When thinking of a name for this week’s training roundup post, I felt drawn to using a song title – but which one? The obvious will always be Keep on Running (The Spencer Davis Group) but I’ve used that one before, and nothing else quite seemed to sum up what I wanted to say this week…until yesterday morning.
Yesterday morning I responded to an email from the Paris Marathon which invited runners to sign up to the Breakfast Run the day before the main event. The focus is on the international element of the weekend, so much so that participants are to be given a flag representing their country at the start, something I’ve actually been wondering about for the marathon itself. I’ve been really keen on taking part in this run ever since reading a blog post by Red Wine Runner on last year’s event. The idea of dressing up to represent Scotland (that’ll be my kilt then) and taking an easy run around some of the most well-known landmarks of Paris (most notably the Eiffel Tower) has been irresistible, so I happily paid my 5€ and signed up.
According to the event information page, there have been changes to the Breakfast Run for this year (although since it’s my first time taking part, that makes little difference to me). Instead of the commemorative race bib used in previous years, runners are to be given a souvenir tech Tshirt which they must wear to participate. The start and finish have also been reversed so that the run will start around the Arc de Triomphe (near to the finish line of the following day’s marathon) and finish at the Eiffel Tower where we will be served a typically French breakfast of orange juice, coffee, croissants and pain au chocolat. Yum! My intention is to simply jog around the route to loosen off my legs, enjoy the sights and no doubt take loads of pictures. With the international flavour (and the fact that we will be in a different country) it will indeed seem like we are running the world, hence today’s title (and besides, a bit of Beyoncé never goes wrong!) .
Signing up to the Breakfast Run, revisiting the marathon website and realising that there are now just 48 days to go(!!) until I line up at the start in my beloved Paris has not only added to the excitement, but also given me renewed focus as I know I need to get quality training in during these last few weeks, not least in my Sunday long runs.
Although my training has fallen into a fairly predictable pattern, this past week was ever so slightly different due to the school February break on Thursday and Friday which allowed me the opportunity to fit in an extra run, which turned out to be great timing since a couple of factors were against me on my usual Tuesday run.
Here’s how this week looked:
Monday – Metafit
Tuesday – 5K then sports massage
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – 8 miles in the morning then coaching running club in the evening
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 40 mins easy
Sunday – 18 miles
This was my last Monday night Metafit class for a while as my Sunday run is getting too long now for this to really be viable. This week, however, saw me presented with something I have not yet tried – the Metafit fitness test! Working with a partner, you take turns to perform an exercise for a minute while your partner counts how many reps you manage and notes them down. The exercises were burpees, press ups, squat thrusts and skaters. After all that, everyone holds the plank while the soundtrack counts up towards two minutes. The aim is to hold the plank for as long as you can and I was really pleased that I managed the full two minutes. The idea behind the test is that repeated regularly, you can track the changes in your own fitness. I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to do this again, but it is an interesting measure of where you are. I felt that I performed well, especially given the 17 miles I had run the day before!
Tuesday’s run had already been shortened in favour of a longer run on Thursday due to an early evening sports massage, and to be honest it was a good thing I didn’t need to run any further that day. As I drove home after work on Tuesday there was some snow falling. Running in the snow can be fun, however by the time I got back home it had stopped, leaving icy, slippy pavements in its wake. I didn’t have enough time to go to the gym and use the treadmill, so headed out in my trail shoes (so I would have a bit more grip) to see what it was like. Some stretches were fine, but equally there were some sections where I really didn’t feel safe running and instead had to walk. I decided not to worry about it since I knew I would have a longer run a couple of days later and just chalked it up to time on my feet rather than a quality run. After all, in the long term 3 miles is going to make little difference overall.
Thankfully, by Thursday the pavements were much better, but the new challenge of strong winds presented itself. I headed off on my usual 8 mile loop which includes a rather exposed section on the way home. It tends to be quite windy here anyway and on this particular day I thought I might in fact be going backwards! Interestingly, I met some runners I knew coming the opposite way and when I saw them later they said I looked like I was running well. I can assure you I didn’t feel like it at that point! Nevertheless, 8 miles done.
It was still rather windy that evening as I helped Steve with his running club. This week was the start of a new block of Zero to 5K in 5 weeks and, for the first time, a group undertaking the move from 5K to 10K so we definitely needed to split into two distinct groups. The group aiming for 10K was mainly made up of some of the runners who completed the last block of Zero to 5K so there were a number of familiar faces. I’m really thrilled that they have enjoyed running and are keen to carry on – introducing running to those who have never tried it before and seeing them get a buzz out of it is wonderful! Steve asked me to work with this group and take them for a short run featuring an “incline”. I was pleased with how well they all handled this and look forward to seeing their progress over the next few weeks. It seems that the new Zero to 5K group also did really well, and I may get a chance to work with them before the block is over too.
The gratification of introducing running to others was once more part of my day on Friday. A good friend of mine has recently been inspired to start running and has been following a run/walk programme. Steve and I discussed this with her over lunch on Thursday and encouraged her to ditch this particular programme as it was too simple for her and we believed she could manage much more running than she had so far tackled. We encouraged her to try running at a conversational pace and aim to complete a lap of her local park. On Friday, she called me almost giddy with excitement having completed that lap. She was actually still at the park having just finished her run and was desperate to go again! The pride in her voice reminded me of the first time I ran my first lap of a park – a feeling of invincibility, of being able to achieve anything and wanting to shout it from the rooftops! My friend definitely has the running bug now and I’m so proud of her for the progress she is making. If I played even the smallest part in making her feel that degree of pride in her accomplishment, then I’m truly humbled.
More snow fell on Friday evening and much heavier this time than earlier in the week so it was a quiet Metafit class (it being Valentine’s Day may also have kept some people away I suppose!). The snow made me a bit concerned about my easy run on Saturday morning, and after my experience on Tuesday resolved not to take any risks if underfoot conditions were bad and head for the dreaded treadmill instead. Fortunately, Saturday was much better and I was able to head off on the same route as last week, greeting the dog walkers and mulling over the forthcoming races in Paris. I also made sure that I spent the remainder of the day keeping myself well hydrated and having plenty of carbs to fuel my 18 mile run on Sunday as last week I felt that I just hadn’t eaten enough the night before my long run.
On Sunday morning I was greeted with the most beautiful weather I have yet seen in this training cycle – bright and sunny, although still rather windy. This should have had me champing at the bit to get out, however in reality I suffered my first training wobble. I was aware of a tightness in the muscle on the outside of my right calf above the ankle. Memories surfaced of the tendinitis I suffered a few years ago, a problem which has never resurfaced but the memory was enough to fuel my fears of making the wrong decision, running and suffering the sort of setback that would have me cross training when I should be out on my longest runs. Steve, quite rightly, told me that I needed to go out, that the wrong decision would actually be to skip the run altogether when there was no real reason to believe I couldn’t run. He suggested that since the back roads I normally run on were pretty icy (he had fallen over whilst out on his run) and I was a bit worried, that I stick to more local routes instead and run a series of loops that would mean I was never far from home if I had to cut the run short. So after a bit more procrastinating, off I went.
Immediately, I knew that my worries were unfounded. My leg didn’t bother me at all whilst running and in all likelihood just needs a rest (which it will get since my next run is not until Tuesday) after a solid few days of training. I’ll also be sure to do some more stretching and foam rolling although the tightness has actually been eased by the activity. My legs were a bit wearier than they would normally be on a Sunday thanks to the extra run on Thursday, but I still completed my 18 miles within my target time. Although I was running different loops, the routes weren’t exactly flat so I’m pleased with the outcome overall. I found the last couple of miles a bit tough, but when I checked my Garmin stats I could see that I was still running strongly and, by the end of my run, had completed over 30 miles plus a Metafit class since Thursday morning – no wonder my legs were feeling tired!
The lesson I can learn from this is that I really need to be a bit better rested before my Sunday long run, but since I won’t have another opportunity for a Thursday run, this shouldn’t be a problem. I really should have known better since previous experience has taught me that once my training programme has me beyond 16 miles for my long run, I’m in the danger zone for picking up injury and need to be very careful. Today I listened to my body and, on this occasion, overreacted, but I must remain vigilant over the next month or so and make sure I have ample recovery so I can reach that start line in Paris feeling strong and ready to smash it – I want to “run the world” rather than watch the rest of the world running!
Have you learned any lessons from running?
Have you ever run or raced abroad?