Running Home and Away

Last week hubbie and I went away to Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, for a few days R&R. We had decided, at the start of the summer, that taking a few short breaks would be less disruptive to our businesses and lives than taking one long holiday. We had already visited Coniston in the English Lake District for a few days at the start of the school holidays and Oban was our next destination. Mindful of how I worried about running in Coniston I contacted the Oban Runners via their Facebook page prior to leaving, just to check out some routes. They recommended a 6 mile loop around a loch about a mile away from where we were camped which sounded perfect.

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With views like this I might forget to breathe! ©Julie Hollis, 2014
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Gorgeous weather has followed us around the north of Britain!
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The only piece of road I ran on!

I was, however, meant to do a 4 mile run on the Monday we were away, with one of the miles timed. After a reccy walk on the day before we discovered that the route between the campsite and the loch ran mostly along a disused railway track and was almost completely off road. It was ideal. Instead of running around the loch (and believe me I was sorely tempted) I decided to run out for two miles and then run back. It meant that 3 miles were largely in the shade of trees and, with the weather so warm even first thing in the morning, this was important. It also meant that I could do my warm up mile to the loch and then do my timed mile along the loch shore (which was pretty flat). For once I had it planned to perfection! The only possible fly in the ointment was that the shower block closed at 10.30 for cleaning, so I needed to be back before then in order to get cleaned up!

 

My warm up mile was a nice easy one at 10:40. I’ve been running 2:30/1 ratios because these seem to suit me at the moment so imagine my surprise at seeing my fastest mile of the year at 9:22 pop up! I was gobsmacked. This must go to prove that there is truth to what Jeff Galloway says – walk breaks can help to make you faster. I ran an easy two miles home at 11:32 and 11:08, making it home before the showers closed!

The view after my Magic Mile! Loch Creran is a beautiful and tranquil place.
The view after my Magic Mile! Loch Creran is a beautiful and tranquil place.

I know that run walking isn’t for everyone and my efforts are often met with a mixture of confusion and disapproval in races, but using these methods I’m getting faster and recovering from injuries quicker. I can easily sustain 9 minute mile running in the two and half minutes when I have to and walking for a minute adds surprisingly little to the overall pace. Basically it works for me.

Yesterday was my long run day again and I was down for 12 ½ miles. The weather seemed to have cooled down a tad from the furnace we’ve been living in for the past month or so (I’m not complaining, but it has made training difficult for this pale skinned Celt!) and I was looking forward to some cool running. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be and despite setting off early I was thwarted by the heat yet again. At 3 ½ miles I decided to turn back, making 7 miles and then run the 5 ½ later when it would have hopefully cooled down again. Despite the weather the 7 miles were bang on long run pace, one minute slower per mile than race pace. When it became clear that I would be running in the dark before the temperature and humidity reduced I opted to complete the run on the treadmill. Fanned and entertained by Star Trek Voyager, I ran the rest of the 12 miles at a slightly faster pace.

This morning I knew I’d almost run a half marathon! My quads, hip flexors and abductors were all complaining when I moved, but a long walk with the dog solved most of that. Whilst walking I was able to stop and take some photographs of the trail where I tend to do my short runs. The trail has changed such a lot over the last few months, with entire sections of the forest removed by the timber workers, it’s really quite odd to see.

On a nutrition note I’ve decided to ditch the chia seed gels I’d been trying. This is for a few reasons; they are expensive, have a short shelf life (great for long distance runners, but out of date by the time I need them) and they are bit too gooey for me. I’m still looking for something, but in the meantime I’m using a combination of Dextro energy tablets and jelly beans. Any ideas on this would be appreciated.

 

 

New Challenges

30 Day Challenges

I’m on a mission to make myself a better runner, both physically and mentally. My mission has meant that I’ve  taken up James Dunne, performance coach, on his 30 Day Challenge. James follows me on Twitter and when I saw the link to this free resource on Twitter, I had to go and see what it was all about.

James’ website summed up why I need to try this, and probably you do to:

If many years of coaching experience has taught us one important fact, it’s that there are a number of key exercises and drills that 99.9% of runners and triathletes will benefit HUGELY from, if performed on a regular basis.

The irony is that most runners simply don’t do this type of training. Without it, they’re left more susceptible to injury and constantly fall short of their true potential come race day!

This is exactly why we’ve created this 30 Day Challenge…

Each day we’ll provide you with a specific 10-15min set of targeted techniques, drills and exercises, chosen to Transform Your Running over the coming month!

(taken from http://www.kinetic-revolution.com/30daychallenge/)

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? I started yesterday with day one, exercises aimed at my hamstrings, adductors and hip flexors. They aren’t easy, which probably proves that I’m doing them right, with 3 lots of 20 reps of each exercise. On top of this James also has some fab proprioception exercises for people, like me, who have poor co-ordination skills but also aimed at everyone who needs to improve balance and motility and I guess that’s most of us!

Today I did day 2 which was all of these exercises again plus an additional flex which I found disturbingly difficult! I used to go to regular yoga classes and this particular pose was a nice finishing off pose. Today it near finished me off! I’m not sure why – maybe I’m just older and stiffer, but the low back mobility cross stretch was hard going. I’m hoping that this will improve as my flexibility does.

I’m also following the Plank Challenge from Tribesports, doing an increasingly long plank hold for just about every day for a month. It looks like this:

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I might struggle to get past a couple of minutes, but my abs deserve some attention!

Training Again

I’m back on course for the next half marathon on my list, the Fleetwood Half. I’ve booked a campsite nearby and adjusted my diary so that race day is actually race day. This means that I’ve come in at Week 5 with a 6 ½ mile run and yesterday was Week 6 Day 4 – Magic Mile day! I left running until later in the day so that I could honour a chiropractor appointment in the morning and then spend some quality time with my hubbie. My quality time also involved visiting my favourite running shop and buying a couple of new running tops. As my husband had just bought a recovery truck, my £26 worth of bargains went uncommented upon. I know how to bide my time!

It was 6pm before I headed out to run. The weather had by then improved and it was a lovely calm evening. A perfect running time. I chose a fairly flat route and my cycling hubbie decided to come with me, after a little persuasion. My warm up mile felt incredibly slow, but as I’ve readjusted my app and am now back doing 4:1 run:walk intervals I let it ride and slowed my pace. The timed Magic Mile started just as we reached the flattest part of the route, which was ideal. I ran the first half a mile well paced at about 6 – 6 ½ mph according to hubbie’s bike computer. On second half I tried to lift my pace a bit and was encouraged by hearing that I was running faster. I was between 6 ½ and 7 mph, not much faster, but still an all important negative split! I completed the mile in my fastest time of this year of 9:58. It’s not startlingly fast, I realise this, but it’s the fastest I’ve done since returning from injury and it’s under a 10 minute mile. It’s progress. And progress is good.

The run back was a slow affair, with my pace dictated by the app. I was happy to just jog back – I’d done my hard work for the day!

Ode to the Chiropractor

Simon, a follower of this blog, my running and my art, has rekindled an interest in haiku – the Japanese poetry form. I used to write a lot of haiku and have taught countless children how the syllable patterns worked, but lost the time to write them. I use the traditional teikei 5-7-5 pattern, although I know that this is a bit outdated for modern haiku writers. It suits me.

Last night, on the jog home, I paced out this poem – an ode to my chiropractor.

My chiropractor

Whose instruments of torture

Ensure pain means gain.

I’m sure my chiropractor will love it – I’ll make him a calligraphed copy!

As it happens my visit this month was fairly low-key. My calf muscles are behaving and aren’t too tight. My neck and shoulders were, as ever, stiff, but his new machine (looking and sounding much like a nail gun) pummeled them into submission. The only new twinges are coming from my left knee which is starting to sound as if I am receiving regular injections of Rice Krispies. Some pain across the front of the knee when I’m relaxed caused some chiropractic concern and I’m icing it following some cross-friction treatment. It doesn’t bother me when I’m running, just at rest, so I’m not worrying too much.

Other than that I got a clean bill of health – I am a picture of running fitness, so long as your picture looks like this!

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