Archive | April, 2020

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

26 Apr

… Sgt Pepper taught the band to play (ok, it’s now a lot more than 20 years, but song lyrics don’t get updated).  And it was 5 years ago today that I ran my marathon PB.  Looking back at the blog I wrote a few days later, I even hoped (having run 2.49), that sub 2.45 was on the horizon.  And yet in the 5 years that have followed, I only ran 3 marathons (Frankfurt 2015, post-cold/chest infection, and therefore below par; Chicago 2016, jetlagged and an emotional wreck, and therefore below par; and London 2017, training compromised by a sore Achilles tendon, and therefore below par).  Had the London Marathon gone ahead today, I was aiming to be within 10 minutes of that PB, and would have been delighted to have made it.  So this has been a pretty bittersweet week, with lots of memories, and nothing concrete on the horizon to aim for.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still enjoying running, and enjoying plenty of other parts of the curious experience that is Lockdown Life (more time with T, more time with the cats, playing the violin a bit more), it’s just been a particularly odd week.

Instead of a marathon taper and a few nights in Gray’s Inn, this week has compromised: a cycle ride on Monday, including a short stop at the bakery; 8 miles including 10 x 2 minutes fast, 1 minute easy on Tuesday; 10 miles, an ankle strength and conditioning session and a general strength and conditioning session on Wednesday; a cycle ride on Thursday; 7 miles with strides on Friday; 5 miles easy and a strength and conditioning session on Saturday; and 13 miles today.  44 miles for the week.  The only mild annoyance is that, as I moved aside to pass a pedestrian on Friday I slightly tweaked my left (weak) ankle.  Nothing too serious, but it’s getting some TLC (compression, elevation and frozen peas).  And today’s run was a bit grim as I had a bad IBS attack last night, so had no energy, and suffered in the heat.  But it’s done, and the foundations are still being laid for a return to real training and racing whenever that may be, even if it is as far away as 2021.


The Second Time Around

19 Apr

This week started with the Easter Monday bank holiday.  Funnily enough, it was a fairly quiet day.  I cycled over to Leigh Woods and foraged for wild garlic, which made for a very tasty pesto to have with homemade pasta for dinner that evening.  And we had a lovely meet up over Skype with my family afterwards.

On Tuesday I did a 9 mile run, repeating the 6 x 1km session I’d done last week.  The times weren’t much faster, but I guess my body is adjusting to the new strength work I’m doing, which is going to be a long term project in terms of seeing the benefits!  I then had a Zoom session with my masseur to continue working on ankle strength.  My proprioception is still pretty rubbish, but again that has to be a work in progress.

On Wednesday I did a lovely 9 mile run before a quiet day at home, reading (I was supposed to be conducting a 5 day hearing this week, running into next week, which couldn’t go ahead at fairly short notice, so my work diary was empty and I treated the week as an unofficial week’s holiday).  I did another strength and conditioning session at home. I’m still a bit of a weakling, but Rome wasn’t built in a day (I think I’m going to run out of these metaphors pretty soon).

Thursday morning was beautiful, and so I did a nice cycle ride to loosen the legs up a little bit.  On Friday I felt pretty sluggish, and my 7 miles with strides in it was not particularly nippy, but it was done, and I tried to focus on my form rather than stressing about the (lack of) speed.

On Saturday (after being incapussitated by the boy cat, who wanted to sit on my lap) I did a 5 mile recovery run and then had another Zoom based strength and conditioning session with my clubmates.  Yup, still not turned into a super-strong person!

And today I did a 12 mile run to bring up 42 miles for the week.  This is the first week in ages when my mileage has roughly tied in with what the schedule I haven’t got around to taking down from the pinboard says: as this should have been the penultimate week of my taper before the marathon next week, I was only supposed to do 44 miles, and a long run of 13 miles.  I did consider doing 14 miles today, but there wasn’t really the need (and given how my legs grumbled at mile 11 on the climb back up home, it probably wouldn’t have been the smartest trick).

Today is Russian Easter, so I celebrated my heritage with a little baking.  I need to stop filling my time with baking, as we have a lot of baked goods to get through right now!

The Times, They Are Unchanging

12 Apr

On Monday I did a short-ish cycle ride and then had a hearing by telephone.  It was the first and last time my picnic-table based office was required this week, as the Covid-19 adjournments kicked in.

On Tuesday I did 8.5 miles with 6 x 1km (mixing units to keep things fresh!).  The paces were pretty slow (between 3.59/km and 4.06/km), but last week’s speed session was the first faster running I’d done in a while: probably since a week or so before the aborted Bath Half marathon.

On Wednesday I did 8 miles steady with a strength and conditioning session in the evening, and on Thursday I did a longer cycle ride (to a rather nice bakery and back for bread supplies!).

On Friday I did 7.5 miles with 12 sets of strides in (all part of the plan to do slightly more quality work whilst the volume is lower) and then on Saturday I did a 5 mile recovery run and then another strength and conditioning session with my lovely Bristol & West clubmates.  It was a pretty brutal one, as I discovered during Sunday’s “long” run of 12 miles.  On the flat was sort of ok, and going downhill was sort of ok, but ascents let me know that my calves, quads, glutes and hamstrings were tired!

Otherwise, I’ve filled my non-working time with food shopping (which does take a while with all the queuing), cooking (I’ve made vegan meringues and a flan, as well as been a domestic goddess, cooking our dinner every night) and reading (plus an unreasonable amount of faffing on the internet).

This weekend feels a bit weird, because we were supposed to be having a family get-together in Scotland to celebrate my parents’ birthdays, and very obviously that has had to go by the wayside.  Every now and then I’ve found myself thinking we should have been on the sleeper, or getting the bus up to the cottage, or having dinner together, or whatever it might be.  It’ll happen at some point, I get that, and compared to what some have had to deal with, it is nothing, but I guess we each have our own sadnesses during these strange times, and right now that’s mine.

A New Normal

5 Apr

So, the second week of lockdown.  In quite a lot of ways it has been harder than the first: there was a lot of practical stuff to sort out last week: downloading various bits of software so that I could work remotely and paperlessly, learning how to use the software, various court hearings, being so happy that T was back home.  This week the novelty wore off, and the realisation that things we took for granted are off the menu for who knows how long really kicked in: that second run to unwind after a stressful day, or popping out to the shops for an ingredient because you’ve decided to cook a certain dish, or going ok for dinner with your partner or your friends.  Gone.  For some reason this hit me hard on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I really struggled with lethargy as a result.  Thankfully I’ve found a bit more equilibrium as the week has gone on.

From a purely exercise point of view: on Monday I cycled; on Tuesday I did 7 miles with 7 x 3 minutes faster, 2 minutes slower; on Wednesday I did 7 miles steady and then strength and conditioning in the evening; on Thursday I cycled again; on Friday I did 7 miles with 12 sets of strides; on Saturday I did 7 miles steady and then strength & conditioning with my clubmates (via Zoom: no social distancing rules were broken); and today I did 12 miles.  A total of 40 miles plus 2 bike rides.  And I guess a huge sense of relief that, for the moment at least, we are still allowed to exercise.  I really hope that continues.  I’m being really careful when I run: trying to go at a time of day when I think it will be quieter; making sure I use open spaces or places where I know the paths are wide; there’s been quite a lot of weaving around to stay 2 metres away from walkers, cyclists and other runners, and trying very hard to ensure walkers I’m going to overtake know I’m coming so that we stay out of each other’s way.  It’s frustrating to hear that others are either not following the 2 metre rule or going outside for non-permitted purposes.  Fingers crossed that the common goal we must all have, i.e. bringing first lockdown and then social distancing to and end as soon as we can, will help everyone re-focus on what needs to be done.