training

Autumn marathon – week 9

This week was meant to be a dip in sessions as the third week in the mini cycles, allowing me to have a slight break before the subsequent two weeks step up. However, I feel that I need to get more mileage under my belt so that I can stay strong in the second half of the marathon. With this in mind, I ended up doing more mileage than perhaps I should have but I still focused on the intensity of these runs.

Due to my flexibility with the plan in week 8, my long run was going to kick off my week. I got 16.5 miles under the belt at a steady tempo. I tried to explore a little bit more on this run and entered a few footpath trails and even had to turn back on some due to how overgrown they were. I miss running on trails every now and then because it always distracts the mind allowing me to enjoy my running. After this marathon I am really going to focus on finding some trails to explore for my training runs. 

I decided to get myself a massage this week too as I haven’t been for quite a while. I decided at the start of this sequence to try and get myself regular massages just to help the body recover. This week was the first time I went with no real problems to target. My knee has had a slight niggle which links to my hips but I had a general leg massage which always feels good after.


I ended the week with another long run today and although my plan said 11, I wanted a little more so pushed to just past 13. I also wanted to check my marathon pace so put that into action for the last 3 miles and I have mixed feelings about how it went. I managed to keep it fairly consistent but the pace was still a little tough so more to do in the coming weeks.

Things I will take away from this week:

  • Massages are helpful at being proactive with regards to injuries.
  • I really enjoy exploring trails and finding new routes but I’m not quite ready to invest in trail shoes.
  • I need to keep working on my hips flexibility and strength and avoid putting it off.
  • My upper body strength is still not good enough so I think I might start a press up challenge.
  • I can finish at a pace after a long run.
  • My feet are wide and it makes it tricky to get new shoes.
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Autumn marathon – week 8

First week of the school holidays and my plan to really step up my training didn’t really happen. There is always tomorrow. That’s what I found myself thinking. Even though I know how stupid that is and sounds. I had to rearrange some runs so my long run was on the Monday and I just found it impacted on the rest of the week as a consequence. 

Being the holidays, I like to make a visit home to Kent and the beaches of the Romney Marsh to visit my family. I planned a first week visit to help my dad with his bungalow. Before I could go on my travels I had to squeeze in 13 miles. It was a tough slog and didn’t go as well as hoped. I only managed 12.5! I don’t think I need to say much more about it. It was one of those but I got the miles done. 

Then began a couple of days of driving and a lot of time sat behind the wheel in my car. I don’t mind the idea of driving, but I really do begin to feel discomfort when driving too much. It has been a niggle in my back and legs for quite a few years now which I can cope with when driving but can ache subsequently. I got to my dad’s house later than planned and after and extra hours driving thanks to motorway works. This meant I was tired when I woke up the next day and this continued. It led me to not feel like doing all my runs. 
I did manage to sneak in a 6 miler at decent pace which became a royal flush in the most part. But I skipped My run the next day as I felt fatigue and tiredness catching up. 

I spent the rest of the week out of sync and didn’t do my long run on Sunday either because of a social event on the Saturday. Just got in feeling exhausted so decided to push the 16 miler to Monday. I did want to run and wanted to do more than just a plod but didn’t fancy going too long. In my head I had 8 miles (4 out, 4 back) as a nice challenge but knowing I could stop for 6. I soon got a nice rhythm and began noticing I was comfortable picking up the tempo each mile and I soon had a royal flush in my sight. I got 6 miles in before having to back out of the flush and accept the last two miles would not be counted for it. Still pleased to know I could pick the pace up like that and finish on a good pace. 

As I got to 1.5 miles from home the skies opened and I got drenched. I see that as karma for not doing the long run. A nice change from the sunny runs though. 

Things I will take away from this week are:

Listen to your body and rest if you need to

Being flexible is okay but I feel much happier with a routine 

A Royal flush is a great way to make a run more exciting – make each consecutive mile faster than the previous

My control and consistency of pace is still not quite where I want it

My pace is not quite at my target marathon time and I really need to keep my training focused and commit more

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?

Pilates for runners

There is always talk about runners benefiting from pilates or yoga and I have been keen to go to a proper session for these for a while now.

I have been doing yoga at home using a DVD which I think has helped although progress with it is slow and I should use it more consistently. However, I think there are much more benefits from going to an actual class.

My gym do not have many pilates options that I can make as they tend to be during the day so I am making the most of the holidays to get along to some.

On Tuesday, I visited the beginners class. Meeting the instructor at the door I was very impressed and her friendly chat made me comfortable about being in the class. She was even happy to briefly discuss my injury and I appreciated her interest in me. Sometimes I go to these classes and feel a bit like an outsider but not today.

The class went through some basic movements and it was all about the core but the exercises were focused on quality rather than quantity. This was a bit weird to get my head round but made sense after a while because it is important that everything works effectively together.Training stretch

After this I looked for other pilates slots in the timetable and got booked onto another one on Friday – this time it was an improvers class. Probably not suitable for me after my one session I thought, but i’m a quick learner and was keen to do more pilates so I went for it. The instructor seemed a bit annoyed that I was in her improver class rather than the beginners class but I think I won her over in the end.

This was quite a good challenge as there was a few more bits of equipment involved and she was going at her normal (improvers group) pace which meant I had to really focus to pick things up. With my yoga DVD I think this is what bores me after a while because I know what is coming next.

I will definitely be looking to get into either of these classes again, but maybe not the advanced one just yet! If you have not tried it before then I would recommend you make a visit to a session at least once before you write it off.

Have you done pilates to help your running? How often do you think this should be done in a training week? Do you have a preference for yoga or pilates?

My training session for injury recovery

Training sessions (wc 13th May)

After my recent knee issues I have been scouring the net for ideas to help improve my IT Band and knee issue.

From what I have gathered, it looks like it may have resulted from my dodgy hips. Now I have been aware that my hip flexor is not the most stretchy and have been working on it with lots of lunge stretching, but I did not realise the impact that my hips have been having on the rest of my body.

About 7 or 8 years ago I had a phase of going to a chiropractor to sort out some back issues which caused me a lot of grief. Although they helped I think there has always been something not quite right. I get very fidgety when sat down for too long (much to the annoyance of my better half). I also have a slight grind on my left side if I raise my leg up past a certain point and my lower back aches fairly regularly. Once this marathon is out of the way I plan to get to the root cause of these issues starting with a trip to the GP.

I have found a number of exercises that people have suggested and placed these into a little exercise routine in the hope that it will firstly get me to a state that makes the marathon ok to run and secondly help properly fix my IT Band issues.

Training session

I start with a 20 minute jog (the only running I’m currently doing which is way harder physically then it should be) as I am worried about what my knee can take and it has seemed to be ok during it. I have been doing this over at the local pitches close to my house which is good because I can walk there, and back. However, it can get a bit lonely doing laps in a small park as they only seem to take about 3 and a half minutes each.

Then I go through this mini circuit:

20 leg raises (each side) – Lying on my side, I raise a straight leg from my heel, with toes pointing down as much as possible. I have found it can be a bit tricky to get the balance right so I sometimes angle my bottom leg backwards for that added stability.

20 leg clams (each side) – Lying on my side again, I bring my knees out in front of me, close to 90 degrees from the waist. The feet rest in line with the spine and the top knee is then raised whilst keeping the feet in contact. When I did this in my gym I used a resistance band, but have not still got myself one yet.

10 pistol squats (each leg) – Standing on one leg I push one leg out in front of me as I do a squat on one leg only. This is quite wobbly until you get used to it so you may want to have something to hold onto. The further down you go, the harder it gets but I try and get as close to 90 degrees in the knee as I can.

I have been doing these for just over the week and feel like they have been helping me and I clearly have a weakness that it picks up, which probably means I need to train those areas.

Afterwards I am stretching and make sure I do the stretch pictured below each time as it really picks up my glutes which is not always easy.

Post training glute stretch to help injury recovery

Glute stretch after exercise

Once the marathon is out of the way and I know what state I am in, I will reassess the exercises I will be doing going forwards.

Little Stoke Park Run

As I have mentioned on a previous post, I have found the whole experience of Park Run absolutely brilliant. They have been well run, with friendly supportive volunteers and a lovely vibe amongst runners before, during and after the race (the treats that were made by runners was a nice and welcome surprise at the end).

I was therefore really surprised and disappointed when I heard on the news about the ridiculous intention of the local council to charge for the use of the park. This is CRAZY! When we live in a society of high obesity and inactivity levels which ultimately puts a strain onto the NHS and therefore government funding, why are we trying to discourage any organisation that is trying to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle. The mix of people you get visiting a park run on a Saturday morning each week is a fantastically varied bunch that made me feel proud to be part of it and proud of all those giving it a go – be it their first park run or their hundredth!

Unfortunately the council won and now the Park Run has to move which means a number of local people will have to find alternative solutions or travel further to find another Park Run. This will probably mean more people driving to the new location, or driving further, which means more people on the road, which means more congestion and air pollution. That is if people even decide it is worth committing to something which might then be dropped because a council demands a fee! I understand the argument that the council requires funds for the upkeep of the park, but they would have to pay for that regardless of who is using it and surely the idea of a park is that people ACTUALLY USE IT!

Hopefully everyone sticks to supporting Park Runs and if this story has brought anything good out of it, let it be that more people are now aware of Park Run and the good and positivity it spreads.