Recover, reflect, retire – Advent running, day 8

This morning’s run was a straightforward recovery run after yesterday’s race day exertions. It would probably have been at least a kilometre and a half, and consequently at least 7 minutes, shorter without the Advent running aim to run for at least 30 minutes every day.

Since my run this morning I’ve reflected at length on whether to continue with the challenge and in particular, if I do continue, why I would be doing so. Ultimately I find that my thoughts are still much as I expressed them on day 1.

If I were to continue I think my main reason for doing so would simply be to avoid stating that I am stopping. I don’t dismiss the idea of run streaks, those who participate in them and particularly not @adventrunning, but at present a running streak for me feels limiting rather than challenging, stultifying rather than invigorating. I miss the greater dynamic range and rhythm of my typical weekly pattern.

Recovery is t-shirt shaped.

training plan t-shirt #runhappy

For myself I can envisage there being a time when I will run every day, but this will be a consequence of my improving fitness and deepening commitment to running rather than because I decide to undertake a running streak per se*. My target base number of running days per week was 3 in 2012, 4 in 2013 and 5 this year. And to these I occasionally add an additional day, for a recovery run after a race or particularly long run, or miss a day as part of an event taper. The base number could quite easily become 7 days a week for a period early in 2016 when I plan to be deep in training for my first marathon.

For now though continuing the streak would simply be a pointless exercise in saving face and would diminish the many aspects of the experience I have enjoyed to date. I have really enjoyed the challenge to increase my blogging frequency; the last 8 days of blogging have been fun! I’m hopeful that my approach to blogging will relax as a result and I’ll be able to blog more freely and frequently in future.

And of course my run log spreadsheet now counts consecutive running days and includes notable achievements on this in my run summary graphics. And so with my final stats, and today’s run summary graphic, I shall retire gracefully from this year’s #adventrunning challenge. I shall be running again tomorrow.

day 8, 33 minutes running

average cadence 174
average HR 122
max HR 136

Advent running summary

total consecutive days 8
(3 less than 30 minutes)
total distance 52.7 km
total time 4:07:17
average distance per day 6.6 km
average time per day 30 minutes 55 seconds

* Though of course I may change my mind. It does happen apparently.

Perivale 5, 2014

My practical preparation for today’s Perivale 5 mile was thorough. I checked my public transport connections (overground Clock House to London Bridge, Jubilee Line to Bond Street, Central Line to Perivale), checked the BBC weather forecast and chose clothing for a couple of possible weather scenarios, packed vaseline for my tender male chest parts in case the more apocalyptic of these scenarios transpired, selected my Oystercard, a credit card, a £20 note and £1 coin (for the lockers at Perivale Park Athletics Track), made sure my phone was charged for post race tweets and generally felt very pleased with myself. This last part being primarily, and almost uniquely for me I think, because I did all this the night before the race.

As I waited on the Jubilee Line platform at London Bridge for a tube to Bond Street I re-did some mental arithmetic and rehearsed my per kilometre pace plan – 3:54, 3:53, 3:52, 3:51 and 3:50 for the remaining 4.05 kilometres – giving a projected time of 31:02. I hoped that with a fast finish I could dip under 31 minutes. Satisfied with this and for no apparent reason it then came to my mind that I hadn’t actually packed my running shorts.

note to self - just knowing what shorts are isn't enough

note to self: just knowing what shorts are isn’t enough

Fortunately I was wearing running tights for warmth whilst travelling and of course decided to race in those. This aside my planning bore fruit and I arrived in good time and walked from Perivale station to the track deep in running conversation with two other entrants I’d met en route.

After a brief warm up over two and a bit laps of the track I adjusted my laces and race attire and lined up pretty near the front. The race starts on a closed road but this barely allows the field to be a dozen abreast at most and the strong, fast field combined with the need for everyone to move off the road onto the right hand pavement in time for the first corner onto an unclosed main road within 400 metres makes for a frenetic start. Unsurprisingly then I was swept along in the flood, despite being prepared for it by having raced the Perviale 5 twice before, and noted my pace at 3:40/km early on. I eased off as much as the running traffic allowed as we ran no more than two abreast down the pavement to the side of the main road. After this initial 600 metres or so the field had spread out enough to allow normal progress. I deliberately checked my speed and completed the first kilometre in 3:52. Wanting to get back as close to my planned pace I took the next kilometre relatively easy at 3:55 and tried to establish a comfortable rhythm. The comfortable part proved difficult.

Comparing my pace plan against the actual splits recorded by my Garmin it’s clear that I wasn’t able to maintain the pace required in the second half. During the race, as I reached the almost half way point, where there is a sharp 90 degree left followed by a slightly more forgiving right kink (fortunately only negotiated once in what is essentially a two lap course) I knew from how I was feeling that my sub 31:00 target was impossible today. Even before taking into account the slight over recording of distance typical with a GPS device which would mean I was already several seconds behind, I knew I couldn’t increase my pace further and maintain that level for the second half of the race. In this case the 8.05km recorded as 8.15km which means I was running about 3 seconds per kilometre slower than my FR620 displayed at the time.

planned pace displayed pace
k1 3:54 3:52
k2 3:53 3:55
k3 3:52 3:51
k4 3:51 3:54
k5 3:50 3:49
k6 3:50 3:57
k7 3:50 3:56
k8 3:50 3:45
final 0.05km 3:50 (equates to ~11 seconds) 3:01 (recorded as 0.15km and hence equates to ~27 seconds)

To be more generous I was pretty close to being on plan, at least in terms of displayed pace, until k6 and k7 where I slowed most significantly. And ultimately I did record an 8 second PB, even if that was short of the target I’d set.

Reflecting on this and my previous two races (Brighton 10k and Bournemouth 10k) there is apparently a pattern here; in all three I slowed significantly in the later part of the race notwithstanding that I was still able to finish quickly. Whether this is mental, physical or both it is certainly something I need to address.

race data summary

finish time 31:28
HR splits 150, 155, 158, 159, 160, 159, 160, 161, 165 (final recorded 0.15km segment)
biometric summary average HR – 158
max HR – 166 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 187
approx start weight – 67.2kg
positions overall – 49 out of 316
gender – 46 out of 183
category VM40-49 – 13 out of 55

Today was also of course day 7 of the Advent running challenge …

Advent running summary

total consecutive days 7
(3 less than 30 minutes)
total distance 46.2 km
total time 3:34:17
average distance per day 6.6 km
average time per day 30 minutes 37 seconds

Tokens – Advent running, day 6

Running in daylight for the first time since last Saturday I dressed as I did last night, minus the reflective ankle bands, and this morning the extra layers were all definitely required. Partly because it was certainly colder this morning than it was last night – around zero degrees as opposed to about four, I think – and partly because there was quite a heavy frost with patches of ice which I had to tentatively pick my way through. I wouldn’t have been confident attempting to run any faster and the reduced pace combined with the shortness of my run meant I never got warm enough to contemplate unzipping the neck of my top layers or removing my hat as I did for the second half of my run yesterday.

So a token run today solely for the purpose of preserving the Advent running streak whilst waiting for tomorrow’s race. And a token post to accompany it.


parkrun finish tokens – I’ve rarely, if ever, been handed a finish token with a position this low …
[ photo 7t* ]

day 6, 17 minutes running

average cadence 172
average HR 113
max HR 122

Advent running summary

total consecutive days 6
(3 less than 30 minutes)
total distance 37 km
total time 2:57:28
average distance per day 6.2 km
average time per day 29 minutes 35 seconds

* Original photograph by 7t. Used with permission. Original image can be found within his blog post Dartford parkrun 13 – a strangely muggy October day, an awful run and a tech malfunction.

Moonlight – Advent running, day 5

I had a run planned for today and a post prepared to go with it. And then I changed my mind because of the moon.

As planned I ran later than I typically do so as to extend the window of rest since my previous run. And, as planned, I will be running early again tomorrow to maximize the window of rest in advance of my race on Sunday. So after getting dressed to run, I swapped out the battery in my heart rate monitor as my FR620 had been advising to for the last few days.

Except it turned out that the supposedly new battery was in fact a used one I had mistakenly kept and so I needed to go out to get a replacement. About 700m each way, but almost entirely walked with just a little jogging. Because I wasn’t on a run. I couldn’t be. Because (a) I didn’t have my Garmin recording my every metabolic moment and (b) I’m trying not to run too much before my race. On Sunday. Which I may have mentioned.

So walking, with just a little jogging, and feeling mildly self conscious since I was fully dressed to run in the cold, crisp evening – running tights with additional reflective safety bands on both ankles, base layer, parkrun fleece with yellow t-shirt over, yellow gloves and a black Gore beanie – I sauntered into the bright, commercially lit Tesco Express and casually browsed batteries over the checkout operator’s shoulder. Whilst walking home, I took the opportunity to look up into the cloudlessly precise night sky and marvelled at the moon and stars. And planes and suburban street-light glow, but you get the idea. And I decided to modify my route to include some relatively quiet, less well lit, non-residential roads.

Hence this post. And the following image …

… which wasn’t taken by me*, but captured from the excellent Phases of the Moon; a free Android app.

day 5, 35 minutes running

average cadence 172
average HR 125
max HR 137

Advent running summary

total consecutive days 5
(2 less than 30 minutes)
total distance 23.8 km
total time 2:40:34
average distance per day 6.8 km
average time per day 32 minutes 7 seconds

* Although it is the same Moon.

Distraction – Advent running, day 4

Today I aimed to repeat yesterday’s run, but closer to target pace. Yesterday I ran a loop I use regularly and as such acts as a benchmark; usually of my fitness, though in the last couple of days it’s also highlighted my concentration, or lack of it. Yesterday’s GPS track reveals a couple of mild diversions where I continued to follow the pavement into a side road before noticing and correcting. Today I managed to start my run in the wrong place, but at least once I got on route I managed to stay there. The cause of my distraction? Simply thinking about what to post alongside my run data when I got home.

Today’s run, setting aside the route variation, was closer to target than yesterday’s. In both I intended to maintain a consistent 4:40/km pace. Yesterday I set out too fast and ran faster than intended throughout. Today was much better.

day 4

average cadence 179
average HR 129
max HR 145

Advent running summary

total consecutive days 4
(2 less than 30 minutes)
total distance 26.7 km
total time 2:05:33
average distance per day 6.7 km
average time per day 31 minutes 23 seconds

Tweaks – Advent running, day 3

Two tweaks to be precise.

Firstly, with the misgivings I expressed in yesterday’s post still on my mind, I’m going to have to compromise on the central aim of the #adventrunning challenge:

“to run for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, each day, between the 1st and the 25th of December”

Hoping to avoid any negative impact on my race on Sunday I’m not necessarily going to comply with the 30 minutes per day this week though I will be running every day. On race day itself my target is 30:59 so I should be OK. Unless things go phenomenally well!

Secondly, and much more positively from my perspective, I got to indulge my Excel obsession further last night and tweak my run log spreadsheet to count consecutive running days and include relevant achievements in my run summary . This revealed that my longest run streak before starting the challenge was 6 consecutive days which I achieved a couple of times in 2013.

day 3
And so a new milestone: It just so happens that I ran on each of the 4 days preceding the start of the #adventrunning challenge and hence today becomes the first time I’ve run for 7 consecutive days since I started running in 2004!

average cadence 181
average HR 131
max HR 146

tweetmyrun - 2014 12 03

#lovestats #loveExcel #adventrunning #tweak

Pause for thought – Advent running, day 2

I’m not going to say I regret joining @adventrunning‘s #adventrunning challenge already, but very soon after I published yesterday’s post, and thereby committed myself to run on each of the first 25 days of December, I paused for thought.


And my thought was, “Hmm … So today’s run was supposed to be the last hard workout before tapering for next Sunday’s 5 mile race. I’m currently running 5 days a week. How is running every day going to fit in with that exactly?”

It is also the case that when I’m running free from injury I enjoy my running so much that I often find tapering a challenge. When training is going well and I’m feeling fast and light, running less is the last thing I want to do. So committing to run for 25 consecutive days from yesterday was pretty much precisely what I didn’t need to do.

day 2, 33 minutes running
I treated myself to a gently paced recovery run after yesterday’s hard tempo effort.

6:47am 6.3k recovery run @ 5:10/km
average cadence 171, average HR 121, max HR 136