Monday, 4 November 2013

2013 so far!

I admit I'm not to great at writing this blog, I've decided not to promise to be better but to hopefully post something as and when I get the chance!

I realise the last post was at the start of the track season and a lot has happened since then so I have summarised as much as I can below.

Track Season review
Considering the time I had had out following the trip, the season seemed to be going well until I suffered a hamstring tear in early June, it struck on the last water jump of the British league in Manchester, but I was still able to hobble home to win. Following the 4 week rehab I came back hoping to recapture the form I had shown prior. The last 3 races didn't really show this, including a BMC 3k at Oxford, the last BAL in Barnet and the BMC 3k chase at Streford in close to monsoon like conditions. Although the last BAL required me to double up in the chase and 3k which helped the team win the league for the second time in 3 years.

Northern 6 Stage
For the 6 stage I went off first leg and within the first 200 meters of the race I had to make a decision about the race tactics. A group of 4 had already formed a small gap and I had to choose to go with them or hope that the chasing pack would keep in touch. I decided to close the gap. The first mile was a very brisk (4:41) and during a twisting section of the course in the woods I lost contact and was on my own until the last mile of the course when I was joined by the chasing pack. I held it together to come home in 9th and set up the team for the rest of the race, going into the last leg we were leading but unfortunately our last leg runner was just back from his break and found the race a shock to the system but still managed to hold on for Silver. 

South Manchester Triathlon
Transition 2 of the triathlon
I took part in the Triathlon based in my home town of Wilmslow, I had competed in this race last year finishing third. The aim was to improve my overall time which in turn would lead to a higher placing. I certainly pushed myself in the race, being a little ill while out on the bike, and I managed to finish second only 17 seconds behind the winner. Although in hindsight I struggled in my transition from the bike to the run and also suffered from cramp and a stitch during the run (a little down to poor pre race nutrition planning). However I improved my time by over a minute from the previous year and had I not had these issues I feel I could have come away with the victory. At least this gives me something to aim for next time. 

Northern cross country relays
After winning the event last year, as team manager, I wanted to ensure we retained the title. In the 4 leg team I was out last leg; I had the luxury of a fairly large lead thanks to Niall, Simon and Charlie and brought the team home to retain the title. A welcome start to the cross country season.

Oulton park Duathlon
The following day I had my first Duathlon at Oulton park. In the first run I started with the leading group only to push on towards the end of the first lap when the pace dropped. I built up a 1 minute 20 second lead going into the bike. Unfortunately this is where I ran into problems, upon mounting my bike I knocked the back wheel but did not realise I had also knocked the rear brake. I then proceeded to ride the next 38km with my brakes effectively on. Needless to say I struggled, whist I thought I was just having a bad day on the bike, I dropped quite a few places on the ride picking up around 10 on the final run to finish 23rd!! It was only after returning to the bike did I find the mechanical problem. It was certainly a lesson learned.

National 6 stage relays
AW front cover
This was the highlight of the year, the Sale team managed to win the National 6 stage for the first time and I had the glory of crossing the finish line after being put in an almost unassailable lead by the rest of the team. It was great that everything came together the team was the best we could have hoped for. To top things off I was lucky enough to have a picture of me crossing the line on the front page of Athletics Weekly. The interview I gave after the event to Athleticos can be found HERE

British fell relays
I was asked towards the end of the track season if I would like to take part in the fell relays. Although I had never raced in this type of event I thought I would give it a try. After racing the previous day in the Manchester League, finishing a conservative 7th, I was unsure how I would cope with this event. It was typical Welsh mountain autumnal weather with driving rain and gusting wind. Out on the first leg, I was in the top 15 on the way up (400m of climbing over 2 miles) however it was on the decent I struggled. With a wet surface, steep descents and unsuitable footwear my technique compared to the seasoned fell runners showed as I dropped quite a few places at the same time as falling twice in quick succession. I finished 30th out of the 182 people who started on the first leg, but I don't think I will be returning to this type of event in the near future.

National Cross Country relays
As this was a 4 man team event I was in the B team, which I was grateful for as i'm not a huge fan of the course at Berry Hill. I had a mediocre run and the team finished in 15th place, the 2nd B team behind AFD who were in 14th. The A team however kept the rich vein of form for the club going finishing in 2nd place again behind AFD.

The last few months have been an unbelievable time not only for me but for Sale Harriers. The results mark the most successful period in the clubs history winning the Track league, National 6 stage title and Northern cross country relays along with silver medals in the Northern 6 stage and National cross relays. The future is certainly bright in both the short and long term.

Next up for me will be a few road races including the Stockport 10 and Ribble Valley 10k. Then the big cross country events will start in the new year.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

It's been a while...

The last time I posted anything, 2011 to be exact so in that time we've had a Diamond Jubilee, an British winner of the Tour de France, the small matter of the London Olympics and a few other things along the way.

In terms of me and my running, 2012 was looking good with my highest finishes in the Northern and National cross, a PB over 10k (30:36) and some promising runs in the road relays. Then the track season came around and things seemed to go a little haywire. In my first 3k I felt as though I was running with the brakes on and a couple of further early season races I felt the same. Then in early June I was diagnosed with shingles so had almost a month off. Upon my return I had lost a lot of my endurance and I was battling through races until the end of the season. I then experienced my first triathlon, a local low key pool based one in Wilmslow. After 6 weeks of training I finished 3rd, I'll admit my swimming could have been better but my endurance background helped on the bike and especially on the run. After that there were a few cross country races, 6 stage relays, which put Sale back on the map, and a 10k in Leeds.

Then I had a little life event, my girlfriend and I went travelling for 3 and a half months. We took in south east Asia, the east coast of Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. We have overused the superlatives to describe our time and I am glad I had the opportunity to do it! I did a fair amount of running while I was out there, I started with a fresh pair of Kinvara's and these shoes are certainly well travelled. They covered over 500 miles in 6 different countries, trekked through jungles, navigated cities, climbed mountains, jumped out planes and helped save lives (well helped a boy with a broken leg). If they were a person they would have some stories to tell. I recently had to 'retire' them from running after 700ish miles of use. I'm not currently sure what to do with them I'm sure i will think of something in the next week or so.

So that brings us almost to present day. I've been back in blighty for just over a month and have just about brought myself up to speed with life, work and training. I was thrown into the deep end at the national 12 stage running 1st leg and, unsurprisingly, I found myself down on last year. Staying positive, I know that things are only going to improve as I am currently in a winter type training regime and will be until the end of May before I start to focus on races towards the end of June and July.

Hopefully I will try and a bit more frequent with my updates but below is my last weeks training including the races in the BAL in Lee Valley.

After running 73 miles the previous week this was going to be a slightly shorter week with the BAL on the Saturday, however as the plan is to keep the volume up to at least the end of May it was still going to be close to 60 miles.

Sunday: Out with Chris Warburton and Simon Horsfield from Parrs Wood down the River Mersey and back through Didsbury. I did 15 minutes before as the plan was only for 65-70 min. We clipped along at a good pace getting down to 6 min/mile, although I pulled it back when I saw that popping up on the Garmin. We averaged 6:34 for the whole run but the last few miles were certainly a lot quicker than that.
Daily Total: 12

Monday: (Am) Went out for a 3.5 mile run with the plan on doing some gym work after but got my timings wrong as i turned up at 9 and the gym did not open until 10. As it was a glorious day I went for a ride on my bike in the afternoon although looking back maybe should have taken it a little easier.
(Pm) At the University Playing fields for 2k, 2k 1.5k although it was timed rather than distance so 5.5min and 4.5min. Chris was flying and set the pace, some of the younger members also set off quick. I settled in and worked through, running around 4:55 min/mile pace for the 2k reps. For the final rep we set off considerably quicker and I ended up averaging 4:47. Pleased with the session overall but the legs were tired.
Daily Total: 10.5

Tuesday: (Am) a steady 3 miles from home where I was feeling a jaded after yesterdays efforts.
(Pm) Ran 5.5 miles to the bike shop where I had dropped the bike for a service. Then went for a ride with the group, I was expecting a leisurely ride around the Cheshire plains instead I had a slog up the Peak District hills, the thighs were burning a little but enjoyed it none the less.
Daily Total: 8.5

Wednesday: (Am) another 3.5 to shake the legs out after the day before.
(Pm) Down to the track for 7*300 with Charlie Hulson and Gavin Hill, kept them all inside 47 with a few dipping down to 45. First real speed session in spikes of the year and was a bit of a shock but need to keep the fast twitch fibres alive (the few remaining I have!)
Daily Total: 9.5

Thursday: Ran just under 4 during my lunch. Wasn't feeling it today so just did the 25 minutes rather than the 35 I had planned.
Daily Total: 4

Friday: A busy friday at work meant I was only able to get out after so just ran a steady 3.5 to keep the legs awake before the trip down to Watford.
Daily total: 3.5

Saturday: BAL Lee Valley. The plan was always to run the 3k Chase at this meet but due to various injuries and unavailability I also put my name down for the 5k. The chase was reasonable but I was a little disappointed with the time of 9:23 also being out sprinted was a bit of a shock in the last 50m. This was always going to be a marker and I know things are only going to improve. The 5k was just over an hour later, the plan was to work through the pack as best I could. A lead group broke away after a 2:56 first k and 3min 2nd. I was a little off the pace and went through 3k in about 9:04 while tracking the B runner from Herne Hill. I was hoping to up the pace in the final k, the lungs were willing but the legs were not and I finished with 15:17. Overall I was pleased with the 5k especially so soon after the chase however I would like to see improvements for the next race.
Daily Total: 9

Weekly Total: 57

As expected for the week in terms of mileage, races went ok but I know better things to come.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Time off (sort of)

I have just returned from my two week break, it was a break of sorts shattered at the end by an insanely large amount of running to get me back into things!

It was fortunate that i had some time off as work went into overdrive working on average 9-10 hour days, the joys of receiving a promotion and being given a few more projects. Although it has been character building and excellent experience with juggling multiple projects and resourcing appropriately. Anyway enough of work.

During the time off I took advantage of the time to do a few other activities, golf, rock climbing a bit of football all things to keep me active and not put a stone on. I threw in some small runs every other day with a maximum of 3 miles.

In the second week I went to Switzerland with Matt Barnes meeting up with Darren Talbot, who lives out there, Mike Skinner and Team GB's number 1 fan club Trevor and Lynn Pearce.

On the Thursday we went to the Diamond league meet in Zurich, it was amazing. The atmosphere was 10 times better than what i have experienced in the UK and they love all disciplines so there was a constant buzz. We were in the standing area next to the high jump and javelin so we got to see a lot of action and as you can see a lot of the winners of each race.

The following day consisted of a float down a river to bern in a few rubber dingys as well as a stop off for a BBQ and swim. When we got to Bern we had to pack up and the 3 other lads ran back up the river (12 miles) to the cars while i went out for 4 and came back.

The next day was where the real fun began, a two hour trip to the wine region of France for a small matter of a half marathon which we had entered. We were hoping for a nice steady run and to clean up the prizes, this was dashed by a local turning up who was planning to run New York Marathon. Lets just say he was in better shape than we expected. The 32 degree heat and rolling hills did not help matters. Several stops, about a gallon of water and a slight detour at the end of the race i finished in about 1 hour 22 min (should have been longer considering my detour). The most painful 13(ish) miles i have run in a long time. So the next day we did it all over again, just a little slower this time, and finished it off with a swim in the Rhine.

Since then I have got back into some steady training, one 40 mile week, a painful 16:35 5k park run tied in with a saturday morning session in wythenshaw, a 4 mile tempo and 8*300 reps. All perfect preparation for the Northern six stage relay this weekend.

Or not.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Season in Review

So the domestic season has come to a close. 2011 was a better year than 2010, 09 and 08 so i can't complain... but i will. A little inconsistent and my better races or at least when I felt best came at the wrong time. 

Still going sub 9 for chase, getting within 1 second of my 1500 and 2 seconds of my 3k pbs is again ok but would have preferred to be breaking them. After all I am not getting any younger and the youngsters are starting to show me up!

My last race I reported on was the World trials in Birmingham. In the week after I felt extremely drained and had to take a couple of days off to recover. Maybe a virus, maybe just overcooking it was however not the best feeling!

In August I competed in the remaining British leagues and UK challenge final. The third league meet in Manchester saw me doubling up in the B events for the 3k Steeplechase (9:21) and the 3k flat (8:20), which was within 2 seconds of my PB. Not too bad considering the the hour recovery between the two races. Maximum points in both of these races which helped the City of Manchester record a victory in that particular meet, the endurance team (800 to 3k including chase) only dropped 4 points that day (3rd A in the 3k) which was a stark contrast to previous meets.

In the UK challenge final the following week I tried putting myself in a position to run a fast time. However going through the first 4 laps in 8:35 pace following Stokes, Gunn, Wilkinson et al. I suffered for the last few laps and my pace dropped and finished with a 9:15. Again extremely frustraiting! 

Over the bank holiday weekend was the final BAL in Newham, this time I was doubling up in both the Steeplechase and 5k, the killer double! Again I was able to win the B steeplechase in a controlled 9:14 ( which proved to myself that I could run a much quicker time in a evenly paced race), the 5k an hour later was a little more tough than the 3k two weeks previously. I felt comfortable through the first 3k however the last 2k including a sudden change of pace indicated the effort I had put in earlier took its toll. The time of 14:59 was not too bad considering, but next year i would hope to finally update my 5k PB! However again the team again won the meet and league overall which will mean a European trip next year to pitch ourselves against the best in Europe! 

One of the big things i am taking away from this track season is the fact that I have been able to compete the whole season without breaking down. Being able to stay healthy and fit will allow me to push on over the winter and as long as I am sensible, I should come out next year stronger again.

I am currently having a brief end of season break. However I will return to racing as early as the end of September in the Northern 6 stage road relays.

As odd as it is to say, Bring on the Winter!


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Result

Well, the result, yes, let's say it couldn't have gone much worse. My first voluntary DNF in almost 13 years of racing. The others have been due to injury.

Felt good in the lead up, warm up went well and was feeling fairly confident. Went off with the pace at the start and in hindsight this was probably the problem. The first k was about 2:45 so around 8:30ish pace I was around 3rd/4th and feeling ok. A little bit of hustling and barging but nothing out of the ordinary. Then with 3 and a half laps to go it seemed a switch was flipped. The arms and legs went and I started going backwards, just before the 2nd to last water jump I dropped out. I honestly felt though if I had tried to continue i would have caused some permanent damage.

So what did i learn? Race smarter, go off a bit steadier and work through the field, the race did slow and people did move through or slow down.

So onwards and upwards, next one the BAL at Sports City

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Stop weighing me down!

My last blog was in the middle of May, since then a lot has happened, but i'm going to keep it as short as possible! I have taken part in several races, made some major changes to my diet and started to finally feel like the athlete of old! So i'll list the races and the out comes from said races:

Trafford 3k 17th of May: Was taken through the first 4 laps in 65 pace (4:20) by Simon Horsfield with Matt Clowes also pushing things along. However after Simon dropped out the wheels fell off and I ended with a 8:28. ok considering first race but not happy with the fading.

Sports city 1500: Was hoping to go close to my PB in the first race but not to plan at all in this race. Bad start left me at the back of the field. Was chopping and weaving for the first 800 so no steady running and with 400 to go had nothing left. 3:55 not the result I wanted at all!

Cardiff BAL 3k SC: Windy cardiff meant a very tactical race. First k must have been about 3:10-20, then a slight pick up in pace. I took on the race with 900 to go and was tracked by Ben Ngay, kept on winding it up but then had bad few hurdles and water jump and Ben took me and went away. Finished with a 9:10 which was ok considering the slow start.

Watford BMC 3k SC: Hoping for a bit better result seeing that this race would be paced. Put myself at the back of the leading group and felt ok up until 2k and then the wheels fell off. Last lap was painful to run, and as I was told even more painful to watch. 9:14, not good.

After this event on the Monday John and I had a good talk about things that were different from times of old. We cam to two conclusions weight and core. Now I am not exactly overweight but my weight at the time was 10st 12lbs which was a good 5lbs heavier than what i was at my best. So we set a target of 10st 7lbs to reach before the end of the season. The other target was to spend a bit more time on the core to help with the hurdling and to sort my posture out a bit.

In the following weeks I changed my diet to remove any excess fats as well as reducing portion size. I managed to lose 3 lbs in the first 2 weeks and then gradually knocked off the remaining couple in the following 3 weeks. I also set about working on my core at least once ever 2 days with just simple workouts focusing on main areas.

Barnet BAL 3k SC: The next race was the BAL, I was feeling in good shape and was hoping for a fairly quick race and a sub 9 time. The first k was taken out in 2:56 by the cardiff runner and he led until 2k where the next k was 3:06. Glen Watts and I then pushed the pace with Glen nipping in front, the last lap was a 64 second burn up and, again, a bad last water jump cost me. However the time of 8:57 was encouraging and there was enough in the tank to think an even paced race would produce more!

I had to miss the Solihull BMC the week after due to a cold, I was planning on racing a 5k and to finally get rid of my 14:48 PB, not this time.

Trafford BMC 1500: A week before the trials I wanted a tune up, was originally placed in the E race but was able to get into the D after asking. Felt good from the start of this race, 1st lap 60, second lap 61, and I then moved into around 3rd place. 2:33 though 1k then a lad from Ireland took it on, I tracked him and over the next 200 we really wound up the pace and pulled away from the field. I tried to go with 120 to go but he kicked again so I tried to keep the form and finished with a 3:49. I feel there is a bit more to come in a slightly quicker race so we will see if I get the opportunity this year. Race is here (thanks to Athleticos)

So the trials are upon us, I have eased down nicely for this, hoping for a fairly quick race and sub 8:50 timing. Could be a fairly open race but we shall see!

I shall report back after!


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Salford 10k and last few weeks

The last few weeks have been a mixed bag of racing, training and holidaying.

Just before i went on holiday I had put in a good week of training and had the Salford 10k as my final road race before my transition to the track. On the Monday before i put together a session of 4*1k starting with a 2:48 and gradually upping the pace each rep which cumulated in times of 2:45, 2:42 and 2:37. This was one of the best sessions I had put together in a while and hopefully pointed to a quick time on the Friday.

The result however was not what was envisaged, the field at the front end was of a high standard with the likes of Anthony Ford, Andi Jones, Matt Pierson and Joe Bailey amongst others. I was cautious at the start as it was a warm morning and I knew that the first k would be very quick. We went through the first k in about 2:50 and i found myself a little bit in no mans land but two runners came back to me just after 2k. The leading 4 were not getting away, however after 4k I started to feel heavy, i went through 5k in about 15:40 way off pace and i was just hanging on for the last 5k. Finished in 32:09 was way off what I wanted/expected, put it down to my breakfast being too late and too heavy (Porridge about 2 1/2 hours before) and the warm conditions.

The following day I flew off to Croatia with the better half. I was able to get in some decent running where I was, however it must be said Croatia is a very hilly country and I was lucky to find some coastal paths to get my runs in. Managed about 50 miles during the week so enough to keep going. We also threw in a 40k bike ride over a mountain and a day of sea kayaking.

Since then I have been preparing for the Trafford Open on the 17th of May. I had Matt Barnes wedding the weekend after Croatia in the Lake District. On the morning of the wedding the groom, best man, usher, friend and myself did 5*5min session on Grange-Over-Sands promenade. Again i was clipping along at a good pace, it was estimated (Garmin died just before) I was hitting between 4:40 and 4:45 per mile.

A busy few weeks will be coming up hopefully the training i have been putting together will pay off.