Total Miles: 36 Miles
Average Pace: 8:11 min/mile Longest Run:13 miles – 36% of total Speedwork: 0 miles – 0% of total
A bit of a dull week I’m afraid.
Yep, I managed to do some running, but I sat out my Thursday Swimrun session as I had a bit of a niggle in my back. Instead, I opted for a quality recovery session, a nice long soak in an Epsom Salts Bath!
My track session this week was an hour focussed on technique. So that was lots of drills, and a few plyometrics with a few strides thrown in to emphasise the movement patterns.
In fact, I’m pretty sure this was where I put my back out, over-enthusiastically throwing out some reverse leg swings without doing a warm-up mile beforehand. Very bad example to set, Coach!
I did get a very nice 6 miler in, up and over Cissbury Ring at a good pace. This was great fun and this kind of hill work will definitely see my flat speed improve as my legs get stronger and stronger. (I am also fully aware of the elevation profile for Breca Swimrun and how insignificant my 568ft will be compared to race day!)
I managed a 13 miler from Brighton to Worthing which was a fairly easy effort and under 7:30min/mile pace, but there’s nothing more to say about that really.
This week I also went and did a Vinyasa Yoga session at Revitalise in Brighton/Hove with Alexa. I really enjoyed how invigorating this was, it’s not what I want out of every yoga session but for a Saturday morning I loved it.
The big news of this week is that I’ve ordered my swimrun wetsuit. I’ll hopefully have it by the end of week 8 and be able to start race specific training sessions, in race kit, in June.
I’ve gone for the HEAD Swimrun Rough which is an entry level wetsuit but I’ve seen people raving about the flexibility of it. Particularly for running in.
Total Miles: 50 Miles
Average Pace: 8:27 min/mile Longest Run:12 miles – 24% of total Speedwork: 4 miles – 8% of total
I’m back. My legs have returned. It took until Saturdays run but I’m feeling like I can get back into consistent miles again.
I don’t think I’ve quite got the balance back, the tail end of my week was pretty loaded but that’s just the way it went. I will try and split and scatter some shorter runs in my schedule going forwards.
“Something that comes in sixes?” – “EGGS!” shouts my wife in a fraction of a second. I tell you what, if Family Fortunes ever come knocking, she’s got it down.
That’s how the name of the workout came about and whilst it kind of makes sense here, written down, I’m pretty sure people at the track were scratching their heads and wondering when they were getting their sandwich rewards.
To make it tougher, I split each Threshold Effort into two 5 minute sections, with the 2nd half being faster.
The idea of the session was to run the final 10 minutes of the session at the same pace as you’d run the first 10 minutes. The 6×200’s in the middle are thrown in the middle to produce a bit of lactic acid making the final threshold a bit tougher. This final effort trains the body to clear the Lactic acid, returning it into the energy system, whilst running at a strong effort.
This is a particularly good training session for triathletes as the last effort mimics the feeling of running straight off the bike.
Thursday came along and I was in good mental shape to tackle the run/swim/run session again. I find I’ve got to be really psyched up to do this one otherwise none of it happens at all. I also have to really control my pace on the run to the pool knowing that its a good 3 hour training session. I took a slightly shorter route this week which meant 7 miles each way and just under a 1min negative split.
The swim was tough as always, Sprint intervals interspersed with recovery pull. I cramped up in my right foot in the final 25m all-outs and missed the final 100m or so. But overall, another good session.
Favourite Session of the Week
I got out on Saturday evening to do my long run. This week I’d targeted 12 miles @ 7:30min/mile but as it was a really sunny evening I thought I’d take it off road. I ran up and round Cissbury Ring and then off up Titch Hill to the farmers grave. I felt like all the tiredness disappeared from my legs during this run, I was able to let fly on the downhills and to really put some power down going up.
I knew I was on for a decent average pace which turned out to be 7:26min/mile with an elevation of 1366ft. Pleased as punch with that, and really pleased to have got out in the hills.
You want to get better at running right, that’s why you’re here, reading this under that catchy headline?
Well, I’ll let you in on a secret, there are no shortcuts. However, there are simple changes you might be able to make that will produce results.
Still reading? Excellent, thank you! I’m sure I’ve lost a few already. You must be committed! I’m going to share with you the two things I consider most important in making steady improvements.
Becoming a better runner involves going out and running, a lot. You’ll see training plans all over the internet and in magazines. You might download and follow one, or adapt one to fit your own life. You might make one up yourself completely or have one set by a friend or a coach. One thing they’ll all have in common is that you go out the door and run.
But what kind of running? Easy? Threshold? Speedwork? Tempo? Recovery? Long Run? And then there’s further questions such as how fast/slow? And how long?
And this brings me to my first point.
I’ve seen marathon plans that will have you running a 20 miler even though weekly mileage hits a maximum of 35 per week. I’ve seen lots of runners who ONLY run fast on all of their runs. And I see lots of injured runners who don’t take adequate rest.
The rules I recommend are as follows:
PACE – normal(easy) running, workouts, and recovery runs should all have a notably different feel to them.
Fast runs – these are your opportunities to run FAST, make the most of them
Long Runs – try and keep it below 30% of your overall weekly mileage, I personally like to keep it under 2 hours too.
Speedwork – keep this well below 10% of your overall weekly mileage
What do these rules mean? They should mean that you feel fresh enough to tackle your speedwork effectively, and that you are developing a strong aerobic engine without over-training.
If your speedwork or long run go over these amounts, they often demand more recovery time which may result in lost training days…..or worse…..injury.
A simplified example training week – play with the no’s but pay attention to the %’s Total Mileage: 40 miles Long Run: 10 miles = 25% Speedwork: 3 miles = 7.5% (eg 12 x 400m) Tempo run: 5 miles – pace between HM to 10k pace. Easy runs: 22 miles Rest: At least one full day.
Getting the BALANCE right will mean you are more likely to achieve my second point without incurring injury or fatigue.
This bit’s easy on paper. Just go out and do it, week in/week out. But as we all know, life likes to throw obstacles in the way, so here are my tips on remaining consistent:
Make sure you’re enjoying running
Write a weekly plan (but be prepared to change it)
Get the balance right to avoid injury
Keep your runs/routes varied to keep it interesting
Increase volume or pace over a period of weeks, don’t make big jumps.
Find a partner or club to maintain motivation
Final Important point.
Listen to your body!
If it’s getting tired after a number of weeks, it might mean you need to pull back on something. Maybe cut the mileage, or trim your pace a little.
Your body will normally give you signs that its reaching breaking point (elevated resting heart-rate, poor sleep, lack of motivation, restlessness, halt in progress etc.) listen to them before it’s too late.
We walk a fine line between peak performance and overtraining, lets try and stay on the right side.
Rest and recovery is equally as important as running, its where your body adapts to the training you’re putting it through. This will demand a blog post all of its own but here’s 3 quick pointers:
Find yourself a good Sports Masseuse to help with mobility & maintenance once a month
Find yourself a running-friendly Yoga teacher who understands how to stretch you out without taking too much tension out of your muscles.
Get on top of your nutrition as this helps everything from rebuilding to refuelling
If you can keep up well balanced training consistentlythen results WILL follow.
Team profile time – 7 weeks to go until Breca Buttermere. Here’s a couple of guys who look like they’re going to be pretty comfortable in the mountains. Experienced triathletes, wandering adventurers, and a cause for celebration. Lets get to know them.
Team Name:ODSODR (One Doesn’t Swim, One Doesn’t Run) Team Members:Glenn Tait & Tony Rafferty Team Motto:“We should start training properly soon…”
Who are you, where are you from and how do you know each other?
Tony/Glenn: We are Tony Rafferty, a 32-year-old from Edinburgh and Glenn Tait, a 32-year-old Geordie exiled in Edinburgh. We first met when studying at Heriot Watt University, which seems like ages ago now. Anyway, 10+ years on and we now live in the same area on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which is proving handy now we’re both into doing these silly events. It’s good as we can motivate each other to get out and train, then head to the local to plan the next training session or come up with crazy ideas like signing up for SwimRuns. Was beer to blame for this one? Who knows…
What do you do outside of daft adventures?
Tony: By day I’m a Test Automation Engineer for a software company. By night and at the weekends I’m a keen swimmer, reader of books, watcher of F1 and consumer of coffee. Glenn: I work for a Hospitality Solutions Provider on the IT side, and spend a lot of time in pubs and restaurants – both when working and not working. My main interest is running. I prefer to run silly long distances but I’m normally up for any type of adventure and usually make videos of them, which I share on my blog. (which is a link well worth clicking on by the way!)
What’s going to give you the edge over everyone else at Breca Swimrun?
Tony: As you can tell by the team name we each have our individual strengths. If we could do this as a relay we’d possibly do pretty well. We have a distinct ability to compete with each other without either of us realising it. You should see us walk home from the pub together – it’s quite the footrace.
Glenn loves to buy shiny bits of kit so I’m really hoping this may give us an edge… wishful thinking perhaps? Glenn: Tony is right, we have individual strengths. I’m always running away from him and he always swims away from me! We’re really going to have to get a tether. We’ve done a lot of work on the hills, spending most time running in the Pentlands, but I’d say we’re still amateur compared to some of the fell runners. I think my shiny new wetsuit will give me the edge – if only to keep up with Tony!
Are you happy with your teammate or are they the only other idiot you could find? Any amusing stories about them you can share?
Tony: It’s a bit late in the day to say no to being happy with my choice in teammate, isn’t it? In the water, yes Glenn may slow me down, but I’ll do the same on foot so fair is fair. If anything each of us can encourage the other one to keep going in their weaker sport.
I know plenty of idiots but none that share the same appetite for wrapping themselves in neoprene and lycra as I do. Glenn: No, but he’ll do….. *jokes*. Tony moans too much on the run. To be fair I did recently drag him out on a 32km run when it was only supposed to be 25kms, so I think I might have lost his trust and it certainly didn’t help with the whingeing. I’m just glad Tony can’t hear me moan when we’re swimming as sound waves don’t travel that well in swimming pools. Any amusing stories about them you can share? Glenn: Tony once thought a lamb was a white rabbit just merrily sitting next to a sheep.
What attracted you to this race?
Tony: In 2014 I did a middle distance triathlon, which was great fun. Then, in 2015 I did the Edinburgh Marathon, which I found plain old boring. I was looking for something to do in 2016 without doing a full distance triathlon and SwimRun ticked the boxes. I’m hoping the scenery makes up for some of the suffering. Glenn: I’ve done an Ironman, and the cycling is just too long. I wanted something different – some other challenge – and I like the simplicity of this type race. I was glad to finally persuade Tony to do this after sowing the seed quite a while ago! Plus, the Lakes is an awesome area so it’s going to be stunning and epic no matter what the weather!
Is there anything making you nervous? Tony: Definitely the elevation profile and the overall pace we’ll be expected to go at. I have heard that getting the body to transition from swim to run and vice versa multiple times can be a killer too. Glenn: Yes, Tony’s wife is due to give birth three weeks after this race and I think I know where his priorities will stand when the day gets nearer. It isn’t wearing Lycra with me… Tony, shouldn’t this make you nervous too?
Whats your racing experience like? Tony: A couple of sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. A middle distance triathlon, lots of open water swimming and last year the Edinburgh marathon. Glenn: Was Fat. Got not so fat through running in 2010. Went on to do some marathons. Got forced into a sprint triathlon and then forced that person into doing an Ironman with me. I then decided cycling for 8 hours was too much so did Aberfeldy Middle Distance with Tony in 2014, did my first Ultra around Tiree in 2015 and now just keep on running further. My biggest achievement was Ironman in 2013 but I’m especially proud of my 3hr 30 marathon time!
How’s the build up going?
Tony: I was planning on doing a couple of fell races but I’ve not found anything that tickles my fancy yet. Suggestions on races in central/southern Scotland on a postcard please…
The training has been in fits and starts to be honest. We’ve been in the pool twice a week and running three times a week. We’re planning on doing some SwimRun specific sessions in the run up to Breca to work out the logistics of transitioning from OW to running up hills. We’re super lucky to have the Pentland Hills only 10 minutes from our door step. Glenn: I’ve been building up my running to run the John Muir Way Ultramarathon, but I’ve nothing after that until Breca. I agree – we do need to find some local fell races. Training is haphazard really. I swim once/twice a week when I can be bothered to get out of bed early, and run 3 times a week as Tony says. More recently I’ve been trying to complete the 255km John Muir Way trail coast to coast since 1st April and I’ve just done that so been putting some decent running miles in! I think when the reservoirs in the Pentland hills reach a warmer temp we’ll be up there getting some SwimRun practice in!
Will you be making a weekend of it?
Tony/Glenn: Yes, we’re coming down on the Friday, staying Friday and Saturday (beer!) night then back home on the Sunday. We’re staying in Keswick because we didn’t get ourselves organised in time to get anything in Buttermere booked. It’s also Glenn’s birthday on race day so there’ll be some birthday celebrations once we finish. Please cheer us on and feel free to bring us cake!
Are there any questions you’d like to put to other teams/organisers/experienced SwimRunners? Tony: To the other teams: please don’t make us look too bad. To experienced SwimRunners: for fuelling, should we carry a couple clif bars in a pocket and eat going up hill or, struggle on without fuelling? Also, socks or no socks? Glenn: I hadn’t thought about socks – that’s a good question! Tony: I will let you store some cliff bars in my shiny new wetsuit (it even has a pocket – how fancy) if you drag me through the water, thanks! To the experienced SwimRunners: does a tether get in the way?
You can follow Tony & Glenn’s exploits on Twitter, just click on their names for profiles.
Want to read about some of the other teams involved on July 2nd? Here’s a list of profiles so far…
I arrived at Hill Barn Playing fields after my normal Sunday morning 0-5k group run. This served as a nice warm-up without taxing the legs too much, although I probably wouldn’t do it if was a serious target race.
The sun was shining and it was warm enough to strip down to race kit nice and early. I went through my normal warm-up routine and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere around the start-line.
An old family friend of mine, Andy (Wiggy) had come down from the Midlands to run the full, his first marathon and I found him looking nervous amongst the 700 or so people milling around. I reminded him of a 3k fun-run we’d done together, we must have only been about 6 years old. Our Dad’s then went on to do the 5 or 10k race afterwards but we weren’t allowed to do that one. Wiggy didn’t remember any of this and I don’t think it helped settle his nerves!
At 10am the full marathoners were off and the number of people in the field was reduced by half. I had a pre-race chat with Simone and Dom from my Tri Club (Tuff Fitty) and Simon, my wingman from ShoreFit run club. We were all in high spirits and really looking forward to having a nice run on the South Downs.
As we posed for a Tuff Fitty team photo, we suddenly heard the Town Crier ringing his bell and shouting GO! – for a moment we thought we’d missed the start of our race but he was only setting off the Cani-X runners! Phew!
With a few minutes to go, I made my way to the front row of the start line and got ready to go.
Another ring of the Town Criers bell and we were off, I found myself part of a group of 4 runners as we made the first climb up Cissbury Ring. 500ft of ascent later and we’d already put quite a gap on the next group.
We rounded the top and went full throttle into the chalky descent around the back. I’d opted for my retired Adidas Adios 2’s for this race as they’ve got nothing left in them for the roads but I thought they’d be OK on dry trails. Some of the chalk paths were baked as hard as concrete and I was kind of wishing I’d gone for something with a bit more cushioning left in them.
I grabbed a cup of water at the first aid station and failed miserably at getting any more than 2 drops into my mouth.
This section is normally pretty quick, I should be going at sub-7min pace along here quite comfortably……only I’m not. The guys in front of me are moving away and I’ve got a crippling pain trying to fold me in half.
I thought it was a stitch at the time, and I blamed/cursed those water drops a few moments earlier. With hindsight, I recognise that the effort I’d put in going up and down the first hill had given me abdominal cramps, it was nothing to do with the water and it wasn’t a stitch. I slowed my pace and as I tried to get control of my body again I was caught by the next group of runners.
Uphill…..Uphill…..then a bit more Uphill. Another 500ft upwards. Resulting in fine views from Chanctonbury Ring of both the North and South Downs. Managed to negotiate a couple of cattle grids at the top by running straight over them rather than waste time with the National Trust gates. One of the few benefits of size 12 running shoes.
Downhill, in varying degrees. Culminating in a quad-smashing 12% descent. All this sounds wonderful, and it was a great opportunity to get my breath back a bit, but it destroyed my legs just before I hit one of the hardest climbs of the race.
I was passed here by numerous runners, I muttered a “well-done” and felt like an extra weight had been added to my legs with each one that went by. The last climb up Cissbury ring reduced me to walking, although it was probably more efficient than my running at that point.
The bit that I had been dreading the most was the final downhill section. Its a single track chalk trail that I always avoid in training. Its rutted with a deep uneven groove where the rain drains away and you have to zigzag down it, leaping over the chasm, praying that you don’t turn an ankle. A chap in a yellow vest flew past me with the ease of a mountain goat, I honestly don’t know how he could be so sure-footed here, fair play.
I finally emerged onto the playing field where it all began, ankles intact, and mustered up the strongest finish I could manage. I heard my name being called by the commentator. I could see literally 10’s of people clapping and cheering. I crossed the line in 1:42:24. Not bad. (The winners time was 1:27:xx for an indication of how tough the course is – his marathon PB is 2:46)
The mayor put a medal around my neck and I promptly fell over. The medal wasn’t heavy, it wasn’t like an anvil, I just couldn’t stand up anymore.
I looked over at the massage tent and decided to crawl over and get a post-event rub down whilst there was no queue.
My wife and son came and found me on the table, and then we all went and cheered on some of the finishers until the boy got restless.
I wanted to see what my limitations were with this race and to try and get in amongst the leaders. I very quickly found out that I need to do more hill-work, and perhaps some more core-work if I want to put myself near the front here.
I’ll definitely be back to race this one next year and aiming to better my 18th position.
Out of my pre-race goals (see here) I missed both A (Top 3) and B (Top 10), but pleased to not come away injured which was my C goal, should probably make this a general life goal.
I had slight tingling in my feet at the end which I’m attributing to my shoe choice, simply not enough cushioning for hard packed descents. Grip wasn’t an issue though and it was nice to give them a farewell race.
A great race over a beautiful challenging course, with cheerful marshals, well stocked aid stations and excellent post-race facilities. With under 1000 runners across the 2 events, the organisers still lay on free (charitable donation) massage and all the cakes/pastries you can eat as well as a finishers medal. We were blessed with fine weather this year which made it all the more enjoyable.
Total Miles: 28 Miles
Average Pace: 9:04 min/mile Longest Run:14 miles – 50% of total Speedwork: 2.8 miles – 10% of total
This week was spent waiting for my legs to recover properly from the Three Forts Half Marathon.
I’m surprised that race took as much out of me as it did, I kind of thought I’d be able to resume training as normal immediately afterwards, that’s why I opted for the half over the full distance. Boy was I wrong! My legs still feel like jelly now.
I skipped my run/swim/run session this week as I felt too tired. My legs felt like I’d probably trip over if I tried to run, let alone throw a swim in there as well. Aside from my Saturday afternoon splash about with my son in the small pool at Splash Point, that meant no swimming at all this week.
Out of the sessions that I did manage to hit, Wednesday night track was probably my favourite.
As we’re now into triathlon racing season, our emphasis at the track is moving more towards fast reps to push VO2 max and improve running form. There’s nothing quite like running fast to focus on every aspect of your body position. Drills are good for concentrating on links in the chain, but actually pushing the pace makes you think about what your hips are doing, and whether you’re really pushing that ground away behind you.
The 600’s were really tough, and I think I still had too much of the HM in my legs to be able to maintain the pace I wanted in these. I dropped a few seconds on each set on these longer reps. But I felt great for anything 400m and under, hitting all my splits and putting in a good hard effort.
One of the session aims was “Exhilaration Not Exhaustion,” to enjoy the sensation of running fast. I reckon I was 50/50 by the end of the evening, great fun.
I popped out on Friday to do 10 miles which would have been fine had I not chosen a route that was 14 miles long. I accidentally ran up the Ferring Rife too which was midge central. Trying to run with your mouth closed after 11 miles is impossible and looking in the mirror when I got home, my face looked like a car numberplate after a 200mile motorway journey, covered in dead flies! (I promise you, I was not running that fast!)
Next week I’m hoping to get back to some sort of consistency, the balance of speed/long/easy running is all wrong at the moment and I definitely need to get back in the pool.
I guess overall though, not a bad recovery week.
Mileage for the month – 175 miles Biggest week – 67.3 miles Longest run – 16 Miles
April was great, I really enjoyed the consistency I achieved this month. And it paid off.
I hit my target for mileage (just about), and my longest run was a 1:58 16miler. I managed to swim 3 out of 4 weeks too, running to and from the pool each time.
The Even More Positives
I surpassed my A target in the mid-month 5k race, setting a new PB of 18:11 which I know I can beat in better conditions. Especially if I can keep the training up. I’m fairly confident of going sub-18 in my next outing.
The Must Do Betters
Now we’ve got lighter evenings, I need to make the most of the opportunity to run some off-road hills. The 3 Forts Half route, and some trails around Cissbury & Chanctonbury Ring are going to become very good friends of mine very soon.
I also need to start getting my kit sorted, I’ve got my eye on a wetsuit, and also some trail shoes. And then its just the accessories. I hope to have all this sorted by the end of May.
The only kit I’ve got so far is the socks! I’ve been trialling almost the full range of Gococo‘s sports socks over the last few months and I’ve put aside a pair of the Compression Superior socks for race day already. Completely blister-proof, warm without being too warm (37.5 technology), and a perfect level of compression that leaves my calves feeling great no matter what the session.
Thanks Gococo for all your support during my training so far!
Any Other Business
I’m now an ITEC Level 4 Sports Massage Therapist. That means I can assess and give treatments with knowledge, skill and confidence. If you’re in Worthing (or local areas) and you’re in need of a massage either to keep you going, or to get you on the road to recovery then give me a shout.
May Goals: Mileage: 175 miles Long Run: 16 miles off road Swim: Once a week (at least) Yoga: Every Damn Day Kit: Get my kit list sorted
Total Miles: 18 Miles
Average Pace: 7:54min/mile (approx best guess) Longest Run: 13.2 miles – 3 Forts Half Marathon – 73% of total Speedwork: 0
Sometimes life just gets in the way of all the miles you’d like to put in.
My wife has been running a wellbeing retreat this week, its the first full one she’s set up and hosted and I’m massively proud of what she’s achieved. She’s done everything from finding the venue, setting up the website and making all the bookings, to delivering Pilates and Health Coaching sessions. Not to mention all the cooking that went with it. She landed features in some greatmagazines along the way and importantly learnt some valuable lessons to take forwards into the next one. (which is running from 11/7/16 to 15/7/16 if you’re interested!)
Whilst she was out doing this, I had my ITEC Sports Massage Level 4 exam to work towards (And also a folder full of case studies and assignments to submit). So every evening after the boy was in bed, I had time to apply myself fully to this task. The first half of the week went by in a bit of a desperate blur, I think there was a 3am, a 2am and a 1am finish on consecutive nights whilst I put the finishing touches to my folder.
Saturday morning arrived and I was a bag of nerves as I made my way over to Brighton for my practical exam. I was comfortable with the client assessment and the treatment but I was really stressed out about the questions that the examiner was going to ask me whilst I was working.
My client helpfully through a few curveballs at me before the exam started by telling me that almost every part of her legs had some sort of niggle. This gave me something else to think about rather than the stress.
An hour later, and I was told I’d passed – I am now a Level 4 Sports Massage Therapist.
I went home and ran the final 2 miles I needed to get me up to my target for April. Boom! Thats 2 goals in one day!
My week finished with the 3 Forts Half Marathon on Sunday – which you can read about in my race report. Unfortunately, my watch won’t upload the data so I guess that means I’m just going to have to go out and run it again, I’m glad its on my doorstep.