Last month’s running of the Aztec West fast 5k did not go so well. I was therefore not expecting great things from tonight’s race. The conditions were also not great, blustery with a bit of a chill in the air (and slick roads from the rain earlier in the day).
I put myself towards the back of the pack, which seemed a bit smaller, understandably so on such a nasty night. I had not activated the ‘predicted finish time’ feature on my watch and had no laps set up (either miles or km) so just took a brief glimpse as I passed the km markers. It turns out I had gone out a bit faster than I thought I had, but was able to maintain a fairly decent and consistent pace.
This was the race I would have liked to have had last month. There were none of the problems breathing or maintaining the pace and it didn’t hurt nearly as much (plus my heart rate was lower even at the faster speed). This lends weight to the proposed explanation of that result and the training session that followed as being hampered by my body fighting off some sort of bug (successfully). I’m going to take that as a confidence boost anyway (and the bottle of wine as a spot prize).
Monday is still recovery run day, but with a 5k race tomorrow it had a bit of a twist. Instead of the usual 45 minutes it was cut down to 30 minutes with 6 sets of strides at the end. It always takes me a while to get up to top speed, so I ran my strides as 100m sprints with 2 minutes recovery between each sprint. I was pleasingly consistent around the 18 to 20 second mark, and it was good to get up on my toes (something I rarely do). I even made it round before the rain started to fall.
This week’s long run session was an exact replica of the previous week’s, 90 minutes easy followed by 45 minutes of marathon pace, finishing off with 15 minutes of easy cooldown pace.
Last week this session was the toughest I had done and I wasn’t looking forward to it again this week. I was underslept, a little dehydrated, and had spent the previous day mostly on my feet and had been eating at weird times. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hit marathon pace when the time came to it, especially after the struggle I had had the previous week. But I laced up my trainers and zipped up my woman suit and went out and did it.
It felt good, surprisingly good. I was able to hit marathon pace without a problem and instead of getting ‘slow’ warnings for my pace I was getting ‘fast’ warnings instead. I held the pace (a little bit faster than target pace) without it feeling like a constant struggle unlike the previous week. I could see how I would be able to hold the pace for longer (but still not three and a half hours). When I dropped back down to the slower pace for cooldown, my body didn’t feel like it was falling apart. Hopefully this is a sign that all of the training is working, with 8 weeks to go now.
Looking at the data compared to the previous week I was able to go faster (and therefore further) in the easy section, but with a lower average heart rate; I went faster (and further) in the marathon pace section, again with a lower average heart rate; and went faster (and further) in the cooldown, also with a lower average heart rate. Part of it may be that I was mentally prepared for the effort, part of it may be that my body was more prepared for it having had a go the previous week. Either way, I’ll take it.
A busy Saturday where I had to dash off to Bath straight after parkrun for an event, so I had to squeeze in my 30 minutes of core work before I left for Ashton Court. This was accomplished courtesy of a Tae Bo DVD focusing on Abs & Glutes (and boy, did it).
It was another lovely pootle around parkrun, most of the way trying to keep Alison going slowly ahead of her race the day afterwards. It was great to be there as Charlotte broke the women’s course record too, she was storming it.
Friday intervals are less ‘feel good’ and more ‘feel terrible’ as I am supposed to be working at my highest intensity, basically going flat out for the rep. It was my first attempt at them and I began with an early start (for me) as I was having some work done to the house from 8 (in the morning!). I also managed to get my car booked in for its first MOT, so decided to run the session back from the garage.
This allowed me a nice gentle warm up to get onto the railway path, which was quite busy at that time of day with kids going to school and commuters cycling into town. The session was 6 reps of 3 minutes each with 60 seconds recovery between reps. On the track 3 minutes is about how long it takes me to do 800m on a good day. I set off far too fast (and uphill) on the first one and managed 750m, 720m, 730m, 730m, 740m and 750m. Pretty much all of the efforts were slower than my 5k pb pace, but that was run on fresh legs after specific speed training. I’ll take these efforts given my current training load and aims, and will see if I can improve when I do it all over again next week (and don’t have to dodge other path users).
I was in Bath on Wednesday, looking after my nephew, so had to squeeze my interval session in between dropping him off at school (which involved a two mile walk, dragging him on his scooter up some nasty hills, then two miles back to my sister’s flat) and picking him back up again (another 4-mile round trip but at least mostly downhill this time).
I could have hit the Bath half loop, but decided to use the outdoor track at Bath University instead (involving another 4 mile round trip, up a nasty hill to get there and then back down again on return journey). I’d checked in advance when it would be available and arrived at 12:00 just after a club session had finished so that there was only me and one other lady using it.
Storm Doris may not have fully hit yet, but it was drizzly and very blustery as I looped round and round the track (recalculating whether I would have time to eat lunch before heading back out to the school and whether to shower at the track or back at home). I figured they wouldn’t allow headphone use so I just had maths to keep me company as I ticked off the intervals.
This was my longest set of threshold intervals to date (the previous longest being 10 minutes), but comparing this 3 reps of 12 minutes to 3 reps of 10 minutes with the same recovery period (90 seconds) actually came out favourably, despite the conditions. I averaged a faster pace in two of the three reps, and was faster on average overall even though the reps were longer. Not sure all the walking was a great idea on top of the session, but Thursday is a rest day after all.
Another Monday, another recovery run along the river. This time instead of doing laps I kept going onto the River Avon trail, which wasn’t too muddy for a change. My heart rate monitor threw a fit after about 12 minutes, so from then on all I got were alerts for pushing too hard, but I did a manual check and it was definitely the monitor and not my heart (I was using an older chest strap which is cracked slightly, it was still registering 175BPM when I took it off and carried it).
My legs and feet felt pretty good after yesterday, you’d hardly know they’d done a tough 16 miles, so fingers crossed that this is a sign that my body is adapting to the workload and will have no trouble with the full distance when it comes. I returned just as my copy of Womens Running magazine arrived, it was good to see how the others were doing (and what the coach assessments were).
Up until now the training sessions have all been pretty manageable. I won’t say easy or particularly comfortable, but I’ve got them done and it’s been OK. We’re now 63 days away from London and things are getting serious. My schedule has been brought forward slightly (my own fault for saying that last week’s two and a half hour run wasn’t too bad) and that meant marathon pace in a long run, after tiring my legs out a bit.
The session was 90 minutes of easy pace (which at my heart rate zones comes out to be around 6:00 min/km aka 10:00 min/mile pace), then picking it up to 45 minutes of marathon pace (4:55 min/km aka 7:55 min/mile pace), before cooling down with 15 minutes back at easy pace.
The first 90 minutes was fine, it’s still tricky running that slowly and I was getting lots of alerts of my heart rate going over the zone limit and having to slow it down again. The initial pick-up to marathon pace also went surprisingly well, actually going faster than scheduled to start with, but then the warnings started coming in that I was going too slowly and I had to keep pushing to get back on pace. From then on it was a constant battle to stay on pace. I just about managed to get on board a couple of gels and some water whilst maintaining the pace (and crossed a couple of roads), but it was tough and there was a lot of clock watching and counting down. As soon as the 45 minutes was over and I dropped the pace everything that had been hinting about hurting started to say hello. Even running slower than I had at the start, my heart rate refused to drop back into the required zone (and any slower I would have been walking). How I’m going to manage 3 hours 30 of that pace I can’t see right now, but I’m focusing on the fact that I did manage to complete the session as set. I hit the pace I wanted and managed to maintain it for the full duration, even if I was hanging on there towards the end.
Feet up for the rest of the day now (after a bath that the kittens were very curious about). The watch gave up on recording my recovery time in hours and advised me I needed 3 and a half days off, but it’s 45 minutes recovery run tomorrow, let’s hope the epsom salts do the job.
Another Saturday and another double header of a gentle recovery parkrun followed by a 30 minute core class. I had a lovely chat during my bimble round with Craig, and got to see Chrissie Wellington fly by in the other direction on the plateau (celebrating moving out of my age category), followed by Sarah Everitt. The weather has warmed up not quite to shorts temperatures, but definitely to capris. Given the forecast for the rest of the week I could well be in shorts by the end of it (which is nuts for February).
A pleasing repetitive time this week (will have to see how it compares to the official results).
I had dined possibly a little too well the previous night (friend’s birthday) and not had enough sleep (creaky office chair), but the weather was good and the plan said I had to do threshold intervals, so out I went.
It was 6 efforts of 5 minutes each, with a minute recovery between each effort, and I was pleased with the pace I was able to maintain fairly comfortably within my ‘threshold’ heart rate zone (159-173bpm). Looking back at the data it appears that my consistency hasn’t abandoned me with the efforts being run at 4:26, 4:26, 4:26, 4:27, 4:26 and 4:18 min/km pace (which in min/mile pace is 7:08, 7:08, 7:08, 7:09, 7:08 and 6:55).
A nice recovery run and core class tomorrow, then an amended long run on Sunday (following discussion with my coach) which now has 45 minutes of marathon pace in the scheduled 2 and a half hours, eek.