What to Do, What to Do!

The cry of a woodland bird or a half marathon veteran? Well, they are pretty much the same sound. Having completed a 5k, a 10k and a half marathon, guess what? Yes, I am considering training for a full marathon. I know that I said that I didn’t have time. I know that I said that running a half was sufficient and that I could never see myself running a marathon. I know all of that, but last night it struck me – I need a focus. A new goal.

I blame Runner’s World. I was reading it last night and there, in front me, appeared an ‘easy’ marathon training programme for beginners, which didn’t actually look that bad. It only goes up to 20 miles, which does worry me, so I might look at other plans (Jeff Galloway’s especially) but it’s possibly achievable.

Whilst I make up my mind I’ve ramped up my half marathon app by LoLo and Jeff Galloway to the improve option and set it for 10 min/mile from the 11 it was set at for the GNR. Today I did Day 1 which involved attempting Acceleration Gliding for the first time. Gliding is meant to be done on a hill, accelerating down it and using the momentum gained to improve overall speed. It’s a gentle way of doing intervals. I did it on a treadmill which proved to be a bit tricky.

The makeup of the workout was as follows:

5 minute walk to warm up

3 min ‘jog’ at 10.3 kph

4 cadence drills (30s at 10.3 and 12.2)

4 acceleration gliders (10.3 gliding up to 11.5 and on to 12.2)

1 mile run at 12.2 kph

3 minute walk to cool down

Basically I did what I was told. The gliders went up in speed quickly, which was difficult for the treadmill to cope with, and had a minute walk in between them, which the treadmill had barely slowed down for before I was running again! I’ve tweeted Jeff to ask for advice on how to do the gliders on the treadmill; it would be nice if he or one of his minions replied, but in the meantime I will carry of anticipating the changes. It felt pretty good despite the clunkiness of the gliders; I think glider is maybe not the most appropriate noun for what I am doing at the moment!

So, there we are. Things to think about, new things to try!

From the Wee Burn Bridge to the Barrel and Back

It’s been a wee while since I last shared my pearls of wisdom with you, sorry about that! I’ve been extraordinarily busy with all of my lives and that left little time for blogging. I haven’t stopped running though and even if that has meant 3 miles on the treadmill late at night, I’ve kept going.

Talking of the treadmill, controversy raised its ugly head last week when an online discussion on using one took a turn for the worse. To begin with I took the comments as the light hearted banter they were intended to be, but then it struck me that there are runners out there, especially new ones who probably lack confidence the most, that were also reading the comments and would be seeing them as put downs.  I don’t hate the treadmill, but I see it as a necessary evil which keeps me running at times when running would otherwise be impossible. And, in those circumstances, it becomes a God-send. Those runners who are blinkered by their own favourable circumstances (those that have all day to run, benefit from flexitime and showers at work or live in towns with well lit streets) have no right to tell those who have no choice but to use the treadmill that they are lesser runners. Even in jest.

Luckily my recent running has mostly taken place outdoors, with just a few treadmill runs. The reason for this is that I am still training with my husband and he finds running on our narrow treadmill difficult. Instead we have been regularly driving into town to run. Today I have a day off and, despite the fact that we have a weather warning here and the rain is falling horizontally, I decided that an outdoor run was necessary. I love running outside, I especially love running the trails and I really don’t care what the weather is doing most of the time. What I’m trying to say is, when I can run outside I DO run outside.

Just a second until I climb off my soapbox…

…there, that’s better. So, anyway, today’s long run was going to be relatively short one, but all off road. I set off in the driving rain and 50 mph winds wearing my Reebok rain jacket over a long sleeved running top and despite the rain the jacket was soon tied around my waist! I should have left it at home, but where we are we have the protection of a group of trees and it’s often difficult to properly assess the weather from the house.

The trail was much muddier than usual, a result of the torrential rain we had all night. It was so bad that I stopped trying to dodge puddles because they were too wide and just ran through them. My socks were soaked before the first quarter mile had passed! It was also that bad that I decided not to run the castle loop, but to run to a point and back. I’d started running earlier than I would have today because I left Murphy Dog at the house. Ordinarily I would have kept him on the lead down the track until we’d passed all the houses and then let him loose and started running. Today I started running at the Wee Bridge which would give me a bit more mileage.

I wasn’t looking at my Garmin particularly; I knew it was going to be a slow run today. The rocks, mud, puddles, rain and wind would see to that! Although the trees are tall and block the wind from the sea, they also act as a tunnel, funneling the wind along the track. It was quite strange running into the wind knowing that the wind had actually turned a corner just ahead in order to be blowing in my face!

When I reached 1.5 miles I almost turned round, but because I’d started sooner I realised that if I ran on as far as the track went I could get another half a mile out of the route. I ran to what was the lumber lorries turning point, a huge circle at the end of the track, and tagged a large barrel with rocks on its lid to keep it on. I have no idea what is in the barrel and, in this hunting, shooting, fishing environment, I really don’t want to know! It was my turning point and that was enough.

Running back was mostly uphill and I made a point of sprinting up each hill, giving my gluteus a good stretch! If nothing else the hills passed by faster! In doing so I startled a deer and saw its white tail disappear into the dense woodlands. What a scary sight I must be, hurtling around the countryside on days that most people are at home drinking soup in front of a roaring fire.

By the time I reached the Wee Bridge I was soaked. My shoes were like leaky boats and everything else was sodden, but I was smiling. I enjoyed my hurtle around the woods, albeit it a slow and careful one. Mr Garmin says that I did 3.47 miles in 37:10 giving me a leisurely 10:43 mile pace. That’ll do.

Later I expect to be heading into town to do a few more even more leisurely miles with my hubbie, maintaining my weekly mileage without worrying too much. Hopefully, by then, the wind and rain will have subsided a tad.


Running around Town

Although I love where we live, living out in the sticks really curtails outdoor running once the clocks go back. I’ve moaned on here enough about the lack of paths and street lighting. So our night time running takes us to the nearest town, Dumfries.

On Thursday I suggested, however, trying to run up and down the long road to the castle next door (yes, you read that right – we live just across the field from a castle. This is Scotland; everyone has a castle next door!) I had bought one of those lights you wear on your head and was keen to try it out. It was only a Lidl one, no expense spared, but it has worked well enough for me to tend to the hens each night! So my semi silent coach and I headed to the top of the castle road. Instantly my semi silent coach appeared to have been replaced by vintage Tony Hancock, a comedy actor whose act mostly revolved around him moaning copiously. The light wasn’t bright enough, he couldn’t see the potholes (potholes?), or the edge of the road and the hi-viz vest I’d lent him was too small – he looked silly. Sigh. I tried offering him the light, but no. It wasn’t going to do and I wasn’t prepared to listen to Hancock’s Half Hour for the entire run, so I suggested we drove into town after all.

Which was actually my best idea.

When I ran the Dumfries 10k in September the route goes along the Lockerbie Road past Tesco so I suggested parking in Tesco’s car park and running the opposite way, towards the town centre. You can’t go the other way, it’s not paved or lit. With Murphy dog saddled up we set off for a 3 minute warm up walk. I had altered the intervals on my Garmin from 3:1 to 4:1 (don’t worry, it was a pre-agreed arrangement) and for most of the way I ran ahead with the dog. I could tell Tony Hancock was behind me still by the sound of wheezing and the slap of heavy feet on the path. If the sound got less audible, I knew to slow down. Stealth is not his strong point. He’d certainly never make a hunter.

We’d obviously come on a Dumfries Harrier’s club night because we met many runners, all running the circuit we’d chosen, but in the opposite direction. We got lots of cheery hellos and one or two forced ones once I done my usual shame-you-into-being-pleasant “hiya”. Our route took us from Matalan at the Peel Centre, up along Lockerbie Road to the mini roundabout, turning right, up the hill along the Moffat Road, past Little Italy and turned left onto the Edinburgh Road. We followed the river to Lover’s Walk and turned left, past the station and back onto the Lockerbie Road. It was a good route, mostly of just under 3 miles.

What surprised me the most was that even without my beat synced music I was able to maintain an almost identical pace on every run interval. I always thought pacing was my weak point, but I can’t fault the pacing I’ve been achieving this last few weeks, albeit mostly at a slower pace than I’m used.

Tony Hancock no longer had the breath to moan, thank goodness. He had done very well though and wasn’t falling too far behind despite the run intervals being a minute longer. When we finished he commented that it was a good route, a challenging one – with hills. Erm, no. Those are gentle rises, not hills. I really hope that he is up for some proper hill training later on! To out final insult to his dignity, I made Mr Hancock stretch out, in the car park, outside Matalan before allowing him to get back into the car.

I’m quite enjoying being a PT. I think I have what it takes. Pure evil.

Autumn Trails

There really isn’t anything better than off road running on a sunny Autumn day. Really, there isn’t. The sun is low and spills through the ever-increasing gaps in the tree tops, sparkling with a leaf induced orange glow. I really don’t care how long I take on such days. My Garmin is simply a piece of jewellery, logging my distance.

After completing our Sunday tasks, my semi silent coach and I reversed roles and I took over the training again. I am not, however, semi silent. Did I hear him mutter “More’s the pity?” I hope not! As I mentioned earlier, my hubbie is not a fan of trail running. It’s hard work and demands much more of your lower legs and core. He much prefers a nice easy run on a path. Oh well. We don’t always get what we want.

We took Murphy dog, who has been accompanying us on all of our recent runs. He has had to get used to running on the lead through the parks, which is great practice for both of us as I’ve been planning starting racing with Murphy at Canix events. Usually Murphy runs free so I have been surprised by how well he is running at the end of a lead, save for one disaster on our last run when he decided it was time for a ‘bear stop’ in the middle of a run interval and was left being dragged along at the end of his lead before I noticed! He looked like one of those toy dogs on wheels!

Get the picture?

Once we’d warmed up we set off at a steady pace (11 min/mile) for our first run interval. I have to say 11 min/mile pace on the trails we run on is respectable. The trail consists mostly of either rocks or mud, take your pick. It’s not a nice easy surface.  You respect the trail because if you don’t it will literally trip you up, or worse!

At times the trail slowed us to a walk as we tried to get through slippery and deep mud, but generally speaking we managed to maintain 11 min/mile pace when running and, at times, even faster finishing with a last lap at 9:46! Admittedly this was on the tarmac as we headed away from the castle.

All in all we did 2.28 miles in 28.01, averaging 12:17 pace and at the end I looked like this:


And Murphy looked like this:


Poor Murphy.

I am the Personal Trainer, listen up!

My poor husband.

This week saw us recommence his 5k training in preparation for the Bupa Great Winter Run. The GWR takes place in Edinburgh on January 6th and sees us climb the long extinct volcano at Arthur’s Seat. It was his first race last year and, at the time, I daren’t tell him that the race involved a 2 km climb! This year he knows what to expect and has even requested some hill repeats in his training!

I promised that as soon as I’d finished the Jedburgh 10k we’d start and start we did on Wednesday with a 2 mile run around Dumfries. It was dark by the time we both arrived home and, with nowhere to safely run here in the countryside, we drove the ten miles into town to run on the well lit paths. I chose a route we’ve used before around a park largely only used by dog walkers at that time of night. It’s generally well lit, but unfortunately a couple of the lights weren’t working which made running a little more interesting, to say the least! The park runs alongside the River Nith and a circuit of it gave us just under a mile.

I set my Garmin to beep at 3 minutes and 1 minute, using this to signal run and walk intervals. Other that that we just ran steadily. Using this we averaged out at a steady 13:25 minute mile pace. Considering that the last time my husband ran was in June I didn’t think that was too bad!

On Friday my hubbie came up to Dumfries and met me at my gallery. We set off from there, using the walk across the river to warm up. We decided to run a longer circuit less times, but still using the 3:1 run:walk ratio. I knew almost straight away that our pace was faster, although as it was dark I couldn’t easily see my Garmin and I didn’t want to keep putting the light on!

This time we ran along the west side of the river, across a suspension bridge (always interesting when other people are on it!) and through Dock Park. A shorter circuit, using a second suspension bridge, gave us just over 2 miles. On checking our pace this morning I was right to think we were a little faster than the previous time. On average the pace evened out to 12:30 minute miles, that’s a good minute per mile faster.

It’s a lovely day today, a proper Autumn day, and I’ve convinced my hubbie that a trail run would be wonderful. He’s not known for his love of trail running, but, now that he knows just how tough the GWR is, I think he’s happy to let me push the boundaries a tad.

To maintain my own distance running I’ve decided that I’ll run again tomorrow. I don’t work on a Monday (Sunday and Monday are our weekend as we both work on a Saturday) so it seems ideal to make use of that extra day and not let my role as PT interfere with my own fitness.