Last week’s report can be found here.
This week I had planned 7 sessions; 5 runs, 1 Yoga and Core session and 1 weights sessions.
|Yoga and Core
Monday 31st December:
My final weights session of the year! It was a struggle to convince myself to get started, however there was a Garmin Badge available on the Connect app for everyone who completed an activity on New Year’s Eve. This virtual badge gave me enough motivation to get up and get through my workout.
The plan was as follows:
- 3×10 Push-Ups
- 3×10 Sit-Ups
- 1×5 Deadlift at 55kg
- 5×5 Squats at 55kg
- 1×20 Push-Ups
- 1×20 Sit-Ups
I started off feeling strong, however this feeling soon faded by the third set of push-ups! I had been alternating, so 10 push-ups then 10 sit-ups until I had done 30 reps of each. My recovery period was 15 seconds after each set.
Moving onto the Deadlift, I wanted to keep the weight at 55kg. I completed 3 reps and then had to check my form for reps 4 and 5. Deadlifting definitely feels easier than when I first started out and would really struggle! My lifting gloves also help here as they prevent the bar from digging into my hands, especially at the higher weight rep ranges.
I haven’t squatted for a while, and if I recall correctly, my last effort was 5×5 at 40kg. All I can really remember about my last squat session was that it felt quite easy and I would increase the weight on my next session. Partly because I wanted to challenge myself, and partly because I didn’t want the hassle of changing weight plates, I stuck with the 55kg from the Deadlift. The first set felt comfortable so I continued with 55kg. My biggest issue when it comes to squatting with a barbell is the bar pressing against the back of my neck or top of my back. I have a padded cylinder which supposedly offers some cushioning, but it still isn’t the most comfortable! Taking 30 second recovery breaks in between each set, I managed to complete all 5 sets of 5 repetitions.
After another 30 second recovery period, I hit the floor for some more push-ups. I completed 10 reps and then had to switch to the knee variant as my arms were starting to struggle. I took 15 seconds rest after completing all 20 reps and then moved on to complete 20 sit-ups.
Really, I should have included some bench press work, but this wasn’t the best pre-planned session! It had been more of a spur of the moment session which was only really drafted up shortly before I got changed into my gym gear.
I feel happy in the regard that I completed some strength training, but I’m not sure how I’m going to cope as I look to increase my sessions in the New Year as I will only have 1 strength session per week. I’m not sure what it is, but I just can’t seem to push myself as much or as hard in my strength sessions as I can with my running. I get a little bored and at the moment I’m not really seeing any huge strength or muscular endurance gains to keep myself motivated. Despite strength training for a good few months now, albeit without the best laid plan or effort, I still struggle with certain exercises and find it more fatiguing than running. Hopefully in the New Year I can find a routine which works for me, although I know that strength work will never be my main focus or priority.
Tuesday 1st January:
Welcome to 2019! I woke up sprightly and ready for the first Parkrun of the year. I had debated doing a double Parkrun, as it is the only time of the year that you are able to complete 2 on the same day due to staggered start times. Instead, I made a rather ambitious decision that I was going to try and beat my Christmas Day personal best of 28:37. As such, I put on a pair of thermal tights (they have a zip pocket at the back for my Parkrun barcode) as usual, but then opted for a t-shirt rather than my usual choice of a long-sleeved top. I wanted to give myself the best chance of setting a new personal best! It would also be a debut run for my new Nike Elite 10s, which were technically for my birthday but that isn’t until the end of January so Chris said that I could wear them early.
My cousin and her boyfriend were also taking part in the West Park Parkrun, and I met up with them at around 9:50am (the official start time was an hour later than usual at 10am). We started just behind the middle of the pack as I stayed to talk to my cousin. After the klaxon sounded, we set off and I took the lead. The start was a little congested but I was feeling confident. It wasn’t long until my cousin’s boyfriend, also named Chris, overtook me. He had run his first Parkrun a few weeks ago and had managed to get under the 29 minute mark. At this point, the plan was to just keep him in sight for as long as I could.
It was around the halfway point when I started to feel like I could push on some more. I decided to pick up the pace in an effort to overtake Chris. Running past him actually gave me a boost in confidence! It was around the 2.25 mile mark when I started to have an issue. I felt a bit of a twinge in my knee. I battled through it for a short distance, before deciding to slow to a walk just to check that I was ok. As I slowed, I looked over my shoulder and saw Chris starting to gain some ground. Feeling like I had just stretched my knee a little from over striding, I picked my pace back up. Occasionally I would glance over my shoulder just to check if he was gaining on me, as I really wanted to finish first out of our trio.
Just before the final hill climb, I heard someone calling my name. To my surprise, it was my cousin! I turned to my left to see her right next to me. She asked if I was on my final lap, and then gave shouts of encouragement. I had been so in the zone that I hadn’t even noticed her or who I was now overtaking. My legs were starting to feel the effort that I was putting in, but it was also becoming a mental battle. As I approached the final hill climb, I was battling the urge to slow to a walk before picking the pace back up on the flat sprint to the finish. With my cousin behind me, I knew I couldn’t slow down. I pushed on through to the finish line. Just before the finish I got slowed by two people in front of me. There wasn’t enough space to overtake them in time to reach the finish funnel, so I had to stay behind. This meant that I got pipped to the post by two other runners who ran alongside me and just nipped in front of me at the very last second!
I crossed the finish line in 27:22 and joined the queue to get my barcode scanned. This was only the second time that I had been fast enough to have to queue up, with the first being at an extremely busy Christmas Day Parkrun. It was around a minute later that Chris also joined the queue. We got our times scanned and then waited near the finish for my cousin.
It wasn’t long ago that I was struggling to hit a sub-30 minute 5k, and was expecting it to be a 2019 goal. Now I have run multiple sub-30’s and have a personal best of 27:22. I had taken 1:15 off of my Christmas Day personal best! I said this on Christmas Day, but I can’t see me improving my 5k time by much more now without 5k specific training. The start of 2019 is going to be spent running my first half marathon of the year and then building endurance for my marathon in April. After my marathon I want to spend time focusing on improving my half marathon time for the Birmingham half in October, or the Great North Run in September if I’m lucky enough to get a place in the ballot. Hopefully I can improve my 10k time too. From November to December, I may spend some time focusing on 5k speed work, but it depends what events I have lined up nearer to the time.
Wednesday 2nd January:
Ugh, where did the Christmas holiday go?! It was my first day back at work, and this week would be the first time that I have completed a 5 run day week whilst working. Originally today’s session was going to be a VO2 Max speed session, however after my tough run yesterday, and with it being my first day back at work, I had switched this to an easy paced run.
Work had been pretty slow so I got home feeling ready to run. There was a bit of mental anxiety at play as my brain was telling me that today’s “easy” paced 8 miler was going to be tough after running a 5k personal best yesterday and then being back at work today. I found a running documentary on the iPlayer called “From Wild Man To Iron Man”, so I decided to give that a watch in an attempt to motivate me through my run.
The first mile felt quite comfortable, usually I have to get into the swing of things but I was feeling okay. Mile 2 came around and I was a quarter of the way through the planned 8 miles. Then came mile 3… I’m not sure why, but this mile was mentally tough! I tried not to focus on my pace or heart rate, but to just run how I felt comfortable. Despite this, mile 3 felt slow and laboured, although the pace was around the same as the previous 2 miles. Eventually mile 3 came to an end in 11:40! To my surprise, this had actually been the quickest mile of the 3.
Mile 4 wasn’t as bad as I knew I was almost halfway through. I spent most of it counting down to 4.9 miles so that I only had a Parkrun to go! So far the documentary had been a decent watch, but hadn’t captivated me like Eddie Izzard’s three part documentary. Miles 5 was the quickest in 11:28, and mile 6 slowed back down to 11:45. Completing mile 6 gave me a boost as I was three-quarters of the way through the session and only had 2 miles to go.
By now the documentary had finished but it was too fidgety to try to find something else to watch whilst running, so I just put the radio on. Halfway through mile 6 and the music hadn’t been great. I was also sick of listening to adverts so I put some of my music on instead. This gave me a nice boost as I started to sing along and forget that I was running. Mile 7 came rolling in with an average pace of 11:43. Just one more mile to go. My mind had now switched to food. What was I going to eat for tea? After some deliberation, I settled on sweet potato fries, a small cheese and tomato pizza with mushrooms, and 4 Quorn Chicken Nuggets. With the thought of food filling my mind, it was hard not to pick up the pace to complete my session quicker! I kept a steady pace and finished mile 8 in 11:47.
I wasn’t sure if I’d managed to stay in Zone 2 for this run or if I had crept into Zone 3. I checked my data after my run to see that almost the entire session had been in Zone 2, which I was pleased with. During the run I had felt more fatigued than usual, but that is to be expected with the effort of yesterday’s Parkrun and trying to get back into a regular sleeping pattern for work. Running 5 days a week whilst back at work may take some getting used to, but so far so good! Now I just have a tough speed session tomorrow to look forward to…
Thursday 3rd January:
Today was going to be my first attempt at running 3 days in the week whilst being back at work. Adding an extra running day seemed to work out fine during the Christmas break, but I was curious to see if I would still feel the same this week after working Wednesday and Thursday. Unlike last week, today’s session was also going to be a speed work session, just to make things a little harder!
The original plan was to run a total of 7 miles. I would run 1 mile at an easy pace to warm up, followed by 5 rounds of hard running for 0.5 mile (8:15-8:25 minute per mile pace) with 0.5 mile of easy paced running to recover, followed by 1 mile at an easy pace to cool down. Unfortunately, despite creating a specific Garmin workout, my watch hadn’t synced correctly so I was unable to follow it. This meant that I didn’t have time or pace notifications, so I set up a customer interval run on my watch so that I received a vibration every 0.5 mile after the warm up period.
My warm up mile was completed with an average pace of 12:07, and looking back, I wish I had ran 1.5 or 2 miles instead! I felt fine as I started my first 0.5 mile speed interval and before I knew it I had completed the first one. Originally I was concerned that I may need to walk to recover in between rounds, however I managed to run all of the 0.5 mile recovery period with an average pace of 11:36.
The second speed interval was a lot harder! The first 30% seemed to go by pretty fast, but then time seemed to drag. I tried to stop myself from keeping checking my watch, but I couldn’t help it. Boy does a pace of 8:19 feel fast! I finished my second speed interval knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to run another 3 intervals. Again, I managed to run the entire recovery period, this time with a slightly slower pace of 11:43.
I had to bribe myself to get through the third interval; it was tough! Telling myself that I would run the remaining 3.5 miles at an easy pace as long as I got through this interval helped me to push through. It was my fastest interval of the 3, but only by 4 seconds as I completed it with a pace of 8:15.
Trying to be positive, I kept my legs moving and managed to run the remaining distance with a pace of between 11:28-11:38. The average pace across the entire session was 10:57 as I completed 7 miles in 1:16:42.
As was to be expected, my speed interval parts pushed me into Zones 4 and 5, with the recovery periods falling into Zone 3, along with the first mile after the final recovery period. Zone 1 consisted of the warm up mile, with the last 2 miles falling into the Zone 2 range.
Overall I’m not too disappointed at having to change the session slightly. I haven’t really ran at that speed before so it may have been optimistic to expect 6 0.5 intervals! It may also have been beneficial to have warmed up with 1.5 or 2 miles instead of just the 1 mile as my body isn’t used to running that fast. Even my 5k personal best average pace was only 8:50, with my fastest ever mile being 8:44! It did feel fun to run that fast though and it felt A LOT quicker than when I ran my 5k personal best only 3 days prior.
Friday 4th January:
Ahh, Yoga and Core day, how I haven’t missed you! I thought I’d cheat a little today and found a 30 minute Pilates video on YouTube. It was almost like 2 birds 1 stone as it focused mainly on engaging and strengthening the core, but with some stretches and flexibility work too. I found Pilates to be more enjoyable than Yoga, or perhaps it was just the video that I had found. Either way, I may look to Pilates for my Friday evenings, at least for a few weeks.
Saturday 5th January:
7:15am Saturday morning (also known as Parkrun day!)… it was -2 degrees outside and dark. After “it’s freezing”, what was the first thing to enter my mind…? “oh, I should get the “Frosty” Garmin badge today!” (Record an activity when it’s below freezing). I know, I must be going mad!
We arrived at West Park, Wolverhampton for 8:45am and walked towards the start. Today we had arranged to meet up with Chris’s cousin, her husband and 5 year old son. We were all going to be running, with Chris and his cousin’s son aiming for personal bests.
At 9am, the klaxon sounded and we all set off. The first two turns are always congested and today was no different. Once we had made it over the first hill, the crowd started to thin out. I was running alongside Chris’s cousin as we planned to pace Chris to a personal best (currently 33:18). For me, today was just going to be a social run where I would run at a comfortable pace but quicker than my easy pace (around Zone 3 for my heart rate zone).
Mile 1 came in at 10:01, and I felt comfortable. For mile 2 we had to slow slightly to 10:25 as Chris was falling behind us. We entered the third mile and Chris had managed to catch us back up and was running quicker than he had been for miles 1 and 2. He started to struggle at around the 2.5 mile mark. His cousin and I encouraged him on and mile 3 came in at 10:07. For the last 0.1 mile I wanted to pick up the speed to see how my shoes felt; it was my first run in the Nike Odyssey Reacts. My final sprint to the finish was with an average pace of 8:09. I completed the 5k in 31:40, with both my Garmin and official Parkrun time showing the same figure. Chris and his cousin came in shortly after in 31:52, so a new personal best for him.
As expected, most of the run was spent in Zone 3 as I was running faster than my usual “easy” pace. Towards the end I peaked into Zones 4 and 5 as I picked up the pace and also battled the final hill climb. My best pace was 6:18.
I enjoyed the run, it was nice to run with other people and to have a catch up and chat along the way. My new shoes also felt comfortable and responsive, which is good news as I plan on wearing them for my half marathon on January 20th, as long as I can get some more miles in them first. I will be writing a post to share my first impressions of them in the near future.
Sunday 6th January:
My final double figure run before my half marathon! After my half marathon I will start to gradually increase my weekly long run as I target my April marathon. I do have another half marathon in March, but I need to start strengthening my base endurance by running further.
Originally I was only going to go up to 12 miles in my half marathon preparation (“unlucky 13”), however I decided that as I have done 12 miles on my last 2 long runs, I would increase the distance. Today wasn’t going to be about pace or heart rate, but just to run at a comfortable pace and complete the entire distance. This turned out to be a good decision as unbeknown to me, my heart rate monitor had locked to my cadence so wouldn’t have given accurate data anyway!
I felt confident of achieving my goal of sub-2:30 for my next half marathon, but I decided to try and keep an increased pace for this session to see how I felt. I won’t break down each mile split, but I picked up the pace to faster than goal race pace after completing mile 4. I pushed on with a quick pace until the start of mile 11, where I made the conscious decision to slow the pace back down. At this point, I was averaging around 15 seconds per mile faster than my goal race pace. Using the last 3 miles as a cool down, I felt strong.
I don’t have any heart rate data to show due to a technical difficulty, however I never felt like I was struggling. I worked up a bit of sweat for miles 6-9 but nothing which was too exerting.
I’m feeling even more confident of running a sub-2:30 half marathon on the 20th now! Next week will act as a taper where I reduce my mileage to try and make sure my legs are fresh and raring to go. I will then amend my March half marathon goal time depending on my finishing time on the 20th.
Total Miles = 34.2
Training Hours = 7:02:52
Positives = a new 5k personal best of 27:22. My furthest ever non-stop run and at my sub-2:30 goal pace. My highest mileage week.
Negatives = the only negative I have for the week is that I let my diet slip.
Next Week = reduced mileage as part of my taper. Long run of only 8 miles. Midweek hill session.