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….

Week 9 Review: Pre-Season Begins!

Week 9 Review: Pre-Season Begins!

A special week as this featured my first game of pre-season!

Weight change: LOST 0.3 kg (Remaining: 3.3 kg)
Training: Tempo 7k, Speed training, Steady 10k, Referee 10k
Total Training Distance: 34 km

Weight loss

A slower week for weight loss, but I was expecting that…

Firstly, I was away with work to Brussels at the beginning of the week. Although I did fairly well with diet for most of that time, a hellish return journey on the train resulted in me eating too much, to be blunt.

Following my first game of pre-season on the Saturday, I demolished ALL the chips in the local are as part of a takeaway, and then a few drinks at a party later on. It all adds up.

However, as the rest of the week was ‘well behaved’, the trend is still downwards!

There is also a bit of plateauing going on, based on the readings I’ve had on subsequent days – i.e. an immediate significant drop! The proof of that will be in next week’s official weigh-in…

Training

I was hoping to get in a session before jumping on the Eurostar to Brussels on the Monday morning, but this didn’t happen!

I managed to put in a mixture of training sessions for the rest of the week, and it was a good balance:

  • Got in a tempo run, including hills.
  • Got in a Speed Training session.
  • Got in a steady / gentle 10k around London.
  • My first pre-season game in terms of refereeing!

I’ve been working a lot on running fitness, but match fitness is a whole different thing. It always takes a while to adjust, and the hot weather had an impact as well. Hence an ice cream was definitely needed afterwards…

Flake devoured as a priority before the photo…

What’s next?

My focus now is to ensure the variety of training mixed in with any more pre-season games as it happens. In addition, watch my diet on match days as it can be easy to slip into eating too much due (e.g. food after the game, and more food when back home!)

Speed Training: Just 5 Minutes

Speed Training: Just 5 Minutes

Last week’s speed training session, again courtesy of Waverley Harriers (albeit I was playing ‘catch up’ later in the week), was time based.

Here’s the simple protocol:

  • 4 x 5 minute reps
  • 2 minutes rest between reps

For pacing, it was the staple ‘Your target 5k pace’. Because of my current sub-20 5k goal, this meant in practice it was pretty much the same session for me as last week’s 4 x 1200m workout.

My legs were still a little heavy from my longer run the previous day, and I wanted to be consistent with each rep, rather than going out too fast then slowing down later. I think I did okay… (these are my km pacings):

  • 4:03
  • 4:03
  • 4:02
  • 4:04
Session done – RING THAT BELL!

For the rest period, I have typically been doing a walking rest. I’m wondering whether I should switch this to a ‘very gentle jog’ rest instead. This is something I need to do a bit of research on!

I’m still feeling good about all the recent training – no suffering afterwards or the next day, which is something that has changed over the last couple of months of being back at it. For now, I want to continue being consistent — especially with the football season about to start, so I will need to mix in about 4 or games each month as well.

Week 8 Review: Officially Fit

Week 8 Review: Officially Fit

I’m happy with a good week that ended with me successfully passing my refereeing fitness test for another season.

Weight change: LOST 0.8 kg (Remaining: 4.3 kg)
Training: Tempo 11k, Speed Training, Recovery 5k, Tempo 8.5k, parkrun 5k, Fitness Test
Total Training Distance: 40.1 km

Weight loss

Down, down, down, down….

Training

This was a varied week that ticked the boxes that I am aiming for at the moment. These are:

  • Feature hills as standard where possible (so I don’t get lazy on the flat)
  • Ensure easy / recovery days (Don’t just do Tempo pace all the time)
  • Include a Speed Training session (Hill Training also suitable)

I also had my ‘eye on the prize’ of my refereeing fitness test that was scheduled for the Sunday. It was important I didn’t destroy myself during the week, as failing to take the test for whatever reason would mean I would not be given any appointments in August.

I put in several Tempo runs, with appropriate recovery runs on ‘off’ days, and also a decent speed training session. My intention on the Saturday was always to run a really easy 5k (maybe around 25 minute pace or slower), but the stars aligned and my ‘run at a constant pace’ turned into running 21:48. Oops.

The ‘taking it easy’ parkrun. Oops.

What was interesting is that I didn’t feel particularly destroyed after that, and was fresh for the fitness test the next day, which I passed comfortably. Again, I felt strong both during and afterwards. This is another good sign that my fitness is coming back and a great baseline for me to build on!

What’s next?

I have my first pre-season game on Saturday, which will be a good test of match fitness (which is different from general running fitness!). I’m really looking forward to that.

I need to keep up the variety of training (keeping hills featuring as standard where possible) including weekly speed training. That may be a bit challenging in the next week due to a trip abroad, but I will do my best!

Fitness Test: All Good for the New Season!

Fitness Test: All Good for the New Season!

As soon as you start refereeing semi-professional football, or higher, in England there is a compulsory fitness test. I’ve been doing this ever since having to do a version to qualify for the promotion scheme, and despite over five years of them now, the nerves never go away.

The bulk of the test is a rendition of the Cooper Test. It’s very simple to do:

  • Stick a load of people on the track.
  • Get them to run for 12 minutes (must be a continuous run; no breaks)
  • Decide if the distance travelled is a pass or a fail!

For my level of refereeing (‘Level 3’, or ‘Contributory League Referee‘), the minimum distance is 2700 metres.

Leading up to this, I had been very happy with my training. As this blog attests to, I have been losing weight, training more regularly and bashing out the speed sessions. In my most recent race, I hit the pass distance after 12 minutes, and then kept running for another 12!

The day before, I ran my local parkrun. Although I had been intending to make this nice and easy, on the day I decided to run a decent controlled pace. This controlled pace resulted in a sub-22 minute time, which also equated to a pass for the Cooper Test. Perhaps not the wisest decision considering the fitness test the next day, but I felt strong at the time, and not wrecked afterwards!

parkrun POWER!

Test Day!

The weather was a little awry on the morning of the test. It started off with rain, then was pretty mild (ideal!) and then the sun started peeking through at different points. Boo!

It was good to catch up with my fellow officials (including an usher from my wedding!) — it was a good turnout.

I set my Garmin for a Target of 2800 metres in 12 minutes. This is one reason I love the watch: It lets you set targets like this, and it will tell you throughout how far ahead or behind you are in order to hit your goal.

As is typical with a lot of my running, I went off pretty fast and slowed down as the test progressed. The Cooper Test is a weird one as it is more of a test of mental strength than anything else, in my opinion. My thought process was like this:

  • Here we go!
  • Hmm, this feels a bit fast.
  • *glances at pace on watch* Ooh, yes, that is a bit fast.
  • OK, settle into a rhythm, this feels good.
  • Have we only done one lap?!!!
  • There’s six of these?!
  • Yay, six minutes — half done!
  • *Hearing breathing behind me* Right, determined not to let anyone overtake now.

… and so on!

I hit an official distance of 3000 metres, which was the same as last year. That was great from my viewpoint, as even a few weeks ago I was not confident I was going to do that at all. That said, within the last week everything just seems to be taken a jump forward in terms of fitness. I’ll take it!

What now?

RUN FASTER!

I have a few games lined up for my pre-season, as general running fitness is one thing: Match fitness is another. It will be purely ‘in the middle’ refereeing for me now too, as I had to choose a pathway for this coming season, and elected to drop waving a flag as an Assistant Referee.

Other than that, there is still some weight to lose, and I want to get faster! After all, this blog is all about getting that elusive (for me) sub-20 minute 5k, and I’m not there yet!

Staple Speed: 4 x 1200m

Staple Speed: 4 x 1200m

Tuesday night is speed training night with the wonderful folks of Waverley Harriers! This time around it was very much a staple workout in the form of four 1200m repeats.

Runner’s World has a good summary regarding this distance:

Even if you have no intention of ever racing a mile, repeat 1200s offer some unique training benefits. Like mile repeats, 1200s are long enough to push you above lactate threshold and near your VO2 max, which improves your ability to buffer lactic acid and increases your aerobic capacity. But because you can run 1200s at a slightly faster pace than miles, you get even closer to VO2 max and reap even more cardiovascular gains. 

https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20788303/try-some-1200s/

The protocol was:

  • 4 x 1200m
  • 90 second rest between each repeat

Nice and simple!

Given my trend to go off too fast and suffer later on, I deliberately worked on pacing myself better. Given my target pace was ‘fast 5k’ I stuck to that rather than ‘go even faster 5k’ !

Splits ended up as follows:

  1. 4:56
  2. 4:53
  3. 4:55
  4. 5:05

So, nearly achieved the consistency I was after.

Overall, it felt like a strong workout, which is just as well, considering it is my last speed session before my refereeing fitness test on Sunday!

Week 7 Review: Onwards and Downwards

Week 7 Review: Onwards and Downwards

Another good week! The weight continues to come off, and the fitness is notably improving. I am feeling generally stronger when out running now. Another way I would put it is ‘less wobbly’ !

Weight change: LOST 0.8 kg (Remaining: 4.3 kg)
Training: Tempo 11k, Recovery 5.45k, Race 5.6k, Recovery 5.6k, Speed Training, Walking parkrun 5k
Total Training Distance: 39.7 km

Weight loss

In a phrase: Steady as she goes…

Training

I got a decent amount of training in the bag this week, alternating ‘hard’ sessions with Recovery runs between them. It has been pretty warm out there as well which has added its own challenging dimension to some of the training.

With the recovery runs, I’m now ensuring hills feature wherever possible. Not in a major way, of course, as they are meant to be easy runs. Instead, it’s a way to keep my body ‘hill aware’ as it is way too easy for me to slip into the habit of going out for a flat runs.

Team StepStone UK at the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge

I have covered the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge in an earlier post. I was happy to hit both sub-22 minute 5k pace and a ‘pass’ pace for my upcoming football refereeing fitness test ‘in situ’. I could really feel the benefit of the recent speed training and hills in recent weeks — the flat course of Battersea Park, complete with lots of shade from the trees, made it very fast!

I moved my speed training session to later in the week to accommodate the race. This week it was:

  • 4 x 400m
  • 4 x 200m
  • 4 x 400m
  • Rest periods: 1 minute between reps. 2 minutes between sets.

Unlike some previous sessions, I was able to maintain my pace (‘Fast 5k’) throughout.

What’s next?

This week the main focus is my refereeing fitness test, which will be on Sunday. The key element is the Cooper Test, run on the track. For my level, the requirement is 2700m in 12 minutes. I’m confident of hitting this. My PB is 3000m, set last year. I’m less sure whether I will hit that this year, and will make a decision on the day whether to go for it based on the temperature.

Cooper Test statistics

I will still mix in the usual runs where possible. However, Saturday’s parkrun will definitely be gentle!

J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge: Flying round Battersea Park

J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge: Flying round Battersea Park

I was happy that my employer put together a team for the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge this year. This is a 3.5 mile / 5.6 km that has been going for many years, and now has thirteen events across seven different countries. For us, it was going to be Battersea Park in London.

I entered a while back, putting my finishing time at an optimistic 21 minutes. That was an error, as I thought it was a straight 5k race, rather than the 5.6 km reality! Oops. As a result, I was a bit nervous when this resulted in me being placed in the Red Wave, who would be heading off first.

No! Not the RED WAVE!

To put that into context, the winners are typically beasting out times of seventeen and a half minutes to do the whole distance.

Based on recent performances, I set a personal goal of getting round in 24:30. I based that on a 22 minute 5k (my next milestone) and an appropriate amount added on for the remaining 600 metres. I was also determined not to disgrace myself given that I felt I was in the ‘wrong’ wave.

Team StepStone UK!

We all met up and got the train over to the event. It became very apparent just how popular this event was (over SIXTEEN THOUSAND runners each night!).

These were the crowds for just the baggage areas

The organisation was excellent though. Although there were so many people around, it never felt too crowded and there were plenty of Events Staff on-hand to help point us in the right direction.

It was soon time to line up in the starting pens. I went all the way to the back of the Red pen, and could see all the other Waves stretching out behind me.

The PROPER FAST runners ahead of me
Many, many runners behind me

Then we were off, via a staggered start.

The course was very fast and flat. Perhaps due to the more undulating training that I have been doing recently, this had the weird effect where it felt like I was going downhill most of the time. I am happy that I managed to hold my own in the Red wave, keeping a strong pace and lots of overtaking.

I came in with an official time of 24:40. That is a bit slower than I was hoping (remember my goal was 24:30) but my GPS reported I ran an extra 40 metres, so I’ll take it!

NOT LAST IN THE WAVE!

The important bits to remember with this time:

  1. Strava reports that I ran the first 5k in 21:58, thus successfully hitting my ‘Run 5k in 22 minutes milestone’.
  2. I ran the first 2.7k in 11:32. My upcoming refereeing fitness test requires me to run 2.7k in 12 minutes, so this race has served as a good practice run.

And, of course, I kept running after hitting both of the above targets.

A really enjoyable and successful race in a beautiful environment. Now I just need to plan the next one!

Time to cool off?