Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Training that has a plan

Up until 10 months ago, I never followed a training plan. I'd roughly have one in my head but the reality of it was making sure I ran three times a week - with one session focussed on speed work. It sort of worked. It helped me become a strong 5K & 10K runner and I also got up to half marathon distance.

When it came to my triathlon training, that's when I thought it would be best to try building a schedule. I kept it simple, mapping out every month the type of activity I needed to do each day and what I should aim to achieve in that session. I would schedule one week to have a technique focussed swim, with the next week being a distance session. I would alternate Thursday to be either hills or speed work for my running and for the weekend, I would list how many miles I would have to cycle.

This monthly plan took centre stage on my fridge and each day I would tick off the activity, adding in details such as time/pace etc. For days where I didn't commit to the revised plan, I would also make note. It was really interesting to see just how dedicated I was. The best part of these plans was also showing clearly which days were my rest days. These were my days to go out for dinner, meet friends for drinks, or stay in and slob in front of the TV. They were just as important as the training days.

Mid month, I would map out the following months plan. For any days where I knew I had made plans, I would make these rest days and then find time elsewhere in that week to make up for it. Before I knew it, these agendas were becoming my life schedule and I relied on then heavily. I could see what big events I had coming up (such as my duathlon, open water race and the triathlon itself) and it was clear to see how many days/weeks I had until I was due to race. This really helped to shift my mindset into a serious training mode. Never had I been so dedicated to training.

By the time the triathlon came around, I was the fittest I had ever been and I am very confident my forward planning and training timetables are to thank for this. Yes they may not have been some super snazzy template I downloaded from the internet, or built for me by a specialist coach but they gave me guidance and something to visibly work towards. They revealed when I had succeeded and when I had failed, maintaining my focus and motivation.

Even though I am not training for anything now, I still create these monthly plans. They help keep the momentum going when I am not focussed on a race. They aren't as intense as my triathlon plans but they are helping me gradually get up to 13.1 miles by Christmas. This alone is a going to be a huge achievement for me and forward planning my runs is a great way of building up the mileage each week.

Are you someone who likes structure? Or do you like to go with the flow when it comes to your training?

Lipstick Runner.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

TRAINING UPDATE: Achieving small goals

It's strange when you aren't training for a race. You almost feel in limbo, unsure what you are contributing to when you go out running. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to just go out for a run without any strings attached, to not follow any strict nutritional plans and to not feel guilty when you move your run to a different day so you can go to the pub. Despite these positives, I do slightly miss the discipline of training.

However, even though I am not training specifically for anything, these last couple of weeks I have seen only improvement. Running is at the forefront of my mind and whilst I have found it hard going back to three runs a week (during triathlon training I only did two), it is incredibly satisfying racking up the miles again.

In my last post, I set some mini goals to help me get to a fit running state by Christmas. One was to enter two 10K races. I really need to get these booked in so I have headed out twice now to try and run the distance at a strong pace. The first was tough and it felt like it went on forever. By mile five my ITB pain had kicked in but I still managed to finish in just over 50 minutes. The next weekend, I headed out again this time taking on a new, slightly hilly route. By mile five, I was chuffed to have no pain at all and instead of stopping at 10K, I carried on to complete seven miles. All in just under one hour!
(the trails have been calling me these last few weeks)
So in all, running is good. Pace is slowly creeping up (I've gone from 8.50s to 8.10s for 10K) and I have also started to get back into HIIT and speed work. Boy, do these sessions hurt though! Especially when you have taken a few weeks off from it. 

Along with my two 10K races, I set myself another challenge. This one non running related but a goal I very much wanted to achieve - to swim 1500m open water. I recently got a reminder saying my wet suit needs to be sent back soon (I opted to hire it for my first triathlon) and so I wasted no time in trying to hit this target. At 6.30am on Saturday morning I was up and cycling to my local reservoir to see if I could manage it.
(super keen in my kit)
I haven't been in open water for a few weeks now and I was actually a little nervous getting back in. Hovering on the jetty, I faffed around for a couple of minutes, getting my goggles comfy and asking fellow swimmers what the water temperature was. One lady, who was maybe late 60's, turned to me and said 'no news on the water temperature but sod it, lets just get in!'. With that, she pranced down the jetty and flung herself in the water. That was my lesson in manning up right there...
(West Reservoir, Stoke Newington)
The water was bloody cold but I took inspiration from this lady and just cracked on with it. I needed to do three laps of the reservoir and I was surprised at how fast it went. By the time I entered my final lap, my stroke and alignment was fluid and smooth and I was so chuffed to reach the end feeling pretty good. I don't have a time recorded for this but it was great to finish my triathlon season on a high, achieving this small goal. 

Next step for me is to enter these two 10Ks. I am going to research into race options this week, aiming to do one in October and the other November. Suggestions are very much welcome!

Lipstick Runner.