What a difference a week makes! Last week, while generally happy with my performance for this stage in my training, I couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that I hadn’t quite performed as well as I could. My Tuesday run had been a little slow, probably due to me being overcautious in the cold conditions, and I was a bit sluggish on my Sunday long run after a slightly decadent meal out the night before. I went into this week with the notion that I had to prove something to myself (crazy, I know, but I just KNEW I could do better) and made sure that I worked hard through all of my sessions. Sometimes I think I “zone out” a bit on my runs and maybe don’t work as hard as I could (mainly running uphill to be honest) but this week something seemed to click into place and I felt not only strong, but also really focused on what I was doing.
My plan was much as it had been throughout January:
Monday – swim/sauna
Tuesday – 6 miles hilly
Wednesday – condtioning
Thursday – cadence drills
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 5k
Sunday – 12 miles
I’m starting to really enjoy my Monday evening swim. I’m not doing much as it’s really my recovery session, but it’s good to spend a bit of time working on my breathing and I do think I’m starting to notice an improvement. Hopefully soon I’ll “get it” and swimming will be a useful part of my cross training.
But it was on Tuesday that my week really started to change. I came home from work ready to simply put on my kit and head out, but Steve was home and he suggested having a coffee together first since he wouldn’t be home until late. I delayed my run to join him, but had a decaf so as not to disrupt my sleep that night! When I finally did get changed for my run, I decided to give the shoes I bought before Christmas a shot. I have worn them on the treadmill a couple of times, but thought it was time to give them a “proper” go on an outside run to see how they felt.
I don’t know if it was the Boost shoes or the slice of caramel shortcake I had with my coffee, but something made me turbocharged and I zipped around my hilly 6 mile route around THREE MINUTES quicker than last week!! I was also concentrating on my cadence and maintaining the rhythm as I ran uphill as well as making sure I kept my focus and worked hard throughout. Needless to say, I was a very happy Running Princess when I got home!
I had thought that running faster in a different pair of shoes might leave me with some tightness/weariness in my calves on Wednesday, but even as I went to Steve’s studio to work through my conditioning exercises, my legs felt good. As a result, I’m pleased with these shoes, although I think they will suit me best for 10k-ish runs/races as I prefer a bit more cushioning for longer runs.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve had meetings after work on Wednesdays and have had to do my conditioning work by myself at home, so it was nice this week to be able to go to the studio and work through them with Steve. It gave him a chance to see what difference they have made and assess how I am doing with them. Apparently my balance is pretty good (usually it’s shocking to be honest, so that was a surprise) and everything has felt pretty good so far, so despite the fact that I don’t really like doing these exercises, they must be making a difference.
On Thursday I had the same dashing about to do of completing my own set of cadence drills then swiftly changing into
fresh warm kit to help Steve with his Zero to 5k group. This week was a hill session and although always a tough one, everyone did really well and a few were commenting on how there was no way they could have done this a few weeks ago. It was good to see them realising the progress they have made and there was some really strong running there. Hopefully this session will now mean their 5k this coming week will feel much easier.
Friday was, of course, Metafit. I feel like being able to do this regularly again is also helping to make me stronger, particularly my core, and good core strength is important for strong running. And since it’s a form of interval training, it also helps my fitness, thus improving my speed and endurance. Bonus!
The weekend, however, presented me with a couple of issues. I always knew that I wouldn’t be able to go to Parkrun on Saturday due to another appointment, but still planned to run 5k a little earlier in the morning. As it turned out, I had to do that even earlier than expected thanks to a cat-related mishap. I had noticed on Friday evening that Molly had a sore eye, so needed to phone the vet as soon as they opened to organise an appointment. I wanted to be showered and changed from my run in case they were able to see her straight away, so I took the unusual step of heading out before 8am. As a natural night owl, this was a bit of a shock to my body, but I still felt I ran well. Unfortunately things didn’t work out quite so well for Molly who had to wait until Sunday lunchtime to see the vet, so she consoled herself by trying to squeeze into a box that was just a teeny bit too small for her!
Molly’s appointment meant that I also had to head out a little earlier than usual on Sunday in order to be ready to take her in for her check. If you’ve been keeping up with my training plan then you might have noticed that I was scheduled to run the same distance as last Sunday. Since I hadn’t been happy with my performance the first time around, I decided to run the same route with the aim of running it better. I adjusted the things I felt had been wrong in my preparations and headed off.
Right from the start I felt I was running better. I gave the same focus as on Tuesday to my cadence and effort levels and was pleased to find that not only did I still feel strong and able to carry on at the end of the run, but I also managed to complete the route almost FOUR MINUTES faster than the week before. I was much happier with this performance and felt it to be a much better reflection of my running ability at the moment. A complete contrast to last week and hopefully a sign of things to come.
And so the fourth week of my training ended on a high note. Saturday’s run brought me to a total of 97 miles for January and a strong performance on Sunday got February off to a pleasing start. Now to capitalise on that in the weeks ahead.
What are your fitness goals for the month ahead?
What’s been the most pleasing thing to happen to you recently (in your training or otherwise)?