When I first received my marathon training plan I remember feeling a little bit daunted and overwhelmed at what I was seeing and I had to stop and take a moment to remember to just focus on achieving one box at a time. That said, when faced with things in the diary that can potentially affect my running routine I know I have to do a certain amount of planning ahead to ensure success and following the disaster earlier in the summer I have well and truly learnt my lesson – never miss the long run!
The last few weeks have seen the training coming along nicely and (dare I say it?!) I have actually allowed myself to grow a little in confidence. The ticks in each box are getting done; the route has started to be practised and there have been some small victories with things like progression runs that I had never thought would happen! I was pleasantly surprised with myself when I went out with Chris last Sunday to do my first chunk of the course and managed to go further than expected in the time I needed to (9 miles instead of 8).
I snuck in an extra run with Claire and Anke on the Tuesday but as this was a 6km trail run(!), I figured it wouldn’t hurt! We had a lovely mooch on part of the slate trail near Mynydd Llandegai and I even managed to set a new PB for the first 5km!!! The positivity continued with my hill reps session on the Wednesday (although 5 sets of 5 minutes with only two minutes recovery did push me to the vom zone) and then I had to make a journey down to south Wales to resume my welfare role for a few days. I took this in to account when sussing out my training and decided that a 30-minute progression run was more than manageable whilst away and I opted to move the long run to Monday (instead of Sunday) as I knew I wouldn’t fit it in whilst I was down south and after four hours in a car wouldn’t want to do it when I got home. I was absolutely delighted with my progression run as I finally managed to pace it so I had enough gas in the tank for the final set (this has never happened before and I usually stop to walk after 3 minutes of the last set) and it was lovely to be running back in the Bay; I haven’t done that since last year’s Cardiff Half Marathon.
Then came the scheduled long run. I knew I would need some motivation to go out and get it done after the first day back to school and it was fantastic that Alison had mentioned being up for a long plod. My initial thought had been to run the first part of the marathon course but I don’t really trust the traffic on Pen y Pass so need to do this on a Sunday morning when, hopefully, the road is quieter than risk doing it in the middle of the afternoon. Option 2 was to run from the house up to Llyn Idwal and potentially do a loop around the lake before meeting Owen in the car park, this would have been around 11 miles. In my head I wanted to aim for 10 but I knew I needed to tick off 120 minutes whatever happened. I managed the first mile up to Tregarth and then my body seemed to take notice of what I was doing and started a serious protest. The next two miles were unpleasant, clunky and almost resulted in complete abandonment of the session. I have no idea where this came from but it’s like my legs were not connected to the rest of me and it just felt rubbish. At this point, I cannot express my gratitude to Alison enough because I know for a fact that if she hadn’t been there, I would have thrown my toys out of the pram and walked back home. Her gentle encouragement and then my stubbornness got me through to mile four when everything finally seemed to fall in to place. I have to say, it’s been years since I have made it that far along the Lon Las Ogwen path and though the inclines got tougher, the scenery got more and more beautiful and I really started to enjoy it. We did make the most of the gorgeous evening and stopped a couple of times to take photographs or take on some more fuel (orange High5 aqua gels were a hit, thanks Chris) so although it felt crappy at first, I actually did get to enjoy it. We made it to Llyn Idwal car park bob on the two hour mark which was 8.5 miles and I took the decision to stop there. In hindsight, I could probably have managed the extra mile and a half but given the fact I have a half marathon event on Sunday and the fact that I had come so close to throwing the towel in I decided to take this as a small victory and give myself a break. I’m so grateful to Alison for her company this evening, I would not have done it if it wasn’t for her and to Owen for, once again, going out of his way to ensure I can get home safely.
So with that run completed, I move on to page 2 of the training plan. Glancing ahead there are going to be some pretty serious sessions on the cards and after next Sunday every long run I do will be longer than I have ever gone before. I just need to remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
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!