Where am I?

Not literally, but in terms of training. The preparations for Hi-Ex took up a lot of time, as I knew they would, and threw off my training a bit. I haven’t managed to get it quite back on an even keel, however, which stops now. I can only get through all of this with planning and I need to get back to doing that.

Have I been hitting my targets for the last few weeks? Honestly, I’m not too sure. I know I ran for 23km off-road and then did 22.5km on-road (different weeks) so my strength and stamina is still improving, and that gives me hope. I was always a week behind on the training, so that puts me in week 9 which means a total of 25 miles (40km) is required.

  • Monday – 14.7km
  • Wednesday – 13.2km
  • Saturday – 22.4km
  • Total – 50.3km

So, yes, I’m still comfortably doing the distance, but the quality of the sessions and the supplemental sessions have dropped off. That being said, I think I can happily count the Saturday run as my LSR for this fortnight and there will almost certainly be an intervals session on Friday to tick that box.

The B2B could prove tricky though. In order to do that I need to get out both at lunchtime and in the evening, which means putting in ten miles during my two hour lunch window. That also includes warm up, cool down and shower. These are going to start getting tight and while I’ll aim for that this week, I think the B2B sessions are going to have to start being a bit less on the 50/50 split and become more weighted towards the evenings.

I’ve also realised I’m going to have to start doing a lot more of the running off road. The 23km I did in the Pentlands didn’t pose any great issues (yeah, I was tired, but I wasn’t in pain) but 22km on the road I did more recently resulted in a some (manageable) pain in the legs. I think this might be partly down to stupidity on my part as I didn’t take any fluid or calories so I was out for two hours without fuel. Not a great idea. However, it is a worry and may lead to yet more rejigging of plans. Some after-work runs from Carlops or Balerno might be in order. And hey, that just means I can justify a pair of Ay-Ups, right?

The plan then, is to do a Granton Loop 10km on Tuesday, the B2B on Wednesday and then the intervals on Friday. This means missing out on the hill session for this fortnight, but opportunities are scarce. I also need to get more of the supplemental training in. Planning, planning and more planning, that’s what I need.

Director’s Commentary

“This was a good week of training, it all hung together quite well.”

“Yes, and it’s aged well, too.”

I’ve been listening to some classic Who commentaries for the past few days, they make for good background noise while I’m either playing about with some code, answering questions, or bagging up comics  ready for Hi-Ex.

This is all very dull to write down and to read I’m sure, but it’s all part of making sure I set targets, justify missing them, and generally just record things.

  • Sunday – Half marathon training run (21.2km). Yup, what was once a distant target has now become a “I need to run, howsabout 21km?”. I can’t lie though, the knowledge that there’d be a Fitocracy badge in it spurred me on a bit.
  • Monday – Off day.
  • Tuesday – Tai Chi for two hours, and getting close to the point in the form I reached before my long break. C’mon Cloud Hands!
  • Wednesday – 8.7km run and a core wor kout.
  • Thursday – Off day (I should have cored it up, but there’s no record of that in Fitocracy. Bad.)
  • Friday – F.E.T., with a total of ~5km running. These sessions are definitely improving. Managed the five minutes of stair hopping without a break, took two 2.5 minute sessions for the various jumping exercises, and then 5 solid minutes of single leg squats. I need to start putting another exercise into the mix, though I’m still reluctant to antelope around there. Might move to the Botanics for that one.
  • Saturday – My calves were sore after F.E.T., so I did a short (~6km) run followed by ten minutes of core.

I’m a week behind The Wall’s training schedule, so my target was 17 miles which I’ve surpassed quite comfortably. Not enough core in that though, must try harder.

Coming Up

5 Mar 18 18.5 miles 8x runs B2B 7+7miles 1x hills, 1x intervals, 1x LSR Minimum 2x XTraining5× 15min Core Stability
6 Mar 25 20.5 miles

I’m choosing to think that a B2B session counts as two runs, and I’ve already claimed the 13km of Deerstalker to be a hill sessions, so here’s how I see the next two weeks shaping up:

  • Sunday (today) – Day off (oooh, it were lovely, though I did go walking for two hours)
  • Monday – Normal lunchtime run (10km)
  • Tuesday – Tai chi
  • Wednesday – B2B. I can still get one of these in at lunchtime, but it’s going to get more difficult as the distances increase.
  • Thursday – No run.
  • Friday – Normal lunchtime run.
  • Saturday – DS (hill session, 13km)
  • Sunday – Biking at Glentress (cross training)
  • Monday – Day off.
  • Tuesday – Tai chi
  • Wednesday – Normal lunchtime run (10km).
  • Thursday – No run.
  • Friday – Intervals
  • Saturday – LSR. Although this only needs to be a few km to hit the target I’ll take the opportunity to head into the Pentlands or Ochils and do some trail work.

I’m going to fit the core workouts in where I can. After my whine about them taking longer than they should the other day, I’ve seriously tightened up the time needed. This was really just down to scribbling down a workout plan before I started, putting my head down (figuratively) and going for it.

Week Three in Review

What a busy week, but I’m hopeful that I still manage to hit my training targets.

  • 15k Devilla Forest run (which I don’t seem to be in the results for. I guess my chip failed)
  • Monday – Off
  • Tuesday – Tai Chi
  • Wednesday – 10k lunchtime run
  • Thursday – 15min core workout
  • Friday – Intervals session (7km)
  • Saturday – 15 min core workout.

That’s 32km in total which comes out at 20 miles, meaning I made the 17 miles target. Not bad, though that was a happy coincidence rather than being properly planned out. Lesson #2 : Planning is key.

The target for week #4 is 17 miles again, and I’m planning to do it like this:

  • Sunday – LSR of 16-24 kilometres. I think I should get this big one out of the way early on so that I know it’s done.
  • Monday – F.E.T.
  • Tuesday – Tai Chi (x-training)
  • Wednesday – Normal run + evening core workout
  • Thursday – Evening core workout
  • Friday – Normal run
  • Saturday – Minimum of core workout

Trying to fit in several core workouts in each week simply wasn’t working for me, mostly because there are nights in the week where I don’t get in till about half ten and at that point I really don’t feel like getting into a pair of shorts and laying out the exercise mat. The “ten minute” workout takes more than that in elapsed time once you start counting the time getting ready, warming down, resting between exercises and the like. Instead, I’ve start increasing the time and scope of the workouts, going for rep counts with some exercises instead of just doing them for a minute.

Those sessions are definitely helping, and I can feel it when I’m out running. The Devilla Forest run and the sub-45 10km that I did this week are good examples. During both I felt that I was struggling a bit, but I could feel that the core muscles were coming into play, holding me upright and preventing me from falling into that hunched over shuffle position so beloved of tired runners.


Run To The Hills

Week two in review is looking pretty good. Although the days got shifted around a bit, I still managed to accomplish almost everything I set out to, the only casualty being the planned intervals session since it could have left me in a poor state to tackle a double header over the weekend.

  • Sunday – Trail run, 11km(already written about)
  • Monday – 9.3km run.
  • Tuesday – Tai Chi
  • Wednesday – F.E.T., including 4.5km of running
  • Thursday – Core workout (15 mins)
  • Friday – Core workout (10 mins)
  • Saturday – Party! 15km run

Wednesday’s F.E.T. saw the numbers increase as Sandy’s decided he’s up for some different training as well. While Jacob and I have only managed stair jumps and jumping on the spot (what exciting names) so far, we finally got the hang of the squats as well. I reckon we can add another exercise this week and start cutting down on the warm up run to give us more time. Each exercise may only be for a minimum of five minutes, but there’s generally a fair bit of “Just <gasp> another <gasp> minute” in between sessions.

Target for running was 25km and I hit 40km, so I’m doing okay on distance. I’m not aiming to smash the targets or anything, I’m still running within my limits, it’s just that if I was to run “only” 25km I’d have to miss out on some fun.


When you know adventure racers, invitations to parties tend to be a bit more interesting than “what booze will I pick up?”. They tend to involve getting muddy…and then drinking that booze you picked up.

Rachel reached a significant number on Saturday so she decided to put on race to celebrate. Up to 17km of checkpoints to be got around her patch of Colinton Mains. I was going to be up against some of the Top Bananas and a couple of Team SALT as well, so I did the smart thing and teamed up with someone faster than me.

Turns out that Ally’s protestations that he was out of shape were still beyond my current abilities as he took off like a hare and I struggled to keep up. However, I pressed on and the run was better for it. It’s always good to have someone who’s happy to go just that little bit faster without getting frustrated. The explosive start took its toll and I was straining a bit by the end, but we made it round 15km of mixed terrain (+/-240m) in 1h 25 minutes which isn’t too shabby.

I would have stayed to sample the booze, but I had to repeat the same feat again the next day.

Week three plan and results to follow.


The first week’s training went pretty much to plan. To recap:

  •  Sunday – 10km run.
  • Monday – F.E.T. + core workout
  • Tuesday – Tai-chi
  • Wednesday – B2B. 8km runs at lunch and after work.
  • Thursday – Core workout
  • Friday – nada
  • Saturday – An hour on the bike (the storms never appeared)

Not bad, but I didn’t do the core as much as I should.I can feel my form during the exercises improving, so this is undoubtedly going to have a positive effect on my running, but I need to get into more of a habit with it.

Week two is going to be similar, but I think I’ve got a better handle on what’s expected from the training calendar.

  • Sunday – Trail run (more on that in a bit) + core workout
  • Monday – F.E.T. + core workout
  • Tuesday – Tai-chi + core workout
  • Wednesday – 10km lunchtime run + core workout
  • Thursday – Core workout
  • Friday – Intervals (no core, pub night)
  • Saturday – Should be a rest day, but I’ll be running the streets of Edinburgh for a friend’s birthday.

By my reckoning, that means I’m making up my distance target from the Sunday, Wednesday and Friday sessions since F.E.T. is mostly done in one spot.

Today’s trail run was interesting to say the least. I went up to Blairadam Forest where I do a lot of weekend walking. You might remember this picture from Janathon:

I decided to clamber over that tree and press on to familiar paths beyond. Turns out that that was just the first of many, many trees that have fallen in that part of the forest. I ended up having to clamber over, under, through and around large piles of trees. At times I was easily a few metres off the ground, balancing along tree trunks and pondering on the fact that I hadn’t told anyone where I was going and that the trees would make a good baffle if I needed to call for help.

While the climbing was fun (and a good core workout), it meant my speed was pretty poor, resulting in a total time of ~90 minutes for a shade over 11km. Hardly setting the heather on fire. I’ll continue to use Blairadam for training, but I’ll be doing loops of the clear paths rather than wasting energy playing at being a potential casualty.

Lessons Learned #1

This week’s Flat Earth Training Monday was much, much better than last week’s. Not only because the tuck jumps felt like we were doing the right thing, but because I could walk the next day. Turns out, if you concentrate more on the landing rather than the jumping you can save yourself a lot of pain. Makes sense really. Lesson learned.

And with today’s B2B runs (~8.5km at lunchtime and the same in the evening), I believe I’ve hit my target for the week. 10km on Sunday and 17km today puts me well over the 21km target. Just as well really, as my knees were starting to feel it a bit on this evening’s run. That’s to be expected though, I reckon, as I’ve been doing leg work of some variety for the last four days.

I’m going to take Thursday and Friday off from foot training, though I’ll be doing my core workout tomorrow. I think I overestimated what the first week’s training was meant to be, as I’d only left myself a single day off. That doesn’t seem like a regime which is building up to fitness, more like what you build up to. So with a normal run, a hill training session, one cross-training and a B2B, I think I can take a few days for recovery, though I still intend to get out on the bike at the weekend as I haven’t been out on it in too long.

shutdown -r now

I was going to write a post yesterday reviewing my first week of Ultra training but instead I’ll be writing about how I’m just about to start the training. Reason being is that last week I got sick. It started as a sniffle, continued to a sneeze and ended up with a day off work because my head and stomach had decided to join a minor galactic rebellion.

While I had made it out running on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, with core workout sessions as well, the training hadn’t been all that structured and I was going to miss the first week’s target. I’m going to be following this guide from Gary Vallance to get into shape which is for an event at the end of June. So, with the buffer time that I have after that, I figured it was better to consider myself starting the training a week behind the rest of the class.

Distance: 10.67km
Time taken: 00:56:39
Average/Max Speed : 11.30/15.01 kph
Average/Min Pace : 00:05:19/00:03:59
Calories: 755 ******

So today’s run was a straightforward one; no hill reps, no dropping to the ground for core work, and no leaping about on stairs. It puts me over halfway towards the running total for the week. The way I’m thinking of it, is that the mileage should be made up from runs specifically for that purpose.

In the spirit of sharing goals so that I can refer back to them, I believe the rest of my week will look like this:

  • Monday – Intervals using the lampposts up and down the Water of Leith. Ten minute core session in the evening.
  • Tuesday – No run, but I will be doing tai-chi for two hours and that counts as cross training in my book.
  • Wednesday – My B2B session. A lunchtime run followed by an evening run at home. This will mean I’ve achieved my target distance for the week. Ten minute core session.
  • Thursday – Ten minute core session.
  • Friday – Flat Earth Training in place of hill work. Maybe core in the evening, but I’ll likely be in the pub after work so…
  • Saturday – I will get the bike cleaned up and back on it! And a ten minute core session.

Actually, that’ll do quite nicely for week two as well.

The Pleasures of Self Destruction

I’ll tell you this, boy, that’s a lovely sight.

In Juneathon I finished by standing on the trig point on the summit of Arthur’s Seat, having my picture taken by a bemused Canadian tourist. No such event this time, just a straightforward run. However, there’s not a lot left in the legs and I needed to get away on time tonight, so it was a short, sharp, fast one.

Running Free is down again, but the numbers can be summed up as follows: 6.54km in a time of 29:23 giving an average speed of 4:30/km. Not a high number to finish on, but proof that heavy legs can still move when they need to.

So that’s it, a total of 243km which is only 15km off June’s total. A cracking result! I’m much further down the leaderboards this time so I guess people have upped their game. Whatever the reason, I’m happy to have started from a weak position in terms of personal fitness and put in such a decent effort.

I’ll be taking a few days off, but I’ve already got my return planned out; a Sunday morning run back at my folks’ place and then more chainsawing of fallen trees. It’ll be a good day.

I’m off to see Stephen Jones.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5fft16vefE]

Don’t Stop Moving

I’d like to think that I’ve got something eloquent and poignant to say on the second last day of Janathon, but I don’t. There won’t be any great words of wisdom tomorrow either as I’ll be in, eating, and then back out again to head to Glasgow for a gig (Babybird, since you asked). I would just go straight from work but that would then involve killing time, finding food and inevitably turning up stupidly early for show and constantly refreshing twitter in the hope of something interesting being said. You can tell I’ve done it before.


Distance: 7.29km
Time taken: 00:35:14
Average/Max Speed : 12.41/30.08 kph
Average/Min Pace : 00:04:50/00:01:59
Calories: 520


So that’s it. The distances are dropping off as my legs are in need of a rest. I’ve done far fewer kilometres than I did in June, but I went into that month having been training leading up to it and started Janathon from an almost standing start. After Tuesday, it’ll be a few days off in which I’ll work out and write down a training schedule for the Ultra and then I’ll have tangible and quantifiable to aim for.

Oh, and 2012km in 2012. It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it…

Keep a rolling, just a mile to go

Just two days left to go, then a few days off and then into proper, structured training for the rest of the year. I’m looking forward to the structure as it means that every time I go out it’ll serve a purpose. Conversely, the nights I go out just to get some miles in, it’ll be a relaxing affair.

Today I had intended to run the same loop as yesterday as it’s a known 10km loop and that was my distance target again. However, when I got to the end of the path from my door and onto the street, I couldn’t face turning left for the umpteenth day in a row. So I turned right instead and headed off to the completely opposite side of town.

Distance: 10.25km
Time taken: 00:55:23
Average/Max Speed : 11.10/14.59 kph
Average/Min Pace : 00:05:24/00:04:06
Calories: 730 ******

It’s funny to think that this time in Juneathon, I went out and did a half marathon. Instead, it’s half that distance that I’m aiming for. Ah well, I was in full training swing last June so the extra miles weren’t quite such a shock to the system. I fully anticipate that with a few days off after Janathon, I’ll be able to head straight into a 15km run. Yeah, that’s way more than the 10% week-on-week increase that’s suggested, but I’ve run longer distances happily in the past and the only thing that’s stopping me at the moment is knowing that I’ll need go out again tomorrow.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Today had been earmarked for getting back on the bike but that wasn’t to be. The other weekend, my local games shop, Kingdom of Adventure, announced that it was shutting its doors, another victim of the crappy economic climate. It’s strange to think that it was fewer than two years ago that I played my first role-playing game at Hi-Ex 2010 and now I’m mourning the loss of a local store.

I’d always turned down the opportunity to play RPGs before, believing them to be too nerdy even for me. I was wrong. Turns out they’re a bunch of mates getting together to talk shite, roll dice, talk more shite, and generally just have a good laugh. Luckily, plans are already afoot to keep the various Monday night games going, so there will be many more nights where someone rolling snake eyes reduces everyone to howls of laughter. You had to be there.