Slow And Steady Builds The Base

24 Jun

Another week of base-training, so not wildly exciting!

Monday was a rest day.  Tuesday was 10 miles home, which involved plenty of trails and hills. The only bit of interest was that I took a wrong turning in Leigh Woods and ended up a bit lost, so although I ran 10 miles, that included some miles I hadn’t intended to run…  On Wednesday I ran 6 miles back into work (net downhill, so considerably quicker than the previous night’s run!).  On Thursday I ran 10 miles on the flat along the Towpath.  I did my long run on Friday: 15 miles, which turned out to be 15.5 because I had forgotten that if I did a particular loop from work it is actually 15.5.  It’s been so long since I’ve done a 15 mile run on a week day…!  The last 0.5 was particularly unwelcome because my legs were pretty knackered and I was thirsty.  I definitely slept well on Friday night 🙂  On Saturday I just did half an hour of cross-training in the gym before starting the Big Clear Out ahead of moving in with T.  Fitting two people’s things into one person’s house means we’re both doing a decent declutter.  Yesterday I did clothes, and have four enormous bags of clothes, towels and bedlinen to take to the charity shop.

That left today: Cotswold Way Recce Day.  I was doing my recce with a clubmate (S), and we arranged to meet at the finish so that T could kindly drive us to the start, and then S I and could recce the route and come back in his car once we’d finished.  We didn’t do too badly with the navigation, but the main issue was the fields we were supposed to cross which were covered in what I presume was silage (sorry, I’m a town mouse and so might have that wrong).  Whatever it was, there were great heaps of it which were really difficult to run through/jump over, so I’m hoping they’re not there next week!  And the other CWR traditional problem of lots of very long grass, so that I finished covered in blotches from all of the lovely pollen.  It’s a stylish look.  The stage was just over 9 miles, although with one short navigation error detour we did 9.5  Those two bonus half miles brought up 51 miles for the week.  Nearly marathon minimum mileage (55) albeit off 5 runs rather than 6.  It’s a bit early to feel any improvements to my fitness, but I’m getting there.


It’s All About The Base

17 Jun

I started this week with 30 minutes in the gym on Monday and a rest day on Tuesday, as I was rehearsing that evening. This meant my legs were well recovered and springy when I set off for 10 miles on Wednesday. I was away for work in Plymouth and ran a lovely out and back route through Saltram Park and then on a path next to the Plym Valley Railway. Like many naval/shipping ports, Plymouth has its less beautiful side, but this was a pleasure.

I had a long day on Thursday, including travelling back home, so just did a very steady 7 miles that evening. On Friday I ran 12 miles with plenty of hills ahead of another rehearsal. This all left me quite tired, and I slept soundly until gone 8am on Saturday: bliss!

I started the weekend with 7 very easy miles and then another rehearsal ahead of that evening’s concert: the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Shostakovitch 10, which has to be one of my favourite symphonies. If I say so myself, we played brilliantly and had the audience cheering for some time! Post concert beer was definitely required and it was a bit of a late night.

After another lie-in, I ran 14 miles today. My legs were pretty tired by the end, especially as I’d picked a route with plenty of climbing in the second half, but it meant 50 miles of running this week. I think that’s the most I’ve managed since the hamstring injury in November! All of that – bar the ascents! – has been steady at a comfy heart rate, but that’s okay. 6 weeks of steady miles before I start training for Valencia is perfect.

And the really lovely thing about this weekend is that I haven’t needed to go into work, so my post-training refuelling was a roast dinner in the local pub. An all too rare but lovely treat for T and I to be able to have a lazy Sunday together.

Moving On Up [And Down, Where Appropriate]

10 Jun

I started the week with a visit to the recently neglected pool. I only had time for 30 minutes, and had a bit of lane-rage, but it was quite a nice way to loosen the muscles up.  (The lane-rage was because I had opted for the slowest lane, on the basis I hadn’t swum for 3 weeks, but there were several extremely slow swimmers in there, who were aggrieved at being overtaken, and told me – as if I was a simpleton – that this was the SLOW lane.  I’d have been just as much of an annoyance to anyone in the medium speed lane, so I stayed put.)

On Tuesday I ran 6 miles after work.  I could definitely feel the hilly run I’d done on the Sunday evening in my legs, so I kept it nice and steady, and after about 3 miles things loosened up a bit more.  Hurrah!  I went to the gym on Wednesday morning (it really was a case of catching up on activities I’d not done for a while due to the cold): again, only time for 30 minutes, but it felt good to be back.

Thursday morning I ran into chambers (6 miles steady).  It had been such a long time since I’d run in that I couldn’t remember where the shower key was kept!  I found it eventually, and wasn’t forced to go to court reeking of sweat with greasy hair.  Phew.  I ran home on Friday evening: 11 miles including a bit of uphill (Falcondale Road, for locals: it has a sting in the tail with a nice steep finish!).

Saturday was a busy day: strength and conditioning work first thing, then food shopping with T, then violin practice, then a run (9 miles), then 4 hours in chambers and then off to the Bristol Old Vic to see A Monster Calls.  It was amazing: heartbreaking at times (I went through several tissues), but fantastically staged and it really drew me in. It’s on for another week, so go if you can.

That left today: a bit of orchestra homework early doors (I’d forgotten to bow my music…) then a rehearsal 10.30-5.30 followed by a hilly 13 mile run: over 400m of ascent (I know, my Garmin mixes its units).  T had a lovely dinner waiting for me on my return, and so now there’s just a bit of relaxation time left before the new week rolls around.

Oh, and I ran 45 miles this week.  That’s a year’s best, somewhat soberingly, but it is still pleasing.  A foundation to build on for a winter marathon, I hope.

Triple Whammy

3 Jun

So, a 3 week break from blogging: how has that time been spent?

To pick up where I left off, I had a tight calf and achy Achilles tendon. I took another couple of days off running and then very tentatively returned: 3 miles easy, followed by 4, then 5, then 6 and rounded the week off with 7. I also added 1 hour in the gym onto the 6 miler to simulate a longer workout. The calf felt good and I felt pretty positive.

Annoyingly, as I sat working on the Sunday afternoon I noticed I had a horribly sore throat. I had been a bit tired the last few days after a hectic week, and it looked like things had caught up with me. I hoped a day or two of taking it as easily as I could would knock things on the head, but it turned out not to be the case and I spent most of the week coughing and spluttering. I was exhausted just by working so exercise was definitely off the menu!

A brighter light on the horizon was a weekend away in Amsterdam, joining T, who had been at a conference in Ede. I wouldn’t suggest anyone rushes to Ede as a tourist destination, but our 1.5 days in Amsterdam were great: off the beaten track highlights included the Kat Kabinette (a museum of feline-inspired works of art, complete with some real cats) and the Marionette Theatre (useful because there was no dialogue: my Dutch is not great!) on the Saturday plus the Pianola Museum and Houseboat Museum on the Sunday. We rounded things off with a decent stint in the Rijksmuseum before dinner and a late flight home. Appropriately enough our hotel was just next to the Palace Of Justice:


It’s a bit fancier than most of the court buildings I go to!

Anyway, there was no running as I was still full of cold, which was a pity as we were also close to Vondel Park, but there it is.

And so to this week. I was wiped out on Monday, so spent it slobbing around. Back to work on Tuesday and back to Plymouth on Wednesday. The best thing about Plymouth was being well enough to run that evening, although I was still coughing up some gunk (sorry. Just keeping it real!). The worst thing about Plymouth was the late finish on Thursday and getting home after 9pm. I did another steady run on Friday evening  (just 6 miles again), with 8 miles on Saturday and then 10 hilly miles today.

It’s fair to say that the most recent layoff has hit my fitness. Humph. Although I have a spot at my club’s 5000m meeting in just under 3 weeks I suspect that may not be the smartest plan. The Cotswold Way Relay is in 4 weeks’ time so that had better be my main focus (hence the hills today!).

And where from here?  Well, it sounds like a crazy dream right now, but I think probably the Valencia Marathon in early December. I’ve got 6 months to prepare, which means switching to base building work once CWR is behind me. As much steady running/cross training as I can to boost my endurance and rebuild the strength in my muscles and tendons. Then some marathon paced and half marathon paced sharpening work late summer/autumn. I can’t quite imagine not racing a marathon this year. I’m not thinking about time targets at the moment. That’s for November. Now I just need to focus on staying strong and healthy.

Don’t Start Me Now

14 May

Last Monday T and I made the most of a beautiful sunny bank holiday to go for a walk along part of the South West Coast Path (Lynmouth to Porlock Weir).  My legs were a bit tired by the end, as it was pretty undulating, but it was a gorgeous day, the views were amazing, and it was just a treat to have a day where we were both free and could be together the whole time.

I was up bright and early for a steady 6 mile run on Tuesday.  My legs felt surprisingly ok, and the pace wasn’t too bad, especially considering how tight my calves had felt on Sunday and Monday.  On Wednesday evening I ran home from work, and part way home my right calf started to feel really tight, to the extent my Achilles was sore.  I was a bit pressed for time (I had a rehearsal to go to once I got home, and needed to eat dinner beforehand!), so had to keep on running, but I managed to do a quick stretch whilst my dinner cooked and a quick ice of the calf/Achilles whilst I ate.

On Thursday morning things didn’t feel so bad, so after work I headed off for my long run (with my sights on the Bristol 10k that Sunday, I wanted 2 easy days in between the long run and the race to let my legs freshen up).  Unfortunately my quick stretch and ice the night before had not resolved things completely, and I had to stop quite a few times during my run (curtailed to 12 miles) to stretch the calf/hamstring.  My Achilles was pretty sore, although as far as I could tell the real problem was the calf/hamstring, and it was just that tightness making the Achilles feel painful (if that makes any sense at all!).

So, with a heavy heart, I did strength and conditioning work on Friday and then just went to the gym for 90 minutes on both Saturday and Sunday.  I would have loved to race (and it was very tempting just to give it a go, especially when I woke up on Sunday morning, had no obvious pain and it was a gorgeous day), but in my heart of hearts I knew it was once of those decisions that could have backfired spectacularly, when the extra strain on the muscles and tendons of running in lightweight shoes and running fast could have tested things beyond the limit.  Touch wood, today the calf feels absolutely fine and I hope to return to steady running tomorrow or Wednesday (just an easy run on the flat to test it).  I am so scared of ending up with another serious injury that I’d rather err on the side of caution just at the moment.

However, overall it was still a lovely weekend. I played in an amazing concert on Saturday: beautiful music (Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1 and Beethoven 7) in one of those rare but fantastic concerts where everyone clicks into gear and you find the extra 1% difference that takes a concert from being a fun experience to being amazing.  It was probably lucky I’d decided not to race, because I definitely needed to go and drink beer and talk music afterwards, plus my arms were pretty tired (Beethoven 7 is a BIG play).  And on Sunday afternoon I had a lovely catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  A useful reminder that running is great, but there’s a lot of other stuff in life that is great, too.

I’ve Looked At Life From Both Sides Now

6 May

I started this week with a 45 minute swim on Monday morning and followed that up with 8 miles on Tuesday. It was the same route as the previous week but the pace was better, which felt like progress. On Wednesday I did 45 minutes of cross training in the gym.

On Thursday I went to club training. Unusually there were no sessions on the road or grass and so I had to train on the track. It was a short, sharp session of 14 X 300m and I was just about hanging on to the back of the group: 60-62 per rep. Given that’s 80-83 per lap, that’s pretty much flat out for me.

The next day I could really feel it! The fact the track is so much harder on the legs doesn’t help, and my long run of 13 miles was a trudge on Friday.

Saturday was my rest day, and I did some stretching to try and ease the legs out a bit as Sunday was my return to racing… I was guesting in the 3000m in the regional league.

I slept pretty poorly the night before but decided to still race. My legs felt pretty heavy and tight during my warm up and the heat was a real change from Thursday, when I’d regretted not wearing gloves. The race itself was tough and I’m not going to pretend that the time (I think something like 11.53, so a significant personal worst) was anything like I wanted. But trying to salvage the positives, 6 weeks ago – even 2 weeks ago! – I couldn’t manage 1 km at that pace, plus the heat, the tiredness and the session on Thursday + long run on Friday will all have had an effect. It’s certainly something to build and improve on!

Another Double Dose

29 Apr

So, last week started off with a 30 minute swim on Monday. On Tuesday I went to my club session: a mixture of 2 and 4 minute efforts, and I was finally comfortably under 4 mins/km. The glass half empty philosophy says that’s only just better than marathon pb pace. The glass half full philosophy says that’s progress! Wednesday was a busy day so a rest day. Thursday was a steady run and Friday 30 minutes in the gym. I felt curiously wiped out and tired. This continued on Saturday morning, so I postponed training until the evening and went furniture shopping with T instead 🙂 That afternoon was pretty hot so I did a mixture of 1-4 minute efforts as speedwork. The longer ones were hard work! And on Sunday morning I settled down to watch the London marathon, with a long list of friends on tracker to follow. In the unseasonable heat many struggled and it was pretty nerve wracking waiting for them to pass each chip mat! I rounded the week off with a steady 14 miles to bring up 40 for the week.

This week started with a 45 minute swim. On Tuesday I ran 8 miles steady before work and on Wednesday I ran 7 miles with some strides. Thursday morning I overslept by 45 minutes but had just enough time to dash to the gym for 45 minutes before going to work and then having a long overdue massage. Verdict: some tight spots but pretty symmetrical. Friday was a rest day to let my muscles recover. Saturday I ran 11 miles with 5 efforts of just under 1 mile plus just over a quarter of a mile jog recovery. It’s a session I’ve done before and I’m about 15s per effort off full fitness. Better than I feared! After a lovely rehearsal this morning (Beethoven 7 :)) I rounded off my week with 14 miles. It was a bit chilly and breezy and my legs were tired by the end but a good week’s training. Onwards and forwards!