Friday Finds – 15th February

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.

Hello! Yes, it is indeed Saturday rather than Friday but an ongoing issue with my computer has left me a bit out of sorts and relying heavily on other devices. Keep your fingers crossed I can resolve things soon, and in the meantime I’ll do my best to keep my regular posts coming.

I want to start this week by returning to last week’s story about the runner who was attacked by a mountain lion whilst out on a run. As you may remember, in order to survive this attack the runner had to kill the mountain lion, but little further was known of the story. In the last couple of days, a little more was made public so I wanted to follow up the story with this piece, one of several I saw in which the runner was able to discuss what happened.

The rest of the articles I’m sharing this week are ones where we can get a bit of inspiration from the amazing things that are being achieved in the world of running. Let’s start with the World Marathon Challenge and runner Susannah Gill who not only completed what must be a pretty exhausting (and at times gruelling) challenge, but set a new female record whilst doing so. The idea of 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents is pretty intriguing, but the cost is prohibitive. Would you have a go if money was no object?

Also setting a new record is the incredible Camille Herron who, despite being in a car accident just two weeks prior, set a new women’s course record at the Tarawera 100 mile race. She really is unstoppable!

Another woman showing us what can be done is Marianne Heading who won the 300 mile Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra. Yes, ARCTIC! I can’t even begin to think about how cold that must have been, and the added challenge of pulling all your kit on a sled really ups the difficulty level of this one. There really are some mightily impressive people out there!

And finally, as if that wasn’t enough inspiration then here’s one to watch out for at this year’s Western States 100 mile: Kyle Robidoux. Why? Because Robidoux is going to be the first entrant in the event’s 45 year history to have a visual impairment. In an event brutal already brutal enough, Robidoux is going to be making history. I wish him all the very best for his training and preparations.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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Friday Finds – 8th February

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 Friday! I hope you’ve had a good week. It’s pretty stormy here right now so I’ll be hunkering down for the night and keeping cosy, which gives me plenty of time to write this post and give you some reading material.

Let’s begin with an update on a story I recently shared about the London marathon and happily a positive change has been made to the policy surrounding guide runners. Now, those who take part to support visually impaired runners will receive a medal as well as a chip time so their marathon achievement is recognised. Good news for those who selflessly take on this role.

On the subject of London, you might enjoy this analysis of some of the Strava data on the 2018 event. I do love a bit of data, and this confirms what we likely already know – the fastest marathoners run further and more often in training than those with slower finish times. Simple, huh!

With that done, there’s now going to be a definite theme to my remaining Finds this week: animals. Following last week’s story of the women who ran most of a marathon carrying an abandoned puppy, I came across a number of other stories featuring animals. First, something in a similar vein. The story of how elite runner Stephanie Pezzullo was “adopted” by an abandoned dog she encountered during a training run is just beautiful. I feel sad that the dog wasn’t wanted by its previous owners, but it brings joy to my heart to know that she found just the right person to give her the love she deserves.

Sticking with dogs, it seems that some runners in the New York City half marathon will be making history as the first to complete without a human guide…because the event has become the first long-distance race to allow the use of guide dogs for visually impaired runners. Even better, the article suggests that as official participants, the dogs will also earn a race medal. That only seems fair!

And finally, you may already have caught this week’s big story around running and animals, but in this one the animal sadly didn’t come off so well. In a quite startling story, a runner in Colorado was attacked by a young mountain lion and managed to kill it in order to protect himself. It is sad that this happened to the big cat, but I do totally understand why it was necessary. I know how scared I was that time I was attacked by a buzzard, so this must have been terrifying!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Ice Ice Baby!

Yes, I know the title of this one probably made you groan, but this past week has really been all about the ice (and not in a Torvill and Dean kind of way!). It required a little flexibility in my plan – although let’s face it I’m the queen of changing things around! – but ultimately I did complete all my workouts, albeit with some at a lower intensity than I would have liked.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – form drills
Thursday – Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 10 miles

My week began with a lovely Hatha class on Monday evening. Sadly I’ll be away from this class for much of February for a variety of reasons, so to plug the gap I’ll be making sure to do some home practice using Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube. I’m still conscious that I’d like to fit a little more yoga into my weekly routine as I know I felt really good at this point last year when I had a couple more sessions in there, but somehow it’s just not been a priority yet. Something to work on moving forward.

Just for a change, Tuesday morning was cold and thus a bit slippy. For my easy-paced recovery run this wasn’t much of an issue so long as I was careful, but I was already concerned about the forecast for increasingly cold weather (although thankfully not as cold as for those under the Polar Vortex!) as I didn’t want to miss out on my Thursday drills again. Cue me stalking the weather apps on my phone to try and figure out what to do…

The picture selected for this story amused me!

It was in the car on the way to work on Wednesday that I was struck – far too late – by the solution: we have a fitness suite in the PE department as school. There is a treadmill there. Therefore on days when running outside isn’t possible, there’s a Plan B. Except for this to work I would really have needed kit with me to go that day after school. D’oh! However I did know that the temperature was going to be reasonable that evening, so decided to move my Thursday morning drills to Wednesday after work. It meant skipping orchestra as it’s just too tight to fit it all in, but I was able to get out and complete my reps. Ok, so there were still some spots where I had to be careful, but it was a far more satisfactory run than waiting until the following morning when, as it turned out, the temperature was about -7C!

On the plus side, not gettting up for a morning run meant I could sleep a little longer on Thursday morning and I was feeling good when I went to yoga that evening. It was pretty cold outside, but the studio was cosy and I always find I’m pretty warm after the opening sequences of sun salutations, so really enjoyed it. I remembered the adjustment I had made in Wheel last week and again found the posture much easier, and my headstand felt good as well.

Steve had a space for me on Friday afternoon when I got back from work and I was thrilled(!) to find he had another circuit lined up for me. This time we used very little in the way of kit, it was more a form of HIIT training but with running-specific exercises to work on form and intensity. Each round was progressively harder so the skill was built up and by the end of the session my hip flexors were definitely feeling a little weary!

That evening there was a little snow and I wasn’t sure what that would mean for parkrunday. I was certain the run itself would be on, but I was hoping to run there and back so long as the underfoot conditions were ok. Steve had an early client so I awaited his report when he came back in and it was good news, so off we went to run down the road.

It was an exciting parkrun this week (and not just because it was pacer week haha!). We had a crew from Sky TV there making a film commissioned by one of the parkrun sponsors. This series of films is featuring the stories of parkrunners and is intended to demonstrate the positive physical and mental benefits that regular community exercise promotes. The film being made in Perth was about parkrunner John McPhee who has Parkinson’s. John featured in the weekly parkrun newsletter last year, and I also know him from my Monday night Hatha yoga class. While the focus was on John, all runners had to be informed about them filming as they would likely be in some of the background shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So obviously, I made sure I was wearing a pair of leggings that would ensure I would be able to spot myself on camera when the film is ready!

Actually, as the pacers were lined up during the (very thorough, because TV!) briefing, the cameras were on us so fingers crossed I may show up in the final edit.

Capturing our “best sides” 😂

I had my usual 28 minutes and knew there were one or two people hoping to follow me. I know an average of about 9:05 per mile takes me round our route in about the right time, so that is generally my aim and although the first mile was slightly slower due to congestion (and a cameraman in the middle of the path!) I settled in very slightly too fast after that, but the runners who were sticking with me were right there and I do let the pace push on a bit if I think they are coping as I can then offer some advice and encouragement to help them get a better time. I finished in 27:47, a little ahead but perfect for those looking to run sub-28. I even learned afterwards that a couple of people got a PB from following me and it’s so nice to see the joy on their faces and have them seek you out to say thank you. I really love pacing and happily do it even when I don’t think anyone is running with me, but knowing I have been a part of an achievement for someone else is so gratifying.

Trying out our new selfie frame

We hung around a little to chat to John, who by this point had finished the run at least twice – once just in front of me and once for the cameras – and caught up with a few others before we set off for home. We knew we were a little tight for time to get back into town to meet Steve’s brother, and Steve actually suggested that I could stay in town while he ran home, got the car and then met me at the cafe, but I wanted the run so decided to run home, make a couple of quick, tactical changes in kit then jump straight in the car with Steve to meet his brother “parkrun fresh”. I have to say, I’m not that fussed about not squeezing in a shower and change, but do make sure to spray something nice to cover up any less-than-fragrant aromas for the benefit of those around us!

Waking up on Sunday I could see it was a bit slippery looking again due to the temperature dipping below freezing again overnight. My original plan was to run 10 miles steady – i.e. approaching marathon pace – but Steve said that in these conditions it was more about getting out the door and seeing what happened (ideally not falling over!). Neither pace nor distance were particularly important anymore. To account for the underfoot conditions when I set out, I decided not to run my usual 10 mile route, but to take a route almost entirely on main roads, going out to the woodland park and back. I did know this wasn’t 10 miles, but figured I could find a way to stretch the distance if the conditions were ok.

Most of the paths were fine, but between miles 2 and 4 it started to snow and I wasn’t sure if that was going to be it for the rest of the run. But when I got to the woodland park, it stopped. To be honest, I was a little disappointed as I had plans to take pretty, wintery photos there in the snow. I still took the pictures, I just no longer had the bonus snow falling in them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added a couple of extra looped sections on my way home to stretch the distance out, and in mile 8 it was clear that I really needed to a faster run as I ran that mile much quicker than even my original goal pace for this run had been. It was a nice flat section which had been well-treated against ice, and although I made no conscious decision to speed up, my body obviously knew what it wanted to do. All in all a good run and I’m feeling ready to start increasing the distance through February.

I hadn’t intended to take another photo post-run, but when I caught sight of the state of my hair when I finished, I couldn’t resist!

It was kinda “crunchy” from the cold air haha!

Working around the weather has been a little frustrating, but right now time on my feet is probably the most important thing and there’s plenty of time to build pace and endurance through the next couple of months. For now, I’m happy I have a solid base and am feeling good.

How has your training been affected by the weather this week?
Have you ever been on film/tv (either directly or in the background)?

Friday Finds – 1st February

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.

Congratulations! If you are reading this then you have officially survived January – all 57 days of it (or at least that’s what it felt like!). February is certainly not coming in quietly with bitter cold and disruptive snow in many areas, but it’s still good to know that the dreariest month of the year is behind us. So if you’re cosied up inside avoiding the arctic blast outside, here’s some reading material to keep you occupied…

On the subject of cold weather, while it’s been pretty chilly here in the UK the temperatures endured by our American friends under the polar vortex have been unbelievable, so I was surprised to learn of the 146 crazy hardy competitors who braved the elements to take part in a 135 mile ultramarathon in Minnesota. I think that would definitely be a “nope” from me, but I wonder if any of my readers would fancy giving it a go?

Next, I ask you to indulge me in just one more piece on Jasmin Paris. I’m still totally fascinated (and impressed) by her performance at the Spine Race and really hope to hear her talking about it on some future podcasts. This piece is from the always-excellent Sean Ingle at The Guardian and reminds us that perhaps the most captivating thing about this story is the sheer simplicity of it in a world of sponsorship and carefully calibrated media exposure. I love that Paris is staying true to her values and wants to continue doing things her way and keeping it fun.

Which brings me nicely to the latest Alex Hutchinson column and his examination of gender differences in endurance. While the data can, as Hutchinson rightly points out, be read in different ways, it’s still interesting to look at the trends over the last 40 years and see how the gap between men’s and women’s times have changed. However possibly one of the best parts of this piece is Hutchinson’s praise for athletes such as Jasmin Paris and Camille Herron for the amazing performances they are putting in.

Another fascinating piece of research has found that there are many similarities between children and well-trained endurance athletes, which is perhaps good news for those of us who long for the freedom and energy of childhood. Reading the article it makes sense how trail running, in particular, is similar to child-like play, however one of the things I love about running is the feeling of freedom and being able to go on and on, something that probably has its roots in childhood play. I’d love to know your thoughts on this one.

And finally, this week I came across what is possibly the cutest running story of all time: a beautiful tail tale about a woman running the majority of a marathon whilst carrying an abandoned puppy she found early in the race. I just love that she did this and that she later adopted the adorable pup. It got me thinking about what I would do in a similar situation, and I suspect that given my tendency to stop and pet all the animals on training runs, helping a puppy (or kitten) would definitely become more important than the race – there are always other races but a helpless animal may only have that one shot at a better life. Well done Khemjira Klongsanun.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Brrrr!

It’s nearly the end of January! I’ll admit it’s not my favourite month of the year. I find January pretty grim in general, but do enjoy getting stuck into my marathon training so tend to put my focus there, ticking off the workouts, and the month zips by far more quickly. The training is also a great distraction from the fact that January seems to be about 11 weeks long after last being paid before Christmas as there’s not much time to think about anything beyond weekly essentials.

This week I shifted a few things around (yes, changes to the plan already, but sticking to it religiously just never works) due to various factors. I still had a really good week of training, even if the weather wasn’t playing ball for most of the week.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesdayrest PT session with Steve
Thursdayform drills 4 miles + Ashtanga yoga
FridayPT session with Steve rest
Saturday – parkrun
Sunday – 12 miles with every 3rd mile faster

If you compare that to the first couple of weeks of the month then you’ll see it’s a “Morecambe and Wise” training week – all the right workouts just not necessarily in the right order 😂.

The first part of the week was fine: my usual Monday night yoga class to stretch away the miles I had run the day before then home to lay out my kit for my Tuesday morning run. I knew it was going to be cold and when I got up on Tuesday I realised that there were going to be lots of slippery patches as the ground had been wet before the temperature dropped. My street was actually slippy enough for me to not start my run until I had walked out onto the main road and as I set off on my typical route, I ran on the road as much as possible since it was fine there. The pavement running alongside had sections that were fine and sections with icy patches so I didn’t want to take any risks and took it easy if I had to step onto the pavement to stay clear of any cars.

It ended up being a fairly slow run, but if Tuesday is a recovery run then that really doesn’t matter. I still got my miles done (which involved a bit of an adjustment to my route to account for not running in my own street) and set me up for the day.

My PT session in Steve’s studio was moved to Wednesday since I wasn’t going to be able to fit it in on Friday. At first I thought I would miss the workout altogether, but Steve had a space for me to pop in on Wednesday when I got back from work. He had another circuit planned for me, but ended up adapting it a little as I was feeling some tension across the front of my shoulders in some of the exercises so we did some work to relieve that, cutting some of the circuit down in order to fit it in. I was actually feeling pretty tired, probably more mental fatigue than physical as I had been reading essays for much of the day, so decided I needed a night at home rather than heading to orchestra. I’ve been trying not to miss rehearsals, but the thought of having to spend more mental energy on reading print in front of me – albeit in the form of musical notes – just felt like too much. So I headed home, got into some comfy clothes and watched a bit of tv before having a really early night.

Before bed I laid out my kit for my Thursday morning run. It was supposed to be another set of form drills, but since I knew that there was going to be another overnight freeze (and there had been a light flurry of snow since my last run that was freezing in place in some parts) I ditched that idea and decided just to have another 4 mile run at whatever pace was possible in the conditions. It would be more about time on my feet than a specific workout.

On Thursday morning it was indeed slippy again. This time I wore my all terrain shoes for a little more grip and once more had to walk out of our street to begin my run on the main road. I followed the same route as on Tuesday, again trying to stick to the roads rather than the pavements, but this time if I had to step onto the pavement I actually had to stop running as there were far more slippery patches and I didn’t want to risk a fall. It was a bit irritating to find that my pace was actually SLOWER than on Tuesday despite feeling much fresher, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t stretch my legs out and run faster, but safety has to come first. Plenty of time for harder efforts when the weather is better.

I finished Thursday with my Ashtanga class. My teacher made a suggestion to me about my foot position in Wheel and after trying what she suggested to create a wider and more stable base, the posture instantly felt so much easier. I’m pleased she suggested the adjustment as it’s not always easy to tell for yourself when you’re in a posture and an outside eye is useful. And after that my headstand was better than last week’s effort too, so it felt like a really useful class in terms of my yoga development.

Friday became my rest day, mainly because I was getting my nails done. They grow so fast and I’m really pushing my luck to keep my gel polish on beyond 3 weeks!

But guess what we did on parkrunday? Yup, we were tourists again. Steve is still doing his running club’s winter challenge and since he had no morning clients, we thought it was the ideal time to go to the parkrun furthest away from us (as far as this challenge is concerned) which was Dunfermline.

And it turns out we picked the best day to go there as two members of the local running club were getting married that day and they were starting off at parkrun with a huge turnout from their club to support them. I read a post about this on facebook before we set off, but hadn’t expected to find out that Steve knew the groom, Mind you, I really shouldn’t be surprised at these things anymore as he knows EVERYONE!

We also bumped into a friend we met through running and haven’t seen since she visited our parkrun maybe a year (or perhaps even longer!) ago. I had suspected we would see her so once we had parked (practically by the start line and free parking – handy!) and located the toilets, Steve went for a quick warm up and I wondered off to see if I could spot our friend. As soon as she saw me she came and gave me a hug then insisted we take a jumping photo together. It’s a bit trickier to get a good shot of more than one person, but we got there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the first timers’ briefing to get an overview of the course then lined up ready to start. The run briefing obviously focused on the wedding party and a couple of milestones (our friend was running her 50th – definitely a great day for us to show up!) then we were underway.

The course itself is really good. A short starting section followed by 3 loops before the finishing straight (which is close to the start). It’s far from flat, with a couple of decent hills to climb, but there’s also an awesome swooping downhill before the longer hill where you can really stretch it out. There was a bit of a headwind and some light drizzle for a time, but otherwise much milder weather on a lovely route and I’m sure it’s gorgeous in the spring and summer. It was also all on tarmac path so road shoes were fine.

I knew I would be a bit slower than in Perth (which is pancake flat) and hoped to be under 26 minutes so my 25:58 was just right. Besides, I knew that whatever I ran would automatically be marked as my PB for that course. My only slight bugbear is that I need a 57 for Stopwatch Bingo and was just one out. Gah!

Before the run I had spotted where I wanted to take my post-run photo. Dunfermline is in the part of Fife that has a history in coal mining and there was an old coal train in the park. It seemed the perfect backdrop for some photos.

I really enjoyed my visit to Dunfermline. There’s always a friendly atmosphere at parkrun, but I think all the celebrations at this one really made it feel special. It would be nice to visit again some time.

The temperatures held up for Sunday and although it was cool, I was able to do my long run without any alteration. This week I had 12 miles with every third mile faster and despite a pretty strong headwind (the kind that changes direction with you) I was pleased with how it went and felt good.

This was my peak week for this month as next week will be a cutback week in my long run mileage, however I actually ended up with slightly lower mileage due to the change I made on Thursday and not having any extra miles on Sunday. It’s not something I’m worried about, just an interesting observation.

And so although this week was a little frustrating at times, I remained consistent and enjoyed what I did, especially parkrun. To finish, here are a couple of random photos of the kittens since they’ve not made an appearance in a while. Yes, I was feeling arty and yes, they’re getting so grown up!

What impact has the weather had on your recent training?
Any experiences of combining running and weddings?

Friday Finds – 25th 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.

Wow! I feel like I was only just complaining about it being January already and here we are at the last Friday of the month! Where does the time go? There have been quite a few interesting things popping up in my news feeds this week, so here are some bits and pieces to get your weekend off to a start…

Last week I began with Jasmin Paris and her historic victory at the Montane Spine Race and I couldn’t resist starting with a little more on this story. In this piece from The Guardian‘s Adharanand Finn, Paris tells us more about how she prepared for the race and what the experience was like for her. I’m just so thrilled to have a woman accomplish this feat and set the course record. Even more so because her daughter is just 14 months old and Paris was still breastfeeding.

And now, the marathon. This week I came across a report packed with geek-tastic marathon stats and I LOVE it. I find it so fascinating to consider how I as an individual compare to the “average” times and to see how women’s participation varies in different parts of the world. For example, I’ve long been aware that there is near equal participation between genders in the USA, so was a little disappointed to see that we are not quite as close to that here in the UK where we are only a little beyond the average at 1/3 women. Still, at least there has been an improving picture. If you enjoy marathons and you enjoy stats, this is the article for you!

Sticking with the marathon, here’s an interesting piece from Runner’s World about Andrew Jones PHD, the coach who worked with Paula Radcliffe and was involved in the Breaking2 project. What is so interesting about him is that despite being a good runner in his day, he became an expert on marathon performance without ever actually running a marathon. Until now. This piece focuses on what happened when Jones ran his first 26.2 and what the experience taught him.

I was, however, sad to learn that there appear to have been a number of course-cutters at the Walt Disney World marathon earlier this month. I’ve said before that I just don’t understand cheaters – how could you accept a time/medal/race qualification knowing that you hadn’t legitimately completed the course. And cheating at Disney? Well that just makes it a million times worse. I’m pretty sure that every time someone cuts the course, a fairy dies 😦

And finally, we may have thought the UK weather had been pretty chilly in recent days, but it was nothing compared to conditions in Oymyakon, Siberia. In a recent event the “unbearable” conditions led to a distinct lack of finishers. I think I’ll give this one a miss!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

Week In Review – Groundhog Day!

Another week gone by and although busy, a much easier week compared to the first week of term as I was settled back into the routine again. Training-wise I’m feeling strong and consistent at this point and looking forward to building up in the coming weeks. Here’s how my week looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun “open sandwich”
Sunday – 11 miles with every 3rd mile faster

The aim is to keep most of the week really consistent, with the real changes coming around the Thursday drills and Sunday long run. This week began, as ever, with my Hatha yoga class which I really love. It’s a nice, slow class which is perfect after my Sunday long run and busy Monday at work, but there are also plenty of options which allow me to build strength and flexibility week on week. I always really appreciate this one on a Monday evening, especially since on this particular Monday I had gone from a work meeting, to an appointment, to the vet to collect some routine flea/worm treatments for the kittens, then to yoga, without actually going home! That time to unwind was just what I needed so I felt much more relaxed when I did get home after class.

Tuesday was an early start for my 4 mile run. Although I wear my watch to log the miles, I run this one by feel, aiming to keep it fairly easy and comfortable to get my legs moving again. Basically it’s a recovery run. Yet again it was really windy outside (apparently Tuesdays are windy right now. Surely it should be the day after – Windsday? *groan*). That evening I rounded off my day with some at-home yoga before settling down to relax (Tuesday is usually my best chance to find a bit of space in the evening) and this was time that I really appreciated since Monday had been so packed.

No workout on Wednesday – it’s currently my rest day so I can fit in my orchestra rehearsal without having to rush and getting stressed out.

Another early start on Thursday, this time for my drills. Basically the same as last week – 500m focusing on good form – but adding a further 2 reps this week. I took a slightly different route so that I could include the little bit of extra distance and felt pretty good doing these. These reps are more about form than pace, but that focus should mean that I run better in my other runs – especially parkrun. I quite like setting my watch up with the workout and just following the bleeps until it says I’m done. Rather satisfying!

That evening I had my Ashtanga class and felt really strong through 2 rounds of Wheel. I was conscious I was using my arms more to move into the posture rather than relying on leg strength so that’s a progression. The flip side to that is that my headstand was a bit off this time. I held it for 2 or 3 breaths before having to come out of it and although I reset to try again, my body was having none of it so I accepted that it just wasn’t my week and rested in child’s pose until we were ready to move on. I know there will be times when postures like that just don’t work and that’s ok.

Steve was able to fit in a session on Friday afternoon so I headed to the studio after work. Lately he’s been giving me circuit-style workouts and mixing up the exercises. This week’s set was designed to build intensity and power. It was a bit like Metafit in a way, but much more running-specific. I was assured that I would run well on Saturday as a result, but was doubtful as I felt the weariness in my hip flexors!

On Saturday morning Steve was away quite early for a couple of clients so we arranged to meet at parkrun. I knew I didn’t have time to run both there AND back as I had an appointment, so decided to run down, taking a less direct route to add distance, then get a lift back home with Steve afterwards, making it an “open sandwich” (no top layer!). It was quite chilly but I was determined to debut the new leggings I bought with my Christmas voucher from my sister!

My run there ended up pretty perfect. A 5k “warm up” with just enough time to pop into the sports centre to grab a mouthful of water from the water fountain before heading to the start line in time for the briefing. I had thought I felt a little sluggish as I ran down so wasn’t sure what kind of a run it would be, but as is usually the case my legs felt ready to run as soon as the Run Director said, “go!” Immediately I found myself a bit boxed in and stuck behind others who weren’t moving quite as quickly as I wanted to and it struck me that with our numbers continuing to grow I might have to start positioning myself a little further forward in order to avoid this. It meant that my first mile was a around 25-30 seconds slower than I would have liked, but when I did find some space I was in good shape to push on and found myself passing a number of people. Checking my splints later it was a pretty solid Royal Flush Negative Split!

I didn’t give much thought to my finish time as I knew I had to get home and changed quite quickly in order to grab breakfast with Steve and his brother before my appointment to get my hair cut, so it was only when my text came through that I realised what had happened:

The same time at the same parkrun two weeks in a row earns the Groundhog Day badge on the parkrun Chrome extension (if you haven’t used it yet, you really should – great fun!)…but I already have the Groundhog Day badge! Yes, I have now run my arbitrary SECOND Groundhog Day, or Groundhog Groundhog if you will. Rather conveniently, the Chrome extension does show that I’ve achieved it twice, which is cool.

Sunday’s long run added a mile to last week’s and had pretty much the same format with every 3rd mile faster – but this week I remembered to put the auto pause on so I got a better idea of what I was actually running rather than including all the time I spent waiting to cross busy roads! It was a chilly but bright morning and I enjoyed the run. At this point it all feels really manageable and I’m finishing my runs knowing I could have gone on. That’s always such a good feeling as it means fitness and endurance are progressing well and my body can handle more as the weeks go on. I do like my Sunday runs, listening to podcasts and taking in the scenery and am perfectly content that way for hours. Perhaps that’s why so many of my (non-running) colleagues just can’t understand me!

So overall a good week of training. A little short-lived snow on Friday evening did little to alter things, but who knows what the coming weeks might bring as there is continual talk of cold and perhaps snowy weather coming from the east…

Do you use the parkrun Chrome extension?
Are you a solo runner or do you prefer to run with others?