Last week’s report can be found here.
This week I had planned 7 sessions; 5 runs, 1 Yoga session and 1 weights sessions.
Monday 4th February:
I got home and put my dinner straight in the oven. Sweet potato fries and Quorn Chicken Bites. Whilst waiting the required 20 minutes cooking time, I spent some time catching up with Chris before he had to go out. I wasn’t really feeling a session today. Especially as it wasn’t a run! Still, I knew that I had to work on my strength and conditioning a lot more than I currently was. After a short period of letting my food digest, I got changed and started my session. The plan was as follows:
- 5×10 Push Ups
- 5×10 Squats
- 5×10 Triceps Dips
- 5×10 Barbell Bench Press at 20kg
- 5×10 Barbell Row at 20kg
I decided to complete the above in pure circuit fashion. This would mean 1 set of 10 push ups, 15 seconds rest and then onto the next exercise and repeat until I completed my barbell rows. After each row set I would take a 60 second recovery period before restarting from the top.
Surprisingly the first set of each exercise felt comfortable. This feeling didn’t last for long though! The second set felt okay, with my arms burning a little in the triceps dips and for the last few reps of the bench press. Set 3 got tougher still. I had a slight delay starting my triceps dips on the third set as there was a spider and I had to call Chris up to rescue me! Upon completing the third set I did start to question whether I could manage another 2. However, these sets weren’t taking much time, so I didn’t want to stop at 3 sets as it wouldn’t feel like much of a workout.
Set 4 was tough but manageable. The triceps dips were starting to take their toll! Set 5 on the other hand, was much tougher! Surprisingly, the push ups and squats felt comfortable. The triceps dips were tough from rep 4 onward. My usual nemesis, the bench press, was tough from around rep 3! My arms started to wobble a little and I had to focus to keep good form and lower the bar enough to count as a rep. After the tough triceps dips and bench press, my arms were a little fatigued and it made the barbell row tougher. I completed my fifth set and took 15 seconds to recover before stopping my watch.
To end the session I spent 5 minutes with my massage roller. The idea behind foam rolling and massages is to increase blood flow and improve circulation. It can also help to reduce muscle stiffness. I am trying to spend more time on recovery to improve my performance. We will see how this goes!
Tuesday 5th February:
Ah, another Tuesday that would be spent being anxious! That can only mean one thing… club night!
Last week I tried out my nearest running club, and whilst I enjoyed the session and worked hard, I didn’t really feel the “click”. I was looking for something a little more social, and although it was a tough session, I didn’t really feel like part of the group. I completed the session but was around 30 seconds behind the others. I tried to keep pace with a lady who was recovering from injury, however I still fell a few seconds behind. This wasn’t really a big issue as we were running short looped hill intervals, so I was never on my own. Still, as part of joining a club I expected more of a social and supportive aspect. As such, I decided that I would try other clubs and then make a decision on which one to join. Membership starts from March 31st, so I have plenty of time to make a decision.
This week the anxiety was worse. Not only was I trying out a new club, but I would be driving there! I have never driven anywhere near Birmingham; I avoid it at all costs! To be honest, I only drive to work and back, and occasionally a mile further to visit my mum. All of my journeys use the same few roads and I hate driving anywhere that I don’t know. I stress about parking too. What if there are no “easy” spaces? I.E. spaces where I don’t have to reverse park between two cars. Still, I really wanted to try this club out and driving there was my only option. It was further away from home, however it was only 5 miles from work. I finish at 5pm and sessions start at 6:30pm, so it would give me plenty of time to grab something to eat, get changed and sit in the rush hour traffic.
Throughout the day I had been checking Google Maps to try to familiarise myself with the route and to keep an eye on traffic updates. At 5pm I shut down my work computer and headed to the toilets to get changed. I then sat at my desk and ate my cheese, tomato and onion wholemeal bap. What was a 13 minute journey at 2pm had not become a 28 minute journey in the busy rush hour traffic. I set up Google Maps on my phone and headed to my car. A lady from the club had arranged to meet me at around 6pm, so off I set to try and find my way there.
Despite the crawling traffic I arrived just after 5:45pm. Parking had been busier than I expected but I managed to squeeze into a space, with some difficulty! I called Chris to let him know that I had arrived safely and then headed into the club. I paid my £2.50 session fee, filled out a form and was given a wristband to show that I had paid and was covered by their insurance whilst out running. The lady on reception advised me to head to the club room as the person I was due to meet hadn’t arrived yet. I made my way into the club room which was filled with people and trophies. There was also a bar area.
At 6pm, the lady arrived and promptly greeted me. She showed me where the toilets, changing rooms and track doors were. We had a little chat and then she introduced me to the run leader of the group that I would be with. He explained a little about the planned session and what usually happens on each session. We spoke about my previous running experience and what I was looking for at the club. He then introduced me to the other members of our group, so I spent some time chatting with them. I then headed outside to get a GPS signal on my watch. At around 6:30pm everyone had gathered outside. The run leader went over the session plan, made sure everyone was in hi-vis and was ready to start.
We set off at a steady pace as we made our way to where the session would begin. There were 8 or so of us in the group and we were spread out. The run leader would run between us all to make sure everyone was okay, and then at certain points the people at the front would wait or run back to meet the people a little further behind. Everyone waited for each other when crossing roads and no-one was left alone. When we reached the session start area, the coach explained that it would be 6 laps of the “triangle” and described the route. As I hadn’t ran the route before, and didn’t know the area, I was keen to stick to the middle of the pack. He also explained that we would be able to rest in this area and miss a lap out if we needed to recover.
I lined up with two other group members and we all set off. The first part of the triangle was on an incline, which was pretty tough! I remarked that I wasn’t looking forward to the hill sessions if the coach didn’t class this as a hill! The coach ran past us to lead the group, and then waited at the top to direct us right to the next section. The course was a lap where you just had to follow the pavement, with only one quite side-street road to cross. Upon completing the first lap, and realizing that I couldn’t get lost, I pushed forward a little. I couldn’t catch the lady who was out in front, but I wasn’t struggling with my pace. The lady then stopped at the end of the fifth lap, which made me question if we had done 5 or 6! I completed the sixth lap and then ran back a little to meet up with the rest of the group. We ran towards the starting area and the coach explained that we would now have a steady cool down run back to the club.
For the run back I ran with the lady who had been out in front of me during the session. We had a chat and she asked me about my running and events that I had planned. She advised that I might be better suited to the next group up, however I had felt comfortably challenged during this session. It would be up to the coach if he was to move me up a group anyway. Along the way we slowed and stopped to let everyone catch up and regroup. The coach led the way for the final part so that he could direct us in and keep an eye out for traffic. We all regrouped on the club carpark and everyone congratulated each other and shook hands. It was a really nice and supportive atmosphere.
I then headed into the club with the coach and a couple of the group members. Inside I met back up with the lady who had greeted me originally and she asked how I had found it. The bar served everyone with a free glass of water, which was handed to me by the coach. He had a chat with me to see how I got on, as did the remaining members of the group who hadn’t headed home. This was definitely more social than my last experience, and the session had still felt challenging.
Similarly to last week, I hadn’t paused or lapped my watch each time we stopped or at the end of each triangle lap. I did press the lap button at the start of the first lap, however that was it. My splits can be found below, however they do also include time spent talking and going through the session. My heart rate was spent in a mixture of zones due to the warm up, cool down and then time spent stopped. I did spend a fair amount of time in zones 3 and 4, with a little in zone 5.
Overall, I really enjoyed my evening. Despite the anxiety of driving to Birmingham and meeting new people, I had a really good time. The people were really friendly and welcoming, and I managed to push myself during the session. The drive back had caused a bit of confusion as I had to navigate a confusing island to get onto the motorway, so I ended up going round it 2 or 3 times as I tried to understand where Google Maps was trying to direct me. I do wish the club was a little closer, however I’m sure I’ll get used to the route!
Wednesday 6th February:
I hadn’t been on my computer all week, so I hadn’t consulted with my training plan. I knew that I had put yesterday’s club run in my schedule as an expected 5 miles, but it was actually 5.75. Today, I presumed my run would then be a 7 miler, with an 8 miler planned for Thursday. The only issue with this was that I was now planning to attend Thursday’s club session, which was most likely going to be less than 8 miles. Ah well, for now, that is an issue for tomorrow!
I got dressed and started a new audio book as I got onto the treadmill. My splits weren’t really important as my focus was to keep my heart rate in zones 1 or 2. Despite maintaining a low heart rate, this run was tough! I started to struggle before even reaching the 3 mile mark. Something just didn’t feel quite right. I had experienced a slight niggle in hip area, however this wasn’t the cause for concern here. Telling myself that it would pass, I pushed on with my run.
Things didn’t seem too bad until I reached the 4.85 mile mark. Then I had really bad stomach ache and a slight bout of stitch in my right side. I contemplated cutting my run short at the 5 mile mark. Eventually my watch vibrated for 5 miles, but I continued to push on. I really wanted to get to 7 miles (my presumed session target), but I also knew that I was .75 ahead of schedule as the club run had been longer than I had expected. In the back of my mind, I knew that tomorrow’s run would be shorter than 8 miles, so I didn’t want to fall further behind today.
With some difficulty I managed to complete all 7 miles. I promptly headed to the bathroom (sorry, TMI!) and then took a quick shower. My stomach ache was still lingering, and I thought maybe it was due to not eating enough. I took my sweet jacket potato out of the oven and tucked in. About 5 minutes after finishing my food, I was almost bowled over with stomach ache. I headed back upstairs to the toilet and ended up stuck there for over 30 minutes. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to move and made a dash for my IBS tablets. I took one of my tablets and headed to bed.
Whilst I’m glad that I completed my run, it actually turned out that today’s run should have been 8 miles. This now means that I am .25 mile behind schedule, and will be attending a club run tomorrow so will fall further behind. I may have to double up and complete a treadmill run in the evening after Parkrun on Saturday morning. If I start attending both club sessions then I will have to go through my plan and make a few changes. I’d like to keep my mileage at around 40 miles per week, if not peaking higher as I focus on the Blackpool Marathon in April. I’ll see what tomorrow’s club session holds and then make a decision.
Thursday 7th February:
As mentioned above, I did have a steady 8 miler planned for today, however I opted to attend a running club session instead. I really enjoyed Tuesday’s session and wanted to see what Thursday’s entailed before committing to becoming a member in March.
I wasn’t sure how far my group would be running today, however I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be 7 or 8 miles. Arriving at the club with plenty of time to spare, I spent some time in the club room talking to my run leader and other members of the group who had arrived early. One of the members offered to show me around properly and to also take me out to the track. This was the first time that I had been near a track and it looks a lot bigger in person than on the T.V! We completed one lap of the track at a slow pace whilst we talked about the stadium. Soon the club room will be moving to the stand on the other side of the stadium as the stadium was to be expanded for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
After completing our lap (which I didn’t log on my watch), we headed back out to the front of the stadium where all of the groups meet before starting their sessions. There was around eight of us, however it consisted of a few people who I hadn’t met on Tuesday. The run leader described the route for the session; this meant nothing to me as I didn’t know the area at all anyway! As such, I still had no idea how far we would be running.
We headed out at a steady pace, however we soon had to come to a halt as we waited to cross a busy dual carriageway. This became a common theme throughout the run as we waited to cross roads or so that the runners at the back of the group could catch up. It was quite hilly across the route, and I did feel like I was working harder than my usual Thursday easy zone 2 run. This showed in my heart rate data as I spent 27% of the session in zone 3, and 3% in zone 4.
My average moving pace was strong across the session, however we only covered 5.15 miles, leaving me a little behind on my weekly plan. Still, it was nice to be running outdoors and with others, even though I did spend most of the session worry about tripping up a curb in the dark!
Friday 8th February:
I know that those who follow my progress are expecting me to report that I skipped Yoga… well, I didn’t! Attending running club this week has really helped with my motivation. I want to improve as much as I can as a runner, and Yoga will help me with my strength and conditioning.
Chris was going to be late home from work, so the plan was to have a 15 minute Yoga session. This would then be followed by some foam rolling and then a shower before he got home with a Chinese takeaway.
In the end, I followed a 15 minute Yoga video, but then actually continued afterwards! This was mainly due to my OCD as I was too slow to press stop on my watch at 15 minutes, so then had to continue until it read 20. However, upon reaching 20 minutes, I figured another 5 wouldn’t hurt so I added a few more leg stretches before spending some time with my massage stick.
Saturday 9th February:
Today was starting with a Parkrun, however it would also be my first two-a-day! Due to my club run on Thursday being just under 3 miles shorter than planned, I decided I would try to make up those miles today with a 3 mile run in the evening.
Originally, I was planning on racing Parkrun today. This plan was put to bed due to storm Erik and the 20mph winds which accompanied! I read that strong winds can dramatically increase the effort and exertion required when running. As I would be running into these strong headwinds, I decided against racing and instead would aim for a steady zone 2 run.
As per usual at Parkrun I started out quicker than I intended. Still, my pace was sitting in the middle of zone 2, so I decided to continue. Mile 1 came in at 10:28, however I was starting to push into the higher end of zone 2. As such, I reduced the pace slightly for mile 2 to ensure that I didn’t peak into zone 3. Mile 2 came in at 10:54.
For mile 3, I was half tempted to run an all-out mile, however I resisted the urge. I continued in zone 2 until I reached the 2.9 mile mark. Here I decided to pick up speed and power up the hill and then sprint to the finish. This still turned out to be my slowest mile as I had held myself back towards the first half of the mile to ensure that I stayed in zone 2. My final 0.1 mile pace was 8:04, which I was happy with!
There were a few times where I found myself inadvertently picking up the pace. It can be hard to slow down when there are people running alongside you or overtaking you! I For the most part I showed restraint and as such, managed to stay in zone 2 with the exception of a few seconds of hill climbing and the end of mile 3 to the finish.
After going shopping and completing a few other errands, I finally got home at around 5:30pm. I headed straight to the treadmill for another 3 mile zone 2 run before tea. My phone didn’t have a lot of charge so I actually ran this with no audio book or music!
I’m hoping that these additional Saturday miles won’t affect my planned 16 mile run tomorrow. They shouldn’t as they were low intensity, however we’ll see what happens tomorrow!
Sunday 10th February:
My long runs are starting to reach the stage where they are feeling a bit daunting! 15/16 miles is a long way to run!
I woke up and had my usual breakfast of Quaker Oats. Usually I get on the treadmill for around 10am, however I decided to have a lie in today after eating breakfast. I had planned to start getting dressed for around 10:30am, however I dozed off and woke up at 10:50am. After quickly eating a banana and getting dressed, I was on the treadmill for 11:03am.
I knew that a lot of this run would come down to my mental strength and willpower. The extra 3 miles that I had ran yesterday were also playing on my mind. This mental battle began sooner than expected as I started to realize how many miles I was going to be running at around the 3 mile mark. Mentally I started breaking down the run into smaller chunks. 4 miles would be a quarter of the way, 5.33 would be a third, and so on. I’m not really sure if this helped or hindered at this point as it made me realise that reaching the 4 mile marker still left me with 3 quarters of the way to go!
Listening to my audio book helped to take my mind off things. I had also mixed some Science In Sport Electrolyte Go Powder into my water for some added carbs and electrolytes. In addition, I also had an energy gel on hand, however this was only to be used as a last resort if I was really struggling. I started sipping at my electrolyte drink from around the 3 mile mark. I did also have half a bottle of water to hand, just in case!
Eventually I made it through to the halfway point. Surprisingly, I was feeling okay. Despite knowing that I still had to run that distance again to finish, I felt confident knowing that I had already ran 8 miles once. I had been keeping an eye on my pace and my heart rate zone, as I wanted to try to stay in zone 2 throughout. My pace had been quicker than I expected, however I knew that there was still a long way to go, so dropped my speed down by 0.1 on the treadmill. I wanted to try and ensure that the remaining 8 miles were fairly evenly split.
I reached the 9.8 mile mark and told myself that I only had a 10k to go. At 10.66 I reassured myself as I had ran 2 thirds of the way. Then 12 miles meant there was only 1 quarter to go. The last one didn’t really help! I remembered how long the first 4 miles had felt and a mental battle started. It was hard to stay focused on my audio book at this point. This was also made worse by the fact that the wind had gotten so strong (I run with the window open) that it had knocked my sports bottle onto the floor. Luckily I had some water in another bottle which was on the treadmill as I couldn’t reach my sports bottle and didn’t want to stop running to retrieve it.
Finally the 12.9 mile mark came around, meaning that there was just a Parkrun to go. The penultimate mile didn’t seem so bad. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for mile 16! This was tough. Chris hadn’t long returned home and was cooking his lunch, so all I could smell was food. I was already getting hungry and the smell wasn’t helping! Still, I reminded myself how proud I was going to feel when I finally finished and could say that I had ran 16 miles non-stop. I pushed on and was relieved when my watch vibrated for the 16th time!
Overall I was super happy with this run! It was my longest ever non-stop run, and I actually ran it with an average pace of 11:24 whilst remaining in zone 2. Originally I had wanted to get a 20 mile run in before my marathon, however I am a little ahead of where I expected to be, so may go to 21 or 22 miles. I wasn’t in pain after the run, which is always nice! I had something to eat and then spent some time soaking in an Epsom salt bath to recover.
Total Miles = 40
Training Hours = 8:20:14
Positives = I drove to Birmingham for the first time to try out a different running club. I really enjoyed both sessions at this club and am looking forward to joining properly when membership opens in March. My Yoga session was not only completed, it was longer than planned!
Negatives = Despite my success with Yoga this week, my weight training still hasn’t found its form. I need to look at strengthening my legs, glutes and hips.
Next Week = I’m hoping to attend at least Tuesday’s club session, however I may not make Thursday’s as it’s my Nan’s birthday. Mileage will most likely be around 40 miles again.