Tag Archives: running

Being Flexible with your Training

When I first started really getting into running and following training plans for half’s and marathons, I would try to stick to them religiously. I’ve always been an all-or-nothing person so I tend to want to hit every session, regardless of how I’m feeling, if I feel a niggle coming on, or if I’m just dead tired. This has never really ended well though, there have been countless times I’ve run when ill, injured or shattered, and I’ve either made myself ill, made an injury so much worse or just not enjoyed the run.

What I’ve come to learn as I’ve got older and got more running years under my belt, is that a training plan is a great frame to build your workouts from, but it needn’t be set in stone. Things happens, events come up, you get sick, or you really just don’t want to run on that day. I think it’s better not to beat yourself up about whether missing that one run last week when you had already run 45 miles+, is in the grand scheme of things going to matter too much. We should have the confidence to tweak our plans, and it’s important to be in tune with your body and know when you need to change things.

I really need to be flexible with my plan now due to health issues which means I’m not going to be able to hit every session, and I’m going to have to miss a few runs along the way. If I dwell on this and get frustrated about it, it isn’t going to change anything, so I just need to move on, hit the sessions when I am feeling OK and realise that over the course of 16-18 weeks of training, missing a handful of runs isn’t going to matter. It’s not like I’m a professional athlete, most of us our amateurs (I’m a very average one), and I feel like we should be able to be flexible with our plans, and be in charge of them and not the other way around. Today I broke my second weekend long run into a double day doing 16 this morning, and 6 late afternoon, this wasn’t ideal, but I wanted to spend some time with my OH before he left on a work trip, so I broke the run up, getting to spend a bit of extra time with him this morning, these things are ultimately more important than running.

I’ve built in a few extra weeks for my plan to allow for illness or potential injuries which also gives me a nice buffer if I do have to miss an entire week- as I did at the end of January with stomach flu. Over the course of a plan, I think as long as you are hitting the majority of your workouts it doesn’t matter if you miss a few runs here and there, being consistently consistent is much more important than risking injury, missing fun stuff that comes up, or missing valuable time with loved ones.

Change of Routine

It’s been a long while since I posted, so I thought I would do a little update on all things fitness, food and life, and try to get myself back into the swing of blogging a little more regularly and putting a little more time and effort into the blog.

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Running

Running has been fairly non-existent of late. I’ve taken a really long break after the SDW50 in April, there was a few weeks with no running whatsoever and some weeks where my mileage has been around 6-9 miles. I’ve been going out with the other half for some shorter jogs here and there, and doing a bit of interval sprints on the treadmill too, but mostly my legs have just been recovering. I didn’t want to rush back and force myself to train for something and I wanted to wait until I felt ready to get back into it. As of now I have no races on the calendar for the rest of the year and it might well stay that way. Until last week I hadn’t run over 3 miles since April, and it has been hard to get back into it, but with a few short runs over the last few weeks I can slowly but surely feel a little bit of fitness coming back, and a little bit of the love for running creeping back in. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a point in the last few years where I don’t have any events planned and I’m not doing any long distance stuff, but I’m enjoying changing things up, and I know when the time is right, I will be ready to get back into it.

Strength

What I have been doing quite a lot of is strength training, it’s something that I’ve always had a big passion and interest in, but I’ve never quite be able to strike the right balance between running and lifting. I tend to do it as more of an injury prevention during endurance training, but over the last few months I’ve really got back into it, and I can feel such a big difference in my strength since I started training more regularly. I’m hoping to carry on training hard in the gym for the rest of the year and seeing where that gets me, hopefully it will stand me in good stead for any running events in 2017.

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Food

Nutrition has been up and down, we have had a super busy few months, with what seems like visitors all the time, so we’ve been eating out a lot. I think there was a 2 week period where I literally cooked one meal, we were just constantly eating out. Hopefully we will have a quieter few weeks ahead, so we can get back to some simple eats, and focus on wholefoods, with the occasional, rather than frequent Vegan treats. I really would like to drop some weight over the next few months, as I’m just carrying too much for me right now- probably should have stopped eating like an ultra runner when I stopped running in April!!

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Life

Other than that, Baxter now is one! I can’t believe how time has flown, and I am absolutely smitten, I can’t imagine being without him! I have nearly finished my nutrition course, just got one more client to finish with, and a load of work to write up and sort out so hopefully in the next few weeks once I qualify, I can get focused on starting up my nutritional therapy business. I’ve started a new job working for a wholefood supplement company, which I am really enjoying. The highlight of my summer was going to the Wimbledon men’s final with my mum, I’ve been pretty much every year over the last 8 or 9 years, and had good tickets before from the ballot for semi’s/quarters etc but never a final, so when my mum got tickets in the ballot we knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity so had to go. We were incredibly lucky to see Murray lift the title, and it was an amazing day.

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That’s about all from me, I’m going to try and update here more regularly so we shall see how that goes!

A Return to Racing

I recently I ran my first race since July- I hadn’t really planned to take such a substantial break, but nothing really peaked my interest much or worked out with dates. I broke my dry spell at the Run Through Victoria Park half. I’ve done a few Run Through events before, and they are small, but well organised. I had planned a 20 mile run on the Saturday and thought why not combine the race as part of that training.

Saturday marked my last day on antibiotics, and to be honest I wasn’t sure whether to do the race at all, my blister was still not completely gone, and the antibiotics had really wiped me out. Not to mention they weren’t sitting right with my tummy. I ran the 7 miles to the start, and as I got closer to Mile End and Vicky park I could feel that all was not well with my stomach, in the end it was a bit of a desperate race to get to Victoria park and find the nearest toilets- at least I knew where they were for later.

I lined up for the start and hoped that the tummy issues would now disappear,  but I was very wrong. I don’t know if it was due to taking the antibiotic early that morning and not having had breakfast, but I felt absolutely dreadful for the first 7 miles. There’s only a couple of other races I’ve ever felt this bad in, and I genuinely thought I was going to have to drop out.

I hadn’t researched the race before signing up, and then discovered the week before that it was 6.5 laps of Victoria Park- it was a bit of a get your head down and get on with it, and while great mental training, it’s not the kind of race I would rush to do again.

The first few miles were horribly drawn out, as I spent most of the time on each lap deciding when to make a toilet stop, I felt absolutely miserable, and wondered what on earth I was doing. Added to this, the weather was pretty rubbish, wet and very cold, and the rain was started to aggravate my blister. My stomach felt absolutely awful, like something was seriously not right, and I hoped to just ride it out.

The second half of the race was an improvement, but the only way I could get round was to slowly plod round, in fact I think my last couple of the miles were the fastest all day, as I realised the quicker I ran, the quicker I could be done and out of the misery!

It was-I think- my slowest half to date by a long way other than trail races- not that I was aiming for a time, given it was part of a 20 mile run, the blister and being on antibiotics, but it was more the miserable-ness of the race that was disappointing. It wasn’t the way I had hoped to return to racing, there was no euphoric feeling at the end, or later urge to sign up to all the races.

I could have run that 20 miles on my own, and while there would have been no fanfare or medal, it probably would have been a lot more satisfying. I don’t know why I felt the need to sign up to this event as part of a training run, getting a medal for running 13.1, doesn’t make it any more valid or worthwhile than all the other training runs I’ve put in of that distance or longer. I didn’t really learn anything about myself from this race, or really get anything out of it- other than a bit of mental strength training, which I could have got in my own time anyway. I think I need to re-evaluate the races I sign up for, and that if I’m using them for training-make sure it’s really going to be worthwhile- like the CTS Sussex Ultra I have coming up this weekend.

 

 

Life Lately

Long time, no blog. Sorry for the radio silence, things have been a little hectic this end, and to be honest I haven’t had much to write about, so I thought I would do a little wrap up post to let you know what’s been going on over here.

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Running
Not a lot of this, I’ve been doing maybe 15-20 miles a week, mostly running to places/commuting with the odd longer run thrown in. I ran 7 miles in Cardiff over the weekend, and it just about destroyed me, my endurance has completely gone. The plan was always to take some time away from running and actually “training” though so when I do get back into it, I will be fresh and ready to go. I haven’t run any races since Race to the Stones in July, which feels a little weird, it’s probably my longest racing break in a long time, although I already have a few lined up for next year. I feel like I’m in a bit of a strange zone, where I’m enjoying not having to follow a training plan, but also craving the structure and routine at the same time. I like everybody else did not get into London, so I’m not quite sure what the plan is for the spring, but there will probably be a couple of marathons as training for the SDW50 in April.

Lifting
As I’m considering this my “running off season”, my plan has been to get a little stronger and so I’ve rejoined the gym for the first time since leaving Dublin a few years back and I’ve been hitting it up on a regular basis. I’ve been following the Jamie Eason LiveFit program which I did a few years ago and really enjoyed. It is a classic lifting program, with a 4-5 day split of training different body parts, I’ve just managed to finish phase 1, which was lighter weights and more reps as a building phase. I’m going to repeat the last week of it though as I’m having to rest this week due to illness. I’ve really enjoyed getting back into weights after some time away from it this year, and am already feeling stronger after a month of training. I will continue to follow this for another 2 months, and then drop back to more specific running strength sessions once I am back to proper run training.

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Life
Busy, and I hate saying that. There seems to be this glorification of busy in our society, but I can’t think of anything worse than to be busy. I really thrive on downtime, so I’ve been a little burnt out lately. I’ve started back my final year of nutrition course, which is a big year as we start to see our own clients in clinic (as a side please let me know if you would be interested to be a client). I’ve had very little time to focus on the course at all though, as I’ve been working a lot, and have yet to strike a balance. The week before last I worked 6 days out of 7, long hours, and the only day I didn’t work I had lectures 10-6, and then a work meeting 8-10. Basically my life was wake up, let dog out, go to gym, go to work, sleep. I spent about 7 waking hours in the house in the entire week, which left me very burnt out, drained, and ultimately sick. Other than that it’s been a busy summer of hen do’s, and weddings- I was bridesmaid for my two best friends- which have been some really nice weekends, but I am craving a holiday and some sun time- we have booked a week in Tenerife in two weeks time, so I am already looking forward to that.

Health
I’m writing this from the sofa where I am snuggling the puppy, having had to call in sick to work. I’ve had a sort throat for a week, which has now turned into a full on cold/virus, and I’m coughing/spluttering and have no voice at all. It’s been a bit of a lesson really, in that sometimes even though I want to do it all I just can’t. I also haven’t been looking after myself very well, not getting enough rest/sleep, working loads, snacking a lot rather than eating normal nourishing meals, and skipping meals due to getting home from work at 10pm at night.

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Eats
I’ve really gone off smoothies over the last few months, mainly because I don’t have time in the morning, everything is always a constant rush, so I just tend to grab and go, which is really unlike me. I want to focus on getting back into having more nourishing meals, rather than just eating porridge for dinner and relying on snack bars. I need to be more organized on days off and do more batch cooking to have stuff on hand to grab and go. I’ve been trying to focus on eating as many fruit/veggies as possible since getting sick, and having more smoothies/juices including daily ginger shots. Hopefully this will help me recover quicker.

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Puppy
Baxter is doing really well, he is nearly 5 1/2 months now- time has flown. We just took him back to Wales for the first time over the weekend, as we were attending a wedding, he loved staying with my parents and was really well behaved. It has been challenging at times to adjust to a new family member, and it has meant time/routines are ever more squeezed, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, he’s adorable and puppy snuggles are absolutely the best.

Struggling

Last night I had to battle through 1.5 miles of a run commute- 1.5 miles. My legs were heavy, I felt super tired, and my heart wasn’t in it. My legs don’t want to run, my head doesn’t want to run and even my heart has given up the ghost. I’m finding running really hard right now and I don’t know why. I don’t wake up excited to run, it’s more like “I really should go for a run but I’d rather sit on the sofa and cuddle the puppy.”

At first getting back to running after quite a decent break I felt pretty good, the legs felt fresh, and although I wasn’t running much I was enjoying it and running faster than I had in a while. I haven’t really increased my mileage that dramatically since, and I’ve only reached double figures (11, 21) in 2 of the last 8 weeks so mileage has been minimal, yet my body tells another story, my legs are leaden, my energy levels low, my pace dropping and I’m just struggling with it physically and mentally.

I’m not really doing much exercise apart from walking. I did attempt the Kayla Itsines workouts for 3 weeks but all the jumping was too much for my knees so I had to stop. I’m not lifting weights and I have no desire to which is just bizarre because I’ve always enjoyed that. I’ve just lost my fitness mojo. I think I just need to suck it up and get out there, it’s going to be hard initially, but fitness does come back quickly. I just can’t help comparing to where I was at the beginning of summer and how easy and comfortable running felt…

Or did it? Looking back at my ultra training diary, there was actually only 2 weeks of the entire training period where I felt consistently good- the other entries were more of the “legs feel shit” “tired” “heavy legs” variety, and I felt terrible during several races over the summer. I seem to be looking through rose tinted glasses, and longing for a feeling that wasn’t actually there to begin with. Maybe I’ve been feeling this way for quite a while, but giving me something to train towards pushed it out of my mind.

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I just really miss being in love with running. Waking up excited to run. I miss the high mileage, although I’m not sure my body thanked me for that. Running 20 miles last week just felt like nothing, like I had barely been out there. It wasn’t enough. I long for 60 mile weeks, but I don’t have the time or the energy, or even the heart to attempt that currently. Where previously I would have thought running a 20-30 mile week was a good effort, now it doesn’t satisfy me. I realise I need to put it in perspective and perhaps take my running back to square one, but it’s hard.

Maybe I just need to target a short term race, give myself a goal, something to work towards, but I’ve always done quite well with just running for fun in the past. I just feel like something is different this time, something is missing, running feels too forced, it’s not flowing like it did before.

It’s frustrating to feel this way, having taken time off post Race to the Stones to give my body a chance to heal and recover. Inevitably it was always going to be hard to return to running, and expect it to give me the same highs but I didn’t expect it to feel so tough. Maybe I just need to change my mindset, and stop comparing myself to a previous version of myself. I thought taking the break would freshen things up, but if anything it’s plugged a big divide between myself and running, and I just can’t seem to break down that barrier.