Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What's the right pace to run at?

Pacing yourself is so key to being able to run better! Too fast and you may not achieve your target distance. Too slow and you may complete a race feeling that you might have been able to achieve a better time.

The key pace for building distance is your comfortable speed. Your body is working aerobically and your heart rate is about 65% of your working heart rate. You'll know if you are at this pace if you can chat - conversation is a very good heart rate monitor! You'll use this pace for most of your running training.

Your comfortable pace will change over time - if you are new to running, you may find that simply running regularly will help you to speed up. Working on pace with speed work will turbo charge this process - more about that later.

There's a useful calculator here from the Runners World website.

Some factors that can hinder running at your comfortable pace:
1. Music
Running to music can really help to keep you going and can help to increase your speed. However, you will tend to run to the pace of the music, so choose your playlist with care. If you're finding runs difficult, it might be an idea to edit out fast techno tracks. Music that changes speed can play havoc with your pace - for example, Rockafeller Skank. The right music at the right time can help you to get into your stride - Christina Aguilera's Candyman works well for me at the start of a run.
2. Peer pressure
This is difficult at races - trying to find your pace when people are shooting off at the beginning is really tricky. Try to start towards the back - especially if the race is chipped - as fewer people overtaking you will help.
If you are running with a friend who's much faster than you, agree a pace before you set off. The faster runner will need to run at the slower runner's pace - otherwise, the slower may not be able to achieve the distance target. Running with a friend who is a little faster though can help to push you - just make sure that you are still able to chat and be prepared to slow down if it's getting tough.

3. Environment
Hot weather, slippery pavements, high winds, rough tracks, mud, hills - so many factors can make it difficult to maintain a constant pace. The key word is "comfortable" - if you're not, slow down! Your effort should be constant, not your speed - and don't compromise on safety for the sale of a PB.

Running Report 21st & 22nd Feb

Welcome new beginners. It was really good to meet you all - and I'm enlisting some help for next week from a fellow WRN-er. You'll find the homework and next week's session details at the bottom of this posting.

Congratulations to Sarah R who did the Winchester 10K in 56:01 - and I believe that was her first ever 10K event. I'm so impressed - that's speedier than my 10K PB!

On our virtual global challenge, the 175km we ran this week (how good is that??), starting from near to Cologne, has taken us past Frankfurt, so we're working our way down Germany really well!

Eastleigh ParkRun are short of volunteers for Saturday - so if anyone is able to give them a hand, they will be most grateful - just email .

So, the week's runs - as ever, bear in mind that the GPS is on my wrist & calories are based on my speed/distance/age/weight.

Mon 7pm 7.42km in 48:59 mins, 613 cals
Mon 8pm 6.55km in 45:56 mins, 539 cals
We were past Bonn & at a town called Plaidt at the end of Monday
Tue 7pm 5.5km in 41:08 mins, 361 cals
I estimate that the speediest runners did at least 6km and the new improvers did 4.5km.
Tue 8pm 3.1km in 30:00 mins, 185 cals

Beginners Programme:
  • Homework: Repeat Tuesday's session at least once before Tuesday, ideally twice. Try to do 2-3 "anything but running" exercise sessions this week - a walk, a swim, a cycle ride.
  • In addition to the handout, take a look at this rather good Runners World article on stretches - there are some more here that are difficult to do in a carpark!
  • On Tuesday, we'll be:
  1. Warming Up
  2. First 14 minutes: 1 minute jogging, 1 minute walking
  3. From 15 minutes: 2 minutes jogging, 1 minute walking until we get to 32 minutes
  4. Cool Down
  5. Stretching

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

I am back - running is on!

Back from Madeira, nearly home, so running is on tonight (Tue 15th) at 7pm (all levels) and 8pm (beginners). I will be on the bike so I can "supervise" all runners - you'll be split into speed groups again. Just need to plan a route.....

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 4 February 2011

Running Report 31st Jan & 1st Feb

Don't forget that there's only 1 run next week - Monday 7pm for all standards. And the week after, there's only running on Tuesday - both 7pm (all standards) and 8pm (last beginners session).
We are zooming across Belgium at the moment - we're past Brussels, but I'm not sure if Saturday's planned 10K session will take us over the border to our 4th country. Our progress is looking very impressive!

On Saturday 19th Feb, parkrun in Eastleigh will be making special efforts to make first timers welcome on its regular 5k run. There will be more marshals (you may recognise their hi vis vests) and pacers who will help you to get your speed right - and as usual, it's free. 8:45am briefing at Southampton Uni's Pavilion opposite Southampton Parkway train station. Remember to register beforehand & print off your bar code.

Mon 7pm 6.41km in 41:24 mins, 526 cals, starting near Ghent & finishing just before Brussels
Mon 8pm 5.56km in 47:14 mins, 325 cals, crossing Brussels & finishing at Bertem
Tue 7pm 5.25km in 40:46 mins, 365 cals, finishing at Willebringen
Tue 8pm 4.00km in 31:00 mins, 277 cals, finishing near Landen

On Tue 15th, the Beginners will be doing 30 minutes of running without a walking break.

Now, do I take my running shoes to Madeira or not....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Running when your jeans are a size 16 or over

I've been a runner of all dress sizes between 14 and 24 over the last 11 years – so I do feel that I have some experience in this area! One of the things I love about Women’s Running Network is its objective of “giving all women, whatever their age, size or ability, the opportunity to run together to improve their health, fitness, confidence and safety”. And it’s size that I am going to focus on here...

The average dress size for a UK woman is 16. There is no reason why somebody who is average size or over can’t enjoy running as there is no reason why somebody who is average size or over can’t build running fitness. “Thin” does not always equate to “Fit”. I have been able to overtake runners who are slimmer than me – and I’ve been overtaken by runners larger than me.

There are some things that any runner who is new to exercise needs to consider – but these are not exclusively for runners who wear larger clothes.

  1. Have a chat with your GP before taking up any new exercise regime.
  2. Follow the 10% rule – increase your run length by no more than 10% per week. This allows your muscles to build and joints to strengthen properly.
  3. Don’t run every day. Assuming that you are aiming for 5 exercise sessions per week, make no more than 3 running and make the others lower impact activity (cycling, walking and swimming are perfect).
  4. Do some strength work. Yoga or weights at the gym are great and I can show you some exercises.
  5. If you have any problems (for example, pain that happens every time you run), go to your GP and consider pushing for a physiotherapy referral. Most GPs are very keen to encourage us to exercise – and so should be supportive.
  6. Do go to a specialist running store if shopping for new shoes.

I have found running easier and faster when at the slimmer end of my weight fluctuations. I was advised when buying running shoes in a very gentle (and slightly embarrassed way) that my issues with overpronation might ease if I was able to lose a bit of weight – and I can’t disagree with that. However, I’ve been able to enjoy running – and to feel that I am progressing – when at the bigger end of my range as well as when slimmer.

If you are not enjoying running yet, don’t leap to the conclusion that it’s a shape/size issue. We’re all different – and some people take to running quicker than others. Building running fitness is best done gradually – frustrating though that may seem! If you are not sure that you are ready to run just yet, consider increasing your walking to get your fitness up initially.

Where things get more difficult is clothing. Sports shops don’t generally cater well for anyone size 18 or over – and even size 16 items can seem thin on the ground. It’s worth looking online – Simply Be and La Redoute have some sportswear in sizes over 16. Adidas & Nike do clothing up to size 18 – so do persist in searching! M&S has a limited sportswear range – but does go up to size 24. No Balls does bras up to 50G and Bravissimo up to K cup.