Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Fun in the Sun

Following hot on the heels of Mo Farah's brilliant 5000m win, the Dent family headed out to Corfu for a couple of weeks of sun.

My intention was to keep my 10 day cycle going but since I was on holiday not to get too hung up about the overall mileage.

As a result my long runs were reduced to 10 miles and my speed sessions  (1 minute reps with 1 minute recovery) were carried out on the beach.

In total 58 miles over the two weeks.

Those of you who have been to Corfu will know that there are no big mountains on the island, With the tallest being Mount Pantokrator, which stands at around 1000m.  The north of the island, though, is quite rugged and provides plenty of opportunity to get in some hilly runs.

I have written in previous posts about being chased by dogs whilst in foreign climes and this trip proved to be no exception.  However, on this occasion, the 'dog experience' was probably my own fault as I managed to miss the path I had been following and ended up running through some body's Olive Groves and along paths with 'no entry' and 'private road' signs.

Getting out early morning meant that I missed most of the heat of the day. However, this  Sunday's 10 miler from Ag. Stefanos through Arillas and up to Afionas and back proved to be particularly warm.  So much so that pushing up the last hill out of Arillas, I would swear that even my eye-balls were sweating.

It was just as I neared the crest of the hill that I heard something drop down beside me.  Looking across I saw what I at first thought was a tree branch, but as it started moving I soon realised it was a snake.  Not knowing much about snakes other than some varieties can give one an unpleasant bite I decided caution was the best course of action and gave way to my new slithery friend as it made its way into the undergrowth for better shade, breakfast, or whatever!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Back on my soap box

Despite (or it may be because of) wall to wall coverage by the BBC and the aid of modern technologies which make the viewing of any aspect of the Olympics so easy, I have still found it a bit of a logistical problem fitting in my running, Olympic viewing, work and family life.  But, fit it in I have and what a fantastic Games so far, and not just the athletics.  Highlights must be Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah though and from a local perspective Ross Murray of Gateshead Harriers reaching the mens1500m semi-final and Laura Weightman of Morpeth Harriers reaching tomorrows women's 1500m final.

With regards to my running, Sunday was a steady 17 miles (finishing to coincide with the start of the women's marathon).  Followed by a gym session on Monday, by way of a recovery session. While on Tuesday, the aim was to replicate the track session of 6 x 400m (all in 81 seconds) of last week.

Although not as consistent as last week I was faster with 400's in 80, 78, 77, 78, 78 and 77.   Last night it was just an easy 4 miles off road as my legs felt completely shot. But, at least I am moving in the right direction.

In his blog Running on Empty Terry Lonergan frequently looks back at races and how he was running 25 years ago.  Out of curiosity and perhaps a little foolishly I decided to look back through my old training logs to see what I was doing this week 25 years ago.

Coincidentally, on the Tuesday evening I did the exact same session of 6 x 400 as I did this Tuesday.  The times though were a little different at 68, 68, 66, 67, 66, 64.  I followed this with 3 days of easy running, then on the Saturday ran a 6.7 mile race at Annitsford in Northumberland, finishing 5th in 36.00.  I followed this, on Sunday, with an 11th place in the Geordie Run a (now defunct) half Marathon, in 72.55.

Returning to the Olympics, Alongside all the interest and enthusiasm generated by the Olympics, talk in the media, now, seems to be centring on the legacy the Games will produce and how we can /must move forward from here, and I think rightly so.

Its not just the elite athletes who need supporting but sport within the community as a whole.  With a centrally led, coherent, co-ordinated sporting strategy.

Professor Kevin Jefferies of Plymouth University has said "There is a head of steam building at the moment, calling for a national campaign for improved schools sports, formed from Team GB's success, but work is needed on sport policy."  He intends to campaign for such a strategy.

Sounds good, but remember, this is against a backdrop of current occurrences such as Education Secretary, Michael Gove approving the sale of over 20 school playing fields in the last 2 years.  This, despite a pledge by the Coalition Government to protect school fields.

Mind you, the previous Labour Government was responsible for the 'selling off' of over 200 school playing fields in the previous 13 years.

It would be such a waste to let this opportunity go (look at the Team Australia's results in this years Olympics).  The importance of sport cannot be underestimated and perhaps this government should listen to one of their own, The Duke of Wellington and ".......the playing fields of Eton" and all that.

I'll get off my soap box now and stick to running for my next post.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

On the track

I have just read that the track in the Olympic Stadium was made, as was the track in every Olympic stadium since the 1992 Games, by the Italian company Mondo.

The design of the track for the London Olympic Stadium reduces the need for running spikes to penetrate the surface and slopes slightly inwards for water run-off.

The traction and shock absorbing properties are split into two layers. The upper layer facilitates slip resistance, traction and durability.  While the lower layer is the cushion backing and is there for shock absorption.

All of which is a far cry from the track I did a session of 400's on last night.  Don't get me wrong, this is not a complaint, there are three Tartan tracks within reasonable driving distance of where I live.  But, Tuesday night is club night and our track at Blaydon is a homely all weather track with a bit of a trench worn into the inside lane. 

The reason for the track session is that this is the start of my quest to "get back" to some form by next year. Deciding not to be too ambitious and just to give myself a base from which to work, I set myself the target of running each 400m in 90 seconds with 90 seconds recovery. As for the number of reps, I would stop as soon as I was unable to maintain the 90 seconds for 400m.

Following a 3 mile warm up I started the session and ran the first 400m in 81 seconds (so much for the plan).  The problem was I felt comfortable at that pace so decided to alter it slightly.

The session was now 400m in 81 seconds with 99 seconds recovery for as long as I could maintain that pace. 

The result 6 x 400m all spot on 81 seconds.

At least I now have a starting point from which to build.