The Middle Ground

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06/03/2013 at 09:51

WJH – Nice report there. I’m not sure what mileage you are doing etc but I would have thought you would be looking at a comfortable sub 3.30 for the marathon off that half time. Though I can appreciate that you want to be conservative if you’ve had bad mara experiences in the past.

Phil – Looking good for Saturday. Remind me what race it is you are doing?

Duck – Pretty impressive wavas from your mum there! Nice speedy session from you as well.

Hilly – Sorry that you (and BR?) are both struggling still.  Are you still suffering from injury? Both of your input is missed on here when you are not posting!

I tried my first speedy session last night. Intended 3x1 mile but felt sore after 2 so cut it short. Still nice to get the legs turning over a bit quicker. Also tried out some new shoes -  Ascis Gel Excel 33. They’ve stopped making the Brooks Launch so I’ve had to try something new.  Felt ok but rather odd so the jury’s still out. Probably just need a few sessions to break them in/ get used to them. Rest day today as feeling a bit sore. Have to resist the temptation to build up too fast!

06/03/2013 at 09:59

Mr V - Thanks, and yes, I'm prepared for that. In fact, have already had a taste at parkrun where 3 successive weeks saw 22:37, 22:44 and another 22:37. I think this was probably part plateau and part the effects of upping my mileage fairly substantially across the course of the weeks prior to the second and third of those times as my focus shifted to preparation for Sunday's 10k. Hoping I can knock another big chunk off this Saturday however, and looking ahead am deliberately eyeing up races across a variety of distances over the next 3 or 4 months to include 4m, 5m, 10k, 7m and possibly a 10 miler. This should hopefully keep things fresh and interesting even during the inevitable encounters with a plateau or two along the way. Jealous of your Portugal trip, but hope it goes well.

YD - Yeah, I guess you're right - hope so anyway. Might get a feel for how close I am to that this evening. The legs feel ready to go again this morning, so think I'm going to forsake putting myself through 90 minutes of ritual torture at Meadow Lane and get back out on the road and have a bash at some quicker paces. Plan at the moment is to have a crack at couple of sub-7 minute mile pace 1k intervals in the middle of a 4 or 5 miler to get a feel for what I can target pacing myself at on Saturday morning. Liking the way you're coping with getting the miles in despite the issues you're trying to overcome - where there's a will and all that...

Sounds like another tough session, Duck. Unsurprising you feel motivated with the pace of your Mum breathing down your neck though! That's incredible. From the little understanding I have of these things so far, those WAVA ratings make her world class for her age group. Does she get much opportunity to compete at regional or even national level in her category, or are the races / competition just not there?

Ratzer - Interesting post. Who was the author? Michael Mosley had similar findings in a Horizon documentary I saw. He underwent a DNA test and from that the scientists 'predicted' that he'd be a non-responder aerobically to the exercise regime he was undertaking. And so it proved. His VO2 max was virtually unchanged. He was gutted. Conversely, I've always felt I respond well to exercise when I've been bothered, and perhaps the decent progress I've been making so far with my short running career backs that up? Lucky me, unlucky Mr Mosley. The documentary also covered the sedentary occupation stuff - I've since tried to keep myself aware of getting up and having a wander about a bit more regularly. Would be easy for me not to move for hours at times in my job otherwise.

Phil - Cheers. Funnily enough, I've been keeping an eye out since Sunday for something I can use on here, but there was a disappointing lack of photography at the event unfortunately, and all I've found so far is a long distance side shot of me making myself look like a cock with a half-hearted and ill-judged attempt to get into the 'spirit' of the event by joining in with the mass warm up before the start.  Shame, given the way my Dad was almost wetting himself with laughter at the end, my feeling is that Sunday's home straight gurn would have been a pearler! I might dig out one of my cricket photos in the meantime - think there's one around somewhere of me holding my head after playing on whilst on 49 in a festival game a couple of years back. Not a gurn, but certainly a groan. Good luck with duathlon on Sunday, look forward to hearing the details in due course.

WJH - Nice report - you clearly gave it your all given your 'turn' at the finish line! 

06/03/2013 at 10:13

Hopefully I've got this right. Adding in both YP's 19:59 at parkrun, and my own 10k from Sunday.


MIDDLE GROUND WAVA LEAGUE (December-March) Calculator here:

85.79% PhilPub (10k, 33:07, February)
82.34% Hilly (10M, 66:45, December)

79.26% Duck (60m, 8.1, December)
78.16% SG (HM, 75:41, February)
77.86% PRF (10K, 38:12, February)
77.35% Wardi (5K 19:52 March)
77.08% YD (10K, 35:24, February)
73.84% Curly45 (5K 20:03, February)

69.98% Dr.Dan (10M, 69:42, February)
68.82% Young Pup (5k, 19:59 March)
63.15% BBB (10k, 45:40, March)

59.56% CB (10K, 46:20, December)
57.16% Alehouse (5K 27:49 March)


Need to add one back in:
BR, Simon, Ratzer, Dash, dav3c, RobT, Minni, MrV



Edited: 06/03/2013 at 10:14
06/03/2013 at 10:34

BBB - Thankfully I don't remember anyone catching my pitiful attempts to play cricket on camera. Years ago I played for the school's old boys' team for a while, but can't help thinking I was valued just as much for my lift-offering, match fee-paying, umpiring, and kit-bag packing skills as for my shoddy wicket-keeping, lazy off-(non-)spin or career high score of 35. 

WJH - Nice report.  Would it be worth having a specific marathon target based on a negative split? e.g. 3:35 overall with 3:40 pace for the first half, 3:30 for the second half, which might give you a lot of confidence for running a sub-3:30 for the next one?  (Or just go for it? )

Mr V - Good luck with the new shoes.  As it happens I've recently gone back to Brooks (Defyance) and initially was a little put off by the midsole stiffness compared to what I'm used to (Nike Zoom Elite) but I've since run 21 miles with no complaints (and intervals) so they appear to be bedding in.

The race is the Dambuster Duathlon at Rutland Water, also the national champs and one of three age-group World duathlon champs qualifiers. Run/bike/run (10k/42k/5k).  Quite a biggy!

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!

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