Switching Off

After Saturday’s 32K training run, I decided to take things easy for the first half of the week by not running at all. While it was good to allow some time for the old muscles to recover, I really missed the way that running helps me to get my head straight again after a busy day at the office. So, when I got home this evening, I decided to get changed right away and head straight back out the door again for a nice evening run.

There wasn’t really a plan for this evening’s session. Just a minimum of 5K at whatever pace I felt like to help me switch off the brain and relax. And it worked.

I used the usual 3:1 run/walk ratio and tried to keep things at a fairly moderate pace. I didn’t want to go too slowly as it was pretty cold; but I didn’t want to over-do things either as I still needed to get another two runs in before Sunday to meet my Jantastic target for this week.

Luckily, there was a bit of a headwind to help keep things in check and, even though I was running hard when the wind was behind me, it was nice to slow down a bit and enjoy its cooling effects on the return journey.

Time wise, I finished in just under 32 minutes, which is about right for an easy to moderate run. But more importantly, my mind feels much more relaxed than it has done all week.

Tomorrow, I plan to pick things up a bit pace wise, but for now I’m just happy that I finally got a run in this week.

How’s your training going? What effect does running have on your mind? Do you run to relax and unwind? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Juneathon Day 4: Second Attempt At Yoga

My legs were feeling a bit stiff today after yesterday’s run (yes, I know it was only a short run, but I’m a bit out of practice) so I thought I’d have another go at some Yoga to see if it might help loosen things up a bit.

I decided to follow the same workout that I used on Monday and, to my surprise, it was a bit easier the second time round. I’m still not quite there with some of the stretches, but having done it once before, I found that I could focus a bit more on what I was doing rather than watching the video.

The main difference that I noticed was that I was much more relaxed than I had been on Monday. I could focus more on breathing and even felt slightly more flexible. I’m not sure if it was this that made me more relaxed, or if being more relaxed to begin with made the workout itself easier.

Either way though, I did enjoy it and will continue to practice on my non-running days as part of my training for my next 10K race in July.

Are you taking part in this year’s Juneathon? Do you do Yoga as part of your training? Has it helped with your running or general fitness? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Effort

I’ve been trying to come up with a word to describe this evening’s run – tiredflatdisappointing, but none of them quite hit the mark. They all seem a bit too negative and although it wasn’t the best run, it wasn’t that bad either.

When I got home from work, I wasn’t sure if  I should go out running or not. Physically, I was feeling pretty tired but mentally I felt that I needed a bit of a boost, so I thought why not? Just a quick 5K to get the blood pumping and practise some speed work. So, I ate a banana, drank a small glass of water, tied on my trainers and headed for the seafront.

It was a pretty calm evening, with no wind or rain to battle against and the temperature was around 5C, which made it nice and cool for running. I figured that this would be a good opportunity to try to pace myself into some negative splits, possibly using the same technique that I used on my last couple of runs where I picked up the pace for short bursts between lamp posts.

I set off fairly slowly to make sure that I didn’t burn up all my energy too soon and gradually picked up the pace for each kilometre as planned. This worked really well for the first four kilometres but by the time I got into the fifth, I was starting to run out of steam. I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps I just hadn’t eaten enough earlier in the day, or maybe my body was still recovering from Monday evening’s 10K, but I just didn’t have any oomph left in me.

Splits_2014-01-22

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t feel that I needed to stop. I was still doing ok. It was just that I was finding it difficult to maintain my pace, never mind pick it up for a strong finish. So I decided to just relax and let myself slow down.

To be honest, I felt pretty flat and more than a little bit disappointed that I couldn’t find what I needed to push on; but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it had still been a pretty good effort, all things considered.

Besides, with just over two weeks until race day, there’s no point in taking any unnecessary risks. Better to slow down now and preserve some energy for a more beneficial workout later in the week than over train and run the risk of injury.

How much effort do you put into your training runs? Do you always try to run at maximum effort, or do you find it pays to take things a bit easier from time to time? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

An Unexpected Achievement

After feeling rubbish and not running all weekend, I decided to go for a run this evening. I don’t usually run on Mondays, but work has suddenly become very busy and I needed to unwind. So I took advantage of the fact that it wasn’t wet or windy outside and headed to the seafront.

I didn’t really have much of a plan for the run. I was feeling pretty tired and very irritable, so I figured I would just go for a nice long slow run to empty my mind and give myself a bit of a boost. I suppose deep down I really wanted to run 10K, just to prove to myself that the last time wasn’t a fluke, but I didn’t really expect what happened next.

The first 5 kilometres were nice and slow and steady as I jogged along, watching everyone run past. My pace was very slow, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t even look at my watch to check how slowly I was going – just a couple of glances to keep an eye on my distance. But that was all.

As approached the 5 kilometre mark, however, I realised that if I kept the same pace going I could probably get a 10K PB. Ok, so I know I’ve only run 10K once before and most people get a few PBs early on in their training as they get used to the distance, but I’d covered 5K in something close to 36 minutes, so I was on track to beat my previous time of 1:14:23.

I also realised that because I’d been going very slowly, I still felt pretty fresh; if I could pick up the pace a little bit, I might even hit my target of 1:10:00. I remembered reading somewhere that when you run 10K, the race really happens in the second half, so by taking it easy for the fist 5 kilometres I’d set myself up for a better time without even really thinking about it. And so the second half of my run became a race, not just to get a 10K PB, but to run it in under 1:10:00.

I decided to try the strategy that I’d used on my last 5K run – maintaining a good  steady pace with some short bursts of speed between lamp posts. The frequency of these short bursts dropped off a bit after the 6th kilometre, but from then on I found that I was achieving some good negative splits.

Of course, with my goal time in sight, I was keeping an eye on my Garmin and had to really push myself for the final half kilometre in particular, but I did it! 10K in 1:09:12!

Splits_2014-01-20

I know it’s still slow by race standards, but for a second attempt at the distance in less than two weeks, I was over the moon to have knocked more than five minutes off my time and to have achieved my 10K goal.

With less than three weeks until race day, I have to say that I’m starting to feel pretty good about the whole 10K thing – nervous of course, but nervous in a good way.

Run Like The Wind

I know I’m probably not supposed to be running again yet, but today I just had to get out.

It was one of those days when nothing seemed to be going right. It was nothing major. Just lots of little things that didn’t work out the way that they should have. I won’t go into details because it’s really not that important, but let’s just say that lots of little annoyances grew into irritation and left me feeling twitchy and unfocussed. So I did what I’m not supposed to do. I put on my trainers and headed for the seafront.

Even though it has only been a couple of weeks since I last ran, the weather really has taken a turn for the worse. Usually, I wear a t-shirt when I’m running, even if it is a bit cold, but today I decided to wrap up a bit more and wore a hoody to keep myself warm. I didn’t really like the feel of it. It was kind of tight and restrictive compared with my light t-shirts, but when I reached the seafront I realised it wasn’t such a bad decision after all.

Just as I was crossing the road to the promenade, the wind picked up and almost blew me clean off my feet. No exaggeration! I actually held on to the lamp post to stop myself toppling over. Still, for some reason, that didn’t put me off going on the promenade. I was still feeling pretty agitated, so I figured that a bit of wind resistance might help to get it all out of my system.

I started my run by heading east towards Brighton, with a fairly strong tail wind helping to push me along. It felt pretty good. I enjoyed the feeling of the wind and the rain and the spray from the sea. I was running again and it felt ok. No pain at all from my Achilles.

After a nice easy quarter of a mile everything was still good, so I turned around to head west towards the lagoon for the first half of my usual 5K route. I wasn’t going to go crazy or try to get a new PB or anything like that. I just wanted to see if I could go the distance.

Unfortunately, however, the wind that had been helping me along from behind, suddenly seemed a lot more powerful face on, so much so that I was almost running horizontally to get through it. Not such a great idea after all. So, I decided to forget about the  seafront for today and headed back through the slightly more sheltered streets.

This, as it turned out, worked out perfectly. As soon as I turned away from the wind again, it was as if all of my frustrations had gone with it. I felt so relaxed and at ease that I even turned off my RunKeeper app, deleted today’s workout and just jog-walked my way home. I didn’t worry about pace or time or distance or any of that, but simply enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, accepting and adapting to what was going on around me.

If I’m honest, from a physical point of view, it was probably the worst thing that I could have done; but from a mental, emotional and even spiritual point of view, it was the best decision I made all day. Yes, I have got that slight twinge around my ankle and yes my Achilles feels a little bit  tight again; but my mind is calm and all of the agitation, frustration and general twitchiness has gone.

Playtime

With only three days to go until my first 5K Parkrun (rescheduled after last Friday’s post work beverages), I have taken some long overdue holiday time from work to give myself some time to rest up and get ready for the race.

Well, when I say ‘rest up’, what I really mean is have time to relax and train at my leisure instead of rushing out the door after a hard day’s work to get my run in.

So, this morning, I woke up early and headed to the park for my morning run. I had planned to run the 5K Parkrun route again, but once I got going I realised that I was still feeling pretty tired after last night’s farltlek experiment.

Needless to say, after about eighteen minutes and 2.69 km of running, I decided to stop running and try out some of the gym equipment in the park. This was a lot of fun and I spent about 15 minutes playing on something that looks like this:

Walker

Even though I was swinging my legs at a good pace, I didn’t really feel it… until I got off that is. My legs didn’t hurt, but they did feel a bit wobbly afterwards and weren’t good for any more running. So I headed home, slightly disappointed that I hadn’t done a longer run, but happy in the knowledge that I still had a good half hour workout to start the day off.

And, with no more work until next Tuesday, I’m almost certain that I’ll be heading back down to the park for some more playtime on the outdoor gym.

A Tough Day

running in rainAfter a tough day at work, the last thing I usually feel like doing is going for a run. But this evening I made an exception.

Normally, after a day like today, I would crash out on the couch or have an early night, hoping that tomorrow would be better; but instead, this evening, all I wanted to do was get out and run off all the tension and frustration of the day.

I was still feeling a bit tired and stiff after last night’s run but, despite the damp and the drizzle, I really enjoyed it.

I took it fairly slowly for the most part, trying to keep a nice even pace. I knew that I didn’t have anywhere near as much energy as yesterday, but that didn’t matter. I’d been pushing myself to the limit all day at work, so tonight was about relaxing and enjoying the moment, while getting one run closer to my goal.

As it turned out, my pace was pretty good by my standards, averaging out at 11:05 minutes per mile. I would like to run faster, but that will come with time and training. For now though, I’m just happy to be able to get out there and run.