Land Of Confusion

24 May

After a weekend spent mostly working, Monday came around all too quickly, and slightly bleary eyed I headed out for a short cycle ride to loosen the legs up.  It was then a day in front of the computer screens, with a hearing in the morning and a conference in the afternoon, all rounded off with a webinar in the evening.

On Tuesday morning I did my now fairly typical speed session, a pyramid of faster efforts by number of minutes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, all with a minute jog in between.  It was a little breezier than the previous week, but my paces were pretty similar to the ones I managed in the better conditions.

On Wednesday morning I awoke to foggy/misty conditions, and the first 7 or 8 miles of my run were fairly cool.  The fog/mist then lifted very rapidly, and suddenly the full heat of the sun warmed me up very quickly indeed.  With the added effort of running uphill to get home, I arrived back much hotter than I left!  I had an ankle strength and conditioning session with my sports masseuse and then club strength and conditioning that evening (all Zoom, naturally).

On Thursday I popped to the bakery on my bike as my exercise ahead of a long day.  I was on a Teams call/hearing for 4 hours straight and barely had time to pause for breath ahead of our weekly Family Forum, which was another hour of screen time.  I’m finding the screen time really tiring, as there are none of the breaks you would normally get in court to look up at the judge, or go and grab a cuppa at lunchtime.

On Friday morning I did 7 miles including 12 sets of strides.  I was feeling pretty wiped out from the previous day, and realised that, having worked all weekend, I had now not had a day off for a while, which wasn’t helping.  I took the day as easy as I could.

On Saturday I did my first run with company for I don’t know how many weeks!  I met E, a clubmate, who joined me for most of my recovery run, although as usual, when nattering away, the pace crept up (down?), and it ended up being too fast for a recovery run.  But it was so lovely to catch up in person (albeit staying a sensible distance apart), that it really didn’t matter.  Half an hour later we were taking part in the same strength and conditioning session over Zoom.  It’s the small things which are keeping us all sane in these unusual times, and my Saturday morning S&C sessions are right up there for me.  Our boy-cat, Z, decided that things had been a bit calm and zen in Cat World recently, and failed to turn up for his dinner.  At 9.45pm, when we had pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact he’d got himself locked into someone’s shed having a jolly good nose about, he turned up, demanding food.  He’s lovely, but he certainly knows how to make us anxious!

Having stayed up late because (all joking apart) Z was pretty skittish and anxious, so maybe he was locked in somewhere, he just managed to escape on the same day, I had a lie-in this morning ahead of my long run.  It was pretty warm by the time I started running, and even warmer a little over 2 hours later.  And, as proof that you really, really, really shouldn’t trust everything your running GPS watch tells you, mine claimed that I went down to 69m below sea level today…

Another 48 mile week.

Back On The Treadmill

17 May

Monday was another recovery day, which meant a cycle ride.  It was pretty windy, so it was hard to just let the legs turn over, as I would have ground to a halt!  But I kept it as gentle on the legs as I could.

On Tuesday I repeated the pyramid session I’d done last week (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute efforts, all with 1 minute jogs in between).  The fast bits were faster, but the slower bits (especially the run home at the end!) were slower, but that’s not such a bad thing.  The main purpose of that session is the faster running, and lockdown/social distancing seems to have made me a slower runner.  I guess a combination of lack of mental effort/desire to run fast (there are no races and so my external motivation of racing well has gone, limiting the extent to which I’m prepared to make my body hurt in training), plus my sleep seems to be more variable, and I guess I’m moving less (no cycling to/from chambers and no walking to/from train stations and court buildings).  It all adds up!

On Wednesday my medium long run was 11 miles again, on the same route as last week, and at a fairly similar pace.  I had a strength and conditioning session over Zoom again, and this time it was the girl cat who wanted to Zoom bomb.  She also walked under me when I was trying to do press ups (I think she was a bit aggrieved I couldn’t really stroke her), which made things a bit interesting!

Thursday was a cycle ride to the bakery and back again.  The hills home are tough, but the sourdough is worth it!

On Friday my legs felt rubbish, but I did 7 miles with 12 sets of strides, and told myself to focus on form and leg speed, and not worry about the pace.  By Saturday that seemed to have done the trick, as my legs felt much better, and my recovery run was on the fast side of permissible (the best recovery runs are very slow and very gentle to really help your legs recover.  The clue is very much in the name!).  Then it was time for another strength and conditioning session over Zoom (no feline interference this time).

This morning I rounded off my week with a 15 mile run. The pace was much better than last week’s, but it was also less humid and the wind didn’t seem to be as strong.  It also helped that there was someone about 10 metres up the road from me who was running at a similar sort of pace, which helped drag me along (in a socially distanced way).  48 miles for the week again.  Sadly, quite a lot of work to do this weekend.

Lockdown, Lockdown / Don’t Dream It’s Over

11 May

Last week began with a cycle trip incorporating a bakery stop.  On Tuesday I tried a bit of faster running again: 9 miles including 1 minute fast, 2 minutes fast, 3 minutes fast, 4 minutes fast, 5 minutes fast, and then back down in time increments, with 1 minute jog between each section.  It’s quite nice doing a pyramid session, because as you’re getting tired you only have to enter the ‘hurt box’ for a shorter period each time!

On Wednesday I ran 11 miles steady, and then did my club’s strength and conditioning session (over Zoom, naturally) that evening.  It’s nice to see everyone (and being brutally honest, I’m not sure I’d be prepared to travel for a 30 minute class, whereas 30 minutes from the comfort of your own lounge is not too much bother.  Even if your cat does Zoom bomb!).

Thursday saw a gentle cycle ride in the afternoon to loosen the legs out, and then on Friday it was time for 7 miles with some strides.  By Saturday morning the temperature was pretty high, and I was already warm by the time my 6 mile recovery run was done.  By the end of the strength and conditioning session which followed I was absolutely roasted – and as we all discovered the next day, it was a bit of a killer session, especially for the glutes…

Sunday morning was still sunny, but cooler than the day before, and also humid and windy, so my long run of 15 miles wasn’t the most comfortable (plus the glutes were a bit sore).  Thankfully I was able to take the afternoon easy and focus on rehydrating.  48 miles run, and 2 cycle rides (not very long ones).

This week also saw two more family birthdays: one over Skype, and one at home (T’s, not mine).  Socially distanced birthdays are curious things.

As for where the most recent changes leave runners: well, not much has changed.  I think it would be a brave runner who tried to go for a runner with a friend but also staying 2 metres away from them and the rest of the general public the whole time.  I’d probably trip over just focusing on all that!

Groundhog Week

3 May

Monday was a short cycle ride, as I still felt pretty wiped out. On Tuesday I did 8 miles with 10 lots of 2 minutes fast, 1 minute jog. My ankle was a bit sore from being tweaked the week before, but did gradually ease off.

Wednesday saw 10 miles steady, an ankle stability session (much needed!) and then a strength and conditioning session. I slept well Wednesday night!

On Thursday it was time for another cycle ride ahead of not one but two telephone hearings (it’s been a while since I had 2 hearings in one day…). Friday saw 7 miles with 12 sets of strides. Again, the ankle isn’t great in lightweight trainers, so the strides were more about ‘fast feet’ and good for than really pushing the pace.

On Saturday I did 6 miles steady and then had another strength and conditioning session. Everyone who took part (by Zoom, naturally) agreed it was a tough one. Going by how my legs felt today in my 14 mile run I think my muscles are finally starting to adapt to the demands of the strength work. 45 miles of running this week.

I’m currently incapussitated on the sofa at the request of the boy cat, but sadly for him Sunday homework club is calling and I will have to turf him off shortly.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

26 Apr

… Sgt Pepper taught the band to play (ok, it’s now a lot more than 20 years, but song lyrics don’t get updated).  And it was 5 years ago today that I ran my marathon PB.  Looking back at the blog I wrote a few days later, I even hoped (having run 2.49), that sub 2.45 was on the horizon.  And yet in the 5 years that have followed, I only ran 3 marathons (Frankfurt 2015, post-cold/chest infection, and therefore below par; Chicago 2016, jetlagged and an emotional wreck, and therefore below par; and London 2017, training compromised by a sore Achilles tendon, and therefore below par).  Had the London Marathon gone ahead today, I was aiming to be within 10 minutes of that PB, and would have been delighted to have made it.  So this has been a pretty bittersweet week, with lots of memories, and nothing concrete on the horizon to aim for.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying running, and enjoying plenty of other parts of the curious experience that is Lockdown Life (more time with T, more time with the cats, playing the violin a bit more), it’s just been a particularly odd week.

Instead of a marathon taper and a few nights in Gray’s Inn, this week has compromised: a cycle ride on Monday, including a short stop at the bakery; 8 miles including 10 x 2 minutes fast, 1 minute easy on Tuesday; 10 miles, an ankle strength and conditioning session and a general strength and conditioning session on Wednesday; a cycle ride on Thursday; 7 miles with strides on Friday; 5 miles easy and a strength and conditioning session on Saturday; and 13 miles today.  44 miles for the week.  The only mild annoyance is that, as I moved aside to pass a pedestrian on Friday I slightly tweaked my left (weak) ankle.  Nothing too serious, but it’s getting some TLC (compression, elevation and frozen peas).  And today’s run was a bit grim as I had a bad IBS attack last night, so had no energy, and suffered in the heat.  But it’s done, and the foundations are still being laid for a return to real training and racing whenever that may be, even if it is as far away as 2021.

The Second Time Around

19 Apr

This week started with the Easter Monday bank holiday.  Funnily enough, it was a fairly quiet day.  I cycled over to Leigh Woods and foraged for wild garlic, which made for a very tasty pesto to have with homemade pasta for dinner that evening.  And we had a lovely meet up over Skype with my family afterwards.

On Tuesday I did a 9 mile run, repeating the 6 x 1km session I’d done last week.  The times weren’t much faster, but I guess my body is adjusting to the new strength work I’m doing, which is going to be a long term project in terms of seeing the benefits!  I then had a Zoom session with my masseur to continue working on ankle strength.  My proprioception is still pretty rubbish, but again that has to be a work in progress.

On Wednesday I did a lovely 9 mile run before a quiet day at home, reading (I was supposed to be conducting a 5 day hearing this week, running into next week, which couldn’t go ahead at fairly short notice, so my work diary was empty and I treated the week as an unofficial week’s holiday).  I did another strength and conditioning session at home. I’m still a bit of a weakling, but Rome wasn’t built in a day (I think I’m going to run out of these metaphors pretty soon).

Thursday morning was beautiful, and so I did a nice cycle ride to loosen the legs up a little bit.  On Friday I felt pretty sluggish, and my 7 miles with strides in it was not particularly nippy, but it was done, and I tried to focus on my form rather than stressing about the (lack of) speed.

On Saturday (after being incapussitated by the boy cat, who wanted to sit on my lap) I did a 5 mile recovery run and then had another Zoom based strength and conditioning session with my clubmates.  Yup, still not turned into a super-strong person!

And today I did a 12 mile run to bring up 42 miles for the week.  This is the first week in ages when my mileage has roughly tied in with what the schedule I haven’t got around to taking down from the pinboard says: as this should have been the penultimate week of my taper before the marathon next week, I was only supposed to do 44 miles, and a long run of 13 miles.  I did consider doing 14 miles today, but there wasn’t really the need (and given how my legs grumbled at mile 11 on the climb back up home, it probably wouldn’t have been the smartest trick).

Today is Russian Easter, so I celebrated my heritage with a little baking.  I need to stop filling my time with baking, as we have a lot of baked goods to get through right now!

The Times, They Are Unchanging

12 Apr

On Monday I did a short-ish cycle ride and then had a hearing by telephone.  It was the first and last time my picnic-table based office was required this week, as the Covid-19 adjournments kicked in.

On Tuesday I did 8.5 miles with 6 x 1km (mixing units to keep things fresh!).  The paces were pretty slow (between 3.59/km and 4.06/km), but last week’s speed session was the first faster running I’d done in a while: probably since a week or so before the aborted Bath Half marathon.

On Wednesday I did 8 miles steady with a strength and conditioning session in the evening, and on Thursday I did a longer cycle ride (to a rather nice bakery and back for bread supplies!).

On Friday I did 7.5 miles with 12 sets of strides in (all part of the plan to do slightly more quality work whilst the volume is lower) and then on Saturday I did a 5 mile recovery run and then another strength and conditioning session with my lovely Bristol & West clubmates.  It was a pretty brutal one, as I discovered during Sunday’s “long” run of 12 miles.  On the flat was sort of ok, and going downhill was sort of ok, but ascents let me know that my calves, quads, glutes and hamstrings were tired!

Otherwise, I’ve filled my non-working time with food shopping (which does take a while with all the queuing), cooking (I’ve made vegan meringues and a flan, as well as been a domestic goddess, cooking our dinner every night) and reading (plus an unreasonable amount of faffing on the internet).

This weekend feels a bit weird, because we were supposed to be having a family get-together in Scotland to celebrate my parents’ birthdays, and very obviously that has had to go by the wayside.  Every now and then I’ve found myself thinking we should have been on the sleeper, or getting the bus up to the cottage, or having dinner together, or whatever it might be.  It’ll happen at some point, I get that, and compared to what some have had to deal with, it is nothing, but I guess we each have our own sadnesses during these strange times, and right now that’s mine.