Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Oddities of the treadmill user

Due to other commitments later in the week I will sadly be missing the track session with the other PWRs on Thursday and after a late night last night I preferred to go to the gym to run early rather than getting home and eating late after club runs.
I think my timing was good, as I arrived I had my pick of about 5 treadmills but by the time I had finished my warm-up they were all taken. I had checked out the training schedule and was going to do 2 x 1200m (400m recoveries) followed by 3 x 800m (200m recoveries). The good thing about the treadmill is that my pacing was spot on, I set the intervals at 7.8mph (approx 7:40 min/mile) and set to work. A very good session but I think the track does offer something a track can't and forces you to maintain pacing rather than the treadmill doing it for you (you just have to maintain pace and not fall off the back!).
The funny thing about treadmill running is that those either side of you always try and catch a glimpse of what you are doing, quite I often I find that men have a look at my speed and then up theirs for fear of being 'chicked'. What they fail to recognise is the variety of runs you could do on a treadmill, which makes this even funnier as they try to hike up the speed to match the pace of the intervals and immediately begin to struggle - this does not go for all of course but generally those that are happy with their own training are not too concerned with others.
Another odd thing I find - maybe because I am number obsessed - is that many people cover their treadmill screens so they can't see distance or speed, one man even brought his coat from the changing room and hung over the treadmill to hide the data, very strange indeed as you need to set something whether it be pace or distance surely so you would know what was under there? Maybe it is some kind of strange psychological game they are playing with themselves?
The final thing I find very odd is those that walk on a treadmill, not walk rests but just go on for a stroll, why not go for a walk? Bit of a waste when such a popular piece of equipment in a gym! At least challenge yourself to an incline if just walking!

Monday, 30 January 2012

...and the short of it

As a complete opposite to my run on Saturday, this shouldn't even count as a run, yet I am still writing about it.
I departed my train, very late, very cold and very tired (and wearing heels). From the station exit I could see down the road from which the bus approached and there it was, there was no way I could make it unless I ran, so I ran - needing to get on the bus else wise I may have detoured into the chip shop. There I was trotting away down the hill, fear of slipping over, fear of missing the bus and having to stand around in the cold for even longer. Not breaking a sweat, not puffing but tottering along like a fool I made the bus, the driver looked distinctly disappointed that I had made it but gave me a sort of smug look. 
I sat down, relieved. Then thought back, if I had run that 200m or so for a bus a mere couple of years ago, I would have been out of breath and struggling to compose myself. Not anymore and not ever again (I hope). Hooray for running! 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The long....

On Saturday, after a couple of days advised rest (well spinning and walking) I set off out for my long run. As I had plans for Saturday night and quite conveniently so did Emma G we decided to do our long run together. The deal was I would drive to Emma's house and she would plan the route - my long routes tend to be pretty boring - mostly out and backs so I don't get lost!
It was very cold and there was some drizzle in the air, so layered up we set off towards Keston Ponds, my watch was failing to pick up the signals for almost the first mile and I was soon way to warm and my jacket ended around my waist. Before long we passed a group of runners who looked mostly like non-runners in that they were all layered up in heavy jogging bottoms and hoodies, we waxed lyrical about the changes that occur in clothing as runners become more confident.
Coming up to 10 miles we passed through Norman Park (around 9:40am) and as we ran down the finishing straight a few people began to clap us and say well done, and so they should after nearly 10 miles. At this point we were still both feeling pretty fresh, our pacing was good, the route had been pretty friendly with only a few small inclines we were running well and didn't feel like we had covered the distance claimed by our garmins. Another mile down the road we bumped into Rob B who was at about 13.5 miles and feeling it, we had a brief hello and then set off up the hill from Bromley Common up to Locksbottom. Now dangerously close to Emma's but still a couple of miles away from our target distance we realised we had to detour, we needed to add on a small out and back, we opted for up first - this is when our legs were feeling the distance - and then down and back to Emma's. Arriving back we stretched and said hello to Rowdy (Emma's dog) before I departed to finish my chores. There was a beautiful blue sky and it was only 10.30am, what a way to start the day.
Maybe easy isn't the right word because it was a long run after all, but when a long run feels like this it makes me feel very happy and confidetn and what is to come. I think Emma is a great running buddy as we are so well matched for pace on these long runs, I look forward to many more together in our preparations for London.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Spinning my lunch

So after some strange niggles in my knee, enough to send myself back to the car on Tuesday night part way through the club run I have taken a few days off. I was gutted to miss track training on Thursday night but was advised to take it easy and try to stick to cross-training activities like cycling or swimming. 
Today I opted to try out the new spin studio at the Pavilion Leisure Centre, I have to say I was impressed! The bikes are different to those I am used to but fantastic all the same (with gears and RPMs to make sure you are getting an effective workout) and for a shortened lunchtime class (30 minutes) I got a really great workout. Although as you will be aware I get pretty hot and bothered in spin so needed to shower and hair wash so maybe not great for me every week but certainly got my blood pumping again!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Weakest in the pack

I arrived at the club to find a distinct lack of parking, my how the club has grown! 
Once I had finally got my spot and jogged to the meeting point I had missed the announcements and as I floundered to find my group I set off with group 3, then spotted group 4 and defected... sadly after about 1.5 miles my knee started to have a little niggle. I could see the group pulling away and worried about my knee I bid farewell to Dave B and detoured heading back towards my car. 
On my return route I saw Emma G running on the other side of the road, she was unable to make it to the club in time so was out running solo, after a quick catch up we headed our separate ways. As I got closer to the car my knee stopped its twinging and I was going at a good pace once again. I think I need a couple of runs solo to get my confidence back - lately runs with others seem to leave me feeling a little left behind and struggling to keep up, yet like tonight when I ran alone my pace is faster and I don't struggle. Too much chattering I fear. I'll maybe go out again tomorrow... well it's that or a spin class so let's let the weather dictate.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Badger Spotting (Night Run)

My second outing with Jerry and those others crazy enough to join a night run. There was a little trepidation after the last run, where we came across a field full of bright eyed badgers and I was unceremoniously sick in the bushes - after visiting the witches cavern - on the return part of the route. I was hoping this run would be a little more successful for me. I am not so sure that was the case.
We arrived at the meeting point, where one by one the other cars starting to arrive, there was a slight moment of fear that people may suspect this was some sort of dogging car park as we all turned up on queue and resisted the urge to flash out lights at each other. As everyone emerged their vehicles in high-vis we knew we were safe and at the right rendezvous point. The number of females had tripled since the last run, taking the numbers to 3 but we were still outnumbered by the fellas 3 to 1. Setting off down the road out of Shoreham the pace was pretty fast and my legs took a while to get working, so as it seemed did my torch as the batteries seemed to be fading, this got more worrying as we got further away from civilisation and I was relying on Ian and Dave for so I could share their torchlight - true gentlemen so thanks for that guys (who said Orpies were all bad!!).
A few miles into the run we reached the much talked about 'water feature' which appeared to me a stream lined with blocks that looked like big lego pieces, some of which had been stacked above the waterline as stepping stones so we could make out way across. This was a little disconcerting on the way out due to my lack of light and much better on the return when I was at full beam.
We reached the halfway point - a lovely pub that was packed full of slightly bewildered and tipsy looking locals enjoying their Saturday night out. The service was friendly but I was slightly concerned re the 15 charity boxes on the bar - do gooders! I switched my batteries, we took the obligatory night run picture courtesy of Clive and hit the paths again, this time at full brightness I was able to see more than 3 inches ahead of me. 
Not long into the return route and my tummy started to play tricks on me as per last time and I started to feel very queasy, my pace dropped off a little. Soon there was a shout behind me and I turned to see Ian perform a sort of shouty commando roll and he twisted his ankle - I suspect the badgers had been out making holes in the fields. The lights started to appear in the distance and we knew we were in time for another drink in Shoreham before hitting the road home, in thanks for his organisation and a lift I treated Jerry to some fizzy pop and a packet of Chicken crisps - generous I know!
I arrived home, pretty shattered and still a little queasy. I still very much enjoyed the run but | need to figure out why running at night seems to make me ill... maybe it was the strap from my backpack or maybe my body trying to stop me from running out of control at night-time, lets hope the next run I can break the rut.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Feeling grumpy? Run it off

There are days that are so long and draining that the only this you want to do is climb under the duvet, fully clothed, close your eyes and drop into oblivion. Thursday was a day like that.
I decided I was so exhausted that I couldn’t face the track training, I just didn’t think I could do it justice. I text my lift (thanks Mike R) and said to count me out… then about 10minutes later having changed my mind with a bit of text prompting as it would make me feel better.
I arrived at the track still a bit fed up, grumpy and with back ache… tonight’s session 5 x 1000m reps at approx 90 seconds faster pace than target marathon pace. Peter had kindly brought along pacing charts to help us identify our targets. We warmed up and I still felt zapped, in my head thinking, I’ll just do one or two reps, I can always drop back and take it easy, at least I made it out.
Well that didn’t last – like it ever does! Besides there was very little opportunity to drop off the pace with Mike and Peter at the big clock on the start line and Karen at the 200m point all shouting encouragement how could I give up, I couldn’t let them down when they are standing out in the cold for our own good, certainly not theirs.
A while in, Jerry appeared on the edge of track and then proceeded to flit from one runner to the next giving some good company as ever in little bursts. My pacing was good again with all my 1000m reps between 7:38 and 7:48 pace – perfectly acceptable with my back ache (and other excuses).
During my final 400m Rob B (running his cool down) stayed with me encouraging me round the last few hundred metres and whilst I wasn’t up for much chatting at that point it doe help having the encouragement especially when so many runners had finished all their laps.
By the time we were cooling down and stretching I was very pleased I made the effort to go and stuck it out for all the reps, I’m not sure I have completely run off the stresses of the day but I certainly felt better.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Taking on my nemesis... and winning

So after missing the last two Tuesdays with Petts Wood Runners I finally made it out with them last night. Back to my regular group (previously 3 but now 4 since we have added in extra groups) I flitted comfortable around the middle of the pack catching up with a few faces I haven't seen for a while and some that I had. The pace of the group was above advertised which for the most part was fine for me but the field was spreading out towards the rear. The distance was also a little further than planned due to a couple of wrong turns but I was not disappointed with this as I needed a really good run tonight and it was good to run a few roads I barely new existed. 
Towards the home stretch we approached my nemesis - Southborough Lane - a long slow incline that lasts for about 1.5miles but tonight me and Emma G stuck together and stuck on pace catching up with others in the group the further we went. The track training is paying off as my pace usually drops massively on this hill but last night we flew it! Hooray!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Was it Worth (Way) it?

It sure was! 
Staying with my Mum last night over in East Grinstead I had the option to wake up early and drive back for the PWR Sunday run or go it alone on the Worth Way... a pretty flat track that runs just over 7 miles into Crawley. 
This out and back flat path won the vote, not only because it is flat and very little planning was required but also as a nice change of scenery for my running. My goal today ws my long run and to keep to around 10min/miles.. this was not possible however, the flat route spoke to my legs and made them increase the pace a little to around 9:30min/miles give or take and would not let them reduce this. Whilst running I did think of Jerry cycling the track to practice his pacing and thought this would be a great place to practice race pacing in the future and while an out and back route is not as much fun as the roller-coaster of the downs, it would be more inspirational than circling the track for hours I think. Along the route there are a few sites to behold such as the old disused railway station and a mill pond and plenty of runners, dog walkers and cyclists all of whom are ready with a smile and a greeting.
I finished the run with the strength to continue and at a steady pace, textbook long run with a change of scenery thrown in as well. 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Just do it... frosty freestyle

Today I am a brand wh*re and its all about Nike. It was my first run in my new Nike Free's and it was like putting on slippers not trainers. I just love them, they look good, they feel good, you put them on and just do it... amazing!
My original route plan was a lollipop route along the roads but on such a frosty yet crisp and glorious morning I couldn't resist the draw of the woods. The frosty trees, the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet... perfect. If all runs were like this everyone would be doing it!
On the return the frost in the trees was melting thanks to the bright sun overhead and I felt a few drops fall on my head. The sunlight beaming through the woods is just a really welcoming site when out for a run... there was a part of me that wanted to carry on and do my long run on such a lovely day but I decided to save it for tomorrow as planned.
I did 4 miles and my feet feel good, my legs feel good, there is no soreness from the change in support to a minimalist transition shoe... long may this continue.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Ever decreasing intervals

Week 3 of track training with PWR and led by Peter, deputised by Mike, after a 20 minute warm-up, the goal was to run 1200m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m with a 200m recovery/rest between each effort. Crikey!
Before we started Peter produced some very organised laminated sheets with the training session outlined on one side and a pacing chart on the other. This level of organisation is very impressive to me!
So to find out goal pace for the intervals (which had to remain at the same level or increase speed but not get slower) we had to look for our marathon goal pace and take 2 minutes off this.... hmmm so if I am looking for a 4hr marathon time, then that means 9 min/miles which means my intervals should be at 7 min/mile - a likely story!
Dubious and realistic I decided that I would go for my 5k pace and if I was able to push a bit harder I would. It seems to me that the marathon pace is my goal for April, so this early in training I may not be able to hit those targets but after a few more weeks of track work I might. Mentally this sort of interval session seemed much more manageable that the 1mile reps of week one… so far 3 for 3 and still want more!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Red sky in the morning, Runners yawning

I would have loved to have written last night about a delightful club run with my fellow PWRs, alas it was not meant to be. I arrived home exhausted, changed into my kit and sat down on the sofa. Two hours later I woke up and realised it was now past 8pm and too late to join the club. I scoffed my dinner down and went pretty promptly to bed - I obviously needed it.
Due to the amount of sleep amassed it seemed sensible to get up early and go for a run before work instead - heading out the door just before 7 for a 5-mile jaunt it was still dark but a steady flow of lights from the early traffic lit my route. As the sun began to rise the skyline started to turn a beautiful glowing red and orange, It's a shame I didn't have my camera to take a picture as it was truly lovely, this is what makes the early runs so special.
The run did not leave me so refreshed as I continued to feel tired throuout the day but I fought the urge to bail from my spinning class and arrived ready to ride! The aircon was not on at full blast and so the sweating commenced as soon I neared my spin bike... except for a little calf cramp towards the end I made it through okay and though it was tough I was glad I went. I was even more glad that a sausage casserole had gone in the slow cooker today and was ready waiting for me as I walked in the door!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Minimalist false start

So it would seem that I had a sort of a false start with my barefoot running shoes, I only made it out once running in them and that resulted in a little soreness of my right front. I was super keen, no two ways about it, I tried too much too soon so now I have finally gotten round to buying a transition shoe, the Nike Free 2+ and they are beautiful. They arrived yesterday to work and I restrained myself from opening them up until I got home and I am glad I did, nobody needs to see me getting soppy over trainers, they are amazing. It makes me sad to take them outside and ruin their beauty... perhaps I will wait for a dry day. I will keep you updated of their progress like a mother with her firstborn.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Don't Knock(holt) it, till you tried it!

Today was the day of the annual Petts Wood Runners train run, we all meet up at the station and get on the train then half the group get off at Knockholt for a 5-6miles run back while the others continue on the Sevenoaks to run trail and roads, 13miles back to Petts Wood. The train station was packed full with running tights and high viz, I counted 39 runners in total - an amazing turnout.
For the past two years I have attended the full Sevenoaks run but today I was just not feeling it, during my short run yesterday I started to get a sharp pain in my back, like I was being stabbed from behind. All sounds a bit dramatic but I can assure you it was not... just painful unfortunately. I did however notice that this tended to happen when I speeded up during the run so with my sensible head I decided I would go with the Knockholt group today, target starting pace was 11min/miles and then I planned to add a few on the end - much to my delight 3 other runners stuck with me as we took our mileage up over 8miles and then I detoured off home. Perfect for a marathon training long run so I read... start off at a slower pace and increase for the second half. 
Really nice to be out with a different group of people this morning and so many new and familiar faces, I had puff enough to chat for the whole run which was great and really enjoyable. A good end to my first week of marathon training proper. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Pleasure and Pain

Today was exercise in two halves, first came the pleasure and then later came the pain... not the usual order of the world but for me it was.
I started at lunchtime with a Pilates class, my first since the embrarassing incident about 9 years ago when I tried Pilates and fell asleep mid way through - awkward!!
Now I have a motivation though, by doing this class it will help my flexibiltiy (standard) and also my running by strenthening my core (this is where I became interested in a more selfish way). Another advantage to the class is that I can do in my lunchbreak, you don't require a shower afterwards and it made me so chilled out I was ebven singing to myself at the my desk this afternoon - something I am sure has never happened before. Maybe Pilates is the way forward? We shall see, but lets hope I am able to keep it up and then maybe one day I will be capable of the impossible... touching my toes!
The evening a different kind of challenge, the weekly track training (this only being week 2). The merciless wind and rain that has tormented us all week would have been enough to put me off but by the time I was ready to head to the track there was no rain and the wind had eased up some so no room for excuses. The closest I came to an excuse was the wet patch on my running tights from a leaky sports drink, not great but not enough to stop me.
Today's session was 800m repeats - eeeek, not as far as last week but harder effort for the increased pace. The turnout was good again, almost doubling with 21 PWRs in attendance plus two timekeepers. The reps were tough and once again I found myself at the back of the pack but with a bit more company this time. I decided that it didn't matter that I wasn't as fast, I was there and I was doing the right pace for me, my splits were very consistent with little between each lap so all in all a good session, tougher than Pilates, more painful than Pilates but maybe more rewarding overall. I'd go with the pain over pleasure when it comes to working out every time - I think the satisfaction is greater, not to say a chill out session of Pilates won't be required on a more regular basis though.

Spin when you're minging

After weeks of missing spin (the three week of multiple illnesses you may recall), and then bailing over the Christmas period in favour of spending time with family members I made my almost triumphant return last night at the walnuts leisure centre. Our instructor looked as if Christmas has passed by her svelte figure without so much as a single Christmas tree choccy taking hold!
Looking around the spin room I see some familiar faces, I’m sure many of which have stuck with the class more regularly than I am able, a mother and daughter, the girl who never changes the resistance, the man who is a little too friendly for my liking and me, the sweaty returner with the drips of sweat forming an uncomfortably large puddle on the laminate beneath my bike!
It always amazes me how some people get can through an entire spin class without so much as one bead of sweat forming on their brow, whereas I almost immediately change to a beetroot shade and soak my clothes profusely within minutes of the start. At least I get to look like I worked out, but I do find myself asking the question, made famous in Big Brother 3 by Jade Goody, “am I minging?”.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Pacing & Protein

A long day at the office made me want to get out and run as soon as I could, I decided to forgo the club run tonight in favour of leaping out of the house as soon as I possibly could after my return. The plan was to run around 3 miles at target marathon pace and stop off for some stir fry sauce on the way - I am aiming to eat more protein and less carbs as I seem to have been overdoing it somewhat on the pasta front, so meat is the order of the day and tonight beef stir fry wins the vote. 
My pacing was pretty good and felt comfortable, I even found myself going a little too fast and made myself slow down. Looking at my splits they were all at target and even the stir fry sauce was on offer!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Start as I mean to go on

I was still lying in bed 20 minutes before the PWR New Years Day run debating whether to get up and go or not. On the one hand, I had run 11 miles yesterday, on the other, I haven't missed a New Years Day run since I started running. Up I hopped, threw on the nearest kit and leapt into the car.
There were around 20 of us out this morning - so we split into two groups going at slightly varying hangover pace. A very muddy trot through Petts Wood and Scadbury before heading back to base an hour later... with less than a mile to go a naughty and clearly super keen trail runner bounded past us, pushing us of the track and into the bushes (where Sonja suffered cuts and scrapes) whilst aggressively splattering us with plenty of mud - I'm guessing his New Year was not all he had hoped for!
The run was followed by Karen's cake and we wall headed off.
A good way to start the New Year and kick start the marathon training regime. 
Happy New Year to everyone, thanks for reading x