Harlow Running Club

Road & Cross Country Running (UKA 2658068)

Blog Post New Entry

Training Plans - Introduction

Posted by Jon Steadman on September 28, 2012 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

At club last night I discovered that members now knew if they had got a place in the Virgin London Marathon 2013, so I had better get on with this…

A question you my ask:

“I am reasonably fit, go for a run 2-3 times a week, why do I need to follow a training plan?”

Well, it is true that you may well be able to run a 5K, 10K or even a marathon off the back of this, but you will never achieve your full potential and in the case of a marathon, the experience is unlikely to be very pleasant.

So what is a training plan?

A training plan is a series of activities designed to get you to the start line of your key event in the best possible shape.

Why follow one?

You might say that the best way of training for an event is to practice it – effectively race a 10K, marathon etc. each time you go out. In principle this sounds like a good idea and you may even get away with it for a 10K, but eventually the body will get tired, injured, your performances will deteriorate and you will not get your best result. A training plan is smarter way of training. It allows you to build up training to peak for the event of your choice with a lower chance of injury or fatigue along the way.

The training plan is also specific to the event you have targeted. Each distance you do puts different demands on the body and actually requires different training methods to get the best results. Although it is true that by following a marathon plan, your times for all distances are likely to drop as you get fitter, you will still not achieve your full potential (compared to if you trained specifically) as you will be lacking the outright speed you need. However, follow a 5K plan for a marathon and I can guarantee the final few (maybe even 10) miles will be a living hell.

As well as event type specific, the plan is also date specific. You may well get that 5 mile PB in a warm up race 4 weeks before the event, but at this time you are still in hard training. You will have been tired and not able to go full out.

Next time I will cover what goes in to a training plan.


Training Guide - Introduction

Posted by Jon Steadman on September 7, 2012 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Training Guide - Introduction

With the draw for the club Virgin London Marathon places being announced for Thursday 25th October I thought that I had better start off the blog series that I actually intended to do at the same time last year!

Training for any event is important if you want to do your best, probably more so for a marathon. However, particularly for beginners the question is how?

The blog series that I want to put together will hopefully build in to a training resource for members, no matter their experience. There is a basic version on the website currently http://www.thehrc.org.uk/training.htm but it is long due a revamp. Although it will be timed to coincide with training for a spring marathon (London), there will be much content applicable to other events and distances.

Now the disclaimer part…

I am not a qualified coach, but those that know me know that I treat training very seriously and approach it in a scientific manner. During my running ‘career’, I have collected together training advice from books, coaches, club mates and own experiences. My intention is that by doing it in a blog format, other members can share and discuss things so that the end result is a useful guide that can act as a starting point for the reader to ask specific questions about training to qualified persons.

Please bear in mind that that ANY training plan or advice you might obtain from a book or the internet is NO substitute for that created specifically for YOU by a qualified coach. Generic training plans out there are just that – generic. They cater for all and do not take in to account YOUR specific strengths and weaknesses. For example, some marathon training plans out there would have me injured within a couple of weeks, while others would leave me severely lacking at mile 22 in a marathon. A qualified coach would take things like this into consideration when devising a plan specifically for you.

So why start this early?

Well, it has taken me a year to start this from when I originally intended, so there is no guarantee I will get everything done in time! Also, believe it or not, there are some things to consider even before your name gets drawn out of the hat!

Halstead Marathon - 9th May 2010

Posted by Jon Steadman on May 9, 2010 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (3)

Halstead Marathon - 9th May 2010

Race Length: Marathon

PB: 3:41.25 ( min/mile) at Flora London Marathon in April 2008

Predicted time: 3:06.39 (7.08 min/mile) - yeah right! (based on 1:28.30, Great Bentley Half, February 2010)

Target Time: 3:29.59 (8.01 min/mile)

Outcome: 3:24.44 (7:48 min/mile) - PB

Splits: 7:43 7:24 7:40 7:41 7:39 7:40 7:34 7:59 7:59 7:42 7:25 7:26 7:41 7:42 7:25 7:30 7:33 7:37 7:34 7:52 7:57 7:55 8:06 8:08 8:33 8:33 2:33

Selected Race Splits: 10K (47:21) 10m (1:17.33), Half (1:40.51) 20m (2:33.18 - PB)



Race preparation had gone very well for this. Previous marathon campaigns were injury ridden and long runs were just not fun. This time, I had done a lot of 20 milers, including the Essex 20 where after starting slow, finishing the final 5K at virtually flat out half marathon pace - I had cracked the long run. Then Friday night I had a call to say that my nan who has been in hospital for the past 5 weeks had taken a big turn for the worst, so I had to go to Bristol - I may not have been running today... Her condition had improved so I was able to return home to take part. 6 Hours in a car is not good preparation and clearly my mind was also on her health, not the race.


The course is rural, scenic but very undulating in places. The race plan was flat 8.00 min mile - but when have I ever followed a plan. The target was 3:29.59 as I have wanted this for years. I have always said, get this and I can retire from raced marathons (I really do not actually like them you know...). Anything faster would be a bonus (3:15 would be really nice!).


I set off at ~7:40/5 and it felt comfortable even up the hills leading to the mile 4 support station (club and fetchpoint). My wife, club supporters and fetchies were here handing out drinks and Jelly babies. Many thanks to then. You can hear them from a mile away and the support invaluable.

I had a slight drop in speed for miles 8 & 9, but then these are hilly. I caught DA here who was out for a training run. From the photos he certainly looked relaxed! I accelerated away and headed back to fetchpoint to complete the first long loop. Still feeling good for the small loop I headed back up to the support station for the 3rd time. I caught sight of AF and started to reel him in, probably too quickly as my speed had gone up to 7:30's. At mile 19 I caught him and started to run along side. We were now in the tough bit, not only for distance, but the undulations. Splits drop to 7:50's, but no slower than the equivalent section on the first loop, but my legs were tiring. I went though 20 miles in a PB time.


I was tiring now as the splits were now dropping to 8's for the first time. I WANTED my last gel, but I doubted I would be able to take it all as at the previous water station, I found it hard to get liquid on board. I just took a bit and hoped it would see me through. I managed to get a lead on AF by the time I reached fetchpoint again, but now it was a case of doing anything to secure the 3:25 as I was now slowing. This was not the time for heroics!


Miles 24-26 were tough. Far more undulations than I thought or wanted. The grassy hill at mile 25 I had been warmed about and it was too much, I had to take a walk break to settle myself for the final section. I think AF now had a sniff of me. At the top of the hill I got back in to stride and accelerated downhill back in to Halstead for the final run in.


I was now moving very well until I rounded the final turn for the last 50m or so. AF was on my shoulder. Now he has a big sprint finish, I would not have a hope in hell of holding him off, except my competitive spirit took over... I kicked to hold him along side me to big cheers from the crowed! I then went for that final kick  in the last 20 metres, except my right leg cramped up - shit! this was followed by a sharp intake of breath and "oohhs" from the spectators. I stopped and hoped that things would not  go as they did in London 2008. Here I spent 2 minutes on the floor 100m from the line, only being saved from BBC TV coverage ridicule by the cameras being on Gordon Ramsey. I did not have the 2 minutes for 3:24.xx to spare. With my eye on the clock, I chose to hobble/walk/crawl and hope to hell I did not cramp up fully as to do this for the last 15m would get me inside the time. This I did, 3:24.44, AF in 3:24.19. My stupidity cost me 25 seconds and beating DA's PB of 3:24.30. If only I had just accepted I was going to lose the sprint!


I am very pleased with my performance. Time for a weeks easy jogs to recover, then the speed/hill work starts for the 10K season.

DG Training 2010 : Week 0

Posted by Dougie on January 6, 2010 at 9:48 AM Comments comments (2)



I thought I'd follow the lead of Jon Steadman, and provide our dear readers with an in depth plunge into the world of "DG Training"..


It shall follow a Bridget Jones type format, indeed with many similarities to Ms Jones diary content, but without references to which underwear I am contemplating for my next Harlow RC last Thursday of the month night out..


Unfortunately, I tend not to concentrate so much on timings or splits etc, neither do I try to track my heart rate during sessions of prolonged exercise - I've often found that a random beeping during romantic encounters a bit off putting for the female involved. So, you are unlikely to see extensive data relating to a run or event I've done - apologies if that is what you're looking for.. In the words of the former Aberdeen football manager, Ebbe Skovdahl, "Statistics are like mini-skirts .. they give you good ideas but hide the most important parts."

However, I can offer you an enlightened look at my training etc over the coming year - Please note : I will make full use of poetic licence, and may enhance some details whilst glossing over some others.. As I have always said "Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story"


The key target I have for this year (at present) is the 2 day Saunders event on 3rd / 4th July, which I will be competing in with three of my mates from Pompey Joggers - we all previously did the event in 2008, but that was when I went over on my ankle (twice !!) heading towards the last CP on Day 1 and really badly tore my ligaments. We did complete Day 1 and Day 2, but Day 2 was entirely walked - no way could I run and risk further damage. hopefully, we'll avoid similar mishaps this year.. For this type of event there is no time target as such as the courses are in different venues each year. You definitely want to be in as good a physical condition as you can be and I suppose our target will be to better our placing of 50th and 51st in the 2008 event at Helvellyn.


Ground Rules (for the Diary)

1. Week starts on Monday, finishes on a Sunday

2. Weight is taken Sunday evening or first thing Monday morning, as a reflection of the previous week's activities

3. Booze is qty consumed in that week.. the count is pints / bottles of Bud / glasses of wine

4. There may be more ground rules, but I can't think if them just now..


So, here goes..


Week 0 (28/12 - 03/1)


Weight : 12st 5lb

Booze : 6

Miles : 29


Well, for the week that included Hogmanay, me being the proud Scot that I am, and realising a nations reputation could be resting on my shoulders, I hope you realise how little drink I consumed during this week !!


Friday (New Years Day) : Surrey Inns Kanter, organised by Surrey LDWA - This is a 12 mile (or 20 mile if you feel energetic) navigation event incorporating a quiz to be completed during the run / walk.. Each Checkpoint (CP) has a question linked to it, where the answer will be found in the vicinity of the CP itself. You complete the quiz as you navigate the course and hand in your answers when you finish - none of the CP's are manned, so the quiz answers are your proof of visiting each CP. Anyway, I completed the 12 mile in around 2hrs 15mins, on a wet muddy course. Unsure of how this fared against the other runners / walkers as results aren't posted yet.


Saturday : Repeated the course from yesterday, this time walking with Carol.. We cut out the last CP and did around 10.5 miles in 3h 40mins.


Sunday : Did around a 6.5mile run with the PH3 local Hash group.. Legs were feeling pretty tired to begin with and Sparkly was off like a whippet from the word go.. Took me a while to catch her.. One huge hill just after halfway which just had to be walked - I picked up towards the last couple of miles or so but it was a hell of an effort to get going.


Summary : A good start to the year, but I just know the booze qty in single digits may not be as frequent as one would like.. Also look out for any weeks where the booze qty exceeds the miles qty - that's when I really know I've had a bad week..



Jon's Training Blog

Posted by Jon Steadman on November 18, 2009 at 1:06 PM Comments comments (0)

From now on, I will be only posting my races or anything interesting that crops up trainingwise .


It would be interesting for others to post their training/race experiences on here.

The Final Week

Posted by Jon Steadman on November 14, 2009 at 10:18 AM Comments comments (0)

St Neots Riverside Half Marathon

Weeks to go: 0

Weekly Mileage: 26.46 miles


Not been a good week. Although this is a taper, it was a little more of one than I wanted. During this period I should be maintaining some intensity to keep sharp, but reduce volume. This can be seen in the Tuesday intervals where I ran 4/6 at full speed, but took a little more rest, then did the remaining two at a fast jog.  I was going to do an easy short run on Wendesday (3-5 miles) but missed it. Thursday was always going to be short, but with a few bursts at target HM pace (6.52). Normally I would have gone for a light jog on Saturday, but I was not feeling good and the weather was crap. I was off to Cambridge for an evening event so did not have time later in the day.


Tuesaday (Intervals)

Warm up (0.6 miles,  6:11, 10:18 min/mile)

Intervals (4 x 1220m, 3 mins static recovery, splits: 4.49 4.31 4.49 4.44)

Easy intervals (2 x 1220m, 3 min static recovery, splits: 6.06 6.09)

Warm down (0.6 miles, 6:08, 10:13 min/mile)


Thursday (General Run)

General Run (6.54 miles,  56:55, 8:42 min/mile, WHR = 67%!!!)

Not a good run. The weather was terrible and I had one of those days that is just draining anyway. However this run was a struggle. I tried some bursts at predicted HM pace of 6:52 and my HR was as levels it should be at the END of a half marathon. My WHR% = 67 when running at ~8.00 min/mile. It could be that after fighting off all the colds etc that have been going around for the past 2 months, I have finally succombed.

Saturday (Easy Run)

Did not do this. Felt like I was coming down with something on Friday and feel a bit heady and throaty this morning. I will have to see how this goes today.

Sunday (St Neots Riverside Half Marathon)

Warm up (1.06 miles, 10.25)

Race (13.11 miles, 1:30.57, 6.56 min/mile, WHR% = 87, Splits = 6.46, 6.38, 6.53, 20.48(5K), 7.02, 6.50, 6.48, 42.04(10K), 44.48(HW), 6.52, 7.04, 7.17, 1:04.41(15K), 7.23, 7.01, 6.52, 1:26.23(20K), 6.38, 0.45)

Ran about as hard as I could and did not make the sub 1:30. I was generally on the money apart from the unulating 9th & 10th miles. Without these, I would have done it.

The Penultimate Week

Posted by Jon Steadman on November 9, 2009 at 9:13 PM Comments comments (0)

St Neots Riverside Half Marathon

Weeks to go: 1

Weekly Mileage: 30.83 miles


Final week of hard work before the taper for St Neots. I went a bit mad on Tuesday intervals given I still had Stevenage in my legs - when will I learn! I struggled for the remaining runs of the week. As Vicky and I were away at the weekend, we have to mode our LSR to Saturday, and do a short one. Given I am now 1 week out from the race, this will not have any adverse effects to my training, and may even do me some good.


Tuesday: Intervals - commitee meeting so done on a treadmill before normal training time.


Recovery Run (1.88 miles, 16:30, 8:47 min/mile)

Warm up (1 Km, 6 min/Km)

Intervals 6 x (1 Km @ 3.45 min/km, 0.33 Km @ 6.00 min/km jog recovery)

Warm down (2 Km, 10:30 min,  5.15 min/Km

This session hurt! 3:45 for 1 Km sits 1 second/Km above my maximum advised interval time and I did 6.

Wednesday: General run

General run (8.07 miles, 1:06:27, 8:14 min/mile)

Legs were very tired from Tuesday AND sunday, so not the best run.

Thursday: General Run

General run (8.38 miles, 1:09:59, 8:21 min/mile)


Saturday: General Run

General Run (5.67 miles,  47:04, 8:18 min/mile)


So I started to lay off it a bit at the end of this week, not doing lots fast looping on Thursdays club run, and no LSR at the weekend. All set now for a final taper to the race itself next week.

Stevenage Half Marathon

Posted by Jon Steadman on October 31, 2009 at 4:19 PM Comments comments (0)

Stevenage Half Marathon 1st November 2009

Race Length: Half Marathon

PB: 1:30.12 (6.53 min/mile) at Reading HM (March 2009)

MacMillan Predicted time: 1:30.12 (6.53 min/mile)

Target Time: 1:35.00-1:37.00 (7.15 -7.25 min/mile) based on pacing for this time or running the first half at 7:30 - 8:00 minute mile before accelerating to 6:52 min mile for the second half.

Outcome: 1.35.30 (112th)

Splits: 8.14 6.55 7.20 7.35 7.20 7.04 7.03 7.09 7.23 7.00 7.30 7.16 6.55 0.41


OK so correct time - wrong plan!


The race did not get off to a good start as we drove off. The weather was awful! A steadily increasing wind and rain. We arrived in good time (8:40) at a car park that we had been directed to ready to pick up our numbers from the race HQ (10 minute walk) for 9:00am, also as instructed. Trouble was the gates were locked and no marshals were in sight. It was not until after 9:00 that the gates were finally opened relieve ing the chaos for the locals in the car park. What made things really bad about this were that noone came to inform us of what was going on, and there was noone directing us to the start area either.  Once at the start, we had to queue in the wind/rain to pick up numbers/chips - also not good.


Anyway, on to the race.


Miles 1-3: (8.14, 6.55, 7.20)

Set off nice and easy up the hill to Fairlands Valley Park. Chatted to a Ware Jogger who informed me that the Ware women were not quite out in force - potential for ours to win then I thought. Got a bit carried away at mile 2, but got back on track for mile 3.


Miles 4: (7.35)

This saw a downhill section to a tight underpass, a climb and an exposed/open park section. I went passed several club members here including our womens team. Given that I had blown my go slow plan and the wind here was bad, I thought about slowing to act as a wind block, but carried on. I made a mental note to ensure I was near some 'large' people on the next lap.


Miles 5-6: (7.20, 7.04)

Out of the wind now and settled down to a nice rythm, but still going fast. The problem was I was continuously reeling in runners and it was just too easy to carry on doing it.  I did not spot the water station in time which meant that when I took a cup (only half full), I was still fumbling with my gel. This spilt more water and despite not taking all of the gel, I thought I may not have had enough water. This usually =  a stitch later...


Miles 7-10: (7.03, 7.09, 7.23, 7.00)

I hit the accelerator just past the 6 mile marker. Waiting here giving words of encouragement was a very brave club mate who came to watch - well done to her in the conditions. This section took you uphill to the far end of FV Park and back down again. I caught up a club mate doing his first half on the climb - he was looking good, then caught another in the park. Trouble was I was feeling a bit uncomfortable from the gel, the weather was awful, the climb was sapping - it was just not happening on the 'do the last half at 6:52 plan.'


Mile 11-12: (7.30, 7.16)

Ouch! This was the windy exposed section and this time around it was worse! I desperately tried to tuck in, but runners I were catching were going to slowly. Mile 12 was another of those underpass filled sections that knock you off rythm.


Mile 13-13.1: (6.55, 0.41)

I wound it up for the last section then on to the track for a finish. After always passing runners for the previous 12 miles, I did let 3 past. I duelled with one on the track, but did not have the will to beat him.


Overall a race dominated by the windy conditions. The course has constant undulations, tight turns and underpasses that throw you off your stride. I do not think I was feeling 100% physically or mentally for this. I felt much better at the Royal Parks Half a few weeks back where I ran 3:30 quicker.


I think that unless conditions are near perfect, sub 1:30 at St Neots will be a big ask