As we reach the end of January and step forward into February, I’ve been thinking about how the first month of my marathon training has gone. It’s been a cold, wet and windy month so often getting out the door has been a battle and most of my Sunday long runs have presented me with some quite challenging conditions – ice, rain and wind to name but three – so it’s with a great sense of pride that I’m able to look back and know that I have completed all of my planned sessions (allowing for the changes that were made to my plan so that I could help Steve with some coaching on a Thursday evening). I’ve slipped around on ice, been soaked through by freezing cold rain and been battered by strong winds. My mansuit has been seriously tested, but I completed 82 miles in the month of January, many of them uphill. I’ve also done more burpees with tuck jumps than I care to count (thank you Metafit!) and (hopefully) helped to inspire some new runners to aim for their first 5K. Oddly enough, I’ve enjoyed it all! Yes, all in all, January has been a successful month.
I’d say one of the key takeaways from January is consistency. Steve has been really clever with my training plan this year. Recognising the impact of my workload at school right now, he has written a plan focussing on shorter, quality workouts rather than really lengthy sessions. Nothing I have done during the week has lasted more than 40 minutes meaning I can fit in my training session then get some work done if necessary. The Metafit in particular is definitely working and boosting my fitness alongside all the hilly runs. I may be doing a bit less than in previous marathon training cycles, but I’m running better than ever, feeling stronger and recovering faster. This plan certainly seems to be working for me and I’m starting to eye up the PB potential of some of the races I’ll be doing.
So with consistency in mind, my training for the past week will be no surprise:
Monday – Metafit
Tuesday – 4 miles hilly
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Coaching running club
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 30 mins easy
Sunday – 13 miles (a cutback week)
The training itself has gone well, however work-wise this has been a tough week. With what has, at times, felt like a million prelims to mark, I’ve found myself mentally exhausted and struggling to focus. On Wednesday I quite literally rested by coming home from work for a power nap before cracking on with more marking! I’ve also had a fairly persistent headache which just wouldn’t shift (fresh air and exercise would normally do it on the rare occasion I get a headache) and I was so tired that it took me until Saturday to realise that this was likely to be eye strain. I have therefore made an appointment for an eye test (due in a couple of months anyway) and thought I’d try actually wearing my glasses (I normally only wear them for driving but should probably wear them for other activities too). I am therefore a bespectacled Running Princess as I write this and I am noticing a marked improvement in my headache so I’ll be interested to see what the eye test reveals. As my dad (the source of my need for glasses in the first place) helpfully put it: “that’ll be old age catching up with you.” Thanks dad!
Despite all this, physically I felt in good shape and worked hard at both Metafit and my Tuesday run. I was further spurred on to work hard on Tuesday as I knew I would be getting my sports massage that evening. I usually get these regularly, but with everything I’m expecting my body to do this year, I’m going more frequently. In fact, I’m aiming to get my legs massaged once a fortnight. Regular massage helps to iron out any niggles and address problems in good time before they become the sort of problem that puts a halt to running. I consider it a worthwhile investment and part of my ongoing recovery strategy (which also includes compression gear, stretching, strength work and a good old-fashioned Sunday night bath). So far it all seems to be working, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The Zero to 5K group also worked very hard this week. This was their penultimate session and so the last chance to boost stamina ahead of their 5K run this coming Thursday. For this, Steve always opts for a series of hill sprints. Brutal, yes, but there’s nothing better for creating stronger, fitter runners. After that session the 5K run is going to seem like a breeze. Sadly I won’t be able to see the culmination of the 5K challenge on Thursday due to work commitments, but I can’t wait to hear how everyone gets on.
And so to my weekend training and technically the beginning of February.
Saturday’s 30 minute easy run had to be squeezed in between stints at the Farmers’ Market. We had taken a stall to raise awareness of what Steve in particular is doing this year, raise some funds for Macmillan and, most importantly, generate interest from people who would like to get involved. We are aiming to enter several teams in the Hairy Haggis Relay at the Edinburgh Marathon so need participants, regardless of running experience as Steve will train runners from scratch to be able to complete the event. There will also be a trip up Ben Nevis later in the year and we are planning one or two other less active ways for people to get involved and support Macmillan throughout 2014. I think we raised a decent amount of money, got some interest and certainly attracted some attention. I wonder why…?
If you’re interested in getting involved then please get in touch via our Facebook page.
As for my Sunday run, well this week was a cutback week (3 weeks of increasing mileage then one week cutback to allow recovery and adaptation) so it was “just” 13 miles. I decided to run the same loop as for my 12 mile run a couple of weeks ago, but this time starting and finishing at my gym in order to add the extra mile on. This meant that after I had stretched I could enjoy my recovery shake in the jacuzzi – bliss!
After wishing last week that I could get some running time in dry and bright conditions, it seemed at first that I was going to get my wish, but I should have been a bit more specific about the wind conditions. Today’s wind was pretty brutal and I seemed to spend a good part of my run (mainly all the challenging bits) running straight into a headwind that kept making me veer to the sides as it tried to blow me off course! There were also some rain showers forecast so I made sure to wear a waterproof jacket even though it was a bit warmer this week at a balmy 6C, but when the rain began about half way round I was glad to have the jacket on.
Even though I was finding the conditions tricky, I still enjoyed my run, thanks in large part to my iPod which played an absolute blinder in the second half of my run: not one, not two but FIVE brilliant, motivational and in some cases cheesy, running tracks in a row. It began with Defying Gravity from Wicked before moving onto the London Marathon theme (which I still find emotional), the Wonder Woman theme (a bit cheesy but I love it), Lose Yourself by Eminem and finally the training montage from Rocky. By the time I’d listened to all those, I was feeling great and despite the hilly course and strong wind, I still ran right on my target marathon pace with enough energy for more. A great start to the month and I’m looking forward to seeing what else February has in store.
Did your January go according to plan or did you encounter difficulties?
How do you like to recover from a long run or hard training session?
Do you have any favourite songs to work out to?