Further or faster?

It was an experience – achieving my first massive fitness related goal.

For the first two days I was so proud of myself, shattered, stiff and proud of myself, in that order 😀

Then, in the tiredness, it happened.

The post race blues – time when your body is putting all efforts into repair and recover from the pounding!

While still too exhausted to run anywhere I spent some time wondering if I’d go out running again, ever.

It was such a long way from the determination, energy and effort sustained for eight months of training. I felt outside of it all, trying to look in and wondering why anyone would do this to themselves.

Not being able to walk downstairs comfortably for three days would not be helping either!

At the same time, getting restless, wanting to find the energy, determination and the sense of achievement again but not feeling motivated to start.

This is probably a good thing – I think I underestimated the time needed to recover and my body and mind took on the job of not letting me back too early!

A nasty creepy cold has also snuck in, but apparently that’s normal too.

Time for a new goal to get motivated and start over – I don’t want to lose the fitness I’ve worked so hard for by leaving it too long.

The question was then ‘further, or faster?’

Marathon time!

Trail marathon, to be more exact- I’m hoping it will be more interesting, and varied with better views. After all, Cornwall has fabulous trails and footways so getting out to enjoy them has to be top of the list!

Also, I’m keeping it local; some races open up usually private land so a long nosy run is on the cards around the China Clay pits at the Imerys Trail Marathon.

For this I must go shopping for essential things which I’ve not thought of yet but am very much looking forward to buying!

I had so much fun sorting a training plan too – a perfect occupation for a tired evening – colour coded and everything. My plan is a combination of two free ones I found online that together would get me there.

Runners World has a fab tool to use in working out training paces. I’m going to stick to these paces which seems counterintuitive at first, is explained here. Going all out to beat that last segment might not be what’s needed longer term.

I might draw my plan up properly at some point and make it a thing of beauty.

The first part of my integrated plan is focused on building a strong mileage base, before moving on to the trail marathon part.

The eagle eyed will spot the change to miles. I was working my way into the start crowd at Eden and asked a runner what her pace was, to get a feel for where I needed to be. 9 min/miles – had to ask her what that was in km 😳 = went further back in the queue. I hope to feel more grown up, working in miles and the numbers are lower. It all helps (well hopefully!). The bummer is having to convert back to m/km or km/hr for treadmill so the plan has evolved several stages along the way.

Hot tip – Save pace charts for the different run types in both km and mile formats and screenshot them so they’re always ready.

You’ll maybe notice that the plan goes on beyond the trail marathon, and you’d be right that there’s something more. Stay tuned, however you tune 😃

I’m going to try to do a series of posts but there’re some family discussions needed first.

(Re) jiggin’ it

I got behind with my planned training while on holiday, but that’s OK (repeat ’til you believe…)

It is not possible to change the past.

Obvious I know, but worth stating; feelings of guilt and annoyance can get in the way of moving forward, getting back into your running groove or taking up the training plan again.

I did feel guilty when I got back and looked at my chart though.

My plan is drawn on a pizza box 😂 with the weeks and distances. I tick them off as I do each session.

It’s not a sophisticated plan but then I’m a novice, aiming only aiming to finish my race, not to get a particular time.

Looking at it scares me silly too. My stomach crawls when I think of race day. It’s pretty close now.

So the plan has been updated. Fans of neatness and order look away now.

I’ve picked up where I left off and instead of the luxury of two weeks at each stage I now only have one. Overall the distances build incrementally, but at faster rate.

It seemed unwise, although it did cross my mind, to try to ‘catch up’ to the plan and jump from week #10 to week #13. I think that came from being cross with myself that I’d slipped up so badly on holiday, and a desire to erase the missing runs.

A temptation to avoid!

My long run this week was 14.5k – the aim for the run was to take on carbs and concentrate on staying hydrated. I also found a slow trot that felt like it could be sustained for extended periods.

Something clicked at about 12-13km mark. I now know that I can run 21k. It’s possible.

It might not actually happen on the day though, but that’s OK too.

It’s also a good feeling to be looking at 16k (the magical 10 miles) this weekend when I head out.

Who’d have thought it?

I’d love to hear how you map out training plans and any pics of the real thing would be fab – at least tell me you started with a pizza box and a felt tip?

Dream v Reality

I had great expectations – visualising crossing the finish line of the London Marathon (now I know I should’ve fantasised about Boston, but you live and learn), probably slightly out of breath but otherwise graceful and composed.

Yeah right!

I don’t know about you, but 10 minutes into any aerobic exercise, I turn an unflattering shade of glowing tomato red, and all users sharing the immediate environment also get to enjoy hearing the puffing noises my efforts produce.

Am I painting a picture here?

No need to go on.

I also spent time imagining the beauty and romance of running around the Cornish coast path, carefree and fleet of foot, looking out across the Atlantic and dreaming of records to come.

Maybe that needed thinking through too 😂

Take the coast path, for instance, a fabulous path around the coast 😉, gorgeous views, cafes and toilets (I’m learning). It’s lovely. It’s got beaches, cliffs, and everything in between.

It’s those bits in between I’d not really factored in. The bits between the beach and the cliff inevitably involve an awful lot of up, or a great deal of down. That was a surprise.

It’s also gets pretty busy heading into summer, and anyone who negotiates narrow(ish) cliff edge paths while trying to go faster then every single other person (or in my case, most other people) using that path, will appreciate how mentally tiring that gets. So the coast path will have to be saved for winter days, where I shall endeavour not to get blown or washed off!

So having debunked the fantasy, but benefitted from its effects in setting me up with a goal of sorts, I’m finding that lacing up and getting out there involves getting over a few things – the first one was getting outside in the first place and starting to run.

The whole puffing tomato thing is not new, and neither is a general desire not to be looked at while in that state.

Past 3000m the treadmill is intolerable – I get bored; it takes ages (because I am slow) and, since my gym has no climate control, there’s a sense of being slowly parboiled.

Not a motivating combination. It was either stop running or take it outside.

But….

I worried about being seen and judged by people I did and didn’t know, not knowing how far and how hard I was pushing myself, wanting to stay safe and crucially, how to fit it in.

I’m guessing I am not alone in this?

Running Outdoors – Breaking down Barriers

Feeling selfconscious

Self consciousness can be a tough one to get over for many women in starting to exercise; it was a real barrier for me.

The combination of how we feel about ourselves and the concern about how others may see us create some powerful effects – like not getting out there and doing it. Whatever ‘it’ is.

I’ve found a few helpful strategies to feel less self conscious when exercising, although now I have moved from super-self-conscious to really-don’t-care, and hope shortly to arrive at don’t-give-a-flying-****! 😂

I started by staying off road, that way no drivers I knew would recognise me and I wouldn’t draw unwanted attention.

You could go running with a friend or in a group to build confidence and feel less exposed.

Wearing sunglasses and full length/ capri leggings, with a long, loose, sleeveless running top that reaches down to cover my backside with a band at the hem to stop it riding up was helpful too (LA Gear and Mountain Warehouse have both been known to produce such a top).

How far and how fast?

There are apps you can run from a phone to give information, but I found that my phone has some GPS quirks and makes a number of strange assumptions at times!

I wanted to know exactly where I’d been, plan where to go, and have an idea of progress and of my heart rate and possibly even pace. I found that the addition of a fitness watch with inbuilt GPS and associated apps made a great difference to my motivation. Using a watch lets you keep a record of what you’re doing, and an at-a-glance on totals, patterns etc depending on the features of your watch and app.

It also made a difference to me getting out onto footpaths and trails I never knew existed, as I can plan a route beforehand to work out distance and how much up it involves!

Staying safe

Another barrier particularly for women getting out there and enjoying the scenery.

Being aware of who is around is important, and for that reason I tend not to use headphones while running, particularly on trails and paths.

Carrying a charged phone and letting someone know where you’re going is also a sensible precaution. I use a money belt to keep my phone, some tissue and a glucose tablet in. That way it doesn’t bounce around (I find putting the phone on my arm interferes with balance), so the phone stays out of the way. The phone is handy when I get lost as well.

I don’t mind running in public now, that self consciousness has worn off a bit and I can concentrate on getting each foot on the ground in turn. I’ve found that other people don’t seem that interested, which is ideal!

Being out there, whether on city streets, country lanes or on trails, certainly beats the mirror and the gym TVs……did I mention that you create your own cooling breeze as you run?

#womensrunning

#thisgirlcan

First Off – or not

I did some running in school, athletics, cross country, probably the same as lots of us did, and haven’t really run since, but as I head for 40 it feels like I’m arriving at some kind of a beginning.

I’ve been reading and re-reading Mike Stroud’s excellent ‘Survival of the Fittest’; he notes that 40 does tend to be a point of re- evaluation, how lots of people face their future in the knowledge that they’ve burned up their 20’s and slobbed out their 30’s, and a developing sense that something needs to change to make life a healthier place to be. That’s not why the book is insirational BTW – but I’d certainly recommend it if you haven’t already – it’s as good for armchair athletes as for seasoned adventurers.

Now perhaps I’ll not admit to either burning or slobbing (!), but in going public with this blog and setting a goal I selfishly hope I can support myself to keep up health and fitness in the longer term.

This is for me and for those of you who may be on a similar path, looking for better health and fitness and perhaps, like me, wondering at times how to fit it all in with already full lives.

That path will play out in my local area, on the footpaths and roads around Cornwall, with some thoughts and reflections on the challenges and hopefully the good times, because it’s not for punishment, or pain, amazingly this running lark is about having fun and enjoying life …. it is …. (sometimes I think that only after I finish the run, it has to be said)!

The real beginning is surprisingly hard to identify – looking back into the dim and distant past (could be somwhere in early 2017) to try and see what led to signing up for a half marathon in October 2018 I struggle to put a date on it or think of any one event that made me think I could even contemplate 13.1 miles at more than a walk. One for another post.