Week In Review – Here Comes The Taper!

Yes, taper time once more. It’s funny, but I never really mind the first week of the taper, in fact I’m usually pretty keen to have the cut back in my long run, but with the rest of my training throughout the week not particularly changing, I don’t really notice the taper until the second/third week. Given that this first taper week has coincided with the second half of my spring break, it’s been great to have the chance to continue with my relaxing routine. As a result I not only feel rested, but feel a bit mentally sharper and like my creative juices are flowing a bit more (which means I have loads of ideas for posts but probably not enough time to write them all while they’re still relevant. Oh well, c’est la vie!).

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

I decided I quite liked last week’s strategy of starting the day with a cup of the and my book in bed. This week’s reading material proved to be absolutely fascinating and I highly recommend everyone reads this book.

zt2pHCUrQR6UaTv3f+VjowOnce I was organised on Monday I took a walk to the gym to sit in the hot tub for a bit. My legs definitely needed the movement after running 20 miles on Sunday, so walking for a bit and having the time to relax in the warm water definitely made them feel much better. By the time I got home I was feeling pretty good – in no hurry to run for a day or two, but good!

Then on Tuesday I had to coerce my legs into a bit more activity. I walked to the gym once more, but this time to conquer another set of intervals on the bike. I was a little worried that I was going to struggle this time with the cumulative fatigue setting in, but actually I was able to get it done and that gave me a real sense of accomplishment. Yes, my legs were a bit weary, but the real battle was a mental one to convince myself to do it and I did. Job done!

IMG_6261My Wednesday run this week was hills. Goody! The thing about hills is that the efforts are short, but oh so tough. I don’t know if it was the different time of day, being better rested or further improvements in my fitness, but I felt like I was performing better and a comparison of the stats from the 2 activities shows that I was quicker over the harder (i.e. longer) intervals, so that’s more good news.

3+uXazOlSaGCPX66Ubl2ugIn the afternoon I had an appointment in town so headed in a bit early so I could potter about the shops for a while. And then I got hungry and ended up with the most middle class snack ever! Thank goodness for M&S 😂

ooIe0Q9qRhiiZKtrFGq7dQ

Seriously! Quinoa waves? Who am I???

By Thursday I was looking forward to another Ashtanga yoga class. The hardest sessions of the week were done and it was time to do something a bit more relaxing. I felt like I was really strong in “wheel” this week, but not quite so amazing in my headstand work. I did manage a supported headstand though, and I know I’ll not get it every time so I’ll just go with what happens week on week.

On Friday I headed down to the studio for a personal training session. This time a bit of mobility work using my old friend the Core Momentum Trainer. Some of the exercises were a bit tricky as they involved both movement AND balance (not my strong suit!) but once I figured out the best way to fix my gaze point I found I was able to do them much more easily.

eUllJ08HQK6hBnIQgqfW8Q

It was a Disney leggings kind of a day.

That night on the way home from dinner I decided to work on my balance a bit more. There’s this strange brick thing in our development that I just can’t understand. It almost looks like a plinth for something, but it’s been left like this for ages so who knows! Our running joke is that there should be a statue on it, so I thought I would demonstrate what that would look like. Can’t take me anywhere haha!

zbp16UVqTyGhSj6FCjvdGgAnd then Saturday came around. Earlier in the week I had ordered some new leggings and was keen to debut them at parkrun.

CL4E%Q+rTYqFZa+BRAEf3g

Unicorns for the win!

Having been a little frustrated a couple of weeks ago when I narrowly missed out on a sub-24 minute time, I wanted to have another go. Being in that kind of shape gives me confidence as I approach a marathon and I realised that this would likely be my last chance as I’ll be using the run slightly differently for the next couple of weeks.

We were running anti-clockwise this time. The grass still isn’t recovered enough for us to run over it en masse, or at least it would be for one run but then we’d be right back where we started! There was a poll on social media to decide on the direction and it was a draw so anti-clockwise was chosen for a variety of reasons. Having learned my lesson I made sure I was fairly near the front so I could get a bit of space and shot off and soon as the RD said go! The pace felt hard, but achievable, and I got a bit of a shock when the first mile clocked in at 7:33 – a bit spicy for me!

Somehow I held on and mile 2 came in at 7:28. Still going! By this time I was doing the sums and realised I could be well within my goal time, it was just a case of hanging on. My legs, which I was expecting to turn to jelly at any moment, felt strong so I knew this was going to be all about keeping my head in it and pushing on.

A slight dip in mile 3 at 7:40, then a burst of speed in to the finish line to clock a time of 23:26!! Having thought I might manage just inside 24, that was a big surprise and, for stats fans, my 3rd fastest parkrun EVER! A very pleasing place to be at this stage in my preparations for Stirling and probably the confidence boost I needed that all the parts of my training are coming together.

fkg+iXxRSaKI9%UjVxwPFg

He just can’t help himself!

The rest of the day was pretty chilled, and when Steve headed off to spend the afternoon with some friends I spent some quality time with my good friend Adriene.

5tP7pebsQ2mshYSEX9R%GQSunday was “just” 16 miles (you know you’re at the end of a marathon training cycle when you add “just” to ridiculous mileage that’s beyond many people’s commute!). While I have no specific time goal for this marathon, preferring to remove the pressure and simply perform my best under whatever circumstances there are on the day, I do still want to formulate a plan for how I’m going to approach the race. Do I want to aim for a specific “feel” or pace? Or do I want to do something like I’ve done in my longer training runs with a mixture of faster miles and recovery miles?

To help me decide, Steve suggested that I try running my 16 miles at a steady pace, somewhere around my dream finish time of 4 hours. That’s 9:09 per mile. I knew I would have some hills in my route, but thought I could maybe balance it out a bit as there would be both uphill and downhill sections.

It was a beautiful morning with the sun out once more so my shorts got another airing. I wore a super-light long sleeved top but soon wished I had gone for something else as the sleeves were quickly rolled up and I was quite sure it was much warmer than the forecast had suggested. While I was trying to focus on how I felt rather than hitting a specific pace, I was checking my watch for a bit of feedback as each mile ticked by and it was looking good. Hitting 10 miles on 1:30:XX meant I had averaged a 9 minute mile thus far and the biggest hill was out the way.

KP5ijD3kRuKULbUw9viorgThe longer I went on, the harder it felt as I was getting warm, there was a strong wind in places and I had a long, steady incline in the last mile or so home. To be honest, I thought I had lost it by then, but pushed on to give myself another “win” in the mental battle. I was therefore thrilled to see when I stopped my watch that I was bang on the average pace I wanted to see. I don’t think I’ll be running the marathon quite like that, but it is valuable information in helping me formulate a race plan (and backup plans – always have a backup!).

IMG_6361So now there are just 2 weeks to go. Next weekend I’m going to rearrange my running a bit so I can get my miles in but still work around some other commitments. This means I’ve managed to give myself a rare day “off” on Sunday, so if you want me I’ll be in front of the TV, still in my pyjamas and clutching a cup of tea while I watch coverage of the London marathon. I can’t wait!

IMG_0495If you’re running London, then I wish you all the very best. It’s an amazing race and a fantastic experience.

What impact can you see in your training right now?
Will you be watching the London marathon on Sunday?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Advertisements

Week In Review – Reaching the Peak!

It’s been a lovely, restful week off work (despite yet more snow!) and it’s been nice to have a chance to recharge the batteries while still maintaining my training. This week saw me take on my longest run in this cycle which seems ideal when I’m pretty well rested! Here’s how it all turned out:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 20 miles

I began my week the same way I ended the last one – reading my book in bed. It was such a lovely, relaxing start to my day that this quickly became my routine for the week: alarm at 7:30am, kettle on, then back to bed with a cup of tea to read until around 8:30am. Bliss, and so good to take the time for myself.

QaXFrwEVQ2CG7ATgNpc98w

I highly recommend this book

Since I knew I wouldn’t have my Hatha class in the evening (it’s term time only) I was happy to continue my home practice, however was saving that until the early evening. To get a bit of movement into my day I walked down to the gym to relax in the hot tub and sauna then spent the rest of the day chilling out at home. With term time always so busy, it’s important for me to have some quiet time and catch up on myself a bit. There was a bit of a spanner in the works later in the evening when we had a couple of power cuts, but thanks to some battery-operated lights and some candles, things were pretty cosy and I was able to read a bit thanks to my trusty head torch!

n5AhHhVATLmjWDLhA9xTDQTuesday began much the same, but this time I had an actual workout to do as there were more bike reps on the schedule. I got these done in the morning so I could enjoy the rest of my day (and take my time having a sauna afterwards!). It was quite chilly though and I spent a good part of my walk home wondering why I STILL needed to wear my hat and gloves! Definitely ready for some better weather.

BL8IC1L0T9upgwHCoEA6JA

Working hard!

6AtKhEC2RZmGUm1i5B9H6QSadly that better weather seemed pretty far away on Wednesday as I awoke to MORE snow. Thankfully not too bad this time, but enough to disrupt my run. I had planned to warm up then run 10x 1km drills. I toyed with waiting until later in the day but there was no guarantee things would improve so in the end I bundled up and went for it.

IsFnhpJaQs+IW81YGokihA
fullsizeoutput_2471For the first half of my run the roads and path were pretty slushy so each drill was more an exercise in not falling over, but some of the later drills were a bit more as they should be as I hit some paths that were much clearer. Typically things did clear up a bit later on but when I’m on holiday I always prefer to get my workout done in the morning. Oh well, yet another “character building” run in the snow!

GLldtfZcTfWYrRp7ILOvKgAnd Steve took me to the farm shop cafe for a malteser slice and hot chocolate in the afternoon. Yum!

1O1mLmOYSoeCS6h34iHHFwThursday saw me back at the gym for my morning hot tub/sauna then in the afternoon I took a walk about mile up the road to meet Steve for a coffee. A new branch of a coffee shop chain had opened in the business park there so we thought we would take a look and have a coffee. The interior was nice and they have a drive through, but I think they have a bit of work to do on staff training as it took several different people to work out how to put the correct order through and a queue quickly formed behind us – oops!

Later in the day I had my Ashtanga class which I always really enjoy. We worked on our headstands a bit again and this week I managed to briefly hold my balance (without my legs straightened just yet) before taking a tumble. Don’t worry, I was fine as I realised I was going over so was able to land safely and the teacher was there. I definitely felt more confident with moving into the posture thanks to having done it with support in previous weeks, so I guess I’ll have to expect a few tumbles while I work on perfecting this one. Definite progress through.

On Friday morning Steve was able to fit me in for a training session so I headed down to the studio with my boxing gloves again. It was a tough workout of punches, ducks, press ups, burpees and sit-ups, but I did notice that I was performing better in my boxing than before. Yet another marker of progress, but I knew I was going to feel it the next day!

EaB%4jrhQUmJ6RF7dWSWUw

This was after, hence my tired face!

Thankfully it was pacer day at parkrun so I “only” had to run 28 minutes, a comfortable (for me) time. We had hoped to maybe be back on our main route but the grass is still sodden so it was another week of laps. Clockwise again. Hilariously, despite taking several photos of the pacers before the start, we didn’t get a single one where we were all facing the same direction 😂

Untitled

There’s always one 😂

It took me a while to settle into the pace as the trees on the first part of the route stop my watch getting a good signal, but soon I was on course and had plenty of energy to pose for the photographer.

Untitled

I had a great time chatting to people, giving advice and helping them to run a bit better, crossing the line in 28:04 – pretty close!

IMG_6203When I got home I was pleased to find some interesting post. I had been following the incredible story of a cat called Meatball and when a virtual run was organised in his name to raise funds for the same local Cats Protection branch that I am fundraising for this year (details in the link at the bottom of this post) then of course I jumped at the chance to do my bit. And the good news is that Meatball is now doing well.

UntitledThen Sunday was The Big One. My 20 mile run. I got a bit distracted over breakfast as I found a live stream of the Paris marathon coverage and got caught up in watching that – in French! I followed a good bit of the commentary and was amused to note that as I looked at the footage and distance markers, I knew EXACTLY where on the course the runners were and could picture the scene. An interesting thing they did was set the women’s race off first for the first time in this event. Then started the men’s race 16 or so minutes later. It seems an odd gap, but it was the difference between the winning male and female times last year. This meant that both the male and female races finished together – in fact the lead man passed the lead woman about half a kilometre from the end and there were only a few seconds between them reaching the finish line. Instead of one lonely male runner finishing, there were several athletes running in at the same time which made for great viewing. I really liked the way this was done and the coverage which had a lot of split screen so you could watch both races at once. It will be interesting to see if other big races follow suit.

Once the elite races in Paris were finished I was ready to head out the door for my own run – and I FINALLY got to run in my favourite skirt that I like to race in. Without gloves!!!

bfXpB4MzRX6WvRtmS9pwSQThe plan this time was a 2 mile warm up then 3 sets of 4 miles at marathon pace/effort with 2 miles recovery. It did feel harder than my 18 mile run last week, but then I ran that after a couple of “easier” weeks so taking on 20 just one week later (and with my Friday workout still in my weary muscles) it’s quite right that this felt harder. That’s no bad thing since I’ll need to be ready to run on tired legs come race day. There were actually only 2 “harder” mile splits that I missed and both of those featured an incline, so overall I’m pleased with how it went and am now hoping that with fresher legs in 3 weeks I’ll be able to perform well.

IMG_6253Post-run (and lunch!) Steve and I headed out to the farm shop for some eggs and figured we might as well have a scone in the cafe while we were there – it would be rude not to! I’d love to tell you how is tasted, but I gobbled it up pretty quickly…

G4hsWGTDTd+K+MkxKNkOSQThen as soon as we got home we had the oven on ready to replace all those calories burned with another fine plate of carbs and chips 😂 Got to love the marathon appetite!

v83oSWIKQ%K%%KPztTg3uQDefinitely a good week of training. A hard week, but a good one nonetheless as I was able to keep going even with the accumulation of fatigue in my muscles. Now let the taper commence…!

IMG_0492Have you had any more snow?
Have you noticed any improvements in your training/performance lately? JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Made It!!

The term from January to Easter is always the hardest in schools – there are mock exams to mark, copious amounts of coursework to support, final exams to prepare for and all this takes place in seemingly endless darkness. It’s a pretty long term, even with those “bonus” days off we had thanks to The Beast from the East and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make it to the finish line But his past week was the last of the term. I finally made it to our spring break!

If you’ve been following my training since the turn of the year then you’ll know that the weather has not always made it easy, but I’ve managed to be both consistent and flexible. As a result, I’m starting to feel like all the pieces are slotting into place. Read on for more about my training for the final week of March, which looked like this:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 18 miles

My Hatha yoga class is only on during term time, so this was the last class in the block before the two week break. So nice to stretch out and re-balance after my long run the day before and the accumulated stresses of the term. Since the turn of the year I’ve been doing a lot more at-home yoga to complement the classes I go to, and I think that’s one of the puzzle pieces that is contributing to how strong I’m feeling right now. I’ll miss the class during the break, but will definitely be doing some yoga of my own to maintain the habit.

On Tuesday I was back at the gym adding a couple more reps to the interval workout I’m doing. I’m still always staggered by the fact that something I would not have been able to do in January is now achievable (tough, but achievable) for me. It’s a great way to get a measure of progress as a similar effort yields stronger results and I love being able to track those improvements.

s0bIvegFQxyd31MfEGLN8wWith the clocks changing in the UK last weekend, Wednesday was the first evening run in this training cycle that took place in daylight – and it was hill reps. That’s right, life and Mother Nature have allowed me to string together some consistent Wednesday night training for at least 3 weeks in a row and I need that now to ensure I keep finding improvements in my strength and fitness. I continue to have a love/hate relationship with hills – I love that it’s a reasonably short workout, but boy are those uphill bursts hard work. If you ever find me wheezing at the top of a hill, it’s safe to assume I ran there hard!

5g76J9dZRC2ooUgJXz4JIgThursday was the last day of term. I’ll admit I was really digging deep for the energy to get there and as I drove home at the end of the day I could feel a tiredness I hadn’t felt in a long time. I suspect this was my brain letting my body know I could finally relax and acknowledging how tired the term had made me (as a side note, I once tried NOT training for a marathon during this term, expecting to feel a bit less tired and if anything I felt WORSE without the time for myself and regular hit of endorphins. An interesting observation!). Luckily it was a yoga night and it felt great to round off the term on my yoga mat. The class was small so we did a little more work on headstands (I can do it with support but am not yet able to hold a headstand by myself. One day!). Post-yoga I had made an appointment to get my nails done and decided to change things up a bit with a more neutral colour (I usually go for deep reds and purples). I did ask to have a shimmery topcoat on the ring finger of each hand just to keep things interesting, though!

lSfTmckMTB+h8NIF9GgjqgThe following day was Good Friday, hence it being the first day of our break. I decided to take things easy and gave myself permission to be a bit lazy. I made myself a cup of tea and took it to bed with me to spend a little time finishing off my book. I then tidied up a few bits and pieces before taking a walk to my gym. I only wanted to use the hot tub and sauna, but walking there meant I got a bit of fresh air and movement in my day.

ysvZ8ql+TAmCtQEWKgOkfQI had originally planned to head over to the studio for a PT session later in the day, but due to the combination of Easter weekend traffic and an accident, the roads were gridlocked and Steve said it wasn’t worth trying to get over there. Instead I had a nice chilled afternoon and did a bit of yoga. I also came across this while scrolling social media. Your Running Princess is in an advert again. I feel internet famous 😂

fullsizeoutput_2458And in other news, my race number for the marathon arrived. Eek!

uipLxz3uRdasNq5b10UKNQSaturday morning was a bit miserable looking, so I decided to brighten things up with my asymmetric leggings for parkrun. After a good run in Perth a couple of weeks ago, I had thought I might be in a position to run a bit better so was ready to go for it. We’re still on our alternative course as the grass on our main route remains far too boggy to use given the numbers we have these days, and this week we were running the laps clockwise. Last time we did this there was a pretty strong headwind but this time it felt a bit better.

HZANdVo2Tca4Eq6cOXNwRAI thought I was lined up quite near to the start line, but somehow ended up stuck behind some slower runners and it took a bit of time to find some space at the start. After that, I felt like I was flying. I kept waiting for my legs to turn to jelly or my CV system to give up, but it didn’t happen and I was able to pass a few people (mainly guys, some of whom didn’t seem to like being passed by a girl in mad leggings!). I had hoped to maybe sneak under 24 for the first time this year, but with the slower start this was not to be – 24:01 so just missing out. Oh well! A little irritating, but still my fastest this year and another Royal Flush Negative Split. I’d says that sub-24 is in there and it would be great to be back in that kind of form before the marathon at the end of April. Watch this space!

fullsizeoutput_246e
IMG_6086On Sunday I had 18 miles on my schedule and it was a cold but bright morning. I decided to repeat the same route and workout that I did for my previous 18 mile run earlier in March so I would have a point of comparison. The first 2 miles were a warm up, then it was 4x cycles of 3 miles at/faster than marathon pace and 1 mile recovery. Last time I just missed my pace on two of the faster splits as those miles included an incline, but this time I not only got it on all of them but some of the splits were faster. I was surprised at how achievable the whole run felt overall and as I stopped my watch at 18 miles I definitely felt like I could have gone on. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s a great reminder to trust the process and allow all the training to come together. Hopefully it’s all coming together for me at just the right time as I only have one more long run to do before I cut back for my taper. Where did that come from already?!

fullsizeoutput_246d
IMG_6106Post-run I enjoyed some time chilling out with my free coffee (thank you Fitness Rewards!) and cracked open my chocolate bunny. I think I earned it!

enaBpDLuSyyvGezHMJaGVAAnd I replaced the calories I’d burned with this awesome plate of carby goodness 🙂 Gotta love marathon training!

o2v+tkOVSK+bWLzFwBgulgTell me how your training/racing has been going lately.
How did you earn your Easter treats?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Local Tourism

Another week gone and some tentative signs of spring (even if the forecast for the coming days is less than favourable). It was a super busy week for me but the core of my training plan still went ahead, although one or two things were rather squeezed in!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

Thing got off to a fairly reasonable start on Monday. Most of the snow from Sunday had disappeared (so bizarre!) and after work I headed for my usual Hatha yoga class. I’ve really been enjoying this block in the new studio space and feel really relaxed and chilled out afterwards. Definitely the best thing about Mondays right now!

It was on Tuesday that things began to get busy We had a meeting after work then I headed to the gym for my bike reps. This week I was dropping the number of reps back down to 10, but taking the intensity of the bike up a level. At the start of this training cycle I tried the very same workout but only managed a couple of reps before I dropped the intensity so being able to do this indicates a clear progression in my fitness. I was, however, thankful that the workout was pretty short as I had further evening plans. So it was a super-fast shower and change, home (with hair still wet) for a speedy dinner then a quick blast of my hairdryer before heading out the door to meet my sister at the theatre. We were using her comps again to see the latest play – Shakespeare’s Richard III. I actually wasn’t familiar with this one so it was interesting to draw some comparisons with some of his other works and I really enjoyed it. It didn’t finish until after 10pm though, so I was up past my bedtime!

As a result I felt tired on Wednesday but knew I had some drills to do. This week it was a warm up (about a mile) then 10 reps of 800m focusing on form and a minute recovery in between. This brought me home with about 7 miles completed. On the last rep (near my house) I spotted something on the path in front of me which I thought was a leaf. Just as I was about to step on it, I realised it was a frog! Anyone driving past at that moment may have wondered what my odd side-stepping dance was all about, but the good news is I avoided stepping on it. Phew!

QQTEd59GSwaz7twr1g4iFgPost-run I felt really tired. I think I’ve reached that point in the school year where all the demands of supporting senior pupils through drafts and redrafts of their coursework (and meeting the deadlines!) starts to affect me. I felt a bit “off” and could feel myself shutting down so headed to bed almost as soon as I’d eaten. I must have fallen right asleep as I woke up when Steve came to bed and realised I still had my glasses on and my book in my hand!

I actually felt pretty refreshed on Thursday but was glad to get to my Ashtanga yoga class as it always makes me feel so much better. It was a great class and Julia, my teacher, helped with a couple of adjustments to let me move further into one or two postures. I had been working on stretching out my right hip flexor a bit during the week and it felt back to normal after this class, as I had suspected. Sadly I had more coursework essays to check through afterwards so my eyes felt pretty heavy by the time I was heading to bed!

It was on Friday that things got a little more exciting. During The Beast from the East Steve revealed he had booked us a night away in a hotel as a surprise treat, but thanks to the snow we couldn’t go. Fortunately he was able to re-book for a different date so I didn’t feel too put out since I hadn’t known I was going and had something to look forward to. Friday was the night and all I knew was that we were heading to nearby Dundee. We had originally planned to leave about 6pm, giving me plenty of time to get home, get myself organised and write my Friday Finds, but when Steve confirmed the details with the hotel during the day he found that our dinner booking was quite early at 5:30! This meant I had to dash straight home at the end of the day, fling some things in a bag and then we were away. We got to the hotel (Malmaison) about 5pm which was perfect to get checked in, go to our room then head down for dinner.

8Rwn+rElTl6cOTbbgd2LSwTo make things easier we had just driven there wearing the clothes we planned to eat in. That meant all we needed was our overnight things and our parkrun kit for the morning (because everyone books a night away in a nice hotel and plans to go to a parkrun in the morning, right?).

The hotel package was lovely. We had our room for the night complete with a bottle of champagne, a three course meal from their fixed price menu and a continental breakfast in the morning. This could be upgraded to a cooked breakfast for very little extra, but with our parkrun plans a continental breakfast was fine.

o7vhOCYsQkm%Y9uS7sDuLADinner may have been early, but we were definitely hungry. The waiter took our orders for starters and main courses then said he would get our dessert orders after we had eaten them in case we were too full (rookie mistake lol!). I had grilled asparagus wrapped in Serrano ham to start, chicken Milanese with a side salad for my main course and we both wanted the chocolate fondue for dessert so it came on one big plate. This was accompanied by a small glass of red wine as we were conscious we had a bottle of champagne in our room which would NOT go to waste, but we were determined to run in the morning!

cXzThpJSQoGffJCjF24DFw
N6F+p7GYRQOUrI8RzrmbhA
Ob2Nj7BVQNK9VQXfLiDf6wThe early dinner meant it felt like we had a lovely long evening ahead of us. We opened the fizz and since I had been complaining of a dull headache all day, Steve checked my neck and upper back – definitely the culprits as I was all tight and knotted so he worked on that for a bit then I took my fizz into a nice hot bubble bath (I ALWAYS have a bath in a hotel if I can). So nice and relaxing.

FiXVIXuERGaciqK71uTELgBefore bed we got our things ready for the morning and thought it would be funny to take flat lay photos as if we were heading to a race. The irony of our situation hadn’t escaped us – usually we stay in a hotel specifically to go to a race; this time we were having a relaxing night away but couldn’t resist the lure of parkrun!

qaLYMvkFT+2KHOwokkSotwBreakfast started at 8am and we planned to be away around 8:30 as although there is a parkrun in Dundee (at Camperdown park), we have done it twice before as part of the New Year Triple, so instead we thought it would be fun to drive the half hour over to St Andrews and take part in the parkrun at Craigtoun park as ordinarily this would be about an hour’s drive for us and a little out of reach.

I usually don’t eat before parkrun so just had a coffee and small croissant while enjoying the views of the new V&A and the RRS Discovery. Then I wrapped a couple of pastries up to take with me for later. Not letting my breakfast go to waste!

cs35ypKwRuqRzKA8WJMxDQIt was such a nice spring-like morning and Craigtoun park looked lovely. Of course Steve managed to meet someone he knows and I spotted a few familiar faces from my school community as St Andrews is only about 10 miles away from where I work. We felt really welcome as people told us about the course and the expected winner (a young guy who completes the course in around 15:40!) ahead of the first timers briefing.

emkdye2AQ0m3KxC1boEUkgThe course was three and a bit laps of the park. The start is right by the car park and the route begins on a smooth tarmac path then changes to gravel path for the bulk of the rest of the lap. Compared to Perth, there as a few more ups and downs, but nothing like Dundee which is known for being quite hilly. Perhaps a bit more unique is the “railway” crossing as Craigtoun has a little train for kids which circles the park in the summer months.

RnwmeZ6jRK2e7l2lXb19iAI probably got a little carried away on my first lap and slowed a bit for the second two when my body remembered the three course meal, champagne and breakfast! Still, 24:32 is a decent time and I’m pretty pleased with that. I later found out that the winner set a new course record with his time of 15:38. Speedy!

Post-run we walked back along the route to return to the car and took a few photos to remember. Note I have my sunglasses on and no gloves – must be spring!

QHbVUZWkSe2B47ZC+Xqxng
JKaXcJqiTXumem43azpanw
IMG_5968It was really nice to do a bit of parkrun tourism as here in Scotland it’s not so easy as in some other parts of the UK. We have plenty of parkruns (I believe 35) but spread far and wide so very few are within about 30 minutes of home. St Andrews was the first time I’ve been at a different parkrun at the exact same time as my usual run in Perth (Dundee has always been at New Year when I run Perth either before or after and Clermont is in a different time zone). Although I KNOW that everyone in Scotland is parkrunning at the same time, this was the first time that I was really struck by the concept that while I was running in St Andrews, my parkrun pals in Perth were getting underway at the exact same moment. It really made me feel part of a bigger community, which I suppose is the idea.

For Sunday, my plan originally said 14 miles as it was to be a cutback after 20 the week before, but with the shortening of last week’s run thanks to the snow, I knew I would need to do more. After consulting with Steve, we decided on 16 miles but he left it up to me to decide if I wanted to include any faster sections. The clocks had changed, thus “losing” an hour overnight and the tightness in my upper back/neck was still bothering me a bit and making me feel “off” so I decided to set off and just see how I felt.

My plan was to follow the same route as my last 16 mile run so I would have a point of comparison, and since I felt ok I thought my previous pattern of 2 miles slow followed by 1 mile at/faster than marathon pace would be ideal.

It was a lovely morning and I ended up feeling great. Such a difference to last week when it took me 2 hours to run 12 miles and it felt so hard. This week I was just shy of 13 miles in the same time and the whole 16 felt much easier. Not only that, but I was over 4 minutes quicker than the last time I followed that route with the same workout. That’s really encouraging!

In the afternoon we headed into town to relax with our weekly free coffee and on the way were able to pick up a free Easter egg courtesy of our mobile phone provider. Awesome!

Now, just 4 more days of term to survive then a much-needed break to recharge (and get those big miles done…!).

Do you like to visit different parkruns?
How is your training going just now?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Spring’s Not Sprung!

Last week I was rather hopeful that spring might be on its way. Thinking back to previous training cycles for spring marathons I was convinced I usually get into my running shorts in mid to late March, but apparently this year winter intends to cling on a bit longer. How long has it been since Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow? Darned groundhog!

29313813_10156193020316354_7809144258102820864_nAnyway, although the weather might not be spring-like just yet, there’s still a marathon to train for and this week saw another pretty consistent week:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – hill reps
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday20 miles 12 miles

It was so good to be back in the yoga studio on Monday evening, stretching out my body after my 18 mile run on Sunday. I have to say, my legs actually felt ok. Weary, of course, but no real pain or tightness. That said, I wasn’t looking to head out for a run again just yet so yoga was perfect!

On Tuesday I hit the gym for The Big One – 20 reps of my current interval cycle (Steve always has me build up to 20 reps of whatever work/rest interval I’m on before either changing the pattern or the intensity). I wasn’t really looking forward to it and knew my legs would have to work hard after Sunday’s efforts, but it actually went by fairly quickly. I try to divide the session into smaller chunks of 3-5 reps (depending on how they divide down – look at me with the sums!) and mark each set with a sip of water before gearing up for the next one. Completing a workout like this always makes me feel strong since I know I couldn’t have done it a few weeks ago.

Bike reps are always followed on Wednesday with some kind of run, ideally hills or drills. Sadly my Wednesdays have seen quite a lot of disruption during this cycle. There were a couple of parents’ evenings and an evening out, which were factored into the plan, but there were also 3 Wednesdays when there was snow and 2 of those were nights when I should have been doing hill reps and had to change tack. This week, for only the SECOND time in this cycle, I was able to do a hill workout. Same hill as usual and reps working from the closest lamppost to the bottom up to the farthest away at the top: 5-4-3-2-1. Thankfully all my other drills and long runs have boosted my fitness so I was able to do it despite the lack of specific hill work, but it was tough. Mind you, that’s kind of the point as that’s what will make me stronger and fitter!

wNo1XQx8SBqcmc9regAFwwBy Thursday I was more than ready to get back to my yoga mat and working through the Ashtanga sequence. It was a really nice class again and I felt good throughout. Just what I needed.

Then on Friday I was able to squeeze in a PT session with Steve. We’ve not managed this every week, but I’m getting plenty of work on strength and flexibility from my yoga practice (2x classes per week plus Yoga with Adriene videos on 3-4 other days of the week) so it’s not a big concern. With this in mind, Steve asked me what kind of workout I wanted to do and luckily I had thought ahead. The last time I was in we did some boxing to help energise me and I really enjoyed it (I used to go to a kick boxercise class and had forgotten what fun it could be) but hadn’t enjoyed wearing the gloves Steve keeps at the studio – other people’s sweat, ewww! I had managed to locate my own gloves and took them with me to the studio, so got in another fun boxing workout.

LTL34wOkTBqM+q5wMM0FlA
Q9tJmW2KQOOKS7xb8F3KDwOn Saturday we awoke to rather miserable weather. Apparently we were experiencing the Mini Beast from the East, and while I had understood that the snow would be heading for other parts of the UK, I was expecting it to be really cold again. What we got was cold and windy with some hailstones and light snow. Perfect parkrun weather!

T6VbTw8AS8WBI0agjWKUvwSo once more it was winter kit on and down to the North Inch for the run. Still the alternative route, but the “usual” one heading anti-clockwise around the path. I hadn’t been expecting much as I thought there might be some residual weariness in my legs and there was a bitterly cold cross-wind, but despite having hailstones blown into my face (bonus: free facial 😂) I felt strong and was passing people I would normally expect to be slightly behind. As I stopped my watch I was delighted to see 24:10ish (my fastest since mid-November) and around 30 seconds faster than my best time of 2018! No idea where it came from, but it’s a powerful message that even in tough conditions all my training is starting to fall into place and I’m running well. Fingers crossed that continues!
IMG_0520
q2HWQkctQPuiem3sq4eBnAeutANBNQQzScDZwFsMkY6gAnd as an added bonus, I managed another Royal Flush Negative Split. Love it when that happens! I think this is the first fully sub-8 minute/mile parkrun in ages as up to now I’ve had at least the first mile at 8:XX. Progress!
fullsizeoutput_2437

By Saturday evening there was little sign of the morning’s snow/hail, but things changed overnight and looking out the window on Sunday morning it wasn’t looking quite so good. Enough snow had fallen to have a layer over everything and fat flakes were continuing to fall on and off. Checking the weather apps I was informed that there was going to be some pretty “interesting” weather through the morning, with temps around freezing but feeling a few degrees below, further snowfall and high winds. And we had 20 miles on the schedule!

5YAvly3pQP6dOpPXkM8MUAAt first I sat plotting out a possible route and looking out my gels, etc with the intention of going ahead, but then Steve (who NEVER backs out of the planned run) suggested that since some nearby running events had been cancelled due to the conditions, maybe sticking two fingers up at it and heading out for 20 anyway might not be the best idea. It was clear we wouldn’t be able to include any faster intervals, work on form or do anything other than plod around with the aim of staying upright whilst being battered by the wind and stepping carefully on the snow. So we decided to cut it back to 10 miles. We bundled ourselves up in winter kit (again) and Steve was out the door a few minutes ahead of me.

KHm3hW8%QcCuqKOQkN03hASince we had planned to run opposite ways around a similar route, we did meet each other out there, having enjoyed sideways hail, snow being blown into our faces so we couldn’t see a thing, and a hellish headwind. Every time it seemed to be easing off, it returned with a vengeance to make a pretty slow pace feel much harder than it should. Definitely character building! Steve said he might extend his run a little depending on how he felt, so with that idea in the back of my mind I carried on.

bAw+rCrJTaiytFuWoO52yQ

See that haze in the top right? That’s the drifting hail/snow blowing sideways!

UwVLZiX2RqWnTv79C8721Q

Apparently I look like I’m in “The Blair Witch Project” 😂

To be honest I didn’t think I would do any more and simply arrive home with 10 miles banked. My legs felt heavy and weary, probably due to the ploddy (for me) pace – often I actually find it easier to go a bit quicker but it wasn’t the day for it. But as I emerged from a side street close to home I saw Steve up ahead and wondered if I could close the gap between us. I did get a little closer, but not enough for him to realise I was there and since it was clear he was going to run a short out-and-back to extend his run, I decided to do the same since the burst of speed had made my legs feel much better. I ran a mile up the road and looped around to return along the woodland path. I love running in there and it was nice to see families out taking their kids sledging. This little addition meant I arrived home with about 12.25 miles, albeit rather slow ones.

There’s a bit of me that feels a little short-changed as I actually was looking forward to the run, but I also know it was the right decision to cut it back today as it would not have been 20 quality miles. I’ve done 18 and still have 6 weeks to go until my marathon so there’s still time to adjust the plan a bit if need be. Perhaps a valuable reminder for us all that being a slave to the plan is not always productive. Sometimes life gets in the way (or in this case Mother Nature) and we need to be flexible. Have I trained to the letter of my plan? No. Do I feel marathon fit? Actually, yes. Nothing to worry about then!

IMG_5895I still think the weather must be broken though!

AA1F26C4-20FD-4155-BA45-E3994989AE14

L-R Dec 2016, Feb 2017, Mar 2017, Mar 2018. Why no shorts yet???

Did you have more snow/winter weather this weekend?
What adjustments have you had to make to your plans recently?


JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Weekly Photo Challenge – I’d Rather Be…

Today I thought I would respond to a Daily Post photo challenge. As this busy term rumbles on and winter continues to keep a tight grip, it’s easy to find myself wishing to be somewhere else, doing something else. But what?

To answer the question, I considered two things – WHAT do I like to do and WHERE do I like to be?

  • I like to run
  • I like to read
  • I like to practice yoga
  • I like to be in Paris
  • I like to be in the sunshine

So to respond to this photo prompt, here are some pictures that demonstrate the above things I enjoy (and would definitely rather be doing), sometimes in combination!


IMG_4196


Untitled
IMG_3019
UntitledWhat would your answer be…?

Week In Review – Normal Service Resumes

And just like that, the snow was gone! After a pretty epic snowfall and a great deal of disruption (continued into Monday) with above freezing temperatures and some heavy rainfall, the snow is all but gone save for the odd random miserable looking patch. Now everything just looks a bit grey and soggy. Oh well, perhaps spring is on its way…

But regardless of weather, marathon training continues and I was pleased to put in a pretty solid week of running despite work pressures (a coursework deadline which couldn’t change but was affected by our snow days). Here’s how my week ended up:

Monday – rest
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym + sports massage
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 18 miles

Monday was a bit of a strange day. The schools in the region where I live were all back to normal after the snow, but I teach in a neighbouring region which had been worse hit and there were a lot of difficulties organising school transport and getting pupils safely to school. In the end the schools were shut to pupils but open to staff and since my journey is on main roads I had no problem getting in. It was actually quite a nice way to ease back into routine after our “bonus” days off and I got a lot done in my classroom that I hadn’t expected to get to for a while yet. I headed home at the end of the day knowing that I had no yoga class (there was never going to be a Hatha class this week as my teacher had another commitment) so I did a Yoga with Adriene video and enjoyed a restful evening before the coursework onslaught.

In order to support pupils with the deadline and make sure I was keeping up with checking all the work they had completed while school was cancelled, I decided to stay later at work as much as I could this week. I was able to stay for a good hour or so beyond lessons on Tuesday then headed to the gym for my bike reps. I had the same focus as last week to try and pull UP on the pedals rather than thinking about pushing DOWN and had an additional 2 reps to do. It’s a tough workout but I can feel the difference it makes to my fitness without the constant impact that, for me, often leads to injury. No time for a swim unfortunately as I had my monthly sports massage booked and with staying later at work I had only left enough time for my bike workout. The massage was great and was probably well-timed after all that running about in the snow last weekend!

For once, my Wednesday run went ahead as planned (these have been rather disrupted this training cycle thanks to a few weeks where I had planned not to run due to other commitments and at least 3 weeks where there was snow so could only do a steady run rather than hills/drills) although I was at work a bit later again. This week I had form drills to complete – 1 mile warm up then 10x 600m focusing on good form. Despite some gaps in my Wednesday training these went well, presumably helped by all those long runs I did with every 3rd mile faster/focusing on form.

YU0CrHaAQLS6B8Kxx6P%ZgOn Thursday I was pleased to have my Ashtanga yoga class. I missed this the previous two weeks (I had a parents’ evening a couple of weeks ago then the following week class was cancelled due to the snow). There were some newer yogis in the class so we simply worked through the asanas from the primary series that we normally do, no opportunity to work on my headstand this time. Still, it was great to be back in the yoga studio and I really enjoyed the class.

Friday had to be a rest day as I had an appointment to get my nails done (they were a bit of a disaster thanks to playing in the snow followed by all the work I did in my classroom at the beginning of the week). Steve had offered to do a PT session afterwards, but I thought it would be getting a bit late for him to hang about the studio and I had an errand before going home, so made it a rest day. Probably for the best as we’re in one of the annual “pinch points” at work and since the body can’t tell the difference between work stress and training stress, making sure rest is a priority is important to avoid injury/burnout.

XB02xfRrQX2kFjQKq25zzAAs parkrunday rolled around again, we were still on the alternative course as thanks to the melted snow and heavy rainfall, the grass section was completed saturated and churned up. For variety, it was decided that we would run the double loop course in reverse this week. It initially sounded appealing, but in the end was not the best week for this decision as there was some pretty heavy rain and one of those “Scottish headwinds” (a headwind in every direction – how is this even possible?!?!?). On the first lap I felt like I was working quite hard, much harder than the pace my watch was giving me, but I was still surrounded by all the same people I usually am so just went with it. In the end I managed another Royal Flush Negative Split and with a finish time of 24:49 was just 8 seconds slower than a couple of weeks ago when I ran my fastest this year. Given the conditions, I’m pretty happy with that, even if I did look like a drowned rat when I finished!

+29ZnX14TMKAZL56aemJOA
IMG_0421Post-parkrun I headed home for a really quick shower before a brief stop at our neighbour’s house. He had run his 200th parkrun that morning and had invited people round for a cup of tea and cake/biscuits afterwards. I couldn’t stay long but had enough time for a quick chat, cup of tea (always awesome after a chilly parkrun) and one of his homemade biscuits which were marking the occasion.

O1X8cb7FRPWX0eNkHQ2T6wI then had to speed off to go and get my hair cut before getting on with the usual Saturday errands of food shopping and catching up on various jobs. Probably fir the best oterhwise I might still be there eating biscuits 😂.

Sunday was, as ever, my long run. I had 18 miles on the schedule and Steve had put something different into my plan. Having done lots of runs with every 3rd mile quicker, now he wanted me to do sequences of 3 miles at marathon pace and 1 mile recovery. Thing is, I’ve set no time goal for this race as I’m all about the process this year. Since sub-4 has previously been my goal, I decided to make my target pace for this run around 4 hour marathon pace and decided on a range of 8:50-9:10 since the route would be undulating (which I still think is a euphemism for hilly!). I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sustain this, but still wanted to give it a go. I took the first 2 miles as a warm up since they were mainly uphill, then settled into the pattern. At first I found myself running much faster than goal pace so it was an interesting exercise in controlling my pace in order to save something for later, but overall I was really pleased with the results. The recovery miles were super-slow and I just missed the target pace on 2 of the quicker miles, but this was because of an incline that’s encompassed the end of one mile and the start of the next – I just focused on running at the same intensity and only missed the pace by 10 seconds and 2 seconds respectively, which was pretty good! I even managed to hit my target in my last cycle which was miles 15, 16 and 17 so that’s encouraging. In many ways this run actually felt easier than last week’s 14 miles which came on the back of 7.5 the day before and were, of course, over the snow.

fullsizeoutput_242aWhen I run 18 miles I always feel near enough ready to run the marathon, but with a few weeks and more long runs still to go, it will be interesting to see how things progress for me. I’m still not setting a time goal though! I just want to see what happens when there’s no pressure.

IMG_5880Sunday finished in a pretty chilled fashion with a trip into town for coffee, some TV and lots of food before my usual Epsom salt bath. Lovely! And my legs didn’t feel too bad either…

How is your training progressing?
Do you have any time goals right now?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – The Beast From The East

What a week! The Beast From The East certainly made things interesting for us here in the UK and simply making the decision to head outside has been a bit of an expedition. Despite that, I still found a way to get lots of training done, albeit a bit different to my plans…

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesdayhill reps rest
ThursdayAshtanga yoga snowy run
FridayPT session playing in the snow!
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday16 miles 14 miles

The week began fine as the bad weather wasn’t predicted to hit until late Tuesday at the earliest, with Wednesday initially set to be the worst. I had my Hatha yoga class and decided to debut the latest pair of leggings I had acquired. They were really comfy and attracted some attention!

qjy7DEdGTHCccmijvbDRVwOn Tuesday there were snow showers on and off throughout the day. It was strange as the snow would be quite heavy then the sun would come out and melt it all. I spent most of the afternoon peeling my pupils off the windows and trying in vain to hold their attention as the flakes drifted by. We were advised not to hang around too long at the end of the day so I gathered up lots of work to take away and headed back to Perth. Since it was still ok I went to the gym and completed my bike reps – this week Steve wanted me to try and focus on pulling up on the pedals rather than pushing down – but skipped having a swim or sauna in favour of getting home before the weather came in. As the evening wore on the announcements were starting to filter through about some areas where the schools were going to be closed the following morning, but no word on mine by the time I headed to bed.

That must have changed soon after I fell asleep as I awoke to the notification that all the schools in the region I teach in were shut. It was so nice to have that information BEFORE I got up and organised, as it meant I could snooze a little longer then had a leisurely start to the day enjoying my book in bed with a cup of tea. Without having to worry about getting ready to leave the house, I had created a bit of time to enjoy before settling down to get some work done. I had been due to head out for some hill reps which, of course, were now out of the question, but thought a steady run might be possible. In the end I stayed inside all day as there were so many weather warnings in place and I was worried about getting caught in an awful blizzard if I went out. Pretty much everything was cancelled, including my orchestra rehearsal, so I did a yoga video and kept cosy.

qKrtmi+DQbKLvG6vDtTd2Q
tv%N+A2uQUq0vyjMv6119QFairly early in the day we were told that the schools would remain shut on Thursday as there was a red weather warning in place (the highest possible here and a level that had not been used before).

Getting up on Thursday it was clear that there had been heavy snowfall overnight and the roads looked awful, but there seemed to be a break in the weather and Steve had headed out for a run. When he got back I took some advice from him about what kit I should put on then headed out myself. I chose my trusty all-terrain shoes but added my Yak Trax as well. I got these after the Great Thundersnow of 2010 but had not needed them in the intervening years so this was my first time wearing them. I hadn’t been sure how I would find them, but was really impressed with how they felt and the grip I had. The biggest problem was the effort needed to run through some of the deepest snow. Of course there was some heavy snow while I was out, but I came home after 3.5 miles with a smile on my face having loved the experience.

dNzsHdZ8RlyyKMME4sStVQ
zQ8mkRb0S1eUC4xz8WyTqg
iB0arvsjQXONlmmyRiv%rw
76xpc0Y0S2mFJi3JY7y2EQ
The rest of the day was spent getting some work done and keeping cosy. My Ashtanga yoga class was, unsurprisingly, cancelled so it was another yoga video for me and an evening in front of the TV. I even had a nap as snow days are apparently exhausting!

PbSasgKtTrqMxvlNRksRkAThe schools remained shut on Friday as there were still really difficult driving conditions and despite the best efforts of the local authorities, it was practically impossible to keep roads clear thanks to further snow and the new complication of high winds causing snow drifts. Several of our neighbours cleared their driveways on Thursday and by Friday morning there was no evidence they had ever done so. I needed to head out on an errand so Steve and I wrapped up and went out on foot. Errand completed, we walked down the road to a coffee shop and I was struck by how many people were out on foot.

tKryDALHRj+hieW8U52oag
nRwcGjvRSdKh44Tq4AiD7QOn our way back we decided to have a bit of fun with snow angels, “snowga” and, in Steve’s case, some sledging (minus the sledge 😂)

k6ADFr9GRnSTZVMJWUQqQA
YI3PyR7TTUyIOXzFXvcF2Q

And my friend shared this photo from near her house. Love it!

fullsizeoutput_2403One thing I was increasingly noticing was the “Blitz Spirit” being demonstrated. Several car showrooms were making their demonstrator 4x4s available to assist emergency workers, etc get to work; contractors were offering to clear driveways of these same workers or those who were more vulnerable; taxi companies were taking essential supplies to the elderly/vulnerable and only charging for the goods, not the journey. People were helping out shovelling snow from each other’s driveways and complete strangers were actually talking to each other as they were out and about stocking up on food, etc. It just goes to show that when things are difficult we can still band together. I know that this kind of weather is commonplace in some parts of the world, but here it’s very unusual, hence the difficulties we have in continuing as normal.

We got our own taste of the community spirit on Friday evening. We headed out as usual to our “local” to eat (it’s just at the bottom of the road) and on our way back found a car stuck in the cul de sac. It turned out to be a delivery driver for a local takeaway and the recipients of the food were trying to help get him moving. They had a shovel but his wheels just kept spinning round (the road is on a slope and in that particular cul de sac the surface is brick rather than tarmac). Steve offered to help push but it was clear that wasn’t enough either so he took charge of the shovel and cleared as much as he could around the wheels then we both got behind the car and started pushing. It slid around quite a bit at first but eventually we were able to send the driver on his way (and were thanked with a cheery wave out the window – obviously he couldn’t stop or he’d get stuck again and he had already thanked everyone for mucking in). Good deed done, we got ourselves inside and cosy for the rest of the evening.

It was looking like our parkrun would survive where many others were being cancelled but it would have to be our alternative route on the path around the park rather than the main route which was covered in deep deep snow. Looking at the conditions, we thought it might be an idea to run there and back to get some miles in, thus allowing us to shorten our Sunday runs if necessary. We were actually offered a lift down by a neighbour, but politely declined in favour of running. It’s just over 2 miles there and, once more, it was snowing. Does that mean we have a parkrun problem? 😂

Something like 179 people braved the elements to get to parkrun, many choosing to arrive on foot like us. We even had some tourists whose local parkruns were off so had made the journey to come to us.

Lpd4EGFXSJ2N%obHhwbdPQAs far as underfoot conditions were concerned, one side of the park gets high pedestrian usage so it had been cleared (although with further snow it wasn’t totally clear and pretty slushy) whereas the other side over by the river was packed snow and perfect for my trusty Yak Trax. My “streak” came to an abrupt (and expected) end as I kept the pace slow and controlled, but I still managed a Royal Flush Negative Split. Given the conditions, I’m pretty proud of that one!

IMG_5855

Photo – Perth parkrun facebook page

Px0%3fPMRXyE2FIBUAFHogPost-run we took some photos and one of our friends decided to liven mine up by throwing snowballs at me whilst I did my signature jumps – I couldn’t stop laughing!

IMG_5837
IMG_5840
IMG_5842And then it was time to run home. We took a slightly different route which was a little longer at close to 2.5 miles, bringing me to a bit over 7.5 miles for the day.

The plan, therefore, was not to worry about running 16 miles (with some sections at/faster than marathon pace!) on Sunday and aim for about 10 miles instead to make the mileage up across the two days. I decided that I quite fancied running through my favourite woodland path to see the snow and plotted a route taking in the snowy paths near me then following (mostly) cleared footpaths/roads out there, leaving the option to extend the run at various points if I felt good.

I checked my weather app which told me there was only a minimal chance of snow – it lied! Fortunately I stuck with my winter jacket and Yak Trax as after the first couple of miles I think there was constant snow. Still, I enjoyed my run and it was nice seeing all the awesome snowmen and forts/igloos people had been building. Loads of people were out clearing snow from the fronts of their houses and everyone was still so friendly.

NlfG+UXhQ3aVn4O04Htvwg

A view of the park where we have parkrun

r4TQNhPhSRyxvmB%pYCf8wIn the end, I was having such a nice run – no pressure on pace or anything – and kept changing my route to lengthen it. I ended up arriving home with a bit over 14 miles completed. Yes, I did consider running the other 2 but my watch was giving me a low battery alert and I was worried it would give up before I was done. Imagine the horror of miles not on Strava!
+ojJfd1UTrOcipBvLk3rnQOverall a pretty interesting week, and quite nice to get some unscheduled rest! I definitely enjoyed running in the snow but know I’m lucky that I didn’t have to try and travel anywhere in it. Let’s see what the week ahead brings…!

Have you been affected by snow recently?
Do you run in the snow or head for the treadmill?

Week In Review – A Bit Of Sparkle!

This past week felt awfully long for a variety of reasons, but my spirits were lifted midweek with a long-awaited night at the concert hall. Training may have taken a bit of a back seat along the way, but since it was a cutback week I had no problem with that and I did do everything I had planned. Read on for the details.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest
Friday – PT session
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles

Last weekend I had felt the telltale stirrings of a head cold (apparently the region I work in has been particularly bad for winter bugs this term and as a teacher I pretty much work in a germ factory so I guess I’m getting off lightly!). As the week began I had a bit of a dry cough which was pretty irritating, but thanks to my trusty lozenges I was able to enjoy my Hatha yoga class without any coughing. Once again it was a fantastic stretch out and just the things after 16 miles the day before.

I was still coughing on Tuesday but since the symptoms were all above the neck I knew I was ok to go ahead with my bike workout. My plan was to begin and see how I felt, ready to change to a steady cycle if I didn’t feel up to the intervals, but as it turned out I was able to complete the workout without coughing. My throat felt a little tickle when I stopped, but the workout itself didn’t feel any harder than previous weeks and my heart rate was comparable so it seemed to just be a tickle rather than a game changer. Thank goodness!

By Wednesday my cough medicine was helping to shift the cough to something a little more “productive” and although I felt tired from my body working hard to fight off whatever it was, I was excited to be heading out for the evening. I had tickets to see (former 😢) Strictly Come Dancing pro Brendan Cole in his touring show as it stopped off here in Perth. This would be the 4th (I think) time I had seen him live and having not been a massive fan of his in the early years of the show due to his “bad boy” persona, I’ve become increasingly fond of him in recent years thanks to the live performances and him mellowing a little as he got older. Like last year, we had front row seats and had a table booked for dinner at the venue beforehand (“we” being my sister, two of my friends from work and my good self).

I somehow neglected to take photos of my dinner (a delicious pork belly dish followed by apple tart) perhaps due to my excitement at checking Brendan’s Instagram stories and seeing a picture of him in one of my favourite mid-run photo spots!

IMG_48FA5CB970B9-1The show was fantastic. Such energy from the dancers and I can never get over the strength, flexibility and grace that is apparent in them all. I wish I could dance like that (actually, I wish I could dance at all!). It was a late night for a school night, but well worth it.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t feel at my peak on Thursday and it was set to be a long day thanks to another parents’ night (the last one for this school year, thank goodness!). Meeting parents is very valuable, but it sure makes the day long as by the time I get home afterwards there’s really only time for something quick to eat, a cup of tea then off to bed to start all over again the next day. I missed my Ashtanga class and had no time for a home yoga practice so was left feeling generally grumpy and put out. Probably not helped by the ongoing cold situation.

Friday was much better. We had a lovely lunch (including the richest chocolate cake!) to celebrate a colleague’s birthday then after work I headed over to Steve’s studio for a training session. By this time lunch had got the better of me and I was feeling pretty sleepy, so he opted to re-energise me with a boxing workout. I’ve not donned the gloves for a workout in ages and really enjoyed punching and kicking out some of my frustrations. I definitely felt better after it too!

d5FqG5hWR%WBGMsfBfxGBg

Before. Check out my sleepy face!

IMG_0025

After. Much more energised!

When I got home I was getting texts from my sister who is in Florida now (she flew out the day after Brendan Cole) and was paying a visit to the expo for the Disney Princess half marathon. Thanks to the glories of the iPhone I was able to see a lot of what was going on and somehow managed to go “shopping” without even being there – I just can’t resist the lure of a race expo! The only problem is I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before I can have my new merchandise of several new headbands/hairbands. Oh well, I’m sure it will be worth the wait!

Later we headed out for our usual Friday meal which always helps me to unwind and ease into the weekend. I was still struggling a bit with a cough so Steve suggested I have a brandy before bed. I only keep the stuff in the house as it’s an ingredient in my French onion soup recipe and oh boy was it potent! I certainly got a good sleep that night and awoke feeling much better on Saturday morning.

For parkrun we were able to return to our regular course as the grass has had a rest and there hasn’t been much rain. This was helped by a hard frost which left the ground pretty firm. I was fairly certain I had no chance of keeping my “parkrun streak” alive as this course is a bit more challenging plus I’d been battling a head cold all week, so had already resigned myself to a slower time. But then as I approached the final stretch I glanced at my watch and realised I could sneak in a slightly faster time so long as I moved. So move I did, clocking my 3rd fastest time ever for the final 400m and scoring an official time of 24:41 (with a Royal Flush Negative Split to boot!). That’s just 2 seconds quicker than last week, so I’ll once more declare that the streak must surely be over…

fullsizeoutput_23ec
IMG_0212We had our usual post-parkrun breakfast of tea and a bacon croissant before getting our food shopping, then in the afternoon we nipped up to my parents’ house then Steve suggested a rather “scenic” route home via the farm shop for coffee and cake. I chose to have tea again and picked a slice of rather yummy looking malteser cake to keep me going until our homemade pizza later. The rest of the day was then pretty chilled as we watched some TV together and relaxed.

PSoWA29ETZOB4IGo2vzPCgAfter another good sleep I was up and ready to tackle my 12 mile run. This was my cutback in long run mileage and I had spoken to Steve about how to approach it. For the last 3 runs he had specified in my plan that I should be aiming for every 3rd mile faster (I go by effort rather than pace if it’s on an incline) but this week only had the mileage and I wasn’t sure of the best approach. In the end we decided it might be worth a test of pace to see if I could maintain my ideal target marathon pace for the distance. Thanks to the cold I wasn’t sure how I would do but still wanted to give it a go, knowing I could slow down if necessary. I packed plenty of tissues and headed out the door with a partial route in mind and returned 12 miles later having nailed an average pace of 8:58 per mile. I was hoping for around 9 min/mile as I know a 4 hour marathon is 9:09 but also knew I was choosing an undulating route. I ran to effort and was pleased to see that only the miles including an uphill stretch were slower, with the rest all sub-9. Given that I did that whilst dealing with the lingering effects of a head cold, I’m pretty happy with that as it tells me the training process is taking effect and boosting my performance. I’m still not setting a time target for Stirling, but this was an interesting test of my fitness.

IMG_5719I was supposed to be at an orchestra rehearsal in the afternoon (concert on Saturday) but I just couldn’t make it work around the rest of my Sunday errands. Much as I had hoped to make it there, my training and recovery has to take priority and it would have been too much of a rush to get down there in time. Instead we took care of some errands and enjoyed a bit of downtime before another busy week.

How has your training been going?
Have you ever been on any kind of running streak?
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Week In Review – Me Time!!!

Hola! Finally a bit of space in my week as we enjoyed a two day break for “half term” here in Scotland. That meant just two teaching days, one inservice day and then a glorious four day weekend to relax, read and recuperate. Perfect!

Of course training was still front and centre (this marathon isn’t going to run itself, you know!) but there was a bit more room to get things done without rushing around all the time:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – bike reps @ the gym
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Swim + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

My week didn’t get off to the greatest start as I had hoped not to have to stay at school too late, but it turned out we had a meeting at the end of the day. By the time I got away I was REALLY ready for my Hatha yoga class. I decided this was a great time to try out some new kit to cheer me up. They both came from a website called Lucy Locket Loves and while I paid for the awesome Space Adventure leggings, the headband was a free gift as I volunteered as a product tester. I don’t normally wear this style of band but was really impressed as it was comfortable and stayed in place through the whole class. I loved how bright and cheery it was too.

cldE4VQZTze9+kUVUC6a4w
7%YSL37eQhKa1D4TbDELog
I’m quite impressed with the company as the owner sends friendly, personal emails and the packaging is gorgeous.

j9B93Zn3Q1+KXWJiDrjW2A
0PH8HBlVRl2gr60B%V%Lxw
The class itself was just what I needed to unwind – gentle stretching, relaxing music and dim lighting. Bliss!

We have an earlier finish on a Tuesday and I made a point of getting away pretty quickly. I headed straight for the gym to get my bike intervals done and since I had found the intensity level quite challenging last week, I took it down a notch in order to maintain the quality of my workout. I still worked hard as my red and sweaty grimace confirms!

sGuA6htqQ%uNhVnYJ99TuwThat evening I took advantage of my sister’s comp tickets for the current play at the theatre. It wasn’t a play I knew but was pretty powerful.

7c%qeKRzQGyqF7yHy8z+NQ
On Wednesday we had our inservice day which meant no pupils, but a full day of meetings and planning. The real highlight of the day was the curry lunch laid on by the World Challenge group. They are preparing to go to Borneo and this formed part of their fundraising. It’s the third year in a row the curry lunch has taken place on the February inservice and it just gets more and more popular. It wasn’t the “done thing” to take too much on my first visit to the curry buffet, but I definitely didn’t hesitate to lead the charge and go back for seconds!

CSTSs3WDQSGdrWDDofSlaw
That evening I got straight home to head out for a set of 500m form drills. I was a little wary as there had been some rather unexpected heavy snow in the morning and while most of it had melted away, there were still stretches of pavement that were slushy and slippy. I still set up my watch to do the intervals and decided that I would aim to do the workout but was prepared to ditch it for a steady run if the conditions weren’t good enough. As it turned out the first few intervals were over slippy paths but I was able to focus on good form while keeping the pace down, then as the underfoot conditions improved I was able to get some quality intervals in in the second half of the workout.

Ufh6DhZQRW2jon1iw6XifQ
I was also really entertained by this fantastic snow creation in our street (I think whoever built it must have used all the snow in the street as there wasn’t really much left!).

YhQ1aBYpTX6NfIdB7DyB2w
I then had a really quick turnaround to get to orchestra. I’ve probably managed every other rehearsal this term which is a massive improvement on last year when I had to accept that I wouldn’t be playing in our spring concert, but this time I am going to make it.

After all that Thursday was a welcome relief. I actually allowed my usual alarm to go off just so I could have the pleasure of shutting it off and going back to sleep! I started my day with a walk to the gym to have a swim. Being able to take my time and with no other pressures on my day, I felt I got into a rhythm pretty quickly despite very little swimming of late. I really must try to fit it in more often moving forward. I spent the afternoon on some bits and pieces of tidying up then headed out to my Ashtanga yoga class in the evening. It was a small class again so once more we were able to try some newer postures, including working on our headstands. I’m really enjoying having the opportunity to try new things and am feeling the benefit of more yoga throughout the week.

I had an appointment in town on Friday morning so I walked there and ran a few errands before heading home again. After lunch I had my PT session with Steve and since my right shoulder was feeling tight (it flares up a bit from time to time) we did a lot of work to help that before some more specific exercises to help my running. As usual, we used the TRX and the Core Momentum Trainer. For the occasion I chose to wear my Wonder Woman leggings, because it’s good to feel like a superhero from time to time!

0gBdxuz1THC0i%7irQg7hQ
Session done, I headed round the corner to have my nails done. I fancied something a bit different this time as I usually go for dark reds/purples. A sparkly silvery colour hit the spot!

S%IxJn1PTraUO+TcmTKvCg
And then the weekend. Having already had a couple of days to myself meant I didn’t have a stack of things to do and was able to relax and enjoy myself. First up, of course, was parkrun. We’re still on the alternative course to allow the grass section to recover and to round off a week of madcap leggings I chose to wear my latest, and possibly maddest, pair.

rBAxzJsoTzSqgFl9EWM7Qw
My favourite picture on them is the cartoon cats with unicorn horns!

sw6ABeZOTLWCgSCuuh9A9w
I was certain that my parkrun streak of each week being a bit faster than the one before would definitely be over but somehow found another few seconds to keep it alive. So including the New Year parkrun double that makes my 2018 “streak” 29:16 (Dundee and a trickier course), 27:20, 27:01, 26:31, 25:34, 24:56, 24:50, 24:43. I was slightly faster this time last year but I also had a stronger starting point with more consistent training at the tale end of the year, so that just motivates me to keep working hard and see if I can keep improving and get back to sub-24 form.

IMG_0074
eRnsrTzvQSKzhsoM07hfEA
The rest of the day was nice and chilled – coffee and bacon croissants with Steve’s brother, food shopping and some quality time on the sofa catching up on some reading. I finished reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and can highly recommend it.

On Sunday morning I got myself moving fairly sharp to head out for my 16 miles. I wanted to not only run my usual pattern of 2 easy, 1 harder with good form, but to break the bad habit I’ve been forming of having to stop for road crossings that could be avoidable. This made the run feel harder as I think I’ve been relying on those stops, but overall I was a little quicker than a comparable run this time last year so that’s a positive sign and I know the consistent running will make me stronger for race day.

cc8U83zFQCet7p%y4gmoHg
Once home and showered/fed we headed off to Edinburgh (hence why I wanted to be out a bit earlier). Steve has been planning to upgrade his iPad ever since I got mine in the summer but was waiting until he got his new phone as he knew he could trade that in against the new device. Today was the day to go and sort it all out and there was no way we were going to go to Edinburgh after a 16 mile run and not visit Hotel Chocolat for a hot drink. This time they had Easter specials (perhaps a little early, but who am I to judge!) and the picture on the sandwich board sold me before I even walked in the door! I ordered the Hot Crossed Caramel Hot Chocolat (the caramel was mixed with almond, orange, cinnamon and molasses. Delicious!) and yes, it was the chocolate bunny on the top that sealed the deal for me 😂

oL9qR7clSGmu5KR+HBJzNQ
By the time we’d done all that and driven home again I was pretty tired as my Sunday is usually pretty chilled after my long run. Good thing I had those extra days to relax beforehand!

And with that, another week came to an end. Apparently there are now 10 weeks until the marathon…

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
Do you like to wear patterned workout gear?
Read any good books lately?