And Panic Starts In…

Do you have a place in the Cambridge Half for next March? Are you panicking just a bit because you had a place last year and you don’t know how you’re going to improve on how you did then? Panic no more, because Coach Rich is here to simultaneously save the day and beast your legs until they bleed. Sort of. 

I’ve put together a training plan for runners with a bit of experience who want to get better. This is not a beginner’s plan. I can do one for you if you want, but this one is for improvers. I’ll be following it myself and we’re going to start on Monday next week, 5 November with the traditional rest day after a Sunday long run. Those of us who are members of C&C will be doing the Tuesday night training sessions and I’ve copied them out below each week so you can see what they are if you’re not a member and you want to follow along at home. 

Some items may require explanation, others are optional, such as the Wednesday easy run. I like that as a way to shake Tuesday out of my legs and get ready for Thursday. You might find it too much and need to rest. That’s fine. 

We’ll get together on a Thursday night at the track most weeks and head out onto the West Site for that session. The Thursday hills will be done either off Chesterton Road or between Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn depending on the size of the group.

Friday evenings swimming, cycling or easy spinning are entirely optional too. Again, I find them useful but you can rest, or do some yoga or stretching and rolling.

I’ve given Saturdays as rest days but you can do a parkrun if you want. The Sunday long run is not an option though and we’ll be meeting up to run together if you want. I’ve given it in time instead of distance because we’ll mostly be doing out and back along the Roman Road, Fleam Dyke or other quiet and off-road parts of the world. You might want to give yourself a set distance and I’m happy to discuss that with you if you want.

We’re going to meet for the long run at the end of the first week in the Gogs car park at 9:00am. I’ll set up a Facebook group and a weekly email if you want encouragement or support. Running a good half marathon is not an easy thing to but it can be easier with some support. We can support one another. 

Cambridge Half Training Plan

WC 5 November2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Wheel of Fartlek

Track: Long WU; 5-7x 800m w 3 minutes recovery

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (2:00 cruising at race pace, 4:00 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 60 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly

WC 12 November 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Indian Running – Jesus Green
Track: Long WU; 4-5x 1k hold and kick (800m, 200m) w slow jog

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Hill Session (venue TBA)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 60-70 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly (or St Neots HM)

WC 19 November 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Parlauf – Parker’s Piece
Track: Long WU; 3-4x 4 x 400m, w 90 secs and 3:00

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (1:30 cruising at race pace, 4:30 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 70 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly

WC 26 November 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: City Fartlek
Track: Long WU; 5-7x 800m w 3:00

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday Hills (venue TBA)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday Jingle Mile!

Sunday 70 minutes long run, preferably off-road and a bit hilly

WC 3 December 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: 5 x 1k West Site
Track: Long WU; 3-4x 1k hollow (400m, 200m, 400m) w 200m slow jog

Wednesday 30-40 minutes easy run

Thursday K Reps and Kettlebells

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 75 minutes long run or Frostbite

WC 10 December 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Storey’s Way 700m hills
Track: Long WU; 6-9x 600m, w 200m slow jog

Wednesday 40-45minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (1:00 cruising at race pace, 5:00 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 80 minutes long run

WC 17 December 2018

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: 5 x 1k Jesus Green
Track: Christmas special (or Long WU; 7 x 800m w 3:00)

Wednesday 45 minutes easy run

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 6:00 (30s cruising at race pace, 5:30 harder)

Friday REST or 30 minutes easy swim or indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 85 minutes long run

WC 24 December 2018

Christmas Eve Optional Roman Road Social Run

Christmas Day REST

Boxing Day C&C 4 or 30 minutes easy

Thursday REST

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST or parkrun

Sunday Buntingford 10 or 70 minutes easy run

WC 31 December 2018

New Years Eve Ely 10k or REST

New Years Day Optional Roman Road Social Run

Wednesday 30 minutes easy run

Thursday Hills

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST or parkrun

Sunday 70-75 minutes long run

WC 7 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Paarlauf, West Site

Track: Long WU; 7 x 800m w 3:00

Wednesday 35 minutes easy run

Thursday K Reps and Kettlebells

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 75-80 minutes long run

WC 14 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Off track: Wheel of Fartlek, West Site
Track: Long WU; 2-3 x cut downs (1k, 600m, 200m) w 200m slow jog & 200m walk

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday 30:00 tempo

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 80-85 minutes long run (or Folksworth 15 if you’re marathon training as well)

WC 21 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 40 minutes easy

Thursday 40:00 tempo

Friday 30 minutes swim or easy indoor spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 75-80 minutes long run

WC 28 January 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday 3 x 12:00 tempo

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 80-85 minutes long run

WC 4 February 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday 4 x 13:00 tempo

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 90-95 minutes long run

WC 11 February 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 40 minutes easy

Thursday Hills (venue TBA)

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 95-100 minutes long run

WC 18 February 2019

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday 35 minutes easy

Thursday Cruise Intervals 6 x 7:00 (1:00 race pace, 6:00 harder)

Friday swim or spin

Saturday REST

Sunday 90 minutes long run (30 minutes easy, 30 minutes harder, 30 minutes race pace)

WC 25 February 2019 (Race Week)

Monday REST

Tuesday C&C Training Session

Wednesday REST

Thursday 30 minutes easy, with 6-8 x 50m strides

Friday swim or spin

Saturday Bike Ride recce round the course

Sunday RACE DAY

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I’m All Torq

I feel slightly sick. I spent a chunk of today learning about nutrition strategies. TORQ Fitness, purveyors of fine nutrition products to the running and cycling classes invitied me along to an assessment day for their new trail running team. I spent a fascinating few hours learning about nutrition for exercise, psychological strategies for success and a little bit of injury prevention. I put all that to good use this evening by not stretching after my run this afternoon, driving home, getting cramp in my calves, eating pizza and half a family-sized tub of very nice Green & Black’s vanilla ice cream. With maple syrup. I’m pretty much every kind of awesome.

I’ve been thinking a lot about nutrition for performance of late. Julie Pashley at GCAN put together a couple of coach workshops on nutrition for beginner athletes and elite athletes respectively. They were excellent. There was lots of science I didn’t understand at the time. I’ve had to go away and do more reading on physiology and energy use in the body. I love that, I really do. I like it when one thing that you read leads you to another and another and then you find yourself reading and learning about things that you never expected. I haven’t done that since since I was at university and lost weeks because I tried to read Fleurs du Mal instead of getting on with Chekhov and the collections of really, really dull 19th Century Russian verse I was supposed to be reading. My French wasn’t up to Baudelaire but that didn’t stop me. I was enjoying the intellectual journey too much.

The nutrition session today was what originally attracted me to take part and it was excellent but the highlight for me was Stuart Mills’ talk on the psychology of success. Stuart is an ultrarunner, a Kiwi who has represented Great Britain in the ultradistance world championships. He is also an academic as in sports science and has a blog which I’m looking forward to reading immensely, If I remember what he said accurately – and I wasn’t taking notes so I may get things very wrong in places – his attitude to race preparation is to concentrate as much on mental preparation as on physical training. He might acknowledge negative thoughts and feelings but only to find positive strategies for dealing with them. Pain is a negative. Challenge is a positive. Live in the moment even if the moment is full of pain, or challenge as he would have it. Don’t count down the miles. For example, when you get to Mile 20 in a marathon don’t think “Great! Only 10k to go!” We run because we love it. Why would we want the run to end?

I try to turn that into a positive. I’ve reached 20 miles. How fucking incredible is that? I’ve been running for about three hours and I’m still going. For someone who didn’t run three years ago, that’s tremendous. I do get a huge kick out of movement, rapid movement. Well, rapid for me. There is joy in movement even when continuing that movement is a challenge. To answer the question about wanting the run to end, we have a goal in every race that we do. It’s usually a time goal, and one that’s tied to the end of the race: 26.2 miles and not our time at Mile 20.

Positivity can only carry you so far. You need the physical preparation, the long runs, the tempos and hill session and the run until you puke reps on the track. Confidence is good. I have my “Train hard. Rock up. Run like fuck.” thing going on. I think this is the common ground Stuart and I share. He notes that training hard gives you confidence which leads to an improved perfomance. It’s not the training which improves your performance so much as the confidence that training engenders. It’s an interesting idea. My performance at the Cambridge Half was all down to a couple of really good training sessions in the week before the race which gave me the confidence to rock up and run like fuck. I could have run 1:42 and change but I just sneaked under 1:39 because I was feeling incredible.

There’s a lot to think about and a lot to process. I really want to carry on with this process and having the support of the TORQ Trail Team would be a help. I might spend even more time training on the Roman Road. I’ve entered an 18 mile trail race in the Lake District in August as a way to relax after the stress of the Cambridge Triathlon. I’m contemplating another in October after the Great Barrow Challenge. I could do 25k reasonably easily but today has got me thinking about doing the 50k instead. I’ve said I’m not doing a marathon this year but I didn’t say anything about not doing an ultra.

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How Not To Say “Fuck” On The Radio

I was on the radio again today. It was Andie Harper’s Mid-Morning Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. The producer contacted me thanks to Sue Dougan who is a runner and Radio Cambridgeshire presenter. I’ve been on her show a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We were talking this morning about wearing headphones when out running and in particular during races. I was on after Adam Moffat from One Step Beyond, the organisers of the Cambridge Half Marathon. They have banned headphones from the race on safety grounds and I think the Beeb wanted a runner’s perspective as well as the organisers’. Cue Rich.

I had much more notice when I went onto Sue’s show. I had a good couple of weeks in each case to worry about it, to tell people about it and then to worry some more. I was most worried about allowing a little sweary word out inadvertently. I’m a sweary man. I know little about mass press and public relations but I know that if you want to get invited back to day-times shows you can’t be sweary. What I am sure about is that I have to try really hard not to say “Fuck” on the radio, All the way there in the car, i kept saying to myself, “Don’t say fuck, Don’t say fuck.” I thought about writing “Don’t say ‘Fuck'” on a post-it note and sticking it to the desk in front of the microphone but that wouldn’t have been politic in the circumstances.

I’m not going to rehearse the arguments for and against wearing headphones when out running. There doesn’t seem much point. I don’t like wearing them because they’re just one more thing between me and the world. They’re a distraction. I understand how someone else might feel just the opposite. Still, they’re wrong…

And I managed not to say “Fuck” this morning. Aren’t I good?

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