The Middle Ground

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06/03/2013 at 10:48

YP, love the 19.59 by the way! Don't like to leave too much room for error do you!

06/03/2013 at 11:35
WJH, great effort and impressive splits. As one who's 2 half times are a little out of synch with my other times ( having just checked they get progressively worse as the distance increase) I maybe need to take a leaf from your training.

PP, good luck with the duathlon, nice scenic routes in those parts. Will you be competing against that nutter chef? Someone mentioned his blog on SG's thread, he's a training and racing machine!

Personal bests in sleep deprivation this week, 2 hours today, 3 yesterday. Still managed a run and a gym session is imminent . Oh joy.
06/03/2013 at 13:34

Phil - Cricket would be even more of a minority sport than it already is without players of that ilk keeping sides ticking over...and acting as taxi services.  By the way, was just looking again at the pics from Sunday - is that you with the 'like' for the poor lass that won the race but then found they'd uploaded a picture with her eyes shut?! And is that Kenny Everett in the middle of your Facebook profile pic? 

As Dash says, Rutland Water is a beautiful spot. Just down the road from here. Hope you get some decent weather to take in some of it in between grimaces...though the forecast is garbage unforch.

06/03/2013 at 14:03

Kenny Everett?!...  Hahaa!!  That's my club mate, Stuart.  (I'm over on the left.)  He likes sporting the old-school look.  Annoyingly good XC runner.    Never been to that part of the world, I'm staying in Oakham and it all looks very pleasant.  Not tooo fussed about the weather as it's all about position and we've all got the same conditions, although I'm not a fan of bike racing in the wet.

Dash - Yeah, he's on the list. He might be a bit too quick for me, took 7 minutes out of me (2:44 vs 2:51) in the Ballbuster duathlon in November.  I might be able to hang on to him on the first run but he's better on the bike. Maybe he'll cook us up a nice spot of lunch afterwards.

35 mins on the bike at lunchtime, incl. 20 mins tempo effort. Sweaty but comfortable.

Edited: 06/03/2013 at 14:07
06/03/2013 at 14:28

Were you the only one running that day then, fella? Big smiles, thumbs up, 'Numero Uno Baby', a relaxed chat at the back...and then you looking like you could collapse at any moment! 

06/03/2013 at 14:33

...oh!  So I just started reading the latest entry on Alan Murchison's blog, getting a little nervous about how much attention he's paying to his bike fitness and aerodynamics (not to mention having elite running and duathlon coaches, and his bike costing about four times as much as mine ), and it turns out that his next duathlon is at Castle Combe in April.  Not sure if I'm disappointed or relieved! 

06/03/2013 at 14:59

Unless he's trying to lull his big dodger rivals, including a certain Phil Pub, into a false sense of security ahead of the big day...?

Interesting thoughts of his there on sleep - this is probably my one remaining big weakness. A sensible amount of training for my level and a bit of thought into how I go about it - tick. A decent diet and steady maintenance of a healthy (possibly near ideal? 6' 1" and 11st 8lb) weight - tick. Slashed the booze intake, apart from the odd blip - tick. Getting plenty of sleep - 'erm, is generally less than 6 hours, and that often disturbed by a wriggly wife and a restless child in the room next door enough? X -

Anyone else noticed big improvements and/or deterioration directly related to changes in sleep volume? 

I notice he also mentions beetroot juice there, and seems to pour scorn on it. Was reading something about this elsewhere the other day - again, anyone with any experience or thoughts on this myth / miracle?


06/03/2013 at 16:07

I'm sure he mentions beetroot juice because it's a bit of a fad at the moment, not necessarily because it's hokum.  The science behind it seems reasonable (concentration of nitrates affecting the way oxygen is used and helping endurance performance) but AFAIK there hasn't been enough study to say whether the effects are significant, hence it's sort of in the placebo/"it can't do any harm" realm of things for a lot of people.  I just think it tastes a bit crap.

As for sleep, I deliberately get more than I used to (8.5 - 9hrs on a good night), but only because I've read that it's a good idea, and that the more active you are the more sleep you need.  I'd like to think it's made me less prone to irritability, and it's nice being able to get up for an early weekend session without too much of a shock, but impossible to say whether it's really contributed to improved fitness.

Edited: 06/03/2013 at 16:16
06/03/2013 at 18:09
Beetroot juice is great and it turns your wee purple. Does it work though? Probably not as much as an hours extra training per week!

Interesting that you mention sleep after my paltry 5 hours in 2 days ( unwanted consequence of working nights). However, I shall get at least 12 tonight and will get things moving shortly with a pre-slumber Weston's...purely for the apples you understand..
06/03/2013 at 21:58
Well you have to got to keep your 5-a-day up one way or another, Dash.


And yes, Phil's right of course, how could you ever really hope to really measure the effect of sleep. Certainly something for me (and you Dash by the sounds of it!) to try to address though. Certainly do feel better generally when I can get a stretch of decent nights in.

Ended up giving myself a tougher session than I intended tonight. Ended up doing 5.5 miles in bang on 45 minutes at an average of 8:11 pace. Felt strong and bouncy during an easy 2.5 mile warm up at around 8:35 pace, and once I got into the intervals straight off the warm up, decided to stretch myself and added a 3rd kilometre interval to the two I was planning.

First kilometre interval was at 7:00 mile pace, second kilometre at 6:55 pace and still found some more for the third at 6:50 pace. 1 minute recoveries at around 9:00 pace between the reps. Harder session than I ought to have done really, but bloody chuffed with that!

If I've not taken too much out of myself with less than 72 hours to Saturday's Parkrun, surely sub-22 minute has got to be on the cards? Might I be able to even get close to knocking a full minute off my current 22:37 PB? Any thoughts - is the top end of those ambitions realistic off the above session?
06/03/2013 at 22:36

Beetroot juice  tastes like mud. My bf made his sister drink it during her marathon training, she got a massive PB tho' trained like a lunatic.

Hard session at the club, sea haar and wind to run through. 2mile warm up. 4x2k with 2min recovery 6.24, 6.29, 6.08, 6.36 must work on was supposed to be 10k pace.

Dash that's a brutal lack of sleep. Duck I love reading about your mum, I'm sure I'll see her in a race soon. PP good luck in the duathlon hope you thrash the chef!

07/03/2013 at 08:49

Bob – I reckon you are overthinking it and it’s always hard to predict race times from sessions. Just go with the flow on Saturday and see what happens. Re the sleep I do think it makes a big difference. I have bouts of insomnia every so often and it’s tough to train on a couple of hours sleep a night. I usually find myself having to drop all quality sessions  until I get back to normal. I also find some of my best sessions come when I’ve had a really good night’s sleep. When you think that most recovery happens whilst you are asleep it would seem fairly obvious that getting more sleep will help with training. Most full time elites seem to sleep loads and often have naps during the day.

Phil –Yes I remember you saying now. Let’s hope you can qualify!

Velloo – Nice session, especially if that’s splits and not pace

07/03/2013 at 09:41

BBB - I agree with Mr V, go with the flow.  I was thinking the other day, you listed a fair few races you were looking to do, but I'd caution against getting too carried away at this stage.  I know people can treat races in different ways, e.g. prf knocking them out more often than I do my laundry, but I found I benefited from curbing my enthusiasm when beginning to get into the racing habit.  Apart from anything else, if you're racing once a month (for example) rather than every other week, it's a lot more likely you can keep a succession of PBs going, but also means you can put more mental energy into busting a gut when you need to.

vellooo - Good stuff.  Interesting dip on the third rep.  (Can you clarify whether these were m/m paces, or should I hang up my spikes?!   )

Used my taper down-time last night to convert the road bike into a time-trial-tastic, wind-busting mean-machine.  (Took the mudguards off, slammed the stem, put the aero bars on!)

Here's a weird one - does anyone have songs playing in their heads, relating to people's usernames?  Every time I read Mr Viper I get the Stereophonics' "Mr Writer", but only very briefly, and because I don't really know how it goes, it always segues into "Eyes Without a Face" by Billy Idol. 

07/03/2013 at 10:10

Ooops! That was pace per mile for each 2k - I had the wind behind me on the 3rd and was running into the wind on the 4th... so roughly 40mins for 10k I won't be breaking any records soon!

Edited: 07/03/2013 at 10:22
07/03/2013 at 12:29

Mr V, Phil - Thanks, fellas. Yes, I'm sure you're right. My thinking really (though this will probably prove your point!) is that with the progress I'm making it's very difficult to know exactly what pace I should be targeting over the various distances. Whilst I'm delighted with the overall result of Sunday's 10k, the disparity between the first/last mile paces and those in the middle (7:03/7:11 v 7:30 average in the middle), probably shows that whilst I thought I was being quite aggressive with my target pace, in truth, I could probably have been even more ambitious. Just looking to avoid a similar undershoot this Saturday really. I'm happy to be patient with my body to make the adaptations to faster pace over time, but am less keen to show patience with myself in not fulfilling current potential! I guess over 5k you can just run hard anyway really, so 7:00 mile pace seems like a good initial pace to go out at - quick enough to target sub-22 but not so fast that I might blow up completely. What's sharpening my appetite for this weekend is I've got a little side challenge with another parkrunner I know through another (non-running) forum to get to sub-22 first. He ran a 22:01 I think it was last week, so the challenge decider now looks like being who can get furthest under 22:00 this week rather than who will get there first.

And Phil, thanks also for the advice regarding the races - I'll bear that in mind, though reading back the post you refer to, it probably misleads on the volume of races I am actually looking at - it's just there's a good variety amongst them rather than being multiples of each: -

*01/04/13 - Easter Monday - Wollaton Park - Notts Easter 10k
07/04/13 - Sunday - Lincoln 10k Roadrace
14/04/13 - Sunday - Beacon Easter Bunny Run - Beacon Hill, Loughborough
*12/05/13 - Sunday - Wymeswold Waddle 5m
*29/05/13 - Wednesday Evening - Beeston Trent 5 mile race
02/06/13 - Sunday - Sinfin R.C. Classic 10K
07/06/13 - Friday Evening - Notts Ten - Holme Pierrepont - 10m
*09/06/13 - Sunday - Hickling Corn Dolly Seven - 7m
15/06/13 - Saturday - Wollaton Park 10k
23/06/13 - Sunday - Long Eaton 5m

*25/06/13 - Tuesday - HPRC Grand Prix - 10k - Holme Pierrepont
27/06/13 - Thursday - HPRC Grand Prix - 5k - Rushcliffe CP
*02/07/13 - Tuesday - HPRC Grand Prix - 4 miles - Rushcliffe CP
04/07/13 - Thursday - HPRC Grand Prix - 5 miles - Colwick Park

31/08/13 - Saturday - Lincs Wolds 10 Mile - Market Rasen
*22/09/13 - Sunday - Crossdale 10k Trail
06/10/13 - Bournville 10k
*20/10/13 - Birmingham Half Marathon

There's a few either/ors in there, and it's only those marked with an asterisk that I'm likely to end up running. The exception might be the HPRC Grand Prix series which is run by the club I'm thinking of joining, though only the two marked with an asterisk will be raced, the other two probably just run as glorified training sessions to complete the series. Even the parkruns will become less aggressive tempo runs most of the time once the cricket season gets underway I'd hope. Does that seem more reasonable?

Regarding the songs, I do get stuck song syndrome / ear worms, but not in this particular instance. Though if we're making suggestions I'll kick off with The Liquidator by Harry J Allstars for Duck, and Stars on 45 for Curly

07/03/2013 at 16:22

BBB, I recommend you just race the guy at the same parkrun. But if he starts pushing too hard to early, then bide your time!  Your earlier question the answer is Gretchen Reynolds, who writes a NYTimes column about the science of health and fitness.  She just summarises the latest collated thought in her book (spot the tautology).  The article on the problems of sitting too long is here.  The important paragraph is:

"The quantitative effects of sitting time were compared with the corresponding inverse effects of physical exercise in a large representative sample of Australian adults.8 It was reported that each 1-h increase in sitting time watching television increased the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in women by 26%, independent of the amount of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical exercise performed. This was approximately the same quantity of decreased risk (28%) of the metabolic syndrome that was induced by 30 minutes of extra physical exercise."

So basically, you exercise for thirty minutes, then treat yourself to an extra hour in front of the TV, and you've just undone the benefits of the exercise in some ways.  Whether you've undone any improvements that might lead to a greater VO2Max is something I reckon should be investigated.  Duck, I agree on the living in a lab thought - the paper notes the fallacy of using questionnaire answers instead of clinical observation.

As to being able to predict whether one will get gains from exercise by testing your genes, well, she does a decent chapter on that too.  I'll let you guess what the result is but presently my opinions remain secure.

Nice report, WJH, and off the back of that you could safely assume sub-3:30, if you're marathon trained.  If those improvements are off the back of increased mileage and longer slower runs, a 3:20 would still give you a comfort factor even for your first full.  But always worth erring on the side of caution with the biggie!

YD, I think MP for me at the moment is a desired race pace rather than true MP.  I don't have recent enough results to point to a true MP, and I don't want to go with my past MRP.  It's aerobic, I'm making sure of that!

Tonight's the night for more MP intervals, with much reduced interval duration for the same rep length.  Not looking forward to it though, after spending 1hr45m for a bit over 13 miles on the treadmill last night.  3 miles recovery this morning was mentally offensive!

07/03/2013 at 17:03

Hi all! Sorry been having posting problems the last few days.

Anyway good club session on Tues with 6 x 5 mins off 90secs jog recovery average pace 7:03 (roughly HMP) feeling pretty decent throughout 18 miles on the bike, then 10.5 miles last night @ 9:11 and 8 on the bike. Just 10 on the bike tonight which is nice.

Been sleeping lots as usual, but still not able to lose any lbs. At my lowest previous racing weight, but just cannot shoft anymore (BMI now 20-21 so not like I'm underweight or anything). Ho hum.

Hilly sorry to hear you are still struggling

Good luck to Phil for the weekend

BBB I'd agree - scale back your racing plans for now. It will benefit you in the future.

Ratzer not sure how you ran for 1:45 on the treadmill. Blimey!

Great race report from WJH - hope the long run session goes well!


07/03/2013 at 17:22

BBB - Looks sensible enough.  It took me a long time to get my head round the idea of race as hard training session, although maybe it's easier if part of a series.

Ratzer - An hour longer than I've ever managed on a single treadmill session.  No ta!

Good stuff Curly.  I know you're not rushing to race on two wheels, but as I said to my running mate the other day - all good "free" aerobic exercise as far as abuse to the running muscles/joints is concerned.

Hmmm... weight.  Whilst tapering over the past few days I've been having the odd extra cheeky afternoon bowl of cereal, and calling it a carb-load!  I will be racing for a good couple of hours on Saturday, so I think I can get away with that. Just about. 

I made the mistake of using a different set of weighing scales the other day.  First weigh-in since Christmas Eve and it reckons I've put on 2 lbs!  Erm... yeah right!  Given that this was a proper job with sliding thingummies along the top bit, all this is probably telling me is that my dad's scales have the same bias as GAP jean sizes, i.e. rather flattering.  If it's any consolation to those worrying about a BMI point or two, apparently I'm 11st 7, which puts me at a BMI of 23.  Whatever.  The beanpoles at the club would say "Just think how quick you'd be if you lost some weight." My glass-half-full attitude is "I can pack a bit of muscle and still run quick." 

07/03/2013 at 17:29

I think I need to get down to Gap. Despite reducing the calorie intake I can't shift any weight: it is probably due to a complete lack of running...I seem to be back on the bench after Saturday's parkrun. THe "good" calf is a problem and was told last night not to run. Walk, stretch, heat, walk stretch, heat etc etc. Frustrating, particularly as the leg that I had the Achilles op on is coping fine, plus I feel zero problems post prostate treatment. Hope I am not talking too soon on that one!

CB: not sure yet whether I will be at Trafford...Mother's Day!

07/03/2013 at 21:11

YD, true that. At the end of the day if I come away feeling like hell then the session was a success 

Good to see you ticking over still. I see on fb not such good news? 

WJH, good splits, looks like you were fairly even the whole way through. 

Mr V (and YD) - the Brooks T7 is a decent, light shoe that's not too expensive either. Worth a look perhaps. 

BBB - yeah, she's up there (she's 3rd in the all-time V50 mile, last year she was ranked 10th for 5k, 4th for 10k, 6th for 10M & 13th for HM). We used to be quite close in terms of times, but the last year I've pulled ahead. She does get elite entries to the local/semi-local races but she's not that bothered about competing nationally. 

For Saturday, just go out hard-comfortable for the first 2k then see what happens. I reckon you could do 21'xx given the right conditions if you convert well.

Sleep - I can get one decent session on lack of sleep, after that, no chance!

velloo - you're Edinburgh aren't you? 

Nice training Curly. I'm at a bit of a weight impasse myself, stuck around 158, which isn't bad at all but for competition I'd probaby like to be 155. 

Decent hour's run this morning - first 2M around 8:30s, last few close to 7:30/m. Getting lighter in the mornings  400/300/200/300/400 reasonably early tomorrow. 

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