Archive | October, 2021

Desperate Times Call For Half Measures

31 Oct

Last week I was pretty disciplined. I did 3 runs on alternate days (5 miles on Tuesday, 7 miles on Thursday, and 9 miles on Saturday), and 3 gym sessions: an hour on Wednesday, an hour on Friday and an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday. I also went for a few hours’ rambling around the beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum on Sunday afternoon with T. 21 miles of running and 3.25 hours of cardio is still not huge compared to full training (the 21 miles probably took about 3 hours, and a 70 mile week takes up about 9.5-10 hours, as much of my running is steady. Of course, on top of that there’s strength stuff and stretching).

This week, with life a little more stressful, work a little more pressured, and the lethargy which comes from the daylight reducing kicking in good and proper, I still managed 3 runs on alternate days (10 miles on Tuesday, 8 miles on Thursday and 12 miles on Saturday), but despite my intentions to do a decent number of gym sessions, it just didn’t happen. On Monday, I was definitely a bit creaky and ready for a rest day, and on Wednesday both T and I needed a lazy start to the day after some worrying family news the night before (which thankfully turned out to be less worrying once things were a little clearer). Friday was a blur of work: working late the night before with some last minute instructions, and then being sat at my desk pretty much continuously from 8.45am until 4.30pm, with all of 15 minutes for lunch (just enough time for a piece of toast and a banana). By the time the evening rolled around, I was knackered, and ready for pizza and chilling, not the gym. I finally got my act together this morning, and did 30 minutes on the static bike and an hour on the cross-trainer. Perhaps the extra hour in bed with the clocks going back made all the difference! So, not the best week: 30 miles of running (or about 4 hours) and then 1.5 hours of cardio. But better than nowt, and there’s always next week. At least I’m able to do double-digit length runs on my running days now, so 10k and half marathon races don’t sound too daunting once I’ve got my general fitness back where it needs to be. Oh, and once I can go faster than 7.30m/m-8m/m again, natch!


Champing At The Bit

17 Oct

I seem to be settling into a fortnightly blog pattern at the moment: I guess when the news is limited, and a bit up and down, the incentive to blog diminishes a bit!

Two weeks ago I started with a rest day, and then did an easy 5 miles on the Tuesday. My calves felt ok, but not great, which was a bit surprising after they’d felt pretty good during my ‘long’ run on the Sunday, and had then had a day’s rest. On the Wednesday I did 5 miles with strides in lightweight trainers, which can fairly be described as a mistake. Although the adrenaline rush of doing some faster running meant I wasn’t aware of any significant pain during the run, my calves were definitely grumbly after, and my 7 mile run to my sports massage appointment on the Thursday was a bit painful. My ever-honest masseuse pointed out that if, after nearly 3 weeks of active recovery (and trying to continue to run most days), things weren’t improving, I needed to ease back. I was told to rest for a couple of days after the massage, which was pretty intensive (read: painful). It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear. So I rested on Friday and Saturday (although rehearsals and then a fantastic concert took my mind off my frustrations at another setback).

On the Sunday T and I were off Champing (church camping) in Herefordshire. Church camping is what the name would suggest: you are camping in a church. It’s organised by the Churches Conservation Trust and you get exclusive use of the church overnight, plus camp beds, a kettle, tea, coffee and (yay!) a toilet with a security code. You’ll note there is no mention of a shower in that list, so I’d already decided I wasn’t going to attempt to run, and that meant another 3 days of rest, but with lovely walks in between. We were in rural Herefordshire, and the stars were stunning. It’s the best view I have ever had of the Milky Way, and shows quite how much light pollution alters our view of what the night sky should look like. Lying in bed (tucked up warm in thermals and a decent sleeping bag), the only sounds were the cows lowing and the owls hooting. It was just what we both needed.

The church at Holme Lacy where we stayed, bathed in late afternoon sun
As you can see, during an explore around Hereford, we came upon a very musical spot!
The River Wye was a beautiful backdrop to 3 days’ walking
The churchyard at Holme Lacy

After 5 days’ rest from running, on Wednesday it was time to try running again. I knew my calves were a lot better, as there was none of the stiffness I had been feeling some mornings. Nonetheless, having learned that being greedy simply saw me crocked again, I opted for a gentle 3 miles at a steady pace.

On Thursday, I did a strength and conditioning session in the morning and then went swimming in the evening. The pool was pretty quiet, which always helps me not find the experience too annoying!

On Friday, I tried 4.5 miles at a slightly less cautious pace. Everything still seemed ok.

On Saturday, I did a strength and conditioning session in the morning, and went to the gym in the evening. I split my hour into 3 blocks of 20 minutes (bike, rowing machine and cross-trainer) to make it a bit more tolerable, although my back-up plan of listening to music failed, because I hadn’t realised there was no 4G/5G reception in the gym. Oops! I will download something next time.

This morning I finished the week with 6 miles steady.

So, a grand total of 13.5 miles (just over a half marathon…!) for the whole week, plus 90 minutes of other cardio (and a decent amount of walking, in my defence, but I definitely don’t fall into the category of people who have to record their leisure strolls on their Garmin) and some additional strength and conditioning (I don’t count my daily maintenance session of core and glute work as S&C: it’s just what stops me falling apart if I run at all!). Realistically, I’ll need a few more weeks of alternating gym-based cardio and running, but as long as the length of the runs can gradually increase, and the gym-based sessions are a decent length I can probably get up to 6 or 7 hours of cardio a week pretty quickly, which will be enough to stop the fitness deteriorating much further.

Tri-ing Things Out aka Almost Out Of The Woods

3 Oct

2 weeks ago I was nursing very, very sore calves, and my Achilles tendons felt a bit stiff. I took 2 days of complete rest, doing plenty of stretching and a bit of core and glute work, but not much else. On the Wednesday I did a tentative 2.5 mile run, staying close to home so I could stop and walk home easily if there was any significant pain. On the Thursday, feeling slightly braver, I did a 3.5 mile loop with a a clubmate also recuperating from injury. I was still finding my calves were tight, and that any attempt to run or walk up a steep hill felt sore, but running was manageable. In my (moderately limited) experience, mild Achilles problems need a careful balance of rest and some work, as complete rest doesn’t always seem to work as well as you might expect. By the Friday I was ready for a 5 mile run, and on the Saturday I went all out with 6 miles. On the Sunday I had booked myself in to a lane session in the Portishead Lido. I must admit, when the alarm went off I felt exhausted, and cursed my stupidity at booking something at a fixed time on a Sunday which meant I had to be out of the house around 8am, particularly as it was a bit overcast. But shortly before I left the sun came out, and the cycle ride over was lovely. The sun was shining throughout my swim, and swimming outdoors in a heated pool with the sun on your back is gorgeous. The cycle ride back was pretty pleasant, too! I did a bit of work, and then a steady 7 mile run in the afternoon. Swim, bike, run? It was almost like being a triathlete!

This week the calves and Achilles have been on a slow upward improvement curve. It seems to take a lot of stretching to keep things under control, and I still haven’t dared to venture onto any hills, but I managed 5 miles on Tuesday, 6 miles on Wednesday, 7 miles on Thursday and Friday, 8 miles yesterday (in the pouring rain) and then 9 miles today. A grand total of 42 miles. But today’s run was about as comfy as things have felt in over 2 weeks, and the pace was pretty ok, too, so fingers crossed that is a corner turned.

Today was also the London Marathon. Thankfully, I’d made my peace with not being there pretty soon after the last ankle sprain in July, so I was able to watch the elite races and keep an eye on friends’ progress on the tracker without feeling envious. Although at times it does feel like I might not ever toe a marathon start line again, given how injury prone I seem to have become (and how long it now takes to recover from each niggle and setback), I’m at peace with just taking this recovery a week at a time and seeing where it goes. I’d love to be at London next year, as I think we could have a good ladies’ team and a crack at the national team title, but if it’s not to be, it’s not to be. The first step would have to be a sub 1.28 half marathon by the end of December, which feels pretty tight in terms of completing this recovery stage and then getting some quality sessions in to get back into the sort of shape I was in around May/June this year. And if the last 6 weeks have taught me anything, it’s that rushing the process ends up sending you backwards overall. More haste, less speed, quite literally!