my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise

Long bike ride – and a training regime of running AND cycling to achieve my 5k running goal

I survived!

Yes, my ‘long’ bike ride with Tom went well and we got home before it was dark. We cycled 27.6 miles in 1:36. Here’s my activity on Strava:

It was a wonderful evening for it – bright blue cloudless skies, warmth from the sun without being oppressive and not a great amount of traffic on the roads. It was also dry!

Tom must have realised how excited I was to be cycling with someone else, and was good enough to suggest that I don’t set off too quickly early on given the climbs we’d have to tackle on the route. Given that I’d not done this route before, it was a wise decision to heed his words and settle back in the saddle a bit.

The route took in the delights of the ‘Beast of a Climb’ segment up to Bramcote from Beeston, before heading across the A52 towards Trowell and then on to Ilkeston and our first major climb. Now, I have some hills I usually negotiate on the way to work and I think this helped me deal with the hill ok. Then we had a fast downhill section before some steady climbs towards Heanor. Once out of Ilkeston, the road opened up and suddenly we had some breathtaking views of the locality and felt like we were far from the stresses and strains of city/suburban life.

This for me is one of the great advantages of cycling over running – you can get out and away from your little bubble of a world much quicker, covering more ground and finding more new places to discover as your radius is so much wider.

I was enjoying the ride and Tom generally took the lead for most of the first half of the ride as I didn’t really know where I was going. We got to roughly the halfway stage and I still felt pretty fresh at this point. Bananas were eaten and skins disposed of and this definitely gave me a boost I needed, although I didn’t feel like I did until the energy kicked in some time later on.

We got home in good time following some enjoyable ‘drafting’ (one of us leading with the other in tight behind the leader’s slipstream) and we picked up our average speed well on the mostly downhill second half of the ride.

I learnt a lot on this ride with Tom. I learnt about the etiquette of cycling with others, including various hand signals for slowing down and bumps/obstructions in the road. I also learnt about the lead riders’ entitlements to move out to the middle of the road to allow others to take up the strain at the front, and that as a rider behind anyone else, you need to ensure there is daylight between your front wheel and the back wheel of the bike in front. Why? Well, really it’s for the riders’ safety behind the other. The front wheel is not a fixed wheel in that it can easily be titled to change direction which could be very dangerous. The back wheel is more fixed and so any crash is going to leave the second rider in far more trouble than the lead rider, as the lead rider is still more in control of his bike than the second rider could be.

Despite doing more than a marathon distance albeit on a bike, I have to say I felt pretty fresh afterwards and even the next day I couldn’t feel any particular signs of weariness or tightness. I therefore see cycling as a good alternative activity to running. Cycling has less impact on the joints, and works different muscles to running. Therefore, you are getting a more rounded body workout by combining the two activities.

I’ve recently been given a training plan by a friend of mine to help me try to reach one of my running goals for 2013, which I spoke about on ‘A mixed bag of runningness.’ It is to help me accomplish running a 5K race in sub 17 minutes. My best time so far is 18:22.

This week saw the implementation of this training plan and I’m endeavouring to stick to it as far as possible. However, when he asked me how many runs I could fit in, in a week, I said 4 (optimistically). The training plan he’s given me has me running 5 times a week, so there is probably going to have to be some give and take on what I can realistically achieve, particularly during term time.

It began yesterday cycling to ( and from ( work. Tick! Today I needed to cycle in but taking it really easily (tick! – although I found it hard to be disciplined enough not to go faster! – and then come home time, I need to do a hard fartlek running session (yet to tick!). This will involve me warming up for ten minutes and then running hard for 1k, 2 minute recovery, run hard for 500m, 2 minute recovery and then repeating the process 6 times (with the aim of getting this up to 10 times eventually). I can see myself being pretty drained by the time I walk through the door at home tonight!

Part of the training plan also speaks about ‘core strength’ work and my friend, Jamie, who wrote the plan says it is an essential part of the programme, but only takes 30 minutes once a week. Apparently, I need some light weights, a swiss ball and a mat…I have some light weights, a bouncy ball my wife never uses and a rug – d’ya reckon that’ll be ok? It’ll have to be!

Jamie said he’s going to be coming up to Nottingham soon and will demonstrate what he means by core strength activities. I’ve googled it briefly and it looks like a bunch of exercises that should be pretty straightforward…but I could be in for a big surprise!

I also need to look into protein shakes to aid recover after what are going to be tough running sessions. Do you use any? Which ones would you recommend?

Some questions I’d love you reply to:

Are you running to a training plan at the moment? If so, what distance is it for?

Do you cycle as part of your weekly exercise routine?

What ‘core strength’ activities do you undertake at the moment?

Keep on runnin’



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