Men’s health forum Scotland 10k for men

I do apologise for folk who perhaps visit this website expecting apple-fanboy posts, or why being a humanist is a positive way to lead your life, only to be confronted by lots of posts about how much I’m currently enjoying running. Of course, folk reading it for the running might be in for a bit of a shock when my interest radar veers off in one of those directions 🙂

Anyway, just an addendum to my previous post about half-marathon training, and that’s that I’ve discovered and signed up for, another 10k. This one is quite literally “around the corner”, as it follows one of my own long training routes I started using recently. In fact it goes practically past our house! (We’re on that little ‘J’ shaped bit of road in the bottom-right of the map)

The 2nd Men’s Health Forum Scotland 10K for men is on the 17th June. It was a successful event last year, and it sounds like it’s going to be even bigger this year. My friend Keith, who I met up with on Tuesday, is running it, and a lot of his colleagues at work are taking part. It should be a lot of fun, and it can’t get more convenient/familiar than this, so a great way to start ‘proper’ running events.

Of course, it’s not a picture of perfection. The 17th June is Frances’ birthday, so not entirely sure she’s particularly enthusiastic at the prospect of my getting up early and disturbing her birthday lie-in…. But it *is* for the great cause of raising awareness of health issues in Men, and one very closely related to the cause I’ll soon be raising sponsorship money for: The Prostate Cancer charity

Some half marathon progress

Well I’m now quite excited at the prospect of entering the half-marathon here in Glasgow on 2nd September. I had been rather worried that I was being rather optimistic about my fitness, and whether I could manage the distance. But a few things have happened to get my optimism back on track, indeed I’m today sending off an application form for a 10k at the end of June!

The reason for my worrying was that I’d go out for a run, and not then manage my efforts particularly well. I’m basically not that good at focusing on what I should be doing after I leave the house, and get swept along by the adrenaline. I have (well, had) a terrible predilection to looking down at my watch and thinking about my pace, rather than what I had intended to do and what structure I’d intended to take. I also found I was getting really rather tired, and sneaking in walking breaks at times, and my times hadn’t really improved either in a good few months. So pain with no gain. And certainly no fitter or faster. I had hit a plateau and couldn’t see a way past.

So I started reading running books and magazines quite extensively the last few weeks with a view to better training and approaches, and it was very clear I was simply pushing too hard, too often. What I needed was a way of managing my efforts. A running club is definitely on the agenda, but I still feel I need to have been doing this for a bit longer – and certainly more consistently – before I join my local club which does have a minimum ability requirement. So, being the geek I am, I decided to splash out on a heart-monitor/GPS trainer gadget and manage my efforts myself, at least for now. I like working towards goals, and this gives you them by the bucket load: Run 1km at this pace. Slow Jog 2km in Heart Rate zone 3. Run 0.2km. etc.

It’s also *very* shiny.

It’s already proved it’s worth. I set out to do my usual run (so I could first understand what I was doing wrong), and was rather shocked to discover I spent most of the time in the top heart-rate band (Band 5 – 89%+ of maximum heart rate). No wonder I was feeling so tired! Training guides are really quite clear on the subject that you’re not really improving when you’re pushing hard all the time – that’s for race days, and even then it’s best kept to the end.

So I set off on Sunday morning to do something more in-line with the training guides (and, perhaps, common sense) which was a slower, easier run. I decided to aim for a 10k route to build on the distance, but not at any point getting into the top heart-rate band holding it mainly in bands 3 (70-79 of MHR) and 4 (80-89). Much harder said than done! Trying to find the right pacing so as not to trigger my new gadget to beep at me for having a Heart rate in the wrong zone was difficult. But it’s all about understanding you levels, and I got there in the end, and the result was a very pleasant, thoroughly enjoyable and refreshingly slow 10k at an average pace of 6.15m/km, so just over an hour. I know I can push harder if I need to, but for now I’ll just take the fact that (other than crossing a couple of roads), I didn’t walk at all, and learnt how to keep my heart rate consistent and in effective zones. If you’ve Google Earth installed, and are interested, here’s the route I ran (You may need to ‘Save As’ and then open it; The laps are my gadgets HR zone distance zones, ie. HR 4 for 2k). The joys of technology! 🙂

I’ve a few other programmes lined up: I’m able to plan my workouts in advance with the device which should make being more organised about my training much easier. But I do need to calibrate the pre-programmed workouts with my existing fitness level and half-marathon training programme I’m following. But this new device is looking very good, and that’s even before I get to get excited about graphs, maps and analysis tools at my disposal now!

Other plans in the next wee while: I’m hoping to get new running shoes tomorrow. My current pair are safely over the 300 mile mark now, so I need to get another pair in good time so off for a fitting. Then there’s the East Kilbride 10k on 24th June, to get me some race experience and see if a month of half-marathon training has helped.

But it’s a much more structured and enforced training programme for me over the next three months, which I’m hoping should put me in good stead to firstly finish it, but – with luck a time of around 2 hours. My only immediate challenge now is how I’m going to fit in the training runs when I’m on holiday *on* the Norfolk Broads! Thankfully there are plenty of places to moor, and lots of flat land, so it should work out well 🙂

Finally entered for the Great Scottish Run!

At long last I’ve plucked up the courage and today sent off my entry form for the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon, on 2nd September, 2007, here in Glasgow.

As I’ve been running now for 8 months, I had a bit of a dilemma about whether to run for charity or not. On the one hand I figured I do the running for fun, and would probably have entered in the race regardless. So as I am gradually building up the ability to run that sort of distance anyway, where’s the challenge?

On the other hand, I watched the race last year, and figured it was high time I got off my arse and actually *did something* about getting fitter. Fitness is not the sort of thing you can order online like most else I need or want. So I’ve been putting in a lot of effort, and think that there’s still a heck of a way to go to be able to run it comfortably. It might be ‘fun’, but it’s hard work! I’ve certainly never run that sort of distance yet: The furthest I’ve managed so far is just over 10km, which is under half the half marathon distance of 21.1km. Any way you look at it, a half marathon is still a heck of a distance for a new runner, and I’m pretty pleased that I’m feeling good about the prospect of running it, but am still rather pensive about how I’ll do.

So I sort of settled on a compromise. As it is a new challenge, and that I intend to do it ‘properly’ (ie. no quick six week training programme! I’ve already started and there are three full months still to go!), I decided I would only run for charity when I first tackle a new distance. So for this – my first half marathon – The charity I will be running for is The Prostate Cancer Charity, and I’ll be posting details about sponsorship in the near future: I don’t want to start too early!

I have certainly been staring at the application form for a long time now, and had been in two minds about even trying the half marathon distance, perhaps going for the 10k instead. Indeed, I went for a run this morning and pushed too hard (I was trying a new, much flatter route so surprised myself by my apparent pace), so came back feeling rather exhausted for the duration I was out. But my problem is I’ve not had enough of a focus on the patience and pacing required for a longer distance. So now that I’ve actually *posted* the form and entry fee, I think I may actually find it easier to focus on going slower and racking up the distances, with pace as a much lower priority (initially at least!).