Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Progress so far and DRXC Sinai
Well, here we are in December, the first snowflakes have just made their appearance, the days are about as short as they are likely to get and some Christmas trees have even been put up.... it is also the time of year when I had hoped to have completed the first part of my training for the Rome marathon which was all about building my speed over a 10k distance: You may recall that the rationale behind going about it that way was that last year’s objectives (primarily the Lakeland marathon) meant that I had concentrated more on endurance and hill work and had neglected things like lactate threshold training, tempo runs etc. As a consequence I found that not only did my 10k pace hardly improve from the beginning of 2012, but my ability to improve my half and full marathon pace was also impacted.
So how have I done? I certainly feel considerably faster than I was in September, I believe my form has improved as well and I feel that my tempo runs have become not only faster, but stronger as well: No longer does my body shout “pleeeeease make it stop!” between wheezes, it actually moves forward with a greater sense of purpose and determination, even to the end of the tempo run!
I also had a moment of inspiration on one of the Harrier training sessions a couple of weeks ago (we were doing fartleks I think), when I noticed one other runner in particular making much larger strides than me – larger than would be justified by the difference in our respective heights. As an experiment (or even an act of desperation) I tried lifting my knees a bit more during the next interval and I immediately felt that make a difference in my speed at the expense of no perceptible additional effort: I did all remaining intervals like that, making sure I did not overextend (and spoil the midfoot strike I’m so happy with) and the result was the same. Looking at my Garmin data afterwards I was pleased to see that it didn’t really impact my cadence either... so that’s what I’m concentrating on technique-wise. Not so much on slippery (muddy / icy) terrain yet (I still want to have my feet very close to the ground in such circumstances), but certainly something to work on.
But that’s hardly an objective review of progress so far, is it? It isn’t, so I’ve planned two time trials this weekend (5k on Saturday and 10k on Monday) to see where I am... I seriously doubt I will achieve the arbitrary goal of 10k in under 40’ I set myself in September, but I’m not too hang up on that to be honest... I just wanted something that would really stretch me but that sounded almost achievable (I find it hard to put your maximum effort in a goal you know you stand no chance of achieving).
Once done I can then look at my marathon goal finishing time (currently 3h 30’) and see if I need to re-assess it, before beginning the second part of my training in January, focusing on distance. In the mean time I will take a bit of a break from formal training and spend the Xmas holidays running for fun: I might take Dash for a comfortable run in Bradgate Park, do some hill-reps (because I need them - read on!) and generally add some variety and not worry about training structure.
This Sunday past, we had the second in the series of the Derby Runner Cross Country races, at Sinai park. It wasn't as muddy as the first one (although there was some ice), but the queues to get over stiles and through gates were still there: the worst one was at the end of a long downhill and before a steep hill on the other side... instead of being able to let momentum carry us downhill and up the other side, we had to stop half-way down, shuffle, stop, wait, shuffle some more then over the stile and only then tackle the hill... A bit frustrating, but I suppose it was the same for all participants, so can’t shout too loudly.
But the main feature of the race were the hills! To begin with the start was straight uphill and I thought that was just there to intimidate us... wrong, it was lulling us into a false sense of security! “Come along” it was saying, “look at what a scary hill I am, there can’t possibly be anything worse anywhere on the course can there?” But there were... two of them in particular!
Let’s just say I should make a habit of heading over to Croft hill every time I work from home and get some more hill reps in!
But for a second time, I followed the race with a yoga session at the gym... legs a bit painful, but between that and a warm bath afterwards it’s probably the best stretching and relaxation routine I could come up with! Add to that a juicy steak for dinner and the Monday off and you are laughing!
I guess that’s enough for now... I’ll be back next week with the results of my time trials and some other bits and pieces that have been on my mind for some time now...