Checking in

Over half way now: the spare room still has my weights & stuff in it (“you can’t keep calling it the spare room, Heather…”) & I am enjoying the space before it gets taken up by a cot & a pram & whatever else. Still not sure how to explain it all to the cats.

I have news for you, my friend

People keep asking if I am going to buy a running buggy. I am now an expert on prams* so the answer is yes, probably, when I have replaced the ££££ I have already shelled out on miscellaneous nonsense so far, & figured out how to run again. No point in splashing out until I know whether running will even be an option.

*up until a month ago, I thought a car seat was a carrycot, a carrycot was a pram, & a travel system was a separate thing

It’s also time to slow down a bit. A moderate workout gives serious DOMS, & a couple of days of work travel can ruin me for the rest of the week. I am yawning my head off at 9:30pm even after an average day.

I am enjoying the shopping, although my bank balance disagrees.

what else for a tiny marathoner

So what am I missing?

Fast (ish) running. Natural but frustrating, even though I’ve never been a particularly fast runner. Keeping an eye on my heart rate isn’t always working as it always goes high at a moderate effort (and then recovers really quickly). Running once or twice a week right now, and fitting in Cyclebox once a week or so if I need it. This is enough cardio.

Caffeine. So bad. I have a couple of filter coffees a week & those days are *chef’s kiss* even when they are usually saved for stressful work days.

Sleep. I know it’s a cliche but I didn’t expect the crap sleep to start so soon, it kicked in quite early & was mostly about anxiety & a racing mind. Now it’s more about discomfort, or for NO REASON AT ALL I AM JUST AWAKE AT 3AM. I am good at sleeping on my left side but I must be a thrashy sleeper most of the time: several hours of not moving much can wake me up with a killer ache in my hip & I have to get out of bed to alleviate it. I’m a 6am riser during the week & still quite early at weekends – a marathon training habit that refuses to die – so my sleep is quite diminished. It’s manageable for now because every 10 days or so I have a huge crash & go to bed at 8pm. I think I am now just permanently tired.

Tying my shoes easily. Enough said.

Cheeses. I have ordered & sent back blue cheese dressing several times, because I am stupid. I have also been merrily eating unpasteurised Parmesan until a few days ago because apparently I can’t read either. Christmas will be tough because cheese is a staple. I am going on a proper Brie binge in the new year.

Those are the big things for now, as I approach the six month mark & start to worry about fitting behind the steering wheel.

But yes: still running (slowly, not far), lifting (not heavy, no snatches), spinning (occasionally dropping a sprint) and going out (if I can be home by 10:30). It’s still good.

Week before race week…

& it’s amazing how much better I feel mentally. Physically, I am needing a bit of a rest or a change, & I can’t wait until it’s all over…

Monday: rest day. Not difficult in the lovely sunshine. Did some yoga stretches in the garden, listening to the relaxing sounds of my cat’s enraged howling that another cat had dared to come within 5 metres of the house.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE

Tuesday: still sunny, but headed to the air-conditioned gym for a speed session. Kept the speed a bit more tempo-style & managed 12 reps of 250m, with 60 seconds recovery time & a short warmup and cooldown of about 1km each. Finished off with a bit of strength training, mostly back and arms to give the legs a break.

Wednesday: skipped the easy run again & went for a sports massage, which was niiiiiiice & found all the knots in my right calf that have been slowly improving since London. My calves have usually been fairly reliable so soreness & stiffness mid-race was unusual.

Thursday: 4 miles of speed work, outside when it got a bit cooler. The plan was to run at lunchtime but I was too hungry to only have a light lunch & running by the river can be tough when it’s hot.

It went well, with defined fast & slow kms.

Friday: strength session in the form of pole. Managed to get upside down for a bit, & more gracefully than last time I practiced, but my grip & core strength has deteriorated a bit & shoulder mounts just feel like pain. I’ll get there.

Saturday: was planning Drumchapel parkrun, but with the weather being a bit damp & drizzly, a flatter option seemed better to save my hamstrings. Good solid time on a moderate effort, & a nice steady run there & back covered almost 8 miles.

Sunday: A steady couple of miles with Cyclebox, later in the day than my usual Sunday run. Topped up the miles with another 3 miles on the treadmill, a good tempo pace all the way.

Kelvingrove steps fear

Total miles: 19.5. I hadn’t appreciated how much mileage the easy runs added. Skipping the midweek 6-8 milers, mostly due to time pressures, really brings the total distance down. I’ve replaced with strength sessions, sports massages or general rest, so that’s OK – I see the benefit of miles in the bank during the bulk of the training, but right now is about preventing fatigue.

Nutrition: interesting this week. I’ve been mostly vegetarian (mostly = not checking labels strictly, but all meals have been meat free). No particular reason, but I feel good for it anyway. Had a couple of alcoholic drinks midweek too, something I have been avoiding for the vast majority of the plan except that time at the end of March.

halloumi fries solve everything

Feeling: good. A bit of pain in the right hip, not sure if it’s linked to running as I first started feeling it when sleeping on my right side, but now it aches after running too. Stretching sort of helps but it’s in the soft tissue around the hip bone, not the hip flexor itself, so it does feel a bit weird. Sore to the touch.

Friday’s pole session is still being felt all over my shoulders & triceps, but there’s less core stiffness than last week, so I must be re-learning how to use my core properly rather than relying on momentum & luck.

no fear of heights though

I’m working away for the first half of next week, so rather than trying to squeeze exercise sessions in, I will concentrate on good nutrition & sleep. It’s a shame because I am working in one of my favourite parts of London that has some awesome running routes, but I can’t fit in everything. The kit will come with me, of course, but if it doesn’t happen then I won’t stress.

Week whatever

Seriously, I don’t know where I am right now. Two weeks post marathon & two weeks pre marathon. Tired, mostly. This week started off meh & ended much better – the nice weather has had an awesome effect on my mood, for sure. I almost forgot about the double marathon thing.

Monday: ‘rest day’, if rest is a 12 hour work day. Bank holidays are great unless you work for an essential service, retail, or in comms for critical infrastructure.

Realised I missed going to pole, so went for a lesson to make sure I could reliably hang upside down without failure. It turns out I have retained a bit of strength, but have lost some skill. Will keep practising.

Haven’t missed the palm callouses

Tuesday: back on the speed work. After running on an achy Achilles’ tendon, I realised I am not particularly capable of knowing my limits. This session felt difficult, & I kept thinking I was incapable before realising that I was only a few days post marathon. The intention was 3 fast km sandwiched between a warm up and cool down at a slower pace – by the end of the second fast km I was unhappy, so kept the rest of it steady. Had a good stretch & a good dinner though.

Wednesday: the plan was an easy six miles. As is usual for working-at-Parliament days, though, I didn’t have time for lunch & ended up going home straight from Edinburgh and having an early dinner. I’d read this great post from Jordan earlier in the day & having had similar feelings during my own speed work the evening before (as well as a similar, if much slower, London Marathon experience) I decided to give running a miss. It was miserable weather & I had stuff to bring home from work, so it all worked out well really.

Thursday: gym time tonight: it’s still super busy at peak times but it was good to just lift & not think about running. 3 miles was on the training plan, but cleans, deadlifts, split squats & planks substituted.

Indoors is better

Friday: didn’t fancy resting, so Cyclebox it was. 45 minutes of hardcore spinning, working my legs without too much impact. Still incredibly tough though – early class means no breakfast, & it’s difficult to last the distance on the sprints. Need more coffee next time, or the 0930 rather than the 0730.

I get to keep an eye on the trains when I’m here too

Saturday: went for a faster parkrun, & happy to see gains on this distance; 26:06 felt quite relaxed. 7 miles in total.

Sunday: a longer but steadier run around Glasgow: 5 miles on my own with podcasts, 6 miles with Frontrunners, and a final couple of miles with the Cyclebox inaugural run club.

lovely colours

Cyclebox’s promise of “just a bit of HIIT” turned out to be repeats of the Kelvingrove steps & some Monument Hill sprints. I will not do this at the end of a long run ever again, but I have ideas for my Tuesday coaching sessions.

After today, I disagree

Total miles: 25. Lowest weekly mileage for some time, but I think the rest & change did me good. Serious shoulder & back DOMS from cleans & deadlifts means it’s been too long away from that sort of workout.

Nutrition: good, apart from a couple of busy days. Plenty of protein, good lunches, less coffee, frequently vegetarian. I am trying to eat less meat & dairy & it’s a challenge.

Feeling: OK. Mood up & down, and despite lots of good sessions I have fallen out of love with running. Work has been very busy & I get stuck in a cycle of getting stressed about being too busy, then annoyed when the run does not go well or eating nonsense. Usually managed to keep off that, & the week ended much more positively than it began. The nice weather definitely helped.

I am not really feeling positive about Edinburgh though, & I cannot be bothered at all with the Great North Run which suddenly seems a lot closer. The dawning realisation, not helped by blog post archives, that I have spent all of 2019 either running, thinking about running, or doing laundry loads made up of sweaty gym clothes, is not good. I am bad at responding to texts & emails. I have forgotten to send birthday cards or even birthday messages & I spent a good chunk of a nice holiday thinking about running, or how I wasn’t running enough or eating too much. I am in a fairly good place, & it’s been a good exercise in discipline & dedication, but marathon training is tough on life. I miss my other hobbies, & sleeping.

But with only two weeks to go, I might as well run the thing. I hope the excitement returns soon. Speedwork will need to be up to standard next week; hopefully I am fully recovered now & can get the most out of the next few sessions.

Week 15

Not long now!

Taper has involved more rest than I expected, after travelling, the midwest’s VERY VARIABLE WEATHER & a weird ankle niggle took more time to get over than I expected. But all training I’ve managed this week has had a purpose & been very well focused.

Monday: Morning Cyclebox. Can you do an hour of spin & HIIT less than 24 hours after knocking out 20 miles?

of course

Seems like it. Struggled a bit on some of the longer sprints but the climbs were fine. I had to down a double espresso 20 minutes before the class started but it worked well enough.

Tuesday: No time for running but I read lots of books, chilled out & drank lots of water as well as the complimentary wine.

Trainers in the hand luggage, obvs. I did actually consider going for a little shakeout run in the evening after I’d got a bit of a second wind, but the tiredness & jet lag hit me like a tidal wave about an hour later, so probably for the best that I was crashed out asleep by 8:30pm. I did see a lot of runners whilst I was wandering around, though.

Wednesday: took some time to explore this city o’skyscrapers & deep dish, with over 30,000 steps walked. No running, though. Still tired after a 5am start to the day (jetlag blows) & it was absolutely freezing with occasional hailstorms, so I ended up having another rest.

It is VERY COLD

Thursday: With the best of intentions, I did not manage to get out for a run today either. I am sleeping so much & eating at the wrong times, & walking around the city a lot has given me a bit of foot/ankle/calf pain that doesn’t feel great to run on. Also the first item on the local news was about someone being attacked in the park I was planning on running through, so that wasn’t the best.

Friday: finally felt up to running, & got my lazy self up for 3 miles on the dreadmill. After a few days of rest it was fast & enjoyable. Sunday to Friday has been the longest break I’ve had from running since December, & it felt very strange & I did get a bit anxious for a while, in between the sleeping.

Saturday: 5 miles: met up with Chicago Frontrunners for their Saturday morning session in beautiful warm weather. Nice & speedy, but the conversation kept me distracted & I barely noticed the good pace.

I was worried about missing the meeting point, but no

Sunday: no more blue skies in Chicago, but a snowstorm. Not that cold but slushy underfoot, so not ideal for running & far too windy. Another day of resting, reading & stretching, but I started with some HIIT & weights.

Total miles: 8! Not quite what I wanted, but enough speedwork to keep my hand in and miles in the bank. The sleeping & resting has more than likely been better for me than running, or at least as good.

Nutrition: average/excessive. Travelling can be a bit of a nightmare for good nutrition but I tried hard.

Are you even flying if you don’t get an airport Wetherspoons

It’s a bit early for carb loading, sadly, as USA style breakfast food is my forever love. But I’m seriously considering the Chicago Marathon just so I get to legitimately fuel this way.

Feeling: good, surprisingly. After meticulous planning at the start of the year, I got a bit nervous about this break because of the potential to mess up the routine, & because work has been very busy. But this trip was booked & planned before either the marathons or the no-longer-new job were a reality, & I do need this break. I have been sleeping so much, & really needed the opportunity to get out of my usual routine & away from reality for a while. Chicago is amazing & I will be coming back here for sure.

Fitting running into a disrupted routine isn’t always easy & couldn’t be done the way I wanted due to tiredness & lack of opportunity, but it’s OK. Reading, sleeping & having fun is good too.

Books & travel is all I need

Onto the second taper week, with hopefully a bit more running…

CYCLEBOX

IT HAS TO BE IN CAPS YEAH

af80ef7e-bd9e-489e-946d-582911777b79
representing

Spin is usually a winter thing for me, when I don’t get out on the bike as much. I was a regular spin rat years ago, and when I returned to the gym it was one of the only classes I enjoyed doing at PureGym, as I’d been cycling enough for transport and occasionally for leisure that it didn’t feel too bad. Running gradually took over as my main cardio and aside from commuting a couple of times a week and occasional long weekend rides, I cared less about cycling and spin fell out of favour, mainly because class times never fitted in with my schedule very well.

I can’t remember when I learned about Cyclebox. I’d read this, and this, and the Glasgow boxing scene has a lot of shared insta hashtags so I’d seen their sexy black & white photos floating about on social media for a while. But it wasn’t until a couple of friends went along & reported back (“Great” / “I nearly cried”) that I got the confidence to turn up for my first ride last summer. It did not disappoint.

08f39490-d461-472d-b7cf-092774509b35
An average day of sitting at a desk followed by a 5pm class. ‘Help’ indeed.

Changing your routine is always good, and Cyclebox changes enough to keep you on your toes every time. Like regular spin classes you can control the resistance on the bike & tone it down if you’re not feeling powerful, although I always take the specified level/RPM as a personal challenge even if my legs are crying. The circuits/boxing half of the session is equally tough, but there’s enough upper & lower body focus variation to get a full body workout and get a bit of relief between rounds too. The different exercises are always explained well if you’re unfamiliar with good technique, & I have shared enough not-quite-defeated-yet glances with other equally sweaty, knackered people half way through to know that everyone is working as hard as they can, every time. You wouldn’t dare not.

6986389a-9056-4ec7-8f00-469d89d944cc
Mid class, brief respite.

It’s the only workout since Metafit where I have felt genuinely exhausted & ready for the end of the hour, which is proof of how awesome it is, but weird now I’ve been using it as an active recovery session following the hard running days. The energy & support in the classes is powerful & so motivating, so I still enjoy it even if my legs are sore.

As noted in Week 2, I won’t cope with classes when the running miles get heavy, and I’ll miss Cyclebox a lot. Fantastic trainers, friendly people, good tunes & one of the best workouts I’ve ever done. Check it out!