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.

Going the whole Half Marathon Distance

I went the distance! I know I can do it!

Three weeks to go until the 2018 Eden Half. This will be my first half marathon, since getting the running bug earlier this year.

It’s amazing to have come this far, but having had a few conversations with various people recently I’ve been doing a little reading, and a lot of thinking too.

I do think the real achievement is in getting from 0 – 5k. I’m not trying to minimise my current (amazing) achievement and I will get to that….but getting over that first 5k hurdle was such a toughie. It’s easy to see why people get put off, and never get to the fabled runner’s high.

  • At the 0 – 5k point it was hard going, and without the sound knowledge you can run, there is no confidence you can fall back on, no actual evidence that it is possible.
  • At that time perhaps you also have no favoured pace you know you can hold while recovering from a hill/getting breathing rate or heart rate back under control, to fall back on.
  • I read that our optimum muscle temperature for running is a degree higher than the 37° of normal body temperature. It takes a while to get up to 38° and be properly ready to maintain a work rate and perhaps that’s a factor too, particularly in light of the two previous points.
  • There’s also the breathlessness. It passes (it really does). The beginning of a run is the worst bit for breathlessness. I think that the reason for this is the body needing to catch up and realise that you are working hard running and need more oxygen. By 4-6km the oxygen debt is repaid so it feels easier.

Getting to 5km really is a huge deal, particularly if you’re not aware of the above.

So racking up the extra kilometres from 5 – 21 wasn’t exactly easy either, but some of the factors above still apply, like confidence, knowing it is possible to continue to 21k and beyond. My confidence has come through building up slowly, increasing the long run each week by about 1.5k a time and really sticking as much as possible to my training plan and recording training sessions on my pizza box.

I now know a little about oxygen debt and optimum temperature for the body to work at, and am able to recognise the effects from my own experience. It helps to know that the breathlessness will pass, particularly.

Overall, it will be huge to just get to the finish line uninjured.

I used a race time calculator which suggested a goal time of 2hr 30 – 45 mins might be something to aim for, and my efforts at tempo running have been with this pace in mind, ie. the tempo pace was 25 – 30 seconds faster per minute than my expected race pace (note ‘expected’ rather than goal pace – I thought 2hr 30 was rather wishful thinking).

I was trying to be realistic, but I’ve found I actually ran my whole 21k long run at around my expected tempo pace, but that is a problem. Because tempo pace is pushing at the lactate threshold with a view to increasing the ability of the body to clear lactate from muscles and improve endurance – logic states that it couldn’t have been my real tempo pace.

So the first adjustment is clearly going to have to involve racking up the tempo pace. What an unwelcome prospect that is.

I have found that keeping my watch on to show my pace (ie. the number of minutes and seconds it will take to run a kilometre given current speed) together with a reading for distance already completed is really helpful too.

I can see an immediate change in pace from minimal extra effort down the leggies. Little bit of a reward on the wrist. Nice.

I’m also wondering whether I should aim a little higher on the overall timing front too, maybe try to shave a few minutes off?

Trouble is that I’ve never done this before, so getting all tight about times just isn’t necessary. I want to finish in one piece. That’s it. But…

There isn’t much time either. I don’t expect to get reliably faster in three weeks so maybe realistic improvements are in endurance, and in comfort over the last kilometres. I suffered in the last two but #19 was up a nasty ole hill; I’d just stopped for a loo break (in a real loo I should add) at the bottom and seized up a bit too. Still…

I know I have a belief that I’m extremely slow. It is slowly being challenged by the evidence as my splits come down from 7m range to the 6m range (just), but I’ll be near the back, I’ve little doubt, and that’s if things go well.

So I’m back to the plan for crossing that line uninjured, which is a good plan (but maybe, just maybe…)

If you’d like more info on the route, click here

Up next

I’m feeling a couple more posts coming on – did I mention my new trainers? This follows on from the last – nevertoberepeated trainer buying experience!

Also some race day worries beyond ‘WTF am I doing?’ Watch this space…

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