Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Hilliest Run I can think of, and MK marathon week 16 training plan

Northern hilly long run

The route for my long run this weekend has been planned for several months! I like to run at least once when I visit my parents in Lancashire, usually with my sister. I enjoy the challenge of running up some impressive hills: it makes a change from the relative flatness of Bedfordshire.

In 2011 and 2012, my sister and I used to run between 5 km and 10 km together. The 10 km route we run is a loop of Great Harwood, Clayton-le-Moors, and Rishton that is an undulating course; there are three distinct hills that are either steep or long. Tough, but good for training.

A few times in 2013, when my sister was training for her first half marathon, we started running a different route, a 9 mile hill loop through Great Harwood, Read, and Sabden that takes in the lower part of Pendle Hill. There is a huge climb at the beginning of the route, but that means there is a lovely downhill stretch at the end. We've never run it all the way though, my sister doesn't appreciate the fine art of running all the way up a hill ;-)  

I got chatting at a Christmas party with my sister's husband and his friend (who are both cyclists and fellow Strava fans) about creating the hilliest running route local to them. They both said that the Sabden route was hilly, but running up Whalley Nab from Whalley to Great Harwood (Moor Lane/Shawcliffe Lane) would be really testing, and I knew I wanted to try it next time I was up north.
This weekend I visited my parents, and I was really looking forward to finally trying out my hilly training route. I had to run about 18 miles, so I planned to warm up with the 10 km "undulating" route (with my sister), then to run the 9 mile route on my own (all the way up the huge hill without stopping!), and finally to add on a 3 mile home run over Whalley Nab. 

I was very happy that I ran up the hill to Sabden all the way, only having to stop for 2 cars on a narrow lane. The run down into Whalley was great, and I was feeling good (14 miles in). But I could see the hill I had to cross looming large. As soon as I put my foot on the incline I knew I would be crazy to attempt to run it as my 15th mile! Not crazy in that I would injure myself, or it was impossible to run, just that with 14 miles in my legs it would be as fast to walk it. So I walked up the Nab, and enjoyed the recovery time, then ran the rest of the way home. Including up one final hill (Bowley), which is steep but short.

Total elevation on the run was approximately 1700 feet! Total mileage was 17.7 miles (half a mile was run before my Garmin picked up satellites). I ran out of water on this run, but not until mile 16. I also tried SIS caffeine gels for the first time, pretty yukky compared to the High 5 gels that I'm used to, although they did the job. One happy Sarah.

At dinner that evening, my brother-in-law challenged me to run over Pendle Hill, rather than just the lower part of it. Perhaps he will cycle behind me :) I WILL run over Pendle sometime this year, and my sister and I have decided we will run to Whalley and back over the Nab, all the way NO STOPPING ;-)

Last week...

Lots of running last week, my weekly total was 36 miles, which I think is the most miles I've ever run in a week. I'd completed 10 miles by Tuesday evening, then I ran 8.5 miles on Thursday at run club (including 5 miles on the Greenway in the dark), followed by my long run on Saturday. Not much cross-training though, circuits was cancelled and I missed Pilates because it was half-term. I wanted to swim on Thursday while my kids had their lessons, bu work stressed me out and I finished too late to get myself organised. So I grumpily sat and watched them instead. 

Next week's training plan...

Monday: Interval run (5 miles, alternate 0.25 mile fast/slow)
Wednesday: 8 miles @ marathon pace 
Thursday: Running club
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: NHRR First Saturday 5K

Sunday: 18 miles

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Speed training

Tuesday run club was speedwork at both sessions.

At the beginners session we ran to a local underpass and jogged down the slopes and then attempted some speed up the inclines. The beginners need a bit of encouragement to run fast. I usually use the "shout loudly" approach, although I was quite kind this time because we had some new club members and I didn't want to put them off. I didn't really achieve much speed, because I was at beginners in a "support role".

At the intermediates session, we ran to a local open road and did 4 x 200 m sprints followed by 2 x 400 m sprints. I don't like sprint intervals so I didn't really give it my all, blaming my lack of effort on "post-race recovery". The 400 m intervals weren't all that bad really, we ran 300 m and then had to "kick" with 100 m to go, and I did manage that OK.

Wore the New Trainers again, they are starting to feel like part of my foot rather than a tight uncomfortable lump of plastic.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Low HR recovery run in new trainers

I felt quite good on Monday after Baldock Beast, my legs weren't stiff and the only ache I felt was in my glutes, which is a good sign because it means I'm finally using my arse when I run.

I was at a loose end in the evening, my husband usually runs on Mondays but he was having a rest day because his legs are hurting him (I keep telling him not to run so fast...). I decided to go for a recovery run, keeping heart rate under 140 bpm.

My aim was between 4 and 5 miles, and I ran 4.8 miles in the end, to Arlesey and back (at running club, we call this The Arlesey Loop, and we hate it because it involves running to Arlesey, no other reason).

My first mile was a bit fast, and HR jumped to 160, perhaps I had some race speed in my legs still. I managed to slow myself down and ran the next 4 miles at 10-10:30 min/mile pace. HR was much lower than 140, sometimes I was struggling to reach 130, and I put this down to tiredness and eating my tea about 90 mins earlier (I had horrible heart burn and reflux, delightful). And being in Arlesey.

I wore my new Adidas Supernovas to wear them in a bit more, they are feeling less tight than last week (they hurt my foot a bit towards the end of the club run on Thursday), but I don't want to risk a run longer than 6 miles in them just yet. I might not wear them for MK Marathon in fact, my pair of New Balance have miles left in them and would be OK. We'll see...

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Baldock Beast 2014

Aim for this race was to achieve a personal course record (previously 1:51:30 from 2013) and to finish sub 1:50 (and not get injured). I'm a bit scared of the Baldock Beast course, mainly because it's hilly, but there are two off-road sections and I don't like mud very much. Also, when I ran part of the course last week the roads were flooded in places. So a steady approach at marathon pace (9 min/mile or faster) suited me fine.

Met up with some club friends before the start, Lewis, Ed, Chris, Andy and John (who I always call Paul, sorry John), and Paul (who is really called Paul) were all running, and Sarah W came to support and took our bags for safe-keeping (thanks!). Ran with Lewis almost all the way (I lost him at mile 12, although he "says" he was giving me a target to chase), and Andy joined us at about mile 4-5 (he wanted to run around 1:55). 

Lewis, me, Ed, and Paul

The off-road sections are across a field and through a wood. Both were pretty muddy, but the wood was especially splashy and slippy, I let out a girly squeal unfortunately. The hills didn't seem as bad as I remember, apart from the huge one at mile 10, which I was prepared for this time. After this hill I said my aim was to pass as many women as I could, and I think I picked off at least four. One poor girl let out a frustrated sob as I passed her, sorry lady. By mile 12 I was flagging a bit, and it was an effort just to keep myself running. I did sprint the last quarter of a mile to the finish, despite being passed on the line by two men, and I had to have a quiet moment in the field while I tried not to vomit.

Finished in 1:49:01 according to my Garmin, very happy with that. And the knee and hip did what they were supposed to do and remained intact. According to Endomondo I ran faster in the second half of the race, and my fastest mile was run in 7:30 from around mile 11 to 12.

Big thanks to supporters on the course: Simon and his son at the first off-road section; Pete from club (who had Jelly Babies, gels, and Powerade) and Mark from NHRR, who we saw twice in Sandon; and Jane who came out with her three boys to support at mile 11-12. At the finish I heard a great cheer from my friend Kate, who's daughter had made me a banner saying "Go Sarah!" on it; Sarah C from club (another Sarah!) was there too, along with Ed's wife and kids and Chris' wife and son. Once I remembered I had biscuits in my bag, these got handed around. I also met a chap who I follow on Twitter but hadn't previously met IRL (@rundontrun), and of course Murray and Ashley who organise the race. 

Picked up a nice medal to remember the day by, a can of an energy drink (a bit bleurgh), a banana (no thank you), and a printout of my gun time (1:49:24) and position (153rd). Excellent. Kate had also brought me a bag of Haribo and a bottle of water, which was awesome and so lovely! I really needed the water :) And I'm eating the Haribo now!

Training last week

On Monday I attempted a 5K with alternate slow/fast km, but I failed somewhat at achieving a distinction between intervals. I went out for another run on Tuesday after Pilates, to see if I could beat my husband's 3 mile time, and I did a bit better, running a mile in 7:05 min according to Endomondo. That's my second best mile time ever I think (PB is 6:57). So with a speedy run out of the way for the week I was happy to miss my Wednesday long run. I went to circuit training instead, my second session of the week. Fit and strong is the plan... Thursday run club was a 5 mile group run.

Training next week

It's half term so I'm restricted to evening workouts, no mid-morning 8 milers :(

Monday: Leg physio and core workout

Tuesday: Run club (both sessions), leg physio and core workout
Wednesday: Rest day, leg physio and core workout
Thursday: Run club (both sessions), leg physio and core workout
Friday: Rest day, leg physio and core workout 
Saturday: Rest day, leg physio and core workout 
Sunday: 16-18 mile long run

Happy to continue at 16-18 miles for a few more weeks, then things get more serious in March...

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A Challenge: Beat The Husband

My husband started running in January, just a mile or so at first, and now he's running 5 km. I'm very pleased he's enjoying running, but he's annoying the hell out of me because he's so damn fast. He won't take any advice about varying his runs and doing a longer slower paced run, and he won't wear my Garmin so he can accurately see what pace he's running. He's just irritating!

Tonight he was home late from work (so I missed run club). He went straight out for his "fast long loop" run, as he calls it, 3 miles in 22 minutes tonight. I'm impressed he has the energy to run straight away after a day working in (and commuting to and from) London, but he finds it best. Anyway, he got back from his run and challenged me to run the same distance in the same time after my Pilates class. Well, I do like a challenge.

I decided to break in my new Adidas Supernovas, since it's about time I started using them. I was feeling a bit sick at the end of Pilates, lots of getting up and down in the class had made me feel dizzy, plus I'd eaten before I went. But I set off on my first mile anyway. The shoes are so light, I was stumbling at first because I wasn't used to how they landed (they feel narrower than my old pairs), and I was able to lift my knees much higher to run, which unbalanced me too.

First mile completed in 7:54, not bad. The second mile started down Hitchin Road, which is downhill. I was flying at this point, despite not really being able to see properly. My jacket was flapping around and I had sweat dripping down my face. Lovely. But I hit Valerian Way at pace, and raced past some chap with his headphones in, who made a startled "hmmmph" noise as I passed him. Second mile in 7:18, which is my fastest mile for about a year! I was running out of steam and road at this point, so only managed another half mile (7:15 pace).

2.5 miles in 18:49 is pretty good for me. Extrapolate it to 3 miles and I'm only 30 seconds behind my husband. HR averaged around the high 150s (although it was at 165+ for the last 1.5 miles), which shows I might have been able to give more, but nausea, dizziness, and sweat-blindness didn't really help. Love the shoes though, I reckon it's down to them!

(PS, no knee pain!)

Monday, 10 February 2014

Hello knee pain, hello leg massages

The past few weeks I've noticed my right knee is starting to hurt in the same way it did last time I trained for a marathon, but only when I run at a slow pace (usually on a run-walk with beginners run club). On long runs I'm aware my knee is uncomfortable and aching, but it seems manageable and just typical of running a long way (like the aching hips and calves I'm also getting). Initial mild panic I was about to fail at this marathon training lark has now dissipated slightly, and I have identified four "action points".

1) Restart the daily leg physio exercises (side-lying leg raises, clams, prone leg raises, bum clenches, squats, single knee folds)

2) Add some calf, hamstring, hip, and (more) core strength exercises to my daily home workout

3) Ice/heat my knee daily and use my foam roller regularly (but not straight after running)

4) Stop running slowly!

The No Slow Running will obviously affect me helping at beginners run club, I might have to only take the group that runs without a walk break, but remaining uninjured is most important. Maybe I'll have to start cycling alongside the runners.

Tonight I booked to see my friend who is a qualified sports massage therapist; she gave my legs a good massage, slightly painful on the IT bands and thighs, but she reassured me that I'm not too broken, just some tightness in my calves and thighs that I can work on with the foam roller and by sports massage (every 4 weeks). We also talked about my training plan, hydration during the day and on long runs, eating while running, and Vaseline. (It's good stuff.)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Week 14 training plan

Last week

Circuit training was cancelled last week, and I took the chance to have a full rest day to recover from my long run on Sunday. At  beginners club on Tuesday I ran an easy 2.6 miles before Pilates, was good to just run and not think about pace. Wednesday was my planned interval run, 6 miles alternating 0.25 miles fast/slow (should've done 0.5 mile intervals but didn't fancy them!). Very successful so I was happy not to have to do a tempo run on Thursday at club, I ran an easy 6 miles in total. 

Long run: 16-18 miles

I was away in Blackpool at the weekend and had intended to run 17 miles from Starr Gate to Anchorsholme Park and back. But with poor weather forecast, and work favouring a day off, I decided to do my weekend long run on Friday morning. I had 16-18 miles in mind to run, and planned a 17 mile route along the Baldock Beast course. But my planned route was flooded and I had a lack of motivation and a touch of painful leg syndrome. So 16 miles it was. 

Next week

Monday: 5K (alternate slow/fast K) followed by circuit training

Tuesday: Pilates
Wednesday: 10k tempo run (AM)/core and leg Physio (PM)
Thursday: Running club
Friday: Rest/core/leg Physio 
Saturday: Rest/core/leg Physio 

Sunday: Baldock Beast half marathon

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Midweek tempo run

I had planned a 5 mile interval session for today, and I decided to do this straight after the school run this morning. Set my Garmin to 0.25 mile auto lap and alternated slow and fast laps. Bit tricky running the fast laps at the start, since I was still in Stotfold and a bit hindered by school run traffic and people, but after the first mile I was away. 

Unfortunately I then had to contend with a headwind, and I really wasn't enjoying the run. Contemplated running home after 2 miles, when my fast miles didn't seem all that fast really. But made myself carry on, and I'm glad I did. Pushed on all the way to Wilbury Hills, making the run into 6 miles total. After about 6 fast intervals I ran two slow together in preparation to attempt three fast intervals together, which coincided with the Fairfield to Stotfold Strava segment. I'd been overtaken on this segment and another one by a club friend the week before and I wanted some glory back :)

Didn't feel especially quick on the run, but it was a good mental test to push myself all the way to the end. And I "won" my segment back, by 1 second. Makes the subsequent leg ache all the more worthwhile LOL. Reckon I can run it much quicker too, and I probably will have to next week...

Finished with a sprint up Brook St in an attempt to extend the gap on that segment between fellow club runners, but was a whole 9 seconds off my fastest. I even cheated by running in the road, so I must've been on form when I set my last time. 

That was today's run; yesterday was a 2.5 mile run-walk with beginners club, running for 10 mins and walking just 1 minute. A good easy run. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

17 mile long run, and MK Marathon week 13 training plan

Last week

Janathon finished on Friday, and I was so relieved! It's difficult thinking up ways to exercise daily without causing injury or burning out, but to then have to write about what you did too is tough. Particularly if you're just knackered and want to sleep. Hopefully I didn't post too many dull reports.

Last week's plan went well, I had to miss my usual circuit class on Monday because of work, so I did a home tabata-style workout in the evening. On Tuesday at club I ran 3 miles, then had my Pilates class. Wednesday I swam 600 m front crawl while my daughter had her lesson; I was pleased to get some more swimming into my training schedule, although I won't have chance the next few weeks now because of after-school activities that clash with her lesson.

At club on Thursday we did intervals, 200 m sprints followed by 1 km intervals. Quite hard, and I was nursing a sore knee so didn't want to push too hard. On Friday I felt a bit better so went out for a 6 mile (ish) tempo run, but some poor food choices in the morning meant I didn't really feel up to speed. I really need to remember to eat properly.

Saturday was February 1st, which meant I didn't have to do any exercise! A proper rest day. I enjoyed supporting my husband at his first FSOTM 5K in Letchworth, and some club friends ran the race too.

Long run: 17 miles

Today was my long run. After last week, when I burned out at 7 miles and felt like crap by 12 miles and had to run-walk the last 4 miles just to finish 16, I really wanted to have a good run. I'd taken a few lessons from last week: start slow and steady, don't get drawn into stupid speedy miles; and eat properly before and during the run.

I met my friends at 7:30 am this week: Ralph and Chris were running the full 17 miles with me, Ed came along for about 7, and Sarah, Scott, and Lewis ran 5 miles. I'd had chance to eat some breakfast before the run (for the record, crunchy nut cornflakes), and I had with me to eat some little Special K chocolate bites in my running belt (apologies to Ralph who I offered one to, they were a touch warm and damp...). I had an emergency gel (I didn't use it), and 1 L of homemade sports drink in my backpack (50/50 fresh orange/water and half a teaspoon of salt). I've recognised that I need to take in salt on my long runs because I lose a lot when I run (I can taste it on myself!). I didn't plan to burn out on this run.

We started off at a fairly easy pace. Some of the group set off at their usual 9 min/mile pace but I just ignored them and stayed behind running 9:40-10 min/mile. I didn't want to deviate from my plan! Also I've recognised that it takes me a good 2-3 miles to warm up and get into my stride, so I knew I'd be able to maintain their pace shortly. By the time we hit Baldock I had caught them up (or rather, the others had slowed down to let me catch up) and I was running comfortably. Unfortunately my breakfast (or last night's dinner) was causing some alarming rattling internal noises at this point, no external wind thank God but it must've sounded like I was hollow or something.

We said goodbye to the 10 milers soon after, and Ed about a mile later (he'd already run to Stotfold so had done 17 miles). We followed the Baldock Beast half course for a few miles, I'm already regretting entering this race (hills!). Stopped to remove a stone from my shoe, then again for a police car (which fortunately must have seen us so put its siren on), so mile 6 was the slowest we ran. But it's a sign that I get faster as I run, because the next 10K was my fastest of the whole run. Had to cross two A roads on this route (A505 and the A1! But we didn't die, fortunately.) but otherwise the roads were quiet, just a few cyclists and walkers.

Pleased that I didn't have any of the knee or hip problems that troubled me last week, I just felt tired in my hips by the end of the run, but we were maintaining 10 min/miles at the end. Enjoyed some great conversation too, Chris trying his best to convince me and Ralph to sign up for an ultra race, me discussing the Marshal Ulrich book I'm currently reading, and a brainstorm about the best way to train for a marathon :) At the end we all had a piece of Ralph's tea loaf, which was a perfect way to end a long run. I walked the half mile home eating it.

Next week

Monday: Circuit training
Tuesday: Beginners club run, Pilates
Wednesday: 6 mile run with 0.5 mile alternate fast/slow
Thursday: Club runs
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 16-18 mile long slow run