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!
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!
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!
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!?
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.
Ooo I do love a spot of alliteration (hence my blog name) and today’s adventure fitted this perfectly: two runs in one day – woo hoo!
A while back Gem mentioned the fact she’d entered the 6th Trail (6km) at Portmeirion and given the fact we had both survived doing the Coed y Brenin half, I figured it couldn’t hurt to enter this one too.
My original plan had been to have a lie in and a mooch about before heading down to Portmeirion. However, given the fact that Owen was on his way back from a work trip in Estonia and Ella was still in kennels I had a quick rethink, a quick check in with the coach and decided that going for a plod at Parkrun this morning would actually be a lovely idea. I love how friendly an atmosphere we have at Penrhyn Parkrun and the fact that not one but two of my lovely running buddies were up for a gentle plod with me. Thank you Claire and Fran for a lovely spring run this morning!
After a quick cake stop, I headed to the crazy little village that is Portmeirion, a little tasty of Italy in North Wales. If you have never been it is so worth a trip just to walk around and explore; I like to tie these explorations in with something else such as the Christmas Fair (or trail runs, apparently) and went to meet Gem. After an unnerving/hilarious “hunt the friend” game in the car park and pick up of my race number we had a little mooch about the village so Gem could see the bonkers architecture set in the beautiful landscape that is this peninsula.
1pm and the race started. We had already agreed that we would see each other at the finish line and off we set to enjoy this trail. The route was such fun but really tough! Even with my investigation of the course profile I hadn’t anticipated how tough the climbs would be but the downhills were awesome! I was delighted to come in under the hour mark once I had sussed out the route! I do love a trail run, it’s such a different ball game to road running and everyone is just so delighted to be able to make progress; yes, you may have to walk up the really steep bits but then you can really open up on the descents! It was so lovely to spend some proper time with Gem too, I’m loving how our catch ups involve doing things, can’t wait to plan the next one!
On 28th December, I took myself to Hardcore Gym in Gaerwen to meet with Oz and get my initial measurements before embarking on a 6 week fitness project. My goals? To give my fitness a decent boost to help me in the year of M; to lose weight and/or inches; to get stronger. The plan? Attend four fitness classes a week (in addition to my running) – x2 Fat Burn Extreme (FBX), x1 TotalPump (barbells), x1 Core and, if I was serious about shifting the pounds, reduce my calorie in take to 1350. Off I went with my booklet in hand and re-downloaded My Fitness Pal ready for the classes to start the following week.
I have to say, I really surprised myself in the way I stuck to the classes and actually enjoyed feeling the burn and seeing the improvements, even setting my alarm for 5.20am on a Thursday and hitting a 6am class! Very much a case of new year, new me! The biggest thing I noticed across the weeks was the change in my head and my mentality. I think I have mentioned before the fact I started this project in tandem with starting a new promotion in work: more responsibility, new challenges and days that never went according to plan! Do you know what though? Both moves were the best thing I could have done; whatever had gone on during the day was worked out of my system in the evening and I could start afresh the next day.
So the initial six weeks finished two weeks ago and Oz decided to extend the project for a further 6 weeks. I took this opportunity to mix things up a bit further and take on a slightly new fitness challenge – swimming training (I bet you can’t guess what future events might be on the cards…). That said, I couldn’t bring myself not to do any more of Oz’s sessions so my weekly timetable is now Monday – swim; Tuesday – circuits followed by TotalPump; Wednesday – hill reps; Thursday – rest day; Friday/Saturday – short run; Sunday – long run/track. I can’t wait to see how things change and develop over the next five weeks!
Two months after my initial weigh in, my stats tonight stand as follows: 5lb down, 5cm off abdomen, 5cm off waist (16cm off in total) and a head that is in a very good place! Also, if I’m completely honest, the sticking to 1350 hasn’t really happened and I have definitely not denied myself any treats so I am absolutely delighted.
Anyone who is squeamish should look away now as I have included a before/after collage and I can’t quite believe I’m putting this out there!
The mind is a funny old thing. This was going to be my FB status update on my page for today and then I thought I better expand a bit…
Recently, I have come across a bit of a mental block with the old running. Hill reps sessions and our club socials have been brutal/lovely/interesting/necessary/vomit-inducing (delete as appropriate) but they have always contained brief rest periods so the amount of continuous running hasn’t been an issue. Then there was the Parkrun shortly after Christmas (and in the early stages of the Better Bodz fitness project) where I had to stop and walk because my legs felt like lead – quite possibly because I had done a double class the night before – and in crept the nagging gremlin – something akin to those stupid finance adverts that seem all the rage on the TV at the moment – that put a bit fat barrier in my head regarding my running endurance. Now, given the title of my blogging world, speed is not my forte; however, I’ve been quite proud of the fact that I have been building up my stamina to not stop (which resulted in me crossing a half marathon finish line) but all of a sudden I have been faced with this notion that I can’t do it and I need to walk – WT actual F! Add in to the mix whatever this stupid viral cough nonsense that I seem to have been dealing with the last few weeks and I was starting to get myself in a bit of a pickle. I love running. I love the friends it has made me. I love the challenges that it gives me and the places it lets me explore. I love the endorphins it releases inside me. So keeping hold of this knowledge, I decided today that I did not want to give in to this wee beastie of negativity.
I was supposed to be meeting my coach for a run out this evening but I got my timings all to pot and realised that I wouldn’t manage a decent run with her and get back in time to go out with Owen this evening so I decided to do my own plod. The target, 5km on the cycle path from the edge of the village up to Tregarth and back down again. I’ve been avoiding doing this route for ages as it’s a tough slog up and I didn’t want to give up on it (I have been known to abandon ship mid-way through the run to take the easier option, shameful, I know) but my mind was set. I genuinely didn’t care if it was the slowest I have ever gone as long as I just kept running. This was probably the most needed run I have done for a long time and as my trusty watch hit 3.1 on the mile counter I could’ve happily done a little gig. Take that stupid negative beastie, you’re not stopping this plodder!
For this blog entry I needed to cast my mind back to the morning of 11th October, 2017 when I woke up to an email saying ‘thanks for your entry for the 2018 Buff Winter Trail Wales.’ Huh?! Queue a moment of complete panic and confusion before finding a What’s App message from my friend Gem: ‘Erm… so Merry Christmas. I just bought you an entry into the Winter Trail Half Marathon in January at Coed y Brenin…’ OMG!!!
Now I knew I had a half marathon in me, I had only ten days before completed the Cardiff Half but this was going to be a very different challenge, trail, for 13.1 miles (that .1 continues to mean a lot to me!) and so soon after Christmas. However, I embraced this present and knew that it would be an amazing experience in a beautiful location. I just kept thinking that surely my running would continue to improve, after all, the challenge was presented in October, a whole four months before the actual event!
So running was fine through November and I decided with Coach Chris to start working on improving my technique to therefore improve my speed (I have potentially mentioned this in previous posts) which meant I wasn’t overly focusing on trail running or distance but time was still on my side, right? Wrong! December happened and as a music teacher and member of a choir it turns out that December is not the month to add runner to your list of hobbies. Essentially, I think I managed three runs in the whole of December, which was not good. Anyway, we skip in to 2018 and I am well up for this year of becoming a better runner and to help me achieve this I enrolled on a Better Bodz fitness plan with Oz. January is suddenly the most active I have ever been and only then I realise that this half is now a matter of weeks away and my training has pretty much been non-existent. Pants.
Lots of discussion with Gem took place as to what the best course of action was going to be. She had literally bounced across the world for a good few weeks and was reacclimatising to UK temperatures (from summer in Australia) and I had not put the training in and was petrified of being too slow to finish. So we did what would any other bonkers runners would do and decided to go for it – what’s the worst that could happen?!
The Buff Winter Trail Half at Coed y Brenin has to be the most beautiful event I have ever done. Running through the forest at different levels, crossing the river, going from forest roads to muddy trails was awesome, hard, but awesome. We even had snow – it was like running in Narnia! I maintained my plodder status (in purple, obviously) whereas Gem was a bit quicker off the mark than me but do you know what? We frigging did it! *This is where I need to clear up my blog title ‘wunning’ so used because of the amount of walking on the uphills I needed to do; I definitely ran all the downhills though! That last three miles was by far the hardest bit of “running” I have ever done. Did I mention it snowed?! I think, now that we have both warmed up and managed to get the mud out of our running kit, we can both safely say that we are really chuffed to have done it; summer trail anyone?!
Life lessons from this run…
Your body can do anything if your mind is in the right zone – nothing was stopping me finishing this race!
I need to invest in a long sleeve running top – I got a bit chilly – that would be the snow and the fact it’s January!
Training is definitely something I need to do for all future events!!!