A question of training

On Monday I planned to run my intervals at lunchtime, but with a sprinkling of slushy snow underfoot and a busy work schedule, I opted for a 2 mile bimble and picked up the intervals on the treadmill in the evening, doing a 1km run and 1km recovery for 5km.

I felt great running the intervals, had some classic cheesy 80s movie tunes on my iPod (Footloose anyone?) and kept upping the pace. I was too late for my semi regular aqua class, so I jumped in the pool for a few lengths of front crawl, just to keep in practice. Managed 200m then a pause (stopped the watch) and another 200m in 9min 30. And followed up with another 200m in 4.30.

You know, as I write that now, I can see that’s quite a lot. But I felt okay; stretched out and slept like a log.

I rely on Tuesday’s run to push me. I had my favourite running buddy on my side, encouraging, coaching and driving the pace. And the air was still, not too cold – a perfect day for a run. But we were barely on our way and doing the usual catch up ‘how’s the training?’ when he offered me a shorter option. And I took it.

My legs were heavy. I knew I wasn’t moving as quickly as I can. I just didn’t feel fresh. So instead of our fast 10k, we did a respectable paced 6k. And we talked about my training plan, and Ian was trying to work out if he’s got it wrong. If it’s too much. If he’s pushing me too hard.

At the moment it looks like this:
Mon – intervals
Tues – 10k fast paced run
Weds – intervals
Thurs – PT session
Fri – rest day (I usually do a pilates class)
Sat – weights workout
Sun – 10/11k run

I like my training plan. It gives me a focus and helps me decide what to do. So, at the moment, my goal is to run a darn fast 10k on Easter Sunday. Hence the focus on speed training in my plan. There are some classes and other things that I like to do, but I know my priority at the moment is to get the runs in.

On Wednesday, I went out again on sluggish, heavy legs. I scrapped the intervals and just bimbled for 3k – which is neither here nor there really. So I gave myself the night off, calling it a blip and made a good start again with my PT session this morning.

I don’t like doubting my plan. I’m not daft and won’t push myself to do something if it really hurts or I’m not well, just to stick to the plan. But I’m not quite at that stage. It’s more feeling a bit weary, and not quite knowing how I’ll be until I start running.

And of course over-analysing doesn’t help either. Is it because I’m running more on consecutive days – could be as many as four in a row? Is it the timing of the runs – would I be better trying to get one in on a morning before work and having a longer recovery time?

Talking it over with Ian as he put me through my paces on the beach has really helped me sort out my questions and I’m going to drop one of my interval sessions to give myself another rest day. It feels like a good decision and gives me chance to focus on quality, rather than churning out junk miles. It’s about being flexible, finding what works for you. Getting the balance right between wussing out and training too hard. Plans can change, but I still have my eyes set on that sub 50 min 10k goal.

Sub 50min 10k – training week 2 (10k flat run)

After my long run (10k) on Saturday I had to go off plan for a couple of days, which meant no training at all on Sunday or Monday.

On Tuesday I caught up with my favourite running buddy, Ian, with the intention of a fast flat 10k. It was fast and flat alright and almost 10k (9.77 for those who are counting). But it was a bit of a strange one, so I want to try and remember it in case the experience is useful.

I was too warm for a start – long tights, long sleeve top and short sleeve top and it was surprisingly mild and not windy at all. I wasn’t uncomfortably warm, just a reminder that I can start layering down again.

The first couple of km felt okay and we were talking away as we normally do. But every so often I’d get a strange feeling in my stomach, kinda queasy and uncomfortable. I’ve never had that out on a run before.

We altered our boring old road route, trying to find a perfect 10k and a nice bit away from the roads but still on tarmac paths. Somewhere along the way my Garmin warned me that it was running out of space for data, so I was wondering if I’d get to the end of the run with no idea how I’d done. And the queasy feeling kept coming and going. Sometimes I was fine and then I’d get a few moments when I thought I’d have to stop.

But with Ian saying ‘Show me what you’re made of’, I kept pushing on and managed to shake off the stomach pains, only to have my legs go strangely jelly like. It was as though I’d lost all feeling in them for a while. They just didn’t feel like my legs. But my breathing was good and when I had my head right I kept on going.

But that little voice just kept on piping up and in the end I had to say “I need to stop”. It was my head that stopped me. The other symptoms were manageable, but I just needed to stop and give myself a moment to mentally reset.

In all I probably paused for less than a minute, but I’ve never done that before on a run with Ian (thanks largely to a mixture of pride and bloody mindedness). And we picked it up again and ran for home, even pushing on hard for the last few hundred metres.

So you’re probably thinking, put that one down to experience, don’t worry about it. But despite all that it was a good run.

9.77km in 51.39
1. 4.14
2. 5.10
3. 4.58
4. 5.31
5. 5.22
6. 5.28
7. 5.33
8. 5.39
9. 5.38
10. 4.02

So lessons learned – don’t write off a run until you get to the end and it’s good to run with a buddy you trust (but I knew that already).

I’m not going to fret about why I felt a bit weird and wobbly unless it happens again. In all likelihood I probably needed a bigger bowl of porridge for breakfast. But I am going to remember that I can pull out a good run even when I’m not feeling 100%.

Out for a run

Porridge, banana, blueberries and honey. Emergency pound coin and keys in the back pocket. Garmin set, stretch and go…

What happened to me? When did this become my weekend routine? What did I used to do besides the usual cleaning, tidying, washing, cooking?

I can no longer really remember, because the itch of the run takes over. Even on a grey day, a cold day, it’s there when I wake, when I know it’s a run day.

Today I venture out and soon skip back indoors in search of another layer. The north wind is baltic blowing over from Scandanavia. There’s ice in its touch.

But the air is clean, and the ozone tang of the sea sucks at my lips. I set off, anxious to be moving to warm myself through this cold air.

The breeze challenges my eagerness, cautions me to ease into this, biting at my ears, my nose, my fingers. Breath steams out in patches as I battle with sense that says steady and the anxiety to do better.

I’m tense and tetchy. Struggling to push on tired legs, wanting to make this one count, but manage the distance. Brows furrowed, heckles raised, running into the crosswind. Isn’t the theory for a 10k blast out and hang on…? Stop thinking and analysing so much…relax and enjoy it. Gradually the knots are eased away. But then I drift. Lose focus. Fall off the pace.

I turn at the usual marker and it’s like someone turned the volume off. The wind’s white noise vanishes and the temperature rises in an instant. Now I should pick it up. Now I should run free, stretch out, push the pace while the air is still. But the legs are heavy and I’m coasting, taking the easy option.

Still it’s a glorious thing to be out and running. And I tell myself this will be a good one. That I’ll feel good when I’ve done it.

On the way home now and catch up with a couple of runners. A few hundred meters to go and I push up the tempo, showing off. But I’m wishing for this to end as I struggle for breath. Distance done, I pull up and stretch out my hamstrings. The runners go past and are soon out of sight as I jog home out of the rain.

10km 54.37
1. 5.07
2. 5.24
3. 5.40
4. 5.40
5. 5.41
6. 5.24
7. 5.21
8. 5.36
9. 5.22

Sub 50 min 10k – training week 1

I have an 8 week training plan to take me to my next 10k and my target of a shiny new PB. The plan has two interval sessions and two 10kish runs in each week and means I’m running several days on the bounce, which I haven’t done for some time.

Sunday wasn’t an official training day, but I went out with no goals or expectations, just a run to clear my head. If I felt bad I’d stop, but I took it easy and felt fine, and everyone along the route gave me a smile. So I managed a respectable 10k in 55 mins.

Monday I did my first intervals session – 0.5k run, 0.5k recovery x5. And that was okay, apart from me forgetting to stop the Garmin and clocking up a whole 5 hours and my car journey home. The run was circa 27/28 mins.

Tuesday was supposed to be a 10k and it’s usually the day I’m joined by a running buddy. But I was on my own this week and really not feeling it. I practically talked myself out of it after 500m and a puddle.

I was doing constant deals with myself throughout, get to that landmark then ease off, run 4km out and 4 back and if you feel up to it, do a lap of the building. Basically my head was a mess and I let myself off with a 6k and a fair few moments walking. But that’s okay, I’m not going to beat myself up about being a bit down at the moment.

I didn’t sleep too well on Tuesday night and was tempted to give myself Wednesday off. But I took my kit into work in the hope that I’d pick myself up again. Checking to see if I had been successful in the Great North Run ballot and finding I had, gave me a real lift.

And then another runner in my office spotted me heading off with my kit bag, so we ran intervals together. A couple of weeks ago, she said I pushed her pace on. Today she kept me going – especially when I miscounted and thought we’d finished and then Gerty the Garmin let out another set of bleeps.

Wednesday night’s boxercise was circuit style and tough, particularly the push ups and burpees. But I had a good punching partner and just about kept going through to a punishing complex at the end.

Thursday is my regular PT session down on the beach. Always a reason to start the day with a smile, even though it was bitter cold with a Baltic wind this morning. But we had a clean stretch of sand and blue skies above us. My cheeks were soon as pink as the clouds after a kettlebell warm up that would have been a tough main workout not so long ago.

Ian’s trying to mix things up as I’m doing some kettlebell training on my own at home now. So this week he dragged out the dreaded backpack, loaded with 1 stone in weight and put me through my paces boot camp style.

Squat jumps, shuttle runs, split lunges, shuttle runs, wall push ups, shuttle runs, tricep dips, shuttle runs – and just when my legs and breath were completely shot, a quick run up the stone steps and back. Oh and I did that three times. Talk about a whole body blast.

So tonight I feel like I’ve earned my rest. And I don’t feel too bad for wolfing down a couple of organic sausages at tea time. I may regret them when I go for my weigh in tomorrow though.

Farewell my littlest sister

Dearest Ava,

I can’t remember the first two times I was told “You’ll be getting a new baby brother or sister”. But there can’t be that many 38 year olds who get to hear those words. And in your case, I laughed, and giggled the rest of the night at the craziness of it. That my dad, in his 50s was going to go through all the nappies and bibs and bottles with his second wife, and us three kids would be a team of four.

We’re all grown ups, your brother and sisters, with lives of our own and some of us live far away. But we got to hear how you were getting on. Got to find out you were in fact a she and you had a name.

Just a few days ago I was laughing and joking with your daddy about his latest keep fit campaign, saying you’d be keeping him on his toes.

So it’s cruel, beyond cruel that I’ll never get to kiss your cheek or hold your hand, my love. That you’ve been taken from a family that had so much love to offer. A family that still burns bright with the joy of our last new arrival, your nephew who is now 8 years old.

I just want to rage at the senslessness of it. But, had we met, I know you’d have inspired me to tenderness. So instead I wrote your name in the sand and blew you a tender kiss over the waves.

Dearest Ava, you never got to meet your crazy family, but believe me when I say you are much loved and you’ll always be my sister in my heart.

Love, big sis xxx