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.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

2018 Goals

I've had this post sitting in my drafts since boxing day. My indecisve nature meant that i have been humming and hawing as to what to do this year but I think I have decided. To be honest the orginal post focused on what I wasn't doing and why. But I have decided to focus on what I am doing. And no prizes for guessing what I have gone for. - parkruns - and lots of them!

My goals are as follow:

In terms of number of parkruns I hope to do 41 this year and aim for 40 in the 2 following years meaning in 2020 I can gain my 250 t-shirt.

This year I also hope to have done all the parkruns in Glasgow area at least 5 times.  I have already done this at Pollok, Strathclyde, Tollcross and Linwood.  Just Drumchapel, Victoria, Springburn and Ruchill to go. Unless another one pops up! Speaking of which 2 nearish parkruns which I haven't tried are Plean and Troon. These are on this list for this year and also plan on hitting a few I haven't tried a bit further a field too. I would like to do an international one and that new one up in Shetland looks ace.  I would like to spend more time at my home parkrun Pollok this year too, so I am thinking doing Pollok every second parkrun.

In terms of time, I have the following aims:

Flat parkrun (Linwood, Victoria or Strathclyde): Sub 26 minute
Medium hilly parkrun (Pollok, Springburn): Sub 27 minute
Hilly parkrun (Ruchill, Drumchapel, Tollcross): Sub 28 minute

These are times I achieved in 2016 on some of the courses, but as I said I went backwards a bit in 2017 so these are the goals I am setting for 2018 and I feel will push me.

I think a big part of achieving these goals will be down to my weight loss goals too. I think I need to lose around 2 stone to get down to a good weight again after putting on a stone last year.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

2017 Review

This year has been a year of 2 halves. The first half was quite good. The second half wasn't a disaster but I definitely have gone backwards.

After doing the Marcothon in December 2016 it really did set me up amazingly and for the majoirty of January I continued that. Things were looking good for my half marathon in March as I ramped my long runs up to 9 miles. But for whatever reason took my foot off the gas.  February and March were back to parkruns including my 100th. I was still running well at this point just over shorter distances. In May I started another half marathon plan which was going really well and in June I peaked.  Scoring my best 10k time since 2010 of 55 minutes. Along with a 26.06 parkrun at Victoria, which was only 30 seconds slower than my fastest time last year.

So it was all going so well then illness struck again and again.  Every time I thought I'd got rid of it, it would come back again. It wasn't a serious illness but enough to impact my running and had to take several weeks off work.  I did joke in my Strava in the 1st January when I was tail runner at Pollok that I was setting my seasons best for the year. Well I very nearly got a worse time than that at Pollok. Also I have come 2nd last in two other parkruns. In the first half of the year 26-27 minutes was a good time for me and 30 minutes was taking it easy. In the second half of the year 30 minutes was a good time for me and no parkrun really felt easy!

I still enjoyed getting out to parkrun regardless and a big change for me this year has been volunteering where I have been volunteering a lot more down at Roukenglen junior parkrun. Any excuse to see my nieces more!  Also it's great to be more involved in parkrun. I am probably more obsessed with it now more than ever.

So what are my parkrun run stats for this year? Here you go: 

4 between 26-27 minutes
4 between 27-28 minutes
2 between 28-29 minutes
5 between 29-30 minutes
16 between 30-40 minutes
2 40 + minutes

33 parkruns total - Now at 129 altogether
New parkruns visited: Harlow, Arrow Valley, Ruchill and Edinburgh

Most visited parkruns this year:

12 Pollok
4 Linwood
3 Tollcross
3 Strathclyde
2 Victoria
2 Springburn
2 Ruchill
2 Drumchapel

I don't think illness was the only reason for getting slower though. My running buddy Andy left my work in June and since then I haven't been getting out very much at lunchtimes. I have still been running when I have been working from home but the motivation for getting up early to get the lunchtime runs has defo declined.

The positive to take from this year is that I'm still running. Even with the rubbish times I didn't let it affect me and looked forward to the next week. That's 3 and half years now I have been back running which I reckon is now my longest period of regularish running in my life. The highlight of the year did come in the second half of the year and that was the weekend through in Edinburgh doing the Cramond parkrun and Tough 10 hill run with the bro.  Going into 2018 I have set new goals which I will go into in another post. These goals have been set with how this year has gone in mind.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

An eventful weekend in Edinburgh...

And by eventful, I am mean a weekend full of events :-) Many may call them races but I think the organisers of both prefer to call them events, just being the nature of them. But if you put a bunch of people in the same place, say the word "go", time people and give them a finish line. I suppose you could call them races too.

Edinburgh parkrun

Saturday's event was Edinburgh parkrun situated in Crammond in the northwest of the city, running along beside the Fourth river. I met up with some old workmates in Edinburgh on Friday night, so since I was there I thought I'd take advantage and book a hotel for the night which gave me the chance of doing a parkrun I have never done before. My hotel was in Edinburgh park which is only 4 miles away from Crammond. But since I didn't have the car, it meant I had to go into Edinburgh by tram and back out by bus. So about an hour an a half to get there. Would have been quicker from Glasgow by car lol. I looked at staying in the centre but hotels were 60 quid more expensive. 

Anyway I got to Crammond just after 9 and walked to the start.  I found myself a wee seat and just chilled out listening to music.  Then about quarter past they gave the shout for the first timer/visitor briefing. I always like to go to these even though I have done so many parkruns now. And this one I was glad I went to.  It was Davie Black doing it who is a prominent figure in the parkrun community, not only in Scotland but on the parkrun facebook group too. He told us all about the history of parkrun in Scotland, Edinburgh and his own parkrun achievements. I think he has done the most parkruns out of anyone in Scotland sitting at 401. Obviously he went over the essentials and the serious stuff but he was also very funny and the 20 odd people who were there were made to feel very welcome.

By the time he had finished it was actually time to start! So I made my way to the back of the pack.  After a technical glitch with the pa system meant the run director had to shout; we were on our way. For this run I wanted to take it as easy as possible, knowing I had a tough race the next day. Being at the back was perfect as there was 577 runners today, so it meant I wasn't going off too quickly. At the same time the path is so wide that you can find your own space pretty quick (at least where I was anyway!).  After the first couple of K, the course goes into a 1 km loop and then the last 2k goes back the way you came. Very similar to Strathclyde parkrun.  At the 2km mark it was busy, but spread out enough. I found myself catching people. Then I would aim for the next and the next.  My orignal plan of just taking it easy went out of the window and ended up finishing bang on 30 minutes. Which seems to be my standard time at the moment. I know I can go faster than that though if I started off at a better pace. Probably can get down to 28 minutes soon, 27 at a push.

Afterwards I headed back to my hotel for a shower and got the train home.

Cancer Research Tough 10

Having not done a race since June and backing out of the Aberdeen half having not done the training. I needed something else to focus on. So back in September my brother signed up for this. I was a bit skeptical as I had done zero hill training at that point and I know how tough the hills in the Pentlands are. And the fact that it has "Tough" in the name means they are not going to make it easy!

Fast forward and even yesterday after parkrun I was thinking whether I should do this or not. Although I have been running, the max I have been up to in the last wee while is 4 miles and I have been nowhere near the amount of elevation in this 10k, which sat just over 1200 feet in total. But then I thought why not. I'll just walk the uphills and run the flats and downs.

So my brother, mum and my 2 nieces headed over to Bonaly, in the foot of the Pentlands. We got to the start with about 15 minutes to spare along with probably another 200-300 odd folk. As you would expect the first km was pure uphill. While many around me attempted to run, I just got into a fast walking pace which wasn't much slower than people trying to run up it. But after about a 1 km of that I was beginning to think if I am actually going to make it. It was tough going already and I had just been walking!  After about a k, it starts to level off, and although the paths were very uneven. It was runnable. And I got myself into a run walk rhythm. Then after 3k you got a great view of the loch pictured below:

It was a nice run down to the loch and then there was a short section of tarmac round the loch where you hit the 4k mark.  Then you turn left up the hill known as the "Calf burner". That was a toughy but the marshal at the top was so enthusiastic it really made you want to get going again. I must say though there were marshals all over the place and they were fantastic.  I should really mention my brother here to. At first I thought he was going to run off and run his own "race". But it ended up he was quite happy running with me and then sprinting off, stopping, and so on. He is a lot fitter than me at the moment so would have been interesting to see what time he would have done if he gave it his full effort.

Anyway the climbing continued up to the 5k mark and it just got muddier and muddier. As much as I like getting muddy it does make the going tougher and meant I had to even more. But after a couple of km of climbing. It must have been about 7km where I got this view over Edinburgh:

After this picture was taken it was pretty much all downhill. The first of which was pretty steep which I took my time going down. Then it got into the nice gradual downhills which I like and I ran all the way to the finish from there. At the finish my nieces and my mum were there to cheer us over the finish line which was nice. 

In the end we got there in an hour and 24 minutes. Not bad, especially when you consider I have done zero training on hills like that, I have just done road hills. To put this in perspective the winner was 46 minutes. I would do this one again and I wouldn't even say "Oh I need to do more hill training next time". Yes it would help me get a better time. But I enjoyed it the way it was. If I did it next time in say 1hour 8 minutes I don't think I would be more happy than I was today as it was more about just getting out in the hills and hanging out with the family. ...........I would like to get my parkrun times down a bit though!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

More setbacks in September, but on the up

Since the last post I have had to spend more time on the sidelines due to illness. Somehow I have still managed to keep my streak going of getting out at least once a week this year but calling some of them runs are questionable. But at least I am getting out there.

The first run back from illness was at Tollcross parkrun in the east end of Glasgow. My reason for doing it was because I haven't done it since March so deserved another outing. Plus I knew it would be a struggle so I wouldn't be setting any speed records if I did a flat course. But what happened in this run was something I really did not expect. I came 2nd last!! I know the tail walker goes down as last in which case I would be 3rd last, but still, the only person I was in front of was a 70 year old!  First run back from illness or not, this maybe was the wake up call I needed. Not just in terms of my time but my general health. For the record my time was just over 36 minutes which is my worst 5k time ever.

The next weekend I went to Springburn parkrun.  After Tollcross the previous week my expectations were low and I just set out at a very easy pace. Just before the end of the first lap where the slight incline starts I felt the need to walk, so I did up to the small car park. But after that I was able to run fine the whole of the 2nd lap. Then in the last half lap I even managed to pick up the pace a bit and push on for a sprint finish! Where did that come from I don't know but it was reassuring to know I hadn't completely lost my fitness. I started to think that because I was bed bound so much I hardly did any activity at all when I was ill meaning my body needed to get use to being active again. Anyway this parkrun I did in just over 30 minutes! A 6 minute improvement on Tollcross.

Hmmmmmm, the weekend after Springburn saw me to return to Pollok for the first time since June. I felt alright at the start but wanted to take it easy still just to gradually try and build things up rather than go for it and have a guaranteed blow up.  In the end it could be seen as my biggest blow up ever at a parkrun and that was taking it easy!  I didn't even complete the first km or some might say the easy bit, without walking. And walking featured heavily on this "run". The reason for this is that the more I went on, the more ill I felt. I probably should have stopped after 1 lap but I'm too stubborn sometimes. I finished in 42 minutes. A PW for 5k by a long way.

It only took me a few days to recover from this though and I was back at it for the final parkrun day in September.  This time I was heading south for a family wedding with my parents. They very kindly let me do a parkrun on the Saturday and I chose one which was on the way as the wedding was down in Cornwall. So I picked Arrow Valley just south of Birmingham in Redditch. To be honest I don't really have any criteria for picking a parkrun - like flat/hilly, laps/out and back etc. It was going to be somewhere I haven't been and its a parkrun so they were the only 2 boxes that needed to be ticked.  I knew it was a busy one by the results. Usually they get about 400.  It starts in a big grassy area and then its 2 laps of the lake, although the path does veer away from the lake in sections.  The paths are quite narrow and I started quite far back, so pace was very much dictated for the first mile or so. But then it spread out and I could pick people off for the rest of it. I ended up finishing in 30 minutes completing a very up, down month of running.

In terms of looking forward and future goals I know I said I might just stick to doing parkruns but I do think I need bigger goals to get me going further and faster during training. So maybe a 10k in November could be on the cards. I also have set some strava segment goals to keep my hill work interesting.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Back to the day blog

Well at time of writing my first vlog still hasn't reached the 500k views I was anticipating so thought it was best to give it a back seat and go back to blogging.

I did say on my last vlog that July needed to be a big month to get me in the right shape for Aberdeen half later this month. I also said that I was feeling ill. That got worse and I had take take some time off work. After that I have found it difficult to get back into running again. Not helped with being in a bit of a stressful work situation. So basically my big month of July never happened and I think I was lucky to get over 20 miles for the entire month.  I did Ruchill parkrun yesterday basically run/walking the whole way in 33.30 minutes and yes I was trying.  I do wonder how long it is going to take me to get back to where I was just the month before when I was in the 26 minute region for parkrun.

So what now? ......

I have cancelled my hotel in Aberdeen. No way I am in any state to do a 10k never mind a half marathon at the moment.  Even if I was taking my time I would struggle.  It is frustrating to have to cancel another race as it is does seem to be a regular occurrence over the last few years. While I'm still running I think I'll always be in the mindset of wanting to do a big race again and yes while I was on my high of training during June I did enter a marathon for next year. Which you never know I might be in a position to do it. But I keep saying to people that I might just stick to parkruns for the rest the year. Now notice the word "just". I say it as if there is something wrong with that and that I should be going longer. But there is really nothing wrong with it! And it is a mindset I need to change for now. So for the rest of the year it will be parkrun fest and that is that. :-)