Category Archives: Run Log

Run 168 – Bath Skyline #4

Date:  Sunday 15th February 2015 11:00am

Distance: 10.00km

Time: 58:52

Pace: 5:53 min/km

Description: So, 7:30am, lying in bed thinking do I really want to do this?  Get up, go to the club and hope I can get a lift, or get a train and taxi?  Meh.  OK, I’m up.  Let’s get dressed and pack.  As I’m on the bus, I get confirmation that a lift is available.  I get down there and have some time to find some breakfast.  Which is harder to do before 9am than you’d think.  Betting shop is already open though!

So after a ham sarnie my lift arrives.  A pleasant journey to Bath race course with someone who’s occasionally running with TACH and who lived in Germany for several years.  Thankfully it’s warmer today, so no sheet ice to negotiate.  We arrive a bit later than usual, and chat with the other SRC people and Liam and his friend are here as well.

Only 10mins before the start, I do some very quick warm ups (not enough) and pop to the toilet just in time to make it into wave 1 before 30 seconds and the start.  We’re off and I want to be quick here like last time to try to get ahead of as many people as possible before the mud bath.  I manage to close the gap to Tom and Lee for a bit, but then after a couple of km I’m sensing my lack of warm up, energy and that ham sarnie still digesting.  Slosh, slosh, slosh as I bound down the big hill.  It doesn’t seem as fast or as controlled as last time, I’m using bigger strides.  But STRAVA tells a different story.  A very different story.  I smashed that today in 1:52 at 3:27/km pace. (Which almost seems slow as that’s downhill, and I’m doing that on the flat at WISE.)  But last time, I was nearly a whole minute slower on pace.  2:21 at 4:21/km pace.  Wow! Mark, the guy from B&WAC is #1 on this segment, Lee and Tom from SRC are 2nd and 4th respectively.  Only 10s off top place, but that was done at 3:09/km! Nice work.

It’s been cat and mouse with a guy from SRC, I’m just faster on the downhill, but I pay for that on the up hill.  I try to keep jogging, but have to fell walk the rest of it.  Then forcing myself back in to a trot.  Then comes the mud.  Not so much of it this time.  I have quite a gap in front.  There are still really muddy bits, where I think I’m gonna loose a shoe.  But it seems to pass quicker than last time.  However, coming up the hill towards 5k my legs feel like they’re full of acid.  Shit, too much too soon.  Lack of prep, lack of food, lack of hydration, this is my fault.  Similar thing happened at Sugarloaf last year.  It’s flat after 5k, but it just seems to go on and on forever.  I’m dreading the woods.  Eventually they come and I’m still slow in them.  There’s no queue but I get over taken.  Despite being drier, I still don’t trust this ground.  I can’t let go on this.  Going up is still painfully (yes, lower back hurts) slow.  I make it to the top and I’m shattered.  Speeding up as fast as an oil tanker on the flat.  Less confidence on the downhill.  This needs to be under the hour, and it’s looking extremely close.  I’ve just got to keep the pace up.  Approaching the last km I’m starting to catch the SRC guy I’ve been tailing.  As we both get on the final straight I tell him we should be under the hour.  Four minutes to go.  The closer I get, the more I know this should be under the hour.  I’m certainly not comfortable, but I’m not half a second away from death.  I pass a guy who’s just slowed to a walking pace and I tell him to keep going, he’ll be under the hour!  He starts jogging again J  I make it to the finish and see the clock is 58:40.  As I pass it, I know it must be under 59 minutes.  I’m happy with that!  I turn around and the SRC fella comes in and we shake hands.  Great race.

It makes a nice change to get to the tent and be very few people around.  I grab some food and my third medal and head back to the start.  On my way, someone comes up to me and says they recognise me from Pen y Pass.  I recognise him, but it takes me a while for the cogs to turn.  Then his wife turns up and yes, they are the couple from Bristol who were also at the Pen Y Pass YHA in Snowdonia when I was there.  Awesome!  Forgot she is a member of SRC.

I get to start and the others are there.  We cheer in the other runners as usual; “Sprint Finish!”, “Go on, get him!” etc.  We cheer Liam in and 118.  Great atmosphere.  And wearing my SRC Green jacket, it almost feels warm.  Great way to end what is likely to be my last Skyline for a while.


Run 167 – B&WAC WISE Intervals

Date:  Wednesday 11th February 2015 7:15pm

Distance: [1.38] + 7.66 = 9.04km

Time: [6:02] + 34:35 intervals and recovery = 40:37

Pace: [4:22] + 4:31 = 4:30 min/km

Description: Still feeling the effects of last night’s yoga. Walk to WISE instead and have 6 minutes of warm up around the track followed by drills. I’ve decided to up the ante and tag on to the elite group to see how I get on. Tonight its 800m (2 laps) on, with 90 second recovery, 2 laps on with 3 minute recovery, times five!

BAM! And we’re off. Oh crap! Despite not having run the hills of Purdown last night, something tells me I’m not as fired up as last week. Oh crap! Breathing is all over the place. Just got to try and keep up with this guy at the back. Oh my God what am I doing? Breathing seems so ragged. Two laps seems an eternity. Maybe I haven’t gotten up to speed yet. Next effort, oh crap. This is not smooth. Legs seem to be ploughing in to the track, and seem to have little control over getting my breathing to steady. First set done. Second set! What already?! I’m so behind on this one that the whistle goes off after only 700m. The next 800m I’m really flagging, I’m in the shit.

Then, Keith, the guy leading this “elite” group has a word with me. He suggests I do only one lap next, use the remaining time for a longer jog recovery, then do the following 800m. It’s bitter sweet. Relieved, because I know based on that last one that my performance is going to nose dive very soon and I’m going to be doing an impression of a dying seal on the side of the track for all to see. But pissed off and embarrassed that I can’t hack it in the fast group. Ego not having a good evening.

But surprisingly, what it does do is allow me to push harder knowing I only have 400m to get round. At this point the whole group is feeling the effect of being on the third set. I speed past one group down the first straight, and bizarrely feel so self-conscious for being so fast, that I feel I have to reassure the others with “Don’t worry, I’m only doing one lap”. Moron. Anyways, that lasts until I reach the second half of the group ahead, and my body realises it still has 200m to go and whatever burst of enthusiasm powered me through the first straight was obviously left there.

The extra recovery seems over all too soon as the runners come back round from the second lap. And we’re off again, another 800m, oh God this is still hard. What the fuck is wrong with my body? Why is this so different to last week? Why am I not able to sort my breathing out? Is it the yoga? Is it the fact that I walked instead of jogged here? Should I go for an easy run the day before instead of yoga? So many questions. This isn’t helping. I just need to not get too behind the last guy in front. And even then I’ve still got another set to do (hell am I doing five of these!)

Thank fuck that’s over! Gasp gasp, gulp, cogh gasp gasp. Right, look active, start cool down jog. Most people are carrying on with the fifth set, but there’s a couple of guys who are also cooling down, obviously way out in front though. Theme of the evening.

I’m really keen to know what sorta pace I’ve managed tonight, hope it’s better than last weeks. We certainly did seem to be overtaking Chris’ group. And I hope the reason why tonight has felt so bad is that I’m doing a pace that I’m not used to.

On the plus side as well, the other guys were saying that this was a hard session. I had a chat with a chap who’s doing one of the night races in Forrest of Dean tomorrow and Skyline on Sunday. Then had a chat with Keith, who also takes a hills session at Ashton Court on Saturdays at 10am. I say I should probably go back down to Chris’ group, but he says that I should do the fast group next week, but maybe cut some of the efforts short to gain recovery time. Cool.

I’m exhausted and legs are sore but not hurting, which is a positive sign. I hobble back home and start to have a look at my interval paces and heart rate. First of all, switching off the 1km auto lap on the Garmin and using the lap button works for Garmin Connect, but not for Strava. But at least this makes extracting interval times easier. And the distances are a consistent over estimation of the lap distance, so times are used with 400m based laps to give the following breakdown:

[800m 2m46s 3:28/km]

[800m 2m48s 3:30/km]

[700m 2m33s 3:39/km]

[800m 2m52s 3:35/km]

[400m 1m20s 3:20/km]

[800m 2m52s 3:35/km]

[400m 1m22s 3:25/km]

[800m 2m50s 3:33/km]

Total effort distance was 5.5km, in 19:35, giving an average effort pace of 3:31 min/km. And that’s corrected for distance! OK, not bad, but how does that compare to last week?

That was 4.0km in 14:54 giving average effort pace of 3:44 min/km. So, the good news is I was “faster” this week by 15 seconds. But it goes to show the step change in effort needed to knock 15s off a pace. I really, really do have my work cut out for me!

Pace comparison between WISE sessions week 06 and 07.

Heartrate! Surely feeling so bad means that I was reaching 200bpm for most of that? Well, not quite, mostly between 190bpm and 195bpm. But when compared to last week’s trace, it maybe makes a bit of sense. The biggest difference is the heart rate was built up over several minutes last week. This week the first loop was 180bpm, which still doesn’t seem that high. But perhaps the body was shocked a little, and I wonder if I might be better off not worrying about keeping up with the pack on the first interval, and build it up! Indeed, shooting off at 2:50 min/km pace, as it appears I did right at the start, is a recipe for disaster. Heart took a whole lap to go from 104bpm to 184bpm and doing that kind of pace without the bloodflow to back it up surely isn’t good for endurance?! The previous week was a more gradual increase in heartrate over one lap with recovery and another two laps after that!

WISE Intervals comp
HR comparison between WISE session Week 06 and 07.

But, how do these spikes in heartrate compare to say Aztec 5k or Brighton 8k? Go look. Aztec I was starting at 130bpm, and was up to 180bpm after 200m, 190bpm after 500m, 195bpm faster 2km, finishing on well over 200bpm! Same starting rate for Brighton, so maybe I was too “cold” starting at WISE. And the Brighton pace was around 7bpm slower throughout, but with consistent steady increase.

2015 Weekly Summary – Week 05

Number of Runs: 3

Total Distance: 39.8 km

Total Time: 3h 32m

Average Moving Pace: 5:20 min/km

Total Ascent: 546m

Summary: I RAN MY FIRST SUB20 5K!!! I RAN MY FIRST SUB20 5K!!!

That’s the big news. Three days after a trail marathon as well, following a massage, cold bath and recovery run. And by some margin, 19:35 thanks to some excellent pacing help! Completely and utterly overjoyed with that result, despite certain other people unwilling to share in it.

Following the race, a lack of appetite on Tuesday and Wednesday meant Thursday was a knackering run, and again had no appetite. Friday was lunch-less, and Saturday was pretty light as well. It’s been weird having accomplished the 5k. Like, oh, so that’s finally done then, oh okay. And the euphoria stops after two days, and it’s a bit of a bump to earth. Mid-week has been pretty lame, but the cross country run on Sunday was a boost, albeit a slower than hoped one.

About 10km shy of my weekly 50km target, but considering last week was a bonkers 80km, I think I’m due a little recovery time. Hopefully following some mental, physical and emotional recovery, I’ll be back in to the thick of it next week working on those 8k and 10k times.

Run 166 – Team Athens Monday

Date:  Monday 9th February 2015 6:15pm

Distance: [2.11] + 9.1 [+ 2.51] = 13.72km

Time: [13:17] + 1:00:56 [+ 14:32] = 1:28:45

Pace: [6:18] + 6:46 [+5:48] = 6:28 min/km

Description: This was a great run! Got the bus down to the Arches and had a gentle jog up Redland Road up to Whitetree Roundabout and my friend Ella’s flat. Then after a change of shoes from road to “off-road” (you have to say that slowly in a deep), “off-road” shoes, a check of headtorches and we’re both out the door. Two-thirds of Team Athens warming up across the Downs.

Nervous about the timing, had hoped to be out and across the Downs before 7, but still, running down a dark corridor of trees with head torches and a friend is pretty damn cool. First challenge, Bridge Valley. To balance the effort, I say that I’m gonna jog to the bottom and run all the way up, but that as she jogs down and sees me coming up she should start running at that point. The idea being we should reach the top at a similar time having started a different places.

I wanted to get this done and be outta here as soon as possible so the jog down was actually a pretty fast run, using my arm and lamp post to swing me back up for the powered ascent. I’d gone past a couple of runners on the way down, so they are something to aim for on the way up. Adrenaline and fear fired me up that hill, felt like immense speed. I pass Ella who’s taking a photo of the Bridge and the first runner about halfway up. Oh crap, only halfway up and my minutes reserve of superboost is gone and power is dropping like a stone. And then comes the steep bit. I still don’t want to be caught out on this, so I grit the teeth and carry on. As I near the last bit I’m catching up with the runner in front. A mixture of relief to have made it nearly to the top, and shear sickening exhaustion, I lift off the gas down to a jog. I’m coasting behind this guy and only just overtake him right at the end.

Getting back and looking at this “Bridge Valley Road” STRAVA segment I realise I really should have powered through ALL THE WAY to the top until something exploded. It’s fun looking at the leaderboard and seeing familiar names from SRC with their best times.

“Bridge Valley Road” 3:08 at 4:23/km rank 35th.

“Bridge vally rd Lights to Tree at Top” 3:10 at 4:33/km rank 40th on 16th Dec 2014.

“Hill Climb” 1:30 at 4:14/km rank joint 18th on 16th Dec 2014.

The last one is particularly satisfying, but I’m also thinking that that was not tonight, but actually a few weeks ago doing Bridge Valley reps with SRC and co. If I REALLY give it everything, I can be faster. I’d probably pay for that later on in the climb, but that may help get my overall time closer to 3mins. That involves cutting the pace down to a 4:00/km UPHILL! Call it a long term project. The gradient profile is also saying the gradient in the last 150m is 30%. Not sure about that, but seems fun!

Anyways, back to the run, once I reach the top, I turn round to check how Ella’s doing. She’s doing well, good effort. After that it’s time to get a bit more technical, so it’s in to the woods along the undulating Greenman Path along the cliff top. Then it’s back on to the verge of the swirly road that takes you to the dodgy bit with doggers and the icecream van. Not sure if those two are connected.

Anyways, I find the entrance, as it were, to the deer park valley that does down to the Portway, with the railway tunnel air shaft halfway down. We get through the gate, and my eyes light up like a kid in a sweet shop. Yes, it’s steep! Yes, it’s technical. Yes, it’s slippery. PERFECT! We walk down carefully and assemble at the bottom gate, the road and river just ahead. We turn around and look up. This is crazy/fantastic. It reminds both of us of the steep bit at Cheddar Gorge. I let her start and go on a bit before I start. It’s probably best to keep people within sight, as this place is really flippin creepy! I run up, and it’s great fun. I can try to sprint and use short sharp bursts that really demand power from my legs, which needs to be built up if I want to achieve my long term goals. I get to the top gate and feel sick. Good work. Ella’s still got a bit of a way to go, so I jog back down just past her and again try a second hill sprint up. I love this place! But we’re both happy now to just get back home.

Across the Downs, there are some marked football pitches, so after catching my breath I’m restless again and try some sprints. Out ahead, and returning to make sure I keep with Ella. I think it’s a great way of sharing a run. And it’s cool to be so close to home and civilisation, but staying just so far away from the roads to need a headtorch makes it feel more like a trail run.

9km in total for me, followed by some amazing chilli made by Ella and then a cool down down hill jog (complete with awful stiches) down to the bus stop. Job. Is. A. Goodun! I think Liam will enjoy these Monday runs as well!

Run 164 – B&WAC WISE Pyramids

Date:  Wednesday 4th February 2015 6:30pm

Distance: [2.1] + 7.3 [+ 4.0] = 13.2km

Time: [12:03] + 14:54 intervals only [+ 24:35] = 51:32

Pace: [6:01] + 3:37 [+6:09] = 3:54 min/km

Description: After getting changed at work, it’s a gentle 2k jog with the hoodie and Camelbak rucksack to WISE track. Turn up early, and the guys on reception suggest I go round the back where the track is. I’m there, but no one else is around. Then an older chap turns up, who turns out to be Chris, the gentleman who sent me the email after Aztec West 5k inviting me along.

We have a good chat, telling me about the lie of the land with regards to other clubs (particularly Westbury). Happy for people to come along from any club or not and pay the £2 to support the use of the track. Happy, as long as there’s no poaching or hypocrisy. Sounds fair.

Other people slowly turn up, it’s not a huge group, but he introduces me to each person as they arrive, which is really nice. There’s a sub20 group, but considering the 21k I did last night and how I’m feeling, I’ll start with the 20-25 group.

The warm up exercises are just what I’ve been after, something more structured. And it helps, because it’s bloody cold tonight with a slight breeze that goes right through you. After that it’s simply 400m, 800m, 1600m, 800m, 400m intervals with 400m recovery in between. Unfortunately I haven’t got the Garmin optimised for intervals, and hence only recorded the speed sessions and not recovery. Full distance was 7.2km including track warm up and cool down and recovery laps. Each lap is 400m.

[400m 1m26s 3:35/km]

[800m 2m56s 3:40/km]

[1600m 6m14s 3:54/km]

[800m 3m03s 3:49/km]

[400m 1m15s 3:08/km]

I really enjoyed it. I found the recovery laps perhaps too leisurely at first, but I wasn’t at the front, just trying to keep up with the front runners. Particularly remember a great battle on last 200m. And the pace trace is very telling! I sped up and over took one chap. Then, as we enter the corner he seems to take back the place. My trace clearly shows a sharp drop in pace, as if I’m giving up once I see him overtaking me. This out-psyching often happens during the end of races. Fascinating. But then when we rounded the corner to the final straight I had to give it my all.

Running, focusing on a point far in the distance, arms swinging, head and chest up, trying to kill thought and emotion in order to run faster, further. The legs are robotic, and what’s left is becoming too. Faster! Accelerate! Faster! I start to overtake him. I’m not letting up. Accelerating. It’s like the end of Blaise again. Come on! I shoot past the finish line ahead. Too fucking right! I stop the Garmin. Damn good pace on that one. I feel the time killer rising up in me again, blood boiling. It is in THIS moment, that I’ll become faster in training. I NEED this competitiveness. Racing is the best sort of training, as is being demonstrated!

I tell the guy well done and thank him for a tough finish. Any runners that I passed I said well done in the SRC tradition. Jogging around on the cool down, it was nice to hear feedback on SRC how we cheer on runners from all clubs, particularly at the Towpath.

The chap is also telling me some really interesting stuff, particularly about the possibility of joining Bristol & West as my second club. Any races where Southville have a team, I’d enter under Southville. But if not, such as the Gwent and Midlands Leagues, I could be competing with Bristol and West. That would be fun! It was also interesting to hear that Bristol and West train on a Monday at Whitehall, Tuesday and Thursday at Combe Dingle and Wednesday at WISE. Hang on. Yup, apparently it’s Bristol & West coaches taking the interval sessions on a Thursday at Combe Dingle. Other clubs are welcome to use them of course, and do, it seems. Noted!

So, post Aztec, February is bringing a new phase on the war on time. Even more determination and focus, gym membership and recovery swims, track sessions with Bristol and West, hills with TACH. Thinking back to all those positive comments I received following my first sub20 5k, they were very similar to things I first thought when I first started seeing sub20 race results. “Fuck that’s fast!” “How is that even possible?” I’ve just to think back to how I thought exactly that about a 1:43 half marathon time…just before I smashed that by 5 minutes. It’s just a function of time and effort!

Happy with tonight’s session for starters, considering the 21km last night and how unfresh my legs are! Despite the perceived effort tonight, the heart rate says otherwise. Remember, if it’s not 100% anaerobic, I’m obviously not trying hard enough! Go hard, or go home! Next week, I’ll change to a Monday run with a Tuesday recovery (swim/yoga or gentle SRC run?) before I’ll go with the faster group next Wednesday. I wanna see those times fall! According to Chris, if I want to be sub40, I need to be running a 5k in 19:25. Sub32 8k, Sub18 5k.

Gentle 4k jog back to Patchway. Legs and feet huurrt! Recovery day tomorrow I think before this all catches up with me.

Run 165 – Brighton 8k

Date:  Wednesday 4th February 2015 6:30pm

Distance: 8.0 + 4.0 = 12.0km

Time: 32:43 + 23:05 = 55:48

Pace: 4:05 + 5:47 = 4:39 min/km

Description: Got in to Brighton last night and watched Ex Machina. Good film, but not sure I enjoyed the ending. It’s a cold night, but still and I have plenty of layers. I decide to walk back along the top of the seafront, watching the moon on the sea…and thinking…thinking. I get to the marina and decide to check the height and distance of the ramp down to the east end of the marina. It’s 200m and descent of 20m. That was at half midnight.

Today, after helping to sort through my late mothers things with my brother, being tired and with it being cold outside, I was not at all fired up for this run. To make it worse, my calves are still iffy. They have niggles all over the place, with the occasional spasm in the odd spot. They are not fresh and healthy.

The marina wall is closed, so I warm up under the cliff behind the marina. I start walking, then a gentle jog, then a quick burst, back down slow, then back to a walk. My calves are not going to enjoy this. It’s only 4k out, but it still seems daunting to be about to run 4k away from home along the coast. Lets get this over with.

I start out and try to get a good balance of being steady and being quick. The pace is over 4:00/km, so I certainly haven’t achieved the 3:50 I usually start my fast Brighton runs with. First km down, 4:04/km. OK, need to speed up. 4:07/km on the next. Damnnit I’m slowing. Oh well. Just focus, keep at it and it’ll be over soon. 4km. Thank God I can turn now and get home! 5k and time is…woah 20:36! Only 12 seconds slower than my perfect Christmas 5k. Okay, maybe I can actually do this. I focus. And I push. There’s quite a few people out today, families and other runners. But I’m not out on a jog, I’m here to do a job. If I look shit and that I’m hating this, it’s because I need to be fast. Am I anywhere near getting a sub32 8k or a sub40 10k anytime soon? What will happen when I get past 5k at this pace, will my body just give out? The next few km are not sub4, but close enough for this to be close. I make it to 7km, the marina seems so near but this is feeling tough, but if I can force myself to push more on this final km. I’m aiming for 32mins. That comes, and goes. But I reach 8km only 43secs later.

I need to do the 8k along Weston Prom in under 32minutes, and I’ve done it today in Brighton in 32:43. What’s more, I did those 8km with a faster pace that I did the 5km at Christmas. Maybe if I’d have carried on to 10k, I would have been just under 41mins, which would be close! An extra 2km after 8 doesn’t seem like an impossibility. If the race boost effect works even half as well as it did at Aztec, I’ll be sub32. Surely it can’t be too long before I get my sub40 10k?! Come ON! I CAN DO THIS!

Comparison in HR effort between running 5k at 3:55/km pace and 8k at 4:05/km pace. Looking at around 7bpm.

An amazing result after how unconvinced I felt before starting. I’ve got my head on the wall and arms behind my head, gasping for air. But I want more! Those hill sprints are calling. So only a few short minutes after my 8k run I’m running up this road, 200m with 20m ascent. Apparently that’s only 7% gradient, but seems a lot more. I do five, which takes todays distance to 10km. But I need the ascent, so do another 5 to make it up to 200m ascent. I’m gasping when I reach the top. But I’m satisfied with today. Good work legs. As a reward you get a cold bath. Nooo…… But even after that, my calves are so painful to touch, that foam roller is killing me. Days after, my calves are not having a great time.

Brighton Hill Reps
Nice and steady increase and decrease in HR up and down hill.

Run 163 – TACH Purdown Moonlighting

Date:  Tuesday 3rd February 2015 6:45pm

Distance: 7.7 + 7.4 + 5.5 + 1.0 = 21.6 km

Time: 37:24 + 45:53 + 27:32 + 6:50 = 1:57: 39

Pace: 4:51 + 6:12 + 5:00 + 6:50 = 5:27 min/km

Description: Was planning on an SRC Towpath “race” tonight, or maybe just see what was there when I got down there. However, after recently joining the TACH Facebook group, a post about an evening head torch run around Purdown hills sounded brilliant. Something a bit different.

Run out to Purdown, was trying to be fast, but still too damn slow! But the heart rate never lies, and obviously wasn’t high enough! The run was different, past Little Stoke, past Parkway, round and through UWE, down the hill on Purdown. But under the motorway, this was familiar territory. Got there just before 7:20pm. No sign of anyone until 7:30pm. First run with TACH. Couldn’t resist the idea of a frosty headtorch run around the hills of Purdown. Reality didn’t disappoint. Small group of 4 to 5, great company. Fun exercises skipping up steps for balance. Some tough hill circuits. But running across the hills by moonlight, frost crackling underfoot, the city lights shimmering to the left: fantastic.

Attempt at fast run back. Felt more awake, but it’s easier when you’re going slightly downhill. Still ended up being stupidly slow. 1km cool down from the gym. Not swimming tonight, prefer the idea of a foam roller, dinner and bed!