Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Wokingham Half Marathon 2016 - training starts NOW!

(recent picture taken at Fixture 2 of Middlesex Cross Country League)

I have been a bit of a running geek this week and built a 12 week plan for my upcoming half marathon in February 2016. 

My choice of race is Wokingham Half Marathon and whilst this will be 4th, it will have been two years since I raced this distance and I am feeling a little out of my comfort zone. Having spent a lot of time focussing on shorter distances, I will find it tough training to achieve 13.1 miles and a shiny new PB. With a current time of 1.45.30 (Reading Half Marathon 2014) I am desperate for a sub 1.45 but currently lacking confidence to achieve this. This is just under 8 minute mile pace, which for me over this distance is rather quick!

I decided yesterday to research half marathon training plans and as next week conveniently marks 12 weeks until race day, I opted for a longer plan to allow me to steadily rebuild my speed and distance. I was browsing Hal Higdon's website (American Runners' World contributor and all round running expert) and came across his intermediate level half marathon plan (which you can see here).

This plan is for those who want to improve on previous times and experiences but still offers a schedule that is easily manageable. Over the 12 weeks, he combines a mixture of easy runs, with speedwork, tempo sessions and strength building. The latter two I rarely do so I am excited to follow a plan where these are essential. 

Of course, I'm sure I am not the only one that follows training plans down to every, exact detail (please tell me I am not!?). Looking at this plan, I did see a lot of running (in my opinion a little too much for a half marathon) and I knew that I wouldn't be able to commit to six days a weeks. I don't particularly want to either. I also want to be able to continue with my swimming so I'm maintaining upkeep of my triathlon training in the background. With this in mind, I have devised my own personalised training plan that takes 75% of Hal's version but mixes in swimming and maybe an extra rest day (sorry Hal). 

My aim is to train on average 4/5 times a week. Every week consists of a steady short run and then a long paced run at the weekend but I will be alternating each week between speed sessions and tempo runs. For these tempo runs, the aim is to build up my pace so I am carrying out a run where I test different speeds over certain time periods (e.g. a 30 minute tempo run will consist of 0-10 mins threshold pace, 10-20 mins at 10K pace and then 20-30 mins easy running). In the past, I have tried these sessions a couple of times and found them really hard so I know they will be a big challenge in my training.

For those like me who have a winter half marathon in the diary, now is the time to start planning! Never have I felt so organised for a race. With my plans stuck proudly on my fridge, all that I need is the enthusiasm, determination and strength to follow every day to achieve (hopefully) that much desired sub 1.45.

Lipstick Runner.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A time to reflect...

Heartfelt, personal posts aren't something I normally write but I have reached a point where I strongly feel the desire to put my feelings into writing.

You will have seen my time on this blog has been, well, rather limited. Up until 4/5 months ago, I dedicated a lot of my time to building it -  it was a hobby of mine but has become one I have failed to upkeep. I have been feeling guilty for this the last couple of months in particular but in the space of a few weeks, I have assessed and evaluated my life in greater detail and have come to the resolution that I, in fact, should not feel bad for this.

We all face times in our life where we feel unsure. This could result in lack of satisfaction, confusion and even unhappiness over certain areas of your life. For me, all three of these emotions combine how I have been feeling about the professional side to my life and over time, I have found my stresses and dismay has subconsciously leaked into the personal side too.

I won't go into details about my profession, job or career ambitions as this is not what this post (or blog) is for. What I will go into detail about is how easily demotivation in one area of your life can quickly cloud over other parts. 

Sport is my passion and I live and breathe it outside working hours. Feeling fit and looking healthy is an absolute importance to me. Yet, I have found my interest in this has deceased the last month or so. Instead of looking forward to a swim, or a run, I have struggled to find the motivation to go out and do it. I still have gone but not really ever fulfilled each training session. I've stopped all forms of speed and strength building and seeked solace is 'casual exercise'. I run at a pace that feels comfortable at the time, I head to the pool and just swim 1200m and then get out. My cycling is practically non existent, including using my bike for my commute and I barely find the motivation to do any core workouts at home. What has also baffled me is how achey and tired I feel from any form of exercise I carry out. Six months ago, I trained hard five times a week. Now I scrape three times at a much lower effort and feel 10 times worse!

This is totally abnormal for me and I have felt rather worried about my general interest and energy towards exercise. My training plans are smothered in red crosses when I have just come home from work and thought 'I can't be arsed' and just skipped the session. Instead, I have headed for the booze shelf, poured a large G&T and slobbed on the sofa in my PJs. Attractive huh?

It wasn't until about a month ago when I realised my unhappiness stemmed from my work. It was this part of my life I really struggled with and felt completely exhausted from. My mind was fried and it was sending signals to my body to feel the same. Whilst I have gained success and promotion through my current role which I am incredibly proud of, I was also incredibly tired and overwhelmed from it and it was taking over my life outside of working hours too. I blame no one for this, sometimes this is just the way work can be, however it is only down to me to make the decision to continue with the struggle, or find something more suited to my current position. 

I came to the decision that this will not be the way to lead my life. Whilst I am ambitious in my career, I also greatly aspire to a healthy and happy life outside of work. I have finally learnt the importance of a balanced lifestyle. Working success and money, for me, will not be the pinnacle of my happiness. I have many friends who earn a lot more than me and are unbelievable hard working for it. I greatly admire their determination. Yet on the flipside, I also have friends who earn less than me and are also very happy and content with their lives too. Truth is - as long as you have a secure job that you love and a healthy income to lead a happy life, you are a winner. 

So with this realisation in mind, I decided to take on a new adventure in my career and was very fortunate to land a very exciting new job. Again, I won't go into details but it is a role I am very excited to start. I am also confident that it will allow me to believe in myself again in and outside of work which is what I greatly desire right now. 

I guess what I am trying to say with this post is that sometimes life doesn't go the way it should go. You try to control everything, take on too much and sometimes you can't govern what will happen.  We are only human after all. 

Despite not knowing where life will take you, there are things that you can change for yourself, but it is important to not dwell on the past. So what if I have lost my running mojo. So what that I have gained weight and so what that I have felt so low. Now is the time for me to hold my head high and make amends myself. My new profession will only be the start of this and I will make it my mission to reignite my fitness and love for sport again, not to mention dedicating time to bring it to life on this blog. :) 

Lipstick Runner.