Monday, 23 April 2012

Golf balls and barefoot

8:47am on Monday morning and I'm sitting at my desk rolling a golf ball under my arch to stretch the tendons/muscles/stuff (I don't actually know what's down there) as I've heard it's the right thing to do. Calves and arches. Thems the things to stretch too make sure they're in good condition when you start running 'barefoot'. Or minimalist as I'll call it.

I blame 2 people for this foray into minimalist running, eatingtrees and New Balance. eatingtrees as he's been doing it a couple of years, raves about it and I've seen the improvements in his times and New Balance as the replacement for the faithful 1063's and 1064's that I've worn since day dot, was the the 1080 and quite frankly, it feels like you're running on pillows and last time I checked, running on pillows wasn't very efficient!

Not very efficient

Efficiency... I guess that's what I'm looking for with this new direction. Less wasted energy. A way of running that gives me the ability to run the same distance with less energy used and less impact on the legs and knees.

Slightly more efficient

Now the science of 'minimalist' running is a bit woolly to stay the least. It seems there are as many advocates as there are detractors and the old saying that you can prove anything with stats seems to apply. I've kind of gone with the logic that I can comprehend which is that forefoot runners have a softer impact with the ground than that of heel strikers and because of the springy nature of a persons arch, we don't put as much weight and impact through the knees and hips. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

So Saturday was my first trip out in the brand new BRIGHT RED beauties! Knowing how my feet swell when I run, I thought I should go out first in the cushioned shoes to warm up so I went for a lovely run with @MrsSophieHMC. As I run slower when I'm with Mrs HMC, I did a few extra bits, like pushing myself round the lake twice at a quicker pace and then catching her back up but it was a very pleasant 7 ish km which at the end of, I changed into the new shoes and went back out around the block. With all the advice being don't overdo it, I planned to run just a kilometre at a 5 min/km pace but it was feeling good and torn between turning home early or going that little bit extra, I pushed on and ended up doing 1.5km in which the shoes felt fine and I had no awkward aches or pains. Result! 2 days later and still the calves, arches and achilles are all fine. Tomorrow has run number 2 written all over it.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Running away from work

Part of my Berlin Marathon training plan (which I'm NOT currently doing) means that once a week, I'll be running some or all of the way home from work. As I'm yet to attempt this yet, I decided that yesterday would be the day. What a horrible, crappy route that is!

The route undulates constantly and also zig-zags through estates so it means you just can't get into a rhythm. (Why does that word have no vowels, it's why I always spell it wrong I'm sure.) Just as you hit your stride, you have a long steep hill that pushes you harder. Then the downhill follows where you speed up but while crossing roads and jumping over tree roots etc which again doesn't feel comfortable.
It was horrible and surprise, surprise, my pace was all over the show. In 11km, my km times were between 4:54 and 5:57. That's not right.

Maybe it's because I've increased the exercise too much, too quickly. In the last 7 days, I've run 43km and cycled 33km. It contrasts to the combined total over the previous 3 weeks which was a grand total of 15km running! Hmmmm.

Anyway, I've decided that this weekend I'm going to go back to concentrating on short and fast runs of between 3-5km so at least my pace will be more consistent as well as faster. I hope. The theory is that I can then build up a consistent base pace from there. Watch this space.

Final bit of randomness from me. Mrs HMC (@MrsSophieHMC on twitter) who is blatantly becoming addicted to this running lark has signed up for another 10k after her successful sub hour run a couple of weeks ago. The irony of the situation is that after 3/4 years of cheering me on from the sidelines and the last 18 months looking after HMC Boy while I run around a bit, I'll be on HMC Boy duty while we cheer mummy on around the course and over the line. What better way to spend a bank holiday Monday! 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Lo(s)ts of ups and downs

After eating my own body weight in cake, crumble and roast dinner yesterday (notice no chocolate, couldn't fit it in) I knew that my planned quick run of 8/10km would have to be increased somewhat. I also knew it was time for some hills if I was to burn it off properly.

I planned for around 13/14km which would take in a brand new, never run by me, path through the countryside and would include my least favourite route in my area. Chalk Lane. It's not an evil hill but has just the right mix of evil and length. 60/65m gain which takes around 1.5km. Its just doesn't seem to end. My reward for getting to the top of this mountain* (AUTHOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO EXAGGERATE A TINY, TINY BIT) a biting wind throwing the so far pleasant rain, into a horizontal angle into my face. Joy. 

Hey ho, there's then a lovely downhill that follows just moments before another uphill that is on a muddy, uneven and horse trodden bridle path. More joy! At the top of that hill was the never run before path. Time for some 'I don't really know where I'm going but I know where I'll end up' running.

Only I didn't. I ran straight making no big detours but as I crossed the M25, I realised that half of my 'never run before' path was still never run. At no point was I meant to cross the M25. Decision time, carry on or go back... Sod it, carry on it was. It felt like a bit of adventure. I then found a road with no paths that I plodded down hoping I was heading in vaguely the right direction and by shear chance, came upon the A24. A-ha. Not where I was meant to be but at least I knew where I was now.

Once I was back on my planned route, I worked out that my run was more likely to be a tad over 15km. Then the thoughts were, if it's only a couple of extra to pass the 16.7km or 10mile mark, it would be rude not to. An extra couple of turns were thrown in to add a little to the distance and back home I was, soggy, aching and grinning like a cheshire cat. I love the rain!!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Trying something new

After speaking to eatingtrees not long ago and him telling me how, up to recently, a lot of his runs were along exactly the same route, I realised that although I varied my routes and distances, I never just went out and turned left, then right, just for the sake of it in case i didn't know my pace or distance. I just have to know these things so my runs were always pre planned.

It took me a while to get into the whole GPS thing but as my marathon training is coming up and I really want to know my pace on my long runs, I recently invested in a Garmin Forerunner 410. The added benefit of this is I have worked out, I can just go out and see what takes my fancy so that's exactly what I decided to do this morning. Telling Mrs HMC that I was off for a run and would probably do somewhere between 10 and 15km, I hit the road with Test Match Special in my ears knowing only which way I was going to turn out of the driveway.

Through some parks, along some country roads and up and down some hills meant I covered 14.7km in 1:18:05 which although not fast, was a perfect start to a long weekend. Bank Holiday Monday has another run written all over it!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Nonsuch Running Group

I mentioned in my last post about Mrs HMC's running group and I thought I should let people know about them as they've proved to be invaluable in her achieving her sub hour 10k goal.
The group Mrs HMC attended is part of the Run England running groups website and specifically, the Nonsuch Park Running Group.
Designed for Complete Beginners, Improvers or people that are just trying to get back into running, the sessions are tailored for individual abilities and start along the basis of run/walk but include sprint sessions, hill work and fitness work to improve stamina.
The Nonsuch Group is run by a very nice guy called Tom (not me, a different nice guy called Tom) and I've been reliably informed by Mrs HMC that it's a fun and informal group with loads of encouragement from the other members.
The next 9 week course is due to start on Tuesday 1st May at 9:30am (each sessions last around an hour) but they have a free taster session the week before on the 24th April. Again 9:30am. You meet at the Mansion House in Nonsuch Park. SM3 8AL.
If you or someone you know is wanting to have a go or get into running, I (Mrs HMC) can highly recommend this group so if you're interested, get in touch with Tom on 07758 221038 or and he'll give you any extra details you need.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mrs HMC's sub hour challenge - Old Deer Park 10k Report

On Sunday I returned to the home of my PB. The Old Deer Park 10k. Flat, towpath for the majority of the run and plenty of room. It's up there with my favourite 10k's. Yesterday's plan was different to last time though. My lovely wife has been doing lots of running recently and really wanted a sub hour 10k. My job therefore was to run with her, encourage and make sure she didn't finish in 1:00:01 or something like that!!

Her previous training 10k was 1:00:45 so she was nearly there but as she's really been suffering this last week with a cold, chesty cough, and anything else your son tends to bring home from nursery, it was always going to be tight.

A very early start in the morning (05:45am!!! ON A SUNDAY!!!) following a full day in the garden digging and setting up a raised vegetable bed was not good but we were all up, fed and watered and we all jumped in the car along with the in-laws who were very kindly looking after the duracell bunny (i.e. The Boy who just not know how to walk. Run, run, run or fall. They're your 4 options!).

Getting to Kew in plenty of time, we did some warming up (i.e. chasing the D.B. round the field) and then met up with a few members of the Run England group that Mrs HMC has been running with once a week.

Luck was wished, hands were shaken and before long, we were off. I'm sure I don't need to do the maths but to run a 10k in under an hour you need to run in under 6 minute km's. The plan was to head out easy, get the legs stretch and finish strongly. A 5:28 1st km was NOT the plan. We slowed. Not enough. A 5:37 was followed by a 5:44 before we finally settled down to around the 6 min mark, albeit with nearly a minute and a quarter 'in the bank'. 5km was run through in 28:41 which means we were on track but it had taken it's toll.

With a permanently blocked nose, Mrs HMC was struggling to breath easily which made drinking even more difficult as you close off your only air way when you swallow. She asked to slow and so we steadied out the pace in just over our magic 6 minute kilometres but with the nagging thought that we already taking from our time bank. Keeping the pace around the 6:05/6:10 pace for the next 4km, it looked like we were going to succeed.

Loads of encouragement and nearly there's from me and we had picked up the pace again for the final km. You have to cross a little pedestrian bridge before you run across the field towards the finish. It's quite tight but does give you the sense of 'nearly there'. Mrs HMC went for it and picked up the pace as soon as we'd hit the field but maybe a little too early. 100 metres from the finish, she told me she was going to throw up to which I replied 'not yet you're not, only once you've finished'. The loving support and affection is the thing that won her heart in the first place.

Cheering was coming from the crowd near the finish line and she picked it up again to sprint finish and come in 58:28! 


She smashed the hour target while not feeling well and hardly being able to breath and no, she didn't throw up in the end either! So, so proud of her and she's already asking which race we can sign up for next! I think sub 55 minutes has to be the next target but that's going to take some work. And some bullying.