Monday night’s session was so tough, there’s no way I would have pushed myself so hard if I had been running alone. Coach Penny set us 4 x 6mins of Kenyan hills, which means you effort on the up and don’t really slow down as you head back to the start. It wasn’t the longest hill climb we do but it was long enough!
There are too many fantastic runners in my club to ease back and glide along. There’s always someone ahead of me to chase and someone breathing down your neck to prevent complacency; group running is brilliant for helping you push yourself to new limits. I don’t time myself at Penny’s hill sessions as for me it’s about effort, not chasing a figure on my watch. After the first set of six minutes I doubted I would be able to do four, but everyone supports each other, and somehow we managed them all. I reached the same stage at the end of each rep, so my speed remained constant. This didn’t mean I didn’t feel the need for a pacemaker by the end.
For the first time in seven weeks I was able to finish the session, do the final set of strides and warm down stretches. It’s the little things in life, isn’t it? I also shrugged off my ‘I can’t run any more’ funk that had slipped into my mind at the weekend. The speed was still in my legs.
Tuesday I need to recover, but it was time to pull up my big girl pants and get on with some proper strength and conditioning work. I’ve been slack and it’s not going to get me anywhere. So I did my leg work (forward lunges, glute activation stretches, single leg squats, calf raises) and added super mans, clams for my lazy bum, standing lunges with a weight in my hand and leg lifts while resting my arms in a chair). It was on to bridges, then adding a single leg extension of 45 degrees and finally repeated after I had raised each leg to the ceiling, so 90 degrees to the floor. Arms: half chin-ups on the bar (an embarrassing 12, I really have been lazy), tricep dips (30) off the sofa, for my core some incredibly hard leg raises while lying on the floor (instructed by Sienna who is my core conditioning coach, so these are exercises she does at gym) finished with a plank for two minutes. Then I stretched and got on the foam roller for some agony, the double ball foam roller to get right into my glutes, then the hand held one on the sofa for a top-up. That was me trying to make up for months of laziness!
We all need to do this, but in reality how many of us do it enough? I haven’t managed a leg massage for ages as the amazing San who usually does the best job on my legs has moved a bit further away and finding the time to fit this in, in an already packed out week is impossible. So foam roller it is.
I ‘tri’ed hard this week…
Wednesday was freezing, about 4 degrees, and colder on the bike with the wind chill, but as the bike doesn’t care about the cold I thought why should I. Once I’d got my work done I cycled a long route to the pool, did 32 lengths, including a warm up, 4 x 25m efforts (my strides) 400m at full effort, 3 x 50 as fast as I could then a warm down. I treated myself to about two minutes in the steam room, the same in the sauna, then cycled home and my legs were still twitchy so I ran a mile round the block, with the cold pushing me on to do it in under seven minutes. If I had done two miles I would have completed a sprint triathlon! I’m definitely progressing. For me it’s all about slow progression. If I do this again I’m only going to add on a little extra on the run. There’s nothing to prove and no one to impress; it’s about slow steps back to fitness and maintaining my running, not burning out/blowing out/worrying about others.
Thursday was mile reps, the session you just can’t wait for. I tried to ignore the dread and think positively about my mile reps before I went out. I was also sooooo lucky that my partner David agreed to bike round with me, as doing them on my own is miserable. The temperature was almost 10 degrees warmer than when I was out on my bike yesterday… this weird winter we are having. What has happened to our planet? Mile 1 was wasn’t too bad as I did a good warm up indoors before we left, mile 2 felt like I was flying and probably went too fast, during mile three, into the wind, I realised I had gone a bit too fast in mile 2, which made mile four tough. I managed to keep the motivation going just until my legs had had enough.
6:49 (Ave HR 124 – this must be wrong I think, although if it isn’t it’s great!)
6:39 (Ave HR 168)
6:58 (Ave HR 169)
6:52 (Ave HR 171)
I’m going to keep pushing the speed and my mile 2 was almost back to what I would call decent running (for me). Please let it last. Everything seems to be coming together at the moment. I just hope I can keep up training right up to marathon race day.
Friday is leading others from my club and we were spoilt with 10 lovely shingle reps along the front of beach huts at our nearest shoreline. Everyone was pushing themselves, and each other, to give 100%. In the evening when I dropped Sienna at gymnastics in Portsmouth I also went out for a shorter run with Sue, another gym mum, and she was fantastic running two miles without stopping (she’s only just started running). Well done Sue!
‘Snow joke running a 10K
Saturday I needed to rest my legs. I wanted to do 30 minutes slow on the turbo just to turnover, but I couldn’t fit it in as I was too busy with the girls. I marshaled at Lee parkrun and the weather was hideous; I had full body shivers by the end and the wind was crazy. How long can these endless storms keep rolling in?
Sunday was an effort/endurance day as I had a place at the first Cancer Research Snowflake 10K in Southampton, so I wanted to run that fast (ish) then add an extra nine miles on to take me up to 15 miles. David and I headed over to Southampton Common, which I’ve run round lots as it’s where we hold our Women’s Running 10K as well, so I knew there’s a little hill round the back. It was a really good turnout for a first race and everyone was happy, despite the cold and the wind. It’s amazing what running with polar bears can do for morale.
The 10K was well organised, a two lap course with the hill twice, plenty of support from the marshals and even a snow machine to run through. There were lots of people tackling their first 10K and quite a lot of walkers, too – being all-inclusive is what these events excel at. They’re a lot less intense than competitive races, and generally much more fun! However… there are always some people who want to push the pace, and there were a few ladies (and gents) who were giving it their best. My aim was to get under 45mins.
I hate 10Ks and I am crap at them. This is why I run one a year. So I dragged my tired legs round, a little grumpy with the cold and wind. David kept popping up on his mountain bike to shout out encouragement, but it didn’t make it any less painful than every other 10K you run. How can anyone like running them? The course was quite a bit over distance, and I clocked 6.5miles on my Garmin. My time for 6.25 would have been about 44:35 I think. I was the first lady in, followed by my lovely running friend Anna from Run Verity, and Tasha Avery from Itchen Spitfires. It goes to say, if any local speedy ladies had turned up I wouldn’t have been first!
As soon as I finished I threw on some kit and carried on with some extra laps, the first 30 minutes being very shaky due to a massive blood sugar drop that a double cereal bar and two gels eventually evened out. I found it hard to keep running after a race in the cold, but it’s perfect practise for when your legs are tired in the last six miles of a marathon. I earnt my lunch.
Once I got home it was back to the girls and a new week to gear up for, but I’ve edged my longest run up to 15 miles. When training for Edinburgh Marathon my left hip started to seize from 16 miles on, so I am nearly at that point and so far am not feeling any niggles or injuries. All I’m suffering from is tiredness, and that I can cope with.
Did you see any polar bears when out running this week?
How do you feel your long runs are going?