Monday, 10 February 2014

Learning to Embrace Early Mornings - ish

My thoughts on Early Morning Runs
Assuming I don't drink the night before, I think my body is starting to become accustomed to getting up early. In fact, having run across the spectrum of early morning, mid-morning, lunch-time, afternoon and evening, I can now say with some experience that running early morning is better for me. 

I also think that early morning runs are better if you are training for long distance races, since you are running on a fairly empty stomach which will likely to benefit me in the long run as my depleted glycogen levels will help promote fat burning. If I do this regularly (which is what I am doing) then I'll be training my body to readily access it's fat reserves, which can help prevent (or at least delay) the onset of bottoming out of my glycogen levels come race day and hitting "the wall".

I also find the roads (on the whole, but not always) are quieter, my HR is usually lower, and I am 100% focused on what I am doing, since I need to get back home to have a shower and get to work. I also prefer to run in the dark. Psychologically I find it easier to run longer distances in the dark than during the day (when you can see the huge distance you have to cover right before your eyes - sometimes that alone can be a very daunting sight!). Of course running early morning also means having to go to bed early and/or, more especially, no drinking the night before. I run 5 times a week as part of my training plan; so that's 5 nights I can't drink (or only drink a couple of low strength beers - wine is completely out of the question!). That means I spend less on alcohol each week, which is good for my bank balance. Of course, when it's pissing down with rain and it's windy, it is hard to get out of bed in the morning (as this week demonstrated). However I find that once I physically step out of bed then I am okay; it's such time from the alarm going off to actually stepping out of bed which is hard for me!

Finally, after a run (and irrespective of the type of run or the pace I've run), I always feel better about myself. Nothing like starting the day having done your exercise.

A Solid Week of Training
Despite what I said above, getting out of bed on Tuesday morning was hard. My legs still ached after my long run. Nevertheless, I was determined to stick to my plan this week.

Tuesday's run was the Progressive Run (13 km). As yet I have not actually completed this run to the set splits. That was about to change! The set splits were:

Interval 1.00 km 06:40 to 06:30 min/km
Interval 2.00 km 06:10 to 06:00 min/km
Interval 2.00 km 05:50 to 05:45 min/km
Interval 4.00 km 05:35 to 05:30 min/km
Interval 3.00 km 05:25 to 05:20 min/km
Interval 1.00 km 05:15 to 05:10 min/km

I felt quite good on the run and my breathing was fine and dandy. I didn't look at my HR once during the run, as this was a pace-based run. The only thing I could see on my watch was the time and pace. At the around the 5 km I got hugely pissed off with the traffic. A series of around 7 cars came towards me (separated by a small distance) whilst at the same
Pace Chart
time a series of 4 cars came in the other direction. I had no option but to stop and stand on the verge whilst they slowly plodded by. I was fuming red. I should have paused my watch but I didn't. Eventually they passed and I stopped swearing. I got back running and was shocked to see my average pace had come tumbling down from 5:30 min/km to 7:00 min/km. This was impacting on my average pace for Interval 4 (as shown). So rather than running Interval 4 at between 5:35 to 5:30 min/km, I ended up running it a lot faster (around 5:10) for approximately 3 km until my average got back down to 5:30 min/km. I completed the interval (4 km) right on target with a 5:31 bpm average. Looking back I can see this clearly on the HR graphic - my HR increases whilst I try to make up the average pace.

I then continued with the run whilst dodgy cars and swearing under my breath. I was hitting all my interval targets. I completed the final interval on a 5:05 min/km (a lot faster than originally planned). In the end it took me 1 hr 13 mins to complete the 13 km with an average pace of 5:37 min/km and HR of 161 bpm. My final splits were:

Interval 1.00 km 06:20 min/km
Interval 2.00 km 05:58 min/km
Interval 2.00 km 05:45 min/km
Interval 4.00 km 05:31 min/km
Interval 3.00 km 05:19 min/km
Interval 1.00 km 05:05 min/km

I was very happy with that run, despite nearly being run over a few times and having to make up pace due to traffic. Next time I will pause my watch whilst waiting for traffic to disappear. One could ask why I don't run along Greenham Common to avoid the traffic. Well to be honest I am sick of running on their, and this route is actually very good for a Progressive Run. It's flat but also have some gentle ascents and descents. Usually the traffic isn't this bad. These pace splits are slow compared with other Newbury Runners, but for me they show sign of progress. Anyway - traffic aside - I started the day on a mini-high! 

Wednesday was supposed to be a 17.30 km run at Zone 2 (139 bpm). However I looked out the window at 4:45am and immediately closed the blinds and went back to bed. The weather was horrendous...hard rain and wind. It's one thing getting caught out in this weather during a run, it's something else to start a 2 hour run in this shit weather. Your sole is destroyed before you've even taken your first step. The other reason for diving back into bed was that my Achilles was still a little sore. It's not going to heel quickly, but I at least wanted to give it an extra day of rest (in reality though, it probably makes little difference). In fact, until it is fully heeled, I've decided to ditch all speed work. This means intervals and Kenyan Hills. I'll still do the Progressive Run and Parkrun - just means updating my plan a little. 

On Thursday therefore, I replaced the interval with what should have been Wednesday's run. After having received an insinuated semi-bollocking from Andy Tucker regarding the pace of my runs last week (although I knew what I was doing when I ran them), I was determined to stick to my HR targets this week. That meant stick to Zone 2 for my mid-week (now Thursday) run. Given my very poor pace at this HR level, and the hilly route, I decided to give myself a couple of hours to run it. That meant starting the run earlier than normal (in fact, the earliest I've ever run!). I again set the alarm for 4:45am and again I looked out the window and the weather was terrible. I ended up back in bed!

However, through the course of the morning I started to feel a guilt trip. This was made worse by the Newbury Runners Leaderboard on Strava - I was way down the list on both the number of runs this week and distance. It was enough to get me out in the evening!

Just as I was about to set out on Thursday evening I discovered I'd lost my Inov-8 windproof jacket. I was mega pissed off! I loved that jacket and it cost me £56 last year. I had it tied onto the back of my hydration pack on Sunday. I can't image it fell off as it was secured so tightly; but I've not seen it since! This is why I bought a bigger vest, so I wouldn't have to tie my stuff to the outside of it. So angry!

Thankfully there'd been a break in the weather and I headed out around 7:30pm. It was
The Cleres & Hills Loop
raining just slightly and there was no rain. I was supposed to be running Zone 2, but to be honest I didn't want to be out all night. I therefore ran at a Zone 3 (max. 155 bpm). It was a hilly but lovely run, and a great route to take. Both legs and HR seemed to be behaving themselves. However the Achilles on my left foot started to hurt as I was going up hill. I need to keep an eye on's not good news.

The Cleres & Hills Loop Elevation
I completed the nice loop of 20km (slightly further than my plan states) in 2hrs 25 mins with an average HR of 152 bpm and pace of 7.16 min/km (I really wish I could run faster at a lower HR). In the end it was perfect running conditions. Very light rain, no wind and a reasonably cool temperature. Although I took a gel and bottle of water with me, I didn't need to take any - not even a sip of water. If Manchester could have the same conditions, then I'd be happy - or even Silverstone next month...

As I'd run in the evening I decided to take Friday off as a Rest Day, knowing that I would be running both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday was a gentle 10 km run at Zone 3. It was a very uneventful run on a rather uninspiring route, but I wanted to try and avoid the hills as much as possible. Achilles felt okay. It was then time to rest up for the remainder of the day, knowing what I had in store for the following day.

Sunday brought the Long Run (same route as last week). Last Sunday I ran 35 km and the route finished in the centre of Newbury (so I could pick my car up). This week I had planned to run all the way home (around 38 km), but due to the windy conditions I decided to scrap that idea very early in the run. After running 35 km the last thing I wanted to do was finish it off with another 3 km up Andover Hill into a headwind! I wouldn't have gained anything by doing it - not at this stage in my training. After Manchester I need to put more mileage in and also tackle more hills; but that's then and this is now, and I was quite happy just doing the 35 km.

So onto the run itself. I'd planned to run the route slower than last week. Last week was Zone 4; this week was going to be Zone 3 (max. 155 bpm). I know I should be running in Zone 2, but running such distances would be take too long and cut into my day. I have to strike the balance between training and family time / work time. Zone 3 is slow but not too slow, and will hopefully improve my anaerobic fitness. I got up at 4.45am, opened the window and the door slammed shut with the wind! This was going to be fun - not!

This was also my first run when I could test my new hydration pack. I layed up (minus my lost wind proof jacket) and put the hydration vest on. It's a fairly big vest and it fitted snuggly - in fact whilst running it was protecting my upper torso from the wind, which was nice.

The run along the A4 was just painful. It was around 13 km into a headwind! Yes I was
Long Run Elevation
protected with the various layers, but it sometimes felt for every step I went forward I was taking 3 back. I was relieved to get to Hungerford. As I approached Hungerford (after around 16 km) I pulled out an Alpen Bar. If you remember last week I had problems eating it as it was too dry. I tried again this week and the same problem. Nevertheless, as I was running slowly I thought I'd much in it slowly whilst running. I ran up Eddington Hill and that is one fucking steep hill. My pace slowed but I continued up (dodgy the cars around the blind corners on the way up). I was nearing the M4 underpass and pulled out some wine gums. I usually like wine gums, but as I discovered on Sunday, not whilst running. There were too chewy and sweet. I will get my food sorted one day - promise!

The long run back to Newbury through Wickam and Stockcross was pretty uneventual. I had the wind behind me (which was nice). I took a couple of gels and decided to walk whilst taking them - it was a training run afterall. The run into Hungerford against the wind had sapped some energy from my legs. Breathing and HR wise I was okay; but then again I was running at a slow pace. Whilst running through Stockcross and all the way back into town I was hoping I'd spot my lost windproof jacket, but to no avail. Hay-ho, it was a long shot..

I arrived back in town and ran along the high street until I hit the 35 km mark and then stopped. I did the run in 4hrs 1 min and averaged a 6:54 min/km pace and 155 bpm HR. It took me 23 minutes longer than last week, which was the goal. My long runs now are more about time on feet as opposed to distance and pace. It was also the first time I'd run 4 hours. I need to up the time on feet though - at best Manchester will be sub-4 hours, but Marlborough is likely to be around 7 hours; Trail Marathon Wales around 5hrs 30 mins; Endure24 (erm, 24 hours or until I can't physcially run anymore!); and Bath to Newbury around 11 hours. I have a lot more training to do! Eeeks!

I was impressed with the new vest. It's heaver than my old one and my shoulders were a little achy during the rest of the day, but that's just because I need to get use to it. My Achilles also seemed to hold up. More of a concern is the injury to my right foot. It seems to be reoccuring. I only felt it after I took my trainer off. I was then hobbling around all day and even today it is a little painful. I'm taking plenty of painkillers. I only noticed it after the long run. The 20 km last Thursday wasn't an issue, nor the 11 km on Saturday. I just need to keep an eye on it  - like the Achilles, it is all about pain management (and possibly replanning of some my runs).

This week I ran 79 km or 49 miles, which is bang on target for this week. Given the horrendous weather and my injuries (especially earlier in the week), I am amazed I ran that far. I also spent over 8 hours running.

Physically and I am fine - it's just the Achilles and right foot I need to be careful of. My knees (since getting the new trainers) are great. Not feeling any pain.

Not too sure what this week will bring. I know what is planned, but I need to see how my right foot is. At the time of writing it's not good, so I may reduce my mileage next week and use it as a "Recovery Week" - that is, rest the foot for 2 - days then gradually start running again towards the end of the week. I also need to make sure I don't batch up all my runs towards the back end of the week. Running on tired legs on a Sunday is good, but not all the time...

Happy running everyone....!

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