Fiddlesticks Fartlek

Well well well. Today it said something a bit scary on the plan Kath has drawn up for me. It said: RW Fartlek. So that’s the structured fartlek I thought I’d outlined previously. I’ve just checked and I’ve outlined all sorts but not that session! Anyway, all will become clear below! I was a little apprehensive about it but I was also looking forward to seeing how I’d do. Kath has been doing fairly regular sessions and it seems to be helping her improve speed. So after a fairly lazy slow start to the morning we got up, had half a banana and set off. The first bit is a 10 minute warm up so we ran down to the canal taking it fairly easy. Then the first fast section is 5 minutes followed by a minute 30 secs break. I found that hard but ok, towards the end my tummy rumbled dangerously but was fine and then my mind went.

I walked after the 5 minutes and I started the 4 minutes but barely even did a minute before my mind shut me down. I just couldn’t make myself do it. I really wanted to do it and I really didn’t at the same time. There was the usual snot and tears of a meltdown and we sat on a bench for a while and watched some swans. Then I walked home with my tail between my legs. I wanted to just curl up in bed and ignore the world.

I hate that feeling of my mind getting the better of me in that way. It makes me feel weak and pathetic and quite a bit stupid. So I resolved that I wanted to try again later on in the day. We had a South American brunch and then I caught up on several back issues of Runner’s World and Trail Running Magazine. Eventually I was ready to go again. Apprehensive this time- well scared as hell that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I pulled my trainers on and off we went.

  • 10 minute warm up: 12.43 pace;
  • 5 minutes: 10.27;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 4 minutes: 10.18 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 3 minutes: 10.18 pace;
  • (then 5.5 minute rest);
  • 2 minutes: 9.52 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1.5 minutes: 9.47 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 1 minute: 9.29 pace;
  • 1minute 30 second rest
  • 30 seconds: 8.37 pace;
  • 1 minute rest
  • 30 seconds: 7.39 pace.
  • 10 minute cool down (mostly walked and stopped for picture with swans) 15.16 pace – yes I did sort of manage to get back up.


So what’s the lesson here? My mind is sometimes idiotic and stupid and sometimes I can’t do anything about that. My mind is also determined and focused and sometimes it can do pretty much anything. Anyway, that’s a total of 4 miles for the full fartlek session, another 1.5 miles from this morning and then the walking. It’ll be interesting to see how I do when I repeat this session in a month’s time. Funny sort of running day but it’s done and I feel good about having gone out again and done it. Black puppy dog put firmly in its place

Oh yeah, it’s Sunday – I was supposed to have a saintly week – I didn’t. The scales are still resolutely staying the same.

Planning different running

I walked the 2 mile roundtrip to the sheep this evening without a toilet incident so we’re getting closer to being able to run again. Kath went out on a 5.5 mile reconnaissance run to try out a new route. It is lovely apparently but has a steep and uneven downhill which I won’t like. Well, if current form is anything to go by I can always stand at the top and cry until she comes and gets me! We’ve been catching up on various running magazines today and thinking about what sort of runs we’d both like to do. I think we’re getting to the point where we do want to and need to do our own thing a bit more. That’s no bad thing and we both still like running with each other but we also want to do our own thing.

Anyway, here’s a list of some of the things we like the look of as well as some ideas for joint but separate runs that we’ve talked about. I’ll report back as we try them.

  1. 20 Minute refresher by Jeff Galloway (from Runner’s World)

Walk for 1 minute, then run walk 30secs/30secs for 3 minutes, then 6 minutes at any ratio you like. At 10 minutes turn round and run/walk 9 minutes back but pick up the pace during the runs. Cool down for a minute.

2. 100 strides Fartlek (Runners World)

10 min warm up, 10 strides fast, then 10 strides slow, then 20 strides fast and 20 strides slow, keep increasing strides until you reach 100. Cool down for 5 minutes (or go back down in 10 stride increments and then cool down)

3. Surges

On longer runs build in a 1 minute surge every 10 minutes or so (careful with this – increase the speed a bit but don’t, as I once did, just try and go faster and faster and faster for a minute – I didn’t mean to, it just sort of happened)

4. One on/One off (Runner’s World)

After a warm up, run 1 minute on (fast) and 1 minute off (slow) for 20 minutes. Try and increase the pace of each ‘on’ section. Increase the duration of the on/off intervals to increase the challenge

5. 30-20-10 (Runner’s World)

This made my head go weird when I read it the first time but I think I’ve got it now: 10 minute warm up; 30 second slow jog, 20 seconds steady, 10 seconds fast, repeat that 60 second sequence 5 times and then jog slowly for 2 minutes – then have another go – 3-4 times

6. Half mile repeats

Ok so I hate half mile repeats but the thing is they work, they really work. After a couple of sessions doing them I ran my fastest ever mile, so they are back on the list. Run half a mile, walk 3 minutes, repeat – start with 2 and celebrate, do 3, do 4, maybe one day not cry when I get to 5, some day I’ll do 6. Yes let’s aim for 6.

7. Hills

Not just any hills but bastarding West Yorkshire hills. There are several options here

a) Ilkley Road repeat – this sounds crazy even as I type it and it’s not your usual short sharp hill repeat but I think this might work – bottom of Ilkley Road, to our road and back down and then back up…

b) Up to Keighley Gate – One day I will run from our house to the top but let’s not get carried away. So for now let’s go with walking up to the ‘top road’ and then running from there. If feeling ambitious, we can walk to where the road levels out before that and start from there, if I ever get really fit, we can start from home and if I ever lo
se my mind completely we can start right at the bottom

Unity street
Unity Street

c) Proper hill repeats – it’s not like we don’t have options round here! Unity Street looks
like it might work for hill repeats for insane people! You can nicely mark out segments by gates or use the lamppost. I’ve actually never done hill repeats because whenever they appeared on my training plan I always pretended they weren’t really there and did something else instead.

Running together doing our own thing: Kath has got fitter and speedier and I have lost fitness and got slower so the difference in fitness levels and speed is now really quite marked. We’re also both really valuing the headspace time we get from running so we’re going to try doing our own thing a little more but without forgetting that we’re in this together. So options for joint but separate running:

a) Parkrun – yep. We’ve never yet been even though we signed up ages and ages ago. We’re going. This coming Saturday. Skipton or Bradford, not yet sure which but we’re going. We’ll stick together on the first one but after that we don’t need to. We can each go at our own pace and Kath can get me coffee while she waits for me (See being slow has perks!)

b) Bolton Abbey loop – I take the aqueduct to cross the river whereas Kath goes on to Barden Bridge, so she extends her loop . We’d run the first mile and a bit together and then part ways – she can then pick up the pace and try and catch me and I can try and pick up the pace and try not to get caught!

c) We set off together on a loop/route involving canal and I drop off and stop for coffee at Mum’s while Kath goes on (more perks).

d) We set off from home or anywhere and run the same loop but in opposite directions so we can say hi to each other on the route

e) Training for the Endure24 we might also go somewhere to run 5 mile loops while the other one waits – that should help us work out fuelling etc for the event.

I’m sure there are lots more options but that’s all I have for now. Do share your suggestions and I’ll try and try them and report back!




February Runner’s World (UK)

I don’t know why the issue of Runner’s World that arrives in early January is actually the February issue. It makes no sense but there we are. It is what it is. Anyway, I’ve just finished reading it. Well, reading the bits that I am interested in reading. Here are my thoughts.

It’s been a while since I picked up a Runner’s World but just before Christmas we saw a really good offer so bought a subscription and this was the first issue. I always quite like the science-y bits while I am reading them. I like knowing that, if I wanted to (I never do) I could go and follow up on the articles and snippets and actually find the research they are referring to. I also noticed though that I don’t remember the studies, I forget the info almost as soon as I have turned the page really and maybe that’s because most of this stuff is irrelevant to me. The potential gains in speed or performance these studies deal with don’t really apply to me – they apply to people who, you know, can actually run. There are however always a few things that might be useful. On p21 there are some exercises to help keep your spine mobile. While I always find it quite difficult to follow instructions from the pictures and short descriptions, the general idea that spinal mobility is important to running makes sense to me and I felt a little smug that our yoga routines include a good amount of work on this.

The 106 tips and tricks starting on p43 were a nice quick read and as well as some new info (Kiwis – I will eat more Kiwis) there were also some useful reminders – like trying to run relaxed and enjoy the journey not just the end race goal… usual stuff really. I shed my usual tears at the running heroes and the feature about people who had lost and kept off significant amounts of weight running and rolled my eyes at the price of of some the gear featured, reviewed and advertised but in this issue it was the ‘Your First Mile’ feature that caught my eye.

The programme presumes you can walk a mile or walk for about 20 minutes. Ok I’m good with that – it also has a 4 week programme to help you get there if you’re not at a point where you can walk for 20 minutes. The running bit starts with 30 second jog and 90 second walk – 10 times and by the end of that first week the running is up to 60 seconds and by the end of week 3 you’re at 2 min jog, 1 min walk x 4 plus 3 min jog, 90 sec walk and then another 2 min jog. I know this programme is designed by experts and I’m sure they know what they are doing and maybe I’m just a wimp and a little fragile but… If this programme is really for someone who works up to being able to walk 20 minutes, really for a total beginner then running at whatever pace for 30 seconds, even if it’s slower than walking pace, is a lot. I’m sure many people out there can do this and it looks great to me now (in fact I’m vaguely thinking it might be a nice confidence builder for me but I already have a plan) but I don’t think it would have looked that great to the me that couldn’t run to the postbox at the end of our road. I’d welcome your thoughts, maybe it’s just me.

There’s also some good stuff about the importance of the mind in running (don’t I know it – but how do I learn to break the negative cycle?!?) and some useful stuff about winter running. All in all not a bad issue – of course there’s the usual lack of larger size runners in the pictures other than the ones specifically featured in the weight loss section and somehow I always feel a bit sneaky reading Runner’s World, you know, like it’s not really for me – after all, I’m not really a runner.

A month to our first race

A month exactly to our first race – The Leeds run for all 10km. Can’t decide if I am looking forward to it or not. I am sort of keen to see our progress and whether we can post a half decent (by my standards, not by actual runner’s standards!) time. I don’t like crowds though, particularly not at the moment, and I’m a bit worried about how I’ll cope being surrounded by people who actually know what they’re doing. However, I am holding on to the notion that maybe, just maybe we also know what we’re doing. Or at least we are trying to follow the guidance of someone who does by following the RunDisney plans designed by Jeff Galloway.

That brings me to another little rant about Runner’s World (I am actually beginning to quite enjoy reading the magazine and would actually recommend it – my rants say more about me than the mag!). I was looking at the April issue which had something about training which has easy runs/sections and hard sections and less of the middle ground. All sort of made sense (except that ‘easy’ in my case would have to be walking) until I looked at the table for a sample week. According to that table a 6 miles ‘easy’ run would result in 50 minutes of easy running. 8 miles in 65 minutes. What? 6 miles in 50 minutes? I know that’s doable. I’ve seen people do it but that IS NOT an easy pace; that’s an impossible pace for me. Runner’s World is full of stuff that to me just seems impossible. And when everything in a magazine is just so far out of reach it is easy to get completely disillusioned with the whole thing. So I stopped reading and instead took another look at the Jeff Galloway website. Ok, looking at this I do feel a little bit like a runner. Here the numbers make sense, they are possible, even now. We haven’t quite stuck to the run/walk ratio suggested and we haven’t really done the magic mile measurement since the beginning but we are working with the principle of walk breaks from the start and not worrying about having to keep running for long stretches. We are comfortable at 2 minutes running and 30 secs walking for now. It gets me to the end of the longer distances without injury and without feeling that I can’t do it. It means I finish each run strongly and usually feel pretty positive about it even where I’ve had a wobble along the way. Other than when I had my little calf niggle the other day, there hasn’t been a run I couldn’t finish or one I could barely finish.

I also love the fact that his advice is to not worry about time for a first time marathon. He says:

I don’t recommend that first-time marathon participants try for a time goal. Do the first one to finish, running/walking at a comfortable training pace.”
Yes! I can do that. I actually believe I can do that. And what is even better, the examples he lists include the sort of pace we’ve been working at. Jeff Galloway also says:
“You are the one who determines how much you run and how much you walk. One of the wonderful aspects of running is that there is no definition of a “runner” that you must live up to
Oh my – is it possible that I am a runner after all?

What to wear and reading Runner’s World

I found something to wear for today’s run (uneventful, 35 mins, 12.31 minutes per mile pace. 2.79 miles, tight calf muscle). It’s a compromise. I braved my lycra 3/4 length pants. Then I went looking for a top. I have loads of t-shirts but I’m fussy when it comes to running. It needs to be comfy, it needs to be long so it covers my backside but not too huge so it’s all baggy and sack like.  It needs to be light and ideally no sleeves. Ok I don’t have anything that meets all those criteria. Then I remembered a t-shirt I ordered a while ago because it made me laugh:

Running T-shirtGiven the slogan I can cope with the fact that it actually doesn’t cover my bum and sort of sits on the widest part of my hips. It’s cotton but not really heavy and it is comfy. That did mean that my wobbly thighs were on full view – sorry about that people of Riddlesden.

Kath has bought Runner’s World magazine on and off for as long as I can remember really and I’ve never so much as glanced at them until recently. Now there is a magazine that isn’t for me – pictures of fit skinny people in lycra and features on how to run yor fasted 10km ever… Urgh. Then there was the issue ages and ages ago which had a recipe for Courgette/Chocolate buns in – hm maybe it is worth a look after all. No, that recipe was pretty much it. In a rather classic work avoidance moment the other day I picked up 3 past issues and started flicking through them and today I sprawled out in the sun with the latest issue . Some of it is quite interesting actually – the science stuff appeals to me. What is clear though is that so much advice about running is contradictory. One expert says one thing, another the exact opposite. Sometimes the Dos are the Dos and sometimes they’re the Don’ts and vice versa. Runners agree on very little other than their love of running.

There were some things, some basics if you like, that people did seem to agree on: Regular running is good for you, Eating right is important particularly for long distance runners (but no agreement on what ‘right’ is), rest is also important (how much, when etc – no agreement) and running is the best thing ever. Well I accept the first – science shows me that, the second is also sensible and must partly be about what works for you, the third I can wholeheartedly embrace – rest is awesome, the fourth I have issues with. I do not love running, it is not the best thing ever, I do not feel free, happy or whatever when running (mostly I feel like there’s still a bloody long way to go or I’ve already gone a bloody long way and must be nearly there). That proves that then – I am really not a runner!