Archive | June, 2020

Getting (More Than) By With A Little Help From My Friends

28 Jun

Monday was a curious day.  T and I were supposed to be getting civilly partnered, but as reported last week, had been cancelled due to Covid restrictions.  T therefore attended some virtual meetings in the morning, and I ended up having to collect a judgment at 3.30pm, but we were at least able to share a quiet moment as our planned time came and went.  Exercise-wise, it was just a short cycle ride to the bakery and back.

Tuesday I did 8 x 2 minutes, in an effort to go a bit faster, as part of an 8 mile run.  On Wednesday (by which time the heatwave was really kicking in) I did 10 miles steady, and then my club’s strength and conditioning session in the evening.

On Thursday I went to my club session: the first time in so many months I really have lost count!  The heat was pretty unbearable (30 or 31 degrees), so the session was adjusted to ensure none of the efforts were more than 2 minutes in length.  Normally I’d hate a session like that, but 2 minutes felt like a long time as I ploughed through the sweltering, humid air.  Still, I managed to run 40s/mile faster than the pace I ran for my 5k attempt last week, so it’s good to know that my legs haven’t completely forgotten how to run a bit faster, I just needed some people to chase to pull me along!  I felt pretty rough by the time I got home, but there was no rest for the wicked, as I’d stepped into the breach to replace a colleague the following day, so had the small question of a trial bundle to read and a written argument to prepare.  (But it’s what we all have to do to help each other out every once in a while: a colleague had to do the same for me when one my cases overran earlier this month.)

On Friday I ran 6 miles very steady.  It turned out that doing 21 minutes of (relative to recent standards) very fast running the night before had left my legs a bit battered.  Saturday’s 6 miles steady were a fraction faster, but really only a fraction.  I then had a full morning of interviewing our shortlisted candidates for next year’s pupillage places (which I actually quite enjoyed).  The afternoon was fairly chilled.

That just left this morning.  I felt ridiculously dozy when the alarm went off, and probably should have tried to doze a bit more.  The doziness didn’t ever really leave, and my 16 mile run was extremely slow. I also probably should have taken some water with me, as although the heatwave has gone, the humidity was still high, and so I was incredibly thirsty from about 10 or 11 miles in.  Still, given my real target (always assuming any races go ahead this year!) is Valencia in December rather than London in October, getting the miles in is much more important than pace right now.  Although I do need to do some little bits of faster running, just to make sure my body doesn’t forget how to do it!  54 miles for the week.  Nearly real running.


Living In Uncertain Times

21 Jun

On Monday morning I went for a gentle cycle ride as a recovery session.  Once I’d finished my court hearing and the related admin, I opened my personal email account to see an email from the Registry Office telling me that my civil partnership ceremony with T, due to take place next week, had been cancelled due to Covid-19.  It was expected, although I had probably allowed myself a little too much hope that we might go ahead when they had said the previous week that they were restarting notice appointments from the week in which our ceremony was due to take place.  If the building was being reopened to the public, then perhaps…?  But no.  A polite, formulaic email told me this would not be the case.  I get it, I really do. Public safety has to be the priority, and if it’s not safe enough to have ceremonies yet, then of course they have to be cancelled.  And if the worst that comes out of this pandemic for me is my civil partnership ceremony happening a few months later I will have got off lightly.  But it’s still sad.  It’s brought back all of the emotions I’d probably not really engaged with about how next week was going to be fun: a ceremony for T and I to confirm our love and commitment to each other, with our parents there, and then a party with our friends and wider family at the weekend.  My friend A, a tailor and dressmaker, was going to make me a dress which incorporated lace from my Russian great-grandmother’s wedding dress, in a beautiful fusion of old and new.  People I hadn’t seen for far too long, all coming together.  (We had, of course, cancelled the party months ago, around the time lockdown started, because it was plain as a pikestaff that gatherings indoors of 100 people simply weren’t going to be happening by late June, but that doesn’t mean that as the date approaches I haven’t felt a little wistful.)

Anyway, that was the context for this week.  A bit of a downer.

On Tuesday morning I set off to try and run a 5km time-trial as part of a virtual road relay put on by the British Masters Athletics Federation (running for older folks).  I’ll put some blame on the early start, a bit more blame on the humidity, and some further blame on the very high pollen count, but basically it confirmed to me that if your training lacks structure and focus for 3 months, and doesn’t include much faster running where you’re really pushing yourself into the ‘hurt box’, let alone tempo running, you can’t suddenly pull a half-decent 5k out of the bag.  I couldn’t even break 21 minutes!

Wednesday morning was another humid, high-pollen day, and my 9 mile steady run was rather hard work.  I was also still a bit sad about the ceremony, and cross about letting myself get quite so unfit.  My mood lifted a bit later on after a promising proprioception session with my sports masseur over Zoom (I am getting much better at jumping on one leg, even if this has yet to translate into better running!), and it was nice to see some clubmates over Zoom for a general strength and conditioning session that evening.

Thursday morning was the morning I should have scheduled my 5k attempt for.  It was cool, slightly drizzly and the pollen count was only medium.  I could actually breathe easily during my 5 mile recovery run!  Friday was a bit damper and the pollen count was back to high, but it was still a better morning than Tuesday.  I did another 5 mile recovery run.  I also learned that the London Marathon might be happening in October, or it might not.  They’ll tell us in about 5 weeks’ time.  So I’d better do some maybe-training for that.

I was conscious that I’d rather let my team-mates down on Tuesday, and so had decided I’d have another crack at a 5km time trial on Saturday morning (the ‘window’ for any time trials was from last Sunday to yesterday).  Needless to say, the rain had stopped, the humidity was back and the pollen count was back to very high.  I really, really must learn and remember that when a virtual race allows you a fairly generous window in which to run your race, I should check when the pollen count and humidity are going to be low.  I know they really affect me. Anyway, all of that meant that I managed a mere 5 second improvement, although I probably started a little cautiously, conscious that my ‘brave’ start on Tuesday (aiming for the 20.30 I thought I could run) had made for a painful last few kilometres.  This time around I at least ran my fastest 2 kms last rather than first!

Still, I guess what it has shown me is that I do need to try and do some tempo runs again, even though I really, really, really hate doing them alone.  Usually I use races without tapering for them as tempo runs, but of course that is not an option right now.  Belyavin’s Race Yourself Fit Programme, which has served me well in the past, has to be re-written.  Somehow.

Saturday was a nice day, however, because I did some strength and conditioning with teammates again, after my 5km efforts, and then went to the beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum with T.

I finished the week with a steady 15 miles today, after a rather long lie-in.  The pace was better than I feared after my 2 ‘tempo’ efforts this week, but perhaps shows that my legs had recovered rather too well, i.e. I hadn’t managed to get anywhere close to 5km pace.  Curiously, that is actually a good thing (as well as being a very frustrating bad thing): if 21-minute 5km pace was really running flat out and leaving my legs sore for a few days pace, the journey I face back to full fitness would be a more daunting one than it already is.  If, however, 21-minute 5km pace was the best my body could do because it really isn’t used to working hard at the moment , it just means I’ve done a bit too much steady running of late, and need to rebalance my training, but should make some fitness gains fairly quickly (at least in terms of getting back to being able to run mid-20s 5ks, and perhaps even getting close to 20 minutes: making headway into 19.xx 5k territory will be more of an ask).

So, a bit of a long, rambling post this week.  Who would have thought 52 miles would generate so many words?

We See Which Way The Stream Of Time Doth Run

14 Jun

Well, that’s 3 weeks flown past in a flash.  To be honest, to even remember what running I’ve done I’m going to have to rely on my GPS data…  The general gist is that work has been really busy, working for all of the last 2 weekends (and some of this one), so I’ve just about had time to train, but not to blog, too.

So, 3 weeks ago I decided to change the speed session I was doing, and switched to doing 4 x 1 mile.  I find the longer, less intense repetitions easier when I’m training alone.  The speed wasn’t amazing (about sub-3 marathon pace), but this was while we still had really hot weather, and it was the first longer stuff I’d done for a while, so I didn’t mind too much.  On the Wednesday I ran 11 miles steady, and did some strength and conditioning with clubmates in a socially distanced (i.e. internet based) way, and on the Thursday I cycled.  Not sure how long for or where I went, but I definitely cycled!  On the Friday I did my regular 7 miles with 12 x strides.  T and I were both not working that day and so we took the opportunity to go for a walk in the Quantocks.  We were a bit worried that the car park at the start of the walk looked busy, but it turned out to be because there was a pretty picnic spot nearby.  The paths were nice and quiet, and once past the picnic spot we saw very few people.  After a recovery run on the Saturday I did some more strength and conditioning, and then rounded my week off with a 15 mile long run to bring up 48 miles for the week.  The walk had left my legs quite tired (I guess if there’s one thing I just haven’t done very much recently it’s walking: I no longer walk to/from stations to get to court/back to chambers, or between chambers and my local court, and just generally don’t need to walk many places), so it was a bit of a plod, but it was a solid week.

2 weeks ago I started the week with a cycle ride, and then repeated the same speed session on the Tuesday.  I was pleased that I was able to run the mile repeats a good 5-10 seconds faster for each one than I’d managed a week before.  On the Wednesday I ran 11 miles steady, being kind to my still tired legs and keeping it on the flat.  On the Thursday I cycled, and then Friday was the standard 7 miles with 12 x strides.  Saturday was a recovery run ahead of strength and conditioning, the only difference being I was a bit nervous because I was leading the session.  I know that I’m pretty weak compared to a lot of my clubmates, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to lead a very tough session, but I hope it was ok!  I did 15 miles again on the Sunday at a not too bad pace (perhaps that slightly easier strength session left my legs fresher!) to start June with 48 miles for the week.  I spent most of Saturday and Sunday working (given the small matter of about 4,000 pages to read just to get to the end of Wednesday this week).

I started this week with a short cycle ride, and then was into the first of 3 full court days.  Video conferencing style court hearings are – curiously – more tiring than in-person hearings, and so doing court days from about 9 until 5 for 3 days solid was pretty intense. I’m not surprised that when I ran on Tuesday morning, my speed was a little blunted even by recent standards.  I did 2 x 2km (about 3 hour marathon pace); 2 x 1km (roughly the equivalent half-marathon pace) and 2 x 500m (roughly the equivalent 10km pace).  On Wednesday I only had time for 8 miles rather than 11, although that actually fitted in with my plans for the week, which were to reintroduce running 6 days per week.  In those circumstances, I didn’t want to do my now usual 48 miles and then another run on top, as that might be a bit too much, so doing that 8 miler and then 5 the next day worked out quite well.  I’d done strength and conditioning on Wednesday evening, and could really feel it on Thursday morning during that recovery run.  I could also feel the effects of not just doing full court days but then having to read into other cases as well each evening until 9/9.30pm.  It was all getting both stressful and plodtastic.  But Thursday itself was a welcome change: pupillage interviews (albeit by Teams rather than in person).  As a barrister you’re often trying to persuade people they are wrong about something, whereas in an interview you’re trying to get the best out of someone, and although they take a lot of focus, and you’re conscious of the responsibility involved, it is nice to do something very different.  On Friday I did 7 miles with 12 sets of strides ahead of my hearing, and then worked until my final court-related meeting of the week.  After that, I downed tools for a bit.  My brain was getting pretty fuzzy.  I did 6 miles early doors on Saturday ahead of some more pupillage interviews, and then spent the afternoon doing a little more work-related reading before accepting I just needed to relax a bit.  I had a lovely lie-in this morning and then ran 15 miles to bring up 50 miles for the week.  My Garmin (GPS) went a bit bonkers, and thought I went for a swim in the Avon, which I didn’t (if you’ve ever seen the Avon in all its sludgy, brown glory you’d understand why: the gorge and the Suspension Bridge are spectacular, the river rarely is, especially at low tide), so I had to guess where the 15 mile point actually happened, on the basis my watch thought I’d casually dropped a 6m/m whilst crossing the Avon a couple of times and swimming so had clearly undermeasured the run, but frankly whether I ran 49.9 miles, 50 miles or 50.1 miles this week doesn’t really matter.  A little more reading for work this afternoon, and now my time is my own.  I’m still ready for an early night, but don’t feel quite as exhausted as I did yesterday.