Week in Review – Fight the Temptation!

In many ways the second week of my post-marathon recovery is the hardest. I know I need that time to make sure my body is fully ready to return to running, but at the same time everything feels ok and I start getting a bit itchy to get out there again – not helped by it being both the Boston and London marathons this week! Being back at work meant everything else felt “normal” so not having all my usual training made things seem a bit odd. It was a week of fighting the temptation for the greater good! I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL to share a roundup of my recovery week.

Having spent last week limiting myself to nothing more strenuous than walking and yoga, this week I began to reintroduce my usual training rhythm by including some light cross training. Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – swim
Tuesdaygentle cycle walk
Wednesday – walk gentle cycle
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – walk
Saturday – Parkrun volunteer plus afternoon walk
Sunday – walk (after watching the London Marathon!)

Monday was the first day of term which is always a bit of a shock. These days I fall into “holiday mode” quite quickly and get so bound up in my “real life” that it can be a bit of a wrench to be back in the classroom. I was at least cheered by my calendar – even Gary Barlow is getting into the marathon spirit this month!

IMG_1511Since I would normally swim on a Monday, going for a swim after work helped to remind me of my own routine. It was nice to be back in the water, and despite a gap of a couple of weeks since my last swim, I felt I swam quite well. I took it nice and easy since this was technically a recovery workout and although I felt a little more tired than usual at the end, I knew that was the after effects of the marathon and length of time since my last swim so nothing to worry about.

However Monday may have been a bit much for me as I awoke on Tuesday with a scratchy throat and aches that didn’t lift all day. My eyes felt heavy and I didn’t feel like doing anything more than going to my bed. Since Tuesdays had previously been bike intervals, I had planned a gentle half hour cycle to get my legs turning over again, but decided instead to just have a walk in the fresh air then relax at home with some hot food and a nice bath before an early night. One thing that did cheer me up was the arrival of my April challenge medal from Virtual Runner. I had entered a cumulative challenge involving running the marathon distance across the month. I, of course, had decided it would be fun to do the whole thing in one go haha!

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IMG_1513By Wednesday the aches had gone but my throat remained scratchy first thing in the morning for the rest of the week. This meant I felt well enough for the cycle I had missed the day before. It felt good to get my heart rate up a little again, and I enjoyed sitting in the hot tub and steam room afterwards. On this day I was also cheered by the replacements for my end of term “casualties”:

IMG_1514I’ve not yet made a return to my PT sessions so Thursday was simply my Ashtanga yoga class. It was another great class for me and I could feel my legs becoming even more “my own” with every posture. I left feeling relaxed and better than I had done all week.

Ordinarily Friday is my rest day, however I’ve not exactly been over-exerting myself lately! The weather was nice when I got home so I went for a walk for 20 minutes or so to enjoy the extra daylight then waited for Steve to arrive home so we could head out to eat. After returning to work and fighting off what was likely a bug, I was more than ready for my Friday night beer and curry!

IMG_1519Saturday is parkrunday but my two weeks off running were not quite up yet so I was on the volunteer roster once more. This week I was on finish tokens which meant I had to check through them before the run started, but was held up in traffic, so enjoyed a bonus run from the car to get to the start! It felt really good to be running, albeit briefly, and I would have loved a bit more, but at least I know that the enjoyment will be there next week when I do run again.

IMG_1521Since Steve was away at a race further north and Hatha yoga hasn’t restarted yet, I decided to head out in the afternoon for a walk. I had a few errands but didn’t need to go into town so instead walked to the retail park, got a coffee then picked up the bits and pieces I needed before taking a different route home. I was probably out for a couple of hours but it was still a productive day.

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Sunday was London Marathon day and since it was also my last day “off” when it came to running, I had grand plans for a morning on the sofa watching the coverage. I love watching all the races from the elite to the runners in crazy costumes. It’s so inspiring and always makes me want to run another marathon! I spent the whole weekend feeling rather envious of those in London soaking up the atmosphere both at the expo and at the race, so would definitely love to get back there again some day. True to form the combination of the theme tune and inspiring stories had me in tears and keen to get back to running again. There’s just something about the London marathon that makes people lace up and get out there!

When the TV coverage finished I realised that I really should move so walked into town for a coffee and to do a little work for the blog.

IMG_1529Thanks to the time out I’m now itching to get running and target my next challenge. My recovery strategy is one week completely off, one week of light cross training then a week where I re-introduce some easy running so long as there are no issues such as injury or tight muscles picked up in the marathon. Right now my legs feel good and I’m looking forward to a couple of easy runs in the week ahead. I know to expect a slower pace, but I also know that I’ll soon feel like I have my own legs under me again.

How long do you take off running after a marathon or goal race?
Are you training for anything in particular right now?

Week in Review – The Importance of Recovery

Look around any social media running group in the days after a marathon and you’ll find loads of people asking questions about when they should run again. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that. Just like training plans, recovery plans should be tailored to suit the individual: some people will be good to go after a few days, others respond better to at least a couple of weeks. Notice I said recovery plan. The thing about most training plans is that they stop on race day, but having a plan in place to recover properly and return to running when your body is ready is just as important, if not more so when thinking about future races. Those people asking the questions have no doubt followed some kind of training plan to get ready for their race, but not planned their recovery and are left feeling lost. I’ve decided to continue my week in review posts while I’m in my recovery phase to share what works for me. As with previous weeks I’m linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

In the first couple of days after a marathon there’s no way I would want to go for a run as I’m still sore and tired, but by the end of the week I’m usually feeling a lot better and it would be easy at this stage to get carried away and get straight back to training. I’ve learned the hard way that this doesn’t work for me: while my legs may feel better, my CV system is still recovering and the stress of running increases the chance of picking up an injury. A marathon takes weeks, or even months, of preparation and the body needs a chance to recover properly afterwards. Over my last two or three marathon training cycles I’ve found a recovery strategy that works for me, and in the first week post-race my activity is limited to walking and yoga (with plenty of time spent with my feet up and enjoying some treats!). Here’s how my first recovery week looked:

Monday – walking in Paris then travel home
Tuesday – walk
Wednesday – walk
Thursday – walk + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – walk
Saturday – parkrun volunteer + walk
Sunday – walk

Spot the pattern? 😉

I awoke on Monday feeling really not too bad. My legs were weary of course, but nothing felt particularly problematic other than the huge blister I had picked up on my right foot! Once I had this dressed, my walking wasn’t too bad. Ok so stairs felt a bit tricky, but they were still do-able and the more I moved around the better I felt.

After breakfast we finished packing and set off towards the Champs Élysées where we took some photos and had a walk down to the Adidas store for a browse before heading for our favourite cafe.

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Sadly the next thing we had to do was get the train to the airport for our flight home. As usual, the departure lounge was filled with a mixture of slightly sore runners and families who had clearly been to Disneyland Paris. We had a snack (again!), chatted to some other runners we know then got on our flight. Then it was home via the Chinese takeaway for a quick dinner before heading to bed.

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On Tuesday morning I had an appointment with my hairdresser so the easiest thing to do seemed to be to walk there and back. That served the dual purpose of keeping me moving and making sure I still got my 10,000 steps for the day since I have the goal of maintaining my step goal streak this year!

Wednesday was similar. I had an appointment in town so opted to walk there since it was quite a nice day. I quite like ditching the car during school holidays and getting around on foot as much as possible. Steve met me after my appointment for a lunch date as he had bought an Itison voucher for a restaurant we hadn’t been to in a long time – 2 courses and a glass of wine for a good price. I had a yummy Parma pizza followed by a crêpe with Nutella and strawberry. I can confirm it was delicious and made me feel a little bit like I was still in Paris!

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The remainder of Wednesday was fairly leisurely, but rounded off with a Skype call to be interviewed for the Tough Girl Daily podcast. It was really nice chatting to Sarah but I was just so relieved that the technology worked as we had originally scheduled the call for Tuesday but had some issues. I do love technology, but it can be a real pain when it doesn’t work!

Thursday was another beautiful day, so after a fairly relaxed morning I headed out for a walk in the afternoon. Despite living in a fairly residential part of town, there are still a number of paths and trails which are great for running and walking and I have enjoyed exploring these since we moved into our house last year. On this occasion I spotted a path I hadn’t explored before so, not being in any rush, I followed it through some trees along by a stream until it emerged into a housing development. The rest of my walk was on familiar routes, but it was nice to add something new into the mix.

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In the evening I had my Ashtanga yoga class which I was looking forward to as I knew I would feel great after a good stretch. I did notice my body a little tight at first, but by the end of the class my mobility felt almost back to normal which was a good sign. I opted to walk to yoga then met Steve afterwards as our friend Linda had promised us a takeaway and beer on the house when we got back from Paris (she has one of the longest established Chinese restaurants in the area – it’s been in the same family for three generations). This gave us a chance to try out our new novelty chopsticks which I bought at Pylones in the Carrousel du Louvre. They’ll stick an Eiffel Tower on anything these days (and the chances are I’ll buy it lol!).

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On Friday morning I had one last errand – to get my front tyres changed on my car (oh the glamour!). I dropped the car off at the garage then walked into town whilst listening to the Tough Girl Daily podcast episode which had come out that morning and featured my interview (I wanted to listen to it before I got carried away and shared it with the world, just in case!). You can find out more and listen here.

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I met Steve for a coffee then ran a few errands in town before going back for my car. I then enjoyed a leisurely afternoon before we headed out to eat. This week we were treating my parents to a meal at our usual Friday night haunt as a thank you for looking after my cat while we were away. Ordinarily I simply bring them back a gift (which I still did) but since the cat’s needs were a little more complex this time with some medications she’s been on, I wanted to make sure we showed our appreciation.

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I know I’ve mentioned my cat’s health a few times recently as for a time she wasn’t well at all due to some side effects of a chronic health condition she has developed. To be honest, I was preparing myself for the end, but thanks to some new medication, she’s doing brilliantly. She was a transformed cat when I got back from Paris which is great news! Lots of you have asked after her in your comments, so thank you.

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My standard blogging setup!

On Saturday I was on the roster to volunteer at parkrun. Putting my name down in advance ensures I don’t get carried away and decide to run, which I think could have happened otherwise since I was feeling good from the rest, yoga and walks. I was a barcode scanner which is one of my favourite jobs and it was a lovely morning.

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After parkrun Steve and I headed off to meet his brother for a coffee. Steve does this every Saturday but since I’m usually at yoga I miss out. No yoga during the school holidays meant I could invite myself along for a cup of tea and a bacon croissant. Yum!

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Checking social media over my tea, I found a few people had tagged me in a post from the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. Turned out one of the pictures of me from the weekend in 2015 when I ran the 5k and 10k on Saturday followed by the half marathon and final relay leg on Sunday had been used in their Easter weekend post. Seeing that photo brought back great memories of that weekend and reminded me of all the things I love about running. Up until then I had no desire to run just yet, but after seeing that picture I could feel my mind starting to turn its attention to getting back out there again soon. That’s why recovery time is so important – it’s not just about making sure your body is ready to run again, but that your mind is too. The mental aspect of the sport is often much more important than the physical.

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Sunday marked the final chapter of our first post-marathon week. Steve went for a run since he has an event much sooner than me. While he got showered and changed I walked into town and he drove down to meet me when he was ready. The reason for this was our traditional “one week on” celebration of a marathon – breakfast out! We headed to our favourite cafe for a cooked breakfast then went for our usual Sunday coffee before heading home – me on foot to ensure I got my 10,000 steps!

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Yes, we ate it all. No, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty!

For me, this was a great recovery week – I kept moving, I stretched my body and I enjoyed some treats as well as spending time with family. During marathon training it’s easy to deny yourself treats or neglect friends/family. The post-marathon recovery period is a great time to address this. Your body isn’t going to lose a huge amount of fitness, in fact it will thank you for the time off when you return to running. When the time is right, that running will feel enjoyable rather than the chore it could be if you try to run too soon. I’m not claiming to be an expert in anything more than my own body, but if you’re struggling to work out what to do in the days after a marathon then perhaps my approach will help in some way. Whatever you do, take at least a few days off and be kind to yourself.

In my second recovery week I’ll return to work which will reinstate some routine and I’ll increase my “training” to include some light cross training (swimming and cycling at a low intensity) in addition to walking and yoga. Watch out for my post detailing how that goes.

If you’d like to read more about my recovery strategies in previous marathon cycles, then here are some links:

What is your recovery strategy?
What is your favourite post-race treat?

Week in Review – Taper Time!

Wow! It hardly seems like any time at all has passed since I began this cycle of marathon training, yet here I am into my taper and writing my last pre-race week in review! As always, I’m linking up with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL to share my weekly training.

Tapering means a bit of a cut back in mileage, but maintaining the intensity of the workouts. That means feeling fresh and ready to race when you need to. I’ve found in the past that the traditional three week taper leaves me feeling sluggish on race day, so this time I’m trying out a two week taper to see what difference it makes. Based on the pattern of how I’ve felt in longer runs versus cutback weeks throughout this cycle, I’m feeling confident that this is going to work better for me.

So for my first taper week my plan was:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike intervals
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – PT session plus Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun plus Hatha yoga
Sunday – long run

And I even did all the sessions as planned – nothing missed or swapped around. I think that makes three weeks this year with no changes lol! But I have to say, my week didn’t get off to the best start. I’m not sure if I was tired from my 20 mile run, tired because it was the last week of a veeeeery long term, or something else, but I was an absolute clumsy clot. I was late for work on Monday due to the aftermath of an accident on the road I was on (hopefully everyone involved was ok) then when I set my cup down to go and make a cup of tea, I managed to nudge it off my desk and smash it. I was fond of that cup too 😦 I did survive the rest of the day and headed to the pool for my swim. It probably wasn’t my greatest performance ever as the pool was really busy and there wasn’t much space to really get into a rhythm, but it really helped my recovery. If I hadn’t known otherwise, I wouldn’t have known I had run 20 miles the day before!

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The irony of the calendar that day was not lost on me!

My clumsy behaviour continued into Tuesday when I began my work day by dropping (and smashing) my plastic water cup. On the plus side, this was the last thing I broke during the week – phew! On Tuesday evening I headed to the gym for my bike reps and although I was still feeling tired (I was fairly certain this was work-related by this stage) I still felt strong throughout the workout and was thinking about where I started with these reps towards the end of last year when they were shorter and at lower intensity. I would never have believed I could progress to where I am now had you told me back then. Fitness really is a funny thing as you never really “feel” any different, it’s only when you have a tangible measurement that progress is more apparent.

fullsizeoutput_1ccaWednesday was a return to my hill reps after a two week break. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling overly motivated to go and do them, perhaps because it was in my head that this was the last time before Paris, but I headed out and got it done. My splits were slightly slower than the last time, but I was ok with that given I had missed two sessions of hill reps, had run 20 miles on Sunday and was, like my colleagues, just generally on my knees and crawling towards the school holidays!

IMG_1042I always enjoy my Thursday sessions. First it’s my PT session with Steve where our focus has been on core strength and mobility, particularly my hips and my upper back/shoulders. We repeated some of the work we have been doing in recent weeks, then Steve repeated his “photo bombing” manoeuvre so I couldn’t take a post-workout selfie for laughing!

IMG_1052I then headed to my Ashtanga class which has become a real marker of the end of the week for me. The focus on breathing and working through the postures helps to calm my mind from a busy week so I feel much less stressed afterwards, and the postures themselves have made a huge difference to my overall strength and flexibility since I began last May. Once that class is done, I also know I only have one more day to work, and this week it was the last day before a long-awaited two week break. Bliss!

By the time I finished work on Friday I felt completely done. This is our busiest term with coursework and assessments, which are all really exhausting for the pupils as well, especially those who are coming back to exams. When the bell rang at the end of the day, it was like someone pulled the plug out on my energy as well. I had to keep moving until I got to my car as I knew if I stopped it was going to be a battle to get going again. Once home, I enjoyed the chance to relax before dinner, and this week chose a steak in celebration of a tough term completed.

IMG_1057Since Saturday was the first Saturday of the month, I was a pacer at parkrun and had 26 minutes again. Following a course inspection the day before, it had been decided to stick to the alternate route as the main route was still pretty waterlogged and I saw this as an opportunity to really nail my pacing since it would be flat tarmac the whole way around. All I had to do was lock into the right pace and stick to it. I have tried resetting my watch to kilometres in order to get more frequent updates on my splits, but this time opted to stick to miles since that is how I usually have it. A quick check of a pace calculator revealed that to run a 26 minute 5k I would need to run 8:22 per mile and I’m pleased to report that I absolutely nailed it – 8:21, 8:20, 8:23 and the final bit at 8:24 for a finish time on my Garmin of 26:01 (I always run through the finish line before stopping my watch so there’s usually a second or two added to my actual time). I was so pleased to have got it right that I was actually a bit disappointed when my official time came in as 25:53. It’s not often a runner is disappointed by a time being too fast haha! Still, I know I got it right and the runners using me as a pace guide should theoretically have a good time against their names, so job done.

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Wearing my 2014 Paris marathon finishers’ top in the hopes it would be lucky!

IMG_1076Parkrun was followed by the last Hatha yoga class of the term and I really enjoyed relaxing into the class (and the holidays) and stretching out my body. I could feel all the stresses of the term melting away. However I was feeling a little “off” (and had been since the end of school on Friday) so decided on a fairly long nap on Saturday afternoon, after which I felt back to normal so I was clearly in need of some sleep!

Sunday was my last long run before heading to Paris and I had “just” 12 miles on the schedule. It was a beautiful morning so I was able to wear shorts and my souvenir Tshirt I got in Paris last year. I followed the same route as my previous 12 mile runs on this cycle and just ran to feel – no deliberate slowing, no aiming for marathon pace, just running comfortably and enjoying the day. In the end my average pace wasn’t too far outside goal marathon pace so I’m feeling optimistic that my endurance and speed work can come together next Sunday to propel me to a good time. My fingers are firmly crossed for a PB and my ultimate goal is sub-4 hours. I’ll definitely be giving it my best shot!

IMG_1078 IMG_1079 IMG_1080So that’s it. The hay is in the barn (so to speak) and my focus now is on making sure I’m well rested and well hydrated. I’ll use the week to keep some training ticking over, but have plans for an afternoon nap each day, a bit of blogging and turning my attention to organising my kit ready to pack for our flight on Friday. If you want to keep up with what I’m up to in Paris, remember you can follow me on Facebook and I’ll be writing all about it once I’m home.

Keep your fingers crossed!

If you have a goal race soon, how are you feeling about it?
How do you prepare in the days before a goal event?

Week in Review – The Big One!

I can’t believe this training cycle is nearly over! It began in the depths of winter and now the clocks have actually going forward for British “Summer” Time! I’m linking up as usual with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL as I review my peak training week.

There were one or two minor changes this week thanks to life getting in the way, but I still feel I had a solid week of training. This was the plan:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps at the gym
Wednesday – hill reps short run
Thursday – PT session plus Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – long run

I stayed a bit later at work on Monday which meant I got to the pool a bit later. It was busy as there was an aqua fitness class on in part of the pool and a couple of others using the swim lane. I was keen to get home so probably swam a bit quicker than usual. Unfortunately this resulted in a bit less finesse in my form due to my rushing so I wasn’t overly satisfied with that, but I still felt it was a good workout.

On Tuesday I was back at the gym for my bike reps. Having missed this session during my recovery period last week, I wasn’t sure how I would feel and asked Steve if I should repeat the previous number of reps or move on. In the end, we decided I should aim to move on, but if I got to the number of reps I had completed a couple of weeks before and felt I couldn’t manage another two, then I could stop. As it turned out, I was able to complete all the reps I should and felt strong in the workout. I then enjoyed the chance to relax in the hot tub and sauna before heading home.

Wednesday threw a bit of a spanner in the works. I was due to resume my hill reps, however my elderly cat (who has a health condition) had been unwell and when I got home I wasn’t happy with how she was doing and felt the need to seek advice from the vet. The upshot was a bonus trip to the surgery for me to collect some new medication, followed by a couple of other errands while I was out. By the time I had done all that and tended to the cat, I felt mentally drained. It was also around 7pm and I was hungry. Getting changed and heading out to complete a set of hill reps just didn’t appeal. I sent Steve a message and he suggested just going for a straightforward run to clear my head, then if I felt like doing the reps once I was out, to do them. I really wasn’t fancying the hill reps, but knew the run would make me feel better so stuck some kit on and got out the door. I ran a loop of a little under 3 miles, maintained a reasonably hard pace and zoned out with a podcast. By the time I returned I felt much better and the cat was doing much better too. Phew!

Things got back on track on Thursday with my PT session. I had slept a bit funny and tweaked my upper back/neck so we focused again on upper back and shoulder mobility, which helped a great deal. By the time I had completed my Ashtanga yoga class, it was feeling so much better and my head felt much clearer too.

My Friday rest day was incredibly welcome. This term has been really busy with coursework to mark and we’re just one week away from our spring break now. I was home reasonably sharp after a quick errand, wrote my Friday Finds post then decided I felt quite sleepy so thought I would have a quick nap before Steve got home. That nap ended up being around 45 minutes as he finished work a bit later than we had expected. I still felt a bit “spaced out” as we headed out to eat, but was soon revived by my now traditional curry and beer. Once home, we watched a little TV (I wanted to see the Love Actually sequel and Carpool Karaoke with Take That on the Comic Relief TV coverage) before heading to bed.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early. By which I mean it was a nice, bright day and the cat made sure I appreciated it good and early as she wanted fed! With her needs taken care of, I had a bit of time to myself before parkrun. It was another week on the alternate route as the weather hasn’t improved enough to firm up the grass section and I was feeling pretty good. My legs were fresh and wanted to run fast, but I was consciously reigning it in as I knew I had 20 miles on the schedule the following day! I still sneaked it in under 24 minutes with a 23:53 (and rather surprising second mile of 7:37!).

IMG_1009Sadly there was no Hatha yoga this week as my teacher had a wedding to attend, so instead I headed home to shower before meeting Steve for the weekly food shop. Since the weather was so nice I opted to walk into town and enjoy the sunshine. Errands done, I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon to ensure I was well rested ahead of my long run. This included some quality time with the cat (and yes, there was another pizza-related “incident”!).

IMG_1018Sunday also began with an early wake up call from the cat, but at least with the clocks going forward it could be considered to be at a more civilised hour! I had decided not to get worked up about the loss of an hour overnight and instead focus on getting enough sleep and just dealing with the fact that I would be about an hour behind schedule all day. Since it was a nice day it meant I was finally able to hit the country roads for my long run. I don’t like to use these routes through the winter as it can be pretty lonely and miserable, whereas on a sunny spring day I usually see lots of other runners and cyclists as well as all the newborn lambs in the fields!

IMG_1026I’ve been trying to overdress a bit on my Sunday runs in order to get some acclimatisation since the chances are it will be warm in Paris in a couple of weeks. If it turns out to be a cool day then that’s a bonus for this pale Scottish runner! This week was probably about as warm as I’m going to get before race day so I opted for similar kit to what I plan to wear in Paris, but with an extra lightweight top which I could remove if I felt the need.

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My route was much hillier than the marathon profile (and hillier than all my previous training routes!), so my overall pace was not quite as quick as I would like, however I know that I was hitting goal pace on the flatter sections, even towards the end of the run, whilst slowing right down on the hills in order to give me a better chance of recovering over the next few days. To be honest, simply getting this far in my training plan fills me with joy after the way things have gone over the last few years, and hitting that peak mileage gives me the confidence that I’m as ready as I will ever be for this race. Will I get my PB? That’s in the lap of the running gods, but I’m going to give it my best shot!

IMG_1034And now, the taper. I’m experimenting with a two week taper rather than the traditional three as I’ve found that leaves me feeling a bit sluggish and heavy-legged for race day. If a training schedule is tailored to an individual and a recovery plan is different for every runner, then surely the nature of the taper is too? I guess we’ll soon find out…!

What will be the peak mileage in your training plan?
Do you use a three week taper or have you tried something else?

Week in Review – It’s All About Recovery!

Phew! Not long to go now until marathon day! For now it’s time once again for my week in review. Linking up as usual with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

This week, my plan was completely different as I needed to make sure I recovered well from the Inverness Half Marathon. The last thing I wanted was to run a PB then pick up an injury that would put my marathon at risk! I’ve done the majority of the hard work now, so a recovery week could only be a positive. Here’s how my week looked:

Monday – sports massage
Tuesday – 10 mins easy on bike then swim
Wednesday – recovery run
Thursday – PT session then Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun then Hatha yoga
Sunday – long run

On Monday I was tired and my legs were pretty weary and tight – not a big surprise given I had run a hard parkrun and a half marathon PB on consecutive days! I kept moving thoughout the day then headed to my sports massage in the evening. It was good to have my muscles worked and reassuring to know there was nothing untoward going on, simply that my legs had been worked hard!

My calves were still tight on Tuesday, and I decided it would be good to move my legs a bit more but without any impact so Steve suggested an easy 10 minute cycle before heading for my swim. I definitely couldn’t have done a set of higher intensity reps, but 10 minutes of moving my legs was nice and I had a good swim afterwards. I even got some useful tips afterwards from a very proficient swimmer and I’ll be working on those next time.

By Wednesday my legs were feeling better, but not completely back to normal so a recovery run was definitely in order! I chose a route I like which is gradually downhill for the first mile then flat, finishing with a brief uphill to finish. I could feel the weariness in my legs and I felt tired, but I knew this run would help get things to get back to normal. It wasn’t my greatest run ever, but it served its purpose and I still spent a little time afterwards wearing my medal from the International Women’s Day virtual race the previous Wednesday which had arrived that day. I can confirm that it’s a pretty chunky bit of bling!

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IMG_0973I felt really exhausted on Wednesday evening so practically as soon as I finished my dinner I was scooping up the cat and heading to bed where I fell asleep almost immediately. Poor Steve thought he was going to have to sleep in the living room with the two of us taking up all the bed! I definitely felt so much better the next day though 🙂

From Thursday my training routine was a bit more as normal. First there was a PT session with Steve and we did a little more work on shoulder/upper back mobility (the tightness in my right shoulder had been noticed by my “swim coach” on Tuesday) using both the core momentum trainer and another highly technical piece of kit…a broom handle!

IMG_0975Then it was off to the yoga studio for my Ashtanga class. I feel like this made the biggest difference out of everything I did to recover from the half marathon as my legs felt great afterwards and when I awoke on Friday morning I finally felt like I had my own legs back!

Friday was my usual rest day and meal out. That pint of beer with my dinner always gives me something to look forward to and feels like a mini celebration of another week survived! On the way home I spotted this little guy, who narrowly avoided being stepped on!

IMG_0977Saturday was a bit cooler again, but still decent conditions for parkrun. We were on the alternate course again, but since I was taking my recovery seriously I didn’t want to run as hard as last week. I ran the first mile quite conservatively, but once I had completed the first lap of the Inch my legs seemed to remember what it was like to run faster and wanted to push on a bit. I ended up running each mile a bit quicker, but with an official finish time of 24:19, I stuck to my self-imposed limit of a 24:XX time.

IMG_7309 IMG_7314As usual, parkrun was followed by my Hatha yoga class which felt really good this week. Lots of lovely work on the floor which I did with my eyes closed to enjoy the time to myself and I felt really relaxed and well stretched out when we finished. As has become my habit, the rest of the day was spent relaxing and napping with my suPURRvisor. Perfect!
IMG_0979Sunday saw me with 16 miles on the plan and I decided to run near enough the same route as my previous 16 miler, but with one minor change which, although including an extra hill, would then mean a direct run home rather than a slightly circuitous route to make up the mileage. I also decided to keep the pace nice and easy. I allowed my legs to go a little faster on my 18 mile run a couple of weeks ago, but since I had stuck to lighter workouts during the week I didn’t want to push it too much – the long run is about distance rather than pace and the fact that I was able to run a half marathon PB last week following this method gives me confidence that it is working. But despite the easy pace I was surprised to discover afterwards that I was actually a bit faster than my previous 16 mile run, further proof that my fitness is improving. I also discovered that thanks to a predominantly purple kit selection, I pretty much looked like a berry!

IMG_0997All in all, I’m pleased with my week. My performance in my long run tells me that taking the time to recover properly was the right decision and has actually helped to improve my fitness. Now to hope it all comes together in Paris next month…

How do you recover from a hard workout/race?
Do you have a goal event coming up soon?

Week in Review – Time For A Tune Up

Things continue to be busy at work as the deadlines for coursework loom, but somehow I’m still managing to fit in my training around it all. Here’s my regular week in review, linking up with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL.

Believe it or not, I actually managed to complete all my workouts on the planned days this week with no changes or omissions – I think that means a grand total of two “perfect” weeks since the start of January! I keep mentioning this as a reminder that sticking rigidly to a plan doesn’t always work, but I know I’ve made progress and am now stronger and fitter even with some shuffling around of workouts each week.

Here’s how this week looked:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps at the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – PT session plus Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun plus Hatha yoga
Sunday – half marathon

Monday was the morning after the run before. I was tired (18 miles at the busiest point in the school term will do that to you!) but my legs felt ok. Weary, of course, but not really achy which was good. Still, it was nice to get in the water at the end of the day. I did find it a bit harder to get into a rhythm with my breathing though, probably because I had worked my body hard the day before, but felt much more refreshed for getting in the pool and having a swim anyway.

Tuesday is bike reps day. Nothing of note to report here, it was just two more reps onto the workout I did last week. It’s tough, but I’m tougher and I know I’m much stronger now because of working through these reps each week since late last year.

My Wednesday hill reps also formed my entry to a virtual race organised by Women’s Running magazine for International Women’s Day. There was something so inspiring about listening to my favourite podcast (The Tough Girl Podcast which had a special episode for IWD) and thinking about the #BeBoldForChange message for IWD that gave me that extra oomph for the one final rep that I’ve now added to this workout. Basically it’s the same workout as before (5-4-3-2 reps to a series of lampposts) but by adding one rep to the final lamppost I now run right up the hill. Even saving a little something for that last rep, I still managed to run some of the earlier ones a bit quicker again which is really pleasing.

IMG_0942On Thursday I asked Steve to take me through some exercises for my hips. I’ve had a sensation that there was an imbalance between them and wanted to make sure I addressed that given my history of problems with my left hip. The issue seems to be less that my left hip was weak, more that my right was taking over, so we worked through some movements to help even things up. After that I had a really good Ashtanga yoga class. There were just two of us again this week and I felt really strong and centred throughout my practice. Just what I needed!

Friday was my rest day. I always look forward to this as I’m so tired at the end of the work week, especially right now as so much coursework is due and we’re close to the end of a very long term. This week I had a few errands then, as usual, Steve and I headed out to eat. I DEFINITELY needed my beer this week! Usually I have a curry to eat with it, but this week there was a ribeye steak on the specials menu and I really fancied that instead. It was delicious!

IMG_0946Parkrun this week was a little different as the team had opted to switch to the alternate route since the grass section has been getting so boggy. The weather hasn’t really helped it to firm up, so giving it a rest for a couple of weeks should help a bit. The alternate route is two laps of the Inch which, as regular readers may remember, is a route that always makes a little piece of my soul die! On the plus side, it’s a flat and fast route and the conditions this week were grey but still, offering the opportunity to run well. Parkrun rules state that alternate courses should be a little longer than the regular route so that there are no PBs set that will be too difficult to beat on the regular route, but I was still presented with a bit of a dilemma: on the one hand, I knew I had a half marathon the following day so didn’t want to overdo it; on the other hand, I was really curious to know what sort of shape I was in over 5k as I knew the state of the grass had been slowing me down recently. In the end I decided to treat it as a tempo effort and run comfortably hard but with the knowledge that I could speed up at any point. I was therefore delighted to run each consecutive mile a little faster and to finish with my fastest parkrun time since August (23:39). A very encouraging sign for my fitness!

IMG_0947Next up was my Hatha yoga class which I always really enjoy as I find the stretching really helps to reset my body after my week’s training so I feel ready for my longer run on Sunday. I then continued the relaxing vibe with an afternoon on my recliner watching TV and taking a nap with the cat (she’s in charge of rest and naps, remember!).
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And then it was Sunday. This year we decided to enter the Inverness half marathon as a tune-up for Paris. Steve actually did this race last year, but I wasn’t at that point ready for the distance after my stress fracture so didn’t go up there. Like Saturday, I was unsure what to do. If I want a sub-4 hour marathon then my goal pace needs to average out faster than 9:09 per mile, so my target is 8:50-9:00 per mile. Since this was my tune-up, I wanted to make sure I could hold that pace, however I also knew that my half marathon PB of 1:56:35 averaged out at 8:58 per mile, so saw the opportunity to FINALLY run a new PB – it’s been my PB since 2012 after all! In the end, I decided to run to feel with the aim of running each mile at, or faster than, goal marathon pace. This would allow for slowing on hills but some faster sections downhill over the undulating course. I’ll be writing a separate race report, but spoiler alert, I got a new PB with my 1:53:03 finish! Delighted doesn’t even come close!

IMG_7263The race starts at lunchtime so despite a big breakfast and pre-race banana, we were both starving and made a bee-line for McDonald’s afterwards. Not exactly healthy, I know, but ok as a post-race treat for some fast energy until we got home. It was a long drive back so we finished the day tired but happy (Steve got a PB too).

IMG_0962So as weeks go, this has to be a good one. I recovered well from my 18 miler, ran a solid time at parkrun then followed it up the next day with a half marathon PB. Now to see if I can convert that into a marathon PB next month…

How has your training gone this week?
Any PBs to share?

Week in Review – The Monster Month Begins

March means the big miles in marathon training, so this week my focus has really been on looking after my body to ensure I complete these longer runs healthily. As ever, I’m linking up with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL for my weekly training roundup.

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Just for a change, I moved things around a bit again, but this time it was to accommodate changes I had to make last week rather than issues this week. Here’s how my week looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps at the gym + swim
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – PT session + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + Hatha yoga
Sunday – long run

After missing out on both my yoga classes last week, I decided to begin my week with a Hatha class to stretch out my body and get the week off to a good start. It was a great class focusing on hip opening and I really enjoyed it. Staying a bit later at work for a meeting meant there wasn’t quite enough time to squeeze in my swim but I had expected this and was quite happy to move my swim to Tuesday.

Before that swim I had my bike reps to do. It was the same work/rest intervals as last week, but with two more reps added on. I knew that last week I had been a little tired thanks to some broken sleep (not such a problem this week!) so was interested to see how I felt during the workout. Overall I felt like I was much stronger throughout the workout and was able to work harder. I also enjoyed my swim yesterday as I finally progressed from swimming single lengths with a stop at the end to turn, to turning right round to swim continuously in “doubles”. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep progressing this. After all that I was ready for a nice relaxing evening. I think the cat was tired too as she tried to take a nap inside my training journal!

IMG_0880Wednesday is hill rep day and I had my last set of my current workout to do and I was pleased to find I was able to run some of the reps a little faster again. It was particularly pleasing to run the last two to the furthest lamppost faster than before. Next week I’ll have one further rep to add to the top lamppost on the hill. It will be tough, but it’s just one rep – I can do it!

IMG_0882IMG_0885On Thursday I headed to Steve’s studio for my PT session. We worked a little bit on knee drive, but the main focus was on shoulder/upper back mobility as Steve has observed a tightness there when he watches me finish parkrun. It was a combination of the good old core momentum trainer and a gym ball for this one. Once that workout was done, I was off to the yoga studio for my Ashtanga class. I really missed this last week and really enjoyed this week’s class. It was great to stretch out and feel my body getting more flexible.

By Friday I was ready for a rest, but first it was a trip to the vet for a followup appointment – the joy of having an elderly cat! She’s doing pretty well though so fingers crossed there won’t be any more trips for a couple of months when she gets her next check. Once home, we chilled out on the armchair for a while until Steve came home and it was time to go and eat. I’ve slept much better this week, but was still tired as we’re pretty deep into a busy term alongside all my training so I was pleased to get to bed.

When I woke up on Saturday (early as the cat wanted fed!) the weather was pretty poor. Once The Boss was fed I headed back to bed to sleep a little longer, but sadly the weather didn’t improve in that time: it was going to be a soggy parkrun! As it was the first Saturday of the month I was a pacer again and had the 26 minute bib. Last time I was a little slower at 26:11 so wanted to work on getting a bit closer to 26 minutes. I completely reset my watch to kilometres so I would get more frequent alerts and checked my required pace. Despite the rain and very boggy grass section, I was pretty much on pace for more than half of the run, but was a little too fast over the last kilometre or so and ended up finishing in 25:37 – oops! I don’t think I had anyone running with me, but if I did then they maybe got a better time than they were expecting!

IMG_7187 IMG_7215Following a quick shower to wash off all the mud and warm up bit, it was off to my regular Saturday morning Hatha yoga class. It was a quiet class this week as lots of people had other things on, butI don’t mind that as it means a bit more attention from the teacher when needed. I really enjoy the stretch after parkrun, especially through my hips and hamstrings, so I feel good ahead of my Sunday long run.
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Sunday began much like Saturday with an early call to feed the cat then a return to bed to snooze for another hour or so. On the plus side, the weather was much more settled so I wasn’t going to get a soaking! This week was the first of The Big Ones as I had an 18 mile run to complete. Up to now I’ve been keeping the pace deliberately slow on my long runs, aiming for somewhere in the 9:30-9:40 per mile range, but since I’ve often caught my legs trying to go faster, I decided for my longest runs to just go with how I feel, keep it fairly comfortable and see what happens. For this run I came out with a 9:22 per mile average, but this included running up some pretty steep hills so clearly I was much quicker over the flats and downhills. At several points in the run I was running at, or faster than, my goal marathon pace without having to try – even towards the end! – so that leaves me feeling optimistic that my training is falling into place and that I CAN continue to target my goal for Paris. Next week I have a half marathon which I’ve entered as a tune-up race so it will be interesting to see how I perform in that. It all seems like it’s getting so close now!

IMG_0928All in all, I’m pleased with my training this week. I felt strong on the bike, strong on the hills and ran my 18 miler better than I ran my 16 miler. Lots of positive progress – fingers crossed it continues this way!

Any positives in your recent training?
How will you progress your training in March?

Week in Review – Broken Sleep

What a week! It’s been a busy one for me (mostly with expected events) which inevitably had an impact on my training, but I’ve still plenty to share in my weekly roundup. Linking up again with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL for this post.

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This week I had to move a few things around and unfortunately had to miss out on a couple of things, but otherwise the structure of my week was as usual:

Monday – no workout due to seeing a show
Tuesday – bike intervals at the gym + swim
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – no workout due to parents’ evening
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – long run

The week began with a long day, but a fun one. I had tickets to see Brendan Cole, one of the pro dancers from Strictly Come Dancing (my favourite TV programme!) in his tour. Not only that, but my sister had booked us tickets right in the centre of the front row so we were practically IN the show! We were a group of four: my sister, two friends from work and me. The evening began with a nice pre-show dinner then a fantastic evening of sequins and sparkle. A bit of a late night for a Monday (and no chance of fitting in my usual swim) but it was a  great evening.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get the best night’s sleep on Monday night as my (very elderly) cat, no doubt put out by my absence for the evening, decided to wake me in the middle of the night to get some attention. Luckily my long weekend meant I was quite well rested so was able to continue without much problem. That evening I headed to the gym for my bike reps and this week it was time to try out a new workout. I took the resistance down a level and lengthened the timing of the work/rest intervals in order to progress my training. I think this was the right decision as I found that I was able to sustain the intensity for the required amount of time, but the last 15 seconds or so of each rep needed me to really dig in. After my session on the bike I headed down to the pool for the swim I had missed the day before. I was starting to feel tired but was a bit more revived after my 20 lengths.

The anti-social alarm call from the cat started a pattern that lasted for the first few nights of the week so once more my sleep was broken, but I still managed to see a further improvement in a number of my evening hill reps. It’s still a tough workout but even a second off a rep tells me that I’m getting stronger so I’m pleased with that. I know I will be adding another rep to the workout soon and that intimidates me, but I was also intimidated by the workout I’m doing now and I’m managing it, so I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

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Thursday was a pretty long day. Yet another early wake-up call from the cat (not only is she old, but she has a chronic health condition and is becoming more and more demanding as a result of both – basically she’s the boss!). Not only had my sleep been disturbed all week, but I had a tricky journey to work thanks to the heavy snow that came down in the hour or so before I left – thanks storm Doris! The weather actually made me a bit late which meant my day began in a bit of a whirlwind as there’s no time to catch up on yourself when you have classes to teach. On top of that, I was working late as it was my final parents’ evening of this school year. It was almost 9pm before I got in so I really only had time for a quick snack then it was straight to bed. I didn’t mind missing my usual PT session, but was disappointed not to be able to go to my Ashtanga yoga class as I really felt in need of the me-time!

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The Boss!

Another night of broken sleep (this time I felt a little unwell in the night, the cat was very well behaved and came to cuddle in beside me!) meant Friday was a bit of a battle. Several nights of less than ideal sleep, a long and tiring Thursday and pupils who were more than ready for their weekend = a rest day being a welcome relief! My day was cheered by the presence of some home made cake at lunchtime to celebrate a couple of birthdays in our department. Yum!

IMG_0825Finally, on Friday night I got a decent sleep. The cat waited until a little past her usual breakfast time to alert us to the need to fill her food bowl and it being the weekend meant I could sleep for a little longer before getting up and getting ready for parkrun. It was tough to decide what to wear as the temperature was reasonable, but it was raining and there was a high wind – not a day to expect a fast time! By the time we started running it was much drier but we were still treated to that particularly Scottish phenomenon – the headwind that you run into for the entirety of a out-and-back run. How is that even possible? I felt like I was working quite hard but not actually clocking up much speed and at first wondered if it was down to me being tired, but I soon realised that I was still running beside all the same people I am usually beside and, thanks to a slightly more conservative start than last week, was able to work much harder at the end. 25 minutes is not exactly blistering for a 5k, but with strong winds and a lot of mud to deal with on the grass section, I’m perfectly content with that. This isn’t really a time of year when we can expect fast parkrun times, but all that working hard through the mud will be making me stronger.

IMG_0828Sadly I missed my Hatha yoga class as well since I had another appointment, but I’m hoping to make up for that by squeezing in an extra class next week. Instead, much of the rest of Saturday was spent relaxing: I read, blogged, watched a little TV and took a nap with the cat. She was pretty content with that – if she had her way she’d spend her entire life napping on my lap! – and I felt much better for the rest (although there was almost an “incident” involving a tenacious cat and some cured meat as I chose to eat dinner on the sofa. Lesson learned!)
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Sunday was, of course, long run day. The cat most graciously allowed me a full night of unbroken rest and I awoke on Sunday feeling refreshed, but able to hear the wind once more whipping around the house. Since this was a cutback week I was dropping back down to 12 miles, so opted for the same route I tackled a few weeks ago. Despite the wind I felt comfortable throughout and was really pleased to finish my run over 3 minutes quicker than the last time, which I’m taking as an indication of the progress I’ve made in the last few weeks. Now I feel ready to head into March and tackle The Monster Month!
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Overall, not too bad a week. I did have to miss some sessions, but they were all for planned reasons rather than unexpected snags, so nothing to worry about. I also know that I worked hard in the sessions I did do and made the most of my training, even if my sleep patterns were a bit below par. Fingers crossed for a more restful week next week!

How has your training gone this week?
Does your cat/dog/goldfish wake you up at a less than ideal time?

Week in Review – A Welcome Break

Wow! The last week seems to have flown by really quickly and somehow it’s time for another weekly roundup already! As usual, linking up with Jessie @ The Right Fits and Jess @ Jess Runs ATL.

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And this week saw “normal service” resumed with a change to when I completed all my workouts. I know this keeps happening, but there’s no consistent factor that interrupts the same planned workout, so I’m quite happy just to go with it. I know I’ll get it all done and there are some things I won’t move around as the timing is crucial so if I can’t complete that workout then it will simply be missed that week. That’s not really happened though. The original plan was:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike reps at the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – PT session + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest day
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – long run

The change occurred on Monday. I had a sports massage booked which I knew was long overdue and while it was possible to squeeze in my swim beforehand, timing was a little tight and I opted to work a little later as I had a looming deadline to meet. I did put my swimming stuff in the car just in case, but the massage definitely took priority to get my legs feeling in tip top shape again!

However on Tuesday I was able to fit my swim in after my session on the bike at the gym. After my revelation about the resistance last week, I wanted to use a completely different bike. I thought I was going to be thwarted when the gym was busy and I had to actually wait for a machine (this has never happened to me before!) but the first one to become free was not one of the ones I used last week so I was happy. It soon became apparent that the resistance felt much like the second bike I used last week, so I’ve come to the conclusion that the resistance was out of sync on the first one and I was trying to slug it out through something much harder than I wanted. At the time it was disheartening thinking I wasn’t making progress, but now I feel cheered that I was able to complete that tough workout a couple of weeks ago and must now be stronger.

After my workout I changed and headed down to the pool for 20 lengths. With my bike “warm up” I felt I settled into my rhythm much faster and completed my workout a little quicker than usual. That teaches me a bit about my preparations for getting in the pool and how I might change things moving forwards.

Tuesday was also Valentine’s Day. Steve and I had marked it the previous Sunday with a visit to the amazing light display along the walk by the river and a delicious meal, so although we bought each other cards, we didn’t make a big deal of the actual day since it was a weeknight and we both had a busy day. Who says romance is dead 😉

IMG_3271 IMG_3258 IMG_3260 IMG_326544C4C280-8A7E-4C42-A396-8DDE3906FD4AWednesday began with a bit of an adventure when I went out to my car and could hear some pitiful cries coming from somewhere nearby. An investigation soon revealed that one of the cats from down the road had managed to squeeze into a garage as the door wasn’t fully shut but she then couldn’t make her way back out. I released her and she was so pleased that she stared following me to my car and rubbing against me. I could easily have stayed chatting with her, but an inservice training day beckoned.

IMG_0730As part of the day we were all encouraged to take part in some fun challenges put on by different subject areas. I went to a quiz in technologies expecting some general knowledge questions. What I was greeted with was a multiple choice quiz interspersed with some more practical rounds: I had to make a paper aeroplane, hammer a nail into a plank as straight as I could with just one hit, guess how many screws were in a  jar and, the moment I thought I might be out of my depth, saw a shaped segment away from a piece of wood. I was so proud of my finished result that I kept it!

IMG_0731We also had an amazing curry lunch made by the team leading the next World Challenge expedition. It was so tasty and I enjoyed the small piece of cake I took back to my desk to finish off writing some reports.

IMG_0732 IMG_0733My workout on Wednesday was my hill reps and I wasn’t sure how this would go after missing that session last week (and having curry for lunch!). It was a bit warmer so I was able to wear 3/4 tights and a lighter top layer but I still felt pretty warm as I slogged up that hill. It was tough, but then it’s supposed to be tough. Once home I compared my splits to the same workout a fortnight ago and was pleased to see an improvement on each one by a second or two. Not bad after a gap!

IMG_0734Once that was done, I was officially on holiday for a couple of days as we had our mid-term break. This meant I was able to sleep a little later on Thursday morning (I got up at the time I usually leave for work) and take some time to catch up on my life a bit. First up was the mundane detail of dropping my car off at the garage for a service. I walked home enjoying a podcast, then Steve picked me up a little while later to go to the studio for a workout (it’s a bit too far to walk from home and he couldn’t fit me in at a time when I could get there by car or walk from the garage). We worked on knee drive, ankle stability and general core stability with the core momentum trainer again.

IMG_0743I was reunited with my car in time to head to my Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. Our regular teacher had to travel this week so we had someone else filling in. It was a little odd having someone who operates in a slightly different way, but I still enjoyed the class and it was so nice when I knew I’d had a relaxing day and could enjoy more me-time the following day.

Friday was my rest day, but I decided to begin the day by tackling some cleaning and tidying that was long overdue. I treated myself afterwards by heading to the gym to sit in the hot tub and have a sauna to relax. The rest of the day was pretty chilled as I enjoyed the break from work. This gave me time to catch up with my Believe Training Journal while Morven kept a close eye on how well I was resting!

IMG_0747On Saturday morning I headed to parkrun not entirely sure how I was going to run. I use parkrun to work on pushing hard – it’s basically my tempo effort each week – but right now the mud bath that is the grass section slows me significantly. After the briefing I set out quite hard, but probably ran my first mile too fast and paid for it later on. The second mile (which includes the grass) was a little quicker than last week and that combined with the fast first mile meant I had nothing left for the third mile and I slowed dramatically. Overall I was only about 4 seconds slower than last week, but I was a little annoyed with myself for getting the pacing wrong. Still a valuable lesson in not going out too fast, something I’ve not done in a while. I must have got carried away in my excitement at having a couple of days off!

IMG_0751 IMG_0753There was no Hatha yoga this week as the teacher was away on a yoga course, so I made use of the time to go and pick some new glasses (I wear them for reading – occupational hazard…or old age!). I had my eyes tested a month ago and was told I needed to update my prescription but I just haven’t been able to find the time to devote to trying on loads of pairs and deciding what I wanted. It’s a big decision for something that will be so visible on my face for a huge chunk of the day! I was successful so now I just have to wait for them to be ready.

My Sunday long run this week was 16 miles – my peak mileage for February. I’d be lying if I said I was feeling confident about this. In the past, 16 miles has been the point at which problems have crept in. In the autumn, it was the run where I battled with my left hip feeling sore; in 2015 it was the run where my quad strain started, and there are other, similar examples. So history was not on my side here! Thanks to my Believe journal, I had identified this as a belief that may be holding me back so reframed my thoughts to believe that I had been unlucky with my hip in the autumn but that other wise training had gone well and there had been no issues so far in this training cycle. I had to believe that I was getting my training right in order to go out with confidence that I could complete the run without issue.

And that’s exactly what I did. I plotted out a route involving a couple of big hills, slowed my pace down and even battled into a particularly ferocious headwind during the final miles. Run done without any problems and I even got to dig out my shorts and shades…in Scotland…in February! I wanted to take a great selfie to show this, but Steve decided to keep jumping in the shot and I couldn’t take the photo for laughing!

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Post-run I went through my usual recovery routine then sat down for some food. I had a bowl of soup like but had to set aside you bacon rolls as I realised I didn’t feel hydrated enough and eating them was going to be a struggle (eating after a long run is something I find tough, hence my recovery shakes). An electrolyte drink and a 20 minute power nap made me feel so much better and I INHALED those rolls shortly after! Then it was time for our usual Sunday trip out for coffee and a bit of blogging.

IMG_0815So overall, another solid week of training. Yes, some of the sessions feel challenging but that’s sort of the point. I’m getting stronger, building endurance and inching my way ever closer to that start line. Next week will be a cut back in my long run mileage so it will be interesting to see how I feel the following week on slightly fresher legs.

How has your training been this week?
What beliefs hold you back in achieving your goals?

Week in Review – Fitting It All In

Time for my weekly roundup of training for the 2017 Paris Marathon and as usual I’m linking up with Jessie at The Right Fits and Jess at Jess Runs ATL as part of their weekly linkup.

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Last week I began taking my rest and recovery much more seriously, aiming to go to bed a bit earlier, but I still found myself a little sluggish on my midweek workouts and really tired by the end of the week. I wasn’t sure if this was a training issue, a nutrition issue or a work-related issue, so this week took steps to work on all three (mainly by going to bed early and adding extra snacks to my day!). I’m now feeling MUCH better, although I am no closer to knowing which of the issues was at the root of the problem – perhaps a bit of all three! There’s still quite a lot going on at work, but I’m taking care to manage it a bit better.

This week was another example of being flexible with a training plan. When Steve writes my plans we account for any “knowns” i.e. any commitments that would get in the way of a workout. We knew that in February I would have two parents’ evenings which completely rule out a workout, and this week I had the first of those two evenings. Other than that, my plan was as standard:

Monday – swim
Tuesday – bike intervals at the gym
Wednesday – no workout due to parents’ evening
Thursday – PT session + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun + Hatha yoga
Sunday – long run

Monday’s swim felt pretty good after the previous day’s long run. I had my usual poor first handful of lengths and then it all clicked into place and I felt comfortable going up and down the pool. I also got my working week off to a good start by heading to bed at 9:30pm!

On Tuesday I headed to the gym for my bike reps. This was one of the workouts I found tough last week, but this week a very interesting thing happened which may shed some light on that. I think I was on the same bike and as I started my warmup I once more thought it seemed a little harder than I would like – better than last week, but still not quite right. I had 18 reps to do, but on the sixth the bike stopped responding to me changing the resistance. I tried one more rep, this time trying to change the resistance on the screen rather than the button on the side, but again no change so I had to stop the bike and move to another. Because of the break, I spent a minute just pedalling at a low resistance before starting my new rep, but as soon as I got to the resistance I wanted I noticed how much easier it felt than on the previous bike and it continued that way for the rest of the workout. I now think that the calibration on the bikes is the problem, with the first bike probably working at a higher resistance than the second at the same setting. If that calibration is too high, then that would explain my difficulties last week. I’ll be interested to see how this feels in the week ahead if I make a point of using a completely different bike.

After being able to do little more than ensure I got my 10,000 steps on Wednesday, getting back to it on Thursday was welcome. My PT sessions are still focusing on work on knee drive, hip strength/mobility and upper back mobility. This week I spent time using both of the core momentum trainers (not at the same time, although Steve might have ideas now!) and at one point the workout spilled out into the corridor!

IMG_0616Then it was my Ashtanga yoga class which is always a highlight of my week. I love stretching my body, settling my mind and it being a Thursday makes me feel like the weekend has almost arrived. I’m still loving my new yoga mat, but must find some time to leave it unrolled so that it will sit a little flatter.

Compared to last week, Friday felt much better. Granted I was a bit later in bed on Wednesday night thanks to the parents’ evening, but the rest of the week I was in bed at 9:30pm to maximise my sleep. I also made some nutritional tweaks which have made me feel much better. This meant that I was quite productive when I got home on Friday so I caught up on laundry, blogged and had a chance to relax before heading out with Steve to eat. This week I was able to enjoy my meal rather than mechanically eating it to get the energy in and as a treat we tried this limited edition gin afterwards:

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IMG_0621There had been some snow on Friday morning which made for a very “interesting” drive to work, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on Saturday morning for parkrun. A peek out the window revealed that the snow had melted but while the actual temperature was above freezing (just!) the air felt bitter so it seemed colder. I looked out some warm kit and opted for my new Salomons again as I anticipated a lot of mud.

I was very aware that I hadn’t run since last weekend and that both of my runs last weekend were slower paced so my legs hadn’t turned over quickly for about a week and a half. That meant that while I felt refreshed, it was a bit harder to move as quickly as I would like. Still, given the very muddy conditions I was pleased to finish in 24:21. I was running a bit quicker than that a month ago, but the underfoot conditions were much better then so I’m not too worried about it.

IMG_0627It was the last Hatha yoga class in the block (we start again in a couple of weeks) and I really enjoyed it. My body really liked the poses we did and my mind benefited from beginning the class in savasana to settle down after my run.
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For the remainder of Saturday my focus was on resting and recharging my body ahead of my Sunday long run, which this week was 14 miles. I had felt the last couple of miles to be a bit more challenging over my 12 mile run last week, so decided to tackle near enough the same route this week, but with an extra loop added in early on to make up the additional 2 miles. This seemed a good way to chart my progress and compare with last week.

Just like Saturday, the temperature was above freezing but the air was likely to feel colder, so after suffering really sore fingertips when I took my gloves off at the end of the run last week, I planned ahead, packing an additional pair of gloves and a pack of hand warmers (a tip I pinched from Hungry Runner Girl – thanks Janae!).

Although chilly, I enjoyed my Sunday run. I felt much better than last week, ran a faster average pace (but still within the limits of my self-declared ideal long run pace – just!) and was still feeling strong in the closing stages – I even had to make an effort to slow down. As for my hands, I decided to stop for my gel at mile 10 and change my gloves. I also put my hand warmers inside my gloves so my hands felt nice and toasty by the time I got home. Perfect!

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Although I missed out on a run this week, overall it was a pleasing week with things feeling like they’re coming together. It’s still early days and there’s a long way to go until I’m on that start line in April, but right now I feel strong and ready to keep on training. Bring it on!

What makes you feel strong?
Any issues to overcome in your training?