Thoughts of the week...
So last week things weren’t quite “clicking” and I wasn’t able to run my usual 6 days out of 7 with a rest day on Friday.
In many ways that’s fine and it is important not to stick too rigidly to a plan come hell or high water.
You need to be able to make decisions that are the best, depending on how you feel both mentally and physically.
Getting fit and getting good at running is a long game, and consistency always wins out.
Having thought about things I decided to change a few things this week, the main one being trying to reduce the pressure I was feeling on myself, somewhat bizarrely, on my easy days scheduled for Monday and Wednesdays.
Typically on these days I will run 60mins easy around 8 minute miling or no higher than 140-142bpm heart rate.
For whatever reason I was really hating these runs. 60mins trudging around at a slow pace is no fun. I dreaded these runs and found them boring and they would drag really badly.
So I’ve decided, if my diary allows, to break these runs up into double run days. So I’ll do 30 to 35 mins in the morning and the same again in the evening.
This has multiple benefits. A couple here. 1, I get an aerobic run in before breakfast which is good for metabolism. 2, I get to relax on pacing. I typically run the morning run at 9 min miles and the pm run at 8.5 min miling. I can more easily get more time on feet than the single run that I just wanted to end! It relaxes me mentally. And it ultimately makes me feel better.
I also decided to treat myself to a new bit of gear – a bone conduction set of headphones which basically means you can listen to music whilst still being aware of what’s going on around you.
I have to say they are outstanding.
The brand is Aftershockz. I bought the Aeropex version.
Admittedly they are expensive (I paid £149.95) but I think they are well worth it. Initially I was concerned as I wasn’t sure I could use them with a winter hat but they actually grip nicely to the outside of my head (they are supposed to fit round you ears) and work really well.
Mon, 1 Feb: New month, fresh start
This was the first double run day I had done for a while and I enjoyed the process.
For whatever reason I find it easier going through (the not inconsiderable) process of going for two short runs than one longer one.
I was rewarded for my morning efforts with the most beautiful crisp morning. Not too cold, and not a breath of wind. That is very rare in the North East of England.
I enjoyed every minute. Running 9 min miles is so easy you can actually notice the birds singing. I realised this is what I need… 4.4 miles in just under 40mins.
In the evening I quickened it slightly to 8.5 min miling. Still very comfortable. This time just over 4 miles in 35 minutes.
I posted a YouTube video here which shows some footage of the evening run and some more of my thought process.
Tue, 2 Feb: very wet threshold sesh
The weather on Tuesday couldn’t have been more different to Monday. Lashing rain welcomed my threshold session of 3x 3km off 90s jog.
Rather than run exactly 3km I decided on 3 full loops of St. Andrews (see Strava map) which is about 1,090m per lap.
It was cold and wet so I had all of the winter gear on. I knew this wasn’t going to be the fastest session I had done but my key goal was to get the volume.
The wind was blustery and blowing in different directions.
It was a tough session in many ways but I got it done. Overall 6.4 miles in 42 minutes. Paces on the reps were nothing to write home about. Heart rate averaged 162bpm and maxed out at 168bpm. In hindsight I could have pushed a little harder on the last rep in particular.
Wed, 3 Feb: another double easy
This double run day couldn’t have been more different to Monday’s…
This time it was torrential rain and wind. So I got wrapped up and kept it easy again. Another jog at 9 minute miling. This time my average heart rate was 6 beats higher than Monday but I think that was explained by the session the evening previous and the weather conditions.
That afternoon I got out for the second jog of the day, this time 4.2 miles. Again the weather was terrible but there is a feeling of satisfaction that comes from double running (no matter how slow). A total of 7.8 miles for the day.
Thu, 4 Feb: faster sesh success
The plan was 3x 1 mile at 5.45 pace and 3x 800m in 2:45 (approx 5.30 per mile pace). There was two minutes rest to be had.
I have to say I was feeling a bit apprehensive. I think it was because I had been doing so much sub threshold type work, I was worried I may have become one paced.
Also, I hadn’t been running to specific paces for so long. I had been working to heart rate or power. So I was worried about how I would feel if I was struggling to hit pace.
In the end I needn’t have worried and I executed the session pretty perfectly. And most pleasing of all: it felt good. Very aerobic and never felt under pressure to run to the paces.
I was also able to run the two minute jog recoveries as more of a purposeful float. That was encouraging as the recoveries were back up a slight incline back to the start of the St. Andrews loop.
The total session ended up as 5.92 miles in 35mins 23s. Part of me wishes I’d finished with another float at the end of the last 800m rep as it may have comfortably closed it out as a decent training 10km. But that is by the by.
So I was effectively running 6 minute miles averaging 167bpm heart rate. My heart rate maxed out at 177bpm.
Heading in the right direction.
Fri, 5 Feb: rest day plus runners S&C class
Fridays are always a planned rest day and this was no different except I signed up for a runners strength and conditioning class at 6pm.
The class is run by Dave and Jenny at Blizard Physio.
The classes are different every week but this week had a dynamic warm up, foot conditioning, resistance band work, plyometrics, some HIIT and then a cool down.
I really enjoyed it and will be trying to do it more regularly to try to strengthen some areas and become a less injury prone runner.
If you are interested in giving it a go here is a link.
Sat, 6 Feb: first hill sesh in ages
In many ways this felt like the main session of the week. Not because of the volume but because of the hills.
Hill sessions are never easy and it had been a long time since I had even done one. In fact I can’t remember the last time I did a hill session.
The plan was 10x 300m off 2:30 jog back recovery. I would then do some drills and 5x 80m hill sprints.
First up was a 15 minute warm up. As soon as I got out the door it started raining and got progressively harder as the warm up went on.
Not to worry. I felt in a pretty good mind space, quite positive about giving it a good go.
The hill I used is very close to my house. Its a path that runs up from Town Moor to the top of Kenton Dene. Overall it has a gradient of 5% with parts probably >7.5%.
I felt I should be covering the 300m reps in between 60 and 70 seconds. And that’s how it turned out.
I probably overcooked the first rep feeling fresh. Covered it in 64-65s. The rest of the reps were averaging 67s.
It was one of those sessions where on rep 4 and 5 you wondered if you were going to fall apart by rep 7 or 8.
But I stuck to task pretty well, the 2:30 recoveries felt generous and allowed me to always feel ready for the next rep.
Overall I was pleased with how the session went and I knew it would make me a stronger runner. It’s both physical and mental.
I did some fast feet uphill which really feel alien to me. Being tall I have a naturally slow cadence and getting the feet to turnover quick is a challenge.
I decided to skip the 1 legged bounds to ensure I didn’t overstress the shin. I completed the 5x 80m sprints. I think they were more like 100m.
On the 15 minute warm down jog I felt good, another good training day ticked off.
I posted some footage of this workout on YouTube here.
Sun, 7 Feb: another unplanned rest day
Waking up on Sunday, total mileage for the week was 42.9 miles which represented an 8.6% increase on last week.
The plan was just to jog easy for 30-35 minutes but on balance I decided on complete rest to both allow full absorption of yesterday’s hill session and also give the shin a chance to rest.
Next week is a down week and I will focus 100% on putting this shin issue to bed and continuing to build consistency as we hopefully move closer to some racing opportunities in the next few months.
Thanks for reading!