Sunday, 29 December 2013

The longest run of the year

104 days until London.


I really didn't want to run today. We'd had guests the night before, and an easy morning on the sofa with a book beckoned. But I needed to get my long run in, and so, after faffing about as much as I could, I headed out the door at 10 a.m.

I ran up to the canal - a distance of a mile - and then six miles along it. The late December sun was low, but welcome after days of rain. As an incentive to do the run, I brought my daughter's ipod shuffle, and listened to Marketplace, The Extra Mile, and Run Run Live podcasts. At around an hour, I reached the turn around point, and headed back.

I like the idea of running a strong second hour. Hopefully, once my miles increase, I'll get to the third hour. This is where I feel I'm getting marathon endurance.

I was tired, but I finished. Again, perhaps the longer midweek run (in this instance, race) took some of the sting out of this run. At 14 miles, surprisingly, it was likely my longest run of the year.


The past week looked like the following:

Monday - 850 m swim (with children)
Tues - 5.4 mile run (town loop)
Weds. - 2.5 mile run (while xmas turkey was in!)
Thurs. - 8.1 mile trail race
Fri. - nothing
Sat. - 5.4 mile run
Sun. - 14 mile run

Timewise, I ran for 5:14 this week.


My children are off of school for the holidays, and my son consented to having his toenails painted by my daughter.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Running over the holidays

108 days until the London Marathon.


This month has seen dark, wet days, as waves of low pressure have rolled over Scotland.

This morning, however, dawned brighter. This was perfect weather for a local "Boxing Day" handicap race.

Long-story-short: I felt good, and ran strong over the 13.5 k course. I was pleased to put a spurt on in the last 100 m and catch another runner.


My training is ticking over, though I haven't been following my place too closely. Rather, I've just been trying to get in miles when I can. One thing I think I will try to incorporate in this training cycle is mid-week longish runs. These seem to make me feel stronger on my Sunday long runs, which at times seem like slogs. Also, I've been trying to keep track of the amount of time I spend running each week. This is an underestimate of my workouts, as I also swim and play basketball occasionally, but it is still of interest. Last week, I came in around 3:21 for the week. (Yes, this is a bit light, but includes a 7-mile mid-week run, a 5k parkrun race, and a 9 mile long run in the woods. Also, it doesn't include 2 swims and 1.5 hrs of basketball.)


Another storm is coming tonight.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Starting again

133 days until the London marathon.

My blogs have been sporadic since my last marathon, so here's a quick summary of the past year. My goal was a half-ironman distance triathlon in August, and to that end I swam (mostly), ran, and biked (occasionally), and, well, I finished. It was good, and I think with more biking and running miles in the bank, I could run a better race. The year I spent training for this has coloured my training perspective now, and I've retained swimming as an upper-body work-out. There's something satisfying about being swim-fit. Also, this keeps my options open for some shorter distance triathlons next summer.

But next year's "A" goal is the marathon.

Psychologically, I haven't started training for it yet, although this week could be considered Week 1 of 20-week training cycle. I've chosen the New York City Marathon Official Program for training, although I will modify it as I go.

So, this has been my week:

Monday: Run 4 miles on the track (7:44 - 7:58) pace (tired from 8-miler on Sunday)
Tues: basketball for 1.5 hours; swim 500m to cool off after
Weds: off
Thurs: swim 900m; run 5 miles on track (7:05 - 7:42 pace)
Friday: off
Saturday: 6.5 mile run, some on trails
Sunday: 9 mile run, mostly on trails (1:29 total)

So, with the jog down to the track and conservative estimations of my mileage, I think this was a 25-mile week.


The week before last I had a long weekend backpacking in the Grand Canyon, on my return from a work trip. And now, back in dark Scotland, I still day-dream about my nights sleeping out.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Summer days

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all looked that) I would put my finger on it and say, When I grow up I will go there.

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

When I was growing up, in the settled summer days of the American Midwest, I would cycle nearly the entire day. I might bring a dollar or two - I found that a half pound of potato salad at a convenience store was cheap and filling - and ride through endless stretches of farms.

In those languorous afternoons, I might stop and have a short nap on the grass. But then I'd be up, and riding again. I'd carry two water bottles, and I would ride and ride.

This was a long time ago, and yet I can sometimes go back to those afternoons. Occasionally, when the sun is hot, the road is long and thronged with green, I am that boy again, and the road and the summer day are endless.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Training while travelling

The past two weeks have been hectic.

I travelled up to the Scottish Highland with my family for the first week, as it was Easter break for my children. Despite there be snow on the ground here, I brought my bike in the anticipation that there'd be less snow in the Highlands, and this proved true. I was able to ride four times during the week, and this is the most I've done thusfar. The rodes were flattish, and although it was cold in the mornings when I usually rode, it was enjoyable riding in the countryside, and near the River Spey. My swimming took a back seat in this week, and it was a 10 mile drive to the nearest sports centre with a pool. Still, I managed to get there once. Add to this two woodland runs, and it wasn't a dreadful training week. (There was also some skiing here, and a few walks, all of which counts as activity I suppose).

From the Highlands, we drove home, and then I took the train to London the same day for a conference. I arrived at 9 pm on Saturday night, and the next morning did a sight-seeing run along the Thames. I went out on Monday after the conference for another run near Buckingham palace and the adjacent parks, but there was a lot of stopping and starting because of foot and car traffic.

So, no riding or swimming. Also, I didn't sleep well in my hotel, the conference was tiring, and I returned home feeling exhausted.

The rest of the week was an attempt to get back to some normalcy:

Thurs: swim 1200 meters. Felt weak.
Fri: run 4.5 hilly miles. Didn't have time for more, as my wife was going out for the evening.
Sat: cycle: 12 miles (a.m.); swim: 1500 m (p.m.) Felt great in the pool.
Sun: run 8 miles. nice and easy, with friends on a windy, squally morning.

My first triathlon is three weeks from today.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Winter weather returns

It's been a cold week in Scotland.

I've lived here for 14 years. Usually, Spring comes early, and in March the flowers are up and the sun is stronger. This past week, however, has featured snow and strong winds.

I like snow, but I'm ready for Winter to be over.


A reasonable training week:

Mon: swim 1400m
Tues: run 8 miles
Weds: swim 900m (busy day)
Thurs: run 1 mile, 2 x 800 with 400 recovery
Fri: swim 1650 m
Sat: bike 30 mins on turbo
Sun: 10K race, hopefully.

So, the biking is still a difficulty. I also didn't go too hard this week because I want to be fresh for the 10K race, and because I had a tough run the preceding Sunday.

While riding my bike on the turbo today I watched youtube clips about triathlon training. One woman talked about training 12-20 hours a week. I'm nowhere near this.


After a busy week, today was slightly quiet. So, while my son was in the bath, I laid out my race clothes for tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Rain changing to snow

It was cold this morning - near freezing - but I thought I'd get out on the bike for an hour or so. However, when I stepped outside to get something from the car, the first drops of rain started. I guess I'm still a fair-weather cyclist at the moment, so I retreated to the turbo in the conservatory, plugged in my computer, and cycled while watching videos of the grand canyon.

Outside, the rain changed to snow. When it hit our deck, it melted.


This week, thusfar, has been good:

Mon: swim 1600m
Tues: run 5.4 miles
Weds: run 4 miles on track, swim 1400m after
Thurs: run - speedwork on track (8 x 400s, 2 x 1600s)
Fri: basketball 50 mins; swim 1300m
Sat: bike 45 mins on turbo
Sun: we'll see

So, 3 swims, 3 runs, and 1 bike. Clearly, I need more biking. In part the emphasis on running is because I have a 10k next weekend. I would dearly like to break 40 minutes at this distance - my best is 41:34 - but I don't think that this is realistic at the moment. I've got a good base, but I'm not quite there with the speed work.


Update: I did 9 miles in the snow on Sunday. Part of this included an off-road hilly running, and my feet were soaked. I was beat afterwards.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

How to become a triathlete

My goal is to do a half ironman 5 months from now.

I've never done a triathlon before. I'm a runner.

For the past few months, I've been trying to get to the pool at least once a week. My biking has been even more sporatic, and my longest ride thusfar - 19 miles - was last weekend.

I'm not sure how to become a triathlete. I don't have a specific training plan, and this might be part of my problem. As an aspiration, I envisioned 3 swims, bikes, and runs each week. But this hasn't happened yet.

This has been my week so far:

Mon: nothing - very busy with work
Tues: run: 7 miles
Weds: swim: 1300m
Thurs: swim: 1100m; run: 6 miles with some speedwork
Fri: nothing
Sat: bike: 45 mins on turbo; run: 6 miles, medium pace
Sun: we'll see

In part, the bias towards runing reflects my background, and upcoming events - a 10K later this month, and a half marathon next month. I've signed up for a sprint triathlon in 2 months.

What I need is a routine. My running is set, but I have yet to fit in the swims, and worse the rides, consistently.

My bike is 15 25 years old, but is functional. This is a picture of it a few weeks ago, on a sunny February day. The water in the distance is the Firth of Forth.

Update, Monday morning: I did 45 minutes on the bike/turbo on Sunday, while watching a lecture on the fall of the Roman Empire. So, that makes 3 runs, 2 bikes, and 2 swims for the week. Not perfect, but heading in the right direction.