on... Performance

Recently, I’ve been having a few concerns about my performance. Nothing major, no complaints from anyone, just haven’t felt like I’ve been at my best. A simple case of not performing as well as I should.

It started a while back. I had a few busy weeks at work which left me tired. I rather hoped that the Thunder Run weekend would help me, spending time with a previous partner may help me to get back to my normal self. Instead, doing it three (and a half) times in the space of twenty-four hours just seemed to make things worse. I did have a lovely time, and people were very polite, but deep down, I wasn’t satisfied.

I tried a few magazines. I watched a few short videos on the Internet, but things still weren’t improving. I even considered that book with picture of bloke with a beard on the front to re-kindle my Joy. In the end, I sat down with myself and had a really good think about what was really going on, and went back to previous Thoughts to try to fix the problem.

•    Put simply, I was lacking in overall direction. 
•    Too often, I was too tired (through work and life) and not resting properly
•    I was running the wrong way – too many races, not enough training
•    My long runs were run too fast, my Intervals weren’t happening
•    I was putting too much pressure on myself for the Races that I was running

With this in mind, and given that “if you keep doing what you do, you’ll keep getting what you get”, I decided to make a few changes:

Listen to my Heart
Heart Rate training has become a new passion of mine. Checking to see if I’m over cooking things, or if I’m taking it easy and need to step up a gear. I’ll come back to this one another day.

Bought myself a new book 
I am currently a disciple of Jack Daniels (Daniel’s Running Formula). Why does this appeal to me? I like numbers, and find comfort in structure. If you tell me to run my easy runs at 65%, I can’t always quantify what you mean. Daniels talks about percentages of Heart Rate for different types of runs. He gives you margins for where your races should be run. The book itself is quite complicated, and I hope to give a distilled version (or how I interpret it) another day.

Force a regular running schedule on myself
Again, Daniels specifies set types of workout in the pretty universal way that the Club training supports – Long Runs, Intervals, Intervals, Threshold. With experience, I have taken his suggestions and put together mini-plans to get me to my next Target Races – Severn Bridge Half and Cardiff Half.
With the Severn Bridge, I realised that I didn’t have sufficient time to do a proper build-up after the Thunder Run. I decided that I would be on my feet for about 01:45, so aimed to be out (at a slower pace) for 01:30 the week before, and 01:15 for the week previous again. OK, so I over-shot on both weeks (including the weekend with the hurricane storm), ended up running for 01:51 the week before the race, no Taper like I’ve done in the past.
Ran a couple of Interval sessions with “Boy”. They helped him as much as me – a combination of sessions that we’d run as part of a Group, and directions from Jack.

Start joining with the Group Sessions again
Monday nights are best for me, due to other commitments through the week. I managed to join a great session with the NEWTS up at fourteen locks. Unfortunately, they’ve been put on hold for a bit now. A real shame, but understandable given the other commitments that the coaches have, especially in prime Triathlon season.

Make sure that I don’t over do it
One of the other features that I have used from Daniels is a points system for recording how much running that I am doing. You record the amount of time that you run, then multiply it by a value based on the type of run that you are doing to record your weekly running, and to ensure that it only builds gradually. This makes more sense that just counting Miles equally. In some training plans, all miles are equal, but you know that some miles are “more equal” than others.

Check my “gait”
I don’t just mean checking to see if I’m wearing the right shoes, but I planned to book in for a free running analysis to see what a professional thinks of my running. Again, I will write more about this another day.

Re-visit my Nutrition
After the Thunder Run, this needed some work. I have sought out and use far more appropriate pre and post-race Nutrition and make sure that I am prepared for whatever the weather throws at me. 

And the Results so far...
I have been delighted with the return to form. My parkrun is back to a respectable rate, and I absolutely blew it away on the Severn Bridge Half Marathon with a five minute PB. I have planned to write about my experiences, but the Censors have been on high alert at the moment, so it may take a while.

For me, the key lesson has been that it pays to review your progress from time to time. Change things, talk to people, see what works for you. People are different, but we all have one thing in common, a desire to enjoy Running. That enjoyment may be through the pure joy of being out there, through clearing your head, through the physical changes that you see in your body and mind, fine-tuning to make yourself faster, more resilient, making full use of your potential, or just the social element of spending quality time with like minded individuals.