Thursday, 28 March 2013

Proper exercise

"I want to do proper exercise, for an hour at a time, and I want it to hurt"
I read this quote in an article written by Hugh Wilson and thought - Yes, I know where you are coming from and probably like most of you reading this - I agree!
The article in question is a comment on recent scientific research that suggests 'micro-workouts' are the way forward. Last year, there was quite a bit of publicity surrounding the 2 minute workout.  The theory being that 2 x 1 minute bursts of intense exercise, three times a week would help develop anaerobic capacity along with reducing  the risk of type two diabetes.
Now, it appears, that research carried out by Dr Izumi Tabata shows that only 160 seconds a day of hard effort can increase both anaerobic capacity and VO2 Max.
The weather lately may not have been the best, with biting winds thundering in from the East, bringing snow and freezing conditions to what is supposed to be Spring and the beginning of British Summertime this weekend.  But my 50 minute run across the snow clad fields, as the Siberian wind whipped about my ears on Monday evening was both exhilarating and satisfying.

What about those runs on a balmy summers evening or those tough sessions that fill you with a sense of achievement, once completed or the camaraderie and competition generated by a group run?  There may be a place for quick bursts of exercise, but no, I am with Mr Wilson - I want proper exercise.

If you want to read Hugh Wilson's article it can be found  here

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A big ask?

Whether it was a knee jerk reaction to my poor run at the Masters cross country or whether I am finally starting to get my act together I am not sure, but the result was, that last week I managed to get in my biggest mileage week of the year so far. 

At 56 miles for the week it is still just a modest total, but to me, at the moment, represents a significant step forward.

Of course one 'good' week will not change everything and nor will the fact that I have just increased the mileage.  Obviously the type of mileage is also significant and this brings me to another positive from last week - two hard sessions, a hill session last Tuesday and a session of 6 x 2mins. on Thursday.  These two sessions along with a 16 miler on Sunday provided the backbone to my week.

Prior to Christmas I posted that I was changing my training to a 10 day cycle, i.e. 2 'speed' sessions and a long run within 10 days.  This was the right course of action at the time but now I feel it is time to step things up again and move back to a cycle of 7 days.

This, then will be the format for the schedule I am planning which will take me up to my next target for the year, The Yorkshire Wolds Half Marathon and more significantly breaking the M55 course record.

The record is currently held by R Gay of Beverly AC.  Set in 2007 it stands at 85.06. 

To put this into context my fastest half marathon since turning 55 is 88.56, at Preston last September and my time for Yorkshire Wolds last year was 93.06.


Changing the subject here is a link to an interesting article I read yesterday on Ultra Distance and Mountain Racer Kilian Jornet.

Monday, 18 March 2013

BMAF Cross Country Championship 2013

Conditions at Herrington Park, Sunderland were not as bad as a couple of weeks ago when the English Cross Country Championships were held there.  But the ground was still very wet and heavy on Saturday for this years BMAF Cross Country Championships.

This was to be my first 'A race' for the year, but with the knee problems following the Kilimanjaro climb and the heavy cold of the last couple of weeks I always knew I was going to be in for a tough time.

I just didn't realise how tough.  I started steadily on the first of the four laps which made up the 8km course and was relatively content with my position until coming off the top of a small incline half way around the lap when I knew I was going to be struggling, and struggle I did, as I sank further down the field on each lap.  Eventually finishing in 115th place in 37.04.  A long way off the sub 34mins that I had had in mind prior to the race.

Full results can be found here

So as far as targets for the year are concerned its one achieved and one missed target - need to pick things up for the next target in July.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Going back in time

One of the most often discussed topics, certainly among the older members, of our club (Blaydon Harriers) and I suspect it will be the same at many other clubs, is the declining standards and overall lack of depth towards the front end of races these day as compared to the 1980's

The 80's saw the first big running boom.  A boom which I and many others eagerly embraced and although participation in road races seems to be increasing, the overall standards of performance are not rising at the same rate.

So it was with some interest that I received a tweet via my nephew this morning with a link to the Guardian website and a story entitled 'Faster in the 1980's: an experiment in old-school running training.'  The article can be found here

The story features Durham Harrier, Michael Crawley, who has decided to, over the next few months, follow his coaches (a 2. 14 marathoner) training regimes from 1981 and '82 to "challenge the theory that my generation are doing it all wrong."

You can follow his progress at

Friday, 8 March 2013

Not going to plan

Since Kilimanjaro things have not been going to plan.  Firstly there was the problem with my knee, and no sooner had was I able to start running , reasonably comfortably, than I caught a heavy chest cold which has also disrupted my training.So I am left with just 1 week until the Masters Cross Country Championships which is my second target for the year. 

When I set my goals towards the end of last year, I had envisioned doing a couple of races leading up to this race.  But have found that it is now 4 months since I actually ran a race.  I think this is the longest stretch I have ever went without racing since I began running!

Not ideal preparation but at least it will get me back into a race situation.

Changing the subject - Yesterday I was talking to someone who has decided that they want to "get fit" and they were saying that they had been advised by "a fitness expert" that running was not the best method as it was just slow, boring cardio.  I would not say that I am an "expert" but surely with a planned out schedule of running (not just a mile on the treadmill sort of running) you will lower your resting heart rate, burn fat and generally enjoy good health?