and instructive articles online. I will outline it’s skeleton briefly below for those of you that have not completed the fartlek yet. It is in total a 20 minute affair, with ever reducing subsequent intervals. The emphasis, as I loosely alluded to before, is on completing the rests at a significant pace and one that does not allow the body to adjust and recover. Hence my enjoyment of the workout may be a little misguided. To be clear though, I end each workout with my lungs as dry as the desert, so on some level, it must be working.

2 x 1min 30s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 60s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 30s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 15s (Equal rest floats)

That should, in total equal to 20minutes. I might have miscalculated, and if I have, I don’t care, look up the workout yourself. I am pretty sure it’s right so put your calculators away.

 

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Although I am training for the Brighton Half marathon, I have been running these intervals to 5km time more or less. What this means is – I should be running the fast interval at 10km pace and the rest at HM pace. On the contrary,  I am instead doing, or at least trying to do the fast interval at 5km at the rest at 10km. From the graph above you can see that this has not quite been the case. My mistakes are as follows.

  1. The onset of each interval scrapes 4:00min/km and rapidly tails off. I have a tendency to slow down before the onset of the rest which is not ideal. Bad me.
  2. The rests are slow. Too slow. Realistically I should have been at around 4:30-4:40. At the trough, the rests skirted around 5:20 which is ridiculous. I may as well have tucked myself into bed.
  3. The last 15s splits were quite happily incoherent. Realistically, the last 15 strides are meant to be a real test of anaerobic effort at fatigue. So they should be run faster, much faster than the original 2 intervals and as can be noticed, this was once again askew.

 

In total I managed 4.40km in 19:53s (4:30min/km) pace. This equates to about 4.44km at 20minutes. Previously I managed 4.38km in 20:20, and so a demonstrable, if small improvement. I am quietly confident that Mo Farah is not going to be shaking in his boots but I’ll take any improvement at my stage. En route to the 20min 5km, this is only 500m off, which is hugely reassuring. If I can tidy up the above mistakes than I have no question that this could be improved even further. I’ll be repeating the workout in February once again and it would nice to get on the business side of 4.5km. The trick really is going to be the rests – keeping them above 5:00min/km. That should be enough.

 

 

Final Run of the Year: 10km

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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.

 

Mile Repeats: Lammas Park

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My legs are still heavy and reluctant. Although the emphasis on improvement is very much present, I cannot seem to rest my legs enough. As such, every run at the moment is a battle. Just getting out of the door is a full on war. Today’s workout of five 1 mile repeats seemed straightforward enough but my gentle warm up down to Lammas Park was reminder enough that my legs would not deal with this well. The wind, which had been threatening an encore for several days, finally returned and with quite some venom. In West London a southerly current blew excitedly through the dimly lit streets in it’s search for equilibrium. I passed a bin man muttering to himself as he pooled rubbish bags in preparation for the oncoming rubbish truck. Further along a rubbish bag was splayed across the road, a single tear gaping its insides. Wrapping paper and polystyrene decorated the concrete in small manic eruptions, green and gold across the black of the road. Even the foxes were in their dens this morning.

I got to the park and began the first repetition. For a reminder, this is the loop of the park which totals a mile exactly, marked helpfully by 100m signposts. Screenshot 2015-12-30 10.05.34.png

The wind hit me at the first 200m or so at the northerly end of the park and my heart sank. It rallied against me repeatedly and without mercy till the very apex of park and the acute turn back up towards the start. I finished the first mile and gently jogged in a central bisector of the park and contemplated my options. I could not see myself completing another four of these. Here is the workout and the pace chart.

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As you can see, in the succeeding rests I walked and contrary to what I have said in the past or will say in the future, this was borne out of complete necessity – I simply could not see myself completing the workout without resting completely. Each mile was a gruelling endeavour. The first 800m (which were a supposed downhill) were accompanied by what can only be described as a wind tunnel, a constant and merciless battering against the elements which only really let up as you turned fully away for it and onto the uphill which in itself added another barrier.

The final mile splits came to 7:14, 7:09, 7:07, 7:13 and 7:15. A fair performance in the circumstances. I sat on a park bench afterwards and watched two men complete a series of circuits – running between trees, doing press-ups and displaying awkward and slightly comical poses, which I assumed were for my entertainment. I took the above picture just in front of the Lammas enclosure and decided to film a time lapse, just in case anything of significance happened. It didn’t. Disappointed, I picked myself up to drag myself back. For the first time that morning the wind placed a gentle hand on my back and guided me home.

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.