Saturday, 30 June 2018

Jubious June

It's not been the best of months running wise but I have still managed 4 out of 5 parkruns this month meaning I have only missed 4 so far this year.

2nd June I headed to Drumchapel parkrun with Rouken glen pal Stuart. It was my 150th parkrun and also Drumchapel's 2nd birthday. It was busy for Drumchapel with about 80 folk there and as always as social, friendly as ever. The run itself was tougher than usual due to the heat so I was mainly walking the hills. But I was trying to go faster down them which made things more fun. Afterwards we went to the cafe to the awards where it was nice to see both runners and volunteers getting rewarded for their contributions to this magic wee parkrun.

9th June I went to Pollok and it was another landmark run as I completed the 10 for 10 challenge and got the gold medal. I completed 8 parkruns in consecutive weeks and also volunteered at Rouken Glen junior parkrun and Victoria junior parkrun to make it up to 10.  To be honest going into the run my head wasn't really in the right place. And I mean specifically to the Pollok course. It was the first time in 3 months I have been at Pollok and I haven't really had the best of times at Pollok this year. It seems to be a challenge of how far I can get without walking. What made it easier today is that I started chatting to Chris right from the start and we ran together. After about a mile we bumped into Rob and the 3 of us chatted just until about halfway. This was where we heard someone coming from behind to keep left meaning the leaders were coming through. Chris and Rob didnt want to be lapped so upped the pace and that was the last I saw of them. I made it to about 2 miles without walking then ran walked the rest.

The next week I didn't do parkrun as I had a sore throat, not enough to be off work but enough to know I should be taking it easy.

23rd June I was back at Pollok. This time because a few of my uni friends Viv and Stu decided to give it a go. Stu has done it before a few years back but for Viv it was her first time. Today there seemed to be loads of people there I knew which was great. I settled into a very easy pace and again got to about 2 miles and ran/walked in from there. Viv and Stu seemed to enjoy it so hopefully they'll be back.

30th June back at Pollok again as thought Stu might be back today but texted this morning to cancel as his wife is immienent so didn't want to risk it. It was absolutley boiling today and I ran with water for the first time ever during a parkrun. The heat and the hills meant I was walking a lot sooner than usual.

Times this month were 34 mins, 31 mins, 32 mins then 35 mins. So a bit disappointing after such a good May but 2 of these I put down to the heat. But I do really need to work on my mental approach to Pollok as its almost like there are certain mental trigger points where I feel the urge to walk. Which I don't generally get when doing other parkruns.

In saying that I have started a 10k plan this week so I'm hoping I can build up my fitness a bit in the next few months so hopefully I will be ready for the Paisley 10k in August.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Still running come what May

This overall has been very positive month for my parkruns. Probably my best month since this time last year. And the funny thing is my midweek runs have disappeared somewhat again but somehow this has made me faster.

5/5 - First up was Falkirk parkrun. 3 years since I was last here which is really far too long considering how much I like this parkrun. In terms of course it is my favourite. I started quite easy and as I started asscending the first hill, the trail narrows meaning you can get stuck behind people. I thought this was good at the time as it meant it held me back from going too fast too early. But I think in hindsight I should have really asked to go past and just go at my natural pace. The second hill which is the infamous "Heartbreak Hill" I found interesting. I got about 3/4 of the way up before having to walk the rest. But I looked around me and everyone was walking. This was quite unusual. I would love to be fit enough to do reps up this hill after parkrun. It would be a great session. Once at the top of the hill I really let go on the long downhill and it was very enjoyable. I sustained the pace around the loch and to the finish meaning I was just over 30 minutes. A course best. Afterwards I met up with friends Campbell and Mico and had a nice walk with their dog round Callendar park which was good.

12/05 - Next up was Tollcross. I met running buddies Ian before and Chris after. First time seeing them since one spent the winter in Thailand and the other in Australia so it was good to catch up. I've been struggling with the hills at Tollcross the last few times I have done it so I was pleased today to keep running most of the way round. It was only the very last hill which defeated me and had to have a few walk breaks which isn't too bad. Also I managed to sneak under 30 minutes, coming in at 29.59. Always good to get a sub 30, especially on a hilly course! First time I have gone sub 30 on a hilly course in a few years I think.

19/05 - Then I went to Linwood. Caught up with another few running buddies at the start, Stuart and Rob and his wife. Also John K was supporting on the way round, so gave him a congratulations on the way past as he had completed the 190 mile Northern Traverse race the previous week! Not bad. My run wasn't bad either. In fact I ran my fastest time since getting a course best at Linwood last June. I paced it really well and was just generally having a really good day. 27.15 is 2 minutes faster than I have run for any parkrun this year.

26/05 - Finally Greenock parkrun. I had been ill half the week and only been out the house twice really during the week. So I think the reduction in activity meant parkrun was going to be tough today. And it was. But I managed to grind it out and still get a sub 30. Coming in at 28.55. It is a very fast course Greenock along the promenade. Overall a good finish to the month.

I think the improvement has come from diet changes as its clearly not because Im running more. I'm eating more fruit, porridge for breakfast and cut down on crisps and sugary drinks. Hopefully I can keep this going although still buy the odd fizzy drink when I'm at home. But as they say, everythings fine in moderation ;-)

Saturday, 28 April 2018

The run down on April

This month for me was National flat parkrun month with mixed results. Out of the 4 on offer this month I did 3.

First up was Catterick parkrun in Yorkshire which was my first time at the event.  My parents and I were travelling down for a family reunion in Harlow. So we drove to Scotch Corner on the Friday which is pretty close Catterick and stayed there overnight. Meaning it was a 10 minute drive in the morning to get there for the 9am start. At the first timers breifing he said that they actually got 500 people turn up at the first event but has now levelled out at about 150 runners per week. At this point I noticed someone with a Giffnock North hoodie who I later found out was Rob who I got chatting to just before the start.

The course is 3 laps and follows the ambulance road which goes in a circle within a horse race track. It is actually a genius route as it is practically flat and wide enough for folk to overtake slower runners.  I enjoyed this run immensely and although the last lap I was struggling a bit, I was still pushing the pace. When I got about 200 meters from the end Rob was there and having already finished, he ran with me, encouraging me to dig in all the way to the end. Which I did and ended up with 29.15.  Not only my fastest run of the year. But my fastest run since last November.

The following week was the first time this year where I haven't done a parkrun it was simply down to me and not external factors such as the weather. I woke up feeling very tired that Saturday morning and I think it was down to travelling so much over the previous 2 weeks and not really getting a break. I cancelled all my plans for the day and recharged the batteries.

The next week I headed for Victoria parkrun. Which didnt have the best start as I suffered from anxiety when I was making the journey across. Meaning my head really wasn't in the best place when I started the run.  I had to run/walk half way into the second lap and finished in 33 minutes.

Then today I went to Troon parkrun with my Mum.  This run was so much better in every way. I felt controlled the whole way through and really hammered the final sprint. I could have gone faster but today wasn't about that. It was just about enjoying my running again after the previous week.  It was perfect conditions too and it's pancake flat as it goes up and down the promenade. Firstly it's a half mile out, half mile back. Then you go a mile out then a mile back. I was just off my Catterick time finishing in 29.17.

In terms of goals at the moment I think I'm going to try and do this 10 for 10 challenge which is doing 10 different parkruns in 10 different locations building up to more hilly parkruns.  But if I can build up to it I might throw in a 10k too.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The unpredictability of the marathon

For a change I thought I'd do a combination of a general post and reflictive post about marathons. Not really surprisingly the reason for this is that over the last week the marathon distance really has been in the spotlight and it just got me thinking just how hard and unpredictable marathons are.  Firstly I'll look at Callums performance from last weekend.

Callum was only a few miles from home when he collapsed in the commonwealth marathon and was odds on for the gold medal. The commontators throughout were talking as if the medal was already around his neck as soon as he broke free from 2nd place. But the thing was even if he didn't collapse I don't think it was a certainty.  The reason for this is that pacing for an optimal marathon is so difficult no matter what your ability.  You can practice your marathon pace as much as you want in training. But the point is - you have never ran 26.2 miles at that pace until marathon day.  If you blow up at 24 miles it could add as much as 20 minutes to your time if you have to walk.

You could argue that the taper will take you to the start line as fresh as possible. But is there a way to get the taper absolutley spot on? The only way to do it is to run multiple marathons. Some people are lucky and nail marathon after marathon. But I think for the majority of us it is a bumpy road to success.  Just look at Monday's Boston marathon where the winners, although very good marathon runners. The winners were far from being favourites. But the common factor with these 2 marathons was that weather played a big factor. Commonwealth games was the heat while Boston was the wind and rain.

For my first marathon in London back in 2004, I was very inexperienced. Started too slowly, then tried to make up time as I wanted to go sub 4.  I went through half way feeling reasonalbly good in 2.07. Then at 14 miles I got cramp in both quads and had to jog/walk to a 4.48 finish. This was hard to take as my long runs in training went a lot better but now I realised I didn't do enough speedwork during the week or runs at marathon pace.

In 2009 I did the Loch ness marathon.  For this marathon I followed a sub 3.45 plan pretty much to the T.  I was in good shape having done the Helensburgh half marathon in 1.45. So I was in 3.45 shape. But getting to the line I had a different approach to this marathon. I had a watch but I didn't look at it the entire time.  The first mile I just tried to figure out a pace which I felt as if I could run all day at.  This made for a lot more enjoyable experience than London. I ran all the way to 22 miles then ran/walked the last 4 miles.  I finished in 4.07 which was a massive PB and I was happy.  It is an incredibly scenic course too.

The next year I did Lochaber marathon in Fort William.  I trained more than I ever had before and throughout February and March I was averaging between 50 and 60 miles a week.  I was also a member of Giffnock North. Meaning the sessions I was doing were very high quality. I didn't follow a Runners World plan this time though but I did have a plan in my head. This time during training I ran 1.36 at Alloa half marathon and I got up to running 15 mile tempo runs which was also my target marathon pace of sub 3.30.  It was an out and back course and the first half went well as I went out in bang on 1.45.  I started slowing at 18 miles and had to run/walk the rest finishing in 3.53. Still a massive PB and sub 4. But after all the training I would be lyng if I said I wasn't disappointed this time. But on reflection that 15 mile tempo run at marathon pace which I had built upto I found tough so I dont know why I expected to be able to do an extra 11 miles at that pace. This is something I have only really thought about recently and now the result makes more sense.

Every year at this time always does the same thing to me. It inspires me at least for a while. I'm not sure whether I ll do a marathon again. But if I do I will follow the same mentality as I did at Loch Ness and try and maximise enjoyment rather than go for a time.  The thing which draws me back to the marathon at the moment, is that whatever happens in the marathon. If you do the training, you are so much fitter than you were when you started out the training. Plus I do like medals and t-shirts.

I say all this about unpredicablity and then of course.........Kipchoge wins a marathon marathon........again today! :-)



Saturday, 31 March 2018

March Madness

I think that title pretty much sums up this month full of highs and lows.

March 3rd - No parkrun. This was during the period where the beast from the east hit and all parkruns in the Glasgow area were cancelled. In fact Troon was the only parkrun that was on in the central belt. I did think about it and was told that the roads to that way were ok to drive on. But it was getting on to the A77 plus I'm not really comfertable driving longer distances at the moment.

March 10th - Pollok parkrun - Today it really wasn't happening at all. I started run/walking from just after the first kilometre which is something I haven't done in a long time. I'm still not quite sure what went wrong. But the next day I did 2 miles and it was fine. Then I did a 5k on the Monday and did it in under 29 minutes. I did the parkrun that Saturday in over 36 minutes. A 7 minute difference in 2 days! Very weird.

March 17th - Linwood parkrun - I was hoping for a sub 30 today given the run I had on the Monday. But I ended up starting too fast and on the second lap had to walk parts. But I finished in 30.03 which I have to be pleased with given Pollok the week before.

March 24th - Pollok parkrun - Again I had to walk parts today but it was still progress as I was walking a lot later into the run. Finished in around 31 minutes, so pretty solid.

March 31st - Pollok parkrun - This was a very similar run to the one on the 10th in the way it was really bad. It was around 36 minutes again but I know why this time. The day before I was starting to stress out about some things going on and it meant while I was running I wasn't really in the right frame of mind and it was clearly affecting my performance. 

Looking forward to April for some more tourist parkruns and I really need to get out during the week and hopefully it will mean I will be able to de-stress a bit more and get back on top of things. Then try and get my parkruns back under sub 30 again!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The February crack

February wasn't as good a month as January as outside of parkruns I only managed 4 other runs. This is mainly down to not being able to work from home the whole month. May seem like a piddly excuse but when I commute to the office its 4 hours travelling a day so it takes it out of you. When I am able to work from home I find it easy to get out as litrally I get changed and out as soon as I clock off. It really does make a massive difference to my running. In saying that the times I did get out during the week were during lunchtimes which I really need to do more.

But anyway in terms of parkruns it's all good as I managed 4/4 parkruns this month which means in the first 2 months I have only missed one which is positive.

3rd February - The month started off really good down at Pollok parkrun.  I pushed the pace for starter and I did pay for it in the 2nd and 3rd miles. But I kept going all the way round and even got chatting to a guy from down south explaining the route to him. This one I finished in 30.41 which is my fastest parkrun since October I think.

10th February - After volunteering at junior parkrun the previous week, one of the guys Jack who runs a jog Scotland group called the Runbetweeners said I should come along to Ruchill parkrun the following week as they were taking their group there. I didn't need any persuading and I rocked up to join them.  I knew quite a few people since a lot of them volunteer down at Roukenglen too.  I had an ok run but still found it tough. Especially on the 2nd and 3rd laps where I took more walk breaks up the hill. But it was good having encouragement on the out and back section from other runners and also the volunteers.  33.07

17th February - Back at Pollok again as I continue to do my "Home" parkrun every second week. This one was a bit weird as the first mile I was really struggling and had to walk just after the first kilometre. But picked up a bit in the second mile. Then I saw Claire, again one of my volunteer buddies from Roukenglen and all of sudden I had a second, or should that be a first wind. We ran and chatted all the way to the finish and even managed a sprint at the end! It was great. 32.44

24th February - Today I went to Drumchapel. A course I do really like as its all trails (gravelly trails) and it is a small, friendly event. I knew how tough the course was and as always I set off easy. On the hills today though I realised I just had nothing in my legs and pretty much walked all of them. I don't know if its my weight or something but I do really need to work on this as it was slightly worrying. I was absolutley fine on the downs and flats and I wasn't out of breath or anything. Its just as if the muscles in my legs were just asleep for the hill sections. I know the only way to improve this is maybe losing some weight and keep doing hills though so will try and make some changes.   34.52.

The thing I have enjoyed most about parkruns this year though is that I seem to be talking to more and more folk before and after, even during the parkruns.  Before this year I would speak to people every now and then but this year I have been doing this more and more. Which is a major positive to finish this post on.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The January low down

Well as far as months go January was a pretty good month, especially when you consider the challenges with the weather. In fact I recorded my highest milage month since last May.

During January I managed 5 out of the 6 parkruns available this month and here is how they went down,

1st January - The only time of year you can do the double, meaning 2 parkruns in the one day. This is something I have never attempted before. I have volunteered at one, then run the next but never actually done 2 in a row. This has only been an option for a few years and this year with the growing number of parkruns participating the combinations and choices also increase.  This year I decided to go for Pollok and Victoria.  The Pollok run I took easy as I could while still managing to run all of it.  The course was slightly altered due to a fallen down tree. Meaning instead of going up a gradual hill. You took another path which was flat and turned up a short steep hill joining back on to the usual route.  Victoria I took the same approach as Pollok and set off nice and easy. I was feeling pretty good considering I haven't really got full confidence in my fitness at the moment. This course was also slightly altered due to flooding meaning the route hugged the small lake more so the finish was further round than normal. I was pleased to go a wee bit faster at this one. Although by the end, not surprisingly I was feeling it.  This also ticks off Victoria from the list of completing every parkrun in Glasgow 5 times as this was my fifth run there.

6th January - Ruchill parkrun - This was my 3rd run at Ruchill. In my last 2 attempts I have struggled badly with this course. Those times I put it down to just coming back from illness.  This time I didn't really have any excuses other than I knew it was a hard, 3 lap course. And it proved again that the course really did defeat me. I ran the first lap, but the second and third lap were run/walks.  I did manage a bit quicker finish but the hills had already got the better of me.

13th January - Pollok - This was my favourite run of the month.  After finishing my warm up which comes at at the back of the crowd. I did panic! As everyone was walking/jogging away. I thought I'd missed the start but it turned out we were on the alternative course which starts at the bottom of the car park. There a met up with Gregor and had a catch up. When it started he went off, but it wasn't too long before I got some company again and had a good catch up with Graeme for about a mile before he went off too.  This run was a bit slower, as the alternative course is longer but I did feel really strong going up the hills and was able to push it more in the last kilometre. It's always fun passing people.

20th January - No parkrun - Today was cancel parkrun fest with the only parkrun in Glasgow on being Tollcross. I was actually all ready to go and was out de-icing the car but I had a bit of a dodgy stomach and was struggling to de-ice my car quickly so I just decided to leave it and have a rest day instead.

27th January - Pollok - I did plan on going to Drumchapel but my car was playing up, my windscreen wipers weren't working and it was switching on as soon as you turn the key a bit and it was raining. So I went back up to the flat, dumped my jacket. And ran/walked down to Pollok which is about 3 miles. It was back to the normal route today and it was a wee bit muddy and puddly but that makes it more fun. After about a mile I caught up with Claire and we ran together a bit with her son. This did actually make me go faster and I ended up getting my fastest time this year. Not by much but still faster.

All in all a good month. I am really not the quickest I have been in the last few years at the moment, but I feel I have something to build on and if I can keep this going my times will come down.