Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Normally prior to a long run (over 6 miles), I can get quite anxious as to whether I will be able to complete the distance and whether I'll be able to successfully keep myself motivated throughout the run as I often get bored running distances over 6 miles (10km).

However, last Thursday was different.  I felt a lot less anxious prior to the run as I knew the intervals that I was planning on introducing this time around as part of Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run strategy (a ratio of 5:1 = 5 minutes running to 1 minute of walking) would help break the run up.  I just didn't know prior to the run whether these intervals would be beneficial or a hindrance!

This ratio isn't strictly following what the Galloway programme suggests for my pace at the moment but, it’s a ratio I felt comfortable to begin with to help me determine whether the walking breaks suit my style (if I have a style) of running.  I intend to experiment in future long runs with different ratio's that the Galloway programme suggests for my predicted pace as determined by the Magic Miles.  Anyway back to the run in hand...

...the 'breaks' felt weird at first as I haven't run intervals since completing the Couch 2 5K (C25K) training programme last year, but after the first few 'breaks' I started to get into the swing of them, the run started to become enjoyable and I began looking forward to the next 'break' once I had started running again.

After only 1 run using this technique I think I’m sold with what it is trying to achieve.  I found that the walking breaks helped me to recover control of my breathing especially following a difficult segment i.e. a hill and it also allowed me to time to refocus and to regain my composure which allowed me to get straight back into a comfortable running stride and rhythm.

The run wasn't without its difficulties though...the breaks came at the 'wrong' time in some of the hills i.e. the beeper went off to start running again as I started to run up a hill, but the thought of running for just 5 more minutes before another 'walk' break really helped me push myself in the running segments.  I did feel that I hadn't stretched enough at the start of the session as my thighs were getting quite tight by mile 6 and a sore foot nearly forced me to cut my planned route short after only 4 miles on the clock, but luckily I managed to keep going and the soreness disappeared.

With this technique, the miles seemed to fly by rapidly, I could enjoy the scenery during the breaks and I didn't really feel bored at any stage of the run and therefore didn't struggle with motivation as much as I normally do on the longer runs.  As a result it was probably my most liberating and enjoyable long run for a long time.  I went over the intended 7.5 miles (bad planning on my part) and racked up 8.7 miles by the time I finished and with the way I was feeling I probably could of carried on running!

The total session duration was 1hr 35 minutes which after discounting the warm up and cool down, the walking elements consisted of 13 walk breaks therefore 13 minutes of walking accumulated during the run.

I was worried beforehand that it wouldn't feel like a proper run with the walk breaks but after I finished I didn't really worry or care about that, it felt like a long run and the times for 5k and 10k (33m and 1hr 6m respectively) were comparable to other runs of similar distances that I have completed to date...if anything it was slightly faster than the average times!

Therefore to conclude, I'm looking forward to experimenting with the Run-Walk-Run ratio's in my future long runs to further establish whether this technique suits my style and helps me to run the longer distances or if it was a one off i.e. a fluke!

A Run of Two Halves…

Picture the scene... the fine rain that gets you wet coupled with howling cold wind.

Once I had accepted the fact that I was going to get wet regardless, I set off on my run yesterday which I intended hoped would be an easy one due to my longer run (7.5 miles) planned for later in the week however, the weather did not make it easy one bit!

In terms of raining on runs, I much prefer it when it starts to rain mid run as in most cases it’s a refreshing distraction (especially in the warmer months) but, starting to run when it is already pretty bleak, another sign (like we need any more) that Winter after a short let up has finally arrived and is in full swing is a different matter.

However, surprisingly the run started off really well, the wind was behind be spurring me on, almost pushing me to go faster.  I felt efficient in my strides, relaxed, comfortable and my earphones were doing a decent job of staying in the right place despite the winds best effort to dislodge them!

Then half way around, I started turning into the wind and rain...and my winter running earache reared its ugly head making the run become miserable.  I know I could wear a hat...but its not quite cold enough for them yet and I find they give me a headache (catch 22)!

At that point, I just wanted the run to be over, especially after I reached a clearing and the respite from the weather that I had managed to find under trees/near buildings disappeared….then the thought of hot shower and a warm office building at the end of the run was all that kept me going.  

Thankfully, back in the warmth my earache all but disappeared...well until my next run in this weather anyway....

Friday, 25 November 2011

Earphone troubles

I recently had to return my faulty MEELectronics M11+ pair of earphones which lasted just over 4 months which is a real shame as they were excellent apart from a slight hissing noise at higher frequencies but that was more down to my el cheapo phone (ZTE Blade / Orange San Francisco) than anything else.

It was starting to become a real challenge in trying to find the right pair of earphones for running without paying the earth! I already pay much more for my headphones then most people would even consider (around £15-20) as I like good quality earphones with good sound, good isolation to block out unwanted environmental noise i.e. cars, are comfortable to wear and have good microphonics i.e. low cable noise.

I have tried 'low' cost headphones in the past, recently I tried an ‘Expect’ pair from Amazon which only cost £6 but, I think it’s a case of you get what you pay for as the sound was poor and they just wouldn’t stay in my ears when running so they have been ditched.    

To find the right pair, I undertook some fairly extensive research over on the Head-Fi forum and other review websites to find and buy the right one's but unfortunately after trying them out, they were a huge disappointment so I had to rethink and buy a second pair.

Therefore, over the past 2 weeks I have been testing out not one as originally intended but, two new pairs of earphones for running, reviews for both in no particular order will be up shortly with conclusions as to whether my search for the 'right' earphones are over....well for now anyway.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The 10k One Hour Barrier

After seeing what the Magic Mile predicted my 10k time to be (58:42), a long way from my current Personal Best of 01:02:30;  I decided to treat today's long run (6 miles) to mark the end of Week 5 of Jeff Galloway's Marathon training programme like a 'race' with a single aim, to break through the one hour barrier for the 10k!

After some stretches and a 5 minute warm-up walk I was ready....unfortunately, it was a horrible run from start to finish and I didn't enjoy!  It was really hard to try and maintain a consistent fast pace, it had to be less than 10min/mile if I was to have a shot at breaking through the barrier today.  My breathing was all over the place, I just couldn't get it under control and as a result I struggled breathing throughout and had to have a few puffs of my drugs along the way to keep my asthma at bay...

...but, it was worth it (I guess) as I managed not only to break the one hour barrier for the 10k but, smash through it and even beat the latest Magic Mile prediction!

...and as a bonus I smashed my current 5k Personal Best too so I'm on top of the world at the moment!  My new personal bests for 5/10k are as follows:

5k - 26m 46s
10k - 56m 32s

I certainly won't be looking to beat those in a hurry!  It's now a good time for me to draw a line under running flat out on the longer runs and see what effect the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run strategy will have on the times, specifically the 10k+ times.  My first attempt at this strategy will be in 2 weeks time as December looms ever closer.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

1st Magic Mile Run Complete

Week 4 concluded last Thursday with the completion of my 1st Magic Mile run.  This involved a slow one mile warm up followed by a further mile running as hard knowing after the mile that I couldn't have run more than a football field at the same pace, then a slow jog to complete the mileage required for that day.  The intention for subsequent Magic Mile runs is that I will aim to run faster than in the previous one.

Then once I've completed 4 of the Magic Mile runs I can start to better predict my race performance.  To do this I eliminate the slowest run, average the other 3 and then use Jeff Galloway’s web based race prediction calculator (here).  For example, using the time for this Magic Run (8:14 min/mile) would give me the following predictions:

Pace (min/mile)
Predicted Race Time
Current Personal Best
5km pace
10km Pace
½ Marathon Training Pace
½ Marathon Pace
Marathon Training Pace
Marathon Pace

Incidentally, my fastest 1 mile time recorded to date is 7:45 min/mile so it will be interesting to see if I can get closer to that in future Magic Miles, I was slightly injured (pulled chest muscle) when I completed this Magic Mile although it didn’t really affect my run, so it will be interesting to see how close I can get to this record in subsequent Magic Mile runs over the next few months.

So, for the distances I’ve already completed, apart from the Half Marathon pace/times they are not far off, so it will be interesting over the course of the Run-Walk-Run Marathon Schedule as to how close I get to all these times.  It certainly would be nice to achieve all those times especially for the 10k and Half Marathon distances.

However, I doubt I could better those times for 5K/10K much as the Magic Mile has reaffirmed my opinion that I just don’t like running fast.  When running the 1st Magic Mile, my breathing was all over the place, more difficult to control, my chest felt tight, my asthma flared up so I was glad when it was over as I could settle back into my 'normal' pace for the remainder of the run.

Monday, 14 November 2011

What makes a good run?

Sometimes, everything just comes together, clicks into place and a really good enjoyable run comes along. 

Today, I had one of those runs.  Once I stopped faffing about with my new headphones (more on that later) my run was really smooth and consistent, probably my best run for a good few months.  

My form and running efficiency felt really good which allowed me to relax into a comfortable rhythm and pace. 

The run was only lasted 35 minutes including a short walk warm up at the start, but my pace was around the 10min/mile mark which for a 'training' run was pretty fast for me. 

Long may those kind of runs continue!

Monday, 7 November 2011

One Hour Runner (OHR)

After completing the Couch 2 5K (C25K) running programme, I went straight onto the 10 week One Hour Runner (OHR) programme.  

The schedule which I can't seem to find any more, perhaps its fallen out of favour compared with the plethora of other programmes available out there at the moment which are more geared towards completing 10k i.e. Bridge to 10k (B210k) as opposed to being able to run for one hour, which is just under 10k for me at the moment, so back when I did the programme is was more like 8 or 9k in an hour.

However, the main thing to take away from this is to follow a programme which best fits your style i.e. what works for you and as OHR continued the trend of running 3 times a week and started where C25k ended i.e. 30 minute runs it best suited what I was used to at that point.  The OHR plan consists of the following:

30 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
90 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
90 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
90 minutes
30 minutes
29 minutes
33 minutes
94 minutes
30 minutes
32 minutes
38 minutes
100 minutes
30 minutes
33 minutes
41 minutes
104 minutes
30 minutes
34 minutes
45 minutes
109 minutes
30 minutes
36 minutes
49 minutes
115 minutes
30 minutes
38 minutes
54 minutes
122 minutes
30 minutes
40 minutes
60 minutes
130 minutes

The rest of my training plans have been covered more or less in my posts to date including the Bupa Beginners Half Marathon and more recently my current programme, the Jeff Galloway Marathon programme which I started a little over 3 weeks ago and will run until May next year.  So to summarise so far:

C25K - Started 02 Aug 10, completed 06 Oct 10.
OHR - Started 08 Oct 10, completed 07 Jan 11.
Half Marathon - Started 04 Jul 11, completed 09 Oct 11 (Approximately 380 miles running, 26 miles cycling and 2 miles swimming).
Marathon - Started 17 Oct 11, in progress...due to complete May 12.

Friday, 4 November 2011


Either I had the best run yesterday where I beat all my personal records up to the 8 mile mark or my GPS tracking was glitched to hell!.  Unfortunately, the pace was too good for it not to be the latter.....d'oh!.

The majority of software has glitches/bugs; it’s just ironic that I had stated in my last post that I picked Endomondo as it was the most reliable out of the running GPS applications that I tried!  I hope it was just a 'one off' glitch and that it will clear after a hard reset, we will see next week!

Unfortunately that wasn't the end of my troubles that I encountered on my run yesterday - My ‘backup’ earphones were a disaster!  They wouldn't stay in my ears for more than about 10 seconds no matter where I ran the cable which led to an extremely interrupted run in which I could't settle into a rhythm or get into a 'zone'.

I desperately missed the shirt clip, isolation and the 'fit and forget' features from my MEElectronics M11+ in-ear earphones which I had returned faulty earlier in the week and I have yet to find a suitable replacement which will last more than 4 months.  Maybe my old Klipsch earphones weren't so bad after all as they did manage to last for over a year...  

If that wasn't enough, I'm still suffering with something which only really rears its head when I'm out running.  It exacerbated my asthma, causing my chest to get tight and chesty which makes it extremely difficult to control my breathing and relax into my run.

Apart from all of that, the run wasn't that bad, my longest since the Half Marathon, but it would have been much better if I could actually analyse my 'actual' performance on Endomondo!

Well that's week 3 out of the way, finishing on a 6 mile ish run yesterday, only another 29 weeks of the Marathon programme to go.  I've just ordered the accompanying book to the programme to help me better understand what I need to do in terms of the run-walk strategies and how to run a Magic Mile which I need to do next Thursday instead of a long run.

I also bought a long sleeve base layer in preparation for the winter so hopefully this spending splurge will carry on as I still haven’t got around to buying new shoes or tights.  Admittedly the weather considering has been pretty mild considering the time of the year, so perhaps when the weather returns to normal i.e. cold, then it will speed up my purchases!

Update:  Just purchased some replacement in-ear earphones, the Klipsch Image X1 / S2 for £14.99 on Amazon and a 99p shirt clip from e-bay, so I will see how well I get on with these over the next few months.  There is a 2-year warranty with the earphones so that gives me some hope that they will last longer this time around.