Running into the new year

This week: 4 runs. 1 ride. 1 swim.

The last run of 2018 was not a torpid jaunt as its name would suggest. Instead it was my weekly interval training run, which this time consisted of three 2400m sprints with 400m jogs in-between.

I managed the sprints at a 4:00/km, 4:21/km and 4:14/km pace. I was aiming for a 4:00/km, but I couldn’t manage it. I’ll put it down to a Christmas food hangover.

The run was around Wandsworth Common, which was very busy with families and dog-walkers, but I still enjoyed running around where I grew up… it seems a lot smaller now than I remember.

The following day, and a few drinks later, it was time for the first run of 2019. This was a gentle one with Emily and Kirstie around Tooting Bec Common this time. Another place I remember from my childhood, but unlike Wandsworth Common, now somehow seems bigger… maybe it was the hangover.

Kirstie, Emily and I after the new years run

On Wednesday I decided to do another long cycle ride after the successful ride to Windsor with Andy last week, this time on my own. After starting off with (another!) puncture, I headed down to the River Thames by Hampton Court Palace and then round Richmond Park. I totalled 62km in 3 hours and really enjoyed it, but it has made me realise that I need to look at getting a proper road bike. The hybrid I have is great for my commute, but it’s too heavy to get much above 30km/h.

Thursday evening was when I did my next fast run. 11km with km 2,3,6,7 and 8 at threshold pace. I was really happy with how I felt on this run and all of my fast km’s were under a 4:00/km pace which is what I was aiming for. I even managed my first KOM on Strava! Many more to come I hope.

Friday I had an early start and dragged myself down to the 50m pool for some lengths. I really got into it and completed 1700m before they kicked everyone out to change the lane setup.

Then, after a big breakfast, I rounded off the week with a 16km long run. I ran 7km along the canal and then up and down Horsenden Hill. Horsenden Hill is a 500m, 8% uphill. It was not fun, but it did slow me down to finish the run at my target 4:50/km pace.

Nearly at the top of Horsenden Hill, half way through Friday’s 16km long run

Next week I’m skiing (read: trying not to die) in the French Alps so running should be interesting…

PS This week I also signed up for the Richmond Marathon in September and the All Nations Sprint Triathlon in May. Bring on 2019!

How to eat everything at christmas and not feel guilty

Christmas Day 10k with the girls

While most of the UK is curled up indoors, opening presents and eating pigs in blankets, I tried to buck the trend over the festive period and get a head start on those new years fitness goals.

This week: 4 Runs. 1 Swim. 1 Ride.

I have to say upfront that I suffered serious eating and drinking hangovers on a couple of the runs this week, but it’s all about getting out there regardless! And I have to say, I always feel better after a good run in the fresh air than if I’d just stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself.

Monday started with some interval training – that’s several short, fast sprints followed by a slow jog to catch your breath. Today the sprints were just 400m, followed by a 200m jog. The hills of Bridgnorth presented an added sting in the tail, but not nearly as much as the spicy madras and several beers from the night before that certainly presented a handicap!

I managed the first three sprints quite well, maybe because they were downhill, but then I started to suffer and had to cut short the fourth sprint because I was too knackered to keep running. I managed to compose myself again and finished the ten sprints.

400m SprintElevationPace (min/km)

Looking at the table above you can see that I probably need to work on running uphill a bit more in the future.

The next day was Christmas Day, which means it was time for a nice 10k loop of Bridgnorth with Emily and Helen. We followed the route of the Bridgnorth 10k which is held annually in October. It’s pretty hilly, as you can imagine, so it was pretty challenging… doubly so given that I started the run with quite possibly the biggest hangover of 2018. Then again, nothing cures a hangover like a good run, right?

High spirits (quite literally, we were probably still drunk) before the Christmas day 10k around hilly Bridgnorth in the Severn valley

About half way through the run was the bit we’d all been dreading – the 100m long innocuously-sounding Railway Street with a 16% gradient! I decided to sprint up it, naturally…

The Railway Street Rumble – a 100m, 16% incline of doom (picture by Helen James)
That brought the hangover right back! (video by Helen James)

By the end of the run we were all ready for a glass of bubbly and the onslaught of Christmas dinner that had been wonderfully prepared for us by Emily’s mother. This is the second year we’ve done a run on Christmas day, I hope it’s a tradition that continues… although maybe not quite as far next year!

On Boxing day we went for a foggy walk up the Brown Clee, the highest hill in Shropshire, with Emily’s mum providing supplies of mince pies and damson gin.

The motley crew atop the Brown Clee (minus my mug as I’m taking the photo)

The following day I went for round two at the Bridgnorth Leisure Swimming Pool, this time much busier than last Sunday, but I still managed 1250m.

Friday we we’re back in West London, so I finally got a run in on flat ground! I ran 10km, with the middle 5km at threshold heart rate (AKA flat out). The threshold section was tough and I certainly felt the effects of all that festive eating and drinking. Hopefully that’ll go in a week or two of good training.

Saturday was an exciting day, my workmate Andy came down and we did a long cycle ride together to Windsor and back again. It was a really varied route, taking in gravel paths, muddy fields and towpaths as well as the road.

We didn’t get off to the best start as I got a big puncture within the first kilometre, but luckily Andy had come prepared with a spare inner tube and replaced the offending article in no time like a real pro.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of our bad luck, as Andy’s chain snapped around 20km in. Thankfully we weren’t far from a bike shop where we managed to get a replacement. Once again, Andy impressed by having all the tools to hand to replace the chain in a jiffy. I learnt a thing of two watching him and have a few items on the Christmas list for next year already!

Apart from all that excitement, the ride itself was lovely. 63km in total and taking six hours, two of which weren’t even spent moving!

The Lycra louts make it to Slough in one piece

When we returned just before sunset Emily had prepared a wonderful vegan Tagine.

There is nothing better on this earth than eating after a long day in the saddle

Sunday rounded off the week with a 15km long run along a route I’ve wanted to try ever since I realised that the River Brent was a great running destination that I hadn’t tried yet. I planned a route that started with going north on the canal, then heading east through Greenford to meet the River Brent, following the river south to meet the canal at Hanwell, then following the canal back west then north to the start.

A lovely route following two waterways of West London
A great way to end the week of festivities for 2018

I’m glad I got this route in before the end of the year, and at a 4:37/km pace I could enjoy a large fry-up for brunch with a clean conscience.

Next week I try to finish 2018 strong, see you then, bye x