Saturday, 1 December 2012
Sunday, 23 September 2012
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
- Will David Rudisha set a new World Record in the 800m?
- Will Rebecca Adlington win both the women's 400m and 800m freestyle?
Monday, 2 July 2012
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Friday, 25 May 2012
Sunday, 29 April 2012
Thursday, 12 April 2012
In my lead up to the London Marathon, I have averaged 70 miles per week, have double run less than 5 times and have not had a day off exercise between 1st January an 6th April. My weekly mileage may seem a little low for your average runner aiming to get a low 2:20’s marathon time, and not having had a day off could be seen as not giving my body sufficient recovery; however there is an element of my training that provides the rational for this: 40% of my time spent training is swimming.
This seems unconventional for a runner, but as someone who finds running first thing in the morning tricky, believes in active recovery and is susceptible to injury when the mileage is ramped up, I feel that swimming provides an equivalent cardio workout without my legs having to suffer on the road or country.
Having learnt to swim when I less than 5, I took a long break from it before taking it up again when I moved to London 6 years ago. Picking up the technique when I was much younger has been extremely beneficial and is something that you never seem to loose, however it has taken several years for my lungs and upper body to adjust gradually and allow me cover about 4km each morning. I always think of the morning swim as equivalent to a steady 5 mile run, but without the pounding on the pavement.
One question I was asked recently was how I avoid bulking out too much on my upper body, given that swimming is so reliant on arm strength. One reason I believe is my approach to the swim session. I never do sets or allow my body to become fatigued with lactic acid; instead I swim non-stop and at a continuous pace for an hour. This way I can burn a significant amount of energy and hence prevent any significant muscle development. It does provide my upper body with strength and conditioning, but without having to lift weights, something that could indeed build excessive muscle mass.
I appreciate this approach to swimming may not get me any faster in the pool, but swimming is not my main interest, and I feel its important that any swim session must not detract from the quality of any other run I may be doing that day. It is simply to allow me to achieve more cardio workouts, adheres to my approach of active recovery through maintaining a good flow of blood to the legs and can allow me to continue to train and maintain a reasonable level of fitness even when I may be carrying a leg injury.
I imagine that post London I’ll hit the pool pretty frequently until my legs fully recover, after which I’ll revert back to my typical training schedule.
I appreciate that swimming may not be for everyone, but if you find your legs are hurting, or you feel you need a little more strength in your upper body, then why not give it a go.
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Friday, 16 March 2012
My personal aim for the week was not to use the additional time to pack in significantly more mileage, but to allow my body to recover completely after each session. This is something that I find difficult to include in London; trying to juggle 70 miles running, 20 kilometres swimming and some long hours, it often means that its the recovery/sleep gets the chop.
Below is the training that I completed in the last 7 days. In particular, the sessions and long Sunday went well, and I feel its given me the confidence to be able to realise my goal for the London Marathon. These have been:
Despite it being a relatively tough week, I am returning to the UK feeling refreshed and in a good mindset, first for the Eastleigh 10k on Sunday, then probably for a marathon paced effort at Reading Half, before hitting the taper into the London Marathon.
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Ten years ago I ran in my first Hyde Park Relays as a 1st year student for Nottingham University. That year we came 7th overall and the picture on the right shows me handing over to Ed Jackson, who ran the 3rd fastest time that day. Since then, I have tried to compete in the race as frequently as possible as it’s always a great event from the Uni Relay calendar.
My parents often come to watch the race, and my Dad always has had a particular interest in the event as he competed in the winning team in 1963. That year Ron Hill helped lead their Manchester Team to victory and a course record. He writes an interesting perspective about the race in his book “The Long Hard Road - Part One: Nearly To The Top”
I also found the article about the race from the Imperial College internal newspaper: http://felixonline.co.uk/archive/IC_1963/1963_0189_A.pdf
In addition to Ron Hill, the Hyde Park Relays has seen several other famous running names compete over the years, including Herb Elliott, Seb Coe, Richard Nerurkar and John Mayock.
In 2012, I was running in a team for my company, Capco. With about 300 employees in the UK, we have 29 different sports teams, including one for running. These sports teams provide a great way to get to know your colleagues away from the office and allow us take part in events where everyone shares a common interest.
The good weather brought loads of people out into Hyde Park, so there were a fair few dogs and people to dodge on the 3.2 mile loop. I think Cambridge won the race overall, with Glen Watts clocking the fastest time in 15:38. Frustratingly for me, that was just 3 seconds faster than my time, but I had no idea this was the case as I was running leg 1 and he was running leg 5.
High fives to the Alan Hall and his team of Imperial College for putting on a great event!
I first ran the National as a senior in 2005, where I finished in 218th; I came 78th last year; and I was hoping for some further improvement this year. Given there were almost 1700 competitors in the Senior Men’s race, it was important to make a fast start to prevent being boxed in, as the width of the course narrows significantly after just 400m.
It took most of the first lap before everyone settled down into their position as fast starters faded and slower starters move gradually through the field. After 6km, I found myself in a group of runners including Darren Deed, Dave Norman, Chris Smith and Phil Hinch; all very good club runners whom, until this year, I was nowhere near being able to compete against.
Running within a group means that you constantly feel under pressure to stick with the pace and any lost concentration can see you rapidly fall off the back. While physically very demanding, it’s likely you will maintain your place in the field, or even move to a higher position. I managed to stick with the group until about 10km before the fatigue started to build in my legs and I knew full well that I was struggling to keep up. However, I refused to give in and the gap hardly widened all the way to the finish. There was no respite all the way to the end either, as other runners were packing in close behind and any loss of focus would easily have seen me drop 5 places.
I came 31st overall in a field of 1689. There are great videos of all the races at http://www.athleticos.org/coverage/248314-2012-National-Cross-Country-Championships……certainly some inspiration for racing in 2013.
Sunday, 12 February 2012
Six weekends into 2012, and seven races already completed, has meant it’s been a busy start to the year. Two races in the last few weeks have really made me think about my approach to racing and my desire to win, these being the Southern Cross Country (Stamner Park, Brighton) and the Met League (Perivale).
I'll start by congratulating Highgate Harriers on a fantastic win at the Southern Cross. Their squad always shows a great team spirit, and they have fielded a competitive side at all major club races during this 2011/2012 season. They are a team that certainly deserved to raise the Frank Wynn Challenge Cup.
Keeping with Highgate theme, I had my first of two battles with Shaun Dixon at Stamner Park. The course provided a good mix of hills, woodland, mud and fast descents, so it meant staying focused throughout the entire 15km to ensure any attack by a competitor was reacted to immediately.
The race saw a large group of 10+ athletes pull away from the rest of field and establish a 50m gap soon into the first lap. I was happy to sit back in the 20's with the plan to work through the field as the race evolved. I soon found myself running with Shaun, who seemed to be following a similar strategy, and it was good to work together and chase down the fast starters.
By the start of the second lap, the field had thinned, and the target was to catch Darren Deed and Steve Naylor of Bedford. Continually pushing one another, we eventually caught them with about 2km to go. At this point, the race turned from one where we were working together to one where we were fighting for position. Going into the finishing straight, I was sitting in 9th; crossing the line, I was in 11th. Both Shaun and Darren had got me in a sprint finish and I appreciate that is an area that I need to work on. Was it that I simply could not physically achieve that 9th place, or had I made a conscious decision to settle for defeat?
The next race was the Met League at Perivale. OK, this is not of quite the same prominence as the Southern Cross, but the principle of racing for the win was the same. After the first lap, Shaun and I had put 25 metres into the rest of field (a gap that would more or less stay the same throughout the race). I knew that Shaun had a strong finish and I spent much of the race questioning how best I could achieve the win. I decided that I had to push the pace from 800m out, but that simply was not good enough and, with 50 metres to the line, I was pushed into second; again failing in a sprint finish. Again I find myself questioning whether I had subconsciously settled for 2nd place early on in the race, based upon my knowledge of competitors finishing ability.
So this brings me to the physcology of winning and a topic discussed in Tim Noake’s ‘Lore of Running’ called the ‘Central Governor Theory’. Take this statement with a pinch of salt, but I believe that I could have won the Met League had I focused my mind properly.
Tim Noakes claims that it is not your body that determines whether you win, but your brain. As a human, our brains are programmed to obtain success and evolution has brought us to push ourselves physically as hard as possible without killing ourselves. The brain is simply a regulator to prevent us from inflicting too much damage on ourselves, and this is our Central Governor. Some people genetically have a greater tolerance to pain, and therefore a greater Central Governor. However your Central Governor is also impacted by your will to win, or your self-motivation or how important the race is. So perhaps the greater I wanted the win, the greater the level of discomfort I could take through the of fatigue my muscles.
Related to this is a level of self-belief, whereby humans will generally respond in the same positive or negative way if faced with the same situation again. OK, I have now lost out in a sprint finish to the same person in the last two races. However what I must not loose is my positive self-belief, whereby if faced with the same situation again, I must learn to react differently and realise my full potential. Roll on the National!