Friday, February 26, 2010


Heading up to my folks tomorrow then onto Glenmore Lodge on Sunday to do 5 days of winter hillwalking skills (or how not to get swept away in an avalanche!). Already had mum on the phone with the "are you sure it's a good idea" conversation (after the Glencoe avalanche). I'm not sure my assurances of being with some of the finest mountain instructors around reassured her...

Currently in the process of assembling every single hat, pair of gloves/mitts, buff, socks, baselayer, waterproof, down/merino garment etc I own.......maybe we should just pack all our clothes and take them with us.

Finger crossed the Highlands have finally been reopened by the time we have to drive up there on Sunday afternoon, can snow us in if it likes after that, I won't care then but don't want to have to spend a night in the car on the A9 on the way up.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Catching Up

After tweaking my left backside slipping about in the dunes on the 12th I was hobbling the next day. The "next day" was the Mid Lancs XC at Hyndburn. The Chorley Harrier ladies were hoping for promotion and to get as many out as possible to help, I had said I would run (help make up some numbers rather than actually count for the team). On Saturday morning I did lots of stretching but it didn't help, a bit annoyed as the Hyndburn course is really enjoyable.

At about noon when it wasn't getting any better I did the sensible thing and necked a load of ibuprofen and went anyway. Once I warmed up a bit it only bothered me when my left leg slid sideways...which happened a lot on the stodgy course. I was over two minutes quicker than the year before but getting out of my car at home was not very dignified! I wouldn't have done it for a longer race (probably).

It seemed fine for cycling thankfully so got some road miles in on the Sunday....for some reason decided to go chevron bagging around Belmont way and got my backside kicked, even with a 30 * 27 lowest gear. I found the hills mentally hard too which wasn't good, I'm no climber but I normally just get on and grind them out without too much thought. 44 miles, 3800 ft of up and an embarrassing average speed of 13.9....more work needed.

I did some short runs in the week as bum was still tight, it started to ease off after a trip to the climbing wall meant some serious stretching of various tight muscles.

On Saturday I headed out to check out snow conditions around the moors. I was only intending to do about six miles but it was so lovely I ended up doing over 9. Lots of snow:

I ended up on the turbo on Sunday afternoon but probably should have gotten the MTB out really.

This week I've managed to get back to some better running, a quick 4 miles after work on Monday saw me set off with leaden turbo legs. Last time I did that after about two miles my legs were fine and sure enough I managed to up the pace each mile, really enjoyed it and no problems the next day.

Tuesday was some turbo intervals, hard but bearable now I have invested in a fan. It meant I was able to work harder without boiling myself or having to open the door and freeze the house out.

Yesterday was another set of intervals, running this time. Possibly not the most sensible decision but I wondered how my legs would cope. A little leaden at the start but changed into running mode after about a mile. I did 3 x 1200 metres as slowly building the interval distance back up to three miles. They went well, not having fresh legs meant I paced things more evenly and didn't tear off at the start though on the last interval I had to push hard to keep the pace as I got stopped at the one road crossing. First and second interval had the same time, third was two seconds slower which I thought wasn't too bad. Run back to work was fine after the first half mile.

Yesterday was finished off with a trip to the wall again, which was really good fun.

Today I'm taking it very easy, I did think of cycling into work but couldn't get myself out of bed. The cycling gods punished me for my laziness by having me sit on the M6 for ages, eventually took 1 3/4 hours to get to work as opposed to 30 minutes.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I felt a bit lifeless last weekend, not sure why but got a couple of easy rides in. One short MTB ride with new front brake pads that were binding hard and had to be worn in. Did I moan? Nope, just treated it as extra resistance (could have done without the slipping seat post though), it needed to be done. The wheel was spinning much better by the end.

Monday, I was much more lively and got some 800m intervals out. I managed to pick the wrong direction and run them straight into a strong wind which meant the pace was well off but the effort level was there.

Tuesday was a good ride to work, really enjoyed both journeys though had to tell Jez to go off on his own after about a mile in the morning as there was no way I was going to keep up with him on his road bike when I was on the shopping bike.

Wednesday was a rest day due to neither of us getting home from work early enough to contemplate riding anywhere. Thursday was an interval session on the turbo where I attempted to boil my head again and nearly succeeded...thinking of moving it outside onto the patio to entertain the neighbours.

Friday was a run but with no plan, just for fun so headed to the beach to play in the dunes. The sun was out over Blackpool:

The sand was dry and really loose and after clambering up the third steep dune I thought maybe I shouldn't be hammering my calves and achilles like this as I had said I would turn up at the XC on Saturday. My glutes were also notcieably tight from the turbo session the day before. Just around then my left leg slipped in the sand down and away from me with a tweak sensation in the bum. A definite ooof! moment. Not great timing.

Onto the flat beach and seems no harm done so head way out towards the sea faffing about taking some pictures as the cloud rolled in for some dramatic sky moments:

Had a bit of a run in the lower dunes which are a lot more packed down then I could feel things starting to niggle, bit of a stretch and head back to work with my left butt cheek and hip trying to cramp up completely. Oops, needless to say an afternoon sat down at a desk did nothing for it. I got into my car like a 90 year old.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Field Test

Yesterday I was planning to do some running intervals, unfortunately work meant I couldn't get out at lunchtime (same today, boo). I decided to have a go at Field Test to try to determine how hard I should be working when I drag myself onto the trainer. I'm not convinced I haven't been slacking.

A colleague suggested the CTS Field Test as a starter for 10, a reasonable way to determine "lactate threshold" apparently. I programmed it into the Garmin so I didn't have to think:

1. Warm up: 10 minutes easy pedalling
2. Power Interval: 1 minute hard
3. Recovery: 1 minute easy
4. Power Interval: 1 minute hard
5. Recovery: 4 minutes easy
6. Field Test Effort: 8 minutes eyeballs out, maintain around 90-95 rpm
7. Recovery: 10 minutes easy
8. Field Test Effort: 8 minutes eyeballs out, maintain around 90-95 rpm
9. Recovery: Keel Over! 10 minutes easy

Got kit on, towel, drink, Shuffle on the brake cables and off I went. I forgot to open the patio door for some air which was a bit of mistake. First 8 minute field test effort was very, very hard, sweating absolute cobs, ugh. In the recover section I spun for about 2 minutes then had to quickly nip off and open the patio door befor my head boiled. I felt well recovered after the 10 minutes, the worst part being I had 10 minutes to think about the fact I was going to have to do another 8 minutes.

The second one felt better at the start but the last two minutes I was giving it all I could to maintain the rpm without changing resistance and there was an absolute fountain of sweat dripping off my chin - must get a big fan! Geeky HR graph:

Stats from the two efforts look pretty similar to me:

Ist Effort:

Dist: 2.49, Av Speed: 18.7, Av HR: 173, Max HR: 180, Cadence: 92

2nd Effort:

Dist: 2.5, Av Speed: 18.7, Av HR: 175, Max HR: 181 Cadence 91

It did feel very hard and I couldn't help wondering if I was shooting myself in the foot a bit by going all out but I suppose the test would have been a bit pointless otherwise. I also think I would have gone faster if I was working that hard on the road. Need to do some more research on what it means but at least I have some idea of how hard I need to work on the turbo - I certainly won't be applying it to MTBing. I'm guessing I should be aiming for a greater distance/higher average speed as a sign of progression?

Interestingly I don't think its that far away from what I would try to achieve whilst running, running is supposed to be higher. My last two running XC races were at an average of 171, which I found just bearable.

Loading it into Garmin training centre I was most amused at my apparent "route":

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Running: 96 Miles
Cycling: 162 Miles (87 real miles)

Considering I'm doing a few cycle events that seems not enough cycling compared to running. The amount of running is due to the weather really and the cycling looks okish but 75 of them were turbo miles which don't really count.

Two Hours and Twenty Minutes how long I spent on the Turbo on Sunday.

Original plan was to meet up with some other people for a bit of a road ride, waking up to a covering of snow put paid to that. I have borrowed some Spinerval DVD's and one was to help for longer riding efforts, the others are high intensity stuff which wasn't my plan for the day. I didn't think I'd do it all but I did, not sure what that says about me but only the last few minutes were really tough as the "enough" switch was flicked and I really wanted to stop.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Rather Enjoyable Potter On Winter Hill

Saturday was a very enjoyable run/slide/walk on Winter Hill. I had planned to get out at 10am at the latest though a lot of computer faff meant it didn't get out till closer to 11. I realised that the problem didn't need to be fixed there and then so got some kit together and headed out.

As I have no long running event to train for I decided to have a bit of an explore, do some new tracks, walk a bit, practice map reading and enjoy the sunshine and see how things go. A sketchy drive to the car park with lots of ice at the edge of the road, I parked up to see absolutely rock hard ground. No need for the Mudclaws I had and to be honest the length of the studs on them were a bit of a liability sometimes.

I head off to explore a track which heads up to Redmond's edge, between Great Hill and Winter Hill. On the map if officially runs out but sure enough it did continue all the way up, lots of ice dodging. Amazing visibility up there:

I made a note of where the track joined up to the flagged path I often run, it was quite obvious and I wondered why I had missed it before. About a minute after setting off on the uneven and randomly sized flags I realised why as I was concentrating so hard on where my feet were going I couldn't see anything else.

Straight up onto Winter Hill on a new track for me and the unusual sensation of skidding over the top of icy bogs (think I prefer sinking in). Once in the shadow of the hill it was baltic! Thankfully the climb was steep so I generated some heat on the way up. I seemed to have the top of Winter Hill to myself for ages.

Headed off down the track following the ruined wall, remembering there was a really obvious track heading off to the right then somehow managed to miss it? Quite a bit of practising relating map to terrain but I had a 1:50000 with me and I think the 1:25000 would be better, mainly due to the 5m contour interval showing up a bit more of the few features.

Found some more new tracks for me then started heading back towards the car. I could have quite happily stayed out in the sunshine a lot longer but I was feeling a little peckish. So out past Holden's Farm back up to the access road, across to Two Lads then to the Pike all the while dodging ice. Cursed the cobbly track down from the Pike then headed to the top of the ICR. For reasons best known to myself tried to take the riding line right down the rubble, eventually got up onto the smooth track when I dinged my ankle off about the third rock.

Back to the car and it seemed the world and its wife had now arrived as the car park was rammed. A good afternoon of fresh air and sunshine. 10.93 slow and steady but immensly enjoyable miles, about 2:14 of running and an hour of faff/navigation etc on top of that. A bit further and longer than I had planned to be out but such a beautiful day.

Running Intervals and Some Outdoor Cycling Miles

Thursday last week saw me reintroduce some running speedwork, all various leg niggles I've had this month from various falling overs seemed to have gone so I had a go at some 400 metre efforts. 2 sets of 4 x 400 metres with 1 minute recoveries and 2 minutes between sets.

It went well, pacing was good and even and it was just the right amount of hard stuff. I've not done anything similar since the beginning of December and I had forgotten the puzzled looks you get when you zoom past people only to stop and jog back towards them then zoom past again. Good for upsetting little dogs on extend-a-leads it would seem.

Friday had a decent forecast so I took the opportunity to ride into work, good steady riding both ways and it was daylight enough to switch my lights off well before I got to work. More importantly I managed to do six miles homeward without switching them on either which did cheer me up.