Thursday, 30 April 2009

Tiny Slimy Snail

RHR 37 again today and am hoping desperately that this is a continued sign of some gradual recovery. I think my RHR has been back under 40 bpm for the last few days now. Tried a mini run tonight as reading all the bumph online suggests (handily) that doing a bit of low intensity active recovery can speed up the process. That was my excuse anyway. Did a wee trot out over the iron bridge with a wiggle along the Beamsley road and back for 20 mins. Under stormy skies the valley looked super lush and green tonight. I love these kinds of runs - when the elements show off the valley at it's best, and tonight the world felt new, fresh and clean. Arrived back at the house to be bedazzled by magic pockets of blooming nature. Whilst stretching my calves out I spotted the tiniest baby snail in the world oozing his (her?) way down the tip of a bluebell. Then was struck by the luminescent blue of our clematis about to fully bloom. Anyway, am just reminding myself that when you make the space the simplest things can delight. Night, night.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

All Work & No Play Makes RB A Dull Girl

Plan on keeping this post short. Am acutely aware that I'm becoming increasingly dull as each day passes and can only write so much about the fact that I'm not running. Did a mile tonight and then came home thinking again how daft it is not resting. RHR 37 this morning so, a good sign of some stability returning. Missing running as life seems to be all about work with no fun, (sorry M - I mean no running fun). In my infinite dullness I've spent the entire evening fiddling with my excel training sheet. I'm revising my racing and training plan schedule in light of these recent annoying interruptions to the grand plan. I'm also (are you yawning there?!) trying to revise my training plan to work around a 10 day cycle. This seems to be a great way of accommodating all the quality sessions and ensure enough recovery is built in to guard against a repeat of my current predicament. Sessions involve a blend of VO2, tempo runs, hills, speed and long endurance runs with a few aerobic runs for packing and recovery in between. This has at least given me something constructive to do other than eat myself into a weeble shape or contemplate doing the ironing that has been sat in a crumpled heap for the last 18 months.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

"When you have learned something. That always feels at first as if you had lost something." H.G. Wells

After the last couple of weeks of making some attempt to ease down and overcome this 'under recovery' thing I am trying my best to take all the learning I can from this experience and take a proper break, (though really dunno what possessed me to do that idiot 5k on Saturday). Now I'm facing recovery week #3 and not feeling much better I've decided I'm gonna have to really take this resting thing seriously. So, today I have not run.
Yes, you've read that right. I have not run.
I've actually had a day off. Gulp.
This is my first day off since god knows when (sometime 2008 I think). This is a major deal given my unfaltering commitment to pulling on the trainers everyday. So, hope readers are proper impressed by how sensible I am being. To occupy myself I have instead opted for making a fuss of M tonight. He had a bad dental appointment today (his worst nightmare) and then had to venture out into the rain tonight to splash out 4x1mile efforts at the track all on his lonesome. So, am preparing his favourite tea, sausages with mash and gravy. Hope it'll be a comfort after the hell of the dentist and slogging his guts out without the runningbear to keep him company. So, will try not to turn all mental with no run in these legs for my first rest day in a long, long time. I feel all funny and guilty. RHR 39 this morning. Might treat myself to a short run tomorrow.

Monday, 27 April 2009

"Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again".

Today marks the start of week #3 of this enforced ease down. Have finally persuaded M that I'm not imagining or exaggerating my condition after a run out together tonight gave him a great opportunity to compare our heart rates at each mile of the run. The contrast was pretty stark. We ran a nice loop from home via Nesfield to Ilkley and back clocking a moderate pace over 7 miles. I was in a higher zone than M for a large part of the run which is a major difference to a month ago. Will keep monitoring my heart rate as a guide; pace is little help as a gauge and only adds to feeling frustrated. So some easy 4s and 5s at most planned over the next few days and perhaps a review of progress at the weekend. RHR was 38 again today but during runs it quickly rises disproportionate to the running effort. A bit of a way to go yet.

Will need to find something to distract myself over the coming days and inflicting more blogging on the world would be just cruel. To keep myself out of mischief for another recovery week I've been thinking of rewriting my training plan for the year, particularly now racing schedules will have to be reviewed. Last week's AW (pages 48-49) details guidance on quality vs quantity and how to balance the two to improve speed and strength in tandem. Would recommend this as a read to anyone wanting to develop a structured training schedule. Will now spend this week rewriting my training and racing plans for the summer. My hopes of a qualifying time for the English Champs 10k in September are now looking unlikely but if I can target some quality training in June and July there might still be a chance - sub 34.30 seems much further away that it did in January. Next year maybe. Anyway, feeling more accepting of my fate and will see what the week brings. All body parts crossed that I can get back into the training swing soon. In the meantime will be coordinating training and team support for M and his performances pending at Rothwell and John Carr #3. I'm still pretty good at coat holding, clapping and bag carrying.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

A Runner's Chicken Soup

After the painful throes of yesterday's running reality check I'm starting to resign myself to taking some real time out of the cut and thrust of competitive running to try to get back to my running roots. RHR was 45bpm both yesterday and today so seem to have taken a step backwards in recovery; the time trial was a bit of an error I think. But, on a positive note ran a lovely 10 this morning in the glorious spring sunshine. Had for a change the sparkling company of M and the ever-young Jamil P who came to visit for a breezy session around the Strid, adding an extra mile for good luck. Lots of chat about running, life and running - I was quickly reminded of how annoying and whiny I sound at the moment. I think to avoid this continuing I need to keep doing runs that I enjoy, at a pace that feels right on the day and make the most of the spring sunshine. The runner's equivalent of chicken soup. Those around me seem to think something's messed with my head but the inside bit of me feels okay, am loving my running it's just this wobbly old fleshy outer bit that won't work properly. Another week or two then. Hope I can relax and enjoy the time off rather than fret and frown about why my flippin' ugly legs aren't working.
We were too hurried to make the most of our post run cuppa and I had no time to bake this morning to offer Jamil a slice of anything fancy, though he did enjoy a choco softie treat (our last one), I'm a poor hostess I know, the shame of it! We grabbed a few mins to check out some FLM results before rushing out to meet the parents. FLM is such a big occasion for many club mates and friends this year, hence some naughty under the table action at lunch (texting that is). Though not all today's runs went as people had hoped I'm looking forward to hearing post race reflections.
Came home having eaten far too much again so had resolved to not do any baking until I happened across some blackberries in need of a pastry or cake overcoat. So, rustled up some muffins in the end. They're not too naughty and will provide a snack supply for work next week, if they survive that long. Anyway, chin up, some enjoyable running and muffin eating for the week ahead.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Peaks & Troughs

Well, I've only been and gone and slowed down even more! Had planned for a pretty easy week and as a toe in the water journeyed to Leeds for the 5k time trial this morning; low key and no pressure for a check on how these old gal legs would be feeling. Oh my god. My run was completely pants. Not only did I not break 18 mins, I was over 30 seconds slower than my 5k split in the 10k I ran at Salford 2 weeks ago. How can it be humanly possible to have slowed down so much?! I've passed through every emotion possible today though tried hard not to sulk all the way to Horton this morning. Thankfully I was able to immerse myself in the pain of others running the 3 Peaks and avoid having to think about the disaster that is my running at the moment.

The 3 Peaks race is a toughie; I'm not quite sure if I'd ever be tempted to run all those miles up and down fells looking at the state of some of the finishers today. Some looked very unwell and many tripped and cut bits of themselves right before our eyes as people tired for the final descent into the finish. It's a cruel race. The men's race was won by club mate Rob Jebb who had an awesome lead. Graham P, a former club mate running for P & B had a great run to come 4th overall and am pretty sure he managed to slip well under his PB for this event. Anyway was only tempted by the race when I saw how far back the ladies were but seeing the state of some of 'em ruled that idea right out.

Anyway back home now, ready for a comforting dinner and some reflection on what to do next. I've just lost so much in 2 weeks that it can't be anything else than over training syndrome and clearly I need more time. Am wondering how much longer I need to give this but plans for the big events this summer are swiftly going out of the proverbial window. Feel like I've lost a third of this year to this rubbish feeling and was so eager to keep on improving. I thought I'd been so careful to not do too much. I really need to review these last few months and try and learn where I've gone wrong. Am gutted that I seem to be going backwards but I know (somewhere inside honest) that it's not the end of the world. I'll be back...

Friday, 24 April 2009

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart." Confucius

RHR was 38bpm this morning, a sure sign that my body is getting back to normal; heart rate has been back under 40 for the last few days now. Have been feeling a bit frazzled around the edges though and had yet another mad busy day at work today. I also completely forgot it was Friday and that I was supposed to be catching the early train home to meet M tonight. Ended up working an hour over without noticing; delayed our start to, what will hopefully be a lovely weekend of running, watching running, reading about running and re-fueling for more running. M was very forgiving in the circumstances; he had to loiter in Tesco's until my train got in an hour later than planned.

Ran an easy 4 tonight circling the playground up the road to give the legs some reprieve from the tough trail and tarmac running of the last week. I'm still planning a turn around the Hyde Park 5k at 9am tomorrow so no sleep in but will at least have the treat of catching the end of the 3 peaks race at lunchtime. I love watching races and will hopefully feel even hungrier to get back to it after this weekend with all the viewing we've got lined up. I know I'm going to feel envious watching them all, usually do when I'm stood on the sidelines. Most exciting of all is the thought that our mate Tricky Ricky will be running FLM on Sunday. It's great to know someone who has been training and preparing so well will be running on the big day - I just can't wait to see how he gets on, no pressure tricky ;). I'm so inspired by his training and his attitude to running that It's made me even more keen to run my first marathon next year. I'm actually now wondering if I could try one in the spring for a first experience before attempting Berlin in September though I know I mustn't get carried away.

Have plans for a fair bit of socialising this weekend but also plan to try out a new recipe or two from my new bread books. Plan to make a fougasse loaf (nostalgic throwback for me as this was a daily purchase most mornings for my breakfast whilst living in the Loire valley in the mid 90's) though have also got my eye on a honey and lavender loaf in my new book. Watch this space and drool...

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Bluebell Carpets

Just a quickie tonight as a good night's sleep is needed for a big day at work tomorrow. Was a bit naughty and ran a tough 9 on the Strid tonight. Though it started out easy I was running with M and sort of got caught up in his pace rather than sticking to a slow, recovery pace of the kind that has featured in my recent recovery weeks (This is M speaking - I've secretly logged on using RB's sign-in - don't believe a word of it - I was hanging on trying to keep up with her!). The evening was warm and calm and the run a great escape from a manic day at work. I suspect we were both running out the frustrations from a tough day at work. RHR 36bpm again this morning so it's apparently settling down a bit now. Will run a short easy one tomorrow before the 5k time trial in Leeds early on Saturday. Should be a lovely weekend for walks in the woods, carpets of bluebells are emerging as I write. A walk with the camera through Middleton woods will be on the list this weekend.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Real Bo Peep

Ran a lovely off road loop tonight climbing up to the Draughton windmills then dropping down to Bolton Bridge before a sunny, meandering route hugging the banks of the river Wharfe. Apart from swallowing a lungful of flies it was great to be out in the setting sun, climbing and descending these lovely, rugged Yorkshire hills then dropping into the cool and lush crevices lying between their ancient shoulders. Found myself being chased on the main descent by a very sweet flock of new lambs. I'm not sure I looked very ewe-like in my orange t-shirt but they seemed to want to follow their new Bo Peep. I left them looking crestfallen as I scrambled over the last stile.

Think I must be getting back to normal as RHR was 36 bpm this morning but was then surprised to feel a bit tired on the climb tonight. This started me off fretting that I should be feeling much more bouncy this far into my ease off. I kept the run at what felt a very relaxed pace & ignored my Garmin screen again, just recording the run for uploading later. Anyway, M then checked on my time and reported that tonight's run was much faster than ever before. Though I've been keen to avoid measuring pacing and times this last week or so it was some comfort that I've not lost too much.
Feels like yonks ago that I last managed to do a full quality session apart from races of course. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get back to it from next week starting with mile efforts at the track. The last time I managed a full track session was January, just before my HM PB, the session ranged from 5.35-5.27 for 5x1 mile reps. Though I've had no injuries since I'm not confident I'll be back to that kind of form - the session will at least be a litmus test of whether I'm rested enough. The 5k time trail planned for early Saturday will be another chance to test if my hunger for hard running is back. After the time trial will be looking forward to spending the rest of Saturday morning chasing the Three Peaks race. I'm hoping for enough sunshine to make spectating comfortable without creating hardship for friends racing. Might even think about entering it myself one day. Now that would be a challenge.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Smelly, Lumpy and Balding

Tonight was another easy 8 so opted to keep M company on the track; it can be very lonely running intervals without someone shouting at you. It was the most boring run ever on what is probably the worst track in the world. The surface is covered in bald spots mottled with all sorts of strange bubbles and lumps. The worst bit is the funny gas smell that lingers around the far bend. Not meaning to put any local readers off as it's well used and full of keen and hard working local runners but it could really do with a face lift. I think there's a refurb on the cards so I should probably be grateful that we have it for the time being though I expect Nelson will be our new home through the summer.

M bravely ran his mile efforts whilst I ran myself dizzy clocking 8 miles running in lane 3. I ended up chatting to a fellow Bingley runner, Chris C who's about to run the Hamburg marathon. He nonchalantly added his target was 2'12'' - there are some classy runners in my new club! Anyway, didn't have time to press him for any marathon tips but have started reading around the subject. Though I may be 18 months away from my first attempt, nobody can say I'm not preparing well. Have been good again today and eaten very healthy stuff with no temptations until late tonight when I sat down to start my blog. It just didn't feel right to start off blogging without a choco softie in one of my mitts. RHR down again to 38bpm this morning so hoping I'll be back to full training next week. I'm contemplating a 5k on Saturday at Leeds Hyde Park Time Trial; that should blow out the cobwebs.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Beanstalks & Golden Eggs

After a full and active weekend of socialising and eating it was a tough one to get up to an alarm this morning and make my way into work. Have been feeling a bit guilty all day about the size of my curry portions last night and this has definitely helped curtail consumption at work. Have had a very healthy lunch and came home, avoiding my usual rummage in the snack cupboard to go straight for an easy 4.5 miles under the slowly setting sun. Took a fresh, new route, looping though fields of young lambs, down to the banks of the river Wharfe before a road loop back to the house. Felt easy and relaxed again and didn't look at my watch once. In fact spent the run buzzing away ruminating on a magic seed planted in my head during the walk on Saturday; I'm toying with the idea of doing my first marathon next year. I've now said it out loud to two people already. It's also now written down...
Have been delaying the idea of a marathon as it seems such a commitment but have been returning to the idea a fair bit this year, possibly inspired by Tricky Ricky's fantastic progress and training in recent months. Anyway, the seed is planted and I've done nothing but water and feed it since. It's now a huge, coiling beanstalk in my head. Even M seems kind of interested in giving it a go along with me. Have gone so far as thinking about when and where and I'm thinking Berlin 2010 might be where the golden egg is at. Anyway, usual me... getting carried still only a thought but one that feels like an exciting project to ignite my interest over the next year.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

15 Course Banquet

After a very good lie in this morning I managed to drag myself out of bed in time for the second half of the Skipton Tri. We had a great time cheering on friends and ex club mates out competing in the first local sprint event of the season. After loitering around Craven baths and the adjoining park for 3 hours in chilly and cloudy conditions this morning I was glad to start our own run in much warmer conditions along Silsden Canal.

An easy 8 miles today under bright sunshine and blue skies. It was another very relaxed trot out, averaged 7.40 for the distance though didn't look at my watch until the end. Had a 10 min pause halfway after bumping into a familiar fisherman, one of our new club mates Stewart M, who was looking intent on catching his dinner on the canal side. After cracking his ribs in a recent fall Stewart may have to sack his plans to run FLM. He's been running and training so well, so he's understandably gutted at the set back. Another sharp reminder of how best laid plans can be so easily interrupted in the most unexpected ways.
Felt starving hungry during the run but was trying to save myself for our curry megathon tonight; £8.95 for 15 courses - who can complain!? It was a dieting catastrophe as my expanding waist is developing a worrying 'muffin top' silhouette. And thanks to such reminders from Kevin O (the cheeky monkey) I'm definitely being good from tomorrow. Also joined by 3 other lovely blokes; Richard B (less than a week to FLM, eek!), Julian M and Jamil P (famous Otley stars) and of course the lovely M. It was great to catch up with everyone and fill up on all that curry. I managed 12 of the 15 courses and had seconds on the pudding. That really is my last naughty blast now. I'm gonna be well behaved, sensible and healthy from now on.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Baking & Bess

I think mojo came back for a visit today. Woke up without the jolt of an alarm this morning which gave me a good gauge of my RHR - the old ticker is getting back to it's old self at 36 bpm. A good start though the weigh-in was less pleasing but I can't deny I've been enjoying my nosh a fair bit this week; taking some small comforts through the cut back on training. Had an easy 8 planned for this morning and decided to stay with an easy local route; the Bolton Bridge - Strid 8. The run was stunning; bright & warm sunshine with a fresh breeze to keep conditions cool. Lots of baby ducklings and lambs about the place added to an upbeat, light and carefree vibe in the air. I ran the full 8 feeling light on my toes at what felt like an easy pace. I felt really very frisky on my feet after my recent sluggishness and had a definite ease and fluidity back that I'd felt I'd somehow lost of late. Got back to the car in just under 60 which meant the pace was much improved - average of 7.31 over slightly undulating trail. I'm not fretting too much about effort or times during this break from hard training but it's good to know some of the energy is returning to my legs.

Spent the afternoon walking along the river near home in the glorious sunshine chatting with a truly fantastic athlete. Sarah is an inspiration to many in her running achievements. I'm also humbled by her generosity in giving time to the likes of me to share her breadth of experience in all things running. Feel a bit spoiled having her attention all to myself and had the pleasure of her beautiful dog Bess for the walk too. Bess is a keen rabbit watcher and enjoys a paddle in the shallow end as long as you are happy to chuck her a pebble or two. The afternoon seemed to whizz by so have only just got around to shoving my corn bread in the oven after I decided to test out a new recipe from my recent book purchase. Have just had a waft from the oven so it'll soon be done - shame there's no smellovision online, I don't think Google have got round to inventing that yet. Hope to get to Skipton to watch friends competing in their first Tri in the morning and then it's another relaxed run before an eagerly awaited curry for tea along with M and a group of local running lads. Really need to get back to some proper miles soon before these extra love handles become too much of a handful.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Perfect Parcels

Just a quickie tonight. Got home very late after being pummelled by Maggie for my monthly massage till 8pm. Despite easing down I still have calves like concrete. Maggie did her best to make me howl but I was a brave soldier and managed to bite down hard on the towel and not give in. Got home to lovely parcels on the doorstep. A new bread book - will be sampling its inner delights this weekend and make sure readers get an eyeful of what it yields. I'm also the proud owner of a restored Garmin 305 after getting my new Velcro strap through. It's a winner thanks to Julbags whose post on the new quick release strap was inspired. It's snug, comfy and a huge improvement on the rubber effort that I had to wrestle off after every run. A good buy.

Did an easy 3.5 this morning to squeeze a run in with the massage scheduled for tonight. Ran easy and felt frisky though still another week of recovering to go. RHR was 43bpm this morning so still not back to normal. This week has really dragged and can't seem to wind down tonight having missed out on my post work run. A good book and bed, thank god it's the weekend.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Magic Rice

After some pleasant mooching about Waterstones on the way home yesterday I decided I was overdue for a splurge on books. I generally try to stay clear of such shops as it's not unknown for me to disappear into a book browsing worm hole; wasting hours peering between the shelves only to be later found in a state of mental paralysis more commonly known as shopper's block. There are so many books in the world to be read... Anyway I came out empty handed and then repeated the experience online. After wading through the used book deals on Amazon and feeling peeved at the profiteering postage costs I was chuffed to find some real, proper bargains at Waterstones online shopping site - they're offering free UK delivery everyone - so get shopping! After lots of browsing and adding far too much to my virtual basket I have plans to purchase Murakami's running book, one I've had an eye on for a bit and several other novels I'm overdue to read. Waterstones are not only offering free postage but healthy discounts on many top titles; pure heaven to book lovers out there. Remember you also get the bonus pleasure of a parcel on your doormat to welcome you home from work. Have got another new bread book on the way; one can never have too many baking books to play with. As a further treat for you, I've added a gorgeous photo. Hope the discerning amongst you will appreciate the lovely works of Michael Kenna. His landscape prints are an inspiration - would love to spend my days taking photos like this.
Have some magic rice on the go for tea with lots of healthy veggies as both M & I are likely to develop scurvy soon, particularly if we don't snap out of this week's lazy selection of suppers; cereal, or toast, or cereal. Hope readers are suitably impressed by the rainbow of healthy veg on tonight's menu. Anyway back to more running stuff. Another treat - allowed myself a whole 8, yes 8 miles for my run tonight. Ran at a very easy pace just under 8 min/miles again but felt a bit more bouncy and relaxed than at the weekend. Another short one tomorrow before a nice run on Saturday and an amble over to Skipton on Sunday to shout at some mates running the Tri bright and early. RB is so far just about coping with the training cut down but for how long...

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"We Must Travel In The Direction Of Our Fear".

RHR was raised again today; 41 bpm which is above my usual range of 34-38. Though I'm gonna have to think of a way of taking my heart rate in a calmer way in the mornings; I'm sure the shock of the alarm going off and wrestling with the elastic strap are part of the problem.
Still keeping to the recovery plan have run a meagre 4 tonight, looping gently around the village. I'm still ambivalent about this break from hard training. Though the sensible voice is telling me this is right and I've nothing to lose by easing off, the anxious, obsessive voice is whispering that I'm losing out on fitness day by day and this will spell yet another wasted month of hard work for nothing.
Running is such a head sport. Managing the mind and it's frequent attacks on confidence and self belief is as hard work as training the body. I'm trying hard to be grown up and brave but seem to still be cycling rapidly through all sorts of mental states about my running and life generally. Maybe this is another symptom of overtraining to heed ...will try to find a more positive replacement for the next week or two and perhaps avoid too much introspection and err.. blogging...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A Basketful

Day 2 of the 'ease down' or active recovery as I prefer to call it. Am now beginning to get ants in my pants and feel resentful that M's allowed to go on lovely, tough training sessions whilst I can only do wuss-like easy runs with no efforts or exhaustion involved. It's gonna be a very tough couple of weeks. Have struggled to focus on work today and found every document in the virtual universe on overtraining. I'm now a world expert on the subject, should you need any advice drop me a line... have now bitten nails down to the wick and cannot stop eating just for something to do. I'm quickly ballooning at an alarming rate and currently craving popcorn with salt, chili & cinnamon as recommended by fellow blogger Kate. It would be simpler just to fit a nosebag. To ease the pain and to stay off the food I've been surfing continuously on all things running and just joined a running blog family (cosy soundin' innit). There are over 1700 running blogs listed from all over the world which should keep me distracted for a few more days.

Ran an easy hour on the strid tonight which felt slightly eerie; knowing the place was crawling with picnickers and walkers all day only to come to the place completely deserted. Was very aware of being on my lonesome and had some slightly spooky thoughts in the woody bits but all felt good again when I reappeared into the sunny spots. The place is writhing with wildlife and the various rustlings can be unnerving at a certain time of night. Anyway, now trying to view my Easter basket as half full and stop being a miserable sod - at least I'm not injured. Will try not to be such a whiner. I'm also being reminded of how much propping up my running provides. Not sure what I did before I was converted, that was probably when soaps featured heavily on week nights.

Monday, 13 April 2009

"Train, don't strain."

First official day of the 'ease down' today. I'm already a very grumpy, frustrated, wall climbing misery guts. I've googled 'overtraining' half a dozen times now, desperately trying to find a theory that says it's okay to carry on as I am. Am hanging on pathetically to any online advice that doesn't mention the words 'rest from running' or 'complete break'. After oscillating wildly between sticking with the 'usual routine' and 'complete rest' I think I've settled on a compromise; carrying on with runs but at around half my mileage and no speed or interval work for the next two weeks. This feels really tough as the rigours of good quality training are what keep me sane, sort of. Particularly on week nights when I return home buzzing with the day's disappointments, frustrations or successes; running is the only switch that works to bring me back to my cosy, happy home and the world of sane & well balanced people.
I guess I've just got to commit myself to this and trust that it can only do me good. Just not quite sure whether I'll know after 2 weeks if this is enough of a break and don't want to find I've lost fitness and even more of my speed. All the reading suggests I'm not in any acute state of overtraining and that 10-14 days of easing down should be enough. I've no issues with mood (though M might disagree), sleep, appetite or any of the other signs, just a slump in racing performance. Will go with the advice and hope it works. Ran a measly 4 miles this afternoon, it's so cruel to have to curtail my running at such a lovely time of year. Will definitely take learning from this. Might dig out and dust off those free weights and make a start on some kind of core strength routine to keep me distracted and out of trouble these next couple of weeks. Yours, most grumpily, RB.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Snap Happy

What a completely gorgeous day. What torture it is to be cutting down on running at a time like this. Had planned to start my ease down this weekend but waking to blue skies, warm sunshine and a shorts and shades kind of day meant I couldn't resist another scramble up Beamsley & Roundhill; forgetting it all but the feel of the sun on my shoulders, the wind in my face and being alone in the hills, after the vertical scramble past 100s of walkers up Beamsley track that is. There were tons of 'em making the climb look like very hard work today. I have to admit it was pleasing to whizz on past them all sputtering and sweating on the climb; I felt easy and relaxed and got a much needed boost to my bashed and bruised running ego.
Ran this 10m loop at what felt a very comfortable pace and didn't feel too stiff legged post Friday's race. The run was also a tad quicker that the same route last week despite feeling more relaxed today - am hoping that's some sign of my energy coming back. Or maybe I'm deluding myself. I'm following some very wise advice and keeping to an easy week now with low mileage and no challenging sessions. Will review next weekend and do the same if necessary until the mojo magic has returned.
I more than made up for all those burned calories with a very fine Lindt Easter bunny, my only treat this weekend thanks to our thoughtful dinner guests on Friday night. After the Easter refueling on a whole chocolate bunny (delicious too thanks J & A) I couldn't let the sunshine go to waste so went out to play with my new toy. A stroll up towards Draughton windmills gave me a chance to experiment with my lovely new Canon. The afternoon was magical with plenty of fluffy clouds in the sky to snap to my heart's content. Shame about the running though. An easy run tomorrow to set the tone for next week. God, I'm gonna be climbing the walls by the end of the week. Mojo come home soon, for M's sake...

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Lemony Leftovers

A very chilled and lazy Saturday it was after waking with a slight hangover from over indulging last night. Too much lasagne, too much cake, too much coffee, too much felt great to have the weekend ahead of us and some lovely company to complete our Friday night. Today's been very lazy with a bit of a snooze after lunch and an easy run around Fewston & Swinsty this afternoon under blue skies with our legs out in the warm sun. It was 7 in total at a very pedestrian pace to recover from the efforts of Salford yesterday and in line with my planned ease down for the next week or two. After reading more about the problems of over training/under recovery it seems wise to try and lay off for a bit according to the wealth of advice on the subject. This is the most challenging of decisions. I'm telling myself that if I invest in being cautious & sensible now then hopefully I won't lose quite so much time later by trying to work a tired body too hard.

Have happily spent the rest of today eating up left overs, lasagne is always better on the second day. Warmed up the lemon torte too for a naughty flourish, this is a simple & fab recipe for a really moist and quite healthy pud. Plan is for a relaxed trail run in the morning hopefully under more sunny skies. More of the same next week, keeping the mileage down with no hard sessions and hopefully the twinkle will be back in these old toes before you know it.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Where Art Thou Mojo?

Strangely, I'm feeling kind of elated. Having fretted about how hard this morning's Salford 10k would be and knowing I've lost my edge seemed to give me permission to really enjoy this morning's race, free from any pressure of a PB or a position. There were some names out this morning and I felt relieved to be free from the pressure of having to worry about anyone else and just run my own race. With no Garmin to check or idea of pacing I ran this one feeling relaxed. This is a great race and a definite date for my diary next year. The course comprises of two laps through a fairly built up area around Salford. The course was fast and flat but nicely varied, keeping the likes of me suitably distracted along the way, (I've the concentration span of a gnat in road races). I struggled to recognise many of those around me and was resigned to my time being nearer 37 mins so was nicely surprised to finish 3rd lady in 35.51. I'm pretty far off my form earlier this year but I'm glad to have managed a sub 36. A better story was the success of my ultra fast Bingley team mates all of whom had great runs today. My lovely M managed to grab his first sub 37 mins over this distance. His training and general strength will see much faster times to come this year but no pressure ; ) just glad to see him making the progress he's been working for. Tricky Ricky also had a fab run with a new PB, a storming run - am so excited to see how he'll get on at FLM. He's in awesome shape though I was mischievously smiling that his time today was just 1 sec outside my PB, not sure that'll last long though. Bingley boys also took the vets team prize, with Tricky, John C (awesome as always) and Peter P having a stormer after his battle to run me off the road to the finish, (I've got bruises from his elbows to prove it ; ) Our old club mate Jane B also had a fantastic run smashing her PB by 30 seconds, not long before her sub 40 comes I reckon.
Anyway, the real bonus is having raced at the start of the bank holiday so that we now have 3 more full days to do some lovely, easy off road runs and some serious eating. I do prefer getting the race in early and then enjoying some proper running for the remaining weekend. Got a fresh lasagne ready to go in the oven and a lovely lemon and almond tart for pud. Looking forward to a glass of wine and some great company tonight. A demain.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Roadster Returns

Well, it's late and I've done all my pre-race faffin' about before bed. Rockin' racers are packed, vest and lucky pants are laid out and the Thermos is at the ready for the early morning start. We'll be waking at the crack of dawn tomorrow for the journey to the famous home town of the 'street' for an Easter 10k race at Salford; starting 10am sharp. After all my woes this week (am sure you're very bored of them by now) I'm gonna just have a run out, free from any expectations or pressure of posting a good time. I'm sort of resigned to having a bit of a lull and all the supportive comments and advice have been great to help me realise this is all part of the experience of training and improving. We can't push ourselves at the same rate all year round. I'm now starting to think how I might build in a bit of down time each year; with so many races on offer across all running disciplines it's pretty difficult to do this but it's probably key to staying fresh and to fully enjoy the sport. Anyway, once the race is done am looking forward to dinner with lovely friends tomorrow evening. Then have plans to eat lots of chocolate eggies and go on beautiful, relaxed runs, with no times or intervals or heart rate monitors in sight! I'm gonna liberate myself from the trappings of competition and just get back to my running Ahem. Looking forward to a long weekend and getting some much needed rays on these pasty pins.

Ran an easy 3.5 tonight; the usual loop around the village under a grey and stormy looking sky. Hope it's about to clear the air for a fresh and bright start to the race tomorrow. Sounds like the Bingley boys will be out in full force so will be great to pull on my club vest and join my new team mates on the start line. Thanks again for all those thoughtful and supportive messages out there. It's great to hear back from those of you visiting these pages from time to time. Happy running to you all this weekend.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

He Who Runs In Circles Never Gets Far

I've now just about managed to calm down from my temper tantrum during training tonight after yet another day of running slower, feeling rubbish and generally running like a misshapen, lumbering lump. I think I'm beginning to make progress from the denial stage on to the angry stage with a bit of a toe in the bargaining stage waters. I'm now looking ahead to my training plan for the coming months (it's rather embarrassing to admit this but have planned much of my training and racing up until the end of the year) and wondering if I should just scrap it and rethink my whole approach. I had four to five months of steady improvement at the back end of 2008 and then entered into this weird twilight zone in February where my training is having a freakishly inverted effect on my fitness. All the signs appear to be that I'm suffering from this 'over training' thing which I keep reading about in running books and have to admit there are some startling similarities. I keep thinking it's a phase that will pass but I'm probably kidding myself a bit. My hunger to race has lost it's edge and I've lost that kamikaze mindset that comes with attacking efforts on the hills and track. So, have sort of decided (whilst writing this) to give myself a deadline. I'm gonna monitor my resting HR each morning for the next two weeks and compare this to how my training feels. If I don't see any return to my former zip and racing zeal then I'm gonna have a break. For at least 2 weeks. Yikes. Sounds scary written down. Anyway, that's the plan. So there. It's written down now so no turning back.

Ran just over 8 tonight at aerobic HR zone 3 on a nice undulating and slightly windy course. Averaged 7.19 for the whole run which was a tad slow, mainly as a result of the need to ease down massively on any incline as my heart rate soared. This is a sure sign of my rubbishness as I'm normally strong on hills. God, sorry this sounds so pathetic; it's now getting hard not to let this frustration get the better of me. Why wont my body do what I want!? I've fed it enough this week (including another bowl of pop corn and several toffees during this blog sitting). I'll cheer up soon. I promise.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Sturdy Straps

Frustrating day today. My second Garmin 305 wrist strap snapped leaving me with the giant size spare that came in the box. I've already snapped my own short strap so this was the scrounged shortie from M which has now also snapped. The pin thingy at the end of the strap is molded with a rubber seam that doesn't seem to be very robust; certainly not strong enough to withstand Runningbear type wear and tear!
I've rather small, girly wrists so have used my giant spare as a temporary measure and the flippin' thing just swings about like a very ugly rubber bangle. Anyway, have been online and spent £14.99, yes, you read it right, £14.99 on a bit of plastic wrist strap! Am now thinking this was rash and could have found a cheaper substitute on the high street but was kind of panicked thinking I'll be without my GPS (shock of horrors) for a day or two. Not sure how I'll cope. To add to my annoyance I set out for my evening run and after only a mile I suddenly suffered a very dodgy tum and had to stop and walk home. So have stayed in, stuffed my face with everything I could find in the naughty cupboard - serves my tummy right - and topped it all off with a bowl of home made popcorn. I'm such a lardy hog.
So, managed a rubbish recovery run of only 4 today at a leisurely 8min/miles. Really could do with running all this blubber off but don't really trust my tummy to hold out. Must try harder tomorrow...

Monday, 6 April 2009

Coachin' 'n' Poachin'

After the last few weeks of feeling like a blobby heffalump dragging myself around the track I was sorta dreading today's stab at another effort session. Regular readers will be familiar with my quotidien grumbles of a general lack of spring and speed in my running at the moment. This is all the more worrying with the start of my 10k racing phase due to commence this week with the Salford event on Friday. Think I'll be lucky to be running under 36mins at this rate which is disappointing after my efforts since Xmas. I seem to be well down on my times from races earlier in the year and general pacing in efforts and interval sessions seems to be reflecting this too. It's pretty challenging to try and take a step back from it all and not feel increasingly frustrated with the strange sensation of getting slower the more I train - not sure what a coach would say other than perhaps I need a break. I'm trying to avoid the idea for now as that feels a bit drastic, especially when I love running so much and cope so badly without my daily fix. Anyway, will give it another week or two before taking any decisions, would like to save M the horror of living with me whilst I'm not running, it could get nasty.

Session tonight was slightly different than planned with some intervals moved forward to allow a bit more recovery time up to the race on Friday. Instead of a drive to Nelson we opted for a grass session; 6x3mins with 2mins jog recovery. Though it wasn't a full on session it felt testing enough. I made the strange decision to wear my Mudclaws too which left my toes feeling rather sore and crumpled - really not sure why I did that but must remember not to do it again.

The upside was coming home tonight with a feeling of having earned my bubble bath and a comforting supper. Used my new poaching 'pods' and had eggies on toast (inspired by Kate - kindred spirit in all things edible). They came out in a perfect dome which is very pleasing aesthetically and marvellous for ensuring a good, even coverage on your toast. Recommended purchase to poaching fans. Anyway, a pleasing and well earned supper : d

Sunday, 5 April 2009

360 Degree Sunshine

What a fantastic day. If a day could be perfect then today was it. Started with a great sleep; straight through until 8am when I was awoken by the sun peeping under the bedroom door. I scrambled out of bed to check out the weather and was faced with clear blue skies with not a cloud to be seen. The plan for today was a real treat, our favourite scramble from home; across the suspension bridge and straight up the face of Beamsley Beacon before running from the cairn on to Roundhill summit. A long grassy descent took us back past the reservoir and right at concrete square leads us on to the final drop returning into Addingham. I wish I'd had my camera on the run today - really wanted to catch the gorgeous day in a box. The skies were clear, blue and bright; picking out every detail laid out in the valley whilst sunning the rugged shoulders of the surrounding hills.

Not sure what to do about my camera dilemma, it's a tricky one. I'm wondering how I can manage to lug about my lovely new D-SLR in a jolt free fashion for runs such as this. I'm wondering if I can find a modified bumbag on the market. The run today was particularly inspiring as Roundhill provides an unusual 360 degree view of the local scenery and is a great spot for capturing impressive panoramic shots of the surrounding valleys; you can see for miles in every direction.

The run was an eager and alert 10m at a nice steady pace despite the climbs and rough patches underfoot. I felt frisky, free and feather-like. It was great to wear shorts and a T-shirt as this always seems to add to the sense of freedom on a run like this. Felt overdue for a full 'heart' rather than a head run, (do you know what I mean?). Knowing my propensity to be v obsessive & intense about stuff I can get a bit focused on the 'session' and forget why I got into the sport in the first place. Today was a very welcome reminder of how wonderful running is. I'm also very lucky that I share it with someone I love. I came home feeling very elated and ready to tackle anything (except the clematis now taking over the house - must get round to it). Back with a bump though as spent the rest of the lovely sunny day doing chores and finishing off a paper for work tomorrow. A grim contrast to this morning but you have to have the lows to appreciate the highs ...a short week ahead and 4 lovely full running days to come.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Beheaded Bunnies & Chocolate Cars

Today's track session was always gonna be a bit testing after trying to give myself some space to recover this week whilst judging the right time to return to some quality training. I think this morning was just a tad too early for the come back. I set out to do a track session of long intervals; 3x2k efforts at 5k race pace mainly to avoid too much stress on the old pins. As usual we arrived at Nelson to find hurricane winds blowing on the bends and back straight but accompanied today by heavy grey clouds threatening to rain overhead - oh joy. Anyway, tried to attack the session with 'I am a warrior' type self talk; ready to work hard. It was a disaster from the start. After planning 400m splits of 82 I ran well above this in the first 200m - I felt like a flat footed blob, with no spring or zip to move myself any faster than 88s. Can't quite believe how slow and unfit I feel. I guess this is just another attempt by my body to tell me to back off. Decided to called it a day after 2 of the 3 efforts I'd planned and listen to how tired my little legs clearly are. I think these kinds of days are when this sport challenges you the most. It would be very easy to come away feeling low and frustrated about my state of fitness after a really strong start to this year. I'm learning more and more about myself and the need to be patient and try a bit harder to understand why my body is reacting in this way. Will try to keep my chin up, remain focused and give myself a bit more time to get my shake 'n' vac freshness back.

On the bright side we were jubilant to discover that our dwindling Choco Softie stores could be replenished after our trip to the track today. Very conveniently for us there's a Lidl only a stone's throw from Seedhill track. This is currently my favourite shop for discovering new and surprising, pan-European delights including a vast range of German cakes & sausages, Italian meats, unusual pasta varieties (red wine, truffle flavours) to more unusual food wonders such as Mexican Tequila & Lime ice-cream. They sell the strangest variety of wares including waffle irons, running jackets and bargain boxes of langoustine. I love the place. Anyway we've topped up our goodie cupboard and I cunningly smuggled some additional chocolate treats into the trolley, including some very pleasing chocolate cars and Easter bunnies. I have already beheaded 3 of the cute chocolately shapes with eager ferocity. Maybe I should approach Lidl for a sponsorship deal. The Choco Softie is an athlete's dream, providing a good balance of eggy marshmallow protein with a thin and crispy choccy carb coating. Sorry.. carried away again there... back to the running; ran 7 in total and plan a nice steady one tomorrow. Might even venture a clamber up to Roundhilll for an off road adventure if M's up for it.

Friday, 3 April 2009

The Wilderness Awaits

Woo hoo, it's Friday! The sun is shining ready for the weekend which has very quickly perked up the hyacinth sat on my kitchen table, (it looked more like a giant asparagus earlier this week). I've now heard for definite that the club won't be turning a ladies team out for Sunday. Detached tendons, broken collar bones and ruptured achilles have all contributed to a bit of a disaster for the initially awesome ladies team we'd planned to field. On the bright side, it frees me up from racing for the first weekend in a while. We seem to have done nothing but trek around the north to races each week so the break is very welcome. It does however bring me back to the numerous chores piling up around the place. Apart from the usual domestic irritants of pushing the hoover about and scraping tide marks from the bath, the garden has become a bit of a wilderness. We need to arm ourselves with a machete just to put the bins out. The crazed clematis; once seemingly so attractive, innocently threading itself around our cottagey front door, has now become a writhing monster. There's a hazard of decapitation for anyone over 5'4'' - we must put that notice up. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me, after my weekend runs of course. First things first.

Ran an easy 5 again around the village tonight in the cool evening sun. Averaged 7.58 min/miles for the undulating route around the streets near home; keeping my heart rate in zone 2 for a change. Am hoping this is a sign of being a bit more rested and I might even think about some effort type sesh in the next few days. I need to do something serious to ease the guilt of a giant fish & chip dinner tonight. After denying myself last Friday I cracked under the pressure after running past the chippy through a heady chippy, vinegar, frying fat type haze. Have got my Friday night fat pants on to avert any uncomfortable chafing that can easily follow F&C dinner tummy expansions. Not necessarily an elite athlete diet but you've gotta be bad once in a while. I'll be good tomorrow.