Running report, 25 June-2 July

After my recovery run last Monday, I took a couple of rest days because I was feeling under the weather and not sleeping well. I slept better on Wednesday night, and did an easy 4-miler through the park on Thursday lunchtime. It was sunny and warm, but also really windy.

I took another rest day on Friday. Saturday was parkrun day. S. and I cycled there and back, which is our new way of getting to parkrun since I got my bike. I prefer it to driving there because it’s less stressful – there’s no getting stuck in traffic or worrying about not being able to park; and, of course, it’s better for the environment. Bushy parkrun is a popular event, attracting over 1,000 runners each week, often from far afield. While this is a great thing, it also means that on Saturday mornings there are lots of cars coming into the park and vying for parking spaces. It feels good to be able to lessen that impact a little.

I did a decent run, anyway, although I slowed after the first mile. It was a hot day – already around 22 degrees at 9am.

On Sunday it was slightly cooler and cloudier. I ran down through the park and along the the towpath; then back through the park. I finished at a nice new brunch place for California-style eggs benedict and a latte (and much-needed ice-cold water).  It was still warm, and nice enough to sit outside. I ran 9.86 miles before brunch; and then 1.53 miles home with S., so a total of 11.39 miles for the day.

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This was taken in Bushy Park last summer. Definitely need to snap some new photos!

Yesterday I took another rest day. This morning I did an easy 5k – the first run in my training plan for Abingdon Marathon. I wasn’t feeling great so kept the pace really slow. It was already warm; but thankfully not unbearably so (Saturday was definitely too warm).

I’m still feeling under the weather, and currently not super-motivated to get stuck into marathon training. I think it’s important to take each day as it comes, and not push myself if I don’t feel up to it. I know that running can often help me feel better, so I’ll keep that in mind too; but I also need to be aware that it is a fine balance.

Week 8, run 2: February is the cruellest month

Yesterday, after the longest day ever, I went back out into the dark and cold to run. I wore too many layers and got too hot (I seem to have trouble wearing the right amount of clothes for my winter runs – I either end up boiling hot or numb with cold).

I didn’t really know what type of run I was going to do, as I feel like I am still gradually getting back into training after taking almost a week off. I ran a mile easy, and felt okay, so sped up a little to do two miles at a steady pace (which is around my ideal marathon pace, or maybe a bit quicker). I then cooled down for another mile or so.

My ankle/calf was okay until 3.5 miles in, when it started playing up again. I stopped to stretch a few times, and, just like on Tuesday’s run, the pain would ease off and then return.

I’m glad that this time I was able to run for longer before the pain started; but I really need to step up my stretching and strength exercises if I want to have a chance of getting through the rest of this training without hobbling all the way.

On another note, I have always found that February is one of the worst months of the year for me (and probably many people) mood-wise. Some days, or most days, can be a real struggle. When I reduced the amount I exercised last week, I noticed a huge drop in my mood. Yesterday, after several days of only clocking up around 7,000 steps, I managed to do 18,000 (including my run and a long walk at lunchtime), and I noticed a phenomenal improvement in my mood last night and today. I also slept like a baby for the first time in a while.

I know exercise is not a magic pill and to say it cures everything is naive and oversimplifying, but sometimes I forget how much difference it can make, even if it’s just making myself go for a quick walk.

Miles run yesterday: 4.4 / Type of run: Steady / Average pace: 9:30 minute-miles, with steady section at 8:56-9:08 / Miles run this week: 7.7

Week 7: Regaining momentum

After I had to cut short my long run at the end of Week 6, I took five days off running. What I had thought was ankle or Achilles pain actually seemed to be in my lower calf (possibly the soleus muscle). I spent a couple of days limping around and feeling sorry for myself. I also carried out the RICE method: in the evenings I lay on the sofa with my leg elevated and ice on it (or rather, an old bag of frozen peas that we keep for such occasions), and ordered some fancy compression socks.

By Wednesday, the pain was less severe. I walked home from work (which takes about an hour), hoping it would help my mood, but mostly I was annoyed by the freezing cold weather and the fact that my calf still hurt a bit. I started putting heat on it (aka a hot water bottle with a lovely fluffy cover), and also stretched and did some strength exercises.

I was feeling spectacularly cranky by Friday. I wondered if I would ever run again. I was poring over my training plan, trying to analyse what went wrong, and if I should adjust the plan for the weeks ahead. I wondered if I should run at all at the weekend.

On Saturday, I decided at the last minute that I would try and do parkrun. The temperature was below zero. I almost slipped over when I got out of the car, because the car park had become a sheet of ice. After a perilous walk over to the starting area, and joining in some celebrations for a friend’s 500th parkrun(!), I ran 5 km with 1200 or so others. There were some icy parts on the course, but marshals were around to ensure no one slipped over. I kept my pace easy. Finishing that run, and with no calf pain, boosted my mood.

I had the rest of Saturday to feel a growing apprehension about Sunday’s long run. Eventually I told myself: if you can get this done, it’ll have the effect of a much-needed mental boost.

2019-02-03 08.15.23I set out to do around 14 miles. I stayed in Bushy Park, so that I wouldn’t have the added stress of thinking about a route. It was a beautiful morning: frosty and sunny. I ran alone, with an audiobook on earphones (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, in case you’re interested). The distance felt daunting to me, so I decided to split it into two sections: eight miles, then six.

This seemed to work well. Once I’d got to eight miles, I felt as if I could go on for six more, and that I even felt good enough to speed up. Although my legs were feeling tired for the last few miles, I finished strongly. I met friends for a cup of tea, feeling pleased with myself for getting that run done.

So, Week 7 involved a steep climb from the doldrums back into the heady realms of positive thinking. Today I have a sore hip, but I’m feeling more confident about going ahead with the (slightly revised) training plan, and glad that I have regained some momentum.

Miles run last week: 17.6 (3.1 on Saturday + 14.5 on Sunday)

Week 6, run 3: The wood for the trees

This has continued to be a challenging week, and I’m even more glad than usual that it’s Friday. I am also glad that I’ve managed to get in my three mid-week runs, even though the two key runs (speed and tempo) didn’t go as well as I would have liked.

I squeezed in my tempo run yesterday evening, after getting home from work. It was very cold, and dark, and I didn’t much feel like going out again; but I guess the running habit is so ingrained in me now that somehow I got out of the door. I ran a mile to warm up, and then three miles at tempo pace. I found this really hard, and I was slower than I wanted to be, perhaps because I’d done my speed run on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, and my legs were still suffering a bit. I was then supposed to run a mile to cool down, but I cut this short in my haste to get back home and into the warm.

Right now, I’m finding it hard to see the wood for the trees. Life is proving difficult and all-consuming at times, and it’s easy to get caught up in that and forget about marathon training, and I sometimes wonder why I’m even doing it. I am hoping, though, that if I keep putting in the work anyway, even if I don’t feel I’m achieving much at the time, it will all add up. I am hoping it means that I will get out of this thicket and be in a good place on the starting line in ten weeks’ time.

Miles run yesterday: 4.4 / Average pace: 9:09 minute-miles (with tempo section at about 8:30-8:40 pace) / Miles run this week: 14.1

Week 6, run 1: Not a morning person

This week is a stressful one for various reasons. I sometimes find it challenging to fit my weekday running around other commitments, especially as my other commitments are rigid, and especially in winter, when it is usually dark at the times I have available to run. I would love to have a more flexible schedule, and, partly thanks to running, I’m starting to think more seriously about how I can achieve that.

Anyway. As my weekday runs for marathon training have become longer and more challenging, I’ve been thinking about how I can mix it up, such as with different routes and running at different times. There is a running track near where I work. I haven’t used it yet, as I find it difficult to get away from my conviction that it is for proper runners, and I am not one. However, it would be useful to do a weekday speed session there, as I could just go over straight after work, and not have to worry about an early morning or late evening run. And, of course, a track is a perfect setting for speed work.

I was planning to be brave and use the track this week, but because of other things going on, I’ve changed my plans a little. Today is usually a speed day, but I swapped it with tomorrow’s slow run. I ran early this morning, as I saw that sleet is forecast for this evening. Although it was dark and very cold, I appreciated the peacefulness of the streets, and I felt energised after running at a gentle recovery pace.

When I run in the early morning, I always enjoy it and tell myself I should do it more, even though I see myself as not-a-morning-person. I don’t have a lot of time in the mornings and it takes me a while after waking up to become human, so I often leave running to the evening. This is okay, but my motivation to run usually declines as the day goes on, and it does involve some effort to get out of the door again once I’ve arrived home.

Anyway, week 6, run 1 is done. And, as I suggested in my last post, I am feeling a little better today than I was yesterday (and running definitely helped with this).

Miles run today: 4.3 / Type of run: Recovery / Average pace: 10:16 minute-miles / Miles run this week: 4.3

 

Hannover Marathon training: the dawn of week 6

I am currently training for my first marathon – Hannover in April. I chose this one rather than one in the UK because I went there in April last year with a group of running friends, some of whom did the marathon (others did the half marathon). I was part of a five-person relay team. I ran the third leg, which was about five miles long. I enjoyed this so much that I thought Hannover would be a good place to do a first marathon – it was flat, and there seemed to be lots of space, and the weather was sunny and gorgeous after what had felt like months of bleak, cold UK winter.

Of course, I have no idea what the weather will be like this time, and 26.2 miles is a tad further than five. Nevertheless, having the memory of last year’s positive experience to draw on, however rose-tinted it may be, is proving to be very helpful at the moment.

I have just completed week five of a Runner’s World training plan. There are 11 weeks to go, and although so far my body has handled the increased training load quite well, there is still a lot to come, and I am a little apprehensive. This is uncharted territory for me. I try to be sensible with stretching and doing strength exercises, but, to be honest, I, like many others, find these dark winter months really sap my general energy levels and can also affect my mental health. Some days the hardest demons to conquer are the mental ones.

So far, I have completed all my training runs; but I do my three mid-week runs alone and it has been difficult on occasion to motivate myself. I have tweaked the plan slightly in the last few weeks so that I do fewer miles in the week and more at the weekend, when I tend to run with others (or at least meet them afterwards). I don’t know if this is a sensible approach or not, being the marathon newbie that I am; but I figured that if I do the same overall weekly mileage as stated in the plan, I should be okay.

Anyway. Today is a non-running day, and, frankly, the mental demons have been raging. I can only hope that they’ll get bored and disappear and that tomorrow, a running day, will dawn bright and shiny new.