I Do Like A Little Bit Of Structure To My Week

23 Feb

On Monday I reaped the rewards of having done my long run on Friday the previous week, however abysmal it may have felt at the time.  I was able to do my 15 mile medium long run on Monday and my 13 mile medium long run on Tuesday (and as I had an afternoon hearing on Monday and an afternoon telephone conference on Tuesday I even got both of them done in daylight: luxury!).  On Wednesday I was in Exeter, and took this as my rest day.  I’d had a sports massage on Tuesday evening and my sports masseur identified that my right hamstring/hamstring tendon were both pretty tight and could use a day’s rest after she’d done some work.  Plus I was knackered!

On Thursday, I finally made it to the Weston Prom Run.  I missed September’s because it was a few days before the Bristol Half; I missed October’s because it was a few days before the Masters XC relays; I missed November and December because I was injured; and January because of work/fatigue.  Thankfully it’s a cheap and cheerful race series, so there’s no sense I’ve thrown away lots of money, but missing 5 out of 9 races doesn’t feel great!  Anyway, it was pretty windy on Thursday, and so that probably claims a fair few seconds per mile, but overall 33.18 was a curious mixture of pleasing (at least something that felt no faster than half marathon pace effort wasn’t as slow as half marathon pace was in September) and frustrating (ye gods, that’s 3 minutes slower than my 5 mile pb, and something like 35s/mile slower than 10k pb pace – bearing in mind that my 10k pb pace is actually about the same as my 5 mile pb pace, if not a little faster).  I was 2nd FV40 and got a bottle of wine for my efforts, although I left sharpish to get home at a reasonable hour, so a fellow lawyer has collected it and is putting it in the DX.  Having seen what the DX can do to a lever arch file, I wait to see if it arrives intact!

On Friday I did my recovery run as 2 short commute runs: 3.5 miles each way at a very steady pace.  By Saturday the strong winds were back, and my 5 mile recovery run took in a lot of local side streets as I tried to find shelter wherever I could.

Today the schedule said 18 miles, but my only disagreement with Pfitzinger & Douglas’s 12 week marathon schedule is that it’s a bit light on long runs (by which I mean runs of 20 miles or more).  Now, I’m sure that physiologically there’s not much difference between 18 and 20 miles as a training effort, but psychologically (for me at least) it’s huge: 20 miles means just 10k more to do on race day.  10k is not daunting.  18 miles means 8.2 miles, which is well over an hour’s running at a steady pace (and not that far off an hour’s running at 3 hour pace!), which messes with my head.  So that’s my reason for doing 20 miles today.  I’m pleased to report that it was 30s/mile faster than last week’s: who knew that having fresher legs, being properly fuelled and properly hydrated before you start could make such a difference?!  68 miles for the week.  A cutback week awaits next week.

Dennis The Menace…

16 Feb

I started the week the simple way with a very steady 5 mile recovery run in the morning.  I wanted to keep the evening free because after 10 days away T was home that evening (although Storm Ciara delayed his flight and journey back from the airport).  Tuesday was still pretty simple, as I wasn’t in court, so I was able to do a daytime 14 mile run, and then have my sports massage.

On Wednesday I was in the Torquay & Newton Abbot County Court, which evokes images of the Devon Riviera.  It is on an industrial and retail park just off the main road between Torquay and Newton Abbot.  I was also there all day, so not home until 7pm.  Wednesday was my rest day (at least from running!).

On Thursday I discovered that the race I’d planned to do on Sunday (the Bramley 20) was cancelled due to poor weather forecast and the arrival of Storm Dennis, and so I decided that this week’s quality run could be my club’s session of 6 x 1km rather than a marathon-paced run as part of a long run.  It was lovely to do a club session for the first time since September (!), and even if my times were pretty sluggish (between 3.55 and 4.05 for each kilometre), they were relatively consistent (once I’d got the slow 4.05 out of the way to start with).

Around lunchtime on Friday I glanced at the weather forecast, and it was predicted to be extremely windy (40-50mph winds, with stronger gusts) and very rainy (mostly heavy rain) all weekend.  From sunrise Saturday to well past sunset Sunday.  Eeek.  Not good for running.  My hearing had finished, and so I took the decision to come home and do my 20 mile run as soon as I could.  Not ideal, because this meant in the last 7 days I would have done a race (the cross-country), a 19 mile run, a 14 mile run, a quality run and then the long run as well as a recovery run.  Oh, and all of this added up to 76 miles.  That long run was grim.  It was still fairly windy (15-20 mph winds) and a bit cold, and I think I was a bit dehydrated and under-fuelled.  I hit the wall and the last 5 miles were slower than a steady recovery run (9.30s).  I came home and was light-headed and shivery.  I guess the only redeeming feature is that it definitely counts as a “time on feet” run, in that it took near as dammit the 3 hours I’d be delighted with for London!  (Although at halfway I was just about managing 8.30s, by the end the woeful last miles had dragged my average pace down to 8.49s)

Saturday was still far from lovely, and I was wiped out, but managed a steady run – at about the pace I’d done my long run the day before.

That just left today, and all the schedule required for me to hit the prescribed 62 miles for the (Monday to Sunday) week was 9 miles.  Done and dusted in windy and rainy conditions, with the remnants of Storm Dennis for company.

A bit of a character building week, all said, but plenty of miles banked, which will hopefully stand me in good stead come race day!

Blow, blow, thou winter wind…

9 Feb

I started this week by being at my desk at 8am on Monday morning, which was the tail end of the Bad Work Period I wrote about last week.  I did a 5 mile recovery plod home that night.  Thankfully I was not in court on Tuesday and Wednesday (yay!) so was able to have a lie-in on Tuesday (well, I went back to bed after I’d fed the cats, but this didn’t stop the girl-cat waking me up at 7.50am, clearly disgusted with my sloth.  Some might say a creature that sleeps up to 18 hours per day shouldn’t criticise a human who tries to get 9 or 10 hours).  I then did a bit of work, a 12 mile run, and finally had a free afternoon to lounge about and relax.  First time in over 3 weeks.  Bliss!

On Wednesday I ran 11 miles and then had a sports massage, before going into chambers to do some work and prepare for my hearings on Thursday and Friday.  The sports massage didn’t unearth anything to worry about, which is always reassuring.

On Thursday I took a rest day (rather overdue, as I’d done 70 miles in the last 7 days, significantly exceeding my average weekly mileage for the last year!).  I then ran 5 miles on Friday.

This was all part of a planned mini cutback ahead of a nervous return to cross-country racing on Saturday.  I’d been assured that the course at Chepstow Racecourse was undulating rather than hilly, and so I’d agreed to run, albeit I was probably going to take my first run in spikes since October steadily rather than pushing the pace too much.  I travelled over with some clubmates and we arrived in time to walk most of the course.  The undulations were a bit shorter (good) and sharper (less good) than I’d hoped, but they looked like I would be able to run them, I just wouldn’t be able to attack on the climbs (which is where I’m usually strongest).  After warming up, I headed to the start, making sure I was stood several rows further back than normal so that I didn’t get pulled along at an overambitious pace.  I felt fairly controlled all the way round the first lap, and my breathing was certainly no more than half marathon effort.  I dared to push on a little on the second lap, although found changing gear a bit difficult.  I certainly made up about 10-15 places on the second lap, even if my finishing position (31st) was well below the top 10s I managed at my fittest, and the top 20s I’d usually settle for if I was having a ‘bad’ day.  But the great thing about cross country is that because of the scoring system, every runner helps the team, and it was lovely to see my teammates and feel like I was finally helping the club again!

I was in two minds about what to do about my long run.  Part of me wanted to get it done today, and to have the training benefit of doing a long run on slightly tired legs (because even if I wasn’t flat out yesterday, running in spikes certainly uses muscles that plodding on the roads doesn’t, and running on an undulating course uses muscles that running on the flat doesn’t).  The other part of me had looked at the weather forecast, and really couldn’t get excited about over 2.5 hours in the company of Storm Ciara.  In the end, the knowledge that although I’m not in court on Monday morning, I am in court Monday afternoon, and I really don’t want to be sat in court with stiff legs forced me out of the door, and I decided the least worst option was to run to the Bristol-Bath Railway Path on the basis that most of it is fairly sheltered.  So out of my 19 miles, the bulk were done in the relative shelter of the cycle path and were not too awful.  But over a quarter were with Ciara’s full force either behind me (yay!) or in my face (not yay at all!), and for the last 5 miles it was raining.  Still, it’s done, and that’s 61 miles for the week.  My foot/ankle are a bit tired and sore, but I’m sure an afternoon on the sofa and a few doses of frozen peas will do the trick.  Nothing has snapped!

Triple Bill

4 Feb

Well, I really tempted fate having a mini-moan about working hours in the last blog post.  I haven’t had time to blog for 3 weeks since then!

A scamper through those 3 weeks is as follows:

I rested on the first Monday and did a 5 mile recovery run on the Tuesday as part of my cut-back week.  I repeated this on the Wednesday, and had hoped to race (Weston Prom Run) on the Thursday, but was too late finishing in court to make it, and ended up not running at all (I made the mistake of going home and sitting on the sofa…).  This meant that on the Friday I did 2 easy runs instead of one (totalling 10 miles), before a busy weekend: 10 miles including 2 x 4km at marathon pace on the Saturday (just over 2.59 pace, but close enough for jazz) and then a really lovely 15 mile run on the Sunday with some of my clubmates.  It was during the cold, frosty spell of weather, and those sunny, crisp days are just about the best days to be out running, especially with company.  The 10 miles we did as a group flew by as we set the running world to rights!  It was then time for Sunday Homework Club, which is less fun.

Keen arithmeticians will have noted that although I ran 45 miles in that week, which definitely fits into a ‘cut back’ definition, I structured it very poorly, running 35 of those miles in the final 3 days.  Despite this, having rested on the following Monday, I ran 12 miles on the Tuesday, again with clubmates, and at a pretty reasonable pace by current standards.  It was the last frosty evening!  But the next day, as I plodded home on a recovery run, my legs let me know just how tired they were.  They were still not completely delighted on the Thursday during my 6 mile recovery run, but on the Friday (12.5 miles) my 3 x 3km @ marathon pace were all pretty much bang on 2.59 pace.  Result!  The next morning (6.5 miles) was a bit of a plod, and my long run on Sunday was on tired legs in slightly breezy conditions.  Quite often, after about 3 or 4 miles, your legs loosen up and you start to feel like you’re flowing along.  That didn’t happen.  18 very steady miles brought up 60 for the week.  I think I last managed that mileage in early 2019…  This was again followed by Sunday Homework Club.

Last Monday was another very ploddy recovery run (9.30m/m, for the speed police) and my 8 miles with strides on Wednesday morning was pretty shocking.  In my defence, I’d slept really badly (the cats decided that next to the bed at about 4.30am was the best place for a major cat-off.  I disagreed) and it was really windy, but it the pace was also pretty dispiriting.  These things happen, especially when you’re rebuilding mileage.  My 11 miles into work on Thursday (now that we finally have working showers again – it’s a long and tedious story) was pretty ploddy, although to be fair I was carrying towels and shower gel as well as clothes and lunch.  Friday’s 11 miles was much better.  And going to the registry office with T to give notice of our civil partnership was even better still!  On Saturday, I just had to do a 5 mile recovery run ahead of shopping, a rehearsal and a concert.  Elgar 2 is a pretty big play, so I woke with tired arms on Sunday.  However, the schedule said 15 miles with 8 @ marathon pace, and so that’s what I had to do.  I’m still breaking the marathon pace sections down into smaller chunks at the moment as I rebuild fitness, so it was 3 x 3km and then a 4km chunk at the end.  It was a bit breezy (again!  I try and think of it as resistance training…) and my Garmin had a properly mad 5 minutes where it claimed I’d really slowed down (needless to say, attempting to ‘hit’ marathon pace meant that I actually ran a bit faster in that chunk, but by and large I was within a few seconds per mile of my target, which I’ll take on a windy day when I might have had a bit more beer than was a good idea the night before.  55 miles for the week (and the first week of my ‘real’ training schedule).  I had a quick turnaround at home before going to an orchestra meeting and then back home for another 9 hours of Sunday Homework Club.

So, I guess the summary is that running is going ok, but the work/life balance has got out of kilter.  It looks like this week is a bit more balanced, so fingers crossed I will have time to blog come Sunday.  That’s fate well and truly tempted!

Working 9 to 5 (Or Maybe Later)

12 Jan

So the gist of this post is that Dolly Parton had way better hours than I’ve managed this week!

On Monday I was in Gloucester, so didn’t have time for a run beforehand, and was then in chambers until about 7pm that evening (so more 7-7 than 9-5.  Dolly = 4 hours up on me).

On Tuesday I was in Bristol, so I got a 5 mile recovery run in that morning, and then worked 9-6 (another hour to Dolly).

Wednesday saw a little bit of a reprieve, as I had a dress fitting in the morning (my clever dressmaker friend is making me something that will actually fit: when you’re as short as I am and built like a long-distance runner, shopping is a nightmare).  However, I then had to go and deal with a hearing (leftovers from the day before).  But working 12-5.30 saw me 2.5 hours up on Dolly, so overall the balance of the week was only 2.5 hours in Dolly’s favour.  RESULT!  I’d also managed to do 11 miles with 4 at marathon pace that morning, and although my tired legs couldn’t quite hit 6.52s the whole way, it was still a good workout for the cardiovascular system.  I then had an orchestra rehearsal, but that is fun, not work.

Thursday I wasn’t in court but still had to work, and although I took a 2 hour break to walk to a massage appointment, have the massage, then walk home, I worked 8-10 (plus another hour’s break for a run).  So that’s 8-7 excluding the run and massage breaks, which left Dolly 3 further hours up on me.  Dammit.  5.5 hours in total.

By Friday I was pretty tired and sleep deprived.  Although I probably should have done my second 11 mile run of the week that evening, I didn’t.  I plodded 6 miles (bearing in mind I had post-massage leg heaviness to contend with).  I had, however, only worked 9-5.30, so finished the working week (always assuming Dolly got weekends off) 6 hours down on a 9-5 existence.  To be honest, that’s fairly par for the course, it’s just that in the first week back you really feel it.

On Saturday I eventually got myself out of the door for my 11 miles, but it was plodtastic.  I think my fairly long day at court on Friday had left me dehydrated, and my legs had only had about 14 hours recovery.  Urgh.  Still, running isn’t always about having great training sessions, and you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Today I had an orchestra rehearsal from 10.30-1.30, and I couldn’t quite face leaving the house at 6.45 to ensure my run was done in time to go to orchestra without a mad dash being involved. So I ran afterwards.  17 miles: my longest run for something like 10 or 11 months!  It did get a bit ploddy towards the end, but brought up another 55 mile week.

Now, I think I had a rush of blood to the head when I prepared my training schedule because I haven’t scheduled a recovery week next week (i.e. a week where I reduce the mileage to let my legs freshen up).  I definitely need one after 3 weeks at 55 miles per week, as my shins feel a bit tight.  If there’s one thing I’m not prepared to do now it’s to push too hard, too soon, so I’ll swap things around and take my recovery week next week.


New Beginnings

5 Jan

The week began with a 5 mile recovery run.  My legs were pretty tired: in fairness to them it had been something like 2 months since they’d last done 55 miles in one week!

I had good intentions to run on New Year’s Eve, but a week of rich food had caught up with me, and I had a bad night of IBS symptoms Monday into Tuesday, so took New Year’s Eve as a rest day.  Thankfully I felt a lot better on NYE than I had the afternoon and night before, so I was able to keep to my other plans, namely lunch with my parents and my aunt (T was working, poor thing, so missed out on some delicious cheese souffles).  Still, even without a final run of the year, I covered 2,007 miles in 2019 (yes, there was a tiny bit of me which had wanted to abandon my schedule and do 12 miles on 31.12.2019 once I realised my total on 31.12.19…).  And that’s a heck of a lot more than I managed the year before!  NYE evening was pretty quiet, as T was on call, so we stayed in and had nice food (lots of little courses to help pass the time: I’m not a night owl, so would happily go to bed at 10pm unless the time is filled!).

I started 2020 the way I hope it can continue on a regular basis: with a 10 mile run (I’m not sure the 8.30am lie-in will be such a regular feature, sadly).  I also did my first speedwork since I can’t remember when exactly (probably the first weekend in November?): 3 x 1 mile at marathon pace.  They came out as 6.51, 6.51 and 6.46, so 2 just under 3 hour marathon pace and 1 with a bit more wiggle room.  The foot felt fine 🙂

On Thursday I did another 10 miles, but at a very steady pace (8.24m/m) as my legs were a bit tight and tired.  On Friday I did 8 miles with 12 sets of strides and again things felt ok (although my legs were still a bit tired, so the overall pace wasn’t amazing: I was pretty much jogging in between the sets of strides).  Saturday was a nice easy 6 mile recovery run.

That just left today’s long run: 16 miles.  My longest since September, I think!  It came out at 8.14m/m, which is slower than my marathon training bible would suggest for my target times, but there is plenty of time for the speed to come back.  At the moment, it’s more important to get used to running for that long again.

55 miles for the week.  The foot is ever so slightly tired, so I’m icing it as a precaution (and taking that as a sign that my instinct to not start marathon training for a few more weeks yet was spot on!).  But all in all, that’s not a bad start to 2020.

As for 2019, it’s not a running year I’ll remember with any great fondness in terms of running well, apart from finally racing a half marathon again, but at least I am starting 2020 in a better place than I started 2019.  Yes, I’m still having to manage some weaknesses in my body, but that’s part of becoming a veteran with quite a lot of running miles on the clock, I guess.  Let’s see how the tightrope walk of training hard enough to run well but not so hard the body gives up on me goes!

Driving Home For Christmas…

29 Dec

On Monday I started my holiday-time with a steady 5 mile run.  My legs were pretty tired, so I kept the pace very steady.  I then had a day pottering around picking up bits and pieces we needed for gifts.

On Tuesday (Christmas Eve) I meant to do a medium-long run, but the weather was a bit grim, so I postponed that to the following morning, and opted for an hour (7.5 miles) with some strides in there.  I was pleased at how my foot and ankle felt afterwards, though: no pain 🙂

On Wednesday (Christmas Day), I slightly regretted my decision the previous day, as I had to be out of the door in the dark if I was to get a 10 mile run done in time for us to be in London for noon.  But once I’d got the first few miles out of the way, and the sun began to creep up over the horizon, I realised how lucky I was to be out and about: it was a clear, crisp morning, with just the slightest dusting of frost.  The roads were pretty much empty, and so the usual background hum of the city traffic was silent.  I could hear the monkeys calling for their breakfast in the zoo!  After a quick shower and breakfast (and then opening our presents to each other, which we almost forgot to do!), T and I then went to spend the day with T’s family.  It was a lovely, relaxing day, just as it should be: plenty of food, nice drinks, and great company.

On Thursday (Boxing Day), I’d opted for a rest day so that I didn’t have to pack running kit and sneak out early.  After breakfast T and I headed over to spend the day with my family.  It was the first time we’d all been together since my birthday in the summer, and so great to see everyone.  We made it home early evening, and were welcomed by the cats, although it could have been cupboard love (they do like their cat sitter, too, possibly for the same reason!).

On Friday I did another 10 mile run, but this time with the luxury of daylight all the way.  On Saturday, it was another 7.5 miles with strides (bit of a theme here).  Again, my legs felt fine afterwards (although I could really notice that they’d had to do faster running again: whatever fast-twitch fibres my endurance runner’s legs possess have been taking it easy during the recent lay-off, that much is clear).

Today, it was 15 miles steady.  My legs felt pretty tired by the end of it, but it was nice to note from my Garmin data that I’d covered 55 miles this week and (drum roll) 2,002 this year: for the first time since 2016 I’ve actually covered more than 2,000 miles in a calendar year (with 2 more runs to go)!  It may still be chicken-feed compared to the peak years, when I was doing 2 full marathon campaigns and easily covering 2,500, but it’s an encouraging sign. Edit: the memory plays funny tricks on you. Re-reading previous blog posts, it seems I covered well over 2,000 miles in 2017, it’s just last year that was very low (1,640). But because 2017’s mileage was so much lower than 2016’s, I now misremember it as terrible. When in fact, I’d bite your hand off to have simply equalled it this year! Ah well, maybe my 2020 resolution is to check before blogging…