Tuesday, 26 August 2014

TRAINING UPDATE: Parkrun Comeback

Training is starting to get exciting for me now. The last couple of weeks have been full of running and I even completed a week where I ran three times so overall, I feel like I am getting back to my old ways.

What has also been great is that I am now balancing out my workouts by combining running with swimming, cycling and core exercises. Running is starting to take priority now and with Cabbage Patch 10 approaching in around six weeks, I need to start thinking about my training plan and how to get the legs ticking over 10 miles again.

Looking back though since my last Training Update, a lot has been happening! I have been really busy with work, wedding planning and seeing friends, so cramming in exercise where I can has been essential. With running, I am starting to see an improvement in my speed and have also attempted running with a backpack again. I haven’t actually done this since around April/May and after booking in my bike for a service over a couple of days, I took the chance to run home from work on one of them.

The route home isn’t too exciting and scenic but is roughly around four miles, so is well within my capabilities at the moment. It was a really hot day when I did this and I did struggle a bit. I also got THE worse stitch, which is very unusual for me. I wasn’t sure if it was where the strap across my stomach from the bag was digging in, but it sure was painful! This caused me to slow down in the last mile but was still pleased to log another four miler.

The next day, I opted to meet my friend for swimming again. When I left the office to cycle to the gym around five miles away it was pouring it down with rain. Still a little nervous cycling in these kinds of weather conditions, I took a route along the Thames towpath and instantly regretted it once I was on it. So many cyclists, runners, dog walkers and fisherman. Wahh! I couldn’t take it and due to the wet, narrow path and uneven paving slabs, my back wheel kept skidding out.

I came off the towpath early and got a bit lost getting to the gym via busy central London roads and so when I did finally arrive, I felt very tense and shaky. The reason I have explained this particular journey is that I think it may have been one of the causes of what happened in the pool afterwards.

We worked to a routine which involved front crawl intervals, arm pulls, kicking with floats and so on and at around 1000m, I got the worse cramp! I’ve never had cramp whilst swimming and holy hell it hurt! It was in my calf and very much panicked me as I was in the deep end so had to drag my body over to the lane divider to pull myself to the side. I stayed here for a good 10 minutes to massage and stretch the calf. It remained very tense but the cramping had eased off and so I opted to try again. 300m later however, I got cramp in the other calf! Inconveniently it was again in the deep end so there a repeat of getting myself to the side to stretch out the other leg. Typical!

A nearby swimming instructor must have been watching me and came over to have a chat. She explained I may be dehydrated and my friend asked if I drink during swimming. Err no? Is it really important I do? Apparently, it is REALLY important you stay hydrated during swimming as, funnily enough, lack of fluids causes cramp. Learnt my lesson there then didn’t I? I also think the stress and tension from my horrendous journey to the gym was still lingering and may have possibly contributed to the cramp too.

The next day (Friday), I was in agony! My calves felt so stiff and sore and I spent the day hobbling around at work. I was really worried I had damaged myself but I did find the more walking I did, the more my muscles were loosening up. That evening I travelled down to the South West with my fiancé and future in-laws to visit our wedding venue for the weekend (the below view defines the beauty of where we are getting married!). Sitting in a car for two hours did cause them to seize up again but by morning they were feeling a tad better.
On the Sunday, I got up early and left the hotel to go for a jog along the Kennet & Avon canal that was nearby. The calves were back to normal (thank the Lord) and my Maid of Honour drove over to join me too, which was nice! As we were nattering so much, we didn’t really exceed nine-minute miles but we did complete 10K, which I was thrilled about! This is the furthest I have run since my injury and I honestly felt like I had really accomplished something this day. I even celebrated on the lock, with the cows!
The following week, I had a lot of work events on so sadly didn’t get to cycle as much as I had hoped. When I have launches to host, it does mean I am travelling around the city a lot, carrying god knows what whilst also dressed in my finest so having the bike for these occasions isn’t ideal. After one meeting however, I was based in Oxford Circus and so opted to run home from work that evening. 
(running on the go!)

The route was five miles long and the most glum of them all. Up Tottenham Court Road, past Warren Street to Camden and up north on busy roads during rush hour wasn’t the best; but again, I had my backpack and found this run a lot easier and faster! I reached my front door bang on five miles (don’t you just LOVE it when that happens?) with an average pace of 8.27.

By Thursday, I was curious to see if I could take on a speed session. Before my injury, I would head to my local athletics track every Thursday with my running club to do a HIIT session (high intensity interval training). This is where I am at my strongest and going over two months without any of these kind of runs has affected my performance. A little apprehensive to chuck myself back into track training, I opted to do a mini session up at Alexandra Palace by myself.

I chose to do a downward pyramid: 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m with a minutes rest in-between and aiming to hit a faster pace as I worked down. Starting off, I tried to ensure I was pushing myself but boy, did I find it hard. Finding the power to turn my legs around faster was tough but the further in I got, the faster I felt myself going. By the time I reached the 400m, I was on 2.5 miles and so I opted to do another half mile to reach three. When my watched beeped at this point, I had done my final mile in 6.50. I haven’t seen a sub 7 in a lonnnng time and I was ecstatic that I managed to hold this speed throughout the session.
By the weekend, I was on my travels again - this time back home to see friends for a BBQ. I knew I wanted to get a run logged during my time there and so I plucked up the courage to attend the local parkrun, with one of my best buds in tow! This particular one I love. It’s one single lap, relatively flat and pulls in on average 350 runners so there’s a great field of abilities.

I haven’t done a parkrun in yonks and this was my first time running in a large pack since Mizuno Endure24 and lining up at the start line, I did feel a little nervous! My aim was to get under 25 minutes (my PB is 21.58 and I knew I wouldn’t even get close to this). Starting off, I kept a mantra in my head to stay steady and don’t bomb it. I really didn’t want to burn out by mile two, so I made sure I held back just a tad. My first mile buzzed at 7.14, which I was really surprised with as I felt like I was doing eight-minute miles. By mile two I hit 7.20 so keeping the pace together. The plan was working and the final mile is a steady incline and we were running in the wind so having some fuel left in the tank really helped. Mile three buzzed at 7.44 and I dug deep for the last stretch to cross the line in 23.09! I was shocked I managed this and my time also secured me 4th lady in a field of 337 runners, which was amazing!
(feeling chuffed with our results!)

I cannot describe how happy I was with this. I felt like I was back and feeling strong. I didn’t think I would get close to 23 minutes so knowing I have achieved this post injury is brilliant. I definitely celebrated Saturday night with far too much food and gins but now I am back up in London, it is back to training, this time my aim is to run 10K at a steady pace. Hopefully by the time I get round to writing my next training update, I will be well into my training for Cabbage Patch 10.
(yep - I pigged out. But it was SO worth it!)

Until then – happy running!

Lipstick Runner.

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