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

Shaking Things Up – Time Over Distance – Bonus Content: Gout Can Eat my Ass and Balls

A brief summary of the key points in this post today:

  • I have gone over to the new Apple Watch, using the native workout app and Healthfit for syncing and export
  • I have recovered from another gout flare
  • I am tweaking my diet again
  • I have started running for speed
  • I have upgraded from Garmin Edge 1000 to the Edge 1030 sensor bundle for cycling

Details

So that list is quite a lot. Thankfully I have quite a lot to say so hopefully this will be a blog post of a kind most revelatory.

Apple Watch

I continually flirt with gear and currently I have left my Garmin Vivoactive HR aside and turned to the might of Apple with its Watch Series 6. I avoided Apple Watch for a while as the notifications are so annoying, however I have been able to turn most off so now it seems to be an option. Additionally, and I hate to sound shallow, but media functions matter to me. Running without a long form podcast or an audiobook is, for me, intolerable. Not only due to boredom but also I view it as a missed opportunity to work my brain whilst I exercise my body. Right now the best Garmin can do is sync media to its watches using a wired connection to a computer and I am sad to say that that is just not good enough. This is supposed to be cutting edge fitness and navigation technology. When Apple Watch will synchronise it all as I need, wirelessly whilst I sleep is Garmin really offering nothing better than a 25 year old method to get media to listen to? Plus, now that Apple has retired iTunes and separated music, podcasts and video I would have to wait for Garmin to update its sync software, to say nothing of the fact that the software that Audible provides for getting audiobooks onto devices looks like the ancient software I used to use when I owned a Palm PDA – now there is a retro tech reference for you.

It seems to me that for someone in my demographic Apple Watch is the best I can get, so I did. The options and apps available are superb and now that Healthfit (£3.99) will export everything I need and connect to Strava I have to say that I am sold on Apple Watch going forward. For massive day hikes such as the Yorkshire Three Peaks I have my Vivoactive HR ready to go but as an everyday device it is surpassed. Things can change in future as always, but that is my roadmap for the time being.

Health

Gout is garbage. I still curse my bad luck at being susceptible. Even my GP cannot believe it. A teetotal, outdoors-obsessed plant muncher should not be so unfortunate, but there we are. My body simply cannot process uric acid as efficiently as necessary and from time to time I will have to put up with this crap. This time I needed two courses of prednisolone to get rid of it, and be under no illusions about what a horrible drug that is. Naturally I have not done much exercise recently, until the last couple of days.

Diet

I am attempting to tweak my diet to see if I can get the drop on gout. The current view is to get my kidneys to flush – more efficiently – the uric acid, so I am consciously drinking even more water but also I am adding pomegranate juice and powder to my diet. Allegedly this can help. The science seems to suggest that free radicals are raised during a flare and pomegranate contains a powerful antioxidant that will counter this problem. I will also be creating a tincture out of which I will make a herbal infusion to drink daily.

Speed

Today I ran 2.5 miles, prioritising speed over distance for a change, and with relative ease ran my first and second fastest miles, and weirdly Strava said that, according to my heart rate, this was easier than usual, so I need to do some thinking on this front. I do remain convinced that my diet is affecting my performance massively however, and all for the better.

This is much faster than normal and I definitely felt I had more to give.

Cycling

I have upgraded my cycling computer to the Garmin Edge 1030 sensor bundle so I now have a cadence sensor, speed sensor and a heart rate strap. I plan to spend the next few weeks and blog posts going through the Garmin sensor metrics to which I now have access and see what I can do with it all to improve my performance. Stay tuned for that.

Tribute

Today is a day of sadness, and those who understand will appreciate a simple pictorial reference. Goodnight to the Mozart of the Electric Guitar.

Motivations and Milestones

Today I had a revelation. I ran this morning – hitting a sub ten minute mile incidentally – and found cause within myself to contemplate my motivations for doing so. I ran with a friend and she was discussing with me her absolute admiration for a lady at her gym who ‘has the most amazing body’. After a few minutes it became clear that this woman spends hours at the gym, exercising relentlessly, and eats with military precision. Good for her, and I do not think she is right or wrong. I do not care in fact. What I realised, however, is that very different reasons and motivations drive different people. I formulated an aphorism, which obviously is a rule with exceptions, however I am now convinced that, in the main, those who run in gyms are neurotic, whereas those who wish to run outdoors are ambitious.

Ultimately, whatever drives a person to run and exercise is their business and as long as they do not hurt themselves or others I see no problem. This did explain a great deal of the difference between I and my friend as well as our differing philosophies. She wishes to be thin at all costs. I wish to conquer as much of the world as I can before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Neuroticism versus ambition.

Today’s Run

Today I ran four miles, the first of which was the sub ten minute one – progress! I ran plenty of this on the trail and I have to say that right now it feels as though I am at the bottom of a significant curve of improvement and growth. Fingers crossed that my feelings are telling me the truth.

Strava

That is three days of cycling followed by three days of running. Given the time and distances involved now I will try to alternate.

Five Miles Broken

I do not know whether or not I mentioned it previously, but I am trying to run on the trail as much as I can. Running through a forest beats the roads every time for me. I feel as though I am immersed in nature. It is absolutely beautiful. I am very much an outdoorsman in that sense. Luckily, living in Lancashire in England means that trails and off road routes are literally everywhere in any direction.

Today I hit five miles, and despite both Garmin Connect and Strava recording my fastest mile at 10:31, my Garmin Vivoactive HR watch proclaimed that I had broken a record at 10:26. I have no idea what happened there, however I am assuming the longer time to be correct.

I am now bearing down on breaking through ten miles. I am sure at some point in the near future I will have to run on alternate days so as to recover effectively. My best ever distance is fifteen miles and I am determined to beat that – by the end of September hopefully.

How to go From Couch to 5K in Four Days. Bonus Level: Records Broken Also

After outlining my running ambitions previously I managed to get injured practically the next day. No good deed goes unpunished, right? I guess I asked for it really. Even more astounding is that the injury was in fact gout. That is right, a (then) almost, (now) completely teetotal, vegan, twenty five year + veteran cyclist, runner and swimmer received a diagnosis of gout. Unbelievable. I can only presume that it runs in the family because you do not get lower risk than me for gout, typically the disease of ale swilling, red meat guzzling, Henry VIII type bloaters. Ho hum, so it goes. I have beat it into retreat with careful diet management, dispensing with crap shoes, exercising and resting properly and so forth, and now I am back on the trail.

How I Did Couch to 5K in Four Days

As silly as it sounds, I just did it. I have noticed that, for me at least, when I take a break from running the first three or four stints back on the road are like dragging a sack of lead around. Only after I push through this do I start feeling the Afterglow of Champions (I just made that up but I am so trademarking it). The sense that, suddenly, out of nowhere, the agony of laborious effort is receding and suddenly I feel as though I can run a marathon. It is a great feeling and I appreciate it more and more with age as my body starts to need more work to maintain great health and performance.

The sequence is as folows:

    Day one: 2 miles
    Day two: 2.5 miles
    Day three: 3 miles (probably 5K)
    Day four: 3.5 miles (definitely 5K)

On the way I scored my fastest 5K and recorded several fastest miles, with my current best being 10:30, which is bang average really, but still an improvement. All of these runs were done in a fasted state. I am still fasting 16/8 and intend for that arrangement to be permanent. Right now my trousers are falling down as the weight is falling off me, and I am not fat at all, but I am shedding residual body fat so quickly that I need new clothes already.

I have to once again acknowledge the power of incremental change. Ever since I was a wee nipper I have known its power, as my mum stopped smoking when I was very young, and ran to the traffic lights on our road and back. Eventually she ran multiple marathons. It is that simple to me. Start where you can, go where you want, do a little bit more the next day. Small beginnings, no matter how insignificant they may seem in the moment, yield results you could never dream of because no matter how little you do, it is more than nothing.

Here in England the NHS is always pushing Couch to 5K as a great achievement, and for sure it is for anyone, but simply by pushing myself pretty gently in increments I am already there. At this rate hitting marathon distances by the end of the year seems trivial. Doubtlessly it will not be that simple, but it will not be that hard either, provided I give the effort that I know I can and I do not get injured. Combining this with a high protein, low GI diet I am making gains that seem remarkable but which are really just good outcomes based on the science.

My ambitions to run ultra distances are intact, as is my body and I am going to do it if it kills me. Remember folks, it does not matter who you were yesterday as long as you are better tomorrow. Past is prologue, the future is for gods!

Strava Data

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: Personal Best

Today’s trip to the pool was a big deal. Having achieved a swim of Iron Man distance I am now turning my attention to improving my times rather than logging ever longer workouts in the pool, and today I achieved two significant milestones. First of all I logged a personal best of 3000 metres in 59:33, and second of all this is my first 3000 metre swim to come in under an hour. I feel very pleased with myself indeed. I returned to swimming on February 3rd this year, meaning that I have gone from a swim of 600 metres divided into six drills of four laps to this in just over a month. I am also pleased to have pushed my average time per 100 metres to under two minutes at 1:59.

Data

3,000 m • 59:33 • 1:59 min/100 m • 30.2 100m/hour •

Source: Lap Swimming: Personal Best Achieved

This is a good day and a good feeling. I hope I can keep improving and driving those overall times and lap times down. Small victories are where it’s at. When pushing oneself to be better the margins are fine and the triumphs relatively small so it is important to acknowledge them when they are achieved.