March Recap

I’ve been having a lot of fun with my running of late and managed to get to all five parkruns in March! While things started well, with my best time of the year so far and a best ever age-graded result for me, the last few weeks have seen me plateau in terms of my parkrun times.

So, this week I decided that it was time to start training again properly to see if I can improve my time and finally reach that ever-elusive sub-30 milestone!

After watching a few You Tube videos on how to train for a faster 5K, I decided that I would increase my sessions to include some mid-week speed work where I am running at my goal pace, and then take it a bit easier at parkrun to allow myself some recovery for the mid-week runs.

Monday was my first speed session. Ideally I want to reach a point where I can run a three week cycle of 12 x 400 meters, 6 x 800 meters, and then 3 x 1 mile. However, as I am not used to running fast, I only managed 4 x 400 meters, which I guess is ok for starters.

I didn’t quite manage to hit the goal pace, but the results were still a fair bit faster than my 5K pace, so hopefully it will have been of some benefit. Obviously, I will need to do more than 4 reps to reap the benefits, but I was pleased that I did what I did and I had a lot of fun in the process.

By Saturday, while I felt that I was ready for parkrun, once I got going I realised that I wasn’t feeling particularly strong. This wasn’t surprising since I’m not great with recovery in general so I took it fairly easy.

The positive from this though, which was more by accident than by design, was that my pace remained fairly consistent and left enough for a bit of a kick at the end! Also, as I start a bit further back due to my slow pace, I always run a bit more than 5K, so the actual 5K time was a bit better.

The other issue with starting further back is that it takes a good few seconds before you actually get moving, never mind crossing the start line, so I checked out my data on Training Peaks to see what my results were for the actual course – i.e. the last 5K.

This was pretty encouraging as, even though all of my parkrun times go a bit over 5K, it still shows that I am pretty much where I ought to be at this stage.

I had hoped that I would have been able to do some kind of training today – if not a run, then at least a session on the exercise bike. However, I was feeling pretty fatigued so decided to take it easy and let my body recover properly for my mid-week speed work on Tuesday… or maybe Wednesday.

How’s your running going? What do you do to help improve your 5K times? How do you fit recovery into your routine to ensure that you get the most from your training? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Spring Into Action

It’s the first month of Spring and what better way to start it off than with a nice wee jog in the park?

The weather this morning was cool, damp and slightly overcast as I headed out to what is now becoming my regular Saturday morning parkrun. We now have a grand total of five parkruns in out small city/ large town and two of them are within a ten minute walk of my front door.

Recently, I have been opting to parkrun in Hove Park rather than on the Prom. While I do enjoy the fast flat along the seafront, I tend to save that for my evening runs.

The thing I like most about the park, believe it or not, is the inclines. It’s nice to have a bit of variation and it provides better training for running off road, which I will hopefully start doing again in the next couple of months.

Anyway, back to today’s run… There were about 450 of us today and I set off from my usual spot way at the back. As well as keeping out of the way of the faster runners, I find that starting near the back also stops me from setting off too quickly.

As I was on my own today, I managed to keep my pace nice and easy for the first couple of kilometres, and avoided any walk breaks. I didn’t look at the Garmin much during the run and tried to run by feel rather than by pace. This resulted in negative splits for the first three kilometres, but by the fourth I was starting to feel more tired and knew that I was slowing down a bit.

As we approached the final kilometre I spotted the 33 minute pacer just ahead of me. He was shouting a few words of encouragement to those of us just behind him and I overheard him telling one runner that he was slightly ahead of pace so he should be fine for the 33.

This gave me a bit of a lift, not least of all because we were approaching the final downhill at the time, so I allowed my momentum to carry me down the hill and hopefully gain a few more seconds.

At the bottom of the hill, I slowed down again to gather my strength and psych myself up for a strong finish. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to push particularly hard, so instead I decided to try to accelerate enough to pick off a few people in front of me.

In the end, I finished with an official parkrun time of 32:36 (my best so far this year), 32:30 on the Garmin (as I was late starting it), and 32:08 for the 5K (as I started a bit further back). I also managed a 10 minute mile at the end, which is something that I have been aiming to achieve for a while now, so all in all it was a pretty successful run.

I don’t have any plans to run for the rest of the week, but I do have the day off on Thursday so I might venture out for a short one in the morning… but we shall see. Either way, I’m really enjoying my running at the moment, and that’s what its all about.

Happy running!

What Happened To February?

It seems that February has come and gone without a single blog post… but thankfully not without a fair bit of running!

Ok, so I’m not running twice a week, or even once every week, but I did manage three parkruns and a short bimble along the seafront in February, so things are looking good.

My parkrun times are starting to get a bit faster now, which is nice, although they are never exactly 5K. But looking at the Garmin results, the improvement in pace is still there.

On the whole, I am getting better at running without walk breaks, although last Saturday I did have to walk. This could have been because I was running with someone who is much quicker than me for the first two kilometres.

While it was nice to have someone to chat with on the way round, I did find that I started to struggle with my breathing so I may save the chatting for post-parkrun coffee / breakfast in future.

All in all though, I am really enjoying running again. Even if it is just once a week at the moment, it is satisfying to see and feel the improvement. Whether or not I will start training properly again to try to get faster remains to be seen, but as the evenings are starting to get lighter again I might just feel like doing a bit more mid week running. And who knows? Maybe one of these days I’ll finally reach that illusive sub-30.

For now though, it’s parkrun-eve, which means I get to treat myself to a carb-loaded fish’n’chips!

Happy running!

A Cheeky 3K

One of my hopes for this year is to be able to run a couple of times a week without feeling completely exhausted the day after run day. So, now that I am back to running 5K without walk breaks, I have decided that as well as doing parkrun every weekend, I’m also going to try to get a mid-week run in every week.

Although, I could probably have managed 5K this evening, I know that there’s no way I would be able to do 2 x 5K runs every week and still be able to function as a human being. So, I decided that I’d try a 3K instead. And, as I am hoping to get to a sub-30 5K at some point, I figured that running a shorter distance would be a good opportunity to  practice running a bit faster.

It was a pretty cold evening, but luckily we don’t have any snow or even ice to slip on at the moment, so I was keen to get out after work and give it a go.

The seafront was fairly quiet. There were a few runners and dog walkers out and about, but plenty of room to run, which is one of the things that I like most about running in the winter. The downside is that it is a bit dark so it’s not always easy to check the Garmin, but I do try to judge my pace a bit more by feel these days so that didn’t matter so much.

My plan was to try to run about 6:30 per kilometre. That’s a bit quicker than my average 5K pace, but knowing that I have run a few 1K splits in less than that recently gave me the confidence that it was achievable.

The run went well and I felt that I kept a fairly consistent pace, trying to pick it up a bit for each kilometre and backing off slightly if I felt I needed to, and in the end it was pretty much on the money – 3K in 19:26 with some nice negative splits thrown in for good measure.

The real test, however, will be how well I can function at work tomorrow and the day after. Fingers crossed…

Moving Up A Grade

The last two weeks have seen some improvements in my running, motivation and even discipline when it comes to my approach to training. Not only did I manage two parkruns and a mid-week run (three runs in two weeks is actually pretty good by my standards at the moment!), but by easing off the pace on my midweek run, I also seem to have gotten faster!

19th January – parkrun

My parkrun buddy is out of action at the moment, so getting my arse out the door on a Saturday morning takes a bit more motivation than usual. Still, I am keen to start getting into a bit more of a routine, so I dragged myself off to the park to see if I could build on the previous week’s efforts.

The plan had been to try to run the first twenty minutes, take a walk break and then run the rest. After twenty minutes of a nice easy pace, I was surprised to find that I was still feeling good, so decided to add another five before taking the break.

However, after 31 minutes and with only another 500 metres to go, I had to take a second break. This turned out to be a pretty good strategy as I was then able to finish with a strong(-ish) sprint across the line.

23rd January – No Walk Breaks

I felt surprisingly good after Saturday’s parkrun, so decided to go out on Wednesday for a nice easy run on the seafront. The plan was to see if I could manage to run 5K on the flat without any walk breaks.

The conditions were perfect – cool, dry and barely a hint of a breeze. Tempting as it was to push the pace, I managed to remain fairly disciplined and kept it nice an easy to make sure that I could cover the distance.

Ok, so I may have had a couple of cheeky sprints towards the end, but on the whole I stuck to the plan.

26th January – parkrun

Being able to run the full 5K without walk breaks on Wednesday really boosted my confidence for Saturday’s parkrun. This was to be my final run in the 40-44 age group, so I wanted it to be a good one.

The plan was to start off at a fairly easy pace, trying to stay under 7:00 per km. The parkrun has a few hills/ inclines, so I wanted to make sure that I could run up them without any trouble and try to pick up the pace on the way down.

The first four kilometres went in without too much trouble so I decided to see if I could pick up some pace on the fifth. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it, but I noticed that there were a few runners just ahead of me so tried picking up the pace just enough to get past them. Then, with the finish line in sight, and two more runners within range, I accelerated to the finish line, overtaking both of them and finishing in good time.

My parkrun distance is always slightly more than 5K (as I start at the back) and the first kilometre is always slower (as it takes a few seconds to get everyone moving), but I was really pleased to see that I managed the final kilometre in only 6 minutes and that my pace going across the finish was 5:15  per km.

Moving Forward

So, with some good improvements overall this month, I am looking forward to seeing what I can do this week. The plan (as much as there ever is a plan) is to try to get another mid-week run in (probably a 3K) and then do parkrun again on Saturday to see if I can keep up the progress and start heading towards that elusive sub-30 5K.

First Run(s) of 2019

The year has got off to a pretty good start running wise. Ok, so I didn’t do anything the first week, but this week I managed not one but two runs and even had a session on the exercise bike!

Tuesday was the first run of the year and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for it. I had a vague idea about seeing if I could do 10-15 minutes without a break, but I wasn’t sure so I decided to just get out and see what happened.

As it turned out, I was able to keep going (albeit very slowly) for 25 minutes. I could probably have done a little bit more, but I also knew that I wanted to do parkrun on Saturday, so I figured 25 minutes was good enough to be going on with.

Again, for parkrun today, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to approach the run. My original plan had been to do intervals of 10 minutes running and 1 minute walking, with the aim of getting round in about 34 minutes, but again I’d see how I felt once I got going.

I arrived at Hove park with around 10 minutes to spare. Fortunately it wasn’t too cold so I didn’t mind too much, and kind of enjoyed just hanging around watching everyone arriving.

There was a nice positive vibe as people gathered at the start area. There were around 550 of us, which I think is a bit more than usual, but given that it’s early-mid January it’s probably to be expected.

The start itself did seem to take a bit longer than usual, so I didn’t get up to speed as quickly as I would have liked, but once things thinned out a bit it was fine.

The first 10 minutes came and went without too much trouble. I was going slowly of course, but didn’t feel like I needed to walk, so I kept plodding on until I could feel my pace starting to slip. That was around the 20 minute mark.

I figured that after my walk break, I should try to get another 10 minutes of running in, but I had probably overdone it with the first 20 and only managed 6 minutes before having to walk again.

I was pretty far back and slipped back a bit further as I enjoyed my 1 minute break. Once I got going again, I soon overtook a few of those who had passed me, but I was still feeling pretty tired.

I didn’t have too far to go, so after a few minutes I decided to have one final walk break and then see if I could muster enough energy for one last kick to the finish line.

There was a sizeable gap between me and those in front, but I managed to get past one without too much trouble and then accelerated as best I could for the last 300 metres, overtaking a couple more to finish with an official time of 33:55.

I was really pleased to have made it under 34 minutes, especially with the slow start.

My Garmin time was a little bit faster as I hadn’t heard them say ‘Go’ at the start due to the people around me chatting, and the fact that we weren’t actually moving. But either way, I’m happy with both results.

New Year, New Adventures

Happy New Year! Yeah, I know I’m a bit late, but I reckon you’re still allowed to say it for the first week of the year.

This year, I have decided not to make any running related resolutions or rash promises. Instead, I’m just going with the flow… although the flow is rather slow right now.

I haven’t actually had my first run of 2019 yet and I’m not making excuses. There’s no need for any of that.

Instead, I’ll tell you about my last run of 2018. I was in the Highland for Christmas, spending time with family, eating, drinking and generally having a good time. So much so, that by Boxing Day I was in need of a run.

As my sister’s dog needs walking in the morning, I decided to take him out for a nice wee jog. It was a lovely sunny and mild morning, which was a nice change from the usual horizontal rain that we’ve had the last couple of years.

We took it nice and easy, the dog and I, and tried not to wrap each other round too many lamp posts and I have to say that he made a pretty good running buddy as we bimbled along, stopping for the occasional sniff or pee (the dog that is!).

Given the circumstances, I wasn’t too bothered about time or distance, but we did manage to cover a few miles to help work of the festive indulgences/ make room for some more!

Much as I enjoyed running with the dog though, I am looking forward to getting a proper run done soon and seeing what new running adventures this year has in store.

Happy Running!