Archive for the ‘PB’ Category

Ain’t nothing like a bit of competition:

ARSE Award

Me winning the A.R.S.E award for the handicap race in 2011 (Award for Runner's Season of Excellence)

If you follow me on twitter (and let’s face it, you should), you’ll probably have seen me pipe-up on Thursdays with something like,

“Another 11 secs off the (not quite) 5K PB today (paced round by the bull that is @RW_ed_Andy).”

…or…

“Paced to a 5K PB today by the determined Deputy Editor @runnersworlduk. Now down to 18:30 (18 seconds off last week). #shapeofmylife”

So what the hell am I talking about? Well, working for the UK’s #1 running title has its perks. Every Thursday, myself and a few colleagues do a little warm-up jog south of the river (London) to meet up with the team who organise the Virgin London Marathon. These guys, very kindly, run a 5K handicap race for us. Equipped with stopwatches and a spreadsheet, two guys will set 15+ runners off on a course around Central London.

The course, which actually works out at about 2.95 miles, crosses a fairly major road (twice) and is positively teaming with tourists. And the field is made up of all sorts of runners, with varying abilities (from just under half-an-hour to a chap who can do it in 14 minutes!). If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a handicap race, because the abilities of the competitors varies so much, the start of the race is staggered so that people end up finishing at roughly the same time. While this makes the timekeeper’s job hard, it makes for very entertaining racing (with a lot of gut-busting sprint finishes involved).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Speed Work:

My home for the last 4 months - The Mall

My home for the last 4 months - The Mall

I’m a pretty comfortable distance runner. When I start a long run or race, I know that I’ll be able to finish. But finishing in a reasonable time has always been a struggle for me. I’ve yet to hit a sub-4 marathon. Yes, I do struggle with nutrition, but I think that my drop in pace toward the tail end of a long race is largely down to the lack of one simple element in my training; hard work!

I’ll follow a training plan as far as mileage is concerned. And I’ll maybe occasionally do a hill session. But when I’m on my own, I’ll rarely do the actual fartlek or repetitive speed training that’s asked of me. So if there’s one thing I’ve done differently during my Virgin London Marathon 2011 training this year, it’s to incorporate a lot more speed sessions.

High intensity, speed training is the hardest part of training for a marathon (for me) by far. Running up and down a straight piece of road, or around a running track doesn’t hold much appeal at all. So in order for me to start training in this way I had to enlist the help of my work colleagues and join them on their Tuesday sprints session up and down the Mall at Buckingham Palace. Read the rest of this entry »

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4 tips on how to beat your PB:

Post by Dan Worth

Beating your personal best

Okay, so you’re a competent runner. You’re a 10km pro, perhaps have a few half marathons under you’re belt, and maybe even a marathon and, towards the end you’re usually overtaking – and that makes you feel good. But, when the time comes up after the race, there’s a nagging doubt that perhaps you could be doing better. But how? How can you shave off a few minutes here, some precious seconds there, and start to improve those times? Well, thankfully, here are some tips to help you smash that PB:

  1. Race everything

    You see that other runner plodding along 60 meters away? Yeah? She’s going to win £1,000 instead of you unless you catch her in two minutes. Oh and that tree blowing innocently in the wind? It’s going to fall on you unless you’re past it in under 45 seconds. Basically: find motivation, whatever it is, to make yourself run faster than you need to. Overtake other runners, see how long you can stay ahead of a cyclist coming up behind you, imagine a dog is about to attack you, and so on. Anything you can do to exert extra energy will help you reach a new level of fitness. And it’s fun too. This is essentially the Swedish running style known as Fartlek (Speed Play) and is a good way to have fun, and increase your speed, while out running.

  2. Push yourself

    Perhaps this will sound obvious but you’ve got to push yourself. This though, needn’t mean running like Usian Bolt and sweating more than Lee Evans, it just means easing yourself from a position of comfort while running to one of, well, a bit less comfort. Next time you find yourself ticking along nicely, gradually start to accelerate. Nothing major, but a slow, steady increase, so that after about 200 meters you’re doing a good speed. Now maintain that pace for about three minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable with, and then ease back down to a comfortable pace. Speeding up gradually and then easing back down will help to shift the boundary of your most comfortable running speed to one that’s slightly faster than before.

  3. Time yourself

    Investing in a good watch is a great way to go faster. Being able to accurately record how fast and how far you’re running while out and about provides you with a much better way of being able to assess your ability. And using the Fartlek running style (mentioned above) means you can put a specific speed and/or distance limit on each sprint you do – say, 0.4km at 4.30 minutes per km. Garmin, the most well-known brand, have watches that start at around £60 on Amazon and a little shopping around will help you see what seems best.

  4. Plan your race

    This is the time when you might feel like an obsessive runner. Pick a race that’s flat, on a smooth surface, and avoids laps. Have a good breakfast (and a banana) and make sure you’re there in plenty of time to warm up. The race itself is also something you need to plan. The first 3km could dash any hopes you have if you go too slow or get caught in a crowd, so get to a good position in the start and ensure you begin at the pace you’ve planned for. Through 3km to 8km, you want to find that rhythm you’ve built to in training and stick to it: this is where your fancy watch will come in handy, telling you your exact pace, and alerting you if you’re going to slowly, allowing you to pick up the pace before you fall too far behind. Then over the last two kilometers really push it home, using the adrenaline of the race environment, the knowledge you’re close to home, and the fact you’re about to smash your PB, to really shave off as many seconds, or indeed minutes, as you can. Hopefully, this will see you home in your best time yet; and there’s something intensely satisfying about that.

Only trouble is once… now you’ve set it you’ve got to break it again. Back out on the road you go…

Avoid laps...

Dan Worth writes  for a UK business/trade magazine company, across a range of their titles. He has also written articles for Runners World and The Guardian. You can find his blog at danielworth.blogspot.com. Dan ran the London Marathon in 2009, has a half marathon time of 1 hour 42 minutes and his 10k PB is 42:20.
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