Running Hot

The weather in the south of Scotland has been amazing for the last week or so, with temperatures in the low to mid twenties centigrade. It doesn’t make for good running weather, unless you like getting up in the middle of the night (i.e. before 7am) or waiting until almost dark.

I’m working my way through my 5k training plan and I’ve just got up early to finish Day 13, having got completely mixed up and done Day 11 twice, followed by Day 12 and then back to Day 10! I need a prescription screen on my phone. I’ve actually looked seriously at jumping across onto my 10k plan, just so that I can start to get some better miles under my expanded belt. Running 5k distances just isn’t shifting my weight and I know that I need to run for longer than 30 minutes to start doing that.

Before I start I need some better trainers. My Sketchers are doing ok, but I’m wearing them out rapidly and if I’m upping distance I need to know that my feet are ok. I was waiting for an appointment to see a biomechanic podiatrist, which is happening next week, before buying anything. I just need to hang on a little longer. Which is probably a sensible thing to do and fairly easy when it’s sometimes just to hot to run!

 

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Murphy just loves to come along and, at almost 12 years old, he is still keeping up. 

 

This morning Murphy, my running dog, and I hit the trails. It was already warm and the sun was up. If I’d left it until now, two hours later, it might have been cooler because the sky has clouded over. However I knew that it would be just a 20 minute run and I wasn’t tanking it. When I set off my asthma tightened my lungs and it was the usual struggle to breathe for the first minute, but then I decded that I should shorten the run intervals. I had an email from Jeff Galloway last week in which he said he’d just completed a marathon doing 15s:15s walk:run intervals, so me dropping my intervals to a minute was nothing in comparison. I changed it from 3:1 to 1:1, and then increased the intensity.

The amazing thing is that changing the ratio it actually made me run faster and better. I was able to increase my speed in that minute and cover the same distance in the same time as I would have running slower for longer. And at the end, where I would usually be too tired to do anything but walk, I actually jogged home…in the heat.

Two happy miles run before breakfast and the rest of the day to enjoy! That’s how to do it.

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No need for a shower then!

 

I hope you’re all still there…

It’s been ages since I last posted. Last time I was rejoicing at being able to walk again and how much difference it had made to my life.

Last week I met with Mr Khan, my consultant surgeon. He asked the usual questions and then announced, completely unprovoked, that he felt that it was maybe time for me to start running – if I wanted to.

IF. I WANTED. TO.

I stayed very calm, thanked him, and then, on the way to X-Ray, I did a Happy Dance in the lift.

Since then I’ve restarted my running. I’m following the 5K program designed by Jeff Galloway. His training plans have worked so well for me in the past, allowing me to train up to a good half marathon pace, so I trust them. It’s slow going, but after a week I’m already up to a mile and a half. It sounds nothing when compared to the 17 miles  I used to be able to run, but it’s a mile and a half  more than I could run last week!

I don’t have any ambitions, other than to be able to run 3 miles. I’ve promised to take it steady and I’m running on the treadmill so that a) I’m running on cushioned and even ground and b) if I get into difficulties, I’m only at the end of the garden!

Honestly, just being able to run again is just wonderful!

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Picking up the 10k baton

My feet have barely touched the ground and I’m already running headlong towards my next race, the 10k at Jedburgh Running Festival. The running festival takes place over the last weekend in October and now boasts a 10k,  half-marathon, an ultra-marathon and a canicross event! I’ve done the 10k for the last few years, amassing a colourful collection of t-shirts as a result!

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After my GCR half the other week I was feeling elated, but tired. It’s been a training-heavy summer. Last Monday I was meant to do an 8 mile run, but I was past caring and managed a reluctant three and a half miles on the treadmill. In fact, since the GCR I’ve only run nine miles and most of those indoors. So this week, with just a few days to go, I thought I should shake the dust off my trainers and do something purposeful!

If I’m totally honest, I’m not worried about my lack of miles at this point. I’ve trained and trained and trained all summer, with no let up. If I’m not able to run a mere six miles at the drop of a hat there must be something wrong! I’ve reinstalled LoLo’s iPhone app ‘Easy 10k with Jeff Galloway’ and set it for the ‘improve 10k’ training, for what that’s worth in the week before the event! I was set for a 5k race rehearsal today and, having wasted most of my day updating other blogs and watching junk TV, I decided to do it on the treadmill – surprise, surprise. I promise that I will do some trail running this week to make up for my slovenly treadmillness of late!

I ran a five minute warm up, followed by the 5k at race speed. I was really looking forward to seeing how fast my 5k was, not having bothered to clock it as I ran, but I was really disappointed to see that the app didn’t log it. It logs Magic Miles, storing them in the ‘History’ tab, but seemingly not anything else. I’ve been trying to work it; the run was 40:04 mins long, subtract 6 minutes for walking at the start and the end leaves 34 minutes, subtract a further 5 minutes for the warm up run and my 5k should be 29:04 minutes (approximately). That’ll have to do, I suppose. As a treadmill 5k that’s fine. I’m a bit peeved that the app didn’t do this though and, if I’d known, I’d have timed it myself.

I have two runs left before the race on Sunday, a 6.1km run made up of 1 mile easy, 2 miles at 10k pace and a 5 minutes warm down run and a 3.4km run made up of a 5 minute warm up and 4 x 400m intervals. My app is predicting a 63 minute 10k. I have managed this hilly course in 64 minutes, so with a bit of determination I’d like to be able to say this is perfectly possible. Last year I struggled with a foot injury to do it in 68 minutes and was just glad to get round, so this year, feeling fairly strong, I’d like to do it far faster.

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Race Report: The Great Cumbrian Run 2014

It’s the morning after and I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. And for good reason. Yesterday I ran the best half marathon I’ve run for quite a while, despite running it over quite a challenging course.

In May, when I ran the EMF Half in Edinburgh – it was billed as one of the fastest half marathons in the UK. It was mostly downhill or flat and so I was looking forward to beating my PB of 2:22 achieved at the 2012 Great North Run. In reality I had a hard race, buffeted by head-on winds as I ran along the promenade that formed most of the route and psychologically hampered by the two way running lanes of the last three miles. I crossed the line in a disappointing 2:34. I buoyed myself by reminding my running ego that I had been injured for most of the preceding six months and that any finish was good, but I was embittered that I’d effectively squandered a chance to better that PB.

Training continued through what was one of the hottest summers on record, with almost constant great sunbathing weather and high humidity, with me having to resort to splitting long runs so that I could benefit from the cooler mornings and evenings. Training became inventive, with treadmill runs under electric fans – trying to make them as cool as possible. I stuck to a beginner’s programme in the belief that it was that which had helped me to my best finish and also that over-training could have contributed to my injury last year. I needed to start again.

My August half at Fleetwood was my biggest disaster yet, with me falling foul of two asthma attacks as I ran in high humidity and soaring temperatures. At least I finished.

So this, the Great Cumbrian Run, was my last chance for this year to prove to myself that I am worthy of the title ‘runner’. No big deal then.

I was cautiously optimistic in the weeks leading up to the event. Once the weather had started to cool down I no longer found the humidity a problem and I was no longer struggling to catch my breath. My last long, long runs of 12 and 14 miles were textbook, with no problems. Last Monday’s 5 miler was a breeze. I felt strong and comfortable. However, in the back of my mind, I felt sure some disaster would strike. Imagine how carefully I ran my last trail run, judging every loose stone as a possible source of injury! No wonder it was slow! I couldn’t even bring myself to run the trail on Friday, choosing the treadmill instead. I wasn’t prepared to take any chances.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not good at carb-loading prior to an event. I tend to eat carbohydrate rich foods anyway, so I just eat fairly normally leading up to an event. My last evening meal was a thrown together Linda McCartney Mozzarella Burger, a few chips and a massive salad, hardly designed to channel my inner Paula Radcliffe. My breakfast was better, it made up for everything, consisting of porridge, banana and acacia honey. That was rocket fuel. Paula would have approved, I’m sure.

We arrived at Carlisle at 8:45, parked up a good walk from the start and finish, and we went to the castle to collect my number and timing chip. It’s a great idea, starting the race from inside Carlisle Castle. There is no better feeling than running down the cobbles that have passed from Scottish to English ownership many times in their life, into Carlisle’s pedestrianised city centre past hundreds of supporters. Considering I’d signed up on New Year’s Day my number was still 634; it’s a popular race. I spotted numbers beyond 1400, so I’m guessing there were around 1500 competitors on the day.

Ready for action! Waiting for the off at the castle.
Ready for action! Waiting for the off at the castle.

IMG_3645Inside the castle’s quadrangle there were the usual line of unisex portaloos, possibly 20 of them lined up along one wall. It meant only a very short wait for toilets at any point in the lead up to the off. I went twice. You can never be too sure.

There was the usual warm up which about half the runners joined in with and the rest, like me, just did their own thing. It started to look like an outing of the Ministry of Silly Walks. John Cleese would be proud.

The route, through Carlisle city centre, out on the London Road and then through the villages of Cumwhinton, Wetheral, Scotby and Botcherby before heading home.
The route, through Carlisle city centre, out on the London Road and then through the villages of Cumwhinton, Wetheral, Scotby and Botcherby before heading home.

At 10.04 I crossed the line, keeping well back out of the way! My race strategy was just to run steady, keeping to a 4:1 run:walk ratio. I was on for 11 minute/mile pace and I knew, from experience, that I’d start faster than that and would speed up and slow down during the race, hills dependent! I tried not to worry, but wanted to try and keep my overall pace around 11 minutes per mile. My Garmin was set up so that I could see my average pace, my mileage and my time and then I locked it so that I couldn’t turn it on/off accidentally! I know myself too well. My pace was being aided by Jeff Galloway’s LoLo beat-synched music in his Half Marathon app I’d used throughout my training. I’d spent the evening before choosing my music carefully, with plenty of rock classics such as Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills’ and Bryan Adams ‘Run to You’ – I think you get the idea. There were some odd choices in there as well, a few Glam Rock classics to make me smile and OK Go’s ‘Here it Comes Again’ so that I could do the hand movements and cheer myself up mid run. The most important thing was though that every song I chose would be sped up or slowed down slightly so that the beat coincided with my foot fall. It is a perfect way to run, in my opinion, and has helped me learn how to pace myself.

I hit 3 miles at 31:27. Having got there mostly on the climb, I was happy at that. However I knew that after this point I would be climbing hard for some time. I wasn’t wrong and I was devastated when I realised that the one hill I’d remembered wasn’t one hill at all, it was a succession of hills between Carleton and Wetheral. Despite that I managed to hit 6 miles in 64 minutes. My quads were starting to ache a bit, but I felt good and the rest of the route would now take us mainly downhill.

Look at those hills!
Look at those hills!

At this point last year I was in dire straits, struggling with foot, knee and hip pain. This year I was running well and I felt as if I was just in over-taking mode, passing people I’d lost sight of earlier. This is one of the biggest advantages of run:walk – those walk breaks re-engergise you. I tried hard to only walk when I was told to, although a few climbs had us all walking up them!

After crossing the M6 for the second time I looked at my Garmin, surprised to see that we were at 9 miles. I was tired on hills, but I was running well on the flat, sometimes ignoring the call for a walk break and running on. The last two miles weren’t easy, but they were a lot easier than last year and I started to overtake a lot of tiring runners I’d been yo-yoing with for the last few miles. As I came out of Rickerby Park I knew I needed to lift my pace a bit if I was going to get close to my personal best. I passed two runners who were getting medical attention, one looked as if she’d simply conked out and another who had clearly fallen on uneven paving slabs and split the skin on his cheekbone. I was pleased to see him heading for the finish as I left the finish area – I’d have done the same.

I found running through Bitts Park a bit of a nightmare, mostly because of the runners who had finished and were leaving along the same route we were still running on with all of their families. We didn’t need much room, but I would have appreciated a cordoned off passage for us, clear of strollers! As I neared the end of the path a council van pulled up in front of me and someone opened the passenger door, completely obstructing my way! I could not believe it and I swore loudly as I passed the driver’s open window. The very last thing you want, having run 13 miles, is to have to dodge and weave your way to the finish line!

I did though and entered Sheepmount Stadium with my best half time of the year beckoning me to the finish line. I crossed it comfortably in 2:24. I was relieved and ultimately very pleased with myself. When I met up with my hubbie, having collected my lovely medal and almost empty goodie bag (honestly, if someone had just handed me the juice I’d have been less disappointed. A bag ‘full’ of leaflets was a bit of a let down) he remarked that I wasn’t even red in the face and that he’d watched me run across the bridge with ease. He even went as far as to wonder if I could have run it faster. Brave man.

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Post run I had learnt from bad experience and asked hubbie to bring some sustenance with him (I’m so pleased that didn’t rely on the contents of my goodie bag!) and so had a soya milkshake and some biscuits as I walked back to the car, quite slowly! Once home we had some cheesy beans on toast and I enjoyed a hot bubble bath, followed by the welcome application of BioFreeze gel. I was good to go. We celebrated at the local pub with several pints of real ale and the company of friends. After trying to watch TV we both ended up tucked up in bed at about half 9!

Worth it, just for that lovely medal!
Worth it, just for that lovely medal!

This morning there is a little stiffness in muscles, but not much and that will soon wear off. My shoulders are aching more than anything, but I have a full body scrub and a facial booked at my local salon in a couple of hours. What could be better? Considering the hilly nature of the route I’m really pleased with my time. I came home feeling that I’d done the best I could and still got within 2 minutes of my personal best on any half marathon route. I feel that a rest before picking up my training for my last planned race of the season would be appropriate.

Now, if I could just conquer those hills at the Jedburgh 10k at the end of the month…

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.”