Week In Review – Fun, Sun and Holidays Done!

The second week of my spring break gave me a chance to get a bit more consistent training in as part of my inverse taper, as well have a bit more fun to set me up for the long term ahead. My training ended up as follows:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 10k + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday 17 miles

It was great to be off on Marathon Monday as it meant I was able to watch online coverage of the Boston marathon in the afternoon. If you haven’t caught it already, I suggest taking a look at the finish of the men’s race – so exciting! The timing worked out perfectly as not long after the elite races finished it was time for me to head out to my yoga class. It’s a term time class, but the new school term already started in the area where I live (they came off on holiday a week ahead of the school where I work, in a neighbouring area). I already felt pretty relaxed, but it was still good to get back on the mat and start a new block of classes.

Before heading out to the class my sister had sent me a message telling me about the fire at Notre Dame in Paris (I hadn’t seen any news since I had marathon coverage on) and when I arrived home I was shocked to see the extent of the fire and the impact on the cathedral’s infrastructure. Regular readers know that Paris is my favourite city and a very special place for me, so anything that affects Paris tends to touch my heart. I ended up watching rolling coverage of the terrible blaze for the rest of the evening as there seemed to be some doubts about whether or not the fire could be contained and the building saved, so as soon as they announced that it was under control I breathed a sigh of relief and headed off to bed.

With Paris still on my mind, I pulled one of my Paris marathon tops out of the wardrobe to wear for my run on Tuesday morning. It was a very pleasant 4 mile run on a staple route, but what really struck me was how good my legs felt after my 16 mile run on Sunday. I had commented to Steve that my legs had felt fine afterwards and through the Monday, so a run was a real test of how well they had recovered. I’ve no idea why this is – maybe the additional running that is now part of my average week has conditioned them a bit better – but even with the time I had off, my legs are recovering well from my longer runs. Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

On Tuesday evening I went to the concert hall with my parents and sister as she had got us tickets for the production of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which was on. I know it’s a book I’ve read, however there is a degree of ambiguity around some of the action (and it’s kinda creepy in places – I believe it was an inspiration for The Woman in Black) and I couldn’t remember it very well as it’s been so long since I read it. It was a good production, but it does irritate me when the ending is a little too open to interpretation.

I took Wednesday as a rest day and spent the morning relaxing at home. I think I might even have watched a film! In the afternoon Steve and I headed into town since we had another code for a free coffee in Caffè Nero and I had a few errands to run. The sun was out so I walked into town and Steve joined me a little later for coffee. It’s nice to do things like that when I’m on holiday.

Thursday morning was a bit cooler again, perfect for a run. I decided on another 10k since I had the luxury of time. Nothing special, just a fairly standard run and more time on my feet to keep things consistent. That’s the most important thing right now.

I popped out again in the afternoon as I had a couple of errands that needed me to have the car (bags of cat litter are a bit hefty to carry home!) and I came back to find the kittens like this:

I then had my Ashtanga class in the early evening. Despite having all the time in the world, I was nearly late thanks to some heavy traffic but I made it in time to get set up right before class started. Yet again, I felt I was strong in Wheel but it wasn’t a good Headstand week for me (it happens!) and I only held it for a couple of breaths before I felt I was losing my balance. No big deal, I know I can keep improving it with consistent practice.

Friday was my most exciting day of the week. It began in a fairly nondescript fashion with a workout down at Steve’s studio. We’re mainly working on arms and core right now so he has been giving me lots of exercises using the TRX, hand weights and my own body weight. He varies things each week so I never know quite what I’m going to get.

After that I had a bit of time to myself, then around 3:30pm we were in the car and en route to Glasgow to see TAKE THAT!!! We got the tickets back in about September so I had been really looking forward to another opportunity to see my favourite band.

We learned the hard way that parking out at the SSE Hydro is not a good idea as it takes ages to get out of there afterwards, so now we park closer to town and walk in – it probably doesn’t take any longer than sitting in the queue to leave the venue car park and at least we are moving. This time we had a booking for a meal in town so parked in one of the city centre car parks. I hadn’t been to the restaurant we were booked at before, but the menu looked ideal for what we wanted that night and we had found a deal to save a little off the bill.

Loads of really American-style dishes on the menu – mainly burgers and ribs and things like that – so I opted for a classic burger and it was really delicious.

Appetites satisfied, we walked along the River Clyde out towards the Hydro as I was keen to get there in time for the support act: blast from the past Ricky Astley (yes, I am old enough to remember him from back in the day!). It’s only about a half hour walk (if that) and on arrival I headed straight for the merchandise stand to get my tour T-shirt and programme before finding our seats in the auditorium.

Rick Astley is, of course, best known for the song which gave rise to this meme:

And of course he saved it for last, at which point everyone in the place leapt to their feet to sing and dance along. It was brilliant!

Take That were, as ever, amazing. Their shows are always so theatrical and this was no exception.

They even had ACTUAL LULU for Relight My Fire!

I loved it!

Post-show we joined the throngs walking back into town, headed to the car and drove home. A late night but totally worth it. It was only when I woke up the following morning that I realised that’s 2 years in a row I’ve seen Gary Barlow on the exact same date: last year to was his solo tour which visited Perth and this year as part of Take That. I’m perfectly happy to set aside the same date next year for another evening with Captain Barlow 😂

Needless to say, I was not feeling at my freshest on Saturday morning but I knew a run would soon wake me up. I opted for another parkrun sandwich and was delighted to find that the forecast of good weather for the Easter weekend was true – I even got my shorts out for the first time this year! To put that in context, on Tuesday evening it was pretty cold as we were returning to the car after the play and on my Thursday run I wore leggings and a lightweight long-sleeved top to beat the chill, so this warm weather was a big increase in temperature for us.

Despite my tired body and the warmer conditions, I actually ran fairly well and ended up less than 20 seconds slower than last week. I expected to be much slower than that! As an added bonus, one of the local churches has a running group which is at parkrun most weeks and it being Easter, they had a little post-run treat for all the runners.

I was a little concerned about it melting on the way home, but also couldn’t face eating chocolate and then running a couple of miles, so stuck it in my Spibelt (I looked like I had a hernia haha!) and hoped for the best. I can confirm that when I ate it later in the afternoon it was perfectly fine, having been out in the fridge as soon as I got home.

After our usual Saturday routine of breakfast with Steve’s brother and getting the food shopping, I decided the weather was too good to waste sitting inside (who knows when we’ll get this again – it is Scotland after all!) so slapped the sun cream on and spent the afternoon reading and dozing in the garden. It was lovely.

I also looked at the parkrun photos from the morning and discovered I had been upstaged by a gorilla. Not something you see every day!

Photo: Roy Mitchell for Perth parkrun Facebook page

Sunday was my last chance for an “inverse taper” run before the marathon next weekend and I had originally planned to run 18 miles, however the weather was still warm and this led to me making a mistake. I really should have set my alarm a bit earlier to be out quite sharp while it was still cool, but I’m just not in the habit of that right now and I ended up going out a bit too late. I also had this kit difficulty to contend with:

The temperature wasn’t too bad when I set off, but by the time I was coming to the later miles it was getting pretty warm and that was making the run harder than it needed to be. Conscious of the need for good recovery, I cut it short by a mile. Hopefully next Sunday is a bit cooler!

And after 17 miles, the rest of the day was pretty much devoted to eating all the food! We did go out to claim our free coffee from Fitness Rewards, but with the sun still shining it seemed like the perfect week for the first Frappuccino of the summer. Delicious!

The week ahead will mean a return to work, but I will have to be very conscious of getting plenty of rest to make sure I’m ready to run on Sunday. I fully expect it to be hard work and reckon I’ll be doing well if my time is in the 4:30s (I won’t be troubling my 4:05 of last year any time soon!!) but that’s ok, as sometimes it’s about completing rather than competing. This is one of those times.

How have you made the most of the weather this week?
What was the last concert you went to?

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Week In Review – Getting The Consistency Back

If you read my update last week you will already know that I recently took a bit of a time out due to being unwell. Rested and recovered, it was time to start adding some training back into my schedule, beginning with some lighter workouts as my spring break from school began, then working back into a more “normal” routine.

That meant a light workout with Steve on the Friday, a slower parkrun (minus the sandwich as I opted to drive there and back) on the Saturday and a longer run on the Sunday. Steve had suggested I run at least 10k, ideally being able to extend that to 8 miles. In reality I ran 10 miles and felt pretty good, helping me to make a very important decision with regard to my forthcoming marathon (for which my race pack arrived during my illness – poor timing or what!). Having initially been unsure if I wanted to go ahead, I enjoyed getting out and running again so with the help of the good old Inverse Taper, I plan on being on that start line at the end of the month. I know it will be a slower time for me, but that’s fine. Sometimes our goals have to change.

So with that in mind, here’s how my first week of returning to “proper” training looked. Remember that around this I had no work commitments so was simply fitting this in around a heavy schedule of YouTube videos and playing Disney Emoji Blitz 😂

Monday – rest
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – 10k + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 16 miles

Since it’s the school holidays, that means I have to do to all kinds of glamorous things that I can’t fit into the school term. The list began on Monday with my dental checkup – oh the excitement! Fortunately all was well and after a quick clean of my teeth I was on my way. I actually took the chance to head into school to tidy up my classroom from when I was off, catch up on any important emails and get my head around what I had missed. I think the office staff thought I was mad going in, but not knowing what I was going back to after the holidays was causing me some stress so by going in at the start of the holidays I could alleviate that and get on with enjoying the break, safe in the knowledge that everything was in order for the start of the new term. I only stayed for about an hour and a half, basically arriving home in time for my lunch and ready to relax. No workout that day as I had pushed my mileage a little the day before, but I did do some home yoga as I was conscious I had let that slide while I was unwell and wanted to get back into the habit again.

When there’s no work I enjoy a leisurely start to the morning, which for me means making a cup of tea and taking it back to bed to read for maybe an hour. It’s so nice and such a treat when usually mornings are so frantic. Once I had done this on Tuesday, I got myself ready to run and headed out for a 4 mile recovery run. My calves were a bit weary, but nothing untoward and it was so nice to be getting out in the daylight after all those dark winter runs. I had read that it was Unicorn Day, so dutifully wore a pair of unicorn leggings to mark the occasion. It would have been rude not to!

Wednesday was a rest day, other than some yoga, but Steve and I had some codes for one or two freebies in town so I walked there and back in order to get a bit of movement into my day. First up, we claimed a small bag of Mini Eggs (yum).

Then grabbed a free coffee in Caffè Nero, treating ourselves to a little snack to go with it.

Quite a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, and I do love a freebie!

Thursday was another run and since I had the luxury of time, I decided to stretch the distance a bit. 4 miles is perfect on a school day, but I had nowhere I needed to be so went for 10k in the spring sunshine and it was lovely.

Later in the day I had my Ashtanga yoga class. I had missed a week while I was unwell and this was to be my second class since I returned. The previous one had been fine, but I had gone easy on myself in some of the transitions and had definitely felt that I lacked some of the strength I had been used to. What a difference in this class! I moved through the postures the way I normally would and felt much stronger in Wheel, completing 2 rounds. Even my Headstand was better. It really showed me how much better I was doing compared to just a week earlier and I was pleased to feel like I had really recovered.

On Friday morning I headed down to the studio for a workout focusing on my upper body. I really want to work more on my arms right now, and Steve added in some exercises that would also work my upper back/shoulders as well as my core. We’re mainly using the TRX and some small weights just now and hopefully I’ll begin to notice the results as the weeks tick by.

Post-workout I had a few errands in town so walked down. First, a haircut, which was followed by a sight test (told you school holidays were full of glamorous activities!). By a strange coincidence, my dad was also at the optician as he was due a contact lens check and my mum was meeting him there after some errands of her own. I emerged from my test to find my parents still sitting in the waiting area as it was time for their afternoon cup of tea and they were taking me with them. A pretty good surprise! We headed over to the cafe at the nearby concert hall (where my sister works) and had tea with fruit scones. It was very nice, but I failed to take a photo as I was having a conversation with my sister about our plans for the summer. Oh well, I guess you know what tea and scones look like so it’s not a big deal!

While I was out I also picked up another freebie I hadn’t been able to claim earlier in the week – an actual Easter egg (which they iced with my name). I’m looking forward to this one!

Since I was feeling so much better I decided to go for the parkun sandwich on Saturday (and wear my new Cookie Monster leggings!). I wasn’t sure how I would do on the actual parkun, so was pleased to squeak under 25 minutes with my time of 24:59. On the one hand, I know it’s not my best as I ran sub-24 right before I was ill, but on the other hand it was a significant improvement from my “comeback parkrun” the week before where I ran 26:15 and it felt super hard. The fitness is still in there and it shouldn’t take much to get back on track now.

The rest of Saturday was pretty restful. We finished season 2 of This Is Us (a total disaster since season 3 hasn’t reached the UK yet – gah!) and watched some recent episodes of Cold Feet. It’s actually been pretty good committing to a box set of something as it’s not something we usually do. I am going to need some suggestions for something new to watch though…

And then it was long run Sunday. SInce I’m using the Inverse Taper, things are going to be a bit unconventional. My most recent long run was 14 miles. I then missed a run before coming back with a 10 miler. I figured it would probably be ok to go for 16 miles for this one since I’ve got plenty of miles in my legs and experience of long runs. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this approach to a beginner!

As it turned out, the run went well. I expected to really fade towards the end but I still felt pretty strong, in fact I felt better than in my 10 miler the week before. I also noticed that my legs recovered well and I wasn’t stiff and sore during the remander of the day, which is a good sign.

And when I checked my stats in the Garmin app, I was intrigued to notice how many steps I had taken. I’ll take that as a marathon-based sign ha!

My mum visited in the afternoon as she needed to collect some things from me (any excuse to see the kittens as I could have given her these things when my parents dropped me off on Friday afternoon!) so we had a restful afternoon with tea and a slice of cake. Perfect!

Now I have one more week of building up through my Inverse Taper then a mini-taper of a week into the marathon. What could possibly go wrong? 😂

Have you successfully used the Inverse Taper for your marathon preparations?
Are you a freebie fan?

Week In Review – Finding Some Form?

Hola! As I write this the wind is whipping up again outside for what will no doubt turn into another storm and thanks to the current political storms, the country looks like it may very well implode in the the coming days as everything unravels around us. So what else is there to do but keep on training and hope the endorphins keep me sufficiently balanced to deal with it all! Here’s how the past week looked:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – sports massage
Thursday – form drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun open sandwich
Sunday – 14 miles with every 3rd mile faster

For the first time in what feels like ages, I actually did everything as planned, without any tweaks or changes. Go me! I’ve been trying to fit a little more yoga into my week again with some home practice, but I got the week started with my Monday Hatha class (only one more to go this term 😔). Still the best thing in an otherwise long Monday – especially at this time of year!

Despite wanting to stay in my bed forever, I am still managing to get up for my early runs and definitely noticing more signs of daylight when I’m out. Soon I think I’ll be able to ditch my hi-viz and head out into a gloriously light morning, I think that will make all the difference as I already feel so good for finishing with a bit of light around. This was my standard 4 mile recovery run and although my legs were feeling a little heavy, I did feel better and better as the run went on, finishing with a glorious Royal Flush Negative Split (which of course had nothing to do with the fact that my route goes mostly uphill for the first half and then mostly downhill for the second half!).

I did some home yoga that evening and then squeezed in another yoga session on Wednesday after work before heading off to my sports massage. Thanks to a variety of unfortunate circumstances, this had been postponed a couple of times and I was really feeling like I needed my massage as it’s such a staple of my recovery routine. I was certain my legs would feel refreshed afterwards as they have been a little weary.

I got a chance to test this out on Thursday morning with my form drills. My legs were probably not as fresh feeling as I had hoped, but I did feel that the massage had made a difference and completed my set of form drills well – even if my warm up felt like hard work as the wind was being funnelled right down the road I was running up! Fortunately once I turned off that road I was a bit more sheltered and immediately felt better.

After missing my Ashtanga class last week I made a real point of getting away from work in good time so I could get to class this week. I find I really am relying on yoga to help balance both my body and my mind so missing out is not ideal. Probably as a result of recent circumstances and the way I have trained this year, I noticed that my arms did not feel as strong as I would like when in Wheel. Despite that, I still did one of the best headstands I’ve done in ages so it can’t be all bad. It was a good class and it did make me feel calmer and ready to head into the last working day of the week.

Because of my observations about the strength and toning in my arms, I requested an arm workout when I went to the studio for my PT session on Friday. Steve dutifully came up with a circuit that used weights, TRX and my own body weight to work my arms in various ways (and my core!) and this is probably something I need to prioritise a bit more moving forward. I suspect the fact that I have been doing a bit less yoga up until now has probably played a part in this as well so it gives me a target not specifically related to running, but which will be of benefit to my running, to work on through the coming weeks as summer approaches.

Steve had an early client again on Saturday morning so I sent him off with an extra top for me to put on after parkrun. His brother was away for the weekend so we had decided to return to the “parkrun cafe” after our run and although the weather was so much better than last weekend, I knew I would still want an extra top to put on. Sending my “luggage” with Steve meant I was free to run down without having to figure out a way to carry extra stuff with me. I quite enjoyed the run as the sun was out, it felt warmer than the forecast had suggested and I found myself speaking with someone else on their way to parkrun whilst I was waiting to get across a busy junction. It’s so nice that parkrun makes us feel like we can talk to random strangers on the street without coming across as weirdos!

Photo credit: Roy Mitchell

Parkrun itself was really good. After some positive performances recently on our winter route (and in tough conditions) I wanted to try and get a measure of where I am. We were back on the main route and I set off running quite hard. I did slow up a little on the middle mile as that was initially into a headwind then over the grass, which is still a little soft, but I maintained a consistent effort and was thrilled to finish with my first sub-24 in ages and fastest time of the year. My 23:49 is actually fairly comparable to where I was last year and was probably just the confidence boost I needed as I still have a niggling doubt about how much training I have done this year when it comes to distance and overall fitness. I really do need to put more faith in the process right now – after all, I’ve completed marathons on far less than I’ve done to date!

Photo credit: Roy Mitchell

This week we were in the cafe earlier and it was packed with parkrunners. It got me wondering what other people think when around 10am the place is suddenly filled with sweaty, smelly (and sometimes muddy) runners all looking for coffee and hot filled rolls. The staff don’t seem bothered at all and are probably pleased to have so much regular custom!

The rest of Saturday was fairly restful. I read my book, had a nap and made a real point of relaxing. I still have two weeks of this term to go and it’s feeling like a real effort right now so rest needs to be a priority.

After a good sleep with no alarm, I was up and ready to run my 14 miles – and this time I actually did the “every 3rd mile faster” part. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this run. Physically, it went well and I’m happy with my splits; mentally I just wasn’t in it this time. It was one of those runs that I just didn’t feel like I wanted to do and didn’t enjoy it as much. There was no good reason for it, I just seem to have had a bit of an “off” week. Maybe because I’m finally moving the miles on; maybe because I’m worried about getting enough Big Runs in before race day; or maybe just because I’m feeling a bit done right now and in need of my holiday. Whatever it was, I still completed the miles so can use this one as mental training to draw on in the inevitable tough times on race day – especially since the last 4 miles were straight into a headwind so fierce I actually managed to kick myself TWICE as the wind blew me sideways mid-stride! It’s been a long time since I was so pleased to finish my long run – I even reached the distance before reaching my front door and stopped my watch there and then to walk the last couple of hundred yards home. I guess every training cycle has its ups and downs and this hasn’t been my best all things considered. All I can say is onwards and upwards!

What are your strategies to keep going during tough runs?
What is your next event?

Week In Review – Storms And Snow

Last week was a stormy week, but thankfully more due to weather than anything else. I think in terms of weather March was pretty broken last week – hard to believe people were having barbecues in February when now we’re being practically blown away and there has been snow! Despite it all, training continued:

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
ThursdayAshtanga yoga rest
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun sandwich
Sunday – 12 miles with every third mile faster

As ever, the week began with my Monday evening Hatha yoga class. I’d been bothered by a tight upper back/neck over the weekend which had been giving me a headache, so Steve had helped me to ease it off and relaxing in a yoga class really made a difference. Just what I needed.

The forecast for Tuesday was awful with the full force of Storm Gareth (weather with a “person name”, sigh!) due to hit us. But by some miracle it was actually not raining when I headed out for my run, which was a real bonus. Yes, it was pretty windy, but since this is really a recovery run it didn’t make much difference and I enjoyed being out.

Usually I do some yoga at home on a Tuesday, but this week  there wasn’t enough time as I had to have something to eat then pick my sister up to head into town. She was literally a few hours home from her holiday but she had got us tickets to see Brendan Cole (formerly one of the pro dancers in Strictly Come Dancing) in his new touring show. I think that’s 5 times I’ve seen him live now and this new show was probably the best so far. It opened with a number from The Greatest Showman and the first half finished with a number from Moulin Rouge. I loved it! It did mean a slightly later night than normal, but totally worth it.

After being up a bit later I took Wednesday as a rest day but did make sure to do a short yoga practice first. It was good to have a reasonably restful evening at home.

On Thursday I was up and out for another set of form drills. My plan had me lengthen the work interval and so the number of reps had dropped back down again. I actually quite enjoyed the workout, but part way through the run I began to feel a bit of tightness in my left leg, close to the ankle. It was still bothering me later in the day but Steve was able to spot the issue and correct the movement pattern that was leading to it. Phew!

Less fortunate was my inability to leave work in time to make it to Ashtanga yoga. I really must make sure to prioritise things for myself over work a bit more as I’m conscious that I’m leaving late quite often right now, which in turn leaves me feeling rather wiped out. Hopefully things will be a bit calmer soon! In the meantime, I opted for some home yoga again since I missed my class, then settled in for another quiet evening at home.

I did manage to leave work in good time on Friday which meant that I could make it to the studio for a training session. Steve wanted to do some work with a medicine ball to increase the range of movement around my left ankle/foot joint as he believed that had contributed to some of the tightness I had experienced recently. We also did some hip mobility work on the floor as well as some core work with the TRX.

Steve was Run Director at parkrun on Saturday morning so we did a little bit of re-jigging of our weekend. From his previous experiences of being RD, we knew it was pretty tight for him to complete his duties and make it over to meet his brother for breakfast, so this time we arranged to meet his brother on Sunday afternoon instead. This meant Steve had plenty of time to linger in the cafe processing the results. There are actually 2 cafes next to where our parkrun is and I had actually never been to the one Steve was going to use, so we decided that I should join him for some breakfast while the results were going through. To make this work, he set off for his early client with a warm top and jacket for me in his car, I ran down then did a cool down jog afterwards while I was waiting for him.

Of course the weather wasn’t playing ball and I ran down to parkrun in snow, but the paths in the park were pretty clear. It was our “winter course” of 2 laps of the park again since the weather wasn’t conducive to using our main route, and given the conditions I was pretty pleased to stop my watch on 24:24.

This marked my 150th run in Perth, and while 150 isn’t an official parkrun milestone, we often do have shouts outs for things like that. The week we went to Kirkcaldy I completed my 150th parkrun and learned afterwards that the RD in Perth that day had announced it so it was nice to get a shout for my 150th Perth run, even if it is arbitrary!

The cafe afterwards was really nice. It was cosy, full of parkrunners and they had really good bacon rolls on the menu. While Steve processed the results, I gazed around and noticed someone wearing a top from the With Me Now podcast (an independent podcast about parkrun – check it out if parkrun is your thing). I actually ended up talking to the woman wearing it and it was really nice to have a chat with someone different thanks to a shared interest, although I don’t think Steve had a clue what we were on about since it was all in-jokes and names unfamiliar to him. The whole thing felt to me like what I imagine when I read/listen to discussions of post-parkrun cafes, so I think it’s safe to say I really enjoyed my first “official” parkrun cafe experience!

But the weather did mean that my bathroom ended up looking like this all afternoon as we dried off all the kit:

Meanwhile outside:

Sunday was my long run and it was 12 miles. I had been concerned that thanks to the various interruptions I’ve had in February and early March  I was falling behind in my training and wasn’t where I hoped to be. But as I looked through my training logs to choose a route, I realised that my long run mileage is at EXACTLY the same place it was last year. Clearly I need to let go of the idea that I’m “behind”, embrace the process and keep on going. I’m probably in a stronger position than I think.

Thanks to Saturday’s snow, I had no idea what to expect on my run. I was supposed to run every third mile faster, but when I got to the third mile I was on a path that still had quite a lot of snowy patches and there was a powerful headwind, so I simply ran as well as I could then was able to pick up the pace on mile 4. After that, I decided just to run to feel and see what happened. What happened was I enjoyed the run and felt like I could have kept on going – a positive sign.

After lunch it was nice to catch up with family over tea and tiffin, then head home for a nap. Oh the rock and roll lifestyle of a marathon runner 😂

What podcasts are you listening to just now?
How has the weather been where you are?

Week In Review – Life’s Ups And Downs

Goodness me! What a week! I’ll not get into all the details, but the short version is that work is busy, life is busy and with so many other things going on I’ve been feeling a little “off”. But not to worry, things are much better now and I managed to remain surprisingly consistent with my training.

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – 4 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – drills + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – rest
Saturday – parkrun sandwich (kind of)
Sunday – 10 miles

I pulled a few longer working days at the beginning of the week to try and keep on top of things, so by the time I got to my yoga class I was DEFINITELY ready for it. Having that hour to myself to calm my mind, listen to my breath and stretch my body was just the thing to rebalance me ready for the rest of the week.

I was up early on Tuesday morning for an easy 4 mile run. After all the calf issues of the previous week it really felt like I had my own legs back under me again – thank goodness!

It was another long working day so when I got home I made sure to do some yoga so that I gave myself a mental and physical break from everything and could relax into my evening.

Wednesday is currently scheduled as a kind of rest day, the aim being that I do some yoga or some exercises set by Steve. This week yoga was what I needed, so after the third long day in a row it was good to head to the mat and unwind a bit. With orchestra finished now until the autumn, it means I have a bit of space on a Wednesday to relax a little and that’s VERY welcome right now!

Thursday was another early start for a set of form drills. It’s been a couple of weeks since I did any, but I picked up where I left off in my programme and after a 1 mile warm up completed 10 sets of 600m with a minute to recover in between. It actually felt pretty good and when I finished the run there were most definite signs of daylight! I can’t wait for the light mornings for my runs as I remember the times I tried that last June being really nice.

I managed to get away from work on time as I wanted to make sure I made it to my Ashtanga class. Another dedicated hour of time on my yoga mat was just what I needed and I noticed that my balance was much better than last week since Steve had given me some exercises to do to sort out the issue I was having.

Friday is usually a training session with Steve, but I had a few things on so wasn’t able to fit it in this week. To be honest, I probably benefitted more from the rest anyway. We did, however, enjoy a cupcake each as there had been a bake sale at school that day to mark the end of Fairtrade Fortnight. Yum!

Steve had an early client on Saturday but came home before parkrun. His plan was to drive down, go for a run, do parkrun then have a quick cool down before driving home. Since I knew we were going to be on our alternative course which is two laps of the park, I didn’t fancy adding extra laps before or after, so decided to run down and then see how I felt afterwards. I actually ended up surprising myself with my time – 24:05 is my fastest of the year so far and since the alternative course is a little longer than our usual route, that suggests that I’m in shape to break 24 minutes over the main route. Awesome! But after running fairly hard I wasn’t feeling like running 2 miles home so joined Steve for a 1 mile cool down instead then got a lift home with him. Somehow, in amongst all that I completely failed to take a photo. Clearly my brain is mush right now!

After completing our usual Saturday errands, I spent the afternoon catching up with a little more work. I had thought sitting at the kitchen table might be a bit more peaceful than trying to get this done at school, but I hadn’t considered the fact that I have 2x 10 month old kittens who find things like pencils absolutely fascinating and kept jumping onto my work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday morning I woke up fairly sharp, made a cup of tea and took it back to bed to read for a bit. Steve left around 8am to drive up to Inverness for the half marathon (I’m really glad I didn’t enter as it just wouldn’t have been the right thing for me just now) and I had 10 miles planned. Almost as soon as Steve left it began to snow quite heavily, so I looked out my “snow running” kit, zipped up my Yuki suit (you’ll get that one if you listen to Marathon Talk) and got out the door. It actually snowed for the majority of my run and I looked a bit of a state when I got home, but I felt like I ran well and was only just outside of 4 hour marathon pace. Given that I was taking it easy in the conditions (some paths were quite slushy and slippy looking as the snow came down) and recent training hasn’t gone exactly to plan, I was really pleased with that and can take some confidence from the fact that I maybe haven’t been set back as much as I thought. There’s still plenty of time to be marathon ready, I just may have to reassess my goal for race day as I see how things progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-run I had lots of time to myself as Steve’s race didn’t start until lunchtime and when he was done he had a fairly long journey back home again. I showered, had some food, finished my marking, ran a couple of errands and watched a little TV. It actually felt like I found a bit of space to relax and take time for myself, which is probably just what I needed. It’s going to be another busy week with another coursework deadline for some of our pupils, but I recognise that I need to look after myself a little better than I have been. Hopefully next week I won’t feel like I’ve been wrung out to quite the same extent!

How do you cope when work gets busy?
What’s your favourite podcast right now?

Week In Review – Mixed Fortunes

At the end of my post last week I was definitely feeling pretty glum. I’d love to tell you that I got over myself and bounced back into the new week, but this past week was one of two parts – heavily weighted to the part where I overreact, throw my toys out the pram and imagine I’ll never run again! Melodramatic? Moi? 😂. I think the main issue for me is that my workload right now is rather hefty and without running to keep me feeling mentally balanced, I was struggling to keep things in perspective. It’s a miracle I survived the week!

Monday – Hatha yoga
Tuesday – home yoga
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – recovery run + Ashtanga yoga
Friday – PT session with Steve
Saturday – parkrun pacing
Sunday – 8 miles

For most of the week I was really struggling with tight, sore calves after my run at the weekend. I’m not often bothered with tight calves, and this was awful. The best comparison I have is that my calves felt like they had run a marathon but not invited my quads along to the party since it was only my calves that were bothering me. It was actually uncomfortable getting up to walk around and I couldn’t understand why this had happened. In hindsight there were probably a few things going on, including the time I had to take off becaseus of having that cough again, plus the fact that I basically ran the bulk of a half marathon distance on road whilst wearing a pair of fairly solid trail shoes. Not a decision I’ll make again! I got some relief from my Monday night yoga class, but there just weren’t enough postures which stretched my calves out enough to feel like it was making a big difference. On the plus side, after feeling quite “chesty” over the weekend and being worried about a relapse of the cough, my magic formula of Olbas oil in my bath, vaporub and a hot water bottle on my chest and a number of strategic lozenges had done the trick and I was feeling much better. Fingers crossed that’s me finally done with the winter cough.

The calf issue meant my Tuesday morning run was out (Sensible Head) so instead I made sure to do some yoga when I got home from work that evening. I was supposed to have a sports massage and was really looking forward to having my calves worked on, but unfortunately the appointment had to be postponed as my massage therapist was unwell. Disappointing, but no point in getting upset about it as I knew she was really ill and I certainly couldn’t expect her to be working. As an alternative, I got Steve to help me work though some exercises to try and figure out what was going on and begin to relieve the tension that had clearly built up in my calves.

I had hoped for more home yoga on Wednesday before heading to the final orchestra rehearsal of the season, but I ended up working later to help a pupil with some coursework so there was no time. To be honest, I really wasn’t feeling like heading out again but made myself go since I had missed the extra rehearsal the previous Sunday thanks to paying a visit to the Apple Store with my poorly MacBook. With a concert at the end of the week, I knew I had to make the effort and I always enjoy orchestra when I’m there, even if I didn’t feel like it beforehand.

Since I was feeling an improvement in my calves, I decided to try a recovery run on Thursday morning. Sometimes the answer really is to “run it out” but on this occasion it was maybe a bit too soon. My calves were like tender lumps of lead with every step and were showing no sign of loosening off. I ran (slowly) for 15 minutes, had a bit of a stretch then ran home as 30 minutes seemed a reasonable time to see if running made any difference. It did not initially, although as the day wore on things did begin to feel a little better and by the time I had worked through the Ashtanga sequence in class that evening, I was feeling a bit better (yes, Thursday morning was the point when I totally overreacted, declared that I was “broken” and clearly would never be able to run again since I shouldn’t still be struggling with an issue on Thursday after a Saturday run. Good thing Steve is patient!). I did, however, notice that my balance was terrible on my left leg and that is usually an indication of something being not quite right. Steve made some adjustments to the exercises he had given me to try and improve that.

I then headed down to the studio after work on Friday so I could do some really targeted work. By this point, my calves felt ok – not perfect, but like I could actually do my pacing stint at parkrun as I had been starting to wonder if I would have to pull out – but my knee had felt a bit “funny” and I knew that was caused by the way either my hip or ankle was moving and that with some mobility exercises it could be corrected quite quickly.

Post-session, I had a little job to do:

That’s right, my MacBook is back! I had someone replace the part that Apple suggested might be at fault and it came back with an operating system installed (I had been unable to get it to do that) which was a positive sign, but it was the old OS it shipped with so I needed to do a bit of upgrading. So far so good as I finalised and published this post on it. Yay!

I decided not to run a parkrun sandwich on Saturday, but to ease myself back in gently with my parkrun pacing role (28 minutes) and see how that felt. I knew that someone I knew a little from orchestra a few years ago was going to be passing through town and coming to parkun to try and lower her PB a bit closer to 28 minutes so I was keen to help her as much as I could. She did drop back a little in the second half of the run, but I was so pleased that she did get a new PB – even if she was pretty tired out from it! And we made sure to get a picture since it was our mutual love of Lucy Locket Loves leggings that connected us in the first place. (Full disclosure: I’m a LLL ambassador so if you purchase through my affiliate link then I get a teeny reward). Actually, before parkrun even started my leggings were attracting attention as a lovely lady said to me that she has been meaning to tell me that I have a great range of leggings. She particularly likes the gin ones!

As ever, I really enjoyed pacing. I know some runners got a new PB thanks to following me and I enjoy the chance to just settle into a comfortable pace and chat with others. Really happy with my time too. I timed it at 27:59.9 which rounds up to 28 minutes but the official time came through as 28:01 😏. Still, I know I did it! More importantly, I was able to actually run and although there was a little tightness in my calves, it was just the same when I finished  as it was before so it didn’t make things any worse. What a difference from Thursday!

The remainder of Saturday was super busy as we had our usual post-parkrun breakfast with Steve’s brother, then I had an appointment at the hairdresser before heading straight to an orchestra rehearsal in the concert hall. Steve picked me up from there to whisk me home, feed me, then get me back down the road suitably attired for the paying public. Somehow I contrived to overlook taking a photo, perhaps because my sister (my usual concert photographer) wasn’t there, but the concert went well which I was pleased with given the programme had some pretty tricky corners and I had missed some rehearsals. Yes, I am still very much of the Eric Morecambe school of instrument playing (all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order) but I felt I played as well as I could and didn’t commit any dreadful clangers. Happy days!

We both made sure to get a bit of a lie-in on Sunday morning before heading out for a run. Apparently Steve was “tired from the concert” so didn’t want to overdo it. Yes Steve, it’s really tiring sitting in the audience having a doze and eating an ice cream at the interval. I feel your pain. Much easier rehearsing for 3 hours then playing through a full concert programme 🙄.

Anyway, Steve suggested I head out on a 10k route that could be extended to 8 miles if I felt good. I interpreted this as “run 8 miles” (of course) so headed out, in the strong winds delivered by Storm Freya (that naming thing AGAIN!), to run a favourite 8 mile loop. Some of it was definitely “character building” thanks to the wind, but I felt good and actually my calves felt better after the run than before so I think I’ve reached the stage where I really can run it out. Hopefully in the week ahead I can get myself properly back on track. Just 8 weeks to go until marathon day…!

How do you cope when you can’t run?
Have you ever learned to play an instrument?

Friday Finds – 1st 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.

Well hello Friday! You took your time this week! This time of year is always really busy in school, making the weekend a welcome sight. Let’s start it off with a few articles to read…

Can you believe it was a year ago that we here in the UK were brought to a standstill by The Beast From The East? I enjoyed running around in the snow, but it was terribly disruptive to training, so when I came across this piece about a revolutionary approach to pavement clearing in one US city, I was stuck by what a great idea it is. I wish we had something like this here for those frosty, slippy mornings!

Next let’s have some science. The debate about barefoot running/heel striking/forefoot striking has raged on for some time now, but more recently researchers have returned to the original graphs plotting impact forces and considered what that means for runners. If this is something you’re interested in, then here’s the ever-reliable Alex Hutchinson to explain more:

Another study reported on this week surrounds another favourite topic in the world of running: the marathon world record. Based on prediction models, the conclusion is that a sub-2 hour marathon (by a man) is possible, but at current rates of change the prediction is that it will be 2032 before we see that happen. Is it just me or does that date sound waaaaaay more futuristic than it really is? Also interesting is that the same study suggests the women’s record, which has stood since 2003, could still be lowered much more. Given that no one else has really come close to Paula Radcliffe’s time of 2:15:25, I am astounded that a much lower time has been suggested. Still, I guess you never know in the world of sport.

Also turning to science is Claire Maldarelli, who has written this piece for Popular Science charting her training for her first marathon. Setting the science against the reality of her training, it makes for an interesting read about the demands of a marathon training schedule, especially for someone taking on their first marathon.

And finally, if running and food practically go hand in hand for you (and let’s face it, we runners do love our food!) then how about a new way to show your passion for insta-worthy dishes whilst out on a run? If that sounds good, then Saucony has you covered with their new trainers inspired by avocado toast. Yes, you did read that right! It sounds a little weird, but actually the shoes themselves look pretty cool. Would you wear them?

Happy reading,
The Running Princess