Archive | October 2013

Fresh Air and Exercise

It has been almost two whole weeks since I last ran, but it feels like a lifetime!

I know I have to be careful as I don’t want to aggravate my Achilles, but I’ve really missed exercising – not just running, but walking to and from work each day. I’ve been doing my daily foot commute for over a year now, and I love it. But when the Achilles got bad, I decided to start using the train to avoid putting too much strain on the injury.

On Monday, however, there were no trains. We’d had a bit of a windy weekend with gale force winds which, although gone by Monday morning, had knocked down trees on the railway lines and put the trains out of action for the morning rush hour.

Of course, I could have caught the bus, but I didn’t want to run the risk of being late for work. So, I headed out the door at 8:30 am and walked the 2.5K to work, keeping an eye out for falling trees and flying roof tiles. Luckily the wind wasn’t too strong and I arrived at work safely, on time and without any discomfort or pain. In fact, I felt amazing, happy and buzzing with energy.

As the week has gone on, I’ve walked to and from work every day and the Achilles is feeling better than it has done in a long time – even better than before I stopped running.

I know that I still need to be careful and mustn’t rush back into running as Achilles injuries start before you can feel anything, and they feel better before they are completely healed, but it’s a good sign.

I still won’t run for the rest of the week, but if I can handle the walking then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to ease back into the training again next week.

For now though, it just feels good to be getting some fresh air and exercise again.

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Photographic Evidence

Ok, so I know I should have better things to do than look at running related stuff on the internet, but yesterday I found some photographic evidence that I can actually run! See if you can spot me. I’m the one in the cap, blue t-shirt and long trousers who always seems to have one foot planted firmly on the ground!

Parkrunpic1

I know this first picture is only the start line, and I was pretty near the back so no one was moving particularly quickly, but I don’t know what my excuse is for the next one.

Parkrunpic2

You’d think that on the downward slope I might have been able to find some air beneath my feet, but no such luck!

Still, it was a lot of fun and a good reminder that I would never have been able to do that a few months ago – I just need to remember to bribe the photographer next time. 😉

One Day At A Time

I haven’t posted for a while as I’m out of action, running wise. The problem is my Achilles tendon, which progressed over a period of a few weeks from a mild twinge to a slightly less mild twinge with a bit of swelling. I know it’s my own fault as I should have rested it at the first sign of trouble, but I wanted to run and, when I can get away with it, I generally do what I want.

After a week of no running at all, I still have a twinge but the swelling has gone down. It’s a good sign and, much as I’d love to get back out for a run, I know better. I’ve even given up my 2.5K foot commute and joined the train gang in the morning and evening. Not my idea of fun!

While I don’t really mind getting the train, I’d rather not have to. The train station is literally round the corner from my house and the train journey itself is only four minutes, but I miss walking. Even in the rain and the wind, I love the feeling of waking myself up with a bit of fresh air and exercise on the way to work or winding down and clearing my head of all the day’s events on the way home. The train just isn’t the same.

Still, I have to think about the bigger picture. If I rest and do the right exercises to help the healing process, then my goal of running 5K in under 30 minutes by the end of the year is still achievable; if I give in and go for a run, I risk being out of action for even longer. It’s a no brainer really.

Just like back in the beginning of C25K, it’s just a case of being patient and taking it one day at a time.

Listen To Your Body

Today is Saturday, which can only mean one thing – time for another parkrun.

I had been looking forward to today’s run all week. After a week of training that included hills, an easy run and an attempt at fartleks, I was keen to see how I would get on. In my mind, I was geared up to go for another PB; but unfortunately my body had other ideas.

My Achilles has been irritating me for a few weeks. Nothing major. Just a bit of a twinge. But after Thursday’s fartlek session, I’ve been starting to feel it a lot more, even when just walking.

To be fair, I do quite a bit of walking. My daily foot commute is 2.5K each way and has become a bit hillier since I moved house. Normally, I find that the walk does me a lot of good and loosens up my muscles and joints both in the morning and after a long day of sitting at a desk. But on Friday, it was starting to become uncomfortable, especially on the walk home.

So, rather than ignoring it and allowing it to get worse (as I have been doing for the last few weeks), it pains me to say that I have decided to have a bit of a break from my training schedule. I’m hoping that a week off will be enough, but there’s no point in aggravating what is, at the moment, just a minor injury.

Rule number 1, listen to your body. That’s what I tell other people, so I guess I should take my own advice.

If you have any tips or advice on how to deal with a minor Achilles injury, it would be very much appreciated. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments.

First Fartlek Session

Tonight was my first fartlek session, or at least my first proper one. I had a go at fartleks a couple of weeks ago and failed miserably because I ran at full throttle for the first fast interval, leaving myself completely exhausted and unable to complete the workout as planned.

So, this evening, I was better prepared. Although farleks are generally supposed to take away the rigid structure of interval training, I decided that having some kind of plan at this stage would be useful.

My plan was to do a 30 minute run, broken down into three repeats of 9 minutes slow/steady and 1 minute of steady/fast. This worked quite well as I was able to focus on increasing my pace for the 1 minute sections, knowing that I had enough time to recover before doing it again.

What I found was that even though my first steady/fast section wasn’t particularly fast, this improved as the workout went on and my confidence increased. So much so, that the final minute was the fastest of all.

The graph below gives a fairly good indication of my change of pace, although I do find that the RunKeeper app tends to be a little bit generous with the pace at the start of the run.

Fartlek 2013_10_17

Overall, my average pace was nothing to shout about, but I am starting to get a feel for the whole fartlek thing, which will hopefully help to improve my speed in the long run.

Next week, I plan to do another 30 minute fartlek session but will see if I can push myself to go faster in the speed sections and shorten the length of time I use for recovery.

Fartlek 2013_10_17_Splits

Have you used fartlek workouts in your training? Do you have a plan before you start or do you do the whole thing purely by feel? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Slowing Things Down

It was one of those evenings when I just didn’t feel like running. The legs were sore, the achilles was playing up and all I wanted to do was settle down on the couch and veg out in front of the TV.

However, it would have been a shame to waste all the work that I put into devising my new training plan, so as soon as I got home from work, I got into my running gear and headed for the seafront for my Tuesday evening ‘easy’ 5K.

Unlike my previous easy runs, I found that I wasn’t as tempted to pick up the pace as much as usual. In fact, I was quite happy jogging along at around 7 minutes per kilometre for pretty much the whole run. This was probably because I was feeling a bit tired, but I was also enjoying the slower pace.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pushing myself to run faster, but this was a different kind of enjoyment. It was almost relaxing, jogging along without worrying about pace or time or distance or about how many people were passing me. And I didn’t care how it looked, going so slowly.

The best part though, was that by the end of the 5K, I felt that I could have gone further. A lot further. Which has got me thinking about moving on to C210K at some point fairly soon.

I still want to be able to run 5K in under 30 minutes and I am determined to achieve that before I move on to the next thing. But running for 10K is starting to feel like something I could do in the not too distant future.

Perhaps I’ll try increasing next week’s easy run to 5.5K, just to see how it feels. For now though, I’m going to give some attention to my poor neglected couch and veg out in front of the TV with a nice big bowl of pasta.

Base Training

Now that I’m getting a bit more used to running a 5K distance, I figured that this would be a good time to start learning a bit more about training so that I can come up with a schedule that will fit into my daily life and help me progress towards my next goal – a sub 30 5K.

Of course, there are plenty of great training programs out there already that I could use, but while the beginner programs seem too easy now (crazy, I know), a lot of the intermediate ones seem to be too advanced for me. So, I started doing some research and found this brilliant article on Base Training.

According to the article, as well as doing long slow runs to help increase areobic capacity and endurance, base training also uses fartleks to work on speed, and steady state runs to help improve your pace as your fitness develops. The idea is that these runs should use a moderate effort to improve your fitness level before moving on to the next stage of improving your speed.

So, having completed a week of fairly easy runs, I decided to include some of these ideas in my own training schedule for the next few weeks.

Training Schedule

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Week 1 5K
Park
(Easy)

REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)
3K
Park
(Steady)
Week 2
REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST
30 min
Seafront
(Fartlek)

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)
3K
Park
(Steady)
Week 3
REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST
30 min
Seafront
(Fartlek)

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)
3K
Park
(Steady)
Week 4
REST
5K
Seafront
(Easy)

REST
20 min
Seafront
(Fartlek)

REST
5K
Parkrun
(Timed)

REST

My plan is to continue to do an easy 5K on Tuesdays, followed by a 20-30 minute fartlek session on Thursdays. As these sessions will be done in the evenings, I’ll be running on the seafront which is pretty much as flat as you can get without using a running track. So, to make sure I get some hill practice in, I’ll continue with my shorter runs in the park on Sunday mornings.

Hopefully, with a bit of variety in my training schedule, my body will start to adapt more to the demands of running. And, while I will still be trying to improve my 5K time at the Saturday morning parkruns, I’m not going to push it if it doesn’t feel right on the day.

At this stage, it’s about getting used running regularly to build up my general fitness so that I can push myself more in the following weeks when I start training properly for that sub 30 5K.

You can read the article, ‘The Basics of Base Training’, at Running.Competitor.com

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