Tuesday, 18 May 2010

On hold

So with my laptop broken, I'm having to hold station for now. Race report from the 10k on Sunday though.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Ah, the burn.

It's been a while since I did any running above 7:50/mile pace. Although with a 10k next Sunday I decided to add 1 mile at 10k effort into my 8.5 mile run this morning. I haven't improved my aerobic pace by any big margin since I started BT, but I was struck by the difference in feel of the mile I did. The lactic acid build up was very slow and my breathing was under control the whole time - no way did it feel like I was hitting 90% MHR the whole time. 6:41/mile and I'm quite happy with that. I'm still feeling sluggish, but another session this week and one early next week and I should be in better shape.

Given this, I'm considering cutting my BT short by two weeks. This would give me 12 weeks to complete my 10k training cycle, which I reckon would be more beneficial. I seem to have a reasonable base already from sports over the years, so after the 10k race I might just capitulate and start the mesocycle.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Hitting my head on the 10k ceiling

I had a rather enjoyable 9.5 mile run this morning. Averaging 8:31/mile, it was by no means my fastest, but I'm slowly seeing an upwards trend in my average pace. 6 weeks ago, over 1 week, I averaged 8:50/mile pace, and last week I did 8:35/mile over similar mileage and weather conditions.

Naturally, it's going to take more than 6 weeks to prove that base training is working for me - by the end of my 11 week pre-schedule...schedule, I should have enough sporttracks data to show an overall trend in my pace constituting in my superior aerobic capabilities.

There's a rather fascinating thread over in runnersworld right now called "The Middle Ground" (of which I'm a regular contributor), in which we're discussing various aspects of training and workouts. I admit to spending much more time on it than I should be - having said that, I've gained a massive amount of knowledge from a number of very experienced and informed forum members, which I plan to implement into my various schedules.

I'm also a contributor on Fetcheveryone's thread about Hadd's distance running approach (which I'm following at this current time). While I won't go into the specifics here, some people have commented on what I'm achieving purely off of my aerobic capacity - I've only been running seriously for 15 months and I'm targeting a 41:00 10k purely off of base training on May 25th.

I really don't know what I could do in the future. While I'm hardly expecting to raise myself to Steve Way/Marigold levels, I really think that I could post some respectable times at a regional level.

One of the key things I've learnt from "The Middle Ground" recently is to stop the habit of putting a goal time on a key race - it tends to give you a mental block when you're hitting the pace times in an interval session - why settle for a lesser time when you really could go faster if you'd just tried to keep improving?
Hey guys, wait for me!

I blogged a few days ago about targeting a 40:00 10k in August. I've now decided to forget about that time, and see what happens. A 40:00 10k time is difficult, more difficult than a 1:30 HM or a 19:00 5k personally (he says, making it sound so simple!). While a 5k needs a high VO2 max, and a HM requiring high LT and pure endurance, a 10k really requires BOTH of these and quite a few people tend to forsake one of these.

So I'm just going to see where the chips fall. After ignoring my anaerobic engine for almost 2 months now, I reckon I'll be able to improve quite well in my 10-week mesosycle before the Forfar 10k. Given the amount of 10k interval sessions I plan to do, I should be able to peak either the week or the week before the race. Add that in with a 10M race I'm doing 3 weeks before, and I should be in great shape.

So the 10k pace will be run by feel. Can I keep the pace I'm currently running at for 6.2 miles? Yes, I can. Ooh, look, 6:25/mile. Raceday? Bam.

It may turn out that I'm being too ambitious and I need another 10k mesocycle to hit 40:00. It may turn out I'm not being ambitious enough and I end up with about 39:00. Regardless, the only achieved target I want to take away from my 10k races (hell, ALL my key races) is that I ran the hardest I could.

The far future? I could be sitting here in 10 years time, blogging about the 31:00 10k I just ran. Or I could be sitting here feeling pleased as I finally break 40:00. It's all about potential, and through determination, motivation, smart training, and passion, I'll reach my maximum potential. As long as I did my best.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

"Join the club..."

I admit to having a bit of an allergy to clubs. Not necessarily running clubs, but sports clubs in general. Those who read the last entry will remember I talked about the St Andrews Rugby Club - I made my point about those guys. Basically, if you don't own Iceland (although, who wants to at the moment?) and have a deluxe yacht paid for with Daddy's money then you don't belong there. It reached a height with a 7 hour round trip to Ayr to play a match, which I was the only person not to play out of the entire squad.

I'm not an cocky, arrogant person (I think). If I'm not good enough to cut it - like I was in this instance - then I'll admit it. At least I gave it a go, right? But it was more the fact the other players considered me inferior to them, not on a technical, playing level, but on a personal level.

Throw in the football club I played with before. We were pretty shite. The ethos wasn't there. I think in the 6 or 7 years I played for them we won about 10 matches (and most of them were in 5-a-side tournaments). We all had fun, but at the same time I craved some success. It's only natural to be competitive when you're 12, right?

Which brings me neatly onto my point today. I've debated joining a running club for a while now. Many of my friends, both from home and University, say I should join a club. While it certainly holds an amount of appeal to me, I wonder if it's the best idea in the long term.

It's no surprise to hear me say that I enjoy running - after all, why am I doing it if I don't? My feelings are that joining a club might suck the enjoyment out of running - after looking at the average times for clubs in the Fife area, I'd be up there with the top runners as soon as I joined. This, I think, would mean I put myself under a lot of personal pressure - the pressure to succeed, not for myself but for everyone else. I'd start running not for myself but for a club. I've always ran for myself, I consider it to be a personal achievement and not sometihng that anyone else can influence. When I finish a race, I finish it because of my own training and not training that someone else has told me to do.

I'm not denying the social aspects of running - I could gas on for hours about various aspects of the sport - however at the same time my personality reflects that of a lone wolf - I'm not the most extroverted person in the world and running gives me that alone time I need to put my world to rights. It gives me personal, reflection time, and with a club I might lose that.

So anyway. It's in the back of my mind, but at the same time, I'm hesitant to take the plunge. I'm progressing nicely now as it is, and I see no reason to change at the moment.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

"Be gentle, it's my first time..."

I guess it's important to set the scene. Genesis, if you will. Great band. Eh, moving on, this is primarily a running blog, after all (with the odd diversion every now and then).

It's important to talk about my first running experience. Well, not the very first, I did play football for Aberdeenshire at this point in my life, so I was used to running around a lot (and losing 36-0, we didn't take it all that seriously). But this race was the first time I've ran in a race, against the clock.

I might need to check with my mum on this, but I'm pretty sure it was December 26th, 2005. Here I was, a 15-year old with no clue about running whatsoever, about to take part in a pretty darn' hilly 5k race. Needless to say, I sprinted off like a jackass, and stopped about 2 minutes later, out of breath. Off I set again, (slower the time), got faster, and had to stop again. Into the sprint finish and I damn well nearly threw up at the end. 29:31 was the final time (it's funny how these things stick in your mind), and I realised A) I was hopelessly unfit and B) I hated running. Typical of my attitude at the time, I had never done something before, I didn't do well so I hated it.

Let's skip forward 4 years. Same day, same course. Now a fully-fledged runner and in half-marathon mode, on an ankle-deep snowy course, and after the king's share of food and alcohol at the dinner table the day before, I finished in 20:47. I didn't throw up. Although I was passed by a 12-year old who I later found out is one of the top XC talents in Britain (I beat her up the hill though).

4 years, and 8: 16 quicker. What changed?

Football eventually gave way in 2007. I'd had enough of losing 20-0 each time we had a 2.5 hour round trip to St. Cyrus simply to make up the numbers. I'd keep playing for fun, but my competitive days were over. Hell of an age for retirement, 16. Anyway, the Academy Rugby team had started and I fancied a shot at that. Given that I was the quickest guy in the team, I was put at fullback, which worked out pretty well - I scored a few tries at least. I was really enjoying myself and I was planning to take it up at St Andrews (which I had been accepted to in Fall 2007).

We got word in January 2007 that a Sevens tournament was to be held in Edinburgh that May. Seeing as Sevens is notorious for being very demanding, I decided to try and gain some level of fitness for it. I dusted off the ol' treadmill (how I laugh now), and began.

I started off with 20 minutes a day, whenever I could be bothered - normally 3 days a week, sometimes 4. I remember getting up to 7.5mph at one point and thinking "Jesus!". I took part during this time in a one-off 5k race at Aberdeen Beach - which is snooker-table flat. I did 23:30 (you'll see soon, I seem to finish races either xx:00 or xx:30) and remember being very happy with myself.

The Sevens tournament went well - quarterfinals. Soon after, I left my Academy and running kind of stopped over the summer. In September, I fled the nest to Fife.

I joined the rugby team, and all was well - for about 3 weeks, until I realised that A) I was shit, even compared to the C team, which meant that B) I never got to play, and C) The whole team were/are a bunch of condescending, posh twats.

So Rugby died. I remember now, I was running occasionally - about 4.5 miles a time, probably 3 times per week. I had a friend in a car crash in November - he went head on into a tree and was in a coma for about 3 weeks - so I stopped exercising until almost Christmas. My mum (who's a very keen runner) mentioned there was local 10k on just after New Year. I decided "What the heck" and entered. I did no running over Christmas at all.

My mum (training for the Paris Marathon) ran it with me. I remember hurting the whole way through and finished in 53:30 (again, 30!). Unlike the same time almost 4 years ago, I loved it. This was my rebirth, in a way.

I started running more and more - about 5 miles per day, roughly 4 times per week. I was still dangerously naive at this point, and did too much, too soon - the beginners' curse. I got injured (ligament problems) and was out for about 2 months.

I managed to return in time to do the Aberdeen 10k in May. I ran 48:00, and 3 weeks later improved my time to 47:00 (I'm not joking, I think every race I had done up to this point had been xx:30 or xx:00).

A few weeks previously, I had decided (on a whim) to enter the Glasgow Half Marathon in September. Over the summer (doing the worst possible training, neither easy or hard, but moderate) I managed to get some consistent training in and on race day (aiming for a conservtive 1:50) I ran 1:43:30. As I crossed the line I thought "Ok, what next?".

I was now getting into the technical aspects of running. I started doing consistent hard sessions (mostly tempo runs and VO2 max intervals - which, with hindsight, were probably wasted time) and improved a substantial amount - helped by the improvements I got from Glasgow.

I ran an icy 44:58 10k on December 20th, and then the 20:47 5k on Boxing Day. 2 more months of hard training (not put off by the bloody snow) and I ran the Silverstone Half Marathon (as an F1 fan, a dream) in 1:33:45.

On the (indirect) advice from RW forum member Moraghan, I began aerobic base building soon after. 6 weeks later, here I am.

So, as I thought when I finished my first Half, what next?

I have two 10k's, two 5k's, a Half Marathon and the Scottish Kilomaton this year. Sub 40:00 10k is on the cards, as is a sub-19:00 5k in winter. I should be able to get well below 1:30 for the Half and I'm going for about 1:53 at the Kilomaton.

My problem so far has been ambition. I was thinking about the marathon next year, but I've decided to scrap that. I'm going to cut back, and get my 5k and 10k times down to a good standard before going back to Halfs. I don't know about the marathon yet. I might be a better track runner anyway. I just don't know.

Anyway, here's to the future.