Archive | July, 2016

Ups and Downs (Chicago Build Up: Week 2)

31 Jul

This week I had 2 sessions (i.e. tougher workouts) in my schedule, courtesy of Messers Pfitzinger & Douglas: 9 miles with 4 miles at half marathon pace and 17 miles with 8 miles at marathon pace (if I equalled my personal bests, those should be 6.15m/m and 6.28m/m: spot the marathon specialist!). By and large, I hit those targets:

Monday, in a daring break with tradition, was a 5 mile recovery run. Tuesday saw the 9 miler, incorporating my club’s 5km race in lieu of the 4 mile tempo run: I felt pretty sluggish, and 6.08m/m (18.59 finishing time) certainly felt half marathon pace effort. A glass half empty perspective would be that only a month or so ago I ran 26 seconds quicker on the track for the same distance, but caterpillars don’t become butterflies with that mindset, so I’m taking that as a 10/10 result per the schedule.

Racing on Tuesday

Racing on Tuesday

On Wednesday I had a bit of a tough day in court, so just did my second easy 5 mile recovery run. Thursday I was lucky enough to (a) be in court in Bristol and (b) not have to be at court until 11am, so took advantage of (c) being self-employed to do my 11 mile training run early doors. Thursday was a really positive run, because I was back under 8m/m and feeling pretty strong.

Friday I took as a rest day ahead of my second session of the week on Saturday. I’d found a 10km race in London (the Battersea Park series I’ve done quite a few of before), and I intended to go a little bit faster than marathon pace (maybe around 6.15m/m, or 6.20s at the slowest) to make up for the fact it was 6.2 miles instead of 8. However, my breathing just wasn’t quite right, and so I had to settle for 6.22m/m and 39.29 finishing time. I suspect from the fact I slept like a log Saturday night that there was some overall general post-viral fatigue lurking post-cold, too.

This morning’s run was really lovely: after the best part of 9 hours’ kip (9.30pm to 6.30am) I felt really refreshed and set out for 18 miles. It was still a pretty hilly route, incorporating a lot of last week’s route, but with a few extra loops added on to make up the extra 3 miles, but came out 18s/mile faster: now that’s what I call progress!

So, I’m not sure whether I’ve metamorphosed from egg to caterpillar just yet, but I’m certainly a lot closer to caterpillar than I was a week ago. I got my “start corral” allocation from the Chicago Marathon on Friday (I think that’s just a starting pen in British English) and I am in “American Dev” (guessing that is “development”), so with the men who’ve broken 2.31 and the women who’ve broken 3.01. Sounds about right, and there should be a reasonable crowd to tag along with once I’ve settled on a target.


Ice, Ice, Baby: part 2

27 Jul

A couple of years ago I blogged about the Ice Bucket challenge (yeah, remember that? People got world weary about social media being full of pictures/videos of people being doused with cold water to raise money for MND/ALS). Great news: those funds have helped support an important piece of new research into a particular gene which appears to be linked to at least some cases of MND/ALS. So if you did the Ice Bucket Challenge, or sponsored someone else who did, or were moved to donate to MNDA because of it: thank you.

In The Beginning, There Was … An Egg (Chicago Build Up: Week 1)

24 Jul

So, the last 4 weeks had been pretty up and down, with quite a lot more down than up. When I woke on Monday, I still didn’t feel great and knew that trying to ‘catch up’ on the long run I hadn’t been able to do the day before was not going to be a smart idea. There were two ways of dealing with this, psychologically: (a) see it as a failure; (b) view this week as a fresh start, when I would stick to what I had planned before the need to try and squeeze in an ‘overdue’ long run. I opted for (b), because it is time to get back in touch with my inner caterpillar. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a fan of Charlie Spedding’s book “From Last To First”, and ‘thinking caterpillar’ comes from there: you believe that you are going to become a butterfly as long as you follow your training.

It’s worth noting that a butterfly has four life stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa and butterfly. It’s fair to say that at the moment, after 4 weeks of disrupted training (calf strain, broken heart, stupid amounts of work and cold in varying proportions at different times), I feel as if I may be at the egg stage, but it is time to start believing that the egg will ultimately become a butterfly.

butterfly egg

The rest of the week followed my Pfitzinger & Douglas schedule pretty accurately: Tuesday was a rest day, Wednesday was 8 miles easy into work, Thursday was 11 miles (although I snuck in 6 x 1km off 2 minutes rather than simply strides), Friday was a nice easy 5 miles and then the weekend saw 11 miles yesterday morning and 15 miles today. It was particularly lovely to get back out on the hilly trails this weekend and enjoy the scenery, even if that means the paces were a bit slower than I would have managed on easier, flatter courses. But most importantly, the plan said to run 55 miles and I ran 55 miles. Hurrah!

It was also lovely, after about 3 months of hectic weekends, to have a quiet weekend where – apart from needing to go into work for a few hours this afternoon – the demands on my time have not exceeded that training and reaching for the TV remote to watch the Anniversary Games athletics. I’ve also had 2 consecutive mornings with no alarm when I have slept as much as I’ve needed, which has been glorious. I slept for 9.5 hours on Friday night, but required only a mere 8.5 last night. I almost feel like a human being again!

You Only Blog When You’re Winning … Or Do You?

17 Jul

So, it may or may not have gone unnoticed that there was no blog post last week. Although I was by and large pain free, I was still getting some twinges in the calf, so eased off a bit, ending up with 5 runs totalling 40 miles (that’s not much for me). It was also a ridiculously busy week work-wise and life-wise, so I was a bit emotionally spent, and sometimes you just have to accept that it’s better to ease back, particularly when you are just around the corner from an intensive 12 week block ahead of your target marathon.

Whilst I tend to keep the deeply personal off this blog, there’s no hiding from the fact that I’ve also been grappling with the bittersweet implications of Chicago, which was originally going to be my first ever trip Stateside to see where my boyfriend did his PhD. We’ve since separated, and although it was my decision, it wasn’t a screaming/shouting “I hate you!” separation, but more the sad realisation that things just weren’t working for us, and that announcing my decision was going to really hurt someone I care about, even if I can’t be in a relationship with him. So, Chicago will be with a running tour company rather than anything else. I had a bit of a wibble last week when he sent me a birthday card telling me he missed me and I ended up cutting Sunday’s run back in length after a night of very little sleep and a fair bit of soul searching and weeping. Of course the card I got was nicer to get than a birthday card which said he was so glad it was all over and he’d now regretted wasting any of his life on me, but it was still unsettling.

All in all, I was hoping for a better week this week: more miles and more happiness. It started well, with a steady 5 miles, but was followed by a horribly long day in Plymouth on Tuesday, meaning I had neither the energy nor time to run that evening. The good news is that I got out on Wednesday morning and did 12 miles including 8 x 1 km off 2 minutes, averaging 3.45/km (or 37.30 for 10km, so about the slowest sort of pace I would like to get back to when racing over 10km!). I then set off for Nice to go to a friend’s wedding outside the city (as events panned out in Nice, I was selfishly relieved it was some distance outside the city. France is still in a state of national mourning as I type). We were up in the mountains (some 600 or 700m above sea level), but I have to say I found it refreshing to train there – although the hills/mountains were a bit lung busting at times! I got out for 5 miles on Thursday, 6 on Friday and 7 on Saturday. However, the late nights and early starts involved in several days’ celebrations appear to have caught up with me, and I am currently full of cold, so have abandoned my initial plan to pop out for a casual 15 miler this evening now I’ve returned home, and am hoping that if I have a nice healthy dinner and an early night I will wake up feeling much more refreshed and able to tackle that 15 miler a day late, as I’m not in court. Fingers crossed!

As for the wedding, it was gorgeous! Sadly, I left my camera on the plane (doh!) and will need to collect it from the airport at some point, but photos of the beautiful scenery will follow.

Safety First

3 Jul

After the calf injury, the training schedule went out of the window. Monday was a rest day – partly because of the injury and partly because when my 2 day hearing in Truro finished on day 1 I prioritised getting home over exercise!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I was stuck in the gym but by Thursday the calf was feeling pretty ok and sanity was in short supply  (I hate being stuck in the gym. Even with Wimbledon to watch!). Not without some nerves I donned my trainers and did a very gentle 5 miles. Result: no pain 🙂

I declared myself probably ok to race on Sunday but erred on the side of caution and went to the gym on Friday instead of running. When you know you aren’t facing a long stint of gym sessions that last hour on the cross-trainer doesn’t feel so bad!

On Saturday I’d agreed to collect my cotswold way relay tshirt at parkrun, so I had my first experience of jogging parkrun gently rather than racing. Guaranteed personal worst! Let’s just say it may have been aerobically easy but I had to work hard to reign in my competitive edge, especially as people streamed past me on the downhill. Still, by the time I’d run back home, I’d covered 10 miles, including 2 ascents of the Hill Of Difficulty. And the calf was fine. Hurrah!

And so to today: match 3 of the Midland League. Usually we’re at fairly modest tracks. Today we were at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, which last month hosted the Olympic trials and a Diamond League fixture. Normally there are very few seats, but things are a little grander at the Alexander:


And so to the race. After some agonising,  I opted for lightweight trainers rather than spikes, on the basis that they don’t put quite so much strain on the lower legs. My brand new, super pink Bostons got a run out, and very comfy and springy they were too. Yet again I was in no man’s land between 3 faster girls and the 5th placed runner, but was pleased that, running a little cautiously, I managed 10.52: fingers crossed that elusive sub 10.45 clocking will come in the final fixture next month! More importantly, my calf felt fine afterwards, so what I feared was a tear wasn’t.  Sometimes being wrong is the best feeling in the world!