Peddling to Find my Maximum

To offer myself a variation from solely endurance work I felt I needed to include interval training.
So I prepared myself for short sprints on my turbo trainer early this evening.
I used no music or audiobook to keep me motivated or distracted.

Instead I focused on peddling fast.
I set myself a straightforward workout of 10 x 30 seconds with 1 minute recoveries.
All I knew was I would sweat.

I got my head down and powered the pedals down and back.
After the first interval my breathing was heavy and my core temperature had risen.
The minute of easy cycling afterwards felt fine, although it passed quickly.
I tried to stay to a rhythm for each interval.
My long hair flapped in my face, but I ignored it and blew out hard.

My quad and calf muscles were heavy but I knew I could finish strong.
I checked my speed several times to ensure my effort matched the output.
None of my 30 second bursts fell below 32 mph.
The maximum speed recorded was 35.5 mph.

I sweated as much as I do when I cycle for over an hour.
I finished my 15-minute workout with a short walk, exhausted but satisfied.




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.

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.

Why I Commit to Calf Raises

It is vital that as a runner you identify any weaknesses. Whether they are physical or mental you have the most to gain from overcoming, or at least reducing, their negative impact. A quick honest self-assessment is the first step in a process that should result in tangible rewards.

In my off-season I endeavour to discover any specific areas of my running that I could improve. Then I attempt to rectify them.

As a runner who wears barefoot shoes I spend increasingly more miles running with a forefoot strike. I find this especially efficient and comfortable when undertaking speed workouts, strides and racing short distances, such as the mile up to 5km.

Recently, I realised that my calf muscles are a limiting factor in my performances. The start of my running club career has revealed a susceptibility to pain in my lower leg. Although disappointed in my fragility after only a couple of tough speed sessions, I accepted that I should not dwell on it. Instead I will embrace the challenge and believe that I can achieve a new level of fitness.


After some research I found the calf raise exercise to be the most effective means of combating my vulnerability.

My commitment is to strengthen my calves by maintaining a daily routine of sets of 20 single leg steady repetitions whilst standing, at least twice a day. I intend to record my progress and aim to move to harder variations such as whilst on stairs and including hopping.

Calf raises also provide improvements in ankle strength and balance. Visualisations can also be completed during this straightforward exercise.