Revealing All

The last words I said about using the treadmill were to my husband the other day when I said that running 10km on one was more than enough.

So today I ran 14.1 km.

It’s week 8, day 4 of the Improve Your Half Marathon plan that I’ve been following and it’s bloody hard work, let me tell you! Improving apparently means working harder. I wasn’t expecting that. It involves running faster intervals and counting your steps and learning how to coast. I wasn’t expecting any of this. Let’s just hope that it works, because it’s bloody hard work. Did I say that already?

My training programme looks like this:

jeff

(taken from http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/half_marathon.html)

I’ve asked it to give me 10 minute pace which should give me  2:17 over 13.1 miles. We’ll see. As it is I do seem to be keeping to the pace on longer runs (not 10 min/mile pace yet though – the long runs are at 11 min/mile pace), but I admit that I find the raised pace in training sessions really tough.

I mentioned in my last post that my PT son had concocted an isotonic sports drink for me.

[Isotonic – quickly replaces fluids lost by sweating and supplies a boost of carbohydrate. This drink is the choice for most athletes – middle and long distance running or team sports. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy therefore it may be appropriate to consume Isotonic drinks where the carbohydrate source is glucose in a concentration of 6% to 8% – e.g. High Five, SiS Go, Boots Isotonic, Lucozade Sport. Taken from www.brianmac.co.uk/drinks.htm]

The recipe Ben used was:

  • 2 parts water to 1 part fruit juice (he used pure orange juice from concentrate)
  • pinch of salt

It tastes fine and, if it does the job, is a lot cheaper than shop bought drinks. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenC106 He’s talking about starting his own blog on fitness, so watch this space.

On being quiet and just getting on with it.

I take my blog writing style from the fictional Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame. Carrie, I feel, had that way of approaching subjects that are only important to a few select individuals and making them everyone’s latest big issue. My blog is read by few, probably appreciated by less, but is important, I hope, to one or two select individuals.

So, what is my latest big issue?

Not much, to be honest. I find myself blogging less about what I’m doing, even forgetting to blog about long runs, as the runs get longer and my free time lessens. As the title implies, I’m just running, getting the job done and getting on with life. And, sometimes, that’s all we can do.

(See, now that was a Carrie style metaphor for life. I can hear your impressed applause from here!)

I’m up to 11 miles now in my long run status in training for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Edinburgh at the end of my Easter holidays. I’m really looking forward to the whole Rock and Roll weekend. Hubbie and I have booked our wobble box (the caravan) into a good camp site nearby and I’m excitedly reading about the  many bands we will be listening both on the way round and in the after race concert at Holyrood. I will even attend an expo, my first proper expo! Even the Great North Run last year didn’t have an expo to attend, just a few races with one or two celebrities at the quayside. I can get my photo taken looking excited prior to the event – how cool. How very American! I’m secretly very envious of my US running pals who have fabulous pre-race, in-race and post-race photos. I get a pic taken in the caravan of what I looked like before and then a few blurry blob in-race photos to share. It’s terribly sad.

Last weekend I ran my 11 miles on the shore road. I was going to do two loops of my 5 mile circuit, but the weather has been so wet I doubted that the loop would be puddle free and, as regular readers, you will remember that a Scottish puddle is the equivalent of a pond elsewhere. Ducks swim on them. Dolphins have been spotted.

The weather was lovely, total running perfection. Calm, blue skies, sunshine and chilly. I went out fueled by porridge and banana and took an isotonic drink and a handful of dextrose tablets. I had downloaded a new running album, all rock songs, and was eager to see how they sounded. Although the original artists weren’t serenading me, it certainly wasn’t karaoke central. I was pleased by how well the songs fitted my pace and how good they sounded. If you want to download a bargain this is it: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/worlds-greatest-rock-runnning/id585790865

I ran fairly smoothly, although as usual it took me a few miles to feel comfortable. It’s as if I have a brief respite between feeling sluggish and then feeling knackered and the miles just whizz by, briefly. I was running at just under 11 min mile pace. I find running at below race pace tough. I’m meant to be building up my speed and seeing 11 min/miles on my Garmin really gets to me! I know that’s the point, long runs should be easy and are there to build up endurance and it shouldn’t frustrate me, but I’m just too competitive, so it does.

This week I’ve struggled with feeling “right”. I didn’t feel that my long run was particularly stressful. I recovered very quickly. I don’t seem to ache as maybe I should after a long run. I am tired, but I get no real muscle ache, just a bit of initial stiffness if I’ve been sitting for a while. Maybe I’m lucky like that or maybe the run:walk philosophy is keeping me injury free, I don’t know. Whatever the answer is, I’m not changing anything. It works for me. Anyway, what should have been an interval session on Wednesday got swopped for a recovery run and a short one at that. I’m meant to do two 45 minute runs in the week, a walk on Saturday and my weekend run. On Wednesday I could hardly put one foot in front of the other and ended up doing a measly 30 minutes and being really annoyed with myself. On Friday I knew that I was due for a straight 45 minutes run at above race pace and I knew I wasn’t ready for that either. I adjusted the speed (it’s easy done on the Jeff Galloway Half Marathon app) and this is what I heard:

“OK, I’m pleased that you are listening to your body. Let’s lower the pace.”

Isn’t that what we all need to hear sometimes? I actually did 30 minutes at 10.3 kph and the last 15 minutes at 11.3 kph, adjusting the pace on the hoof. And I felt good.

Today I have 800m intervals to do. I was toying with heading to a local track and doing them there, but there is a race on. So, unfortunately it’s an treadmill day. I say unfortunately because the weather is perfect for a long run and it would be great to get out there. If it stays like this I’m tempted to do a short recovery run tomorrow.

I will be fueled today by porridge and banana (I’m typing this whilst waiting for it to “land”) and a sports drink made by my son who has been studying sports nutrition this week as part of his B.Tech course. He has made a cheap and nutritionally equivalent sports drink out of orange juice, lemon juice and salt. It tastes fine and lacks added sugar that shop bought ones have. I hope that it works; I have a gallon of orange juice in my fridge. Maybe I should worry more about being a guinea pig. Last night I dined out prior to a concert on Beans in Tomato Sauce (which, I know, sounds like a can has been opened, but was actually very nice) served with boiled potatoes, green beans and carrots. I won’t divulge the starter and dessert. That’ll just spoil the picture you have of my carb and protein high dinner. Instead I will leave you with a video of the band we saw last night. The world’s greatest rock and roll ba-ha-ha-hand.

MishMash

This post is going to be a mishmash of all the things I’ve done this week. It may not make any sense! Just go with me on this.

Training

Training is going well, if being permanently knackered counts as “going well”. I must admit that I’m finding the Improve you Half Marathon element of the Jeff Galloway Half Marathon training app tough.

I’m doing things I haven’t done much of before (proper interval training) as well as things I’ve never tried before (gliders, cadence counting). The gliders and cadence are fine; the intervals are killers! 800m

reps at 12.2 kph/7.6mph with 3 minutes walk in between (not even rest!!) is hard and sometimes, I admit, I’m not always making it to the end of each interval.

However, I will persevere.

I’m up to Week 7 of the plan now and looking forward to a dry and sunny 11 mile run this coming weekend.

Ab exercises

What a mess I’ve made of this. I am naturally stiff in the neck and shoulder; I can’t help it, that’s where I carry my stress. Before, when I was doing a Plank-a-Day, I had to stop because my neck kept going into spasm. I thought I was doing well with my Ab Workout, but the week before last I had to stop. My neck and upper back were solid.

My son, who is completing a B.Tech in Sports at the local college, asked what my posture was like and, of course, I had no idea because I can’t see myself! My husband said that I tend to lift my head first before coming up and my son thinks that this is the problem. He reckons I should be looking straight up towards the ceiling. I’ll try again, although at the moment the only thing I want to do is a nice bit of yoga to try and relax a few stiff muscles.

Shoes

The GoRuns are still performing well, although I think I’m landing heavier than I was wearing my Brooks. It might just be my imagination, but I seem to be fair slapping my feet on the treadmill. I don’t feel any more tired though and my legs aren’t suffering.

 

Music

I need to refresh my running music. Much as I love the Quo, I need something else as well to get me going. I keep looking at iTunes and most of the albums (showing my age here) seem to be full of songs I’ve never heard of. I did see one a while back that was all rock songs, which would be great, but I’m still to track it down.

Nutrition

I’m seriously impressed by the EnergyBits. That’s two good runs I’ve taken them for, just a handful before setting off, and they’ve powered me up to 90 minutes with juice. They aren’t the nicest things to take, that’s the drawback, and I don’t know how I’d manage with them on a run because they are the same size as an average vitamin pill and you have to take between 20 and 40 at a time! This last time I took 20 in one go and they aren’t sweeties! I’m going to look at pricing though, see if it’s feasible.

I also discovered this last week that potato crisps are on my list of banned substances. It must be to do with the way they are produced because even the supposed gluten free ones are giving me the most awful stomach cramps. I’m sticking to tortilla chips and the like, unless I find something that is labelled “gluten free, we promise – stick needles in our eyes if we lie.”

 

Skechers GoRun Minimal Trainers – a mini review

I don’t really don’t do reviews to be fair, but tonight I ran in my bargain new trainers and thought I’d update you on how it went!

Skecher have recently brought out the GoRun2, an updated version of the trainer which I have bought. As a first venture into minimal footwear I didn’t want to spend a fortune, especially if “barefoot” running didn’t suit me. I’ve always run in well cushioned running shoes, Asics initially and latterly Brooks, so venturing into minimalism was a bit of a leap in the dark. Luckily for me Skechers replacement shoe has meant that the first GoRun is now available at a knock down price. I bought mine from The Original Factory Shop for a bargaintastic £28. Can’t say fairer than that.

Let’s first look at the shoe.

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It’s lightweight, weighing in at just 4.9oz (women’s version; the men’s is slightly heavier at 6.9oz). The shoe top is Scotguarded and the sole is made from an injection molded compound called Resalyte. The bottom of the shoe is curved and the heel has a 4mm lower heel drop than traditional shoes, encouraging a mid to toe strike – a more natural running style. The inside of the shoe contains an integrated anti-microbial sockliner called Ortholite so that you can run sock free.

And they look pretty funky, with a range of colours available. I didn’t have a great deal of choice though. Basically it was black, but you did get two laces in the box, black ones and pink ones. I had to go for pink!

The lack of a heel was a bit disconcerting at first and walking to my gym room felt a bit strange. However once I started running I didn’t notice the lack of heel at all. I felt that it was more sensible to try the trainers for the first time on the treadmill, rather than out on the road.

I ran 7km of intervals on the treadmill and felt as if I was running in slippers! The shoes were supportive and grippy, but not clumpy or awkward. I ran easily and I’m guessing with mid-fore foot strike and I didn’t notice the lack of heel cushioning. I’ve suspected for a while that I may be a natural mid foot runner, so this wasn’t a huge surprise. I’ve been experiencing some calf pain, possibly Achilles, recently and after this run – nothing, not a twinge.

Short story is, I like them. I actually like them a lot and I can’t wait to see how they perform on a longer run and out on the road. I’ve long been hankering after a more barefoot feel and these shoes are good route into the whole experience.

http://www.skechers.co.uk/info/go-run

EnergyBits

Just after Christmas I started being followed on Twitter by an American company called EnergyBits. Intrigued, I looked at their website and started to read up on their products.

EnergyBits are small tablets made from algae, 100% natural, 100% green, 100% raw. Gluten and additive free, just pure algae. I won’t bore you with the blurb; you can read it yourself by clicking the logo:

After chatting on Twitter to the company they were happy to send a sample to me through the post and it finally arrived last week. NASA give a similar fuel to their astronauts and they say “1kg of algae has the nutritional equivalent to 1000kg of fruit and vegetables.”

Today’s long run was fueled by EnergyBits. I took 30 pills (they are just small) before I set off and carried a sports drink from Morrisons. It was a big test, the weather was atrocious with gale force winds. Usually I would run for 60 minutes with just a sports drink and anything after that I would fuel with gels/dextrose. Today I ran for 90 minutes on EnergyBits and juice.

I have enough in my sample tin for another run, so I’ll give them another chance before I decide to buy a batch or not, but so far I’m quite impressed.

And then came the Quo!

One thing I’ve noticed, as I plod along on my long runs, is that certain songs are better to plod to. Today was one of those hard, slogging run days that I needed certain songs to push me along. When I left the house, in the bright sunshine, I had no idea how much I would need the mighty Quo.

I chose a simple route, down to the shore and along the coast road for 4.5 miles, turning and coming back. What I actually chose was 4.5 miles of purgatory and 4.5 miles of hell. In all honesty I don’t think it would have been better which ever route I’d picked!

The only constant about the weather was that it was windy. 38 mph windy, to be precise. And that is classed as a gale. Apparently. On top of that it was mostly raining…horizontally. Perfect running weather then!

By the start of the second mile the only thing on my mind was actually keeping running for the entire four minute interval. On the way out the wind was blowing directly on to me and it was like running in porridge. I stopped looking at my Garmin when it was showing 13 min/mile pace. That’s soul destroying after all my hard work.

And then came the Quo.

The pumping guitars heralded the start of “Caroline” and I immediately slipped into pace. My running improved and seemed easier. Not by much, but every little helps! By the time I hit mile 4 I wasn’t sure whether to laugh hysterically or cry. I was cold, wet through and tired of fighting the wind.

And then came the Quo.

“Hold You Back” bounced into my ears and once again my pace quickened and I became more determined to get to the turn around. Mostly I was managing my 4 minutes of elevated running, usually I would stop within seconds of Jeff Galloway’s announcement to “start walking”.

The run home was easier, but I was very tired after battling with the wind for 4.5 miles. With the wind behind me I could keep up a reasonable pace. The Quo gave me one last song to spur me on home. “Roll Over Lay Down” was appropriate, I suppose, for the last leg! That was exactly what I felt like doing! Wearily I finished the 9 miles in 1:37, giving me a superb average pace (in the circumstances) of 10:55 min/mile pace. I was hoping to get below 12 min/mile pace, so being a full minute faster was excellent.

I’m tired now, that’s for sure. I feel as if I’ve run twice as far.

Here’s a link to my Garmin data. Feel free to add me as a friend if you are on Garmin Connect.