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 3

Week 3!

Monday: strength session. Still a deload week, so it was alright, but I finished off with half an hour on the spin bike just to stretch my legs out. It was dull. I managed about 10km, so that can be my benchmark for the next few weeks.

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One minute in: no.

Tuesday: 3 miles intervals. I wanted this to be outside, but work had been quite full-on and stressful, & I knew if I went home I would struggle to get back outside again, so I did 6x400m sprints on the treadmill after a 1km warmup, then cooled down to the 5km point. Recoveries were about 1-2 minutes jog. It didn’t feel great, & I was tired by the third repeat, but I made it to the end. I am very inspired by what other marathoners are doing for interval training & will mix it up depending on how I’m feeling, what’s inspired me, or what I’m advised.

Wednesday: 3 miles easy, & a strength sesh.

Thursday: 6 miles easy. Was meant to do this on Wednesday, but I had jog-leading duties so swapped it round. It was below freezing so quite a tough run, but good company makes up for that. Big group though, & trying to keep it easy by leading from the back can be difficult.

January at GFR: busy

Slight anxiety at diverging from THE PLAN, which is on a Google sheet (so my mum can see what I’m up to without having to WhatsApp me) but also stuck to the kitchen wall just in case. Once it has too many scribbled-out bits I’ll print out a fresh one.

Friday: rest day. I really like having the rest day on a Friday, as I am in a relatively new job which is quite tiring and involves a lot of travel. I was absolutely ready for Netflix & chill tea & no running.

Saturday: Plan specified 6 miles, I made this a bit tempo by running slowly to parkrun, going for a 27 minute-ish time there, and then running slowly home. It was still January-busy so I got stuck in a slow-moving group for a bit, but there is a clear difference in pace from the 5km point once I broke out of that. Actual time was 28-something but 3 MP & 3 easy miles were all in there so I am happy.

Parkrun began at 4km

Gym in the afternoon for more strength work. I am getting to know the regulars at my new gym, & probably need to stop being heart-eyes emoji towards a woman who squats 120kg for 5 & a man with nice hair who manages an effortless-looking heavy power clean.

I am basically a gym creep now

Sunday: 12 miles easy. 9 of it with GFR and an extra bit for me at the beginning & end. I usually want the extra miles on the start of the run so I can cool down & brunch with the crew, but it was logistically not possible today so I jogged miserably around the West End until I got to 20km. Then I realised I had left my keys in the flat.

This is a woman who is about to lock herself out of her own house

Thank goodness for Uber, Apple Pay, the many coffee shops in my ‘hood, & locating a set of spare keys within half an hour. Hanging around in Glasgow’s 2° January, slightly sweaty without a jacket, wasn’t great, & I spent 20 minutes just tucked up next to a radiator thawing out when I eventually got in. I didn’t stretch either, which hopefully doesn’t affect me too much. Bath & stretch tonight should solve it.

Total miles: 30. This is more like it.

Nutrition: fine enough. Had a couple of early starts, missed lunches, and travelling days which make it less easy to prep, but I’m happy enough.

Feeling: Meh. Not sleeping well, legs are slightly heavy, & I am stretching a lot. Making sure to alternate heavy days with easy runs is good, but requires easy runs to really be easy. I am reading The art of running faster & it’s a good reminder on technique – long runs are about time on your feet, not speed, & easy runs should leave you feeling fresh at the end.

Week 4 approaches. I am not looking forward to it, as I am working all over the place & I fear it will just be about carrying a gym bag everywhere & jumping on a treadmill whenever I can…

Intervals

In order to run faster you have to practice running faster. Logic. I’ve done a couple of marathons and many more half marathons, so I’m pretty confident about overcoming fatigue. Long runs train you to get past that fatigue, but speed work helps you with a lot more – particularly form.

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mood

In the past I have found intervals and sprints much easier to do on a treadmill, although there is a lot of chat about how it makes it more difficult to find your ideal pace when running outside, the need to set the incline to 1-2% to recreate wind resistance, generally how it’s a bit of a cop-out, etc. The treadmill does have to be set up well for me to enjoy this kind of training – my current gym has the cardio machines all lined up facing a mirror, which isn’t ideal. Previous gyms where you could see out of the window, or at least face towards other people, is more entertaining.

I got obsessed with this specific treadmill last year when I trained at Sweat Union, because you could see all around the gym

I have developed a few intervals and hill sprint sessions to use with Frontrunners, so I need to make use of them myself. For this training cycle I am making an effort to do more outdoor interval training. I do feel a bit stupid doing these on my own but I see a lot of people posting their plans and splits on Instagram, & there are a selection of decent inclines & straight bits of road near my house that I could certainly make use of. I have run on an actual athletics track precisely once, when I was doing my coaching assessment last year, & whilst I can see the benefit of having a measured distance and a nice springy track, the one nearest to me is always really busy. My Garmin has a lap function & can have training plans loaded onto it, so that will be a help with outdoor intervals.

I will aim for my Tuesday runs to be intervals/hills and my Thursday or Saturday runs to be tempo runs, depending on how I’m feeling. This Tuesday’s 3 miler should have been repeats of a 400m steady incline near my house, but I had to treadmill it this week. 6x400m was enough for a tired day, and I’ll work up to more repeats of that distance. I’ve also seen some interesting pyramid-style interval sessions being done by marathon runners, which I’ve saved for reference…

As the evenings get lighter, there are a lot more options, of course, & I can explore further afield. Kelvingrove Park is always a favourite, as it has a good selection of different gradients.

Yes, even this one. Pic courtesy of Manchester Frontrunners

For now, I’ll work up to more treadmill repeats & probably dig out some stats from a few years back to see if I can beat them now. I hope I can.