Week 5

I didn’t do a running review of week 4 because it was a bit of a relaxed week in terms of not doing a speed session but instead having a steady Parkrun and then a long run. I did however get an ace pic at Parkrun thanks to SJ Photography and, of course, a selfie with my Sunday Social buddies on our really lovely route around Llanberis Lake which culminated in breakfast at Caban.

So on to week 5 and the realisation I had a plan to stick to, or did I?!

Wednesday – club run – instead of meeting on the hill we have decided to mix it up a bit and do some work in Llanberis. I had heard rumours of tempo/progression run so was pleasantly surprised when I was allowed to go for a run around the lake. Lisa, Jayne, Sarah and I set off together and intended to run at least 3.7 miles in memory of Matt Campbell, the runner who very sadly lost his life at the recent London Marathon. It was really lovely to run alongside the ladies and to stick with Sarah who kept me well paced throughout. The views around the lake really are stunning. I ended up reaching 4 miles which I figured could count as my long run for the week…

Friday – as I had done a longer run on Wednesday and I knew I would be better doing a speed session at the track on Sunday I decided to take Matt up on his offer of a post-work 5km. When I checked if these plans were okay with the training plan boss I did get the all clear but it was suggested I try to make it a progression run rather than an easy session. I hate progression runs. However, I know they have their uses so informed Matt of the plan who promptly set the workout on his watch and waited for the end of the day.

I went in with a positive mindset, I knew the first mile at 11:30 pace was well within my comfort zone and I so wanted to nail the rest. Mile 2 went down to 10:30 and I was okay with that too. It was feeling harder but I did it. Then came mile 3 and 9:30 pace. How long do you reckon I lasted?! Point 2 of a mile. Point 2 of a mile and I honestly thought I might spew. Why can’t I run faster?! I had a pause to catch my breath and tried again but to no avail. At this point I was really grateful to have Matt with me as I would probably have given up altogether and walked back to the car in a major sulk but Matt suggested we tried a fartlek session picking landmarks to run all out to and then having a short walk before going again. I actually managed that! Small victory there then. I still hate progression runs.

Sunday – in true mixing it up style, I decided to go completely off-piste and take Jon up on his offer of doing my first ever ‘brick’ session! Now, I have been in possession of my loan road bike for a few weeks now and have barely covered any distance on it so naturally lending a turbo from Han and heading to the track was a perfectly sensible idea! Jon had this grand idea of doing 5 reps of 15 minute bike, 5 minute run. I just wanted to have a go and not fall over – bar, set! I managed x2 reps and then a mile run at the end because “I hadn’t done enough running”! The legs felt so bizarre when I first got off the bike but I was absolutely delighted that I didn’t fall off or fall over. I was also pretty chuffed to manage to go a bit further on the second running leg and maintain an okay speed for the mile at the end!

 

So that was my training done for the week but we then took the pup to the beach so she could run around like a lunatic and have her own adventure. Given my ‘throw caution to the wind’ attitude of this week and have a go I donned my wetsuit and went in for a dip. Clearly a triathlete wannabe!

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I really, really, really need to stick to my plan next week but heck, this week has been such fun (well, apart from that progression)!

Week 3

This week’s running started, as usual, on Wednesday and Belmont Hill. I am now in receipt of the training plan which will take me to race day and when I saw what this session had in store I honestly felt like bringing my long run forward and heading in the opposite direction, running away. Two reps, ten minutes each – argh!

On arrival at the session that delightful set was added to… Not only did we have to keep going for 10 minutes, we also had to head to lamppost 6!!!!! For the record, I usually get to lamppost 3, think about going to 4 and then think better of it. Owing to the fact the big A race is anything but flat I have been psyching myself up to go further up the hill and last week managed half way between 3 and 4 (go me)! My hand was being forced: keep it steady, keep good form but get my butt up that hill. As a consolation prize, we were allowed to have a run to lamppost 2 in between to “break things up” but that had to be faster – certain people were loving this power, I’m sure I have used the word sadist before…!

Off we set. I kept it steady, as is my way, and just went for it. Got to post 4 and felt okay, then rounded the corner for the last 2 and that is where the burn kicked in. That last pull up is hard! I was behind the others but I did not care one bit as I had essentially doubled my climb. In the 10-minute stint I got up to that lamppost 3 times! At one point I did feel like I was just going to sack it off and walk but that little nag in your head sets in “you’ll only let yourself down”; and God dammit you know it’s right!

During our rest break I had a little chat with Menna (who had been so lovely when she passed me on the top bit shouting words of encouragement) and she just reminded me that getting up there meant a longer downhill and a better view! During the second set I really kept this in mind and made sure I looked up when I reached the top. I even kept running after the final whistle just because I was so close to the marker.

Once I got my breath back, I felt amazing and just absolutely delighted! I didn’t stop smiling all evening. Hill rep win!

Speed session?! I had a bit of a fail getting my speed session in on Friday night because I forgot I had a rehearsal and misjudged my timings. Never fear, I thought, there’s always tomorrow but this, my friends, is where danger sets in… I had already put myself forward to marshal at Parkrun so a morning run was out (I realise that there is plenty of time before 8.30 to play with but I couldn’t face setting that alarm) and when I came home the weather was so unbelievably stunning that we went to the mountains instead and once again, I ran out of time that evening to fit my speed session in – d’oh! That said, our 3-hour hike in the hills was amazing and I have zero regrets about getting out and doing something with man and pup. Sunday, however, had to be non-negotiable, 4 miles needed to be ticked off the plan.

 

 

 

Having chatted with Gem we sussed out that neither of us had any plans for Sunday so I put meeting up for a run on the table. I really enjoyed myself last week having a bit of time on my own but having the option of a partner in crime is always welcome and luckily for me, she was willing to plot out a circular route in her old stomping ground.

We met in Betws before the hoards arrived and drove up to our starting point. Up was most definitely the key to this route and I naively asked if the car had done most of the climbing for us before we had even parked! The route we took was so fun, a good mix of forest track, field and road with some beautiful scenery along the way. Not a particularly fast run on this route owing to some of the terrain/incline/traffic but when you get to experience these stunning locations does speed really matter?!

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In fact, I couldn’t help but mill over this idea in my head for the rest of the morning… “does speed really matter”?! I know I have set myself this goal of getting a quicker time at Abersoch and I am very grateful to have a good plan in place to help me get there; however, first and foremost, running should be fun and this whole process needs to be something I enjoy. I will train, I will stick to my plan (better than I have managed to this week) but I must make sure that I am still enjoying the journey otherwise there is simply no point!

Week 2

Wednesday Hill Reps – I don’t know what it is about a hill session but I actually love them. I think it might be the fact it’s broken into chunks, recovery time is factored in and the goals always seem manageable. This week’s session was written down as being 6×3 min with 3 min recovery. When we first met up it was decided to review after 4 sets and see how everyone was doing. Chris also decided to mix it up this week and actually carried out her threat of running with cardboard tubes so we can see how are arms are driving. You look like a bit of a plonker doing this but hey, we were all in it together! The only snag this week, given the shortness of the rep, was the fact you had to run hard both up and down – the kind of vomit-inducing hard – and keep your form for the entire duration; easy peasy!

On reflection, set one is probably the hardest. I think I start off a bit too hard and then realise I have to maintain this for another 5 sessions (I clearly wasn’t going to stop at 4, the decision had already been made). By set 4 I was in to the swing and even tried getting further up the hill (lamp post 3.5). 6 sessions done and it felt pretty good to be fair!

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Friday Speed Session – 15 minute warm up followed by 3 min reps with 3 minute recovery x 4 with a cool down. I headed out on to the cycle path between home and Tregarth to do this session. I’m definitely finding three minutes hard to maintain speed wise; I feel like I start really strong but after a minute it feels tough and I find myself checking the clock every few seconds. That said, I did complete the set and had a cool down “jalk” (something between a jog and walk) back to the house via a slightly muddy path – oops. Garmin over view says that this session wasn’t as speedy as the hill set earlier in the week but then that also included the warm up run down Belmont hill where gravity is clearly on side!

 

Sunday long run – my training plan stated the need to do a 4 mile run and as I have visitors staying this weekend, I needed to try and accommodate everyone’s needs in this plan. Given the fact that we were well overdue for a visit to Siabod Café, I decided to work it so I would meet the gang at the café having completed the run and therefore fully deserving the completely unhealthy breakfast I was really going to enjoy!

Lucky for me none of the others in my house this weekend are particularly early risers so I didn’t have to set off until 9.15! I took my car down to Ogwen Valley and parked up near the foot of little Tryfan having marked out on the map the fact the path between this point and Joe Browns to be just shy of my 4 mile target. I had such a fun run! It’s been ages since I have done a longer run on my own and I really enjoyed it! I met a few folk along the way including a gang of mountain bikers – I decided to stop and let these guys pass rather than risk major mud spattering/mowing down but essentially had some time to just enjoy my surroundings.

Things I have learnt this morning:

1. I was totally right to call wearing my trail shoes!

2. Sometimes, just like the Bear Hunt story tells us, you have to go through it!

3. French toast tastes even better when you have done the exercise before hand!

Week 1

So I’m pretty sure I am a week in to my Abersoch mission at least I have done three runs with guidance from Jack so that’s a week done, right?

Hill rep session last Wednesday was a gentle one (if you can call running up and down hill for 8 minute stretches gentle)! That said, the 8th minute was a killer and I did find myself willing the whistle to blow! I need to start trying to push myself to further lamp posts over the coming months but Wednesdays focus was on keeping good form and I definitely feel like I am holding myself better!

My next run was a bit of a speed session. This happened to coincide with a visit to south Wales and therefore meant I had endless options for flat routes (OMGEEEEEEEEE). The session was a 15 minute slow warm up followed by a pyramid type session of running as fast as I can for 1 minute, then 2, then 3 and back down again with the corresponding time as a rest and then a 15 minute cool down. Out of all the tasks that lay before me I think I found the going super slow most difficult which I would never have believed possible! When it came to the pyramid, minute one was okay though I shocked myself to see 7-something on my pace, minute two also not so bad but I could definitely feel myself slowing, minute three was hard and seemed to drag; knowing I only had to do that once was enough to make sure I just kept going. I also tried to make sure that I sped back up for the last 7-8 seconds of each set as I was safe in the knowledge that I had some recovery time. I felt good at the end of the session and posted my Garmin stats for Jack to see – not too sure how he is going to use this information at this stage and fear I may be in for further torture!

My second session was supposed to be a nice easy 3-5 miler which, in future, should coincide with club social runs, but, as we were still south, was one I needed to do on my own. I sussed out a route (one that didn’t rely on going past people’s houses, which I really hate doing) and set off on Monday morning. Two miles in and feeling pretty strong both legs and, most importantly, head wise and I was struck with this horrible pain in my right shoulder. Having spent the last year developing technique I try to use my arms as much as possible when I run and anything I can do to help me push my speed is called upon so I knew this was a problem. Initially, I did what anyone on a training plan does and tried to ignore it but it wasn’t easing and even a few movements in different directions didn’t help so I stopped and as soon as I did, the pain stopped. Talk about fickle! Not overly sure what could have caused this – sleeping in a different bed? Belated reaction to the bouldering session I did last week? Aversion to Mondays? Who knows! This is going to be something to watch… Humph!

I’m now looking forward to receiving my next set of instructions for the coming week!

10 k Training

Back in those halcyon days, pre-marathon entry, when I was still pretending I was a “runner”, I was introduced to the concept of ‘A’ races and ‘B’ races. (Little old me used to think any race was a major accomplishment, how was I to know that some people prioritise races and have end goals where they take part in a race as part of their training plan – mind, blown!) The Eryri is to be my A race for this year, obviously, and I have already completed a trail half, 10k road race and 6k trail this year so I started to think: what was my B race going to be and what did I want to set as my goal for this?!

Step forward FB news feed.

Social media algorithms alarm me. I can be looking at a website on my computer, log in to my FB app on my phone and there’s an advert for that very thing staring back at me; Big Brother much?! That said, my pondering a B race happened to coincide with a FB scroll and what should appear but an advert for Abersoch 10k and, more importantly, the 10th birthday party celebrations they are hosting post-run – well played Facebook, well played. So there was the race. Now for the goal…

My entire blog world centers on my lack of speediness and I am okay with this. I have built up endurance that I never imagined having and I complete races in my own sweet time. These last few months I have tried to work on building up my strength so I will be marathon fit and with that has come weight loss, inch loss and a new level of fitness but I have been too scared to push my speed on runs. Could I really manage to do at 10k in under an hour?! Chris has mentioned that this is something that could be in reach, why not give it a go!?

The help…

I know that if I needed to I could go out and run 10k right now; it would not be pretty and it would not be fast but I would do it (this is a major, major development from a year ago and it does me good to remember this from time to time). If I really want to shave 7 minutes off my 10k time I am going to need a plan. Jack (one of the Betsis) was hoping to get on with leading some training and after conspiring with Chris it was decided that he could sort me out. We have ten weeks. Game on.