The First Magic Mile of 2014

Sounds incredibly impressive, doesn’t it?

Well bearing in mind that my running more or less ground to a halt for a few months and I now feel as if I’m starting again, it was more than satisfactory.

I had planned to do my MM at the local track, doing a warm up run through the town, but waiting in for a no-show delivery put paid to that idea. Instead it had to be a treadmill run after dinner. Needs must. The training app said to set the treadmill at 9.7 kph for the first mile, which was a jog really. When the timed mile started the app flashed up to 10.3 kph, which I knew would give me a really slow mile if I took walk breaks during it, so I decided to run a straight mile and gradually increase the speed. By the last few hundred metres I was running at 13.3 kph and hoping that it was enough because I couldn’t sustain a faster speed for any length of time. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my mile came in at 9:04.

Today I put my Magic Mile time into Jeff’s race calculator. This is what came out:

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Basically if I don’t improve on 9:04 at my next MM test I’m looking at a 2:22 half marathon – identical to my Great North Run (and PB) time. If I”m honest I think that this is great. I’ve been feeling as if I’ve gone backwards, but this proves that I haven’t.

I’m intrigued by the training pace it suggests. 13 minute miles! Again I tend to push myself on long runs to maintain a faster pace, but clearly I shouldn’t be trying quite so hard. Or punishing myself quite so hard either!

I also had a look at the run/walk ratio chart. I’ve been doing 2:1 intervals (i.e. 2 minutes running to 1 minute walking)

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According to this I should maybe doing 1:1 during long runs and maybe 3:1 on shorter runs. I could really do with understanding this better! Maybe I’ll tweet Jeff and see if he replies – I have seen him answer queries before. I’ve been adjusting the ratios according to how I felt, which I know is fine, but not according to pace. Do I adjust the app? I guess so – I need some guidance!

In any case I’m due for 30 minutes tomorrow and Friday, both hopefully through the woods with the dog, and then 6½ miles on Sunday/Monday. If I could get some answers before then, that would be great, otherwise I’ll be doing 6½ miles at 11 min/mile pace at 3:1 ratios, as per normal!

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Fast Forward to Week 3!

All the best laid plans…I’m shaking my head here. Last time I wrote I said that my half training was starting with a 3 mile run last week. Well I need to learn to read a calendar better because it was meant to start the week before and last week was meant to be a 4 mile run.

Which made today’s 5 mile run all the harder.

There is no doubt that my fitness has suffered through lack of long distance or interval training lately. I’m sluggish and heavy and it doesn’t feel good. I managed my Winter 5k because it was just a 5k, but I’m now having to increase my mileage again and I haven’t really run far since October last year.

It’s like starting again.

Today was a perfect running day though. It’s cool and a bit drizzly at times, but the light is good. I had no qualms about running on the road, although I decided against running on my shorter loop as I’m fairly sure that it will be both flooded and very muddy. Instead I chose to run along the shore road. If I’m honest I’ve avoided even driving along that road since my friend was fatally injured on it in an accident last month. It wasn’t going to be easy running past the incident site. But I also knew that I had to do it. You can’t avoid all the things you find difficult.

Armpocket armband suitable for a large touch screen phone/ipod as well as a myriad of other useful things.
Armpocket armband suitable for a large touch screen phone/ipod as well as a myriad of other useful things.

I felt well equipped. I have removed all the things I dislike, such as waistbands and rucksacks and replaced them with armbands. It is quite liberating to know that I have enough water on my wrist in my FitSip for a decent run and enough room in my Armpocket for my phone, my keys, my gels (on longer runs) etc. I’ve nothing annoyingly working up towards my boobage or down past my hips!

FitSip armbands hold a small bladder which is ideal for middle distance running.
FitSip armbands hold a small bladder which is ideal for middle distance running.

My Garmin struggled a bit to find a satellite through the dense cloud cover so I started with more of a warm up walk than I wanted, but hey. I had set my app for 3:1 run:walk intervals, which was fine to begin with and I had a good first mile of 10:20, but my lack of fitness started to show after that and so I adjusted the app to 2.30:1 intervals. That’s the first time I’ve done that on the hoof and I guess it’s the equivalent of listening to your body and easing up a bit. 

I stopped at the accident site. It wasn’t out of morbid fascination; I stopped to show my respect. I talked to Tina for a while and then tried, in vain, to find her daughter’s phone memory card. All I saw, even after asking for help, was a small mouse which scurried from the undergrowth to the safety of the dyke as I approached. He didn’t help so I ran on. I stopped again on my way back and had another look, but I’m sad to say that I found nothing. I told whoever might be listening that I would come back. And I will.

My pace shifted about a bit and I didn’t really feel comfortable until I had done 3 miles and was on my way home. The wind was on my face on the way back which I hadn’t really noticed on my back on the way out.

I was really starting to slow up at the end. I know that this was a long, slow run but it was slower than it maybe should have been. However I know from experience that my fitness will soon return so I’m happy to have finished my 5 miles in 56 minutes. I ran 5 miles and that is the most important thing.

Week 1: It all starts here

Here I am, fresh after my first long run of my training for the Edinburgh EMF Half. Fresh indeed – I think I need that shower now!

Who would hate running here?
Who would hate running here?

I couldn’t believe my luck this morning, after what seems like weeks of rain, flooding, locusts and boils (OK, so I lied about the locusts) today dawned frosty, clear, calm and bright. Perfect running weather. I was down for just 3 miles, hardly a long run, but embraced the fact that 3 miles is exactly what I can get out of the paths through the local woods and my dog, Murphy, would love that! Once I’d managed to harness his excitedness we set off for an easy run.

My Garmin was a bit low on battery, but I had remembered to put my heart rate monitor on (wonders will never cease!) I turned on the GPS on my phone and set Jeff Galloway/LoLo’s Half Marathon training app to run (it’s really worth the £10 odd, honestly). I’d had issues with hooking up to GPS on these apps before, maybe because of the thickness of the case I use to carry the phone, so wearing my Garmin was a back up plan. What I didn’t realise was that as this was a new phone I hadn’t actually turned Location Services on for this app and so it was never going to hook up to a satellite. Technology is useless in the hands of fools.

I had downloaded some new music, having worn out the last lot I bought during last year’s training. I needed something new. My husband might not agree; apparently I am “always” downloading something off iTunes; magazines, music – you name it. I allegedly spend a “fortune” because “all these little bits add up”. Yes dear. Tell me again how much the Jaguar was…

Anyway, I had purchased The Running Bug’s Ministry of Sound album. It’s a year old, but it had really good reviews from runners, whereas a lot of the albums were not rating well. Comments such as “you can’t run to that” and “waste of money” really put me off buying quite a lot of so called running music. I don’t mind putting a playlist of my own together, but sometimes I need fresh music in there to keep me interested. What I did listen to today was well paced and I enjoyed it. I didn’t know any of it, but then I’m getting on a bit. It certainly wasn’t Status Quo.

Panoramic view of the trail
Panoramic view of the trail

I was surprised at the slowness of the pace that the app dictated. It was comfortable and made me realise that, yet again, I’d been starting off runs far too fast over the last few weeks. I relaxed into a sensible pace

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based on achieving around an 11 minute mile. Obviously as we’re including walk breaks I was having to run faster than that, but it was a nice, easy pace. And I enjoyed it. I managed to maintain a just-over-11 min mile pace which, off road, is fine. To be honest I couldn’t care less what my pace was. It was a lovely relaxing run with my little dog in a place I love. What could be better than that?

I get a rest tomorrow from running, but I want to get those core activations up and running instead. I have my book stickied with small bits of paper and I’m off to empty the cabin of some junk so as to make a bit more space, or at least reorganise what junk there is. Wish me luck on that one; we store a hell of a lot of rubbish!

Planning Ahead

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I’m planning. I’m actually re-planning having taken a long, hard look at myself and my current level of fitness. I struggled to stay uninjured last year and this year I’ve, maybe foolishly, entered three half marathons. I have given myself time in between them to recover (I’m not that daft) but that’s one more half than I tried last year.

I’m still adamantly and determinedly sticking to Jeff Galloway for my inspiration and instruction. I’m 50 this year, difficult as it is to believe that, and I’m wanting to carry on running for many years to come. Jeff, at 69 this year, is still running marathons. That’s good enough recommendation for me!

I had already put my training plan on the calendar. It was Jeff’s ‘improver’ plan which focused on speed training. It was giving me a predicted half time of 2:17. Today I got out Jeff’s ‘Galloway Book on Running’  and had a look at the 2:20 goal plan (the next one is 1:59, which is a lovely thought, but way out my league. Maybe one day!) It seemed less intensive. And, if I’m honest, that’s a good thing bearing in mind how stressful speed training is on the body. I realise that I need only to feel that I have finished a half marathon to the best of my ability and the last two I’ve done I’ve not felt that. Quite the reverse. I’ve been plagued by atrocious weather conditions and one injury after another and my running has suffered.

So, the answer was clear. I needed to just train to finish.

My training starts tomorrow with an easy 3 mile run, followed by a thirty minute run on Wednesday and another on Friday. I finish the week with a 1 ¼ mile walk on Saturday and then a 4 mile easy run on Monday next. Jeff’s app is going to keep me on track (and the road) and I’m just about to source some new running music.

The plan then is to cross train on the days I’m not running in order to build up core strength and stamina and I know I’ve said that before on here and done sweet F.A. about it. I recently bought a great resource in the ‘Core Strength Training’ book by DK Books. It features core training which is sport-specific, gives level of difficulty and progression for each exercise. I need to focus on those which don’t involve crunches to spare me from neck injury, the main reason (beside apathy) why I haven’t succeeded in following my own advice in the past! So I’m looking at Reverse Curls, Leg Circles, Leg Lifts, Hip Rolls and so on. If I start with foundation exercises and make those more difficult then maybe I’ll be strong enough to move onto Intermediate level! Woo-hoo.

The mantra is slow and steady, in everything. Build up gradually and try not to get hurt!

New Kicks for a New Day

My last post was a bit down. I don’t apologise for that; it’s a reality that life dishes out downers and we need to deal with these and carry on. So I’m carrying on.

Yesterday I crossed the border, left Scotland and went to Carlisle in England’s county of Cumbria. Carlisle is just under 30 miles away, quite close by our standards, and a much larger place than our local town of Dumfries. I hadn’t intended to go to a running shop, but my chores led me in that direction. Honest they did!

I ended up gazing longingly at nice new trainers in Chivers Sports. I tried on about half a dozen different pairs, mostly Asics and Brooks – the two trainers I’ve bought in the past, and ran up and down the shop under the watchful eye of one of the salesman. He knew his stuff! I explained that I had been told that I was a neutral runner, but that I’d had Plantar Fasciitis and had the start of bunions on each big toe (requiring a wider fit). He wasn’t put off by my peculiar running style (flicking my twisted right leg so that I landed well) but noticed that my left foot rolled in slightly. I needed some support, but not the excessive support of the Asics I’d worn previous to owning my Brooks Ghost 5s.

Choices, choices.
Choices, choices.

In the end we were choosing between the Ghost 6 and the Defyance 7. I noticed that the Ghost  dipped away at the left big toe, making me want to roll more in that direction, but the Defyance had me landing square. It was a no-brainer: I choose the Defyance.

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Brooks state that the Defyance has…

..that same amazing balance of the GTS…smoothly infused in the Neutral construction of this hybrid ride. From the reliable transition of the segmented crash pad to the adaptability of anatomical Brooks DNA and the adjustable eye row, this versatile shoe wins the all-around award every run.

After choosing, my salesman disappeared with my kicks for quite some time. It transpired that they keep records of every shoe sale to every customer and note down any issues that the customer has. My poor salesman had an essay to write! I eventually left with new shoes, at a discounted price and a discount card for future purchases.

So far as my running is concerned, well I’m almost ready to restart my half marathon training. I’ve been treading water a bit since Christmas, not wanting to put any undue strain on my left foot and re-spark my PF. I’ve done mostly short trail runs (up to 3 miles) and treadmill running. I’m enjoying trail running again, as is my dog!

Murphy in sniff-mode.
Murphy in sniff-mode.
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!

The excessive rain we’ve been ‘enjoying’ has made parts of this route very, very muddy, but it doesn’t bother me other than obviously slowing me down! My old Nike Alvords are looking really manky these days, but they dust off when the mud dries and they are still  comfortable. I’ve even started leaving my Garmin at home and not timing my running. It’s quite liberating really!

My half training starts next week, so I’ll have to dust off my Jeff Galloway training app. I’ve set it for 11 minute mile pace, which I know I can more than handle, and will adjust the walk:run intervals as I feel fit. I’m feeling really positive about things just now so let’s just hope that I can stay injury free!