A Month Off

Circle HopWith September almost at an end, I was a bit shocked to realise that it I haven’t run at all this month. It wasn’t something that I had planned for. In fact, my plan was to finish up my adapted C25K program be running 5K again by mid-October. But it didn’t happen, and I’m fine with that.

When it comes to training, I’m usually pretty focussed, and even obsessive about making sure I stay on track. Even when I miss a few sessions or don’t quite hit my targets, I still manage to put a positive spin on it, reassess what needs to be done, and get moving again. But this month I just wasn’t  feeling it.

To be honest, I haven’t really been feeling it since April. There was the longer than expected post-marathon recovery, the niggles that just wouldn’t seem to settle and the fact that my employment situation has been (and still is) in a state of transition since May probably didn’t help.

In saying that, having a month off hasn’t been a bad thing. It has given me the chance to relax, recover and reassess a few things. And it has made me realise just how much I want to run again.

So, with the final quarter of the year approaching, October is going to be a new beginning for me. I’m going to re-launch myself into Couch to 5K and this time I’m going to do it properly. No adapting the ratios, no short cuts with the walk breaks and, most importantly, no pressure to get to 5K before I’m ready.

After all, this running lark is supposed to be about having fun, so that’s what I’m going to do.

How’s your training going? Have you taken an extended break from running? How to you get yourself back on track again? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Sunday Morning Shuffle

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I didn’t quite manage to stick to the schedule this week, so I’m a little bit behind with my adapted C25K plan. Instead of doing the End of Week Five 20 minute run today, I ended up doing the midweek run instead.

According to C25K, this should have been two 8 minute runs with a 5 minute walk break in the middle. For me though, 5 minutes seemed a bit too long to walk, so I decided to cut it down to three minutes instead.

As usual, I chose the seafront for this morning’s run but, as the wind from the east was coming in pretty strong, I decided to adapt my usual route, going west for the first running section, east into the wind for the walk break, and then west again to finish. This would mean a slightly longer walk home, but I figured a bit of extra walking wouldn’t do any harm.

The run itself was surprisingly easy. I had been a bit worried about adding 3 minutes to my continuous run, but it wasn’t a problem, and I even managed to add another 44 seconds to the final running section, finishing on a nice even 3K in 19:44.

Pace wise, things are looking pretty good too. Because the running sections were longer than usual, I didn’t have any walk breaks in the first and third kilometres, which meant that I could get a more accurate indication of my running pace than I’ve had for a while.

The first kilometre was fairly slow at around 6:30, but by the third I had managed to pick it up to around 6:00. Ideally, I’d like to finish the program with a sub-30 5K, so it’s all looking good so far.

Unfortunately though, my Garmin doesn’t seem to be getting along very well with my laptop at the moment so I’ll have to sort that out to be sure, but all being well I’m hoping that my next run (20 minutes non-stop) will get me past the 3K mark. Watch this space…

How’s your training 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.

Pain In The Arse

Circle HopAfter four weeks, it seems that my post-marathon niggle doesn’t really want to go away and I’m going to have to face up to the fact that I am a little bit injured at the moment.

I have run once since the marathon, and I felt ok, but the next day the niggle was back and it isn’t going away. It’s a milder version of some of the pain that I felt in the final stages of the marathon, so I can only conclude that I did myself a bit of damage. A real pain in the arse, literally.

I didn’t really see much point in going to the doctors because, lets face it, there’s probably not much that they can do, so I looked up my symptoms on line to try to make sense of what’s going on. I found some useful information at sequencewiz.org which, although a website about yoga rather than running, had some useful information. As well as explaining what might be causing the problem, it also suggests some exercises that might help.

The main issue for me is that other than running, I don’t do much else in the way of exercise, which means that some of my muscles and tendons can’t keep up with my training. So it looks like I’m going to have to give running a miss for the time being and focus on working on those muscles and tendons.

In terms of cardio, I should still be ok to use the exercise bike to keep my fitness levels up, but in terms of running I’m going to just have to wait and see. Listen to your body, right?

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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.

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Step Back Week

2015-01-11_SummaryYesterday was supposed to be another long slow run, upping the distance to 27K  as part of the marathon training plan.

Unfortunately, as I had a few extra things that had  to be done on Saturday morning, I didn’t have enough time left for three and a half hours of running; and, as my recovery for these longer runs tends to be a fairly grim affair involving at least twenty four hours to stretch, rest and recharge, there was no way I could do it today – not with a full day of work tomorrow. So I decided to review the old training plan.

Ideally, I’d like to run the full 42.2K (26.2 miles) before the Brighton Marathon, so I was a bit concerned that this was going to put a spanner in the works. However, after moving things around a little bit, I realised that I could probably still do it by increasing the distance of my long runs slightly and making sure that I had at least two weeks between each one. The gaps between these long runs will be a bit longer during my taper and recovery for the Half Marathon, but I reckon it’s still doable.

So, today, instead of running the 27K that I had originally planned, I decided to take a step-back week with a shorter long run of 15K – still a decent enough distance for me!

Before heading out, I had my usual two cups of coffee and a banana for breakfast and took a bottle of water with half a Zero tablet for hydration; and I figured I would try to keep my splits nice and slow, aiming for around 7:10 to 7:20 minutes per kilometre on average so that I wouldn’t feel overly tired afterwards.

Pretty much as soon as I started running, however, I could feel my stomach complaining. It wasn’t too bad at first, but after about twenty minutes I realised that I needed to get to a toilet. Luckily, there are a few public toilets along the seafront, so I looped back, found one and then headed back out again towards the Marina.

Again though, as soon as I started running, I knew something wasn’t right. But I decided to keep going and see how it went. After another fifteen minutes or so, I realised that the discomfort wasn’t going to go away, so I stopped again for a second toilet break.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I had planned to run 15K but had barely covered 5K, and I knew that once I got up above the cliffs there wouldn’t be anywhere to stop if I needed to. So, I decided to run as far as the Marina and see how I felt. If it still wasn’t right, I could use their facilities and then turn around and head for home.

Fortunately, the second stop seemed to do the trick and I felt much better as I headed up onto Madeira Drive. This is part of the route for the Brighton Marathon and Half Marathon and, as the only hilly section of the course, I really wanted to start using it on my training runs.

The hill itself wasn’t too bad, but when I turned around at the 8K mark (a bit longer than half-way after running back and forward looking for a toilet) I was confronted by a pretty strong headwind. However, the fact that I was running downhill for some of the return journey probably helped a bit, and I managed to complete the distance in 1:47:30 with an average pace of 7:10 minutes per kilometre as planned.

All in all, a pretty good morning’s work in spite of the early setbacks. And as for the stomach, that seems to have sorted itself out too.

How’s your training going? Have you encountered stomach grumblings on your morning training runs? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Rest and Stretch

Circle HopAfter my long run on New Year’s Day, I decided to take the whole weekend off from running to get some rest and stretch out the old muscles. To be honest though, I didn’t feel as wiped out as I usually do the day after a long run, but my muscles were aching a bit more than usual. The main problem was my IT band. I’ve felt it go a couple of times over the last few weeks.

The first time was when I did the Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1. The run was ok, but once I stopped running and slowed to a normal walking pace, I felt a sharp pain in my left knee. A similar thing happened on Thursday, except that it happened when I was about two thirds of the way into a 24K run. Luckily the knee pain eased off and felt fine after a bit of post run stretching, but I could still feel a tightness in the upper leg on Friday.

So, today I’ve been taking it easy and trying out different stretches. I found this video from YouTube quite useful, particularly the first couple of stretches. Definitely worth a go if you’re having similar issues – that and the old faithful foam roller, that is.

It feels strange not running at the weekend, but I know I need to sort this out before next weekend’s 27K run if I don’t want the same thing to keep happening.

Still, I plan to get a couple of runs in mid-week as I’ve signed up for this year’s Jantastic, which starts on Monday, and I don’t want to let the team down in the first week. Fingers crossed – and legs too for good measure! 😉

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