Sunday, 18 February 2018

Happy bunny

It's been a good week's training and I'm very happy with the results which shows the structured training plan is working.  At the moment I'm training using heart rate zones which can be frustrating but it's very effective.  On Monday I had to try a Zone 1 run.  It was described to me as an embarrassingly slow pace, not one you'd want anyone to see you running/shuffling!  Within 200m of the start I was fast heading through Zone 2 never mind zone 1.  The freezing temperature may have played it's part but I decided to walk to get my heart rate down but it just continued to climb.  After 8 minutes I was in zone 3 and bloody cold so I turned round and ran back to warm up - heart rate stayed the same!
The rest of my running sessions went better and all heart rate and pace targets were met so I'm feeling good physically and mentally.  These targets make the training much easier.  Knowing that I'm working towards a target on each training session.  Each session has a purpose, no junk miles.  I've also been working on my posture while running which isn't easy - trying to sort out 56 years of bad posture while running tired is a challenge.
On Tuesday I stepped back into the pool.  My shoulder was a bit "grindy" and I felt every stroke.  I took it easy as I didn't want to aggravate it.  I didn't have any more discomfort for the rest of the week and have been doing shoulder stretches.  Perhaps it was my shoulder telling me it had been a while since I'd been in the pool and it wasn't used to that movement.  So we'll see what happens when I go back this week.  It's funny to think that in the summer of 2016 I achieved my PB in an Ironman race of 69 minutes for 3.8k and now I'm struggling with 0.8k! Based on my goals swimming is a way of helping ease the strain on my legs while working the heart and lungs hard.
You need to enjoy the good weeks because they aren't all good.  Then again I'd rather have a bad weeks training than be injured and not able to do anything.  I hope your training is going well as you the season is now upon us.  Happy bunny signing off.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Accountability leads to results

On Tuesday my structured training plan started off with a threshold fitness session to establish a baseline.  It was tough as I'm not used to picking up the pace every five minutes but because I knew my results would be evaluated, I got on with it.  I also measured my resting heart rate first thing every morning for a week.  Now the numbers are plugged in I will be training in the right heart rate zones for each session.
Two other sessions had me running above my normal pace but I knew what targets had to be hit, and I hit them.  I wonder what sessions I would have selected if I'd nobody looking over my shoulder?  I can assure you they would have been easier.
On Saturday I was going to run first thing for an hour.  I had stayed overnight in Aberdeen and the weather was "filthy".  I check the weather forecast back home and decided to postpone the session till I got home.  After a 3 and a half hour drive all I wanted to do was have a cup of tea and a snooze but I forced myself out the door for my fastest run in a long time, and faster than my target.  The weather forecast had lied so it was a wet run but it had to be done.
Today's run was a slow one concentrating on my heart rate.  With the freezing cold and hills it was all  over the place and as I was finishing the snow started but I got in before it got too bad.  What I love about running in the countryside, other than the scenery, is the lack of cars and therefore exhaust fumes.  My mid-day week runs in Uddingston are flatter runs but I really feel the difference in my breathing.  But as soon as the lighter mornings arrive, most of my running will be in the clean fresh air in the countryside.
Tomorrow I have a extremely slow recovery run in HR zone 1 which is going to be difficult and embarrassing.  It will be at best a shuffle to keep my heart rate down so I'll try and do it somewhere quiet where nobody will see me.  And on Tuesday I'm back in the pool!  It's great to have a well thought out plan.  All I've got to do is follow it!  Have a great week folks whatever you're training for.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Mind games

Another week disappears and the "A race" is now 152 days away when I will be running 71 miles in under 22 hours.  At the moment I'm running 10 miles in 90 minutes so that seems to be a significant increase.  I'm not breaking the mileage down into "marathons" because that starts the mind games.  Whether or not you want to play them there are always times when your mind starts conversations between your ears which are usually of a negative nature, creating doubt.  It's easy to say but this always creates doubt which turns into worry which can be very disruptive.  I've said before, I find January a tough month with the weather and the darkness - I'm an early morning trainer.  So I've got through January and did the minimal amount of training to just "tick over".   But last week I made a decision which gave a huge boost to my motivation and started mind games of a positive nature.  I agreed to start a structured training plan with my coach Genevieve so from Tuesday next week, there will be no hiding, no excuses, just focused training and I know that every sessions will be designed with my progression to this years A race.
As soon as I saw my training plan go up on Training Peaks my attitude changed from "ticking over" to "I can't wait to get started and be held accountable to this plan".  Even this week I was at a conference which meant long days and a few extra liquid carbs, I did a few treadmill runs to make sure I turn up next week in reasonable shape.
On Saturday I was shattered after a hard week so listened to my body and didn't train - I slept for 90 minutes in the afternoon.  As a result my 2 laps at Chatelherault today were faster than normal and I felt great whereas a month ago I was dying running less distance around the same trail.
Mind games can work against you if you let them.  But if you are total focused on your goal and have a plan as to how you are going to get there, it can make a massive, positive difference.  I'm so excited about working with my coach again and being measured and held accountable - bring it on.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Skin's waterproof

The weather certainly changed this week as all the snow and ice was washed away by torrential rain.  Two days in London and a visit to the physio to work on some knee pain meant there was little training during the week - I know, more excuses!
On Friday night I gave a talk to my triathlon club at the AGM on Grand 2 Grand and it was nice to relive some of the memories - it actually motivated me for the following day!
Back to back runs on Saturday and Sunday at Chatelherault have meant a good end to the week.  But the weather was shocking.  40mph winds on Saturday but by running later on in the day meant we missed the rain.  Part of the trail was flooded and when going through it I managed to stand in a hole and go over on my ankle but it was fine.  Just a reminder to be more careful when you can't see where your foot is landing.
My coach had suggested a 9am run on Sunday and the weather forecast looked horrendous.  Again 40 mph winds with heavy rain.  Lying in bed the wind was howling and the rain battered against the window.  I wasn't feeling like getting out of bed.  In the car the windscreen wipers were on double speed as I headed through some flooding on the roads.  But I had dressed for the occasion and Chatelherault does offer shelter for most of the time.  My legs were going to be tired following the previous day effort however it was a great run.  Genevieve pushed me hard at the end by saying we'd get under a target time if we worked hard for the last 3 minutes and it's a tough finish so I gave it everything and made it by 1 sec.  She knows how to get the best out of me!
We've agreed that the structured training starts a week on Monday so there will be no hiding.
Had I listened to the "chimp" telling me not to go out due to the conditions I would have missed a great training session.  Skin is waterproof and if you're wearing the correct gear then get out there - you'll feel better once it's over.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ice station zebra

What an incredible week of snow and freezing temperatures.  Work got in the way again with travel up to Aberdeen for a couple of days with the temperature falling below zero but no snow.  Coming home required my full attention as I hit the snow and the major routes began to clog up.  I was fortunate and got into my home town with 5 minutes to spare before it became grid lock with cars and trucks stuck on the icy roads.
The knock on effect of this was I didn't risk going out running as the pavements were icy and there was a high risk of injury.  I worked on my core and on Saturday had to spend time digging out the drive to get my car out - don't know why I bothered as today's snow has covered it again but it was a good workout.  I followed that with another core session and a turbo session - yes I got my leg over the bike!  I only lasted 25 minutes but I could feel the different muscles working in my legs and I was happy to get off the saddle in the end.  I followed this up with some leg work as they need to be a lot stronger for the races I am entering.  Last night temperatures got down to -7 so all the snowy pavements were now lethal.
Today I had to change my run route due to the snow.  I was picking up a friend but while travelling the weather conditions worsened and the snow was falling heavily.  So heavy I wasn't sure I'd make it home so we ran in another location.  I was wearing trails shoes but a lot of the run was on tarmac.  As it was 2 or 3 inches thick with snow, the shoes were fine.  Snow running is similar but not identical to running in sand.  It takes a wee bit more out of your legs.  Hopefully we are over the worst of the weather as I need more regular running and will start building the miles.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Ground hog day

More of the same this week.  Started off well with a new core session and the next day suffered the DOMS.  To be expected and more core work is required.  The next day I visited the physio as my foot had been causing me discomfort.  The ankle muscle needed worked on and then taped but I was told to rest it for 24 hours.  Then work took over - poor excuse I know but there went training for the rest of the week.
On Saturday I headed out for 2 laps at Chatelherault.  My rest had done me some good and I felt great.  However that afternoon a few glasses of wine and a late night meant I delayed my run till lunchtime.  The first lap was good and I added on an extra small loop but was bust by the end.  Came home, had some food and slept.  Is my body telling me something?  Probably and I'm ready to listen.
Getting back to regular training isn't proving to be easy but I will get there.  Starting tomorrow.  But it's going to be a challenge with work travel commitments over the next few weeks but it needs to be squeezed in somehow.  I'm not the only person aiming for a goal that requires sacrifice and planning but I need to apply Rule 5 - a cycling term if you need to look it up!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Work and training

The festive period meant a break from work which allowed me to rest, relax and run.  I was feeeling good with the running but knew the mileage would step up in January which it has.  But it's been tough so far and I'm not feeling 100% so far.  I shouldn't be surprised as this is a typical January feeling, and other athletes feel the same, as I shake off the excesses and also the impact that work has on training.  The first three days back at work have been hectic and this will continue for the foreseeable future so I have to get used to it.  My training will be my "stress buster" but I need to make sure my diary builds the regular training in and that I stick to it.
Last week was a good example in that I had a hard run on Tuesday and did nothing else till Saturday as the focus was on work.  Yesterday I went back to Dungavel and was hoping to improve on Tuesday's time.  The 3km uphill will never be easy but when I got to the turn at 8.5km I was a minute and a half quicker.  Then it went "pear shaped".  My heart rate was racing and my legs felt week so inevitably when I finished I was a minute and a half slower!  It's not about the time, as my ultra pals keep telling me, but I felt physically worse.
Today I went back to Chatelherault, it was -5, and ran 10km which is 2.5km longer than normal and we did it in the opposite direction.  The fatigue from the day before was still there so it wasn't the best run.  The pace was reasonable but I had to stop at a few points to get my breath back and heart rate down.
I'm sharing this with you for a number of reasons.  First of all it's so I can look back in 3 months time and appreciate just how much I have improved- it's the same every year but you still need to do the hard work. But I also want to encourage you if you are struggling either to get started or you have got started and are struggling like me.  We'll get there - this is normal.
On Tuesday I'm seeing the physio as my foot isn't happy and needs some TLC.  Here's hoping she can relieve some of the pain as there are a lot of miles ahead in 2018.  Let's see what I can accomplish this being the first full week back at work by allowing for my training schedule balanced against work.