Eight Days To Go

With only eight days to go until race day, it’s a bit late for last minute training, but I figured it would be good to take a short turn on the treadmill to keep things ticking over.

It has been a while since I’ve done a non-stop run, so I thought I’d try a steady 5K this evening at 6.0 mph to see how I felt. After the first 2K, I felt pretty good, so started increasing the speed by 0.1 mph every now and then to see if I could get a 5K time of under 31 minutes.

My PB is 30.03, which I haven’t even come close to in the last year. Of course, running on the treadmill is much easier than outside with the wind, hills and human obstacles, so it wouldn’t really count if I managed it, but I reckoned it was worth a shot nonetheless.

I was pretty tired by the time I hit the final kilometre, but I still kept increasing the speed and was pleased to finish with a time of 30:38. Not bad at all after a hard day at work, and definitely good for fending off the pre-race doubts.

I know I’m nowhere near as ready for this as I would like to be, so I’ll probably do some more short runs over the next few days to get my head in the right place. But the main focus now needs to be about getting some good walks in and making sure that I eat enough to keep my energy levels up.

Only eight days to go! How the heck did that happen?

How’s your training going? Have you got a race coming up this month? Please feel free to leave a comment.

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Treadmill Stride Length

In an effort to try to get into more of a regular running routine, I decided to have a short run on the treadmill again this morning. My aim was to run for 30 minutes and try to go a bit faster, but it didn’t quite work out like that.

One of the things I’ve noticed about running on the treadmill is that I feel like I’m going faster than I actually am, and today I realised why – it’s to do with my stride, or rather, my lack of stride.

While I’m becoming more and more comfortable with using the machine each time I run on it, I think there’s still a fear of not being able to keep up. The way I deal with this is by taking lots of very small steps, which means my legs are going faster and my heart is working harder but my pace is much slower than it ought be.

Towards the end of this morning’s run, I tried to lengthen my stride a bit and, although I was pretty tired by that point, I think it made a difference in terms of the amount of effort I had to put in to keep up. I also experimented by reducing the speed to a fast walking pace and jogging for a little while. And guess what? The walking stride was longer and easier than the jogging – makes sense I guess.

In the end, I completed 2.09 km in 20 minutes. Next time though, I’m going to try to increase my stride  for the whole run and see if I can increase the speed a bit more.

How’s your training going? Do you run differently on the treadmill than on the road? Has using the treadmill helped you to improve your running style? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Some Thoughts On Repeating C25K

Today was Week 2 Day 2 of Couch to 5K. Six reps of 1:30 running and 2:00 walking, and it all went pretty well. The running pace was quick and comfortable, the walk breaks were more than plenty and I feel that I am making progress, not just in terms of the C25K Program, but also in terms of my running as a whole.

Couch to 5K works, there has never been any doubt in my mind about that. However, I have noticed that the whole experience of repeating Couch to 5K is very different than it was the first time around, not just physically, but also mentally. So, here are a few of my thoughts on repeating the program:

Difficulty

Firstly, and probably most obviously, is that doing Couch to 5K the second time round (after successfully completing it before) is much easier. Even though I’ve had a few months of running on and off, and for the past 12 months have been using run/walk for my races (marathon included), I was still starting off at a much higher level of fitness than the first time around, so those early week sessions haven’t been anything like as hard as they were before.

Motivation

Motivation has been a problem though. The first time I did Couch to 5K, I was so desperate to run that I could barely wait to get out and do the next session; however, this time around, I’m much more laid back about the whole thing. Yes, I want to get back to running 5K, and yes I have a specific goal in mind, but that sense of urgency has gone, which means I need to draw on all of my old motivational tricks to make sure I get myself out the door and stay on track.

Pacing

One of the best things about repeating the program is pacing. Not only do I know how to judge my pace for each session, but I can also run much faster than before without tiring. Ok, so the running sections are still very short at the moment, but even with that in mind, I know that in running faster for these shorter intervals, my 5K pace will have improved by the time I complete the program.

Recovery

Unlike last time, recovering from a run is so much better. I no longer feel the need to raid the fridge after returning from a 2.5K run; I don’t need to take a nap in the afternoon if I run in the morning; and the DOMS, when they do appear, are nothing compared with what they used to be.

Progress

And finally, progress. We all know that Couch to 5K produces great results and that the progress is noticeable after only a couple of sessions, but here’s the difference. The first time around, the sessions became less difficult; this time around, they become easier. I know, there’s a fine line between something being less difficult  and something being easier, but the point is that repeating Couch to 5K is not difficult at all. The sessions are easy and they become easier, which definitely helps with the whole motivation thing.

How’s your training going? Have you gone back to Couch to 5K after injury or a break? What differences did you notice the second time around? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday Morning Shuffle

Circle Hop
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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.

Bouncing Back

I know I should be tapering for the Marathon now, but after having to wimp out of my final pre-marathon long run at the weekend, I decided to make my midweek runs a bit longer than usual to compensate.

Normally, I just do a couple of 5K (or thereabouts) sessions during the week to keep things ticking over. I like these runs because I know that I can make them as easy or as challenging as I like, and they don’t take up too much of my evening. I can get out, get it done and be home in time to have some dinner, write up my blog post and still have time to chill out for an hour or before bedtime.

This evening though, I figured it would be worth taking an extra half hour of running to get myself back on track – if not physically, then at least mentally. My leg is feeling a lot better now and, while I can still feel a bit of discomfort in the hamstring and calf, it’s nothing compared to what it was. So, I figured it would be safe enough to head for the seafront for a nice easy 10K.

It has been a while since I’ve run 10K, so I wasn’t sure about pacing. In the end though, I just decided to go by feel, taking it nice and slowly to make sure I didn’t aggravate anything in my leg. I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t tire myself out too much as I’m aiming to do another 10K on Thursday and a longish run on Saturday – probably something around 15-20K, but we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, the run was fine. I started early so that I’d have to slow down to cross the main roads and navigate the poorly lit uneven pavements. And it was slow. Very slow. But it did the trick. I completed the 10K route in just over 1 hour and 10 minutes and felt pretty good at the end of it. Ok, so the old leg was a bit tight again, but nothing that a bit of stretching couldn’t sort out.

More importantly though, I’m starting to feel more positive about the marathon again. After the weekend’s set-back and with less than three weeks to go until race day, I really needed a confidence boost and this evening’s run certainly gave me that!

How’s your training going? What do you do to help yourself bounce back from a disappointing run? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

A Nice Easy Mid Week Run

In my last post I got a bit confused and said that there was a little over four weeks to go until the Brighton Marathon, when in reality it’s only a little over three weeks – scary thought when you think about it, so I decided that I’m not going to think about it.

Luckily though, my training plan is correct though as my final long run is on Sunday and the taper starts three weeks before race day. That means two weekends in a row when I won’t have to spend the whole of Saturday morning running, the rest of Saturday stretching, moaning and devouring the contents of the fridge, and the whole of Sunday watching Netflix and dozing on the couch.

Still, I will be doing that this weekend so I wanted to make sure that I got a decent run in this evening to get myself back on track after my less than consistent training over the last couple of weeks. The problem I had though was that while I felt I needed to up the distance a bit for this evening’s run, I didn’t want to tire myself out for Saturday.

In the end, I decided to extend the distance to 8K instead of the usual 5K, but made sure that I kept things nice and slow. Starting the run early so that I would have to cross some roads before reaching the seafront helped in that respect and I completed my run in just under an hour. A very slow time for me, but it’s good practice for Saturday’s pace so I’m not complaining.

How’s your training going? Do you find yourself flagging on the build up to your final run before you start tapering? How do you keep yourself motivated to get out there and get it done? Please share your thoughts, tips and ideas in the comments.

Not Much Running

Last weekend’s long run left me feeling a bit worse for wear. In terms of energy and stiffness, I recovered within a couple of days, but on Sunday my ankle didn’t feel quite right. It didn’t feel injured, but there was a weakness there – that dull familiar ache of my previous injury coming back to haunt me? With a month to go until the Brighton Marathon, I wasn’t going to take any chances.

According to my self-styled training plan, today was to be a longish run of 15K, but as I hadn’t run all week and didn’t know how my ankle would hold out, I decided to just go for an easy 5K instead. As it turned out, this was a good call. The ankle was fine, although still a little weak, but I could really notice the difference of not having run for a whole week.

The main problem was that, eager to get going, I completely forgot about my pacing and started out too fast. Fortunately I realised this after the first kilometre and didn’t have to drop my ratio to complete the run, but it was slow. Still, it was good to get it done.

This week, I’m going to have to step things up a bit and make sure I get two decent mid-week runs in before my final long run next Saturday. After that, it’s taper time, so I need to make sure I’m back on track by then.

How’s your training going? What injury prevention strategies do you use as your training load starts to increase? Please share your thoughts in the comments.