Latest training

Autumn marathon – week one

This week I embarked on my 18 week training plan that will hopefully take my up to my Autumn marathon ready to run not only a new PB, but a rather large PB. My plan will be from the 8020 running book. The plan is broken into phases as I may have mentioned before and starts with a foundation phase, a few short slow runs to get the legs moving, progressively longer long runs on Sunday’s and the odd interval session. 

My week didn’t start great as I missed the Tuesday run. I just didn’t have the motivation to do it after lots of little jobs after work. I managed to get in the rest of the weeks sessions which was good. 

I got back into my cycling to and from work this week and another colleague has joined the bike club, and also the Strava club. This means the cycles to work have taken on a more focused edge which is good as it will motivate me a bit more. So Wednesday to Friday I cycled in and back before my running session. 

The Friday session was an interval session of  5 x 2 minutes with 2 mins jog recovery. It was tough. I knew it would be tough. I wanted it to be tough. I really feel that my lack of these run types really came to bite me in my marathon early this year. I did some but think I lacked the quality. It’s a bit hard to pace, push and maintain when you are on your own and can just stop. I will keep these up and I will accept the pain they will bring for the rewards they will also deliver. 

Finished the week with a steady 8 miler. Not anywhere near the pace I want but will try to remember that there is a long way to go and I can add pace in later on. This is something I want to add to my long runs so that I know what to expect on the day. 

Another area I want to work on is my all round strength and conditioning so spent the week looking at a few different exercises I can do at home that should help improve my running. Still not sure how to incorporate them into an evening which is taken up with running but will develop it as I guy. Taken a few measures that should allow me to see some sort of progress. I’ll chat about these as they evolve. 

17 weeks to go!

Training progress

I am now 4 weeks into my marathon training plan and things are going well. 

The plan I am using is the 80/20 running method by Matt Fitzgerald which has a focus on the intensity balance between the runs and doing more slower runs. As part of this it has had me running every day apart from the rare rest day. 

The consistency of getting and running nearly all the planned sessions and doing something every day has been really good for me. It has made it harder to skip a run and I have enjoyed them on the whole. 

The plan is split into foundation stage, peak phase and taper phase. I’m in the foundation phase for few more weeks now. The three main session during the week are a fast finish session, hill interval session and the long run session. 

The hill sessions are by far the hardest but I have never really included these in a plan properly before so I am keen to dig in and get through these sessions as best I can. May be easier to do these with other people but I just do them on my own. The fast finish sessions are nice because I get to open the legs up and go at a fast manageable pace. Was up to 15 minutes at that intensity this week which was good. Feels like it would be my 5 k pace and having not done a parkrun for a while I have the memory of that feeling after my last PB to go by. The long runs are good as the go up for 2 weeks then decreases for a week. Went out and did 14 miles today which was a good comfortable run. 

My old knee niggle is beginning to hover every now and then but I am trying to do more IT band specific exercises every other day to keep that area strong. Plan to visit a physio again soon to get ahead before I go into the peak phase. Me and the foam roller are spending a lot of time together. 

Feeling like a runner again

For the first time in a long time I feel like an actual runner again and it is great!

It has been half term so I have had time to be a bit selfish and focus on getting out running again. My aim for the week was to go and do a few slow runs and see what happened in the hope I could go slow for 30 minutes. The first day of the holidays I went out and because of the slower pace I felt comfortable going longer. Getting to the hour mark and feeling good with it was really satisfying. I thought it best to leave a day between each run but ended up having to wait for a couple of days before my next run.

Over the rest of the week I managed to get out 3 more times doing exactly the same thing and had no pain in my knee. (Check out my training diary here) I was even able to enjoy running because I wasn’t putting my body under stress by pushing hard.

I also returned to my physio again to discuss my tight hips/glutes/lower back. After some prodding and assessment he reached the conclusion that my hip flexors are still tight as is my back, which is not great for my posture. He found some trigger points in my back and glutes (it was not enjoyable) and gave me some exercises to work on as well as advising on foam rolling the glutes and back daily. I am really determined to get this sorted and must do them daily!

As mentioned in a previous blog on Pomprey Hill Parkrun, I enjoyed getting out and being in a community of runners to start the weekend. I was also pleased to get a solid time on a new course that was a decent challenge. Perhaps I should have warmed up a bit better before it – not to go faster but to reduce risk of injury. However, you don’t see lots of warm ups being done so didn’t want to be odd.

Although it might have been a sensible idea to rest today following Parkrun, I was really keen to go out and add some more distance to my week and show myself that I was capable of doing more. Admittedly, I have probably done far too much running this week having previously done very little but it is great to know I have it under my belt.

Next week I return to school so my schedule will probably be busier and running might take a back seat but I think this will be a good thing. Having pushed to get these runs done it will probably benefit my legs to have a week of less running before steadily increasing it again.

My aims for next week is to do a couple 10k/1 hour runs again and a steady Parkrun on Saturday. I’m also looking to get out in the morning before work to fit in a run to free up an evening for some core/yoga style work as well as continuing to work on my physio exercises.

How has your week of running been? Have you started to follow any training plans?

Recent training

I really want to blog more so that I can share my progress with others looking to improve but also to record what I actually do. This would hopefully allow me to look back and learn from mistakes or what goes well.

However, recently my training has not carried on progressing as I had hoped. I attended my second Monday night run group last week which was really good. It was 8 sets of 500m and it was paced quite well and my legs got a nice run out. After this though my week got taken over with work as I had a lot of marking to do and lessons to plan. This meant my evenings were spent just eating dinner and going to bed. I hate this because I don’t want to do that, I want to go home and exercise and keep up my training. If I don’t run I find my body aches in a different kind of way. A really uncomfortable way. So by the end of the week I was feeling awkward.

On Saturday morning I went out to do a good warm up which I’m doing in every gym visit to get my hips stronger and more flexible and try to run for 30 minutes. This didn’t happen. I felt really stiff and running was not smooth. My knee was twingey but I feel that may have been psychological. Decided to knock it on the head and return home.

I then missed my track session Monday because a friend had come back to Bristol so we went out for dinner. Went to the gym Tuesday and had a good flexibility workout which loosened everything slightly. Tried running on the treadmill but the stiffness was still there. I think by doing more lighter jogging it might mean I can keep doing more. But who knows. 

I have made a decision that I will now work extra hard to get yoga into my workout with my aim to do it 3 times a week. I started tonight and found that I am so inflexible. I found one online that was focused on hips and hamstrings which was much needed. Alongside my strengthening I think this will be important and I want to see how long I can keep this going. To fit it in I think it will have to be a late night thing, maybe after dinner so that I can fit in some other workout before hand.

Anyone got tips to fit yoga in or which yoga to do? What about Pilates?

My first time running in a group

Tonight I went to a recreational runners group for the first time.

It is run through Bristol and West Athletics Club for those runners who want to improve but not run as part of the club. I was feeling pretty tired after a long first Monday back in school but managed to force myself out the door. I was glad I did!

I arrived and was warmly greeted by the coach and had a brief chat with someone in my group which helped settle my nerves. He was also kind enough to let me know what was expected of the warm up. 3 laps of the track for a social jog was followed by some dynamic warm up exercises. This was exactly what I wanted before running. It felt like what I do in the gym with some nice new exercises for me to add to my routine. I have never really been one for a thorough 10 minute warm up but since my knee issue, I will always take into account time for warming up.

I was put in a group based on my 5k time which I said was 23 minutes based on my park run two days before. I’m a long way off that PB fitness so it worked out well. There was a number of groups available for a range of levels and targets. I was informed of the plan for the session which I am told gets sent out the night before. It was 4 lots of 1300m with 500m jogs in between.

I decided that because I was new and lacking confidence in my running that I would be best to hang at the back of our small group of 7. The lads who were setting the pace would move ahead but by the finish line, my little sub group were not far behind. I feel like I kept a bit in the tank for the last one and tried to increase my speed for the finish.
On the injury front my knee was fine but once again I had tight calves. I’m putting this down to a lack of running so am considering using the cross trainer to mirror the movement a bit.

I can see the benefits of having these sessions in my training plan even if it was once a week. I like to do my own thing but I am not very good at pacing. By running with others and on a track it will definitely aid this as our splits are shared and everyone is aiming for similar times. There are also those runs where you feel like going easier than you really could or should but in this setting that is harder to get away with it!

I’m sure I will be back next week and am looking forward to receiving my session plan on Sunday!

Cross training – Body balance

As part of my journey to come back stronger I have been trying to make use of my gym membership and school holidays by taking in some different exercise classes.

One I have previously heard of but not considered was body balance. I decided now might be the time. The class is pitched as ‘the Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates workout that builds flexibility and strength and leaves you feeling centred and calm.’ This is what sold me as it sounded like it would be a good amount of stretching and core work. This is how it turned out to be.

I was quickly thrown into some wide squats and swinging arms to move into a lunge. To start I looked like I had no rhythm or movement skills but soon caught up. I was already feeling it in my hip flexor a which justified me being there. training photo with foam rollerThe class then moved into sun salutations which I have done before but was a little bit rusty. It then continued with a number of different movements and balances which included a single leg balance with my body parallel to the floor – this was extended with me grabbing my leg behind.

There was a challenging section which required stretching both legs out in front and making large circles. I really struggled with this as my back would not stay stabilised and I would consider this a weakness of mine and something I really need to improve. Before the session ended there was a good amount of stretches that worked the hips and hamstrings. We even had a moment to relax with the lights off to take some breaths.

Overall it was a really pleasing class and I will definitely be back for more. I have also seen that there is a virtual body balance class at the gym which I will take in soon.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this or other cross training sessions. Has anyone else added a body balance class to their training plans? Do you feel their are long term benefits for runners?

A very frustrated runner

I have not blogged for a while for a number of reasons. The main one is that I wanted it to be a running blog and being unable to run has left me feeling really frustrated and quite frankly – demotivated.

After seeing the physio over a month ago I had some renewed optimism and hoped to be running in time for the school holidays. However, this was short lived and I have not seen the improvements I was hoping for which means I am going into the school holidays with a more rehab type mindset.

This week was the first week of the holidays and I toyed with the idea of going back to the physio. However, I decided that because I had not followed the advice as best I could, that I should have a good training week before reviewing the situation in the hope improvements will have been made.

Generally this week has been enjoyable as I have been able to go and exercise with no time pressure meaning I could spend time stretching and doing a bit more at the gym without feeling bad for it. I have also been able to get back into swimming which has been a nice change. If you had seen me swim a year ago I would have been that one splashing everyone else. Now though, I am much better but quite erratic meaning I still struggle to string some lengths together. More time in the pool will hopefully correct this.

I have been using the watt bike at the gym which has been quite interesting. Not being out running means I have nothing to measure myself against except for this. As you cycle it gives you a reading of your wattage and how you use the pedals (more pushing then pulling in my case). I also got talked into doing a 3 minute aerobic test on them which was a great way to tell me I am now officially unfit.

On Monday, I did a swim, cycle and then my exercises before getting on the treadmill. I managed to do 10 minutes pain free at 8 minute km pace. This was a big result for me and the furthest I have run pain free for a while. This joy was short lived when I tried doing the same the next day only to find that my knee twinged again.

I am still bemused by exactly what it is. I am sure it is something to do with my IT band, which in turn is something to do with my hips, which may also be a result of tight calves and hamstrings but I don’t know what I should be doing and this is driving me mad!

I am off on holiday next week camping in Cornwall and I will be making sure I do my exercise routine daily along with stretching and hopefully some foam rolling, but I am sad I cannot go on any runs. Hopefully we can squeeze the bikes in the car and do plenty of that! When I return I think I will be making another visit to the physio to try and get to the bottom of this!

Has anyone else been in a situation like this with a really frustrating injury? Any advice on how to cope with the frustrations and how you got through it?