How things are going

I’ve sat down here, not really knowing what I want to write! I’m part way through my 10k training plan, enjoying running under the shelter of the trees in the early morning (although not as early as one of my friends, who has been getting up around dawn to get her long runs in before the heat of the sun breaks through!) Murphy, my canine running partner has been coming too although, at almost 12 years old, I have warned him that there may soon come a day when he just can’t come with me. That’s incredibly sad. He’s been my running partner for a long time and has even run a 6 miler with me in his youth!

However that day will come in a few weeks as I start to increase my distances beyond what I can eek out of the woods. In there, amongst the trails, I can get 3 miles. Not all under the shade of the trees, but still. Tomorrow’s run is 3 miles. It’s my Long Run Day and so will be a slow run, so I’m hoping that Murphy and I can get that one done in the cooler weather that is predicted for tomorrow. After than I think I’ll be able to do a couple of shorter runs and then I’ll have to move onto the road.

Road running here is a bit precarious as there are very few paths. I’ve been running for a few years now though and have built up a reserve of quiet routes which test me, but not the drivers trying to get round me! On most runs I hardly see a vehicle. Plenty of cows and sheep, but very little of anything else.

I’ve missed these well-kenned routes and it’ll be nice to get to see them again. Leaving Murphy behind won’t be as nice, but I’m sure he’ll be happy with a post-run walk. And perhaps a squeaky toy and a bone…

I’ve got it in my head that if I am race ready by September I will enter the Jedburgh 10k in October. I haven’t worked out how far through the programme I will be by then as I’m really not wanting to jinx things! At the moment I’m playing with run/walk ratios and seeing what I can do. On my last trail run I went out with 2 min/30 sec, which I adjusted mid run to 45 sec/20 sec and then finished with 3 min/30 sec. It’s reassuring to know that I can adjust these intervals as I feel I am running, without also feeling that I am not performing as I should. The trails are a different thing to road running though and I’m expecting to increase my running ratios to several minutes running to each short walk break. I am not expecting, post surgery and with significant physio issues, to be able to just run. I am enjoying covering the distance in a fairly respectable time.

My pace off road is currently around a 12 min/mile. Previously I could take a minute off that on the road; it’ll be interesting to see if that’s still true. If, however, I am now a 12 minute miler over distance then that’s what I’ll be. At some point or another I’ll run just a mile and see how fast I can do that. I think my fastest mile was just under 9 minutes. I’m not expecting to get anywhere near that.

My physio is happy with me. I am doing my exercises pretty much every day. My Plantar Fascitis has almost disappeared, thanks to those exercises but also to the orthotics I am now prescribed via the hospital. I have now worked up to wearing them all day and am allowed to run in them now too. These help to support my arches and stop my foot from rolling in, as it did. I’ve also started doing what is called Daily Yoga, but not daily. Usually it’s When I Remeber Yoga, but that’s good enough for me! I have problems getting from the floor to standing, so I have a stool on hand to help me. I’m hoping that increasing flexibility and strength will eventually mean that I use this prop less and less.

So, that’s where I am! Things are generally going ‘fine’.

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!

 

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.

Running and Walking Back to Physical and Mental Health

I’m a run walker. I’m not ashamed to admit it, although some people seem to find it a difficult fact to accept. Since experiencing problems moving from 5k up to 10k I’ve followed Jeff Galloway’s Run:Walk system and to great effect. My first half marathon race came in at 2:22, a very respectable time for anyone, not just a 48 year old previous non-runner.

Jeff has produced apps for the iPhone designed to coach your through 5k, 10k, half and full marathon distances in preparation for races. I’ve used all of these bar the full marathon one, which I don’t think I’ll ever use. Well maybe when I’m retired and have more time to train. The apps are fully adjustable for age, weight, height, pace and the all important run:walk ratio. When you start they recommend running an 11 min/mile pace at 3:1 intervals.

I’m also a medal slut and a stat junkie.

I have to get a medal and a good time. In my perverse desire to be better and faster, I ramped those up to 10 min/mile pace and 4:1 intervals and then 7 min:40 sec intervals. I was wrong to do this and now I’m broken.

I am playing this game all wrong. 

I should be listening to my body more, altering the ratios and pace to suit, slowing down when I’m not in the zone or feeling sluggish. Instead I’m punishing myself for not being the machine I obviously  want to be. Do I really want to be a machine? Of course not.

Here’s the deal.

I want to enjoy running. I want to head out and be pleased that I’ve run 3, 6, 14 and 17 miles, not disappointed that I only ran them in x amount of minutes. Really who the hell cares, other than me, how fast I was? I’m not training for the Olympics here, I’m just trying to stay healthy.

And, of course, by pushing myself far too hard I’ve done the opposite. I’ve hurt myself good and proper.

I am a fool.

Now that I’ve realised this, I need to act on it. I need to stop this headlong hurtle into oblivion and give myself a good talking to! When I started training I was a happy 3:1 ratio runner. I achieved loads running in that way. I coped well with 4:1 and completed the Great North Run and all the prior training using that. Going away from that has made me a less content runner. And a slower and less healthy one. So why did I stray from something that was working?

Guilt.

Not all runners accept the Galloway System as a proper running programme. They see walking as a cop out and deride run:walk devotees. I fell into the trap of thinking that by running the entire distance it would make me a better runner. They are wrong and so was I to fall for it. They made me feel a lesser person. I experienced guilt for the first time in a long time. Way back when I started my “friend” Jack would mock my run:walk programme. I ditched him as a confidante, but the guilt he instilled was still there.

No more.

I am a run walker. I will continue along this path because I know that it works and I know that if I don’t I will get hurt. Today starts my renewed passion for Jeff Galloway and his miraculous programme.

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