Archive | March, 2018

Hello Speedwork My Old Friend

25 Mar

On Monday I was pretty tired, but forced myself out of the door in the evening to do 9 miles.  I didn’t ever feel great, but it was still done.  I didn’t get back from Plymouth until 7.30pm on Tuesday and then had some emergency work to do on several cases so didn’t get to exercise at all.  I also fell off my Plastic-Free Lent Wagon.  I was so miserable and stressed on the train on the way back that the call of the crisps was too much.  And then I gave in to plastic-wrapped biscuits in chambers when I was sat at my desk working until gone 10pm.  And I’d been doing very well! (I’m planning to write properly about Plastic-Free Lent next week, once Lent is over).

Wednesday saw me working until about 7.30pm.  I could (and from a pure exercise point of view should) have gone to the gym, but having not seen T for 2 days I opted to meet him for dinner at one of our favourite Chinese restaurants, instead.  Sometimes you have to ask yourself what really matters, and spending some time with T was definitely more important than 30 minutes on the cross-trainer.

Thursday I had another lateish finish (Plymouth yet again: it’s starting to feel like I should just move there) but managed to squeeze in 8 miles to T’s.  It was also my first run with a rucksack of stuff since the ankle sprain, and with no adverse effects afterwards it’s good to know that run-commuting could be back on the menu again!

By Friday I was pretty bushed, and so as all I really wanted to do was slump in front of the telly, I compromised with 30 minutes on the bike in the gym.

And so to Saturday: my first attempt at speedwork for 4 months.  I opted for something simple: 6 x 1km with 2 minutes of jogging between each kilometre.  The pace was very slow compared to me when fully fit (4.06-4.12 per km) but was actually not as bad as I feared!  And I covered 10 miles in total: a bit longer than I intended, but my legs felt ok during the session.  Hopefully I can make some improvements quite quickly, at least in terms of getting down to 4.00/km.  I suspect getting back to 3.40/3.45 will take a bit longer!

Today I rounded my week off with 11 miles.  My legs felt pretty heavy before I started and stayed that way throughout.  Who knew 6km of speedwork could leave my legs feeling that tired!

So, 38 miles and 30 minutes of cross-training, plus 4 strength and conditioning sessions.  That actually marks my biggest mileage week this year, despite being about one-half of peak mileage for a marathon (although I would run 6 days a week in marathon training, so 45-50 miles for 4 days’ running would be the same daily average).  Still, good things come to those who wait.  I hope!



18 Mar

T and I got home around 2.30am on Monday after our delayed journey back from Norway. I went straight to bed and didn’t set an alarm. But naturally I woke up at 7.15, just because I didn’t need to!

I did some chores/food shopping then went into chambers to prepare for some of this week’s hearings. Although I’d had good intentions to run, I was tired and hungry, so headed home for a big dinner and an early night.

Tuesday I ran 8 miles after work. My quads and triceps were really sore: skiing uses muscle groups that running doesn’t! But the pace wasn’t too bad.

Wednesday was a long day. I left at 6am to go to Plymouth, and got back to chambers at 7.30pm, needing to deal with some last minute papers for my hearing the next day. I got home at 10pm, had a quick supper of eggs on toast and did my best to get to sleep ASAP,  despite my brain buzzing with all the information it’d had to absorb. No time for exercise!

Thursday evening I ran 8 miles again. The pace was better than Tuesday although my quads were still tight… I ran another 8 miles on Friday and the pace was better again.

Saturday was a busy day. I was in chambers for 8.30am to interview prospective pupils (trainee barristers).  It’s always a full on but interesting day. I was back home just after 4.30pm, which gave me just enough time for a quick cup of coffee before squeezing in a gym session before it shut at 6pm.

Sunday morning saw Bristol covered in snow again. I hadn’t used my yaktrax in about 8 years and now I’ve had to use them for 2 separate snowfalls in as many weeks!


This snow was lighter and shallower, so my pace wasn’t affected as much as last time.

So, 5 sessions of exercise not 6 as planned, but in a busy week that’s plenty good enough. 5 sets of strength and conditioning, too, so about 10 hours devoted to running/fitness in reality.

Next week it’ll be 9 mile runs. Double digits just around the corner. I’m starting to feel just a bit more like a runner again!

The Importance Of Staying Upright!

11 Mar

So, one week ago I headed off to Norway. T is a keen skier, especially cross country, and the plan was for me to learn the basics and him to fine tune his skills.  I’d found a company which offered various courses for different standards this last week, so we made our bookings.

It’s fair to say I was a bit nervous before the ankle sprain and more nervous as a result of it. I’m not a naturally co-ordinated person.  But I was really determined to give this my best shot, so that maybe in the future T and I could go on a ski touring trip together.

I was the only beginner there: eek! In some ways this was great, as I had one to one tuition. It did mean it was a slightly lonely experience where I was under the spotlight a lot, however.

Track skiing is – to an outsider – a little odd. You’re skiing in precut tracks, with a groove for each ski. In some ways that’s easier, as for gentle slopes you can just stay in the tracks and not steer. In other ways it’s harder because you have to learn to jump in and out of the tracks so that you can steer/brake as necessary.

Skiing also uses muscle groups that running doesn’t. I’ve now got very tired triceps and quads, especially at the top near my hip flexors.

At times, it was a bit demoralising. I fell over a lot, especially when I was out of the tracks, and a couple of the falls on Thursday left me pretty sore. Thankfully T has a massage qualification and was able to loosen my neck muscles a bit so that on Friday afternoon I was able to ski again. He also has the patience of a saint, and went around an easy course at my slow beginner’s pace to help me test out my muscles and rebuild my confidence.

Saturday, our final day of skiing, was a real breakthrough. The sky was bright blue and the snow glistened in the sun. The views were breathtaking. I can’t see skiing replacing running in my affections, but I can see why T loves it. It was good enough to head out again after lunch!  Maybe this photo can help explain:


Perhaps less excitingly, our flight from Oslo was cancelled, so this blog comes from Copenhagen airport. It’s going to be a late finish. But I’m looking forward to a run tomorrow. Let’s see if my legs can remember how it’s done!

How Time Flies!

3 Mar

The past 3 weeks have been mostly a blur.  For some reason I’ve been super-busy at work, and had to cram strength & conditioning, swimming and gym around that, plus rehearsals and orchestra meetings.  No time for blogging.  No rest for the wicked, apparently, so I don’t know quite what that says about me!

The headlines are that the very gradual build-up continues.  3 weeks ago I did 4 runs of 5 miles and gradually re-introduced some hills: a necessary evil in Bristol.  Urban legend states the city is founded on 7 hills, just like Rome.  The similarities probably end soon after that!  I also managed a swim and a cardio session in the gym.  20 miles for a week.  A marathon training long run!

Last week I did 4 runs of 6 miles and 2 cardio sessions in the gym.  I also introduced some strides just to get my legs used to the idea that I don’t just do plodding running, and that at some point I’m going to have to run fast again.  Hopefully not all that far in the future.  I’d guess I can look to return to racing in May when I’ve got the endurance back in my legs and a bit of the speed back in my legs and lungs.  It was a bit of a relief to clock weekly mileage of 24 miles: almost a marathon.  Psychologically that felt better.

This week was particularly hectic as I sat down to contemplate it: 4 days in Plymouth, a day in Swindon plus a rehearsal in the evening and then a Saturday spent interviewing candidates in the morning for pupillage (the final stage of a barrister’s training) followed by a rehearsal and a concert.  And then the weather intervened.  I was pretty tired on the Monday afternoon and a bit dehydrated, so I took it as my rest day.  I ran Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning (7 miles each time), but a bit cautiously on Wednesday as there’d been a scattering of snow overnight and there was a bit of ice.  On Wednesday we were sent home from Plymouth, not to return the next day, as the snow arrived.  On Thursday I went to Gloucester in the morning.  Around lunchtime the snow arrived properly in Bristol and I took it as a second rest day: not ideal, but there it is.

On Friday Swindon court was closed, and so I went for a 7 mile run in the snow, once I’d managed to find my Yaktrax (unused for about 8 years, I think: that’s how mild it usually is in the southwest).  It was a good workout: the snow was pretty deep in places and also very shallow in other places, so I needed my wits about me!  Today I did another 7 miles in the snow.  It was a bit easier, because plenty of people had been out walking in the snow, so about 70% of the time it was fairly evenly compacted.  The exceptions were still hard work!  Tomorrow looks like another busy day, and so I’m getting the blog in early.  Hopefully see you all next week!