It’s a mere 10 days to go until the big and scary plans become big and scary actually happenings. I’m in taper now although given the last few weeks, nobody would spot much difference.
I’m already wondering if this post will be a way of getting my excuses in early.
My training, for the most part, has been okay, if a little lacking in structure. I’ve run lots – more than I did for my Lakeland 100 attempt – but this time around I’ve neglected gym work, done nothing in the way of interval training and added the odd tempo run in here and there. So mileage has (for me) been good while running with purpose, less so. That being said, most of my runs have been recces on the route itself.
Just don’t ask about the injury!
I mentioned previously that I had signed up for the Jantastic challenge. Jantastic was set up last year by former international runner Martin Yelling (husband of Olympian marathoner, Liz Yelling) and Tom Williams, MD of parkrun, who co present the MarathonTalk podcast. In Martin’s own words
Jantastic is a New Year fitness challenge and it grew out of our desire to offer motivation and encouragement to runners as they strive for consistency towards their spring running goals.
The challenge runs for 3 months and the set up is simple: in the first month, set a target number of workouts you will aim to complete each week. In the second month, you still set a target number of workouts but also add a distance target for a single run each week. In March, the final month, you add a time target for a single run – something to aim for after hopefully completing 3 months of training, inspired and motivated by taking part in the challenge.
The London Marathon (2014 edition) is now only three days away, or two days and three nights if you prefer pedantry, and I will be at the lining up at the start.
I’d be lying if I said I felt ready for it. Since the Berkhamsted Half, my running has been hit and miss and aside from 15 miles across two runs in one day, I spectacularly failed to manage a long run of any distance at all. Between work and personal life building up, training has fallen by the way side. Mentally my focus has been elsewhere and even as recently as Monday, after an otherwise enjoyable run left me in copious amounts of pain, I was considering deferring until next year.
This week, I explored the effect of what happens to the body after an overabundance of food, alcohol coupled with sleep deprivation and general fatigue.
This microcycle involves another set of intervals: 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk and repeat. Again I felt that this was a little too short – it’s only 9 minutes of actual running – so I tacked another 90s interval at the end to bring the time including warm-up to 25 minutes total (well, 24m30s) and then have a walking cool-down. Following on from last week, I set the pace for the 90s intervals at 6:15 min/mi and the 3 min run at 6:30 min/mi. That definitely made it challenging. I trained on Wednesday and Friday and in the Thursday, I cycled to work (11.5 miles either way) with a mind to introducing some cross training into my program. However, thanks to my competitive nature and Strava suggesting I could do an uphill section a little faster than before, I already had tired legs for w3d2 so I made up for it by pushing the final 90s interval at 10mph making (in theory) for 400m in 90s. Hard, but I felt great afterwards.
It all went downhill after that.
After last weeks taster, I decided to being C25K in earnest this week, using the Cool Running Couch-to-5K program. I’ve touched on why I’m doing this before but for posterity, here the three main reasons why I’m using C25K as my training plan and I hope to expand on them in future posts.
- It’s a gentle introduction back to running after five months off with injury and should help to rehabilitate my broken foot
- I want to get to know and understand the program for myself so that I’m in a better position to help clients and other beginner runners with it
- Even though it’s marketed as a beginners program, I want to gauge if there is any potential benefit to a runner who is already quite capable of running 5km
Also, to reiterate, the only caveat to this program is that I will not continue if I have pain in my foot.
So week 1: I can say it went well. After discovering last week that I could push the pace on my foot, I decided to set a target pace for my intervals of 7 minutes/mile (8.6 mph). The first two runs this week were done on a treadmill at my gym and I felt fine at the set pace. The final run this morning was out on the road where I attempted to stick at the same pace. My splits after the split:
This morning I went out for a run, my second in the last five months. The first was a few days ago on a treadmill but today was out on the road. The plan for both runs was to do the week 1 training plan from the Couch-to-5K plan which is simply a five minute warm up at steady walking pace followed by 8 repeated intervals of 1 minute running and 90 secs walking for a total of 20 minutes. On the treadmill, I set my speed at 4.5 mph for the walking and 6 mph for the running. The temptation to go faster or for longer was great but I stuck to the plan as an exercise in discipline. Out on the road today, my intention was to run at a comfortable pace but to stick to the plan and timings.
Imagine my surprise at the end of the 25 minutes when my Garmin told me I’d run a total 2.5 miles. Not bad considering only 8 minutes of that was running. Looking at my run splits, the news gets even better:
There are two reasons this is an encouraging picture. Firstly, my fracture is obviously healed enough to withstand the force exerted on it at speed. Secondly, despite being heavier than desired and not having done any significant cardio training for the last 5 months (barring some cycling in the past few weeks), I was surprised that a 6 minute mile pace, albeit for a minute at a time, felt “comfortable”.
The third thing to come out of today’s run is wondering if the C25K program will help me achieve my goal of a sub-20 minute 5km time.
The potential risk with all this feedback is that I’ll end up pushing myself and my foot before I’m ready and set myself back a month or two. I have five weeks until my next (and hopefully final) hospital appointment and the last thing I want to do is jeopardize any healing. I intend to start running again during the week and will be doing 2 if not 3 days, sticking to the C25K plan. At least two sessions will be on the controlled environment of a treadmill and I will be limiting my speed. When I have the final all clear, I will start the C25K plan again but at a higher target pace to see how the plan can be adapted to improving speed. Discipline and patience are my friends…
I know it may not come across but I’m really pretty delighted after today’s run!
June has come and gone. In total I ran 104 miles during Juneathon month, achieving what I set out to do which was hit 3 figures. Still surprises me that some people run that in a week! Anyway, while I didn’t work out every day, the whole Juneathon challenge gave me incentive and motivation where it might have been lacking. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Actually, not funny – bloody annoying. Mind you, motivation wasn’t lacking yesterday when I went out for a 30 mile jaunt along the trails. Planned as my longest run in the lead up to the end of July, I loaded up my pack with 3 litres of water, a couple of bags of jelly babies and set off. I had thought about making it a dry run to get used to running with kit but the problem with doing 30 miles solo and unassisted is a distinct lack of checkpoints with water, food and cheery souls to wish you well. So I took water instead of kit which I think was the right thing to do.
All told, I think the run went well. 30.5 miles in ~5:30 with 3600ft ascent. The second half was definitely slower and, at the time, I’ve got admit that I wondered how I’d push on for another 70 miles but the answer to that came today: I don’t feel like I ran 30 miles yesterday and this evening I’d have happily gone out for a gentle 10 miles.
So why, then, am I thinking of starting my taper now?
Another low mileage week wasn’t exactly in the plan given that there’s now a mere five weeks left but sometimes, that’s how it pans out. This week was busy and mostly revolved around my (6yo and 4yo) kids. Instead of the weekly club run, I spent Wednesday evening marshalling at my club’s annual Midsummer Fun Run – a great family event that has races for all ages from Nursery/Pre-school upwards. My kids took part in their first competitive race ever over 400m (-ish) around the local cricket pitch and got a medal for their efforts. Then the weekend found me running around in woods at my son’s Beaver family camp which was fun and exhausting at the same time while the highlight of Sunday was my daughter performing her first ballet recital at a local theatre which was an absolute delight.
So running took a bit of a back seat. If I’d planned it better, I would have pushed up the miles last week knowing that I had this week to recuperate but I really didn’t think it through. Hey ho – you live and learn! So, the runs:
I think cutting back on miles for any given week is definitely something I’m good it and it’s one part of my training I rarely have difficulty with. I did try and make friends with my foamroller again although I suspect it’s in a hump with me for neglecting it so much. The highlight of the week was a visit to my friend and ace sports therapy physio massage person (who is doing an Ironman in Austria in two weeks) on Tuesday morning to give my legs the once over. I thought my ITB would be the problem area but it turns out that my calves were rock solid. They need a lot of work. And indeed, I’m working on it. So, training:
It’s been a quiet blog week again for which I apologise. There are various articles simmering away but none have quite bubbled over into existence on the blog so far – mostly due with me getting back into the swing of studying for my Fitness Instructor course and also because I are been mostly running a lot. Well, a lot for me, anyway. Here is my summary: