Early indicators for intervals is positive

If I am to keep on running on this little oblong of synthetic black stuff, I realise that I’m going to have to report something more interesting than ‘ran again’ to hold your attention.  I will have a think about this.

Today I was interested to see that my heart rate seemed to be a little lower than before, so I focussed around this.  My intervals were 6mph for 400m and then 8mph and 9mph for 200m each… for most of the half hour session.  Towards the end I raised the bar a little, but kept the recovery stage the same.

To start with I was getting my heart rate back under 140 from a 170 high, but towards the end it had raised at both ends to 150/180.

What was interesting was that, although still dripping with sweat, I felt really composed, like I had hardly stretched myself… although in 30 minutes I covered 3.5 miles, so 7mph… faster than this time last week when I could hardly stand afterwards.  This suggests that the intervals are WELL worth doing!

Of course it’s been easy the last couple of weeks as I’ve been developing a workshop, so the workload has been flexible… it’ll be interesting to see whether I’ll be able to keep the training up in the same way when normal service resumes.

Hang on a minute… what’s all this normal service lark?  I’ve not done anything that most people would consider normal, work-wise, for several years now!


Summertime ends, but the legs are still out

In our garden, in the midst of the ‘burbs and surrounded by trees, houses and tall hedges, the beginning of the GMT half of the year was heralded by a gloriously calm, warm and sunny morning.  (you have remembered to put your clocks back, haven’t you?).  I felt that the Gore jacket and beanie hat may well be superfluous, but took them anyway, just in case wearing shorts turned out to be a little keen.

Just as well, as it was a somewhat different story at Jack & Jill, where the car door was nearly ripped out of my hands by the wind.  In fact, with hot sun, whistling wind and even a little rain from the scudding clouds in the course of my run, I was reminded of autumn, summer and spring… like a timely recap of the year we’ve had, ahead of the onset of winter.


I cannot say that I was flowing along today as it was darn hard work, even with the wind bowling me along from my rear starboard quarter, but there were a lot of other runners and walkers around today and one simply HAS to keep up appearances.  At one point I saw two runners on the hill ahead of me and I felt a familiar surge of energy push me up the hill in pursuit.  It took me a while to catch them, but not long to leave them behind when I did.

I got to Blackcap at 43 minutes, thanks in part to the thought of running with Mark Johnson and then I pushed onward to do the loop that he likes to do down to Lewes racecourse.  As I did so, the wind brought a brief but heavy smattering of rain, as if to suggest that this might not be a great idea.

The turning point, which once again I have had trouble spotting on the map, was at almost exactly one hour… and the thought of the other hour-plus to get back made me wonder why I had come so far.


The first hill back up from there is about 2 miles long and was hard going indeed, especially with the wind pummelling the cobwebs from my head.  In fact the balance of the run had this same characteristic and even the downhills were tough work.


I paused briefly at Ditchling Beacon 1.43 into my run and wondered whether I could make it back to the car in 17 minutes, bearing in mind it had taken me 19 minutes to get here at the start of the run.  I decided to give it a try.  This involved stretching out my stride going down the hills and just keeping my nose to the grindstone on the uphill sections.  As I came down the final hill towards the windmills and into the blessed shelter of gorse on either side, so my stride lengthened and the people I ran past must have thought I was completely barking mad.

As I turned into he car park I hit the stop button on the stopwatch… at exactly 2 hours.  Along with a GREAT feeling of satisfaction, I felt a real need to collapse in a heap!  It was a total relief to get into the car and out of the wind.

I confess to being slightly less joyous right now however, having looked back to my post from November 25th 2007 when I ran the same route with Mark… 9 minutes faster!  So much for progress… although it reiterates the additional speed that you can conjure up just by running with someone else… something which will hopefully play to my advantage come marathon day!

Two lunchtimes in a week!

The proximity of the running machine makes it pretty tempting to use, even on days when I could easily run outside.  But it is unlikely that I would venture out for only half an hour and if I did I would have to run around the local roads.

Today I paused in the work I was doing, ran, eat lunch, showered and was back at my desk pretty much in an hour… well okay, just over an hour then.  But I did start working at about 6.30am this morning!

So my aim was to replicate the intervals of Wednesday, but increase the speed a little.  In 30 minutes I managed 3.6 miles… 7.2mph.

According to Kim, these short interval sessions, mixed in with my normal runs, are a sure-fire way to build up the speed necessary to run a three and a half hour time in Brighton… and in my dreams, beat Cliff and Pete.

Of course, what might also help me in this latter regard is the fact that, thanks to the goading of the BIG man, they have entered a 50 mile race a couple of weeks before!

Either way, watch here for more interval training!


Lunchtime intervals

I was reminded last night that I’d not done any speed work for a while… so I took the opportunity at lunchtime to go on the walking machine.

I’ve already given up on the idiosyncrasies of the in-built programming, so I opted for a set of  manually adjusted intervals, based around the visual 400m track that appears on screen.

I warmed up at 4mph for 400m, lap 1, then ran at 6mph or 6.5mph for all the even laps, whilst incrementally increasing the speed on the odd laps.  For example, lap 3 consisted of 200m of 7mph and 200m of 7.5mph.  The penultimate odd lap was run at 9.5mph and 10mph, the final just at 10mph.

I then cooled down on lap 15, slowly going down from 5mph to 3mph.

Overall I managed 3.48 miles in the 30 minute (pre-cool-down) session, which is an average of just under 7mph.


By the by, it is my understanding that someone, who will remain nameless other than to let on that he lives in Brighton, went out for a quick run yesterday and got so lost that they ended up in Eastbourne of all places.  This 5 hour detour took him 26 miles and he was forced to catch a bus home, DUH… not the kind of person you should ever trust with your navigation, methinks!  Come to think of it though, this is not actually a bad marathon time bearing in mind he went over all the hills en route.

Showing my age

I was in no hurry whatsoever to go running this morning and I sat reading The Week for a second quadspresso while I waited patiently for the heavy frost to melt on the windows of the cars outside.  As a result it was 10.30am before I closed the front door behind me and set off down the road… clothed in the following technical gear:  soft Rono t-shirt underlayer, long-sleeved Rono with a zip neck, Gore jacket, IQ beanie hat, Craft gloves, Thorlo woollen socks and a pair of Rono summer shorts.  Back up a bit I hear you yell… shorts?

Cliff use to wear shorts every day right through to Christmas, despite the blue tinge his legs would take on by the time Santa’s little helpers started their annual shopping spree.  I thought the least I could do is to hold out until the Autumn Solstice… although I feel a little sheepish as I sit here writing now, as that happened on September 22nd!  DUH! clocks go back next weekend.

Actually I have to confess that, although it was chilly outside, the sun was shining in a totally glorious fashion and the solar warming was sufficient to consign the gloves to the big pocket in the front of my shorts within about 20 minutes, the hat following around the 45 minute mark.

By this time I had run out across Folders Lane onto the southern part of the common, down through Ditchling and on towards the bottom of the Beacon path.  I reached the top at 56 minutes and the views were superb!


From there I ran East to Streat Hill and then doubled back on myself to drop down the scarp slope to Old Middleton.  To give you a concept of the hills that I climb, this should give some indication of the gradient.


From the bottom I headed pretty much north before turning left to go through Blackbrook Wood, down the Magical Path and back to home across the Common with its autumnal grass resplendent in the bright sunlight.


I covered 12.9 miles in the two hours and eight minutes I was out and I can tell you that I’m really feeling every minute of it as I sit here tapping away on the keys right now.  I had intended to go out a’visiting this afternoon, since Kim has gone to see Jason, but I can feel a snooze coming on instead!  Ah, poor dear me: the joys of getting older!

Happy Tuesday!


The last week went as follows:

Last Wednesday I was in Southampton for a networking event in the evening, back at late o’clock.  Thursday we went to Brie’s in London for dinner and got back even later.  Friday night, Karen & Kit came to dinner with us.  Saturday night we were at Tim’s 60th birthday party in Norfolk and stayed with our friends Edward & Dianne.  After a long breakfast on Sunday morning, we drove into London for Karen’s 22nd birthday celebrations.  Yesterday I had  a 4-hour meeting in Durham, resulting in me leaving the house at 6.30am and returning at 8.30pm.

So even I was quite surprised to find myself looking out of the window at the moon & stars just after 6am this morning, by the eerie light of the gas under the coffee pot.  More surprised still when an hour later, having caught up with some work, I was running up the road in a pair of shorts!

It was gorgeous out there, with Dawn stretching her gentle haze of sunshine through the early morning mist.  But my word, it was cold!  I may have been wearing shorts (winter doesn’t officially start for another couple of weeks) but I had two high performance tops on, plus my Gore jacket, a beanie hat and a pair of gloves.

I only wanted to stretch my legs so I did the (current) default run out past Royal Oak, through the West Woods and back down the Magical Path.  I know it’s 5.2 miles so I don’t need to get the map out when I get back.  And I know that 45 minutes is an okay time, especially bearing in mind I stopped to take a couple of photos.

The morning is now full of glorious sunshine, which makes it difficult to see my computer screen, but I am loathe to drop the blinds just yet.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

That ten-past-six in the morning feeling!

Cold, grey Sussex

After a highly entertaining dinner with friends in London last night and the subsequent 1am homecoming, an 8am meet-up at Jack and Jill was always going to be a little bit of a struggle.

I was actually there early and was reclined comfortably in my car when Cliff pitched up.  We chatted for a while through open windows from the warmth of our cars before each calling Daren to see where he was… other than late, that is.

Finding no answer, we ran down the hill to the main road to give him some additional time grace, before heading up the hill again and on, towards the Beacon.  He called while we were still half way up, blaming an alarm clock that still thought it was ten-past-six.  If only!  I would still have been comfortably asleep under the cosy warmth of the winter duvet, instead of up here on a cold and drafty hill and feeling tired!

We pressed on despite the cold and reached the top of the hill before Cliff’s phone rang and he stopped to converse.  At the Beacon, his phone rang again, and he stopped to converse.  When we got to the white cow, a bit further on still, which Cliff thought would be on my map but unfortunately is not actually shown, Cliff’s phone rang again.  And then a second time.

We turned reluctantly for home and had made it past the Beacon and had met up with Daren coming the other way, before Cliff’s phone rang yet again… I can see why he normally doesn’t carry the damn thing!  The three of us ran back to the cars where Cliff, now needing to run an urgent errand elsewhere, sadly tootled off.

Rather than abandon Daren to the hills on his own, I tagged along and we ran down the hill into Clayton and along Underhill Lane.  We then took the tank tracks right the way back up to the top, running every step of the way.  Which was why, when my phone rang as we neared to top, I didn’t stop to take the call, but rather ran on conversing with a persistent sales person between gasps of breath!

My feeling as we ran down the hill towards Jack and Jill for the second time was very different to the first.  Gone was the feeling of cold and tiredness and I now felt warm and alive … that extra loop with its BIG hill was really worthwhile!

Between the seven  phone call stoppages or distractions (I actually thought it was eight, so I think I’ve even missed one out!) and the steep hills, the speed was never going to be fantastic (at 5.25mph it clearly isn’t), but I’m pleased that I ended up running for one hour 44 minutes and that I covered 9.15 or so miles.

It was really great fun running with both Cliff and Daren, separately and together!  And despite the different challenges that each of us has from a work perspective, it really is pretty cool being fit and in your forties and being able to schedule time so that you can spend it with friends like this!

And according to Daren’s clock, it’s still not time to get up yet!

Greyday road run

If I had not already planned to run this morning, I don’t think that the view from the window would have encouraged me to do so.  It was a dingy grey day, with rain threatening in every direction.

Actually, when I got out there, it was really quite warm and the threatened rain didn’t materialise… although it is chucking it down outside as I write this now!

I’m still not in the autumn mood of getting my runners as muddy as I can and since I also need to increase my road miles, I stuck to a run around the town.  I didn’t really feel as if I was travelling at any great speed, yet it was quite a tough run and when I got back, I could not believe it had only been 42 minutes… just like the run last Sunday with Cliff & Andy, it felt like a heck of a lot longer.

I have further been surprised by the distance, which I have just worked out to be exactly five miles.  This gives a gratifying speed of over 7.1mph.  I call that progress, at least!

Of juggs and bottoms

It was comparatively chillsome as I stood waiting for the guys at Falmer this morning.  It was clearly not that cold though, as Andy and Cliff arrived and stripped to shorts and t-shirts.  To be fair, I was also wearing shorts, but my Gore jacket had snuck itself on to my person and I didn’t feel warm enough to deny it passage.

Falmer is a great place to start from, as the initial hill is long, at 1km, but not too steep.  Once at the top, the next ten minutes is flat or slightly downhill so you get warmed up pretty well without overdoing it.  At the Newmarket Copse however, the boys seemed to have a tad of trouble the the gate.

What happens when people get used to having the gate opened for them

From there we ran up to the ridge and along Juggs Road, where my Gore jacket finally became a Gore belt.  We didn’t see any well-laden women while we were there, but I guess that they would probably take their wares by road these days… and before you assume that I’m being lewd in some way (qui, moi?), you may want to read this!

We were however somewhat surprised and delighted by the demonstration by the Advanced Mowing Class.


Despite the absence of Sam, or any fishwives for that matter, the view of Seven Sisters from the top of Swanborough Hill was marvellous.

From Juggs Road

From here we dropped down to the bottom of the valley near the Balsdean pumping station and it was lovely to feel the now-warm wind blowing the cobwebs away.


And then we started the long grind back up to the Newmarket ridge, taking in Standean Bottom and Falmer Bottom, before reaching the steep hill of the Castle Hill nature reserve.  From previously cruising along at the back, Andy suddenly exhibited the competitive streak for which he is well known, by pretty much sprinting up the hill, while Cliff and I languished behind… walking.

From the top it’s pretty much downhill all the way back to Falmer and on that last 1km section, I opened up my stride and let the speed flow.  At least for a while until I got the stitch!  I then cruised happily along until I heard Andy bearing down on me, at which point I opened up all the stops again to make certain that I reached the final gate at the front of the pack!

The run seemed like it was a really long way, but it was in fact only 8.5 miles.  It also seemed at least as fast as last Sunday, but at one hour 26 minutes, we only averaged 6mph.  We did stop a number of times to take pictures, to pee, to work out where we were, and where we were going, to pee again (Andy), and again etc… whether this would account for the 13 minute difference between 6mph and 7mph I don’t know, but it’s probably not that bad.

Andy at the back for a change

Winning smiles all round