After last week's disappointing race at Winton 10k, I knew it was time to re-assess my health and fitness goals. I've blogged before about enjoying different types of exercise and finding it difficult to try and fit it all in.
We recently joined the Village Hotel gym and I had been using the gym to do interval/resistance work on the bike in the mornings before work along with a couple of runs. Following Sally's advice from a previous blog, these sessions have been around 45 minutes with a shorter run on Saturday (parkrun where I can) and then a longer run on Sunday (now up to 6 miles).
This week I decided that I would do things differently and focused solely on my running in terms of improving both my endurance and my speed. To date I have been simply looking at increasing my miles but knew I would also need to look at speed if I want to get back to previous race times. My schedule for during the week was:
Tuesday before breakfast: 45 min run (just over 4 miles)
Wednesday before breakfast: mini speed session (3 miles in total following 4/3/2/1 min jog/walk recover with 4 x 30 secs at the end)
Friday before breakfast: 45 min run (just over 4 miles)
Friday is normally a rest day but we were out at a gig on Wednesday night and I didn't have the energy for a run on Thursday morning. Friday was also a public holiday for me so it meant I could get a lie in before heading out for my run.
On Saturday, it was Portobello parkrun's second birthday so we headed along to join in the celebrations. Pacers had been organised for the run and although I would love to get back under 30 minutes for a 5k, I knew this wouldn't happen any time soon. I have never broken 31 minutes on the Porty course and when I saw that Emma (MuscleSprouts) was pacing 31 minutes, it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. After the prize giving I lined up next to Emma ready to start. Because the paths are quite narrow at Porty, I tend to start my watch when I cross the start line rather than the official start of the run as it normally takes 15-20 secs to cross the line. Now I know that may not seem much time to others but this lets me get my personal time rather than looking back and not knowing how long it took to cross the start. Anyway, as Emma was the official pacer we agreed that we would start our watches at the start so that our times were synced with our official times. It was at this point that Emma told me to turn my watch off so that I didn't get hung up on my pace. I have previously ran with just distance on my screen but this time opted to just show the actual time and I am pleased to say that I did not look at my watch once throughout the run.
The start was pretty congested and we think it took us about 20 seconds to cross the line. It stayed pretty congested for a wee bit and we found ourselves almost walking down the first decline. After that, we managed to find our pace and I tucked in beside Emma. As we headed down towards the bridge at the bottom of the park, we had the wind in our faces and so it was a bit of a struggle to keep with Emma. Thankfully, as we crossed the bridge, the wind was on our backs, which made it a bit easier. At this point, I did feel it was an easier pace without the wind but decided to keep with Emma rather than pushing on ahead. I do wonder if I should have taken advantage of the wind on our backs but hindsight is a wonderful thing! I managed to keep with Emma for the first lap although it was a bit demotivating to realise that we were going to be lapped on the first lap!! As we turned into the second lap I braced myself for the wind and it was a bit more of a struggle to keep with Emma and by this point, I was sitting just behind her rather than beside her but her chat and support kept me going. At least this time I knew there would be a bit of recovery once we crossed the bridge at the bottom of the park. As we approached the end of the second lap, I could feel myself really toiling to keep with Emma and lost some ground as she strode up the hill. Owain had finished by this point and shouted at me to just stick with Emma.
Unfortunately, the wind in this section really took it out of me and my breathing went to pot. I walked for a few seconds just to get my breathing under control and with a look back from Emma I was soon running again but the damage was done. I managed to keep pushing until the end of the run but never managed to catch her up, finishing in 31:33. Although I didn't break 31 minutes, I was pleased as this was my best time at parkrun for 2017, thanks Emma! Hopefully with my new training schedule I will see my speed and endurance gradually improve.
After Winton 10k, I wasn't looking forward to my long run but knew it would do me good to get out and get it done. I opted to do a 6.25 mile circular route and following Emma's advice yesterday I switched my watch screen to the actual time. This way the focus was on simply running the distance and not worrying about pace. My normal screen for long runs has the distance and the pace for the previous mile. This lets me get an idea of my pace but as it is the previous mile it means I am not battling against trying to get faster. On my long runs I do find myself trying to break the run into small chunks of half miles and sometimes those miles tick by slowly. I had opted for one of Owain's routes that I had never ran before and so instead I just plodded along recognising some landmarks but having no real idea of what distance I had covered. The route was supposed to be 6 miles so I knew I would have some running in the park to make the miles up at the end but did not change my watch screen until I reached the park. Unfortunately, I had taken a wrong turn and missed 0.5 mile of the route but happily made this up in the park. It was strange as normally I would be toiling by this point but I actually felt really fresh. The other difference with this week's run and last week's was the weather - with rain for company this week instead of sunshine at Winton. I hadn't quite realised how heavy it was until I came out the shop after I had finished.
My pace for my long run was actually faster and more consistent than my shorter morning runs so this definitely seems the way forward for me.
This run was my longest run in over a year and so I am pleased that it felt so comfortable. It is also the first time in over a year where my weekly mileage has been in the twenties.
In fact, it is only the third time since my illness that I have managed weekly mileage over 20 miles. Onwards and upwards!