With a Week to Go, I’m crossing my Toes

It’s odd. I have spent my summer oddly ricocheting between disasters, punctuated by some moments of running clarity. So far I’ve gone to every race seemingly well prepared only for disaster to strike at the last moment. I am so hoping that pattern doesn’t repeat itself this week!

I missed a short run last week because of too many things going on and was a bit worried that I just wasn’t maintaining mileage. I worry too much! On Monday I set off in cloudy and cool conditions with the dog to do a steady 5 mile run looping north of the village. It’s that route I know well, the route that’s quiet and a good mixture of hills and flat running.

After the first quarter of a mile (which is always tough, full of asthmatic wheezing until my breathing has settled) the running came easy. I was bang on pace despite running the first mile uphill. The dog was less happy. In the time we’d taken to warm up and cover then first mile (maybe 15 minutes) the sun had broken through and the temperature had started to soar. Couple that with a loose chipping road and he was struggling to keep up, spending a lot of the time running at my heel where I couldn’t see him. Now and again he would run in the middle of the road, thankfully when there was nothing on the road! Considering the heat, he ran well. I just wish that he would drink water more often!

I’d decided to run 4:1 ratios, the run:walk ratio I used to run, the one I did my best half marathon time in. It felt good, was easy going and that’s lifted my spirits. Running 4:1 makes achieving under 11 min/mile pace within my reach again. I feel pretty strong just now.

I finished my 5 miles in just over 55 minutes. Perfect long easy run time.

Yesterday I treated myself to a full body massage. Well actually my brother-and-sister-in-law did, thanks to a voucher they sent me for my 50th. It was a really good idea and I think I’m going to book a massage before every race!

I’ve got two short runs left and then some relaxation time. Carb-loading isn’t something I do well, although I had pasta today! I will make an effort to eat carb-high foods and I’ll buy the gels I know work well. And then it’s the moment of truth – Sunday’s Great Cumbrian Run starting from Carlisle Castle. I feel I should wrap myself in cotton wool, just in case!

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Here it is, my last taper.

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That’s it. I’ve just run my last long training run of the year. After today I’m tapering down (ooooooo, listen to the sound of that!) until my final half marathon in two weeks. I can’t say I’m upset about it – I’m getting tired of trying to fit my life around my running and that is exactly how it’s been this year. It’s self-induced running nonsense, I know.

I decided around mid summer that I was doing too much training and vowed that, after I finish what I’d promised, I’d rein myself back in and content myself with 5k and 10k runs and maybe one half next year. I will stick to that. I probably need to improve my speed a bit anyway and working on shorter distances with the occasional 8 miler thrown in is the way to go.

Today I ran 14 miles.

I ran just shy of 7 of them in a loop around our village encompassing the next village and several hamlets. However, sensibly for me, I realised that another 7 of road running was going to cause further injury to the ankle I turned on a wobbly stone whilst running through the woods the other day. I had it strapped up and was wearing compression socks, but I could feel shin pain developing and knew when to throw the towel in. I was running strongly, far stronger than I have all season! I was maintaining just over 11 min/mile pace on a training run in which I was meant to be running 12-13 min/miles. And I was achieving 11 min/mile pace with relative ease, running 4 minutes/1 minute walk break.

My Garmin data is here > http://connect.garmin.com/activity/596467332

I had some tech issues; I keep catching the part of the screen which lengthens or shortens the run on my Jeff Galloway app. It’s easily done and I wish it was hidden. Today I caught it as I went for my first gel and all of a sudden it thought I’d run 10 miles. It’s then impossible to reset and you end up with an approximation. I just hate that. I managed to do the same thing later on as I reached for a tissue! I think a message to LoLo, the app developer, is required. I’ve sent them before and they are either really nice (my chosen interpretation) or just patronising this little lady.

Tech issues really mess with my mojo. What with that and the knowledge that my ankle was slowly swelling up I think heading home and to the treadmill was a good call.

A quick calculation told me that I needed to run a further 12.41 km (I have a head with miles in it, but a Euro-treadmill) at 10 km/h to be on pace. It actually put me ahead of pace and I finished the second half faster than the first (still running 4min/1min walk).

Garmin data for the second half comes courtesy of MyFitnessPal, which automatically uploads any exercise as I input it. How cool! http://connect.garmin.com/activity/596483397

A quick calculation told me that I completed my 14 miles faster than I’ve run 13.1 all season. I hope that bodes well; I could do with some well boded things happening.

As it is I’m now relaxing having had a quickly cooked lunch of scrambled eggs, not really wanting to go and take my ankle support off and see what’s underneath. I can feel what’s underneath. Hopefully some ice and elevation and an old film will help reduce what I’m feeling. And then I’ve got a couple of weeks to rest it, with just gentle runs planned. My fingers are crossed!

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Late Night Updates

This may not end well. It’s half 9 now and I woke at 5 when my son and husband left for the train station and again at 6 when my husband returned. It’s been a long day!

The plan was to run early. Instead I pluttered about and didn’t get started until 11. I chose to run my four miles on the treadmill, not because it was bad weather or anything, but because I was literally running late. An outdoor run would have been better, but what can I say? Clothes washing, answering emails and house tidying just got in the way…again.

My easy first mile was run at 10.3 kph at 4:1 run:walk intervals. When it came to my timed mile Jeff Galloway told me to crank it up to 11.3 and, as I was feeling good, I turned it up again to 12.2. I was watching a particularly good episode of Star Trek Voyager which made running easy.

My Magic Mile came in at 9:27.

The rest of the run, another two miles I ran at between 10.3 and 11.3 just to get it finished because I had an appointment to get to!

I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. My cold has completely gone. I’m rebuilding my strength and I will finish my next half feeling better than the last one! Next week I have a 14 mile long run to do and it should be fine – at least I hope it’s fine!

It’s been a long day, but I’m feeling good.

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That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.

I happen to be a big fan of ‘The Sheep Pig’ by Dick King-Smith. I expect some people have never read the book, relying entirely on the film for entertainment, which is their loss. It’s a children’s book, but often some of the best books are. Their messages are simple. Good is good and bad is bad, that sort of thing. The film adaptation ‘Babe’ was excellent; often the sense of the story is lost in translation, but not in this case. Apparently James Cromwell, who played Farmer Hoggett in the film, became an ethical vegan (having been a vegetarian for many years previous) after playing the role and becoming so attached to the star. However, I digress. 

I had 12.5 miles to run today. It was my first long run since the Fleetwood Half and I’d been mithering all weekend about how I’d do. After experiencing problems with my breathing in my last race I didn’t want a repeat of that today. I chose a route which I’ve only ever run once, back in 2011, despite it being a nice route to run. It’s a good mixture of ups and downs and flats mostly off the beaten track. I thought it might help distract me if I was running somewhere different.

In the week my ifitness running belt arrived, so I had today to test it out. It came with two small bottles, which I felt might not be big enough, room for two gels and an elasticated pocket big enough for my phone and other bits and pieces. I can even clip my race number to the bottom it – no more pins, no more paper cuts! This also meant no Camelbak and no armband – everything could be carried around my waist! No more sweaty back (well relatively speaking), friction burns from straps and the ability to see how much liquid I’m taking on. It just had to not-bounce and the job was ‘agoodun’.

I waited until the rush hour had passed (an issue with running on roads, even here!) and set off in the cool of the morning. I wore my arm sleeves today for the first time all summer. It was nippy this morning, following a cloudless night, and arm sleeves seemed most sensible. Boy, I’m doing well on the thinking thing lately!

The route took me from the castle road (a short warm up walk from my house), through the village, looped around past the church and off along a rarely used single track road which  runs parallel to the shore up to Cummertrees village and then up away past several large farms before looping back along the shore road. 

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I ran at a pace set by my Jeff Galloway Half Marathon app, which automatically calculates a long run pace slightly slower than race pace. I was looking at running between 12 and 13 minute miles, but in actuality I was a bit faster than that. Which is fine. I must be doing okay.

I had forgotten to buy gels and so all I had in the house were some left over out of date 33 Shake chia gels. What choice did I have? I took a couple knowing that I’d only need one and a half if I split each one (taking at 4,8 and 12 miles). They were fine, too big for my fancy new belt though – so I had to wedge them in behind my water bottles. My water bottles were plenty big enough, each carrying 180ml, and I’d popped half a High 5 tablet into each for electrolyte and sodium replacement. I was taking a chance on the gels, but the juice would get me home if nothing else!

I have to say, my waistband was awesome! No bounce, no movement, it stayed on my hips (not an easy task), everything was accessible and safe and it was comfortable to wear. Totally recommended. I did notice a tiny bit of leakage from the bottles, but I think that may have just been residual juice in the lid after I’d taken a swig. 

Mine cost £25 from Start Fitness.

It was a steady run, but as the sun climbed so did the humidity. I was quite surprised to see that my Garmin data is saying 93% humidity today – which maybe explains why I had to stop at mile 11, just to catch my breath. I’d been doing okay up until then, with regular, planned walk breaks every 2.5 minutes, but once I’d run through Ruthwell village for the last time I started to cough and wheeze. I stopped and took some time to breathe deeply, filling my lower lungs as well as the upper, walked for a short time and then finished the run. I hadn’t taken my inhaler with me, so I was just taking sensible precautions. I made it home, but running that extra bit seemed unnecessary in the circumstances.

I finished my 12.5 miles in 2:26 – giving me an average pace of 11:46 min/mile. For a training run I’m happy at that. As I said at the start “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.”

 

Listening to Your Body Ain’t Always Easy

bigstock-Listen-Vs-Ignore-Toggle-Swi-10964204-277x300I’ll be glad when I’m race fit again – I missed the X-Border Challenge on Sunday and the Dumfries Gallovidian 10k last night.

Instead, on Sunday, I tackled the challenge of extreme ironing and yesterday I managed a laboured trail run in which I struggled to maintain my usual off-road pace and ended up jogging back. There is no way I could have managed 6 miles at race pace.

I am listening to my body, but it ain’t easy. I’m impatient and I hate missing races I like.

 

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My 3 Rs: Recovery, Reassessment and Reinvigoration.

After almost two weeks of enduring a cold and struggling to do much more than get through a day’s work, I’m ready to start running again.

At least I think I am!

I’m actually sitting here changed and ready to run, waiting on my iPhone charging before I head off…to the bottom of the garden and my treadmill. My cold is still firmly lodged on my chest and it’s causing me to cough, which of course affects my breathing. I frightened myself a week past Sunday when I ran the Fleetwood Half – I really shouldn’t have run feeling the way I did. But I did.

I’m heading out to the treadmill so that I am in control of the distance, the speed and the location. I’m trying to be sensible!

I’ve looked at my running programme and I’ve decided to follow the finisher’s plan again. I’m not in the right place (yet) to look at improving. So far every half I’ve done since doing the Great North Run in 2012 has been worse. I just want to finish one around the 2:20-2:24 mark. I’ve not been far away, but far enough to make me feel as if I’ve been running backwards for a while. And I realise that there are valid excuses for this; valid excuses don’t make me feel any better.

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The cunning plan.

So my plan looks a bit like this! Long runs of 4, 12.5, 4, 14 and 5 miles before my race, all at 2:30/1 ratios and 11 min/mile pace hopefully giving me a 2:24 race time.

I’m trying to lose a bit of weight so I’m watching my calorie intake and portion size and plotting these on the My Fitness Pal app. If I lost a stone I think I’d be happier as well as lighter. I don’t look in the mirror wishing I was a stone lighter, I look OK, but I feel as if I’m ‘hauling ass’ at the moment. I’m naturally heavy. I don’t look my weight, I don’t think. People are generally surprised to hear how heavy I am and I realise that I am probably more muscly than a lot of the people who are surprised.

I know I need to tone my core; I do keep going on about that! I will try. No promises on that!

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Lastly I am going to restart the Kinetic Revolution 30 Day Challenge in an effort to loosen myself up. It was working, but I had to stop. I will try and fit in the 15 – 20 minutes a day!

See you later!

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Heading down to the gym, on a perfect running day – sacrilegious!