Sunday, 18 June 2017

18/06/17 - Mens 10k Glasgow

The 2 weeks run up to the 10k haven't really gone according to plan and I have missed quite a few sessions. I haven't been ill. But in the harder sessions I really have been pushing it and I found it has been taken me longer to recover from them.  Most notably the Monday before the race where I did a 10k over a very hilly route in 1 hour 11 minutes. I was going at a easy pace but due to the hills it really took it out of me and ended up run/walking after 3 miles.  So it was going to be interesting to see how I would do today.

Although I have done plenty of parkruns this year I haven't actually done a race since last July.  Last year my best 10k time was 59 minutes so I was hoping to beat that today.  And I was confident that I would beat the 1 hour 4 minutes at the Mens 10k 2 years ago.  This was also the first time my brother and I would run in the same race, although we have done parkruns together.

So on to the race. We arrived in plenty of time and did a warm up before making our way to our pen. We both put down an hour finish time so we were both in the same pen. We were actually in the last wave of people to go off. As it started I was determined not to dodge in and out of people and wasting my energy. But that was never a problem and I was able to get into the pace I wanted immediately which was 9 minute mile pace. I never checked my watch during the race but going by feel and what I had practiced in training I knew I was going at that pace or there abouts.

In the first couple of km my brother got further and further away from me till he was out of site. I was confident he would stay ahead of me today judging by some of his training where he did a 55 min 10k training run.  About 3k I caught up with Stuart who I know from parkun. He was being a VI guide and doing a great job. Its amazing the detail he was going into, telling the runner about the surface and giving information of the degree of turns coming up and when exactly he'll be hitting them. 

I was in a good zone at this point. I was putting in an effort but I felt I could sustain it.  When I got to Buchanan Street I was expecting the 4k marker but it never came. I got to the water station which was half way but I never saw the 5k marker. It wasn't until going down the street back towards the Clyde where I saw the 6k marker which was a relief.  When I turned left onto the road going up to the top end of Glasgow green, all of a sudden my brother came into view and I was reeling him in and passed him in between 7k and 8k. I gave him some encouragement and pushed on. 8k I was feeling it but I kept it going. I found that the km markers did seem to come quickly (at the times I saw them). Which was a good thing mentally.

Passing the 9km mark I knew there was lots of twists and turns as it weaves its way to George Square. I found this quite difficult.  I'm not sure if it was the heat or my head or just physically I was done. But halfway through that last km I had to take a walk break. I don't know about anyone else but when I take a walk break it feels like you are walking for an eternity.  I did pick up again and start running. And somehow I still did the last mile in 8.40 so I cant have been walking for long. And the last .2 of a mile at 9.10 pace (I'm not sure exactly what point I started walking).  

There were great crowds at the finish. I think I finished at rush hour as literally as soon as I crossed the line the queue for the medals and goody bags started. It took a while to get through but everyone was patient and it didn't take away from this excellent event.  I crossed the line in 55.39 so its the fastest 10k I have done in years and I think well and truly reflects where I'm at, at the moment.  I really gave it everything and pretty much paced it the way I planned.  Well done to my brother who finished in 57 minutes in his first race in many years.

Now onwards to Aberdeen at the end of August.

Monday, 29 May 2017


Well this has been a fun month.  It started full of promise and full of hope as I set out on a structured training plan for my half marathon in August. The first of the month, a bank holiday, 35 minutes easy running it said.  This should be easy enough! I got about a mile into it and started to feel more and more unwell till I just stopped, turned around and walked back feeling very faint.

That was me for the week. House bound. No exercise. No work. No nothing. By the time Saturday came round I was perking up a bit so headed over to Ruchill parkrun which at the time was the newest addition to the Scottish parkrun family. So I decided I was just going to jog round given the week I had. Well I thought it would be a jog. Its a 3 lap course and somehow it feels like you are always going up apart from one wee bit where there is a short, sharp downhill.  I jogged about a mile and a bit and ran/walked the rest.

For the rest of the month I really got into the plan and stuck with all the sessions bar one where I wasn't feeling up to it that day. But I am enjoying the mix of speed sessions, easy runs and slightly longer runs. Before this plan I have always just done loops of a certain distance. But this plan does so many minutes. So I have been doing out and backs trying to keep even pacing and doing smaller loops at the end if required to make up to a certain time. I think I may go back to loops though as I kind of know roughly how long each loop takes anyway.

One run on the schedule which I have changed is the 25 minute easy run on the Saturday. And you will be shocked as to the reason. To do an all out parkrun.  The week after Ruchill I did Linwood and did just over 27 minutes and gave a really good effort.  Then the next week I did Strathclyde. I wasn't unwell but I just didn't feel like going fast that day so set off conservatively.  But I found as the run went on I was gradually getting faster and finished off just under 29 minutes.  Then my last parkrun of the month was Victoria parkrun where I surprised myself a lot.  My brother came along too who has been running well recently so I expected him to beat me.  He shot off at the start and I settled into a nice steady pace. With Victoria being three laps and going round a loch I saw him build a substantial gap.  But on the 3rd lap I realised I was closing and I took a point where he passed and counted 20 seconds gap. But I thought that was too much as there was less than a kilometre left.  On the straight back towards the loch though I caught and passed him. I fully expected him to overtake me again on the home straight but he never caught me.  I finished in a seasons best of 26.06 with my brother getting a 5k PB just 7 seconds behind me.

I have also started the steps challenge again last week where I am aiming to cover 10,000 steps every day for 100 days (till the end of August). I have decided not to do lots of blogs on this, this year though and focus on my half marathon training instead. I am aiming to beat my average last year which was 13,000 steps a day and will give wee updates just to say my progress compared to last year.

Step count as at 29th May after 5 days

2016: 61,620
2017: 75,121

Friday, 19 May 2017

Flashback - London marathon 2004

As mentioned in my last post, the thing which propelled me into long distance running was watching the London marathon on TV in 2003. I decided then that I could not watch it on TV in 2004. I had to be there. I had to do it.  If I remember right back in  those days it wasn't a case of enter the ballot during a 5 day period in May. I think the ballot was open for a lot longer than that.  Anyway fast forward and I got rejected from the ballot. But I did get a very nice London marathon fleece which I still have today.

Of course there is another way of getting into the London marathon. The golden bond place. Where you pledge to raise a certain amount for a charity and they give you a place. This was the first time I had attempted to raise a lot for charity and at that time I didn't really have a real connection to any charity. So I chose the one with the lowest amount you needed to raise. So I ended up choosing Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland where you had to raise £1,000 and a worthy cause.  It was tough raising money as back then I was a student. So all my work friends, school friends and uni friends were also students. So it was a challenging task raising sponsorship. But I made it to £1,000 with the help of a few generous donors.

So now the place was sorted it was onto training for the marathon. Did I learn anything from my first race? Well I knew I could cope with a half marathon, I just need to up my long runs.   But at that time I still had no clue what to do in between. I didn't know about tempo runs/fartleks or interval sessions. Of course sometimes I ran faster but I just trained naturally. During the week then I just did runs between 3 - 4.5 miles. I built up my long runs accumulating in a 20 mile long run 2 weeks before the marathon. So I really thought I was ready going into the marathon. Interestingly my long runs followed the same pattern. I would start off easy and then get quicker and quicker as they went on. Obviously I did this by feel as no garmins in those days for mile splits.

On to race day. I was totally buzzing! I had no sleep due to the excitement of it all. But I felt ready.  I was determined to start slowly which is exactly what I did. Maybe even too slowly. After 6 miles I was feeling great so decided to start upping it like I did on training runs. I remember the first half of the course being pretty quiet. When I started upping it though I found my self weeving all over the place and going up on pavements. Probably working far more than I should of. Then getting to Tower bridge around mile 12 and there was this wall of noise. It was amazing. I still to this day have never experienced anything in a race like it.  I got to halfway in 2 hours 7 minutes. I had not been tracking my time but I knew it was because my first 10k was extremely slow because I did pick it up quite a bit in the 2nd 10k.  Just after halfway my parents and brother were there supporting which was great.

 However at mile 14. Yes 14. The wheels came off. I didn't know what was wrong at the time but all of a sudden the top of my legs were in agony. Turns out I got cramp in both my quads. I must have walked for about 4 miles.  I never thought about quitting once though and was determined to keep moving forward.  Then I got speaking to an older women who started walking with me. She asked me if this had put me off running which I said no. Then she gave me drugs which I assume were painkillers. My old school friends ribbed me for years after about this (taking drugs not speaking to an older women!). But although I still found it difficult, I did manage to run bits after that and the rest of it was just a run walk to the finish.

How did I feel when I finished?  To be honest I was absolutely gutted.  I crossed the line in 4.48. I had been so fixated on a sub 4 hour marathon in the build up, I just did not have any back up goals. My family were absolutely over the moon as none of my family had completed a marathon before. I didn't really appreciate back then what I had achieved. But I certainly do now.  I think the fact that you are so knackered after it plays with your emotions too and also everything you have put into it training wise.

Would I do London again? It never really crossed my mind to do it again until this year I got inspired. My name is in the ballot for 2018. I don't think I would do a golden bond place again. Its all about how many people you know really unless you are prepared to do other ways of fundraising. I have done marathons/cycles since for charity but they were not golden bond so no pressure on amount raised.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Flashback - Great Scottish Run 2003

Just for a laugh and to get something written down to complete my blog, I am going to do a series of training build up/race reports from the pre blog era of my running.  I think its a maximum of 6 races but may combine a few depending on my memory!  Starting with my first ever race; the Great Scottish Run which took place in Glasgow in August 2003.

Firstly a bit of an introduction of how this came about.  I was in my first year at uni in 2002 and my mate Alan and I were cutting it fine to get our bus home for the day. So we had to dash across Glasgow.  I was absolutely exhausted by the time we got to the bus stop and Alan took the rip out of me (in a funny way) all the way home. Now I must add here that Alan was one of the best 400 meter runners in the country at this point so I probably should have put things into perspective. But it did make me think that I need to do more about my fitness. Then I started to go on runs quite regularly and mixed it in with gym sessions and five a side once a week.  Flash forward to April 2003 I watched the London marathon on TV. I said to myself then that I couldn't watch it next year. I had to be there. That will come in the next post though.

My immediate aim was the Great Scottish Run that year. People might think its a bit of a jump to go from having done no races to doing a half marathon. And yeah you are probably right!  But in those days the only person who I knew that ran was Alan and he did 400 metre races.  So in short I didn't really have a clue what I was doing and just learning as I went along. There wasn't really a plan at all with training apart from making sure I did 1 long run a week.  During the summer I worked in Greaves sports in the stock room.  This was a job I loved doing as it was very active especially on a Saturday when it was mega busy.  But one thing I noticed was the amount of running shoes I was sending down. I cottoned on to this and bought my first pair of running shoes which made a huge difference.

Anyway onto the race. I didn't really know how to approach the race, I had no plan, no time in mind, apart from take it easy as it is your first one!  Unlike nowadays the race started and finished in Glasgow green back then and didn't go over the Kingston bridge.  I was really excited by it and the first 6 miles I set out at an easy pace.  Then as I approached Pollok Park I realised that I was feeling really good. I had done the first half in 1 hour and 2 minutes.  Then I just upped the pace and it felt totally fine. I was overtaking like mad and loving it.  I finished in 1 hour 54 minutes so a massive negative split.  In those days as well as a medal and t-shirt, you also got a certificate too which I still have.

So that is how it all began, little did I know then, how much time I would spend in Pollok park years later.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Change of plan

In the last 6 months I feel like I've changed my mind a lot about my running and since my last post I have again. In fact it was about a week after my last post I changed my mind.  I was aiming to do the Mamores VK in September. While it is plenty of time to train, my lack of fitness at the moment especially on the hills is there to see in my parkruns.  I have done Tollcross, Drumchapel and the new Ruchill parkrun which are all pretty hilly in the last few months and struggled in all of them. In each one I have got half way round and then had to walk/run for the remainder. In Ruchill, which I did yesterday, I had been ill in my bed all week and actually tried to take it as easy as possible and still had to walk.  At the moment doing hilly parkruns or hilly 10ks are tough enough never mind doing actual hill races.

The funny thing is that in the last year I have still not gone a week where I have not been running. And I think this past week is the first time I have been ill in the last year which is quite impressive. But it does beg the question of what is going wrong, especially on the hilly courses.  I did do Harlow and Springburn in April which I did times which is more of the kind I would expect of around 27 minutes.  That's still a minute off what I was doing last year.  But I think it comes down to a bad diet and not being active enough when I'm not running.  Also in terms of actual runs they are a bit of a state - no actual structure. Also a big thing I think is that even though in the last 3 months I have been averaging 2-4 runs a week, I have only gone over 10 miles in one week, once.  This definitely needs to change.

So what is the plan now?  Well first things first. The 10,000 steps a day for 100 days challenge starts on the 24th May.  This really changed things for me last year and hopefully will bring along the same kind of results this year.  The difference this year is I have entered a race at the end of the August when the challenge finishes and that is the Great Aberdeen half.  No pressure on time just want to finish. In order to bring structure I have got a training plan which doesn't focus on distance, but on time on feet.  This is something I haven't done before as I have always done certain distances, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. I'll see how the rest of May goes then if I can run for 45 minutes without stopping, I ll enter the Mens 10k in June.

Friday, 7 April 2017

The first quarter and a bit

January was actually a pretty solid month. I didn't do as much as marcothon month but still managed 100k which is pretty good for me at the moment. More importantly I built up my long runs over the month and got them up to 10 miles while still keeping the parkruns going by just going at an easier pace.

In February long runs went out of the window for no real reason. I would just wake up and fancied running faster. So ended up more often than not just running a mile fast on a Sunday. Then I just went back to going for it at parkruns again.

March was Alloa month and at this point I was thinking that I would have lost my fitness of those long runs I did in January so just kind of went off the idea of doing Alloa.  In hindsight I realise I should have really tried to go out on those long runs just to see if in fact I had lost the long run fitness I had gained in January.  But definitely a lesson learned there.  At least try!

So Alloa was out the window and I was back to running parkruns. My best being at Victoria parkrun getting a 26.43. Which actually equaled my course best there going the opposite direction to last time I did it.

Couple of weeks ago I missed parkrun and ended up doing a 3 mile route that I haven't done for years.  It starts off going up a hill and it is hill I have always struggled with but especially today.  I had to walk about half of it and this was at the start of the run! Needless to say the rest of the run was run/walk.  But it did get me thinking that I want and need to get better at hills again.  In the past it was always one of my strengths and I enjoyed doing hills both on roads and races.

So I am looking at doing some hilly 10ks in June/July. Then beyond that uphill races.  With uphill races I am quite a way from doing them justice as I don't even go hillwalking at the moment. But if I have a good summer I have my name in the hat to do the Mamores VK in Kinlochleven in September. So about 5 months to get myself in shape.  I have studied the route already and its a 3 mile route. The first mile looks half runnable, the second looks like all power hiking, then the third mile half running again (if thats possible after all that climbing!).  So hiking is going to be just as important in training as running.

For starter though as I say it is to get better at road hills and gradually build it up.  I'll be starting to be more selective towards the hillier parkruns like Pollok, Tollcross and Drumchapel (usually I just do any parkrun!).  Also I have scoped out some hills in the area where I can do reps and I have set target times on them to have something to aim for.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

My Journey to parkrun #100

Today I took part in my 100th parkrun, it has been a long journey to get here - 8 years in fact! But well worth it. What a ride!

Let's start from the beginning...

I still remember my first parkrun like it was yesterday.  Although I had heard of parkrun pretty much when it started in Glasgow in late 2008.  I didn't actually participate in one till June 2009 in Glasgow (now Pollok) parkrun in its 30th event.  The reason for this was because I thought it was just a meet up in a park where you go running with a group of people at a certain time.  I had been running for years since then and apart from doing the odd long run with my mate Alex, I never considered running in a group.  It was very much a solo activity for me.  That was until my brother and his wife did one in June 2009 and encouraged me to try it out.  I was blown away by it. The organisation, the way its set up, the stats! oh I love stats!   Yes it is essentially a place where you can meet and hang out with running buddies but it is so much more than that.  It's environment where you can improve, learn, give back and may I even say race (don't shout that one too loudly though ;-) ).

I was so impressed by what I experienced and the very next week I wanted to volunteer.  In those days I was very much a long distance runner aiming for marathons and halfs.  And in fact apart from a 5k I did in school, this was really my first official 5k.  It was from volunteering that a few folk encouraged me to join a club and later in October 2009 I joined Giffnock North.  From 2009 to 2011, I would end up volunteering a lot as I liked how it was just such an easy environment to meet people.  I  still ran Pollok parkrun every now and then and my times toppled down from 25 minutes in my first parkrun, peaking in August 2010 a year later in just under 21 minutes.

In the middle of 2011 I started going off running as I failed to get prepared enough for my goal races. My training went downhill from there and eventually I left Giffnock North and the parkrun community.  I did try to get back into running on various occasions but I had put on weight and I lost my fitness fast.  In fact I could hardly run a slow mile without several walk stops.  I wasn't depressed because of it or anything like that.  I just accepted it and became lazy. It wasn't till 3 years later in August 2014 when my parkrun journey would start again.  I decided that I needed a change and wanted a kind of easy way back in.  So since Strathclyde parkrun is a totally flat course, I decided to make that my course to get myself back on the road to fitness.  It worked and I got into the routine of running parkrun every week.  Eventually I went back to Pollok and then started doing the tourist thing and visiting other parkruns across the west of Scotland.  It became almost an addiction in a good way.  Between 2009 and 2011 I did 16 parkruns.  From August 2014 to July 2015 I had done 34 meaning I had earned my 50 t-shirt.  I almost see it as parkrun uniform, wearing it pretty much every parkrun I do.  2016 I did do less parkruns than 2015 as I tried to increase my distance a bit. But I still did my fair bit of touristing and now Pollok was back as my main parkrun.  This is shown through in my stats as my last 10 runs have been at Pollok.

I won't do a table ranking parkruns I have done from best to worse as I don't think that would be fair on the ones that would appear down the bottom of the list.  This is because people do a lot of work in all the events for nothing at all which I appreciate greatly and  I haven't found a parkrun yet that I wouldn't do again. But I will pick out the 3 events which I have enjoyed the most.  Top of the pile has to be Pollok as that is where it all began.  Then Eglinton as the route is just phenomenal.  Then Falkirk for "That hill".

Today was great. My whole family came down to support and I ran round with my brother.

Thanks to everyone who has volunteered at a parkrun and the directors who make it happen.

250 is the next landmark so will probably not be writing another one of these posts for at least 5 years :-)