Autumn marathon – week 13

This has turned out to be quite a rubbish week. The week started in Whistler and ended with me bailing on my long run after less than a mile. I skipped a couple of runs on Monday and Tuesday because I was a bit tired and didn’t want to be even more mopey on my holiday so decided to put the holiday first. Plus we were moving back down to Vancouver for the final night of the holiday. 
On Wednesday, the final day in Canada, I did get out for a run and decided it was important to get a session in. It was a tempo session with 4 lots of 10 minutes which was a good little run to test my speed endurance. I did most of it without glancing at my watch but knew that the second two reps were slightly slower. Not too much though so that was a positive. It was on this run that my calf first tweaked a little near the start but soon vanished. 
Then that evening I flew back home to England and when we were waiting at the airport, the legs definitely began to seize up slightly so I was trying to stretch and massage. During the flight I got a middle seat so felt bad asking the aisle seat stranger to keep letting me out for walkabouts. This meant I didn’t move around too much on the whole flight and then drove home – I got be passenger after barely sleeping on the plane. 
By now it was Thursday UK time and that evening I was shattered. On Friday the plan would be to go for the second session run of the week which was a high intensity tempo interval. I had to do 4 lots of 5 minutes at basically threshold heart rate with 3 minutes recovery. This was a rather challenging session because of the speed expectation and holding it. It turned out my distances were all pretty similar for each interval with the obvious decline for the last few being surprisingly minimal. As I got home I could feel

A slight strain on my Achilles which reminded me of the plantar fasciitis that I had previously tackled. A bit of a stretch like normal and I hoped it would be okay. 

For Saturday I was keen to include parkrun in my run and got for a steady 9 miles to get my weekly total up and make up for the lack of runs. I would do 3 there, park run and then 3 back. However, feeling jet lagged, I didn’t wake up until 1030. So that went really well to plan. I still got myself out but instantly felt a bit robotic. One of those where the whole body aches and doesn’t feel smooth. As I jogged from the house I felt the calves being a bit tight so stopped to stretch them out, watching another runner float past. By the time I got up the hill to my parkrun course at Pomprey Hill I could tell it was not in a good place. Pomprey Hill has, like it hints in the name, a hill on the route. The first time up was fairly good but the second lap I just couldn’t run up. The pressure on my Achilles was just too much. I bailed on the run I had planned and run/walked the rest of the way home feeling really frustrated 
I really hate it when runs don’t go to plan so I’m sure you can emphasise with my frustration when I tried my Sunday long run only to get less than a mile down the road before bailing. It was just pointless and I was thinking long term. If I carried on, the run would have been rubbish and it could have wrecked my training. It is a really sad feeling to give up on a run but I would tell everybody to listen to their body and think about the end goal. 
I’m going to be resting for a couple of days and have been able to book a massage in on Tuesday to help aid recovery. I’ll also be taking some ibuprofen to aid recovery. I really have my fingers crossed that I can get back running by Wednesday or Thursday, squeezing a steady loosener in followed by the next session on the plan. May even extend it if I feel good. 
Things I will take away from this week are:

  • When flying make sure I rehydrate and if it means I need to keep using the plane then so be it. 
  • I really should get an aisle seat when flying. 
  • I have not learnt that I really need to look after my calves and Achilles and must get back on the strengthening exercises. 
  • If the body says it is not ready for a run, listen to it and adapt the session- or even skip it!
  • Thinking long term is a good focus but can lead to short term slacking. 
  • I must work my training to allow me to hit the main peak of my training 5/6 weeks out at maximum 

Whistler Parkrun – 5k personal best

On my holiday I decided I would do the local Parkrun for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would be a good way to get to know the area and meet some people. Secondly I haven’t done one for a while and it’s also a short run so wouldn’t take up too much time but I could push hard to get some training benefits.

I didn’t know much about the course or its profile in advance just that it would be a cool thing to do. It turns out that it was by a lake which we wanted to check out called The Lost Lake. We got there early and had a little stroll before I headed to the start area. There was two Parkrun volunteers there to run the event and I had a nice little chat with them and another runner about the area and general Parkrun chat. As we were called for the brief briefing, about 20 of us (if that) wondered over. After asking how many people had done it before, it was soon revealed that we were all tourists. It was a quick explanation of the route which had also been coned to further guide us round. We were told about a couple of points that might confuse us: a u turn after 2k and a cut back after 4K. Good to know I thought and felt confident with the reassurances of it being marked out so put it to the back of my mind.

As we set off the weirdest thing happened – I was in the front! I had opened up a small gap to some people behind me and as I realised this, I had a slight panic that a) I might have gone the wrong way b) what if I go the wrong way and they follow me! After a couple of minutes there was a fork in the road and I instantly wished I had listened better to course info. I thought for a bit that I was meant to turn left but just in time I spotted a cone in the distance and carried on straight forwards. Phew. As it went on I stayed in the lead and even passed Dani who was walking the lake whilst I ran. Asked how I was doing I declared that I went off too fast and expected to be caught.

Not long after this I approached the u turn sign and had a second moment of doubt. Do I turn before the sign? Or do I turn before it? Do I come back on myself or up the slope back towards myself? After a brief pause to check the slope and with nobody around to check I decided it must mean run back on yourself. It turns out it did mean this. Phew!

Turning back I was able to see the gap I had which was more than I expected but I also still thought I’d be caught at some point. I then moved to go round alongside the lake. The views of the lake and the backdrop were an amazing view to have. I was glad that I would have time to go back round it afterwards and soak it in properly.

Passing the 4K marker I was still expecting someone to take me before the line so I tried to just maintain my pace. The slight decline towards the line helped me out. I got to the line and stopped my watch. Having not looked down the whole run I had no clue what it would say. It said 20:32. A new PB. Delightful. And on a slightly hilly course. I also managed to cross the line first. I know it is not a proper race and it depends on who turns up but it was a pretty cool and surreal feeling. I came first in a Parkrun. Not sure how many people can say that. I know I won’t repeat that again in any race for a very long time, if ever, so I will appreciate that feeling.

Training has been going well so a PB is good but I feel that on a flatter 5 k route I think I could manage a 19 and change. Something I will leave until after the marathon in 6 weeks time!

Autumn marathon – week 12

This week I was on holiday in Canada. It is the first big holiday that I’ve probably done as an adult as I’ve only done beachy holidays before and it has so far lived up to and maybe actually surpassed my expectations. But this isn’t a holiday blog, it is a running one so let me tell you about how I attempted to balance my training with making the most of such an awesome holiday. 
I went into the week with an idea of the sessions I wanted to run and on what days so that I could try to keep the consistency with the normal routine. Then, we came up with a plan for each day regards activities we wanted to do. It was at this point I had to think about how I was going to get the most out of the running I was able to do. I didn’t want it to take over my holiday but with seven weeks to race day, neither did I want to not run. I realised I had to prioritise the specific run sessions and be flexible with the steady and recovery runs. My mindset was that the tougher sessions are where I get most of the gains so these should be priority. I also knew we would be doing a bit of walking and cycling so could count those if I needed.

On the Monday it would normally have been a steady run but with the long run being done on the Friday before I decided to make it a session day. The reasoning for this was to bank my runs whilst I could in case activities later in the week impacted on them. It was also down to a frustrating event with Dani’s contact lenses which meant we had a slot of time to be waiting around so I went out on a run.

The run was about 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was properly out for my tempo session. I found a running track on a map and headed over to it for my run as it would be easier than stopping at a crossing on my fast interval. However, when I got there it was not a tarmac track but a slight dusty gravel track. Good enough so I got on with my run. Considering I hadn’t fuelled properly due to my morning activities I was pleased with the speeds I hit and maintained. Not sure my mile PB on my Garmin was truly accurate!

The Tuesday was whale watching day which was an early start so managed to get out for a steady run of about 45 minutes to get about 6 miles under my belt. It was a good shakeout from the previous day and meant I wouldn’t be too tired for standing up whale watching.

On Wednesday we had planned to take on a tourist challenge know as the Grouse Grind. It was a 3k hike to the top of Grouse Mountain before you caught the cable car back to the bottom. You could catch it up also, but then you miss out on the grind. After reading reviews about it, I decided that this should be the main session of the day and it was a good thing to. The climb was awesome but quite tough in places with it getting really steep at some points. They break it down with quarter markers which helped keep me and other hikers motivated. They have a scanner down the bottom and at the top for those who want to time themselves and go back to beat their time. I really would have liked to have tried doing it as fast as I could, just for the challenge and to see what I could do. Hating hills like I do I am certain that running up it would have been one of the toughest things I’d have ever done. I think we did it in about an hour and 45.

Thursday started with a gentle tourist cycle around to a local market on Granville Island before I had some time to get another session in. Again it was super hot but I decided to take myself down to the sea wall to do the run. It was short intervals and dodging through the crowd wasn’t super easy – I nearly got taken out by a child, or nearly took a child out who ran across the path without looking. I had some good speed but the heat soon began to take its toll. I had taken water with me but it wasn’t enough. I also had a deadline to be back at the apartment for, so the few miles after the intervals were quite tough as I was tired but knew I couldn’t slow down and walk. It was probably a good thing.
There was no run on Friday as we moved to the second part of our holiday in Whistler and travel time took out the day. However, I was up early on Saturday to take part in Whistler Park Run. I’m pretty sure I got a PB in this event so I will talk more about it in another post (here) but all I need to say is that it was a really awesome place to run and I got to go in a lake afterwards. It also turned out that by the end of the day we had walked quite a few miles.

The week finished with this morning’s long run. I was really looking forward to exploring the trails on offer, even more so after chatting to people after Park Run. I had planned to get out at a normal sort of Sunday run time and be running for between 2 hours and 2 and a half hours. I knew I would not get high mileage because there would be hills but the time on my feet would be good for me. It started off fairly cool and the tree cover in the trails helped this. I was running with a bottle and managed to find my way to some water fountains when I needed to. The route was really cool with some lovely views and it was awesome just to hear my footsteps and no traffic. I didn’t go exploring as far afield as I hoped but that was partly due to my lack of forward planning. But, the trails and route I did was still cool and I think I did one section a couple of times and it didn’t get boring at all. After the run I went straight to the lake to meet Dani and dipped straight in for a natural ice bath. A refreshing way to end my week of running.

Things I will take away from this week are:

  • I need to develop better hydration strategies as I am getting thirsty quite a lot when running at the moment
  • I need to find opportunities to just run for the pleasure of running and not focusing on splits, speed and distance
  • I really need to learn to swim better so I can be more confident in the water
  • Running in the afternoon after lunch and in hot weather is not ideal
  • Sometimes it will work out okay if I just get out and run without worrying about it.

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?

Using self talk when running 

This week I made a return to Ashton Court Parkrun after a few weeks of feeling sluggish in the gym. After the last visit where I ran faster than I had planned to I went into this run hoping to beat my time. I ended up getting my latest PB. I will discuss the run in a separate blog shortly.

What I wanted to speak about was ‘self talk’.  When I go on longer runs I often try to distract myself with certain questions, thoughts or continuous mile split calculations. I find this helps distract from the pain and boredom that can sometimes appear. This week as I was running the first half of my 5K I had to use it for different reasons.

Normally I like to push on towards the person in front of me and work hard to not let people go past me. However, I found myself trying to to use self talk to keep me focused on the end goal. As a couple of people started to gain on my shoulder I had to say to myself ‘do not worry about them. I am not racing them. Keep my pace and we will push it near the end. Keep working for a good time, not a position’.
I cannot remember so vividly a time when I have thought like this and told myself these things. Perhaps this is something I need to do more often when running at a good effort level to not go too hard too soon.

If you haven’t got anything that you normally say to yourself the. I would suggest trying to think of something positive. It really helped me so I would recommend it.

Does anyone use self talk in a similar way? Do you have any mantras for when you run? I would love to hear some.