Debrief: Great North Run

I randomly popped a ballot application in for the Great North Run at some point last year – can’t even remember when. It’s clearly an awesome race & the largest half marathon in the world, but it’s never been a bucket list one for me. I know plenty folk who’ve ran it, including a friend who raised money for WWF by running with a life-size stuffed panda on her back, & my cousins, who’ve ran it several times in a big group to raise money for a local charity. It’s always had a good report, despite the course congestion, & it’s fairly close to home. I like all these things.

The email came in with confirmation of a place back in February, but I was heavily concentrating on something else & it barely even registered. I think I did an insta post or story about it, but September seemed ages away, and at that point in marathon training I was running 13.1 regularly as an easy run or in the rest weeks, so it didn’t seem like that big a deal.

Fast forward a few months and it was a lot sooner & I was not massively prepared for it. There’s been no training plan, except maintaining fitness as much as I can. There is no goal in mind, aside from completing it, but even then I’m not going to push myself to keep running if I need to slow down.

such bridge, tho

This way of thinking is not how I usually run. It’s different to Run The Blades, which I undertook at 12 weeks pregnant, because I’m now more or less halfway through at almost 20 weeks & running is getting a little more difficult every time. I haven’t really mentioned this race to many people, & those who did know mostly assumed I was going to drop out or defer the place.

But despite slowing down quite a bit, I didn’t see any reason to not run. I was lucky enough to have lots of friends and family running it too, it’s a very inclusive race that caters well for a lot of slower runners, & there’s no merit in not trying. Mostly, I have no idea what life will be like in September 2020 so it’s a much better idea to have a crack at it now, even if slow.

Lol at being in the 1:50-1:55 finish wave, though

I’m writing this on the train home, tea in hand. Tyneside is close enough to Scotland to be there, raced & back in 24 hours, which is good. Today has been the furthest distance I’ve run since knowingly pregnant, & I was quite apprehensive about it. Most people are very supportive, & those that aren’t aka my mother are just concerned. I get that. But I might never get a chance to run GNR again & I’m not chucking an entry fee unless I absolutely have to.

So. Full sun was forecast and was very much a feature of the day. Not ideal, but I sought the shade at all times, made use of almost every water station & every shower, & will be forever grateful to the good people of Tyne & Wear who stood in their gardens with hosepipes. Higher temps definitely slowed me down a lot & I walked several times, always keeping an eye on my heart rate and perceived effort.

I had genuinely considered wearing a long sleeve top

It was quite difficult & I am more than happy to admit that. With hindsight, I wouldn’t do this distance again at this stage. It was a long way & I currently feel the same as I’ve done in the past after running a lot further. I’m sore everywhere & I want a warm bath & some more tea & to not be at work for 8am tomorrow. I felt fine when actually running, though, so I’m guessing how I feel now is just heightened fatigue rather than unusual or dangerous. & baby’s currently fluttering away in there, which I started to feel a couple of weeks ago, so that’s good. I am going to take a few days recovery & make sure I get plenty of rest too.

Random points:

  • I don’t realise quite how much I’m flexing the bump until I’m tired & stop doing it. Right now it looks huge because I’m sitting down & have eaten loads of snacks all day
  • Number of women who slowed for a chat before overtaking, or said nice things: loads!
  • Number of mostly men people who elbow-barged me out of the way: also loads, unfortunately
  • I walked about 7 times for 1-2 minutes each time, usually during a hill or when my watch peeped at me for a high heart rate
  • Comparable to London in terms of route congestion, iconic bridge moment, crowd cheers & good marshalling. The end/event village was absolutely chaotic though & would put me off running or spectating again. Volumes of people meant no phone service & it was really strangely laid out.
  • I will have actual nightmares about the mile 9 portaloos 🤢

All in all, I’m glad to have been able to run this but as above, had I not had the race entry ready to go, I wouldn’t deliberately take this distance on during pregnancy. It might be bad timing, & even a couple of weeks ago might have been better for me, but we’ll never know. For now, I’m grateful that all I’m feeling is mild discomfort, tiny fluttery kicks & a crazy desire for sleep.

The new normal

So. With increased total blood volume & ligaments relaxing all over the place, how does exercise fit into all this?

Opinions vary. The traditional advice for expectant women to rest & take it easy is no longer chucked about with as much sincerity as it used to be, thank goodness. But there are plenty of people who say stuff like that to me anyway, when I was marathon training or even when just generally maintaining fitness. It’s easy to forget that exercise isn’t part of a lot of people’s routines at all. “Have a rest! Put your feet up! Just relax!” is the battle cry of people who have never racked their bodyweight across their shoulders & dropped 5×5 like a boss, or ran for two hours without stopping & unravelled all the problems in their mind.

The other side of the coin is aspirational social media/generic internet positivity. “You can do anything! Pregnancy is not an illness!” which must be a terribly grating thing to hear for people who are quite unwell during pregnancy. Although they’ll be stuck in the bathroom most of the time & won’t really care. It’s usually illustrated with pictures like this:

from a website advising no supine positions after 13 weeks (which is outdated anyway) clearly doing JUST THAT
I really hope that’s not been cleaned from the floor

& again, not illustrative of most people’s experiences. Exercise is hugely important for my mental & physical wellbeing, but I’m out of breath sometimes now if I walk up a few flights of stairs carrying a heavy bag. My body is changing already, & my diet is a little different, so my training will have to change too.

Sad face

The internet is fantastic & full of wonderful tips & tricks, but it’s also full of nonsense, & separating the good advice from the well-intentioned-but-terrible, as well as the genuinely bad, can be difficult. NHS, Mumsnet & similar recommend that exercise should be the usual triad of gentle walking, swimming & pregnancy yoga. I have actually been to pregnancy yoga and it was quite nice, although the hippie nonsense relaxation practice has never appealed to me & it’s even less appealing now the guided savasana involves bonding with the baby. At least no one can see my rolling my eyes because there’s an aromatherapy bag over my face. But still.

I love the NHS but they’re obviously terribly cautious with the advice and need to appeal to the mainstream, who tend not to exercise at all. So far I’ve found specific lifting/CrossFit advice for women to be the best, as sensible suggestions about listening to your own body is key. The importance of what a lighter weight means to you specifically is also mentioned in this type of advice, rather than the generic ‘light weight’ or just no heavy lifting at all.

The first few times I went to the gym after finding out about the pregnancy, I did my all usual sessions with no change to the weight on the bar, but then panicked a bit, went too light & wasn’t feeling the benefit. Right now, the intensity depends on the lift I’m doing. Cleans, snatches & deadlifts feel less comfortable already so my weights are lighter for these lifts, & I have modified some of the techniques for more support & less risk whilst still getting a benefit. Squats & overhead lifts all feel fine, so I’m sticking with weights only slightly lighter than my pre-pregnancy efforts.

Listening to my own body is a little bit more difficult than I expected because I’m half a stone heavier than 2 months ago & full of weird twinges. Ligaments hold your uterus in its normal place in your pelvis – in my head it’s like BB8’s retention cables when he’s rolling around on the Millennium Falcon

& when these stretch to accommodate the expanding uterus, it aches a bit. Mostly it’s when I stand up too fast (all the time), forget that I shouldn’t lie on my front (more often than expected) & earlier this week it was when I tried a set of hang cleans with a weight only 5kg lighter than my 1 rep max. I managed three reps before realising it was a bit of a dick move; I’ll try this exercise with lighter weights for the next couple of weeks, as I want to keep to my normal routine for as long as I can.

Luckily, I am surrounded by some incredible women who have been there and done it all. PTs/fitness instructors with pre & post natal specialisations or experience are definitely on my radar at the moment – please recommend resources, people and accounts to follow!

What now?

Well, I’m not too sure. All of 2019 (& the end of 2018, really) has been consumed by running.

After a full week of rest, I headed out in the rain for a recovery run this morning. Just 5km, just round the block like a usual short training run.

Despite getting a bit agitated during the week of rest, it was a good idea to fully recover & not try & run a couple of days after a marathon with stiff muscles & worrying about my heart rate. Getting back to the gym is nice too. My eating has been relatively healthy & I am enjoying all the spare time I seem to have.

I have a 10km & a half marathon over the next few months, and a couple of shorter races that I am tempted by, but I will be taking bit of a break from running. There are too many other awesome things to do, & not just exercise related. I have friends in other parts of the country that I need to visit. I have items I really need to finish knitting, books to read, sleep to catch up on. The marathon is the easy part in a very long, high volume training programme that has been amazing for my discipline & propelled me well towards my 1000km/year, a milestone I usually reach in the last third of the year.

1km was New Year’s Day, of course

To hit this in May is incredible, but it’s time for a change. Working on my upper body strength, & particularly my back, will be happening. I was making good progress last year until I stopped lifting as much.

This rest has been the longest break I have taken in 2019, & it already feels weird. I haven’t even hit 10,000 steps a day this week. But it has probably been good for me in the long run.

Debrief #2

Home race! Sleeping in my own bed! Club mates to run with!

Still not my race, though.

Everything felt fine. A bit chilly & rainy at the start, but I wore a disposable long sleeve top for the warm up miles (not really disposable but I only decided to put it on last minute & didn’t want to carry it for the rest of the race), bursts of sunshine, some strong coastal breezes, as to be expected for a race that travels along the North Sea coast. No aches & pains beyond general fatigue, the wind was a bit strong sometimes but I didn’t feel too slowed down by it, nutrition went well & I had a really good last mile & a fast finish. Clearly can’t judge my own pace, though, as I came in a few minutes slower than London. 4:20:55 on Strava for the actual 42.195 distance, 4:22:44 on chip (with a distance of 42.7km)

So… following a 5-runs-a-week intermediate training plan has made me get steadily worse & I am a bit gutted. I’ve worked so hard & I really thought I could at least pb, even if a sub-4 wasn’t possible. To not manage either, & to finish the UK’s fastest, flattest marathon slower than London, is rubbish.

can’t be good

Positives, of a sort:

  • I’ve run over 1000km in 2019 so far, & will aim for 1000 miles by the end of the year.
  • I finished really strong, & aside from a few aches & pains I felt mostly OK on Sunday evening. My body can clearly cope well with marathons as long as they’re slow.
  • It’s a good medal
  • I had less mental anguish during this race, probably linked to not feeling physically ruined at any point. Miles 17-19 were still a bit dark but this time it was easier to count down from the half way.
  • I have stayed injury-free – a few niggles here & there, but nothing that can’t be fixed with more & better stretching & less running
  • I must visit North Berwick more often, the east coast is really pretty.
  • Now it’s time for weightlifting again

I’m taking a week off to rest, & then changing my training to all strength, all the time. I want my definition back, & I do not want to run as much as I have been.

Other positives, as ever, were the marvellous team & their continuing dedication. Fun when I’ve been able to train with them, & there were some fantastic first-time marathon finishers in this gang. Hugs & chat from folk who know why I’m so gutted is also useful post-race.

Also calf stretch time

Despite the weather forecast of heavy rain (plenty of it) many of us are sunburned. I genuinely do not remember it being sunny for more than a few stretches of 2 minutes. I know you can burn through cloud but it was forecast for continuous cloud & rain. I am coated in aftersun lotion.

Recovery will be plenty of walking & eating properly, & some long-term Netflix commitments to follow up. Knitting, reading, & indoor hobbies in general. Looking forward to indoor workouts too, when I get back to it. New goals will be set when I figure out how to deal with failing.

The best finish line…

… is the one coming up tomorrow. Now we’re talking. Spot the jump from maintenance cardio to the heavy miles at the start of the year. The last five months have been intense. Edinburgh Marathon is nearly here & then I am having a rest & a break from running & selfies.

So – here we go for another 30 mile week. Except 26.2 of them are all at once.

Monday: rest day, & working in London. This mostly involves trains, catching trains for very short distances & worrying about the timetable change, so it was physically restful but mentally a bit fraught.

Tuesday: more London. I’d asked the wisdom of Instagram whether I should run or not when I was away – results were mixed

but I had a busy day & plenty of walking to do, so that was enough. Glorious weather too, so walking was better than running.

Wednesday: home time: three miles easy & a strength session, keeping the weights low.

Thursday: another rest. Stretchy stretch time (& voting)

Friday: the intention was two miles steady along the river, keeping it the same as I did in London. However, the day before a long weekend plus the political excitement had the odds thoroughly stacked against taking a lunch hour, so I waited until the evening for this & then chilled in the garden afterwards.

Saturday: volunteering at parkrun, which is always very inspiring & good fun, & then brunch.

I like being able to bring coffee with me

The rest of the day’s been quite lazy, & the alarm call tomorrow is early. It will go how it goes. I wish I was looking forward to it more.

The weather forecast is problematic:

but I am prepped for an afternoon of celebration & an evening of watching the European election results on the sofa.

The best part of tomorrow will be the company. Although I am so grateful for support from anyone – I confessed to this marathon at work yesterday during ‘plans for the weekend?’ chat after a meeting, & the reactions reminded me that most people don’t spend their time doing this & it’s actually quite a big deal – but running pals are nice to have. London was awesome but lonely in parts, & with a huge club turnout for the official GFR spring marathon, I hope that those of us who are pushing for a similar time can keep each other going, as we’ve done in the past.

also beverages

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.

“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.

Race week

Marvellous. I am fairly well rested & spent most of Easter enjoying the sunshine, doing loads of laundry, gardening & spending time with family and friends.

Drinking tea & writing up training notes

However, with mere hours to go before the race, there is a lot going on in my head

  • very little patience for anyone coughing or sneezing near me
  • Minimum 4 cups of tea a day for hydration purposes
  • Walking up and down stairs very carefully
  • Going to bed at 10pm (waking at 5am as a result; *slow clap*)
  • What if I forget how to physically move my legs
  • Why did I think this is a good idea in the first place

Also lots of ridiculous non-questions, like can I run this far/can I run at all/am I too old/I also enjoy knitting & reading as hobbies, why not stick to that instead…

The fam group chat is way more excited than I am at this point and I had to mute it until a couple of days ago. Several questions about why does Mo Farah wear compression sleeves and do I need some (Because he likes them, and no…) Luckily I’ve had a busy week at work to keep me occupied.

I imagine, like a lot of other nervous runners, I am checking the long range weather multiple times a day & being cheerful or nervous depending on what it says. Currently it looks pretty good.

This week’s training:

Monday: rest. Easy to do in that lovely sunshine.

Tuesday: 2.5 miles as part of coaching a GFR session: most of it was steady but there were some bursts of speed. I also spent too long messing around on the canalside monkey bars & made my arms sore.

vibe

Wednesday: plan said 4 miles, but I wasn’t feeling too well & managed slightly under half a mile before packing it in. Not ideal, but running with a sore stomach will never really go well & I should have known better than to even try. That’s maranoia for you.

Thursday: got up early to fit in the 4 miles that should have been yesterday’s, & did enjoy it. I love running before work & will try for more of that this summer.

I haven’t done proper fasted cardio for a while, & the nervous energy meant I was faster than an easy run should be, but it was a nice confidence boost.

Friday: travelled to London, & managed a couple of easy shakeout miles along the river in the early evening.

CARBS

& now, it’s chill time.

Ironing the letters onto my club vest was more stressful and tiring than running. After unearthing the iron from the back of a cupboard, the receipt tucked in the box confirmed that I bought it in 2012, meaning it’s been through two house moves & I’ve still never used it. After a few minutes of failure, I realised the iron a) had different settings, and b) was on the lowest setting. That is why the first H is all messed up. Once the iron was firing at full power, progress was made.

Saturday will be rest day before heading to meet my family, go for a pasta dinner, & try for a good night’s sleep. Wish me luck!

Week sixteen

I have miscounted the weeks, clearly. Or the next 7 days does not count as training but just involves gentle jogging, anxiety & pasta. MAYBE IT’S BOTH.

 

I knew that travelling during the taper would mess up my plans a bit, but honestly I thought I would cope better. I used to be good at jetlag but this time it’s been really bad – I was more or less ready for bed by 9pm for the first few days in the US, & then it was time to come back & sleeping on the plane never happens & I was awake from Tuesday morning until Wednesday night. But as a result I’ve had the most & best sleep for months, too. I hope this continues.

Even better, it is so true what they say about rest. I have been beating myself up for a week about enjoying myself too much whilst travelling and not sticking to the plan, but when I have trained, it’s always been amazing. I have felt light, springy & energetic on each run, so clearly the rest & sleep has been good for me and it’s fine.

Monday: stretching, & 30,000 steps in the Chicago sunshine.

love at first sight

Tuesday: 5 miles on the lakefront – started easy but parts of it got a bit faster when I was feeling like stretching it out, which was usually whenever I was out of the serious headwind. It felt nicely challenging.

Wednesday: Jetlag & no sleep = rest day. Fine by me.

Red eye breakfast of champs

Thursday: First full day back at work + jetlag = a steady six miles in the evening. It had cooled down a bit by the time I ran, which was nice.

Friday: Cyclebox. Harsh, especially sprints, and there were some mild arm muscle DOMS the following day. My left shoulder is still a bit painful so when I get back into stuff that’s not running, I am going to have to figure out exactly what’s wrong as it affects my punching as well as lifting. I can run, though, so worth ignoring for now*

*bad advice, terrible

Saturday: a steady 8 (ish) miles, getting used to being on my feet again after a week or so of shorter faster runs.

Sunday: 4 miles & a strength workout, then Easter with my family. I love Easter.

It’s very hot

4 miles was made up of a warm-up run to the gym and 5x400m sprints.

Total miles: 23, which seems super low nowadays. Trust the taper…

Feeling: a bit nervous, now. Trying not to be too stressed about not following the training plan for a week, messing up my good regular pattern of rest days & exercise. I’ve just about clawed it back now, and the walking I did in Chicago kept the leg muscles ticking over, with plenty of stretching whenever I could manage. I didn’t foam roll whilst I was away but have been on it twice a day since getting back.

Nutrition: better, after taking advantage of Chicago’s amazing cuisine & the USA’s cheap 500g bags of peanut butter M+Ms. Since getting back I have been packing in the nutrients like crazy, but I do miss these pancakes.

Meals weren’t always excessive, but US portions are often a bit much. A superfood salad I ordered one evening was delicious – avocado, quinoa, radishes, celery & loads of other crunchy stuff, but it came in a serving bowl and was the size I’d make if I was hosting a small dinner party.

This salmon with pak choi and hazelnut pesto from The Kitchen was amazing, though.

This was equally amazing, but as expected from somewhere I found out about on Instagram, it was more of a photo opportunity than a food item. $8 of sugar, and happily I didn’t even come close to finishing it.

Since I’ve been back it’s all about good protein, green veg & caffeine. Fairly standard for my normal routine, but Chicago was carb-heavy & a few days of that made me feel heavy, bloated & ridiculous. There has been a brief break for Easter egg, but that’s allowed, I think. Happy Easter!