Sunday, 31 January 2010

Crispy Trees

It's been a great week off work with a return to some tough training miles and the chance to run in daylight and even bright sunshine these last few days. After all those frustrating weeks of ice, snow and Achilles niggles the legs seem to be back in shape. I've completed a full week of sessions with no serious leg worries and it's left me feeling very inspired to get back into the training groove.
I've also nearly finished tweaking my training plan; as much as I ever finish with plan faffing. I'm now the proud creator of one daddy of a spreadsheet. [Geek alert] It now includes a pace formula to average my miles each week. Hopefully I'll get a sense of weekly intensity as well as mileage to help avoid over-training in the coming weeks.

Recent running chats and web research has also got me fully immersed again in marathon training theory. I've had some great book recommendations now purchased and soon to be delivered. I've also had this link over a year now, sent by an old club mate. It's only this week that I've explored it and appreciate the amazing Jack Daniels training tables; the spreadsheet is free to download from the link if you're keen... it's truly a great tool, if a bit scary at first. It tailors your training pace, projected race times and heart rate zones as well as lots of other stuff. It's frighteningly accurate and also quite incredible to see the potential for improvement when you cut down on cake and lose the odd pound.

Training wise its been a nippier week; most runs have crept under 7 minute miles with the exception of the odd easy recovery run. Today was a monster after joining forces with club mate Stewart M. I was lulled into a false sense of security for my long one this morning, an 18 miler at a 'steady' pace. Stewart's idea of steady got me home in an average of 6'51'' for the whole run. It's a bit frightening what your body ends up doing if you're absorbed in a bit of running chat and not watching the old Garmin. So, a bit fast and I'll probably pay for it at the track on Tuesday. It was great to be pushed hard though and no doubt I'll be back for more.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Run Sandwich

It's been a struggle to blog tonight with a cat strewn across my keyboard and everything. [I've always wanted to type that]. He's clearly had a hard day at the office. Anyway, a good excuse for a quickie it is before the little boy genius returns for some more laptop lovin'.

I managed another double today, a gentle 6m with a bit of company from the Complete Runner, starting the day with some very welcome sunshine and running chat. What more could a girl ask? I was then guilty again of another lazy day with the exception of some vital birthday research for a soon to be birthday boy. I won't say who ;)

Another 8 miles this afternoon of fluid and fine feeling running with no niggles really to speak of and a good steady pace. The Achilles flare up seems happily to have passed with just a bit of calf and ITB soreness in the background. The windy and hilly route was an anticlockwise repeat of yesterday though I was a bit faster and no clock watching until I got home.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Pain In The A***

After the frantic preparations for night classes and exams on Monday these last couple of days have been a wee bit lazy... the last two perfect mornings have been alarm free with an easy jog before or after breakfast followed by some lolling on the sofa, complete with a saved up film or several episodes of some quality telly drama. A spot of lunch and a feeble attempt at chores has been followed by a proper run of some kind for the remainder of the afternoon. Today was a steady 8 miles, out from home with a wiggle around Ilkley and back. It was one of those flowing, easy and natural feeling runs today on a hilly and windy route. A healthy sub 7 min/mile pace was the average which felt about right after the intervals toil of last night.

Tonight, a bowl of spag bol, another film (I think I might be a filmaholic) and then a bit of bum cheek massage should finish off the evening nicely. It's tough but someone's gotta do it. Poor M has endured another day of cycling and rowing on the spot on a machine; he's a real trooper.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tough Cookies

Missing out on Sunday's race was tougher than I'd thought. It felt strange to not be on the start line along with everyone; hoping for that half marathon PB to kick off 2010. I played it safe and have instead spent the last couple of days mooning about the house like a lost lamb, wishing my niggles better and eating too much comfort food. An easy run on Monday was niggle filled but gratefully less so around the Achilles. A good decision then.
To add to our woes, Monday night was the first week of our college assessments; there are 5 of these to come, last night being an optional practice. We all opted to be assessed and the pressure to pass was tangible. We all lined up in our stiff, scratchy and rather ugly navy dentist style suits, complete with ugly matching clogs. This was our first chance to lay our oily hands on proper paying punters. As the lights dimmed the floaty music led us into our first massage exam; the tutor tiptoeing around each one of us, clutching his clipboard, watching for exposed toes or limb crushing moves. The hour flew by as we tensely recalled our body routine, carefully counting the minutes massaging toes and arms. With 7 minutes for legs and 20 for backs I was terrified of exposing a forgotten boob or bum cheek with all the tension.
I was all done at 8pm. The tension was massive as we saw our clients out and awaited our results. With a grand drum roll...we passed! I still can't believe it. A great start to a week of holidays. No more frantic routine rehearsing in the car. It's the real thing for the next few weeks but if I've passed one I know I can do it again. We'll soon be proper massage therapists. Though I don't think I can give up the day job, it might make us a bit of pocket money...
So, back to running and today was a return to some quality to test the legs with the hope the Achilles was behaving. A 1k road circuit with a flat start and a killer uphill finish was the session of the day. With no company this week the times were down but the heart rate high enough to call it VO2 work. A total of 6 reps with 90s recovery brought the session total to 9 miles and some very wobbly Elvis legs by the end. Fingers crossed I can keep the niggles away.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Holidays & Injury Woes

What a funny week its been. Part relief; after a long and manic few days at work, M & I have are now ready to take some time off. Two whole blissful weeks of doing nothing but whatever we like. It's spoilt a bit by the running injury that's coming knocking on our door.
Poor M has suffered the wrath of gluteus after all his icy running toils. He's strained his glute medius or for the less technical, he's got a sore bum cheek. He stayed off running for a couple of days but with no improvement visited our local physio, Mike B. Strict instructions from Mike include no running until the bum pain subsides and up to 6 weeks before he can get back to full play. A blow after some fantastic running these last few months and with two weeks of playtime ahead an' all!
We've spent the last day or two researching the cross training options which include a month's subscription to a sort-of-nearby gym and a bit of online shopping for an 'aqua vest'. Some water jogging might be the ideal non-impact remedy once the healing kicks in. So, the trip to York tomorrow for that first half marathon of 2010 is off. I'm also guarding my niggly Achilles and with a bum cheek to massage I'll be kept cheekily occupied. Best wishes to mates at the Brass Monkey HM tomorrow. Wish we were there...

Sunday, 17 January 2010


The blogging has suffered a bit these last few days, what with an epic overhaul of THE PLAN and a change in racing focus for the first half of this year. The loss of a few weeks decent training since December and having seen the elite line up for VLM 2010, I'm now considering moving my first marathon focus to a more laid back Edinburgh and with it am redrafting my training plans.
I've been a busy bee; spreadsheet fiddling, entering races and planning cat sitting for those races away. I've entered most of those in the diary now except for Wilmslow HM which I'm just about to send off. Open entries are full but M came to the rescue and secured me a place with an urgent email to secure an elite English Champs entry. Its proving to be a real challenge to get race entries in plenty of time for the faster and popular road races this year.
The legs have been a bit stiff and sulky these last two days after the first quality road session in a while on Friday. I've played it safe after an Achilles niggle from new trainers and kept the long one conservative today. Next week will see me back to great quality training again including a HM race to kick things off. Though it's a fast course there'll be no easing down and instead, I'll be looking for a hard and fast training run. A good time is unlikely but I can at least make a firm start on the marathon quality. Onwards & upwards.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Tarmac Tales

Woohoo! What a great day it is today. Not just because its Friday, of course that's pretty good too. But, I've actually run in excess of 5 miles today, all on that lovely, hard and reliably firm stuff called tarmac. My already limited patience has been truly tested and I've been watching the training days tick by with countless sessions unfulfilled on The Plan.
Today I managed 10 miles in total; 5 miles of which were lovely, pacey and 'unslippery' tempo miles. It was wondrous! That's wondrous to be out on steady feet working hard. It was less wondrous feeling like a heavy and tired blob of uncoordinated body matter lumbering my way at a pace I should be able to skip through with little effort. But we wont dwell on that. It was really great to be out running proper again, feeling the wind in my face, the pure physical focus of pushing my body and feeling that tired high that running so reliably provides.
Yours, the running junkie.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

On Thin Ice

I've dragged myself to the laptop tonight ready and armed with a fine list of excuses. I'd been intending to blog last night but instead procrastinated my way through some rubbish telly, guilt ridden and ashamed. But I can't cope any longer. I need to 'fess up readers.

After continued rubbish weather on Monday and an impossible journey to work I settled for my planned easy 5m recovery run around the village. I was determined to make this week count. So, Tuesday came and ready I was for my planned threshold session; a medium run with 5 miles tempo to finally kick off THE PLAN. M & I forged our usual complex ballet at teatime; planning our respective sessions for the night. With M on hill work we synchronised our watches and agreed our warm down routes to accommodate any premature finish. Leaving the car on the edge of town we set out together for the warm up, both eagerly anticipating the lovely, post run afterglow and clearing our heads of the usual work nonsense. Ah. It felt good to be on the tarmac.

Pretty soon it dawned that the pavements were useless. After one or two turnings it also dawned that the main road was the only safe route option. After running a couple of miles it dawned that running in the road was getting pretty hazardous as we argued with cars over rights of way and repeatedly hopped into icy mounds for fear of being flattened. I really wouldn't recommend this approach to tempo training.

Anyway, by mile 5 and a final effort to locate a safe spot for some pacey running on the other side of town, it became clear that the whole thing was just plain dangerous. The temperature dropped and icy patches became increasingly difficult to spot and I imagined how I'd feel about THE PLAN whilst sporting a broken ankle. Instead, we settled for a steady run. I've made a promise to myself to keep my head until this cold weather passes. Staying alive & staying healthy is also part of THE PLAN.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Return of the Long One

It felt good to be back today. A return to some proper training and an escape from the ice and snow. M and I scheduled in a long one with a faint hope the roads would be clear and we could taste how it feels to run unhampered again. Ah the tarmac. I know that sounds daft and a bit 'moany' but, as pretty as it is, this white stuff is a pain to run on. Literally. You're kind of stuffed in the absence of a treadmill in your garage or a pay-as-you-go gym on your doorstep. It felt truly fantastic. Two miles before Askwith village I was turfed out into the cold whilst M drove up the hill. Planning an 18 miler I aimed to collect M and Co. then return for an out and back route from Askwith to the A59. All undulating and twisty, it made for a fine long run route, except for the small number of very grumpy car drivers unhappy sharing this motorists' rat run with a pack of runners.
So. A refreshing return to training it was. An average of 7.08/mile over the distance with some fine hills proved taxing enough for me today after well over a month since the last long one. A taste of the coming weeks and a delicious morsel it was too.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Slushy Tales

Just on our the way out for a pot or two at the pub to kick off Friday night. After slushy runs all week I'm glad for start of the weekend. The chance to go a bit longer with the daylight for company and the dangers of icy running in the dark behind us is very welcome. The week has been peppered with 5 milers at a good pace, if a bit slushy and hard work underfoot. This weekend brings some short speed efforts early morning on Saturday and then a long run (yay) on Sunday. I can't wait! It feels like yonks since we've got a long one in. An 18 miler it will be; the route to be decided depending on the slush and snow by then. I'm feeling very running hungry after this rest period. Running ravenous in fact. Its gonna be a good year. I can tell.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Plan B

I've cycled through the phases of shock, then denial and I'm now stuck in bargaining. The onset of the worst winter weather since time began has left me climbing the walls to get out and run. Unfortunately, however much I stamp my feet or drag my bottom lip across the floor the snow just keeps coming and long runs are still not gonna happen.
Rather than continue to make life hell for M I've let go of my mantra, 'I must follow THE PLAN' and am now thinking I can afford another week of chilling out. My new self talk includes, 'the extra rest will do the world of good', 'I'll be fresher and even hungrier by next week' and 'another week wont hurt'. So, for the third night in a row I ran a steady 5 miles in the snow, my ankles seeing more lateral movement than forward propulsion but I got home eventually, unscathed. Should this dastardly weather continue for much longer I've entered Edinburgh as a back up. The extra month's training wards off worries about a shortened schedule. It also falls on my birthday. So. Plan B is in place.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

White Out

I can't believe it. Day 2 of THE PLAN and we've got a blizzard on the doorstep. A complete white out. I'm beginning to feel my marathon is doomed. Does that seem melodramatic at all? And apparently there's more of the pesky stuff to come. 8 inches by 7.30am and falling fast has also meant an unexpected day off skool. It doesn't feel much fun when you can't enjoy the pleasures of daylight running though.

Yesterday was a slippy 5m in the early morning darkness. I can at least tick day 1 of THE PLAN. What should I do? Does it really mean dreadmill running? But 9 miles?! With tempo too! What should I do?! When is Edinburgh marathon exactly...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Shopping Suspension

M & I were on our way out on a serious mission this weekend. To kick this marathon training off in true style a bit of running shoe shopping is called for. I'm looking to do a deal with 4 pairs; a bulk buy in the hope of getting a bit of a bargain. Frustratingly this white stuff has got in the way both days this weekend. I'll have to stick to the 12 mucky pairs sitting in the porch for the first week. Poor me. Meanwhile today was the last run of this recovery phase; another slippy, snowy 6 around the village. We've given up on the nice kind of running adventures for the time being and are crossing everything that the evil stuff thaws soon.
On a more exciting note (depending on your anorak tendencies), below is a bit of a preview of my intended approach to VLM. After lots of spreadsheet faffing and fiddling I've decided to have faith in someone else. I've taken Pfitzinger's schedule as my guide. I've embedded the file for those who are keen as mustard to get a sneak preview, (you know who you are). I've not detailed the miles, being a bit undecided yet on how high I can safely go but have written out the weekly structure. Its my first marathon and a drastic departure from my usual approach to training. A bit of a gamble you might say and I may end up looking very silly by April 25th. Any road, we'll see how it pans out. So. Day 1 tomorrow it is. An easy 5. Perhaps with crampons on. Check out THE PLAN. Only 112 days to go.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Second Run Of The Year

After a party-less New Year's Eve, a short 5 miles training run along the Lob Wood Loop and a bit boggly-eyed from too much telly, M and I were tucked up in bed by 11.30pm and oblivious to the turning of the year. We haven't done New Year for quite a bit which no doubt seems a bit dull but is generally fine by me. I'm not so good at late nights or drinking any more and prefer to make the most of the daylight and feeling hangover free for running. Today was the only attempt at quality for the week with a bit of fartlek over local trail; a random efforts session with one of us calling and leading an effort and then a bit of a race to a landmark ahead. The Strid is a lovely undulating and runnable trail with very few interruptions of gates or stiles. The going was good up to mile 3 or so when we hit ice. Sliding our way Silver Surfer style for the end of effort number 2 led to a more cautious jog for the middle section. The efforts were resumed after the river crossing but interrupted again by sheet ice in places. It's been a frustrating couple of weeks, battling the ice and snow but at least it's a recovery week and so no bad thing. If it carries on much longer though I'm thinking dreadmill. Its a hellish thought I know but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Hello 2010

What a funny year its been running wise, bringing with it all sorts of opportunities and frustrations. 2009 has seen me start my blog, now 10 months old and my little patch of virtual home. Like my own cosy spot of fresh, sun warmed spring grass, I've enjoyed welcoming some lovely visitors to drop by, sit down and share in the running obsession. I reckon turning off the telly & getting fresh air on skool nights is just as important to some of those people too.
I've had my first experience of over-training or 'under-recovery' as its termed, moaned about it a lot but then gone on to enjoy a taste of open elite racing & my first full England vest. I've run 3204 miles, and raced 34 times, including 5 half marathons. M has set PBs from 5k right through to half marathon and has finally earned his own place on the National Rankings, with his first ever qualifying time on the road; a major goal that has been in his sights since we started this old game just a few years ago. A very symbolic achievement to end 2009 indeed.

Best of all has been sharing all this with so many old, new and great running folk. M and I are very lucky to share our passion for this funny old sport with each other but also with lots of really great people. Thanks to all those kind and thoughtful running friends for lots of good (and sometimes not so good) times in 2009. Here's to a faster, healthier and stronger 2010.

Wishing You A

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