Today I made a minor milestone, cracking 70 miles in a single month for the first time; my previous highest had been 69 miles in January this year. In fact, I’ve already run more that half my entire 2013 mileage (including races) in the first quarter of 2014 (159 miles Vs. 267 in all of 2013) and far more than the 93 miles I managed to muster between July 2012 (when I started this blog) and the end of that year. Although I didn’t set a target for this year, I would like to get to about 850 miles. Given I have the Marathon this year, and training for that alone will hit 30 – 40 miles a week at the peak, that’s a very realistic target.

It’s all about the miles… the MILES!

The brutal truth is that mileage counts, or to be more accurate time on your feet. I’ve been pretty inconsistent about mileage, even this year January and March look good, but February was practically a month off.  I can blame my sunburn on vacation, my new job, or the weather, but the fact is if you’re not running, you’re not improving.

Lacking Consistency

I’ve been using Mapmyrun since I started running in July 2012; the graphs are from the website, which tracks your miles, pace and altitude gain/drop.


Fuel Efficient

Ever since hitting a mini-wall in my NYC Half Marathon, I’ve been thinking a little more about pre and post-run fueling. My lovely wife has been buying me various high-calorie and high-protein goodies from REI.

So far my favorite is the Cliff Shot Bloks, which come in various flavors including; cherry, orange and margarita (with added sodium!).These bad boys pack 100 calories per serving (that’s 3 chunks) with 24g of carbs (12g from sugar). I stuffed a whole pack down today prior to a 10-miler, and felt pretty good. They’re easy on the stomach (or at least mine) and give you a real buzz after about 10-15 minutes, and the effect lasting a good hour at 9:30/mile.

These are very tasty and have the kick of a mule.

Post run, I like the Cliff Shot Protein Recovery (the chocolate and mango and orange flavors are surprisingly tasty even with just water. Even better with almond milk!).

Not sure if the cheese toasties are a good idea, but I love them anyway.

Strength Training

Yesterday I started my strength training, and today I feel like I just went to the gym for the first time in years (so much be a good thing?)

I’m following the Runner’s World Iron Strength training guide, which can be found here – although I am starting out modestly.

First off, 3×15 squats (will work up to 8 reps over a week). Next is the Plank to Row… harder than it looks – 3×8 reps (yes I’m wimping out)

She’s done that before

Then it’s lunges and plyometric lunges. These things have had my quads sore all day today – again 3×15 of these (each side, so actually 30)

Harder than it looks

Finally a front plank and side planks finish off about a 25 mins workout. 3 weeks of this before my 10K.

Lessons Learned

So Sunday was the big day, and my time was… 1:59:58… yes I broke 2 hours, as I’d hoped (and frankly expected) but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment… and here’s why.

What happened after 15k?

So here’s the story. Up to 15k, I’m running just under 9/min mile. If I’d continued with my 15k pace, I’d have finished in 1:55:30, which is just a little faster than I was really hoping for. But around the 11 mile mark, I pretty much hit a dead stop and couldn’t get going again.My last 5k was just a little under 10min/mile, which is slower than my training runs.

Times are Inversed

For much of my career I’ve been a project manager, and one of the things people like to do at the end of projects is review how things went, and compile a list of ‘lessons learned’. This is usually a handy device for blowing off steam, telling people what they didn’t do and should have, how things would have been oh so much better “if only Bill in technology had worked a few more weekends”. On a slightly less cynical note, there are usually a couple of things than come out that are useful. So what are my lessons learned?

1) Nutrition

It occurred to me less than 24 hours before the race that I had not been ‘carb loading’ at all. My wife came home from work to ask what I’d been eating, and I realized around 4:00pm, all I’d had was an egg and bacon sandwich and a slice of cake. True to form, we dragged ourselves to Wholefoods and finally ate a meal around 8:00pm. I woke up hungry, and that was a bad sign. I stuffed some oatmeal down myself around 5:00am and managed to cram a couple of energy gels down just before and during the race, but if there is one feeling I can really say was overwhelming with 3 miles to go, it was the feeling of having no energy. You expect that after 22 miles, but not 10.

2) Core and Leg Strength

OK, so here’s an embarrassing admission. In the last 18 months since I’ve been running, I haven’t really done any core or leg strength exercises. So, starting tonight, I’m going to follow the Runner’s World Iron Strength routine (or at least a large part of it), which I’ll mention in my next blog. I have little doubt that my legs and core get tired after long runs, and that results in exhaustion when my lungs are still up to the job.

3) Speed work

Before the winter really kicked in, I was just starting to get to the track and get some speed work in. But after 2 months of solid snow and ice, I didn’t really manage to get much out of it before racing again. My overall pace in all my races has barely changed in the entire time I have been running. In fact, I’ve struggled to even see much of a change in my pace regardless of distance (see chart). I’m Mr Monopace!

Trending faster, but barely

OK, so the last 2 races were more than 2.5x longer than any previous – and from race 4 onwards (a terrible race in Jersey I’d rather forget), I was slowly getting quicker – but at the 5k distance, I still haven’t broken 27 minutes, or run an 8 min/mile.

So let’s see what these exercises can bring… I have a 10k on April 5th, and will be looking for a time to match or beat the 10k marker on this NYC Half.

Half and Half

There’s nothing quite like leaving a blog to fester for a few months (well 4 months to be precise).

It’s been a bitterly cold and icy winter, so keeping up with the regime was tough. But… in January I ran my first ever half marathon, just missing out on cracking 2 hours.

My official time was 2:01:33, which as my only result is my PR – I should have been pleased, but was in truth bitterly disappointed. 2 weeks earlier, a random guy distracted my on Broad Street in Manhattan’s financial district (trying to sell me on the merits of Bitcoin) and I put my foot over a curb over extending my ankle. I winced at the time, and knew immediately it was trouble for my half.

I set off well enough, and after 9 miles or so was well on target for a sub two-hour time. Unfortunately my ankle wasn’t up to it, and after the 10 mile mark, I was running on one leg and slowing with every step. My last two miles were 11:30 min/miles, losing me at least 3 mins off my training pace.

I need to work on my running face, but that guy
behind me looks in more pain than I do.

But, it was a great experience and I learned a lot – and in January I ran 70 miles, something I’ve never done before in a single month and quite an achievement given the average temperature in January was 10 degrees below freezing.

So tomorrow is the NYC Half, and my hopes are in the balance for beating 2 hours. I’ve only run 30 miles in March war far, although I should reach 70 miles again this month, and my ankle is still causing me trouble. So much so, I am thinking of getting physio if I have the same trouble this time. On the flip side, while the Manhattan Half was two laps of Central park, which means two steep climbs per lap, the NYC Half is much more forgiving. After one lap of Central Park, it’s a run downtown either slightly downhill or flat. Many PR’s have been set on this course.

So, a prediction is probably going to jinx me, but I am hoping for a 1:58 time. That means running around 9/min miles.

Then it’s the Brooklyn Half in May…