Nine Minute Miles: Smashed

Today I ran around a local waterway, Clowbridge Reservoir, and by god I smashed the time, beating nine minute miles. Granted, this is only a two mile run but since I am building again after injury – getting good distance hopefully quicker than last time – I am putting this one in the win column. Hell, I kicked the ass out of my previous best by a minute per mile. I can only presume my whole plant diet is powering this because I barely feel at all tired after legging it as fast as I can for 18 minutes. If not then god knows where this is coming from, but I am not complaining.

Is it possible that I could get below eight minute miles? At any distance that would be thrilling for me. I guess I can only watch my data and see where this goes.

Strava

Achievement Unlocked, Electric Boogaloo: Bonk! Bonus: Fastest Mile.

Today I bonked for the first time running, plus I hit my fastest mile yet at 10:29. I pushed my run up to 3.5 miles and at around 2.5 I bonked and took a few minutes to rest and push through it. I think that this was caused by me running whilst recovering from a sore stomach. Normally I would have waited but thanks to storms Ciara and Dennis I haven’t exercised for almost a week so I pushed myself. As I work to run farther, faster I am going to hit things like the bonk as well as other challenges so I am glad that I went through it today.

Garmin Data

Mile Splits

Pace Graph

Heart Rate Graph

Cadence Graph

Elevation Graph

Heart Rate Zones

This is all positive. I ran a very even cadence, and spent almost the whole run in heart rate zone four, a fat burning zone. Additionally my resting heart rate is still falling, it clocked in at 47 yesterday. This can be normal variation of course but the trend is downward which is perfect. Data is definitely useful to me now. For ages I was only ever interested in times and maps, but these graphs are interesting. Most of the troughs are points where I had to stop or slow right down on muddy terrain or avoiding giant puddles and suchlike. It is also great to identify trends and to see everything going in the right direction is good for the future.

Achievement Unlocked: Three Mile Personal Best. Corollary: I HATE RUNTASTIC.

Today I excitedly donned my running shoes after a week in the sickhouse (cold, snivels, fever etc) and prepared to leg it three miles, knowing that after a week of total rest I could potentially hit a personal best. I duly did so with a time of 24:33 (8:11 minute miles), but Runtastic has royally arsed up my statistics. I had to briefly nip somewhere during my run, at 2:83 miles as it happens, and I paused my Apple Watch with Runtastic on 24:02 minutes. Five minutes later, whilst still paused, Runtastic resumed my run on a time of 37:02. I have no idea why, how, or indeed what the sodding hell is going on with this frigging app but I am done with it. I am almost saved up for a Garmin watch now, so I will persevere with Runtastic for the next week or two before I drop it like a stone the day I get my a new watch. I have simply had enough of this useless app and the Apple Watch. It’s a combination that is fine for leisure joggers but if you’re serious about running and want to make serious gains then get some serious kit. I learned long ago through cycling and swimming that the gold standard for mapping, logging and suchlike is Garmin and I wish I had listened to myself. I also ended a personal best over three miles on a calorie burn of 230 – I think not, and my run was logged as a walk. More inaccuracies from Runtastic. Idiots.

Anyway. Today’s run. I made a few calculations and deduced my real time but god knows what my true calorie burn and heart rate was. It felt great, and had I known that I was doing so well I would have pushed harder to break eight minute miles. Still, we live and learn. I’ll get it next time. All I can say is that on a day when I should be feeling pleased with my little self for hitting another milestone, all I can think about is the fact that RUNTASTIC SUCKS THE SWEAT OFF A DEAD MAN’S BALLS.

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 24:33 minutes
  • 8:11 minute miles
  • 463 calories (manually calculated)
  • Heart rate: god only knows

Achievement Unlocked: 3 Mile Personal Best

Today I hit 8:28 minute miles over a three mile run, shaving ten seconds off my previous personal best. My distance and trail running feels as though it has hit a natural pause and so I have spent my last few runs targeting a higher speed and better performance. Today I harboured the lofty ambition of getting below eight minute miles but that would have been a remarkable performance. Right now I am aiming to get to a suitable racing weight which is, as it usually is, frustrating because it always takes longer than one wishes, and as an ectomorph the weight arrives at my waistline first and leaves there last. Of course, progress is progress and ten seconds is a huge amount to take off one’s time.

I’ve no idea what weight I should be. Right now I fluctuate between 14.5 and 15 stones which is probably too heavy, even for a pretty broad-shouldered six footer. I would imagine that around 13 stones is ideal but I have to account for the results of spending the last year weightlifting, which will gradually reduce over time. I’m never going to be one of the 9 stone midgets who are the best distance runners, I am just aiming to shed the remaining excess weight right now. What is remarkable about it is that to look at me you cant see very much to lose, but I can feel it there. It is shrinking owing to my diet. I have slacked off this week on that front, but again, much like exercise you lull, you plateau, you rest and then you go again. I doubt that even the Olympians among us ever run down weight on either a natural curve, or, more dangerously, tip it all off a cliff quickly. It takes time, persistence and usually pushing through mistakes and off weeks. I should clarify that by slacking off I mean I might have a couple of days where I eat bread or something like that. I am fortunate in not having a sweet tooth and I don’t drink alcohol (and haven’t done for years) so for me resisting chocolate is not the existential struggle it is for my partner! As an aside, I still to this day, in the twilight of my thirties, cannot understand the female-chocolate relationship. Every woman I ever met is like a heroin addict with the stuff – what’s that all about?

Anyway, here goes the usual info…

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 25:30 minutes
  • 8:28 minute miles
  • 464 calories burned
  • 59 feet climbed
  • 158 bpm average heart rate

Achievement Unlocked: Sub Nine Minute Miles

What a run today! As I did two hikes of fairly intense difficulty over the weekend, including a very steep climb in excess of 600 feet, there was no way I was going a high distance this morning, so I aimed for three miles and treated this as a recovery day. I absolutely legged it as fast as I possibly could, clocking in at my best miles time to date. I highly doubt that I will be able to replicate these times over my typical greater distances, but it is still a great achievement for me. It is a fresh, cold morning today as well so I figure that my muscles need a short recovery run and a good rest today.

Map and Data

  • 3.01 miles
  • 26:02 minutes
  • 465 calories burned
  • 59 feet climbed
  • Average heart rate 148 bpm

Achievement Unlocked: The Tolkien Trail ***Updated With Map***

Today was our second hike of the weekend and it was a cracker. Seven and a half miles of hard slog that means out children collapsed into bed this evening, falling asleep practically immediately. As a parent I find this as satisfying as can be. The hike today was The Tolkien Trail. It took us through the countryside surrounding Hurst Green, and at one point near to Stonyhurst College, a very expensive public school where J.R.R. Tolkien often visited and stayed, and against which I played football and cricket at school, beating them regularly. I was particularly reminded of one occasion when we played cricket against them and they waltzed up to us and announced in their toff tones that they would ‘bowl us out’. We won the toss and promptly smashed them all over the park, clocking up over a hundred runs in thirty overs, eventually embarrassing them and winning by a huge margin (for a schoolboy match). Those happy memories came flooding back to me today and brought a smile to my face. No doubt those boys went on to have the last laugh, however, as they and their fee paying school would have opened up a world of opportunities, both personal and professional, the likes of which were absolutely off limits to a working class kid like me who hailed from one of the poorest towns in Britain.

Photographs

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Anyway, my navel-gazing nostalgia aside, today we had a good hike, only getting lost once. This trail takes you through fields riddled with cow dung, farmland, forests and villages, all of which were beautiful. There is very little climbing to do on this, save for a couple of particularly steep but short forest paths that are, thankfully, stepped. The toughest thing is following the trail as some of it is nondescript farmland with very little in the way of landmarks, so getting one’s bearings can be challenging. I recommend this trail to anyone with a bit of stamina. Despite being relatively short it can be a hard slog in parts. If it has rained recently then you are going to sink in mud and cow dung. It is worth it for the fresh air and the stunning natural beauty.

Data

Rather irritatingly Runtastic isn’t exporting GPX files again, seemingly a website glitch so I can only give data for this one.

  • 7.67 miles
  • 2:19:23
  • 947 calories
  • 535 feet climbed

A grand day out, a great weekend spent hiking in the countryside and a lovely finish to our activities for the week. Happy children, satisfied parents, and a tired but active and, hopefully by tomorrow, well-rested family. Back to work/school tomorrow.

***Update: Map Added***

Achievement Unlocked: Sub-Ten Minute Miles

Another day, another run, another milestone passed. I am currently focusing on improving every aspect of my running. My last run was a great feelgood moment as I learned that my flat course running is a lot faster than I had previously suspected. Today I have broken a speed barrier, pushing through the ten minute mile frontier. This was a conscious effort on my part, not just for the significance of the time itself, but also in an attempt to drive up my heart rate during runs. It is a rather cruel irony that the fitter one becomes and the more fat one burns, the harder it becomes to get even fitter and burn even more fat. Such is the way of things. As one’s metabolism accelerates the body requires more effort to work up a sweat and do serious exercise. Of course, the pay off here is that it also means one is capable of more and more over time. I have observed this over the last fifteen years or so with cycling. I am capable of cycling miles and miles without feeling serious fatigue and my endurance is such that cycling 100 miles is not exactly a huge challenge. When it comes to running I do feel some supplementary benefit as a result of my prowess on two wheels but in this new arena I am largely a beginner.

In making a concerted effort to up my pace and heart rate I learned again that the limits I previously felt by virtue of my body signalling to take it easy were simply illusory. The body is all about economy so far as I can tell, stretching out the calories one has for as great a length of time and effort as possible. I make no claim to expert knowledge here, rather it just seems intuitive that a hunter/gatherer species would be built that way via the marvels of evolution.

Data

Rather irritatingly I can’t download GPX files from Runtastic at the moment so data is all I have today.

  • 5.04 miles
  • 49:49
  • 9.52 minute miles
  • 804 calories
  • 230 feet climbed
  • 130 bpm average heart rate

For what its worth I am surprised at my progress in running. I have never been a strong or fast runner, nor have I particularly enjoyed that much in the past. It has been a pleasant surprise to get this far.

Achievement Unlocked: Bonked!

Tonight I experienced what I think was my first ever bonk. Or perhaps not since this morning I awoke with a cold so it may have been that, however I am going with the bonk because it passed as soon as I rested and ate something. Sadly I had to curtail my run as I felt extremely sick and that was annoying because I was halfway through a twelve mile circuit, feeling good, and I had made good time on the outward, uphill section. I feel cheated, and now, as I am unwell, I am going to have at least a weeks’ worth of setback to sit around and silk about so I am going to lose momentum. This always happens whenever I start to get somewhere. I either get fresher’s flu or the annual bug that the kids bring home from school. It drives me absolutely barmy, but it cannot be helped so I simply must take it on the chin and be ready to go again once I am well. It also crushes my hopes of making the fabled run home from university a reality. Of course, the flipside of that is that such a setback only serves to strengthen my resolve. I have been pushing this year to hit twenty miles as a regular big run and I was hoping to hit marathon distances and beyond in 2017. Ultrarunning is always at the back of my mind and I would love to do it.

Map

So what was twelve miles became slightly under seven instead. Oh well, here commences the road to recovery and improvement. On this, the outward section I hit roughly twelve minute miles (my Apple Watch once again did not pause during stops when I peed or tipped tones out of my shoe) which means that the downhill would have averaged things out to a pretty fast time. This is so frustrating as once again I had pushed my body through a wall to beat the fatigue of hill climbing. I was flying, pumped with energy and then suddenly I was sick.

Still, as the saying goes, I shall KEEP BUGGERING ON! 

Achievement Unlocked: 15 Miles! Sidebar: I need a Garmin Watch

One 15 mile run in the bag, thank you very much! The last two miles of this run were a hard, hard, HARD slog! Such sentiment is to be expected from any run that pushes the boundaries I suppose, but it still made me grunt ever so slightly. The last half mile in particular required my bullheaded determination to be at its zenith. The Interesting thing about this run is that I had to actually run to another town just to run a course of sufficient distance. Were I to do this in my home town then I would end up doing laps and I find that concept depressing. Who the hell wants to run around in circles? On Wednesday I am hoping to hit 20 miles by travelling home from university by running. If 15 hurt then 20 will flatten me! Of course, doing so requires me to recover well from today’s exertion.

Map

Distace: 15.01 miles

Time: 3:01:54

Calories: 2615

This clocks in at just over 12 minute miles which is better than I expected. I imagine I could be faster on a flat course, but as I have said before, up north it is hilly to say the least. I climbed 1420 feet which is rather a lot, and the first three miles of this run has 4 steep climbs and the outward half is the uphill one, so this route will definitely wake you up should you decide to take it on!

I also discovered that my Apple Watch ran down to 26% battery over the course of a 3 hour run, making it useless for a marathon and a joke for ultrarunning (I do harbour ambitions for the ultra scene) so I know now that I will have to get myself a Garmin running watch.

I am now going to go and vomit, and then cry myself to sleep…

Achievement Unlocked: HALF MARATHON!

I finally did it! I cracked half marathon distance running! WOOHOO!

I had to recruit my good friend John to run along with me in order to have the patience and mental staying power to do it. I would have just gone home at eleven miles rather than running past my house, down the hill and back up again to complete the thirteen.

Map

I completed 13.07 miles in 2:19:55. The last mile was psychologically very difficult, mainly because I was so close to home and therefore it would have been simple to just stop and use the last mile as a walking warm down. Still, I didn’t give up and I managed to push on through that barrier. In my experience it is always hardest to break through significant markers the first time. I consider this just another step on my road to a marathon.

I am proud of my efforts today and the sunshine was lovely too, so I am hoping that my future performances will improve in tandem with the weather.