Monthly Archives: May 2014

Be Vewe, Vewe Quiet. I Am Hunting Wabbits!

This mornings run (Friday) was a fun one. I decided just to do a short three miler because my iPhone somehow managed not to recharge last night. It was sitting showing me a 1% battery charge when I came down this morning despite having the cable plugged into it. I reinserted it and it stated charging fine, but this isn’t the first time that has happened.

So, I decided that I would still run, but dug out my old Polar watch with the heart rate monitor so that I could time my run. After reconfiguring the heart rate monitor (as I had lent it to a friend the other week to try out; he loved it) I hit the roads at a brisk pace. This was helped by the fact that as I turned out of my road there was another runner about 400 yards ahead of me running on the wrong side of the road. A rabbit. My quarry. Muwahahaha.

I picked up my pace and was soon moving faster to track him down. Now it isn’t really fair to call it a race when the other person doesn’t know that they are being hunted down, but I enjoyed it anyway. I ensured that I took the outside line on all the curves as I was clearly catching up quite quickly. Then we rounded into a nearby housing development and I was hot on his heels. I was pretty sure that he could hear me by this point as I was making quite a noise with my breathing. I overtook him at about the 3/4 mile mark and stormed onwards. I heard him cross the road behind me and pick up the pace. It seems that I was now the rabbit.

Unfortunately for him this was just at the bottom of a nice hill. One that I am very used to running up and so took at full pace. By the time I crested the hill I could no longer hear him behind. I didn’t cast any looks back.

After this the rest of the run was relatively uneventful. I turned around at the 1.5 mile marker and eased up my pace a little. I completed the three miles in 24 minutes which isn’t an especially fast time so the second half must have been quite relaxed.

One other thing that I learned from this is that the heart rate calcs that these watches use must think that I am an old, slow bugger. It put my optimal HR range at 115-152. That’s bonkers. Way too low for my sort of workouts. 150 would be the lowest I would get to on a long slow run. Ah, well, I guess it is a good thing that I am fitter than the device assumes for my age. 🙂

Overall this week I’ve done 33+ miles and that’s not too shabby. It was a tough week at work and baby Louie had been having a hungry (read early waking) week, however, I feel that I have at least achieved some good in my running. A good mixture of run types: LSD, mid distance, track work, hill work, and short fast run. Surprisingly varied for me.

What will the next week bring? Well, I have to wind down and have an easy week in preparation for the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill half-marathon next Sunday. I was reading through the event calendar tonight and it looks like a lot of fun.


Hill Training: Run for the Hills

No, this is not getting your pet hill to sit and stay, or to walk to heel. Hill training is to help push your body to improve. Find one. Run up and down it. Both directions help.

Surprisingly running downhill is quite hard on your body and is not the easy recovery you might hope for. Running uphill, well, I probably don’t need to say that is tough but it helps to build your muscle strength.

The hill I found last week was my selected destination and is a two mile run from my house. It is 0.47 miles down so just shy of a mile for the complete circuit. I chose to do three repeats due to time restrictions. A couple of dogs were watching me run back and forth with very puzzled barks. I also scared a fox at one point as he stood in the road blissfully unaware that I was coming up behind him. My “hi foxy!” wasn’t well received and he sprinted for cover. It seems that the fox says “arrrgh, I’m getting outta here!”

Here’s the profile of the workout:

20140529-095205-35525977.jpgI ran a different route home just to add some colour to the routine.

Overall 7 miles at 8:36 pace. Not too fast but ohhh those hills!

Track Night: 400m Grinds

Tonight was the regular track night for the Fasttracks Running Club and the workout was fairly simple: 400m at one mile pace followed by 400 jog recovery… Then repeat eight times.

That makes four miles of running and two miles at ‘pace’. Quite a challenge but fortunately the weather was with us tonight. No rain. No sun. A little wind but not too bad. And after the prescribed dynamic workout I was itching to run. I did a couple of laps to warm up too then we were called to the line up.

Group one has a tendency to go out too fast and tonight was no exception. My target/measured pace for the mile is 6:20 pace. The first lap was at a 5:58 pace and felt too fast. I guess others felt that too because the next one was a slightly more conservative 6:06. By lap three I no longer could feel the coolness of the evening breeze. Effort three was at a 6:10 pace which is getting closer to mile pace. And one more got us to halfway. At this point I was tracking 6:04. Still too fast.

For each interval lap we group up and are sent out en masse. So that gives a couple of extra seconds of recovery time to help get the spring back in your legs.

Onto the second half. Lap five was at a 6:09 pace and lap six was 6:08. Pretty consistent if not slightly fast. Two more laps to go and we were starting to sense the end. Lap seven was at 6:11 and we then took a very slow recovery lap to build up for the last one.

For the last lap our coach led us out for the first 100m and we were instructed to go ‘all out’ for the remainder of the lap… My final lap time was at 5:50 pace. I could feel the adreneline as I accelerated at the 200m mark and again at the 100m mark.

We then shook out our legs with a few more laps of recovery during which I got to spend some time chatting with Keith Straw who is the clubs bonafide long distance expert runner. He is an interesting character and I got to talk about how he started getting into ultra-marathons (which I shan’t publish here because it was a private conversation). He’s a very interesting chap and a great embassador for running. I found him to be enthusiastic and that he readily recognises other people’s efforts (even when they pale next to his); it was an enjoyable way to wind down at the end if the night. It is also nice to have a chance to talk to a fellow Brit who is in a similar line of work to me. This weekend he will be running a 24hr race on a 400m track. I can’t even begin to imagine what a toll that must take on your body and your mind. Some people are made of strong stuff.

I bailed on beers for tonight and instead headed home for “bangers’n’mash”. Yum.

Overall distance for the night was just shy of six miles with the average pace for all of it at 7:48. No heartrate monitor this week. Next week, perhaps.

Human Fast. Machine Slow.

It was a warm morning and I was up early to feed baby Louie. This meant I was ready to head out the door around 6:15 including some light dynamic stretching.

I ran and it felt like I was moving quickly. I was happy with how I got up the first big hill and the second one. Then the voice on my phone chimes in with “pace 8:38”. Huh? What the heck? That can’t be right. I kept running despite the machine telling me I was slow or, perhaps, in spite of the machine! I had planned a familiar route with a slight variation on the loop point and I stuck to it.

Gradually the machine agreed that I was in fact running faster and the average time started creeping down.

I had to stop three times to cross roads where there was a line of traffic so this affected my time too.

In the end, 6.7 miles in 8:06. Nike+ had me at 7:52 average and that keeps tracking while I am running on the spot waiting to cross the road. So I guess the truth lies somewhere inbetween.

It felt fast to me. Damn stupid machines.

One odd thing today… It seems my toes are trying to escape from my running shoes.

20140527-072744-26864455.jpgA hole! That’s not cool. My Brooks Beast shoes always had a section of harder material over the big toes toe box area, but this model doesn’t. I guess it shows that I am lifting my toes while I run which I probably shouldn’t be doing.

Iconic Running Music and Hills

I need to get some more hills under my belt in preparation for the Heartbreak Hill Half-Marathon in June, so today was a long slow hilly experience. And what better to help make those miles so by than:

“Siri, play music by Queen”

Absolutely perfect for a challenging run. At mile 1.5 “another one bites the dust” and at the last big hill push “we are the champions”. Plus all those other great tracks from Queen’s Greatest Hits Volume 1. It is rare that I listen to music on my run but that was a fun choice.

The run was a reasonable 11 miles with an 8:30 pace. Here’s the profile of the hills:

20140525-095814-35894758.jpgAnd here’s the heart rate zones info. It looks like I am right in the sweet spot spending most if my time in the 80-90% range.

20140525-095900-35940259.jpgHave a great Memorial Day for those in the US. Everyone else, enjoy your Sunday Runday.

Getting Out The Door

Sometimes it is hard to get out the door. Very hard. Today was definitely one of those days.

At the 5:30 alarm I struggled into my shorts and running top then lay back down on the bed.

5:37 I finally got my butt up off the bed and headed downstairs. I then faffed around with gadgets for ten minutes. Relacing shoes and generally feeling like a slouch. I was tired and had a sore throat. After a glass of water (bottled because we have a public health water emergency at the moment) I sucked it up and reluctantly went outside.

At the top of the drive I did a few dynamic stretches. Everything was tight and creaked when I moved. I did not want to run.

The funny thing is the previous night I dreamed of getting out early and running as fast as I could; all out.

In the cool of the morning I started my gadgets and slowly started moving down the driveway.

My legs felt like lead for the first mile. I decided I wasn’t going to be fast but that I would just run and see what happens. I went passed a house that burned late last year to see what progress had been made (nothing). Then headed on my way. I went exploring for a change and took some turns that I hadn’t been down before, one of which led to an incredibly long downhill that was a dead end road. And you know what that means… An incredibly long climb back up the hill. This will be a good one for training for the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in a couple of weeks time.

20140523-071721-26241911.jpgThis shows the profile of the hill. This is particularly good because there is no traffic down this no outlet road. It did make me slow though as you can see from this overlaid pace picture.
20140523-071722-26242047.jpgOn days as tough as these it is sometimes a boost to look at some of the random stats that the nike+ site generates, like this:


Anyway, the run is over. It was slow but interesting and at least I did it!. As ever, the hardest race is the one inside your head. Sometimes you just have run even if you don’t feel like it.

Victory is mine.

Track Night #4: Light Haze

Another night at the track with FastTracks Running Group and yet more rain to keep us cool. There was a better turnout this week as the rain was at least light. The week’s training was to be a repeat of last week (which I missed) and consisted of:

400m with 200m recovery, 200m with 200m recovery, 400m with 200m recovery, 200m with 200m recovery, 400m with 200m recovery then 200m with 400m recovery…

And then do it all again!

The pace for the main runs should be your 1 mile pace and it is key to the programme that you know what this is and that you can run to that pace consistently for all the intervals. I suspect that this is because we will gradually be running longer at that pace with fewer recovery periods.

I have to say that it was quite a tough workout tonight and there were a couple of really strong runners leading “Group 1” (the sub-22 minute 5k’ers) which pushed all of us. I was pretty consistently fourth in the group of about 12.

This week I also wore my heart rate monitor. It showed my max rate reaching 189 bpm which, coincidently, is the max rate value that I calculated with my exertion test last year. My average for the runs was around 157 which is okay (I think).

The total mileage measured was 4.5 miles because I did a warm up lap too, with an average pace of 7:30 that includes all the 200m recovery periods. I guess we must have been running a little fast for some of the intervals because if I switch my phone to give me quarter mile splits there are a couple that are lower than 6:20 pace and one that is 5:51 pace. I didn’t have my lap timer running for tonight… I’ll have to work out a way to do that for future circuits.

There were a few people present that I hadn’t run with before and some very different running styles. If you don’t believe that there is no right/wrong way to run then I encourage you to go to a track meet and see the various running styles. Some people lean forward, some stay dead straight and others lean slightly backwards. Some people move efficiently and along a straight line while others seem to swing their legs out wide around the hip. Some people take long over-reaching, slow strides while others take short quick strides. It is very interesting to observe.

It was a good night and a few of us went for beers afterwards (always appreciated) however it is now 10:43 pm and I am back in the office as we have problems with some of the DB servers… so I’m here to kick them back into line.


Run Commute #3: Running Back Again

Yesterday I ran home from work which means that my car was stranded at the office. So today’s choice was to either ride my bike to work, cadge a ride or run back again.

Tuesdays are my regular running morning so I opted to run back to the office. At around seven miles it isn’t too far to go but there are no shower facilities so I had to use the trusted baby wipes.

Running in the morning is a little trickier than running home in the evening because there seemed to be far more traffic on the roads. There are a couple of points where the roads narrow and there is no sidewalk to run on so I had to wait for a school bus on one occasion and on another I ran on a very sloped bank of grass. Other than that it was a relatively uneventful run.

It is a shame that there are so few sidewalks out in the suburbs around Valley Forge. During commute times the traffic can be quite busy and some roads are very narrow. I made sure to have bright clothing and some flashing lights to make myself as visible as possible. I also made sure I was running in a visible position on the road (slightly out from the edge) and that I was running towards the oncoming traffic as much as possible.

My run was slightly slower this morning than last night but I had to wait to cross roads on several occasions so perhaps that is why. Seven miles with a pace of 8:10.

Now I am ravenous. Tonight I am going out with work colleagues who are visiting from overseas so I won’t have to feel guilty about consuming too much. Hurrah!

20140520-124759-46079328.jpgA photo from my Naturalization Day. What a quality piece of headgear!

Run Commute #2

After a lazy week last week and missing my long run on Sunday because I felt a little off colour, I thought I should make up for it today with a run home from work.

I took a slightly shorter route this time (7 miles vs 8.5 last time) and tried to keep my legs moving a little faster than the last time. Now I was more familiar with the the profile of the run and the hills towards the end of the run, I saved a little bit of energy for the last section.

It was a tough day at work and I forgot to take some snacks for the afternoon so I was running on empty. Yesterday I did eat a very large slice of red velvet cake while I was at the cinema watching Godzilla so I think I’ve now burned that off.

I managed the 6.92 mile run with an average pace of 7:58. Not bad considering the 480+ ft of elevation gain along the route.

It still feels safer running this route than it does riding the bike which seems strange to me as I am a very strong and comfortable bike rider. I think it is because you run facing the traffic and therefore have a better feel for the traffic coming along the road. All in all a good run, but now I have to run back tomorrow AM to get my car. 🙂

Wardrobe Malfunction.

After a few days off running due to a busy time at work and a much needed massage on Thursday, it was back on the streets today.

Today is National Bike to Work day. It seems that the weather didn’t get the memo about bike riding. It was a very stormy, wet and wild day so biking was out. I did however run as it was only dripping when I left… But four miles later the skies opened and the water pooled. Spray from trucks and buses had me soaked to the bone in no time, and I had another four miles to get back home. I couldn’t even run faster because my muscles were still sore from the massage session on the previous day.

To top it all of I suffered wardrobe malfunctions today. The elastic in my socks was pretty well gone when I put them on and within 2 miles they were falling down. Once they got wet there was no pulling then back up. Eventually they were soggy bands around the arches of my feet. I stopped twice to try and adjust them but I should have just taken them off for all the help they were.

By the time I got back I was thoroughly drenched and there was a towel waiting for me by the front door (thanks to my loving wife). My daughter greeted me with a big warm hug despite my being soaked.

8.2 miles @ 8:18 pace. Slower than recent runs but it was wet, windy and I ached, so in going to declare it a victory regardless. 🙂

The socks went straight in the bin and I am lunching today next door to a running shop so I sense new socks in my future. The previous pair were probably six years old and traditional cotton sports socks so I can’t complain too much. (Clearly I can).

I got a cool new app for editing photos the other day (Rookie) and have been looking for an excuse for using it. So here’s a quick shot of me running in the rain:

20140516-125705.jpgHow many others braved the storm this morning?