Training wake up call

I hauled myself out of bed at 6am this morning, in order to coffee up for my 7.30am training session in the park with Adam this morning.

Two long intervals, two medium, two short, two sprints and plenty of lunges, press ups and dips off benches in between.

The long intervals were the killers. Me focusing on the trees thinking ‘I can, I can, yes I can, don’t think about the hill that comes next, no don’t. Can… can…’ Sounds frightful, I guess, but it’s quite buoying because the ‘canning’ is being confirmed by ‘doing’. Anyway, you get the picture – plenty of perceived effort on my part. By that I mean plenty of ‘seriously mate, about to vomit here’-ness going on even though, in my head, anyway, I wasn’t performing anything like my best. Apparently my first long interval over 0.8 of a mile was 7m36s. I guess the heat makes you go faster but my goodness it takes it out of you because it was all pretty gah/urgh/bleugh from there on in.

Lessons learned:

  • black coffee not good on empty stomach when running (I do know this, but my idiot brain is in charge at 6am),
  • heat is not my best suit for exercise (nor is my Stella McCartney for adidas top which is nicely cut and all but has nowhere to mop sweat without my revealing the spare tyre acquired in bars of Heidelberg last week) and
  • perhaps mixed beans and lentils are not the ideal basis for an evening meal when you are running hard the next day (I know this as well, what is wrong with me?! And no do NOT ask about the near death by mortification I could have endured here).

But the good thing I did get was if you stretch enough afterwards everything does, pretty much, snap back into place. Those twinges are just tight muscles, they are not ‘pain’ and should not be indulged as such.

Adam’s off to Canada now for two and a half weeks, visiting family, which sounds bliss. (Yes I know I haven’t finished this holiday yet – shut up)

But he’s given me homework, so it’s not like I have nothing to do.

Hip stretches, every day
Hip strengtheners, twice daily
Long lunges, slow, controlled, daily
Squats, daily
One-legged squats, hips even, straight and forward
Clams – twice daily (!)

Work on pace and endurance – running – three times a week

Should keep me out of mischief…


Off day running, good day pix

I set out this morning for interval training, feeling a bit off but you know how it is in the morning… it’s first thing, nothing’s quite right.

Bluebells out in the front garden - pretty

Bluebells out in the front garden – pretty

The first one-mile interval I ran I got that weird thing where it feels like you’re running on the spot. I was wheezing heavily and running as fast as I could. So I was disappointed to see 10.05 on the garmin.

While I was recovering I took pictures of the wild garlic that’s filling the hedgerows and then I was off again.

Blooming wild garlic

Blooming wild garlic

This interval wasn’t going any better. In fact it was going worse. My thighs ached, my breathing was off, no rhythm and so when I got to the end of a path I decided to miss the hill and instead slow down a bit and run across a lawn in the park, which turned out to be waterlogged. As I lifted up my feet like a prancing pony I felt decidedly weird. So I stopped and walked – and vomited into a rose bush!

No I am not pregnant.

My guess; maximum physical exertion + a cup of tea = messy flowerbed.

So I walk-jogged home. Even jogging felt odd. So I took some pictures on the way home.

Ford Lane, into Northenden

Ford Lane on the way home

St Wilfred's Church

St Wilfred’s Church

Church end of Ford Lane

Church end of Ford Lane

A day off-colour comes once in a while, it can happen. At least I got some fresh air and some good shots.

Running in rotten weather

Firstly, big shout out for iddex today who is running in the Manchester marathon right now in what can only be described as… crap weather.

It’s raining, it’s lashing down. Sometimes it’s sleeting and it’s hideously windy. The man is a real trouper going out in this – I admire his determination, never mind he can actually run 26 miles. The marathon is an incredible feat of mental strength as well as physical endurance. And running in today’s weather he requires gills and fins.

I know how crappy the weather is today because I was out training earlier for an hour.

I have to say my Alpha Me was more interested in staying curled up under the duvet than heading out into sleet this morning.

Along the way I spotted flowers out and I thought, ‘well, if a bluebell can survive in this weather, i probably can’.






And some forget-me-nots

Aren’t they pretty? The weather may be wintery but it’s lovely to see more greenery and there’s something so charming about flowers growing along the pathways.

Running training was a bit full-on today. As I had a weights session on Monday, today was intervals at real pace. An eight-minute mile, two nines, working on form and breath control.

Remember the other week when I did this and I was running 7.5 minute miles? Turned out I’d misunderstood – I was running at 7.5mph pace, but for two-thirds of a mile, not the whole mile. So apologies for giving the impression I’m faster than I am.

We then did some sprints for the last 15 minutes. Apparently I have really powerful acceleration. Adam keeps going on about how strong my legs are now. This is all thanks to squats and lunges, folks. They do form the backbone of my strength training and they definitely pay off. I hated them to start with, but I’ve got the hang of them now I’m stronger, they really are worth persevering with.

My homework: keep doing what you’re doing – one set of intervals, one long run. Don’t up your mileage, don’t do anything new. Steady as we go.

Weighing into gym session running training

Last night was my weekly running training session with Adam.

I’ve not been sleeping well. Apparently not even running can save me from insomnia now. Over the past few weeks I’ve slipped into that midnight world of semi-sonambulistic internal incantation, my mind charting impossible scenarios that always start badly and never turn out well, that make no sense but stillvhaunt me like the ghosts of personal disasters never-were.

Consequently I’m not firing on all cylinders. I am pondering random lines of poetry – mostly Keats, yes it’s THAT bad – but apparently I can still run. And lift weights. Lots of weights. Bloody love the weights just now.

Last night I did circuits of one-mile jog-sprints on the treadmill, at various inclines. Seven mph 30-second bursts with 5.5 mph recoveries was pushing me.

In between squats with a 10kg medicine ball, press ups to standing and lifting two 5kg dumbbells, jumping on and off steps and wee table things (quite easy, don’t tell Adam) and swinging this heavy pole about (for muscles down the sides of my body, I guess).

I really enjoyed it. Weights training is completely different from running. While you’re doing the exercise you’re fine, it’s only after you stop that you’re panting and pouring with sweat. And the challenge – great fun.

Adam’s got family staying so more homework for the weekend – same as last week. A timed 10k and one-mile intervals.

Let’s hope for some decent weather here – it was hailing when I got in last night!

Walking mind over running matters

Ever listen to your thoughts as you run?

I didn’t used to but, just recently, I’ve had less work-fretting thoughts thundering through my mind (thanks to well-earned annual leave) and so consequently I’ve been less distracted. Making room for other thoughts which, I noticed, were less than positive.

‘Can I do this distance/interval set/tempo run?’ ‘Oooh, that’s a pain, hope that’s nothing serious’ ‘My legs are going to get tired/are getting tired/are too tired’ ‘I’m getting out of breath/am out of breath/can’t breathe/am going to die if I don’t walk for a bit’ ‘I’m not built to run in fact I’m too fat’.

Any of that sound familiar? I hear those thoughts running through my mind all the time. And I mean all the time I’m running.

Apparently it’s not doing my running any good either because scientists agree that running is, pretty much, all in the mind.

According to TIm Noakes MD, your brain sees it as its job to keep you in one piece. It’s your brain that decides when you’re fatigued, not your glutes, quads, whatever.

I’ve always had a tendency towards… nervousness isn’t quite the word – maybe ‘carefulness’. I was never the first to go hurtling down the hill on my rollerskates. I didn’t walk along the top of 10 foot high walls. I’m left-handed and so have always been clumsy. That makes you, careful.

So maybe it’s no wonder my mind goes into overdrive and invents 101 reasons why I should slow down. Bit of a hurdle for a woman wanting to run faster.

It’s all very well telling myself to think ‘Yes, I can’ but my mind has other ideas. It’ll be telling me to slow down as soon as I’m sweating and through two miles. And it really doesn’t like intervals.

‘Hmmm…’ I thought. ‘It’s like I have to make it easy for me in order to do it and that’s a problem with intervals. Running at it (ooh, pun, clever you) doesn’t seem to work. Let’s think about it.’

And so I thought about my latest interval training homework and why it wasn’t getting easier and made a plan. A little plan. Nothing too dramatic – got to be careful out there.

My interval is this:
5 mins warm up
1 mins fast
2 mins jog
2 mins fast
3 mins jog
4 mins fast
5 mins jog
5 mins fast
6 mins jog
4 mins fast
5 mins jog
3 mins fast
4 mins jog
2 mins fast
3 mins jog
1mins fast
5 mins jog cool down.

Scary? Scares me. I got to four mins fast once and made it through to 3.5 minutes and then it all went to… wheezing, pain and overwhelming sense of under achievement. Since then? I’ve kind of been avoiding them. Done lots of four mile runs. Like them. Yeah, I know, avoidance.

Well this morning, at 6.30, I was thundering down Wilmslow Road, glancing at my watch and thinking ‘post box, post box, make it to the post box’ and not looking at my watch until I got there and – lo and behold – I’d done a four-minute interval fast.

Big tip – don’t keep looking at the watch!

So, I got all brave – well kind of brave. I thought ‘ok, so you’ve done four minutes, can you do five. Maybe. Let’s try 2.5 minutes fast – 30 minutes jog and then 2.5 minutes fast again. Go on, try it. It’s two 2.5s and you know you can do that.’

And do you know what – apparently Mind swallowed that and I did it. All right, not all in one go but I did it. I can do it. I can.

Look at that – I can! I used the ‘can’ word.

Sometimes you just need to find ways round the 10ft high wall and not walk along the top. Now, where are those rollerskates?!

So ok, who else is a doubter out there? What do you do to convince yourself the seemingly impossible is possible? How do you smother your can’ts?

Unknown territories of running

Running is all about challenging yourself isn’t it. Trying to be faster, trying to be stronger, trying to be better.

I do like being able to improve at something that is so flaming difficult. I’m sure people who don’t do it think it’s easy. But it’s rock hard, physically and mentally. It’s fun but oh so hard sometimes.

Today I did long interval training for the first time. And while I knew I wouldn’t be doing it if Harry didn’t think I could and I knew it was not going to kill me even if I couldn’t, still there’s that niggling little voice saying ‘no’.

Fear of failure; pointless and yet so potent.

Interval training plays a big part in getting you faster. Running fast and then running slow gets your body and lungs used to working at a faster pace.

I’ve done short intervals on and off as part of my weekly runs, but nothing this long – 2 mins at a challenging pace, 3 mins jogging, multiplied by 6.

As the longest interval I’ve ever done is 1.5mins, and that’s once in a set of five, I was reticent. And I have to say, the first interval wasn’t fun, the second was great and then the third was hard and the recovery tricky. By the fourth I was wheezing through my recovery and by the fifth recovery I was having to walk some of it while Harry skipped about beside me. Weirdly though the sixth was ok again but we dropped the pace for that one.

Harry was shouting lots of ‘brilliant, you’re bouncing along there – soft knees, soft knees’ while I kept looking ahead trying to find something to aim at on countdowns. Two minutes can feel like for… ever.

After 40 minutes of that we did some lunges with the medicine ball, squats, one-legged squats and some strange plank thing where you put your hands on the medicine ball and lift one leg up in the air behind you. Then a quick run up and down a flight of steps six times (kills your glutes) and we were done.

Harry says he’s really pleased with my progress. Pushing those intervals to two minutes takes me out of my comfort zone and creates enough stress on my lungs to build their capacity. Stresses me out mentally too – fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of making a fool of myself…

Of course he’s not going to push me into anything I’m not ready for, if I think about it logically. But what has logic got to do with fear?

And the little triumphs I get to score over my niggling ‘no’ voice are just one more reason for me to keep running.