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.

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!
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!

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.


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


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!


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?

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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.

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.

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.

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 😂)


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!


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_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.


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?

Friday Finds – 2nd March

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.

Brrr! I hope everyone has kept safe and warm this week. Given the unusual weather we’ve been experiencing here in the UK, I thought I’d bring you a wintery edition of Friday Finds this week.

I’ll start with Laura Muir. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Laura and her determined attitude. Yesterday she earned a bronze medal in a world class field at the Indoor Championships in Birmingham. That in itself is fantastic, but what really caught my attention was what it took to get from Glasgow (where she is studying to become a vet) to Birmingham for the race as The Beast From The East made travel incredibly difficult. That’s one determined athlete!

Also pretty determined is this coach in Vancouver who spent THREE HOURS shovelling snow from one lane of the athletics track so his team could still get their workout done. Shovelling snow is a pretty intense workout in itself (and there’s always the risk that your handiwork is quickly obliterated by fresh snowfall) so well done Coach!

If you’re anything like me then you’re probably not letting the weather stand in the way of going for a run, but it’s still important to make sure you dress appropriately and adjust your expectations. For me that means layering up and forgetting about pace/mileage and just having fun. For a little extra help, here’s Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column from earlier this year with some cold weather running advice.

Of course many may see it more as skiing weather right now, so here’s an interesting article about the calorie intake of elite cross-country skiers. It turns out they have to eat an enormous number of calories each day to support their training and that’s not as easy as it might sound. I know from past experience of marathon training (and those days immediately after the race) that a huge meal seems to be quickly burned off and hunger sets right back in, so can understand this difficulty to an extent. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind a go at eating 8000 calories, just for a couple of days…!

And finally, it seems that some people just never seem to feel the need for warm clothing for their run – even in the most frigid temperatures. Looking at this, it seems our friends in Canada are a particularly hardy breed. I think I’ll stick to my thermal kit, if it’s all the same to you!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess