Monday, March 20, 2023

Slightly Quieter on the Western Front

After completing my comeback last weekend, last week's training was lower intensity as my thoughts now turn to the next goal. Obviously, I'm looking to keep nudging the 5k time downwards. In theory, having done some calculations based on my all-time PB a sprinkle of age grading and other such b*!!*(%s, it should be possible to approach 20 minutes.... but I think that's too ambitious. Old father time is continuing to march on, and by the time I'm trained to get there, the age-grading will have moved the target. So instead of setting the myself the potentially impossible, my goal on the 5k front is to keep knocking out some 5k specific training and see where it takes me. I'm also going to start looking at the 10k. Forty-five minutes by sometime in the Autumn? And of course, there's the holy grail of getting back to the mountains. I'm thinking June for that....

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Felt a Bit Flat....

After smashing my target last Saturday. A target I wasn't sure I could actually reach. If I'm honest, back in May when the mission started, I didn't really believe I could achieve it. It felt impossible but as the months progressed it seemed more possible, but I still didn't really believe.

The moment I knew. The moment I really knew, was New Year's Day. After an autumn and early winter spent exclusively on the treadmill, I ventured back out into the real the world. It was a run in Sidmouth. An unexpectedly hilly run. An unexpectedly hilly run that I managed to run in its entirety. No stopping. It was at that moment I knew I was back. I knew I still had work to do but I knew the target was going to be hit. 

So, after all that. The culmination of ten months of training. Ten months of blood, sweat and tears - without any actual blood or tears - I felt a little flat Sunday...... for all of about a day! By Monday, having taken it easy Sunday, I was back on it with an interval session on..... yes, you guessed it, the treadmill - well, somethings aren't going to change....

Twenty-minute 5k here I come - and you can take that to the bank....

Saturday, March 11, 2023

And Now It's Official

It was the day of the parkrun 5k. My race marshalling duties had been cancelled due to the snowy conditions in the mountains, so I had no excuse. I chose the Mallards Pike parkrun and I can't believe I felt so nervous. I was definitely feeling the pressure. I was feeling a ton psychosomatic niggles. My left calf felt tight. The soles of my feet felt achy. On the warmup jog over to the start I felt I was getting a stitch. It felt like it was all going Pete Tong. I knew it was all in my mind but that didn't stop me feeling the symptoms.

As the start approached, I tried to calm my nerves. I shook out my ever-tightening muscles to loosen up and tried to think happy thoughts. I had an ambitious time of 23:30 in mind. That didn't help to reduce the pressure. 4:42 pace. All I could do was believe in the training...

Without further ado, we were off. I'd forgotten how much of an incline the first half is. It's not fell running steep, but it is definitely 'adjust the pace' steep. I didn't and my 4:43 first kilometre was too fast. On the upside all the psychosomatic niggles had evaporated so I was glad of that, at least.

My second and third kilometre splits were not good, 5:06 and 5:01. I was beginning to panic. They were uphill but that didn't stop my demons. I had a lot of time to make up and despite knowing it was all downhill, I was on the ropes and taking a pounding.

I battled on. I wasn't losing without a fight and thankfully kilometre number four took me somewhere towards redemption in 4:19. I was blowing. Heart rate was 170. A few runners came tearing past, but I hung in there for a final 4:18 and crossed the line in 23:19 so it all worked out all right in the end but by 'eck I thought I'd blown it there for a while.

Onwards and upwards from here....

Thursday, March 02, 2023

I Have Returned

I didn't set out targeting it tonight. In fact, I wasn't feeling it after a long day at work with an early start and almost didn't get out at all. The old me wouldn't have. The new me, did. I decided to jog the local loop, which weighs in just under 6k.

At the first timing point - even on a jog, you've still got to gauge things - despite feeling slow, I was 12s up. A fluke. I pootled on. At the second point I was 25s up. It was there I knew I couldn't let the opportunity at a quick time slip. At the turn around I was 38s seconds up. Hitting the last timing point I was a minute and 14s up. I finished the 5.8km in 27:40. A new loop pb by 1 minute and 21s. More importantly the average pace for the loop was 4:47km/min which is comfortably inside 25min 5k pace.

So I know it's not an official time (although it is on Strava!) but technically I ran 5k inside 25minutes. The official time has to wait a few more weeks but in reality, I covered the first 5km of tonight's run in about 23:55 so I know I've done it.

When I started the comeback 10 months ago, I was so pathetic I honestly didn't know if I had it in me. I was so slow. I couldn't run continuously for more than a couple of minutes. It seemed an impossible goal. But tonight, the culmination of 10 months hard work has seen me hit my goal.

This is only the beginning, though. Obviously, I'll need to clock an official 5k time but from here the real hard work starts...

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Setting the Bar Too Low

Monday was, once again, my official rest day. Tuesday, I completed the final Zwift Academy run training session, number seven. I felt a little tired so I plumped for the 30-minute version, and it was comfortable, even at 3% incline, so maybe I should have manned up - not that it's legal to say that anymore - for the long version.

Up Today was the penultimate Zwift Duathlon bike/run of the season. My bike was a little down on normal. I couldn't seem to get into a rhythm. I've set my trainer difficulty a little higher to more accurately map to 'real life' and somehow the flat sections didn't bring the respite I was expecting after the climbs. Anyway, I was on my game for the run. Well, almost. Yet again, I didn't have the belief at the start and set my bar too low. With kilometre splits of 5:21, 4:54 and a final 4:31 I could have gone further with a more confident start. I did clock my furthest distance to date in the fifteen minutes, but it could have been so much more especially as my heart rate was 7% less in zone 4 than last time. I definitely should have gone out harder. I've one more shot this season...

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Took the Weekend Off...

....from a long run - but I did get out for a couple of hilly 5-6k'ers. The reason? My legs weren't feeling it after some hard training Tuesday to Friday. Tuesday's 55-minute Zwift Academy treadmill session number five was killer. I had the treadmill on 3% and that made it bloody tough. I didn't go all in on in Wednesday's Duathlon and Thursday was a 30-minute recovery Zwift ride. Friday was another hard treadmill session, the sixth ZA workout and by yesterday my legs were feeling less than fresh. Being the weekend, I couldn't not do some running, but I did the sensible thing and dialled things back and went out for a couple of short runs yesterday and today. It was the right call as my legs were heavy, but I feel better for having got out there to keep myself in the habit. I did also do an easy 30-minute Zwift yesterday. I say easy - and it was - but I took in the volcano climb and didn't push but was still within a few seconds of my all-out effort during last October's Zwift Academy final ride. I've made a note to go back and smash a PB up there at some point in the next month or two...

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Starting to Build the Long Run

So, catching up on the week. Sunday, I headed out for a cheeky 5k. Completing back-to-back runs away from the treadmill for the first time and my legs held up well. Not only that, it was on the back of a 40-minute bike session of twenty 30s repeats on Zwift. Up Monday was operation feet up followed by the third Zwift Academy Run session Tuesday. Nine hill repeats 8-12% incline with a final 10-15% incline to finish. Twas a good session.

An even better session came Wednesday in the form of the third Zwift duathlon of the season. I wasn't sure how it would go. In the end I decided to go all in, ride hard and hang on and it turned out to be a corker. My best 35-minute power average ever and by more than +5W, and +11W on my best duathlon on Zwift. The run wasn't bad either, exactly equalling my previous duathlon best but I actually took it easy as I knew I'd given it some on the ride. Slightly disappointed with myself that I didn't hammer the run as well. Next time....

Thursday was a half hour interval session on the treadmill and Friday was a 30-minute zone 4 Zwift ride. Today was, of course, long run Saturday and my longest to date. 12km with 350m of ascent. Extending the run means extending the ascent round here as there's nowhere that's flat except for loops of the village - but that's definitely not something for a long run. Anyway, I guess it makes you stronger, and with every week that passes, I am feeling stronger and fitter. It's not long now till the return...

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Nice Day for a Run

After last week's heavy workload those two rest days became a thing. Sunday, I went for a walk through the woods. Monday was a full on lazy one.

Up Tuesday I completed the first of the Zwift Academy run sessions at lunch time. A variable incline treadmill session, 3-8%. Rounded out the day with a twenty-five-minute zone 3 Zwift. Wednesday was round two of the Zwift Duathlon series. They spiced it up this week, dropping the ride from 35 to 30 minutes and upping the run from 15 to 20 minutes. Interestingly my ratio of points, time normalised, shifted towards the run.... 

I felt a bit fatigued Thursday so I decided on another rest day - three in five days, can't be letting that become a habit. Friday, things were back to normal, and I completed the second ZA run session. Four 30s faster repeats followed by four 5-minute intervals of ramped pace. As normal I set the treadmill to 2% to make the effort more like being outside. It was solid but I may repeat the session with the effort increased a few percent.

Today, of course, was my now familiar long run - well, long for me. A solid run through Flaxley woods but taking the Velthouse Lane return to mix things up. It's a similar amount of ascent to the long loop, at 235m, but has three kilometres back on the road. My leg felt heavy in the first kilometre, and I was regretting yesterday's session, but I soon got into it and in the end my pace was a fraction higher than my last trip around Flaxley woods, so I'm happy with that. I rounded out the day with 30-minutes zone 3 on the Zwift.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Weary but at Least it Wasn't a Massacre

I knew from the off it was going to be a struggle today. Across the first couple of fields my legs were dead and heavy. It felt like I was wearing a pair of lead shoes. I stuck to the planned route, though, but dialled back any expectation of a quick run. I guess that's not a bad thing as I was adding about 2km from last week's run and my training load of the last few weeks has been high.

As to today's route, I decided it was time to return to May Hill. Maybe not the greatest idea considering how my legs felt and I subsequently struggled on the way up via the road route. If I'm honest it was a bit demoralising as things have been going so well. I'm getting to expect every run to be great. I got over that disappointment quickly and before long I was back enjoying it on my way to the top of May Hill. Suddenly there was a ton of runners coming at me. If I hadn't kept to the side, it could have been a massacre... One day I will race the Massacre again, maybe next year.

At the finished I'd clocked up 10.5km. My longest run so far and I suppose the pace wasn't terrible considering the climb. I completed the day with half an hour zone 2-3 Zwifting.

Recapping the week. I started with a rest day followed by an easier ride Tuesday, that I didn't get carried away on. Up Wednesday - and I was really looking forward to it - was the first of five races in season 7 of the Zwift Duathlon series. I went through a proper warm up but still felt a bit lack lustre for the first five or ten minutes but after that I started to pick up and by the end I was powering. Overall, I was a little down on my Duathlon ride best from the last season, but only by a couple of watts average. Onto the run and I set a good pace but not all out as I was mindful of my planned session the following day. After the first race I'm 10 points ahead of the first race last season, so I'm happy with that as I definitely had more to give on the run - saving that for the next one...

Thursday, I completed a set of eleven 1-minute efforts off 45s recovery at 2% incline during the penultimate Tour de Zwift stage (7). Friday, I doubled up to complete the final stages (8) of the tour. A 5.6km, 2% inclined run, at a decent pace followed by a solid twenty-minute effort on the bike. And that's it, we're all caught up. Tomorrow feels like it should be a rest day and maybe Monday too...

Saturday, January 28, 2023


My training since the start of the year has been pretty heavy. It's entirely possible that I'm putting in more sessions now than I did in my heyday. Definitely not more in terms of total volume, but in terms of the number of sessions, I think I'm doing more now than I ever did! And of course, it's split between running and riding these days, but considering for the last few years - and if I'm honest, much of the last decade - if I managed one run in a week it was a big week.

Today, I hit 30 sessions this month and there will definitely be another couple to round out the month. A PB by my reckoning. I'm managing to stay injury free, if I exclude the legs feeling a little heavy or sore here and there, so I don't feel I'm overreaching.

This week I completed a set of kilometre reps on the treadmill along with my Thursday run - a little slower than last week. I worked hard but I was 13s slower. I must temper my expectation. I mustn't expect to go quicker every week - and I have been training pretty hard, after all. On a brighter note, today I improved my time for the Long Flaxley loop and there'll be a gentle recovery treadmill session tomorrow.

In between the runs - that came out wrong - and so did that! - I've completed a number of Zwift rides. They've been mostly solid efforts, not all out but I've definitely not been pootling. The only negative is that I can't help myself on the scheduled easy recovery rides. They always seem to end up being nothing like recovery.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

I'm Stopping Counting Now...

Another run complete, far from the safety of the treadmill. It's getting beyond silly. What's next, entering a race? No, this is all getting too crazy.

Anyway, it was a solid run in chilly conditions today. It was very scenic, with a kind of snowy-frost covering the forest tracks of the longer sibling of last week's Saturday run, the aptly named Flaxley CCW Long Loop (9k) - well, that's what I call it. Technically it's Flaxley woods and Hope wood but that's not as catchy.

It's not really fair to compare today's run to my last outings as I wasn't capable of running the hills back then, so I'll call this my marker for future attempts. That said, I was reduced to a short section of walking on the long grind back up. It starts steep and flattens out and I was reduced to a short walk towards the end of the steeper bit. I marked where I got to though, so I'll get further up on the next attempt.

Yesterday was a 45-minute tempo-ish ride on Zwift and tomorrow is an easy jog recovery and a steady 45-60 ride.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

I actually Still Own a Strava Segment!

Yes, I know, crazy! While out on my third - yes, third, real run of the year on Saturday, I put down a marker on my Flaxley short loop. It was while studying the data I realised I still own the downhill out of the woods. I've been stripped of everything else but I still have that one. That said, I'm getting my Flaxley segments back - and you can take that to the bank.

Moving forward to today, I got out for my fourth real run of the year. What is going on! I repeated last week's route and set off looking to go a little quicker. And a little quicker I did - by about a minute. Pleased with that. Not a bad improvement in a week and I very nearly broke the 5:00 minute kilometre pace barrier, clocking an average 5:01.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Continuing a Pace...

Since my last update I've completed some good training. The Christmas ease down is most definitely fading in the rear-view mirror. It's been a mix of treadmill sessions, easy Zwift recovery rides and some full-on Zwift races. I'm hitting new levels on the power curve both on foot and in the saddle.

Highlight of the year so far - if you can have a highlight just 13 days in - has been my second real world run yesterday. It was only 6k. I wasn't trying to go fast. Just running. Not paying any attention to my watch, so it was a nice surprise to see such a decent pace. Not far off my comeback target 5k pace. Without being too cocky, I'm pretty confident sub 25-minutes is there for the taking when I decide to pull the trigger...

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

A Good Start to the Year

So it's been a while since my last post, and it's been a mix of the promised easier training with a few harder efforts thrown into the mix. From here the rest is over and it's time to get back into it. That started with a really good run on New Year's day and not only that it was a real-life run, not the usual treadmill affair. It was a hilly route, which I wasn't expecting, as I plotted it without paying much attention to the contours, but I ran it all and felt pretty strong. It was a far cry from my runs in the summer where I couldn't manage more than a few metres climbing before being reduced to a walk.

Having said I was staring back into the solid training, the last couple of days haven't been due to sore legs from Sunday's run. The legs are recovered today - or at least I thought they were and I went at it a little too hard on the Zwift. I tried to go with the fast, power start and soon realised I wasn't ready for it. I put out good power for twenty-five minutes though but knew I couldn't sustain it.

Off now, to programme in the next week of training...