Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon 2020

I was a sort of dreading the Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon this weekend… partly because I felt my training hadn’t been going too well – I’d missed a couple of long runs, then bonked (with not enough energy) on my last long run 6 days before the race… and I was a little nervous about how hard it would be on the day.

I’m pleased to say that I needn’t have worried. I’ve been running since 2008 and I’ve learned a lot – put simply, over the last 12 years I’ve learned how to push my body and heart to get the most from it to get the fastest time if I want to. I sort of forgot about my last half marathon race – the Glasgow Great Scottish Run at the end of September – and I also forgot that I got a time I was really pleased with for it – 1:45 or so…

Fit Girl drove me to the race about 8:15am… we saw a few rainbows over the empty roads which was nice.

Coronavirus and the uncertainty that might come is also probably at the back of my mind too. Hopefully it’ll all be ok. It seems we were lucky to get one of the last mass gatherings / races before things get more restricted / cancelled in coming weeks and months.

After the bonk on Tuesday last week, and the fact I wasn’t sure how I’d run… I decided I would take this half marathon race as it came. But I’d recovered ok by Wednesday So for the race on Sunday – no pressure – just run to how I felt and see what happened. I was careful to fuel properly and ran with a water pack, and I also had a coffee with my breakfast. Breakfast was Greek yoghurt, fruit and fibre, blueberries and milk.

I wore what I wore when I ran this race (and my first half marathon) for the first time in 2010… plus the waterpack and my mizuno flats.

With lots of wear on the soles, they were more or less on their way out, but I decided I’d wear them for one last race. I’ve run this race in 2010, 2011 (course pb), 2015 with Fit Girl and again this year. It’s a well organised race, a good number of runners and a good route. It’s more or less down hill for the first three miles – which I should have checked before I started this year!

The route has changed a bit in the last few years it seems, and the finish was at a different bit… but you run more or less on a cycle path from Balloch through Dumbarton and into Clydebank. There are some uphills, flats and downhills, but all in all it’s a good route.

Fit Girl dropped me off at the start about 10 minutes before the start – and I joined other runners to shelter from the rain in a bus shelter. It seemed like a competition to see how many runners you can get into a bus shelter – and with the rain, there was quite a lot of us. And there were also a couple of nice rainbows too.

Before we knew it, it was 9am and time for us to start. I didn’t hear much of a race brief, but then we were starting. It was still raining and seemed to keep raining for 4-5 miles and there was quite a bit of wind at the start too, but not too bad. There was a bit of a deep water section less than a mile in, but we’d been warned about it in an email by the race director, and we just needed to go single file past it.

After that I started to run alongside a runner from a Campbeltown club… we seemed to have the same pace and high cadence and it was good to be running with her. We didn’t talk until a bit further on, but perhaps we kept each other going. I spoke to a guy from a Portabello running club, and started to draft behind some other runners to help me (shhhh don’t tell them).

I felt like I was ticking along nicely, from the start and through miles 5 and 6…. then the weather brightened up and I started to feel a bit warm. I noticed my cadence was quite high which was good – 185 up… and my heart rate was ticking along around 165.

Around half way I noticed a female runner in yellow come up behind me and her cadence was even higher. I stuck with her for a bit, but my HR ended up going up to 170 so I pulled back a bit and let her go on – Anne from Airdrie Harriers.

Miles 7 and 8 I ran and spoke with Steven, up some hills and through and past Dumbarton. Up the hill, mile 9 and then running towards Clydebank. Around mile 10 I was still feeling strong but i felt a little niggle in my right quad…it was ok, but something to be aware of. My feet felt a bit sore, maybe time to retire these trainers after all. I’d taken a strong caffeine gel around 2 miles in and a standard one about 6 miles in and decided that would be enough.

With a couple of miles to go I was pleasantly surprised that it looked like I’d maybe get between 1:43 – 1:45 if I kept going. I chatted with another runner, a tall guy, joking that his long legs were an unfair advantage, before he used them to run away ahead of me. Running steady, I encouraged others as I passed them, and usually got an acknowledgement back.

I was checking my heart rate as I ran, and my Garmin was telling me what it was in my ears too. I’d put music on through my aftershokz for this run and it seemed to help. With about half a mile to go, I was at about 1:39 and if I kept going like I was I could maybe make 1:43 or 1:44.

A bit of a surprise as I thought I’d be closer to 1:50 or more. I kept pushing for the last bit, on a new part of the route I hadn’t run on…. then before I knew it my Garmin was at 13.1 and I stopped it at 1:44:02. The course went on a bit longer than my garmin and my chip time ended up being 1:44:25. That’ll do nicely.

I got my goodie bag, medal and T-shirt at the end and the legend that is Debbie Martin Consani took my pic when I asked her to. Afterwards I did a short walk back to Fit Girl’s car where I had a stretch and she looked after me. Home for a soak in the bath and some lunch.

All in all a good race and event and a good day. My legs are a little sore, and my neck for some reason (tense probably), but not too bad. I’m sure I’ll be recovered soon, especially if I get a good few sleeps in.

This time I was just 1 min and 2 seconds slower than my first time running the route 10 years ago… and my average HR was 10 beats lower, max was much lower. I’ve learned better how to push myself to my max and use my heart rate and technology to help me.

This is a run I’d fully recommend and maybe I’ll be back to do it next year. 🙂

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Wk11 into Wk12 and block 3

Last week was far from ideal training wise… … or put more plainly, I overdid it and under fuelled on Tuesday, and then I decided I’d be better taking rest than gyming it. I still ran three times, and will run a half marathon event on Sunday, so it’ll be 4 runs of about 36 miles.

After my bonk and mistake of not eating before a 2 hour run on Tuesday, I recovered well and had a good long sleep. By Wednesday I felt fine, but was cautious and took a rest day. Thursday was a much better run, with nicer weather and an easier effort than Tuesday.

Wk11 – 9 Mar
Mon: Rest
Tue: 13.1M run
Wed: Rest
Thu: 6.2M run
Fri: Rest
Sat: 3.3M run
Sun: BtoC half marathon

Then another rest day on Friday and a wee nice short run on Saturday with Fit Girl, before a wee day relaxing and eating. I also worked from home on Friday.

I have the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon on Sunday, and I’m grateful it’s not been cancelled. I’m not sure how it will go for me, but I plan to split it into 4 x 3 miles with a bit on the end: – 1st 3 miles HR 150-155
– 2nd 3 miles HR 155-160
– 3rd 3 miles HR 150-165
– 4th 3 miles HR 165
– last 1.1 miles HR whatever 165+

Here was my time from 10 years ago… I’ll likely be 10 minutes slower this time I expect.

Although my heart rate was very high then!

In relation to tomorrow’s race, Government guidelines are to cancel mass gatherings over 500 after Monday, so it looks like this race will maybe be one of the last for a while. It’s my 4th time doing it, and I’ll be wearing the tops I wore 10 years ago when I ran it for the first time.

I’m not going to comment on coronavirus, apart from to say I’m feeling fine and hopefully that will be the way going forward. I’m keeping up to date with the BBC News website and government guidelines, and also checking foreign travel information (and crossing my fingers).

I’ll be staying away from anyone who might be at risk and maybe working from home a bit more.

Asda was out of toilet roll and pasta, and cash too apparently. This might only be the beginning of the beginning, but I’m sure it’ll be ok.

Then next week, I plan to get back in the gym hopefully twice a week, and run three times, including a long run. My last 15 miler went very well, and I’m hoping it goes well – of course I’ll remember to fuel and hydrate better than I did on Tuesday too.

Wk12 – 16 Mar
Mon: Spin & Squat Strength
Tue: 6M
Wed: Spin & Deadlift Strength
Thu: Spw run 5x1200m
Fri: Spin & 5×5 PB strength
Sat: 15M
Sun: Holiday / Rest

Then if all goes well, we’ll have some time off work for a break, and these are my training plans for the remainder of the four week block:

Wk13 – 23 Mar
Mon: 4M (swim most days?)
Tue: Simple Strength
Wed: 5M
Thu: 4M
Fri: Simple Strength
Sat: 8-10M
Sun: Rest

Wk14 – 30 Mar
Mon: Rest
Tue: 8-10M
Wed: Spin & Clean n Press Strength
Thu: 5-7M / 8x800m?
Fri: Spin & Strength
Sat: Day 1 / Rest
Sun: 16M

Here’s my number for tomorrow’s race. Wish me luck. (I might need it!) 🤣

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The importance of fuelling for the long run

Here’s an honest post for you. Last weekend I was meant to do my long run, but for a few reasons I decided rest was more important and I delayed my long run until the following week. My first run of the week was on Tuesday – it was to be about 6 miles with Debbie from hers.
I felt a bit drained through the weekend and into Monday, so took three good rest day but felt I was ready for the long run on the Tuesday. The last long run I’d down was a good easy 15 miler a couple of Saturdays ago, and since it went so well I was confident in running 12-13 miles.

How wrong was I? From first off it started to go wrong. I was up for about 540am, and had a doubleshot iced coffee for the calories and the caffeine hit, but I conveniently forgot to have the banana if planned to eat.

I drank some water, and carried a water pack and two energy gels with me. I’d usually have a big bowl of cereal before a long run, to set me up. But I hoped that dinner the night before would do the trick. It didn’t.

The next bit going wrong was that I woke to find my garmin was uncharacteristically dead. I always keep it on charge, and I had 40 mins before I had to leave, so I gave it a boost of power that would eventually get it to last 10 miles / 1:30. (I had my Apple Watch anyway, which could track the distance if my garmin did die.)

Then as I was leaving I tried to connect my Aftershokz headphones to my Apple Watch for music and it wasn’t playing at all. I decided to ditch the music – I’d be running for about an hour with Debbie anyway, but it meant I wouldn’t get the verbal prompts from my garmin either (HR / pace etc). It meant I left a couple of minutes later than I wanted to, but I ran the 3.6 miles to Debbie in fine time. 31 mins.

I felt ok running, and it felt natural, but it felt a bit hard, maybe because of the weather – wind in my face and a bit of rain, plus the long road out and possibly as I was running a bit faster than I would normally. It was lighter at that time at last.

And for some reason I felt a bit of that thing in your throat when you hadn’t run for ages, the burning feeling as if you’re unfit. I’ve no idea where that came from, but it went away as the run went on. I was probably running too fast. I got to Debbie’s and had taken a caffeine gel… and was ready to run with her.

Then came 6-7 miles of a route Debbie chose, and there were a couple of times where I was trailing behind for some reason. Not like me. But again, it just felt a bit harder than normal. I clocked my heart rate up a bit higher than easy – around 162-165, but felt ok chatting. (It’s usually under 155-160 to be comfy).

I was trying to blame the weather and winter, but it was probably just me and my body not playing ball… and about 7 miles away from home, which I needed to get to. I had work to get to for about 930. I didn’t even look at the time as I knew I’d get there eventually.

I knew I had the experience and determination to get me home, and finish about 2 hours of running before the day started, but it all didn’t feel quite right. I had another gel. Then at around 10 miles in, I said goobye to Debbie and guessed I had between 3-4 miles to go.

I took a bit of a walk up Corkerhill Road as a reset.. and then my garmin died completely.

My Apple rematch was still ticking along. I gave myself a landmark / bus top to start running again by and I took it easy, one step at a time to get home. By about 2 miles to go I decided I would get to 13.1 miles and be close enough to home to walk the rest (a sour half a mile).

When I got home I had a shower and started my recovery. Some stretching, a big breakfast with some coffee. A walk to work and some water and a for goodness shakes milkshake (which took a while to get down). It was then I started to not feel quite right.

More water and then a big lunch of an omelette chips and beans. A coffee after lunch and a small mars bar… more water.

Then it hit me. The tiredness, the nausea… a million miles from what I’d been like after my 15 miler a few weeks ago (when in felt fine and even great after with no ill effects).

Then by about 4-5pm I felt totally hungover (remembering I haven’t had an alcoholic drink for over 10 years). I had drunk enough water on the run, and thought I’d eaten enough after the run, but my body wasn’t playing at all.

I got home and couldn’t face dinner. Then went to bed very early, around 7pm. I tried to sleep but felt so sick, then couldn’t sleep for a couple of hours but read to take my mind off feeling sick (I knew I couldn’t be sick). Then I got around 10 hours of sleep and finally felt a bit more human.

I was still a bit groggy, but the only thing I can think of is that I likely ran on empty for far too long in the morning and no amount of trying to replace the energy through the day was helping. My body needed to lie down and recover.

I’ve done this once before, when I ran 15 trail miles on hardly any food and I remember this was exactly how I felt – like the hangover from hell… I didn’t fuel but expected my body to perform. Duh.

Anyway, another run I have learned from. I usually eat to fuel and I didn’t fit it in before this long run.

I tried everything I could to recover, but there’s no getting away from my rookie mistake of not fuelling / eating breakfast before a 2 hour run. I burned about 1300 calories and my body must have been trying to stop me from about an hour in. Running on empty, is not a great idea.

Maybe it was worse because I had a full day of work after it (instead of a lazy Sunday), but either way, I’ll need to get better at this if I’m to train for a marathon to do at the start of June. That probably includes doing the majority of my long runs on a weekend morning, so I have time to fuel properly and time to recover better without impacting on work / life.

I’m going to take a rest day or two and see what happens next. You win some you lose some, and you’d have thought I’d know better by now, but sometimes you have a bad run, and usually they make all the good runs even better. Today a day later, I felt a lot better, maybe 95%… and the sleep and plenty food and hydration did me good.

Now that I’ve told that story of a sort of failure, here’s what I should have done:

– Eaten 200-400 calories of energy (a mixture of carbs and protein ideally) within the hour before running. Quite simple really.

My go to is fruit and fibre with greek yoghurt, blueberries and milk, but porridge and a banana is good too – a mixture of carbs and protein.

See more info / tips here – or quite simply, fuel before long runs!

Lesson learned (for the second time in 12 years running).

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Wk10 into Wk11

Last weeks training started off well, then I needed some rest at the weekend. I’d done three runs and 3 strength sessions and felt fine until Sunday, then day 1 of my cycle with a lot of cramps, and I needed to take it easy for a day or so.

Here’s what I did:

Wk10 – 2 Mar
Mon: Spin & Deadlift Strength
Tue: 5.2M run
Wed: Spin & Clean n Press Strength
Thu: 5.9M run / KB Strength
Fri: 3.3M easy run
Sat: Rest / Day 1
Sun: Rest / walk / gardening

So that was week 4 of my cycle and I felt good on it until I felt a bit drained at the weekend. I listened though and had a nap on Saturday and did some light bits / gardening and walking on Sunday, even though I had a 12 miler on the plan.

I felt pretty much the same on Monday, so decided I’d have a rest day and move my long run into Tuesday. And take some time out to get back on it. This cycle tracking seems to be working. This is me at the start of my third block and here’s what I’m planning next week. I should be in a good place to do the half marathon on Sunday.

Block 3:

Wk11 – 9 Mar
Mon: Rest
Tue: 12M easy
Wed: Spin & Squat Strength
Thu: 6M
Fri: Spin & Deadlift Strength
Sat: Rest
Sun: BtoC half marathon

I’ll maybe add in a short run one of the days too. Maybe a lunchtime one if I’m lucky / feeling it.

I need to get back to being more motivated to run when I’m not running with others, but I do stand by my decision not to run this weekend. Although marathon training won’t put up with me cancelling or postponing every long run. Hopefully Spring weather and lighter mornings will help motivate me too.

In other news, we got a nice new path, and I was out sweeping it and the drive all nice and clean yesterday and I put some food out for the birds so we should see and hear some more of them soon.

I thought I might be a wee bit sore from sweeping, but the strength training must be working, as I’m not! And it was quite a bit of sweeping – result!

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12M long run incl 3x2M Threshold

Tomorrow is my long run before the half marathon and I’m planning it to be a threshold / interval type run.

The weather looks a bit rainy and not too warm or too windy. Hopefully it’ll be just right for what could be a challenging long run.

The 12 miles will be split up as follows:

2 mile warm up
Then 3 x 2M Threahold (HR zone 4 – 159-166) with 1M recoveries Then 1 mile cool down

Wish me luck. 🙂

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1kg+ difference

Weighing in today and I’m back up at 140lbs or 10 stone again. At 5’6” that makes my BMI just about 22.5… just above the mid range of the BMI scale.

We know that BMI is a bit of an outdated measure, and the number on the scale alone isn’t always helpful… but what is helpful to me is the body composition numbers.

My withings scale shows I’m down about 1lb since the start of the year, but more importantly I’m down about 3.3lbs 1.5kg of body fat and up about 2.4lbs / 1kg of lean mass.

That’s likely the result of more exercise this week, including 2 runs and 3 strength sessions and plenty food but not too much. Sleep was really good too, with an average of 9 hours a night, up from a lower average a few weeks ago. It all adds up.

That’ll do nicely or three months in to 2020. And hopefully with me increasing my runs and continuing with 1-3 strength sessions a week it’ll continue.

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Wk9 into Wk10 Training

Last week my training was a little disturbed by travelling to London with work Wednesday Thursday, but I also had 4 good rest days. I only ran twice, but the long run was good and I felt fine after it.

I seem to have fuelled and hydrated well for it. And maybe my strength training is helping too. Here’s what I did:

Wk9 – 24 Feb
Mon: Rest
Tue: 5×5 PB Strength
Wed: Rest & Travel
Thu: 5.1M in London / Hyde Park
Fri: Rest
Sat: 14.7M easy
Sun: Rest

Last week I just did the 1 strength session, and this week I’m going to do at least 2. It’s my last week in my four week cycle so I should be taking it easy if I need to. Fingers crossed I’ll keep feeling as strong as I have to do the following training this week.

Wk10 – 2 Mar
Mon: Spin & Deadlift Strength
Tue: 5.2M run
Wed: Spin & Clean n Press Strength
Thu: 7M run
Fri: 3x1600m
Sat: Rest / Day 1
Sun: 10M

Today I got delivery of some new trainers – Nike Zoom Fly 3 Premiums …

… they’re a less expensive trainer compared to the Nike vaporflys which aren’t available at the moment. And with a carbon plate in them like the vaporflys, I thought I’d give them a wee try and see how I get on with them. I’ll try them on a run on Friday I think (less my jeans from the pic above).

Next weekend (15th March) I have the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon… so I’ll see how I get on with that.

Then I’ll look at my next 4 week training plan / block from next week. Heavier training in the first 2 weeks, lighter in the last 2 weeks.

Now here’s a wee pic from this mornings run to / in Bella Park:

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