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.


Saturday, 16 April 2011

National 12 Stage Relay

So the National 12 stage relays have come and gone, first of all a well done to Tipton for their late late show in their victory and to all the other teams that competed. The Sale team were hit by a succession of withdrawals in the weeks leading up to the race and our overall position (32nd) is the lowest that I have been involved in.
My race it self was hard to judge, last year i ran 27:15 but at the same time I was set off in 3rd, quickly moved up to 1st and then was dragged through by quicker runners catching up. This year it was a different story, I was set off in 27th place after Jamie Roden had gone the wrong way on his short leg (he thought he was doing the 6 stage the numpty) and didn't have much to aim at for the first part of the race. I caught my first runner just after the first hill but was then on my own again until the turn around on the long drag. I'll admit I suffered until then as I always forget how long that part is. I took a few more places once I hit the down hill and round the pool and sprinted up the finishing straight. My time was 28:01, as you can imagine, not overly impressed but the time difference between each race (from last year) is steadily coming down.

The next few weeks are fairly hectic in terms of racing and training. I will be racing the Salford 10k on Good Friday before heading off to Croatia for a weeks holiday, I still will be running just not the sessions. On my return I have Matt Barnes' Wedding and before the end of May I'll fit in a 3k and 1500 (probably at the Trafford open meeting and BMC respectively). My first steeplechase will not be until the 4th of June in the BAL in Cardiff i will probably follow that up in the BMC at Watford.

In terms of my barefoot revolution there have been a few additions to my schedue. After every session I complete on the track I am doing at least 800m barefoot as part of my warm down and of course still enjoying my Kinvara, so much so I have bought another pair, this 'livestrong' esque pair look pretty cool and still have all the benefits. I'm actually finding that when I run in my hurricanes my achilles, in my problematic right leg, aches almost as soon as I start running. Could this be the end of my supportive shoes?

It may be a couple of weeks until my next blog but I will endeavor to fit it in where possible.


Monday, 4 April 2011

The Dent 14.1 mile

I completely forgot to say about Matt Barnes' stag do and the Dent 14 road race, i shall keep it brief.

So we arrived in Dent on the Friday afternoon, post usual stag activities of buggying and quad biking. We then proceeded to the local, and only, public house for dinner and copious amounts of beer, cider, shots and cocktails. Lets just say some were worse than others.

The next day everyone woke up a little worse for wear and we were lucky the race didn't start until 1 as otherwise it would have been carnage. Then the outfits came out. Previously an email chain had occurred about the activities of the weekend and it was suggested we do the race in fancy dress, below was the outcome.

From left to right: Dave 'Spiderman' Norman, Darren 'Robin' Talbot, James 'Duffman' Bailey, Nick 'Wonderwoman' Leigh, Ian 'Ironman' Fisher, Andy 'Superman' Norman, Matt 'He-Man' Barnes, John 'Spiderman' Rogers.
I'm sure it was quite the spectacle as we jogged into town with the 400 other racers watching on. We all started at the front, i'm sure that most of the racers thought we would go out and then gradually fall back. Not so, 5 of us finished in the top 7 and Dave won! Dave has put together a thorough race report with additional photos in the link here.

I enjoyed it in a weird way, went through half marathon in about 75 high so not hanging about either on an extremely undulating course. And of course to celebrate our achievement, a curry followed by a late night clubbing session in Kendal!

I'd have to say it was probably the most extreme sporting stag do i have been on and probably won't be topped for randomness.

National road relays this weekend, hopefully a better result than the Northerns. I'll report back next week.

Still loving the Kinvara's but currently alternating each day.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Catchup and Minimalist/Barefoot running

My last post was just after the National Cross country/mud bath with the Intercounties just on the horizon. In the weeks up to the race i put in a longer week (70+ miles) and then eased down again to about 50 miles for the intercounties. Last year i had a really good run (by my standards) finishing 56th , however this was coming off the back of what was my best ever winter and performances. This year i knew i wasn't going to be in the same sort of shape but was still hoping to be about 20 places lower than last year. I finished 105th and a minute twenty seconds down on last year. Clearly a bit of work to be done however I have to say I'm probably about a month to 6 weeks off the sort of fitness levels I was this time last year.

Since then I have had a couple of weeks training and the Northern 12 stage in Catterick, the training has been going well, felt a little tired at times with the amount of miles and sessions completed, but I have been sure to take the easy weeks easy to give me time to recover.

The relay were ok, i was disappointed with the time (23:04 for ~4.6 miles) and the fact i had the sprint of shame at the end. I am staying positive and looking forward to the National 12 stage where i will hope to improve on my time from last year.

The next little thing i want to talk about is the minimalist/barefoot movement that seems to be rumbling on in the back ground. I was bought the book 'Born to Run' (pictured) by my girlfriend for Christmas. She was recommended it after telling people i was a runner, it is considered the bible of barefoot running. Now i'm not going to tell you the whole story, you'll have to read that yourself, however there is an interesting underlying theme about minimalist and barefoot running and the evidence backing it up is quite compelling. The thought is that our new trainers with their motion control and cushioning is doing more harm than good. After all we've survived for thousands of years without them and it wasn't until the 1970's that these sort of trainers were developed. Rather than land on our forefoot, as nature designed, allowing our feet, achilles, calves and legs take the force the new trainers cause us to land on our heels putting more pressure on our knees, hips and backs while also causing damage to our achilles and calves. If you don't know any runner who has had achilles, plantar faciitis or calve problems they must all be made of steel/barefoot runners! It has been proved there has been an increase in injuries of this sort rather than a reduction. After reading this I thought to myself it all made sense and why not give it a try, I knew I ran the risk of aggravating my achilles injury but my thought it was caused by the way i was running so changing it it may help. I also realised it would and still will be a slow process gradually removing my orthotics and changing my shoes. I have made conscious efforts when going out running to land on my forefoot which inturn shortens your stride but puts less pressure on the various points on the body.
With regards to the shoes there has been the movement towards the 'less is more' ethic from shoe companies, for example the Nike Free's, Saucony also released their first foray into the minimalist area in 2010 with the introdction of the Kinvara, a lightwight, low heel to toe drop shoes (4mm compared to 13-18mm in most trainers). I have recently received my pair and from the few runs i have been on I am delighted with them. They feel a lot lighter on my feet and have noticed a fair increase in my steady run pace. I will definitely be getting another pair once my Hurricanes give up. I will keep you informed in the future about how they hold up and thoughts on them.

Next up will be the National 12 stage in two weeks time, I expect i will be puting in a couple weeks of hard training, racing and then preparing for my favourite time of year, TRACK!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Where do i start..

It has been far too long since my last post, my running has been blighted mainly by illness but things are back to normal and i have been able to get back to some form of fitness.

The end of 2010,running wise, was something to forget, my last post was way back in August i had just returned from the European Championships (watching not racing) and was looking to get my running back on track. I had began building up from what felt like nothing at the end on August and gradually was upping the milage each week. Then in September i came down with a virus, raced in the Northern 6 stage and was then out for around month with the virus, cold and just to finish it off a week and a bits worth of stomach upset. Well done me not listening again.

When i finally got back to some sort of health it was a case of starting all over again. The first few weeks was just running, getting something in the legs and gradually upping the milage to a 'reasonable' level. The sessions started in November, back at the car park at sports city. The first few sessions were slightly demoralising, i was way off the pace and i felt i was going full out, it was expected but still a shock. I systematically increased my milage and sessions through December as well as adding in my weights session once a week.

My first race wasn't until the new year, a Greater Manchester league in Woodbank park, Stockport. It ended up being a reasonable result however the week later in the Cheshires' was a different story, a muddy 5 lap course already cut up by the age groups and women showed up my lack of strength and i struggled finishing 8th. John and I decided from then on i would only race every 2 weeks until the strength came back. The following weeks included 70+ mile weeks and some good sessions, things were looking up.

The Northerns in Sunderland were next up and after my 38th place finish last year i was hoping to get close again this year. Disaster struck when i started suffering stomach cramps halfway round the second lap, i considered a Paula but decided against it and suffered through to 50th place.

Two more hard weeks (70+ and 80 mile weeks) followed by an easier week led to the National or as it as better known the Muddy Hell. I arrived with Tom and Graham Lancashire to be greeted by the bog that was the spectators area, the course was ok... until people started running on it and it cut up like a cows field. There are horses for courses and i am not a muddy horse. 120th, way off what i expected but i'll let this one slide.

Next will be the Inter-counties in Birmingham this weekend, hopefully dry and firm!

Hopefully a few more posts in the coming months rather than a bi-annual update!