Week 6, day 7 – Sunday progression long run

Sunday is still long run day, but with a progression run on the schedule and lots of friends off at the Doynton Hard Half Marathon, it was a solo rather than a social run. Out onto the railway path (so not really undulating or off-road, sorry coach but the off-road trails I won’t get lost on are narrow and muddy at the moment) and out past Warmley this time. The initial 25 minutes were still awkward at such a low heart rate/pace and it was good to be able to stretch the legs out as I went into Warmley and moved into the ‘steady’ part of the run.

I was trying out my High5 nutrition belt, which allowed me to carry my phone as well as some gels, so paused a couple of times to take some photos (and took two gels, one every 45 minutes). As I turned around to come back home I was taking a photo when a fox trotted out across the path and over the rail tracks.

Fox also possibly out on a #longrun today.

A photo posted by @fakoriginal on

I was so close to half marathon distance at the end that I sped up a smidge and just went over my 2 hour limit in order to register it (since I’d gone so far). This is much more like it in terms of long run distance and I think all of my future long runs are going to have to be done solo without the pauses you get on a social run. I’ll still see the gang at parkrun on a Saturday (for as long as the schedule allows).

Week 6, day 6 – frozen parkrun

The car was registering -2ÂșC when I scraped the ice from the inside of the windscreen, but parkrun had been given the go ahead so I wasn’t going to miss out. I was well bundled up in my jacket, buff, hat and gloves and they stayed on all of the way around. It was maybe a little bit faster than it should have been, but any slower and I may have lost digits.

I will also be bundling myself up again to got to a core class later for some strength and conditioning work.

Week 6, day 5 – Kenyan hills

I’m not going to lie, but I’m getting a bit bored of trundling up and down the same hill as part of my Kenyan Hills. It was lovely today though with a bright blue sky and I even brought my sunglasses out of hibernation (you get so little sunlight in winter I try not to wear them). I may just have to pick a new hill for future efforts to keep things interesting.

I waited until it was a little bit later in the day to allow the sun to melt as much ice off the path and it was much improved over last week. I also gave it plenty of welly, looking to really test myself, and am pleased with the results. Quite a bit further and faster than last week, though I didn’t quite manage to get my watch to record a new VO2 max estimate for me (I’m trying to hit the magic 50 mark).

Week 6, day 3 – hump day intervals

Having said last time that I rarely see people I know when I am out running on the railway path, the first two runners I saw today were people I know: Mel (from parkrun) and Sarah (from my club and British Masters 1500m champion). I was energised after a good CubaTone class yesterday (anything that burns almost 500 calories in an hour has to be good for you) and from seeing that fellow club mate Jenny Spink (one of the other people I have seen bouncing along the railway path) will be competing in the London Marathon as an elite athlete this year.

I rather enjoy intervals, though these are somewhat longer than what I have been used to doing with the club, but I do prefer the longer to the shorter (I’ve only just got up to speed by the end of a 200m rep). A good chance to stretch out the legs at faster than marathon pace, and I even overtook a cyclist at one point (just to prove a point). It’s nice to remember that I can go faster than I am going to have to in London (and it wasn’t top speed either), it’s just a case of working on the endurance that is going to be needed to sustain that pace for three and a half hours. All-in-all a positive session (though I don’t know why the GPS thought I started in St George’s Park and did a weird loop over the top of some shops, I’ll put that one down to the glonass).

Week 6, day 1 – Monday molehill motivator

A moist Monday morning molehill motivator run today, with a bit of drizzle that meant my smile return rate was woefully low (at least that’s what I am blaming it on). I did see a club mate out on the railway path, which doesn’t happen as often as it probably should. I think this is only the fifth time I’ve seen someone I know on this very popular place to run, probably because I am lucky enough to be able to use it during the day.

Week 6 and I’m starting to look around at what other people are doing. Two of my BigMarathonChallenge compatriots went further than me on their long runs yesterday, though I was running at the designated ‘conversational’ pace. I’ll have to see how it goes this coming Sunday when I’ll be out on my own with no pauses to get over gates and past horses. I think I get a ‘bonus’ session today with my mini-molehill effort following straight on from yesterday. I’m sure I was running ‘steady’ efforts at my marathon pace originally, and this was quite a bit slower than that, but maybe that was when I was still fiddling with the heart rate zones to get them properly lined up with effort. Maybe it’s just the plan starting to kick in (gotta trust the plan). It will be interesting to compare Wednesday’s intervals with last week’s when I am getting accurate heart rate information (so it probably won’t be as fast).

Week 5, day 7 – Sunday social long run

Sunday is still long run day and week 5 was brought to a close by taking in the new link road before it opens to vehicles tomorrow. This only took the very first part of the run though and the remainder was the more traditional off-road and muddy fare. No cows today, but three very interested horses at one point when we cut through their field (it was marked as a footpath, we think).

I had to do a smidge extra when we got back to Ashton Court, just to get up to the allotted 2 hours, but just an extra lap of the house and a bit of the car park. My longest run since before training officially started (when I did an off-road over 13-miler the day before meeting up with everyone and starting the BigMarathonChallenge).

Trying out the link road on the #longrun #bigmarathonchallenge #thisgirlcan #vmlm #ukrunchat

A photo posted by @fakoriginal on

Week 5, day 6 – parkrun (aka cake) day

I’m still just about managing to keep parkrun in my training schedule, this week as a 30 minute recovery run (with a 30 minute core class later in the day). There was a fair old nip in the air this morning, so it was double Buff running ninja time (and I was tempted to keep my down gilet on too).

I averaged 148bpm for my heart rate, which is only just outside the zone I was aiming for (by 3bpm), and I consider this fair with the elevation involved at Ashton Court. I have extended my heart rate zone for my 2-hour long run tomorrow to include both zone 2 and 3 heart rate zones (easy and steady) so there shouldn’t be so much beeping from my watch. Only 2mins10s was higher than that today.

The run was then followed by the traditional cake as there were 3 people celebrating their 100th parkrun and at least one celebrating their 50th (and a 150th but you don’t get a t-shirt for that). I mostly stuck to flapjack as I was going on to a tough class (but there was a very good variety of flapjacks, and they’re practically a health food anyway). Much amusement was had watching Tom & Becci’s spaniel Jude forcing people to throw a pine cone for her to chase. I got trapped for about 10 minutes before running the other way when I threw it (she soon found another victim). I think she was there for a good 90 minutes.

Week 5, day 5 – icy Kenyan Hills

I totally overdid it on Wednesday at Body Pump (even though I took my weights down for the squats) and after hobbling around yesterday it was a near miracle of stretching and foam rollering that I was able to go out for my session at all this morning.

Matters were complicated somewhat by a very light dusting of snow that left the paths alternately icy, slushy and dry. Not exactly the change in surfaces you are looking for when supposed to be haring up and down hills. As a result I stuck to the grass alongside the path mostly and wasn’t going to be breaking any records (or any ankles). I figured a session at 80-85% was better than no session at all.

Running whilst female

So, according to a recent survey one in three women* have been harassed whilst out running. I’m going to say I’m surprised. I’m surprised it’s not higher. An informal poll of my running pals comes back that every single female runner has experienced harassment whilst out running at least once (and some men, but more on that later), and that it is something that they have to consider when going out for a run.

Personally I’ve been harassed whilst running, walking, whilst bundled up in layers and layers of clothing, you name it. It’s the main reason I run with headphones, if I can’t hear it then it can’t annoy or scare me. Most of the harassment has been verbal, but I have friends who have been attacked and it’s only their awesome speed that has saved them (and the concern is always that even though I am relatively fast, it wouldn’t take much for the average man, and it’s always men, to overtake and overpower me).

From my informal polling, it also happens to men, but not as frequently and the comments don’t tend to be of a sexual nature (unlike with the harassment directed at women). Unfortunately as soon as the results of the survey came out somehow the focus was shifted away (at lightening speed in some cases) from how street harassment of this nature is disproportionately directed at women, to how it happens to men too. I think this graphic illustrates this focus shift well:

Identifying that any behaviour occurs disproportionately to one group is not an attempt to ignore or diminish when it happens outside of that group, it is waving a big red flag about the disproportionality. The Black Lives Matter movement is not saying that the same things don’t happen to people who are not of colour, or that it isn’t terrible when they do. It is saying that these things happen disproportionately to people of colour and that disproportionality is a problem.

So please, when a group of people tells you that something happens disproportionately to them, please don’t counter with how it happens to other people too. They know and they care (they don’t want it to happen to anyone) but you’re missing the point and it muddies the message that they are trying to get out.

*for the purposes of this post, any gender terms are considered to be applied to anyone who claims them as their own.

Week 5, day 2 – full #BigMarathonChallenge interval session

Today all of the BigMarathonChallenge ladies met up in London to get properly measured up for some Asics shoes (I apparently have ‘perfect’ neutral feet – no pronation, arches good – so I’m going to be in a Nimbus 19 going forwards). All great fun and now I have both images of my feet and any possible measurement I could ever want on them.

After a quick pitstop at Starbucks, it was across town to meet up with our coach at Waterloo and a drive in his electric BMW i30 (I prefer my Leaf, but it’s always good to have a go in another electric car) across to Battersea for a run around their track. I forgot to put my chest strap heart rate monitor on so was reliant on the wrist monitor. It took a while to catch up with my actual heart rate. The entire first rep (I was doing 3×10 mins at threshold effort with 90s recovery) it was saying that my heart was in the ‘easy’ band. I can reassure you that it was not easy, particularly as it turned out I was averaging 4:15 min/km.

A really good session, I enjoyed being on a track again (the club sessions are now a little short for my training needs), and it was great to see the others out on the track for the first time (though I’m not sure people should be looking at what I do with my arms).

Looking forward to getting back to Body Pump tomorrow, first time in about a month.