Posts Tagged ‘running’

Rothwell Parkrun

Monday, June 25th, 2018 | Sport

Last Saturday, I headed over to Rothwell for the Parkrun. It’s been running since last summer, making it the baby of the Leeds Parkruns. Or at least it was until Middleton Woods launched in April. And Armley is launching on Saturday. But who’s counting?

I had a triathlon the day after so I decided to drive to one rather than run there. Given I was already in the car, driving somewhere else for a change of scenery is my prefered option. And, a hadn’t done Rothwell, it seemed like an excellent choice.

I liked it. First, it’s flat. One slight hill, probably a smaller rise than Woodhouse Moor. If that is the case, that would make it the flattest Parkrun in Leeds which are, on the whole, all on hills.

Second, a lot of it is on grass. Not great for speed, arguably, and not so nice in the wet. But kinder on the body.

Third, it is fairly small. 188 runners in the field on the day I did it. At Woodhouse Moor, which regularly attracts 400-500 people, even running a sub-24 is unlikely to put you in the top 100. At Rothwell, my 23:28 gave me a position of 27th, and second in my age category of male 30-34.

The only thing that didn’t go too well was the pace. I was aiming for 24-25 minutes so that it would be a nice easy run. Something I nailed in Skipton. But I got a bit carried away in the final kilometre and sped up.

The other issue with Rothwell is there is limited parking. But given there seems to be a huge amount of on-street parking all around the park, it doesn’t seem like the big issue that the website made it out to be.

Announcing Running For Beginners

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018 | News

I’m pleased to announce the launch of my new online course, Running For Beginners. It’s a complete introduction to running for those who want to get into it for the first time or are coming back to it after a break.

Topics covered include:

  • Where to run
  • What to wear
  • Staying safe
  • Warming up and cooling down
  • Motivation
  • Dealing with different weather conditions

And much more. So far, it is proving rather popular:

And best of all, it’s free. Click here to check it out.

Is this what mansplaining feels like?

Sunday, May 27th, 2018 | Life

We’re runners. Talking about running. Tracey is explaining to me about “Parkrun” (of which I have completed 156 and am in the same running club as the guy who runs the entire thing) which is “lots of people running together”.

Apparently, I can use something called “Google” to find out more.

For background context: Adidas is holding some free running events, but they all take place in London, despite their ads targetting what seems to be everyone in the UK. They’re promoting it through an advertorial in Time Out London.

Parkrun #153

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 | Sport

The weather has warmed up. Why did I ask for this again? I hate the warmth. This was a terrible idea.

Fresh from Middleton Woods Parkrun last week, I was determined to run a fast one this week. And luck was on my side. The first Saturday of the month is a pacer month. This month included only three pacers but one of them was perfect for me: the 23-minute man.

In April, I took a minute and a half off my PB but even then, I knew I could go faster. So, I set out following the pacer to see how long I could hold on for.

It turns out the answer was about 2.5 km. Halfway through the second lap, I started to lose touch with him as my legs just wouldn’t keep up the speed. I slowly slipped behind, maybe 5-10 seconds over the next lap. This doesn’t sound like a huge gap now, but it felt like one at the time. I knew if I could just keep him in sight by the 4km mark, I stood a chance.

Once we hit that point I got a second wind and slowly started reeling him in down the back straight. It took the top of the park, too, but as we rounded the final corner onto the finish straight I went around him on the outside.

No sprint finish, just a desperate battle to keep the pace and stay ahead of him. I doubled-over just after the finish line and the volunteers had to shepherd me along to get me out of the way of other runners. But I had done enough.

My new PB was:

22:39

This time, I don’t think I can run any faster. I’ve set a Parkrun PB that reflects the best performance I can give right now. I’m pleased with it. It gives me an age grading of 57%, which still leaves me 3% adrift of my Dad’s best effort.

Here’s an updated graph:

I only remembered to take the obligatory selfie after I had set off running home, hence why it looks so bad.

Middleton Woods parkrun

Monday, April 30th, 2018 | Sport

On Saturday, I went over to Middleton Woods for their first ever Parkrun. It’s the 6th Parkrun in Leeds, joining Woodhouse Moor, Cross Flatts, Bramley, Temple Newsam and Roundhay.

The course is fun: hilly but it feels like there is more down than up. It’s a loop so I’m not sure how they have done that. Some of it is on “trail” but it’s pretty dry trail, so not something you would ever wear trail shoes for. It starts nears the bike hub cafe and goes down to the visitor’s centre and back.

162 of us turned up, of which I finished 31st. My gender position was 30. My warm-up was a little more challenging: I didn’t really know where I was going so I ended up coming back across the old golf course which was a bog. My feet were soaked before I even set off on the official run.

Parkrun #148

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 | Sport

The weather did not invite running. It had rained overnight and it was still raining when I woke up. Worse, I felt terrible. I normally feel pretty poor on the way there, but this time I had to walk some of the way there. Even my watch agreed that my condition this morning was poor.

Still, I had set off early so that I could start right at the front and I didn’t want to waste it. As the other people around me discussed whether it was too muddy to attempt a sub-17 or not, and prepared their starting stance (one leg bent, leaning slightly forward) I thought I would at least sprint off with them and see how it went.

As it turns out, not many people did come rushing past me. Although, this could be due to the reduced number of people that had braved the weather. I kept my pace just within the limits needed to set a new PB (personal best) and a gruelling five kilometres later I crossed the line, punching the air.

As it turns out, I was way ahead. Although I was only 10 seconds per kilometre ahead of where I needed to be, because I start my GPS at home and keep it running until then, it didn’t factor in that I ran the first section and the last section of Parkrun way above this pace.

I hadn’t just beaten my previous PB of 24:36, I had crushed it. It now stood at:

23:08

It almost seems too good to be true. But, reexamining my Garmin data, and comparing it to what I’ve been doing in training, it seems to fit. Indeed, potentially I could go faster: I wasn’t feeling great (though you often aren’t when you set a PB) and I had my rain jacket on. Or maybe I can’t: we’ll find out soon!

Here’s an updated graph:

Next week I may or may not be able to do Parkrun depending on whether it clashes with the Bramley Baths triathlon, and the week after that I will have to go easy in preparation for Skipton. So, it might be a while before I get to run another fast one. We’ll see how it compares.

Canal Canter half marathon

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 | Sport

On Saturday I ran the Leeds Liverpool Canal Canter, organised by It’s Grim Up North Running.

I’ve set some big fitness goals for 2018, including running a sub-2 hour half marathon. It was looking like I would smash this really early as the Sir Titus Trot took place on the first Saturday of January. 6 days in and I could nail one of my goals. But, alas, I injured my foot and had to miss the race.

This was my next opportunity. Things didn’t start well: there was a big queue for registration. I thought 45 minutes would be enough time to get registered and prepared for the start time, but it wasn’t. So, I came to the line flustered and having forgotten my energy gels.

Armed with nothing but a handful of jelly babies from the water station, I set off. The start reminded me of Parkrun: hundreds of people trying to fit down a narrow canal towpath. I felt sorry for the cyclists coming the other way. But, as the race drew on, everything thinned out.

Despite going off faster than in training I managed to maintain the pace the whole way. In the end, I clocked in at:

1:52:24

This is slightly below my watch’s time of 1:52:36. This knocks the socks off my time of 2:03:42 from last year’s Leeds half marathon. They are not directly comparable, though. The Leeds half is much hillier and takes place in May when the weather is a lot warmer. So, 11 minutes is a hefty chunk to take off, but I wouldn’t be running the Leeds half as quick as I ran this.

Regardless, though, it is a new PB, strikes off a big fitness goal for the year and means that I beat Eliud Kipchoge to the sub-2 hour mark. Sure, he’s doing the full marathon, but then he’s a professional marathon runner from Keyna and I’m a computer programmer from England, so in terms of how hard it was to beat the 2-hour mark, I think it’s similar (and I did it without cheating).

Post-race, there were was a huge selection of free cake to be had.

The custom medals are pretty cool, too.

Keep on Running

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 | Books

Keep on Running: Science of Training and Performance is a book by Eric Newsholme, Anthony Leech and Glenda Duester.

It’s a popular title for books: a search on Good Reads turned up over a dozen books with the same title. This one is to do with what it says on the tin. That is, it is about how to run faster and longer.

The key takeaway message is that you are slowed down by your weakest system. So, you have a great vo2 max, but if your lactate threshold is terrible, you’re not going to be setting any records. Similarly, you can have all the slow twitch fibres in the world, but you need a decent running economy to run a marathon fast.

This means working on all of the bodies systems. It’s not enough to just do the same thing over and over again. You need variety in your training routine to work on each part of the body.

Of course, vary your training system is nothing new or surprising. But the book breaks down the details in a clear and easy-to-follow manner.

Running gait analysis

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 | Sport

Since I hurt my foot in November, it has taken a long time to get running again. So, I decided to invest in some injury prevention. Top of that list was a running gait analysis.

I could go to a running shop where they would put me on a treadmill and analyse what was going on. However, there is a severe risk that what would happen is that it would magically turn out I needed a new, £100+ pair of trainers. In fact, that’s exactly what did happen to me.

So, I was looking for somewhere that might be able to give me some better advice. I found David at West Leeds Practice. They are a physiotherapy clinic based in the city centre and one of the services they offer is a running gait analysis.

It’s certainly thorough. We started off with some strength exercises, testing the differences between my left and my right side. My left was weaker, and this was no surprise to me, but having measured it, David has then been able to give me a strengthening routine tailored to improving it.

Then I hopped on the treadmill and we did a video analysis. I ran for a little bit and then we analysed what was going on with my arms and legs from a range of different angles. There was some stuff here, too, such as my crossing my legs over the centre was I run. I think this was exhibited by the rather small size of the treadmill, but it’s something I’ve been mindful of ever since.

Finally, he gave me a set of foot pods to place on my trainers and monitor my running for a week. I went back a week later to get the analysis (all of which was included in my session) and we reviewed my cadence, ground contact time and oscillation. I’m working on improving my cadence at the moment. It’s too early to say whether it is working or not, though the few test runs I have done made things go from red to green on my Garmin run reports.

All in all, I like what they do. David was very evidence-based and the analysis is certainly in detail: we looked at a lot of different things and reviewed all the ways I could improve my technique and reduce the chance of future injury. If you run a lot, it is worth investing in.

2018: What’s on my agenda?

Monday, February 19th, 2018 | Life

The so-called new year is a pretty arbitrary deadline that evolved from a series of long-dead popes. Still, as arbitrary deadlines go, it is a great chance to regroup and take stock of what’s been going on and what we want to achieve in the next solar rotation.

Of course, it’s now the middle of February. So, I’m going to stop thinking and finally publish this.

Be better at business

I declared that 2017 was my year of marketing and I have learnt a lot about building sales funnels, capturing leads and building an audience. But none of it has been hugely successful and certainly not good enough to provide a real income.

Part of the problem is that I’m struggling to engage with step one: build what people want, not what you want them to want. So, I’m going to double down on this.

Finish my master’s degree

By the middle of last month, I felt like giving up. My grades have not met my own personal standard, and while there is a queue of people telling me that a merit (the equivalent of a 2:1) is a great grade to have, it doesn’t feel like it. Especially now Venla is here. There are standards to be set: there is no award for coming second in the Nobel Prize voting. Or, worst still, settling for winning a non-natural science-based prize.

But I don’t like giving up and that certainly wouldn’t set a good example, even if we would be a lot richer. And I’m excited about my dissertation, or, at least, motivated to get on with it.

Triathlon & fitness

Last year felt like a pretty slow year for fitness. Sure, I smashed my 5km, 10km and half marathon times, but it all felt a bit like business as usual. This year, I’m taking things up a gear. A bit of business as usual two: aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon, but also looking at longer distances and continuing my move over to triathlon.