Thursday, 1 October 2015

TRAINING UPDATE: Countryside cycling, travelator giggles and ramping up the speed

September has been a pretty active month. I've managed to squeeze a lot into the last four weeks which has been tricky to work around longer working hours and weekends away. What's been great is that I have been able to mix up my training and enjoy it with others.

At the start of the month, I headed back to my in-laws for a weekend break in the countryside. Their house is literally surrounded by fields and sheep and I was itching to get out and about on a rural run. It turned out to be a rather interesting one, where I got lost (twice) and came face to face a with a herd of cows. But I did get to enjoy gorgeous views, some hefty hills and a decent lungful of fresh air.
I had managed to reach seven miles on this run and by the following weekend, I subtly cranked the distance up to eight. I was back in London for this one and to make the run as scenic and interesting as possible, I opted to take in my favourite city sights. Starting from North London, the first few miles is a slog, running all the way down Holloway Road (not the most scenic start) and then down through Angel and Farringdon. These are really busy, smoggy areas so you do spend a lot of your time weaving in and out of people however, by mile five I had reached St Paul's Cathedral - the first hotspot on my run.

From here, I head over Millennium Bridge and onto the Southbank towards London Bridge. In the early mornings, I find running alongside the Thames so peaceful and with so much to look at, these final few miles normally fly by. When I reached Tower Bridge, I was on 7.95 miles (typical) so I had to run over the bridge. For the first time in my life though, as I reached the centre, the guards closed the gates as the bridge was being raised! This was at 7.98 miles. Still, it was nice to watch and once the suspensions were brought back down, I ran to the other end to complete the full eight miles. Overall, I managed an average pace of 8.27. Not as fast as I would have liked but I'll take it.
After this run, I realised that I had been lacking speed sessions. In fact, I hadn't really done a proper one in weeks! I decided to spend the week that followed focussing my normal training runs on speed work and fartleks. For one workout, I surreptitiously headed over to my local athletics track to carry out a session with my running club, something I have not been able to do in ages. I was really nervous as I had not run with others in quite a while. It annoyed me that I had actually reached this point of being unfamiliar and out of place. I was worried how fast I was going to be and when the coach read out the session, I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to complete it. It was as followed:

1x 1600m (threshold pace)
5x 600m (5-10K pace)
5x 200m (running hard)

I started off easy, making sure I actually did stick to threshold for the 1600m. I even found the first few 600m sets really tough and I savoured the 200m walk recoveries. However, by the 4th 600m, I had found my feet and felt strong and fast. I finished the session with an average pace of 6.32. My final 200m was also at a mile pace of 5.20 and I really couldn't be happier with that!
By the weekend, my legs were feeling pretty achey from these tailored sessions I had done but I wasn't too concerned as my training for the weekend wasn't your normal run in the park. It was an obstacle run in the park! I had entered my best friend and I into Rough Runners, a gladiator style obastacle race set on Clapham Common. You may be wondering why and I can explain...

...This race had a travelator!

We adored Gladiators growing up and I always used to love the finale course where the contestants would sprint up the travelator at the end. So when I saw this advertised, I had to enter just for this reason. It was such a laugh too. It was a mere 5K run with around 12 obstacles, including zip lines, punch bag walls, hanging beams (this hurt!) and a hilarious one called Swept Off Your Feet (inspired by Total Wipeout's, Crash Mountain).

By the time I got to the travelator, I was ready and raring to go. I opted for the fast lane (who wouldn't) but was gutted to have not made it up the first time. Its harder than it looks! Second attempt though, I sprinted as hard as I could and hopped up to the platform and finished with a little celebratory dance.
I had a bit of a messy recovery from Rough Runners as I had experienced a swollen and bruised ankle, which caused quite a lot of pain. Luckily though, I was back up and running three days later and managed to complete a strong fartlek session, which I adapted from a workout I read in Running Fitness magazine. I call it the five 5s:

5 minutes warm up jog
5 minutes @ 10K pace
5 minutes @ 5K pace
5 minutes @ 10K pace
5 minutes cool down jog

I find fartlek sessions really tough as the urge to stop for a rest is hard to resist. I especially found the 5K pace really hard and was counting down the minutes to the cool down jog. I managed to complete over 5K with an average mile pace of 7.55.

Come the final weekend of the month and I was off on my travels again, this time with my beloved bike in tow. I was heading to The Cotswolds to spend the weekend cycling with my friend from University. I was sooo excited for this as I haven't ridden my bike properly since the triathlon. It has only been used for my commute to work and I was really looking forward to going out for more than five miles.

The Cotswolds is simply stunning. We managed to complete 30 glorious miles in the sunshine, heading through little hamlets and villages and even stopping off in Stratford Upon Avon for a pit stop in a quaint pub. We managed to dodge some of the really steep inclines but we were faced with some unexpected hills along the way and it was great to be back in the saddle climbing up them! It made me realise how much I miss cycling and I will greatly miss being able to go out at weekend on my bike during marathon training. The thought of having to spend these running 20 miles still frightens me...
Anyway, that's an overview of September complete! Here's to a successful month of training. Lets hope October turns out to be the same (or better!).

Lipstick Runner.

No comments:

Post a Comment