running blog


Saved by the Llama

Viceathon (one mile run for each glass of wine in April) came to an end and I finished like most participants with debt (10 miles) carried over into May. However it was still a success!  I ran 67 miles in April, a period when I was feeling very unmotivated, distracted, busy and weary which is at least double what I might have run.  It also made me think about how much I drink when I had to own up to every glass of wine.  A useful exercise.

Now we come to the Llama.  Somehow or other during Viceathon and many conversations on Facebook it came about that salvation (and the erasing of all debts) could happen if we could report that we’d seen a Llama whilst out on a run!  So I was very glad to discover this fine Llama while running on the Isle of Wight at the weekend!

It’s just as well because I had begun to notice, and worry about, a recurrence of my hip/glute niggles towards the end of the month on a long run.  I have probably run a few too many ‘junk’ miles just for the sake of it (a glass of wine or two) and have neglected my exercises, stretches and sessions with my foam roller!

So my approach for the rest of my training for the Bupa London 10K in a couple of weeks is to train smarter.  Rather than bashing out the miles I’m now combining BMF classes (where there are plenty of opportunities for short sprints) with shorter more focussed runs with race pace intervals.  I will still do a longish run each week.  I’m using the 10K training plans from Bupa Running as a guide, using the structure of the intermediate one, running 4 days a week so I take 3 important rest days but am using the long run distances from the advanced plan because I am already running that sort of mileage.

I’ve found the regular injury Q &As on the Bupa Running Facebook page very interesting and a useful reminder of my need to stretch and do my exercises as well as getting some useful tips and alternative stretches from replies to questions.  Advice I have received is the importance of getting a Podiatrist gait assessment for my pronation issues, and not just self-treating with insoles from the internet. I’ve run 600 miles in the ‘temporary’ insoles I got last summer from the physio…oops! And all my niggles are coming back.

So please feel free to kick me if I don’t report that I’ve got that sorted out before Juneathon starts because otherwise running every day will mean there’s a high chance I will end up injured again and then spend the summer feeling sorry for myself and blogging about nothing but my woes and running injuries…Zzzz.

You have been warned!


Bupa Fitness Assessment

Last week I went for a Bupa Fitness Assessment courtesy of Bupa Running.

Mo Farah (a little more photogenic than me) undertaking the Fitness assessment.

Photo from Bupa Running

I was met at reception by a Health Advisor and taken to a treatment room (large doctors consulting room with a treadmill in the middle).   We started with the pre fitness tests, measuring height (I’ve exaggerated mine by 2cm for years),  weight (ah em.. but not too different from what I will acknowledge at home), waist (breath in!) and then from electrodes attached to my wrist and right toe (fortunately my least mangy and not black or missing toenail one) for body fat analysis.  Then lung function test (a couple of attempts blowing hard into a mouth piece) and blood pressure.

Next I was wired up with 10 electrode pads (I know how many because I was counting them when trying to find them all to remove!) for the ECG.  Don’t worry Ladies you don’t have to strip to the waist and run that way like the gorgeous Mo for the test!  A discreet undress under a towel, sensors and wires placed and re-dress. Like the blood pressure test I lay on the bed while they took heart and pulse readings at rest.   The health advisor then went out to review my heart trace data with the doctor and I sat on the edge of the bed legs dangling like a nervous teenager for them to return!

Fortunately they both returned so I assumed my ECG showed that everything was functioning as it should be!  Onto the treadmill attached to many wires plus a blood pressure cuff and a mouth piece and nose clip.  It took a while to get used to breathing from my mouth only and cope with being attached to many tubes and wires.  The V02 test used is actually an estimated VO2 max  extrapolated from analysis of exercise at an estimated 85% of maximum heart rate.  My heart rate, blood pressure and gasses (what breathed out) were analysed while I walked/jogged on the treadmill for periods of 2 mins at increasing speed, starting out at 4km/hr up to max 8km/hour.

So, what did I think?

As expected from Bupa, it was well done in a professional way with every care.  The Doctor checked my resting ECG before the treadmill test and was present while it was carried out.   The need for safety is no doubt the reason for using the sub VO2 test and not risking someone who might be unaccustomed to exercise, over exerting themselves at maximum heart rate.

I was a little disappointed that the VO2 max test was not a full test.  The test is based on estimates of max heart rate (220 minus age which is 175 for me) and testing to 85% of this took my heart rate to 148 only during the test.  I didn’t have to work very hard during the test and know from wearing my heart rate monitor for BMF classes my heart rate is probably higher, regularly reaching 190 and sometimes over 200 and wondered if this would affect the result.  I’d also really like to know what my max is!

That said the estimated VO2 max score for me, according to various tables I looked up the internet show my level of fitness range from above average to excellent and my feedback in my report is that I have a ‘high level of fitness for my age’ so it probably is a useful test despite my worries!  I do wish I could have done this when I started out 6 years ago as it would be nice to see the improvements I’ve made in black and white as stats!

It was great to discover that my body fat % is lower than I thought so the past 6 years have been gradually doing some good and I can use the ‘athlete’ mode on my scales which give the same result!  I am still working on losing a few pounds (less weight to carry round a race) and as expected, the results show me to be at the upper end of normal for weight and waist-height ratio so I need to continue to work on the belly fat despite having a good body fat %.  What was also very useful to find out from all the gas analysis and body composition was a calculation of my basic metabolic rate calories which is higher than I currently work from.

I received a full report with all the data and results (cardiovasular, and respiratory performance, metabolism, lifestyle (from pre-assessmsnt questionaire) etc.. with traffic light indications on action required. Yay all green! Got to keep it up!  The report is personalised and includes references to our general conversation during the assessment, encouraging me to keep up my running and BMF classes for overall health and fitness, wishing me luck for my 10K goals and makes suggestions for interval training and training programmes for races.

A useful and interesting assessment.  It didn’t tell me anything, as a regular exerciser, that I didn’t expect (I should be fit with all that running) but it did highlight a few things.  It would be good to have an assessment like this before and after a long period of exercise to get feedback on results and I think would be a very useful review for someone thinking about starting running or training for a race or concerned about their health and needing motivation to get exercising.


Monosyllabic teenagers

Oh boy I could have done with one of those today…

My youngest is only a few weeks short of his 13th birthday but has not yet transformed into a one sound only muttering creature so I had a non-stop talking know-it-all 12 year on constant chat loop!  But at least he still wants to cycle with me on my runs and even takes an interest in pacing and asks for updates from my Garmin so I shouldn’t complain (just use headphones).

I wanted to run at least 6 miles today (or earlier this week) in preparation for my 10K on Sunday but circumstances made that difficult. I managed to organise OH to drop us (and bicycle) at one point on the Newport to Sandown cycle path and meet us at Sandown after a few errands.  The signpost said 4 3/4 miles (garmin said 5) so a decent enough mileage.

We set off and Ed was encouraging me to keep up a decent pace.  10K (must be joking!), HM (maybe downhill?).  I thought it would be good to try to do a reasonable tempo run in place of a longer one.  He was in very chatty mood and the more we ran, and I got tired, the more his stream of information became exhausting.  I tried asking him to talk slower, to take pity on me unable to run at pace and process information at the same time, before resorting to challenging him to keep quiet for 5 mins (he lasted 2) and then for a race (you race,  I plod along behind and watch)!

We must have run a pretty good pace in parts.  The cycle path is cut by roads in 4 places where we had to walk and pause to cross so our average pace of 9.07 min/miles and average moving pace of 8.57 indicates I managed to approach my old 10K pace at times and am optimistic about trying to run 8.30 or 8.45 pace on Sunday.

5 miles in 45.44 mins.


Race pace? Help!

May is getting nearer and its only 10 weeks until the Bupa London 10K in which I’d love to be able to keep up my record of getting a new PB each time.  As most of my runs, whatever the distance, are at a similar steady pace of around 9/9+ish  min per mile I decided it was time for a bit more speed and to get used to my ‘race pace’, whatever that may be.  Last year I ran the race in 50.38 which was an average pace of 8.08.  (I’m not sure how that happened, maybe my friend and pacemaker really did carry me as I dreamt!).  So if I am to beat last years time I need to run it at an average pace of 8 min per mile or faster.  Errm help?

Today I made a date with myself to run 5K at ‘race pace’ or as near as possible to 8 min per mile.  I went to the park where I could run without worrying about crossing roads and wouldn’t bump (literally) into someone I knew red-faced and sweaty or half dead.  It was very hard work!  My legs felt heavy and I was gasping for breath.  It took me a while to settle into the right pace and my mile splits show I did my usual mistake of starting off too fast.  The fastest pace was a ‘full on’ run and 8 min plus pace didn’t feel much easier!  What did I drink/eat/inhale before last years race?

I could not have managed anymore than 3 miles at this pace and I had to really push myself mentally to finish my planned 3 miles (5K).   Working up to 6.2 miles is going to take a lot of work.  (…unless I can persuade Mo Farrah to run the race a second time?!)

So its time to get a good training plan and get on with the long runs.  I’m into new territory as up until now I’ve relied, as a beginner, on my increasing fitness from regular BMF classes and/or a couple of runs a week to make improvements in my race times.  To improve my times this year I will have to put in some hard work, train smarter and read up on interval paces and reps etc.  All advice gratefully received! Please!

This weekend I’m running the Military 10k with no stop watch or garmin to fret over my time (don’t want to ruin it).  Instead I’ll be watching my feet in the water, up muddy banks and over various obstacles and hoping to make it to the finish before lunch time and in front of at least 1 live person regardless of how long it takes!   It should be a laugh and I’m ‘sort of’ looking forward to it.  Hopefully I’ll have some suitably embarrassing photos to post afterwards.

March challenge update since my last post.   After killing myself last Wednesday I rested on Thursday and on Friday I let my social life take precedent.  Saturday 9.12 mile run and on Monday BMF class. Tuesday 3.1 miles tempo run.

March total.  15/22 days.   48.96 miles.


10K training plans.

A group of us Janathoners are running the Bupa London 10,000 at the end of May.  I’ve run this race three years in a row, getting a better time each year (56.30, 53.38, 50.38) but this year it will be very hard to try to go sub 50 mins AND run it without my brilliant friend, running buddy and pacemaker.  So I was very pleased to hear I will have some company after all in the form of some lovely Janathoners to share the post race highs and lows over a cool down and stretch  stiff drink.

We all got quite excited when we realised we were all going to run it together and Shazruns mentioned that she was looking for a training plan.  One that could deliver ‘a sub 40 10K without even trying’.  Great idea, thought I, I can either work hard and aim for sub 50 or try the sub 40 without trying route?  No brainer… So I promptly typed into google ’10k training plan without even trying’!  Trouble is the not trying bit looks remarkably like very very hard work in disguise.   Such as running 6 days a week, loads and loads of miles and intervals with alarmingly fast split times and some talk about impossible sub 4 minute kilometers!  All much harder than even Janathon itself.  Oh dear. 

I then sensibly looked up 10K plans at a more appropriate level and this time they looked a little less like hard graft and a bit more achievable in comparison.  Phew.  I will follow the last 8 weeks of a proper schedule from Bupa, running 5 or 6 days a week from the end of March.  Before then, in preparation for the Military 10K on the 26th, I plan to do 2 or 3 BMF  classes a week to train for the mud and ‘obstacles’ plus 3 runs, one of which will be a long run and another some audiofuel intervals, to make sure I can get round the course before lunch time.

Its half way through February and I was wondering, having run 125 miles in January if I could round that up to 200 miles by the end of February.  Having had that thought it’s sort of become fixed in my mind as a goal.  Problem (big problem) is, I’m only up to 140 (been overdoing the rest days)  and after re classifying yesterday as a rest day rather than a long run things are not looking too good…  Maybe 250 by the end of March? 

Janathoners running the race in May so far are… abradypus, fortnightflo, paulasposterous, runorgocrazy, shazruns.  Anyone else or I’ve missed?  Got any good training plans? Did anybody find the elusive sub 40 ‘no effort’ solution?