Tag Archives: running

the year ahead

I’m not really into retrospectives but Gerry from The Vicious Cycle posted a really good one earlier this week and I have been reading a few others too. I don’t usually find a lot of personal value in looking back. Facebook memories, Strava’s end of year review and Veloviewer’s infographic are as close as I normally get.

© strava
© veloviewer

I’m much more interested in setting goals for the future. Some of these are short term like the mini challenges I wrote about last time but at the start of a new year I also like to set longer term goals for the full year.

cycling goals

Unsurprisingly, most of my goals are cycling related.

annual goal: since I started using Strava in 2014 my biggest year was 2016 when I rode 8,046km. This past year was fairly average for me at 4,541km. I’d like to beat that in 2020 riding an average of 500km per month for a total goal of 6,000km. 8,000km would be a good stretch target as I’ve only hit it the once and it’s also the equivalent of 5,000miles.

© schreiberusa

streak goal: I should have my 12th metric century completed by the end of this week completing the set for the year. I’m planning the same challenge for next year but this time I’m going to do it within each calendar month and go for the full set of Strava Gran Fondo trophies for 2021. It doesn’t sit 100% right with me that I missed a month or two this year.

I also want to restart the Audax Ireland RRTY challenge this year. I plan to start it in May or June so that I can start and finish in Summer as well as having some momentum going into the tougher Winter months. I’m also hoping that lockdowns will be a thing of the past by then giving me a chance to take part in calendar events and introduce some variety.

distance goal: my biggest ride so far is 210km back in 2017. I’ve completed quite a few 200km Audax rides now and would like to complete one next level 300km ride this year.

running goals

For the first year I now consider myself a runner as well as a cyclist and I want to set goals to improve my running this year and make it a permanent part of my training.

streak goal: I’ve managed to get back to a level that I can run a 5K without stopping. This year I want to run a full 5K each month and like my cycling goal above complete each of the Strava monthly 5K challenges.

time goal: my fastest 5K time so far is 27:23. My goal this year is 25min.

other activity goals

365 challenge: inspired by ADudeABikes and following my November streak I’m setting a target of a minimum of one recorded activity per day walking, cycling or running.

bikepacking: I’ve been watching a lot of Bikepacking videos and read a lot of articles this year and want to complete one short trip and camp out for one night. I haven’t spent a night in a tent for about 10 years!

strength and conditioning: during lockdown I discovered Tom Merrick’s YouTube channel. He has a nice and simple 6 day follow along program for strength and flexibility. I’m not setting a specific goal but want to incorporate this into my regular activities this year. I have strong legs but my upper body strength and my general flexibility is poor and needs to improve before I end up with injuries.

weight loss: in the early part of 2020 I was at 88kg. During the latter stages of the first lockdown I managed to get that down to 80kg through 16:8 intermittent fasting and increased activity. I wasn’t able to sustain the fasting for long once I went back to work and bad habits gradually crept back in. I’ve been able to keep it between 81-82kg and during this year I’d like to get it down to 76kg and keep it there consistently.

There’s a lot in there and too many goals could mean that I’m setting myself up for failure. However, most of them are continuations of goals I’m already working on or are stretches that are definitely achievable. The key one is the 365 challenge. If I can get that rolling then most of the rest should fall into place.

Header image by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

mini challenges

For anyone that follows me on Strava it’ll come as no surprise that I like to use challenges to motivate me and keep me active.

Strava are without a doubt the king of challenges and the whole concept is part of their DNA. Users can create and compete on segments to earn the KOM (King of the Mountain) or QOM (Queen of the Mountain) crown for the fastest time. Strava also give you trophies for your top 3 times on segments and give you table positions based on age and weight and in comparison to members of any Strava clubs you belong to. They’ve also recently released a new concept called Local Legend on some segments for riding a segment multiple times.

one of my local segments

Each month Strava also host regular challenges. For both cycling and running they have cumulative distance and elevation challenges as well as one-off distance challenges such as the monthly 100km Gran Fondo for cycling and 5K, 10K and Half Marathon for running. Most months they will also have partner challenges that more activities count for.

Although the regular challenges are mostly based around running or cycling they seem to be making their walking challenge a regular one.

Outside of Strava there are other challenges, mostly based on streaks of some sort. The 30 Days of Biking is one of the well known ones for cycling but there is also the Marcothon running challenge, multiple 12 Days of Xmas challenges and the less serious Coffeeeneuring and Errandonee challenges

This year I’ve been working on a Metric Century challenge to ride a minimum of one 100km spin each month for 12 months. This was originally inspired by a post of Tempo Cyclist but prompted this year by Paul of 36×25 who coined the term Resolution Ride. I’ve missed at least one month this year due to Covid lockdowns but have made it up with an extra ride the following month. So far I only have one ride left to give me 12 for the year.

Part of what attracted me to Audax was the challenges they also run. As if long distance cycling wasn’t challenge enough they have a number of streak and cumulative challenges. In 2018 I completed the Four Provinces Challenge. I’ve also started the RRTY challenge a few times including this year. I’ve decided to put my current attempt on hold as the multiple lockdowns are playing havoc with Audax Ireland having to pause and resume a number of times during 2020. I’d rather wait and make sure I can get a clean run at 12 in a row, ideally starting and finishing in late Spring or early Summer.

The ultimate Audax challenge is the Super Randonneur, completing a 200, 300, 400 and 600km event during the Audax calendar year. I don’t know if I’ll ever be capable of that but it is one I aspire to.

As far as mini adventures go though this looks like the ultimate one….

sundays have become run days

In the last couple of weeks Conor’s gaelic training has changed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday. It has put a real spanner in my cycling. His training starts at 1130am and finishes at 1245pm. It doesn’t give me enough time before unless I get up really early and afterwards I only have a couple of hours before darkness. I’ve found it difficult to get motivated to go out in the cold and wet afternoons. However, both of the last two Sundays I’ve made it out for a run.

Today my legs were feeling tired and heavy but the bright winter sunshine was nice to be out in. I did underestimate how cold the strong breeze was though and was glad to finish the warm up walk and start running.

There is a local 5K running event scheduled for Boxing Day. I’m still in two minds whether to enter or not. I’m not sure I can run the 5K without walking and I don’t see the point of doing it otherwise. I plan to run Tuesday and Thursday and then decide.

water, water, everywhere…

After a long morning and early afternoon of consistent heavy rain it was nice to get out and take advantage of a short break in the weather for a rare afternoon run.

All my runs for the last couple of months have been early morning before work so it felt very unusual to be running in daylight.

Header image by Oleg Magni from Pexels

november

No sun – no moon!

No morn – no noon –

No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day –

No sky – no earthly view –

No distance looking blue –

No road – no street – no ‘t’other side the way’ –

No end to any Row –

No indications where the Crescents go –

No top to any steeple –

No recognitions of familiar people –

No courtesies for showing ’em –

No knowing ’em –

No travelling at all – no locomotion,

No inkling of the way – no notion –

‘No go’ – by land or ocean –

No mail – no post –

No news from any foreign coast –

No Park – no Ring – no afternoon gentility –

No company – no nobility –

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member –

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, –

November!

No! by Thomas Hood (1884)

Really struggling to get motivated to cycle this month. I have lots of excuses. The biggest, and only genuine reason, is that the weather has been horrible, really horrible. My days off have coincided with wet and windy weather. I know it’s possible to go out with the right clothing but it’s not enjoyable.

just another difference between myself and sean kelly!

Since my Audax ride in the middle of October I have only been on the bike six times and my distance for November is as low as it has been for a while.

© garmin connect

Despite my lack of cycling motivation and excellent excuse generation I have been moving. I decided at the start of the month to try and reverse my declining activity by committing to at least one recorded activity (walk, run or cycle) each day of November. 22 days in and so far, so good.

© strava

This week I need to reverse my lack of cycling motivation as I’ve only got two more opportunities this month to complete my metric century for my 2020 challenge. It would be a shame to give up on it now with only two months left to go.

Header image by Gabby K from Pexels

31 days of biking

There are a couple of streak challenges out there that have caught my eye over the years. One of these is “Every Day in May“. The aim of this challenge is to complete a physical activity every day for the month of May with the option of raising money for charity while doing so. The challenge is designed mainly for walking and running 5 or 10K each day but in 2017 I decided to do it as a cycling challenge. I completed the challenge with a total of 1500km for the month.

That was the year when I was at my fittest and strongest on the bike. I did my first 200km Audax that May and went on to complete the Four Provinces Challenge and a total of five 200km Audax events for the year starting a four month streak for RRTY that unfortunately died when I missed December. RRTY remains an aspiration for me as does the next level challenge of Super Randonneur.

may 2017 © strava

I had the Four Provinces medals framed by one of my friends who is a photographer and it is one of my favourite possessions.

I originally came across Every Day in May when I saw a reference to “30 Days of Biking“. By then it was well into April so I went looking for something similar. I completed Every Day in May in 2019 again, mostly with walking activities, but I’ve never gone back to do 30 Days of Biking. I looked at it earlier this year but with Covid19 restrictions I couldn’t build up enough motivation to ride my bike at all never mind every day.

My running has been going well and I finished the None2Run program at the end of June.

graduation day 5k

Since then I’ve played around with a number of 10K training plans and ran a further four 5Ks while trying to find a good progression plan. Eventually I settled on a modified version of N2R that was suggested by another member of the N2R Facebook group. It involves slow/fast running intervals instead of walking/running for the 25 minutes. It’s the perfect program for me as I eventually worked out that I don’t really want to run 10K, I like intervals, like running early in the morning and don’t want to give up more time in the morning before work. Unfortunately, I’ve managed to pick up an injury after completing the first week when I ran a 5K. It was my fastest 5K ever and I think that was the problem.

27:27 5K pb

The injury is the same as the one that stopped me in my tracks in December. It’s a strained left calf muscle and I worked out in November that it was caused by running too much, too quickly in the program. I figure I’m once again running too fast, too quick and have aggravated the same muscle. I need to slow down and build speed and distance more slowly but first I need to rest and heal.

Initially I decided to walk on my run days but that’s taking a full hour and isn’t really resting my calf. Instead I’ve decided to take on the 30 Days of Biking challenge for the month of August, making it into a 31 Days of Biking. I’m going to keep getting up before work for a 25km/1 hour spin and keep up my longer spins on my days off. In 2017 I managed 1500km and I’ve only hit 1000km three times ever, with the last time being May 2017, so I’m also setting a distance target of 1000km for August just to keep me fully focused each week. It may seem odd to increase my cycling activity to rest my leg but cycling and running use quite different muscles or at least the same ones in different ways.

So far I’m off to a good start with an early morning 25km yesterday and a 74km spin this afternoon to the Ghost House. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so I’m planning to add another slightly longer spin to keep me ahead of schedule for the month.

The plan is to be a lot fitter and stronger by the start of September and ready to get back running again.

symbiotic training

I’m getting to the stage where cycling and running at the same time is really starting to improve both.

I first noticed this last week when I ran my first 5K on Tuesday. That day and the next my legs, especially my quads were really stiff and achy. I went for an easy ride on Wednesday to spin out the stiffness and was able to get out running again on Thursday with a lot more comfort than I expected.

wednesday’s ride. click the image to view on strava

Since then I’ve had four runs, including another 5K on Sunday, but haven’t had another chance to get on the bike until this afternoon. Despite feeling tired and needing to really push myself out the door and into the heat I had a great spin averaging 29.2km/h over 40km and 292m of climbing. I’ve noticed my speed gradually increasing over the last few weeks but I don’t think I’ve ever averaged that fast on my own!

click the image to view on strava

Having written myself off as a runner for many years I’m really pleased that I can now run consistently but even more pleased that it’s making me a better cyclist.

Header image by Pixabay from Pexels

now i’m a runner!

Back in October I started the None2Run program. This is a program for complete beginners, very similar to Couch25K (C25K) but slowed down and extended from 9 to 12 weeks. C25K has a distance aim of 5km at the end whereas N2R is based solely on time. It goes from Week 1 running intervals of 30sec and walking 2min to running 25min in Week 12.

I pushed the program too hard, adding extra time to intervals and running some of them back to back quite early on. This led to pulling a muscle in my left calf that knocked me off running for 2-3 weeks. The injury happened in the middle of December so I wasn’t recovered until Xmas and then laziness set in. Cycling took over a bit in January and it wasn’t until lockdown at the beginning of April that I decided to try again.

I restarted the program on Week 3 as I had been doing quite a bit of walking and figured I had a decent amount of strength in my legs. Apart from a 2 week gap at the beginning of May I’ve been consistently moving through the weeks.

Last week was my first time to run non-stop for 20 min in Week 10. This was a big deal for me as I’ve always said I’m not a runner. Today was the first of my Week 11 runs and I ran a full 5km without walking! Not only that but I ran sub 30min at 29:38. I never thought I’d achieve either of those targets and pleased would be a massive understatement!

the n2r selfie for the facebook group

The mantra on the N2R Facebook group is that if you are running, even for only 30sec, then you are a runner. Last week was a big step but it’s today that I really feel like a runner 🏃

click the image to view on strava

Header image by Zain Ali from Pexels

getting back to normal

On Friday last week the government announced that we were moving forward into Phase 2 of the “Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business” on Monday as expected. What wasn’t expected was that the roadmap would be adjusted from 5 to 4 phases and with some accelerated restriction relaxation giving us the snappily named “Phase 2 Plus“.

What was expected was that retail stores were finally allowed to re-open meaning I was fully back to work on Monday morning.

It was very weird going back to work. Everyone was quite anxious about what it would be like, how busy it would be, how we would all cope with the new requirements and changes and how safe everyone would be. This was compounded by the physical changes in the store as a lot of the store had been refitted and painted during lockdown and lots of the displays had been rearranged. It was great to see everyone again and catch up with them but it was amazing how much I’d forgotten about products and the computer system. To me it felt like we had all started a new job on the same day.

In general we’ve been very busy. Nothing unmanageable and so far we haven’t needed to close the doors or enforce a queue outside. It’s been fairly steady and most people know pretty much what they want before coming in. Wednesday was one of the biggest sales days for many years and Saturday was the same. The other days have been like a series of very busy Saturdays and even busier than a peak period like January Sale. I had my own biggest ever personal sales day yesterday so I’ve bounced back pretty quickly and haven’t lost it completely during lockdown.

The downside of all this work business is that it is now interfering with my fitness training 😆 The level of business is tiring as is just being back to work, my step count is way up and I could really feel it at the end of each day in terms of lack of energy as well as tired and sore feet and legs. Work also means less free time and mix that with bad weather on my day off on Wednesday and today is the first time I’ve been able to get out on my bike for over a week.

It has been much easier to keep running and I’ve now finished WK10 of None2Run meaning this week I’ve been running a full non-stop 20min after my warmup walk which I’m really pleased with. I went out twice this week at 6am and the plan is to do that 3 times each week. I much prefer the mornings rather than trying to muster the energy and motivation in the evenings after work.

© Garmin Connect

The surprise change in the government’s announcement was that instead of relaxing the 5km limit to 20km we are now permitted unrestricted movement within our own county and 20km into another county if we live close to a county border. This meant that today’s spin was a much more normal route taking in towns and roads that I haven’t ridden for a very long time – September 2019!

© Garmin Connect

After a break of 10 days and working all week I had pretty low expectations for today but managed to surprise myself. All the extra steps and running must have had a positive impact as I had an average speed of 27.6km/h over 72km with 505m of climbing. Pretty sure it was my fastest time over that route and I really enjoyed it despite getting soaked twice in very heavy thundery showers. It was a pleasure to ride a regular route without repetition and to be able to stop for a tea break 3/4 of the way around.

i’m just havin’ a break

The incoming week is forecast to be dry again so the plan is to keep up the running and get two, possibly three, spins on the bike.

click on the image to view on strava

keep on running

I posted a couple of weeks ago about starting the None to Run program. Pleased to say I’m still at it and started Week 3 today.

Week 1 was fine but I had to do Week 2 twice as I only managed one run the first time before life intervened and knocked me off track. Restarted it last week and also felt able to add some extra time on R2 and 3 starting each of the 7 intervals 5sec early, adding on an extra 10sec and running 2min for the final interval.

I started W3 a day early today as I won’t be able to run during the week. It meant I was running for the 4th day in 7 and there are two additional intervals so I decided to stick with the plan. However, on the last interval I felt good and decided to run 2min once again 😊

This plan starts very easy and increases very slightly each week so it suits me really well. I had strong doubts I would make it this far and that I wasn’t built to run but so far so good. I haven’t been doing the strength training though which needs to change before the difficulty increases much further but I can already feel a significant change in the strength of my legs.

rosie finally learning how to pose for the camera