Friday 31 July 2009

Almost there in week 39

Garmin Connect now has all of this week's runs uploaded to it and I can see at a glance that 57.6 miles have been done with almost 10,000ft of climbs. I've burned 8000 calories during those 57.6 miles and the average mileage per session is 7.2. In other words, I'm on target to get 90 miles done this week. It's not going to be easy, however, as it means I'll be running 16.2 miles today and the same distance tomorrow. Ooya!

Monday 27 July 2009

Week 39 continues on the right lines

Today's plan was to run 13 miles over 2 sessions. As per usual, my plans changed but it was for the better as it happens and I was able to get 14.4 miles done over 2 sessions. I was able to get a sub 45 minute 5 miles done at lunchtime. I'll soon get this distance back to around the 40 minute mark. The 9.4 mile run after work finished at the chippy in Rowlands Gill. I'm not at liberty to say what happened when I got to the end of this particular run!

By my calculations that's 25.4 miles done for the week leaving 64.6 to do over the next 5 days. In other words I need to do a half marathon a day to get the target of 90 miles in. Easy!

The stats for all of my training runs are now available by clicking on the GARMIN CONNECT link on the right hand side of the page. You may need to scroll down to see it.

USA 2011 Training Summary - Week 38

The Run Geordie Run Training Summary is brought to you in association with Northern Runner, 52 Low Friar Street (Just down from the Gate), Newcastle.

Why not visit the Northern Runner shop and let the experts examine your feet to recommend the best shoe for you. Alternatively, click on the link to the left to go straight to their website.

Monday 20th July - 10.2 mile run, Havannah, Wideopen Tour. (01:41:01).
Monday 20th July - 4.5 mile run, treadmill. (00:47:05).
Tuesday 21st July - 15.75 mile run, Gosforth to Shotley Bridge. (03:22:06).
Wednesday 22nd July - 5 mile run, Town Moor Tour. (00:52:06).
Thursday 23rd July - 5 mile run, Race Course. (00:47:11).
Friday 24th July - 15.6 mile run, Gosforth, Wheatslade, Jesmond Tour. (02:31:59).

USA 2011 Training Summary - Week 37

The Run Geordie Run Training Summary is brought to you in association with Northern Runner, 52 Low Friar Street (Just down from the Gate), Newcastle.

Why not visit the Northern Runner shop and let the experts examine your feet to recommend the best shoe for you. Alternatively, click on the link to the left to go straight to their website.

Monday 13th July - 5 mile run, Treadmill. (00:47:04).

USA 2011 Training Summary - Week 36

The Run Geordie Run Training Summary is brought to you in association with Northern Runner, 52 Low Friar Street (Just down from the Gate), Newcastle.

Why not visit the Northern Runner shop and let the experts examine your feet to recommend the best shoe for you. Alternatively, click on the link to the left to go straight to their website.

Monday 6th July - Personal Training Session. (01:00:00).
Wednesday 8th July - Personal Training Session. (01:30:00).

Sunday 26 July 2009

Week 39 gets off to a flyer!

After last week's 56 mile effort it was straight into another week of running. This week's target is 90 miles and I feel I have lots to prove as the training schedule has stuttered a bit recently. Chest infections, 20 mile races up steep hills, work, etc etc have caused a bit of a disruption to the old routine but I think I'm slowly but surely getting things back on track.

I was very pleased to get the week off to a good start, tonight, with a hilly 11 mile route around Shotley Bridge, Whittonstall and Shotleyfield. The thing I like about this route is the fact that there is nearly 1800ft of climbing to be done (and about the same downhill of course). As you can see from the elevation profile above, there isn't much flat on the course and you're either going up or down. At the end, I was a good 2 minutes outside my PB but 01:47:11 will do for the first run of the week. The speed will return in time I'm sure. Click on the link below for full details of the run.

The plan for tomorrow is to do at least 7 at lunchtime and 6 after work. Once again, this has to be backed up with some good nutrition so the aim is to have a good portion of porridge for breakfast and a jacket tatey for lunch. Eating well is the hard part though! Give me 90 miles and 10 chocolate bars any day of the week.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Not a bad end to the week.

It's been a tough week, having to run with a chest infection. I've got nowhere near the intended 90 miles which means that I'll be having another shot at that target over the next 7 days starting tomorrow. I'm still quite pleased with 56 miles though. Not a bad effort at all under the circumstances.

Yesterday's run, at least, brought a bit of respectability to this week's training. Accompanied by colleague Mark Cass, the route took us from Gosforth, through Hazelrigg, Brunswick, Wideopen and Longbenton. We also added the short, winding climb to the summit of the hill in Wheatslade Country Park. It's quite a view from up there! Mark and I went our separate ways at the 12.4 mile point and he headed home along the Coast Road. I made it back to Gosforth via Jesmond Dene in 02:31:59. This was a good 40 minutes quicker for a similar distance on Tuesday. Yesterday's route can be viewed by clicking here.

I'm having a rest day today before having a go at a hilly 11 mile route tomorrow.

Thursday 23 July 2009

All run details to be made available online!

Following the recent death of my old Garmin Forerunner 305 during the Chevy Chase, I've upgraded to the new Garmin 310 XT. My friends at Northern Runner had the heart rate version of the device in stock on the day of release so I didn't have to wait long to get it.

As sad as it may seem, I rely heavily on GPS tracking for performance and motivation during running. I always find the need to have all of the important information at hand during a run. Distance, pace, last lap time, where the nearest chippy is. Oh hang on! That last stat is what I use my iPhone for!

Anyway, the new model is a massive improvement on the 305. 20 hours battery life is double what I used to get from my 305! The interface is much improved too and far more intuitive than the 305. I could never figure out how to use the interval training features on the 305. With the 310 XT, I doubt I'll ever have to refer to the instructions for the setup of interval training. It is almost as if Garmin have listened to their users and applied the feedback to the design of the new device.

I love the fact that it vibrates too when an alert is encountered; such as reaching another mile. The old 305 only had an audible beep. This was no good for me when I had my iPod on full blast. On today's run I didn't have to look at my watch as much as I knew that, after each mile, it would vibrate to tell me that another one had been done. You can set it to vibrate for other alerts too. For instance, if your heart rate is too low then it will let you know about it and give you the chance to pick up the pace a bit.

The connectivity to my iMac and beyond has improved too. I can now upload data from each run wirelessly via Bluetooth which is immediately updated in This website allows anyone to view the stats from my runs. For example, click here to view today's run to Newcastle Race Course. I'll be uploading all runs in the future. You can view them all by clicking here. Then, hey presto, you'll be able to see all of my runs! Nice! I will be using this feature during the actual USA 2011 run so everyone will be able to see exactly where I've ran and how fast/slow!!!

All in all, the 310 XT combined with is a brilliant piece of kit for me. I suspect, knowing that anyone on the planet will be able to view my runs, will improve my motivation even further. There is no hiding place now!

Tuesday 21 July 2009

A 15.75 mile run home brings about a re-think

Still suffering from that pesky chest infection, I managed an impromptu 15.75 mile run home tonight. I didn't leave the office until 18:30 and it was past 22:00 by the time I got home. I had planned on 2 sessions today (midday and evening) but events elsewhere meant that my plans were scuppered.

Make no mistake, this was one tough run tonight. I had to dig very deep indeed when the heavy rain came and when that steady incline up the Derwent Walk demanded a bit of extra effort from my tired legs.

Despite a very slow run home lacking in any quality whatsoever, it tells me a lot about my overall progress when I'm able to put in such along run at the end of a busy working day. I hadn't taken a lot of fuel on board today either so I was running on borderline empty by the time I got home. I couldn't have even contemplated such an effort in previous years and given my breathing difficulties I can't really complain. Oh and don't forget about yesterday's 3 tough sessions.

So that's 30.25 miles for the week done so far. I'm going to have a good think about whether or not I will be able to manage 110 miles a week. At the moment, I'm constantly struggling for time to train and there isn't quite the balance to my schedule and work/home life that I'd hoped for. I've got some difficult decisions to make over the next few days but after having over 3 hours to think about it tonight I'm almost certain to reduce my weekly target to 90 miles. I never thought I'd say that with a hint of disappointment but yet again it's testament to how far I've progressed. I can't get too downhearted. I've been building the weekly mileage slowly but surely for almost 9 months. I've made some excellent progress. There's no doubt in my mind about that. I'm crying out for a settled schedule though and 90 miles of running a week, as I proved in week 31 on the back of a 120 mile bike ride, is well within my capabilities. Running 90 miles should take about 14 hours which will leave plenty of time for other things and bring a better balance. It goes without saying that family and work life are amongst those "other things". I think that the actual planning of the USA 2011 run is in there too. I expect that will start to take up more and more of my time as May 2011 gets ever closer.

So it's 90 miles of running every other week. I'm still aiming to have the average mileage per session up to 14 miles by December 2009. In the alternate "gym weeks", I'm still going to look to work harder and take only 1 rest day. The tweaks to my schedule that I talked about at the end of June still remain.

I'll take a good look at my progress and the training schedule again at the end of this year. I've got a few very tough challenges to attempt next year so I must be in the best shape possible for everything that 2010 will throw my way.

It's a start

I managed 14.5 miles yesterday over 2 sessions. Oh and there was a 90 minute gym session to get through with personal trainer Mark Fleming afterwards.

Breathing was very much an issue during the lunchtime 10.2 mile run around Gosforth and Wideopen. It was slightly better on the treadmill later on. I won't let this chest infection put me off though as I attempt to run 95 miles this week. That distance is a very tall order under the current circumstances but I must try and get as close as I can to it. If I fall short, I'll be suspending my "gym weeks" until I manage to get the USA 2011 training schedule back on track. It's all about running now. As in the past, I feel it'll be the quickest way of getting rid of this chest infection.

Monday 20 July 2009

Not a good few weeks

As a result of a chest infection and busy times elsewhere my training has all gone to pot over the last couple of weeks. I'll be trying to get things back on track this week. Watch this space.

Monday 6 July 2009

Weigh in shocker!

At this evening's weigh in with Mark Fleming we were both shocked to find that my body fat is down to 19.6% with yet another increase in lean weight being seen! At last though, there was a change to the visceral fat rating (fat around major organs). This is now 7. It's been at 8 for months and months and was as high as 12 when I started training last year!

Now I've saved the best stat for last. My metabolic age is now down to a very pleasing 30! Yes, you read it right. THREE ZERO! Not bad considering it's a week away from my 38th birthday and this stat was 53 when I started training 35 weeks ago!

As always, there is still plenty of hard work to be done. My diet is still nowhere near where it needs to be and remains one of the few missing pieces in the USA 2011 jigsaw. But hey, let me just basque in the glory of this latest set of improved stats.

Challenge in the Cheviots! (PART 2)

Well then! Where were we? Ah yes, at the start of the Chevy Chase in Wooler. Lets have an equipment check. Brooks Cascadia 4 shoes - "check". Brooks Glycerin socks - "check", Brooks shorts - "check", Brooks base layer top - "check", Run Geordie Run t-shirt - "check"!

I was quite relieved to finally get the run underway and it was quite a good start compared to my practice run start with the first 5.5 miles done in 01:14:43. The scenery was breath taking in the baking hot heat but I tried not to get taken in by it too much. Concentration on the immediate 4 feet in front of me was needed if I was to push on and beat that 6 hour cut off time!

It didn't take me long to figure out that the good thing about not being at the front of the pack was that there was a canny well trodden path to follow. I didn't have this luxury on the last practice run.

5.5 miles took me to the base of The Cheviot or The Cheviot Knee as it is called. It took almost 40 minutes to do the next 2 miles to the Cheviot summit. This was quite a hard slog with a slight head wind and the hunger pangs really set in half way up. As soon as I reached the checkpoint at the summit I decided to have a 5 minute sarnie break. Katy had made me some peanut butter sandwiches and they went down an absolute treat. I also took on board an energy gel and some electrolyte tablets. I set off down the other side of the Cheviot and then up to Hedgehope Hill where I reached the 10 mile point with 03:05:12 on the clock. "That's the hard part over" I thought. I was ever so pleased at having made a much better job at climbing down the Cheviot than my last attempt.

The next 2 miles to Langlee Crags took almost 40 minutes but by now I had a very wide grin on my face knowing that with 8 miles left to go and 2 /14 hours left on the clock I had a great chance of success. One thing quite apparent at this stage was how strong I felt. But then I suppose you would feel strong if you'd ran over 1000 miles in the last 35 weeks. With 12 miles of the most difficult terrain and elevation I'd ever faced done, I really didn't feel that much less energetic than at the start. I had the same feeling at the 14 mile checkpoint at Brands Corner. I made it here in 04:08:48. By now I realised that I was almost certainly going to finish under 6 hours and, if anything, I was guilty of taking my foot off the gas a little.

I made it to Hell Path, the 17 mile point, in 00:04:57. By this point I was all out of water and there were emergency rations only at the Hell Path checkpoint. I decided that there were probably a few thirst runners behind me so didn't take on any more water. The climb back up Hell Path in the direction of the finish line back at Wooler was accompanied with lots of signs with quotes and sayings on. The one that sticks in my mind was "If you're going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill.". I thought this was a really nice touch and made that mile go by quite quickly as I was concentrating on reading all of the signs.

The next 2 miles (18 and 19) were very straightforward and I continued to fell very good about myself. The only problem now was that my Garmin GPS watch had died a death. Perhaps it was the heat that caused the poor thing to pack up on me. Me and it have been through nearly 4000 miles together. Now I've rarely experienced the kind of thirst that hit me on the last mile. The sudden feeling of dehydration hit me like a ton of bricks. Boy was I thirsty! I got close to the finish when I met Ian Harding who had come to see if I was ok. Ian had finished in 03:19:45 but had had a few problems navigating the course and was disqualified as a result of missing a checkpoint. I was gutted for him but then quickly asked "Does that mean I beat you?". "Yes!" he said, "and you have my permission to tell everyone at work and write about it on your blog". What a scalp! This is the same Ian Harding that finished 2nd in the Ovingham 10k last Wednesday and the same Ian Harding that smashed the Druridge Bay 10k record in May. But seriously! I'll be dining out on this one for years to come! My running pals at Northern Rock aren't going to hear the last of this one in a hurry!

The final few hundred yards were done with a massive sense of relief. My final time of 05:32:42 was well within the dreaded 6 hour cut off time. I was very impressed at being handed a print out showing all of my split times at the finish line. I was so thirsty though and headed straight for the drinks. 5 cups later and I was still thirsty so I filled up my Camelbak and supped on that until I had my fill. In all of my excitement I had to go back and claim my very stylish Chevy Chase t-shirt. Another one for the collection! Very nice! Even nicer was the buffet that Wooler running club had put on. I had a couple of lovely sarnies washed down with tea from a proper mug. You don't get this at the end of many races! Brilliant!

On reflection, I think I ran the perfect race for my style and ability. The amount of effort in each section was just about right and apart from the dehydration near the end I couldn't believe how good I felt all the way round the course. This was in stark contrast to the practice run 3 weeks ago.

Talking to Ian today, he has already vowed to have a crack at this race again next year and put right the wrong of being disqualified. Will I be joining him? Absolutely! Count me in.

For a full list of split times and some excellent photos please visit the Wooler Running Club website.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Challenge in the Cheviots! (PART 1)

Last Saturday saw me take part in my first ever Chevy Chase. I was part of a 2 man team from Northern Rock with accomplished ultra distance runner Ian Harding providing youth and quality to our side!

For those of you who don't know, this is a 20 mile fell race starting from Wooler and taking in the glorious heights of The Cheviot (2,674 ft) and Hedgehope Hill (2,340 ft).

I should also say that it is a very well organised and supported race and a lot of credit must go to Wooler Running Club, Northumberland National Parks Search and Rescue Team and the many volunteers involved in various aspects of the race.

Registration for runners on the day was at 09:00 and I made sure I was there right on time after a leisurely drive up through Northumberland. This was a good move as it got a little busier shortly after. Following registration was the kit check where the contents of my Camelbak were checked to ensure that I had all of the necessary items; Compass, map, water, energy gels, peanut butter sandwiches, etc etc. That whole process went very smoothly and there was plenty of time to get prepared before the 10:30 kick off.

Readers may remember that I attempted a 14 mile section of the Chevy Chase route 3 weeks ago. I came out of that run with confidence sapped due to a very poor performance indeed. It didn't take me long to realise that day that I had neither the technique nor the courage required to set the fell running world alight. My biggest fear was taking longer than the allowed 6 hours! I spent the next 2 weeks worrying about the race and the potential embarrassment. I even lost sleep dreaming about not immense failure in the Cheviots!

It was only last Monday when I really started thinking about how I could reach the finish line within the required time. I started focusing on the positives first. For example, the potential weather conditions. Well this is an easy one for me as I relish running in any kind of climate. There's a positive straight away. I've ran in all kinds this year, from the bitterly cold icy conditions of the Pennines in winter to the baking hot desert in Egypt.

What about the hills? There are some nasty climbs in this race. Let's not forget that I've done a lot of hill running this year. I've got a lot of confidence when it comes to any kind of climbing (in the running sense of the word) and if I adopted the attitude I show when running in the Pennines I should be OK. Plus, my legs have got a lot more strength in them these days. Surely I could handle 2 major climbs.

Finally, I remembered that I was the lad who ran 874 miles in 37 days from John O'Groats to Lands End in 2007. I've been in bigger scrapes than this! The Chevy Chase is a one off event and I would be able to take it easy for a few days afterwards. That got me thinking about a plan of attack. There were only 2 elements to it as far as I was concerned. The main tactic would be to make best use of the various types of terrain. Where there was a decent place to run I would go for it with as much pace as I thought was sensible at the time. On the rough and uneven terrain the plan was to push forward with a little more courage than I showed 3 weeks ago. Let's face it, that would not have been too difficult! Secondly, I imagined the forward motion coming from my upper body with my legs adapting to the various terrain underneath. This approach was to work much better on the actual race day than my previous practice run. This was me taking a few more risks on the day without actually thinking I was taking risks.

Last week, leading up to the race I managed a couple of 6 mile sessions through Jesmond Dene and a slower than usual 4.5 miles on the treadmill. I had a few pints of orange the night before the race with none other than Jimmy Bell among a few others. Jimmy has ran this race twice before. His words and advice really set my mind at ease and completed my week long mental preparation for the run.

Meanwhile, back to the start line at 10:15 on Saturday morning. The weather was absolutely baking hot! I met up with the other half of the Northern Rock team, Ian Harding, who was out to do a very good time. Of course, this was to be the last I saw of him until the finish line! Me and a few hundred other runners got underway right on time. I was actually looking forward to getting stuck into the run now. Did that frame of mind last? Tune in for part 2 as well as a surprise ending be continued.

USA 2011 Training Summary - Week 35

The Run Geordie Run Training Summary is brought to you in association with Northern Runner, 52 Low Friar Street (Just down from the Gate), Newcastle.

Why not visit the Northern Runner shop and let the experts examine your feet to recommend the best shoe for you. Alternatively, click on the link to the left to go straight to their website.

Tuesday 30th June - 6 mile run, Jesmond Dene. (00:58:00 tbc).
Thursday 2nd July - 4.5 mile run, Treadmill. (00:39:40).
Friday 3rd July - 6 mile run, Jesmond Dene. (00:57:00 tbc).
Saturday 4th July - 20 mile run, Chevy Chase. (05:32:42).

Saturday 4 July 2009

Chevy Chase - done in 05:32:42

I'll post a full report on the blog soon!

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Ooooh! Exciting fundraising news to be revealed soon.

Watch this space over the next few days for the exciting (Nay! Very exciting actually!) news of a new fundraising strand to Run Geordie Run.

All will be revealed as soon as the final details have been finalised. Suffice to say, that it will be worth waiting for and will hopefully be of great benefit to St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation.