Still Here…

I realise that it has been a long time since I’ve written anything in the old blog, but I’m still here and still very much enjoying this running lark.

Admittedly, it has been tough getting back into running again. That C25K drive to strive and push myself to hit targets has finally run out of steam, but in its place has emerged something far more powerful, fulfilling and probably healthier in the long run – the realisation that I don’t have anything to prove any more, not even to myself.

My running is slow and sporadic these days, but it’s fun. I no longer feel the need to get a run in when I don’t really want to, or beat myself up because I’ve picked up yet another injury. In fact, with this new mind set, my injuries and niggles have significantly reduced and my enjoyment of running had increased.

Of course, I do still like to give myself little targets and goals, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t reach them. Every run is an achievement in itself and a reminder that 44 is not as old as I once thought.

In fact, 44 is not that old at all, as I recently discovered when I joined a local football team for ‘older’ women. But more about that another time. For now, here’s my splits for this morning’s run.

How’s your running going? Are you training for a race or running for fun? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Hove Prom Parkrun

As it’s the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend, there really was no excuse to not run this morning, so I decided to pop down to the seafront for today’s Hove Prom parkrun.

I was looking forward to doing a nice flat 5K as I wanted to see how my pace was. As a general rule, I know that if I can run 5K on the seafront (no walk breaks) in around 33 minutes, then I’ve reached a decent level of fitness that I can start to train from.

It was a bit breezy down on the prom, with the wind coming in from the south west, but it wasn’t too bad and the temperature was just about right for me – a bit chilly for standing around but not freezing.

I started right at the back of the pack and reminded myself not to get carried away with the pace. This turned out to be a good strategy as my end of the pack thinned out quite quickly and I had plenty of space in front to stop me from following anyone else’s pace.

My plan was to keep it slow and easy for at least the first 2.5K, which I managed without too much trouble. For the second half, I tried to pick things up a bit, but the wind held me back more than I would have liked.

As I turned and headed to the finish line, I knew that I was going to be well over 33 minutes, but I did my best to keep a reasonable pace against the wind and even managed a sprint finish across the line.

My final result was 35.11, which was a little bit disappointing. However, I did follow my plan and got close enough to negative splits, so it’s all good. I’ll just have to go back again next week and have another go at it.

How’s your running going? Did you get a run in this weekend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Phantom Poop

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Is it just me or does anyone else suffer from the Phantom Poop when you are out for a run? It hasn’t happened to me for a long time, but then I haven’t really been doing that much running recently, but today the Phantom Poop decided to rear it’s little head while I was out for my morning run.

According to my training plan, I should have run yesterday, and had every intention of doing so, with some slight C25K tweaking for the purposes of parkrun. But it didn’t happen. I woke up with a bit of a dodgy stomach on account of eating too much fruit on Friday – not that I’m particularly into healthy eating, but fruit takes zero preparation and I couldn’t be bothered to cook.

Anyway, this morning my stomach seemed to be back to normal so I headed down to the seafront for the session that I should have done yesterday. I wasn’t going to worry about doing 5K though. As long as I got four five minute running segments in with my 5:2 ratio, I would be happy – I also needed to do an Insanity workout today to stay on track so I didn’t want to over do it this morning.

So, I headed off at a nice slow pace, enjoying the early morning peace, quiet and sunshine of the promenade. But after about three minutes I started to feel the need to go to the toilet. It wasn’t urgent but it was definitely there, so I decided I’d hold on and see how it went. I pass the public toilets twice on my route so I could pop in then if I had to. It wouldn’t be a problem.

After the first five minutes of running, the need to go seemed to pass, but once I started running again it came back. Fortunately, I finished my second running section just as I was approaching the toilets so I decided to pause the Garmin and sort it out.

Needless to say, however, now that I wasn’t running I didn’t feel the need to go any more so I decided to carry on and ignore it.

Thankfully, other than a bit of minor discomfort, the run itself was fairly uneventful and I finished the final running section at 3.6K in just over 25 minutes. And I made it home without incident for a nice strong post-run coffee in my favourite morning coffee mug – Turtle Power indeed!*

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*Sorry, but I couldn’t resist that one.

How’s your training going? Have you encountered the Phantom Poop on your morning run… or is it really just me? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

UK Run Chat May Virtual 5K

UK Run ChatI realised this morning that today was the last day to get my Virtual Race done for the UK Run Chat May Virtual Race Series, hosted by Virtual Running UK. After yesterday’s run being cut short, I knew that my best bet would be to go for the 5K this month and that to achieve it I’d have to go back to using the run/walk ratio.

Yes, I know, I want to get back to running without ratios again, but knowing that using the ratio would make it more more achievable gave me the incentive I needed to get moving again this morning, so that’s what I did.

The weather has warmed up quite a bit and, even at 8:30 this morning, I knew that I’d better take a drink out with me. I never used to bother with taking water on anything under 10K but, after having to bail out on yesterday’s run, it seemed like a good idea.

It was fairly quiet down on the seafront, which is one of the main reasons that I like to get down there early. There were quite a few runners around as usual, which is always nice to see. I even spotted a family out running together, with a very small boy jogging with his parents while his younger sister cycled along side them.

2015-05-24_OverviewThe run itself was fine. I took it nice and slowly, enjoying the early morning sunshine and a nice warm breeze coming in off the sea, and my leg didn’t give me too much grief. There’s still a bit of numbness there but not much pain, so I’m hoping that a bit of exercise will help to loosen up what I’m assuming is a trapped nerve, but time will tell.

My time was 34:19, which is quite a bit slower than usual for me, but I’m happy that I got it done and am feeling much more confident about getting back on track again over the next few weeks.

How’s your training going? Do you use virtual races as an incentive to get out the door? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Getting Closer!

I’ve been trying to focus on pace this week and, since I didn’t have a long run scheduled for today, I thought I’d see if I could improve on Thursday’s 5K PB using a 3:1 run-walk-run for the whole distance, rather than trying to run continuously and then reverting to the ratio when I got tired.

I started off at a good strong pace and made sure I kept things nice and brisk for the walking sections, completing the first kilometre dead on target at 6 minutes flat! This gave me enough encouragement to keep the pace going for the second kilometre. Although it came out at a much slower 6:18 due to the fact that it included two walk breaks instead of one, I wasn’t too worried as I knew that my average pace was still good and I could pick it up over the next few kilometres.

I knew that I needed to shave at least 18 seconds off my average pace and that, if I kept going as I was, I’d have one walk break in the third kilometre and two in the fourth. So I increased my pace by about 10 and 5 seconds respectively, and completed the fourth kilometre at 24:24.

This still left me with a bit of work to do for the final kilometre. I’d have to pick things up considerably to finish in under 30 minutes, so I figured I wouldn’t worry too much about the sub-30 today and just try to beat Thursday’s PB of 30:32, which seemed more achievable.

The old legs were feeling pretty tired by the final kilometre so I had to ease off a little bit, but after the final walk break, I knew I had to go for it. So I picked up the pace again as best I could and managed to finish in 30:03! Not quite the sub-30 I was looking for, but not far off either. And, more importantly, I earned myself another PB!

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I probably won’t attempt another PB until next weekend as I want to run a Half Marathon for my 41st birthday on Wednesday; but I’m thinking that maybe when I do try again, I might try a slightly shorter ratio of two and a half minutes running and thirty seconds walking to see what difference that makes.

How’s your training going? Have you experimented with different run/walk ratios? What are your thoughts on shorter v’s longer ratios? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. To join the blog hop and check out some more running bloggers, click here.

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Last Run of 2014

This evening I completed my final run of 2014 and, despite the ups and downs of my first full year of running, I’m pleased to say that it ended on a high. In fact, this past week has been one of my best so far in terms of progress.

At the weekend, I managed to achieve two 5K PBs. The first was on Saturday, when I started off with the intention of running the whole 5 kilometres but then switched to run-walk-run after the 3K mark. As I’d walked part of it, I was surprised to beat my PB of 8 months previously, so I thought I’d run the same route on Sunday using run-walk-run for the full distance to see if there is any truth in the claim that you can achieve better times using run-walk-run than you can by running alone.

To cut a long story short (it’s in my previous post of you want to read about it), it worked. I beat Saturday’s PB by 22 seconds and achieved my first ever sub 31 time for 5K. But who’s to say I wouldn’t have been quicker by running the whole way? After all, it made sense that Sunday’s time would be quicker as I was using the run/walk ratio throughout the entire run, rather than waiting until I felt I needed a break because I hadn’t paced myself properly. So, this evening I decided to try to get a more accurate comparison by running the whole way.

It was pretty cold when I went out, just a couple of degrees above freezing, so I layered up with a long-sleeved t-shirt, short sleeved t-shirt, my new winter running top (the kind that has holes for your thumbs so that you can keep your hands warm) and an old hoody that I could easily remove and tie around my waist in the unlikely event that I got too hot.

Luckily there wasn’t much of a breeze on the seafront so although it was very cold it wasn’t too uncomfortable. I set off at a comfortable pace and tried to keep an eye on the Garmin as I passed under the street lights. It was important not to set off too quickly and tire myself out early as I really wanted to see if I could beat Sunday’s time.

The plan was to do the first kilometre in under 6:30 and gradually pick up the pace so that I could finish with a good kick. I was aiming for an average pace of under 6:11, so I figured it should be doable. The only problem I had with this was that, as it was dark, I couldn’t check my pace as much as I would have liked. But still, I kept it going, trying to increase the pace gradually as I went.

By the final kilometre, the pace had increased to 6:00, but I was feeling pretty tired. My legs didn’t feel like they were turning over as quickly as I would have liked, and there certainly wasn’t any kick left in them. However, I still kept pushing, trying to up the pace until the Garmin finally beeped at 5K.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to beat Sunday’s time, but I wasn’t too far off it and finished at 31:03 – just 9 seconds slower than with run-walk-run, but still faster than Saturday’s PB.

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Of course, whether you are using run-walk-run or running the whole way, no two runs are ever the same, so I can’t really claim at this stage that run-walk-run is always going to be faster. What it does show, however, is it doesn’t seem to make that much difference to my 5K time as both runs were around 31 minutes.

As I continue with my training over the next month or so, I plan to continue to use both methods for my 5K runs, so maybe a pattern will start to emerge – or maybe not. Either way though, it’s good to see some progress.

How has your training gone this year? Have you completed your final run of 2014? Are you happy with your progress so far? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Run-Walk-Run Experiment

After yesterday’s unexpected PB, I thought it would be interesting to see how close I could get to the same time using run-walk-run for the whole 5K. The theory is that by using short run/walk ratios, you can actually run faster than if you run the whole way. By allowing your body time to recover between running sections, the idea is that you will be able to run fast enough to compensate for the walking and come out with a better time overall.

Now, I know I’ve been going on about how much I’m enjoying run-walk-run and how it has helped me get back to running again regularly, but on the whole I have found that it tends to give me a slightly slower average pace than when I run the whole way – not by much though, and it is difficult to judge when you’re running different distances each week, so I decided that I would try a little experiment to see how much difference there is between run-walk-run and running the whole way.

Yesterday’s 5K run was a bit of a mish mash, running continuously for the first three kilometres before breaking down into a 3:1 run/walk ratio, but it earned me a PB of 31:16, which was 12 seconds faster than my previous PB. However, it’s difficult to judge whether this would have been faster or slower had I stuck to the same strategy for the entire run. So, curious to find out, I decided to do another 5K this morning using the same 3:1 run/walk ratio for the entire run.

Conscious of the fact that I really wanted to put run-walk-run to the test, I started off at a good strong running pace and trying to keep the average at around 6:20 per kilometre. This can be difficult to judge when you’re switching between running and walking, especially as some splits have more walking than running in them. However, I didn’t do too badly and was averaging 6:16 over the first 4K, which is pretty much in line with yesterday’s run.

By the final kilometre, however, I was starting to feel pretty tired. The walk breaks had helped a lot, but it was tough keeping the pace in the running sections. When I finished the final walk break at 29 minutes though, I realised I only had about half a kilometre to go. So I went for it!

I pushed hard, trying to get my legs turning over as fast as they could. I accelerated, then decelerated, then pushed again, then dropped again. I glanced at my watch. Just another 100 metres and I would be done.

I didn’t feel great. My legs were numb. But I kept going and then, finally, the Garmin beeped. I pressed the stop button, and looked at my time. It was over. I’d done it. A new PB of 30.54! That’s 22 seconds faster than yesterday!

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The question now though, is how close can I get to that if I run the whole way? Well, I still have one more run to do this year, so I guess I’ll have to try it out if I really want to know what difference run-walk-run really makes.

How’s your training going? Have you experimented with different running and training strategies? Please share your thoughts in the comments.