I am on a bit of a running high at the moment. This is down to my performance at the recent Snake Lane 10 mile race last weekend.
So what went well to put me on a high?
This year is a year of stepping back down in distance and concentrating on my running form and speed at shorter distance events from 5k to half marathon (short distance being used as a relative term; stepping down from ultra-marathons and marathons that I used to run on a regular basis). By focusing my training and making it more specific rather than churning out the miles, I intend to achieve PB’s at all distances up to half marathon. These have stood since 2011!
Last Sundays’ 10 mile race was intended as a stepping stone to a PB at the distance, with the Yorkshire 10 mile being the target race in October. However a few factors came together on Sunday such that I achieved a new PB by 31 seconds! That on its own is enough to put me on cloud 9. However there was another factor that helped.
just leaving the 80 minute pacer behind!
I have always had issues with pacing. No matter how many times I have raced I have always had a tendency to go off as fast as I can, burn out half way or two thirds of the way around the course, then hang on until the finish counting down the miles whilst watching better paced runners overtake me! Negative split is not a term I have ever been able to use. However…… this year the race had pacers! Lucky for me that one of them was at my target time of 80 minutes (previous best was 79:20 in 2011). I knew that in recent races I had shot off at 7.15 minute mile pace. Following the pacer would slow me down to around the 8 minute mile pace. The idea being that I stick with him at least until half way then see how I felt.
At the halfway point I realised that I felt good. The pacer stopped for a short while to grab some water from the feedpoint, so I stepped up the pace a little bit as I was feeling good at this point. My pace stayed just quicker than the 8 minute mile pace but consistent. With three miles to go I was in the position that I was passing other runners who had done what I normally do. Looking behind the 80 minute pacer was a good few hundred metres behind me. This spurred me on a bit and before I knew it the finish line was approaching. I crossed the finish line in 78:49! A new PB!
As I mentioned above, a few factors came together to help me achieve the PB sooner than anticipated. For a start; since Christmas I have been paying more attention to my diet. By cutting out a lot of the processed and refined foods I have managed to loose around 5kg (just over ten pounds!). I am now at the weight I was back in 2013 before the start of my heart issues.
The competition at my running club (Tadcaster Harriers) has also helped. Tuesday evening’s run sessions are more focused. If we are not having an interval or hill training session we tend to be running at around tempo pace for five or six miles. Regular handicap events allow us to check our progress and race fitness. I have carried this through to my solo training too. At least once a week I head out from work and do hill training, or intervals. I also choose one session to run out and back on a hilly off road route to push myself at around my threshold power / pace.
And we cannot discount the weather and the race route! The weather made it an almost perfect running day for me; sunny, cold and only a slight cross wind! The route is not flat. However the hills are gradual inclines and nothing to really tire out your legs. Any time lost on the uphill can easily be gained back on the downhill leg.
Where do I go now ?
Nothing has changed. My focus is the same. I plan on losing a little bit more weight. I have recently started using Training Peaks as a tool to plan my training. This is brilliant as you can see how fatigue affects your performance and when to take a rest day, especially coming up to an event. I have also invested in a running power meter. I am used to cycling with a power meter, but running to a power level is new to me and I am learning the ropes so to speak! The idea is that power is a better metric than heart rate as it is instantaneous. Heart rate isn’t and isn’t the best metric to use for shorter interval training as you will have finished the interval before your heart has reached the level you require, then whilst you are resting it is still rising! I will cover this in more detail during a future blogpost, once I have got my head around the terminology and the metrics used!
my latest toy – the Stryd Power Meter! So many run metrics from such a small object!
By the middle of the year I should be exactly where I want to be……….then I need to have a break!
Do any of you run with a power meter? If so how do you find them?