Running total

Kim has been encouraging me (with a pointy stick) to increase my mileage as part of my pre-marathon training as the it’s only 11 weeks away now.

I just brought my mileage record up to date (since August last year) and am happy to confirm that I had my biggest month since starting to write my blog in August 2007, beating the previous top month of November 2007.

I managed to fit in 12 runs, 14 hours of running time and to cover 88.1 miles, compared to Nov 07’s 8 runs, 11 hours and 68.3 miles

Mind you, Daren covered 49 miles in the week (one week!) to the 18th January and both Cliff and Pete must have each topped a hundred miles this month, so I daresay it’s not such a hot total after all!

But tomorrow is another month.

Auspicious company

Part way through my run today I heard the inexorable approach of feet from behind and turned to find Kurt from Run in Hove just about the slide past me with his friend Ken.  They were out for a 15 miler and though they were into the last stages, were clearly still running a tad faster than me.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I needed to start piling on the Sunday miles, so I took the opportunity of a beautiful day to run from my folks house in Woodingdean, down to Rottingdean, along to Brighton and all the way back again.  Aside from anything else, I thought it would be a good test of my staying power to run up a long, long hill at the end of a long run.

Of course, most of the first two miles were downhill, so the run started real easy for a change!  Between Rottindean and Brighton I took a couple of photos which might help explain why else I had chosen this route.

I reached the pier around 55 minutes which gave me an average speed of 6.9mph, it being about 10km into my run… with the help of the long downhill section, of course!

As I ran back along towards the Marina, so Kurt and Ken picked me up and pulled me along at their pace for a few hundred metres before I made my excuses and paused to say Hi to the guys at Martlet Kayak Club.  It seems strange to think that I was a member here in the formative years of my teens and early twenties… although the club is amazing now by comparison!  Andy was cleaning drains, but Nikki just happened to have her running kit on and agreed to join me for a while.

I had planned to run along the Undercliff Walk, but it was closed due to falling rocks and we ran up on to the cliff top instead… both feeling knackered at the top of the ramp!  It’s a lot easier running with someone else though and we then made light work of the three miles to Rottingdean.

And so it was, around the ten-mile mark, with Nikki heading back towards the kayak club, that I started back up the hill.  And actually it was okay, as the long, steepish hill is broken up by flat sections that give you a welcome breather from time to time.

The only thing that you don’t get from any of the sunny photos above, is the temperature.  I was under no illusion as to how cold it was as there was solid ice across the pavement in a couple of places on the way down, but it was most apparent on the hill coming back… with the front of my jacket pressing against the two sweaty layers below, my chest was so cold that it was actually painful!

I had decided to stop at the Downs Hotel, but when I got there I felt a curious need to continue up the hill to the ‘bakery’.  The bakery has long-since gone but as the top of the village, it holds a symbolic value for me.

Apart from the symbolism and another photo opportunity, the other benefit of having run up to this point was the ability to run easily back downhill to the end!

13.5 miles completed in 2 hours and 5 minutes… 6.48mph.  Not bad Foster, even if I’m forced to say so myself!

Slow down Sally

I had quite a thoughtful run on the machine this morning (Friday), the subject of which I will come back to some other time… right now my ears are ringing from going to a brilliant Soul Katz gig!

But while I remember, I was focussing today on keeping my heart-rate down slow, by trying to run and breathe as efficiently as possible.  It was mostly sub 160 until after the two mile mark, then sub 165 until three miles and apart from a couple of blips, I managed to keep it sub 170 until the end.  Not bad considering I ramped the speed up from 7mph to 7.6mph in the first 400m and kept it right there for the rest of the five miles.

So five miles in 39 minutes, 37 seconds.

Just a second

I was just in the process of making a quick round of cheese on toast to eat at my desk when I realised that I was supposed to be running today.  I only had a 40 minutes window of opportunity if I wanted to have time to shower before I needed to be out the door, so the completed cheese on toast went in the fridge and I went on the running machine.

I didn’t even have time to put Kiss FM on to accompany me so I had to put up with the sound of my feet as I did some fast intervals… hardly intervals though, as I was only going from 7mph to 8mph to 9mph to 8mph and then back round again.

As I reached the 5-mile mark I was surprised to see the time… 38 minutes, 43 seconds.  One second faster than Friday last week.  I really do hate racing myself, as I DO like to win… which means that the task can only get harder from here on in!

BTW, the cold cheese on toast was hard to swallow while I was running around the house trying to shower & out earlier, but I’ve just eaten the other half of it now and it was quite tasty.

The Sunday six and a half (people)

Cliff arrived late this morning with some lame excuse about having had a nose bleed… it looked more like one of the dogs had shoved a toy up his nose to me!  I have a picture if anyone is interested…

So the gang this morning consisted of stalwarts Andy, Nikki, Cliff and myself, plus Jane and a strange man with a headband who who had already run to Falmer from Brighton rather than drive!

For time reasons, we decided to run around one of the shorter circuits, but for a change we went around the other way… I’d say we went backwards, but that gag has already been well overdone.

We ran across the bridge and up towards the Downs.  With the addition of Pete, there was plenty of testosterone flowing and the pace was hot, so it was just as well that Jane is pregnant and needed to stop for a pee, otherwise I would have been knackered!

We turned right onto the South Downs Way before we reached the ridge and dropped down the hill to the Newmarket, taking the sharp uphill section in the middle in our stride and pretty much racing down the final steep hill to the by-pass.  Unfortunately this meant that we had to turn around and run back up the hill until we met Jane (after a second stop) & Nikki and then come down a second time.

Pausing half way up the other side (ostensibly for Jane’s third pee-stop, but probably more because we’re all starting to get old!), we were somehow persuaded by Cliff to do the plank.  More testosterone was apparent as some people showed off by holding only two contact points!

Then it was up to Newmarket Copse, out to the Falmer Road and back down the hill to the cars.

From last summer it appears that the run was only 7.25 miles and although some of us had an additional couple of hundred meters of hill-climbing in the middle, the average speed from our one hour 24 minute run was a heady 5.2mph.  At least it was an improvement on last week!

And then Pete ran home again.  Mad fool!


Bravado got the better of me yesterday and I foolishly volunteered to try to run 5km in sub-20.30.

As I started running on the machine at lunchtime, I finally worked out the speed I would need to do to achieve this: 9.4mph for 3.125 miles.  Eeeek!

I thought I had better warm up thoroughly, so completed one mile before increasing the speed.  After one more mile I can’t say that I felt particularly like doing 2.125 more at that speed, so I backed off.

So, Andy, the answer is no.   Unfortunately I forgot to check what the time was when I did complete the 5km, so I’ll have to try again next week.

However, as I reached 5 miles, I noticed that the time was 38.44, which is actually faster than earlier in the week.  This 7.74mph average speed would give me a 5km split time of just over 24 minutes.  This is faster than I thought, bearing in mind it included my first warm-up mile.

VAT fuelled intervals

It took me longer this morning than usual to calculate my quarterly VAT return, in part because my accounting software doesn’t easily cater for the differential rates of the Flat Rate scheme, but mostly because the department that sold me on the idea of Flat Rate told me to do it incorrectly (using the net rather than the gross sales figure)… which meant that I had to go back today and calculate additional payments from past quarters.  And then work out how to record these in my accounting software!  Oh how I truly miss Maurice ‘Tigger’ Dawes!

To add injury to insult, the culpable department still think that they are correct, which meant that I was forced to call the ‘automated queuing’ helpline and endure 15 minutes of a message repeatedly saying that it may be helpful to look on our website while your waiting.  I persevered and finally got a real person who confirmed that both my accountant and my colleague in RiVO were correct.  Strangely, she didn’t seem to care that one of her colleagues was advocating an incorrect treatment of the figures.  I suppose that that a little misinformation in the system could make life more interesting life for some people?

Anyway, fresh from this frustrating and monumental waste of time, I climbed aboard the magic carpet and ran my little legs off.

The downside of having run five miles in each of my sessions last week is that to do three and a half seems half-hearted.  So I was forced to do another five and I did it as intervals: slightly faster, elongated ones.

I warmed up at 6mph then alternated largely between 7.5 mph and 9mph , with short segments of 6mph or 7mph.  A couple of the the 9mph segments were 800m long which helped to increase the average speed from last week.  So five miles in 39 minutes 7 seconds, an average of 7.67mph.  And one very sweaty me!

Cliff’s treat

Having sat on my drive under a blanket of snow for a couple of weeks, it was probably expecting a little too much of my car to fire up properly this morning.  Which is a real shame because I was looking forward to driving it… and now the guys at the garage are probably practising sucking breath in through their teeth!

Kim kindly lent me her car and I set off into the first gorgeous sunny morning for ages: destination Falmer.  It felt mild, despite the layer of ice on the pond that suggested otherwise.

The stalwarts, Andy, Nikki, Cliff and myself, were joined by Neil who had finally bowed under pressure from Cliff to come out with us.  BIG mistake!

It was really hard work to start with.  I had expected the first hill to be waterlogged, but I was pleasantly surprised… it was still probably frozen and to make it more interesting, there were mini snow-drifts set at irregular intervals.  I managed to reach the top of the first rise with the Clifford vanguard but I was also very pleased to be able to stand and catch my breath until Neil caught up.

We ran out to the Newmarket Copse and then Cliff announced that he would rather like to have a closer look at a white blob  (half way up the photo below and one third in from the right) on the edge of Lewes in the distance.  As a result we ran up to the top of the ridge and headed East.

It was a great day to be out, with only the occasional snow-drift and the ice on the path down into Kingston to remind us that it wasn’t yet Spring.  When we got to the blob, it was (as Cliff had suspected), a rather lovely windmill in the making.

This section was Cliff’s treat to us… a path I’ve not been down before, with some stunning vistas.

We dropped down into Lewes and jostled up the sharp hill to the prison, before heading on up to Lewes Racecourse, where there were yet more views to be had… as well as a different view of the new windmill.

Poor Neil had already not been this far on a run for an age, so we had the luxury of stopping to catch our breath on more than one occasion.  The photos below show the others trying to emulate Superman at one of these breaks and… well… captions are welcome!

Our route then took us up to the top of Blackcap, before we started to descend back down the first path back to Falmer.  I got back to the cars again at 2 hours 18 minutes, followed closely by Nikki.  Andy limped in shortly afterwards, but it took Cliff another ten minutes to catch up… sign of advancing ears, probably… and Neil had very kindly hung back to keep him company.

Neil may have looked knackered, but he did good indeed to be able to cover 10.95 miles.

You’d have thought from the time taken and all the photos that I’ve posted that it would be a greater distance than that, but hey!  Not such a hot speed for me (4.76mph!), but a hugely enjoyable run nevertheless… or maybe that should read ‘as a result!’

Sneaky Friday

At the back end of Friday and before Kim got back from work, I managed to sneak in a quick run.

It was my intention to run three miles.  This started out badly, as the two Hot Cross Buns I had wolfed down mid afternoon refused to budge and I hence ran the first mile with the stitch… and gasping for breath.  I stopped for a moment for a sip of water and to turn the fan on and I felt much better from then on.

Inevitably, when I reached three miles, I decided to carry on to 30 minutes… and then on to 4 miles… and then, by the time I had slowed down to recover for 400m, I thought I may as well run on to 40 minutes so I increased the speed again… and then I was almost at 5 miles so I thought I may as well carry on to there!

I reached 5 miles at 41.55 which is an average of 7.14mph and even with a cool-down lap, the final 5.25 miles averaged 7.08mph.


I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I was to run five miles today.  In tervals.

I tried to get out of it by clearing the snow from the drive into a small pile…

… but I really didn’t think this was going to carry any weight as an argument, so I set to at lunch-time to perform the required intervals.

It was always going to be tougher than normal: firstly because I was knackered from shovelling snow; and secondly because I only normally do about 3 miles when I’m doing intervals!

I started at 6mph and alternated between this and 7.5mph, plus half a mph for each time around, until I got to 10mph at the 3-mile mark.

I then ran at 8mph until my heart-rate rose to 176 and dropped back to 6mph until my heart-rate fell to 164.  And repeated until I reached the required distance.

The result, 5 miles in a very sweaty 42 minutes… an average of 7.14mph.  There are easier ways to get to this mean speed, but apparently intervals is what will give me more speed overall, so it’s well worth the effort!