Relishing Running?

18 Aug

I started this week with an easy 5 mile recovery run on Monday.  My legs felt relatively ok after their busy weekend, which was a pleasant surprise!  I then did 10.5 miles on Tuesday: I only meant to do 10 miles, but slightly miscalculated a running route.  It has been a while since I’ve needed to know my 10 mile routes, after all…  On Wednesday morning I was out early doors to do 8.5 miles with some strides in the pouring rain.  It was going to be 9 miles, but that extra half mile the day before suddenly came into its own, and saved me an extra few minutes of getting soaked!  I had a sports massage and then headed into chambers.

On Thursday morning there wasn’t time to do my scheduled/planned 9 miles before my hearing, and so I ran after work.  I’d had some worrying and stressful personal news during the week which had played on my mind a bit, and I don’t know if it was that, or work stress, or a bit of both, but I felt really tired and out of sorts.  It’s rare for me to get to the end of a run and feel no better for having done it, but Thursday was one of those days.

Friday was my rest day, which was lucky, because I was still feeling pretty flat.  By 4pm in the afternoon, having been turning pages listlessly for a fair few hours, I gave up and came home.  At least that evening T and I had planned to go out for dinner, so there was something to look forward to after an hour or two of feeling a bit sorry for myself as I slumped on the sofa…

Revitalised, I did 5 miles easy with 4 sets of gentle strides on Saturday morning, and then had a rather domesticated day: after the food shopping, I made bread, baked a cake, and made dinner, before settling down to listen to a gorgeous evening of Russian music from the Proms.

I’d taken what was effectively a mini-taper (2 days easy) because I was racing today.  The Two Tunnels race series happens just outside Bath, so pretty close to home, but I’d never done any of the races before.  I was a bit apprehensive that their packed race schedule, with races leaving every 10 minutes, would mean rather a lot of congestion (the race schedule was just like a busy train timetable: appropriate for a race route on an old railway line!).  In that regard, I wasn’t wrong.  It was the only thing that marred an otherwise lovely race (nice, flat route and wonderful marshalls).  Running in the Two Tunnels was slightly discombobulating.  There is subtle lighting, but the visibility is poor, and it was hard to have a strong sense of pace with only limited visual feedback.  Given one of the tunnels is apparently a mile long (it certainly felt it!), this meant a decent chunk of the race was spent trying to run to effort.  The only other tiny gripe is that because each individual race wave only had about 100-150 people in it, after about 4-5km I had no-one in my own race to chase, and was really doing a solo tempo run from that point onwards.  I was horribly aware at times that my breathing was definitely more like half-marathon pace effort than 10k pace effort.  With those caveats, 40.40 was solid but not spectacular, although enough for first female finisher (small smug FV40 moment: it’s nice to show those youngsters a clean pair of heels occasionally ;))

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The Days Are Just Packed

11 Aug

I was in court in Exeter on Monday and Tuesday which meant evening runs: on Monday a mere 4 miles, plodded on tired legs when I was dehydrated. Tuesday was little better in terms of energy levels, but I forced myself to do 7 miles with 12 sets of strides. The pace wasn’t great, but the effort level was fine!

I ran a very steady 7 miles Wednesday evening and made the most of a day out of court on Thursday to run that morning. I had the gorgeous surprise of not just a Bristol Balloon Fiesta mass ascent, but balloons actually landing on the Downs. Word obviously got out, and hordes of people arrived during my 9 mile run, quite often pyjamaed children dragging parents clutching an insulated mug of coffee! It was Bristol at its lovely, quirky best, and left me smiling for most of the day (although perhaps not right up to 9.25pm, which was when I finally left chambers…)

After a slightly hectic day it was time for some speed on Friday night: 8 X 1km off 2 minutes on the Portway. Everyone’s idea of an awesome evening;) The weather gods misread their memo and delivered strong winds and one torrential downpour. The wind strength meant I couldn’t get under 4.00 minutes per km but I was pleased with the session nonetheless.

The highly observant amongst you will have noted the lack of rest day so far: this was all part of a cunning plan to keep Saturday free for a long walk as part of a friend’s 40th birthday celebrations. It might not have been the most tranquil rest day but it was a lovely catch up.

That just left 9 miles to do this morning to bring up 45 miles for the week. My legs felt surprisingly ok, but perhaps the DOMS will really kick in tomorrow!

Mileage Over Age

4 Aug

Last week I ran 39 miles. This week my sights were set higher:

However, I started the easy way with a rest day (partly because my hearing finished pretty late, too!).

On Tuesday I ran 7 miles and then had a sports massage before starting work. After this leisurely start to the day I was working until after 7pm but still squeezed 6 miles in on Wednesday morning, keeping it fairly easy due to the massage the day before.

On Thursday I was in Gloucester so couldn’t run in the morning. It wasn’t too pleasant running early evening but I got 7 miles with strides done. T and I then treated ourselves to pizza at a local Italian restaurant when neither of us could quite face cooking: it’s rare for us to both be afflicted by the Cooking Blahs at the same time!

Friday I struggled to get up at 6 (weighed down with too much tasty pizza?!) so had to do my easy 6 miles after court.

On Saturday morning it was time for my return to speedwork. I did 4 X 1 mile with a 3 minute jog between each one. I’d hoped to be under 6.30 for each one, but faded a little in the last two. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that. With the warm up and cool down it was just over 8 miles all in.

Today I plodded out 8 miles steady with some gentle climbs thrown in. That made 42 miles in total. The answer to life, the universe and almost everything, but on the low side for endurance mileage!

A New Chapter

28 Jul

So, 4 weeks ago I sprained my ankle. I spent the first of the 4 weeks since I last blogged swimming as much as possible to try and maintain any fitness. I then spent a week and a half run/walking to test the ankle out. Finally, I was able to start doing 6 mile runs and this Thursday tried some strides. All ok. Encouraged by that, I (somewhat apprehensively) toed the line at my club’s 5000m track meet. I moved down to a slower race, guessing I was probably in about 20-dead shape, and was pleased to run a pretty evenly paced 19.49. There was definitely no chance of a finishing kick, but the ankle was fairly ok today.

Oh, and it was my first race in my new age group: FV40. Here I am with my birthday cake, and 4 candles (sorry, no one in my family can resist that gag!)

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Oops I Did It Again, And Again, And Again

1 Jul

The one thing I didn’t mention in my previous blog was that on the last day of our walking holiday in Austria I turned my left ankle when I stood on a stone. It hurt a bit but I was easily able to continue the walk we were on, so I thought little more of it, especially as the ankle was well supported in walking boots. On the Sunday during my easy run I gave it another tweak, but again there was little noticeable after effect, save that the area below the ankle bone was a bit sore, so that I was aware I’d done something, but I was able to continue walking/running as usual.

I rested on Monday as I was pretty tired, did 6 miles with strides on Tuesday, and then steady 5 mile runs for the remaining week days. On Saturday I did parkrun, and suffered again in the heat (and the fact it was the dreaded ‘B’ course, with extra ascent), but covered 9 miles ok. That just left yesterday. For various reasons I couldn’t run in the morning, and headed out early evening once I was back from working in chambers. And all of a few minutes into a planned 12 mile run, I went over on the same, weak ankle for a third painful time. I knew I couldn’t run through this one and limped home to start icing and resting it. It’s still painful today, even with painkillers. I honestly just feel numb about it at the moment. It’s hard to stomach that yet again I’m injured, but it almost feels inevitable. Maybe at some point I will manage more than 2 or 3 months of training and claw some real fitness back, but it’s hard to believe it just now.

Climb Ev’ry Mountain

23 Jun

How 3 weeks flies! So, 3 weeks ago I seem to recall I had tired legs, so my steady run on Monday and medium long run on Tuesday were slightly slow. I bounced back on the Wednesday with some strides and my average pace was the best yet for that workout. And then I started sneezing. At first I hoped/tried to believe it was just hayfever and so did a steady run on Thursday, but by that afternoon it was clear I had a pretty grotty cold. On Friday I was exhausted, achy and blowing my nose all day. By luck I wasn’t in court and so crawled back into bed for most of the afternoon. I struggled through half an orchestra rehearsal that evening and then a rehearsal and concert on Saturday. It was a great gig, although I couldn’t hear very well so had to trust other people’s opinions… funnily enough I didn’t run on Sunday.

It was back to work last week and although I could do my hearings I was still a bit snotty and grotty and definitely suffering with fatigue. By 9pm each night I was hanging and so it was early nights wherever possible.

There was an early start on Thursday as T and I were off to Austria. We travelled by train so actually only got to Zurich that day but were in Bludenz in West Austria pretty early on Friday. We both still felt tired (I’d kindly shared my cold with poor T) and so we started with a gentle 3 hours up the valley to Brand. After a night in a hotel it was time to go up into the mountains properly, starting with the Oberzalim Hütte. The path was partly cut off by snow,so we had to scramble off country to get through, but it was worth it for a gorgeous hut with cracking views.
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And marmots nearby!
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The next morning it was off to Douglass Hütte. This was a much more challenging route, including a traverse or two across snowy cliff faces at the top of deep gorges. It was best not to look down… But once again we were rewarded with a stunning location at the Lunersee:
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Day 4 saw no slackening in the difficulty levels as we took advantage of a beautiful day to take the longer, higher route to the Lindauer Hütte. One traverse was a bit scary as I slipped, but just in time T shouted to remind me to do a press up in the snow and I came to a safe halt. Phew! It turns out this mountain walking can get the heart rate going, after all! And it’s not just becaise of views like this:
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We loved the Lindauer so much we stayed a second night to get a further day’s walking in the peaks nearby, and squeezed in an ice climb, too.
All too soon it was time to go to our final hut, the Tilisuna. The snowy traverses were a bit challenging for my tastes, but the reward was a beautiful hut in the middle of snowy mountains, and a double rainbow after dinner:
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We were now nearing the end of our trip and it was time to drop from 2200m to 600m, which is certainly a workout for the quads… The weather forecast was for heavy rain, so we stayed down in the valley rather than schlep up to one last hut. Needless to say the forecast was wrong… thankfully it was also wrong the next day, and we squeezed in 8 hours of mountains, with cracking views and another huge descent.
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That simply left a very long train journey back yesterday, followed by being reunited with our lovely cats to lift the post holiday blues.
This morning my legs felt rubbish during a gentle 5 mile shakeout. Whether that was tiredness from all he walking and travelling and/or adjusting to coming back down to sea level after a week around 1800-2000m I don’t know. A lighter week is planned in any event to break the legs back in gently. Tchuß!

Life Goals

2 Jun

On Monday, I achieved one of my life goals.  That sounds pretty cool and pretty profound, until I tell you that the life goal I achieved was climbing Lord Hereford’s Knob.  And I only wanted to climb it because the name made me snigger.  It was (on a more serious note) part of a lovely 7 hour circular walk from Llanthony Priory.  We were pretty lucky with the weather (teeny bit of drizzle and a bit breezy, but otherwise lovely) and although it was a tiring day, it was also really rather gorgeous.

It did leave my legs sore, especially my adductors, and so on Tuesday and Wednesday I did two of my easy 6 mile runs which were scheduled for the week.  I had to resist the temptation to go and do my club’s 5k race on Tuesday evening, because I knew it was foolish to risk further injury when I’m just on the cusp of regaining some fitness.  By Thursday although I was still feeling pretty flat and tired, my legs felt ok and so I ran 10 miles steady at lunchtime.  The heat was a real shock to the system!

Friday was a pretty long day after a slightly late night the evening before, and included a round trip to Plymouth.  Somehow my nutrition and hydration went pretty awry this week, and particularly on Friday, as I was only 2.5 miles into my 6 mile run that evening, having cycled home as fast as possible to feed the cats beforehand, when I began to feel really light-headed and peculiar.  Shortly after that I ran into the edge of a bush and was lucky not to take my eye out.  It was a sign that running the 3 miles I was ‘due’ really wasn’t worth it.  Thankfully I was pretty near home and so I simply headed home, and inhaled loads of pasta, fruit and then some chocolate.

Having slept like a log Friday night I headed off to parkrun to see how I would fare 4 weeks on.  And there was an improvement: 20.19 (so 20 seconds faster than last time).  I guess in my heart of hearts I was a bit disappointed, even if it does show things are going in the right direction (plus so far I haven’t had bad DOMS, so suspect I left a little in the tank). However, my clubmate Al got a great action shot of me at the start of the descent, so it wasn’t all bad:

Edit: we are spoilt at Ashton Court parkrun, as local parkrun legend Geoff also took some excellent photos. Here is a ‘hair and air’ shot, plus a fantastic shadow.
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Today I had an orchestra rehearsal from 10-5, and I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to be quite tired afterwards, so was out of the door shortly before 7am this morning to get my 14 mile run done beforehand.  The pace was pretty ok for an early morning run, and my legs felt reasonably ok after the parkrun the day before.  49 miles for the week rather than the 52 the schedule said, but I’m going to focus on a May total of 191 miles, which was my highest of the year.