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.

A Wee Short Jog

After two whole months of sitting on the sidelines, feeling miserable about being injured and not being able to run, I finally decided this morning to tie on my running shoes and go for a wee short jog along the seafront.

Getting back into running after a such a long break isn’t as easy as you might think. Even though I’d missed it like crazy and was itching to get back out there and start working on my half marathon training, I was nervous. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do what I could do two months ago and that there would be a fair bit of catching up to do, and that bothered me. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Silly, I know, but there you have it.

In the end though, I realised that the only way to get back on track was to get up, get dressed and get out the door. That was always the hardest part back in the days of C25K and even then, when I could barely run for 60 seconds, I always felt better about it once I got going. It was just a case of getting out there.

So, a little after 8:00 am, I headed for the seafront for a wee short jog. There was no plan, no expectation, no training goal to aim for. Whether I ran or run/walked, it didn’t matter. If I managed a kilometre, I would be happy; if I did five, it would be a miracle. I just wanted to have fun and see what I could do.

Surprisingly, I managed to do more than I thought I would. Ok, so I had some walk breaks but I completed 3K without too much trouble.

2014-09-28_Chart

I did consider jogging back home to clock up another kilometre, but with narrow uneven pavements and the prospect of dodging pedestrians and dog walkers, I thought better of it. No point in risking a rolled ankle at this stage, right?

Besides, I’d been for a run. And that was all I needed, for now at least.

How’s your training going? How do you motivate yourself you get back out there after a long break from running? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

A Quick Update

I just realised that it has been six weeks since I last ran (or posted), so I thought I’d better explain myself…

Ever since I started running last year, I’ve had a bit of a niggle in the ankle/achilles area. It’s nothing major and I usually just wear a support when it starts to annoy me, but on my last run it started to become pretty painful so I decided to take a proper break and let it sort itself out.

Six weeks on, it’s still not great. I can walk on it without any problems but there’s a definite weakness there – stiffness in the morning when I wake up and sometimes it’s tender to touch. Tempting as it is to just ignore it and go for a run, I know that’s not the answer. So, I’m resting. Taking a break. Trying to be patient and let it heal. Annoying, yes, but there you have it.

As a result of all of this, I’ve completely neglected my little blog, which there really isn’t any excuse for. So, today I decided to put things right – to start posting again and catch up with all of my favourite running bloggers.  And, even though I’m not running, it feels great to be back!

How’s your training going? How was your summer? Are you still running and blogging and all that good stuff? Please leave a comment to let me know how you’re doing- I’ve missed you!

Walk, Don’t Run

2014-07-27I don’t know what the heck I did to my ankle on Thursday, but it’s still not right. I’ve been resting it a lot over the weekend, but after spending most of the morning watching the Commonwealth Games from the comfort of my couch, I decided that I needed to get out and get some kind of exercise.

The pain level is pretty low, but it’s enough to know that running even a short distance would be stupid. That being said, sitting around was only making it feel tight and stiff, so I decided to go out for a brisk walk.

I’ve been introducing walking as part of my training routine for the last week or so and, even though I can still feel a bit of a twinge while I’m walking, I figured that it would be ok if I wore my ankle support. I could easily slow my pace back down and head back home at the first sign of any trouble.

My goal was to walk at a pace of around 10 minutes per kilometre for about an hour, depending on how things went. And, as it turned out, it went pretty well. I managed to cover 7 kilometres in just over 1 hour 10 minutes without any significant discomfort.

I’m not sure when I’ll get back to my running schedule, but hopefully it won’t take too long and, if I can get a few long brisk walks done in the meantime, it shouldn’t have too much impact on the training overall.

Better to ease off now than suffer later, right?

Make It Snappy

SNAPPY-logoTraining has been going pretty well over the last few weeks. I’m picking up the pace again, increasing my distance and am even adding a bit of cross training in the form of brisk walking into the mix. On the whole, things are looking good.

The only problem, however, is that the little twinge that I picked up on Thursday’s run doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I thought I could get away with it by switching my walking and running days around this weekend, but I can feel it when I walk. It’s nothing serious, but it’s there, niggling away every time I take a step. So, no running (or brisk walking) for me for a few days. Still, it’s no big deal and it does give me some time to work on my website.

For those of you who don’t know, I run a little virtual running website called VirtualRunningUK. Unlike a lot of virtual running and virtual racing websites, it’s not about making money. While we do raise a bit of money for charity by selling medals to those who like collecting bling, there’s no profit in it. And that’s the way I like it.

There are free races, points, prizes and even a little blog hop for those of us who like to blog about our running adventures; but one of the things I like best about it is when these two worlds, The Blog Runner world and the Virtual Running UK world come together to do good things for other people. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s great when it does.

This month, for example, we’re helping a fellow blogger, Fiona Sefton, raise money for her chosen charity, SNAPPY. Fiona and her son will be taking part in the York 10K on 3rd August for this small local charity which provides out of school care for children with disabilities.

It would be great if we could help Fiona and her son achieve their fundraising goal so, if you would like to join a virtual race, earn some bling and support them at the same time, please click here.

Or, if you don’t mind about the bling and just want to donate, you can go directly to Fiona’s fundraising page by clicking here.

Please note, you don’t have to pay to race with Virtual Running UK. Our monthly 5K, 10K and Half Marathon races are free to enter and the fundraiser is completely optional. 

Running Late

It’s still pretty warm in the evenings at the moment, which isn’t great for me as far as running is concerned. So, determined to stick to my training plan, I decided that I’ll just have to run a bit later than usual.

This evening, I headed down to the seafront at about 8:30. It was still quite warm when I went out, but there was a bit of a breeze to help take the edge of things, which was just as well because tonight was Fartlek night.

I started off with a fairly gentle jog and just allowed my pace to pick up naturally for the first kilometre before introducing some short sprints between lamp posts. I carried on in this way, with a couple of short walk breaks before introducing a bit more structure to the session.

One of the things that I like about Fartlek training (apart from the patterns that it makes on the Garmin timing chart) is making up games to play while I’m running. My first game was to sprint and then slow to a jog between alternating lamp posts, which was a nice way to ease into some faster pacing. I did this three times and then, somewhere in the third kilometre, decided to see if I could pick up the pace a bit more on the sprints.

2014-07-24_Graph

This time, the aim was to run between two sets of  lamp posts, then walk between the next set, which worked pretty well in terms of picking up the pace a bit more, although it did reduce the average pace for that split. Still, it was fun being able to run a bit faster and I managed five of these before slowing down again and finishing the run at a slower pace but this time without walk breaks.

Although the session was only supposed to be for 30 minutes, I decided to keep going until I reached 5 kilometres. I wasn’t going for a PB, but I was keen to see how close I could get. As it turned out, I completed the distance in 31:43, which is only 15 seconds off the PB that I set back in April. Not too bad for a Fartlek run!

2014-07-24_Splits

The only downside to the run was that I picked up a bit of a twinge in my ankle towards the end. It doesn’t feel too bad, but it’s not quite right so I’ll have to keep an eye on it and maybe do my weekend run on Sunday instead of Saturday to give it a bit of a rest.

What games do you play with your pace when you run Fartleks? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Training Tweaks

2014-07-22_OverviewI’ve had to tweak my training plan a little bit this week for a couple of reasons. Firstly, things went a little bit to pot last week due to work commitments and I ended up training on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, leaving myself feeling a bit too tired for Monday’s run; and secondly, it’s the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Wednesday, which is when I had planned to do my Fartlek session. So, instead of running on Monday and Wednesday, I decided to have my midweek runs on Tuesday and Thursday instead.

Today’s session was the usual 30 minutes pacing, with a target pace of 6:35 – 5 seconds faster than last week. The temperature is still pretty high at the moment, so I decided to wait an extra hour before heading out this evening, which turned out to be a good call.

The air was nice and cool and there was a gentle breeze down on the seafront to keep me from over heating. This helped to keep the pace comfortable, although there was a lot of smoke in the air due to all the barbecues on the beach, which really isn’t very pleasant to run through, but I guess I’ll have to get used to that if I’m going to be running there throughout the summer.

Pace wise, I managed to stay within the 6:30 – 6:35 range for the first two kilometres but soon found myself speeding up in the third. I wasn’t pushing too hard and the faster pace still felt pretty comfortable, so I decided to just go with it and see what happened.

I could feel that I was still picking up the pace in the fourth kilometre and, when I glanced at the Garmin, I was surprised to see that I had broken the 6:00 pace. Although my breathing was becoming heavier, it still felt comfortable enough so I kept it going until I reached the fifth kilometre and then started to slow things down a bit until I finished my 30 minutes.

2014-07-22_Splits

In terms of pacing the run, it wasn’t what I had planned to do, but I’m pleased that I went with it. It has made me realise that my fitness is getting back on track and that I am making progress again. As for my Tuesday pacing runs, I’ll still work with the pace that I originally planned, but instead of staying within a 5 second range, my goal now will be to use it as a minimum pace for the workout.

How’s your training going? Do you use a tried and tested training plan? Or do you prefer to experiment and tweak it as you go? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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