Wednesday 20th June 2012 – running a faster 5K

A quick 5K

This morning when I woke up I only had one objective.

That was running a faster 5K than I had ever run.

I’ve not done this for a while, the whole “I’ve got to beat my previous time” lark. In fact the the other week at running club when we did the 5K time trials was the last time I actually tried to run 5K as quick as I could, this morning I would attempt to beat my fastest time of 23 minutes and 53 seconds ,and that was probably 8 months ago, maybe longer.

Running a faster 5K

From the moment the GPS connected with the satellites (finally…) and I pressed start I ran at a pace I thought I could maintain for 25 minutes (this should be long enough for me to complete the 5K).

My aim was a pace of 7 minutes 40 seconds per mile. I started off OK, and the first mile was 7m 15s. I tried not to ease off, but I think I over egged it a bit again, the second mule was a bit slower at 7m 25s.

Too fast too quick

Annoyingly I dropped down to 7m 48s or the 3rd mile, I just wish that was how I had started the first mile, perhaps it would of been easier. Although to be fair, the splits were a lot closer than I thought they would be.

With more practice I will be able to maintain a pace, and hopefully get my 5K time down to 22 minutes.

For now though I had achieved my goal of running a faster 5K and clocked a time of 23 minutes 10 seconds – I was very happy.

My quickest 5K so far is here!


Saturday 9th June 2012 – Short run day before race

The Southend Half Marathon

Tomorrow I will be taking part in the Southend Half Marathon. I’m very much looking forward to it. I have completed 13 plus miles on numerous occasions so in theory I should do OK, but then again…the best laid plans and all that!!

My friend Rob arrived yesterday, he was due to run the race with me, along with Crispy, but due to an injury he has had to pull out, that hasn’t stopped him coming down and showing some support, a very typical selfless gesture of Rob to travel 180 miles to cheer a mate on!!

Although Rob had an injury and had hardly been out for a run over the past several weeks, we had arranged to go out for a short run day before race.

A steady 5K

Seeing as Rob hadn’t run for a while and I didn’t want to waste too much energy we just went out for a simple, steady 5K run, no hills, no pressure, no messing about, just a nice gentle run.

And to be honest it was really nice not to be competing with myself, not to be checking the watch all the time for pace, we settled at around the 9:00 min mile pace and chatted and joked our way around the route.

Getting something from it

Rob was happy with the run, he didn’t have any niggles and had managed to get through it unscathed, I had relieved a bit of tension and nervous energy that had been building up, and felt pretty good and relaxed now about the big one tomorrow!

Here’s the run!

Monday 7th May 2012 – Silence is golden

A gentle run

I had the whole day to myself today, initially I had planned to go out and run. To run wherever my legs took me and for as long as I could, perhaps I could of completed between 18 and 20 miles today. This was not going to happen.

My aim was to eke out a gentle 5k. I probably should have rested totally today but I had to run. If I don’t get out for run I feel agitated and narky, I get the same feeling when I’m hungry lol.

I’d ran over 20 miles the past two days, so over doing it today wouldn’t be a great idea. Plus my Virtual Running Partner, Rob Cameron (my mate and trainer / adviser who I am running the 2012 Amsterdam Marathon with) advised me not to run at all considering the last two days running distances.

He’s the boss!!

Silence is golden

Sometimes I am such an idiot.

I should of covered the blisters with some form of protection. I clean forgot. By the time I was half a mile up the road my right foot was throbbing, I should of stopped and turned around and walked the half mile back home, but no, clever me kept on going.

The numbness kicked in after a mile or so.

And besides I had other things to distract me, like my breathing and my footsteps. I could hear them clear as a bell. This may not sound odd to you, but it was quite new to me. I was out running without music. Without my iPhone. The iPhone was being repaired (cracked casing – common fault apparently).

This was probably a good thing, as the forth coming 10 mile race in 2 weeks in Great Baddow was a street race, and due to health and safety rules, iPods or other forms of music players with ear phones were not allowed. So to get out and run a few miles without music was all good preparation for that.

It was a little odd at first without the music, but what I really missed was not hearing the running app announce my pace and distance at each mile interval. I had to manually update my workout on the laptop when I got back, thankfully I’d worn a stopwatch to record my time.

A good time

I completed the 3.5 miles in about half an hour, my blisters were a mess again. I’m not going to run for a couple of days now. They need to heal a bit before I try to wreck them again.

Here’s the run.

Tuesday 17th April 2012 – Upping the ante.

Back in business

I was up and out early this morning, I had some miles to clock up.

I’d thought about doing a quick 5K, but seeing as I have an impending 10 mile race at the end of May, a half marathon mid June and a full marathon to run in October, plus what other runs that I can find that takes my fancy – I needed to do some marathon training, so I thought it best to try to run a little longer.

Practice makes perfect.

So I aimed for 5 – 6 miles. This is a manageable distance to complete before work, normally takes me about 40-45 minutes.

I also need to work on maintaining a good pace. Looking back at recent long runs of 12 – 15 miles, I average around 8m30s – 9m miles, I would like to get nearer the 8m30s miles and keep that as a constant. This pace would ensure I finish races in a respectable time. I need to get some more practice in.

Changing things up a bit.

Also this week I am going to do somethings a little differently;

  • take water with me to drink on the short runs (I don’t normally take anything with me on 3-5 mile runs. I am hoping more liquid intake may help with performance and recovery.
  • wear more layers – I always go out in a short sleeve running top and shorts. I want to see if layers affect my running performance.
  • Run Tuesday 5-6 miles, rest Wednesday, run Thursday 5-6 miles, rest Friday, long run Saturday 13-15 miles, run Sunday 3-5 miles.
My target is 25 – 30 miles per week, with the intention of slowly increasing to  35 – 40 miles per week within about 4 to 6 weeks, this should help towards my marathon training greatly.

Tuesday 3rd April 2012 – Quick. Brisk. Painless.

Quick, brisk, painless.

Three words I wanted this morning’s run to be.

After I had put some miles in at the weekend, and my calves were aching like mad, I knew that to try and do too much would be silly. So a quick, brisk and painless run is what I was aiming for. Well, two out of three ain’t bad!

Quick and brisk it was; painless it was not.

5K is easy

I have a 5k route around the village, it is the one I do probably 10 – 12 times a month, for me it is pretty easy, I must of run it over 150 times.

This morning would be no different. Apart from the pain searing through my calf muscles.

The weekend runs had taken their toll on my legs, I think it must have been running along the tow path that caused it. I need to test that route again to see what affect it has on my legs.

For now thought, here’s the run.

Tuesday 27th March 2012 – Done it!

155K Challenge

At the beginning of this month I set myself a little challenge; to run 155K in March. That was 5k per day. Obviously not running that each day, but to achieve it over the course of the month.

By the 14th March I was well on target, and even thought that I could reach 200K, I contemplated increasing the challenge, but I didn’t. Good job really, as I went 5 days without managing to get out and run at least twice, on a few occasions I never managed to run as far as I wanted to, and once or twice I gave in to the elements.

Crossing the line.

This morning’s run took me to exaclty 97 miles this month, that’s 156.106 km

I was half aware of how many miles I had ran so far this month, and figured that by around 6:30am I will have completed the challenge.

I managed between 4 and 5 miles, it was probably the 3rd mile that took me across the 155K line – challenge complete.

What’s next?

For what I thought would be a simple challenge it turned out to be more difficult than I imagined, mainly because of the reasons mentioned before.

I am going to set myself another challenge though, probably go for ’5 half marathons in 4 weeks’ or ’200K in a month’.

For now though I am very pleased to have completed this challenge.

Here’s the run!

Sunday 25th March 2012 – Getting back on track.

Best to take it easy

After the disappointing run yesterday, the distraction from the bouncing water bottle around my waist, and the niggling pain in my right calf, I knew I probably shouldn’t of gone out for a run today.

But my calf was feeling better, I had rested it for most of the day, and anyway, I always go for a run on a Sunday, difficult to break a routine.

I needed to run, yesterday had played on my mind quite a bit, I was annoyed with myself for allowing myself to become so bloody distracted, although part of me was thinking ‘sod it, I am not going to run for a while, I’ve had enough’, I knew that if I didn’t get off my arse and run today and sort my head out then I probably wouldn’t complete the challenge.

I had to get back out there.

And it’s not as if I was going to go hell for leather and crack out a 10-15 mile run, I was only going to go for a quick 5K to get the blood pumping.

To the roads…

I took it easy. I tried to hold myself back a bit, not wanting to put any unnecessary force or trauma on my right calf, I settled into a steady pace fairly soon and was quite content to just plod along.

I refrained from running that extra little bit further or increasing my pace too much, I needed to ensure my leg was ok, after all I had the 155K barrier to break through this week, and I wouldn’t be able to do that with a knackered calf muscle, or any other injury come to think of it.

Happily I managed to complete 5K in about 27 minutes, injury free!

This is the link to the run.

Music to run to.

Music and running

When I first started running I ran without music. Looking back this was probably for the best as my running skills / technique and breathing were non existent. As was my capability to run half a mile without stopping twice, bending over double and nearly puking my guts up. But through perseverance and determination I eventually managed to not only run half a mile, then a mile but to get to 3 miles without stopping. Out of breath and totally knackered, but happy.

Waiting until I had the running thing sussed before adding music was not intentional, but I am gladded it worked that way.

When I added music to my runs I started by listening to The Prodigy. Why? Well mainly because growing up I always liked them, and I vey rarely got an opportunity to listen to them, especially on full blast, so when I was out running I had half an hour or so to enjoy them.

The problems with that though was a) the tempo of the music, which made me run as fast as I could, and b) the songs reminded me of many happy times clubbing, and I would find myself daydreaming or having flashbacks, which distracted me from what I was trying to do.

I needed something with a steadier tempo.

A radical progression

Eagle Eye Cherry, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon and Will Young then became my preferred artists to run to.

One particular track by DMB was about 14 minutes long, I started my run with this song, it was half of my running time, so I knew that when the song finished I was half way around my route. And each time I would aim to be a few 100 yards further than the time before, this meant I was running at a quicker pace.

I went through a phase of trying to run 5k as quick as I damn well could. I started with runs of about 28m 30s, and managed to get it down to 23m 53s. That was without listening to upbeat, quick tempo tunes.

Steady pace, longer distance

Until recently my play list included Maverick Sabre, Plan B, Adele, Will Young, Kasabian, The Script, Florence and the Machine, Stone Roses and The Who. Quite a diverse range of artists, but all tracks were suitable to help me maintain the pace the I was comfortable with. I was refocussing. My running strategy had changed from ‘hell for leather as quick as I can’ to slower and longer’

My intention was now to build up my distances, slowly increasing from 3 miles to 6, 7 then 8 and 9 miles.

Listen and learn

To help me to achieve a slower pace still, and increase my distance further I now listen to audiobooks. Currently I am listening to an emotional yet very funny biography read by Mr Michael Caine.

The constant tone helps me to maintain a very even pace and stride, and helps to pass the miles away far quicker than music can do.

So I have gone from one extreme to another with music and what I listen to.

I guess different people listen to different genres of music, and it all depends on what works best for you. For me at the moment it’s all about distance. Perhaps this will change one day, once I have achieved my target distance.

A marathon and more.


Wednesday 7th March 2012 – Toe-tally knackered!

Midweek crisis!

Not really, not a crisis as such, just a bit of discomfort really.

After Saturday’s 12 mile run, I appear to have knackered a toe. For the past couple of weeks it has been blistering at the end, this hasn’t been to bad, it’s a bearable pain. It’s not even a pain more of an annoyance.

It started aching at the weekend, and then became painful to touch. The blistering has gone, but the colour under my nail is now turning a deep purple / blue..I have a feeling the nail may come off!

It’ll grow back though, for now it is strapped up, so as not to hinder my running too much.

Best foot forward

This morning I woke up and was straight downstairs, running kit on, stretches done, and out the door…

A good run, blustery as heck, but good, I kept it short and sweet this morning, a simple 5K.

I now plan a couple of day’s rest before attempting a half marathon distance on Saturday, that’s if my toe stays in tact.

You can see the run here.

Tuesday 6th March 2012 – Running with Michael Caine


I think I’ve mentioned before that I really like my Tuesday morning run. I’m normally rearing to go after a long run at the weekend, and getting Monday out go the way, no one likes Monday’s do they??

After only managing to crank up 3.43 miles instead of the intended 5 miles, I was a little behind on my planned distance for the week. So today was time to get back to the game plan and get back to the 4-5 mile morning run.

My name is Michael Caine!

I have been scouring music albums to find something that could set me at a decent pace, much akin to that of last Saturday – that was an ideal pace and something I have wanted to achieve for a few weeks. There are a few running albums out there, but a lot of the songs I found annoying and knew that if they were to come on whilst I was running I would be frustrated and it would put me off my run.

I do have some great tracks to run to, perhaps I will share them in a future blog post.

Then I had a thought. How about an audio book? It’s a steady constant sound, perfect for settling into a stride.

I scoured iTunes audio books and came across a few great autobiographies, but one stuck out the most.

The one and only Mr Michael Caine CBE.

The run.

To be honest the run was a bit of a blur. I was so bloody engrossed in what Mr Caine was saying I could of run until he finished telling me his story.

I may have found the thing to keep my pace and stride settled. A very comfortable run, and a very respectable 4.81 miles, which is another 7.74k off the 155K.

Only 114.45k left to go!

You can see the run and the route here.

Editor’s note: I can highly recommend the Michael Caine autobiography, especially the audio book as he narrates it himself.