Weekly training recap: Mon 18th April – Sun 24th April

Well, much to my surprise I have thoroughly enjoyed my first week of ‘official’ training for the Swansea half marathon. We have more or less stuck to the plan this week, getting in the right number of runs even if some of them were slightly different to what was scheduled.

I went to the doctors on Wednesday about the knee pain I’ve been having. She spent a good few minutes moving my leg around at orkward angles to try and make it hurt, but it stayed perfectly painless throughout (as it only seems to hurt when I run – and mostly on downward slopes), so she concluded that it was probably some sort of tendon problem rather than damage to the knee joints or ligaments. She suggested I go to the drop in physio clinic at the local hospital which I intend to do when I get back from holiday, and she also gave me some ibuprofen gel as a stand by to use if the pain gets too much. I could still feel the pain at times during all my run’s this week, though it remained manageable, but I think a trip to the physio is probably a sensible idea before my mileage ramps right back up again.

Yesterday we drove to the Lake District where we will be spending the next week relaxing, walking and hopefully running. We managed to get our (slightly shortened) long run in today, on a non hilly route (which is hard to come by in the Lake District) so we were glad about that. There is also a pool here, so the coming weeks cross training will be in the form of walking and swimming!

Monday:

I ran 2.38 miles at an easy pace with friends. Average pace was 13:04 per mile. We used run/walk intervals of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking.

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Rest day for Gid.

Tuesday:

Gideon ran 2 miles at an easy pace on the treadmill.

I did a workout DVD with friends for cross-training. It was a HIIT-style workout, with 12 rounds of 3 minutes of different exercises. It involves a lot of squats and lunges (which I hate), but also has a 3 minute kicking session which I love for some reason!

Wednesday:

Gideon ran 5k at a moderate pace on the treadmill.

Rest day for me.

Thursday:

Rest day

Friday:

I attempted a tempo run. Ran 1.34 miles overall with an average pace of 10:06 per mile. Managed my fastest mile yet in 9 minutes 25 seconds! woohoo!

Rest day for Gid.

Saturday:

Rest day.

Sunday:

 We ran 3 miles together using run/walk intervals of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking. Average pace was 12:08 per mile. We also walked about another mile in total to and from our holiday home. 


I’m not sure if I’ll get any blogging done this week being in the Lake District, but I’ll be sure to update you all on our adventures (and training) once we get home!

My first (sort of) tempo run!

In an effort to try to increase my speed for the Swansea half marathon I decided when devising my training plan to pop a few “supposedly” speed enhancing runs into the plan; namely, tempo runs and hill repeats.

Today was my first EVER attempt at a tempo run, and whilst it didn’t go entirely to plan, it was still pretty awesome!

The training plan for this week had one 30 minute run at an easy pace which I did on Monday, one 5 mile long run, which will be done at the weekend, and one 20 minute tempo run with a 5 minute warm-up and 5 minute cool down. This was the run I decided to attempt today. If you are new to tempo runs like I was/am then it basically means maintain a comfortably hard pace for a certain period of time. The point of it is to improve your ‘metabolic fitness’ so that you can go faster for longer (or so I am lead to believe).

So for my tempo run I had decided on a 5 minute warm up run then 20 minutes at tempo pace and then a 5 minute cool down. I also decided that this would be a good time to test out the virtual pacer on my Garmin (which I’ve also never used before) and set this to a pace of 10 minutes 45 seconds per mile, which I feel is a ‘comfortably hard’ pace for me. I was counting on Garmin to beep angrily at me if I fell below this pace.

As it turned out, I left the house at the exact same time as two of the neighbours who were out walking their lovely dogs, so I walked with them for 5 minutes and chatted (and made a fuss of the lovely dogs) whilst I waited for Garmy the Garmin (yes I name my stuff) to lock on to a GPS signal. Eventually signal was found, and in an effort to look like a ‘real runner’ in front of the neighbours I bid them goodbye and bounded off down the road at a ridiculous (for me) pace.

On a normal day, I would get around the corner and probably come grinding to a halt, but something weird happened. I got around the corner, and I actually felt good. Even though it was raining, and I was going UP HILL, I felt really really good! So I thought sod the warm up run, tempo starts now!

Half a mile in and I still hadn’t had any angry beeps from the virtual pacer so I glanced down and my pace was in the 9 minute miles! I did think it was a little bit ridiculous that I was going over a minute faster than my suggested tempo pace, but I was still feeling great and I was half a mile in and I was doing in the 9’s and suddenly the goal in my head shifted and all I could think was that if I carry on this fast I could actually do a WHOLE mile in less than 10 minutes! I’ve never broken into the 9’s before!

So on I powered, and the familiar twinge in my knee returned, but it wasn’t going to stop me, not today. And I rounded the corner from my lovely downhill slope to approach a rather steep incline, but it wasn’t going to beat me, because I only had .20 left before I hit a mile and I sure as heck wasn’t going to throw my chance at a 9 minute mile away by walking up the hill. So I powered up the hill and I got to the top and I rounded the corner and Garmy beeped it’s 1 mile beep and I looked down and I’d done this:

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Anyway – fastest mile it may have been, but I could not maintain that pace for another 10 minutes and allowed myself a minute to walk. By this point the rain was starting to pick up and now that i’d let myself walk I didn’t really have the energy to get going again, so I decided to call my tempo a day and headed home.

So I didn’t achieve my 20 minute tempo at 10:45 pace – but I did achieve something equally (or maybe even more) cool. I finally broke into the 9 minute miles! I cant even remember what my last fastest mile was, but it definitely wasn’t in the 9’s! My old Nike + app has it at 10:26, and though I think I’ve gone faster since I’ve had my Garmin, this was a whole minute faster than that record, which is pretty awesome!

And actually despite not doing the full 20 minutes, it’s made me believe that I probably could do 20 minutes at 10:45 pace on the flat. If I can do a mile in 9:26 on hills, I recon I could do 2 on the flat in just over 20 minutes. So that’ll be next weeks goal, and I’m already looking forward to it!

 

Getting back out there!

So I ran today!! I’m back in the game!!

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It meant a lot to me to make sure I went out and got todays run done. As Gid is away I’d messaged a bunch of my friends to see if anyone fancied a run along the sea front. In the end there were 3 of us and that was a perfect number! We had a great 30-min easy run along the seafront and back and covered approximately 2.4 miles. We were able to chat and enjoy the sunshine and it felt like a great start to this training cycle to get back into the running frame of mind. I came away feeling that familiar runners high!

Tomorrow I’m off to workout class again so that’ll be my cross training for the week. I’m feeling very determined to make sure I start this training off well, and so far so good!

 

 

 

A Walk by the Sea…

I haven’t got a weekly training recap for you this week my friends, because I haven’t trained. Thats right. 0 miles of running! I know I said last week that I was going to try to use this week to ease myself back into a routine, but it hasn’t happened. I just haven’t really wanted to. So I guess come tomorrow I’ll be throwing myself back in at the deep end, as my training plan for the Swansea half begins!

Gideon is away with work tomorrow, so to make sure I actually DO start the training plan, I’ve scheduled an easy run with some friends along the sea front. This way I can’t flake out on doing it as I’m meeting people. I’m hoping that it will give me the kick up the backside I need. I’m also hoping that my knee is better. I haven’t run on it for over a week so I’ve no idea if its still going to hurt. If it does, I’ve got the doctors appointment on Wednesday so I’ll bring it up then. If it doesn’t well then that’s great as it’s one less thing to worry about during this training cycle!

So anyway. Despite no running, I have exercised this week. I did the workout DVD with friends on Tuesday, and then yesterday we went for a lovely 3 mile walk around the coast in the sunshine!

On Saturday we are heading off for a weeks holiday to the Lake District, so it was nice to do a bit of walking yesterday to break in Gideon’s new walking boots and re-test mine! We are hoping to be able to run and walk in the Lakes (though no fell running), maybe even climb right to the top of a mountain if we are feeling brave! I’ve spent the last few days looking at walks we can do and trying to find some flat (ish) area’s where we can get in our training runs! Luckily, I’ve been a lot of times so I’m somewhat familiar with the area and have a few ideas up my sleeve!

Anyway, i’ll leave you with these awesome pictures from our walk yesterday. I do feel truly blessed to live where I do! We can drive for 20 minutes and be here! It is splendid!

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How NOT to train for a half marathon!

So on Monday we will start 10 weeks of training towards our second half marathon; the Swansea half marathon! I’m looking forward to training for Swansea. It should be easier than last time round, what with it being better weather and light in the evenings and just nicer. But it has got me thinking, what would I like to do differently this time around?

Quite a lot actually.

Our training for the Cardiff half marathon was flakey at best – thankfully we went into it with quite a good base fitness from our training for Wine and Dine and ultimately I think that’s what saw us through relatively well. This time however, I’d like to improve on my performance and if that’s going to happen then I’m going to need to take this training cycle a bit more seriously than the last one. So I’m writing this post – How NOT to train for a half marathon – to remind myself NOT TO DO ALL THESE THINGS during the next 10 weeks. And hopefully, if I start to struggle and things start to slip, I can look back on this post and remind myself that if I want to improve I need to NOT do the following:

  1. Skip the maintenance runs – We did a lot of this in the last training cycle. It was excuse after excuse really. It’s raining. It’s dark. I’m tired. It’s cold. If I want to improve my time I NEED to keep up with the mid-week maintenance runs. I’ve tried to spice them up this time too, with tempo run’s and hill repeats! Hopefully this variation will encourage me to do them and not put them off – but time will tell!
  2. Increase the mileage quickly – We had a few bad long run’s during training for Cardiff, and then instead of adjusting the training plan a bit, we tended to just carry on. This probably wasn’t sensible and I managed to injure myself – probably from increasing the mileage too quickly if I’m honest. This time round we’ll go up about a mile per week – with a few weeks where we go back down in between. Hopefully as well as seeming achievable as the mileage is only slightly increased week by week, this will prevent injury from extreme increases in mileage.
  3. Don’t replenish the electrolytes – About an hour and a half to two hours after each of our long run’s I would get a headache. This seemed to happen after every long run without fail and it was incredibly irritating because it would linger on for the whole day. It was only towards the very end of training that I realised perhaps this was due to the fact that I wasn’t replenishing my electrolytes after running. I was taking in calories, and I was rehydrating with water, but perhaps I needed some kind of electrolyte drink as well. Sure enough, the first time I drank a poweraid after a long run I had no headache, and every time since has been the same. I now have a stash of poweraid’s in the fridge ready for this training cycle!
  4. Eat greasy dinners – I distinctly remember some delicious lunches like sausage butties and pizza, followed by some pretty horrific runs! This time around I’m going to really try and think about what I’m eating prior to running. If it’s full of grease, it can wait till after!
  5. Stay indoors during adverse weather – As Cardiff has taught me – you can’t control the weather on race day. Nor can you control the weather in training, but you can control your attitude towards it. I really HATE training in the rain and the cold, but I managed to run a half marathon in it without dying, so I can’t use weather as an excuse not to train! This time, i’m going to try and get out whatever the weather!
  6. Don’t do any cross training – I did like zero cross training in the last training cycle, and ultimately my knee gave up the ghost and decided it didnt want to run anymore!! Now I don’t know for sure if this was in part due to a lack of muscle strength – but doing some cross training probably couldn’t have hurt, and may have even helped prevent the knee’s sudden hissy fit!
  7. Don’t stretch after running – Oh yeah… stretching. That’s important. Did I do any? We’ll if you count 30 seconds doing hamstring stretches that they teach you in school and that your probably doing wrong then sure! But real stretching, and foam rolling? Nope – I only learnt that lesson after I got injured! This time round I’m going to try to make sure to do a good stretching session after every run – especially the long ones!

So those are my 7 tips of how NOT to train for a half marathon! I’ll try NOT to follow them during this training cycle! Wish me luck!

Weekly training recap: Mon 4th April – Sun 10th April

This weeks weekly training recap recap’s a week where there has been nothing to train for! And do you know what? It’s been kinda nice, not having to worry about getting out to run and then feeling guilty if you didn’t.

I’m not saying that I don’t like having a training plan, because I do, and I don’t think I could prepare for a race without one. It’s nice to have a break though. I’ve only ran a tiny bit this week, but I’ve done other things and that’s been good too! I don’t feel bad for just running the once, because my training plan for the Swansea half hasn’t started yet, so there’s nothing to worry about. Plus with my knee still twinging, it’s probably best to take it easy until I know if there’s a problem.

Monday:

Gideon ran a 5k as he was away on a training course. He completed this in 32 minutes and 22 seconds. I had a rest day.

Tuesday:

I ran 1.08 miles with an average pace of 11:13 per mile. My knee was still a bit twingey  whilst running. The earliest appointment for the doctors I could get is the 20th, so if it hasn’t fixed itself by then i’ll be seeking a professionals opinion on what to do!

Wednesday:

I did a workout DVD with friends. The basic idea is it’s 12 rounds of 3 minutes with a small break in between. Each round is slightly different, so some are cardio, some are strength, some are stretching, some work your legs, some work your abs etc. It’s actually pretty hard work and I always feel it the next day. I’m hoping the squatting and strengthening will strengthen my legs up and maybe help my knee. My knee doesn’t hurt when I do the workouts, only when I run which is annoying!

Thursday:

Rest day

Friday:

Rest day

Saturday:

Walked approximately 3 miles along the seafront. It was a lovely day!

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Not my bike – I don’t do bikes!

Sunday:

Rest day

So that’s it basically – I’ve done a tiny bit of running, some cross training and some walking. I’ve also spent some time this week devising a training plan for the Swansea half marathon, as proper training has to start again some time! The plan below is for 10 weeks and I created it myself, but hopefully we’ll be able to stick to it. I’ve put in some hill work as well to hopefully strengthen and speed us up, but I’ll have to see how the knee is once we get to the weeks with hill work and see if it’s a good idea.

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The training plan doesn’t start for another week, so we’ll take it easy again this week and just run when we feel like it, but hopefully a little bit more than last week, so that it won’t be a complete shock to the system when the ‘real’ training starts again!

 

A very late recovery run!

Remember I said I was going to try a little recovery run at the weekend after my week of eating chocolate and not doing exercise? Yeah… well that didn’t happen. Instead I ate more chocolate and didn’t exercise. It was awesome.

Well today I finally finally made it outside for a very very little and very late 1.08 mile recovery run! It’s a beautiful spring day here today, so I made the decision when in work to come straight home, change into my running gear straight away without even sitting down and then go back out. For once, that is exactly what happened. I was in at 4.05 and I was out again by 4.15.

I had no aspirations for this run, there was nothing I wanted to achieve. I literally just wanted to do a little jog around the neighbourhood to see what my knee was feeling and to just be out running again. It might only have been a mile, but that was fine today, a mile is still a mile and you have to start again somewhere.

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It was lovely to be outside running again, but it definitely wasn’t an easy mile. I can feel the extra few pounds in chocolate which made me feel kinda slow and sluggish (even though I wasn’t really any slower than usual). My knee was also niggling still. I was kind of hoping the problem would just disappear after the half marathon, but that was obviously wishful thinking. I’m going to have to get it looked at. Annoyingly, the NHS being what it is means the earliest non-emergency appointment I could get with the Doctor was for the 20th of April, so it’s going to be a while before we figure out whats wrong with it. In the mean time I’ll just keep doing what I was doing before. Stretching, icing and I’ll do some little runs. I’ve made a training plan for the Swansea half, but that doesn’t kick in properly until the week of the 18th April so there’s certainly no pressure until then.

Anyway my exercise is well and truly resuming this week because I’ve agreed to go do a workout DVD with some friends tomorrow. We used to do this last year every few weeks and it was good fun, so hopefully it will be good fun again this year and work as good cross-training!