Friday, 16 March 2012

Some warm weather training in Lanzarote

I have just returned from 10 days warm weather training at Club La Santa on the island of Lanzarote. I was part of a group of 100 members of the Serpentine Running Club who'd gone to Lanzarote for some swim, bike and run training. We take club coaches across each discipline and this helps encourage everybody to train together, adds structure to the week and can provide athletes with various training techniques/sessions that they can bring back to the UK.

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:

The total run distance for the week was 81.5 miles and the total swim distance was 19.4k. While not too dissimilar to the sessions I have been doing in London, I have been able to supplement these with a fair amount of strength and conditioning work. I have a 30 minute routine that involves planks, lunges, squats, press-ups, sit-ups etc. with each exercise taking between 3-5 minutes. The load on each exercise is small, and I feel that the benefit from conditioning these relatively low utilised muscles is invaluable and a contributing factor to preventing injury.

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

Hyde Park Relays - Greenleaf family tradition since 1963....

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:

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!

National Cross Country 2012

Conditions at Parliament Hill could not have been better to draw the crowds to watch over 4,500 runners competing the National Cross Country, some contrast to the mud and bog at Alton Towers last year. This fixture in the cross-country calendar provides runners of all abilities, from novices to Olympians, to compete alongside one another in the same race.

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……certainly some inspiration for racing in 2013.