Saturday, April 13, 2024

Parkrun Overdue but How Did I Do?

My plan to run a Parkrun once a month has panned out more like every two months. But that's okay. Fitting in the long runs, short runs, hills, intervals and Zwift isn't always easy. Training and my mojo for it, continues unabated, and my desire to go faster, longer, higher unsatiated. My interval speeds have been moving nicely upwards so I decided it was time for another Parkrun this morning, pushing my long run to tomorrow - where it will morph into a recovery run because legs won't feel up to anything more. My resting heart rate is slightly elevated which isn't surprising considering my training load and I feel a bit fatigued, but I still felt it was worth a go.

Anyway, I'll stop stalling... I had a pace in mind - or more accurately, programmed into the watch, but the focus was hitting the far point in the course inside 12:47, the time check from my previous run/PB. I ran the first kilometre slightly too hard and worked hard on the ever-ascending trail. I hit the corner 14s to the good but I'd pushed just a little too much. I did not feel I was running quickly enough on the gentle downhill, fading back from the couple of runners I was with at the top.

...but I needn't have worried, I crossed the line 21:51 for another PB, 19s to the good. So, despite feeling I wasn't going well on the way back, I still managed to grab another 5s on the downhill. It's sounds better now the PB starts 21...

The rest of the week has seen me complete two interval sessions on the treadmill, long and short intervals and a couple of Zwift sessions, an all-out hill climb effort on the simulated Col du Rosier and the other, an easy ride.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Enjoyed That...

..Wednesday night's group ride. A cracking 46km tempo group ride on Zwift. Despite being in a big group I was pushing on the front like a time trial. Two 23k laps with a decent cat 4 climb near the end of each lap - my killing ground. Despite not pushing to the absolute limit - except for the climbs where I ground it out hard each time, I still managed my 2nd best ever hour power, and that was literally only a couple of watts shy. If I knew I was so close to the power hour I'd have put the hammer down. Bodes well for my fitness.

Treadmill Tuesday was longer intervals, treadmill Thursday was a ladder of faster efforts 60s down to 150s and back up. Friday was an easy ride - albeit with my best ever 30s power sprint. After that, I was feeling a slight ache in my left achilles do I didn't go for a long run yesterday. Up today was a short - but pretty fast - run on the treadmill followed immediately by a Zwift climb portal blast. Happy to have claimed the Polka Dot Jersey on the Col du Rosier. It's not often I claim a Zwift vest so I'll take 'em when they come. 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Longest Run of the Return

It took me a week to get over the Howling Bull race the week before last. Training last week was on the easy side although I enjoyed a solid Zwift group ride with a hill finish the Thursday before last. It was hard work to keep in the group for the first 30k. It threatened to drop me a few times, but I managed to stay on. Once at the hill, a cat 3 climb, and what I consider the strongest part of my game, that and sprinting, it was eyeballs out to the top. I reckon I was probably top 20% from the group.

There was no long run last weekend but I made up for that today with my longest run yet, 18.3km with 380m of ascent. I felt strong. My old climbing legs are, little by little, returning. I was able to grind the hills where a few months ago I would have been reduced to a walk. The rest of the week has been a mix of intervals and recovery.

And now I'm off to plan the route where I will break the twenty km barrier...

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Howling Bull Mudfest

Up Tuesday was a double header of the ol' down and up the ladder treadmill intervals. Intervals from 60s to 150s and back to 60s at fast to steadier and back to fast pace. It was straight off the treadmill into a 30 minute Zwift mass group ride where I started steady and finished hard. A good solid evening of training. Wednesday was a long day at work and I felt knackered. Thursday a Zwift interval session on the Bike. Thursday an easy 8k treadmill run - with Today's race in mind and yesterday was an easy leg turner on the bike setting me up nicely for today.

So, to today and the race, the Howling Bull Run. With it being only ten miles away I decided not to use the car and rode my bike there and back. The race itself was a total puddle filled mudfest - and I'd slipped down in it before the end of the opening field! My quick reflexes saved from a total wipeout and I survived with only the merest of contact with said mud on my left buttock.

The route was far more energy sapping than the 10k would have suggested. There was maybe 3k of solid going and the rest was a mix of slippery mud, boggy mud or totally submerged paths with about 250m of ascent - and the same of slippery AF descent. I was totally knackered by the end, trudging through the mud to the finish but you know what? It was kind of fun... Very happy with my 16th place (I think - not I think I was happy, I think I was 16th place). Best result of the return so far.

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Back Building the Long Run

After last week's snow filled long run hiatus, I was back on it today with 15½km. An off-road, uphill start (170+m of ascent) with an undulating road second half. I pushed it pretty hard and felt my lack of endurance in the last three or four kilometres, but I didn't fade off the pace much. Next week I'll be skipping the long run again as I have a race but following that, I shall be looking to go 17k.

Earlier in the week I ran some shorter, faster intervals. A really tough Zwift bike interval session and an easy, steady run Thursday. Tomorrow will be a recovery run.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

Soggy Underfoot

So the long run wasn't such a long run. The unexpectedly snowy conditions meant it was soggy, boggy and slippy. My feet were wet through in the first five minutes - and four minutes of that was on the road. The steeper sections where energy sapping on the way up and 'fun' on the way down. To top it off, one of the main tracks had four large trees down, meaning a scramble in the boggy undergrowth to get around. All of which meant things started to ache, so I cut the run to just over 10k. Anyway, it was something a bit different to be running in the snow.

Up today, with the sun shining brightly, it would have been rude not to have got out there, so I ran a quick out and back of just over 6k in a decent time.

Earlier in the week, I ran my fastest set of six 1k reps at 4:08. That pace is significantly than my current 5k pace, so I'm happy things are moving a pace - boom, boom - towards taking my 5k into the 21's... Wednesday was a resumption of the monthly work run. For one reason or another it hasn't happened for a few months but hopefully back in the calendar now. And interspersed here and there a few Zwift sessions on the bike.

Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Building Begins

With the weather improving.. I mean, with the weather as $#!7 as ever, I can't put off building the long run any longer. I'm aiming to build my weekly long run by one to two kilometres per week with the aim of getting towards 20km by June. With that in mind, I headed out for 12km today and came home just shy of that, clocking 11.6km.

It was a good run. I tried to force myself to run nice and slowly - but as usual, I ended up steadily putting in more and more effort. It culminated in a crack at the Hope Wood East Side Climb KOM. I missed the target but only by 3s, down from 10s on my previous attempt. It won't be long until it is mine... Looking on Strava, I actually think my watch beeped for the finish too soon, as Strava has my pace tailing off before the end of the segment where in reality I actually picked up the pace in the last 50m. Suffice to say I shall be running through the line for an extra 50m next time to be on the safe side. I thought my days of vying for KOMs ended a decade ago, and I know they're only local ones, for the locals but having claimed one last year I'm definitely going to claim a few more.

The rest of the week has seen a couple of good treadmill interval sessions. Medium reps Tuesday and shorter, faster ones yesterday. Zwift-wise I destroyed my virtual Cheddar Gorge climb time on Wednesday and it was a medium pace ride Thursday.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Roll Out the Barrel...

For today's run out and back along Barrel Lane. It was meant to be a steady run of about 10k. It started off that way. The first couple of k's were solid but comfortable. I started putting in little efforts and before I knew it, I was churning along at a good pace. I wasn't on race effort but I was certainly no longer cruising. As I hit the halfway turn around, I decided to see if I could get inside 50 minutes without redlining. I sustained the effort on the way back.

I completed the 10k in 49:08 which is only a minute 20 off my PB from Blaisdon and today's route was 50% hillier. I was running hard by the end but nowhere near my all out, edge of oblivion race effort. I feel pretty confident that my current PB is only going to last until my next road 10k race...

Other training, after my two rest days, was a solid speed pyramid Wednesday on the treadmill, ramping FTP intervals on the bike Thursday and a steady 5k 4% inclined treadmill run yesterday. I am definitely recovered from the fatigue that caught up with me last weekend.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Gonna Pull a Double....

Because sometimes you need to. Monday is absolutely a full rest day and Tuesday too. However much I'm itchy on Tuesday I'm not going to scratch.

This week has been solid training, the highlight was Tuesday's 6 x 4:15 kilometer reps but I don't think I gave myself chance to properly recovery culminating in a bit of a tired run yesterday and today. My legs are proper tired. Hence, I must enforce two days rest - which, on the plus side, means more time for piano and guitar practice.

In other news, I've another race on the books and looking for others...

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Not Exactly the Pro Way...

It's been another solid week of training. A steady run Tuesday followed by a couple of more focused interval sessions on the bike and treadmill on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. They were medium to high intensity rather than at the limit as I was mindful I was hitting the Parkrun today to gauge where I am on the 5k front. A course PB maybe? It's not an ideal route for a PB but stranger things have happened...

I have to admit it went a bit wrong yesterday. It was meant to be an easy recovery ride completion of Stage 7 of the Tour de Zwift (bike) but I royally ballsed that up. The start came - and then it went... My virtual avatar refused to move as the field of 652 left me alone to my thoughts. Thoughts like, f~*% why aren't I moving? Cue twenty seconds of faffing to realise I was connected to my footpod - not a lot of good in a bike ride.

So, I got connected and set off, dead last. I almost got off as it's a bit boring with no other riders around, but I continued, thinking I'd catch up if I pushed a little, but I didn't want to go too hard. After a few minutes I was at the back but no longer last. Even at an easy effort I was moving through the field. I didn't really realise it at that point, but the racing part of brain had kicked in and I was little by little putting down more and more power. Suffice to say, by the end I was up to 175th and eye-balls-out, hitting pretty much my PB 30-minute power average. Doh!

Anyway, I decided to get up and do the Mallards Pike Parkrun knowing I was probably going to fail but I didn't think I'd be far away as my legs felt surprisingly good considering the hammering I'd given them yesterday. I had my course PB pacing worked out and decided to stick to it. Lose time to the first half climb and then gain it back on the descent home... I hit the halfway point, puffing like a bastard. Heart rate 178 but importantly, inside the schedule by a few seconds. I then hit the accelerator and nailed the descent to hit home in a new course PB by 48 seconds but better yet, a new PB by 19 seconds. 22:11. It is not going to be long before it starts 21..,.. 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Getting Hilly Nowhere Near Caerphilly

Up yesterday was my first run for a while on what I call the Longhope three peaks, on account of it having, yes, you guessed it, three peaks. May Hill, Brights Hill and Huntley Hill. The biggest climb, from the A40 to the trig on May Hill, is about as close to a fell running hill as you can get in the forest (but it's not really that close). I wasn't far off my time from 2015. I think I can break that later in the year as I was slipping around in the mud on parts of the climb.

Things got slower in the last third on the second and third climbs as it got boggier and boggier. I almost went down on my arse a couple of times but managed to 'ski' myself upright. Anyway, it was a solid 10.5km with a surprisingly decent amount of ascent at 410m, in a time only a few minutes down on my best from 2015 and most of that lost time was down to the mud-fest. Definitely a route I'm going to see more of - but maybe once things start to dry up a little later in the spring.

Up today was another stage of the Tour de Zwift and I didn't go all in, although I put in hard efforts, above FTP, in patches. A sort of fartlek session but on a bike. By the end, a 4km climb to the finish, my legs were cooked.

My training earlier in the week saw me complete a reasonably steadily ramped tempo 5+k on the treadmill (2%incline) Tuesday. Followed by a hard effort on the Zwift (bike) Wednesday, Stage 5 of the Tour de Zwift. The route was a simulation of part of the 2018 world champs in Innsbruck, and a cat. 2 climb. I took it easy till the climb then hammered it. I started to cramp slightly into the final km but managed to keep pushing and get over the top in a new time of 25:16, over a minute inside my previous best effort. I pulled a rest day Thursday as my legs were suffering a bit from the previous days cramping and Friday my legs felt like they needed a fraction more recovery so it was just a lower than tempo 5k on the treadmill, 3% incline. Rest day tomorrow and then back on it.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Getting Hilly Near Caerphilly

An easier week of training with today's race in mind. Up Tuesday was the 3rd stage of the Tour de Zwift on the treadmill where I ran intervals 300-400m on, 150m off with a final hard effort kilometre to the line. Wednesday was stage 3 on the bike and below FTP in the first half, and above FTP in the second. Took a rest day Thursday before an easy stage 4 (bike) in the tour yesterday - although I did go all in on the sprint segment on each lap (3 in total), and I mean all in! It was only 300-400m. Not everyone sprints so it doesn't really count, but I topped the leader board and set myself some new all-time 15s power numbers.

Up today was, of course, the Craig yr Allt Winter fell race over near Caerphilly. 6.4km with 350m ascent. Conditions were pretty good. It didn't rain and it was way hotter than of late, a balmy 3°C. I surprised myself how well I went up the ascents, especially the first. I was able to run most of the way to the top with only a couple of teensy-weensy walk breaks - and I do mean teensy-weensy. Now the third climb... well that was a bit different as by then I was bloody knackered, although I did force myself to run whenever the gradient eased a little. "come on, we can run this bit.....".

I finished just over three minutes quicker than the only other time I've run this race, five years ago, so I'm happy with the result. Can't grumble at 30 seconds faster per kilometre.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Decent Week of Training

It's been a lower intensity week of training but not without some strong sessions. The highlight was Tuesday's kilometre reps. They were substantially inside my current 5k pb pace but there is room to go faster still. Wednesday, I rode the second stage of the tour de Zwift. A two lapper, I sat back on the first to sit towards the back and then hit out above FTP as a time trial to see how many places I could gain. A thoroughly hard effort. There's been a few other runs and rides with the other notable session being today's climb portal ride. I was feeling yesterday's run in my legs but still managed to get within a minute of my best on the 630m of elevation simulated 9km climb up Bealach na Ba.

It's now under a week to my first race of the year...

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Back on Track

After that touch of Covid two weeks ago, I spent last week building back up slowly. I felt absolutely fine and my vital statistics were all back to normal barring being a bit phlegmy in the mornings. This week normal service has resumed. I started the week with a 10k run (not a race) on New Years day down in hilly Sidmouth in a not too shabby 50 minutes - not bad considering my PB is currently only just inside 48 minutes. The highlight was the 50m long puddle with the water above my knees - more of a low-light if I'm honest.

Up Tuesday was a medium effort bike session followed by kilometre reps inside 5k pace Wednesday. Up tonight was a double header of the Tour de Zwift. A decent 5.6km treadmill in 4:45 pace followed by a solid effort on the bike (claiming 5 segment |PBs in the process) to complete Stage 1 in both categories.

Looking forward, as one does at the dawn of a new year, I'm intending to race a bit more than last. Kicking that off, I've got my first race entered in the calendar for January the 20th. I'm also aiming to run most - which will almost certainly end up being some, if not just one or two - of GLCL road races. Plus I'm aiming to do a few of the Chepstow champs races...