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.

“Two marathons in a month?”

Yes. London was a bit of an anomaly in the plan.

Headed out this morning for my first ‘proper’ run since London, easing back into a training plan that had me taking a couple of rest days & a couple of recovery runs before hitting the proper miles again. Now LDN’s done & dusted, it’s all about EMF.

more like East Lothian marathon really but

Edinburgh is one of the nearest marathons to me, and despite it being a bit of a boring route and a bit late in the year for a spring marathon, it has a good medal, a good atmosphere & I can sleep in my own bed the night before, which is always a joy. I’ve done the half marathon twice, spectated & supported on a few more, & always had a decent race.

I noticed a few dual or triple marathoners last year on Instagram using the Hal Higdon maintenance plan, as well as getting good feedback from club mates who use these plans. This is why I went for a Higdon plan in the first place, starting from the point of view of more than one marathon and working backwards. There are a range of plans available; four weeks between seems a long time, especially after seeing folk on Instagram running Manchester & Paris/Brighton, or one of these and then London too, but it is not overly regimented & advises intermediate & advanced runners to keep the speedwork up but pay attention to how they feel.

Four weeks between has the speed work kept up twice a week, plus a couple of easy longer distances to remind your body of the long run feels. Set off this morning with the plan to do 10 miles minimum, & 12 if it felt OK.

Ended up as 15.5 because I joined the GFR group catching the train to Balloch, & that’s how long it takes to get back to my house from there. Not ideal as recovery, but the pace was very steady & I was fully prepared to stop earlier if I felt it was needed. The rest of the team are legends & did the full 23 miles back to the city.

It was nice to run the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon route in slightly better weather than last time, & running with company is nice. It struck me that during London I didn’t speak to anyone after the starting pen until the final corner, unlike any other marathon where I have always had company. It maybe had an effect I didn’t realise at the time.

Currently feeling pretty good, but slightly sore after today’s miles. Same quad ache that I had following the marathon, and calf pain has moved into the Achilles’ tendon on one side which is actually quite painful to walk on too, so I will be cautious. This is quite a lot to put my body through & still stay injury-free. Nutrition and sleep remain as important as getting the miles in – & it’s not ideal, as work has been chaotic & I have been skipping lunch, eating doughnuts & staying up too late since London. Getting back on track with a long Sunday run has helped me focus, although I’m typing this with a glass of wine in hand…

Weekly round-up:

Monday: rest, except for a brief saunter to Tower Bridge for a post-marathon medal photo & a slow walk to my London workplace which has SO MANY STAIRS I never noticed this before today. 4 hours on the train home was better than I thought it would be for soreness.

Tuesday: more rest. Some foam rolling, which was sore. A very slow jog as part of coaching GFR, which didn’t feel good at all: probably less than 500m covered in an hour long session but it was always very slow. Legs were achy.

Wednesday: a steady 3 miles before dinner. It felt a bit weird – breathing hard but my heart rate stayed low & Garmin called it ‘unproductive’. Slightly tender calves & quads were not great but this was loosened by running in a way that stretching hadn’t helped with, so that was a nice bonus.

Showcasing some of the ££££ I spent at the expo

Thursday: in the midst of a very busy work day, I managed a 4 mile jaunt up and down the Clyde, at a much improved recovery speed.

Friday: rest day. Went to see Avengers: Endgame, finally. Cried a bit.

Saturday: an easy 5 miles was the plan. Pace was all over the place, my Achilles hurt during & my hip hurt once I stopped. Recovery is weird.

Sunday: 15.5 miles down the River Leven & Forth and Clyde Canal. Point to point is fun for motivation, although on balance I prefer running out & then heading back with a coffee (unless it’s rainy). The chatty group on the train got quieter & quieter as we sped away from Glasgow towards Loch Lomond, realising just how far it is. But weather conditions were perfect & everyone did well.

Total miles: 27.7. Good, with so many rest days. No lifting or cross-training at all.

Nutrition: a few days off track this week. Wasn’t overly hungry on Monday morning, so just snacked all day & then got a takeaway when I arrived home. Didn’t get to the supermarket properly until Wednesday, so this week has been a bit off course & there have been too many poor choices. Back on it by Saturday with roast veg pasta.

Feeling: fine enough. Not too sore on Monday/Tuesday & kept stretching & walking as much as I could. Running fine by Thursday, mildly achy after the long run. Baths & stretching & kino tape required to keep me together.

My left foot is a bit damaged looking. Toenails are useful, I think – the toes without them are struggling. Otherwise all is good.

Higher mileage & higher intensity next week: hopefully I am properly recovered.

Week 13

Guys we are so deep in this plan now, where does the time go

Genuinely measuring the time in days, now. SCARY.

Monday: I initially scoffed at rest day because I was still high af after the excellent 20-miler the day before. Packed a gym bag & everything. In the end, work & life admin took up a lot of time & energy so I spent the later part of the evening watching TV under a blanket. I did stretch & foam roll though, which is going to happen EVERY DAY from now on (…)

Tuesday: 7:00am at the gym for 8x400m sprints and a 1500m warm up/cool down. I wanted consistency here so kept the speed slightly lower than flat out, & each repeat was fine. The speed will therefore increase for the next session & 8-10 reps will be challenging & unpleasant again, hooray.

New shoes went well tho

7:00pm was gym for strength training. Enjoyable to just keep things moving, with a light weights full body workout of

  • 4×3 push press
  • 4×5 back squat
  • 4×8 lat pulldown
  • 4×8 RDL

Plenty stretching too, and some core work. My shoulder is still pulling a bit on the push presses, but we’ll see how that goes. It could well be under-use as my arms and shoulders have been rather neglected in the past few weeks.

Wednesday: easy 5ish  miles home from work, then straight into the shower &  to the cinema, which wasn’t great for a proper post-run stretch but was enjoyable for sure. Slightly faster than easy due to the time pressure, but hey ho.

mostly because of this

The actual run was average; it was very mild weather and I had a jacket on because of a need for pockets, but it was too warm despite the riverside breeze. I started feeling a bit sick which may or may not have been related. Ended up fine though.

Thursday: Running outside didn’t happen due to work nonsense, so a treadmill 5 miles with steady increases of speed happened instead. Pleased with how it went, but it was dull. Treadmill is good for pace consistency.

Friday: another rest! Truly I am spoiled.

(only a rest from running, though. I did go & lift some stuff & stretch for a bit)

I also went to the pub, drank lime & soda & talked about my training with people who don’t run & feigned interest very well. Marathon training turns you into a difficult friend, for sure.

I learned that they read this blog though, so HI GUYS YOU’RE AWESOME

I stayed out longer than intended & was eventually on the vodka instead. It was nice to kick back a bit – in this training cycle I have been mostly not drinking at all because of the training volume. I don’t drink much anyway but it does feel like a proper focused training plan should be completely sober.

I sent this picture to my best pal for reasons that are not obvious

Saturday: usual parkrun sandwich, but after two speed sessions this week I swapped a fast Victoria for a steadier Drumchapel. Oh, the hills. 2 minutes off my January time, though. Appreciating the downhills, although that 200m finish sprint feels like about a mile.

The anticipation is worst

Afterwards, I celebrated with a doughnut at Tantrum Doughnuts, & a nice walk around the West End.

Yum

Sunday: the plan was 12 miles easy, partially with a GFR 5 mile group to Ruchill Park flagpole. Lovely weather again, making the snowy Sundays seem a long time ago.

 My legs were heavy for most of it though, & once I’d stretched & cooled down with the group, sticking it out an extra 4 and a bit miles was not appealing. It was warm & I needed coffee: when I saw two friends sitting outside a cafe & I still had two miles to go, I just stopped immediately. Several flat whites & gossip later, I couldn’t be bothered to slow-jog home either…

Total miles: 32.5 for the last dropback week. 188 total in March.

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT MILES

I am a bit speechless at this, to be honest. It is so many miles, & there are so many more to go, & I am surprised at how my body is handling this. Compared to the last quarter of 2018 it’s a huge jump, but as I’ve noted before it is so much higher compared to this time last year too. I can’t understand how I feel so much better on this volume of running.

Nutrition: mostly good, if slightly excessive some days. There has been a lot of snacking, & not always the best choices. I am so hungry all the time.

After Tuesday’s long day & double gym session, I made cheese on toast with a can of beans (with spicy sauce added in…) & a poached egg: yes yes yes.

*homer simpson noises*

I noticed a skirt I bought before Xmas feeling a bit roomy on the waist so I jumped on the gym scales & I am 4kgs down from January. I dread to think how much of this is muscle loss, but am already counting the days to being back on the weights & protein.

Me in a few weeks, perhaps

I was chatting to a running buddy about supplements last week, & Instagram archives reminded me that I was double-dosing multivitamins this time last year, so I will be doing that again. I am considering electrolyte tablets as I am definitely a bit dehydrated sometimes, despite drinking plenty. It’s fine when I am in the office but when I am out on sites or at meetings I get distracted or drink far too much coffee & forget about the water.

The meals have been good this week though, even with a couple of meals out.

Feeling: very well. Achy hips this week, possibly from strength training, but running is good & I am mentally feeling much better. Two rest days this week seemed excessive, which illustrates the relentless grind of marathon training, but both of the days were spent well so there is definitely a benefit.

Next week is high mileage again & a really long long run, & then it’s magical taper time. I am absolutely pumped to cheer people on for Manchester Marathon too – can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since that brilliant weekend.

sounds

Over the past few weeks, with the long run taking 2-3 hours and the midweek easy run often taking over an hour, occupying my mind when running alone is becoming a bigger deal.

Some runners don’t run with music. I didn’t at first, because I was always on club runs. Chatting is nice, or listening to other people chatting if you’re not feeling it. Sometimes they are necessary: my headphones ran out of battery during the very hilly mile 9 of the (much missed) Great Edinburgh Run a few years back, and the collective noise of 70-ish people huffing and snorting their way up Queen’s Drive was loud and irritating.

When running alone I do generally take headphones, even if I don’t use them for the whole distance. Sometimes you just need the boost but you don’t know when. I don’t listen to headphones when it’s dark or if I’m out very early or late, either. But I’ve been running by myself for the majority of this training cycle, and having something to listen to has been good for breaking up the monotony of longer runs.

 

I am not obsessed with sound quality, but I do like over-ear headphones more than earbuds and will never go back to wired models after so long with wireless Bluetooth. For running & training, the quality does have to be good enough to block out the traffic or the terrible gym music as well as being comfortable enough to not be irritating. I have tragus piercings in both ears so earbuds are not always the best choice, but I have a few pairs of headphones on rotation for varying uses.

I currently have three sets of wireless headphones that I run with:

 

The Skullcandy Ink’d are probably best for running – the neck band is comfortable and they block out a lot of external sound, but sometimes start feeling uncomfortable after a while. I picked them up randomly because they were on sale very cheaply, and I thought they would be good backup, but I use them more than I thought I would.

The snappily-named JBL E55BT over-ear headphones were a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I really like them. I use these most often when in the gym/lifting or for general daily use. Clearly not sport headphones, but I run with them if I have no other option – they are slightly too big for my head and the movement can be annoying, but if I’m on a steady run then they’ll do, and they have the longest battery life. No good for faster treadmill sessions, though.

The Urbanista Chicago sport earbuds are new and my current faves. I really love this brand, and have worn Urbanista Boston for years after (again) picking them up cheaply in duty-free years ago. Although considered sport headphones, I sometimes found the linking wire with the battery pack to be heavy and irritating when running, although fine for everyday use. The Chicago is much lighter and the earbuds are a bit more comfortable – I’m enjoying getting used to them, and finding the perfectly fitting earpiece, as there were six sizes and shapes included. The sound quality is nice, although the controls are a bit cumbersome if wearing gloves. They’re definitely water-resistant: my last two long runs have been in torrential rain and they’ve coped very well.

In terms of music choices… yeah. Very variable. I don’t get obsessed with bpm, although there are a handful of songs that I know will slow or speed my pace, because I’ve been running with them for years & they are such old friends. I have a general racing/running playlist that I add to as required. Generally upbeat, sometimes not. Some obvious choices, some choices I’d never admit to in public. Sometimes I want to run slow & feel melancholy, sometimes I need the hi-NRG nonsense with a constant beat to keep the feet moving. Songs that have got me through difficult races can be good or bad depending on mood.

This training cycle, I’ve also been making an effort to listen to podcasts on the longer runs. Music can make me run faster than I need to sometimes and the flow of a podcast makes the miles slip by. Starting with the very good From Your Big Sister, I’ve since spent my Sundays listening to On The Engender, Jog On, podlitical, Standard Issue and 2 much girls. I’m still happily working my way through previous episodes of most of these, but any suggestions for running/fitness/feminist/political podcasts are welcomed…

 

 

Week 10

Firstly, I can’t believe I am ten weeks into marathon training on a vastly different plan from any of the other times & still feeling good with it. I have increased my weekly running mileage by 200% since December, & am averaging about 50 miles a month more than the last training programme. Ridiculous amounts of running, & I am naturally rather lazy so I was expecting this to be a lot worse. It isn’t. I feel good.

Secondly, this has been another peak week so I am tired, a bit achy & eating everything. Second lunch happens most days at about 3:30pm. I am physically tired but struggling to sleep well. The first km of every run is not fun at all. I am down to 8 normal-looking toenails. It’s a good job I’m happy with my progress…

Monday: strength & bike time, and I enjoyed it. Gym’s still busy, but I am lucky enough to work flexibly so I can usually mix up when I go.

Nobody likes the baby 10kg bar except me

I have dropped the weight right down on all my lifts, so the strength sessions are just about maintenance right now. Getting good advice from my coach, not stressing my legs out too much, & keeping up shoulder, back & core strength is key. The longer distances are sometimes causing fatigue & affecting my posture & form. I don’t want to be injured so I need to stay strong.

Tuesday: 5 miles of speedwork. The speedy parts were 5 reps of a 1km threshold run. Couple of minutes gentle jogging in between, & slightly over 1km warm up and cool down. It felt good, but I still had achy hips from Sunday’s long run & speedwork + treadmill did not help.

Wednesday: early start, so did 8 miles easy after work again. It rained a bit, and my Garmin did not record properly & that made me sad.

A bath made it better

Thursday: 6 miles with GFR. Celebrating International Women’s Day with an all-female Jog Leader collection & a run round points of historical feminist interest. There was a suffragette altercation at the Kibble Palace in January 1914, so my group went there for a look & a think.

Purple, white and green (mostly) – celebrating International Women’s Day
Women supporting women

Managed a bit of fartlek-style speedwork during the run, which was good enough for a chilly Thursday.

Friday: rest day & very ready for it. Mexican food & binge-watching The Good Place, living my best life. I had been forgetting to stretch and foam roll all week, but you can do that whilst watching tv which is awesome.

Saturday: 8 miles of parkrun sandwich. Pleased that an easy parkrun is now 28-ish minutes, because a few years ago that was an all-out effort or unachievable.

Sunday: long runs do get boring, so taking part in the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon offered a bit of a competitive edge to a route that I love running but don’t always manage, because it can be quite isolated in parts. Medal & a new tech top is a nice bonus and I was very happy with a 2 hour ish time, because the weather was awful and slush underfoot made it slippery. I had several slow miles on the more exposed footpaths where I was terrified of skidding & knackering a hamstring. Big credit to Dunbartonshire AAA for not cancelling the race, even though several folk did take up their offer of getting bussed back to Clydebank…

I hate finish line pictures

The traditional chips on the chip boat at the end would have been AMAZING, but I had to clock 19 miles today so I ran off into the distance with my new medal. The weather was hideous. After a few days of spring, winter has come screaming back and it was not nice at all. Snow, sleet, hail and rain are all quite different forms of precipitation when they’re hitting you directly in the face.

It wasn’t actually that cold, even though I wore shorts, but the last 4km or so was just torrential rain that turned to hail. It was so, so miserable.

Never been more grateful to be out of the damn rain

Jelly babies & political podcasts were alright, but running into a friend doing their long run the opposite way & getting a hug & some inspiring words helped a lot.

support & kind words mean so much

Total miles: 47

Nutrition: adequate. Highlights being pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, a very beige-carb buffet at a meeting on Wednesday, and chicken pesto pasta on Saturday night.

Bagels are wonderful. Carbs are magic. Help me.

Feeling: tired but good. Happy with the increased speedwork, keeping the easy runs very easy to ensure I was fit for the long run on Sunday.

Double-digit miles in the sleet is not great and there has been chafing. The Brooks Juno is generally the best bra for longer runs – Shock Absorber seems to sit oddly on my ribs sometimes & it affects my breathing – but the back clasps can rub, & it is quite sore right now in the very middle of my back where I can’t reach to put sudocrem on.

Also my shoes and my feet are potentially a bit fucked after the weather on Sunday – I will give them a few days to dry off, and make a decision later.

Newspaper trick usually works

Trusting in the plan, next week is another mileage drop, with a shortened long run and easy midweek run. The overall mileage is still higher than my last training plan so I am just believing in it & hoping the speedwork will prove to be the key. As the miles go down next week, I’m going to really push the speedwork sessions to get the most benefit. An extra strength session will fit in well too with reduced mileage.

Tired but happy

Week six: training stage 2

T-12 to London. This week’s been… OK.

Monday: a nice enough strength day. Not great, as the gym is still far too busy & I was stepping over people trying to get set up in a corner with my barbell. But the moves were all fine & I finished up with a gentle 30 mins on the bike. Nice for the legs but indoor cycling is still boring unless it’s Cyclebox.

Boxing boots, giving the running shoes a rest

Tuesday: 4 miles of speed work. I had talked myself into making the step outside for this – there is a 400m Strava segment near my house that I have been keeping an eye on my time over for a while now. The heavy rain was off-putting, but I warmed up for 10 minutes before finally using my Garmin to nearer its full capability by running the segment hill 5 times & jogging back the long way, about 700m & flat/downhill.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, despite the rain & forgetting to lap one of the repeats & messing up the stats. I took my head torch, which came in handy, but my reps got slower, which is something to work on in the future. Outdoor speed work is now definitely something I’ll make time for, as I only need 15 seconds off the time for the segment QOM. Currently 4th fastest.

Forgot to split lap 3 like a twat

Wednesday: strength session, finished with an easy 7 miles. Strength training is still working well for me at the moment, but I will be cutting the weight soon as the weekly mileage increases more and focusing on volume & leg strength.

The run was meh. It felt easy, but was dull. The books / blogs say you should finish an easy run raring to go again, and I wasn’t quite there, but that was probably more mental than physical.

Thursday: 4 miles tempo. Planned my usual lunchtime route, but work was busy & I didn’t feel like pushing myself after a not-so-good night’s sleep, so I left it to the treadmill to set the pace properly but even that worked less well than I thought. Too hot, tired, and still sore from Wednesday’s strength session meant I was not able to push past the can’t-be-bothered feeling and ended up resenting most of the 4 miles. Even had a couple of walk breaks.

Friday: rest, praise be. Made some pretty epic beef rendang & had a glass of wine. I don’t drink much, but spicy food does call for a good wine or beer. Stretched and foam rolled everything & watched a lot of Netflix.

Curry, cat, & Brooklyn 99

Saturday: parkrun, with a 6km slow warm up. Feeling a bit better this week and managed a decent enough parkrun effort of just over 27 minutes, after keeping the rest of the run super easy. Blaming the relative slowness on the harsh winds of Storm Erik, as running in the headwind was unpleasant.

Sunday: 15 miles easy. Hooked up with Frontrunners for some of it; it’s great to be able to attend club runs even though my pace & distance doesn’t match the club runs very well at the moment.

Gorgeous day for it

I didn’t really feel into it at the beginning, but had a new podcast on & the first 8 miles flew by with that. Middle five miles with GFR, then was chatting about distance & route at the end with someone who said I might as well run home. So I did.

The best part is I felt like I could have kept going. Really trying hard to keep the easy runs to an easy effort, & did well with that.

Total miles: 38 – slightly more than intended. I really have to get better at sticking to the planned distance… an extra half mile on almost every session is adding up.

Nutrition: very good, mostly. Felt like I needed a bit of a soft reset so have been on the fruit & veg constantly, but also went out for a lovely meal with a friend midweek and had pad Thai, cheesecake and a beer. Everything in moderation, even though I could cheerfully eat pad Thai every day.

Some comments this week at work about how much I eat for lunch/is that healthy?/I can’t believe how much oil you put on your food/how long does that take to make?

img_9243
Chicken, aubergine, courgette, peppers, broccoli
  • It’s not that much (rice not pictured, but it’s still not that much)
  • Yes, it’s healthy
  • Olive oil is good for your brain
  • Leftovers are your friend

Honestly, this is from people who don’t eat breakfast, eat a Cup-A-Soup or a crappy supermarket sandwich for lunch & wonder why they’re in the biscuits at 3pm. Eat some protein, I beg you. I know that people have busy lives, different priorities, varying finances etc but really.

Feeling: pretty good. Committed to training consistently this week & it has helped my sleep & my mental health a lot, even though the actual training hasn’t always been great. I don’t need to work 8-6 every day & I should not feel guilty about taking an hour to run or go to the gym, especially on the days when work is stressful. Working in a busy communications/press office is not good for work-life balance, but it’s always necessary to have some time & head space away, despite everything seeming to kick off as soon as I step away from my desk.

A switch up in my strength training midweek gave me some quite long lasting lower back DOMS, and I have a bit of calf strain which isn’t great but I am stretching all the time. Also foam rolling & using this slightly suspect looking massage ball:

torture device

Week 7 sees more of the same, with just one more mile on the long run. I’ll try not to wimp out of a threshold run this week: 4 miles shouldn’t be such a trial. I’m mixing up the days too due to other commitments at the weekend.

Week four

Busy busy.

Monday: strength session with Allan, & a further light gym session in the evening because you don’t let gym buddies down even if your training plan no longer matches theirs. Worked on some Olympic lift drills, which was good for me as I have been doing some different strength work in December & January & neglecting the oly a bit, but it leaves interesting bruises and sore spots.

Tuesday: 3 miles intervals. It was very icy & sleeting at 6:30am which put me right off outdoor running, so I went to the gym for a treadmill 6×400 again & it felt way better than last week. Only felt like I was flagging on the last repeat, & I’d increased the speed for that anyway so it would be over faster. By the time I finished it was full-on snow so I’m glad I didn’t try to run outside. Mini strength session in the evening.

Wednesday: rest day. Rescheduled from Friday because of work nonsense, but I was glad for it because of lifting DOMS too.

I’d had a half serious thought to get up at 6am and do 6 miles before work, but no: still icy & unpleasant outside, & I didn’t get home from work until very late. An early 6 miles would possibly have finished me off. Some press-ups before bed were in place of a proper strength session, & that was bad enough.

Thursday: Wednesday’s easy 6 miles got shoved to today instead. Milder weather, which is better, & I went with Frontrunners, which is always better. It was still a bit icy in places, but running in a group is good for spotting & warning. I did get told to ‘fucking smile’ by a drunk woman in Govan, but them’s the breaks.

Never not posing

Friday: 3 miles easy; so easy it was basically still a rest day. Another strength session too. Then haggis & mash. I love Burns Night.

Saturday: 7 miles, 3 (the parkrun miles) at 10km race pace. Nice but muddy and sweaty. Stats show me getting slower during the parkrun, which isn’t ideal but meh.

Proud of this – an actual easy run/tempo run/easy run split

Sunday: 14 miles, & the first long run following a Saturday night out. It wasn’t a heavy night, but I have enjoyed my January hibernating too much. Running is way better with enough sleep and a quiet evening beforehand, not carb-loading on Staropramen & pizza. But it was a nice split of 4.5 miles with music, 4.5 miles with GFR, and 4.5 miles alone. The weather was absolutely beautiful and I tried to keep the pace as steady as possible.

Good company helps so much

I ended up running for 2 hours 15 minutes, which is fine as the long runs need to be super slow. The next few weeks, getting up to 17-18 miles, is a bit more of a psychological jump & always makes me feel more capable, but the thought of keeping it steady & being out for 2-3 hours is a bit grim, especially if the weather’s grim.

Total miles: 35. January’s total miles are already well over 100, more than December and November combined. I think I should probably be more tired?

Maybe I will sleep for days

Nutrition: good enough. Lots of prep because of being busy, & lots of work stress, which kills my appetite a bit. Not enough vegetables.

Feeling: OK. Work & life has been stressful, & running is mostly good for mental health but I occasionally get too caught up in negative thoughts & just go over the negatives repeatedly when I’m running and end up in a downwards spiral of doom. Lunchtime runs are good when I can fit them in & get away from work for a bit. All my longer runs have been with people, which helps that negative thought cycle a little.

My sleep could definitely be better, & I hope in a couple of weeks’ time I am just so shattered that the physical need to sleep overrides everything else going on in my brain.

Week 5 is, wonderfully, a bit of a deload. Mileage drops down a bit but the consistency of 5 runs a week remains. There will be an interval session and a tempo session if I’m feeling into it. Going to try and fit in all three strength sessions, giving me a good base for the increased distances that February will bring.

Week two

Good training week, featuring a race & a proper Friday rest day. Work has been a bit grim & I’ve been stuck to a desk for most of the week, which is mentally tiring & the lunchtime running has been good for me when I’ve managed to get away for an hour. That’s only happened once this week, but Tuesday and Thursday runs could usually both be at lunchtimes, & hopefully it makes a difference. Mostly I’m pleased to have hit the mileage specification & had some pace variation.

Monday cross-training: Cyclebox. Awesome fun & an absolute powerhouse of a workout, but probably unsustainable when the miles start racking up more. It is hard as nails. I do need to do more cycling as recovery/cross-training, but I don’t like indoor cycling without someone yelling encouragement at me, so I’m not sure how committed I will be. Strength training might be the go-to now until my body adapts.

Tuesday: 3 miles A mile and a half 😅 I was coaching Frontrunners so we did hills and intervals, and I joined in occasionally but there were some new runners & I needed to focus on coaching. I had intended to arrive early and do a couple of easy miles before the session, but life happens, etc. Sinking into the sofa when I got home was preferable to going round the block to squeeze an extra mile in.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy in the lovely sunshine

lovely sunshine

The intention is for some runs to be on a treadmill; I find it easier to do sprint repeats on the ‘mill, and also I have a regular Wednesday gym buddy & marathon training is harsh enough on your social life without disrupting things unnecessarily. Was aiming vaguely for sub 45 minutes & that felt easy enough. Lifted some weights too in the evening, but the gym was at peak January & it was super crowded. My reward was an excellent dinner.

steak
I’m a bit envious looking back at this

Thursday: 3 miles easy-ish, although I was feeling a bit off-colour all day & wasn’t sure I would manage it. All fine in the end though.

Friday: rest day, and it was genuinely amazing, I had an Epsom salts bath & went to bed early. Training plan life is rock and roll indeed.

Saturday was the Great Stirling Castle Run, a race I entered a few months back to keep me motivated. It was tougher than I thought, but the downhills were good & the view was nice at the top, even though running past Stirling Castle just reminds me of the 2017 marathon route with the endless looping. Anyway, ‘twas a good race  7.4km is a weird distance, so I was looking for a 5km pb and approaching a 8km pb. Due to the severe hills & getting caught up at a narrow part of the trail, it wasn’t fast but I am happy with my efforts & the first medal of 2019.

Coconut, though. Why not peanut butter?

More weights too, but this week is (happily) a deload week so it’s all good.

Sunday: 10 miles, half of it with GFR. Good pace & good company. Also, weights. Still deload, but front squats day is always the harshest.

Total miles: 24.6. Resisting the urge to round it up.

Up creeps the daily average

Nutrition: good. Being back in a proper routine, some meal prep, & waiting for payday has kept me right. Mostly prepping rice+broccoli+protein source, which is not boring. I am lucky enough to work near Martha’s and whilst it’s an easy way to spend far too much money, it’s hella tasty food & is handy for the occasional disorganised or disrupted days & keeps me on track. Pre-Stirling, I had some amazing pancetta, chicken & broccoli pasta that was probably my fave meal of the whole week.

Avocado, rice & chicken sausages
Protein porridge
Lentil soup & a small cheese toastie
Beans & spinach

Feeling: in tune with my body. It’s tired from the increased mileage, which is a good cue to cut out stuff that doesn’t matter, get enough sleep & eat properly. My sleep has been less than great for a while now & I am hoping that sheer physical tiredness can fix this a bit. My hips ache a bit so I am really trying to get into a stretching routine again. I know it helps but I need to remember to do it.

To week 3!

 

Week Zero

I am not really a new years resolution type of person, so couldn’t possibly start a new training plan in the first week of January. I’ve been plenty busy with other stuff this week too, including a stressful week at a relatively new job, a stupid and unexpected DIY project, and lots of other Xmas/New Year disruption, so I am starting the proper plan next week and have blended weeks 2-3 to make up for it 🙂

Week 0 was an increased mileage and general prep week, and ended up being:

  • Running to Victoria parkrun on New Year’s Day – a nice 5 miles at marathon pace
  • Two strength sessions.  My usual lifting routine would be three or four sessions a week, which I’ll start winding down in February as the running miles increase, and potentially focus on leg, glute and hip strength work to complement my running. Cross-training on Mondays will usually be strength-focused, but won’t be the same high weight/low rep lifting I do when I am not training for races.
  • An easy but cold 3 miles by the river one lunchtime
  • Drumchapel parkrun, for the fun of hills. As usual, the inclines started to bite on the second lap but I got a good strong finish and a few seconds shaved off for a new pb. Sub-30mins is in my sights, but I’ll have to find the extra seconds on the uphills.
  • Long run was 9 miles as a support leader with GFR – a nice East End and South Side route that visited several former picture houses and was a lovely social run with fantastic local knowledge and facts. I love Glasgow’s architecture & will definitely remember to look up more. Can’t believe I’d never noticed the beautiful window detailing at Waterstones on Sauchiehall Street before.

 

 

Total miles: 18

Nutrition: average. I’m not doing veganuary, dry January or anything like that, but I’ve had a couple of boredom/tiredness induced snacking times without the running miles to make up for it. Back to proper routine next week should help with that.

5F6C8BFA-09C9-4BF6-BB99-499374F38A09.jpeg
Lunch after nine miles: not ideal, but needs must

Feeling: pretty good, really. Not too much festive over-indulgence & a small increase in weekly mileage makes it a good week. Felt slightly tired on the long run, but that could be due to anything & has made me resolve to stretch properly & go to bed early tonight.