I suppose it’s been creeping up for a few weeks now. A subtle change in the air, a slight shift in mood which can only mean one thing: Springtime!
Over the last week or two the weather has been a little better (by which I mean marginally drier and slightly less windy) and the temperature has been a bit milder (including some forays into double figures) but the biggest difference for runners is the amount of daylight we have now. It’s so nice to be actually experiencing some daylight during my day rather than driving to and from work in the dark, spending the daylight hours cooped up inside then running in the dark later on. These days it’s pretty much light when I get up and I could catch the tail end of the daylight for my evening run if I didn’t keep working so late!
I suppose I’ve been so busy with work and training that I didn’t really notice the signs of the changing season (and let’s face it, the weather hasn’t exactly helped), but last Sunday on my run I was aware of the brightly coloured crocuses along the side of the road, interspersed with the daffodils which will start to bloom any day now. I’ve certainly noticed that it’s a degree or two milder and am finding myself at one of those awkward points in the year (the other is in the autumn) when I’m not quite sure what kit to wear for my runs – a little too mild for winter layers but not yet mild enough for the full summer kit. It’s all too easy to misjudge at this time of year and end up either far too warm or ill-prepared for a soaking! Soon, though, I’ll be rotating my kit so that the summer things are at the front of the wardrobe and the winter things relegated to the back for a few months while I work on my running tan!
Of course, all that training has been for a SPRING marathon which is now only 3 weeks away (eek – getting excited!) so it really is high time the weather improved so that I can have a chance to run in the sort of kit I’m likely to wear on race day. Fortunately, I’m not planning to wear anything new and have raced in all my planned kit before so if I don’t get a chance to wear it on a training run it won’t be too big a deal. But kit aside, my thoughts are turning more and more to the thought that not only will I be in my beloved Paris in 3 weeks time, but I will get to do one of my favourite things in the world in my favourite city in the world: run!
Preparations are, of course, almost complete and as of next week I will be tapering. With the cutback to “just” 16 miles last week, I’ve been feeling re-energised and in really good shape ahead of my final long run so I know that a good taper should see me at the start line ready to go out and chase down my goals.
My training schedule for this past week was:
Monday – 30 min recovery jog
Tuesday – 6 miles
Wednesday – swim/sauna
Thursday – coaching running club then sports massage
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 40 mins easy
Sunday – 20 miles
Since I’d had a “shorter” run last Sunday, I felt good on Monday and completed my jog on the treadmill (I usually to do my recovery runs on the treadmill as I tend to run too fast if I go outside) then had a good stretch and foam roll before availing myself of my favourite gym facilities: the jacuzzi and sauna! This meant that I was well recovered for my Tuesday run and was able to run the same 6 mile loop as last week, but at a much more pleasing pace.
On Wednesday there was a change to my normal routine as I was booked on a training course in Glasgow. For a teacher, getting out of school for a day to go to a city and see the “real world” is very refreshing. I had to get the train with the commuters, in fact I took the same journey I used to for university: train from Perth to Glasgow then subway to Hillhead. It was so nice not to have to drive and the travelling time gave me a chance to read, catch up on some messages and work on a blog post whilst listening to some music on my iPod. The course itself was really good (including lunch which, let’s face it, is one of the things we all judge courses by if we’re honest!) then afterwards I took advantage of my proximity to my old alma mater (and the beautiful weather – Glasgow is always so lovely on a spring day) to have a walk around the university and take a few photos:
Already feeling a trifle nostalgic as I walked around my old haunts, I bumped into a former pupil, which made me feel a little old, but he did give me a laugh by greeting me with, “shouldn’t you be running or something, it’s a lovely day!”. It was nice to briefly catch up with him though and hear about what he has been up to since leaving school. When I got back to Perth it was good to end the day with a nice swim and sauna to set me up for going back into school the next day. Being away for a day is all very well, but you never know what might be waiting for you on your return!
Thursday was the final session in this block of running club which meant that the beginners were completing their 5k run and the group I have been working with had their 10k to do. Steve worked out routes that had a degree of crossover to allow us to try and “marshal” and make sure everyone would remember where they were to go. Since Steve was timing and therefore had to be at the finish a lot earlier, this meant that I spent a good portion of the evening sprinting about like a lunatic!
They all completed their runs and are keen to carry on. This means that some of the 5k runners are likely to step up to join the 10k group in the next block and many of the 10k runners, who are enjoying the routine of a group run on a Thursday evening, are talking of continuing to come along for the next block with the aim of improving their 10k running. This is a really good idea. They’ve all made brilliant progress over the weeks from their initial 5k training on to the 10k training they have just done. Having conquered the distance and built up their endurance, now is the time to work on speed and become even better 10k runners. I’ll be delighted to continue running with them as I had been a little sad that my time working with these runners might be coming to an end, and obviously I’m thrilled that they have the running bug and want to keep going.
As it worked out, I had to dash away at the end in order to make my sports massage appointment. This was also a really encouraging experience as my massage therapist told me my legs are in pretty good shape – no niggly bits, just a bit of general tightness to work out but no real surprise there! Given the mileage I have done so far and everything I have expected of my body over the past few months, I’m really pleased to have reached this point in good shape (although I probably undid the massage with Metafit on Friday night!).
Saturday, as per usual, I was out for my easy run to shake out my legs after Friday’s Metafit. With the energy I gained from my cutback week, I decided not to set an alarm and simply wake up naturally – and I woke up earlier than usual! This turned out to be a good thing though, as I had to go to the post office to collect a parcel containing yet another box of energy gels before I headed out! Turns out, the packaging of my preferred gels has changed so that might make a difference to the way I choose to carry them in future as they are now longer and thinner, more like some other popular gel brands:
I really enjoyed my Saturday run, in fact I often think that is one of my favourite sessions of the week – no pressure, just an easy run when I enjoy being outside and seeing the scenery – I even wore 3/4 length running tights for the first time! This week, however, it struck me that I would only have to do that particular run 2 more times before Paris, then on the 3rd week my Saturday morning run will be the Breakfast Run through the streets of Paris – a little different to the woodland trail I have been running through the past few weeks to set me up for my Sunday runs!
On Sunday morning I realised two things: one, despite the beautiful sunshine, Mother Nature had seen fit to deliver another incredibly windy day and two, it was time to dig my shorts out and get to work on my 2014 running tan!
What followed was an enjoyable run taking in three familiar loops: it was hilly, it was windy (oh boy was it windy!) and it was brilliant! Before I set out I remember thinking that all I had to do was complete this one 20 miler and I would be into my taper. And that was all. The wind was, once more, what I now imagine to be a uniquely Scottish phenomenon whereby no matter which way I turned, I was running into a headwind. This made some of the uphill climbs rather “interesting” and often there was little respite on the downhills. But I still enjoyed it. I was happy with my time given the conditions and finished with a smile on my face.
Even better, Steve had bought a voucher from one of those group discount sites for a Sunday roast at a nearby restaurant. This was definitely a brilliant way to refuel (although I wouldn’t say I savoured every mouthful in my calorie-depleted state!)
So that’s it. The hard part of the training is done and I’m happy with how it’s gone. Now I cut back the miles and conserve energy during my taper ready to go for it on the 6th of April. Bring it on!
Are you training for a Spring race? How is your training going?
What is your favourite way to spend a Spring day?