Archive | April, 2018

Another Double Dose

29 Apr

So, last week started off with a 30 minute swim on Monday. On Tuesday I went to my club session: a mixture of 2 and 4 minute efforts, and I was finally comfortably under 4 mins/km. The glass half empty philosophy says that’s only just better than marathon pb pace. The glass half full philosophy says that’s progress! Wednesday was a busy day so a rest day. Thursday was a steady run and Friday 30 minutes in the gym. I felt curiously wiped out and tired. This continued on Saturday morning, so I postponed training until the evening and went furniture shopping with T instead 🙂 That afternoon was pretty hot so I did a mixture of 1-4 minute efforts as speedwork. The longer ones were hard work! And on Sunday morning I settled down to watch the London marathon, with a long list of friends on tracker to follow. In the unseasonable heat many struggled and it was pretty nerve wracking waiting for them to pass each chip mat! I rounded the week off with a steady 14 miles to bring up 40 for the week.

This week started with a 45 minute swim. On Tuesday I ran 8 miles steady before work and on Wednesday I ran 7 miles with some strides. Thursday morning I overslept by 45 minutes but had just enough time to dash to the gym for 45 minutes before going to work and then having a long overdue massage. Verdict: some tight spots but pretty symmetrical. Friday was a rest day to let my muscles recover. Saturday I ran 11 miles with 5 efforts of just under 1 mile plus just over a quarter of a mile jog recovery. It’s a session I’ve done before and I’m about 15s per effort off full fitness. Better than I feared! After a lovely rehearsal this morning (Beethoven 7 :)) I rounded off my week with 14 miles. It was a bit chilly and breezy and my legs were tired by the end but a good week’s training. Onwards and forwards!

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Slow and Steady

15 Apr

It’s been a busy fortnight, so here’s a recap.

On Easter Monday, with the gym closed again, I did a 45 minute swim.  When the pool is quiet I don’t actually mind swimming nearly as much, and there weren’t many people desperate for a swim at lunchtime on Easter Monday!

On the Tuesday I went to my club session: hills.  It sounds quite straightforward, and the slope in question isn’t too bad when you run up it the first time: we do 8 x 5 minutes, with the first 3 minutes being run hard, including going up the slope, and the 2 minutes being a steady jog back to the start line.  But the steady slope seems to get steeper every time, and before you know it you have jelly legs and screaming lungs!  With the run to the start and then back to T’s it was a total of 8 miles.

I took Wednesday as my rest day, did 8 miles steady on Thursday and then 45 minutes in the gym on the Friday.  On Saturday, it was time for a bit more speed: 8 x 1km off 2 minutes.  I was pleased that my kilometre reps were faster than when I had done 6 x 1km a fortnight before (between 4.02 and 4.11, whereas 2 weeks previously they had been between 4.05 and 4.15), so my fitness/speed is gradually coming back.  I rounded the week off with 13 miles along the towpath on Sunday, at 8.17m/m.  40 miles for the week, and 90 minutes of cross-training, so equivalent to about 50 miles in total.

This week I started with very sore legs.  Doing 24 miles over 2 days at the weekend, including 5 miles of quality, had been a big ask for my muscles at this stage of my return to running, and so I could just about manage 30 minutes very gently on the bike in the gym, but it was little more than turning the legs over on low resistance to push blood through the achy muscles.  My legs were still a bit sore on Tuesday, and my 8 mile steady run was about 40 seconds slower than the one I’d done the previous Thursday: that’s the glory of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which is quite often at its worst 48 hours after a tough session.  I guess that longer run the day after speedwork counted as a tough session, even if I used to cope with more.  On Wednesday I did an hour in the gym on the adaptive motion trainer, and my legs finally felt a bit more receptive to the idea of working hard.

On Thursday, it was time for a bit more speed.  I went to my club session, which was on grass.  It was the first time I had run on grass in spikes since the hamstring injury in November, and the session coach mentioned I was running slightly unevenly, which hadn’t been the case in the road sessions he’d seen me do.  I guess that although the ankle is a lot stronger, I still don’t feel I trust it completely, as it can get a little tired after a tough run, and I didn’t quite feel able to corner on slightly slippery mud without checking my stride a little.  I spent the rest of the session trying to focus on form and running evenly rather than stressing about pace, but was still pleased that in the 24 minutes of effort (albeit in 1 minute chunks!) I had covered almost exactly 4 miles.  Hello, 6 minute miles!  It’s been a while…

On Friday, I did a steady 9 miles.  It was a welcome relief for the body and mind after a stressful day.

Saturday was my rest day for the week.  This was to allow T and I to go and view a house together (T has very bravely decided he can contemplate living with me all the time.  He must love lycra and muddy trainers more than I realised) and then go and meet my parents for a fancy lunch (The Harrow at Little Bedwyn: worth travelling for!).  By the time we got back from the fancy lunch there was only really time for a cup of tea and a quick sit-down before heading out to see Education, Education at the Bristol Old Vic.  A real trip down memory lane for those of us who came of age in the 90s!  With all of that to squeeze in, I’d known from the outset I needed Saturday to be my rest day.

Today I rounded the week off with 13 miles.  The pace was the best of my long runs in a while, although still fairly steady (8.12s), but it means a third week in which I have run 40 miles and done 90 minutes of cross-training.  I’m not sure I’m ready for any significant increases to that, except that I’d like to gradually increase the long run to 15-16 miles, and perhaps get my midweek medium long run up to 12 miles rather than 9 or 10, because I don’t want to overdo things as my body adjusts back to doing speedwork.

Marathon season is now well under way, with Paris last weekend and Brighton this weekend.  There is a little bit of me that feels a bit wistful, but I also know (given how the ankle is faring) that I took the right decision.  I’m not decided as to whether I’ll be an armchair supporter next weekend, with the athlete tracker loaded up with lots of names to follow, or whether I’ll go up to London in person, but I’m ready for some vicarious pleasure in others hitting their times!

My Kind Of Clubbing ft. Plastic Free Lent

2 Apr

First, the running:

I started the week with a rest day.  Never ideal, but I had a longer day than expected in court and had a bit to read for the following morning, so that was how things had to be.  On Tuesday, determined not to end up in the same boat twice, I went to the gym before going to work, and did 45 minutes of cross-training.  On Wednesday, I managed 8 steady miles.  T was away, and I was missing him, so I felt a bit flat, but also better for running.  And then on Thursday, a pleasure long absent from my life: a club session.  I hadn’t trained with Bristol & West since late November due to my succession of injuries, and although I’m far from fully fit, I am at least now at the stage where I will benefit from doing the tougher sessions again.  The session plan was 3-4 x 2km off about 2 minutes.  In November, when I last did the session, I managed a slowest 2km of 7.50 and a fastest of 7.35.  This time, it was 8.13 v 8.04.  But on a really positive note, each km was faster than I managed the previous week.  That’s both the benefits of club training and the slow return of fitness!  On Friday I went to the swimming pool for the first time in ages (the gym was closed because it was Good Friday) and swam for 45 minutes.  On Saturday, I plodded a slow 10 miles.  That speedwork had definitely made my legs work hard, even if my lungs had felt pretty ok.  And on Sunday 12 miles around the park opposite T’s parents’ house, at a rather more respectable pace.  So this week, a moderately respectable 40 miles run and 90 minutes of cross training.  That’s equivalent to over 50 miles, and is almost the early stages of marathon training in terms of volume!

And now, Plastic Free Lent.  If you only read this blog for the running, farewell!

T was really keen to give PFL a go.  The name is a little flattering, because it’s really about trying to do without single-use plastic.  However, there’s a lot of single-use plastic out there: bin bags, tea-bags, fruit and veg, bread, toiletries, household cleaning products, cheese…  And crisp packets.  Dammit, I love crisps.  At times, it felt like almost everything I wanted to buy came in plastic and was out of bounds.

PFL has meant some pretty significant changes: I now buy most of my basics at a ‘scoop shop’ (i.e. you put your rice/lentils/nuts/dried fruit/tea/herbs in a paper bag, and it is sold to you by weight).  I’ve gone back to buying fruit and veg loose from the greengrocers’.  And it’s actually so much cheaper, especially for fresh herbs.  Cheese does involve a trip to the farmers’ market, which is a bit of a faff.  Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and face wash now come in bars, which can be popped in a paper bag.  Farewell plastic bottles!  Household cleaning products also come from the ‘scoop shop’, where they can be re-filled.  Fruit juice and milk are now delivered by the milkman in glass bottles: rinse and return.  Just like when I was a kid!

I went back to making my own bread, although was a bit annoyed to discover that the yeast sachets are non-recyclable.  Short of only ever making soda bread, there’s not a perfect solution there.  I guess the yeast sachets are much smaller than the bread packets so perhaps that will have to do (and I do find bread-making quite therapeutic, so I don’t want to have to give that up, having re-discovered a forgotten pleasure).

No more disposable tea/coffee cups, but I carry my brilliant folding cup with me everywhere now (thanks, T, for sourcing that!).  It does take about an extra hour to do the shopping compared to whizzing around the supermarket, and I have to be more organised/stick to planned meals, because popping out for a missing item can be nigh-on impossible outside ‘core’ shopping hours.

The main sticking points are bleach (I remain to be convinced that the toilet, at least, can by without being cleaned with bleach once in a while, and refills don’t seem to be an option, presumably for safety reasons), cosmetics (my best effort is to reduce the amount I wear – which was never a huge amount anyway – and only wear it for ‘smart’ work days) and contact lens solution (I don’t think there is an alternative there, short of only wearing glasses: both vanity and practicality preclude this).  At the risk of over-sharing, I also didn’t get around to investigating/experimenting with more environmentally friendly alternatives to sanitary products.  When at work that’s probably a bit tricky, as plenty of court toilets are not very nice and certainly don’t offer much privacy, but I do want to at least find a better solution for weekends/days out of court.

So, with Easter behind me, what have a I decided to stick with, and what will I ditch?  I currently intend to stick with most of it, which I think will reduce my disposable plastic consumption by about 90%.  This Lent I’ve only filled my kitchen bin once with non-recyclable waste, whereas usually I would fill it weekly.  And most of the rubbish was left-over wrapping/packaging from things I’d bought before Lent and was using up!  I’m not sure I could look myself in the eye and claim that I don’t have that hour each week to do my bit.  I’m sure that I will occasionally give in (fresh tofu has been almost impossible to buy, which is sad for a vegetarian, but I was delighted to find both seitan and tempeh in jars, and pasta and plastic appear to be almost inextricably linked, save for the ‘scoop shop’ furthest from home which does sell loose dried pasta).  And I’ve missed crisps a lot.  I cracked once, last week, when very stressed.  T and I tried to make some at home, and it is actually fairly straightforward (they can be baked, not fried, which is helpful).  It just takes a lot of time to cut the potatoes.  And some care.  T lost a bit of finger second-time around to a mandolin.  Those crisps were not strictly suitable for vegetarians, but they still tasted good 😉