Monthly Archives: September 2013

Marathon Training week 15 : A time to reflect

D. O. N. E.

Those 4 letters (and overzealous punctuation) accompanied a Facebook post I made after completing my peak-distance long-run of my marathon training.

I had blogged just before going on my run that there were some nerves about the upcoming 20 miler, what with it being the longest single distance I’d run in almost two years. I’m happy/relieved to report that the run went off without a hitch. Consistent prior training and following my routine on the day allowed me to go out and complete the 32km without any dramas. There was a bit of a tough period from about between 23-25km, which taught me that on race day I need to hit a gel and some sports drink at 20km. However, I was able to power through kms 26-30 at a slightly faster pace than the average for the day, which means that I’ll hopefully be looking good for getting through the last 10km on race day without dropping too much pace.

no-regrets-workout

The photo I shared to my Facebook page. Trust me, I didn’t look as good as this guy after 32km…

As I move into my 3 week taper and my focus turns to peaking for the race I thought it might be useful to me to reflect on the last four weeks since my bonked long run, to assess the progress made since then and say ‘farewell’ to the build-up phase of my training. Read the rest of this entry

Motivate Monday! #7

true progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice. St Francis of Assisi

Hopefully this quote of St Francis of Assisi can provide some motivation for those who are using running to make a change in their life or simply to try and be the best they can be.

Be persistent in chasing your goals and after enough steps you will reach them.

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon Training : Some long-run nerves

A quick pre-run post today, written before my big run while I let my breakfast settle, so apologies for no picture and any haphazard writing.

My marathon is 3 weeks away today, so I’m about to start my taper. The key words being “about to start”.

Today is my 20m/32km run, the longest of my build-up and longest run in almost two years (2012 was marathon free as I did the London-Brighton 100km overnight walk instead).

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any nerves. I think it’s natural to be nervous about going long, longer than you have in a while. However I’m trying to counter the nerves with:

1)    Routine

2)    Trust in my training

 

Routine

Routine works well for me. By managing the things I can control, it engenders a positive feeling of preparation for a successful workout.

  • Yesterday I re-checked my route for distance. It’s an extension of a previous run so I know the entire course, I don’t want to have the hassle of course-finding while pushing out 20 miles.
  • Last night I made sure to lay my gear out and put my Garmin on charge. I then set my alarm to ensure I was up on time.
  • This morning I had my usual pre-long-run breakfast of oat porridge and agave nectar (lower GI than honey or sugar), a pint of water and a short black coffee.
  • To fill the time between eating and running, I engage in ‘distraction’ exercises. In my case, this blog entry with some low, but ‘uplifting’ music. If not writing I might read a magazine or watch videos from the ‘Inspire’ page of my blog. Just something quiet, uplifting and generally on a subject about what I’m about to do

 

Trust in my Training

This is not always easy to do, and an even harder thing to learn.

  • I’m following my training schedule. I had a cut-back week last week to recuperate before this session and made all my mileage and times. Fretting about whether I should have gone that extra mile over and above the schedule because I felt good on Tuesday, or should have gone faster in my 3/1 workout on Wednesday is not helpful for ‘frame of mind’ and mentally focuses you on what’s past, not what’s coming.
  • I have to trust in my schedule. It is from Hal Higdon, who has probably got more amateurs through marathons than any other person in the world, and got me through two marathons. If I can’t trust my schedule, what can I trust?
  • A marathon doesn’t happen by accident. It is lots of carefully planned steps to get you to be able to complete some 30,000 steps on race day. I have completed those steps up to this point in time, so I have prepared to run this distance.

Now, I do realise that the above is written by someone who has done it before. Me. Sure, 20 miles is a long way, but knowing I have done it before takes a lot of the pressure off. For those who are beginners and almost every week is a journey into the unknown of your personal distance or endurance accomplishments, the above can work for you. I’m not saying my way is the only way, or even the best/right way, or anything like that. Just that with routine and trust in your training it will help reduce the nerves about big workouts, and let you focus on the important thing. Getting out and running!

Happy Sunday long run everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Thursday Training Tip #6

Running on vacation : 10 tips for keeping fit while travelling

The toll lady was, disappointingly, unsurprised to see me. It seems many walkers and runners make the switchback-upon-switchback climb up Mount Igeldo in San Sebastián. And it would seem that runners and walkers are also not exempt from the €2 toll to enter the grounds of one of the best located fairgrounds going around, even if they have run up the back way and are more interested in running down the other side of the mountain than going on the dodgem cars. It’s funny where running takes you sometimes. Certainly when I set out to do the 20km loop from Urgill Hill to Mount Igeldo on a Saturday morning in San Sebastián I was not expecting to find a fairground at the summit!

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

But, that’s the beauty of running in new places, and running while on vacation. My running kit is always the first stuff into my case whenever I go away. Mainly because it’s small and fills the little crevices in the bottom of my case, but also because it signals to me my intention to keep exercising while away and to hopefully see new things while doing it.

However, while going for long runs while on vacation is all good, vacations aren’t meant to be all about running, or whatever exercise takes your fancy. It’s about experiencing the places you visit, the culture, the food, the landscape and the people, so you can’t always be following your training schedule. That doesn’t mean you need to throw out your training schedule completely. You’ve worked hard up to your vacation (especially if you’ve worked for a ‘beach body’ for a seaside destination), so you don’t want to throw it all away to pursue a week or two of hedonism. Read the rest of this entry

Inspire me Wednesday #7

For today’s ‘Inspire Me Wednesday’ I thought I would share Saucony’s ‘Find Your Strong’ Project.

Is it muscle? Or is it something more? Is it measured in miles or milliseconds? Is it your best time or your worst day? Maybe strong is just what you have left when you’ve used up all your weak…

My strong? My worst runs, and doing them anyway. And you. If I quit, how can I tell you not to quit?

So, tell me, tell all of us, what is your Strong?

Happy (and inspired) running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Two for Tuesday : A back-to-back workout for runners

I winced, coupled with a swift exhalation of breath and a small hiss of pain as I felt a sharp stretch in my hamstrings. “That’s better”, said the yoga instructor as she corrected my downright awful downward dog. Yep, Yoga. In case you didn’t already know, range-of-movement is not my strong point. In fact, it’s probably the weakest area of my running. So tonight I went to yoga.

I’ve known for some time that yoga has great benefits for runners, flexibility, core strength and balance just to name a few, but I’ve just never really got around to doing it properly. I’ve done the odd class here or there over the years, but I’ve never seen it as an addition to my training schedule. Well, it turns out the gym I have been a member at for a year has yoga classes. Who knew? I learned this yesterday, thanks entirely to my girlfriend joining my gym on Sunday and immediately booking herself into classes for the next seven days. Including the Tuesday night yoga class.

Come this evening I was at home and about to go out for my run when I realised I’d be finishing about the same time that my girlfriend’s yoga class would be starting. I recalled a comments exchange I had with Angela of mindmargins.wordpress.com where she told me yoga was a favourite exercise of hers and recommended I try it. Plus my girlfriend has been doing yoga for years and has excellent flexibility. I asked her if she would mind if I joined the class also, and could set up my mat behind her so I could copy her in the moves. Complete newbie thing to do I know, but the best way to learn is to ‘see’ and then ‘do’.

How I hoped I looked in the class

How I hoped I looked in the class…

I turned up at my gym after my run, found the yoga studio and nervously entered. Turned out I was the first person there and was able to talk to the instructor where she reassured me that as a newbie she would go easy on me (Liar!) and that I would be fine. Well, every single muscle and joint which had been slowly building up gripes as I peak for the marathon let me know of their existence during the class. And every single one was stretched, pushed, pulled and twisted in all the right ways. Unsurprisingly to me, poses requiring hamstring and calf elongation were the most difficult for me (and therefore most useful for my running), however I was pleasantly surprised how well I was able to cope with the balance poses and the ones requiring core and upper body strength. All that cross training must be doing the job!

How I actually looked...

How I actually looked in the class…

Going to a yoga class straight after a short run was a revelation for me. It’s basically an hour of stretching with some strength/balance work thrown in as a bonus. I did more hamstring stretches in all the downward dogs than I do in a normal week, not to mention the other areas stretched in other poses. Overall, a fantastic way to complement a run and get a back-to-back workout in for a Tuesday. Next weeks session is already booked in and you never know, I might just make this a habit.

Who else does Yoga or Pilates as part of their exercise routine? Do you find it helps with your running? 

 

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Dear Santa…

My name is Bernie and I live in a big city called London. But you already knew that.

I live in a house in a street with my cat. She is only little, but she is growing really big! But you already knew that too.

I’ve been a good boy all year, I have been good at my work, good at football, good with my running, and good and kind to people and give up my seat on the bus for the older people and the pregnant ladies and everything. I even did a race for charity. Hopefully you knew all that.

The reason I’m writing is because for my Christmas present I just want this:

Garmin-620

A Garmin Forerunner 620 with the HRM-Run. ‘Coz it is really cool and awesome and has some tricksy stuff in it that will make me a better runner. And also ‘coz it looks really cool.

Anyway, I hope it’s nice weather in the North Pole and the Elves have made sure all the presents are well packed and the sled is oiled and the vet managed to sort out Rudolph’s nose. You know, with the glowing and all that.

From

Bernie.

P.S. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Mr Pete Larson from Runblogger wrote about this cool watch the other day on his website.

P.P.S. I know that you ate all the cookies I left out last year, and those from all my friend’s houses. So if, you know, need to lose a couple of pounds, I write a blog about running, and also have a Facebook page and you can even ‘connect’ with me on my Garmin profile. Do they have GPS in the North Pole?

Motivate Monday! #6

 

 

Running-Inspiration-focus-on-how-far_130922

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon Training week 14 : A cutback week and some celebrity spotting

I stopping running to walk/squeeze through the crowds in the Camden Market food stalls. With a lot of slipping through gaps, many an ”excuse me”, a complete stop while someone took a photo of an espresso being poured (who knew it could be that interesting?), I finally got to the seating area and towards the continuation of the Regents Canal towpath. With only about 10 yards more of slowly shuffling tourists to get through, the crowds mysteriously parted and I found my way strangely free before me. And then I saw why. It wasn’t for me…

A woman standing taller than others, well dressed, fashionable, sunglasses, hair up in a bun under a trilby, surveyed the way before her as people made space, some nervously talking to each other in hushed tones while others grabbed for their smartphones. Famke Janssen (of X Men, GoldenEye, Nip/Tuck fame to name a few), welcome to the madness of Camden Market on a Sunday. Despite the efforts of the trilby hat and sunglasses, people notice a 6ft tall actress and former fashion model just by the way you carry yourself, even if they don’t know exactly who you are.

A trilby and sunglasses isn't going to hide that you're 6ft tall and stunning...

A trilby and sunglasses isn’t going to hide that you’re 6ft tall and stunning…

I didn’t stop to ask her for a photo or an autograph. I’d like to say it was because I was a) 16km into my run and b) looked like I’d poured a bucket of freshly collected sweat over myself, but to be honest I was too star struck to even think about it. However, I’d like to think that even I hadn’t been left speechless by being within a yard of such a striking celebrity, my wits would have prevented me from talking to them anyway, because of a) and b) above. I hope. No one deserves to be accosted by a heavy breathing, sweat covered man wearing Skins shorts and uber un-cool 2XU calf guards…

Anyway, that’s enough on Famke, I jogged past her and back onto the Regents Canal towpath and pushed on with the rest of my workout. Being a cutback week, my distance on my long run was reduced from last weeks long run, as a bit of a rest week before pushing on to my 20 miler next week. The idea of cutback weeks is they occur after peak points in training to allow some rest and recuperation before pushing onto harder or longer runs in the following weeks. As it was a bit of a rest week I also took the opportunity to ease up on the difficulty of my long run session. My previous long runs have been TLT sessions, so this time I decided on a 3/1 session, which is less demanding that a TLT session. I learned about 3/1 training from Hal Higdon’s website, and the basic idea is that you run ¾ of the distance of your run at ‘long, slow run’ pace, then the final quarter of your run you increase your pace to close to race pace (with a proper warm-up and cool-down of course).

marathon-training-22km-3-1-session

If you also follow my Facebook page, during the week I posted about runners having a ‘go-to’ workout for gauging their preparation for a race. Today’s 3/1 workout is my ‘go-to’ workout for a marathon. The workout distance is just over half-marathon distance, so long enough to be fatigued before you kick up to, or close to, marathon pace at the 16km mark. Using my heart rate monitor, I increase my pace up to the top of my aerobic zone, i.e. bouncing along just below my threshold rate. This will give me an indication of what my race pace is likely to be. Today told me that I’m running at about 5:25/km race pace, which would equate to about 3:49 for a marathon. This is spot on where I want to be, as my Race Buddy and I have our target at 4 hours (well, a 3:59). Had my pace today been over 5:40/km I would have been a bit concerned about this goal as it would have been leaving no spare minutes for the slower km’s at the start while the crowds thin out, walk breaks at aid stations or the odd toilet stop.

Roll on this weekend’s 20 miler. Gulp…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Back from holiday and back to reality

A man jumped up, almost startled by our presence, as we entered the rear gate of the San Domenico monastery. After ushering us into the church to look around, he entreated us to stay for freshly squeezed lemon juice and figs grown in the church orchard. He explained that he was the caretaker of the monastery, and that he welcomed as many as 60 walkers a day during the high season. We were almost at the end of a 5 ½ hour hike along the ‘Path of the Gods’, a trail named for the Roman temples which once stood along its path that crosses the Amalfi peninsula from Positano to Bomerano, and the lemon juice came as a welcome respite from the heat of the rocky trail.

The 'Path of the Gods', overlooking the San Domenico monastery with Priano in the background

The ‘Path of the Gods’, overlooking the San Domenico monastery with Priano in the background

The figs were sweet and we nibbled on them as the man explained in broken English the various festivals and religious services the church was central to, however I got the feeling that he lamented the lack of a permanent priest or monks on the site and the fact that the church was now only used sparsely throughout the year. This experience was near the end of a vacation covering San Sebastián in Spain along with Rome and Positano in Italy over 9 far-too-short days, and while we sipped on our lemon juice we reflected on our travels so far.

All three cities were fantastic but I would have to say that Positano was by far the stand-out of the three. It is one of those unique places that can only exist where it is. There can be no facsimile cities, no cheap imitations. Tucked into a natural bay, wedged against a mountain range, mercifully not choked up by the sprawl that now accompanies close-by cities like Naples and Sorrento and mercifully devoid of chain shops and franchise restaurants. While Positano may be crammed full of fantastic restaurants, boutiques and churches, the surrounding hills are probably the real draw card, filled as they are with sleepy villages and fantastic restaurants, all with even more amazing views of mountains and sea. And that amazing trail.

Montepeturso, overlooking Positano

Montepeturso, overlooking Positano

Finding ourselves at the end of the lemon juice and having eaten our share of figs, we bid the gentleman farewell and headed down into Priano and back into semi-bustle of Italian sea-side life, and yet again put our life in the hands of an Italian bus driver who clearly found the twisting, winding roads to his liking, using both sides of the road to negotiate the hairpins and switch backs, often with little more than a cursory honk on the horn to signal to oncoming traffic his imminent appearance from around a blind bend…

Ok, ok, this post is well and truly in danger of turning into a ‘Go see Italy, NOW‘ post, so I’ll leave you with these thoughts:

1)    Italy has amazing culture, history and countryside.

2)    Italy has amazing food and wines.

3)    Always take your running kit with you on vacation; you never know what you might get to see in that wonderful countryside. And you might want to run off all that food and wine…

Here are some pictures for those who would like a visual clue. I also accept that this is self-aggrandising ‘Look at me, I went to Italy!‘ type stuff so for those who take offence, please accept my apologies. I promise a return to normal service soon!

San Sebastián

san-sebastian-old-town

San Sebastian Old Town, overlooked by Urgull Hill and a 12m tall sculpture of Jesus Christ

Pintxos bars (pronounced ‘Pin-chos’, small snacks like tapas) abound in the delightful old city that is comfortably wedged between Urgull Hill, the Urumea river and a sweeping bay of golden sand. Funnily enough at the other end of that sweeping bay of golden sand is a taller hill, a mountain in fact, Mount Igeldo. The hill-to-mountain loop makes for a very hilly, and very rewarding, 20km run with stunning views across the bay.

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

Sab Sebastian seen from the summit of Mount Igeldo

Rome

The Capitoline Hill, seen from the top of the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument

The Capitoline Hill, seen from the top of the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument

I managed to escape a re-run of ‘Roman Holiday’ with my girlfriend before going, but we tried a recreation anyway. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, we just walked around the city overwhelmed by the history and the culture. And the complete lack of adherence to basic motoring rules. No matter how many days you have in Rome they are never enough. There is simply too much to see and experience. And that’s before you try to max out the experience of food. And if you’re a runner, you will never, ever, be short of carbohydrate loaded options. For glycogen replacement purposes of course…

Or if you’re sick of Gelato, there is always Old Faithful, Vino

Running in Rome is hectic. Unless you’re out pre-dawn, the road traffic and chaotic street layout make for hard, and dangerous, running. Stick to walking like we did, or head to the Villa Borghese where most Romans exercise both themselves and their dogs.

Positano

Positano, Amalfi Coast

Positano, Amalfi Coast

Enough about the town said above. The ‘Path of the Gods’ is one of the most amazing trails I’ve ever been on. Around every corner and over every rise is some amazing view of sea, countryside or seaside towns.

positano-path-of-the-gods-4

To hike from Positano to Bomerano is about 16km and 7.5 hours, we took the shortened 5 hour version and turned off to Priano instead, saving our energy so that the next morning my girlfriend could sleep in while I got up at dark o’clock to run part of the route, a 10km loop from Positano to the top of the hill just past Nocelle (altitude 1500ft above sea level), with over 2200ft of elevation in the total run. Which I did two mornings in a row. Because I’m not very smart like that sometimes. After that effort my quads and calf muscles were destroyed, which made last Sunday’s 18 mile run an arduous affair, but that’s another post altogether.

I took a rock up the mountain both times. Ripped that idea straight from a youtube video.

I took a rock up the mountain both times. Ripped that idea straight from a youtube video.

Back to London

Back to work, life and reality.

4 weeks until Marathon Palma de Mallorca. Gulp…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

On Facebook? ‘Like’ my Facebook page and keep up with my day-to-day happenings, hints, tips and shares
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