Aviemore no more!

It’s almost a week since I ran the Aviemore half marathon. Since then I’ve been resting, recovering & reflecting. It’s time to write this post to wrap things up.

A year ago I had never done a running race, unless you count primary school. Now I can boast a handful of 5ks, a couple of parkruns, four 10ks, a ten miler and two half marathons. Not a bad haul.

Heading into Aviemore I was tired. It dawned on me that I hadn’t had a break at the end of last season’s bike racing, so my body hadn’t had a chance to recover before I plunged into the running scene. As last week went on and the taper kicked in I was feeling better and on the day managed to take a couple of minutes off my PB. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for, but I was proud of what I’d achieved. I felt like a runner a lot during the race and passed a whole bunch of people as I picked up the pace over the last 3 miles. It gives me goosebumps now just thinking about it.

In the days after the race I have never felt so tired. I met Steve Bonthrone for a coffee on Monday late afternoon and I was struggling to speak coherently. Just. So. Tired. But as the week has gone on I’ve felt better. I’ve enjoyed eating ‘normal’ food, having a few drinks during the week (something I rarely do when I’m training & racing) and just chilling out in the evening. My brain’s enjoyed the mental break too.

This week is more of the same. I have a couple of dinners in Dundee this week, Wednesday & Thursday, so I’m just going to enjoy them without any of the normal feelings of guilt at having a dessert & a glass of wine. But I’m already thinking about getting back into training. I plan to get out for a run next weekend. Nothing long, or taxing, just a steady 10k to get the body & mind back in gear. Then I’ll pick it up a little the following week before we head out to Cyprus for some late autumn sunshine. I’m looking forward to running with the sun on my legs a few more times before I have to dig out the winter gear.

Thanks to everyone that’s supported and encouraged me on this journey. It’s been a blast!

Aviemore no more!

One week to go 

I realise that I haven’t written for a few weeks. Blogging is something I always struggle with – at least on a personal level. It feels somewhat self-indulgent, especially when i’m talking about something like running. It’s not exactly changing the world stuff.

And so I find myself with a week to go before the Aviemore half marathon. The last race of my first season as a runner. I’m looking forward to it, but mostly I’m looking forward to taking a complete break after it for a couple of weeks.

I realised just the other day that I raced my bike all of last season then morphed straight into running. There was no break at the end of last season, and this year the most I’ve managed is a couple of easy weeks after Edinburgh. I’m tired, and my body needs a break. A chance to recover, refresh and get the motivation back.

Today was my last long run before the race. The plan was for 30 mins easy, then 30 mins at half marathon pace. The first 30 minutes, my heart rate was elevated and I felt flat. I wasn’t looking forward to raising the tempo up to HMP. How long was I going to last I wondered.

At Longforgan I duly upped the pace, and before long I had settled into a steady rhythm, clocking 7:19 for the first mile, then easing off a little to 7:31 for the next. My HM target pace is 7:37, so this was a promising start. Another 7:31 for mile 3 and I was feeling on top of this run. Sometimes it’s amazing how you can lift yourself. The final mile was helped by a wee push on at the end, so I clocked 7:28, then it was a cool down mile and a bit back through the village.

I honestly don’t know what next week will bring. I’m tired and I need a break, so I’m not setting any targets. My only expectation is to enjoy the race and take in the scenery. If I can do that it will have been a success.


One week to go 

The long run

This week has largely been about recovering from the race last weekend. In the early part of the week, my hay fever was still pretty bad, but as the week went on, and the temperature went down, the lethargy that I’d been feeling slowly disappeared.

And so we reached this morning, my first long run without intervals for over a month. The long run is the staple of a training plan, get the miles in, build the endurance, without having to hit the gas.

I had the added excitement of new wireless headphones this morning (more on those in a future post). I’m still experimenting with nutrition for these long runs. Some days I feel like I need more fuel, so because I didn’t have to be back early today I decided to have breakfast before I went out. Porridge and coffee. Actually two cups of coffee, and that was probably my undoing.

The first five miles went by pretty quickly, steady pace with my heart rate bang in the zone (under 140 bpm). I was running a loop today, and this was where I turned for home. Then the wind hit me! I thought it had been a cross wind and that I would have it pushing me home, but no. It was now a cross/head wind.

On top of that, my guts were starting to play up. I’ve struggled with this (what’s known as GI distress) since I started running, and today it was causing problems.

So the last five miles were more eventful that I had intended. Let’s just say I’ve learned to take some Andrex out with me on runs now.

Still, it was another long run in the bag on a beautiful autum morning, feeling the sun on my legs (not as strong / warm as it was a few weeks back, but pleasant none the less) and enjoying being out in the countryside.

If you run, what do you do about pre-run nutrition? Let me know, I’d appreciate your advice!


new headphones!
my playground
in the country

The long run

Running on empty – Perth 10k race report

Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas summed it up nicely after stage 19 of this year’s Tour, “sometimes you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail. Today I was a shitty little IKEA nail.” Today was one of those days for me.

On the warm up I felt empty, nothing there. But you push on & tell yourself it’ll be fine once the race gets underway. I popped a gel at the start line and got ready to smash it. 

The first mile can be difficult to get into a rhythm unless you start near the front. I was about half way back, so slowly made my way through the field and wasn’t disappointed when I went through the first mile in 7:34. I hadn’t wanted to start out too fast, having learned my lesson from the Brig Bash in July. I got into a group with a couple of club runners (Dundee & Wee County Harriers) and we got into a steady tempo. After 4km I started pushing it on a bit to test the legs. Nothing there. Shit!

The second half of this race was going to be damage limitation, and just when I should have been pushing the pace closer to 7:00/mi, I found myself going backwards. Not good. In your head, your mind is telling you to give up, slow down, walk like those others. That’s when you dig deep and push on. It wasn’t pretty, but I managed to hold a 7:30 pace for the next couple of miles and soon we were into the last 1.5. 

Mentally I wanted to go faster, but my legs were having none of it. FFS! So we plodded through mile 6 in a pedestrian 7:33, then finally my legs agreed to play, running the last 0.2 miles in 6:50 pace. Too little too late!

So I crossed the line in 46:28, not what I’d be hoping for (sub 45), but that was the best I could do on the day. 

Back to training this week, 3 weeks until Linlithgow 10k, see them all as stepping stones. Ultimately I do this for fun and in a weird way I enjoyed today. As G says, sometimes you’re the nail. You learn to suck it up and take it, grind it out, do the best you can, live to fight another day. 



Running on empty – Perth 10k race report

It’s race week!

My target race for the second half of the season is the Aviemore half marathon, but along the way i’ve entered a couple of 10k’s, the first of which is my ‘home’ race, the Perth 10k, this weekend. Training is great, I love the process and feeling the improvement as my body adapts to the workload, but racing is the reason we train, so I cannot wait to pin a number on and toe the start line on Sunday.

The other great thing about a race week is that the training load is a little easier. Basically I have one ‘hard’ session this week – tomorrow morning, then it’s recovery runs until the big day. So tomorrow is the only 5.30am start for me this week. Lie ins FTW!!

Forecast just now looks good for racing. Not too warm, maybe a little light rain, and little wind. It can all change before Sunday, but if it stays like that I’ll be chuffed.

Be sure to look out for the race report on Sunday night!

It’s race week!

The sun on my legs

It’s been a tough training week. Tuesday was 15 mins of threshold effort, not too bad on its own to be fair. On Wednesday I rode to work & back, 80 mins on my cx bike at recovery effort followed by a 30 min strength & conditioning session when I got home.

The session I’d been fearing was on Thursday, 6 x 1km with 90 second recoveries. I decided to do this on the track at Perth Grammar School after work. 1km on the road is hard, because you don’t know exactly when the interval will be over – I judge it by time, but that depends on conditions or how I’m feeling. Whereas on the track you can measure the effort out exactly. 1km is 2.5 laps of the track or 5 x 200m.

And that’s how I got through the session, counting down in 200m chunks. The first interval was about getting into my stride. No matter how good a warm up you do, the first interval hits you hard. By the third interval, I thought there was no way I was going to be able to do all six. But you do. It’s a mental thing, and years of racing a bike have taught me how to suffer. 

So by this morning I was feeling pretty tired. Today the plan called for a 90 minute run, the first 50 at an easy pace, then the last 40 at my target half marathon pace. It was with trepidation that I headed out the door and the first couple of miles did nothing to disprove my fears. But during mile 3 the sun came out. I’ve always loved the feeling of the sun on my legs, it seems to warm the muscles – my best days on the bike were on days like this. And so, from somewhere, I tapped into a reservoir of energy. 

The 50 minutes came and went pretty quickly. My legs were feeling good as I started the last 40 minutes. With the sun on my legs, I got into a steady rhythm, and slowly but surely the minutes ticked down. Each mile was quicker than the last, with the final few minutes well below my target pace.

It’s funny, sport. Sometimes when you think it’s going to be a tough day, you find yourself almost floating through the session with ease. On other days you have what we call in cycling ‘un jour sans’ – a day without, when you just feel empty and everything is a struggle.

Thankfully, for me today was one of the good ones.


The sun on my legs