Posts Tagged ‘Running’

Achilles update…

August 25, 2009

It is still niggling.

However, it’s not stopping me running or slowing me down.  I do think I can feel some very slight improvement, but nothing dramatic.

Last few weeks mileage has been:

101, 101, 101, 46 (taper for aborted 6hr), 104, 114.5, 114.5, 106

So 7 out of last 8 weeks at 100mpw +.  

Average for last weeks is something like 98.5 – I’ll take it.


Running Porn

July 1, 2009

Thought I would post some of my favourite running pictures.  All three of these just make me want to go out and run.  Lots.


Dick Beardsley


Sir Roger Bannister achieving the "impossible"



Poll – the hardest ultra in the world?

July 1, 2009

Well?  Whaddya think? 

The Badwater Ultra Marathon describes itself as “the world’s toughest foot race”. It is a 135 mile (215 km) course starting at 282 feet (85 m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin, in California’s Death Valley, and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet (2548 m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney. It usually happens in July, when the weather conditions are most extreme and temperatures over 120 F (49 C) in the shade are not uncommon. Consequently, very few people — even among ultramarathoners—are capable of finishing this race.

The Marathon des Sables  is a six-day, 254 km (156 mile) ultra, which is the equivalent to five and 1/2 regular marathons. The longest single stage (2009) is 91 km (55 miles) long.  The event is held every year in the southern Moroccan desert.  Competitors must carry all personal belongings and food for the entire event in their backpack. During the 1994 race, Italian police officer Mauro Prosperi lost his way during a sand storm and wandered lost for more than 9 days, losing over 13 kg (30 lb) of body weight.

The Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Race is the world’s longest certified race. Competitors seek to negotiate 5649 laps of a .5488 of a mile course (883 meters) in New York,  in the timespan of 51 days; this requires an average of over 60 miles a day.

The Barkley Marathons is a 100 mile race essentially composed of five 20-mile laps. With almost 53,000 feet of climbing and descent, all on what can only be marginally called a trail.   Since the race started in 1986, only 6 out of over 600 runners have ever finished the course.

Very interested to hear the views of other ultra runners, particularly those who have completed some or all of the above.  Also interested to hear the views of those who have not run one, and maybe don’t run at all – to understand what peoples’ perceptions are!

I’m sure I have left out some tough races – so click “other” if you think there is one which tops the list!

I need to see this

June 18, 2009

This looks great.

Now… just need to find out if they ship to the UK, or if there is a UK distributor.

Top 10 books on running

May 13, 2009

Yep. A list. The smarter amongst you may notice that I haven’t got to 10 yet – I’d welcome your ideas for inclusion!

1.  Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison (Paperback – April 2003)  A superb collection of essays and stories on ultra running.  Ranging from national champions to those at the back of the pack.  Now reading it for the fourth time.

2.  Lore of Running by Tim Noakes (Paperback – 1 Dec 2002)  The bible.  If Carling wrote books on running…. Can be a bit too scientific in places, but that is a very minor grumble.

3. Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes (Paperback – 27 Feb 2006).  Probably the best known book on ultra running.  Love him or hate him, the book is good.

4. Advanced Marathoning by Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas (Paperback – 1 Feb 2009)  In my view the best “template training programmes” for marathon training.  Scientific and well thought out.  Good stuff and well worth a read if you fancy the “shorter” stuff!

5. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami and Philip Gabriel (Hardcover – 7 Aug 2008).  If you like Haruki Marakami, and you like running, then you’ll love this.  I was slightly underwhelmed.  “Your mileage may vary”.

6. Galloway’s Book on Running by Jeff Galloway (Paperback – May 2002) Whether you subscribe to “Gallo-walking” or not, this book has some very very good information in it.  If you run longer ultras, you will walk at some point anyway…  

The next 4 are up to you…..

Latest suggestion is this:

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb (Paperback – 4 April 2005)


and how could I have forgotten this………..!!!!!!!!!

Once a Runner by John L., Jr. Parker (Hardcover – 7 April 2009)

Many people say that this is the best book ever written about running.  It is certainly extremely entertaining and pulls many real running heroes into the fictional plot.  However, as a piece of literature it is weak and poorly written.  I still love it though.


Had a request for this to be included, not read it myself:

Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession by Richard Askwith (Paperback – 5 April 2005)






May 13, 2009

Well, my feet and legs are stopping me doing any real speedwork at the moment.  However, I’m looking forward to doing at least one session per week as soon as the legs will allow.  It struck me that a lot of people get confused about how to go about tackling speedwork, and that a lot of people are apprehensive about it.  So I thought I’d copy some very wise words penned by a friend on the topic.  I fully believe that what he has to say pretty much sums up everything you need to know to get you started!

“There are three basic types of intervals, each with a purpose:

1) 200-400m intervals with long recoveries: The purpose of this workout is to develop raw speed, working on strength, turnover, and fast-twitch muscle coordination. To achieve this, it is important to run each interval as fast as possible. Long recoveries are used to make sure you can run each interval near maximal pace. By definition, these intervals are limited to a max of 400m in length as you can’t sustain speed longer than this. If you are prepping for a 800m or 1500/1600m race, you may do 600-800m in this workout though you will likely no longer be at maximal speed, but doing more or a race simulation (ie running 800m at 1500m race pace). These workouts are actually not very fatiguing, because if you accumulate residual fatigue between intervals you can’t sustain the speed required in the workout. Of the three types, this will have the fewest number of intervals in a set.

2) 400m-1600m intervals with medium recoveries The purpose of this workout is to go into anaerobic debt on each interval and thereby stimulat building up your anaerobic capacity. This can also help somewhat with strength and speed tolerance. Moderate recoveries (say, 3+min for a 400m etc) are used to allow time to clear the lactic acid from your system and get HR back near baseline in order to be able to repeat the effort in the next interval. Comparing a 400m under this strategy to a 400m under #1 above, the time will be slower. This workout will actually feel much harder on you that #1 above, because you are working your anaerobic system so hard.

3) 400m-3000m intervals with short recoveries The purpose of this workout is to give your body an extended period of time at the very upper limits of your aerobic zone. This is probably also the best way to develop speed tolerance for 5K-10K paced races. This is the only one of the three types where your recovery will be shorter than your intervals. For example, I run 800m intervals in 2:22-2:30 avg depending on conditioning but only jog recover 90sec. Sets will also be longer than the other two types. (I do 8-10X800 or 6-8X1000 typically). The short recoveries bring you back just enough to be able to go out and do the next interval just as fast, or slightly faster than, the previous one (if you lose the ability to hit your target in the middle of the set, start slower the next time!). Using this strategy, you spend the whole workout at a very high aerobic capacity, with each interval inching you closer and closer to anaerobic. Due to the constant demand, this is probably the most demanding of the types.

Say you run a 5K in 16:00. While races are always good for development, you will rely heavily on the anaerobic component in the end stages of the race so you expose your body to high-end aerobic effort less than that 17:00. However, say you do 8X800 in 2:30 avg with 90sec recoveries. That workout will take you 32 minutes to complete, and the only time you tap anaerobic is if you try to blow out the last interval fast. You’ve just gotten yourself nearly twice the amount of time at sustained high-end aerobic effort! Think what that does for your development and the ability to hold high-end aerobic paces in your next race.

The bulk of my speed workouts are #3. I will use #2 as a sharpening tool 2-3 times going into a key race under 10K. The only time I have used #1 post-college was when I was picked to run an 800m leg at the USATF Indoor Championships on a distance medley relay team. It only took 3 weeks of doing two #1 workouts per week to find speed I hadn’t known I had since high school.

#1 gives up its gains in just a few weeks. #2 takes a bit longer. I’ve successfully continued to gain by #3 for up to 4 months. But they should be ideally applied in the reverse order (#3 followed by #2 then #1 time-wise).

When using #3, I suggest those newer to intervals start out at 2 miles of total intervals and work their way up. A well-conditioned and relatively quick runner should be able to get in 4 miles of these intervals in a session (not counting recoveries). When I was peaking out I could get 5 miles of intervals in a workout but I would not recommend that unless you are winning races and runnin 90+ mpw.

I have experimented with longer intervals, all the way up to 3200m. 3X3200m with 5min recovery is a great workout but the pace is getting too slow to consider it in any of the groupings above. The two last interval workouts I ran before my 10K PR were 4X2000m then 3X3000m workouts at 10K goal pace. I always dreamed of running 3X5000m with 7min recovery in 16:00 or faster but it never worked out.


Let me add that I think people use #2 (the interval workout type, that is!) too often. They enjoy the rush of running fast, but do not want to take on the associated discomfort of doing #3. What results is a hybrid where they do the recoveries of #2 with the pace of #3, which sub-optimizes the benefits. If you recover too long, HR drops, lactic acid clears, and you’re not getting all the benefits you could.

There is nothing wrong with it if your primary goal is to have fun or get some experience with speed. But if you are really trying to wring the most benefit out of the workout, you have to decide what the goal is.”

Let me know what you think of his ideas!  I think it is just about all you really need to know about running intervals.