Category Archives: Turbo trainer

Turbo, gym, pink pigeons, a terrific women’s cycle race, Chris Froome (and some more cricket)

Women’s Tour of Britain coming through Faringdon. It was ultimately won by Lizzie Deignan, 9 months after having a daughter. Magnificent.

An almost decent week of getting back into some sort of training rhythm.

On Monday it was the turbo for 22.2 km in 45 minutes @ 29.6kph (13.8 miles @ 18.4mph) and on Tuesday an hour in the gym (various weights machines for the legs, front and side planks, 110 sit-ups, some chest presses, bicep curls and a lot of stretching).

Wednesday saw the Women’s Tour of Britain cycle race come through Faringdon, our nearest town so I went to support that – and the incredible efforts of some of the cycle group to decorate the town pink. Pink pigeons is a Faringdon ‘thing’ after Lord Berners – Faringdon’s eccentric aristocrat – used to have the pigeons at his house in the town dyed pastel colours in the middle of the last century. There were about 50 bikes put about the town, all pimped pink.

A second hour in the gym on Thursday before heading off to Southampton to stay with one of my brothers-in-law in order to go to the cricket on Friday. I was lucky that I was going with my brother-in-law as otherwise my absence on our 32nd wedding anniversary would have been rather frowned upon.

In keeping with my life’s work of bringing cricket to the corners of the world that hasn’t yet reached, after I watched them win their first world cup game, England batted and bowled reasonably in their second match – but fielded poorly and managed to lose to Pakistan (who they had just beaten 4-0 in a pre-tournament series). Back to winning ways in match three against Bangladesh and then (the match I was at in Southampton) winning surprisingly easily against the West Indies. Whisper it, but qualification for the semi-finals looks possible, with New Zealand, Australia and India also looking good so far.

I stayed over on Friday night too and then back home via Bournemouth (still managing to resist a run while I rest the Achilles’ and torn calf) to collect the bed linen and towels used by the friends who had used the house the previous week. Yet more glitz and glamour to my lifestyle.

Turbo again on Saturday evening – 15.64km in 30 minutes (19.4mph average). Hard, hard, hard.

…. and above everything else, my very best wishes to Chris Froome for a swift and full recovery from the severe injuries (a fracture to his neck, a fractured right femur, elbow and ribs, plus a broken hip) he suffered as a result of his terrible crash on Wednesday.

It’s a good reminder that this cycling lark can be dangerous – stay safe folks.

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A lesson learnt (and quickly forgotten)

Back to the turbo

I am not a gardener. I lack skill and knowledge and I’m too impatient to get the right tools, or a decent pair of gloves. I go at it like a madman, I’m exhausted in 2 hours, and that’s me finished.

A proper gardener rarely seems to move very quickly but, equally, rarely seems to stop moving. It’s all about pacing I guess – not entirely unlike any other form of exercise – for me, cycling and running in particular.

As I sat on Wednesday afternoon, bathed in sweat and with hands and arms tingling unpleasantly from brambles and stinging nettles, I learned the lesson for the thousandth time (knowing I will also forget it for the thousandth time).

I proved myself correct that evening. With my wife in London for a Dior exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum, I moved the turbo trainer to another room and went for a gentle 30 minute session to ease myself back into it, having not used it since February.

It was very hot but, stupidly, I carried on for 45 minutes in a pool of sweat at an average 29.3kph (18.2mph).

Of course, I paid for it on Thursday at the gym – the 500m rowing was really tough and I was slower by 4 seconds and it was all hard work.

The good weather seemed to break on Friday but we drove down to Bournemouth in the evening to miss potential weekend traffic. We spent the weekend working on the house as friends are using it next week.

Of course, staying down there usually means running – but in a rare outbreak of common sense I resisted as it’s only 2 weeks since I tore my calf muscle and the Achilles tendons are still not playing nicely.

Back to the turbo trainer (nearly) and, for something completely different, cricket

The Pavilion at The Oval cricket ground, South London

One of the (many) things I’m bad at is taking time to recover from illness or injury. Partly it’s just that I like exercise but it’s also fear that delay means I won’t be ready for the next challenge, whatever that might be.

Of course, that’s daft. Fretting about it won’t help and training too soon is likely to be entirely counter-productive and actually slow down the whole process.

Admittedly, having torn the right calf on Saturday, cycling on Sunday and going for two long walks (two long limps) over the weekend might not have been wise but the ride was short and gentle and I don’t get the chance to walk with both of our sons too often so I wasn’t going to turn those down.

Since then I’ve tried to be better. It was Bournemouth on Wednesday (no running) and from there straight to London in the evening to be ready to go to the cricket on Thursday.

Apologies to those in parts of the world that don’t have any knowledge of cricket (and to the millions who do know about it but still don’t like or understand it) – but I really like it. How can you not admire a game that can finish without any positive result at the end of 5 days of play?

This was the first game of the Cricket World Cup – a tournament of one day games, each of just 50 overs per side, meaning a match with a playing time of a mere 7 hours or so. This opening match was England v South Africa. Purists might look down on one day cricket as ‘cricket for those who don’t like cricket’ but it’s hard to know where the game would be without its shorter forms of as they are the main draws of big crowds.

Following England in just about any sport is an agony of optimism, disappointment and frustration. This time it is possibly worse than usual because of high expectations, England being the favourites for the tournament.

We batted first and posted a very decent, but not unbeatable, 311 runs for the loss of 8 wickets. The South Africans were in the hunt for the first half of their reply but faded in the face of some brilliant English fielding and catching, and were all out for 207. A very good day and a very good result against the side ranked 3rd in the world in one day cricket.

Perhaps above all else, we avoided the three words that strike despair into the heart of cricket fans – “Rain Stopped Play”.

By Friday the calf was feeling better and the Achilles seemed to be improving slowly so I was thinking I would get on the turbo trainer for the first time since early March. However, as the bike on the turbo has clipless pedals it would have meant a good deal of calf involvement – so I thought better of it. Signs of common sense, perhaps.

I don’t really understand why I’ve done so little cycling for such a long time. It was logical while I was marathon training but why so little since? I hope I haven’t fallen out of love with it.

We are visiting different friends for lunch on Saturday and Sunday which will mean a full 8 days after hurting the calf without any significant exercise. Is next week the one I start to get my act together?

Marathon training 19/20: Run, walk, run, run, run. Well into the taper and neurosis sets in.

The Thames, not looking its best on a cool and dull Sunday morning, from the Thames Path near Craven Cottage (the home of Fulham Football Club). Hammersmith Bridge in the background. By the light blue bibs they were wearing, I’m wondering if the rowing 8 were one of the Cambridge ladies’ crews practising for next week’s boat race.

My marathon entry confirmation has arrived and will get me my bib. Eerily, I entered from here in Oxfordshire, my son signed up from London – and our start numbers are within 5 of each other.

On Monday I did the long slow run from week 18 that I couldn’t get myself motivated for the previous day. I did 13.22m (21.3km). That’s the last training run over 10 miles. It was OK and felt quicker but it wasn’t much faster and was still too slow to suggest that I can go sub-4 hours.

The week 19 runs ware 3×3 miles and an 8 miler. It all seemed quite appealing and easy but I woke on Tuesday with painful Achilles tendons and some tightness in the calf muscles (I wonder if that’s a cause of the Achilles issue or a result of it?).

Does that mean I should stop now to avoid making it worse for the marathon itself? Based on previous experience I don’t need to do that but I’ll keep it up my sleeve as a last resort if they don’t get better. Yet more stretching needed, I guess.

I spent the morning hobbling around at a local infant school helping to run a ‘balanceability’ session. That’s starting to ride on bikes with no pedals, which is the new method of learning to ride properly – steady wheels are very outdated, apparently. The children were 3 year-olds, and it was good fun as they enjoyed it so much and put such effort into it. My wife and I walked for an hour in the afternoon in very pleasant early spring sunshine.

I did the final long run on Wednesday afternoon – my normal 8 miler. To my surprise, I managed my best time (just one sec/km inside sub 4hour pace) which is encouraging – but I had to push pretty hard to do it and it was just less than one third marathon distance.

I read that a key difference in running as you get older is a shortening stride length – I guess that’s down to the strength and spring in pushing off the ground. Any spring I might have ever had has certainly sprung.

Thursday I did 3.3miles (5.3km) at a very similar pace – wearing lycra shorts and no compression top beneath the running shirt … for the first time in the whole of the training! I did the same run on Friday, 11 sec/km faster (although the Garmin recorded it as being further so that might account for some of the apparent speed).

The main problem now is neurosis about even the slightest twinge while running. I’m sure that I’m not alone in having a broad range of pains (knees, feet, ankles, quads, thighs, calves, hips, etc) that come and go whenever I run. Normally I ignore them but now I find myself wondering which of them will develop into something serious that stops me running in the marathon.

Time to get a grip.

We went up to London on Friday afternoon for three social meals over the weekend. I ran along the Thames Path Sunday morning which was delightful – 6.7km (4 miles) @5.27 per km. It had turned cool again after a warmer end to the week but I ran with a short sleeved top for the first time in all the marathon training over the last 6 months.

A bit more food discipline this week and I managed to get down from a post New York high of 68.5kg. Weight isn’t the most important factor now but every little helps. The week ended with me around 67kg (about 148 pounds).

I’ve rejigged the mileage chart from the previous post to put Monday’s run into week 18, where it should have been – it’s only one day’s difference but looks more sensible in relation to the taper.

At the start of the week I (foolishly) looked at weather forecasts for Rotterdam for the marathon. It did not look very good: fairly cold and quite possibly wet, with a stiff breeze. One forecast even mentioned snow. By the end of the week the consensus was for slightly milder weather and a reduced possibility of rain. Oh well, plenty of time for that to change again (for better or worse).

Looking on the bright side, at least my lack of warm weather training isn’t going to be an issue.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16m  (26km) 10m  (16 km) 2:00
2 19m  (30km) 13m  (22km) 2:00
3 21m  (33.km) 66m (106km) 1:00
4 22m (36km) 14m (22km) 1:00
5 24m (39km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13m (21km)    
7 26m (41km) 63m (101km) 3:00
8 14m (24km) 13m (21km) 7:00
9 (Skiing) 16m (25km)   12:00
10 (Skiing)     12:00
11 (Skiing) 7m (11km)   6:00
12 34m  (55km) 35m (56km) 1:00
13 38m (60km) 14m (22km) 1:00
14 38m (60km) 30m (48km) 1:00
15 39m (63km) 14m (22.km)  
16 42m (67km) 10m (16km) 1:00
17 33m (53km) 9m (15km)  
18 (New York) 20m (31.2km)   4:00
19 19m (30km)   1:00
‘Running’ totals 440m (707km)   290m (466km)   56:00

Marathon training 17/20: run, run, turbo, run. Blown away (sadly, by the wind and not the quality of the running).

Some signs of spring but it’s still fairly chilly and very windy

Week 17 of the 20 week training plan started cool and windy – a bit of a theme developing here over the last week or so.

Happily, I’m into the taper after last week’s 21 mile run, the longest long run of the training plan. The three runs this week (excluding the speed work session) are 15, and 2×5. Based on an almost complete lack of knowledge, it feels a bit too early to taper quite so much so I’ll do more than that this week and taper afterwards. The upshot was that, on Monday, I went for the required 15 miler.

The recent training theme has been that my endurance is not too bad (for an old bloke) but the speed is a problem. I started this process thinking that a sensible paced run/jog would get me round in 4 hours and the training would be all about maintaining that speed – but my sensible run/jog speed is nowhere near as fast as it was 20 years ago when I ran my only two marathons.

The result is that I plan to dedicate the last four weeks of training to trying to get faster. That means I tried to push on for Monday’s run – even though it was a ‘long slow run’ I hoped not to make it quite as slow as most i’ve done in the programme to date. It felt very hard but turned out to be 16.3 miles at just over 6 min/km which is faster than recent long runs (but still not fast enough!).

Being a wimp, I’m still running in a long sleeved top over a compression top and running tights. As yet, no tried and tested plan for kit to wear if it’s hot for the marathon itself – and long runs to test it out on are now in short supply.

On Tuesday I drove down to Bournemouth to re-erect a fence panel that had blown down in the weekend’s gales. More of a bodge than a repair as I discovered two rotted fence posts that will need some concrete breaking up to be replaced. Oh the joys of property ownership!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Wednesday was cool and very windy. I forced myself out for another in the recent string of ‘I don’t really want to do this’ runs. I managed the normal 8 miler a little slower than recently but I’m hoping that the real benefit was getting the running shoes on and getting out of the door.

After a hard 15.4km (9.5miles) in 30 minutes on the turbo on Thursday it was back out for the 8 miler on Friday.

It was another reluctant run, owing more to obligation than enthusiasm in the now regular high wind but with a bit of drizzle to liven things up. Much to my surprise, I did my best recorded pace for the route – just 4 seconds per km outside 4 hour marathon pace – even though I’ve once done the identical run slightly faster when the Garmin recorded it as being 0.1 mile shorter.

That leaves me generally confused – the auspices were not good today and I’ve done slower runs that felt faster. I’ll just accept it for what it is – 33 miles (53km) in the week against a plan requirement of 25. I’ve also clicked through the 400 mile mark since the start of the plan back in November.

It’s going in the right direction but there’s a very long way to go for me to have any hope of a 4 hour run in Rotterdam. I’ve read that a good taper can take 5-10 minutes off the run itself – I fear that I need four or five good tapers.

That’s it for the week except for a long walk tomorrow.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16m  (26km) 10m  (16 km) 2:00
2 19m  (30km) 13m  (22km) 2:00
3 21m  (33.km) 66m (106km) 1:00
4 22m  (36km) 14m (22km) 1:00
5 24m (39km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13m (21km)    
7 26m (41km) 63m (101km) 3:00
8 14m (24km) 13m (21km) 7:00
9 (Skiing) 16m (25km)   12:00
10 (Skiing)     12:00
11 (Skiing) 7m (11km)   6:00
12 34m  (55km) 35m (56km) 1:00
13 38m (60km) 14m (22km) 1:00
14 38m (60km) 30m (48km) 1:00
15 39m (63km) 14m (22.km)  
16 42m (67km) 10m (16km) 1:00
17 33m (53km) 9m (15km)  
‘Running’ totals 402m  (646km)   290m (466km)   50:00

Marathon training 16/20: run, run, gym/run, turbo, run. The training, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

Another four times along here this week, watering the verge with my sweat

At 21 miles, this week’s long slow run was the longest in the training plan. After a rest day on Sunday I couldn’t resist tackling it on Monday, just for the relief of getting it out of the way early.

Unfortunately, it was pretty chilly and windy (around 30mph) – and the road I’d chosen to drive out to was fairly straight and almost perfectly aligned with the wind.

I thought about calling a halt to the whole thing the first time I turned into the wind and almost came to a shuddering stop. I carried on in the hope it would improve. It didn’t. I remember thinking that the only way it was going to get worse would be if it rained. Five minutes later the wind strengthened, the temperature dropped and it began to rain.

If I’d been near the car I might have abandoned the run but (of course) I was at the furthest possible point from it. By the time I got to the car the rain had stopped – so I continued and made the best of it.

As Stephen Stills might say, ‘if you can’t be with the run you love, love the run you’re with’.

In the end I ran for 22.1 miles (35.5 km). Certainly not fast, but quicker than either of my 20 milers over the recent weeks. That was despite that fact that the 11 miles with the wind at my back were no compensation for the 11 miles of headwind.

Perhaps I should have carried on for another 4.1 miles and put a tick in the 2019 marathon box.

After feeling fairly stiff for the rest of Monday, I made Tuesday a rest day to be on the safe side. The plan was to run the regular 8 miler on Wednesday with the intention of seeing if I could increase my speed to get closer to 4 hour marathon pace.

It was chilly, the wind was still strong and rain was forecast but I got out anyway – and the rain started a minute later. In spite of everything, the run went quite well – the fastest of the five times I’ve run it, but still a little outside 4 hour pace.

Thursday marked exactly a month until the marathon. To celebrate, I decided to go to the gym for leg and core exercises and to run just 3 miles on the treadmill at a bit faster than 4 hour pace to see if muscle memory might kick in and ‘recalibrate’ the speed of my outdoor running. As usual, I don’t really know what I’m doing – but that’s not going to stop me doing it.

I ran for 5km (3.1m) in 27m 27sec – 11 seconds per km inside the target, but only for a short distance. I do not remember having to run that fast to get around sub 4 hours in the 1990’s.

It was half an hour on the turbo on Friday @31kph (19.3mph) – my first time over 30kph average with this turbo.

Saturday was windy again with gusts up to 40mph and I thought of postponing the last run of the week until the following day – but that was forecast to be worse. I like having Sunday as a rest day so I have the chance of doing the week’s long run on Monday to get it out of the way early – so it was out into the wind for the 8 miler.

I had hopes of running all the remaining runs at a faster pace – and despite the wind I did manage to shave another 2 seconds per km off Wednesday’s time.

So, that’s 4/5 of the way through the training plan. On one level I’m pleased that it’s coming to and end as (skiing and Christmas aside) I’ve trained 5 days a week now since mid November and I’m a bit weary – but on the other hand I’ll soon know how worthwhile it has all been.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16m  (26km) 10m  (16 km) 2:00
2 19m  (30km) 13m  (22km) 2:00
3 21m  (33.km) 66m (106km) 1:00
4 22m  (36km) 14m (22km) 1:00
5 24m (39km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13m (21km)    
7 26m (41km) 63m (101km) 3:00
8 14m (24km) 13m (21km) 7:00
9 (Skiing) 16m (25km)   12:00
10 (Skiing)     12:00
11 (Skiing) 7m (11km)   6:00
12 34m  (55km) 35m (56km) 1:00
13 38m (60km) 14m (22km) 1:00
14 38m (60km) 30m (48km) 1:00
15 39m (63km) 14m (22km)  
16 42m (67km) 10m (16km) 1:00
‘Running’ totals 369m  (593km)   281m (451km)   50:00

Marathon training week 15/20: run, turbo, run, run, run. Endurance OK. Speed a bit of a j(OK)e?

Not sure if this ’11’ is impressive or a bit sad and inadequate. Either way, this is not from the soles of my trainers (and I’m pleased they are not my tyres)

The week’s long run was supposed to be a half marathon race, with a target time of 1 hour 50. I couldn’t find a convenient race to enter and was sure I couldn’t run it that fast, even if I had.

I decided to do the run on Monday and drove out to a nearby back road that gives a fairly flat 5km. The aim was to do it out and back twice, plus a bit, leaving it to Strava to work out my best half marathon time.

As it was, I ran a little over the half marathon distance at 9m 40 sec/mile (6 min per km). I ran a slight negative split and had a best half marathon time of 2h 06m. I ran consistently, but consistently not fast enough. I didn’t do a single km at 4 hour marathon pace.

So, here is the question – is it just that I cannot judge speed, is it that I cannot motivate myself to push the pace when running alone – or am I simply unable to run fast enough? Would I have been able to go faster if I’d been following someone with a ‘4 hour pacer’ sign on their back? Hmmm …

I’ve missed out on speed training to protect the dodgy Achilles tendons – is it too late to introduce some (carefully) into the last 5 weeks of the programme?

I used the turbo for 45 minutes on Tuesday (13.9m – 22.31km) before we went to London and saw friends in the evening. I had a really enjoyable run on Wednesday morning, through Kensington Gardens, into Hyde Park and around the Serpentine lake, trying hard to run faster.

I did 11.85km (7.4m) at a whole 3 seconds per km faster than 4 hour marathon pace – quite pleasing, given the number of junctions and pedestrians to navigate on the way to and from the Parks.

After that, we took a trip to St Paul’s Cathedral to (successfully) track down the memorial to one of my wife’s ancestors (a personal physician to King George III). We also climbed the 528 steps to the highest publicly accessible part of the Cathedral – that must be worth something for the marathon training.

I ran with a friend on Friday morning and did a route of his. There is a danger that I end up running the same routes so the variety was welcome but this was along some slightly muddy and hilly tracks – 8.14miles (13.1km) at just over 6 min/km.

Alex came back for the weekend and we ran together on Saturday morning – by his phone app we did 17km at just under 6 minutes/km. Sadly, my Garmin recorded it as 16.25km (10.1miles). How can the two systems be different by nearly 5%? At least we agreed that it we ran a negative split.

Four runs in the week and nothing hurts too much. That’s it for the week – three quarters of the way through the training, gulp.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16m  (26km) 10m  (16 km) 2:00
2 19m  (30km) 13m  (22km) 2:00
3 21m  (33.km) 66m (106km) 1:00
4 22m (36km) 14m (22km) 1:00
5 24m (39km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13m (21km)    
7 26m (41km) 63m (101km) 3:00
8 14m (24km) 13m (21km) 7:00
9 (Skiing) 16m (25km)   12:00
10 (Skiing)     12:00
11 (Skiing) 7m (11km)   6:00
12 34m  (55km) 35m (56km) 1:00
13 38m (60km) 14m (22km) 1:00
14 38m (60km) 30m (48km) 1:00
15 39m (63km) 13.9m (22.31km)  
‘Running’ totals 327m (526km)   271m (435km)   49:00