Monday, 1 April 2013

Consistency counts...

That's my new mantra. Just keep on training and eventually you'll get faster. So Saturday saw me doing 16km (10 miles) which was meant to be at an 'easy' pace. Considering I decided to do most of it on the fells - and that the route involved 298m (984 feet) of climbing - this turned into 'grovelling' pace. I ended up doing 16.8km  at an average pace of 7:03 mins/km (11:38 mins/mile). I was quite pleased at this. I always reckon that about 12 minute miling on the fells is about what I do, so to dip under it was good. It was a beautiful bright cold day. The grass was lovely; firm but yielding and very close-cropped by the sheep. It was like running on faded snooker table baize.
Smileyrating 8/10 - it was great to be running on the hills again

Today, I was hoping to go to the track to do some 1000m reps. But the track was shut! This seems odd as you'd have thought there might be more people wanting to use it on a holiday day. So I substituted my tempo run which was 5km at 5 min/km. I did this on the back lane to Staveley and, to be honest, my heart wasn't really in it. Still consistency counts.... Just get out and do it.... So I did and did 5:04 / 4:58 / 4:55 / 4:55 / and 5:00. In the end, a satisfying raining session with the added advantage that lambs are starting to appear in the fields....

Smileyrating 8/10

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Runner versus lorry. Runner wins!

Life got in the way of running this week, what with bodying for the Search Dogs and shredding piles and piles of pruned shrubs to make compost. However, I did manage to do a cross-training session in the gym and to get out for a relatively decent tempo run (3km easy, 5 x 1km at 5mins/k, 2km easy). I actually managed to run the tempo bits at a steady(ish) pace, 4:58 / 5:00 / 4:48 / 4:54 / 4:48, on an undulating course around the lanes.
We've had very little snow here, near Kendal, but many flurries of snow, with big flakes dancing about like clouds of white midges in the breeze. It was uncanny how many of these flakes managed to find their way behind my specs and onto my eyeballs as I was running along. This run was also memorable for me causing a massive lorry (of the sort that carries steel bars up and down the motorways) to reverse up the lane to allow me to squeeze past at a gate entrance. Quite what a lorry of that size was doing on a tiny country lane I'll never know. Blame the sat-nav.
Next up: a 16km easy run. I think I'll try and do this on the fells somewhere. I'm getting fed up with the pounding of tarmac.
Smileyrating 7/10

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A good week's work...

Last Thursday I did a good tempo run (1.5km easy, then 8km @ 5:10 min/k, then 1.5 easy) in the squally snow.
On Monday this week I did a steady 14km at a pace of 5:32 mins/km - which was cold and squally with snow.
On Thursday this week Mrs HF and I had the Salt Ayre track to ourselves on a bright cold morning (and no squally snow!) where I did 6 x 800m in about 3:20 per 800, with 90 seconds rest between each rep.
Today I went for a swim and - brilliantly and very unusually - had the pool to myself for 750m of lazy freestyle. I used this session as a stretching / strengthening session and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A good week. The running programme I'm following is a '3 plus 2' programme with three runs (a long run, an interval session and a tempo run) and two cross-training sessions. Life, of course, gets in the way a bit, and the cross-training sessions often slip. I'm hoping that, when the weather warms up, I'll be able to get out on my bike a bit more. We'll see.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A glorious discovery....

Salt Ayre Leisure Centre lies between Morecambe and Lancaster and is about 45 minutes drive away. It is picturesquely located on a reclaimed landfill site, opposite an industrial estate next to an Asda. Nonetheless it is excellent with a 33m swimming pool and, joy of joys, a reasonably sheltered running track. On Tuesday afternoon Mrs HF and I had it all to ourselves. My programme was an interesting pyramid: 400 / 600 / 800 / 1200 / 800 / 600 / 400m - all to be run at a certain pace, broadly speaking at 1:47 for 400m. All went well for the 400, 600 & 800m. Then I got confused by the giddy prospect of counting all the way up to three laps, and by talking to Mrs HF as she was doing her programme, and ended up doing 1600m instead of 12. Doh! So I finished off with the 800 and 600 and ignored the final 400! For each of the intervals I was pretty much on time, if anything a little quicker than expected. It was a really enjoyable session in the cold wintry sunlight on a very nice track.
Smileyrating 9/10

Today's run was a tempo run: 1.5k easy then 8k @ 5:10 min/km. I did this on my local undulating roads and my km splits were: 5:00 / 5:11 / 5:03 / 5:05 / 4:56 / 5:04 / 5:10 / 4:58. This averages out at about 5:04, so I am quite pleased. 'Twas hard though. I need to do some work in the gym to strengthen my legs and core to protect my knees and hips. It was cold and crisp out, coming on to drizzle just as I finished. My homemade banana/kiwi/blueberry recovery milkshake was delicious!
Smileyrating 7/10

Monday, 11 March 2013

On judging pace

My programme today called for 12.5km (8 miles ish) at 5:32 mins/km (roughly 9 min miles). At my current level, this is not easy, but should be doable. So I set off in the freezing wind (the Garmin said 1 deg C, feels like -6. About right.)  and snow flurries this morning and headed down the road to Staveley, through Staveley, and back again. And I realised that I am absolutely hopeless at judging my pace. It was all over the place. Some kilometres were 5:07, some were 5:40. It didn't seem to matter whether it was up or down hill, whether into the wind or ahead of it. I just cannot run even paced. Does anyone else have this issue?
Ah well. Sod it. It's not as if there aren't more important things to fret over.  I did the run in 1:08:23 at an average moving pace, according to Garmin, of 5:26 min/k. As close as I'm going to get! And the good news is that I felt pretty relaxed the whole way. Not unduly stressed. The 10k came up in about 55 mins, which is only a couple of minutes off my best pace this year. I think there may be more to come.
Should have a rest day tomorrow but, diaries being as busy as they are, Mrs HF and I are going (weather permitting) to a running track near Lancaster tomorrow. I have a pyramid session: 400 / 600 / 800 / 1200 / 800 / 600 / 400 to do. Trouble is, they all need to be done at a particular pace.... We'll see.

Smileyrating 8/10

Saturday, 9 March 2013

A week outdoors...

Not a bad week this week:
Monday: A bike ride with Mrs HF.
Tuesday: Sketching outside at Arnside in the morning. 12 x 400m intervals session in the afternoon - all run at 6.18 mins/km
Wednesday: Gardening at Holehird, shredding and making compost from 0930 - 1530.
Thursday: Walking all day with Mrs HF around Watendlath, near Borrowdale.
Friday: Digging a soakaway at Holehird. Levering out boulders and ferrying stone chips about to fill the hole. Took all day.
Saturday: Out on the hills helping train the Search Dogs until 2pm. 5 x 1km intervals at 5mins/km run in the sleet this afternoon.
Tomorrow: The plan is to run 12.5km 'Easy'. I might just have a rest day and do this one next week...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Down to earth...

I've been running quite well since our warm-weather training trip to Lanzarote. But I think fatigue might be beginning to catch up with me. I went out yesterday for an easy 4-5 miles, following a lovely, gently undulating, off-road route and my legs felt heavy and listless. Mind you, I did spend the day before yesterday digging a soakaway at Holehird gardens which involved getting through a 15cm layer of tree roots and then levering out boulders the size of typewriters, so I might well have been tired from that.

For the record, I plodded 4.57 miles at a pace of 9:52 mins/mile with 86m of ascent/descent; Max heart rate was 162, average 142 which is about right for this run. I always reckon that, for me, anything less than 10-12 minute miles is an OK pace off-road, but it felt very hard.

The land here at the moment has a bleached, washed-out look because it has been dry for ages and cold enough to stop the grass from growing. On top of that, the farmers have been out spreading muck leaving broad brown stripes contouring over the fields. You just know that, as soon as it rains, it'll all turn lush and green. There are hardly any sheep in the fields. Presumably they are all in sheds somewhere getting ready to lamb.

Smileyrating 5/10

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Another gorgeous day. Another tough run.

I say, you don't think this is summer do you? Two weeks, no rain. Sunshine. It was like this last year and we all know what happened...

Anyway, perfect running weather today, only spoiled by the fact that I had to do a tough interval session: 6 x 500m after a 2 mile warm-up. What the guy who was fixing a stone wall on the lane thought as I went past him three times one way, three times the other, huffing and puffing and trying to nod politely as I went past, I'll never know. It was tough. My legs felt heavy and my core felt tired. Mind you, I did spend all day yesterday mixing shredded shrubs and finest horse manure and flinging it into a compost bin so maybe it's not surprising.

Still, I did it. Average pace on the intervals was 7:04 / 6:46 / 6:32 / 6:46 / 6:42 / 6:29. A bit all over the place. I obviously haven't mastered even paced running!

The gorgeousness of the day deserved a more enjoyable outing. It was lovely to hear the cry of a lapwing though as I headed out. They nest round about and this one sounded like a harbinger of Spring. Soon be lamb time...

Smileyrating 6/10 for the running, 10/10 for the weather

Sunday, 24 February 2013

A good weekend...

Really good training this weekend. My programme for saturday afternoon required 4 x 1 mile reps, with 3 minute walk/jog recoveries. I did these on the undulating back road to Staveley which is a not unattractive route (providing you discount the small sewage treatment works that you pass) but is good and undulating, rising and falling by some 80m in a couple of miles. My mile splits were 8:19 / 7:59 / 7:30 / 7:20, times which neatly reflect the fact that the first two tended uphill and the final two downhill. It was a very tough session; labouring rather than running. It came only a couple of days after my 10 x 400m session, so I guess there may have been some residual fatigue in the legs. The fact that it was 1 deg C with the wind chill making it feel like minus 2 and lightly snowing may also have had something to do with it.

This morning's run was an easy 8 miles which I did off-road along the River Kent to Staveley and back. This was lovely; I kept to a heart rate of about 152 bpm which is 70% of max, so I didn't feel stressed. I was pleased to note that my average pace was 10:36 /mile which for me isn't too bad for off-road with lots of stiles to negotiate. The weather was gorgeous. It was cold, fairly still and with some blue sky. It felt as if spring is just around the corner.
Smileyrating 9/10 (for the weekend)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

It's character building... go out before breakfast into the teeth of a chill easterly wind and do 10 x 400m reps. That was what I told myself as I plodded down the lane to my start point on the flat(ish) back lane to Staveley. It'll be good for you. You'll benefit in the long run. Now stop whingeing and get on with it.

An hour or so later I was back home enjoying a generous glug of chocolate milk shake which has become my default 'recovery treat' after an interval or other hard session. Ten intervals under my feet, all run pretty evenly at around 1:44. Job done. Character built.

But it was bloody freezing.

Smileyrating  3/10, rising to 9/10 when the smugness coefficient is factored in!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

What a gorgeous day...

today is. As I stepped out at 0800 this morning it was cool and bright and completely still. Just made for running. My programme called for 8 miles easy today, so I ploddded out for 4 miles towards Kentmere, turned round and plodded back. But it didn't feel like a plod! It was hard and undulating and I finished in an hour and seven minutes, with an average pace of 8:32 for the first 4 miles and 8:24 for the second.
Finished with an aching left Achilles - time for some new shoes methinks...
Smileyrating 8/10

Friday, 15 February 2013

A 10/10 Smileyrating!!

Just back from a brilliant week's warm weather training at Club LaSanta, Lanzarote with Mrs HF and her brother. What a great place it is.
After 'morning gymnastics' - 15 minutes of stretches, star jumps and the like, led by an instructor which began each day, I started my programme late morning on Friday with a 3 x 1600m session, running them at an average pace of 7:13 which, for me, was amazingly good. After a light lunch by one of the centre's pools, I did a core and stretching session in the gym
Saturday morning was a 400m swim in the 50m pool in the sun. This was fantastic. Bright sunshine, sparkly water and the warmth of the sun on your back. My swimming is, however, rubbish, so I was dead slow - especially compared to the swimmers of Leicester Swimming Club who were training in the lanes alongside! That evening I entered the weekly 10k race. This was two laps of an out and back, undulating course with a powerful headwind on the return legs. I finished in 50:32 and, amazingly was first MV55 (erm, there were no others) and second overall. Which meant I got a diploma at the end of the week!! Now, in all my years of running I have never got anywhere remotely near troubling the judges, so I am unfeasibly proud of that bit of paper!
Sunday was an easier day; a 'Stretch and Relax' class, which took place on the 5-a-side pitch in the sunshine and was led by... well let me just say that the place is run by a Danish company and they tend to use lissome twenty-somethings as their instructors....  In the afternoon Mrs HF and I did some swimming drills in the leisure pool which was absolutely bloody FREEZING. I think they just pipe the Atlantic into this attractively shaped pool that meanders its way between the sun loungers. Having said that, once acclimatised to the cold, it was very refreshing to swim in and, masochistically, I rather enjoyed it.
Monday was another track interval day, this time 5 x 800m, after 'gymnastics' but before breakfast. They were as knackering as these things are, but I've no idea what the times were, because my heart monitor 'Stop' button packed up! It is pretty ancient though, so I suppose it's time for a new one.
In the afternoon I hired a bike (Cannondale Alu-frame, Shimano Ultegra groupset, decent wheels [if you hire a bike for a week you get similar, but carbon fibre frame]) and went out with my brother-in-law for a 21km ride which we did at an average of 24km/hr. The wind was savage; we had to pedal flat out into the teeth of it - yet we were going downhill! It was very scary.
Tuesday morning consisted of a 2000m row in the gym, followed by 300m in the pool. It was a bit busy and intimidating when you're not that good at it! In the afternoon I enjoyed a 'Fitball' class which is where you use those big squishy balls you get in gyms to work out. This was a revelation. It made me realise that it's pretty much the only bit of 'toning' kit you'd ever need. This was followed by another 'Stretch and Relax' class.
Wednesday was our last day and I did a sort of triathlon. I started with a run: 3 laps of a 3k road route. The first lap at 60% of Max Heart Rate, the second at 70% and the third at 80%. A tempo run basically. But in the sunshine by the blue crashing Atlantic. Late morning I did 500m in the pool and it was glorious. Sunny and bright, the lengths felt relatively easy and smooth; it was a fitting way to say goodbye to the pool. In the afternoon I did  30 minutes on a bike in the gym with Mrs HF alongside me showing me how to train at intensity. She was awesome.
And then we came home. As I write this, the woodburner's doing it's thing, the sky is clear. It's going to be cold tonight. And the sun seems rather far away....
If you ever fancy a spot of warm-weather training, check out Club LaSanta. I can't wait to go back next year.
Smileyrating 10/10

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

On hawthorns

I feel like one of those hawthorn bushes you see on the hills.Windblasted to an angle of about 45 degrees to the ground. I've just got in from doing 8 x 500m intervals (with 90 sec rests and 2 miles warm up/cool down) and the ferocious wind was scouring the fields. Even the sheep were lying down, like creamy-grey boulders, noses flat to the ground. In the copse I ran by, trees were lying at all angles, some propped up on those few that remained upright. Some had flattened the perimeter wire fences. It was certainly bracing. The intervals went fine and I covered about 7 miles in all.
Smileyrating 8/10. Deeply satisfying

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A not so easy 'easy'

"7 miles, easy" said the schedule. 63 minutes later, 7 miles had passed beneath my feet. Job done. And it felt like one of those 'duty' runs; where you get out and do it because you have to, but it's not really ticking the 'fun' box.
Yesterday we had three inches of snow. Today it had pretty much all gone apart from some stranded lumps of icy snow adrift in the puddles like mini icebergs. The lanes are all flooded. The fields are flooded again. Those on higher ground are all striped brown where the muck-spreaders have been. The field entrances are scarred by deep tractor ruts where the loaded spreaders have been manoeuvred through the gates. I saw no birds other than chickens, but I heard some twittering as I passed woodland. It was really windy, but at least the sun had some warmth in it.
So, after a week where the weather has precluded running, I finished the week with a reasonable trot out. Mustn't grumble.
Smileyrating 5/10

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Tip-toeing onwards

I'm not sure that the following is quite what athletics coaches would suggest as the ideal pre-run fuelling - peat-smoked haddock and Morecambe Bay shrimps with sautee potatoes and green beans with a small glass of Chilean sauvignon blanc - but Mrs HF and I just happened to be passing the excellent 'George and Dragon' at Clifton, near Penrith, at lunch time and, well, it would have been silly to drive on past. It was delicious.

An hour and a half later I was lacing up my Salomons and heading out for what the training schedule calls '5 miles, easy' around the lanes near home. The wind was scything across the snow-covered fields and seemed determined to lance straight through my two thermal layers and Pertex top as I started up the hills. In places there were runnels of ice across the road which meant slowing right down and going very carefully, but I got into it and felt good enough to push on in the second half of the route - which was a lot flatter and along gritted roads.

The Garmin data showed I did 4.92 miles, at an average of 9.32 mins/mile, with a best pace of 6.27 min/mile. Not great, but not too bad. I'm a sufficiently old hand at this running lark not to obsess about times; I know in my bones that this was a good run. I felt strong at the end, and capable of pushing on further. I wonder if the interval sessions are beginning to have an effect or if peat-smoked haddock etc. should feature more often in my diet?
Smileyrating 8/10

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Of frost, collies and dodgy backs

After a good week of training last week, this past week has not been great. On Monday I was taking some tree stumps to the tip (as you do) when I felt my lower back begin to ache. On Tuesday I was undertaking a drainage project at Holehird gardens, which involved digging trenches and manhandling 20kg bags of limestone chippings. That didn't help. Then on Wednesday I did a bit of feeble compost shovelling and decided I really ought to rest my back. So I went swimming on Wednesday afternoon. Incredibly, that really helped. I guess the movement, support by the water and strengthening of the core and back muscles must have eased the spine a bit.

The upshot was that I hadn't run all week, until this morning.

The thermometer showed 0.1 deg C as I left HF Towers and frost still rimed the fence rails and grass. The sun gleamed feebly white and there was a hint of pink in the sky. My plan called for me to run 2 miles easy and then do 8 x 400m intervals with 400m jog recovery, and then 2 miles easy to finish. And that is what I did. It must have looked very odd to the family out walking their lovely marl collie as I kept plodding past one way and running back the other, but, as runners know, when you're doing an interval session you just block everything out and get on with it. I wasn't going flat out on the intervals, partly because I didn't want to risk my back, and partly because it was very frosty underfoot, so I was moving a little gingerly. It all went well. The back held up well, with only a minor ache on the uphill sections, and my heart rate was roughly where it should be. And it felt very satisfying to have done it. On top of all that - it didn't rain. And it's not often I've been able to say that for the last 7 months.
Smileyrating 8/10

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A wet plod

Yesterday I put another tick on the training plan. "4-6 miles easy" was the requirement. So, after a morning spent lying in the mist on the fells at Red Screes waiting to be found by the gorgeous Lake District Mountain Rescue Search dogs,  I headed out towards Staveley village for 3 miles, turned round and ran back again. It was a damp, dank, dreary, gloomy afternoon. It just didn't seem to get light at all all day. For the first mile I accompanied Mrs HF who was out doing her own training and then I headed off past dripping trees and ancient, moss-covered stone walls. Needless to say, everything was wet; road, fields, sheep. Even the free-range chickens were scratching about with sodden, matted feathers.
The run itself was fine. It's a good undulating route and I eased along very gently with an average pace of 10:36 min miles and a best pace of 7:18. My average heart rate was 126, which is a touch low, and a max of 152. It's been a long time since I've run 6 miles on road, so my legs feel a bit battered this morning, but they'll recover.
Smileyrating  6/10

Thursday, 3 January 2013

What a difference 40 minutes makes

My programme for today specified "30-40 minutes, relaxed. Include hills". To be honest, this describes pretty much all the runs I've done over the last two decades, so I was actually quite looking forward to it! The only downside was that I had to do it before breakfast because the rest of the day was booked with housework (I needed to take the Christmas tree down) and a hospital appointment.
So, having donned a headtorch and as much reflective clothing as I could, I set off at 0755  for a nice relaxed run up the hills towards Potter Fell. It was cloudy and really dark, though with a lightening sky to the east and the promise of clearer weather. The sheep on the near fields were grey shadows, rim-lit paler white by the reluctant sun. The lane was running with rivulets of water and covered in run-off debris. It was a touch misty, which made the flashing orange lights of the dustcart (sorry, waste reduction and recycling vehicle) eerily huge and diffuse. The run was straightforward; one of those bog standard, 'let's just go for a run' - type runs. 20 minutes out, turn round and 20 minutes back. What was interesting was that, by the time I got home, I didn't need the headtorch, but I can't remember actually precisely when it became light enough to not need it.
It was certainly relaxed. My max heart rate was only 151 and the average 125. Must have been slower than I thought!
Oh, the hospital appointment confirmed I've got tilted optical discs with a bit of peripheral vision loss in the left eye, but normal intra-ocular pressure. I wonder if the running helps keep it down?

Smileyrating 7/10. As I said, bog standard.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone and Happy New Year to you all. Mrs HF and I have started the new year as we hope to continue - with a nice training run. My programme said I had to run 2.5 miles easy, then do 4 x 3 minute intervals with 3 mins rest between each. I think of this as "3 on / 3 off" because it's easier to remember!
I spoke to my Dad before we went out. He was in West Sussex, right on the south coast. He had wall to wall sunshine. He'd spoken to some friends in Norfolk; wall to wall sunshine. Same for my Mum in Devon. We set off in cold, cloudy, conditions with spots of rain in the air! The roads were wet, wet, wet, with puddles stretching right across which necessitated tip toeing along the crown of the lane with a nice high knee lift.
The run itself was quite enjoyable except that all the "on" intervals seemed to occur on all the uphill sections! But I got the job done with an average pace of 9.08 mins/mile which isn't great, but the fastest interval was 5.40 which wasn't too bad.  I'm following Runner's World's 10k programme because we're off to Club La Santa for a training camp/holiday in February and I want to get some fitness before I go!

Smileyrating  6/10