Week In Review – Making Progress

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up of winter weather now. I honestly don’t mind the cold, but all this snow/ice/gale force wind is really not good for marathon training. I seem to constantly be moving things around or battling into a headwind (in EVERY direction!). While I dream of spring weather I’m consoling myself with the fact that all these winter miles are making me stronger and better equipped to run well come marathon day.

Monday – home yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – form drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 13.1 miles

There was no Hatha yoga on Monday as my teacher was away at a conference, so after staying at work for a while to catch up on some bits and pieces, I headed home to do my own yoga session under the direction of the lovely Adriene on YouTube. I mean, doing yoga in a Cookie Monster onesie whilst a woman in Texas gives you cues over the internet is totally normal, right?

Tuesday morning was my easier, recovery-focused run and what do you know? It was frosty. *sigh*. I set out on a route I like and made sure to keep an eye out for any slippery-looking patches. Since I’ve taken to running pretty early on work days, it’s often better to run on the road as the ones on my favourite routes tend to be pretty clear of ice and frost.

No workouts on Wednesday as it is my scheduled rest (at least from training) day. I ended up working a little later than intended, but still had time to eat and get organised for orchestra. I was determined to make it to this rehearsal after missing the last two and we have a concert coming up at the beginning of next month!

Another early alarm call on Thursday had me out the door to run some form drills and hallelujah it was practically “tropical” at 2C with paths clear enough to actually do the workout I intended! I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. Yes it was still chilly, but it was dry and there was no wind so I was really able to stretch my legs out and get a “proper” run. It really set me up for the day.

I rounded off my Thursday with Ashtanga yoga. I’m feeling stronger and stronger in Wheel since adjusting my foot position a couple of weeks ago, and I know I’m also moving differently through some other postures to work my core a little more. The result of this, however, is that I’m a little weary by the time I reach Headstand so I’ve not been holding that position so well. I believe I’m overthinking it a bit, so need to take a step back, relax and just go with it.

To finish the work week I had a PT session down at Steve’s studio. I was feeling a little off on Friday (a combination of having one of the kittens – frankly a full grown and heavy boy now – actually fall on my head early in the morning, leaving me with a scratch to rival Harry Potter on my forehead! Weird story!) and having flirted with a bit of an irritated throat, so Steve suggested adjusting the workout to some gentle mobility. I agreed, but also asked for some arm work as that’s an area I had noticed in need of some attention. So we began with some upper back/shoulder mobility then went on to use the TRX and a couple of small kettlebells to work on my arms. I actually did feel much better afterwards.

Since we were staying local for parkrunday it was another parkrun sandwich. It was still pretty windy thanks to Storm Erik (no idea why we now have to name these things – surely this just used to be known as “winter”!?) and although we were reasonably sheltered from it on our way there, I knew that the parkrun course would largely have us running into headwinds/crosswinds so was preparing to work hard.

Despite the wind, I actually felt pretty strong. I knew my effort level should really be yielding a faster pace than I was getting, but I was still surrounded by the same people as usual and reminded myself that everyone was having the same battle with the wind. At one point which was rather exposed, I found mysel right behind a group of guys, and although I believed I was running a touch faster, decided to tuck in behind them to get some shelter then push on once we were further along. In the end I finished in 24:34. I was slightly faster the week we travelled to Kirkcaldy, but setting that aside it’s my fastest time at my home parkrun in 2019. I can only imagine that it would have been close to my fastest of the “parkrun year” (since the end of November for us) if the conditions had been different. (For reference, that time is currently sitting at 24:17). Hopefully this means that when the weather begins to improve I’ll be back in sub-24 form as winter conditions tend to slow things down and I have learned not to let that frustrate me too much as I ultimately see the fruits of my labour in the spring.

The winds had died down by Sunday morning but quelle surprise the frosty paths were back! My plan originally said 12 miles with every 3rd mile faster but Steve and I had discussed upping that to 14 miles since I’ve been around this 12 mile mark for a while now. Seeing the conditions, and having coughed a little bit when I got up, I decided to go back to a 12 mile run and ditch the “every 3rd mile faster” as I knew I wouldn’t get consistently clear paths to allow for this. Instead, I would simply run to feel and adjust for the conditions. But since I felt good I decided to make an adjustment to my route so it would be half marathon distance and although I had abandoned my pacing strategy, my average pace came out about the same as if I had run every 3rd mile faster so I’m happy with that. Some sections were much slower due to frost, but others were probably much faster than I would otherwise have run as the conditions allowed for it and my legs wanted to speed up. Half marathon distance is one of those “benchmarks” in a training cycle (and usually the point at which my body realises I must be marathon training and begins to remind me I need some extra snacks in my day!). It’s funny now to reflect on how far I’ve come and remember when running 13.1 miles was a really big deal and now feels reasonably routine. Not only that, but I ran about 20 miles in total over the weekend and feel fine for it so my body can handle more and recover well. So for those starting out who ask me, “how do you do it?” The answer is consistency and training. I didn’t wake up able to do it, I spent time building up my mileage and strengthening my body. You can too!

So although I’ve been a little frustrated by the weather, I still had a solid week of training and know that I’m banking all these miles to help me towards my goal on race day. Now if spring would like to show its face, I’ll not be complaining…!

Did you have tough weather conditions this week?
What are you currently training for?

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Friday Finds – 4th January

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Happy New Year! I hope your 2019 has started well and you aren’t suffering too much from festive excess. My news feeds are still looking a little “light” in terms of interesting articles, but I’ve still got a few things to share with you today.

Let’s start with a longer read. At this time of year we are surrounded by “new year, new me” attitudes and lofty resolutions which people believe will transform them overnight. With so many resolutions relating to exercise, it’s worth remembering that there’s more to leading a long and healthy life than a flurry of activity every January! In this article for The Guardian, Vybarr Cregan-Reid traces some of the history of exercise fads and how changes in lifestyle have led to where we are now. Interesting stuff.

Next, a bit of science. When I saw the word “physics” in the title of this one I was worried that it would be beyond me, but actually it’s pretty fascinating. From applying scientific understanding of how liquids move, scientists have been able to predict the movement of runners towards the start line of a marathon. It’s worth watching the video in this one which shows it speeded up, and I can see how the runners do have a “liquid-like” motion. See what you think.

On the subject of marathons, one of 2018’s most prolific runners had to be Yuki Kawauchi. Already well-known in some circles (especially Marathon Talk listeners!) Yuki shot to fame after his win at the Boston marathon. But that only tells part of the story as competing in multiple marathons and clocking pretty resectable times is pretty standard in the life of Yuki Kawauchi. If you’re not sure what I mean, here’s a breakdown of his year:

Hopefully 2019 will continue to offer incredible marathon moments like we saw in 2018. To that effect, Martin Fritz Huber wrote the following column for Outside with some of his predictions for the year ahead. I wonder what we’ll think of this a year from now…

And finally, if you’re heading to parkrun this weekend then perhaps you have your eye on a new PB (or at least your fastest time of 2019 😉). I can only assume triathlete Alex Yee was looking to end 2018 on a high when he clocked the second-fastest parkrun time EVER last weekend. It’s a phenomenal time and I’m trying very hard not to dwell on the fact that I would only have been a bit over half way round when he finished!! Best get to work on that speed…!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess