It’s been an interesting few weeks. I completed a training cycle (without actually running the race I was training for!), identified a core weakness to address and had a much-needed break from school to regroup a bit and make some plans for the final months of 2016. Here’s a bit of a roundup of what I’ve been up to lately:
No, not like that! I mean a very different kind of streak! In my August update I mentioned that I had spent my summer walking a great deal, having set myself the challenge of reaching an ever-increasing step goal set by my fitness tracker every day. Returning to the classroom at the start of the new school year, I was determined to continue being more active and ensure I didn’t return to being “actively sedentary” as I know this just isn’t good for me physically or mentally. However I did know that continuing aiming for a goal that would increase every time I reached it would soon become ridiculous, and I would find myself wandering around at all hours of the day in order to “get enough steps” so reset my tracker to a fixed goal of 10,000 steps per day as this is widely publicised as being the ideal minimum for a healthy heart (it’s also worth 5 points per day with my insurance provider and those points lead me to rewards like a free coffee every week, so I must admit that was a driving force behind my step goal also!).
And so I made some subtle changes to my routine in order to be more active outside of my running: I got up slightly earlier each day in order to take a short walk before getting showered and dressed; I spent the first few minutes of my lunch break heading outside for a quick walk around the outside of the school; and I continued to avoid using my car (other than to drive to work, which is too far away for any other method of transport) when I could walk instead, or to park a little further away so I would have to walk a bit. I did end up with the occasional “late night constitutional” if circumstances had conspired to prevent me walking as much, but for the most part this meant that I would reach my step goal much more easily. As I write this, my current goal streak is 115 days and counting! It may become a bit more challenging as the weather gets more wintry, but I’m determined to keep this streak going for as long as I can.
Training has been scaled back a bit while I concentrate on strengthening my hip, but I’ve not exactly been resting on my laurels. Despite not running at Loch Ness, I still followed my usual post-marathon recovery plan as I had been looking forward to the down time at the end of a busy term. This meant that during the last two weeks of term I had one week off training completely (other than walking and yoga) and one week where I added some light cross training. After this point, I usually begin to re-introduce some running, but without any pressure of pace or distance. At the start of my break from school I felt ready to try a bit or running (I had physio approval for this) and so decided on my usual three runs per week, but making sure there was a least a day in between my runs (so no back-to-back days at the weekend).
I began really short with just 2.5 slow miles. This felt OK so I repeated the same route, marginally faster, a couple of days later before finishing my first week of returning to running with a slow parkrun (which was a bit soggy as I picked a particularly wet week to make my comeback!). This past week I ran 5k twice during the week before another parkrun, again allowing myself to go just a bit faster as my hip has been feeling much stronger.
Around all that I have continued with my weekly swim, a steady cycle (I’ll be reintroducing the bike intervals again shortly) and my weekly yoga as well as putting a real focus on strengthening my hip and glutes. I’ve been doing the exercises the physio gave me RELIGIOUSLY as well as working with a much stronger resistance band both on my own and in PT sessions with Steve. Things are feeling much more settled, and I know as long as I maintain my focus on keeping that area strong, I should be OK to keep gradually developing my running again.
All kinds of things! Having a break from work gave me a great opportunity to evaluate the training I have been doing and to give some consideration to how that will develop in the weeks ahead. Overall I was really happy with how I trained, so it was more a case of WHEN rather than WHAT I was going to do, as a term working within the new structure to our school day highlighted one or two difficulties in making my existing plan work as well as it could. During my time off I have constructed a new plan, taking into account not just my daily training but also how I intend to overtake my step goal each day while also allowing myself sufficient rest. I also, for the first time, gave greater thought to nutrition and came up with a template for a weekly meal plan for us to follow – nothing too prescriptive, just some thoughts on the kinds of things we could eat each day in order to maximise our health, complement our training and ensure a range of nutrients without relying too heavily on shop-bought meals. I’ll re-evaluate all of this again at the end of term and make any further tweaks necessary before putting a plan in place for the beginning of next year and the start of 2017 marathon training.
Don’t worry, there’s been plenty of relaxation too. This time of year sees the start of my favourite TV programme of the entire year – Strictly Come Dancing (known as Dancing with the Stars in many other countries). I’m a big fan and have never missed an episode, as well as seeing some of the pro dancers on tour over the last year or two. I have great fun every Saturday night following along on social media and exchanging texts with my mum and one or two other big fans I know to comment on each dance, the outfits or anything else we think important. There’s even a nightly sister show which delves deeper into the training, interviews the stars and features some other fun bits and pieces so I get my Strictly fix every day. One of my favourite things is to predict what the judges will say and the scores they will give each couple, as well as making my predictions for the eventual winner. I’ve become pretty good at scoring and my “armchair critic” credentials are second-to-none when it comes to comments too. Now if I could just become famous and wangle my way onto the show as a competitor…!
Two weeks off meant I also had a chance to catch up on some reading. I had loads of articles saved, some blogs to catch up on and, of course, the final book in my reading challenge for this year: War and Peace. By committing to reading a bit every day, I’ve made some headway and am now around 40% of the way through the book. I’m really enjoying the “peace” sections, but could probably do with a bit less “war”! Still, if I continue to read consistently then I should be able to finish it before the end of the year and accomplish something I’ve been intending to do for a long time!
What have you been up to lately?
What’s the longest/most challenging/most intimidating book you’ve ever read?