Archive | July, 2017

Rain In My Heart And Let The Love I Knew Start To Grow

23 Jul

The headline for this post is that this has been a Good Week.

I took Monday as a rest day and then went to my club session on Tuesday.  It was the first time I’d done a really tough run since the DNF 3 weeks before, and it is fair to say I was a bit apprehensive beforehand, but I also knew that at some point I had to bite the bullet and try to push myself a bit to see how things are really doing.  And they’re doing ok.  It was a straightforward session and – after a steady first effort – I was able to push the pace a bit more and actually surprised myself by the extent to which I hadn’t lost fitness (I think that just about makes sense!).  On Wednesday I ran a steady 7 miles and Thursday a steady 8 miles.  My legs were a bit sore from the session, which is to be expected, but they were sore in a good way, not the awful pain I was experiencing a few weeks ago.  All that tedious stretching and strength work is paying dividends!  Friday was my second rest day, as I’m still only running 5 days a week at the moment.  I’m finding that really helps psychologically, because it makes my working week less stressful when I don’t have to fret about squeezing a run in almost every day.

And so to the weekend.  On Saturday morning I did a session by myself, using a 1.25 mile loop: I ran just under 1 mile hard, then jogged the rest of the loop, and repeated this 3 more times.  My times for each loop were nice and consistent, and just a bit faster each time, which shows there is more to come.  With the warm up and cool down I’d run a total of 10 miles.

This morning my legs felt a bit tired, but less so than earlier in the week (although the pace yesterday was slower than on Tuesday, so that’s not surprising; and the slower pace isn’t concerning, as the efforts were longer, which would mean running more slowly, plus it’s much harder to push yourself to the limit without some other people to work off!).  I set off for my long run in the rain.  And finally, I had a long run where I felt like a little bit of the old me was back: the pace was ok (an average of 8.12m/m on an undulating route), with no fade (i.e. slowing towards the end), and, most importantly, I enjoyed it.  It didn’t feel like a chore, but like something I wanted to do.  For something like the last 6 weeks it has all too often felt that I’m running out of habit more than anything else, but today I began to remember how fun running can be.  That 16 miles brought up 50 miles for the week, which is where I’ll keep things for the next few weeks.  Enough to keep me in good shape, but not the extra 10-20 miles on top which could risk running becoming a chore again.


Another Year Older…

16 Jul

Monday was a rest day: a little bit of a lie-in before work, and then in the evening a posh curry as my birthday treat.  A lady should never be asked her age, but let’s just say I’m now closer to being classified as FV40 than FV35…

On Tuesday the heavens opened, and my run that evening was a soggy 7 miles.  Funnily enough there were not many other people out running in the deluge, so I pretty much had Ashton Court to myself.  The weather had improved by Wednesday, and so I had another go at running a bit faster: this time I did 8 x 0.25M fast, 0.25M steady.  The pace was a fraction better than the previous week and my legs didn’t feel too bad afterwards.  The careful stretching continues…  On Thursday I had to work a bit later than I’d hoped because of an emergency hearing the next morning, and so I didn’t get home until gone 7.30.  I contemplated going for a run, and realised that the good thing about only running 5 days a week at the moment is that I can take two rest days during the week.  I had dinner at a sensible time instead.  Friday was a long day.  I was back in chambers early and didn’t leave until about 7pm, as the emergency hearing took quite a while, and then there was a lot of related admin to be done.  Proof that my job is not glamorous a lot of the time.  I ran to T’s, taking a fairly tough hilly route.  There was the local 10k mob match on, and I ran quite near the start.  It felt a bit odd running past, and seeing the large group of my clubmates kitted out in white and red vests, but I know I’m not ready to race again yet, as I need to start feeling fitter and more confident before I do.  I have a sneaking suspicion that a below par race at this point could well see me hanging up my trainers for a fair while.  I have an eye on a low key return to racing next month, but we will see.

I was clearly pretty tired from a hectic working week, as I didn’t wake up until nearly 8am on Saturday, so must have slept for the best part of 9 hours.  After a light breakfast I ran back to chambers and put in a reasonable stint there before heading home.  I know that next week is going to be really busy, particularly towards the end, and so I need to read ahead as much as I can unless I want to be burning the midnight oil rather too literally.  Despite that good night’s sleep on Friday, I needed another one last night, and didn’t wake until 7.30 today, which is well over 8 hours again.  Although I’d originally planned to race in the Midland League today, a clubmate kindly agreed to replace me, which meant the day was less hectic than otherwise it would have had to have been.  I did a steady 14 miles to bring up 45 miles for the week, and will be knuckling down to another 4 or 5 hours work shortly.

All in all an unremarkable week, but at this stage that is very much a Good Thing.  I’ve enjoyed all of my runs, and although I can feel I’m not as fit as I’d like, I can also feel that each run is that little bit easier and the fitness and strength is gradually returning.  9 weeks until the Bristol Half.

Reboot. Restart. Recharge.

9 Jul

So, this week I ignored the training schedule.  I listened to my body.  I rested on Monday and then ran a fairly comfortable 8 miles on Tuesday.  By Wednesday the heat had returned properly and so I ran 4 miles to T’s, arriving soaked in sweat.  On Thursday I ran 6 miles to chambers, thankful that early in the morning it was much closer to 20 degrees than the 30 degrees it had been the night before.  It was lucky I did run in the morning, because I was working until about 10.30pm that evening!  I took another rest day on Friday, and then on Saturday (having overslept and missed any chance of going to parkrun, as I’d tentatively considered) it was time to try some very gentle faster run: 6 x 400m at 10k pace, with 400m jogs in between.  It felt ok, although not great (and certainly not helped by me not getting out until 11am, when the heat had really kicked in!).  Still, nothing awful happened to my hamstrings, which was the main thing.  I didn’t sleep brilliantly last night, but wanted to get a proper long run in (long by half marathon training standards, not marathon training standards!), so set off for 15 miles steady.  I didn’t ever feel great, and was probably a bit dehydrated throughout, but managed 8.25m/m to bring up 40 miles for the week.

In terms of the bigger picture, it’s 10 weeks until the Bristol Half Marathon (I’ve also got the Cardiff Half Marathon and the Great South Run lined up in October, which are probably the races it makes more sense to target).  10 weeks is relatively tight in terms of re-finding some form, but it’s not out of the question, as long as I push myself a bit without over-doing it (although I think I can consider that lesson learnt from last week!).  It’s fair to say I’m still a bit uncertain that my body can take it, or that my mind really wants it, but I also know that I’m not ready to walk away (or jog away!) from trying to run fast times.  My tentative plan is to still only run 5 days per week in July, but from next week to add some cross-training in so that I can improve my aerobic fitness without having to push my legs quite so hard.  In the past it has worked pretty well for me.  And perhaps a change will be as good as a rest!

A Twice In A Lifetime Experience…

3 Jul

So, last week was a really mixed picture.  At the risk of getting a bit deep, it made me stop and think about what I actually want out of running, and what I want to put in to achieve it.  It also made me realise that trying to have it all and do it all, all of the time, sometimes means you come unstuck!

Monday was fairly unremarkable: a very steady 5 mile run squeezed in ahead of some violin practice (as I had a chamber music recital on Saturday: chamber music is one player to a part, so there is nowhere to hide!).  I noticed my right hamstring and glute were really tight, but there wasn’t time to do much about it.

On Tuesday we had a 5k mob match.  Mob matches are great fun: the local clubs get teams together, and the club that gets the best team score wins.  There’s usually a requirement to have something like 20 or 30 runners in your team, but because of how the scoring system works, you can affect another team’s score (and therefore help your own club) by being the 21st or 31st runner for your club, but beating another club’s top-20 runner.  It really is about getting as many people out as you can! As a result, I dashed back from Salisbury and went straight to the race.  It’s fair to say my legs still felt really tight when I was warming up (and my right hamstring and calf had been noticeably tight all day), and I wasn’t in the best frame of mind for racing, but as I was there I felt I had to give things a go.  It’s a 3 lap course.  The first km was 3.48, or 19 minute pace, which should be comfortable for me.  It wasn’t.  Or, rather, aerobically I was fine, but I couldn’t get a decent stride length.  I hoped it was just that my warm-up was a bit short and I’d be fine as the race went on.  My second km was 4.00 dead.  That is pretty much marathon pb pace.  My third km was even slower, and by this time my hamstrings were really, really sore, and not in a lactate threshold burning sort of way.  I could feel pain at the insertion point at the top of both my hamstrings, and I knew this wasn’t right.  And so for the second time in 15 or 16 years of racing, I stopped, and simply stepped off the course.

DNFs (“did not finish”) leave you feeling pretty numb.  I was angry with myself: I’d been burning the candle at both ends to squeeze in work, music and running the last 2 weeks, and something had to give.  It turned out to be my hamstrings.  I ranted at myself that I should have just gone for an easy run at home and done some practice.  Now I’d run badly and not practised.  Who knew how bad this injury would be?  I’d had 15 months of niggles where I’d had to back off and then rebuild my training, and it was getting pretty soul destroying going through the cycle time and time again.  And so on.  I went home and stretched a bit and used the foam roller, although not too much because I wasn’t sure quite how bad the tightness was.  I slept really badly, with my mind racing, unsure how bad the injury was, stressing about the concert, fretting about work.  Not a good night at all.

I had a sports massage on Wednesday.  My back, glutes, hamstrings and calves were not in great shape.  I went to T’s and stretched (and ranted a bit.  Sorry!).

On Thursday I got home from work around 6.30, meaning to go for a short, easy run, have a bite to eat and then squeeze in 90 minutes’ practice, all before 9pm.  And suddenly I realised how daft that was. If I didn’t do an easy run on Thursday, the world wasn’t going to stop, and my autumn half-marathons weren’t going to be disasters.  If I had a decent meal, eaten at a relaxed pace, and then did the practice, I’d feel so much better.  My mind was really turning towards the recital at this point, anyway. And so I did just that.

On Friday morning I did a very gentle 6 miles, followed by some careful stretching.  The pace was rubbish (8.50s) and my hamstrings were still sore.  But it was done.

On Saturday morning, I did 7 miles.  The pace was better (8.30s) and my hamstrings felt a bit happier.  I did some more careful stretching.  I pottered around doing some chores, and then did the concert.  I’ve wanted to play Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence for years.  It’s an amazing, exhilarating work, full of beautiful melodies and rich harmonies.  And I think we did a pretty good job.  The buzz of a good concert is perhaps even better than the buzz of a pb, because it is a more intense experience emotionally.  I had jelly legs afterwards from the adrenaline!  Here we are in rehearsal:

Once that had all subsided and we’d dissected the concert experience to my heart’s content, it was time for a meal out with my parents and T, and then a trip to my favourite pub, the Bag O’ Nails, to play with their kittens.  Adorable (look in the background carefully and you will see a second kitten curled up in a curry bowl!):

Clearly music, food and kittens are good for the soul, as I woke up feeling refreshed and genuinely looking forward to my run (the first time this week!).  I did a steady 13 miles (8.20s) in beautiful sunshine, followed by yet more careful stretching.  The hamstrings finally felt ok.

This brought up a mere 35 miles for the week, but the mind and body needed this week to be easier.  It seems that my hope I could jump straight into 45-50 mile weeks with 2 quality sessions per week following my end of season break was optimistic to say the least.  I suspect that July will have to be slightly fewer miles than I’d planned, and faster sessions (and indeed races) as and when my legs (and mind) feel ready for them.  I’ll see how that goes, and then plan August accordingly.  I’m not sure where this leaves the ambitious targets I had for my autumn half marathons, nor quite how motivated I currently am to hit them.  But what I really know after 16 years of running (pretty much to the day, in terms of when that first tentative run/walk took place) is that there is no need, and certainly no sense, in rushing that decision, or in pushing my body too much just at the moment.  It’s always better to reach the startline having done 80-90% of your planned training on a consistent basis than hitting 100% for a few weeks and then zero/50% for a few weeks as you struggle with niggles.  Watch this space/blog!