#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 10

Total Miles: 56 Miles 
Average Pace:
 8:35 min/mile
Longest Run: 16 Miles – 29% of total
Speedwork: 8.1 miles – 14%

(Week Ending 12th June)

So this is the last big mileage week before Breca Swimrun. I’d ideally liked to have banked lots of run miles next week too but its almost time for the taper and some much more specific swimrun training to take place.

This is Race week!
Not the big one, but a chance to put the afterburners on in not one, but two races in the space of 3 days.
First up…..

The Littlehampton Beach Run – West Sussex Fun Run League.

This week, the track session was replaced with a 5 mile race just down the road in Littlehampton. A chance to put our track-based intervals to the test in race conditions.

I messed up my button-pressing when the gun went off, only managing to get my watch started about 30 seconds into the race. I put in a good effort for the full 5 miles, and I’d imagine the mixed terrain of sand, shingle and grass as well as leaping over rock pools and seaweed-covered stones added on a couple of minutes to my overall time.
I’d hope for a comfortable sub-30 on a road 5 miler at the moment so in these conditions I was pretty happy with a finishing time of 30:47. Good enough for 31st place and 2nd club member home after my Breca teammate Tom.

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Shortly followed by…

The Tuff Fitty Lido Aqauthlon – 400m/5k

This was an opportunity to put my swimming and running together with good solid efforts in both events.
I had a strong well paced swim and climbed out in 6:20, I then took almost half my life to dry my feet, put on some socks and tie my laces, all the while watching other athletes exit the water, slip straight into elasticated shoes and run off. This didn’t bother me in the slightest, the race was a club event so not overly competitive, and there was no way I was risking damaging my feet by going sockless at this stage of my training. I’ll leave that for the next Aquathlon.
My run was probably the most enjoyable 5k I’ve ever done, I literally felt like I was flying. I don’t know what my actual time was, I was clocked at 20:05 from leaving the water to reaching the finish, but I’m sure at least 2 minutes of that were spent in transition. This could have been a new 5k PB and even the sub18 which I think is on the cards, but we’ll never know.

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I managed to chase down plenty of runners, but not quite the top 2, no prizes in this race for 3rd place, but if I get my act together in transition next time round it could be a close call at the top. I’m coming for you Tom!

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I’d put in some solid miles on the evenings before these races too, 8 hilly ones on Tuesday night, and 18 on Thursday split in the middle with a 1 hour swim, but everything outside the races was done at an easy conversational pace.

On Sunday I managed to get out in the evening and run some steep hills around Cissbury and Chanctonbury Ring, I came pretty close to turning an ankle on one downhill and narrowly avoided breaking a toe when I kicked a rock extremely hard. I think its my body saying its tired and needs training to end soon. There’s a point just before you taper when you should be right on the edge of peak performance and/or injury, I think I’m just about there!

So for the next couple of weeks, I’m planning on getting used to my race kit, the only thing I’ve tested thoroughly so far are the Gococo socks which I wouldn’t run without now!

Running will be almost entirely on hills or in a wetsuit….or both. And I’m going to have to brave the open water in my wetsuit too and get used to the feeling of swimming in my shoes. I’ll also have to make a decision on the paddles and pull buoy, am I going to need them or not? I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m probably not strong enough for 6k of swimming with paddles.

 

 

 

May Training

The Numbers:

Mileage for the month – 189 miles
Biggest week – 50 miles
Longest run – 14 Miles

The Positives

I beat my target of 175 miles for the month and I’ve been striking a decent balance between my easy and hard runs. My swimming is good (for me) and I think I’ve now got all my kit in place for Breca Swimrun in July. I’ll go through all my kit in another post soon.
The only thing I’m concerned about is my trainers.
I’ve got my Inov8 X-Talon 212’s which are great in tough conditions, but painful as hell when the ground is hard. I’ve seen a lot of competitors in these and also in the 190’s which have the same grip/lugs on the bottom. The other thing that concerns me is I think the 212’s might get a bit heavy when waterlogged.
I’d love to have a reserve pair of shoes to take up with me so I can decide once I’ve seen the terrain. Something like the Merrell Trail Gloves or maybe the Inov8 190’s as they look like a lighter build.
Light and grippy is what I’m looking for.

The Must Do Betters

A few more miles to go yet before I taper. I’d like to do a tough 16-18 miler with some of the steepest hills I can find locally.
I also need to test my kit, run in my wetsuit, swim in my shoes, get in the sea, and practice with my team-mate Tom. He’s much quicker than me in the water so we need to dial into our perfect team swim speed.
Finally, I need to work on my shoulders/back/triceps. Lots of press-ups, pull ups and hangs. 6k swimming in cold water dragging along wet shoes on my feet is going to be tough on my upper body.

Any Other Business

I’m running a Beach 5 mile race on the 8th of June, not an important race at all, but a nice one to get out and be involved in. My team-mate has just smashed his 10k PB in Lisbon, at the end of a Triathlon no less, so I need to get some good race efforts in.
I’ve also got a club Aquathlon on the 10th of June. 400m swim/5k run I think. I probably won’t go all out on it, but I’d like to run hard off the swim for at least half of it.
Aside from all that, I’m starting to pick up clients requiring maintenance Sports Massage too which is brilliant. I’m looking forward to working with these people over the next few months in an attempt to keep them on the right side of injury.

June Goals:
Mileage: 175 miles
Long Run: 18 miles off road
Swim: Once a week pool, once a week Open Water
Yoga: Every Damn Day
Strength: A daily upper body workout
Kit: test, test and test again.

me & tom – lean’n’green

#Swimrun Training week 9

Total Miles: 20 Miles 
Average Pace:
 7:22 min/mile
Longest Run: 10 Miles – 50% of total
Speedwork: 0 miles
3 Speed Bike with almost 5 year old on the back: 80km
1 x hike up Europe’s biggest Sand Dune

Not much running here but the two 10 milers I got in were fantastic.

The March family took ourselves off to a little village called Claouey near Arcachon on the French Atlantic coast for the second  year in a row.
The whole area is covered in pine trees, sand dunes and cycle paths that look like this…

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I only managed 2 runs on these perfect paths, but I can report that my nutrition over there was fantastic.

#Cheese #Wine #StubbyHeinekens #Croissants #IceCreams #Baguettes #etc

(I can thoroughly recommend our AirBnB appartment which we’ve stayed in both times now)

#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.

#Swimrun Training – Week 7

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.

HEAD Swimrun Rough

#Swimrun Training – Week 6

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.

Workout Of The Week – The Egg Sandwich

10mins Threshold (2mins) + 6×200 (200m)(2mins) + 10mins Threshold
(10miles including warm up and cool down)

“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.

Run/Swim/Run

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.

More of the same next week if all goes well.

 

 

The never-fails, FOOLPROOF method to running faster

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.

BALANCE

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.

CONSISTENCY

 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 consistently then results WILL follow.

 

 

#Swimrun Training – Week 5

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.

Workout of the Week

600 Breakdowns
(600/400/300/200) x 3 – 300m jog recoveries

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.

Over and Out.

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