Benchmark!

This is another boring running blog, but really that’s about all I’m doing.

I’m still looking for the Goldilocks super trainer. I got told, and the reviews agreed, that the Adidas one was the way to go. Cheapest of the super trainers, wide fit, and a genuine rival for the all conquering Nike. I got a pair.

Weird things. But the reviewers, and people on twitter, said they felt odd until you gave it beans then suddenly they all came together. Only one way to find out.

I don’t know if it’s because I set off too fast, was too ambitious with my pace, or if I didn’t have the fitness to maintain the pace for the distance, but the trainers just didn’t feel ‘super’. They just felt like normal trainers. I’m hoping it was just me, and that I can adjust. By the end of the 20 miles I was done in. My pace had dropped until it was all I could do to keep it near 8m/m, and if I’d have had another 6 miles (which is what the training is all about) I reckon I’d have been walking.

I finished 20 miles at 7.30 m/m, so a new 20 mile PB, but very discouraging.

Then the weirdest thing. I had one day, which went to two, then three, where I lost my dieting mojo and kept shoving sweet stuff down my neck. Work called me just as I was getting up to go running on Wednesday with a shift starting an hour or so later. They shut the motorway so it turned into an 11 hour 45 minute shift, back in work 9 hours later, so no run that day. Fail. Then on Thursday I was tired and a bit weak, and on my gluttony binge, so I just got in from work and inhaled all the calories. Another run fail day.

This morning I was off, supposed to be a run rest day, but I thought I’d better claw one run back from my fail list.

I got up and was cleaning my teeth, when I suddenly thought “Should I just sack this sub 3 off?”

It was totally unexpected, the first time I’ve even thought it since taking on the challenge.

For a second it was really tempting. Take it easy, don’t kill myself training, trough all the calories.

Then I started to panic. That is a really dangerous state for me. I get wild enthusiasms, pursue them single-mindedly until I lose interest, then I don’t want anything to do with them.

I threw on my running kit and went for a run.

The plan said to do 8 miles with 5x 600m at 5K pace. I took that to mean ‘do 8 miles and include a 5K race’ (because I’ve been wondering how my fitness is for a while, and I wanted to test it on a 5K/ 3.1 mile race).

The benchmark time is sub 20 minutes. When I was fit and practicing for that distance, I managed to get a PB of 20.35 (and a mile PB of 6.25 along the way).

I used my Saucony trainers as they make you spin your legs up. It was really, really hard work, but check it out!

I was going for it

I’ve finally hit a benchmark! Sub 20! That’s the boost my training needed. My mojo is firing on all cylinders again. And I smashed my mile PB on the way with a 6 m/m. Bit gutted about that. One more second and I’d have had a sub 6 mile.

Back to the diet and training. Got to smash sub 3. The diet is more or less done. Or was before 3 days pigging out. I was 10 stone 2 last week. I was miraculously only 10.3 this morning so I hope I can get it back.

Apart from the running and dieting (same thing, really) all I’ve been up to is getting some tomato seeds going for me and Lisa, and decorating. Endless, tedious, decorating. It will be nice when we are finished. In the same way banging your head off a wall is great when you stop. It’s not before time, everything was looking shabby.

Our new daffs put on a biddy but impressive show.

Right, a bit of twitter and I’m done.

The Great Hypocrisy continued.

It was St Patrick’s Day

Shocking truths

My running App gave me another inspirational message

And general whimsy

(That is about not appreciating the mundane now, in pursuit of an idealised future, not, as Wendy and Lisa seem to think, about someone dying.)

That, I think, is profound.

Later.

Buck.

PS,

(Sunday)

This plan is brutal but effective.

Mainly brutal. But effective.

It said today I had to go for a “tune up 8-15K race”, which I took to mean a flat out 10 mile race. That’s a big ask after battering my legs 2 days ago getting that sub 20 minutes 5K. Especially as that was has always been my go-to race distance to test my fitness. I had some pretty impressive times to beat. (For me, that is.)

I went with my Saucony trainers again.

Finally! After 3 years I’ve smashed my previous PB (and a 10K PB on the way). And, moreover, I held a sub 3 pace for 10 miles! That is progress! When I started this plan I was struggling to envisage ever holding that pace for more than a mile. It’s 4 weeks today until my tester marathon, then another 25 weeks of training before my actual sub 3 attempt. I am really hopeful now. Yay!

Highs And Lows.

I’ve had an eventful week.

I realised my ASICS trainers weren’t going to break in, and that ASICS have totally changed the sizing of the shoes I’ve been getting every time for the last 11 years. Marvelous. After I’ve splashed out on two pairs.

I’ll still get my miles out of them, but I need to rest my feet in between using them.

I started looking at “super trainers”,( with a plate in the sole and springy foam, like that guy used to break the 2 hour marathon). They aren’t made specifically for wide feet but some will do.

I got these beasts.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2. Which is a mouthful. To quote from my running blog entry:

“Today was the first huge test of the plan. It said to run 15 miles, with 12 of them at race pace. That would be 6.45 – 6.50m/m, I am nowhere near that. My best to date was 6 miles at 7.20, which near killed me.

I tried out my Sauconys for the first time. They were a bit tight and uncomfortable but I looked at my watch on the first, coasting, warm up mile, and I was doing 8.02, not even trying. The second mile I started running. I was going for a fast, but sustainable pace, nothing drastic. Looked at my watch again, 6.36! OK, looks like I’m putting up with uncomfortable trainers! To make my training tougher I’ve stopped going down the canal (dead flat, obvs) and am heading out to St Helens. After 4½ miles it gets some proper hills. So one mile warm up, 12 miles flat out, with 5 of them being hills, then 2 miles jogging it off.

I got back and looked at my stats.

Fastest ever 10K

Fastest ever 10 miles

Fastest ever half marathon

Fastest ever 15 miles.

Bearing in mind the first 3 PBs had a mile of warm up in them and the last one had all 3 miles of easy trotting.

Wow. Just wow.

My time for the 12 miles was 1.24:10, so a smidge under 7.01 m/m. With 5 miles of hills!

OK, still got a long way to go, but let me bask in the moment for a minute. I’ve gone from the plan’s first week long run (dead flat down the canal) of 12 miles, couldn’t hold the pace, averaged at 8.14 m/m, to 12miles, (5 hills) within a 15 mile run, at 7.01 m/m, in 8 weeks.”

That fantastic high was followed by a huge low. It was my first go of those trainers, and when you are going flat out they really favour forefoot striking. So I was racing flat out up, and more worryingly, down hills just on my toes, with no support for the rest of my foot, ankle, leg, knee… It’s not my running style and I’ve not built up the right support muscles. I had a bad pain in the side of my knee. Just like after Chester marathon, where I was sprinting down hills. That stopped me running altogether for months. I was really scared to get the same pain. I went out for my next run two days later and called it off after 100yds. It was painful and I didn’t want to risk it. I skipped the next day as well, but by Friday I was walking down stairs with barely a twinge so I risked the 5 easy miles the plan said. My knee was OK. I’m back to my training.

Today was 14 miles run, mara pace +10- 20%. I thought I’d do it in my Sauconys, as I wasn’t going flat out, to give me a chance to adjust to them and practice proper foot striking. As they make your feet turn over really fast and decrease perceived effort I decided to do it at the fast (+10%) end of what the plan allowed.

It turns out when you are only going ‘fast’ (not flat out) the trainers aren’t as super. Or I could have just been tired. Either way I didn’t get the feeling of super speed/ fast feet turnover/ manageable effort. It was hard work. But I did it a smidge under +10%, even with the hills, averaging 7.30 for the 14 miles. I’m happy with that. And so, so glad my knee is working. That was a scary week.

We’ve started decorating. We had this whole cunning plan whereby in future we’d pay a professional and get a good job done. But then I was bored sat at home so decided to do it on my days off. It turns out being bored and doing nothing is infinitely preferable to being bored and painting. And it’s a pitifully poor result. I’m from the Impressionist school of painters. If you stand well back and squint it looks fine. *sigh* I’ve started so I’ll finish.

I’m up to 3 days a week at work now. Still not ideal,but that’s nigh on office wallah hours for the week (35).

We seem to have Long Covidness going on. Wendy’s been coughing every night for months, with patches of bad weakness. Previously she wasn’t getting the plague weakness, that was just me. Luke and his partner have both tested positive for covid. She’s been told to carry on going in to work. In a customer facing role, serving predominantly old people. Not only should that not be allowed, they should be charged with attempted corporate manslaughter. But those are the rules now. Bozo is lifting all protections by Thursday.

Brexit took an interesting turn as new facts emerged

The Russia Ukraine thing threw up some new stuff.

The Ukrainians summarily executed one of their negotiating team.

But, regardless of the politics, it’s the people who are just trying to live their lives who get battered by governments.

In other news I got excited our tomato crops are all but ready to harvest

And some cool new plants arrived

And a bit of random twitter

Talking of, I’m down to 10 stone 3 now. Not long to go. Then I eat all the food!

Later,

Buck.

Sub 3 March

Week 1:

I finally had enough of the two new pairs of ASICS I bought 6 weeks ago. I stick with ASICS because I know what I’m getting. For years I’ve got a 40.5/ UK 6.5, 2e (wide fit) and they fit me perfectly. This is the first time I’ve ever bought two pairs of trainers and they’ve changed them. The wide fit is giving me blisters on my little toe and the 40.5 have suddenly shrunk so I’ve got blood blisters on the ends of half my toes. I was putting up with it, expecting to break them in or something. It’s always 40.5, 2e, and my feet haven’t grown, so they must fit. Nope. They don’t. I’ve had to order some more trainers. I’ll rotate them so I still get my wear out of the ASICS, but rest my feet in between times.

I read through all the reviews of the “super trainer” (the ones with the plate in the sole and springy foam to give you maximum energy return per stride) and they are still all for narrow footed freaks. I saw one article, asking exactly the right question; which super trainer can I wear with wide feet? The bottom line was none of them are made for wide feet, but some were worth a go.

I ordered some Saucany Endorphin Speed 2. These are the training version of the actual race day super trainer.

I did my midweek 14 run in my nearly a thousand mile old ASICS, to rest my toes. Good plod, but now I’ve adjusted to (ill fitting) new, cushioned trainers, it felt a bit damaging. I did a 6 mile run with 6×100 metre sprints yesterday in my tight ASICS. Today was the first huge test of the plan. It said to run 15 miles, with 12 of them at race pace. That would be 6.45 – 6.50, I am nowhere near that. My best to date was 6 miles at 7.20, which near killed me.

I tried out my Saucanys for the first time. They were a bit tight and uncomfortable but I looked at my watch on the first, coasting, warm up mile, and I was doing 8.02, not even trying. The second mile I started running. I was going for a fast, but sustainable pace, nothing drastic. Looked at my watch again, 6.36! OK, looks like I’m putting up with uncomfortable trainers! To make my training tougher I’ve stopped going down the canal (dead flat, obvs) and am heading out to St Helens. After 4½ miles it gets some proper hills. So one mile warm up, 12 miles flat out, with 5 of them being hills, then 2 miles jogging it off.

I got back and looked at my stats.

Fastest ever 10K

Fastest ever 10 miles

Fastest ever half marathon

Fastest ever 15 miles.

Bearing in mind the first 3 PBs had a mile of warm up in them and the last one had all 3 miles of easy trotting.

Wow. Just wow.

My time for the 12 miles was 1.24:10, so a smidge under 7.01 m/m. With 5 miles of hills!

OK, still got a long way to go, but let me bask in the moment for a minute. I’ve gone from the plan’s first week long run (dead flat down the canal) of 12 miles, couldn’t hold the pace, averaged at 8.14 m/m, to 12miles, (5 hills) within a 15 mile run, at 7.01 m/m, in 8 weeks.

The bad is the trainers are tight, and when you start giving it beans they seem to push you into a forefoot striking running style. I’m totally not used to that so my knees and calves took a beating. I’ll heal, then introduce them more gradually until I get used to them. The plan doesn’t want anything that full-on for a while. It’s a recovery week next week, so that should rest me.

Week 2.

The super trainer/ hills beating was worse than I thought. I went out for an 8 mile steady run on Wednesday and called it off after 100 yards. The pain in the side of my knee was too scary. It was exactly the pain I had after Chester marathon (after I was sprinting down hills and I knackered something). It took me months to get back to training after Chester so I was *really* worried to get the pain again. I skipped the next day’s training as well. By Friday I was walking down stairs with only a twinge, and the plan said 5 miles recovery (easy pace) so I gave it a go. My knee didn’t feel any worse after it, so I’ve resumed training. I’m glad it was a recovery week, so I’ve not missed much training, and ecstatic I’ve not ruined my sub 3 attempt.

I did 8 miles with 8x100m sprints yesterday. Today was 14 miles run, mara pace +10- 20%. I thought I’d do it in my Sauconys, as I wasn’t going flat out, to give me a chance to adjust to them and practice proper foot striking. As they make your feet turn over really fast and decrease perceived effort I decided to do it at the fast (+10%) end of what the plan allowed.

It turns out when you are only going ‘fast’ (not flat out) the trainers aren’t as super. Or I could have just been tired. Either way I didn’t get the feeling of super speed/ fast feet turnover/ manageable effort. It was bloody hard work. But I did it a smidge under +10%, even with the hills, averaging 7.30 for the 14 miles. I’m happy with that. And so glad my knee is working. That was a scary week.

Week 3:

Mixed week. A few decent runs, but I failed on another day. It was a long shift at work and I had the insatiable hunger of the plague weakness, so I ate loads and flopped. To redeem myself I ended up getting up at 04.45 for a 12 mile run before going in work for 11+ hours.

Upon recommendation from a couple of runners I ordered the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2s. The cheapest of the full-on super trainers. And wide fit. And the Adizero Boston 10s, which are the training shoe to get you ready to race in the Pro 2 (which are so lightweight they are race day only.)

After that flurry of PBs with the Saucony training trainer, I thought I’d smash it out of the park with a full-on race shoe.

I had a 20 mile run today, and being me, thought I’d run it at mara pace, to try out my Pro 2s. Ridiculously ambitious in retrospect. I started off really puffing and panting but a good pace, had to slow it down to 6.55 for the first mile. I kept it low 7s for 7 miles, then crept to 7.30ish for 6 miles, then the wheels fell off. Really fighting hard to keep it below 8.

I ended up with an average of 7.30, which is a new 20 mile PB, but nowhere near the 6.50 I wanted. And it was awful. I suffered so badly. And have been battered the rest of the day. The worst thing was I was slowing, in loads of pain, had nothing left to give, and if I’d have had to run the other 6 miles, which is the purpose of the training, I think I’d have ended up walking. I was smashed. It’s been a really discouraging experience.

The super trainers don’t feel that super, to be honest. The were wide, which is nice. And soft. But as soon as I dropped off the fast pace (which I felt was me working really, really hard, not the trainers hurling me forward) it felt like I was fighting the trainers. The softness felt like it was absorbing all the energy I was putting into running and giving nothing back. The Sauconys felt much faster. The bevel in the Sauconys throws you forward so you get really fast feet. The downside to that is you end up forefoot striking which has been smashing my knees alarmingly. At least I run with my normal gait in the Pro 2s. I’ll give it a blast with the Boston 10s. Perhaps I can adjust to them. The reviews say they are a genuine super trainer and worthy rival to the Nike benchmark ones.

Week 4:

A bit of a slide. Got into a fatlad troughing routine. Then work called me in just as I was getting up to go on a run, long shift, fail day. Back in 9 hours later, finished weak, hungry and knackered. Another fail day. The day after it was all sliding so badly I briefly thought about sacking the sub 3 off.

It was supposed to be a run rest day, so I got my arse out of the door to claw back one of the fails. The plan said 8 miles with 5x 600m at 5K pace. Took that to mean 8 miles with a 5K race.

Smashed my PB (20.35) from 3 years ago and hit the benchmark sub 20! 19.42. With 6.00 m/m in there!

That was the boost I needed.

4 miles recovery the next day. Legs fried.

The next day was “tune up 8- 15K race” so I did my 10 mile road run. Another record that’s stood for 3 years (at 7.03m/m). Smashed it! 6.53 m/m. That’s 10 miles at actual sub 3 marathon pace! Brilliant. I couldn’t imagine that at the start of the plan.

Then 17 miles on utterly bollocksed legs the next day. Kept it under 8.12.

So, bad fail then a fantastic recovery. And a huge boost to my motivation.