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! 😉

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. To join the fun our visit the other participants, click here.

More Cross Training

Tonight was a non-running night, which meant more cross training on the exercise bike.

I did the same 20 minute routine as Tuesday’s workout, except that I tried to get my heart rate a bit higher. This wasn’t easy as, even though my heart and lungs felt more than capable of working a lot harder than they were, my legs didn’t; and what’s more, I didn’t want to take any chances.

Listen to your body. That’s the number one rule, right? Well, it is for me. For the moment at least.

Don’t get me wrong. I am more than happy (quite literally!) to push myself as hard as I can when my fitness is good and I’m injury free, but now isn’t the time for that. I’m using the exercise bike to keep the pressure off the ankle and achilles while building up my strength and endurance, and so far it seems to be working. So there’s no point in risking more damage elsewhere in the process.

Tomorrow, I plan to have a rest day. The first rest day this week.  That means no running and no exercise bike; just the usual mile and a half walk to and from work, which doesn’t really count as training any more. Then, hopefully, I’ll have the strength in my legs to up the distance on my long run this weekend.

How’s your training going? Are you getting enough rest days into your training program? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Running After Rest Days

2014-10-04_SummaryAfter running on Monday, I was really keen to get back out again as soon as possible. However, I’d forgotten how tired I can get after training and that I need to focus a bit more on what I eat before a run, so I decided to hold off until the weekend before going for another run. And I’m glad that I did.

When I woke up this morning, I still wasn’t sure if I would go out but after a couple of cups of coffee and a bowl of porridge I decided that there was no harm in trying. I’d had plenty of rest and I’d been eating better so the least I could do was give it a go.

It was still early and had only just started getting light outside so I wasn’t too surprised by the slight chill.There was a good strong breeze and I could feel the rain in the air, which makes pretty perfect running conditions for me.

As I walked down to the seafront, I noticed a couple of kites in the sky above the beach. It’s always nice to see kite surfers out doing their thing first thing in the morning, but I did start to wonder if it might be a sign that it would be a bit too windy for running along the seafront.

Luckily though, the wind was coming from the south more than anything else, so it was easy enough to run along the promenade.

I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to do much over 3 kilometres, so I decided just to run down to the West Pier and then back again, with some walk breaks as and when I felt like it. To my surprise, I didn’t take too many walk breaks this time. In fact, I managed to run the first two kilometres without stopping at all!

At the third kilometre, I was back to my starting point but I still felt pretty good, so I decided to keep going and run part of the way home. I had to stop and walk again, partly to cross the road but mostly because I was getting tired, but managed to complete 3.5 kilometres.

That’s half a kilometre up from Monday’s run and with fewer walk breaks, so I guess it goes to show that rest days really do make a difference!

How’s your training going? How do you feel about taking rest days? Do you get enough rest between training sessions? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Juneathon Day 10: Back On The Wagon

It seems that I fell off the Juneathon wagon a little earlier than I’d hoped. Last week’s return to running and the beginnings of a new yoga adventure left me feeling pretty drained by Friday so I decided to take a couple of extra rest days to let my body recover. And it seems to have paid off.

Tonight the training plan called for 5K and Fartlek. I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to do, but I was ready to climb back on the old wagon and give it a go.

The truth is that, much as I like those long slow runs, I kind of miss that feeling of pushing the pace to that trance like state where the only thing that matters is the rhythm of my feet on the pavement and the air pumping through my lungs.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Not tonight anyway. Tonight was more of the same long slow plodding to make sure I got the distance covered, but with a couple of short bursts of speed – not many, but enough to know that I can still pick up the pace.

The legs were still feeling a bit heavy for most of the run, but they are getting better. Hopefully some yoga tomorrow will help to loosen things up and I’ll be ready to take on a bit more distance on Thursday.

Until then, happy Juneathon!

Gone To Pot… But Not In A Bad Way

My training plan seems to have gone to pot over the last week or so, but as I made the whole thing up myself, I’m not too worried. One of the problems is that I find it hard to not treat every run like a race, which means that I generally need more time to recover; and the other problem is that I’m still getting to grips with the whole nutrition thing, which also affects my recovery. The result is that I end up doing fewer sessions than planned because I’m just too tired.

However, it’s not all bad. In fact, despite skipping over a week’s worth of runs in the first three weeks of the plan, I am making some good progress. Last weekend I ran 12 kilometres, which is further than I have ever run before. Even though it left me feeling exhausted for the rest of the week, the psychological difference is huge. If I managed to run 12K, then I can definitely run 10K, right?

With four weeks to go until my next 10K race, I decided that even though I was still feeling pretty tired, I had to get back out and run this weekend. The training plan said I had to do 12K today, but as I did that last week, I figured I’d just do 10K and see how it felt.

My goal for the Brighton Marathon 10K, apart from just being able to complete the course, is to try to beat my PB of 1:08:00. So in order to do this, I would need some kind of race plan. I know from my training that I can easily sustain a pace of 6:45 mins per kilometre over a 5K course, so I reckoned that this would be a good benchmark for the first half of the 10K, hopefully leaving me with enough energy to complete the second half at a similar (and hopefully slightly faster) pace.

But it’s the last part that is the key here. Would I have enough energy left to sustain me for the final stretch? I had no idea, so I decided to use this morning’s run to try it out.

The aim was to keep the pace as close as possible to 6:45 for the first 5 kilometres, and for a while it seemed to be working. I was feeling pretty good. The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze in the air and I was feeling relaxed. So much so, however, that I forgot to keep an eye on my pace and ended up running negative splits.

When I realised this, I eased off again for the 6th kilometre. But it was too little too late. I was already starting to feel tired. The sun was getting hot. I was wearing too many layers. I needed a drink. My legs were hurting. And my pace dropped back to around 6:50. It wasn’t what I had hoped for, but I knew that I was learning an important lesson about pacing. I had chosen 6:45 because I knew I could sustain it; but then I went too fast and couldn’t. I’d proved myself right. That was all.

But then something interesting happened. When my Garmin beeped to tell me that I was on my final kilometre, I looked at my time and realised that I had only been running for a little bit over an hour. That meant that if I could keep my pace just a bit faster than 7:00, I had a good chance of beating my PB of 1:08:00.

I knew that I didn’t have much left in me so it I wasn’t going to push it. There wasn’t going to be a final kick and a sprint to the finish line. But there didn’t need to be. As long as I focused on the breathing, kept the legs turning over and let the momentum carry me on, I could get close.

So I focussed on the breathing: breathe in for three steps, out for two; in for three steps, out for two; in for three steps, out for two… It wasn’t easy and I had to keep glancing at my watch to see how much longer I had, trying to reassure myself that all I had to do was keep moving and I’d get a PB. So I kept at it, breathing, counting, moving forward. And then I finished.

Somehow, despite the poor pacing and lack of training this week, the plan had worked and I managed to get my PB down to 1:07:22. But the weirdest thing about it was that, in the end, my pace averaged out at 6:44, which was pretty much what I had been aiming for all along!

10K Splits_09-03-14

So, I guess this run has taught me some important lessons: firstly, the training is working, even if (or perhaps because) I skipped some sessions; secondly, I need to stick to what I know is sustainable during the first half of the race; and thirdly, if I can just hold back for that first 5K and preserve some energy, I might have some kick left in me for a good strong finish!

Next week, with the right nutrition and more attention to pacing, I’m hoping that I can get my training back on track. After all, running days are so much more enjoyable than rest days.

How’s your training going? Have you got a race lined up? Do you have a race plan or do you wait and see how you feel on the day? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Ups and Downs

It’s the end of Week 2 of my new training plan and, somewhat predictably, I’ve already missed two sessions. On Thursday, I was supposed to be practising my target 10K pace on a 5K run, but I just wasn’t feeling right.

I hadn’t been feeling great for most of the week, so much so that on Wednesday morning, I decided to book Thursday and Friday off work. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I missed training on Thursday and would probably do me some good to have a bit of a rest before Saturday’s Parkrun.

However, by Saturday morning, I still wasn’t feeling great. I really wanted to do my scheduled Parkrun, but my body was telling me that something wasn’t right. So I skipped that one too and had a fairly easy day.

I know that my main problem here is nutrition. Although I don’t really eat much junk food, I am pretty lazy when it comes to cooking, so I think that a big part of it is that I’m just not getting enough calories. This is something that I really need to sort out if I’m going to up my distance and take part in longer races.

Which brings me on to this morning’s run.

After getting plenty of rest and making sure that I ate a bit more than usual over the last few days, I woke up this morning feeling pretty good about my long run. According to the plan, I was due to run 11K, but as I’d already run 11K last week, I decided to make up for my lost days of training and go for 12K – my longest distance to date.

It was a nice morning, sunny if a little bit windy, so I decided to try out a new route. Instead of doing my usual run back and forward between Hove Lawns and The Lagoon, I choose to run down past the pier and towards Brighton Marina. I hadn’t checked the exact distance on the map, so I thought I would just run until I hit 6K and then turn around and run back again to my starting point.

It was still nice and quiet at 9 am as I ran along the seafront, past the old West Pier and towards the Palace Pier. I wasn’t paying much attention to my pace as I went, just the occasional glance to make sure that I was staying somewhere between 6:45 and 7:00 mins per kilometre.

There was a slight incline just before the Palace Pier, as I moved up to the road, but after that it was flat again until I reached the Marina. In my head, I had imagined that I would hit 6K round about the Marina, but unfortunately I had imagined wrong! I still had another kilometre or so to go and the road that climbs high along the cliffs was looming.

Still, I was taking it nice and easy so I figured that a bit of hill work would do me some good. And besides, it would mean a nice gentle run on the way back down.

2014-03-02-Elevation

As it turned out, the climb wasn’t too bad as the path from The Marina zig-zagged nicely up to the road. Of course, once I was on the road, I was still climbing, but the view of the white cliffs in the distance was absolutely stunning against the clear blue sky.

In a way, I felt a bit sorry that I had to turn round as it really was quite beautiful running high above the sea, but being 6K from home already, I knew that I didn’t have much choice if I didn’t want to end up walking home.

So, I turned around and headed for home, passing various packs of runners coming in the opposite direction, as I made my way back down to the Marina and on towards the pier.

As I passed the Palace Pier, I was still feeling pretty good and was surprised that I only had 2.5K to go. For a moment, I considered picking up the pace to see if I could beat my 10K time, but only for a moment. I was doing well to be out running after feeling so bad all week, so I wasn’t going to risk it.

In the end, I completed the 12K in 1:22:13, with fairly consistent splits and an average pace of 6:51. The best part, though, was that when I got home and checked on my Garmin stats, I discovered that I was only 36 seconds away from my PB at the 10K mark.

2014-03-02-Summary

I figure that’s not bad going with 2 kilometres still to run and, even with missing two sessions this week, I feel like I’m pretty much on target so far for the BM10K in 5 Weeks time.

I guess today’s training is a reminder of what I already know – that I tend to progress more when I listen to my body and make time for rest and recovery.

How’s your training going? How often do you take rest days? How do you feel about skipping training sessions? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

After The Storm

After The StormThankfully the storms that have been battering the south coast seem to have passed for the time being and, despite the beach’s temporary migration to the promenade, there were plenty of people around this morning to take advantage of the calmer weather.

I’m not sure if it was due to the nice weather or the fact that I headed out later than usual this morning, but the seafront was buzzing with people. As well as a notable increase in the number of runners and joggers (New Year’s resolutions looking good!), there were dozens of dogs, plenty of walkers and more than a handful of photographers capturing the aftermath of the storms.

The promenade itself had taken quite a beating, with many of the beach huts looking battered and broken and the the path itself was covered in pebbles, seaweed and other flotsam and jetsam that had been washed up by the unusually high tides. So much so, that finding a path through it all was a bit of a challenge.

Used to running on a clear path, I found running on the stones and pebbles a bit tricky. As well as being harder on the legs, there was the added danger of rolling my ankle which, with my achilles almost back to normal, was a bit of a worry. But I took it easy and it felt fine. In fact, I kind of enjoyed hopping around a bit to dodge the larger pebbles and find clear patches to land my feet on.

My goal for today’s run was to build up my distance in preparation for the Chichester 10K, which takes place in just over a month’s time. I was aiming for 5 miles but, as I often do, decided to go a bit further and ended up doing 5.7 miles (just under 9.2 kilometres) – my furthest run yet!

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress. Ok, so I’ve skipped quite a few of runs on my training schedule, some due to poor weather and others because I felt I needed a rest, but it doesn’t seem to be causing any problems. If anything, I’m finding that listening to my body and taking rest days when I need them seems to be helping.

How’s your training going? Has your schedule been affected by winter weather? Have the interruptions helped or hindered your progress? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.