Archive | February, 2021

Nothing More, Nothing Less: Only … My Minimum Mileage Target

28 Feb

OK, so Louis Armstrong didn’t sing the last bit, but I guess he wasn’t trying to get back into decent marathon shape.

Anyway, this week: I was in chambers for my hearings, partly supporting a vulnerable client for 4 days, and then the final day to let the decorator we had in finish doing the hall and stairwells. We now finally have a smarter, fresher looking house from top to bottom! Being in chambers of course meant cycling as well as running. On Monday I just did my cycle commute. On Tuesday I did a very steady 5 miles. On Wednesday we weren’t sitting (i.e. starting the court day) until 11am, which meant I could get a 10 mile run done. On Thursday I did 7 miles with 10 sets of strides. And on Friday, a steady 6 miles. Although it wasn’t lovely going back to running at 6.45am after two quieter weeks with few hearings, so that I’d been able to run at 7.30am and come to a little more gradually in the mornings, by late February there is at least daylight by 6.45am, and so it’s not the gloomy headtorch lit trudges of early January.

Friday morning was beautiful: cold but sunny (although I was a bit optimistic focusing on the sun, so that I was in a t-shirt and had no gloves). Saturday morning was misty. By the time I set off (8am) the mist had pretty much burnt off around our house, but I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that it was a different story at the bottom of the Avon Gorge. My glasses quickly fogged up, which made trying to run fast just that bit more exciting! Anyway, I’d decided to do a mixed-speed session for a change: 1 x 4km at marathon pace (16.59, so bang on sub-3 pace. Hurrah!); 2 x 2km at half-marathon pace (8.15 and 8.18, so about right); 2 x 1km at 10km pace (4.00, bang on, and 4.05: legs filled with lactic a bit on that one!). 11 miles including warm up, cool down and jog recoveries in between the efforts.

This morning I knew I needed to do 19 miles to hit my monthly target of 230. February was always going to be the month that made that a little harder, having only 28 days and all, so I’m pleased I hit the target, even if it was only 230 on the nose. It was another nice day, minus the mist we’d had yesterday, and although the pace was a bit slower than last week (8.10s) it was far from awful. I can always suggest that I was carrying some extra weight today: my hydration back-pack, 1 litre of water and some vegan jelly babies (also plastic free, thanks to Better Foods: good work!). It’s been a while since I bothered taking fuel on a long run, and I figured I’d better get back into it as the slightly warmer weather returns. 58 miles for the week, and 230 for the month.


Have You Heard The Raindrops Drumming On The Rooftops?

21 Feb

At the end of last week, I was exhausted. I was still pretty exhausted (and curiously achy) on Monday this week, so I decided it was the best day for my rest day. I just did some gentle strength work and careful stretching, and took the day as easy as I could.

It seemed to help, and by Tuesday morning I was ready for an 11 mile run at 7am. I ran with a slightly faster clubmate for most of it, which helps explain an early morning 11 mile run on a lumpy route coming out at 8m/m. Particularly impressive given the headwinds we faced as we ran along the wind-tunnel that the Portway can be! I did a strength session that afternoon with my sports masseuse over Zoom, particularly focusing on left ankle flexibility, as I could feel it had tightened up a bit.

On Wednesday I did a very gentle 6 miles: it was a beautiful, sunny, relatively still morning, and I couldn’t help but feel I should have switched the 6 miler and the 11 miler around! Except that wouldn’t have made for a very evenly balanced week, so my initial decision was probably the right one.

On Thursday morning I could hear the rain hammering down, and the girl cat was keen to snuggle on my lap, so I decided I’d run later on, when the weather forecast suggested things would be a bit nicer. Thankfully I remembered before lunch that I had an online seminar all evening, so I popped out in the sunshine for 7 miles with 10 sets of strides. It was genuinely shorts and a vest weather, and rather lovely!

By Friday morning the rain and wind had returned, and I plodded 7 miles.

Saturday morning wasn’t that much better, which was a pity, because I wanted to do some faster running. Mile reps felt like a better decision than the longer efforts I’d done last week, although I called it a day after 5: 3 with the wind and 2 into the wind, because doing a 6th and final rep into the wind, when it would just make me try and force the pace (fairly pointlessly) didn’t seem particularly beneficial. My legs felt slightly tired, but my breathing was definitely no harder than half-marathon effort, which was a relief, because the paces (around 6.40 with the wind, and 7.00 into it) weren’t especially encouraging. I’d have hoped for a small improvement on the last time I did the session, but I guess progress isn’t always linear and smooth!

Saturday afternoon included a slightly stressful trip to the out of hours vet, because the girl cat had an injury to her tail. As far as they could tell, it was a bite which had developed into an abscess, and there was no break, which was a relief, because a quick internet search had shown that tail pull injuries can be nasty. She’s indoors-only at the moment, and fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.

After a well-deserved lap snuggle for the girl cat this morning, I headed out for 19 miles. I picked a flat but not particularly exciting route, and was rewarded with a decent pace by recent standards (7.59m/m). My legs tired a bit towards the end, but flat routes can do that to your muscles: there’s no real respite for them, which you get with undulations. It’s why every now and then I try and do a much flatter medium long or long run, even if Bristol is not exactly spoilt for choice with exciting flat routes. 61 miles for the week: my biggest since Lockdown 1 began.

The Rat, The Ox And The Beast

14 Feb

This week was a respite from frenetic work: although I was supposed to do a 4 day trial, it was adjourned at short notice, and so I had the luxury of time during the day to catch up on a lot of work-related admin: all of those articles I’d bookmarked to catch up on; all of those webinars I was going to watch, so that I could get to grips with a topic; and so on. I did have some meetings to attend, but no hearings.

This week was also marked by very cold weather (the Beast From The East mark II, apparently). On Monday I did circuits with a friend over Zoom, and then a very gentle 5 mile run. On Tuesday, I did what was intended to be an 11 mile run, but ended up being 12 (it’s a route that can only really be done in daylight, and so I haven’t run for a while, given the dark mornings. I could have sworn it was 11 miles, but there you go). On Wednesday I rested, bar circuits in the evening with clubmates over Zoom. Thursday morning was probably the coldest of the week, and 7 miles with 12 sets of strides was hard going. I also had 2 cycle trips to collect Covid tests (we’re in a ‘surge’ testing area, so nothing to really worry about) and then return them once T and I had taken our samples (let’s just say I hope I don’t have to repeat the experience: the throat swab made me gag really badly). My fingers were frozen by the end of both cycle trips, and they were only a few miles each! On Friday I did 7 miles steady. Curiously, I was still feeling absolutely exhausted on Friday, even though I hadn’t had a very stressful week. It was Chinese New Year, and T cooked us a lovely dinner to welcome the Year of the Ox. It wasn’t quite the same as meeting up with T’s family, but that will have to wait another lunar year. Whilst a lot of the Year of the Rat has been difficult and not something to repeat, just like 2020 it has included tying the knot with T, and that element of the year will always be a happy memory to cherish.

By Saturday the tiredness still hadn’t lifted, and the weather was truly grim. Still below freezing, but now with 20 mph winds. The marathon pace session I’ve done a few times of late was really hard work, and I was way off pace (not helped by 2 of the 3 efforts being into a headwind): 17.26; 17.16; 17.51. I did give up a bit in the last one. I was cold, I couldn’t feel my hands, and I was utterly miserable. 12 miles endured, but not enjoyed.

I stayed up a bit late watching the indoor athletics from New York, which was probably a bit silly, as I could have done with an early night, and felt ridiculously sluggish this morning. When I turned onto the Portway after about 9 miles, fully intending to do another 9, and hit yet another stupidly strong headwind, I did something I rarely do: I worked out a quick route home, and ended up with 12 miles rather 18. It means 55 miles for the week rather than the 61 I would have managed had I had the energy and inclination. But it was very hard to persuade myself that doing 15, 16, 17 or 18 miles today was going to be make or break come October (always assuming autumn races happen!). I’ve felt pretty tired and wiped out all afternoon, too, so I don’t know if I’ve picked up a cold either shopping or test collecting/delivering, but I’m hoping that if I have an early night tonight I will feel much more human tomorrow.

Solid But Unspectacular

7 Feb

Last week my running went really well. After typing my blogpost on Sunday, I knuckled down to work, as I had a 4 day trial starting on Tuesday. I did a long stint, and the same again on Monday (when I was thankfully not in court).

From a running point of view, I did a very gentle 6 miles Monday morning, and then a strength session. On Tuesday I did 10 miles (pretty ploddy: I didn’t sleep brilliantly the night before, which isn’t unusual ahead of day 1 of a trial), then rested on Wednesday, apart from a cycle ride into chambers to collect some trainers I’d ordered, because I was a bit dozy and forgot to select my home address for delivery: I always used to get things sent to work because I was never at home. How things change, eh? I was still feeling really tired throughout Wednesday, so skipped the strength & conditioning session offered online through my running club, and took the evening easy (i.e. mostly sat on the sofa being a cat cushion).

On Thursday morning I felt a bit better, and stuck to my plan to meet a clubmate bright and early for 7 miles with 10 sets of strides, although said clubmate has a turn of speed I lack, so I got dropped on each set of strides! However, I think that was good for me, because my average speed for the miles with the strides in them was way faster than the weeks when I did the session alone. Thank goodness the Covid regulations allow for exercise with one other person.

On Friday morning it was time to combine running and life admin, as I ran to the local cattery with a recycling point to deposit several weeks’ worth of empty cat food sachets. With some extra bits tagged on (it’s actually only about 2 miles away), that made 6 miles.

By Saturday, it was time for some faster running again. After 4km blocks at marathon pace effort a fortnight ago and 1 mile blocks at half marathon pace effort last week, it was time to up the speed ante, and try kilometre blocks at 10k pace effort. I figured I am probably in about 40 minute to 40 minute 30 seconds shape at the moment in a race, so I’d be around 4.03-4.05/km in a solo effort (it is so much easier to push yourself in a race: at least, as far as I can remember it is!). There was a little bit of a breeze, but nothing too horrific, and my efforts were 4.04, 4.00, 4.02, 4.00, 4.03, 4.02, 4.06, 4.04 (with 2 minutes of jogging between each one). If nothing else, I predicted my times accurately! I was a bit annoyed I couldn’t quite hold pace for the last two, but given I haven’t done anything like 10k pace since before Christmas (apart from the odd set of strides), it was a good return to slightly faster running, as part of a 10 mile run.

T and I were a bit greedy last night, and shared a generous and delicious homemade melanzane (well, I had rather more than half, truth be told). I suspect that it was just a bit too much, and I didn’t sleep brilliantly, so felt a bit sluggish this morning. The weather (cold when running into the strong-ish wind) didn’t help, but marathons are built on months (if not years) of consistency, and so off I went, settling for 17 miles. That made 56 miles for the week, so February got off to a solid start, although I’m hoping my energy levels will be a bit better next week.