Tag Archives: intervals

Get Back Out There

Today was the first run for a few weeks with my friend. He had taken a couple of weeks off because of the snow and moving house, but today we were back on the trail. 

His new apartment is right by the trail so we actually met up in front of the building rather than half a mile away in the parking lot.

There was still some ice patches on the trail but it has mostly melted now. 

Two weeks off had taken its toll on his running stamina though and he was struggling by the four mile point. On one interval we started walking slightly early to give him a chance to recover. 

The important thing to remember here is that it is okay to drop back in performance but that you must be gentle as you start back; don’t expect to instantly perform at your previous level. That will likely result in injury. 

Expect to have to rebuild strength for a couple of weeks as you get back out there. Yes, it is surprising how quickly your strength can fall back but it will recover. You just have to plan around that. 

Getting back out for our regular Monday run was good as it’s always nice to have a chance to catch up with a friend. 


New Year. New Intervals.

My friend and I decided that it was once again time to increase the length of our running intervals.

It has been a long road to get to this point in the running plan. We’ve taken it very slowly to eliminate the risk of any injuries along the way. This very slow and steady increase in both the interval durations and the distance covered has meant that he has been able consistently build his running performance and avoid all the usual pitfalls along the training pathway.

We are now doing this set:

  1. Walk for 2 mins to warm up (although it isn’t really warming up in the current temperatures of 10-14F!)
  2. Speed Interval: Run for six minutes
  3. Walk Interval: Walk for two minutes
  4. Repeat until 6 miles covered.
  5. Walk for one minute at the end.

One thing that we do try to do is achieve a ‘reverse split’. This means that you make the return trip faster than the outward trip.

We achieve this by reducing the walking intervals on the second half. After we turn around at the 3 mile point, we wait until the first walk interval and delay it by running for an additional 30 seconds. We then start walking for 1 minute 30 seconds.

If we feel fine at the next walk interval, then we run for an extra 45 seconds. After this we start walking for 1 minute 15 seconds.

At the next walk interval, we decide whether we will try to run straight-through to the end, or just push it up to one minute of extra running.

This flexibility in the return intervals allows us to push a little harder and further each time, but keeps us in tune with the various muscles and stops us doing anything stupid. It also means that we can gradually build towards the next interval goal and let’s achieve ‘course’ records regularly as a form of motivation.

Having gone from walking for 2 miles to run-walking 6 miles in around 58 minutes, all with no injuries incurred, I’d say that this has been a successful strategy. We’ve built up to this over the course of 15 months, so it isn’t a fast way to get from ‘couch to 5k’, but that’s not what I encourage anyway. Most of my friends who have tried those plans either got injured or found it to be tiresome and stopped running altogether.

I’m interested in encouraging people to run for the rest of their lives; not for a single event.

If you are looking to learn to run and don’t want to fall by the roadside, side-lined by an injury, try a run-walk-run approach like this.

Additionally, my friend can now run four miles without any walk breaks at all. He’s certainly set to get a new 5k record next time he runs one, that’s for sure.

If you need to know how to setup intervals like this, most popular running apps will support it. We use mapmyrun but it is an advanced feature that you have to pay an additional fee for. Make sure you have the volume turned up so you can hear the announcements. RunKeeper also offers a similar function. I know that Garmin devices generally support this approach too, so there’s plenty to choose from.

As a footnote (pun intended), you should track the mileage on your shoes. Most of these running apps will support this. Depending on your weight and running style the mileage you will get out of a pair of shoes may vary, but typically 300-500 miles is the most you can get.

Also, if you are just starting out and have a janky old pair of shoes that you used to wear for gym class, get rid of them. Go to a specialist running shop and get them to help you choose some appropriate modern shoes. They may ask you to walk or run on a treadmill to see how you move. Be prepared to have to spend an hour or more on this task and probably over $100 for a decent pair of shoes. Your body will be glad of the investment.

Get out there. Try running. And learn to love running by taking a very slow approach to increasing your distance.

New Year Group Run

Well, Happy New Year to you all!

I trust you had a good night and didn’t stay up drinking too much (like I did). Partying at the neighbors house is too easy.

I went through my logs and calculated that I ran a total of 1367.57 miles in 2015. That’s significantly more than last year when I just made it to the 1000 mile mark. I guess marathon training really helps to pile on the mileage.

Today, my friend Ed and I started the New Year by joining the Fasttracks running club annual New Year’s Day run that starts in Valley Forge Park and goes out a couple of miles to the base of a big hill (Diamond Rock Road)… Which it is then an option to climb.

This was a challenging run for Ed as unlike our regular weekly run it was six miles with some significant hills and undulations. We normally run alongside a river and there’s barely a slope at all.

Nonetheless, Ed had agreed to do the run (even though he misunderstood the distance; ho hum) and so we started at 8:30 this morning with a hard run.

Here’s Ed and some of the others climbing Diamond Rock..

It doesn’t look too steep in this shot but there are sections that are 24%. It is a long tough hill.

One of the club members lives atop the mountain so we went there for mid-run refreshments and chatting, but, all too soon, it was time to saddle up and run back.

Coming done the hill was fine but they took their toll on Ed’s legs so we slowed the return run down and did more walking intervals. We don’t want to start the new year with injuries, after all.

On the way back into Valley Forge we stopped to get a photo with the State Park sign, using my Apple Watch as a remote for the camera; such a cool feature.

When we got back to the finish some people we still milling around for a celebratory toast which we missed. Some others came in after us so we hung out with them for a while to give everyone a chance to recover.

This was the first time my friend joined me at a running club event. Hopefully he didn’t feel like a stranger as they are a very friendly group.

What will 2016 bring? I’m not sure. Now I’ve done an official marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about it and whether I will do another one. I did miss Boston qualifying by a very small (8 second) margin but I’m not too hung up on that. I think I prefer running half-marathons and it takes less of a toll on your body, for sure.

I am going to try to be better about cycling to work more, even during the winter. I did buy some fenders(mudguards) for my bikes the other day so I won’t get quite so filthy when the weather turns. I’m looking forward to testing them out.

Other than that, I don’t really have any goals for this year. Maybe I can find some from around the blogosphere. 

I wish you all a good year. 🙂

Recovery? From What?

The human body is a strange thing. I ran 26.2 miles on Saturday and come Sunday all I felt was a slight tiredness in my knees. No thigh aches. No soreness. Nothing. 

It is a very odd feeling. I did run it far slower (30 mins) than the marathon at the start of December but I sill expected some aches and pains. 

On Monday I joined my friend for our last run-walk-run interval session of the year. We stuck to our previous 5 mins run and 2 mins walk intervals, keeping them pretty well as per the plan. 

Next week we will move to the next interval level using six minute runs and two minute walks. 

My friend had some new tech this week: shoe lights. They were an xmas present from his family. It is great to see them embracing his new healthy lifestyle. 

These rechargeable lights strap into your laces and give out about 150 lumens. They worked quite well but are probably best suited to running on a Tarmac or paved trail. I say this because they are so low to the ground that uneven surfaces can lead to you not being able to see very far down the path. At some points we could tell if we were about to run into puddles or if it was just a shadow cast by the ground. 

They do light up items on the ground really well so it is unlikely you’ll trip over branches but I’d be worried about using them solely (pun intended) on a run. 

They do make you visible and would certainly catch the attention of drivers. Here’s a pic of my friend running off into the woods wearing them.  On my phone the picture is animated but I don’t think WordPress supports that yet. 

One of my xmas gifts was a new bag for cycling to work. A Timbuk2 bag. It was raining today so I thought I’d test it out. The bag has many compartments and has a folding section for packing clothes for work. This bag is much larger than my previous one that was an emptied camelbak water holder. I’ll comment more on this after I’ve used it a bit longer. 

Early Xmas Present

In taper week the long run isn’t too long, so I only had to do a twelve miler on Sunday.

The temps were quite low (32F) but the morning was beautiful. I ran from home to save some time as we had family plans for the holidays. I headed out to Evansburg State Park and took a narrow unpaved trail through the woods. It was so nice out there. The trail ran along a ridge overlooking Skippack Creek as the sun was rising over the opposite bank. Halfway along it turned into a horse trail rather than a walking one; this means that the surface became far more furrowed and uneven, and had several water crossings. Some were so wide that I had to take a running jump to cross them and on one I ended up with damp feet, but that’s all part of the fun.

When the lady in my phone told me it was time to turn around, I decided to ignore her. I was having too much fun to retrace my steps and I thought I might be able to make the run into a loop rather than an out-and-back. Eventually the trail came to the other end of the park and I looped around some roads (narrow unused country roads) to head back toward home.

I ended up doing 13.5 miles which isn’t too far over the twelve required and it was nice to run a distance that wasn’t prescribed by a plan.

Last night I went to see the new Star Wars film. Wow. Nice work, J.J.Abrams. Very true to the original trilogy. This meant I had a late night before my early run with my friend so it was a struggle getting out of bed this morning at 4:45.

However, it was worth it. We decided that we would run our 5:2 intervals for the three miles out and then just run straight through for the return. Quite a challenge but I thought he’d be able to do this… And, of course, this resulted in us beating our previous route record by a couple of minutes; 58:38.

We broke the hour for the 6.2 mile route! Hurrah. 

Certainly a nice early Chrimbo present.

For the remainder of the week I am tapering down so I can run a marathon on Saturday (Boxing Day) as is my tradition.

Have a good week everyone.

Don’t Get Distracted

This morning I nearly came a-cropper as I had let my mind wander while running. There I was considering why the local middle school locked all their trucks and vehicles inside a high fenced area, when I suddenly found myself plummeting toward the floor.

For some unknown reason this closed off road has speed bumps on it and I just wasn’t paying any attention. Thankfully I have quick reflexes and managed to save myself before my face hit the concrete. But it certainly got my focus back to the running.

On Monday I ran a new record on the 6.2 mile run/walk with my friend: 1:00:34. We are so close to breaking the one hour mark now. The 5:2 intervals work well and we are running straight-through a couple of them on the return leg of the run. We are running about 17 minutes without a break at that point which is pretty good.

Getting Back Into It

After a week long vacation in Utah and only squeezing in a couple of runs, I need to start making up for my slacking off in preparation for the Rehobeth Beach marathon on December 5th. 

I see a lot of early mornings in my future…

Today I met my friend for our weekly 6.2 miler. At 5:30 it was pitch black and even with lights it is getting hard to differentiate the trail due to fallen leaves. LED lights give off an odd blueish light that doesn’t allow you to make out dirt vs leaves very well. 

Despite this we managed to run a new record. Partly due to reducing our ‘warm up’ walk down from five minutes to just two; at this time in the morning walking around isn’t enough and you need to run to warm up. It was 36F but dry. Our intervals are still at 4:00 run with 2:00 walking.

Outfit-wise, I went with ear warmers (first mile), long sleeves and gloves although I stuck with shorts for the day. 🙂 

The time at the finish was 1:01:22 for the 6.2 miles. At the 37 minute mark my friend asked me to predict when we’d complete and I said 1:01:25 so I wasn’t far off, was I?

My friend has continued in his weight loss and is now at the incredible weight of 181lbs which is a total loss of 229lbs since his journey began. That’s about the same weight I was when I came to America. 

To finish off, a photo from my recent trip. I hope they don’t start setting up porta-potties like this at races. ;-p

Taken at Hole in the Rock, just outside Moab, UT. 


New Intervals & Sunrise

Today I met with my friend for our now traditional Monday morning run at Betzwood, PA. 

It was properly dark at 5:30 when we set out and didn’t really start to get light until we were on the homeward stretch. 

We adjusted our intervals to be 4:00 run and 2:00 recovery. This is good for me as a recovery run after a long Sunday. 

The sunrise today was spectacular.  

 This shot is without any filters or tweaking. That is now it looked! 
We saw one other person out on the trail walking. No record set today but the goal was to finish and complete the prescribed interval set. 

Because I see my friend each week it is easy for me to forget how much progress he has made with his weight loss. However, last Friday we met up with ex-colleagues for beer/food and some of them hadn’t seen him for a long time: what a difference. It just be a real confidence booster to hear those comments when you meet up with old friends. 

It was fun to hang out and bust on each other for a few hours. I then cycled home (10 miles in darkness) which really rounded the night off for me. 🙂

Interval Training

In my last couple of runs I have been experimenting with using intervals on the return leg. 

This ensures you get a reverse split but is also good for your body (apparently). 

It certainly has helped my times improve over the last few runs but I’ll watch it a bit longer before commenting on it in detail. 

I’m rapidly approaching my 16,000 mile landmark on MapMyRun which I have been using since 2007 to track all my workouts. That’s a total of 1.1 Million calories burned! 

I’m still the same weight I was when I started all those years ago so I guess it works to keep you in shape. I am much fitter than then though; more of a shift to running over the last few years after focusing on cycling for six. 

My run today was helped by listening to the new a-ha album Cast In Steel. Very good.   


To Bike Commute or Not

Today’s early morning run with my friend, saw us setting yet another course record of 1:06:46 for 6.2 miles. 

While out I thought I’d check the number of steps per minute that my friend does. Turns out he is at 175 which is pretty darn close to the recommended 180. 

I also wore a long sleeved top this week to reduce the creepy feeling from all the spider webs across the riverside trail. Much better. I also covered myself in insect repellent but I’m not sure if that works for spiders! Anything to reduce the number of bites that I get each week. 

Later today I have a dentist appointment about 13 miles away from work so I was in two minds as to whether I should commute by bike today… In the end I chose to do it but the weather is now starting to look a little dubious. 

Hopefully I will not get drenched on the ride to the appointment. Riding home doesn’t bother me but I don’t want to have to sit in the surgery soaking wet for an hour. 

My legs are tired. Lots of running (21.8), cycling (26) and walking (1.5) over the last day.