I ran my first race almost eight years ago dressed as Liza Minnelli in the Great North Run. Don’t ask me why I decided to cross-dress that day but it’s fair to say that I got a lot more attention from the crowd than my performance alone deserved!
Anyway, I digress – I’ve had a few big highlights in my fairly short ‘career’ so far. In no particular order, winning the Southampton Santa Dash in 2009, running my first marathon in 2010, getting a Club Championship qualification time in the Florence Marathon in 2015, running a personal best in the London Marathon this year and winning a few low-key races along the way.
However, a special highlight has to be competing with my brother and sister at the Henley-on-Thames Triathlon last weekend. Turn back the clocks 15 years and on the weekend, you would usually find the three of us playing multiplayer video games. We were the ultimate ‘indoor kids’! Never in a million years would I have expected the three of us to have entered a competitive event, let alone do well!
And we did do well! The closest my sister had got to swimming in a pool in the last 10 years was probably having a bath. And my brother has been battling with his dodgy knees. So, the outlook wasn’t great! But against all the odds, the three of us finished 6th in the team relay competition. And considering the difficulty we have passing dishes of food around the table during one of Mum’s dinners, there were some incredibly slick transitions of the running chip between the swim to bike to run! I wasn’t quite as pleased with my own performance of 17’25 for the 5km but I’d had a rough night with my stomach the night before the night before. And with my heart rate averaging 179 hitting 187 during the run, it told!
Fantastic first outing for Sibling Rivalry and hopefully the first of many!
Building for the Great Newham Run 10km – 2nd July
I’m officially out of the rest period, have now put in a few higher quality runs and am slowly ramping it up. I would describe higher quality as anything where you’re pushing your heart rate to 85%+ of your maximum (maximum heart rate calculated with the fairly blunt measure of 220bpm minus your age). The big sessions over the last few weeks have included a fartlek (more on this later) and a track session.
The plan is to increase both my speed in the shorter track and interval workouts where I’m looking to improve my 5km and 10km race pace. Whilst, at the weekends adding distance to my weekend runs. I have a target time for the marathon in Berlin which means I also have a good sense of how fast I need to run a 5km, 10km and half-marathon in the lead up. And the Great Newham Run 10km is the next big short-term target.
The marathon-specific 12-week block of training starts in a few weeks. It looks like I will have nicely picked up my weekly mileage to a healthy 55-65 miles/week range by the time it starts. Remember that to avoid injury, you shouldn’t make significant increases to your mileage on a week by week basis. There is an age-old rule that you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than 10% from the week before – http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/the-10-percent-rule. And this seems to be important to those who are new to distance running.
The last seven days
Saturday – 70’ easy pace
Sunday – 105’ relaxed
Monday – 50’ easy and hill sprints
Tuesday – 4x400m (72”-75”) on the track with 60”/45”/30” recoveries in between – x3 sets, 2min recoveries between the sets
Wednesday – 40’ recovery
Thursday – rest
Friday – 50’ easy with pace changes and strides
I’ll find myself in Andover tomorrow morning at 9am to run the parkrun there. I’ve been looking for another 5km opportunity to put right the disappointment at Henley. I was hoping for my maiden Winchester parkrun but this week’s edition has been postponed.
All this week I have been feeling more positive about it. Even if there are reasons not to feel fully confident about an upcoming race, the one thing that will compound these things is if you also feel downbeat about it. That said, if there are concerns that you should take into account i.e. where or not you should race then you should listen to these.
There are always plusses and negatives but pre-race, focus on the plusses i.e. why you will do well. Concentrate on what has gone well in your build-up. Write these things down if it helps. This will help break any cycles of negativity. For example, my hamstring is still giving me a bit of gyp since that intoxicated football match in Prague. So, I’ve been telling myself, it’s only been four weeks since I pulled it and not only is it going to continue to heal, it isn’t getting in the way of my running (despite how it creeps into my thoughts when I run because I can feel it). And further, it’s highlighted that I need to strengthen my hamstrings – I would have otherwise come to this conclusion years down the line!
Actually, this is a good strategy for life in general. Even cognitive behavioural therapy will teach you to put your thoughts on paper. Often the recirculating of worries and concerns is just a habit of the mind and doesn’t indicate that something you thought you’d solved even five minutes ago needs to revisited! The sooner you realise the thought is on a loop, the less you will indulge it as it comes around again and it will eventually fade – testament to the fact that you’d already solved the problem.
The plan for the ‘race’? Stay relaxed and fast until halfway. I won’t rely on my watch this time – I’ve found out where the halfway mark is and when I cross it, I’ll know whether I need to adjust my pace. I’m also going to jog and learn the course before the start because I have an uncanny knack of getting lost in these sorts of races!
For more information on what fartlek training is and its benefits, check out these links –
Your racing calendar will depend on your target race. For some, one race is plenty and the whole training programme will be geared towards peak performance for that event. For others, races in the build will act as hard training sessions in themselves, tune-ups and confidence builders towards the target race.
Working backwards, the Berlin Marathon is 14 weeks from now. It is usually worthwhile to run a few half-marathons in the build-up and no closer than three weeks before the marathon. And sprinkled amongst those, a few 10km and maybe 5km races or other shorter distances. The trick behind these shorter races is that they make marathon pace, relatively speaking, feel slower!
Here are plenty of links to search for UK and international races of any distance throughout the year –
In the next blog (if I don’t run out of space like this time), I will go into more detail behind the different types of workout and their benefit for your training programme. By then, I’ll also know whether my Andover Parkrun suggests I’m on course and how things are looking approaching the Great Newham Run. Until then!