This past week I made it a big focus to get more rest. I was really conscious that I hadn’t been getting enough sleep at night and no amount of lazy Saturday afternoons or weekend naps will ultimately make up for that. My aim, which I largely achieved, was to be in bed by 10pm, with no messing about with my phone to distract me from sleep. As a result, I have had more sleep and have felt a bit more refreshed at my morning alarm. I now need to make it a priority to continue with this and make sure I get enough rest.
When it came to training, the structure of my week remained the same (and I even got everything done as per schedule for the first time on this training cycle!):
Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike intervals at the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – PT session + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + Hatha yoga
Sunday – long run
My Monday swim seems to be falling into a bit of a pattern where I feel a bit “rusty” for the first few lengths then by the second half of my workout feel like I’m in a groove and could go on and on. I’m never really sure how to feel about my swimming. On the one hand, I still think of myself as a beginner, making loads of mistakes and suspect there are still some issues I could tweak. On the other hand, I’ve been feeling more and more that once warmed up it’s all clicking into place. It’s an odd position to be in, but I’ve no swimming-related goals right now and am simply using my weekly swim as active recovery and a bit of cross training to keep my fitness up without lots of high impact.
On Tuesday I was back at the gym for my interval session on the bike. I had a couple more reps to add on to the workout but right from the start I knew it was going to be a tough one. My quads felt weary and I found it harder to sustain each rep. I still got the workout done and am pretty sure the weariness is a leftover from the weeks before when I wasn’t well enough rested. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this over the next few weeks to make sure I’m not overdoing it.
Wednesday means hill reps and this time the workout progressed from what I was doing in January. I’ve been running reps between lampposts on a nearby hill – 5 to one, 4 to the next and 3 to the next. This week saw the addition of 2 reps to the NEXT lamppost. This hill gets progressively steeper as you go up and there are a few changes in the terrain below your feet as there are driveways and lanes to cross so it can be pretty tough going! I felt the earlier reps were a little slower than last week‘s triumph, but I’m not sure if that was down to me still feeling weary or if I was holding back a bit in anticipation of the additional reps at the end. Again, this is something to monitor over the next few weeks to see how things progress.
My session with Steve on Thursday once more focused on upper back mobility then we did three sets of a mini circuit using the core momentum trainer to work on knee drive and hip strength. None of the exercises were new to me, however this time Steve had me using the heavier trainer so I was working harder, plus he had me doing single leg squat thrusts, which I find really tiring! Still, I know that ultimately it’s things like this that can make a huge difference to my performance.
After all that it felt so good to stretch my body out at Ashtanga yoga and it never fails to amaze me how much progress I’ve made since beginning the class last May. I also love how the relaxation at the end makes me feel. I think I sleep really well on Thursday nights because of it and even though I should feel at my most exhausted on a Friday morning, it’s usually the morning I awaken feeling the most refreshed.
But despite feeling great on Friday morning, by the afternoon I could feel my energy levels dropping so was really pleased it was my rest day. The energy problem wasn’t helped by staying late at work to finish off some marking, so when I left my eyes felt really heavy, I was teetering on the brink of a headache and I felt the beginnings of that gnawing, marathon training hunger that signals a time to start taking in more calories. Arriving home I took the time to hang out on the recliner with the cat until it was time to go and eat. It was a strange meal because I was really hungry but I was also really tired so it was quite an effort to keep eating. Several times I toyed with giving up on my (delicious) meal, but knew what I really needed was the energy from the food so ate every last mouthful. As soon as I was done, we headed home and almost immediately went to bed. In bed by 9:15pm on a Friday night? I know how to party! I was asleep by 9:30 and slept all the way through until the “cat alarm” went off at 6:30am (I really must check her weekend settings lol!). Luckily Steve decided to get up so he fed her and I dozed for a little longer and enjoyed the chance to relax in bed for a bit before getting up for parkrun.
Since it was the first Saturday of the month, it was pacer week at parkrun and this time I had been asked to run 26 minutes. I knew the time was well within me, and since I wouldn’t be running at my usual pace, it seemed as good a time as any to try out my new “parkrun shoes” which had arrived during the week.
I’ve heard good things about the Salomon Speedcross 4 and have noticed a number of runners wearing them to parkrun recently, so when I found them at a good price online, I took it as a sign that it was time to try them out for myself. Half a mile of our parkrun is over grass and right now it’s REALLY churned up and muddy. This makes for a very slippy few minutes of running and a lot of squelching about!
Today the mud made for some tricky pacing. The first mile was near enough right, but I should probably have gone a little faster to make up a bit of time before hitting the mud. One runner had said she was aiming to stick with me, but unfortunately she dropped behind over the mud and I knew I had lost some time there too. Coming off the muddy section I knew I would have to pick the pace up a bit, and glancing over my shoulder I caught sight of my companion and encouraged her to catch up with me. Through the last kilometre or so I was constantly giving her tips and encouraging her in a bid to get her to the finish as quickly as possible. My shouts of, “I’m right behind you! Don’t let me catch you! Go on! You’ve got this!” caused some amusement to those watching and other runners we were catching! Sadly she narrowly missed out on a PB, but in better conditions she will nail it. As for me, I was slightly slow with an official time of 26:11, but since it was only my second experience of pacing and the muddy stretch was hard going, I’m really pleased with that. I’m also really pleased with the shoes which made me feel really secure on the mud, and they definitely got put through their paces!
Parkrun was followed with a really good stretch at Hatha yoga, then the remainder of the day was spent relaxing. I took a nap with my furry supervisor and did a little blogging under her watchful eye! Basically Steve’s in charge of the content of my workouts; the cat’s in charge of my rest 😀
Saturday night saw me having another early night and I slept through until the cat alarm once more alerted us to the fact that it was time for breakfast! I had a 12 mile run on the schedule which I had mapped out the night before so I knew my route. Having checked my weather app I knew it was chilly, but the information that there was only a small chance of rain was definitely flawed as it poured for the first 4 miles. I then spent the next 8 miles with my wet and uncombed hair getting a “fresh air blow dry” and arrived home looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. No wonder people were looking at me a bit oddly as I passed through the town on the final stretch home!
Weather aside, it was a good run and I felt my pacing was a bit better. I still found my legs wanting to speed up, but I know the slower pace now will ultimately help me to run better on race day so I’m trusting that I’m doing the right thing and taking it as a good thing that my legs have a bit more speed in them.
The weekend showed me the difference that being better rested makes to how I feel. Now I need to work on trying to bring that more effectively into the rest of the week. I’ll let you know next week how I get on…
What is your training focus right now?
Anyone else woken up by a hungry cat in the morning?