Grand Prix Athletics in Birmingham 2019 Review

The IAAF World Tour came to Birmingham last Saturday. The experienced international field were all looking to make their mark on the upcoming year with world leads. The competition was intense and ambitions high. But the overriding theme of the event was that others can truly make you run faster.

 

Oskan-Clarke Muscles to Victory Again

 

In the 800m women’s race Briton’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke again proved her outstanding current form. After becoming national champion she was the woman to beat.

She ran fast to the break in the lanes, and led the pack. Despite Adelle Tracey’s three attempts to pass her on the outside, Oskan-Clarke accelerated just enough to keep in front up to the final straight. Then, when all her competitors appeared to slow, Oskan-Clarke had the strength and stamina to secure her second victory in a week.

She used her superior musculature and characteristic grit to remain unsurpassable. She feels she can get quicker too.

 

Ethiopians Dominate the World

 

In the 1500m men’s race Samuel Tefera and Yomif Kejelcha weren’t focusing solely on winning. They were looking to secure a world indoor record. Kejelcha led his fellow countryman after 1,000m when the pacers moved aside. Their arms drove strongly and quickly as they reeled off lap after lap. Only halfway along the back straight of the final lap did Tefera overtake Kejelcha. He then cut back sharply to the inside lane and powered to the finish line. He recorded 3:31.04, only 0.14 seconds quicker than the great Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1997 previous record.

The two Ethiopians, along with the crowd, made the record possible. Tefera is only 19 years old, and Kejelcha, who only just missed out on an indoor world record for the mile last week, is only 21 years old. These athletes are special and if they continue to run together (and inadvertently pace each other) they will surely be the next generation to make their lasting mark on middle-distance running.

The most promising feature of the race was Tefera’s reaction after the race; he looked calm and was able to jog the victory lap as if he hadn’t given all he had.

 

Laura Muir Continues to Excel

 

The final race of the meet was the women’s mile. Although Laura Muir said pre-race that she was prioritising victory, commenters speculated about a new national record.

After 800m the pacer left and Muir was running without competition. Concentration was high, and during the final two laps you could see that Muir’s legs and arms were working hard to supersede her recent training successes. She stumbled to the ground after she crossed the line from the extreme fatigue.

Muir finished the mile in the third fastest time ever of 4:18.75, breaking a 31-year British record. The home crowd were on their feet, cheering loudly for most of the race. Everyone played a part in her astonishing performance.

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.

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.

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.

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