Four Months To Go!

Four months seems like a long way away. Too long in some ways; not long enough in others. Either way though, it’s about time I put my half-marathon training plan into action. So, starting from tomorrow, I’m officially back in training for my biggest race so far.

The Brighton Half Marathon

Have you run a half-marathon? What are your top training tips for a first time half-marathoner? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Stepping Up And Making Plans

Ever since I started running last year, my goal has been to run a marathon. However, not wanting to rush things, I thought it best to build up slowly, starting with some 5K and 10K races this year and a couple of half-marathons next year, before doing the Brighton Marathon in 2016.

So far, I have managed to resist the temptation to sign up for the marathon, which isn’t easy when so many of may friends are regular Brighton Marathoners. But I’ve just about managed to convince myself that running a marathon without at least a couple of half marathons under my belt would be a bit premature to say the least.

And then this happened…

Brighton Marathon

That’s right. The good folks at Brighton Marathon have decided to re-open general entries for one day only. Why they decided to do this, I have no idea. But they did. And I signed up.

Well, ok, I haven’t committed to it fully yet. It’s all a bit secretive the way they are doing it. First, you have to register your interest before the end of the month. Then, at some point in November, they will send you an email announcing the special registration date. They say this will happen 48 hours before registration opens and that you have to be quick off the mark as the registration window will only be open for a maximum of 24 hours.

So, this means that now that I have registered my interest, I’m not only checking my email religiously in case the announcement comes early, but I’m also trying to figure out how the heck I’m going to get myself ready to run the Brighton Marathon in April while training for the Half Marathon in February!

In theory, this should be totally doable, but with my recent injury problems I also need to be careful not to try to do too much too soon. So, I guess it’s back to the drawing board for me as I re-plan my recovery and get myself ready for some serious training this winter.

How’s your training going? Have you got any races coming up in the next few months or are you starting to plan for next year? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Niggles And A New Approach

Despite last weekend’s experiment with Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method, the old injury started rearing it’s head again this week. It felt ok after last Sunday’s run, but towards the middle of the week it started niggling again, so much so that I decided to forfeit my runs on both Wednesday and Saturday, and went for a much slower but slightly longer run-walk-run this morning instead.

Conditions this morning were pretty good (cool and damp with a hint of drizzle), and while the wind did make things a bit more challenging when running West along the seafront, it did help me to keep my pace under control in the running sections. As with last weekend, I used a 3:1 run:walk ratio, but eased back on the pace by an average of 12 seconds per kilometre, which probably helped me to keep going and increase the distance to 4.5K.

2014-10-19_Graph

Unfortunately though, the niggle is still there, so I doubt I’ll be able to get a mid-week run in on Wednesday. This is pretty frustrating as I have already taken a couple of months off to try to sort it out, but it seems that as soon as I start running again, the injury flares up.

So, since resting it completely isn’t doing the trick, I’ve come up with a plan to try to get myself back on track:

  1. Continue to increase distance by using Run-Walk-Run once a week.
  2. Start doing exercises to strengthen the ankle and achilles.
  3. Invest in a new pair of running shoes.
  4. Introduce some cross training to replace mid-week and Saturday runs.

Usually, when it comes to cross-training, I go for a really long walk. However, I have found that this can aggravate the injury too, so I’ve decided to invest in an exercise bike instead. It’s nothing fancy. Just a cheap basic model, but hopefully it will be good enough to help me build on my general fitness without putting too much stress on the old muscles and joints.

While it is frustrating to not be able to run as much as I would like, there’s no point in taking any chances. So, I’m going to embrace the cross training, do my strengthening exercises and, with a bit of luck, I’ll be back on track soon enough.

How’s your training going? Do you cross-train as part of your exercise program? What type of cross-training works best for you? How does it help with your running and general fitness? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run

After just a couple of runs last week, the old injury seems to rearing it’s ugly head again. Perhaps it’s just the cold damp weather affecting my joints but, not wanting to take any chances, I decided to play it safe and bow out of my mid-week and Saturday morning training sessions.

And then I had an idea…

I’ve been reading up a bit on the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run training method for a while now and, much as I love continuous running, I realise that it probably isn’t helping with my joint pain at the moment as I try to up my training distance. So, rather than sit around for another month or so waiting for things to ease up, I decided to try to keep things moving (but with less stress on the joints) by having a go at Run-Walk-Run.

The idea is to use a short run-walk ratio in order to reduce fatigue, put less pressure on the joints and promote quicker recovery. It is even argued that by reducing your running time, you can actually complete your distance in less time than if you ran the whole way!

While I wasn’t entirely convinced that I could improve my overall times using Run-Walk-Run, I figured that there was no harm in having a go. If nothing else, at least I would get a run in.

So, at 8:30 am, fuelled by a couple of mugs of coffee and a large bowl of porridge, I headed for the seafront for my Sunday morning run.

As my current goal is to run 5K in under 30 minutes, I used the 10 minute mile ratio of 3:1 recommended on Jeff Galloway’s website – that’s 3 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking.

2014-10-12_Graph

Of course, with this amount of walking I would have to pick up my pace on the running sections if I was to get anywhere near my goal. But with only having to run for 3 minutes between walk breaks, it seemed do-able. And that, after all, is the idea behind the Run-Walk-Run method.

To be honest though, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. After the 3rd kilometre I was beginning to struggle, so I decided to complete 4K and call it a day.

When I got home and uploaded my data, I was quite surprised to see that even though this was the furthest I had run since returning to training a couple of weeks ago, my pace was still improving. Ok, so perhaps it would have improved anyway, but with my dodgy ankle/achilles, I doubt I would have risked attempting to run the whole thing.

As I said before, I’m not entirely convinced that I want to go down the Run-Walk-Run route as a long term strategy, but for now at least, if it means I can get a run in, then I’ll take it.

How’s your training going? Have you used Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method? How do you find it affects your overall time? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

A Jog In The Park

Now that I’m getting back to running again, I’m starting to think about how to build up my training program without making my usual mistake of trying to do too much too soon. While a lot of the beginner training programs that I have adapted in the past suggest three to four days of running per week with other workouts in between, I am beginning to realise that this just doesn’t work for me. Not for a sustained period of time anyway.

Looking back at my past training, I seem to do best when I only run three times a week, and then alternate between two and three as the distance starts to build up. Anything more than that, and I generally end up being too tired to train, get myself injured, or both.

So, I have made a decision to run no more than three times each week for the next eight weeks. I don’t have a training plan as such, but aim to run twice at the weekend and once mid-week as I get myself back to being able to run 10K without too much discomfort. And if I don’t feel like running twice at the weekend, then I should be able to fit in two mid-week runs instead without any problems.

In terms of specific workouts, I’m going to see how it goes. Ideally, I’d like to step it up a bit each week and aim to increase each run by 0.25 or 0.5 kilometres, but I’m not going to push it. Not yet. Not until I’m back to into the swing of it anyway.

With this in mind, I headed out to the park this morning for a nice easy walk/run/jog. The temperature has dropped quite a bit and, as I made may way across the railway bridge and up Hove Park, I began to wonder if I should have worn long sleeves instead of my usual running t-shirt. But I soon warmed up once I got moving.

I was feeling pretty good on the whole so I decided to do a couple of full laps of the park, taking in the steeper incline and only walking on the flat or downhill sections. As expected though, I was starting to feel pretty tired around the 3K mark. I thought about stopping at 3.5K, like yesterday, but then realised that if I completed the second lap in full, I would be at about 3.75K. So that’s what I did. And it felt good!

When I got home, I was surprised to see that, even with the increased distance and the walk breaks, my average pace was looking pretty good. Not that I’m worrying about pace right now, but I managed an average of 6:35 minutes per kilometre, which is my fastest pace since I started running again last Sunday.

2014-10-05_Graphs

How’s your training going? Do you use an on-line training plan? How do you adapt your training plan to suit your own needs and requirements? Please share your thought in the comments.

 

Running After Rest Days

2014-10-04_SummaryAfter running on Monday, I was really keen to get back out again as soon as possible. However, I’d forgotten how tired I can get after training and that I need to focus a bit more on what I eat before a run, so I decided to hold off until the weekend before going for another run. And I’m glad that I did.

When I woke up this morning, I still wasn’t sure if I would go out but after a couple of cups of coffee and a bowl of porridge I decided that there was no harm in trying. I’d had plenty of rest and I’d been eating better so the least I could do was give it a go.

It was still early and had only just started getting light outside so I wasn’t too surprised by the slight chill.There was a good strong breeze and I could feel the rain in the air, which makes pretty perfect running conditions for me.

As I walked down to the seafront, I noticed a couple of kites in the sky above the beach. It’s always nice to see kite surfers out doing their thing first thing in the morning, but I did start to wonder if it might be a sign that it would be a bit too windy for running along the seafront.

Luckily though, the wind was coming from the south more than anything else, so it was easy enough to run along the promenade.

I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to do much over 3 kilometres, so I decided just to run down to the West Pier and then back again, with some walk breaks as and when I felt like it. To my surprise, I didn’t take too many walk breaks this time. In fact, I managed to run the first two kilometres without stopping at all!

At the third kilometre, I was back to my starting point but I still felt pretty good, so I decided to keep going and run part of the way home. I had to stop and walk again, partly to cross the road but mostly because I was getting tired, but managed to complete 3.5 kilometres.

That’s half a kilometre up from Monday’s run and with fewer walk breaks, so I guess it goes to show that rest days really do make a difference!

How’s your training going? How do you feel about taking rest days? Do you get enough rest between training sessions? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

No Pressure

It’s no coincidence that my return to training has coincided with a couple of days annual leave from work. Training this summer would been pretty hard to fit in, injuries aside, due to the fact that the last two months have been the busiest ‘busy season’ that we’ve ever had. However, now that the ‘busy season’ is coming to an end, I can finally take a couple of days off, so what better week to book my break than the week that I planned to return to training?

I wasn’t sure about running today. Yesterday’s session, short as it was, went well but it left me feeling pretty tired for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to overdo things or run the risk of the injury flaring up again. But then again, I did have the day off and tomorrow as well, so I figured that if I just took it easy I could probably get away with it. Besides, there’s something quite liberating about getting an early run in on a Monday morning when everyone else is on their way to work.

So yes, I went for a run. A nice, easy, no pressure 3K walk/run. The same as yesterday, pretty much, except that this time instead of going to the seafront, I headed to Hove Park to have a go at running on some inclines rather than just on the flat.

When I got to the park, it was fairly quiet. There was a small fitness group running around on the grass, a guy doing some exercises with his personal trainer and a couple of other runners, but that was pretty much it. No dogs, no cyclists, no kids. Nice and quiet with plenty of room to run.

Although I was looking forward to trying out the inclines, I decided to avoid the steeper section of the main lap as this tends to put a bit more pressure on the ankle and achilles, and opted for two and a half small laps instead. As with yesterday, I took some walk breaks but only on the flatter sections, and ended up with a slightly faster average pace of 6:44 minutes per kilometre.

2014-09-29_Splits

To be honest though, at this stage I’m not too bothered about the pace. What I really want to do is get myself back to running regularly and without injury before I start training for February’s half-marathon. Nice, relaxed, no pressure running – that’s the key!

Of course, I’ll probably go for another short run tomorrow. Well, I have got the day off after all.

How’s your running going? Are you training for a race, getting back after injury or just running for the sheer fun of it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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