Archive | May, 2021

[That Was] The Month Of Maying…

31 May

Just over two weeks since I last blogged: how time flies! And I’ll be honest, I have needed my Garmin data to help me remember that far back…

So, a fortnight ago my week off work started. It was a staycation, and more of a life admin with actually a bit of work reading chucked in week, but still better than being out of the door at 6.45am for my running and ending each day knackered. From a running point of view, it started with 5 gentle recovery miles (although I can see from my data it was actually surprisingly spritely), and then on the Tuesday I did 7 miles with 12 sets of strides. On Wednesday I did 13 miles, and then 9 on Thursday ahead of a sports massage and a much needed rest day on Friday. Knowing I had a rest day planned, the massage was quite a lot more intensive than usual, and it left my legs incredibly heavy. They still felt a bit rubbish on the Saturday, and so I decided to do a shorter session focussing on leg speed rather than something tougher and longer: a good old pyramid session of efforts off 1 minute recovery jogs, starting at 1 minute, building through, 2, 3 and 4 to 5 minutes, and then back down the ladder. The paces weren’t great, but it’s still a fun workout. Saturday evening was lovely, as I met up with some of the B&W ladies’ squad for a barbeque. We also planned to meet for a long run on Sunday, and I had arranged to meet one of the other marathon runners earlier than the rest so that we could do an extra 10-11 miles beforehand. I’m not quite sure what went wrong, but I was running a little bit late, and so perhaps wasn’t paying attention to my feet, but somehow I went over on my left ankle (of course that is the bad ankle. Did you even need to ask?!). Because I was meeting my friend in a matter of minutes and knew that it would be almost impossible to get a message to her (most of us don’t bother running with phones), I decided to see if I could jog through it, and it was just about ok, although a bit sore. Turning corners on the left ankle was a no-no unless I took the shortest of strides and placed my foot very carefully. Being honest, I probably should have bailed on the run once I’d met said friend, but I think I was in the pig-headed denial stage at this point in time. So naturally I ran another 10 miles on it. We stood around for a short while meeting the others, and during those few minutes it started to stiffen up and probably swell up nicely. When the larger group of us started running again I was limping, and another very sensible person in the group told me, in the nicest sense, not to be a prat, and to consider going home. I did. I had to walk part of it. It just goes to show what those runner’s high endorphins do to your pain threshold at first, that I was able to run 12 miles on the thing.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t run last Monday. I managed to find a free slot at my local pool, and did 30 minutes of what passes for swimming so far as I am concerned. I can’t remember when I last swam, but it was definitely when Covid was not a thing, so my best guess is some point in 2019. That might explain why I was particularly slow and awful! On Tuesday I went for a gentle cycle ride in the morning (sticking to the flat) in the hope that would enable me to go back to cycling to/from chambers from Wednesday (now that I’m a pupil supervisor I’m tending to be in chambers most days). It was fairly encouraging.

But there was another twist in this tale (of course there was!). After dinner on Tuesday I felt really queasy, and pretty quickly went from feeling queasy to being sick. Thankfully I wasn’t in court until Wednesday lunchtime, and my goodness remote hearings really come into their own when all you are really good for is lying on the sofa sipping ginger tea with a bit of sugar in it! By Thursday morning both the ankle and the tummy felt that I could risk a gentle run, and with a double-layer of pseudoscience on my ankle (kinesio tape and vetrap), I headed off for 5 miles easy. (The vetrap was a tip from a fellow runner who does a lot of fell running: it’s cohesive tape and so needs at least a double layer, but certainly feels like it is supporting the joint and muscles/tendons/ligaments. I neither know nor care if that was entirely a placebo effect!) The 5 miles was fine.

On Friday, I was a bit braver, and did 8 miles. Also fine. I’d had to work quite late on Thursday night (as in 11pm late, due to a load of papers arriving last minute for my Friday conference: for me anything past 10pm is a very late night) and Covid lockdowns have definitely made me even worse at coping with disruption to my sleep routine, so I allowed myself a bit of a lie-in on Saturday ahead of a steady 11 miles. By Saturday the promised heatwave had finally arrived, and by the end of the 11 miles I was really hot, and pretty thirsty. Thinking I had learned my lesson, on Sunday I left much earlier, and wore as little as you can to run in without being arrested (crop top and shorts), but was still really struggling for the last 3 or 4 miles of my 16 mile run. 40 miles for the week.

As a sneak preview, I finished May (and started week 1 of Pfitzinger and Douglas’s 18 week 55-70 miles per week marathon training plan) with 5 miles this morning. 230 miles for May, so that counts as Not Bad or Fair Effort, especially given two very light weeks (and one where the long run was cut back from 20 miles to 14 miles due to the sprained ankle), but it’s a bit of a pity to lose that sense of being on a roll. Still, hopefully a few weeks of being careful, and reacquainting myself with my Bosu ball to activate all the stabilising muscles and tendons in the rubbish ankle, will keep me upright and injury free as I start my build up to London (or Dorney, depending on whether mass-participation races really do get the go ahead. Maybe in a few months’ time the current concerns about the Indian variant and rising case numbers will seem like a distant bad dream, or maybe I’ll be coming to terms with the fact that my best hope of racing at all is running 8 and a bit laps of a rowing lake, if at all. Having been distinctly unenthusiastic about such things for the last year, it’s now reached the stage where even I would settle for 8 and a bit laps of a rowing lake).

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And Through It All / [It] Offers Me Protection

16 May

A busy couple of weeks means a 2 for the price of 1 double. It also means last week feels like a long time ago!

I started with a steady 6 miles on the Monday (bank holiday) and then 5 miles on the Tuesday, ahead of a sports massage. On Wednesday, I was in court, but actually in court: in person hearing, in Gloucester. As a result of that early start and the need to let my legs settle from the massage, I took Wednesday as my rest day. I was back in Gloucester on Thursday, so didn’t get to run until the evening. I felt rubbish (probably a bit dehydrated) and my legs felt even worse. It was also (by comparison with the cold, frosty mornings I’d become used to) very warm and humid, and my breathing felt hard relative to effort. Although I’d planned to do a session (i.e. some longer, faster efforts) I binned that idea fairly swiftly, and settled for 10 sets of 1 minute hard (well, 10k pace…) and 1 minute easy. A total of 8 miles. I had the final day of my 3 hearing on Friday, but we were remote, so I was able to squeeze 8 miles in that morning.

On Saturday morning I had considered doing a long run, but just wasn’t feeling it. I ended up with a steady 9 miles, and than killed a bit of time ahead of … my Covid vaccine! As an over-40 I was given Astra Zeneca. I had the jab around lunchtime, and at first thought I’d escaped the worst of any side-effects, still feeling pretty fine right up until after T and I had met his parents for dinner (they were in Bristol for the weekend). On the way home, I realised I was starting to feel a bit cold and achy, and at first I thought it was just sitting outside on a cold, drizzly night, but once I was back indoors, T commented I was actually hot, and I started to shiver pretty uncontrollably. Even with pyjamas (which I don’t usually bother with except on the coldest winter night) and a hot water bottle (ditto), I still felt freezing cold and shivery: I can remember when T came to bed there was a rush of cold air which I could barely tolerate. Eventually I gave in and had some Lemsip as the paracetamol was nowhere to be seen. That seemed to stop the aches, fever and shivers, and I was able to sleep. I still didn’t feel great on Sunday, although I’d always known I might not be able to run post-vaccine, so settled for a gentle walk with T’s parents and then a pub lunch, followed by some more quality time on the sofa with the cat. The mother of all cutback weeks was 36 miles! But so worth it to have had my jab, and to know that I should be a bit safer now, Covid-wise.

I erred on the side of caution at the start of this week with very easy 5 mile runs on Monday and Tuesday, given I’d had a fever on Saturday (T assures me that having a reaction to the jab is a good thing, and shows that the body is learning how to do battle with Covid). For various reasons it made sense to rest on Wednesday. On Thursday I planned to do 12 miles, but ended up with 13 after a cow-related detour (I appreciate country dwellers will find my fear of cows a bit funny, but I wasn’t going to risk sharing a fairly narrow lane with a whole herd of cows being moved – or should I say moooved?! – from one field to another). On Friday I did 7 miles steady.

I started the weekend feeling a bit flat and tired, but conscious I needed to do some decent efforts after my extremely light session the previous week. Needless to say, when I got down to the Portway I discovered it was a bit breezier than I would have liked (or perhaps I was just more tired than I realised!). Anyway, that was my justification for switching my session from 3 x 4km at marathon pace to 5 x 2km, with the first, third and fifth efforts (into the wind) at marathon pace (should have been 8.30s, so 8.33, 8.28 and 8.25 was a fair return) and the second and fourth efforts (with the wind, but slight uphill) at half marathon pace (should have been around 8.08s, so 8.08 and 8.10 was about right). 11 miles in total. (By the by, on Saturday evening I finally rectified having never seen Chariots of Fire: I know it’s about sprinters, but it’s such a famous film, and about running, that I felt a bit daft with all the 40th anniversary stuff being trumpeted, when I realised I’d never seen it.)

Today I felt like I had quite a lot more energy, and was pleased that my 20 mile run came out at a fairly decent pace (7.47s), or the same as I’d surprised myself with 4 weeks ago, the main difference being that 4 weeks ago I had only done a short run with some strides the day before, whereas this time I was running on tired legs. 61 miles for the week. I’m not working next week, and so unless something unexpected crops up, I’m looking forward to getting some decent miles in, ahead of starting my marathon schedule in 2 weeks’ time: now that I’m used to doing close to 60 miles per week, the first few weeks (in the 55 miles per week range) will feel like a nice cutback!

(Not) Quite Like Old Times (But Nearly)

2 May

I started the week with a rest day to let my ankle settle, as it had been a bit sore on the Sunday. I’d also somehow jarred my neck/upper back, and it made sense to let that relax a bit, too. I settled for my bog-standard core/glute/calf routine and some stretching on Monday, and felt much the better for it. I got back to running on Tuesday morning with a steady 6 miles. The ankle felt fine, and the back/neck a fair bit better. I was supposed to be doing a 5 day trial, but it finished very early (by lunchtime on Tuesday). At first I thought this might give me a chance to get some longer runs in during the week, and started that plan with 9 miles on Wednesday, but my hard-working clerks (the people who allocate work for barristers) found me hearings to do on Thursday and Friday mornings, so instead I spent Wednesday afternoon reading for those, then did 7 miles with strides on Thursday, and 6 miles steady with a clubmate on Friday. I didn’t really have time for 7 miles on Thursday, as I faffed around way too much and was a bit late leaving the house, so my cycle into work was way faster than I would normally dare (I’m a bit of a wuss with downhills). Still, I was ‘in’ my virtual pre-hearing discussions at 9am on the nose, dressed for court and looking reasonably respectable.

On Saturday morning I tackled some shorter intervals: 8 x 1 km with 2 minutes of jogging between each one. I was probably a bit over-ambitious/got carried away in the first one where I had someone to chase down, and clocked 3.54. That surprised me: I wouldn’t have thought I was in 39 minute dead 10km shape at the moment! I continued to surprise myself in reps 2 & 3 (also both 3.54), and even in 4 & 5 (3.56 and 3.55), before my over-ambitious start slowly caught up with me: 4.00, 4.01 and 4.03. Still, I averaged 3.57/km over the session, which is 39.30 shape. (That’s 6.21m/m, so for the first time in a while I’m apparently within ~20s/mile of PB shape. That’s really encouraging this far out from target races in the autumn, as I don’t think I’ve been that close to PB shape since … ooh, probably 2017!)

However, the main event of Saturday was going to see my parents for lunch (al fresco, naturally, but their garden is thankfully fairly well-sheltered and they have 2 large picnic umbrellas). It was all going fairly well until we discovered, on the M4, that the windscreen wipers on T’s car no longer worked. We spent a bit of time on the hard-shoulder waiting for the heavy rain showers to clear, and then some time in the nearest services trying (and failing) to fix the problem, before there was another break in the rain and we made a dash on to my parents’ house, where we could at least eat and drink with good company whilst we waited for the RAC! It was very lovely to see my parents again (the first time since September), even if the no-hugging still feels downright weird. I will never take hugging my friends and family for granted again – and I’m not a particularly tactile person! We were later leaving to go home than planned, and then hit traffic on the way back into Bristol due to Kill the Bill protests, so we were met by two very hungry cats. They don’t seem to approve of us trying to get back to our normal lives, and much prefer their carers being at home 24/7.

Today I finished my week with 19 miles. I could definitely feel yesterday’s session in my legs, and it took a while for them to loosen up. I don’t think being sat in the car for 5 hours helped either, but it was definitely worth each of those 300 minutes to have a lovely afternoon chatting and catching up. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that 19 miles at 8.06m/m felt much harder work than 20 miles at 7.47m/m two weeks ago, but it was still a solid week’s training: 58 miles. I finished April on 242 miles, and I’m well above my target of 230 miles per month for 2021 at the moment.