Hell’s teeth, I can run!

Running training today was three one-mile tempo runs with some 5kg medicine ball and 8kg kettlebell exercises in between. Incorporating lunges and squats – the usual fare of Adam’s strength training.

Strong legs, strong core, strong shoulders.

It was a beautiful morning for training – frost on the grass but bright and clear.

frost on the grass at Whythenshawe Park

Frost on the grass - early morning at Whythenshawe Park

The first bluebells are just peeping through their buds now as well, so pretty.

Bluebells

Budding bluebells nestled under a tree

And the early morning light made tall shadows on the path to the  car park where I meet Adam, my running trainer.

Long shadows in Whythenshawe Park

Long shadows in Whythenshawe Park

Sitting on the fence, waiting for Adam

Sitting on the fence, waiting for Adam

Having had some less than positive runs this week I was a bit apprehensive about today.

We started off with a mile loop. Much wheezing. Adam was babbling something about having been training on a treadmill on a gradient all week. I wasn’t really listening, I was concentrating on repeating ‘You can, you can, you can, ignore the wheezing, it’s normal, keep going, run!’ That and keeping sight of his ankle just ahead of me before remembering to keep my head up and look at his shoulder.

Anyhow, first mile loop completed without trampling a small dithering pensioner and a sprint to the finish. 7.5 minutes! Like, proper running – and everything.

After strengthening exercises another mile loop – another 7.5 minute mile!

I couldn’t believe it. Twice?!

More strengthening exercises – my switch lunges being praised as ‘impressively bouncy’ – and we were off again. This time – not so fast. I was wheezing within a minute and my legs felt like lead. They kind of came to life again two-thirds of the way round but I was struggling and I was focusing on keeping going – with a sprint finish just to prove to my brain my legs had it in them. Not so fast but I completed.

Left to my own devices my average mile speed is 11-12 minute mile pace. Today I was almost 25% faster than on my solo runs. Of course it’s one mile at a time – not four or six, but it’s impressed on me what I can do. I can run. Not jogging, proper running.

I also have homework this week. One mile tempos x 3. Let’s see if I can match that pace, solo. With some thumping musical inspiration I think – it’ll drown out the sound of my wheezing for a start.

Six month review

I thought it was about time I did a bit of compare and contrast on my running and so I’ve been leafing through old blog entries.

Wow, what a difference.

Six months ago I wasn’t measuring anything beyond time spent running, so it’s difficult to do accurate comparisons. What is different is my attitude.

Then I seemed to be running randomly. Now I call it training and it’s structured.

  • One long run – half a mile further each week
  • One tempo run or interval session
  • One kettlebell session
  • One fartlek or easy play run
  • One session with my coach, Adam

Then I was heavy footed, now I’m much lighter on my feet and during today’s fartlek four-mile session I noticed I was almost bouncing up hills.

Then running made me feel sick, now I can eat a banana and go out running – no bother.

Then I ate a lot of crap, now I think about food as being fuel. Yes I enjoy a burger out with Mr M and I love my gin-and-slims and oooh don’t get me started on giant chocolate buttons, but for the most part I’m all about the fruit, veg and lentil-type stuff and I can’t remember the last time I ate a cheese and onion pasty and I love those.

I weigh a few pounds less but my body’s much musclier – and I like that. My arms look terrific and you can see muscles round my tum!

And I’ve made blog chums. I love reading your blogs. I check them out on my iphone in the morning while I wait for the train. They’re an inspiration to get me out there, running when I get home.

Why being a rubbish runner is the greatest

So far this week I’ve done an eight-mile long run and a four-mile tempo. Bit further, bit faster. And you know what – feeling a bit stronger too.

For me there’s no super-fast improvements, no striding out with confidence, expecting my body to perform like a thoroughbred. I fret a bit as I set off, I flap that I’ll run out of energy and I’m always thrilled when I show improvement. Long may that continue.

Long run

11.54; 11.58;  11.50; 12.34; 12.48; 12.22; 13.11 (whoops, what was that about?); 12.13 (and rocking it out!) – 8.06 miles in 1.39 – 888 calories burned

Four mile tempo

10.52 (yeah, baby); 11.49; 11.52; 12.14 – 4.04 miles, 47.25 – 467 calories burned

There are some things for which I have talent, maybe not dazzling talent, but I find them easy. Running aint one of them. But there are lessons to be learned as you push on. Slowly. And you know, when something’s tough, the triumphs are all the sweeter.

Tempo running on a frosty morning

I’m trying to run with purpose this year.

No – well very little, let’s be realistic – faffy runs where I just gaze about, looking at the birds and trees and generally commune with nature. It’s nice, but it’s not making me run any faster.

Yesterday was tempo day. Running a 5k at the best of my ability.

I took the river route, which isn’t fastest, but the ground was frozen with a dazzling frost, the sky was clear and it was all very pretty. And no howling gale either.

I managed 11:24, 11:26 and 11:30, which is pretty strong for me, but that last mile was tough. I naturally slack off on that third mile. Trying to keep that pace going on the third miles made me a wheezing mess. Mile one and two, pretty easy in comparison, which generally suggests I could pick up the pace in the first two miles because they seemed easy compared to the last.

Later this morning is personal trainer session. Haven’t done one for six weeks. I am going to die.

Running faster: it’s happening people!

Tonight I ran with a mission: tempo mission. And pay dirt, I scored on more than one front.

Just a three miler (look at me, using the word ‘just’ to describe a three-mile run, that would not have happened six months ago) but with the goal of pushing it all the way. No slacking; keeping that breathing just a bit wheezy but of course stopping for traffic. I clocked:

  • 11:40 (up hill for three-quarters of a mile, be fair)
  • 11.24 (back on the flat)
  • 12.05 (ahem)

See that step change down in speed? That’s good for me. Usually it goes seriously tortoiseville during two-three, but there’s a good reason for that. In this serious smart blog we learn about body fuels. I think what Dave is saying is that when the body steps from one fuel source to another things go a bit pear-shaped. Because it’s not a smooth fuel transition, from carbs to body fat, so our fuel stutters and we slow down. It’s like trying to run your car on a mug full of petrol, kangerooing down the road a bit and then getting a fill-up.

What I’m trying to do is make my body push on through this ‘argh’ transition. Yes, I slowed down but not like I normally do. I find that two-to-three mile bit… no, I’m not going to try to be brave… most unpleasant. I have to do everything I can to distract myself. I’ve tried counting, plotting extravagant fantasy revenges against my trespassers (is that a bit mad?!) and humming lyrics to songs I’ve listened to on the bus home.

Any other distraction tips most welcome 🙂