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Entries in training (8)


New Game

I changed jobs in the new year, and that includes a whole new commute. I'm now working in Oxford, so I have to get the train (driving would be madness). That gives me two options for the journeys to and from the stations: bike or run. Each section of the run is around 1.5 miles - the Didcot end is slightly shorter and the Oxford end slightly longer. If I did it every day, this would give me more miles per week than I've ever done before, but I'm mixing it with cycling. 

So, what's the game?

Well, the Oxford end of the run is right through the middle of town at some busy times of day. Some people say they hate urban running, but I've discovered I quite enjoy it. There are a number of rules:

  • Don't hit anyone.
  • Don't get hit by anyone/thing.
  • Don't get trapped and have to walk.
  • Don't break an ankle on the potholes in the pavement.

There may be others, but those are the core. It takes quite a lot of concentration. Tactics employed so far: 

  • Make myself big (well, ish) so people coming at me move when there's space.
  • Make myself small so I can overtake people who are walking abreast and filling the pavement.
  • Change speed to time getting through gaps - slower if one is about to appear, faster if one is closing.
  • Last resort - check the traffic and run on the road. This one needs a lot of care about bikes.

I got it down under 15 minutes this morning. The game went well. Still got trapped a couple of times though, so room for improvement!


Back on the run

Those who have been paying attention will have noticed that I'm mentioning running again. I kind of stopped running for a while. Mostly while I pretty much stopped blogging, I guess, and mostly for the same reasons: finishing up the thesis whilst moving and starting a new job sucked a lot of spare energy and brain power. But I'm back! 

I kind of caved in in mid-July, and signed up for the Blenheim half. At the time it was about 8 weeks away. I know, that's shorter than your average training plan, but I'm a cocky sod and decided that it was long enough for me to build up to just getting round. It's not like I've been doing nothing, after all. I've been cycling almost every working day, running intermittantly (only a couple of miles at a time, once every few weeks, but it's better than nothing), doing a bit of a weights routine 3-4 days a week, and I started taekwondo, which is one or two hours a week (depending on whether I can do both classes in a week). 

My basic plan has been to run. A lot, a little, whatever I can. I started from almost a running streak principle. Do whatever I can every day, slow, fast, single mile, 3 miles, whatever. Then I've started adding long runs at the weekend, and the number of runs per week seems to have settled at around 4. Again, I started out planning to just progress those slowly from 4 miles on up, but Clarkie has been kind enough to let me run with her on her long runs - I know it irritates her having me bouncing alongside, but the slightly slower pace has allowed me to run longer, sooner. We did 10 miles on Saturday, and it felt pretty good. There are still 3 weekends before the race weekend, so this is actually better prepared now than I've been for at least a couple of other halves. 

I'm impressed how easy it's been to pick back up. I guess that's down to having done a fair few miles and a healthy dose of muscle memory. And actually, I'm really enjoying it! I think, after all this time and all of these miles, I genuinely do actually love running. Who knew?!

(Still not got round to those garden pics. Sorry!)


Just keep trying

Some days when I run I feel strong, powerful, sleek and elegant. 

Today was not one of those days. 

We'll try again tomorrow. 


Fast and slow

I had a busy running week last week. Both Clarkie and I ran the Pheonix 10k on Wednesday night. I did this race last year, on a distinctly different evening. This year it was hot and almost perfectly still. Sadly, with Clarkie running as well there were no photos (or there were, but they are of the expensive, official variety). I managed another big PB, taking 3.5 minutes off my previous best with a 51:59. I was pretty pleased, especially since I'd had to stop a few times to sort out a stitch. I think I might want to think about some kind of warm up in future, especially since I still want to go faster (of course!).

Clarkie also ran a PB by a similar amount. She was a bit worried going into the race, because she hasn't run that far since the Cambridge Half. The conditions were a bit different from the sleet! She made it in 1:02:44, so she's got the hour mark in her sights for the next one. She also kicks my arse in a sprint!

Then we headed up to Cambridge for a dual-purpose trip. We were house-sitting and wedding-attending! But since we were there, we thought we'd do Cambridge Parkrun too. Turns out a mid-week 10k may not be entirely the best preparation, so I didn't get a PB on that one. In fact, the mile pace wasn't too far off the 10k pace, wih a 25:11 time recorded. All good though.

That meant that out of the 18.5 miles I ran last week, about half were run at race pace. At the moment that's around a minute per mile faster than my gentle a-to-b pace. Seems to have left me a little tired! So I skipped Monday's run altogether, and let myself do the run into work with my camera again. I've had to change my route a little, because they are digging up the path. The first mile through the houses is the same, but then instead of heading down along here...


I get to head up here for a chunk instead.

Onwards and upwards

The path is rather different, so instead of a narrow strip of chalk with flint sticking through

Through the undergrowth

I get to run on chunky gravel and embedded rocks.


And actually, that was a good section. That's quite testing in minimalist shoes, but I'm getting better at it. First time I did it I thought I'd bruised my foot spectacularly! I've still got some way to go before it's really comfy though. We'll see. (And ooh look! Tan!)

The route I'm using is part of the Jugg's Way between Brighton and Lewes, on the South Downs Way. It runs along a pretty exposed ridge. 

South Downs Panorama

(Might be worth clicking through to flickr for that one, see it large!)

I've run it in some pretty foul weather before, all the way to Kingston, but today was a good day. I don't follow it particuarly far either, before heading down off the ridge back towards work.

Downhill time

You can tell it's been dry and hot recently. The hills have gone that shade of yellow. 

The work I was trying to avoid has started to spill down the rest of the route - I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going this way! This is a picture of what the new path will look like. I'm actually a little underwhelmed - the surface (if this is the finished surface) is very loosely packed. It's ok to run on, but you can already see the bike tracks in it and it's not officially open yet. 

New path

Still, it will be better than what was there before. I think. The cows don't seem overly impressed...


The rest of the route (for now) is the same as previously. The other route was 3.6 miles. This one is 4.9 miles, more or less. The elevation profile is a bit different, going up higher and having more breaks between the downhill sections.

I'll admit that I've been cheating at hometime and running along the flat into town rather than up and home again. That gives me a combined total of 9.1 miles for the day, which is more than enough for now! It means that at the moment I'm doing more miles but less elevation, so that's a mixed thing. Maybe eventually I'll do both ways. We'll see. 

People occasionally ask me what I'm training for, and at the moment I'm not really on any sort of training plan. What I'm actually doing is training in preparation for my marathon training plan! I'm hoping that by slowly increasing my weekly mileage now, the jump in mileage for the plan won't be so much of a strain. It is still going to be a jump I think, but we'll see. June I ran four weeks increasing from 14.8 miles to 16.5 miles. This month I've been increasing from 18 miles and aiming to hit 20 miles before cricket week. Then a couple of weeks higher than that, before DiGRA at the end of August. And a couple more big (for me) weeks in September before the training plan kicks in. 

I should point out that these are still not impressive distances - most beginner plans reckon on 30-40 miles per week for marathon training, something I have never achieved. But it is a more consistently high mileage than I've ever managed before, and I'm managing better speeds than I've managed in the past. I'm really hoping this will mean marathon training goes more smoothly and puts less strain on my body this time around. 

Well, a girl can dream!



Well, ok, that might be a little strong. In terms of my running it's been a bit disasterous, but actually it's just a cold. 

Yep, after feeling so positive in my last blog post, I managed a 2 mile treadmill run on Monday, then half an hour on the recumbant bike on Tuesday (no treadmills free!), then Tuesday night I started feeling horrible. Spent most of Wednesday asleep, other than when I woke up hungry, and have been more or less out of it since. I'm just getting to the stage where I feel mostly human again - I managed a day in the office yesterday, but didn't really achieve much. This morning I've woken up with no voice and a nice cough, so we'll see what tomorrow brings. 

I mean, I say disaster, but really last week was supposed to be a light week. Not THAT light maybe, but still. And I had another two long runs planned, so one of them will just have to bite the dust for me to recover this week. Hopefully I'll get a couple of shortish runs in by the end of this week - 3-6 miles maybe - then next week will be back on track for a 20 miler. After that my taper is supposed to start (eek! Getting really close!). 

I knew I couldn't stay healthy for September all the way to January. I'm just glad I got as much of my training plan done as I have. There's no point giving myself a hard time over this either, there's nothing I can do about it that I'm not already doing (lemsip, sleeping lots, staying warm, good food...) and stressing will just make it worse. So fingers crossed this is just giving my legs time to recover, and I'll be back up and running soon as.