Speed training: 200m repeats and we steal your recovery time AGAIN

Speed training: 200m repeats and we steal your recovery time AGAIN

It seems that speed training sessions with evil decreasing recovery periods are like buses. You wait for a while, and then two come at once…

Following on from last week’s recovery time stealer, it was a similar protocol at Waverley Harriers this time. As I did not have a mid-week appointment in the world of refereeing, I was able to go to the actual session (thanks Gary!) and take part. It was a strong turnout of around thirty other runners.

This one was really interesting as the session was dynamic, with the recovery period changing over time.

The 25 minute session started like this:

  • Run 200m FAST.
  • Walk 200m.
  • Repeat!

However, over time a yellow cone was moved round the track, splitting the 200m recovery zone into walk / jog areas. Initially, mostly walking (e.g. 190m) but by the end of the session, you were having to jog pretty much all of it.

NEED MORE RECOVERY TIME!

Now, this sort of training is right up my street, due to it matching the ebb and flow of football matches when refereeing (bursts of activity followed by calm). It was still a strong effort to keep up the fast runs by the end of the 25 minutes.

Let’s take a look at the ‘fast’ split times:

  1. 0:35
  2. 0:33
  3. 0:34
  4. 0:36
  5. 0:35
  6. 0:38
  7. 0:37
  8. 0:38
  9. 0:40
  10. 0:40
  11. 0:43
  12. 0:41

You can see how the reduction in recovery took its toll….

One of the more enjoyable and challenging speed sessions I’ve done, for sure. Not only that, I set a 200m PB (according to Strava) in the process!

Running for three and a new PB at parkrun

Running for three and a new PB at parkrun

parkrun is a wonderful institution. Runners can run it. Walkers can walk it. Dogs can come along for the fun. Children can participate. And, for those children that still need to be in a buggy to get round the 5k course, they get to enjoy it too!

We started pushing our toddler round as soon as he hit six months, which is the typical minimum age (principally to ensure enough neck muscle strength). We’ve been extremely happy with the Out’n’About Nipper Sport which is light, agile and easy to transport. It has proper tyres on it too, which I ‘slimed’ early on to avoid any puncture drama.

BE PREPARED!

parkrun etiquette with a buggy is to start at the back, which I always do, and then the challenge is to see how many people I can overtake!

In the early days, at Guildford parkrun, I was hitting times of about 28 minutes. Just taking it easy and not really pushing it. Guildford is also an undulating course, with a fair amount of grass, which can be really punishing if there has been a lot of rain and it has become muddy. If it turns into the wrong sort of mud (claggy) it starts jamming up the front wheel of the Nipper Sport, and increases the effort required to keep moving!

About a year later, also at Guildford, I set a PB of 24:08. Considering the todder had obviously grown in size over this time, I was very happy with that!

Then, not much progress. A combination of tending to take it easier with the buggy (recovery run-style) and losing some fitness.

With the recent return to working on fitness again, this has given potential to the buggy running again. However, offset by two factors:

  1. Continued toddler growing in size.
  2. A new addition to the family!
Role reversal!

Yes, with the baby on the scene, we needed to pick up the Nipper Sport Double! I thought this would be a unwieldy prior to getting it, but it is surprisingly agile and it never really feels much different to the Single when I am running with it. It also feels a little bit more planted.

As with the toddler, we needed to wait until the six months point until it was safe for the baby to join in. Then, the first couple of runs were very tentative to ensure both children remained safe and happy throughout.

We visited Brooklands parkrun at the weekend. This is pretty flat, and handily for buggy running, has a significant straight down a disused runway which allows for overtaking (This is naturally difficult with the buggy when narrow paths are involved). As a result, it was engage the afterburners time!

This resulted in a Buggy PB of 23:37 – 30 seconds faster than my previous best. It was a day for success, with fellow blogger Julie hitting a parkrun target and my wife recording her fastest run since the birth of child #2 !

It’s wonderful to be able to keep enjoying parkrun with the two children involved. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts: We are in a bit of a sweet spot with their enjoyment of it, I’m sure. Perhaps Junior parkrun after that?

Speed training: 6 x 3 minutes – and we steal your recovery time…

Speed training: 6 x 3 minutes – and we steal your recovery time…

Typically, the amount of recovery time you have during a speed training session is fixed between reps. Not the case for this particularly evil protocol (thanks Waverley Harriers!)

Due to my midweek game, I did not get the chance to go along to my running club to do the session with everyone else. I picked up the details from Strava, and did it on Thursday lunchtime instead.

It’s very simple:

  • 6 x 3 minute runs (‘fast’ pace, e.g. target 5k)
  • Recovery varies each time:
    • After 1st rep: 02:30
    • After 2nd rep: 02:00
    • After 3rd rep: 01:30
    • After 4th rep: 01:00
    • After 5th rep: 00:30 (!)

For me, 3 minutes is roughly 800m (2 laps) so I set myself the target of doing that for each rep. As the rest periods shortened, this obviously got a lot harder to achieve!

Here’s how my distance and pacing worked out (Remember that 4:00 km/h is the target pace for me to hit a 20 minute 5k).

  1. 800m (3:44 km/h)
  2. 830m (3:37 km/h)
  3. 790m (3:48 km/h)
  4. 760m (3:56 km/h)
  5. 720m (4:09 km/h)
  6. 730m (4:05 km/h)

The collapse is pretty obvious! I also felt a little tired right from the beginning (not ideal sleep this week!). I shook this out of my legs for the 2nd rep, but I couldn’t win against the rest periods decreasing. NOT THIS TIME anyway.

Definitely a challenging session, although I would class it as more of a speed endurance one. Certainly one for strengthening the mind and keeping pushing on as well…

Week 13 Review: Unlucky for Scales

Week 13 Review: Unlucky for Scales

With the sickness bug from last week banished, the week started strongly with a really good bit of refereeing. However, annual leave and family visiting over the second half of the week meant this was more of a ‘holding pattern’ week.

Weight change: * NOT RECORDED *
Training: Refereeing 10k, Recovery 5k, parkrun 5k, Refereeing 10k
Total Training Distance: 29.3 km

Weight loss

Due to this being a bit of a holding week, I didn’t record my weight on the Monday. I know, two ‘dead’ weeks in a row! This wasn’t helped by my Withings scales falling off my wireless network at home (I upgraded the set-up here due to the woeful wireless performance of the plus.net router). That’s all resolved now though.

Deco M5 – lovely wireless!

So, although no progress on continued weight loss, some cursory checks during the week show that I haven’t put it back on again either!

Training

I had two games this week. When refereeing, I will typically knock out around 10k in distance. This will be a combination of running speeds, including quite a lot of direction changes and stop/start.

This means recovery takes longer than your average bit of running about, and I am still working on getting that balance right. I’ve certainly felt signs of over-training in previous weeks due to this, so having the family over and a bit of a break was welcome.

First game of the week!

The positive takeaway I am having in the games is that in terms of fitness, the games are not testing me. My heart rate is always lower than in any of my training sessions. Of course, this is nothing to be complacent over, and I will keep up the training throughout the season — I just need to consider the recovery aspects more.

As a result of all of the above, there was no dedicated speed training session during the week. This was deliberate. With two games featuring, it was going to be a big ask to shoehorn that in and for it to be worthwhile (i.e. no point during a speed training session if absolutely broken!)

However, I did record my fastest time at my local parkrun this year (21:45). It’s not the flattest parkrun in the world, so I was happy with that!

Thanks, parkrun!

What’s next?

‘Just the one’ game this week, so my intention for this week is for it to be a strong training week. This should entail:

  • Tempo run (including hills in it)
  • The game itself
  • Speed training
  • parkrun (with the running buggy)
  • Appropriate recovery!

Oh, and I should actually weight myself at the end of it this time…

Week 12 Review: In Health and Sickness

Week 12 Review: In Health and Sickness

A strong cross-country race performance set the tone for this week, and that was backed up with some speed training as well. However, I didn’t back this up with appropriate easy / recovery runs, and then also got hit with a stomach bug at the end of the week. That has knocked things out of kilter!

Weight change: * NOT RECORDED *
Training: Tempo 10k (Flat), XC Race, Speed training (10 x 400m), Refereeing 10k
Total Training Distance: 32.5 km

Weight loss

I am taking a sabbatical on this one for the week! The sickness bug hit me Saturday evening, so my focus was on getting better and well-rested again. I was not totally in the right frame of mine to be tracking weight 🙂

Training

The sickness bug only impacted Sunday in terms of training (I wasn’t going to go running, even if a recovery run would have been routine).

Despite this, I am a little disappointed in myself in that my training volume dropped from my recent 40 km+ levels. Primarily down to not getting the recovery / easy runs in on days following harder training. While some things have got in the way, it’s still my responsibility and essentially I should do better.

On the positive side, the cross-country race was great fun, and I have already written up how it showed my training is resulting in significant improvements.

Track Time!

The race was backed up with a preceding tempo run (Deliberately kept flat on this occasion, as the cross-country would provide the hills!), and also a standard 10 x 400m speed training session.

The healthy part of the week ended with some refereeing. A typical distance in a game is about 10k. This one was a little lower due to the nature and tempo of the game, and my fitness was not tested. However, the 90 minutes or so of running about and the twists and turns required certainly mean I need decent recovery afterwards.

What’s next?

The beginning of the week is all about recovery and ensuring fitness ahead of a game on the Tuesday night.

After that, it should be training (and diet!) as usual, leading up to another game on the Saturday.

Having two games which are likely to be high intensity means I will prioritise recovery days over speed / hill training this week.

Let’s get it done!

Cross Country: 58 days of training later…

Cross Country: 58 days of training later…

I took part in the MABAC Wimbledon Common cross-country race this week. It was a perfect opportunity to assess how my fitness has improved over the 58 days since the last MABAC event (which was near the start of this blog kicking off).

Cross-country races are great fun and each course has its own challenges. This was my first time doing the Wimbledon course, although I checked it out on Strava beforehand: Straight out, two loops round the woods, then back again. Oh, and with a hill climb in the woods, but ‘nothing too bad’ according to those I spoke to within Waverley Harriers.

Harriers….ASSEMBLE!

I felt strong in this race, although I really worked hard from the second loop onwards. I was determined not to end up walking up the hill (which 58 days ago, I can pretty much guarantee would have happened) and then I was determined not to lose my placing all the way back to the finish. It was evident as I re-entered the large field near the start that there was a large group of runners right behind me, so it was ‘engage afterburners’ at that point and I somehow (SOMEHOW) had a sprint finish right at the end.

Performance analysis

OK, so I felt strong, but how did it rack up in comparison to the last race?

I ran at a pace of 4:33/km, compared to the previous pace of 4:55/km. So, a clear 20 seconds faster per km overall. In addition to that, my heart was less stressed: a Heart Rate Stress Score of 46 – last time, 57. In summary: I ran faster with my body not having to struggle as much as it did when running more slowly 58 days previously.

This is a good confidence booster going forward!

Wombles absent.

However, much as my recent hill training has helped, I still feel that hills are a weak point for me. In this race, I’d typically see people pull ahead on the hill, only for me to catch them on the downhill afterwards. I want to work on this more. Historically, this has been due to my training routes being flat, so I am needing to make a conscious effort to get climbing!

One thing is for sure: I’m looking forward to the next race!

My Race to 1000 Miles

My Race to 1000 Miles

For the last few years, I’ve set myself a target to run 1000 miles each year. I’ve succeeded each time but this year has been a little more challenging…

I generated the above graph by bulk downloading all of my data from Strava and plugging it into Excel. This was partly made easy in that Strava give you a single CSV file with a summary of all your activities, but some fiddling is needed to cope with the date format they use and to plot the ‘ideal target’ line.

(If anyone is interested in the exact method I used, then give me a shout and I’ll write it up!)

You can spot the exact moment that the baby arrived! However, I was definitely lazy in getting back to regular training, and even when I did the effort put in was clearly not enough.

This blog started at the tail-end of May. Now that I’m putting a much better shift in, my progress is picking up speed and I am on target to be aligned again in October.

Training volume is really important in any plan. However, I need to balance this with avoiding injury, plus ensuring it is the right sort of training to both hit my 5k goal and deliver the performances required when refereeing.

Week 11 Review: Slim Fit

Week 11 Review: Slim Fit

I’m back to losing weight again, and pulled in a PB on my main London tempo route – boom!

Weight change: LOST 0.4 kg (Remaining: 2.9 kg)
Training: Tempo 8.5k, Tempo 10k, Speed training, Buggy 6.5k, Buggy parkrun 5k, Referee 10k
Total Training Distance: 45.2 km

Weight loss

Phew – it’s actually coming off again, after getting a bit stuck last week.

That said, it’s worthwhile that I mention that in the day prior to weigh-in day, my weight was 76.8 kg! Damn that fluctuation. Never mind – this will hopefully carry on to the next weigh-in and help things look even better!

A nice aside to mention: I’m having to change out t-shirts now for ‘slim fit’ ones, as the regular sized medium t-shirts are starting to look a bit sack-like. This is a good problem to be having.

Training

The training volume, in terms of mileage, was pretty much the same as last week.

The main plus point was that I felt ‘on fire’ during my London tempo run, pulling in a PB, feeling strong throughout the 10k. I was very happy with that! It is feeling really good to be back at the fitness levels I have had previously. When I first started this blog, my body was by default trying to run at its ‘fit’ speeds, and it was frustrating that my average pace was comparatively so low. That has now changed for the better.

I followed that up the next day with a 300m-oriented speed training session, but in retrospect this wasn’t really the best idea. Where was the easy session?! Exactly. Hence I couldn’t go as hard as a speed training needs. It was still useful from an endurance perspective, however, but I would not have got the full benefit.

Listening to my body, the next day was a toddler / buggy run (although did feature a big hill…). Saturday featured ‘The Beast’ – the running buggy which takes both the toddler and baby! A very enjoyable run at parkrun in under 27 minutes.

‘Choo choo’ sightseeing on a toddler / running buggy adventure!

I had my final pre-season friendly in terms of refereeing on Saturday. A warm day and the fitness checks out. The intention has always been to train hard so that the games are easy…

What’s next?

I need to structure my training this week around a mid-week cross-country race, and refereeing on Saturday. I can take the race as my hard tempo session.

And edge that bit closer towards my goal weight…

Speed training: Enduring 300 metres

Speed training: Enduring 300 metres

Who needs a whole athletics track when just 300m of it will do? Especially when 300m repeats are good enough for Mo Farah

This week’s speed training protocol, courtesy of Waverley Harriers (although I missed the original session so was doing this as homework!), was as follows:

  • Run 20 minutes of 300m fast / 100m jog recovery
  • 3 x 400m (2 minute recoveries)

This translated to 11 reps for me. As my legs were still a bit heavy from the previous day’s tempo run (a ‘hard’ session), I didn’t want to follow this up immediately with another hard one. I skipped the 3 x 400m stage for this reason as I had that feeling I had done enough. This is my overtraining ‘spider sense’ that I have learned to pay attention to!

Given the relatively short recovery periods, and jogging them rather than just stopping, this was more of an endurance training session. That is adding a bit of variety to my training programme, and also useful for the football refereeing part of my fitness.

300m repeats are a staple of Alberto Salazar, who has coached (among many others) Mo Farah, so definitely worth a look!

Week 10 Review: A Mixed Bag

Week 10 Review: A Mixed Bag

Some good training results from the week, including a 21:16 parkrun! Sadly, I can’t report as positively on the continued weight loss!

Weight change: No change (Remaining: 3.3 kg)
Training: Buggy 7k, Referee 10k, Recovery 5k, Tempo 10k, parkrun 5k, Buggy 7.5k
Total Training Distance: 45.5 km

Weight loss

NONE! Well, at least it hasn’t gone up…

What’s going on? Well, I could claim that the loss of fat is being balanced out by STRONG RUNNING MUSCLES building, but realistically I don’t think I can sell that one.

I know that I had a couple of ‘off’ days in terms of food during the week, and perhaps some degree of plateauing (again!). Hmph.

Too much of this? Cake c/o cafe at California Country Park!

Training

THE GOOD…..

  • Overall volume is up, hitting 45 km.
  • I was refereeing on Tuesday on a large pitch, with one of the teams being from Football League level. This meant a fast paced game and I’m happy that I felt very comfortable in terms of fitness. Especially since it had been such a hot day!
  • One of my local training routes has two large hills in it. This was the first time in a while I’ve got up the second hill during the run without needing to walk any of it.
  • Achieved 21:16 when visiting California Country parkrun. That’s my fastest parkrun this year, and only 20 seconds off my PB. Compare this to me struggling to hit 22:30 when starting up this blog 10 weeks ago.
  • Mixed in recovery runs (being sensible!)

THE BAD…..

  • No speed training session!
Not a bad pitch to referee on…

Reflection is an interesting thing. Before I started typing this up, I was feeling a bit disappointed with last week, but looking back at it, I should be pretty happy overall!

What’s next?

‘Business as usual’ in the most part, although of course I should be being a bit more careful with food.

I have my final pre-season game on Saturday. That’s on the same pitch as before so it will be more good experience. I already feel I’m at the point where my fitness won’t be tested on most games, but that’s the whole point: Train hard to make the games easy! At least in terms of fitness….