Weeks 3 and 4 of the Hanson’s Marathon Method

Last week was my fourth week following the Hanson’s Marathon Method* training plan.  Although I’m trying to slot in my runs as best as possible I haven’t stuck strictly to the plan, tweaking it in a few places from time to time as required.  My return to work with a young baby and house improvements still to be made has meant that these first few weeks of the plan needed to be fairly flexible to fit around my schedule.  Once school finishes for me at the end of July then training should become a little easier to slot in though.  (Hopefully!)

The main structure of my training week comes from the book, and I try to follow all advice given from within the pages, with all my paces based on a 4h 15m marathon finish time.  (I am aiming for a sub 4h 30m marathon in October.)

Week 3 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day as racing the following day)
Tuesday – Weedon 10k (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – 6m trail run with friends
Thursday – 6x 800m with 400m recovery
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3m easy, followed by parkrun (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 8m easy (10:50-11:40mm)

Week 3 actual: (3 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Weedon 10k
I accidentally picked up my old heart rate monitor as I madly rushed out of the door.  Old, as in it no longer sends my heart rate data to my watch and so, despite planning to run to heart rate for the race I ended up needing to run on feel once again.  Weedon 10k is a ridiculously hilly course, with two particularly big hills at miles 2.5 and 4.5.  Luckily the race finishes with a long downhill, but the first proper hill of the event really took it out of me for the rest of the run!
Total time: 61:22, which I was happy with on such a hilly course!

Weedon 10k(Photo by Barry Cornelius of Oxon Races.)

Wednesday – 6.19m trail run (12:43mm)
Pace includes all stops and stile climbs!
Thursday – Off
I just did not have the energy or drive to get out for speedwork on Thursday evening.  I replaced speedwork with a two hour nap once Dan returned home from work.  That nap did me wonders.
Friday – Off
Saturday – 2.07m easy (10:45mm), followed by parkrun (28m 53s), then 0.69m easy (10:59mm)
I headed to Huntingdon parkrun on the Saturday, slotted in a warmup and then a cooldown to try and get in some extra miles.
I really want to continue attending parkrun throughout marathon training, but I really struggle to keep the pace consistently easy at parkrun at the moment unless I have somebody to chat to.  I feel like I am constantly battling with myself to not end up racing against previous times I’ve run.  This week I ran parkrun at 9:10mm pace, which is way too fast for my prescribed easy pace of 10:50-11:40mm, and definitely wouldn’t have done my legs any favours.
Sunday – Off
On Sunday I headed to Norfolk for the day with Dan and Oscar to see my parents.  We ended up setting off from Norfolk to return home again a little later than originally planned.  That, combined with a diversion on the way home meant that we didn’t arrive back in Northamptonshire until fairly late, with washing still to be washed and bags still to be packed for the following day.  I felt like I’d already had a fairly rubbish week of training, and so skipped the workout.  (Which I obviously immediately regretted as soon as I got into bed.)
Next week is another week…

Week 4 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day as targeting a race the following day)
Tuesday – Milton Keynes 10k (run to heart rate – 165bpm)
Wednesday – 7m trail run with friends
Thursday – 5x 1k with 400m recovery
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3m easy, followed by parkrun (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 12m long (10:29mm)

Week 4 actual: (5 runs)
Monday – 5.19m (11:24mm)
Tuesday – Milton Keynes 10k (run to heart rate – 163bpm average)
PB, PB, PB!!!  I didn’t want to all out announce it beforehand, but I was fairly confident that I would be capable of PBing at Milton Keynes on the Tuesday night.  All the recent extra runs I’ve been fitting in and base building at slower paces has seen my running improve.  My running was set at 8:xx pace for quite a lot of the time that I stuck to my 165bpm goal.  I would never have believed how easy 8:30-9mm pace could feel over a 10k distance this time last year!  My previous 10k PB had also been set at Milton Keynes 10k, two years earlier.  That time I had PBd by 8 seconds, and was ecstatic on the night.  So – imagine my beaming smile last Tuesday evening when I crossed the line in 56m 40s – giving me a PB of nearly two minutes!

MK 10k with Margaret Wednesday – 6.93m trail run (11:48mm)
Thursday – Off
I start off with such good intentions at the beginning of the week, but by the time Thursday rolls round often all I want to do is curl up on the couch and sleep.  This Thursday involved housework until 11pm though.  Boo. :(
Friday – Off
Saturday – Off – we headed to Dan’s parents in Wolverhampton on the Saturday and so it ended up being a rush in the morning to get round in time.  Dan had left his car in Northampton following a work night out on the Friday, so I had to load Oscar up and drop Dan off to pick his car back up again before we headed to the Midlands.  Had Northampton parkrun been on in the morning, all would be fine and I could have slotted my run in, but as it was, the Racecourse where Northampton parkrun is held was being used for something else, so no run was had. :(
Sunday – 5.86m with Oscar in the buggy (12:46mm) AM, 8.05m (11:02mm) PM
The AM run was a substitute for missing the Saturday run, and the PM run was a shortened version of Sunday’s run.  Although annoyingly, heading out in a rush I didn’t check my training plan properly and missed that it was supposed to be run as a ‘long run’ rather than an ‘easy run’, and I should have run at a pace 30 seconds quicker per mile than I did.  Never mind, – can’t win them all!

How was it this sunny already at 7:30am on my run this morning?! #buggyrunning #stanwicklakes #10k

A post shared by Mary (@ahealthiermoo) on

So weeks 3 and 4 complete now.  My biggest challenge is keeping the momentum going by a Thursday evening, especially as that is a speedwork night and one that I should not really be missing.  I have been racing for the past few weeks though which luckily does keep my legs ticking over, but the East Midlands Grand Prix series has finished now, with Milton Keynes being the last race of the series, so I am on my own again!

My second biggest challenge is keeping the pace slow and steady at parkruns.  It is so, so easy to get carried away and drawn along by everybody else at parkrun.  I can easily zone out and happily run my easy runs at 10:50-11:40mm on my own back at home, but when there are people around, it instantly becomes so much more difficult to do and I end up running too hard on what should be an easy run day.  I plan on getting some parkrun tourism in over the Summer and hopefully I will feel less pressured to run hard on unknown courses with people around who I do not know.

My easy runs are definitely paying off, and are absolutely not ‘junk miles’ as proven by this week’s PB!  Whenever I think about how much effort it is to get out late at night (when my runs so often are nowadays – seriously, if you follow me on Strava you will see that the majority of my runs are 9-10pm!) I look at how much my running has improved and how much easier it is to hit faster paces than it initially was and it gives me that extra little bit of incentive to get out there.

Do you find it difficult to run ‘easy’ runs as slowly as prescribed?
What time of day do you tend to head out for a run?

A parkrun catchup

It’s been a while since I posted any details from the parkruns I’ve run.  Over the past few months I’ve gradually ticking off more parkruns, getting ever closer to that magic number 100.  I have just 16 left to go now before I can apply for my 100 runs t-shirt.  I haven’t made much of a dent in achieving the parkrun tourist status this year though.  In total I have run 12 different events, so still have another 8 to go before I can buy my cow cowl.

I did just find an amazing parkrun tourism tool which has whet my appetite for more tourism.  It allows you to enter your parkrun ID and postcode and then shows you the nearest 10/20/30 parkruns to where you are based.  You can also choose to not include those parkruns which you have already run so you can see where your best options are to head to next.

parkrun tourism toolI’ve already run the nine closest parkruns to me so it looks like Rutland Water will be featuring on my results list next!  Wimpole Estate is another one I need to tick off in the near future as well.  I’ve had lots of good feedback about the event just lately.

Here is where I’ve been on my six most recent parkruns…

parkrun #79 – Northampton
6th May

Northampton parkrun is a great course for running with the buggy.  The paths are wide and although it is a super crowded course at the start, the numbers toward the back soon start to thin out.  There are wide grass verges for most of the distance, so even if I feel rather uneasy about pushing the buggy along the path at the start of the run for fear of clipping somebody’s heels, I can always stick to the safer option of running on the sidelines until the crowds start to thin.

Northampton parkrun with the buggyI use my parkruns with Oscar to catch up on all the gossip(!)Northampton parkrun with the buggy(Photos by Martyn Haworth posted on the Northampton parkrun Facebook page)
Official time: 32:55
Position: 459/609
Gender position: 148/256
Age category position: 21/36

Magic Mile #4 – Northampton
6th May

I completely ran out of time to write about this event back in May but for the first time ever I WAS FIRST LADY across the finish line!  Something which I am sure will never happen again and was purely down to the luck of no fast ladies being around to run the mile that day.
I am counting it though.  I didn’t even realise until the results were published the following day that I had been the first female through the finish!  Granted, there weren’t a huge number of runners.  But first lady = first lady…right?!

Official time: 8:09
Position: 18/29
Gender position: 1/7

I finished in the exact same time I had during my previous Magic Mile back in March, which was much better than I thought I would do.  My legs had a marathon and a 50 mile ultra in them from recent weeks, and I had completed very little work at any speed since the previous event.  I would like to think I could beat this time now though.

parkrun #80 – Corby
13th May

So, when I said that Oscar-parkruns are used to catch up on gossip, I haven’t actually stuck solely to this lately.  Most of my parkruns have been gossip runs!  An easy run at chatty pace to keep the legs ticking over and to keep my social side happy on a Saturday morning.
Official time: 29:40
Position: 64/131
Gender position: 16/58
Age category position: 5/8

parkrun #81 – Sheringham
3rd June

I woke up to this on the Saturday morning…

Bruised knee

My knee had been a little sore to kneel on for the past few days, but had not been sore when walking or running and there was no evidence of any bruising or damage at all.
…until the Saturday morning.  The day before I was due to run the Shires and Spires 35 mile ultra.
I quickly snapped this shot and posted it on my Facebook wall alongside a brief paragraph detailing the above information.  Immediately afterwards I switched off my phone and chose to ignore any advice given until after I’d tested out my knee at Sheringham parkrun.  (True runner stubbornness right there!)

The Sheringham parkrun is tough – there’s ‘Heartbreak Hill’ at mile 3 and the course is run through woodland, over lots of lumps and bumps!

I ended up hanging around for my Dad in the morning as he was going to take Oscar for a walk in the buggy so that I could run child-free for a change.  He made us late though and the engine was barely off in the car before I was yanking the running buggy out of the back of the car, giving Dad the fastest lesson in how to steer and brake with Oscar strapped safely inside and then legging it down to the start line.  I wasn’t the only one and despite several minutes of flat-out running I still managed to turn the final corner just in time to hear ‘3-2-1′ and see the runners shooting off into the distance.  The woman who had been a few metres in front of me slumped into a defeated walk at this point.  I eventually caught the back runners and began picking runners off along the way.

When I ran through the finish, Dad was there eagerly telling me that he must have run at least three miles with Oscar as he had walked so fast during the last half hour.  I did point out to him that parkrun is only 3.1 miles, of which I had run all the way and that he had been there at the finish waiting for me to cross the line, so I doubted that he had walked as far as 3 miles, but I don’t think I got through to him!

Official time: 31:20
Position: 108/201
Gender position: 25/73
Age category position: 3/6

I had several responses to my Facebook knee query by the time I turned my phone back on again, including a message from a physio associated with the club who informed me that it was very easy to catch the structures in the knee without really noticing at the time.  Even though it was most likely only a very small catch in the knee, because I kneel on the floor so much as a new Mum it ends up looking much worse as the bleeding inside the knee spreads over much greater knee surface from repeated kneeling with Oscar.  Because Dan had been away during the week I had bathed Oscar alone every evening, likely putting the extra pressure on my kneecap, distributing the blood further across my knee surface.  (I went on to run 35 miles the next day without issue.)

parkrun #82 – Corby
10th June

Corby parkrun with Laura Laura was volunteering at the track in Corby again, so I decided to head over and join her for a social chatty run before her shift began.Corby parkrun with LauraOfficial time: 30:27
Position: 95/182
Gender position: 20/81
Age category position: 3/13

parkrun #83 – Kettering
17th June

Several runners from my club were planning on running over to Kettering for the parkrun and then back again to make up their long run for the weekend.  Since having Oscar I can’t really commit to running long runs at the weekend with others so I said I would meet them over there for the parkrun part of the run.  Running the group long runs isn’t fair on Dan, or Oscar whilst he is in nursery all week (since I’ve been back at work).  I want to see some of them both at the weekend!

Kettering parkrun with OscarOfficial time: 32:25
Position: 230/367
Gender position: 83/176
Age category position: 9/14

A lady from Oscar’s ‘Stay and Play’ group was there running without her baby and I chatted to her briefly at the start, and again as I passed her out on the course.  She muttered at me as I ran past her pushing O in the final mile, but I hope us running past helped her to achieve the course PB she achieved a few minutes later. :)

parkrun #84 – Huntingdon
24th June

I still hadn’t fully made up my mind as to which parkrun I was headed to by Saturday morning last week.  I had put a shoutout on Facebook for parkrun recommendations but despite several suggestions, none really took my fancy.  I set out intending to run Kettering parkrun but when it came to it, my body went into work-mode when I got into my car and I found myself heading in the direction of the school I work at, so Huntingdon became the new plan.  I hadn’t run the course in a while anyway, and I knew there would be some new, pretty trails for me to run the extra three miles I needed to tack onto my parkrun that morning in order to make up the six miles on my training plan for the day.

I ran the parkrun much harder than intended in the end.  I should really be running parkruns at 10:50-11:40mm pace, as Saturdays are one of my ‘easy run’ days.  I’m finding it so hard not to push myself around others when I’m running solo though.  I really must make an effort to run slowly this coming weekend.  It’s much more important to make it to the start line of the marathon in October at the moment than to cut a few seconds from my parkrun time.

At the end I got my barcode scanned and was about to start jogging back to the car when a familiar face looked up from the grass and waved hi.  I automatically smiled in response and returned the greeting, whilst racking my brains as to who this person was!  Lately I’ve chatted to several people at events who I follow/follow me on Instagram/Twitter, but I couldn’t place this lady at all.  Later that day I eventually worked out that she was one of the TAs from my school.  I just hadn’t connected her with running, as I have always seen her in a school environment before!

Official time: 28:53
Position: 157/297
Gender position: 37/118
Age category position: 3/14

Have you seen people you know from outside of running at events before?
What is your parkrun tourism total?

Weeks 1 and 2 of the Hanson’s Marathon Plan

I have about ten half written race recaps and reviews in the Drafts folder of my blog that I’m gradually working my way through!

Today though, I want to recap the first two weeks of my marathon training plan.

In my last blog post I announced that I intended on following the Hanson’s Marathon Method* to work towards a sub 4h 30m marathon at Mablethorpe this October.  My current marathon PB is 4:54:08, but I have always felt that I should be capable of a much quicker time.  The year I did achieve my PB was after following a specific training plan (on the back of a 70 mile race) and I loved the structure that the plan gave.

Hansons Marathon Method book

This will be my first time working through the Hanson’s Marathon Method plan and although I plan to stick to the scheduled paces and runs as closely as possible, I will definitely be doing some day-swapping, and cutting back on the miles during the early weeks as necessary.  The first week of training began the day after I ran a 35 mile ultramarathon, so I let my legs off a little bit(!)

The paces I’ve chosen are targeted towards a 4h 15m marathon time.  I will be aiming for anything under 4h 30m at Mablethorpe in October.  In the weeks before starting the plan I tested out a few of the sessions and found that I can run the paces required for the 4h 15m target time comfortably, and so I plan on continuing with the slightly faster speeds to give myself a little leeway time on the day.  If I need to knock them back a little later on in the plan, then I will look to do so.

Week 1 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day scheduled due to racing an ultra the previous day)
Tuesday – Banbury 5 (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Friday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Saturday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 8m easy (10:50-11:40mm)

Week 1 actual: (4 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Off
The first week back at work and juggling sending Oscar to nursery and picking him up in the evenings was harder than I thought it would be.  A 4:15am get-up time is never fun, although this week I’ve managed to slide things around in order that I can set my alarm for 5am instead.  I’ve been pushing it to get in to work on time each morning though.  I arrived home on Tuesday night absolutely exhausted and within five minutes of announcing that I would not be driving the 55 miles to Banbury I fell asleep on the sofa.  Right call made.
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 5.8m at 10:56mm pace.
A lovely chatty run out round the streets of Wellingborough with Laura and Steph before the running club committee meeting.

Friday – 5.3m at 10:41mm pace.
Saturday – Corby parkrun at chatty pace.
Corby parkrun with LauraI headed to Corby parkrun with Laura for a change of scenery.
[Official time:
30:27 Position: 95/182 Gender position: 20/81 Age category position: 3/13]
Sunday
– 3.79m at 11mm pace.
It was 9:30pm before I even got out of the door on Sunday evening.  Dan and I had spent all day with Oscar at an Open Farm day in Peterborough.  It was lovely to have the day out as a family, and we continued tag-teaming for Oscar’s evening routine.  When he was in bed, it was a quick rush round the house to tidy and clean and put the washing on for the following day before I could even get changed for my run.  Nearly 4 miles wasn’t the 8 I had in the calendar, but it was definitely better than no miles.

Week 2 planned: (6 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Harborough 5 (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – 7m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Thursday – 8x600m (8:20-8:27mm), 400m rec (12:20-12:30mm)
Friday – 6m easy (10:50-11:40mm)
Saturday – 6m easy/buggy parkrun at chatty pace
Sunday – 10m long (10:29mm)

Week 2 actual: (5 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Harborough 5
Oscar was overtired when I picked him up from nursery, and wouldn’t let me put him down long enough to get changed to run or for me even go to the toilet.  As soon as Dan was back from work I had to madly rush around the house to get all of my bits together in time.
Annoyingly, as soon as I arrived (three minutes before the start and desperately needing to pee) my Garmin flashed to say that the battery was low and by the time the gun went, there was nothing left at all on the display.  I’d planned on running to heart rate, but in actual fact I am guessing that my first three miles were run at parkrun PB pace.  I then got a stitch and had to walk for a stint as it was so painful!  I’ve not had a stitch in years!  I had a rough fourth mile, but overtook several people in mile 5 to finish in 47m 32s.
Harborough 5 Garmin timeWednesday – Off
We had a carpet fitter coming to measure our bedrooms on Thursday evening after I returned from nursery pickup.  By the time our house was looking as presentable as a house occupied by two full-time working parents and an eight month old whirlwind can look, it was close to 11pm, I was pretty knackered and had no intentions of heading out for 7 miles.
Thursday – 8x600m, 400m rec
1.5m warmup at 11-12mm pace (11:09mm)
8:21, 12:24, 8:26, 2:25, 8:32, 11:57, 8:20, 12:26, 8:30, 11:54, 8:24, 12:09, 8:24, 12:18, 8:23, 12:41
1.5m cooldown at 11-12mm pace (10:59mm)
I loved, loved, loved this session!  I have always loved runs where I have to meet (achievable) set paces for each split and this run reminded me of that.  I managed to teach myself how to set up paces for split distances on my watch and my Garmin beeped every time I was running too slow or too quickly which took the guesswork out of my pacing.
Friday – Off
Run was replaced with sleeping on the sofa by 7pm.  Two weeks into my return to work, super early morning starts and organising an extra person every day had definitely taken it’s toll by this point.
Saturday – buggy parkrun (in 32m 25s) and 4.01m easy (10:52mm) to make up a little for the lack of run on Friday.
Both runs were incredibly hot!
Kettering parkrun with OscarI got quite a few comments from other runners when I ran past them up the hill whilst pushing a buggy!
[Official time: 
32:25 Position: 230/367 Gender position: 82/173 Age category position: 9/14]
Sunday
– 8.09m (10:26mm pace)
Although I was nearly two miles short of the planned distance for Sunday, I was incredibly chuffed with how close I was to my target paces, and especially chuffed with how consistent I ran for miles 3-7 of the run.

Long run consistent split timesBecause (once again) I left it really late to head out on my run, (it was 8:50pm before I headed out the door!) I needed to cut the run short slightly in order to get round and ready for school the following day.

So what have I discovered during the first fortnight of my Hanson’s Marathon Method training?

  • I am loving the set plan with exact paces to follow (especially when it comes to speedwork and long run sessions).  It makes planning for the week so easy.  I know exactly how far I should be running, and at exactly what pace.
  • I spend most of the time in the build up to each run feeling incredibly guilty that I am running instead of doing housework or seeing my husband.  (I tend to run late at night after Oscar has gone to bed so it doesn’t impact on time spent with him.)  I need to stop faffing and just get out and get the full run done as soon as I hand Oscar over to Dan for him to put to bed.  I knew that this plan required for high mileage before I began.  Things will definitely be easier once I finish school for the Summer at the end of July and I feel like I have more time again.
  • If I cut a run short because I’m feeling guilty, I end up feeling cheated as I haven’t completed the run I intended, but I didn’t spend quality time at home either.  The aim for this week is to make sure that no runs are cut short!

Do you enjoy sticking to a training plan?
How many days do you tend to run each week?

The East Midlands Grand Prix

The East Midlands Grand Prix is a running series over here in the Midlands consisting of eight short-distance races over the course of nine weeks (there’s a break during the May half term week).  Races are all 10k distance or less (3x 10km, 1x 6mile and 4x 5mile events) and take place on weeknights (usually a Tuesday or Wednesday evening).

Having not really focused on any kind of speedwork since Oscar, and the only tempo-based sessions I’d attempted being the Magic Mile events on the first Saturday of each month, I decided to enter the EMGP series this year to force my legs into remembering how to turn over a little quicker again.

The whole series costs just £53, and I’ve entered twice before; back in 2014 and in 2012.  The fact that the races fall mid-week is great, as it means you can still feel part of the racing game, without having to dedicate a whole day at the weekend to each event.  Races start at 7:45pm, and in the past the mid-week dates have clashed with year 8 parents’ evening.  Also, the first race (Silverstone 10k) has always fallen either just one or two days after I’ve run a marathon, so I’ve given it a miss in the past.  This year, it turns out that as I hadn’t run a particularly strenuous marathon on the last Saturday in April, I didn’t worry too much about trotting round the racetrack at Silverstone for a 10k a couple of days later on the Tuesday evening.

Race #1: Silverstone 10k

For some reason, Silverstone starts 15 minutes earlier than the other seven events, at 7:30pm.  Because it was the first event in the series, it also meant that I needed to arrive in plenty of time, allowing myself to find where I needed to be and to collect my race number for the rest of the series.  I just need to rock up with time to queue for the loo at the rest of the events now!

Although I hadn’t run the Silverstone 10k before, I had run the half marathon there back in 2012.  I hadn’t been running for too long at the time, and I turned up cocky and sure of myself that I was going to run a fast race.  It ended up a ridiculously hot day, I ran the first mile in about 9 minutes.  It felt easy, – I had burnt out and was run-walking by mile 5.  Lesson learnt!  Luckily the race photos from that event have long since come down from the photographer’s website, because there were some particularly rough shots of me sweating my way round the course that year.  I’ve run hilly trail half marathons as fast as I ran the flat Silverstone track in 2012!

My main memories of the half were that it was incredibly dull for somebody not at all interested in cars, and just how long I queued to get out of the car park at the end.  (It took me more than 90 minutes to get out!)  But, with a shorter race distance and much less people running, I assumed that neither would be an issue this time round.

I was a little nervous before the race began.  I wasn’t sure where I should place myself.  I’ve been a year out of the local race scene, so although there were several faces I recognised on the start line, there were also plenty I did not, and I wasn’t sure of my own abilities now having not run a 10k distance hard in a long while.

I settled myself somewhere near to the back, although still far enough forward to soak in a bit of the atmosphere.  There were more than 1000 people at this 10k, – making it the largest in our local area for sure.

Not knowing my current race pace, the plan was to run to heart rate.  Between 165-170bpm – and then to pick things up for the end if I still felt comfortable.  I quickly settled into a pace which displayed in the region of 165-170bpm on my Garmin.  It felt comfortable but at the same time I felt like I was working to be where I was.

Silverstone 10k

I overtook a fair number of people but remained consistent in my pace.  A few people had mentioned to me that I would be able to run with Oscar in the buggy at Silverstone.  Although I was initially tempted, it would have made for a very late bedtime for him, and I kind of wanted to give myself a starting point to progress from at the 10k distance for this year.  The race welcomes buggies and wheelchair competitors, as well as able-bodied runners.  I do feel that the wheelchair competitors should either have a different start time, or a lane solely for their use.  The event is two laps around the famous track to make up the 10k, and as wheelchairs were coming through past other runners they would shout out (for example) “Keep left!” or “On your left!”  It made it very stressful as a runner to know which side they wanted you to be, especially if you had just caught the word ‘left’, as I did a couple of times.  At mile 4, one of the women running just in front of me was knocked into from behind and then struck to the ground as she struggled to move out of the way of a wheelchair in time.  I questioned that she was alright, along with a couple of other people, but she was up and running again within a matter of seconds, despite looking a little shaken.

Silverstone 10k

Ugh.  My form in these pictures is terrible.  Really high shoulders and feet slumping into the ground.  But, I do look happy in these shots at least.  I seem to have learnt that there’s no harm in smiling for the camera!

I kept checking my watch to ensure that I was still within the correct heart rate zone, and had a feeling that my pace would see me achieve a new PB if my watch data matched the distance of the course.

The course measured slightly over distance, at 6.33 miles, (probably due to the wide tarmac surface and repeated turns).  Had I stopped my watch at 6.2 miles exactly, it would have been at 57minutes and 47seconds after the start, which would have been a new PB.

Silverstone 10k

As it was though, I was still more than happy with my time, having not run a 10k for so long.  It will be a great starting point to measure my progress across the series.

Silverstone 10k medal

Official (chip) time: 58:44
Garmin time: 58:56
Position: 955/1219
Gender position: 273/455
Category position: 91/162

I waited until the last of our club runners were over the finish line before turning and heading back to my car for home.  Frustratingly, I then queued for nearly 45 minutes before I was even able to get out of the car park and back onto the road!

Silverstone 10k queuing in the car park

All race photos from Mick Hall.

Race #2: Blisworth 5m

Although I am still on maternity leave (only until Friday! :( ) I agreed to mark six classes of year 11 coursework from home during my leave for some extra pennies.  The deadline for entering marks was last Monday and so the previous week had been spent with very little sleep.  Oscar goes down to bed at 8pm, which would then serve as my start time for marking.  I tried to get 7-8 hours of marking in every night before Oscar woke again at 6am the following morning.
I was not fun to be around that week!

Hence, when Friday night rolled around and I felt completely exhausted and fed up I decided that it would probably be best to give Blisworth a miss, even though the race is one of my favourites.  I undoubtedly would have had a rubbish race, which would have left me in a miserable mood.  So I passed that day, and ticked off some more marking that night instead.
Blisworth 2015 recap

Race #3: Rugby 6m

6 miles is a really random race distance, one I’ve only ever seen as part of the East Midlands Grand Prix series.  I’ve run the Rugby 6 race twice before, and also Bedford 6, another 6 mile race which used to be part of the series a few years ago.

Going by my time for the Silverstone 10k a few weeks earlier, I knew that I should be in with a good chance of beating my 6 mile PB (58m 31s from 2012) last Wednesday evening.  The Rugby 6 is set on a hilly course though.  It starts off on a long, rolling downhill, before several short, sharp uphills appear, the worst of which is a long hill only a mile before the finish.

Once again, I aimed to keep my heartrate at around 170bpm throughout the race, including during the hills.  I’ve fallen into the habit of counting to 100 over and over again during races to keep my mind focused, and it seems to be working and helps to keep the turnover of my feet consistent.

I did find it hard to keep myself from running off at a tougher-than-170bpm pace.  Whenever I try to bring my effort levels back down I always find my form suffers.  I end up putting more emphasis on landing on my feet and my hips then twist out to the side.

Previously there hasn’t really been anyone at the same level as me during targeted club races, – other runners have either been much faster or much slower.  However this year it seems I am the same speed as a couple of the others, and three of us finished the 2017 Rugby race within 18 seconds of each other.

Official time: 56:27
Garmin time: 56:25
Position: 301/319
Gender position: 90/102
Category position: 19/21

A new PB of more than 2 minutes.  I was very chuffed with that!

Rugby 6 2015 recap

This week is the Corby 5 mile race.  I haven’t run this event since 2012, and all I can remember from it is the fact that it finishes on a very steep hill!  Why do race organisers do that?!

Have you taken part in any races where wheelchairs also compete?
What random race distances have you raced?
Any tips on putting in less effort but retaining form?