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!

Can I have a quick word?

I’ll be brief. This is my day off and I really should be enjoying the weather, sitting on my patio with a mocktail. I have a pile of ironing threatening to take over my spare room (so big that I am actually considering charging it rent) and a list of jobs as long as my arm. As I said, it’s my day off.

Today I was down for a 9 mile run. As it’s been so warm and so humid I decided to get up early and run before it got too hot. At least that was the plan. I got up early and was ready to leave at 7, but then got distracted by emails and left just before 8. It was already warm, with not a cloud in the sky, and I knew that my route along the shore left me with little shade. Being a fair-skinned lassie I’m just not built for sunshine.

As ever I was using my Jeff Galloway/LoLo Half Marathon app for iPhones. I’d set it for 4:1 run:walk intervals and 11 min/mile pace. This would translate to just over 11 min/mile pace as it was a long run (short runs adjust the other way – it’s all very clever!) What I wasn’t expecting was for Jeff to announce that today it was a 9 ½ mile run. Half a mile extra – really? That’s just too much to ask. My short circuit route had proved too long for two laps, so I’d chosen to run along the Bankend Road – a there and back route – so adding on that extra wee bit wouldn’t matter.

I managed to maintain a fairly even pace, although it did get quite warm and I must admit to stopping to shelter now and again in the shade of the few trees along the roadside. I also have to admit to stopping to fill up my FitSip which I’d managed to empty on the run out. Luckily a local smallholder was just at his van when I passed and agreed to let me fill up the now empty bladder. On hot and humid runs longer than 6 miles I need my Camelbak. No question. By the time I was within a mile of home I’d emptied the FitSip again. I don’t tend to drink a lot on runs, but it was very warm.

The last mile and half were tough as I was constantly climbing away from the shore; not by much, but by then I was tired and hot and I’d had enough for today, thank you! That extra half a mile was the killer, of course! I clicked stop at 1:47:40 giving me 11:21 pace. I was about two minutes slower than my app expected which, given the heat, is fine.

Post-run I feel good, although hay fever has my eyes itching like mad. I would rather not have a massive pile of ironing to do as well as the weekly shop, but I’m a wife and mother and them’s the breaks!

Running doesn’t define me; it simply refines me.

 

 

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!

The Great Winter Run 2014

The downhill section!
Pic from greatrun.org

That’s it – the first race of 2014 is well and truly under my slightly expanded festive belt. This race has become a bit of a pilgrimage for us. The 5k I had entered was part of a much larger festival featuring some world class cross country running. Unfortunately this had meant that the entire event had been moved back a week due to TV scheduling, something which had also meant that it wasn’t worth opening my gallery after the Christmas break for a day only to close it again the next day! I know that I wasn’t the only runner who would have preferred the run to have been on the previous weekend. I hope next year that it is moved back!

We arrived at the hotel in Leith, some two miles out of the city centre, late on Friday afternoon. After checking in we went across to the Ocean Terminal (which houses shops, department stores, a large cinema complex and many restaurants) and headed for Bella Italia where I knew I could get gluten free pasta and pizza. A mixed bean salad and lemon risotto was a welcome pre-race meal – filling and packed with energy. We retired early and, having turned off the noisy ventilation, enjoyed a good night’s sleep. My only worry was sleeping in. I’d set my phone alarm to wake us up, but as it was a new phone I was worried I’d done something wrong! I hadn’t and we were eventually woken by “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.” It was a cold, frosty but clear morning with ice on the ground and bright sunlight bouncing off the buildings around us.

We’ve got the journey to Holyrood Park down to a fine art. The 35 bus runs every 20 minutes, collecting us from immediately outside the hotel and deposits us a short walk from the park just 10 minutes later. I’d decided that catching the 10:08 bus was cutting things a little fine and so decided on the 9:58 bus instead. The race wasn’t due to start until 10:45 and I didn’t need to check my bag in as I’d put what little I needed in my rucksack and hubbie would hang onto that for me. We wandered around a little bit, but the grass was very muddy after a huge amount of rain and it was very cold. Rather than risk getting chilled I went into the baggage drop area to take off my jackets, put my phone arm band on and find a silver foil sheet from my bag to wrap around me. These are amazingly effective and more than made up for me losing two coat layers.

By the time I’d wandered to the start area the warm up had already started. I entered the back of the green corale and joined in with what I could (whilst hanging onto a silver sheet). Before I knew it the hooter had been hooted and we were off!

I’d set my Jeff Galloway 5k app to 9 min miles (which was pushing it a bit for both me and the course!) and running 4:1 intervals. The predicted finish time it had given me was just under 29 minutes. If I was fitter this might be possible, but truth is I’ve had to rein my running right back recently. This has just about cured my Plantar Fasciitis, but also left me gloriously underprepared for anything!

You run along for a quarter of a mile and then you start to climb. And climb. And climb. And climb. In fact you basically climb for three quarters of a mile going from 40m up to 125 m in that time. It’s tough and I’m incredibly envious of those people who can run the whole thing. I managed to stick to my run:walk schedule for the first two intervals, but then I got caught behind slow runners and walkers. I do wish that they would, like I do, think about others  trying to get around them and move across to one side. The path is narrow and it’s packed. If you get folk running slowly, especially with running partners, they effectively form a slow moving wall in front of you. After a walk break I was stuck behind a wall and tried to run on the sift grass to the right of the path, but this just zapped my strength and I ended up walking again not long afterwards. Next year I’ll keep right across to the left and see if that helps!

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My first mile reflects the hill climb, the running walls and all too frequent walk breaks and came in at 12:19. Although the climbing continues after the first mile it does so at a lesser pace. I managed to pick up my pace and stick to the set walk breaks. And enjoy the views! On the climb all you get to see are loads of backsides! Once you get to the top of the hill the whole of Lothian opens out in front of you and you feel as if you are on the top of the world. Enjoying the view also gives you chance to enjoy the race. Mile 2 came in at 10:31. Better, but my average pace was still over 11 min/mile pace.

The views from the top are amazing! Pic from greatrun.org

However the best bit about this race is the last mile. It’s downhill. Well pretty much all downhill. Flat out downhill. Magic! I picked up my heels and leaned into the hill and went for it as safely as I could. I felt good. No heel or calf pain, but a little hip pain in my right hip. It was nothing that was going to slow me down. My best pace was 7:04 min/mile.

The last third of a mile is on the flat and I must admit I was tiring out. Last year I had my hubbie to spur on to the finish and this spurred me on. This year it was all about me. I had to focus on catching someone ahead of me, so I randomly chose a  girl ahead and raced to catch her. Amazingly I caught her as we crossed the line. My last mile was 8:34, one of the fastest miles I’ve ever run.

My medal and T-shirt
My medal and T-shirt

My 3:13 miles came in at 32:34.2 Garmin time, 32:35 chip time giving me an overall pace of 10:25 min/mile. I am happy with that. If I’d had less time off through injury, trained more and covered more miles I might have been a little disappointed not to get closer to 30 minutes, but instead I accepted the time gratefully. I’d knocked 4 minutes off last year’s time (chaperoning my hubbie), run my own race (pretty much) and not suffered any real pain as a result. Today I’m a bit stiff in the right hip flexor and unsurprisingly my quads are aching like mad! I’ve done  30 minutes of yoga this morning which has helped with the muscle ache and stiffness. At least the aches show that I tried very hard!

I received an excellent Goodie Bag as ever, complete with a T-shirt and medal. Unfortunately there wasn’t one thing in the bag I could eat – everything either had nuts or gluten in it! Hubbie thinks that it’s Christmas all over again!

The Goodie Bag!
The Goodie Bag! Full of gluten and nuts – arghh!

We didn’t stay to watch the cross country. We had to get back to the hotel so that I could shower and vacate the room before 2pm. As it was we were out before 1 o’clock and then went for a very cheap lunch at the Handmade Burger Company in the Ocean Terminal. I’d been given a voucher for a £1 burger which meant that we only paid full cost for one meal. On the menu there were a few gluten free vegetarian/vegan options and I chose a chickpea and quinoa burger – which was delicious. Highly recommended!

Will I do this next year? Yes, of course! It’s expensive for a 5k, but not as expensive as some events I’ve recently seen advertised. I’m determined to conquer that climb! I’d love to knock a minute off my time, at least! Above all I like the fact that we are in a city I love. We make a weekend of it – enjoy relaxing in familiar places, visiting favourite haunts. It’s not just about a race; it’s about tradition.

Halving the Pain

My foot pain is continuing to cause havoc to my training plan. On Wednesday I’m meant to be running a local 10k, but as I seem to have forgotten to enter it (as my number hasn’t yet arrived) I’m seeing this as a bit of a God-send.  I’m now wearing orthopaedic inserts in my shoes and these seem to be helping although it was frighteningly awkward when I first put them in. If they are making me walk ‘properly’ I must have been walking like a chimpanzee before, that’s all I’m saying.

If I’m on my feet for any length of time my foot starts to really ache, so in order to get my miles in I’ve decided that I have to split my long runs until my foot is healed. This might take some time! Last week I was due to run 13 miles, but I postponed it in the hope that I could do it today. The weather is perfect for outdoor running (a tad windy I’ll grant that) but I’ve chosen to run on the treadmill in the heat of my un-airconditioned cabin. My reason for this was that the shortest loop I can run here is 5 miles. If I started to have problems I had a long way to walk home. It made more sense, with a foot injury, to run on a slightly cushioned surface and concentrate more on my cardio fitness. If I got into difficulties I could just walk into the house. In order to compensate for being on the mill I decided to run for 7 minutes and walk for 40 seconds.

With season 1 Star Trek Voyager set up on the video and my Jeff Galloway Half Marathon app on my iPhone I started off at a steady pace. The 7 minute run intervals were no bother at all and although I could feel my foot aching at times, it didn’t get too painful and never caused me to stop. I completed just over half of the overall distance, 7.22 miles, in 75:57 – giving me 10:31 pace. I’m happy with that.

I’ve got a car to detail and some ironing to do and then I’ll do the remaining distance to another episode of Voyager. I already feel better for having done a good chunk of running so when I get the whole 13 miles done I shall be ecstatic.

 

 

Hot and Sticky

A few years back an acquaintance, who plays in a popular local band, gave us a CD of their latest album. One of the songs, entitled ‘Sticky Vicky’, was about a stripper who owns a nightclub in Benidorm, Spain which they used to play at during the summer season. After having just finished a 6 miler in 19ºC heat and 80% humidity, I know exactly how she felt. Ewwww.

I Googled 'hot stripper' and this what I got!
I Googled ‘hot stripper’ and this what I got!

I’m following my pal Jeff Galloway’s 10k app again. Not the improver plan, just the get it finished plan – well he calls it something else, but that’s basically what it is. Get it done. I’ve got it set to 10 min/mile pace (ha ha) and 4:1 run:walk ratios. Today was a 10 minute “jog” or warm up run, followed by 20 minutes of race pace running and a 10 minute “jog” or warm down run, or thereabouts. The route was going to be about 6 miles so I chose my favourite loop that takes me up away from the village, climbing steadily for a mile and a half before working up and down a series of small hills and then steady running pretty much to home, although there are a few gentle hills to test tired legs towards the end.

The hills weren’t really so much of an issue as the heat and humidity. It’s a lovely day for a walk, but a bit too muggy for running and I always find getting my breathing sorted out difficult on a muggy day. I took a couple of puffs on my inhaler before heading out, but it took a couple of miles not to still be fighting with it.

In fact that thought popped into my head as I headed out. I always find the start of any run a bit of a battle, as if my body is resisting it in every way and I have to rise above the battle in order to finish. As an asthmatic, the initial half a mile is scary. Within a few minutes you feel your chest tighten and you start to pant rather than breathe. It’s painful and your instinct is to stop and take a few minutes, but in reality you are better to slow your pace and concentrate on running. Eventually your breathing regulates and you’ve come through it. I often find trail running more intensely scary in this respect; it’s perhaps because my trail runs tend to be shorter and faster. I have to believe that I am not about to die.

Anyway, back to today’s run. I ran the first 10 minutes steadily, hitting the walk breaks on time and wasn’t tempted to stop any sooner, despite my initial breathing difficulties. The faster section came in as I rounded the first hill, which was great – the terrain is better for faster running with a combination of flats, uphills and downhills. It’s not fast, but it is testing and I think that’s a better indicator of how well I’m running than maybe heading down a flat road. I would rather put the work in on the training and hopefully reap the benefits in races. That’s the theory anyway!

The fatigue didn’t really set in until between miles 3 and 4 when the sun came out. Until then the sky had been cloudy and I’d taken my hat off to get a bit of wind in my hair and cool me down. When the sun appeared I had to replace my hat and get a bit of shelter, especially as my forehead caught the sun yesterday. I was drinking water from my Camelbak and hadn’t taken anything else. I figured that a good breakfast on top of all the carbs I had yesterday were fuel enough and water would do. The Camelbak allows me to sip small amounts, which is probably for the best. I’m sitting here now drinking pints of water and I’ll soon be as big as a barage balloon; I couldn’t do that on a run!

I ran on, not even looking at my watch – I had no idea what pace I was running. I just decided that I was running 6 miles and if I did that in an hour and a half I couldn’t care less! It was hot and sticky and I was trying to run 4 miles at 10 minute mile pace. At one point I thought it was raining, but in truth the sweat from my pony tail was getting flicked about and was landing on my hands, feeling like rain.

I was overpace by a long way. I realised this when Jeff started to do a count down when I still had a mile to do. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been behind pace, usually I’m ahead of it. This is the difference between me running at 10k pace and running at 13.1 mile pace! I am not a fast runner!

Mile 1 was completed in 10:55 – that’s my warm up pace supposedly.

Mile 2 was the start of race pace and was finished in 10:25.

Mile 3 : 10:38

Mile 4: I was starting to suffer – 11:08, it shows!

Mile 5: 11:36 I was, by now, on the slow down run.

I ran out of Jeffness by this point and was just running on my own at a slow pace just to clock up the miles.

Mile 5:93 : 11:26 Just glad to finish and walk home!

Overall I did 5:93 miles in a respectable 67 minutes. I’m OK with that because it was warm and it’s actually taken me until now to stop perspiring! Writing my blog before my shower means that I’ve cooled down enough to take it when I’m done!

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On another note, I started core exercises again, but I’m having to stop them. Within a couple of days my neck has started to show signs of strain and I think there is more to it than just bad posture. This last time I was very aware of my posture, but the pain this weekend has been quite bad. I even ended up at the Chinese health shop for a quick 10 minute neck and shoulder loosen massage on Saturday morning and spent Saturday night lying on a massage cushion. One of my vertebrae is so sore now I can hardly touch it! I’m putting ibuprofen gel on that and I’m researching core exercises for people with neck injuries as a way round the problem. I won’t let this stop me, so I need an alternative path. Googling core exercise for neck injury spouts up many links – I just need to work my round through them.

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Starting Again!

Last post I was talking almost enthusiastically about Garmin’s training plans. However, on a closer look the plans just ain’t gonna do. This is mostly because the plans are time, rather than mileage, based. Round here you can’t just nip up the next avenue to add a bit of time on because there aren’t any avenues. You need to plan a route according to the mileage you want to cover. There aren’t any cut through roads. The only other alternative is to run out, get so far and turn round half way, which I don’t like doing. So I’m sticking to Jeff Galloway and his plans for 5k, 10k and half marathon.

I also wondered about knocking my walk breaks out (which Jeff’s plans also cater for) and just running, but after re-reading a few of my early blog posts I’ve realised that there was a reason why I started running with regular breaks and also that with them I’ve achieved so much, without any real injury. So I’m sticking with Jeff Galloway lock, stock and barrel.

I spent Sunday planning out runs, noting the long run lengths in my diary so I knew what to expect. I set out this evening to do 7 miles. It had been cooler and cloudier today, so I was looking forward to a nice, pleasant run. I had even remembered to put Vaseline on my bra-line – how good is that?

Needless to say the sun burnt through the clouds at 0.5 miles and raised the temperatures as I ran from 63ºF up to nearer 70ºF. The sweat, as we say round here, was pishing off me! I ran a steady mile as a warm up and then 5 at race pace, before finishing with another steady mile. Had the weather been a little kinder I might have been looking at an easier 5 miles, but, in the circumstances, what I did was fine. My 10k came in just over my usual pace and that was taking the steady mile into account. I can’t complain at that.

My IPhone died at mile 6, but I wasn’t all that worried and just cruised the last mile home running at any pace I liked, which involved sprinting back into the finish. One day I’ll see the village sign and NOT think that it’s the finish line for the Olympic final of the 10,000m. Until then I will sprint.

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I’m not due to run until Wednesday now, but I am determined to make use of the rest days by doing some gym work. I know that I should do this, but I’m useless at getting motivated and maintaining the motivation. It might sound silly, but I’m thinking of putting tasks in my diary to prompt me to get my backside off the coach on my in-between days. I’ve lots of excuses why this hasn’t happened, which I won’t bore you with, but I’ve no excuse now.

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Recovery Miles

Sometimes after a grueling race the best thing you can do is the worse thing you feel like doing! Recovery miles are a downright slog, there is no other word for them! I don’t think I’ve ever come back after a long or hard run and done the next run with wings on my heels.

Last week I did one measly trail run with the dog clipping my heels. I enjoyed being out in the sunshine (rather than the rain), with a gentle breeze accompanying me (rather than a hurricane) and did a gentle 2 miles, there and back. I wasn’t bothered about my time, although I am hardly ever Garmin-less, and I’m even less bothered about sharing it now! It was 2 gentle miles.

And that was it for last week. It was my first week back at school and it was busy with after school meetings. Something had to give.

I was busy on Sunday organising a historic vehicle run for National Drive It Day. It rained all day anyway, so I wasn’t missing much and rather enjoyed tootling about the countryside in my convertible…with the roof up.

On Monday I had a lot to do, but I got all my chores done by 3pm and set off for a just over 4 mile run. It was meant to be 4 miles, but my route is just over and, well, I’ve been running 13, 15 and 17 miles so point something of a mile was neither here nor there!

In a moment of clarity I decided to run my usual route in reverse. It was quite windy and my choice actually meant that for once I was running mostly out of the wind! My only face on stretch was going to be downhill! Total result for the home team!

I didn’t struggle, although some of the uphills were a bit soul destroying; I remembered why I run this the other way after hill three, which came hot on the heels of hill two. I just ran as far up as I felt happy doing and walked up the rest. I honestly didn’t realise just how tired my legs were until I hit the hills. However, I wasn’t looking to do “a time”, just do a run.

I wasn’t happy carrying my water bottle. The juice was splashing about, my hands were sticky and I just don’t like carrying a bottle. Mind you, I had bought some cherry isotonic drink from Morrisons (because it was cheap) and it was a bit strong. Really water would have done. I don’t think my autopilot is used to me doing these short distances!!

I did 4.39 miles in 48:05, giving me 10:57 pace, which was fine. Funnily enough my “jog” back down to the village was at 10 min/mile pace – I must be doing something right. The only really slow bit was the uphill section at mile 3, so I’m happy with that.

On Sunday coming I have 8 miles to do and then that’s me done with my half training, for a while at least. I don’t think I’ll put myself through the training regime like I have done. I’ll still do the Jeff Galloway plan, but just the straightforward one. I honestly think that a couple of good trail runs and a long run a week more than set me up for any race, maybe even better than what I have put myself through this time.

On the treat front, look what I’ve replaced my water bottle with!

One hump, or two? My new Camelbak hydration pack!
One hump, or two?
My new Camelbak hydration pack!

I found this on ebay last week with a £15 starting price. Brand new, still with covers, I got it for £21 including delivery, which I think is a bargain! It has the 1.5 litre bladder, has room besides for my other stuff (inhaler, plasters and phone) and saves me carrying anything or having anything uncomfortably clipped around my waist. I realise that some people might think it’s OTT for a relatively short distance runner, but if it keeps my hands free and is comfortable enough I couldn’t care less!

I’m now off to UnderArmour to see about some nice loose fitting and flattering running tops. I’m sick of seeing a podgy runner staring back at me!

In Ever Decreasing Circles

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It’s Easter Sunday. I’m sitting with my feet up, belly not as full as I would like of Easter egg, relaxing after my longest run ever. I may not be able to get up again, but I thought sitting was the right thing to do at the time.

My training schedule asked for a monster 17 miles today and I’ve been psyching myself up for it all week. (I know 17 miles might seem a long distance to some of you, but for me it is. 17 miles represents the longest distance I’ve ever attempted.) Last night I sorted a route, charged my iPhone and Garmin and ate a very large spinach and potato curry. After last week’s tech disaster, I wasn’t planning on any mistakes today.

Hmmm.

My route was my favourite loop north of the village, following quiet single track roads for 5 miles. By adding in two extra bits on two laps of this route I got my 17 miles without too much trouble. At least today I knew where I was going.

Despite the cold (about 3ºC when I set off) I decided to wear three quarter leggings and a vest top. My secret weapons were the arm warmers I had bought at enormous cost (about £4) from Lidl a couple of weeks ago. They fitted fine, were very comfortable and certainly did the job of keeping my arms warm.

The route isn’t easy; the first mile is a continuous climb from 100m above sea level to nearly 200m. Once that’s by with the route becomes easier, with a few short climbs followed by sharp descents. There is some flattish running too, but the best thing is the view. I run through farmland, three small villages and overlooking the Solway Coast. The snow which fell heavily last weekend hasn’t quite melted away and the Cumbrian hills, together with our local Criffel, are still snow covered. As I ran along the lanes snow was still piled up along the sides, showing signs of being pushed there by tractors.

Criffel, with a dusting of snow.
Criffel, with a dusting of snow.

 

The Cumbrian Hills in the distance.
The Cumbrian Hills in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started off steadily, helped by the pace of the music I was listening to. I wasn’t looking to match the 11 minute/mile pace my Jeff Galloway Half Marathon app was predicting. All, really, I wanted to achieve was a reasonably paced 17 miles. Finishing in under 3:30 hours would be fine. My first lap was the longest at just over 6 miles and I was chuffed to finish the 6 in 65 minutes. I knew that I was running well when 3 miles came in at 36 minutes.

As I set off on the second lap I felt that the air was cooling down. The wind was picking up and recently all of our weather has been coming from the north, making the air even colder. At one point I had to lift my neck tube over my mouth because the cold air was starting burn my throat.

At mile 10 came the first disaster. After pacing me wonderfully, all of a sudden the music stopped. My iPhone was totally flat. I think it’s time for a nice, new battery for my beloved phone! The present one is 4 years old, so I suppose a new one is due. However, that left me pacing myself after 10 miles – not an ideal situation. It also meant that I’d lost Jeff Galloway and his coaching. I was left trying to time the 4 minute runs myself, which wasn’t easy. Looking at my Garmin every few minutes was distracting.

When I got to mile 12 I decided to try and use the intervals on my Garmin. Unfortunately, in trying to get this option working, I managed to reset the timer. I knew, from previous experience, that my 12 miles were safely stored in the watch’s memory so I didn’t worry too much and, of course, I knew exactly where to stop my running having preplanned the route.

At least on the third shortest lap I now had 4 and 1 intervals beeping at me, leaving me to just focus on running, hard as that was becoming! At times I felt as if I was barely doing more than a very fast walk, but I kept plodding along.

I finally finished the 17 miles in 3:27, 3 minutes within the self imposed limit I’d set. I’m happy with that.

That’s my final long run before the Rock and Roll Half Marathon on the 14th. I won’t say I’m unhappy about that – I think I’ve had enough just now! A couple of recovery runs before the race sounds wonderful! As I ran along on the final lap I wondered what it would be like to be 16 miles into a marathon, with 10 miles left to go. Suffice it to say I’m not really looking at entering a marathon any time soon!

In a meantime, look at the cool medal I’ll be adding to my bling collection!! I can’t wait!!!

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Getting towards the End of the Road

This time last week I was writing about upping my distance, running into unknown territory and the feelings that running without the security of the technology that I rely so heavily upon stirred up. This week almost ended the same way. Having spent yesterday at my gallery, I discovered this morning that I’d left my treasured iPhone there, sitting on the window sill, still trying to get a signal.

Once the feeling of mini-panic had passed I realised that as I was planning to run intervals on the treadmill (the local track is still snowbound) I could download the app again only this time onto my iPad and use that instead. Ain’t technology great?

As it happens the iPad worked as well, if not better, than the iPhone. As it is bigger I could sit it up further from the treadmill and still see and hear the speed changes. After a warm up, I started with a 10 minute slow run at 9.7 kph. Then came four acceleration gliders (working between 9.7 and 10.3 kph) and then 12 x 800m intervals at 11.3 kph with 3 minute walk breaks separating them.

That was the plan.

I did 4 x 800m at 11.3 kph and started to feel tired. Bearing in mind that on Thursday I had to abandon my run because of dizziness (more than usual), I decided to temporarily lower the pace to 10.3 kph. I ran 3 intervals at this lower pace before increasing it again, completing the rest of the intervals with more ease, justifying my decision to back off a bit. I’m starting to get used to reading my body and working with it, rather than pushing it and paying the price.

The run finished with another 10 minute slow run, before cooling down with a walk. In all I covered 10 miles, bringing my weekly total to a lowly 17 miles, thanks to the early finish of Thursday’s run.

An added element to today’s run was that after the first run I stopped and did some dynamic stretches and rotations to loosen off my joints and muscles. I definitely felt better afterwards, so I’ll try and remember to do this every time. Honest.

Next weekend I venture into even more virgin territory. On Easter Sunday I hope to complete 17 miles. I may be some time, but I will get the job done. And then I will eat a very large Easter Egg in celebration!

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Yes, that’ll do!