#Swimrun Training Weeks 11 and 12 – Taper time

So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been pretty much resting up. I’ve logged about 30 miles of running and on top of that I’ve finally managed to get some race specific training done.

Me and Tom have been able to get up to Southwater lake and train in full kit. Swimming up and down the lake, jumping out and running around it before repeating.

The first time I tried this I found it really tough. I very quickly learnt how difficult it is to swim in your shoes. Its like dragging a lead weight behind you, and attempting to kick is murder on your leg muscles (which you’re trying to save for the run anyway.)

Talking points from the first attempt:

  • My goggles don’t work (cheapo emergency Zoggs from Tesco)
  • I don’t have the strength needed for paddles
  • I will not need a pull bouy
  • I don’t get on with swim hats

But on a more positive note

  • My wetsuit felt good, even on the run.
  • No Chafing
  • Running and swimming go together very well for me
  • The water was sooo warm!
  • My Inov8 X-Talons feel fine, if a little heavy in the water.

So before our next training session together I bought some new goggles, some base layers and some Bodyglide to help avoid chafing over longer distances.
Our next attempt was in the sea and there was quite a lot of chop. I’ve mentioned before that Tom is a great swimmer and this really showed in the sea. I struggled against the current in whichever direction and the salt water made me want to throw up everytime I downed a mouthful.
But we managed a decent distance out to a shipping bouy and back, we estimated it at about a mile. It looked much closer but when we finally got there I realised that its just fucking big! I’m glad we’re not swimming against strong currents at Buttermere, and praying for the lake to look like a mirror come Saturday morning.
My new goggles felt really comfortable, although I couldn’t see further than my hand as the water was too stirred up.

Last night we got up to Southwater again for our final Swimrun specific training session. This time I’d cut the legs off my wetsuit and donned my Gococo Compression socks too.

This session went perfectly, we dialled into a nice pace in the water with me swimming right on Toms toes. We’ve agreed that if I tap him on the foot then he’s just to ignore it, in fact, it means he can avoid checking to see if I’m still on his toes. If I pull his foot, it means I need to ease off the pace a bit.

We won’t be using a tether to keep us together as its just another bit of kit that we have to worry about, we’re going very minimal: no paddles, no buoys, no tether.

Visibility seemed much better this time round, Tom assured me it was just my goggles. I was actually able to see his feet. I’m anticipating this to be even better on the day up in the crystal waters of Buttermere.

Once again, climbing out and getting into our running stride felt good, we’re both pretty strong runners and fairly equal ability so we should both feel similar levels of comfort/discomfort on the day and know when we can push or ease off.

So thats training done, kit finalised, disclaimers signed. What’s next? Well, a 7 hour drive, 7+ hours of racing together, and 7 hours in the car coming home….we’re not even sure if we like each other that much! Tom’s already mentioned wearing a Belgium shirt for the Wales vs Belgium match in the Euro’s on Friday night – I’m Welsh by the way!

Final Kitlist:

  • Goggles: Speedo Futura Biofuse (Black)
  • Base Layer: Nike Pro Core Short Sleeve T – Maru Swim Jammers
  • Wetsuit: HEAD Swimrun Rough (Legs trimmed above the knee)
  • Socks: Gococo Compression Superior
  • Shoes: Inov8 X-Talon 212

If you’re going to be there at the weekend, I look forward to meeting you. Please make yourself known, especially if you’re staying in the YHA.

We’ll see you there!

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#Swimrun Training – Week 8

Total Miles: 49 Miles 
Average Pace:
 7:38 min/mile
Longest Run: 10.4 Miles – 21% of total
Speedwork: 3.8 miles – 8% of total

Now that was a fun week of training. I pushed a bit harder in most of my runs this week just for a bit of fun. Nothing too strenuous but closer to tempo than easy pace.

I got a bit lost on my run home from swimming on Thursday, ended up skirting fields that I never knew existed. I’d like to be able to say it was beautiful, but I was shattered by that point and it was pitch black so I have no idea, I was just pleased to get home!

I took an opportunity to lead the Sunday social running group (ShoreFit Run Club) and push the pace with the lead group for a change. It turned out to be an unplanned progression run of sorts. I’d like to do more of my runs like this – Its the Kenyan way apparently. Start at a snails amble, and gradually pick it up until the last half mile is at an almost all out effort.

I’ve been reading More Fire by Toby Tanser recently. Its a fascinating insight into how the Kenyans have become so dominant in distance running. Yes, there’s the geographical and genetic factors, but mostly, there’s desire, belief and damn hard work.
According to Toby Tanser, most group runs in Kenya turn into progression runs as everyone takes a turn up front and no one wants to be the one to let the pace drop.

kenya

Anyway, away from the dusty roads of Iten and the Rift Valley, and back to Worthing, England….. and specifically, the running track.

Workout Of The Week – Track Blackjack

I mentioned it was fun this week didn’t I? On Wednesday I took a pack of playing cards to the track to determine the evenings session.
We split the group into 3 teams of 7 or so runners, and dealt each team 5 cards.
The idea was that you turn your top card over and run that number of minutes at 5k pace, we walked the recoveries back to the start line ready to turn the next card. Tha aim of the game was to score as close to 21 as possible without going bust. In this game, Ace’s and Face’s were worth 1 minute.

Somehow, all 3 teams ended up scoring 21, albeit reaching it in different ways.

My team, ended up with efforts of 2mins, 8mins and 10mins – this was pretty brutal and by the time we got back to the start line, we could see from the other teams cards that we had to gamble otherwise we’d be in last place. The risk being that whatever we turned over we would have to run. Fortunately for us, it turned out to be an Ace (another 10 minute effort would have killed us!)

I’m looking forward to repeating this session later in the year, its great not knowing what your next effort will be. And the competitive element in trying to reach 21 adds a bit of fun, god knows running round in circles can get a bit, well…..repetitive.

On the swimming front, I managed one session in the pool and my wetsuit arrived right at the end of the week.
I’m on holiday for a week now and probably won’t get a chance to use it until I return. I’m already a bit apprehensive about the water temperature, I don’t really do cold.

Race Report – Three Forts Half Marathon

The Three Forts Half Marathon

Pre-race

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!

team tuff
Me, Sim and Dom

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.

Mile 1-2
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.

Mile 3
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.

Mile 4-7
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.

Mile 8-10
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.

Miles 11-13.1
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)

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Post Race

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.

Reflections

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.

Final word

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.

Highly Recommended!

medal

April Training

The Numbers:

Mileage for the month – 175 miles
Biggest week – 67.3 miles
Longest run16 Miles 

APRIL

The Positives

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

 

#Swimrun Training – Week 2

Total Miles: 67.3 Miles + 3k swim
Average Pace:
 7:59min/mile – includes some run walk stuff & half a mile with a 4/yo
Longest Run: 16 Miles (Saturday) = 24% of weekly total
Speedwork: 3 miles = 4% of weekly total

week2
biggest mileage week – ever

Monday: 8 miles – the goal was to maintain a steady pace of 7:30min/mile and to be done in an hour. The route I’d chosen specifically to make this difficult. Twice up to the windmill at High Salvington from 2 different approaches, both involving a mile long climb. I let the downhills take care of themselves as I knew these would be well below target pace.

My Garmin uploads via my work computer so it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that I was rewarded with this on Strava for my efforts. (Always nice to chalk up a Course Record)

crS
Course Record on a tough hill climb

Tuesday: 4 miles recovery at lunchtime, 6 miles steady in the evening.
Wednesday: Track – 8.5 miles including Warmups, cool downs and recoveries
Thursday: Run/Swim/Run – 15.4 miles + 3k
Saturday: Long Run – 16 miles
Sunday: Easy Runs – 7.7 miles + Epsom Salt Recovery Bath!

Track Workout of the Week:

Pyramid Workout
4×200 // 2×400 // 2×800 \\ 2×400 \\ 4×200
Rolling Recoveries: 200m jog after the 200’s, 400 jog all others.
Total: 5.5miles plus warm ups and cool down
Max HR: 177

This one was superb. Cheers to Coach Wardy for suggesting it.  The track session started with a very relaxed atmosphere as we worked our way through the warm up and mobility drills. There were a number of athletes who had just come back from Half and Full marathons in Vienna, a couple of runners who would be racing Brighton Marathon in a few days time and Coach Wardy had just arrived back from a 3 week Road Trip in the USA. Plenty of fun was had picking on Wardy for his newly acquired American accent and we put out a rallying call for the Splash Point 5k next week. (21 Tuffs entered so far I believe – we could be on for a record)

After the long reps of late it was nice knowing the efforts could be run a lot harder. We set off on the first 200m with joyful recklessness, I think Tom hit it in about 33-34 secs although he must have peaked early as he was somewhere behind us for the rest of the session. I kept my 4 reps at a steady 36-37secs (5:00m/m) before we moved on to the 400’s. Two of these both on 1:23 (5:33m/m), so far so good. The dreaded 800’s were next but I actually found these pretty comfortable aerobically. My legs were starting to disagree after the faster work at the beginning of the set, my quads were beginning to feel pretty solid, and my glutes were screaming. Despite this, we went through these in 2:58 each (5:56m/m) and it was onto the faster reps again.
The pace increased as we sailed through the 400’s in 1:25 and 1:23 before we hit the final set of 200’s. My legs didn’t feel like they had anything left in them for hard efforts but I was pleased with 38s, 39s, 34s and 36s.

IMG_20160413_204047
Gococo Compression Socks keeping my calves fresh

This was a fast paced session and I only just about held it together at the end. Those 200’s are pretty much my top end speed, I certainly couldn’t have run those ones at the end any quicker.
I tried to focus on a fast turnover, engaged arms, high hips and really pushing the ground away from me with every stride. It really helps your overall running economy to do quick work like this.

After 10 minutes of chatting I clocked an extra 2 miles to cool down, no-one else stuck around for this but it was a nice evening to idle away some time running round in circles.

A good strong session to go into next weeks 5k race with.

Favourite Session of the Week

Hard to choose actually, I really enjoyed my running, every session felt like I was running well, or at least achieving something. I think the benchmark run for me was my Long Run on Saturday evening.
For a while now I’ve been thinking that my 2 hour pace was about 7:30min/miles and I wanted to go out and test this. I laced up, put some gels in my pocket (one every 6 miles) and off I went to see how long I could hold on. As the miles ticked by I could see I was about 10s quicker per mile, I started having negative thoughts cross my mind and I’d already planned my escape route home if I needed to cut the effort short.
But I remained pretty comfortable throughout, even hitting my quickest split at mile 14. (7:04 if you’re asking) Yes, my glutes were burning but that was to be expected towards the end of a pretty tough week.

My average pace for the run was 7:19 m/m which I’m really happy with. Thats a 16 miler in 1:57. And thats pretty much as long as my longest run is going to get. Anything further than that and I tend to get injuries creeping in. If I can keep up these weeks of high mileage with my longest run only going up to 2 hours then I’m going to be in really good shape come July.

What Else?

My Run/Swim/Run session increased the mileage each way to just over 7.5 miles, and this week it was raining hard. So with the swim in the middle this was a mentally demanding set which I could have backed out of easily at various points.

Finally

3forts
The sensible option!

I made my mind up about the 3 Forts Challenge and decided that the Half Marathon fits into my training much better. If I do the full marathon, I ‘ll get round it, but it’ll wipe my training out for a week with 2 months to go until Breca. So I’ve gone for the half, and I’ll try and race it.

Talking of races, its the Splash Point 5k on Wednesday. I’ll be taking it easy for a couple of days now in the hope of setting a new PB. Bring it on!

 

March Training

I didn’t really have any goals as I kicked off March which was probably a mistake.
I’d set myself an arbitrary figure of 200 miles for the month on Smashrun – a great tool with some really useful insights into your running stats. I’m currently using this alongside Strava to satisfy the inner geek. But this magic figure of 200 was pretty much plucked out of the air, it wasn’t based on a plan, it didn’t take into account my February training. It was just a round number.

I got off to a good start though, and hit almost 4 weeks of good solid running. I’m still pushed for time at the moment so I only managed to get into double figures on a run twice.
Unfortunately, I lost momentum and in the final week, the wheels came off. I dropped down to a ridiculously low 5 mile total for the week. I put this down to not having clearly defined goals for the month.

The Numbers:

Mileage for the month – 150 miles
Biggest week – 41.6 miles
Longest run12 Miles (plus 5 miles – Double run day)

smashrun march

Positives:
My mileage did increase. Up by 21.5% on Feb.
I’m finding Double run days manageable.
My longest run was most of the 3 Forts HM route – in the dark, by headtorch and it was amazing. On reflection, the distance is probably appropriate for my weekly mileage.

The biggest positive for me though is my ability to maintain effort and focus during track sessions. This time last year I’d hit the halfway point during a workout and my thoughts would all be negative

I can’t do this, Its too windy, I’ll sit the next rep out, I’ll call it a day…

But I’m finishing track sessions strongly now, and I’m feeling hyped throughout, no demons on my shoulder whispering at me to stop. And these have been HARD track sessions, 1200’s and mile repeats, you soon know about it if you pace it wrong in one of these sessions.

Unfortunately, swimming hasn’t happened this month. Not even once.

I’m going to chalk the final week of March off and call it a training break as April is where my 3 month block starts for Breca Swimrun.

April goals:
Mileage: 175 miles
Long Run: 16 miles
Swim: Once a week
Race: 5k  – (‘A’ = 18:30, ‘B’ = Sub19, ‘C’ = 5kPB)

I’ve got the 3 Forts Marathon at the start of May and I’m still undecided on what to do. I can run it very easy and enjoy the scenery, the company, and get some miles in my legs. Or drop to the HM and race it. I’ll make a decision closer to the date, and base it on how well my long runs are progressing.

In other running related stuff – the beginners group I coach with ShoreFit Run Club finished their 0-5k course. And my wife and 4 year old son ran the Sport Relief Mile, raising £270 for charity in the process! This was a great opportunity for him to experience running on a running track, and now every time we drive past it he points it out to me as where he did his race.

I also passed my ITEC Level 3 Sports Massage Therapist exams and I’ll be posting more on that soon. I’ve moved on to Level 4 now which I’ll be tested on in April. Lots to learn, but have already picked up so much that I can use to help other runners, especially with regards to maintenance and injury prevention.

 

Thank you to the bloggers…

I’m getting back into it.

I’ve been massively inspired to get back into my running groove. I’ve recently discovered how to use the reader function properly and how to follow other people’s blogs and its been a revelation. In reading about the exploits of others, even if they’ve been out injured or feeling like they’re not running particularly well themselves, they’ve inspired me to lace up and get out.

I’ve been out 4 times this week so far, 3 easy lunchbreak runs and 1 hard track session (7×800) and should hopefully be looking at about 35 miles for the week come Sunday. Thats after at least a month of averaging a paltry 10 miles a week.

So this post is a thank you in particular to a few bloggers who have given me some motivation at last. (follow these blogs – show them some love too!)

http://fueledbylolz.com/ – this girl writes beautifully, and runs times that I’m striving for. Probably most responsible for my resurgence despite being based in the US.
https://dmrunblog.wordpress.com/ – shares my Initials and his reports are really entertaining. They make you feel like you’re cheering him on from the sidelines!
http://honestlylucy.com/ – Loving following the journey to VLM2016 for this young lady. From complete beginner to marathon runner.
https://imfithove.wordpress.com/ – I’m certain that Isobel inspires more runners than she knows. Entertaining and geeky sessions/stats in equal measures. 🙂
http://mohicanrunner.co.uk/ – Running times I dream of and that I know I can achieve if I work hard enough. Race reports with huge level of detail, don’t know how he remembers it all!

I’d like to know which blogs YOU follow for motivation? 
(help me keep this up!)