Sunday, 30 December 2018

2019 goals

As usual this year I have gone through the process of thinking about stepping up the distances in 2019 and applied for half marathon and a marathon. Then it comes to doing the training and it never seems to go to plan for the last few years for various reasons. Once again I am now thinking just purely to focus on parkruns and hopefully get my times down a bit.  I've broken down my aims below

Average time for parkruns - sub 30

My main focus this year will be on my average time for a parkrun over the course of the year.  These are my average times over the last 4 years:

2015 - 30.36 - 35 parkruns
2016 - 28.12 - 28 parkruns
2017 -  31.04 - 35 parkruns
2018 -  31.52 - 46 parkruns

I am aiming to try for sub 30 average which will be a challenging target going by previous years and especially if I end up doing hillier parkruns more like last year. But hopefully this will give me more focus during the week and mean it will be nessesary to do more speedwork/hill work.

Which parkruns to do?

I thought one of the things that worked well in 2018 and led to me running so many parkruns was running my home parkrun Pollok every second time. It keeps things interesting visiting other runs while still touching base regularly at Pollok.  The 10 for 10 challenge was also good as to get gold it was a case of getting out every week.  If a challenge does come along like that again I would be open to doing it.  I have a few planned parkruns down south already and I would like to do more different Scottish parkruns although I'm not really fussed which ones they are - just different ones to the ones I have done.  In saying that in terms of the Glasgow parkruns I am definitley aiming to get my p index to 7 which will take 4 runs. And hopefully get towards p index of 8 which it would take an extra 5 runs.  My plan is to stick to Glasgow runs during winter January to March, then November and December. Then April to October do runs further a field. While of couse doing Pollok every second week throughout the year.  But on top of that if anyone I know starts going they fancy doing this parkrun or that running that week I would change and just do that.

Milestones

The biggest milestone I should hit this year is my 200th parkrun. Currently I am on 175.  I am on course to also hit my 100th Pollok parkrun where currently I am on 88. This is the second year of my 3 year plan to hit 250. I beat my target last year giving me a bit of extra room in 2019.  So my target is to reach 210 parkruns this year, meaning 35 parkruns for the calender year. But of course anything on top of that is a bonus and I'm not planning on taking days off unless of course I need to.

Another target I should hit a quarter cowl which is 25th different parkrun location. I am on 23 at the moment so something would have to really go wrong not to hit that one. The next target after that is the half cowel which I will eat into next year but I'll be nowhere near hitting it due to other priorities.

Heatmapping

Not a parkrun goal.  This is just one to add some interest for me on my local runs.  It was inspired by an ultra runner in America called Rickey Gates who this year ran every street in San Francisco.  I'm not planning to run every street in Glasgow.  But I have got an area in the southside near to me that I want to run every street in. Not sure how many miles it is but I'll just see how this pans out throughout the year.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

2018 Review (Warning may mention parkrun a few times)

I didn't do a blog for November or December as my memory seems to be getting worse as to what actually happened at the parkruns I did these months. I did manage all 4 available in November and did 4/6 in December. One week I missed due to dodgy weather where it looked like conditions may have developed during parkrun where freezing rain would fall meaning widespread ice.  I was more concerned with traveling across icy roads on the way home so just left it. Then the following week I was ill for the first time in ages so that was the reason I took that week off.

But the second half of 2018 I had an amazing run in terms of turning up to parkrun. In fact those 2 parkruns I missed as per above were the only parkruns I missed since August.  Meaning a 4 and half month streak.  I did pick up that injury achilies injury in July which put me out for 3 weeks but have had no problems with it since.  The first half of the year it took me a while to get that elusive sub 30 but I did manage it at Catterick in April. Then I had a sprinkling of sub 30s throughout the year.  One aim was to get a sub 30 at Pollok which was made harder with a change to the course half way through the year. I only managed this once out of 22 attempts.

I took part in one challenge this year which was the 10 for 10 challenge. Celebrating 10 years of parkrun in Scotland.   The challenge was to complete/volunteer at 10 different parkruns and the quicker you did it the better your medal. I managed gold, completing 8 different parkruns running and volunteering at the 2 junior parkruns.  Looking back I feel I cheated myself a bit on this one as I only did one course I hadn't done before and all the parkruns I did were easy to get to. But still challenge completed.

One of the goals I had for this year was to complete every parkrun in Glasgow area 5 times. I did this plus a bit more as I have now completed every parkrun in the Glasgow area 6 times. Midway through the year I found out about the p index which is where you run x amount of parkruns x times and your p index is x.  So this is basically what I have been doing so my p index is currently 6 and I am not too far away from 7.

Another goal was to run 41 parkruns as part of a 3 year plan to get my 250 shirt by 2020.  This was a target I easily achieved having run 46 parkruns this year and I have now run 175 runs total.

Here is some more stats:

Parkrun break down (no of runs at each event)

Pollok - 22
Linwood - 4
Ruchill - 4
Drumchapel - 3
Springburn - 2
Victoria - 2
Tollcross - 1
Greenock - 1
Falkirk - 1

New parkruns done this year - Troon, Catterick, Plean, Lanark Moor, Camperdown and Rising Sun

Times:

27-28 mins - 2
28-29 mins - 2
29-30 mins - 6
30 + mins - 35

Average parkrun time = 31.52

I did not hit any of my target times set out at the start of the year and I know for a fact that in terms of over 30 minute runs this was my worst ever.  This is something I need to improve on for next year and I have a few ideas on how to achieve this.  Out of the 46 parkruns I did I should note that only 12 I would deem to have done on flat courses. And out of the 10 sub 30s I did do 8 came on flat courses and 2 hilly.  That means I did 34 runs in what I would deem hilly courses which is quite a high percentage. So I certainly dont make it easy for myself to actually get good times.

But overall I have really enjoyed this year.  From volunteering and hanging out with folk more down at Rouken Glen juniors, to gatecrashing parkruns that the Runbetweeners happen to be doing at the same time ;-), to venturing further a field with family to do different parkruns during holidays, to hanging with Campbell and Mico on my visits to both Falkirk and Plean and then of course coming home to Pollok more where it all started for me.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

October review

Well generally I would say October has been a pretty good month!

It all started with a trip up to Dundee to do Camperdown parkrun.  I had been advised to "just go for it" at the start as there is quite a long hill at the far side of the park. I thought I was taking this advice on in the 1st mile when I realised after half a mile that the 35 minute pacer was in front of me!  Turns out the way its done in Dundee is to go all out in the first mile. Which is good because it does spread out the field and even with the 200 runners today you have got your own space to run in instantly. I actually ended up running with the 35 minute pacer up until the 1st mile point.  Then turning up the hill, it went on and on, but it was gradual which meant I did manage to keep running for the majority of it and overtook loads of people. When I got to the top I was now running with the 32 minute pacer. I continued to overtake till the final hill where I had to walk bits but I actually ended up nearly catching the 30 minute pacer coming home in 30.20.  So I was probably not cut out to be a pacer judging by today but I was pleased with my effort. I loved this course which is mostly on trails and its pretty much one loop and you hardly go on the same path twice. At time of writing I think this has knocked Falkirk off its perch as the best parkrun I have done.

Next up was Pollok parkrun. I had a good run here, ran all the way round and generally felt pretty good. My time was 30.56 which is a course best for the alterntative course. I am starting to like the course more. The second mile is the hardest as it starts at the bottom of the glade is a net uphill mile finishing at the pond. But if you get to the top of the pond with something left it means I know I have paced it well which happened today. I have heard a few complaints about the new start but I actually think its better. There is no bottleneck till the turn left off the road onto the path and by that time everyone is in to their running and near enough in the correct position in the pack.

Next adventure was down to Newcastle where I was in Northumberland on holiday. So it was basically a case of finding a Premier inn which was right beside a parkrun start. That parkrun was Rising sun. A very nice park with a nice loch and some nice paths and trails. There was nearly 300 people there and going down to the path at the start it became clear the path probably wasnt built for that many people going down it at once. There was no room to even weave your way through people. It was a case of going the speed of the people in front of you. After about a mile the path gets wider and then it spreads out. For the 2nd mile you are basically going in a loop. Then the third mile you take the same route in reverse as the first mile. I made the mistake of pushing the second mile too hard trying to make up time. Which meant the 3rd mile I ended up having to walk a short section before pushing on to the end. It is a pretty flat course but there are long straight sections which can play on your mind a bit as it seems you are never quite getting to the end of it---------- but you do!  Managed 29.51 so nice to get a sub 30.

Final parkrun of the month was back at Pollok as I try to run Pollok every second time. Meaning half of my total parkruns are at Pollok. I am just short of this at the moment with 83 runs done at Pollok and Im at 167 in total. But that should fix itself next week and then I would be 84/168. This run was not a good one from me after a busy start to the week on holiday, I had a few very lazy days before this one. Which I think was the reason for this bad run. It was very cold and I was struggling to catch my breath. But I still got round and hopefully it will be back to usual next week and this was just a one off. 33.49.

Today I was at Rouken Glen junior parkrun doing some tailwalking for their second birthday. This year the core team decided it would be nice to give out prizes for the most regular runners and volunteers. Finola did a great job presenting all the prizes and giving a bit of history on each of the prizewinners and the history of our parkrun generally. One of which was myself :-)  I got a nice mug which will probably go on the mantlepiece.  I know parkrun is a team effort and all volunteers are heroes but being part of the core team you realise just how much work run directors put in and they should be applauded especially the ones at Rouken glen for making it such a great event to be part of.

Now thoughts begin to turn to what next again. And yes I did go through that phase of entering races 10k/half and a marathon.  But now I am not so sure again. Far too addicted to parkrun at the moment and generally finding it difficult to get in the right mindset to do the longer distances knowing the training it requires, especially for a marathon.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

September

This month 5 parkruns were on offer and I did all 5! Meaning I have now done 9 in a row.

First up was Springburn parkrun. And oh it was a struggle. It is a 2 and a half lap course and I was having to take walk breaks from the start of the second lap onwards finishing in 32.19.

Second up was Pollok parkrun. This was better than the previous week and my Pollok attempt 2 weeks prior. This time I managed to run the new hill all the way the first time round and just have to walk up it the second time. Apart from that I was running the whole way. I have heard a few people say that the start is more congested now. But for me its always been that way. 31.38

Third up was Lanark Moor parkrun. A very new event. In fact this was the 5th time the event had been run. I would say this is one of the most difficult ones to pace well due to the variety but I gave it a very good effort today and didn't have to walk so all good. The first section is a 1km loop which goes down to the loch round to the right and then right again up to the start. The next loop goes all the way round the loch so this is quite a long flat section. Then quite a fun bit for 2k as it goes into the woods and is basically a roller coaster of a trail section with some hills that are so steep it does slow you down considerably but you get the speed back on the downhills. Then it goes back down to the loch, round for a bit then up to the finish. I think this will be popular with tourists as it is a nice setting and an interesting course. 32.19

Fourth up it was back to Pollok. This was an even better run than earlier in the month as this time I conquered the new hill twice and didn't have to walk at all. I did chat to Chris for the first mile which took my mind of things which was good. 31.04.

Fifth and finally I was back at Springburn as I wanted to get a better run than earlier in the month. And boy did I get a better run! This time I started a bit more aggressively and managed to keep it going all the way round. Not only did I break 30 minutes. I broke 28 minutes, finishing in 27.51. This was a bit of a surprise but I have been running well during the week so I guess I should have expected it.

So overall a good month and looking forward to October where I'll be visiting a few parkruns I haven't done before while hopefully increasing my long runs.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

August update - things are looking slightly up

Well the good news is that my achilies issues are pretty much gone now. Still feel them every now and then but a good stretching session seems to sort them out. Which has meant this month I have gone 4 for 4 from the parkruns available!

4/8  It was only right that I returned to Pollok for my first run back. This was a surprisingly good run as I had paced myself well and for a change I actually ran the whole way at Pollok. Which is something I haven't done for quite a bit. Time: 32.10

11/8 Next up was Ruchill as I try and complete my challenge of running at least 5 runs at all the parkruns in the Glasgow area. This was my fifth at Ruchill and to be honest it is a course I have always struggled with.  But today was a different ball game.  The first lap was more of a social lap as I got chatting to someone. Then in the second lap we parted and I managed to up the pace and for the 3rd lap I upped the pace even more. Again I managed to run the whole way which is something I have never managed to do at Ruchill.  Also I managed to smash my course best for the course with a time of 30.22.

18/8  Plean was next on the agenda. A course I have never done before. I wasn't really sure about how to get there as the buses from larbert and Stirling didn't seem to fit in with the trains to Plean. Not that I expect them too. But when I mentioned it to Campbell at work who lives in Larbert. He was up for coming along too to walk his dog. So Campbell gave me a lift from Larbert station. What a guy!  The run itself was enjoyable but tough. It's one of the few courses I have done that is not laps or an out and back. Its basically 3 loops which slightly overlap each other. It has a lot of fun trails. The first part of the course it felt was mostly downhill which meant, you guessed it, there was a lot of up in the second half. I had to walk quite a bit but still enjoyed it. Time: 35.10

25/8  Today it was back to Pollok to do their new alternative course which I have pretty much done before I think last year but it looks like this is going to be the course for quite a while now. Mentally I was going into this run in a bad way as my 2 runs during the week were 1 and 1 1/2 miles and I struggled with both. So I knew this was going to be a struggle as this was now an even harder course. So I ended up walking at least bits of most of the inclines. Half way round the second lap a guy passed me while I was walking and offered encouragment. It gave me such a boost!  I still had to walk bits of the remaining hills. But on the downs and flats, in my mind, I was flying. Time 34.10

So really just glad to be back parkrunning this month. Slightly mythed about my fitness as I should really be fitter. Especially as I have been running more since Ruchill and now getting slower. As ususal I need to work on hills so I will try and find some in September. 

Sunday, 29 July 2018

July update - where things went slightly wrong

I have been doing pretty well getting to parkruns pretty much every week this year with the odd exception. But July in terms of running wasn't to be my month.

7th July. In the 2 weeks leading up to this run I had started a 10k plan doing 4 runs a week. This specific day I was to do 40 minutes. So I decided on a 10 minute warm up then do Linwood parkrun. During the warm up my legs were feeling the effects of during the week. But during the parkrun itself I felt good and was gradually increasing the pace on the way round finishing in just over 29 minutes.

On the Monday I was back out again for 25 minutes easy. I don't know exactly when it happened after this. But the next day I found it extremely sore to walk, nevermind run. My achilies were agony. I talked to people about it and they recommended icing it and it would go away. I did do that occasionally but probably not as much as I should have. 2 weeks later it was still sore so I went to the physio to get it checked out. She did an assesment and basically she said I need to start stretching! This is something i used to do but since I have been back running didnt really think I needed to because I was doing such short distances.

So the whole of this week I have been doing various stretches 3 times a day.  I'm finding that the pain has reduced considerably and its only really sore when I get up in the morning or get up from my desk at work. So she says I can start introducing running again which I'm happy about.  I think the Paisley 10k in August is too soon to build up to now but maybe a 10k in October would be achievable. I'll just take it one run at a time. The most important thing is to get back parkrunning again!  I haven't been neglecting parkrun though. Through volunteering and even pulling some double shifts some weekends.

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.