After a particularly unhealthy week off training, I commented yesterday that I'd be happy to see only a small improvement in tonight's run. Progress is progress, but I wasn't so stupid as to expect much after THAT week...
9:45 pace at 145 heart rate was the marker I set for myself.
Bad news, I'm afraid. Bad, bad news. Terrible, in fact.
I completely underestimated just how effective proper training is!! I was setting myself complete loser targets. I BLASTED it! 9:28 pace at 145 heart rate! BOOM!
That was over the first 20 miles of course - my regular, measured route. The graph looks sweeeeeeeet! Just look at that huge jump tonight:
As ever, the blue line shows the increase in performance since I started training again, and the red line takes out the gains I got from weight loss. So the blue line is how much quicker I am after 4 weeks running, an the red, how much quicker I would be now if I was still hauling the same amount of sexy lard around with me.
I also said last night that I'd hope to add an extra lap of the park, to make the run 29 miles total. No dice on that. It pays to be prudent; I don't like to build up pace AND distance at the same time.
Compared to my previous run, my heart might have been convinced i was going easier, but my legs and feet are sadly but inextricably bound by the laws of physics. Assuming my 25-year memory of A-level physics is in any way reliable, those laws dictate that my muscles were working 16% harder tonight. 16%! That's a lot.
So despite feeling fine, my head overruled my heart and I kept the run down to 25 miles total. I didn't want to push it, and risk injury.
Besides, I'm WAY ahead of schedule, so there's no need to take any risks. Next run: 9:20 at 145?
I had a few queries about avoiding overtraining, and one about what I eat on runs, and "supplements". These are all kinda linked, I think... so i'll write a blog to pontificate on this tomorrow, when i'm slightly less zonked. I bet you can't wait?!
Ciao for now.
An unseasonably summery English summer's day heralded the arrival of the fat lad's ultimate nemesis: a minor increase in temperature. Terrible, terrible run. Within 20 minutes I had dissolved into a gelatinous mound of glowing red goo, sweating and steaming in the sunshine. It's a good job I'm not ginger, or I might have had some serious problems!
Maybe I should have paid more attention to my eerily prescient warning-to-self in my previous blog, about not getting cocky after one surprisingly good session. But I didn't!
The graph has taken a bit of a beating, but nothing too serious. 9:45 pace at 148 heart rate, over the usual 20 miles. We're below trend, but still improving, so that's OK. But the graph is only half the story; I felt like sh*t! Not comfortable in the slightest, and quickly abandoned my plan of the cheeky extra lap.
Onwards and upwards - 3 days to bounce back, rehydrate, suppress the unpleasant memories, and leap back onto the horse to kick some serious arse on Monday.
A wise man once said to me, "Hey Studmuffin, remember this: for every five runs you do, expect three to be OK, one to be fantastic, and one to be terrible."
First of all, a few riders.
1 I don't know for sure if he was wise, or even a man. I can't actually remember who said it. I'm reasonably certain that I didn't dream the whole thing though.
2 I completely made up the "studmuffin" bit.
3 Like all these "rules", it's neither precise nor meant to be taken too literally. It's a good way to think about progress though. Never be unduly overjoyed when a surprisingly good run appears from nowhere, nor distraught about a bad one.
Therefore, I won't react intemperately to the fact that tonight's run was ABSOLUTELY F*CKING AWESOME! And that I am a COMPLETE RUNNING LEGEND!
Qualitatively, it went well and I felt pretty strong. A huge improvement from when I started training 3 weeks ago, when I thought I was going to die.
A pretty uneventful run. The GPS worked from the start, and until the final lap the only noteworthy things were a car nearly hitting me, and a baby heckling me. Unconnected incidents. At least I presume they were.
Then on the last lap, I realised that the Notting Hill Carnival was today, as the streets all around the Bayswater end of Hyde Park were suddenly swarming with drugged up w*nkers. Not the socially acceptable drugs, either (ie the ones that make them get the f*ck out of the way when they see a runner approaching). Quite the opposite: the ones that make them deliberately and hilariously do all they can to block your way.
However, given that I'm a gigantic fat knacker with more momentum than the average supertanker, and that I was dripping wet with stinking sweat, I was totally victorious in the resulting body checks, in every way. Go me!
Anyhoo, what you've all been waiting for... the numbers! I ran 5 laps of the park plus the squiggly bits, for 25 miles total. However I'm only recording the first 20.4 miles, and I'll keep doing that right the way to the end of the project, to make all the runs absolutely consistent. This should allow a better plot of progress from run to run, and week to week, right from the distant past of three weeks ago. It will also allow me to vary the training at the end of each run, after the first 20 miles are in the bag, without screwing up the nice smooth progress trend line. Obviously I'm not ready for that quite just yet, though!
So..... 9:49 pace at 149 heart rate. Above the curve! Over 2 minutes per mile quicker, after less than three weeks training! Whoop de doodle doo.
To recap, I'm showing how easy it is to run a sub-3hour marathon, just by dumping the mindless, moronic and - above all - laughably ineffective training programmes followed by 99% of marathon runners. You know the ones I mean... the ones in Runners World/Hal Higdon/Macmillan/your running club.
To make the demonstration more convincing, I did zero exercise for 10 months, smoked and drank a lot, and gained 75 pounds of excess blubber. I'm just sooo altruistic!! I'm also quite old (43) and very shit at sport. So if I can run a sub-3 marathon in less than 9 months training, then any able bodied adult can do one in a year or so... however fat, untrained and lazy they are to start. And I can, and so can they. And so can you. So why don't you?
So... progress! I started training two weeks ago, and since then I did exactly the same 20 mile run, at exactly the same (mid-moderate) effort level, 5 times. The idea is to get back into running gradually, so after 5 or 6 weeks I'll hopefully be tough enough to do three 30 mile runs a week. Then the training can start!
The first run was (not unexpectedly!) horrible. I puked, whined and almost quit. See 9 August blog. However I stuck with it, kept pluggin' away, and got much better just over those 5 runs. The discomfort became much more bearable. The pace improved from 11:51 minute/miles, to 10:26. It's working!
Run 6 was planned for last night. I was hoping to do the first 20 miles at 10:15 pace, at the same low heart rate. If that was a success, I was going to add an extra lap of the park, a bit quicker, for a 25 mile total run. Starting to push a little!
But when I got home, the weather was seriously shitty. Lashing sheets of hammering rain, plus rather dramatic bursts of thunder and lightning. Not a pleasant prospect for a 4 hour run! Gnarly, dude. I really didn't want to go through with the run.
However, quitters are losers. And in particular, anybody who lets something as trivial as the weather make an excuse to skip a planned training session is clearly a pathetic waste of oxygen. So I stopped crying, got my shit together, put on a hat (as a concession to the damp conditions!), and headed off out there with as big a grin as I could force.
Fortunately the running gods favour the brave, and by the time I'd got from my flat to the front door... it had stopped raining completely! The sun had come out! Perfect running conditions in fact. So I get to be smug at how hard and cool I am, but without having had to suffer the mild discomfort of the consequences. Go me!
Here's a rant. My useless, shitty GPS system didn't get a signal. In its defence, I did only leave it switched on, outside staring at the sky for 80 minutes before I ran, and we were in exactly the same place I last used it, and we are in that communication-bare backwater that is central London. So it has excuses for failing. PS, I'm being sarcastic. Please bear with me, while I save future victims (sorry, potential customers) in a google search friendly way:
TIMEX IRONMAN GLOBAL TRAINER GPS HEART RATE SPEED DISTANCE WATCH INDEPENDENT EXPERT FIELD TEST REVIEW
Do not buy one of these devices. They cannot be relied upon to perform their functions. You would literally be better off smearing dogshit around your wrist. Neither would tell you your speed/pace/distance, but at least with the dogshit you'd save yourself £250. Deduct £50 for the tetanus jab, and £2.50 for antiseptic cleansing wipes, and you'd still be £197.50 better off.
Mind you, at least they are better than the Garmin equivalent - you don't have to lock off the entire (non existant) functionality if it rains, or you get a bit sweaty.
So anyway, this left me with a dilemma of how I'd record my progress (and importantly, keep the all-important graph up to date!). Fortunately I know (from those rare occasions when my garmin or timex did bother to do their job) that a big lap around the outside of the park is 4.3 miles. At my hoped-for pace of 10:15 min/miles at 145 heart rate, I worked out that a lap of the park should take 44:04. Also, to account for heart rate drift, I reckoned that the middle two laps (of 4) should approximate to the whole run.
So after lap 1 was done, I reset the readout to stopwatch and heart rate... and the race was on for lap 2!
Well I say race, obviously at my level of immense fatness it's a slow-motion, ground-shaking wobble. It kept me occupied though, fixing the HR at 145. Got round without mishap.... in 44:08. Cool! If it's 4.30000 miles, I think that's a pace of 10:16, which I'll count as a win.
Then, as my smooth 20 miles had been disrupted anyway by the PIECE OF SHIT TIMEX GLOBAL TRAINER GPS SPEED DISTANCE HEART RATE WATCH (thanks google search!), I decided to mix it up a bit.
Provided you don't go so fast as to cross over the lactate threshold, or so slow as to break into a stroll, then for aerobic running the relationship between heart rate and pace is pretty much linear. It depends on a lot of factors, not least fitness and weight, but it's somewhere between 2 and 3 seconds/mile/heart beat for most people. I assume 2.5 seconds per mile, for ease of calculation. It's as good as a chok in the yarbles, anyway.
So, mixing it up. A few sums in my head said that for 4.3 miles, if I upped the pace so my heart rate was 155 then I should do it about 108 seconds quicker. So, 42:20 for lap 3.
Now the race really was on, as I haven't run that fast since I started training. Had a few hairy moments weaving through a horde of shambling b*stards with no spatial awareness who were spilling out of the Albert Hall as I passed... but progress seemed good. These things are all relative, obviously.
With about a mile to go, the average heart rate for the lap was only 153. I had no intention of redoing all those f*cking sums in my head again, so I unleashed the mighty tiger from its cage. (ie, went a bit less slowly). Got my spot-heart rate up to over 170, and just tipped the average up to 155 when I hit the finish line for the lap.
The time? 42:23. Again, I'm counting that as a win! However, my legs got a bit stroppy at what had been, in all honesty, a bit of a cheeky sprint at the end, so lap 4 was a gentle jog to calm them down a bit.
I then felt fine, so (as I'd hoped) put in an extra lap 5, steady pace. Romped home feeling amazing, after a 25 mile total run, the longest since I started running again two-and-a-half weeks ago.
For the progress graph, I'm claiming 10:16 pace at 145 HR for the "standard" 20.4 mile test run (as the lap 2 and lap 3 experiment did support this...)
READ IT AND WEEP, SUCKERS!
(As before, the blue line is absolute speed increase (mph), and the red line is how fast I would be going if I hadn't dropped any blubber.)
So that's my fifth run finished. The usual 20.4 flat urban pavement miles around the park.
It was definitely a run of two halves. The first half I was floating over the pavement like a majestic hawk, the second I was hobbling across it like a geriatric penguin with an inner ear infection.
Right now, my legs feel like they've gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. Niiiice!
I guess that was only to be expected though. Going from almost a year of precisely zero exercise, to having ran 102 miles in the last 14 days (61 of which I ran in the last 7!) was always asking for a little bit of soreness down below.
Given that the first 5 weeks was always supposed to be a slow sensible build up, I decided that recovery is going to be the better part of valour, and I'm skipping Wednesday's run.
Rest, massage, maybe a bit of ice... and I'll be ready to rock with fresh legs again on Friday. I hope so, anyway!
Anyway, the scores on the doors.... Looking good! It was cooler tonight, if nothing else, so the all-important trend line has bounced back from Friday's rather spectacular, sauna-tastic nosedive. I'm sure you're very relieved to hear that!
I had some free time today, and it's a glorious sunshiney day, so I decided to do today's run out in the midday sun.
Exactly the same route as the other three runs, and again exactly 20.4 miles long... but the other runs were all in the relative cool of the evening. I wanted to enjoy the lovely weather of course, but also (given that fat lads tend to feel the heat a lot more) I thought I'd see how tough I am at the moment.
The answer seems to be: not very!
I was sweating like a buttered pig after the first ten minutes, and it took a huge mental effort to keep running. After 12 miles, my legs felt like lumps of old concrete. However winners never quit and quitters never win... so I staked my claim to be at least half way along that spectrum, and finished the run.
Scores on the GPS? Not great, but not terrible. A big improvement in speed again (of course!), but the sweaty fat lad factor made the heart rate go a bit crazy. Final averages for the session: 10:34 minute miles at 151 heart rate. That's my trend line completely ruined!
Still, look on the bright side... if I do my next run in the evening, I'll look like a complete legend!
One real annoyance of running around Hyde Park at lunch time in the summer, is having to weave from side to side a lot because of tourists feeding the pigeons all over the footpaths. Don't people realise, these vile creatures are worse than rats? Filthy, disease ridden vermin. And the pigeons they were feeding aren't too clean, either. Ba-doom tschh.
Have a lovely weekend all. I'm away for a few days, so next run Monday. My rather hopeful prediction for the 20 miles: 10:25 pace at 145 heart rate. That should perk up the trend line a bit, at least. Fingers crossed!
Just rolled in from my third run of the year, again that same 20 mile wobble around the edge of Hyde Park.
And.... I ROCKED!! Even better than last time. This training programme is so much better than "the average"...
The first lap and a bit was quick. Too quick. Alarmingly, disturbingly quick. I began to think I might actually be superman. Not "a super man", like from Nietzche (which I so obviously am that it goes without saying), but THE Superman, like from DC Comics. But my secret nemesis substance would evidently be Pie, instead of Kryptonite.
Anyway, 9:35 pace at around 130 heart rate, averages for the first 5 miles. Ridiculously fast, compared to my first run just a week before. I bumped into my friend David Tillyer who happened to be running around the park clockwise (clockwise?! I know, what a weirdo!) and told him that if I didn't start getting very sh*tter, very quickly, I'd have to sandbag this blog. Nobody would believe that I could improve THAT much, THAT quickly...
Fortunately, I then got very much sh*tter, very quickly. After lap 2 the pace and the heart rate both started creeping inexorably upwards, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Even when I tried to cheat a bit by going for a crafty pee break at the top of the hill to get my heart rate down, no joy. Maybe I am human, after all. And I was definitely paying for my earlier exuberance, in havin' it a bit too large on the first lap.
Although I still have 65 pounds to lose, so havin' it a bit too large wherever I go is still pretty much unavoidable.
Still - the final averages for the run were another huge leap forward. 10:55 pace at 146 heart rate, scores on the doors for the full 20 miles. How cool is that?! Almost a minute per mile quicker, after just one week training and three runs. The trend line is holding up quite nicely, too:
As before, the blue line is how quicker I got after my very impressive 1 week of training, and the red line how much quicker I would have been if I hadn't lost any blubber. Approx 10% quicker in a week, and covering those 20 miles so much more comfortably.
Are you really not thinking of consigning your Hal Higdon/Runners World training schedule to the "emergency loo paper" pile yet? You should be!
I'll start stretching the distance of each run towards 30 miles, after next week. Then the real training can start!
In other news, I decided to enter the Javelina Jundred in 2012. It's a hundred mile race, in the desert. If you finish it you get this super-cool cowboytastic belt buckle. Just the ticket for moseying around Westminster.
Before I last quit running, in 2009, I did a similar hundred mile race, in Vermont. However it was up and down mountains, and was swampy, and horrible. And the belt buckle was RUBBISH.
Is it me, or does it actually say "100 MILF ENDURANCE RUN"? I wish.
OK food time. Ciao for now.
Just staggered in from my second run in of the week (and, of course, my second run in the last 10 months!). Exactly the same 20.4 mile route as Tuesday's run, at exactly the same effort level/heart rate...
I ROCKED!! 10 MINUTES QUICKER! 11:22 pace, as opposed to 11:51 on Tuesday. THIS is why the long run - rest - long run - rest idea is so great. Well, one of the resons. You can see the improvements stacking up, from one run to the next. (I think that the law of diminishing returns will bite pretty soon though... I expect the improvement to be less than 20 secs/mile next time...)
BUT even better than the scores on the GPS, I felt so much more comfortable. None of the pain and puking from Tuesday! OK the last lap around the park was a struggle, but that was as much psychological as physical. I was tired, and my quads still had a bit of residual rawness from last time.
And besides, being prepared to work a bit for the things we consider worthwhile... is what separates us from the looters!
Although the trendline is going to take a steep nosedive some time soon, how cool is this in the meantime??
Blue line is how quicker I got over the identical 20 mile route after 1 run; red line is adjusted for the 3 lbs of weight I lost since Tuesday (ie a bit of the extra speed is due to dropping a handful of lard... but most of it is all in the legs, baby!)
Right, hot bath and then I have some amazing blisters I'm going to attack with my Swiss Army Knife.