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Sunday, 24 February 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 6 of 14

VLM - Week 6 of 14
Week 6 - (Mon 18/2 - Sun 24/2)

Mon: 10.0 Miles @ 8:44/mile
Tues: 6.21 Miles @ 8:32/mile
Weds: 8.0 Miles incl Dorothy Hyman 5,000m 18:36 (5:59/mile)
Thurs: 18.0 Miles @ 7:47/mile
Fri: 6.21 Miles @ 8:33/mile
Sat(am): 6.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun 18:27 (5:56, 5:50, 5:53) (2nd)
Sat(pm): 8.5 Miles incl. National XC Champs 58:13 (613th)
Sun: 15.0 Miles incl. Snake Lane 10 1:04:58 (6:30/mile)

Total Mileage: 77.9 Miles

Another week in the region of 80 miles, which I reckon is just about my sweet spot for marathon training. Any more and the following week would need to compensate, so 80 is about the most that is maintainable over a few weeks for me.

This week deliberately included a good volume of hard graft miles, 23.5 miles of tough work which is probably about double the quantity of miles that I could manage as out and out quality work.

It was very varied too comprising of flat tarmac, hilly tarmac, track racing and mud racing. Painful exfoliation was also thrown into the mix :p

So, in very rough layman's terms the VLM build up is following three phases:

a) Mileage with not much concern about anything else.
b) Mileage plus hard graft.
c) Slightly lower mileage plus speed development.

...and it is that middle stage at the moment.

Wednesday - Dorothy Hyman Winter 5,000m

The legs felt ready for the first 17:xx of the year leading into this but conditions and the way the race developed just didnt allow it.

It was a freezing night and lungs full of icy air always lead to relatively poor performances on my part. Add this to the bit of wind that was about and the fact that the race was all run in a large gap and a pretty mediocre 18:36 was the result.

Interestingly, the legs at the end didnt feel as though they had been in a race at all due to the lungs being the limiting factor.

As this was the last race in the winter series of 4 races it is appropriate to thank Gavin Felton, Dave Bennett and Keith Binney for their efforts in putting on these races, especially considering that officiating is usually done in sub zero temperatures.

Thursday Hilly 18.0 Miler

Now this was a good run :)

Probably due to the previous night's lack of speed the legs were still in good shape and therefore for roughly the same effort as the earlier comparable runs this ended up being at least 30 secs/mile quicker.

The same efforts on the same course so far in this build up have produced:

10th Jan: 18.0 Hilly Miles @ 9:28/mile, weight 74.5kg
4th Feb: 18.0 Hilly Miles @ 8:19/mile, weight 73.2kg
21st Feb: 18.0 Hilly Miles @ 7:47/mile, weight 71.6kg

Nothing wrong with that sequence :)

Saturday(am) - Dewsbury parkrun

After the 18:36 on the track on Wednesday night I was interested in seeing what the outcome would be running the same distance on a course which is accepted as being 40 secs slower.

The answer was a strong feeling 18:27, which confirmed what I was thinking about 17:xx times being back on the agenda.

A trip to Hull parkrun on 9th March has been booked in to prove the point beyond any reasonable doubt :)

I would really like to see a 16:xx time closer to VLM but one step at a time........

Saturday(pm) - National XC, Sunderland

It was quite a shock to drive from Dewsbury in dry, clear conditions and then reach the area around Durham to find a serious dumping of snow and ice.

And because the Senior Men's race at the National XC is the last race at 3pm all the snowfall had been well and truly churned into the ground to create the deepest and most extensive mud fest I have seen in one of these events.

None of the photos seem to show quite how deep the mud was but this pic of Dr Ken Fox ploughing around the course gives some idea. If you look at the runners in the background you will see how runners are completely avoiding the middle section and preferring to run a longer course instead.

 This was teammate Dave Crossley thoroughly enjoying his Saturday afternoon:

As for my own run I actually quite enjoyed it, mainly because I had no expectations at all and just came to work hard and go away with some stored up training benefit.

Even though it was difficult to get into any sort of rhythm you could find a passable route around the course that enabled you to achieve the ultimate combination of a) Staying upright and b) Moving in a forwards direction.

At least you could for MOST of the time :p

As we were just starting out on the final of three laps, I was unknowingly being closely tracked by this teammate, who was just getting ready for his attack:

Before I knew it he had shoulder barged me, causing me to go crashing down into the quagmire. As I carefully prised my winded body out of the strong suction I heard an evil laugh disappearing into the distance.

At least that is the story doing the rounds. I've no idea where the story came from.....;)

But after getting back up I was still too fast for photographer, Dawn Broom :)

And once that mud had dried on it ripped hairs out of my legs like I've never known before - I believe some people actually pay for similar experiences!!!

And this was my pacemaker from my 10 mile PB race back in 1987 trying to blag an autograph from the famous Kev Doyle:

Sunday - Snake Lane 10, Pocklington nr. York

A cold, crisp but Sunny morning for this outing involving lots of familiar faces. There wasnt even a hint of snow or mud, in complete contrast to yesterday afternoon up in the North East.

Snake Lane is undoubtedly a fast course and conditions this morning were good enough for PB chasing. But, that wasnt on my agenda, of course, after yesterday's efforts.

So I had to set my stall out for what I did want to get out of it on very tired legs.

My thinking was that if I got around at around 6:30/mile, ie roughly 2:50 marathon pace, without overly struggling, after having had a week of doing everything I could to batter the legs then that would be a satisfying outcome.

I half expected to maybe be able to run at that sort of pace for 3 or 4 miles and then have to manage a decline as the legs gave up the ghost.

It started okay with a first mile of 6:30 and a second mile of 6:30. How did that happen? But that was it in terms of checking the pace, happy in the knowledge that it was about right.

The next checking of the Garmin was at the end, which showed 1:04:58, an average of 6:30, and a halfway split of exactly 32:30!! It looked like a programmed schedule rather than actual splits but sure enough they were genuine!

So I got what I wanted out of it without straining anything but that isnt to say it was easy, in fact it was quite a grind and I was glad when it was over. But I have to be happy at just the fact that I could grind it out at the end of this week. It should produce some decent benefits in a couple of weeks.

Big performances today came from:

Jacquie Robson - Took a huge 6 minutes off her PB after sensibly avoiding the lure of the National XC yesterday while, meanwhile, hubby Alister was in the same boat as me starting on battered legs and suffered the same grinding toil as a result.

Phill Taylor - Using the same impeccable pacing skills he employed to land his 3rd place in October's Chester Marathon he delivered a negative split to take his PB down from 54:22 to around 53:19.

Rich Spooner - Another to take a hefty chunk of over a minute off his PB to clock 57:26.

John Robson (no relation to Jacqui above, or at least I dont think so!) - First time under the much sought after 60 minute barrier with a much deserved 59:45.

Which all shows that there was absolutely nothing wrong with conditions.

Next Week:

Unusually, there are no fixed elements set for this coming week, although I have a slight suspicion that there may be a parkrun at 9am on Saturday morning!

So, as a broad outline, I will be looking to get another 80ish mile in with most of the following components:

1. A 20 mile LSR
2. A 15-18 mile MLR
3. A progressive 10 Miler, finishing at around 6:00/mile or just under.
4. parkrun 5K

The order will sort itself out as the week progresses.

And in terms of VLM, it still all feels nicely on track :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 5 of 14

VLM - Week 5 of 14
Week 5 - (Mon 11/2 - Sun 17/2)

Mon: 10.0 Miles @ 9:13/mile
Tues: Rest Day
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 10.0 Miles @ 9:19/mile
Fri: 10.0 Miles @ 8:08/mile
Sat : 8.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun 19:14 (5:57,6:11,6:21)
Sun: 15.5 Miles @ 8:28/mile

Total Mileage: 53.5 Miles

This week became an unintentional cutback week, which in the greater scheme of things wont do any harm.

Tuesday was an appropriate rest day, coming two days after the 3 hrs 39 mins of hilly running around the Spen 20 course but Wednesday just became a non starter due to a blizzard of icy snow.

Dewsbury parkrun

Each week seems to be surpassing the previous one at the moment in terms of the overall event.

There was another post inaugural record attendance of 79 runners for Jason Newell's debut as Run Director, and with 11 being first timers the 25 PBs out of the 68 eligible runners gives a good indication of how favourable conditions were in the Spring like sunshine.

These PBs included both male and female new course records:

Matt Pierson lost his share of the course record last week when Kev Ogden set the new mark of 16:52 but it didnt take him long to get his name back in the record books by getting round the hilly course in 16:10 in the middle of a 100 mile week.

Hannah Oldroyd lowered her own mark of 19:50 down to 19:28.

This has come after taking all speedwork, except races/parkruns, out of her training for a while to concentrate on getting some decent mileage into the legs. The recent long runs, followed by a week of just steady running, is clearly feeding through into increased strength. This 19:28 is a another improvement on her 18:55 at Huddersfield last week based on the added difficulty of the Dewsbury course.

And another impressive PB from Tom Howard with his first sub 19:00 run with 18:55. Three weeks ago his PB was 19:23 but again concentrating on mileage for his VLM build up has fed through into the added strength that produces stronger 5K times.

There seems to be improved fitness everywhere you look at the moment amongst those running the course on a regular basis :)

My own run was a run of the mill 19:14, worth around an 18:30 run on a flat course but the legs were feeling tired, more of which in a minute, and I am more interested in trying to get a 17:xx clocking for the distance next Wednesday on the track.

Sunday LSR
A beautiful sunny morning for a long run around my hilly countryside route.

The original intention was to get 18 completed at a relaxed pace and then pick the pace up over the last 4 miles for a fast finishing 22.

But of course this was dependent upon the legs being willing............ which they werent! So at 15.5 miles the quads really had had enough and that was the end of the run.

There is a difference between ploughing on for additional training benefit and ploughing on when the only likely result is strains and tears, so in the interests of keeping on the right side of the overtraining line again the sensible option was taken.

In terms of long runs, there have been runs of 18, 20, 23, 20, 20.5, 18, 23 and 15.5  in just over 5 weeks, so it feels like the back has been broken of this part of the training and it is no surprise that the legs are feeling it a bit.

I'm happy to space them out a bit more now and let some speed start developing as the weight comes down.

Next Week:

A fun filled week coming up with no less than 4 races involved. This should work well in kick starting a bit of speeding up as the last 9 weeks of the VLM build up approaches:

1. Weds - Dorothy Hyman Winter Series 5,000m.
Hopefully will go close to a 17:xx time for the first time since last October.

2. Sat(am) - Dewsbury parkrun

3. Sat(pm) - National XC Champs, Sunderland.
Probably the highest quality mass participation event on the calendar where a top 500 position would represent a big performance, but is probably a bit out of range at the moment.

4. Snake Lane 10 - This will all depend on the state of the legs after the previous day but would like to use it as a progressive session in maybe 62-63 minutes. We will see!

9 weeks to go..................................

Sunday, 10 February 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 4 of 14

VLM - Week 4 of 14
Week 4 - (Mon 4/2 - Sun 10/2)

Mon: 18.0 Miles @ 8:19/mile
Tues: 10.0 Miles @ 8:33/mile
Weds: 12.0 Miles incl Dorothy Hyman 10,000m 38:29 (6:10/mile)
Thurs: 12.0 Miles @ 8:47/mile
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 6.0 Miles incl Dewsbury parkrun 18:37 (5:58, 5:54, 5:56) (5th)
Sun: 23.1 miles @ 9:25/mile

Total Mileage: 81.1 Miles

After last week's requirement for a bit of easing off to get back on the right side of the overtraining line this week was the bounce back week where the legs just wanted to run and were quite happy to get the miles in.

Monday 18.0 Miles
This run flowed really nicely on the usual hilly route and was going to be a 20 miler. However, coming into the last 3-4 miles a vicious hail storm started which felt like Phil Taylor was using my face as target practise.

The legs may have been keen to finish off the 20 miles but my face certainly wasnt. So 18 miles it was......

Wednesday Dorothy Hyman Winter 10,000m track race

Coming just 3 days after Dewsbury 10K and with 34 miles sandwiched between the two this was intended to be a good hard graft 10,000 on tired legs without too much concern for the time.

I had set it up mentally as 5 blocks of 5 laps and the aim was to run each block slightly faster than the last.

This wasnt necessarily going to be easy to judge on a windy night and on tired legs but it felt strong and controlled as the first three blocks of 5 laps were ticked off in 7:42, 7:41, 7:38. It was therefore nicely set up for a bit of a push towards the finish but the wearing effect of the wind led to the last two blocks being 7:46, 7:42.

But overall a session which consisted of 6 miles warm up + 6 miles @ 6:10/mile is a very positive contribution to the training mix!

Dewsbury parkrun
From an Event Director point of view I really enjoyed this week's event.

There was a record number of new runners (21), an overall record number of runners since the inaugural event (68) and a record number of PBs (21 out of 47 eligible). Those bare stats fed into producing a lot of beaming faces by 10am on Saturday morning! And that is what it is all about :)

From a running point of view, it was also a very positive story with the fastest time since last August. More importantly, the legs felt really strong especially on the uphill drags.

I take the weekly parkrun times with a pinch of salt but the overall pattern of recent weeks since the downtime clearly shows the aerobic benefit of the recent six 20 milers starting to feed through:

1/12 20:14
15/12 19:46
25/12 21:48
29/12 19:51
5/1 20:36
12/1 19:28
19/1 20:06
2/2 18:58
9/2 18:37

Dewsbury is a course which is  about 40 secs slower than a flat course so I've got to be pleased with potentially being back in 17:xx shape already, whilst still being a good 10-11lbs off racing weight.

Sunday 23.1 Miler
The idea here was to add another 20 miler into the mix by doing a dry run of the Spen 20 course, Spen 20 being a race which will be a key part of the VLM training in a few weeks time.

But it became a bit more interesting than planned due to criss crossing today's Liversedge Half Marathon route at several points, a race in which several friends were competing, including:

Kev Ogden (the man who broke the Dewsbury parkrun course record yesterday)
Kelvin Dickinson
(the man who recently ran three marathons in 5 days including two sub 3s in successive days)
Tom Howard (Dewsbury Run Director building up to VLM)
Jonny Cartwright
(Dewsbury parkrun founder)
Ian Ogden
(a brave man running in nothing but a vest in freezing conditions)
Gavin Felton (clubmate who organises the winter track races at Dorothy Hyman).

This mobile race spectating actually added a bit of distance to the run and the planned 20 ended up being 23.1 miles of hilly conditioning work.

But the most remarkable thing about this run was that my running partner, Hannah Oldroyd, has never actually run further than 13 miles in training before the last couple of weeks and yet has now completed a 20.5 miles, a 17 miles and now a 23.1 miles in the last 14 days and seems to be recovering well in between.

This has been during a period when she has run her first sub 20:00 5K and then yesterday her first sub 19:00 5K at Huddersfield parkrun. with an 18:55.

This bodes very well for her VLM build up. A week of nothing but steady running now to consolidate though.....

And since she is likely to read this this, I have to add the standard disclaimer that she is still rubbish :)

For some reason, the run seems to have made her head a little heavy:

Next Week:
Week 5 is probably going to be the nearest that I will get to a standard training week, a rare event.

What that means in practise is probably the following:

1. A progressive 10 miler in something like 63-65 minutes.
2. An MLR of 18 miles.
3. Dewsbury parkrun
4 An LSR of 20-22 miles.

Mileage wise, it will be in the 70-90 mile region but if rest days are appropriate at any point this could drop a bit.

Still very happy with overall progress towards VLM :)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 3 of 14

VLM - Week 3 of 14
Week 3 - (Mon 28/1 - Sun 3/2)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles @ 8:22/mile
Weds: 8.0 Miles incl. Dorothy Hyman Winter 2 Miles Track Race 12:19 (5:59, 6:20)
Thurs: 9.0 Miles @ 8:47/mile
Fri: 10.0 Miles @ 8:12/mile
Sat: 6.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun  18:58 (5:56,6:01,6:07) (3rd)
Sun: 8.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury 10K 38:12 (19:35,18:37) (6:11,6:18,6:26,5:54,5:54,6:07)

Total Mileage: 51.0 Miles

This was one of those weeks where my legs said 'hang on a minute, we're knackered - cant we have a bit of rest'.

Now they can be lazy little sods at times but on this occassion they were justified in having a bit of a moan after the five 20+ milers in 17 days.

So it was a case of carrying on but being aware that I had to get back on the right side of the overtraining line.

Dorothy Hyman Winter Track 2.0 miles

This was a great example of how cumulative long runs in quick succession can kill speed until the training effect has bedded in.

Setting off with what would normally be a very comfortable first lap of 86 seconds, each subsequent lap then got progressively slower. This was very much a run in slow motion, completely untroubled but no chance of going any quicker.

Thursday Evening 9.0 Miles

This run could have gone either way, the legs could have bounced back and been ready for some more steady miles or, alternatively, could be lifeless and still wanting rest.

Setting off with an outline 18 miler in mind, it was flowing reasonably well for the first 7-8 miles but then treacle rapidly accumulated in the legs such that I couldnt even get to the completion of 10 miles. At 9 miles I had to walk.

This is where experience comes in because I take this as a good sign, meaning that the total training load up to this point is right up at the top end of what I am able to tolerate and, as such, will lead to as much training benefit as possible without breaking down. That is as long as I keep an eye on potentially going into overtraining territory.

Dewsbury parkrun

After last week's cancellation due to dangerous ice and snow, this week Crow Nest Park was back to looking like this:

And conditions were perfect in every way, as evidenced by the fact that 15 runners out of a potential 41 ran PBs, including a resurgent Tom Howard, who has been convinced he was in PB shape for a few weeks and finally got the conditions to prove it, taking another 10 secs off to record 19:13.

My own run of 18:58 was worth around 18:15 on a flat course, which I was more than pleased with because it probably represents comeback PB fitness in terms of cardiovascular capacity. As soon as weight gets back into line with where it was around August/September the comeback PB of 17:25 could well be back in range.

So I had quite a spring in my step after this run, especially being so soon after the mid week treacle treading. :)

This was also the first parkrun out of the four completed in 2013 where I had managed to get round the whole thing with both shoelaces tied throughout. So two fully tied shoelaces on the same day as the fastest time of 2013, I wonder if there could be something in this? I might even try keeping them tied again just to see :)

Dewsbury 10K

For a race that starts at 9am it might be a good idea to wake up before 8:10am. Luckily it was the nearest race of the year, so bacon saved!

Dewsbury is a straight out and back course, with an almost imperceptible incline on the outwards 5K but enough to make the return journey pretty swift, especially today as there was a headwind on the way out.

Going into this race I was thinking that anything beginning with a 37 would keep things well on track for being ready for April. So, considering the wind, I have to be happy enough with only being 12 seconds away, 38:12 (19:35,18:37) - 6:11 6:18, 6:26, 5:54, 5:54, 6:07

This confirmed what I was thinking yesterday, in terms of having a comeback PB engine once the weight comes back into line. It was an untroubled race, with the legs feeling strong and breathing being relaxed but, as would be expected with a number of quick fire long runs, I wasnt able to get the HR up to the levels that will be possible in a few weeks time.

And I spent most of the second half doing battle with Kate Middleton's husband. The bodyguards were very good at being invisible I have to say!

This was at about 9.5K, with me in dark blue. I look so much better in blurred vision :) (I think photographer John Broom blurred it intentionally to be honest):

I'm sure Danny Norman doesnt read this but just in case I would like to point out that very rare beast in the background of this photo - a red postbox in Yorkshire! :p

Taking into account the 10Ks since the downtime, it feels like everything is pretty much on track:

18th Nov: Abbey Dash 41:34
16th Dec: Telford 10K 39:34
3rd Feb: Dewsbury 10K 38:12

Very big performances this morning from:

Dan Holdsworth - 35:21. A new PB by 1:18. I was three minutes in front of Dan at GNR in September, I'm happy to finish before he's packed up and gone home now :P

Tom Williams - Tom signposted a PB on Facebook this morning and then went and delivered, with a first sub 37 clocking of 36:57!

Next Week:

The fixed items this coming week are:

Weds: 10,000m track race at Cudworth - I will be attempting to run this progressively, with each 5 lap block being a bit quicker than the previous 5 laps. But, on a basic level, it will just be an opportunity to string together another block of strong miles on relatively tired legs.

Sat - Dewsbury parkrun

Sun - 20 miles. This will be a gentle run around the course of the Spen 20.

If the legs are feeling up to it I may get another 20 miler in on Monday, just to make the Wednesday evening 10,000 even more challenging.....