Quiet Sleep And A Sweet Dream When The Long Trick’s Over

19 Nov

Another 60 mile week: it’s becoming quite a habit again!

It started with a rest day, which let the legs freshen up a little before my club session on Tuesday.  It was a big session: 8 x 4 mins off 1 minute recovery.  Unfortunately part way through the session (which was on grass/mud), I slipped a little, and did feel my left hamstring/glute tighten a little.  I was able to finish the session at an ok pace, but it was a bit tight over the following few days.  As a consequence, I restricted myself to easy jogs on Wednesday (6 miles), Thursday (7 miles) and Friday (6 miles).  It also made sense to do that because I had rehearsals on Wednesday and Friday for my concert on Saturday – and I was finishing off what ultimately became an 8 day case over the first 4 days, and was beginning to feel pretty emotionally drained.

I had a bit of a lie-in on Saturday, and although I still felt a bit tired, my legs felt rather better and so I set off for 12 miles, including 20 sets of 1 minute faster, 1 minute slower.  In the afternoon I had a rehearsal and then the concert.  I’d not known the Walton Cello Concerto before we started rehearsals, but I am now a total convert.  I was blown away by the piece, and by how brilliantly fellow orchestra member Jane played it.  It was followed by Mahler’s First Symphony, which I’ve always loved, ever since I first played it the best part of 25 years ago.  Although I think I can play it rather better now – a bit of bluffing may have gone on at the back of the second violins back in the early 90s!  All in all, it was an absolutely amazing evening, and we were all buzzing afterwards.  Post concert beers were definitely called for, and very much enjoyed as we dissected the concert to our heart’s content.  It meant a rather late night, followed by a lazy morning.  I eventually headed off for my long run late morning, and although the pace (8.26s) was by no means great, it was a lovely sunny day to be out there enjoying the autumnal colours.  And in a rare treat, no need to work this afternoon.  Bliss.

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Let Others Hail the Rising Sun: I Bow To That Whose Course Is Run

12 Nov

A bumper edition to cover the last two weeks!

I started last week with a 3 day trial in Worcester.  It’s an annoying sort of distance from home: 2.5-3 hours of travelling each day is enough to really eat into your time but kind of close enough that a hotel feels a bit extravagant. However, I opted for extravagance (well, a mid-budget chain hotel…), because I had a sneaking suspicion that if I didn’t I’d end up doing extremely long days and struggling to fit everything in.  I made the most of the hotel and the clocks having changed to get some daylight runs in: 6 miles on Monday (when it was extremely cold, although beautiful to run along the river/canal with the sun rising and everything a bit frosty), 8 miles on Tuesday (milder, thank goodness) and 10 miles on Wednesday (making the most of not having to be at court until 10am!).  However, I didn’t leave Worcester until 5pm, and had just enough time to grab my violin and a snack to get to my orchestra rehearsal.  I think I sat down about 15 seconds before we started to tune up…  I was knackered on Thursday, so took it as a rest day, and focused on having a nice evening with T at the theatre (War Horse: loved it!).  On Friday I just did 6 easy miles after a long day at work.  By Saturday it was time to do the tougher session I’d had half a mind to do on Thursday or Friday, but had put off as I wasn’t feeling great.  It was 6 x c. 1 mile with about 3 mins jog recovery.  It’s never easy, and without company I struggled a bit in the last few. However, my complete exhaustion for the rest of the day told me that – even if the times were a bit slower than I wanted, around current half-marathon pace rather than half-marathon pb pace, as I’d hoped – I’d definitely put the right amount of effort in!  A nice lazy afternoon on the sofa doing my book club homework was the perfect recovery.  On Sunday I had a long orchestra rehearsal (10-5) and so did my 18 mile run afterwards. I was a bit tired, and also a bit stiff. I probably should have done some stretching or yoga in the morning, or at least gone for a walk at lunchtime.  For whatever reason, the run was a bit of a trudge, and I only just dipped under 8.30m/m.  The last 3 or 4 miles I was definitely running on empty, and was rather pleased to collapse in front of a tasty dinner prepared by T.  Although I love cooking, it’s now kind of hard to imagine how I coped when I had to cook for myself after every training session…

And so to this week. I was starting a 10 day trial on the Monday, and definitely didn’t have the energy to get up early to run that morning after my long run/trudge the night before.  I then had an orchestra meeting that evening, so it was my rest day by default rather than design.  I did force myself to get up on Tuesday morning and fit 6 miles in ahead of my day in court, because I had a 3 hour rehearsal that evening.  It was a fantastic rehearsal, however: music and running help me switch off from the stresses of work in very different ways.  We were playing a beautiful programme for the concert we ultimately performed on Armistice Day: Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad, Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Vaughan Williams’ London Symphony.  The Elgar was also a cathartic release after receiving the sad news that a classmate from school had passed away.  Too young; too soon.

On Wednesday I had another rehearsal (different orchestra: next week’s concert!), and managed 7 miles beforehand, although I probably only had time for 6.  Once again I arrived just as we were tuning up!  On Thursday, for the first time in ages, I made it to my club session, and was very glad I did. Although I’d been hitting some reasonable times when training alone, having a pack to chase makes an enormous difference.  By way of example, the last time I did some 1km reps, I managed 3.54 per km.  On Thursday we did 2km reps, and although my first one was 7.50 (so 3.55/km), my second was 7.40 (or 3.50/km) and my third was 7.35 (or 3.37.5/km).  What a difference a group makes!  I was really pleased to finally hit 38 minute 10km pace again.  It’s been a while.

My legs were pretty tired on Friday, but we had a non-sitting day in my trial, and so I made the most of the chance to get a midweek run done in daylight, and ground out 11 miles on a fairly hilly route. Once again I was only just under 8.30s, but it was a tough route and I could definitely feel the session in my legs.  Yesterday morning I ran a steady 9 miles at 8.20s, ahead of a rehearsal and then the Armistice Day concert.  It was an amazing concert to play, to a pretty big audience, although hard work on the arms and brain.

That simply left my long run to be done this morning.  I cheerfully informed T that the rain had gone, and headed off to cover 18 miles.  About an hour in, the heavens opened.  And the rain very quickly turned to hail.  I was already regretting not bringing gloves, and this seemed like the nail in the coffin to my run without popping home (just a few hills away…) to get some gloves.  Thankfully, the heavy shower left as quickly as it arrived, and after about 15 minutes the feeling began to return to my hands. The last hour was really quite pleasant, and the pace was much better than last weekend: 8.13s.  Still not fast, but it goes to show what an enormous difference it makes to be rested, and running in daylight.  It’s one of the reasons I try very hard not to get too bogged down in paces for long/steady runs, because so many things can affect how you run, and mine can vary by as much as 30s/mile from one week to the next!

So, that’s seen two weeks of 60 miles.  I definitely haven’t done that much mileage since March.  It feels like the pace is gradually coming back, and that – although it’s a long way off – I’m building a good foundation for London 2018.

Getting To The Heart Of The Matter

29 Oct

Monday was once again a rest day. T and I kicked off a week of culture by going to see Loving Vincent at the cinema in the evening instead.

On Tuesday I did 6 miles easy. My legs felt pretty ok considering I’d raced only 2 days before. I did 8 miles on Wednesday which felt slightly harder work, but that was probably just a question of perception: I’d expected to be sore on Tuesday but hoped Wednesday would be fine after Tuesday’s run!

On Thursday I had a meeting after work and so just had time to squeeze in 6 miles before heading off to T’s for dinner. He certainly knows that the way to a runner’s heart is through her stomach!

On Friday I repeated the workout of 6 X 1km I’d done last week. I was a whole 1 second faster on each km, but at least 3.54s make 39 minutes flat if sustained over 10km. That may still be a lot slower than pb pace, but it’s a lot better than I managed in early September! T and I then continued our culture binge with The Death Of Stalin.

Saturday morning was a late, lazy start, before heading off for Heartstart training. It was organised by my home parkrun to help marshalls acquire/refresh basic first aid skills so that we’re more use in those anxious minutes before an ambulance arrives in the event the very worst should happen. We also got to have a look at the defibrillator. Just in case.

I spent the afternoon working before finishing the Week of Culture by going to see The Ice Road. It’s based in Leningrad during the siege in the second world war and was a thought provoking piece. Aftwrwards  we changed mood by then popping over the road to see the cats at my favourite pub and then a mountain of curry.

This was more than sufficient fuel for today’s 18 mile run, which brought up 55 miles for the week. I rounded things off with 4 hours of rehearsing and a bit more work. A busy, fun and thought-provoking week.

The Answer Is Blowing In The Wind

22 Oct

Monday seems to be my default rest day at the moment and this week was no different. I ran 6 easy miles Tuesday morning and then did a light session on Wednesday to get my legs turning over ahead of this weekend’s race: 10 miles with 6 X 1km with 2 minutes jog recoveries. I averaged 3.55 for the efforts, and felt pretty strong.

Just to show that things are never simple, my 10 mile run on Thursday was vile. I felt tired, it was windy and the pace was a dispiriting 8.36m/m. Bleurgh.

On Friday I did 8 miles at a much better 8.14m/m. What a difference a day makes!

Saturday morning and Storm Brian had arrived. I battled through 6 miles, very conscious that the 20mph winds we had in Bristol were similar to those forecast for Portsmouth the next day. Hmm. Still, midweek the forecast was 45mph winds, so 20mph was an improvement!

And so to today. My Cardiff time suggested 65.30 should be possible, so on the basis I’m hopefully getting fitter, in still conditions I’d hoped for 65 dead. My revised target was to lose no more than a minute to the wind. I felt ok warming up, but it was pretty windy, so I knew that the first mile would be a bit tough and the last 2 – with the field spread out – would be very tough. So it proved! I was on track for 65.30 at 8 miles, but lost 25s battling the headwind. Still, I felt strong throughput and it was a good workout. Now for a little break from racing as music becomes the short term focus. But also time for a few more fast sessions to try and get a bit more speed back! 53M for the week.

Carpe Diem

16 Oct

Last week got off to a sad start, as motor neurone disease again touched my life, albeit much less directly than in 2011-2014.  A local judge had been diagnosed earlier this year, and on Monday morning we received the sad news that she had passed away, unexpectedly quickly.  It rather put life back into perspective, and brought the question of what really matters sharply to the fore.  From a running perspective I managed a steady 5 miles, after a day spent at my desk.  My legs were pretty stiff from the training I’d done over the weekend.

On Tuesday I managed a steady 8 miles over a hilly route ahead of dinner with T.  It was definitely a week to prioritise time together.

Wednesday was a rest day, as I had a lengthy hearing followed by a rehearsal.

On Thursday I ran to work, covering 8 miles.  I really struggle to get up early in the morning at this time of year as the dark mornings come back.

On Friday morning I ran 8 miles with 8 sets of strides thrown in, to try and gently get the legs turning over.  After the run it was time to go to the valedictory speeches for the judge.  There are plenty of ways in which the legal profession can and should change, but this is the sort of thing that it does well.  It was an odd valedictory ceremony: usually they are for judges who are retiring, and they are there, chuckling along as some gentle jokes are told against them.  This time the gentle jokes were sometimes accompanied by a catch in the throat.

On Saturday we had our first cross country league match of the season.  I headed over to Cardiff with 3 of my team-mates.  I had an ok race, although I was definitely further down the pack than I would have been last season.  I was able to work my way through the pack gradually.  The sun was shining, and in the circumstances of the week, it was a day to cherish the chance to be out doing what I loved with my friends around me.  At times very literally:

After the ladies’ race we stayed on to cheer on the men’s team, and it was great watching them race their hearts out, too.  We all ended up with sore throats from screaming them on!  I just had time to shower, change and tidy myself up before going out to the theatre with T.

On Sunday morning my legs were very tired, but I had no choice but to get out for my run early in the day and do my 17 miles ahead of a rehearsal and concert that afternoon.  55 miles for the week.  2 rehearsals and 1 concert.  A fair bit of thinking.

I Remember, I Remember…

8 Oct

My legs were pretty sore on Monday, and my left quad was particularly tight.  So much for being sure that I’m running more symmetrically these days…!  I was once again pretty busy at work, and so it ended up being a rest day.  I got a steady 6 miles done on Tuesday morning at a not very impressive pace.  Wednesday was a case of squeezing in what I could in between the end of the working day and my rehearsal, so it was a fairly steady 5 miles.  I could still feel the after effects of the Cardiff Half, although the worst of the soreness had gone.  I’d say it wasn’t until Thursday that my legs felt a great deal better: I had the luxury of a day out of court and a morning out of chambers, so was able to do a sun-soaked lunchtime 8 miles at a much better pace.  Friday was back to work and after over-sleeping I had to squeeze my 7 miles in that evening ahead of another rehearsal.  Oops!

On Saturday I had a late-ish start after a friend stayed over the night before, although my hope that the weather might improve before I headed out came to nothing.  Still, the drizzle may have been annoying for glasses wearers, but it was cooling, and my 4 mile reps were relatively respectable: between last week’s half-marathon pace for the slowest 2 (slightly uphill and into a bit of a breeze) and around current 10k pace for the fastest two (slightly downhill and with a gentle tailwind).  The whole session was about 12 miles.

I could definitely feel the work in my legs this morning, but was keen to get out for my long run nonetheless, as it was a beautiful, bright day: the sort of autumn day when running is a pleasure.  I picked a fairly challenging route, with 4 big climbs in it and some other undulations, and was pleased that the 17 miles came out at 8.14m/m.  55 miles for the week.  I don’t think I’ve hit that since early April when I was tapering for the London marathon!  I think I’ve now managed 7 weeks of consistent training and I’m starting to feel the benefits in the paces I’m hitting in training.  I suspect ‘pace lift’ may be a few more weeks away, but it’s nice to feel stronger and fitter again.

A Small Step Forward…

1 Oct

My legs were pretty sore on Monday, and I took advantage of being in a productive mood to get plenty of work done, opting for a rest day. On Tuesday morning I did an easy 5 mile run. My legs were still sore and so the pace was steady. On Wednesday I did 6 miles with a few strides thrown in. Curiously this seemed to help with how my legs felt, and loosened things up nicely.

On Thursday I did 6 miles easy and the same Friday morning. To add some variety and hopefully get my legs turning over ahead of my race today, I added strides to yesterday’s 6 miler, too. My legs felt pretty good, as if they had finally got rid of the Bristol half and road relays.

And so today: the Cardiff Half. At the back of my mind I thought sub 1.27 would be nice. The weather was better than initially forecast: a few days out there had been suggestions of heavy rain and strong winds. In the end the rain was more of a Scotch mist and the wind noticeable but well short of enough to stop you in your tracks. I felt pretty strong throughout, and at around 8 or 9 miles my average pace was enough to dip under 1.27. Unfortunately my two slowest miles were miles 11 and 12, and so although I did my best in the final 1.1 miles to claw something back, I had to settle for 1.27.13. Still, that’s an improvement of about 3s/mile on Bristol 2 weeks ago, and although I think the Cardiff course is a fraction quicker than Bristol, conditions were poorer, so it shows progress. I had been well fed and was well supported by my clubmate Helen, who got this fairly flattering photo of me just before mile 10:

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The plan for October is to slightly increase the mileage to about 55 per week, and hopefully then 60 per week in November so that marathon training isn’t too much of a shock when late December comes around. But next week will be steady. And after 4 races in 5 weeks, a much needed week off racing!