As I wrote about in my last post, recovery after a marathon is really important. 26.2 miles takes a lot out of the body so coming back form Paris I knew that I had to get that recovery right in order to get back to quality training sooner and run well at the Edinburgh marathon (which is now 5 weeks away!).
All of which puts me at a rather odd point in my training. Am I recovering? Am I building mileage? Am I tapering? The answers seem to be yes, yes and not yet! In the few days after Paris I made sure to take it easy. On the day after the race we were travelling home, which should theoretically have been a nice restful day, but thanks to a flight delay in Paris I did find myself on the wrong end of a “bonus recovery run” through Brussels airport in order to make a connection (in a completely different building and through a security check) in just 28 minutes! Funnily enough my legs were up for the challenge, but my poor battered CV system definitely wasn’t ready to be tested like that. Thinking about it, we must have been quite a sight: Steve and Graeme were travelling in their kilts, both Steve and I were wearing our finishers’ tops and Fiona was outdoing us all by looking glam and gorgeous from a weekend in Paris. But as we boarded the flight we were 4 red-faced, sweaty, out of breath people who no doubt looked like they might need medical intervention! No wonder people were looking at us strangely!
Thankfully, the rest of the week was much more straightforward and I enjoyed the chance to use the jacuzzi and sauna at the gym every morning since I was on holiday and had a sports massage on the Tuesday to help with my recovery. I even tried a few gentle lengths of the pool on the Wednesday as I was feeling a bit too sedentary(!) and by the Thursday I was DESPERATE to go for a run, especially since my race pack for the Balmoral 10k arrived that day!
Luckily, we had a running club session that night. Since it was the penultimate week in the course, it was hill reps which didn’t require much running from me, but I did enjoy the chance to run over to the meeting point then run to and from the hill we were using. My legs were feeling great on the way back so I just went with it and was knocking out a pretty decent pace. There was still some weariness in the calf muscles, but I knew my recovery was on track.
I followed this with a 30 minute treadmill recovery run on the Friday. Since I was still itching for a run, I really enjoyed this (something you won’t often hear me say about the “dreadmill!”) and it was good to start getting some movement back in my legs again.
By the time Sunday rolled around, I felt ready for a slightly longer run. This was the day of the London Marathon (and yes, I had marathon envy despite having just run in a big city marathon the week before!) so I REALLY needed to watch the coverage on TV, but I also REALLY needed to go for a run so I made sure to get up early enough that I could zip round 10k and be back in time to see the start of the elite women’s race then settled down to enjoy the event.
I really enjoyed my run that morning and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to sit and watch other people running on TV if I hadn’t been out first! It was a lovely morning, and I also had the excitement of some new bits and bobs to try which made it even more fun.
First up, was the Bondi Band compression sleeves I had asked mum and dad to get me in the USA. I’m convinced that compression is making a big difference to my training and recovery, so I wanted to get a few more “interesting” looking pairs and these definitely seemed to tick that box:
Next, one of the surprise items my parents had brought me back: a Flipbelt. This is a single, tubular belt with openings for items such as phones, iPods, keys, gels, etc. It sits really comfortably around the waist or hips and the openings can either be outside the belt, inside the belt (against the body) for greater security or at the top of the belt, depending on preference. My dad had got himself one at a running expo and he loves it so decided to get one for me. I usually use a Spibelt to carry my phone and keys while I’m running and have no issue with it at all, but I really like the Flipbelt too. It doesn’t move around at all and despite my fears of losing my keys while I’m out, the items inside are secure and don’t bounce around. I think that more and more people in the UK are starting to use the Flipbelt and I can understand why.
Finally, I had the first mp3 player I received as part of the running music exchange with Julia, Jaynie and Kyla. If you remember, this player had been sent in a lovely goody pack from Jaynie just before I headed to Paris, so this was the first chance I had to listen to some of the tunes.
I’ll write more about the exchange in a later post, but the thing I really love about it is the element of surprise. Although I run with my iPod on shuffle, I still know what songs are on my playlist, but listening to this one I have no idea what’s coming next – it could be something familiar from my own playlist, it could be a forgotten track rediscovered or it could be something completely new to me. It really adds a new excitement to running a familiar route.
With that happy run done I was ready for my first week of the new term to be my first week back to “proper” training. That training has been:
Monday – 30 min jog
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – swim/sauna
Thursday – coaching running club
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 30 mins easy
Sunday – 12 miles
I treated Monday’s session as a recovery run so it was back to the treadmill to ensure I got the pace right. Not nearly as much fun as on Friday, but it got the job done. Tuesday’s run was delayed by an impromptu visit to the vet with a poorly puss who has been struggling with a hairball. Reassured that there was nothing more serious going on and with medication duly administered, I headed out into the lovely, sunny evening and had a brilliant run. I went round the route I had been using on Saturday mornings in the weeks before Paris and just went with how I felt. My legs were really shifting and when I got back I was stunned when my Garmin 10 declared I had run my fastest mile, fastest 10k and that I had averaged an 8 minute mile overall – yowzers!
Wednesday’s easy session was in there to make sure I don’t overdo it at this stage as technically I’m still in a recovery phase – it’s said it can take up to 4 weeks to be fully recovered from a marathon. I enjoyed my swim and felt refreshed ready for Thursday when the running club members were undertaking their timed 5k or 10k run. The group I have been working with over the past 5 weeks has been a mixture of those stepping up to 10k from a previous Zero to 5k group and some repeating the 10k course in order to get faster, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I knew they could all complete the 10k, but I really wanted the “repeat” group (essentially the same runners I have been working with since their original Zero to 5k course back in January) to get the improvements they have been looking for. If they didn’t, I would feel I had let them down.
In the end, every single one of them was faster – on average by about 5 minutes. One even managed to knock 10 minutes off his time and dip below the hour for his 10k and I’m really delighted for him – he’s been running well and deserved a fast time as a reward for all his hard work.
I also had a really enjoyable evening as it was a much easier route to manage than the last time so I was able to run alongside all of the runners at some point and offer tips/encouragement/be really annoying so they ran faster to get away from me…! It was brilliant to see them all at the finish and see how proud they were feeling – and I was proud of them all too so it was a lovely end to the block.
Friday brought with it a nice relaxing day since it was Good Friday, then my first post-marathon Metafit class where I got my first go at the new “Goofy” workout. It was a good workout, although a bit leg heavy, but I enjoyed getting back to Metafit again as I know it’s made a massive difference to my core strength and, in turn, my running since I started going to classes last June.
Having done Metafit, my Saturday easy run was an opportunity to loosen my legs off again ready for my Sunday long run. Yep, everything is getting back to “normal” again!
I was tired on Sunday morning as I don’t think I slept as well as usual. I was too warm when I woke up so that probably had something to do with it. As a result, I slept a little later so was about an hour or so later heading out for my run. This turned out to be a good thing for once as the overcast skies cleared and I had a beautiful sunny run. Yes, it was a little warm, but I need to be a bit more accustomed to that now as my experience of the Edinburgh marathon is of it usually being a hot day so I want to be a bit better acclimatised to warmer weather. Since it was a nice day, I saw loads of other runners and cyclists taking advantage of the weather and lots of people spoke to me or exchanged nods or smiles.
The run gave me a chance to listen to more of the MP3 player I’ve had on the go this week so the anticipation of what I might hear next kept me well entertained. I was also trying out yet another new piece of kit (what can I say, I just can’t help buying running gear!). On my longer runs/races I usually use a waist pack which holds a large drinks bottle really comfortably and has a pocket big enough for my phone, keys and gels. This has always been fine, but in Paris as I turned it to the side to retrieve my gels, it knocked out one of the ions holding on my race number, which then annoyed me by flapping about too much. I decided to look for a way to improve things and ended up ordering a new Spibelt which had gel loops and came with fasteners to attach a running number. I’ll test that out at Balmoral next weekend, but today I wanted to try putting my gels in the belt to see, how it went. The belt itself was very comfortable as I had expected from using Spibelts before, and the gels were held very securely, but also easy to pull free when I needed them. Assuming I’m also happy with the race number loops next week, I’ll be using to in Edinburgh to help streamline my race refuelling – anything that might start shaving a little time off my total and help me aim for that sub 4!
This past week has also brought with it some exciting post. First, in this round of the music exchange I’m due to get two mp3 players and the second one arrived in the early part of the week. This one was from Julia and was, once again, a lovely, thoughtful package of runner treats, proving yet again why I love the running community so much:
Next, the iTab insert for my Paris medal so it now has my name and time on the back of it, a lovely certificate from Macmillan to mark my completion of the Paris Marathon and, finally my race pack for the Great Women’s 10k in Glasgow on the 11th May. I did this race for the first time last year and not only did I love it, but I ran a PB so I definitely want to go back for another go this year!
Everything really does feel like it’s falling back into place and getting me geared up for Edinburgh.
Have you had any exciting post recently?
Do you have any races coming up?