Target 26.2 - First Timer Steve's Journey to Paris

Long runs, speed sessions... and a pair of rather tight leggings.

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11/01/2013 at 18:56

Oh-oh - we've lost him! I blame Ruth saying he can only have two takeaways between now and Paris. Steve, come back and talk to us

11/01/2013 at 21:00

Haha sorry, been a mega-busy couple of days! Will give a full update on training tomorrow

Ruth, I'm definitely up for the challenge... Intrigued as to what number four is though...

12/01/2013 at 11:53

Morning Steve

I did my first Parkrun this morning. I loved it! Happy weekend running!

12/01/2013 at 14:20
PAUL FORDE wrote (see)

Wow! Steve, you are flying mate. Any chance that you're secretly aiming for a 3.30 marathon??

Thanks Paul - can't believe how well I'm running! It's amazing what just sticking to a plan can do...

Haha that would be amazing but I'm nowhere near being able to even think about 3:30! Sam is going to be putting my next four weeks training on here either today or tomorrow - we'll have to see what she has done with my pacings!

12/01/2013 at 14:21
Dudemeister wrote (see)
Those are amazing times! Wow.

Thanks Dudemeister - just seems to get better and better with every run!

Had great fun at the parkrun this morning and managed to go really quick again

12/01/2013 at 14:22
SamMurphyRuns wrote (see)
Good session, steve! Now let me introduce you to the intervals function on your garmin it's under training and it enables you to set the reps by distance or time, and the recoveries. It bleeps a countdown to each rep. Very useful.
Regarding your question, I haven't changed the time goal yet - will reassess for next week.

Lol I knew there'd be an easy, simple solution! Thanks for the heads-up Sam, will have to give that a go next time!

No worries - we'll have to take my time from my parkrun this morning too...

12/01/2013 at 14:25
Green & White Tigger wrote (see)

Fresh ginger is a must when working with a wok! also have a fab receipe for Sagg Aloo yumm yumm

Saag Aloo is well nice - I am a bit of a curry-aholic! (home-made until after April, of course, Ruth)

12/01/2013 at 14:29
RUTH MCKEAN wrote (see)

   Ruth expressions


No "softening the eventual hammer blow" Steve, I have read it all! Only joking I have seen much worst but the motivation for you should be for  this journey to Paris to be the best it can  be and nutrition really needs to be part of that (and you will hopefully carry on some changes post Paris!).

So I am going to set you down 3  challenges BUT will you be man enough to take on the challenge!                        

  1. Breakfast must contain a starchy carb food with some value in it (i.e. no white bread!) so perhaps weetabix as you like these, porridge or wholegrain bagel/toast etc with some protein which could be milk in the cereal or if having toast a glass of milk or low fat yoghurt (natural or fruit) and finally you must have some colour for a antioxidant boost at breakfast (a piece of fruit or handful of berries, dried fruit, glass of fruit juice or both etc). So for example: wholemeal bagel with honey or banana or both on it plus a yoghurt (if natural add a few berries to it or other fruit if wish). If having cereal top with banana or dried fruit or have glass of fruit/breakfast juice with it. Simple it may seem but done daily you would boost the vitamin and mineral profile of your diet. So in summary: good carb source, some protein (milk or even a few nuts) and some colour!
  2. Eat regularly, try eating about every 3 hours during the day  (not more than 4 hours on a bad day)even if a light snack such as banana & yoghurt
  3. And the biggest challenge no takeaways unless a rare occurrence (no more than 1-2 between now and Paris) and 5 nights a week a homemade meal from scratch. 

 If can take on this challenge then I think we will have a great base to work off and the rest will be easy! I have a number 4 but saving it as it may be the final (hard) piece in the puzzle for you.Ruth

HI Ruth!

Phew - I thought that was going to be a lot more painful than that! I am very, very motivated to make the most of this experience - I have been running faster and faster and I'm sure the improvement in what I have been eating over the last week or so has definitely helped - if I'm not fueled properly for a long run, I'm definitely going to struggle!

As I said above, I'm definitely up for the three challenges... I do wonder what the fourth is. If it involves beer (or lack thereof) then I'm afraid I shall put my fingers in my ears and hum very loudly until you go away

12/01/2013 at 14:44
jenf wrote (see)

Morning Steve

I did my first Parkrun this morning. I loved it! Happy weekend running!

Hi Jen, well done on your first parkrun! This morning was my first too - what a great way to spend a Saturday morning... I can't believe I never knew about them before! How did you get on?

12/01/2013 at 15:02

Training - Week 4

Friday - 5 MILES COMFORTABLE (9:10 - 10:15M/M)

So last night's run was a simple 5 mile comfortable run. I did it in the evening after work, as I tend to do, and headed out the door about half 6.

I did the usual warm up and started running but the pacings on my Garmin seemed well off - I let it be for a bit to see if it would settle but the distance seemed to be flying up and, despite the fact I was only running comfortably and taking it easy, it was telling me that I was running 4 minute miles! I wish!!

The watch beeped for a mile having passed when I doubt I had even run half a mile so at that point, as it hadn't settled down, I stopped and turned off the timer and then went through all the options on the menu to see if there was anything obviously wrong. There wasn't - it just seemed to be going a bit haywire - even when I was walking along trying to sort it out, it was logging a brisk walk as being about six and a half minute-miling!

I tried starting again from scratch but no luck so, in the end, I gave it up as a bad job and just decided to estimate a comfortable place and, as I have been running my comfortable runs at around 9 minutes a mile, run for 45 minutes.

I did that, and it all went well and felt fine - I think I did probably go a bit too fast at times but, overall, I think I kept it fairly sensible. It was actually a little strange not having the Garmin to rely on after using it for every run for the past four weeks! In that respect, it probably did me a favour...

Still, I used the Garmin again this morning and it seemed totally fine and agreed almost to the metre with the distances marked out at the parkrun so it does just seem like it was having a bit of a bad day... and we all have those from time to time  

12/01/2013 at 15:50

Training - Week 5

Saturday - PARKRUN - RACE DAY!

Today was parkrun day - anyone reading this thread will have probably twigged by now that I was looking forward to this somewhat!! I have been feeling really good and felt like I was in shape to do a good time...

This was actually my first ever parkrun - I was never even aware of their existence before coming onto this forum. The most local parkrun to me, about 20-25 mins drive in the car, is a fairly new one and this week was only the 15th event held there.

As a bit of background, my 5k PB of 22:22 was set probably three or four years ago and was run on a track. I have recently run 23:07 and even more recently 23:03 but I don't think I have been under 23 minutes for a good year or even eighteen months. So today was my chance to dip back into the 22s and maybe get close to that PB... hopefully!

Sam gave me some advice and a few acceleration strides to do on my warm up, to make sure I was ready to go straight away and that my legs were up to speed straight away.

Unfortunately, as this was the first time I had ever run the event, I was a little worried about missing hearing what I needed to do, especially after we were told that there would be a pre-race briefing. I hung around waiting for this at the expense of doing a proper warm-up and wasted probably ten minutes that I could have spent much more efficiently!

It was also, it must be said, bloomin' freezing! There is snow forecast this weekend around my neck of the woods and it certainly felt cold enough for that this morning... Coupled with that, the parkrun is literally as close to the coast as it is possible to be and part of the course is along the path that runs next to the sea wall, meaning there was a strong, really biting wind blowing in from the sea... The course consisted of three laps so we had to negotiate this wind-tunnel three times!

The course was actually pretty well laid out, pacing-wise - each lap was almost bang on one mile and then there was a little extra bit on the last lap to make up the extra few yards.

Anyway, despite the almost total lack of warm up, we got going and I actually felt surprsingly good. I had been advised by other runners that have done lots of parkruns to go out fairly quickly to avoid bottle-necking and getting stuck behind people going a lot slower than your goal pace so I went out pretty quick and did some neat side-steps and a bit of emergency dodging to sneak my way through the inital scrum at the start. According to the Garmin, I was running at around 6mins 30secs per mile for the first few hundred metres.

As soon as we'd strung out a little, I quickly got into a nice pace and ignored anyone steaming off in front of me - I've always been very careful of going off too fast too soon and try to avoid latching on to the back of someone and following them... I figure it's much better just to run my own race and not worry about what anyone else is doing! Having said that, there weren't that many people flying off into the distance so I was quite pleased!

I had been really in two minds as to how to approach the pacing - I wanted to run close to, or beat, my PB but I was worried aobut going out too quick and crashing and burning. I settled last night on running at 7m 30s per mile, which would equate to around 22m 40s, and then see what I had left in the last half mile or so to save a few seconds...

But this morning I woke up and thought "what the hell" and decided instead to go and run it at 7m 20s and see if I could hang on at the end!

I felt surprisingly good running at this pace for the first lap and kept speeding up from it! I knew this was only the first mile so I deliberately tried to be at least a little sensible and finished the first mile in 7m 14s...

Edited: 12/01/2013 at 15:50
12/01/2013 at 15:51


A little fast, methinks... I did start lap two thinking to myself that I would be suffering somewhat as the run went on! 

So, into mile two and, still feeling strong, I carried on at the same pace, despite having slight misgivings that I was doing too much too soon! The mile flew past and I overtook a few runners on the way round... As I got through about three quarters of a mile, I realised that I really wasn't working anywhere near as hard as I thought I would be and that I was actually feeling pretty comfortable, relatively speaking, at that pace. So I went a little faster! I finished mile two in 7m 10s...

Onto the final mile, and I felt like I was looking really good for a PB - I fully expected, as you might imagine from my pacings to this point, to pretty much crash and burn and be hanging on for the last half mile - I thought that I had probably done enough to be somewhere in the 22minutes bracket so I was feeling pretty chuffed. However, the mile went on and I felt fine. In fact, I felt really good and so I thought, stuff it, let's see what we can do. I sped up and really started to push myself. I went past more runners and could see that there wasn't actually that many more ahead of me (!), which really inspired me to keep going. I think a few of the people ahead had gone out too fast too soon and were flagging a little so I concentrated on hunting them down one by one! It certainly passed the time... I realised that I was getting really close to the finish and I was still feeling very strong so I actually managed to speed up a little more. The Garmin bleeped the end of mile three and I had a quick glance down to find out I had flown through it in 6m 50s!! Got to be pleased with that!

I turned off the lap onto the final stretch and really pushed it as hard as I could - it was a proper eyeballs-out-on-stalks sprint to the finish and I checked my Garmin when I got home to find out that I did that last little bit at a shockingly quick pace of 4m 53s per mile...!

Flushed with success, I got handed my token for 12th place overall and the results email later informed me that I placed first in my age category...

My official time and, as you may well have guessed by now, a massive new PB for me, was an absolutely stonking 21m 33s - 90 seconds faster than I have run in the last eighteen months and a full 49 seconds faster than my previous PB!!

Needless to say, I am absolutely delighted and actually a little bit in shock that I managed to go that fast... Looks like those speed sessions have been paying off!

12/01/2013 at 15:57

Also, I'm not sure if she has been reading this thread or not, but I want to say massive thank you to my good friend Laura, who allowed me to drag her out of bed at an ungodly hour on the weekend and make her stand out in the freezing cold for nearly an hour, keeping an eye on my son while I ran... so thank you Laura!

Speaking of photos, here are a couple of action shots...

 And having a well-earned cuddle at the end


12/01/2013 at 16:13

Brilliant racing Steve - well done!  

12/01/2013 at 17:03

Great run, Steve. Well done! Proud of you.

And as a reward  here are your revised paces. Let's try them this week and see how they feel. It's important the the 'descriptor' of each session 'eg. jog/comfortable/steady' feels like what it says on the tin!

Jog (Recovery) = 9.45-10.30 mins per mile

Comfortable (Easy) = 8.40-9.30 mins per mile

Steady = 8.05-8.40

Fast (Tempo) = 7.35-7.50 (Or for intervals 7.15-7.30)

Speedwork - dependent on distance


Week 5 w/c 14th January
Tuesday 5 miles STEADY
Wednesday 4 MILE JOG
Friday 1 MILE COMFORTABLE then 3 x acceleration strides then 4 x 600m (or 2.5 MINS) in 2.20-2.26 per rep with 2.5 min jogs in between each. 1 MILE COMFORTABLE (4 MILES)
Saturday REST
Sunday LONG RUN 12 MILE: 9.45-10-10.15 depending on surface OFF-ROAD GOOD OPTION

I'm dashing out now - have a marathon workshop to run tomorrow - please don't let it snow 

12/01/2013 at 18:13

Well Done Steve on new PB 

Mine was not as fast, but I did enjoy it just as much  It was a trial parkrun, there hasn't been a parkrun in my area before, it was great, so I hope it takes off.

Also, just want to say to Sam, (sorry if I'm creeping here) I had your book for xmas, 'marathon start to finish' and I'm finding it really really helpful.

12/01/2013 at 18:23

Top work and a well earned PB Steve! Congratulations. Just need to sort the diet now!!!

Really pleased things are going well for you. Keep it up mate!!!

12/01/2013 at 19:25
Steve, fantastic effort mate, well done on the PB.
12/01/2013 at 22:26

Wow! Fab race report and well done on the fantastic new PB!!

So ... 1 or 2 takeaways between now and Paris ... eek!!


12/01/2013 at 23:40
Really glad you enjoyed the Park Run and pulled off a new PB, excellent effort. I'm a keen Park Run runner, my usual course being Milton Keynes and I'm looking to have completed my 50th run by the end of the month. I got to reading your blog late last night, it's of keen interest to me as I'm looking to achieve a sub 4 hour marathon and I've entered the MK marathon as my goal. Pacing was of great interest, I'm finding that I go out and tend to run close to my marathon pace on what's supposed to be easy runs. I've also picked up on the shoe lacing post, I ran the Park Run today with my shoes correctly laced...thanks for the instruction. Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to following your story.
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