Getting up to Speed

Oh, another title that is going to have to work hard. I have been running ahead of myself and now there is a small backlog of training runs to catch up with on this blog. I would hate to miss an opportunity to share my little exploits, but I think four short posts about runs that don’t really amount to much in themselves is not the best way to get up to date. So, Task 1 for the title is to report these latest runs in one sitting, as it were, although the imagery clangs a bit. The only time I sit during a run is when I’m recovering from a fall or, as in Varna, when I’ve misjudged my nutrition.

Task 2 does not necessarily follow with impeccable arithmetical logic, rather it kind of tries to jog alongside Task 1. In reality, it trails a little behind, making good use of the little slipstream created by Task 1. And the topic? To think a bit about speed running.

Tuesday, 11th September 2018

I wanted to start challenging myself on this run, so set out with the intention of doing a bit of interval work – interspersing a comfortable jogging pace with short bursts of faster running. The task was made more challenging by the slightly hilly route – from the car park at Titchmarsh Nature Reserve, up through the village of Aldwincle to the first turning to Wadenhoe, then back again (total elevation = 37 metres/121 feet). It was a nice comfortable distance of 3.2 miles, and the pace profile from my Garmin showed the expected little plateaus of increased pace. This run will serve as a baseline measure for any improvements I may make over the coming weeks.

Friday, 14th September 2018

Again, I wanted to start developing a bit of speed with this run. I ended up shaving 8 seconds off my personal best for 5km over this fairly flat route (Titchmarsh Nature Reserve to Thorpe Waterville and back – total elevation = 16 metres) that I frequently use for my recovery runs. My approach was a little unsystematic, just trying to maintain a faster than is usually comfortable pace throughout.

Sunday, 16th September 2018

IMG_4042Ah, Stamina Sunday again – the much anticipated/dreaded weekly long run! I have given names to my other runs too, which I will explain below. This week I headed back to the relatively flat (total elevation = 25 metres) course of the disused railway along Brampton Valley Way. I parked at the Draughton crossing as usual, ran 3 miles and a bit towards Northampton, then back again. I’m gradually building up the miles. The first half a mile or so often finds me scanning my body to see where the aches and pains are – this week there was a twinge in my left thigh (possibly caused by over-doing my morning stretch) and some weakness in my left ankle (I had forgotten to put on my support). My left foot and ankle were quite painful at the end (of the run, and of my leg). I also do a psychological scan, checking for any negative thoughts such as “Why am I doing this?” and “Oh, the twinge is a good reason to call it off for today”. This week I made some new friends, which I found strangely inspirational. I think they were hoping for sugar lumps.

Tuesday, 18th September 2018

This time I set out to do a proper tempo run. I had to check on-line again to remind myself what it involves. It is designed to increase strength and speed. Episodes of running at a faster pace are interspersed with periods of slower running. I used the same route as the previous Tuesday, and was 11 seconds faster! This is better than it sounds because there was a strong wind – about 28mph. I also wore my heart monitor, which showed that my tempo running was probably in the right zone….a bit below maximum heart rate.

All About Speed Runs

The language around speed runs can be a bit confusing, as shown by the fact that I had to check before attempting my tempo run. My understanding is that a tempo run is a very structured training session, where you run for a fixed period of time at a pace that is challenging but not flat out, and then recover at a slower pace.  I managed 2 by 5 minute episodes, and will try to build on this over time. These are also referred to as lactate-threshold runs, referring to the rate at which your body can clear the build up of lactic acid in your muscles. More about this in a later post!

Interval runs are also quite structured, but here you are running for much shorter periods of time at a much faster pace, then recovering at a slower pace. And repeat.

My favourite, and not just because of the name, are fartlek runs. These are similar to interval runs but are far less structured – you run faster, for example, to the next clump of trees, then slow down for a bit. Then you select a new target and run to that. The term is apparently Swedish for “speed play”.

So, to add to my Stamina Sundays, I now have Tempo Tuesdays (which in reality will be a mix of tempo and interval runs, depending on how I feel) and Fartlek Fridays – because Fridays should be fun!


3 thoughts on “Getting up to Speed

    1. Haha, it is rather catchy and cheeky! Ah, sweet that you feel this way. Thank you. Will have good post coming up next I hope – I’m running my first 5km (3 miles) race tomorrrow evening – it is called “Beat the sunset”, the aim being to finish before the sun goes down. I’m confident of doing that – they allow about 45 minutes and I should finish in about 30-32 mins. BTW – any thoughts about my new improved site? I have added a coupe of pages (Photos and Lores of Motion), and I’ve been playing with colours. 🙂


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