Suspected Stress Fractures Reduces my Training

3-9 September 2018


Unfortunately, after my successful long run last week I inadvertently triggered a shin injury I suffered months ago.

Although I tested my legs at another fast interval workout at my running club, I knew that rest was the most sensible option. Online research has suggested I could have stress fractures on the inside of both my lower tibia bones.

Although last week’s plan to run only three times per week is simply not advisable if my shins are to heal in time for my eighth marathon, I couldn’t be inactive.

Cross Training

I accumulated over 16.6 miles (almost 3 hours) of cycling in four days. However, I plan to accelerate my cross-training over the next month so have ordered equipment to help me maintain fitness…



18 Miles to Celebrate my Birthday

27 August – 2 September 2018


I enjoyed eight days of rest after my seventh half marathon. The only exercises I committed to were walking and easy-paced cycling.

Then, knowing I only had seven and a half weeks before my eighth marathon (my fifth in Chelmsford) I returned to training.

However, I was conscious that to improve my personal best I needed to ensure my training was different than previous seasons. The only other criteria was I didn’t want to commit to excessive weekly mileage.

I discovered the Runner’s World plan, focusing on three runs per week. Studies have proven that this method works, if the strict paces are adhered to. Based on my fitness level, my targets are the following:

Type of Run Pace Range
Long Run (15+ miles) 7:00-7:15 per mile
Long Tempo Run (8-10 miles) 6:30-6:35 per mile
Mid Tempo Run (5-7 miles) 6:15-6:20 per mile
Short Tempo Run (3-4 miles) 6:00 per mile

Tempo Run – Tuesday

1:00 per mile slower than training plan

Intervals – Thursday

0:20-0:40 per mile slower than training plan

Long Run – Sunday

0:05 per mile slower than training plan

Rest Days – Monday, Wednesday and Saturday

Includes walking and light cycling 


Although I failed to hit any of the target paces for my workouts I expected this to happen. Still, there were many positives to take from my week, namely that my running form stayed strong throughout my workouts and my long run was surprisingly ‘comfortable’.

I also complimented my training with cycling of over 12.75 miles, including intervals as a hard cross-training workout (with a fast one mile run directly afterwards).

I accumulated over 30.5 miles (over 3 hours and 40 minutes) in four days. I feel confident I can build on this, and am motivated to achieve a new marathon personal best next month.

Windy Seaside Race Success

19 August 2018
I stopped myself running hard from the start line.
Instead I let runners pass me.
I wanted to keep to the pace of my current personal best and only later speed up.
After one and a half miles I headed down a slope to the Lower Promenade.
The strong winds hit me straight away and quickly reduced my pace, and expectations.
I stayed at the back of a pack of seven runners, shielded slightly from the blustery conditions.
I passed clusters of noisy spectators until I headed up a short but steep slope to the Upper Promenade.
After one lap the group split, some of whom finished the 10k race (which started at the same time).
The second and final lap was longer, and I knew I could overtake the runners I could see in the distance.
I just had to be patient and not let the wind slow me down.
Despite runners behind me I knew I could stay strong and consistent. I had to run my own race.
I saw my family halfway along the Lower Promenade. I hoped I was lying in third position. But my mum shouted that I was ninth.
It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but every position mattered to me.
I used random checkpoints to time the seconds I was behind the runner in front of me.
24. 22. 18. 12. 8.
I kept sipping my homemade sports drink, as others used the water stations.
I ran on the balls of my feet as I tackled the final slope.
2 miles left and the sun was starting to overheat me.
Still, I improved my pace by 5 to 10 seconds per mile.
Neither of the runners I had been chasing could respond to my surge.
But another runner quickly passed me, and I couldn’t stay with him.
Instead I worked hard to keep a 6:30 per mile pace along the final stretch.
I sprinted across the grass to the finish line with no one close behind me.

I chose this race because for the past three years the winning times had been only a few minutes faster than my previous personal record performance.
Last year I had been injured.

This year I had hoped to improve both my best time at the half marathon distance and my highest race position.

Although I don’t ever excuse my performances, two factors affected my race:

  1. I discovered on the morning that the conditions were very windy, weather I had not considered (or trained in).
  2. My block of training leading to the race was also far from ideal. I had a minor injury throughout June, which prevented me from running. Although cross-training in a local gym was productive, it could never replicate the sport I love. I therefore only had approximately five weeks of quality running workouts, culminating in 11 miles at an easy pace two weeks from race day.

Despite not achieving my two primary aims, I finished eighth, which was the third top ten performance of my career. I also represented my running club well, as the only male runner, and fastest finisher in barefoot shoes.
The race was a special experience for me, located in a seaside town of which I have very fond memories. My family could also see me a few times throughout, encouraging me and offering vital race information.

Reducing my Running Load

6 – 12 August 2018

Week 9 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon.


Easy Miles – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

Slower than 7:10 per mile pace

Rest Days – Thursday, Saturday and Sunday


With one eye on my upcoming race I reduced my pace and mileage this week. I enjoyed three rest days (including a visit to the location of my race), lead another four coaching sessions (helping one runner achieve a new 5km personal best) and complimented my training with recreational cycling of over 11 miles.

I accumulated almost 17.8 miles (over 2 hours) in four days. Although not a lot compared to previous weeks I wanted to ensure I am fully fit for my race next Sunday.

Running Longer

30 July – 5 August 2018

Week 8 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday

Slower than 6:55 per mile pace

Fast Intervals – Friday

5:25-5:30 per mile pace

Rest Days – Tuesday and Saturday


After a relatively slow start to the week, I made sure I focused on running longer and furtherI enjoyed two rest days, lead four coaching sessions and complimented my training with recreational cycling of over 4 miles and walking (accumulating over 16,000 steps each day).

Another positive aspect of my training week was that I was able to run comfortably faster than my half marathon pace Friday evening.

I accumulated almost 30 miles (over 3.5 hours) in five days, recovering quickly. This has made me feel stronger and better prepared for my upcoming race.


Returning to my Running Club

23-29 July 2018

Week 7 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Slower than 7:25 per mile pace

Interval Club RunThursday

4:50-5:45 per mile pace

Rest Days – Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday


After three weeks of increasing mileage, I made a conscious effort to reduce my running load this week. I enjoyed three rest days, lead two group coaching sessions and complimented my training with recreational cycling of over 10.5 miles across three days, just as I did last week.

My weekly goal was to return to my running club and complete a tough interval workout, which I did on Thursday. My calf muscles were sore afterwards but consuming my homemade protein smoothies helped me recover.

I accumulated 19 miles with still no signs of my recent injury, which has set me up for a ‘heavier’ week of training to come.


Week of Building Endurance

16-22 July 2018

Week 6 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

Slower than 7:15 per mile pace

Tempo RunSaturday

Faster than 7:15 per mile pace

Rest Days – Thursday and Sunday


I stepped up the quantity of my running this week. Almost all my workouts were easy-paced, long runs. This took more time and energy, and therefore I didn’t feel it appropriate to run any miles at my intended half marathon race pace. 

My weekly goal was to run continuously for at least an hour, which I did on Friday. I also cycled over 10.5 miles across three days. Although simply recreational, the exercise supplements my training.

I also enjoyed coaching my first two-day running assessment on one of my runners.

I accumulated over 29 miles with no signs of my recent injury, which built my confidence that my body is adapting well for ‘longer distances’.


Quality Running, Injury-Free

9-15 July 2018

Week 5 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Wednesday and Thursday

Slower than 6:45 per mile pace

‘Quality Workouts’ – Monday, Tuesday and Saturday

Fartlek run (whilst coaching)

Intervals faster than 6:05 per mile pace

Rest Days – Friday and Sunday


I’m pleased I’m still injury-free after my shin pain. I was therefore able to run several tougher workouts, replicating my intended race pace of 6:00 per mile. The high local temperatures and tiring workload this week were factors affecting my performances but I enjoyed the challenge.

My strategy for the remaining five weeks of training for the Clacton Half Marathon is to focus on tempo intervals at race pace and progressively building my endurance with longer runs.

I accumulated over 21 miles, and ensured I primed myself for a heavier mileage week next week.



Running Injury-Free Again

2-8 July 2018

Week 4 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Wednesday and Friday

Slower than 7:00 per mile pace

‘Quality Workouts’ – Monday, Tuesday and Sunday

Faster than 7:00 per mile pace

Rest Days – Thursday and Saturday


After cross-training for much of June, I feel recovered from my shin pain. Although my running paces were slower than my intended race pace of 6:00 per mile, conditions have been particularly hot recently.

I have also experimented by running in my Vivobarefoot shoes and Vibram FiveFingers. With six weeks until the Clacton Half Marathon I feel confident that I can improve my speed endurance.

I accumulated 19 miles, and rather than ‘time on my feet’ I am happy that I am injury-free.



Enjoying Cross-Training

4-10 June 2018

Week 3 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon, modified due to injury.


Cross-Training (Gym Workouts) – Monday – Sunday

Although the injury in my shins has remained it has not prevented me from enjoying a wide range of exercises.

I have focused on workouts to strengthen my lower body, including using machines such as leg extension, curl and press, as well as dumbbell lunges, barbell squats and barbell deadlifts.

Every day I have also spent hours on the cross-trainer, static bike and rower to continue sweating.

I also purchased more running shoes from Vivobarefoot, to give me more support when I return to running.

Accepting a Recurring Injury

28 May – 3 June 2018

Week 2 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Monday, Tuesday

>16.5 miles at 7:35-7:40 per mile pace

‘Quality Workouts’ – Wednesday, Thursday

Cross-Training (Gym Workouts) – Friday, Saturday, Sunday

I accumulated over 22 miles in just over 2.5 hours of running. However, a recurring injury in my shins meant I had to re-examine my training plan.

To prevent me from stressing the affected areas further I decided to join a local gym. I now have an opportunity to build strength with weights and machines, whilst I maintain my cardiovascular fitness with lower impact equipment, such as stationary bikes and cross-trainers.

Starting a New Strategy

21-27 May 2018

Week 1 of my training block for the Clacton Half Marathon based on Jack Daniels’ Running Formula.


Easy Miles – Monday, Wednesday, Friday

>15.5 miles at 7:25-7:50 per mile pace

I also purchased a new Garmin sports watch.

‘Long Run’ – Tuesday

7.5 miles at 7:33 per mile pace

‘Quality Workouts’ – Thursday, Saturday

Rest Day – Sunday

Visited Clacton, the location of the upcoming race.

I accumulated over 29 miles in just over 3 hours of running, and foam rolled daily.

Aiming to Win a Race

For over a year I have wanted to win a road race.

I earmarked the Clacton Half Marathon, a flat coastal race, as my best chance of finishing first.
Since the first year of the race in 2014 the winning times have been 1:17:151, 1:15:492, 1:21:273 and 1:19:284.
Although all the winning times are faster than my current personal best, set in the summer of 2016, I believe I have the potential to run sub 6:00 miles for 13.1 miles.
Last year I was sidelined with a hip injury due to overtraining for my fourth Chelmsford Marathon.
But this August I aim to win.
My training will commence tomorrow after a fortnight of recovery from my first 10 mile race.

I have thirteen weeks to improve my fitness and mindset.

Although I will focus primarily on tempo intervals and continuous runs at target race pace I know I need to change my routine compared to previous training periods. I must place more intense and varied stresses on my body in order to stimulate the necessary physiological responses.

I will use many techniques to ensure I recovery adequately and prime myself as a future champion. These include:

If I am to take my race finishes from the top ten (once in 2016 and again in 2018) to the ‘podium’ I must believe I am a champion. I intend to demonstrate my best at the Clacton Half Marathon and leave nothing to chance. Previous race results are so tantalising that it may be the greatest opportunity to realise my ultimate ambition.


1 Equivalent to 5:53 per mile average pace.
2 Equivalent to 5:47 per mile average pace.
Equivalent to 6:12 per mile average pace.
Equivalent to 6:03 per mile average pace.



Running 10 Miles Home

7 May 2018
A runner in front of me pulled up just after two miles.
Two other runners passed me early.
I stayed composed, focusing on forefoot striking and taking water from the aid stations.
Before five miles, a fellow club runner who was marshalling told me I was in twelfth position.
I now had greater motivation to work hard.
On one of the steeper inclines, I passed one runner.
I told him he was running great, and he returned the compliment.
My pace remained consistent. I was encouraged that the runner in front was getting slightly closer.
I knew I could chase him down if I patient enough.
I picked up the pace, confident that he wouldn’t respond.
As I passed him I again congratulated him on his running.
His heavy breathing boosted my chances.
I was now in tenth position.
As the temperature appeared to rise I kept drinking water and pouring it over my head and back.
I kept glancing at my sports watch over the last two miles.
I knew the route back. It was the same as the one- and two-mile time-trial I had run in late March and early April.
I looked behind and found I hadn’t extended my lead.
I asked myself how much did I want a top ten finish.
I responded by executing a couple of surges around the 6:00 per mile pace, and knew I had succeeded as I sprinted the last 100m over the grass of the rugby fields where I had started the race.

I had four aims prior to the race.
First, I wanted a top twenty finish.
Second, I wanted to be the first runner from my club to cross the line.
Third, I wanted to run my club’s gold standard of 1:01:58 for the 10 mile distance.
Fourth, I wanted to run under 1:00:00, equivalent to 6:00 per mile pacing.
I accomplished the first two aims, finishing in the top ten for only the second time. The first time was almost two years ago.

I ran 1:03:25, which was a respectable time when considering the heat. I was pleased to have represented my club admirably, and after volunteering pre-race. I assisted in directing vehicles to park. This meant an early start, but none of my pre-race warm-up, hydration and nutrition were negatively affected. I was thankful that I could help my running club organise a well-received race.

On reflection, my race performance was predictable. My training since my One Mile Challenge had been limited, especially miles at my intended race pace.

Still, I feel I earnt my finisher’s t-shirt, and enjoyed a distance I had never raced before, relying on my mental strength to guide me home.

Staying Patient (Week 4)

23-29 April 2018

Despite my best intentions I didn’t find the energy to build on last week’s increased mileage.

Much of the week consisted of staying realistic about my chances in my upcoming race and keeping my body healthy.

Lesson #7: Don’t push the pace unless you can

Ideally, the week would have consisted of more miles at my intended race pace*. Except for the first two miles of Wednesday’s (25th April) run my pace was not close.

The effort required to get up to speed would not have been worth it, as I didn’t feel confident I could sustain it. Rather than risk injury, especially in wet conditions, and further discouragement I focused on slower-paced miles**. The 27.45 miles I covered in five days was beneficial to keep my legs and my mind active without much stress.

Approaching my taper week, the most important aspects of my training are now remaining injury-free and eager for the challenge ahead. As I developed some tightness in my left calf muscle I now must ease off to ensure full recovery before race day.

Lesson #8: It’s not always about times or distances

On Sunday (29th April), a week after the 2018 London Marathon, I purposefully ran 3.7 miles.

I thought of Matt Campbell, the man who collapsed and died 22.5 miles into the capital’s most iconic race. The sadness of his death reminded me that although running performances  are important for motivation it’s the sport itself that should bring the most joy.

Sometimes times, distances, races and medals are not important. Instead, all the support, globally and from non-runners, has the greatest impact. Unfortunately, mass participation events in relatively hot conditions will very likely result in casualties, but the best of people often shines through.


I took two rest days, on Tuesday and Thursday, and will now look to stretch and rest before my first 10 mile race in a week’s time.

10 mile Training: Week 4

* The race pace I am still hoping for is 6:00 per mile.
** This is equivalent to a pace of 6:30-8:30 per mile.

Building Mileage (Week 3)

16-22 April 2018

I knew I had to focus on increasing my weekly mileage. Reducing the number of rest days would also develop my leg muscles quicker, although I had to be careful due to a recent minor injury.

I believe I found a productive balance.

Lesson #5: You are stronger than you think you are

On Friday (20 April) I wanted to test myself over a distance that was close to 10 miles. I had doubts that I would find it comfortable.

I chose 8 miles and, although I started strong, I did not expect to be particularly consistent. But I was.

The miles seemed to fly by and I was pleased to finish, knowing that 10 miles would not be difficult to cover in a few weeks’ time. Although I have not demonstrated my race pace for an extended period I ran five days in a row, building my mileage sensibly by running some at an easier pace. My legs did ache at times but not enough for me to worry about injury.

This proved that my endurance is progressing and I am still on track for my future running goals. Psychologically the ‘long’ runs were a boost.

Lesson #6: Running on grass can sap your energy at high speeds

I ran my only interval workout on Monday (16 April). I ran 4x 1 mile at race pace* with 3:30 walking recoveries. Only the last mile rep fell below my race pace but the I feel I met my target.

However, the interval workout was challenging. Each rep was two laps around my local park, and after the first minute of each rep my effort level increased significantly. Despite the consistent pacing I was clinging on at the end of the reps.

My One Mile Challenge taught me that although grass is a kinder surface than road for bones and ligaments, a runner has to work harder to generate the same power from the ground. This means that for speed workouts the pace can be lower than expected.

I knew I was hitting my target pace because I allowed for this. So rather than be disappointed I was satisfied with a tough workout.

Excluding the interval workout I accumulated over 27.3 miles during the week, of which 12 miles were ran at less than a minute slower than race pace**. The remaining miles were run at a comfortable endurance pace***.

My only rest day was Tuesday.


10 Mile Training: Week 3

* The race pace I am still hoping for is 6:00 per mile.
** This is equivalent to a pace of 6:30-7:00 per mile.
*** This is equivalent to slower than 7:00 per mile pace.

Reducing Training Stress (Week 2)

9-15 April 2018

Transitioning from my One Mile Challenge to endurance-based training has resulted in a minor injury. I was therefore forced to take more rest days than I had planned.

Still, this made me more determined and focused to gain the most from my limited training.

Lesson #3: Never ignore your gut instincts

The purpose of my first workout of the week on Monday (9 April) was to accumulate more miles at race pace*. Like last week the tempo threshold run was tougher than I had wanted it to be. Still, I ran 4x 1 mile at race pace with ¼ mile recovery jogs** in between.

I knew that I needed to rest but because I coached in the evening, and the following two days, I knew I had to be sensible. As I often run to the start of my coaching sessions I found the extra effort resulted in increased pain in my lower legs.

Although I was fully aware that rest was essential I decided to ignore it. This set my training back a couple of days. Therefore I learnt that a more sensible approach would have been to modify my own workouts to factor in extra, but less structured activity.

Lesson #4: Running on grass can aid recovery

On Sunday (15 April) I ran simply to stretch my legs and test my MTSS injury, which was made worse by the club run I committed to on Thursday (12 April). The club workout was 30x 30 seconds of fast pace running*** with 30 seconds of jogging recoveries in between. The high impact of running on the pavement did not support my training. Instead I realised that these faster workouts are not what I need in the build-up to my 10 mile race.

So instead, on the last day of the week, I purposefully ran on grass, striking the ground with my mid-foot rather than forefoot. These modifications ensured that my leg muscles received a workout but without excessive stress.

Psychologically, the run gave me confidence because I felt positive about my injury. Also, because there was less focus on maintaining a particular pace I could enjoy the countryside around me.

During the week I ran 4.25 miles on Friday and 4.6 miles on Sunday at recovery pace** to build my endurance. My rest days were Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. My mile repeats on Monday and interval workout on Thursday amounted to 6.95 miles at race pace or quicker.


10 Mile Training: Week 2

* An appropriate pace range for me to support my race goal is 6:00-6:30 per mile.
** My recovery pace this week (including warm-up and cool down) is any pace slower than 8:50 per mile.
*** Interval training for me this week is any pace faster than 5:30 per mile.

Two Reflections on Transitioning to Endurance Training (Week 1)

3-8 April 2018

After last week’s success of breaking multiple personal records from ¼ mile to 2 miles my focus switched to endurance. My next race, 5 weeks away, is a local 10 mile race.

So from Wednesday I began accumulating miles in preparation for my attempt at running under an hour, equivalent to less than 6:00 per mile pace.

Lesson #1: Sometimes you need to change your workout during it

I intended my first workout of my 10-mile training (on Wednesday 4 April) to be a 10k time-trial. However, after a mile at race pace* I realised my legs had not fully recovered from my mile time-trials so after another mile at race pace I altered my workout.
Instead, I completed a 1-mile jogging recovery**.
Then I ran another two miles at race pace.

Although I did not accomplish what I originally set out, I modified it to reflect my current fitness level. I therefore accumulated 4 miles in the pace range I desired as opposed to 2 miles (as my pace would have progressively slowed if I had not had a recovery).

The workout proved to me that runners need to prioritise the overall purpose of a workout (in my case to accumulate as many miles at race pace) rather than any preconceived plan. As a result training will be maximised.

Lesson #2: A running nickname can reflect important developments

On Thursday (5 April) I ran a quality session*** with my running club. As there is a greater amount of daylight I chose to run in my black running jacket.
I led the session from the start, running 2,3,4,5,4,3 and 2 minutes quicker than race pace with half the time of the intervals as jogging recoveries.
One coach called me the ‘Black Assassin’, later the ‘Silent Assassin’.

More important than obtaining another positive nickname is the observation that my forefoot strike in my Vibram FiveFingers barefoot shoes is quiet. This suggests the lightness on my feet has transferred to efficient speed. This style of running feels so natural to me that my calf muscles are fatigue resilient.

The nickname reminds me of the hard work I have made with calf raises and committing to barefoot shoes.

I also ran 4.4 miles on Friday and 6.4 miles on Sunday 30-90 seconds slower per mile**** than race pace to build my endurance. My rest days were Tuesday and Saturday.


10 Mile Training: Week 1

* An appropriate pace range for me to support my race pace goal is 6:00-6:30 per mile.
** My recovery pace (including warm-up and cool down) is any pace slower than 9:00 per mile.
*** Interval training for me is any pace faster than 6:00 per mile.
**** This is equivalent to 6:30-8:00 per mile.

Personal Records Tumble

26 March – 2 April 2018

After returning from holiday and resting, I still did not feel physically prepared to tackle my mile challenge at the start of the week as I had planned. The weather was also far from optimal, with rain close to flooding my local river. It was not until later in the week that the time would be right.

Thursday

1 Mile Time-Trial

The sky was overcast yet blue. The quiet country road was dry.
There was no traffic. I was alone.
So I set off. Fast.
I drove hard with legs and arms.
But by the end of the first quarter mile I had my doubts about achieving my lifetime ambition.
I knew the run would be painful and I wondered if I was only setting myself up for failure.
I persevered and pushed the thoughts away.
My legs felt heavier despite my level of effort remaining constant.
Still, I kept passing the landmarks of trees, logs and gates lining the road.
I stayed on the balls of my feet as the pain in my chest increased.
The metallic taste spread across my throat. I felt on the edge of my physical limit.
But I also intuitively knew it was the measure of success. I needed to stay in this zone.
I continued to push hard along the slightly downhill gradient. The side winds kept me concentrating.
After the three-quarter mile mark I looked down at my sportswatch for the first time. The pace at that moment was 5:28 per mile.
I had no idea what my average pace was so I picked up the pace and sprinted the last thirty seconds.
As I looked down at my sportswatch to see when I had crossed the proverbial finish line I glanced at the number 59.
I hadn’t been slow enough to run 5:59 so I knew I had done it.
On the ground, exhausted, I confirmed the achievement.
I was overjoyed.
I chuckled to myself hysterically.
As I got to my feet and began walking back up the road to reclaim my running jacket, the metallic blood taste was indescribable.
I had to stop several times.
I told myself this feeling was worth it. The time was 4:59.82.

Despite the jubilation of running a sub 5-minute mile at my first attempt, I had to be patient for my chance to attack my two-mile personal best. I had thought that Sunday would be right, but my legs were still a little heavy and achy from Thursday’s exertions. Unfortunately, the weather Sunday night meant Monday’s conditions were not as favourable as they had been on Thursday.

2 Mile Time-Trial

(Following) Monday

2 Mile Time-Trial

Significant puddles sat on many sections of the route. The sky looked as if it would rain.
Wet feet were inevitable.
I started a mile further along the same stretch of country road as my one mile time-trial.
I waited for a couple of vehicles to drive past before I set off.
This time, I kept glancing at my sportswatch as I took the first bend, then the second.
My heart was racing but no lactic acid had built up in my throat.
I was excited when I noticed my average pace was 4:59 per mile.
The memory of last Thursday spurred me on as I powered up a long, slight incline.
My pace suffered but I didn’t panic.
I soon reached halfway, the starting point of my one mile time-trial. I clocked 5:13 for the first mile.
From there, I faced more puddles, but my pace was steadily improving.
I considered the heavy effect on my stride as the rainwater soaked my Vibrams.
I told myself that “I had this record.”
I focused on maintaining my strong arm and leg movements, whilst not letting my average pace fall any further than 5:23 per mile.
Less than half a mile to the finish and I saw my fiancée at the side of the road.
She took photographs of me as I checked my sportswatch.
I made a conscious effort to give all I had to the moment.
For the last few seconds, I felt my chest begin to fill with lactic acid.
I clocked 10:42.74, over 35 seconds quicker than my previous best.

Aside from my two time-trials, I ran 22.37 miles (equivalent to 2 hours, 56 minutes and 23 seconds) at a comfortable pace, which included Monday, Saturday and Sunday. I rested on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Also, on Thursday evening I ran a tough session with my club. I completed 6x 0.5 mile reps at a tempo pace, with 0.25 mile jogging recoveries in between reps. Despite my pace fading as the session progressed, I was pleased that I still had some power in my legs and stayed in second position throughout.


I feel great relief and exhilaration in what I called ‘my race week’. By giving myself adequate time to taper and devise the ideal route I was able to accomplish a challenging goal in style (by working hard from the start and maintaining quick speed despite severe discomfort).

My mile performance also allowed me to maximise my training, by resting and breaking another personal record four days later. Although the two-mile time trial was a relatively easier run, I still wanted to ‘give my all’, which I managed by staying focused and pacing myself more evenly.

The past twelve weeks has been a great experience for me, both preparing for and adapting to relatively great physical stresses. I enjoyed the process of becoming more psychologically aware and capable of sustaining fast speeds, and feel proud to have applied those lessons at the first attempts.

For me, the momentary discomforts I felt during the time-trials were necessary in order to achieve goals that I will remember for the rest of my life

I am confident that my training techniques can now help me deliver similar performances at longer distances.

A Sporting Holiday

19-25 March 2018

I enjoyed a much-needed week-long holiday. I visited my parents on the sunny (and windy) Spanish Costa del Sol. My week was filled with long walks and sports, including golf, tennis and walking football. This was not planned but I enjoyed my personal version of cross-training.

I ran only twice: two slow 5k distances, one along a boardwalk [Tuesday], the other along a beach [Friday].

The latter was the toughest easy-paced 3.1-mile route I had ever run, as the uneven soft sand and fierce winds made every step a struggle.

Selfie on Costa del Sol

I relaxed and was pleased to stay active without expectation to complete specific workouts. However, despite the relatively low physical stress on my body, the numerous strokes I took on the driving range after many years away from playing golf strained some of my back muscles [Monday].

The fast walking I committed to during the walking football match, despite competing with men over 50 years old, caused my legs to ache in unfamiliar ways. I felt it was worth it, as I scored twice to help my team draw 4-4 [Thursday].

Selfie whilst playing Walking Football

Even an hour of playing tennis resulted in further aching in my feet, legs and arms, as I ran around the court quickly and hit powerful shots [Friday].

A rest on Sunday back home felt well-deserved. Although my back and left quadricep still ache I feel ready to attempt time-trials for my One Mile Challenge in the coming days.

My twelve weeks of training and tapering are now complete, and I have mentally devised my flat, mostly traffic-free routes as I did not get my opportunity to race any earlier.

Taper for Postponed Race

12-18 March 2018

Wednesday – workout #29

3x (3-4x 20-25 second) sprints with jogging recoveries in between (with 2-minute standing recoveries between sets)

I wanted to stay in control of my efforts the entire session.
Others recognised my lack of complete effort.
I told them I was saving myself for my race on Saturday.
So I didn’t lead from the front from the start.
Instead I gradually increased my speed for each interval.
The only struggle was to keep from running flat out as I stretched my legs further.
But I stayed behind the leader throughout the session, keeping my recoveries consistent.
Mentally I felt strong and always able to accelerate.
I was content knowing I had more to give when the time came.
I ended the session relaxed and without much energy expended.

Thursday – workout #30

2x 1,2,3,2,1-minute intervals with 1 minute jogging recoveries in between (and 2 minutes jogging recovery between sets)

Another club session in the evening and again I knew I couldn’t give my maximum effort.
Thankfully some of the top runners at the club didn’t turn up so my competitive spirit wasn’t challenged.
Instead I ran my intervals around a local lake, under the stars, at my own tempo pace.
I wasn’t competing against anyone and so I could maintain a steady rhythm and consistent jogging recoveries.
For a few intervals I ran harder to replicate moments at my upcoming goal race pace*.
This ensured I felt confident, and relatively comfortable, at that pace before my race on Saturday.
I kept passing other runners as I continued to run the winding circuit around the lake.
Another runner told me after the session that he was impressed with the strength and speed of my leg turnover.
I thanked him and realised that I should measure my cadence to assess whether I had developed a quick and more efficient step count per minute.

One Mile Challenge: Week 11

My week was essentially a taper for the Roger One Mile time-trial, a track event to commemorate the achievements of Sir Roger Bannister, who recently passed away. Unfortunately due to a random influx of snow over the weekend the event was cancelled and so my first attempt at breaking the five-minute mile was delayed. 

As a result I enjoyed three rest days (Monday, Friday and Saturday) and two easy days of running amounting to 14 miles.

Despite the uncontrollable setback I remain positive about my challenge as I head on holiday next week to see family.


*5:00 per mile

Personal Bests and Illness

5-11 March 2018

Monday – workout #26

5 x ¾ mile at tempo pace with 3:00 walking recoveries

I ran laps around two football pitches in my local park.
The grass was wet and muddy.
My energy was being sapped, despite my even pace.
I worked hard to maintain a smooth and controlled breathing rate.
The walking recoveries were more than adequate.
By the end of the workout I doubted the effectiveness of grass as a surface to gain the most power from my running.
After two days of hard workouts I knew I needed rest.

Thursday – workout #27

½ mile time-trial

I felt ready to test myself over a short distance.
I measured the route beforehand along my local river walk in order to avoid traffic and undulating terrain.
I started on a quiet road at a quick speed.
I soon turned off and headed along the concrete pedestrian pathway.
My legs and arms were driving fast and strong.
I kept my concentration as I reached the final seconds, noticing that my pace was sub 5:00 per mile.
This was a real confidence booster for me, knowing that I have the speed, endurance and quick pace to achieve a sub 5-minute mile.
I smiled and congratulated myself when I checked my sports watch and discovered a new personal best.

Thursday – workout #28

11x 0.15-0.3 mile downhill sprints with 1:30 jogging recoveries

Despite my fast performance earlier in the day I couldn’t refuse a running club session that was described as the ‘easiest workout’.
I ran a figure of eight circuit, with the uphill midsection as the jogging recoveries and the downhill and flat sections as sprints.
I was by far the quickest runner on the night so even with a handicap of running an extra stretch of road I overtook everyone else.
At times I felt I was flying downhill, not wanting to hold back.
I was rewarded with another personal best of my fastest ever top speed.
The half hour workout didn’t feel as easy as was promoted but I found it evidenced my improving fitness.

One Mile Challenge: Week 10

My week started strong when I recorded two personal best times, first with a half mile time of 2:26.19, and second, later that day, a top speed of 3:27 per mile. Illness over the weekend prevented me from training but did not dent my confidence.

I took advantage of four rest days (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and had one easy day of running. I accumulated over 12.4 ‘recovery miles’.

I also registered for the Roger One Mile Time-Trial, a local event to commemorate the legendary miler Roger Bannister, which will be held next Saturday. It will be my first opportunity to achieve a lifetime aspiration.

Snow Disrupts my Training

26 February – 4 March 2018

Sunday – workout #25

3 x 1-mile at tempo pace (5:40-6:00 per mile) with 3:30 standing recoveries

The snow had disappeared overnight and all that remained was damp grass and wet pavement.
I knew I had to get back to running hard if I was to make the most of my training so far this year.
I was excited and nervous before my first challenging workout for over a week.
I ran wide laps around a familiar patch of park with my fiancée watching me and taking photos.
The first rep felt controlled throughout.
The second rep felt difficult by the last quarter mile.
The third rep felt challenging from the start.
Yet, when I examined my times later I actually ran progressively faster for each rep.
Although the times were all under six minutes it wasn’t what mattered most, but the fact that I felt back on track – fatigued and satisfied.

One Mile Challenge: Week 9

Aside from my single hard workout I took two rest days (Tuesday and Saturday) and managed four days of easy running (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), accumulating over 16.4 miles, most whilst running in thick snow.

The freezing cold temperatures and problematic terrain meant that I was forced to run miles at a relative jogging pace. I found this unique challenge enjoyable as I could forget about my block of hard training and focus on traversing through fields of virgin snow.

I wore many layers and limited myself to around 40 minutes per run. I used these runs to build endurance and to rest from more strenuous exercise. I also freed up some time to undertake core exercises, such as wall sits and planks.

I believe I am now mentally prepared for my final few weeks of quality training before my attempt to break the five-minute mile.

Demonstrating Maximum Speed

19-25 February 2018

Wednesday – workout #23

16x <0.1 mile at 3:54-5:13 per mile pace with various jogging and standing recoveries

After three days of rest I expected to feel strong running with my work group.
Except my lower legs were still aching from last week.
I remained positive though and led the uphill and flat sprints the entire session.
I maintained a powerful and relaxed form throughout.
My only concern throughout was that the short bursts of energy will not be improving my speed endurance.
I was very pleased with clocking a lifetime maximum speed of 3:28 per mile, and how I recovered well in between reps.

Thursday – workout #24

6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-minute intervals at tempo pace (5:40-6:00 per mile) with jogging recoveries of half the time of the intervals

I felt ready for another tough workout. This time with my running club.
I shot off from the start. For the first interval of six minutes I was leading the pack.
During the jogging recovery I was overtaken by other faster runners.
I was content to run alone along the curving path around the lake.
I thought about the other runners around me fleetingly. Instead I reflected on the cold but calm evening under the stars and moon.
I continued to work hard, but always within myself, refusing to let the lactate accumulate.
By the end of the session I still had a little to give, but knew I needed to recover for the rest of the week.

One Mile Challenge: Week 8

During my two harder workouts I accumulated 4.58 miles (25 mins and 53 secs) within a pace range of 3:54-6:17 min per mile. During the week I enjoyed three rest days (Monday, Friday and Saturday) and two days of easy running (Tuesday and Sunday) accumulating over 12.7 miles.

Although I had plenty of rest I still felt my lower limbs were a limiting factor this week. My progress is still strong though so I will take forward the momentum I have built to focus on feeling optimal for my future harder workouts.

My Inspiration to Run a Fast Mile

There are three people that inspire me to run my fastest mile.

First is Hicham El Guerrouj, the world record holder for one mile since July 1999. He clocked 3:43.13. More than his staggering performance, that has lasted for over eighteen years, is the man’s contribution to society and humble personality.

In my opinion he remains the gold standard for the mile and displays the positive attitude that all people (not just runners) should adopt.

Quentin Cassidy, the fictional protagonist in John L. Parker, Jr’s 1978 book Once a Runner, is another influence. Listening to the audiobook reminded me of my high school track career, where pain was an inevitable consequence of pushing one’s limits.

Roger Bannister is also an iconic figure in running history, as the first man to break the four-minute mile barrier. He achieved this through specific, sustained training. Surprisingly, his feat inspired others to further improve the record, proving that limits are as much psychological as physiological.

I too want to find out how quick I can run a mile (although not necessarily on the track). I am fascinated by this short distance, the primary unit that all my running is defined by. I am 27 years old, feel that I am in the peak range for my running fitness and believe this is the time to find out who I am as a miler.

Finally, my inspiration is the lifetime goal I have set (as a coach to myself) of running a mile in less than 4:30. Although extremely ambitious, I believe that I can get close, with future seasons of training, to my absolute physical and mental limit.

As with all goals it is important to break them into manageable chunks, and thus my current training will focus on milestones necessary to run a mile in less than 5 minutes.

Increasing My Mileage

12-18 February 2018

Monday – workout #20

4x ¾ mile at 5:30-6:10 per mile pace with 2½ minute walking/standing recoveries

I used a long stretch of country lane, usually quiet, to run my intervals.
Rather than check my sportswatch I focused on my high knee lift and breathing. I knew that my tempo pace would be tough but manageable. I kept my pace steady so that my breathing was close to the edge of becoming exhausted gasping.
I felt strong and my rest breaks were more than adequate.
On the last two reps I felt closer to losing my rhythm so I consciously made slight adjustments.
At times the traffic forced me onto the grassy banks but I kept my concentration.
Despite the four rest days last week I felt some niggles on the outside of my lower legs.
My times were also more erratic than I wanted but remain positive.

Thursday – workout #21

6x approx. ½ mile at tempo pace (5:40-6:00 per mile) with 3-4 sprints interspersed throughout, with 2-2½ minutes walking recoveries between laps

I was excited to run a different type of workout at my club night.
I ran in a ‘train’ of three runners around a local lake, where the runner at the back would sprint to the front.
The pace was a consistent tempo, and the 3-4 sprints per lap were less than 50m each.
I felt strong throughout and knew I always had more to give.
I encouraged my teammates to continue to work hard.
The winding route kept bunching us up but the shorter sprints meant we could maintain a fluid rhythm.
At the last bend of the final lap I ran hard with another runner to finish the session strong.

Saturday – workout #22

3x 1 mile at 5:30-5:50 per mile pace with 2½ minute walking recoveries

I wanted to test myself over the distance again. But not at 95-99% of my max.
I changed my mind from 4 to 3 reps when I felt slight niggles in my legs during the warm-up.
I was confident though that 5:30 miles could be run without excessive effort.
I stayed in control, keeping an even pace along slightly undulating paths, roads and grasses.
Only in the mid-section of the reps did I feel I was close to building lactate in my legs.
I noticed my left hand was tense at times so I consciously relaxed it, and used my arms to drive me forward.
It was only the last rep that I struggled to maintain my pace. Otherwise it was a strong performance, and a great indicator for my future efforts.

One Mile Challenge: Week 7

My three harder workouts amounted to 9.14 miles (52 mins and 40 secs) within a pace range of 5:30-6:10 min per mile. During the week I enjoyed a rest day (Wednesday) and three days of easy running (Tuesday, Friday and Sunday) accumulating over 18.25 miles.

Although the increased ‘recovery’ miles did fatigue me I was pleased to return to training with renewed vigour this week. I now know I need to practice and improve my speed endurance for the remaining weeks of my challenge.

Resting to Recharge

5- 11 February 2018

Monday – workout #18

5x 0.4 mile at 5:05-5:40 per mile pace with 2½ minute walking recoveries

I deliberately paced myself sensibly for the first two reps around my familiar patch of grass. Although still tough I felt I was holding back a little.
My times were almost exactly as I expected*.
Despite the slow walking between reps my breathing became uncontrollable and my legs heavier by my third rep.
I still ran as aggressive as I could but my pace for the remaining reps were nearer my tempo pace than maximum velocity pace.
I was easy on myself though, reminding myself that last week revealed my growing fatigue that I still hadn’t corrected.
I decided not to punish my body any further.

Wednesday – workout #19

3x 4 fartlek reps of fast running (at 4:45-5:30 per mile pace) of 20-45 seconds with easy recovery jogging in between, with 2-3 minutes active recoveries between sets

I didn’t feel my regular springy self. But I forced myself out.
I knew I would be resting the rest of the week.
I led my running group at work from the front as usual.
First we charged hard up a short but steep hill.
We recovered back down, then headed fast along a longer flatter stretch of pathway.
We jogged back to the start again and repeated the hill.
The final stretch was the shortest and slightly downhill.
In between the three sets we undertook a mix of deep squats and single leg squats.
Although I stayed strong throughout I consciously held back, not attempting my top speed.
I was more pleased that my fatigue would end as I my short break from running was now due.

One Mile Challenge: Week 6

I only accumulated 3.17 miles (16 mins and 53 secs) during my two hard workouts, recording 4:45-5:37 min per mile pace. However, I knew my body needed adequate recovery and therefore during the week I enjoyed four rest days (Thursday – Sunday) and one day of easy running (Tuesday) amounting to over 5.25 miles.

Although mentally challenging I am pleased that I was disciplined to let my body adapt to the stresses I had placed on it since the start of the year. To keep myself active I walked a lot and committed to exercising my core most days. I also frequently stretched my lower body.


* 1 mile goal race pace is 5:00 per mile.

Struggling for Speed Consistency

29 January – 4 February 2018

Monday – workout #14

6x ¼ mile at 4:30-5:10 per mile pace with 2½ minute walking/standing recoveries, then 3x ½ mile at 5:40-5:55 per mile pace with 2½ minute walking/standing recoveries, with 5 minutes walking recovery between sets

I returned to the same grass ‘track’ as yesterday’s time-trial.
I was conscious of continuing my consistent fast pacing.
Only I set off too fast.
Despite my self-talk during my recoveries I kept finishing my single laps hard.
This meant that after three reps I was working harder to actually finish slower than my intended goal mile pace*.
I was disappointed by the end of my sixth rep.
But I still wanted to run hard so I ran more reps, this time for two laps each. Although the average pace was far below my expectations, I persevered.
I felt better because I knew I had paced myself better and still maintained a sprint along the final straight.
My last rep was the fastest of the three.

Wednesday – workout #15

Fartlek sets of easy, tempo and fast running at various distances accumulating 5x 0.1 mile at 4:10-5:00 per mile pace and 5x 0.13-0.3 miles at 5:18-5:49 per mile pace with active recoveries at various paces

I again ran with my running group at work.
This time we used a familiar figure of eight circuit in a local park, interspersing easy running with bursts of tempo pace and sprints.
I enjoyed leading from the front, quickening my stride with ease along the bends, and feeling strong as I sprinted on the final straight.
Each section of running was controlled and although it was a much easier workout than recent efforts I was pleased with my raw speed.

Thursday – workout #16

2x (½ mile, ¼ mile, ⅛ mile at 4:25-5:15 per mile pace with 2½ minute standing/walking recoveries) with 5 minute walking recovery between sets

I used a quiet stretch of grass I had never run on before.
I felt confident with the challenge, allowing myself enough time to recover between reps.
There were undulations on the course and the bends were sharper than I wanted them to be.
But I ran hard throughout.
I checked my reps during my recovery periods.
Although my first rep was not as quick as I expected I refused to let it negatively affect me.
I did my best to keep my shoulders relaxed.
After my first set my stomach felt painful.
It didn’t subside as I tackled the second half of my workout, working as close to my one mile pace as I could without pushing myself to my limits.

Sunday – workout #17

2 mile time-trial at a perceived even pace.

After my recent 5 km club time-trial I chose to pursue my personal best at the two mile distance.
My last hard workout was three days ago and I felt confident I could get close to the 5:39 per mile pace I set in December 2016.
I used a figure of eight circuit near my home.
Conditions were windy and cold, with the grass a little muddy.
I wanted to be conscious of my pace throughout so I checked my pace.
By the end of the second lap I was struggling.
I ran the first mile in line with my personal best pace.
But despite pushing on I could not prevent my pace from falling.
Even my fiancée taking photographs of me could not inspire to run faster.
By the fourth and final lap I developed a stitch. I ignored it, along with my sports watch, and just tried to hang on.
I charged over the line to record an average mile pace of 6:00.
I would ordinarily be disappointed but accepted that fatigue from my five weeks of intense training had taken a toll on me.

One Mile Challenge: Week 5

During the week I also enjoyed a rest day (Saturday) and two days of easy running (Tuesday and Friday) amounting to over 6.45 miles.

I accumulated 8.25 miles (44 mins and 47 secs) during my four hard workouts, recording 4:09-6:01 min per mile pace. My maximum heart rate recorded was 194 bpm.


* 1 mile goal race pace is 5:00 per mile.

First Signs of Progress

22-28 January 2018

Monday – workout #10

4x 0.25 mile at a range of 1 minute slower and faster than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1¼ minute walking/standing recoveries)
5 minute walking recovery
4x 0.12 mile at a range of 30 seconds slower and faster than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1 minute walking/standing recoveries)

After another 3 days of rest I was desperate to run.
I kept my sports tape on my right leg, as it was still not fully healed.
I shot off for my first lap, smashing my quarter-mile personal best by over 4 seconds [1:04.66].
Predictably the remaining 3 reps were a struggle.
My pace dropped even though my legs were working hard.
I wanted to redeem myself so I ended the session with shorter bursts.
Once again my times were inconsistent, despite the constant discomfort in my stomach.
Interestingly I didn’t use any internal mantras to support my running. This was a contributing factor to my erratic performance.

Wednesday – workout #11

Pyramid sets of approx. 4x 30, 4x 45 and 2x 60 seconds with jogging recoveries of 1½ – 2½ minutes at a range of 15 seconds slower and faster than 1 mile goal race pace*

I ran with my running group at work.
The path through the park was flat.
I led from the front, conscious of not running at my maximum.
At times I used the grass verge to avoid collisions with walkers.
I also slipped on the mud at the start of one rep, but regained my front running position.
I stayed focused, using approximate markers to keep my consistency.
By the last rep the rain was pelting down but I didn’t slow.
The group leader reminded me of “becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable”.
The workout, and my training thus far, has epitomised this principle.

Thursday – workout #12

5 km time-trial at a perceived even pace.

On a calm night I tackled the same route around the perimeter of my local industrial estate.
I felt confident I could beat my previous time a month ago.
I told myself to “show up”.
I had different competition this time, with some strong club runners looking to impress.
I relished the challenge and went out hard from the start.
I led for only a short time before the eventual winner pulled out of sight.
By the end of the first lap I was in third position.
I reminded myself to keep pushing hard, reducing the gap to the runner in front.
A lorry turning into a side road meant the challenge was easier for me.
I used the incline to surge.
My competitor matched my effort.
I had to stay a step behind him as we approached the final stretch.
Again I surged but he maintained his position, crossing the line two seconds ahead of me.
I shaved 30 seconds off my 3.1 mile time in just over a month, achieving 17:54, 7 seconds shy of my lifetime best time.
The time-trial had proved my speed endurance was improving.

Sunday – workout #13

1 mile time-trial at a perceived even pace.

A last minute change of mind meant rather than an easy run I would complete the first of my mile time-trials.
I became nervous as I warmed-up and did some strides.
I ignored the few teenagers milling around the area.
I reminded myself that I shouldn’t run the first lap around the patch of grass too fast.
My fiancée took some photographs of me as I ran, which made me relax.
I began feeling fatigue by the end of the first lap, but at no point was my breathing out of control.
I just kept hanging on, driving with my arms and legs.
I didn’t look at my sports watch until the last lap to confirm I was nearing the end.
But my timing was off so rather than a sprint finish I ran just over the distance before stopping.
I waited after a long recovery walk before checking my time.
I recorded 5:20.57, my current sixth best ever mile time.
Although not especially close to my ultimate goal, I was pleased with the consistent effort for each lap and how I dealt with the sunny and windy conditions.
In less than a month I had reduced my mile time by over 6 seconds, another measure of successful progress.

One Mile Challenge: Week 4

The remainder of the week included 1 rest day (Saturday) and two days of easy running (Tuesday and Friday) amounting to over 4.5 miles. Thankfully my right fibula and sore throat have subsided, although they remain an irritant.

During my four quality workouts I accumulated 7.08 miles (38 mins and 23 secs) between 4:19 – 6:06 min per mile pace. My maximum heart rate recorded was 192 bpm.


* 1 mile goal race pace is 5:00 per mile.

Overcoming An Early Injury

15-21 January 2018

Wednesday – workout #8

7x 0.15 mile sprints (with uphill sections) at a range of 15 seconds slower and faster than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1½ min jogging recoveries

After 3 days of rest I knew I had to run.
But my right leg was still feeling sore.
So I compromised, committing to less reps than I could ordinarily manage.
I needed to prove I hadn’t lost any fitness.
Each rep began with an incline before flattening out for the last two thirds of the route.
My starting point for each rep crept up the hill as I struggled to jog far enough to return to the base.
“Drive. Drive. Power. Power.”
The mantra kept me strong throughout as my breathing became uncontrollable.
I had to dodge dogs and a few walkers but overcame slight stitches and acid reflux.

Thursday – workout #9

10x (2 mins hard effort at approx. ½ min slower than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1 min jogging recoveries)

My right leg was worse, forcing me to doubt whether I should run a fast club session.
But I risked it, knowing I would have the remainder of the week recovering.
I was conscious of not running too hard.
I didn’t want to run at the front of the pack.
But I found myself there.
So I used lapping others as my motivation.
As another runner passed me during the active recoveries I used him as the marker to overtake on the hard sections.
“Don’t panic.”
I didn’t rush my movement but kept quickening my pace, attempting to feel relaxed.
Then the drizzle came.
I persevered until the end of the session, proud that I performed so well under less than ideal circumstances.

One Mile Challenge: Week 3

The rest of the week included 5 rest days (Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) to ensure that I fully recovered from my sore right fibula and sore throat. Heat and ice failed to make much difference so I used kinesiology tape, which supported Thursday’s workout and helped heal my injury over the weekend.

During my two quality workouts I accumulated 4.73 miles (25 mins and 8 secs) between 4:29 – 5:43 min per mile pace. My maximum heart rate recorded was 197 bpm.


* 1 mile goal race pace is 5:00 per mile.

First Complications of My Fast Training

8-14 January 2018

Monday – workout #4

10x 0.35 mile at approx. ½ min slower than 1 mile goal race pace* with 2¼ min walking recoveries

1 ¼ laps around two recreational football pitches.
I felt early on that I was not matching my 1 mile goal race pace by the half way mark of each rep. 
I adjusted my expectations and kept working hard.
I finished each rep strong but the extra distance played on my mind.
I used the mantras “stay strong” and “keep your form” to remain positive.

Wednesday – workout #5

3x (3x approx. 20 sec hill sprints at faster than 1 mile goal race pace* with 40 sec jogging recoveries downhill) with approx. 2 min standing recoveries between sets

My first 2018 workout with my work running group saw me running Kenyan Hills.
My new Vibrams felt slippery on the stony gradient. So I switched to grass.
I stayed strong, using my arms to propel my way to the end of the straight at the top of the hill.
A fellow runner, a young 400m athlete from the local club, training on the same stretch reminded me of the power and form I needed.
I kept a little in reserve, unsure of the effect of an extra workout in the week.

Thursday – workout #6

11x 0.25-0.3 mile at approx. ¼ min slower to ¼ min faster than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1-1½ min jogging recoveries

Again I led my running club from the start as I navigated through the twisty path along the perimeter of a pond.
Despite the dark and sharp turns I soon knew my way.
I stayed fast along the last curve until I could jog.
I didn’t look around until rep nine when I had to pick up the pace to finish ahead of a fellow fast runner.
I had proved my speed and didn’t worry about him passing me the last two reps. I was pleased to stay within my pace range. I shook his hand in appreciation of his indirect support.

Saturday – workout #7

5x ½ mile at approx. ½ – ¾ min slower than 1 mile goal race* with 2 min walking/standing recoveries

My relatively straight route on the grass along a stretch of my local river walk felt long. Then I headed back the other way.
I couldn’t help but slow the last half of the distance for the first two reps.
I better managed my fast start the next two reps.
I kept telling myself “no pain, no gain”.
My final rep was hard.
I embraced the gut-busting effort and tried to control my breathing.

One Mile Challenge: Week 2

My week also included 2 rest days (Tuesday and Sunday) and 1 day of recovery running (Friday) amounting to 5 km.

Although I didn’t suffer much calf and quad ache throughout the week, I felt slight pain half way up my right fibula, requiring rest.

I accumulated 9.65 miles (51 mins and 14 secs) between 4:29 – 5:50 min per mile pace. My maximum heart rate recorded was 190 bpm.


* 1 mile goal race pace is 5:00 per mile.

My New 2018 Fast Workouts

1-7 January 2018

Monday – workout #1

2x (8x approx. 1/10 mile uphill sprints at approx. 1 min slower than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1-1.5 min walking recoveries) with 3 min standing rest between sets

Staying at my family’s house in the Derbyshire Dales I felt ready to tackle my mile challenge on the first day of 2018.
I used a nearby hill to work on my speed and running form.
I did not set myself a target of reps beforehand. Half way through I felt low in confidence.
“You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.” ¹
I battled against fatigue and stayed positive until I completed the last rep.

Thursday – workout #2

2x (1 min, 2 mins, 3 mins, 2 mins, 1 min at approx. faster than 1 mile goal race pace* with 1 min walking recoveries) with 2 min standing rest between sets

For my first 2018 workout with my running club I surged from the start.
In cold conditions I led the pack of runners around a local industrial estate, used as the ‘track’.
Some runners stayed with me for spells but I always pushed harder and finished stronger.
Others complimented my running form and performance throughout the tough workout.
I told them “I felt really good” and that I must have “jet packs attached to my Vibrams”.

Saturday – workout #3

5x ¼ mile at approx. slower than 1 mile goal race pace with 1.5 min walking recoveries

My calves still ached, but I wanted a third hard workout of the week.
In the dying light I used the perimeter of a football pitch in a local park as a track.
I forgot to wear my running gloves and leggings despite the bitterly cold and windy conditions.
“It’s all good mental training.” ²
I struggled to keep the pace I intended despite working at what I felt was maximum effort.
“I want this.”
It was the first time I ever used my Garmin sports watch to preprogramme a workout, and it did prove a distraction as I am still unfamiliar with the set-up.

One Mile Challenge: Week 1

The rest of the week included 2 rest days (Tuesday and Sunday) and 2 days with easy paced recovery runs partly with my fiancée (Wednesday and Friday) accumulating 5.8 miles.

Although I suffered calf and quad ache throughout the week, I accumulated 6.64 miles (34 mins and 45 secs) between 4:26-6:25 min per mile pace and felt at full strength on Sunday. My maximum heart rate recorded was 210 bpm.


* 1 mile goal race pace is 5:00 per mile.
¹ Quote spoken by Ken Chlouber, the founder of the Leadville Trail 100 race
² Mantra outlined in mindset number 1 from The Ultra Mindset (2015) by Travis Macy

Reasons to Run a Mile Fast

In his book Lore of Running Tim Noakes explains that runners who are fast at short distances will very likely be fast at longer distances (assuming specific training is undertaken). It is therefore unrealistic to believe a runner can beat another at any endurance event if they cannot overcome them over distances from the mile up to the 10k. This is based on diminishing returns and fatigue resistance as the maximum pace a runner can maintain for longer will inevitably decrease (though not necessarily by a significant margin).

Although intuitive, it is not necessarily widely practiced by recreational road runners.

Noakes advises runners to focus on realising one’s potential at shorter distances before running further. This theory has been successfully applied by many elite athletes, including the Daniel Komen, Emil Zátopek, and ultramarathon legends Ann Trason and Yiannis Kouros. Also, well-established race time predictions are based on actual results for relatively short races.

Former top ultrarunner and now-experienced coach Norrie Williamson in his book Everyone’s Guide to Distance Running echoes Noakes’ advice. Every runner must accept that all distances are important because any errors in running form or mindset will increase in magnitude as the distance progresses.

Despite the logic, it is important to experiment to find a balance between speed and volume in training, and short- and long-term ambitions.

I feel it is time in my running career to embrace distances up to the mile, after many years of focusing on improving my half marathon and marathon performances. I expect that throughout my challenge I will reminisce on my high school track career

The training and time trials will test me in new ways and my desire to be a sub 5-minute miler is strong, especially as I am tantalisingly close already…

My Fast One Mile Challenge

The mile, as a race, is an intriguing distance. It is the fundamental unit of measure that all road races are built upon, and yet is often forgotten as a test of overall fitness and assessment of progress towards other goals.

I first considered running a fast mile away from the track in early 2016 when, for the first time, I changed the settings on my Garmin sports watch to record mile splits.

I clocked 5:48.39. In subsequent months I lowered my best time to 5:38.41, 5:36.97 then 5:30.68, until in August 2016 I recorded four sub 5:30 miles, establishing my personal best as 5:08.41 (on the 22nd of that month).

Although I have since run numerous sub 6:00 miles, including in races such as the Witham May Day 5 Miler and Hardwick 10km, I have not managed to come any closer to the 5:00 mark. This is due in part to my reluctance to train specifically for the distance, instead preferring to use the distance (and shorter intervals such as quarter-mile, half-mile and three-quarter-mile) as repetitions during my speed workouts, for improving my performances at longer races.

In November 2017, after realising I had accumulated over 110 sub 6:00 miles in less than two years, I set myself an ambitious goal. For the first time in my running career I intend to focus solely on improving my one-mile personal record. I first took four weeks rest after my fourth Chelmsford Marathon in October 2017, then spent six weeks base training in preparation for my challenge.

My intention is to now train for 12 weeks, culminating in a time trial in the last week of March 2018 to compare my progress. I will use a local park as my ‘track’ and remind myself of why I am pursuing this life-time goal.

I ran 5:26.93 (my eighth current best time) on 30th December 2017 as a starting point for my challenge.