Tag Archives: Run Camp

Salisbury 10 Mile

17 Mar

At the moment, I’m really struggling to find time to write this blog, but maybe that’s a good thing as it means that I’m busy organising my life and training.

The key event for me at the weekend was Salisbury 10 – a local 10 mile race that is part of the Hampshire Road Race League. 10 miles is the only distance that I didn’t get a PB at last year, so I was determined that I was going to do well. I started out strong and managed to do the first two kilometres at 4:53 pace. I also managed a cadence of 96 for the second km and my average cadence for the race was 92. I knew I was doing well when I hit the 3 mile marker in 25:07 (my 5k PB is 25:08) and I achieved a PB when I reached the 5 mile marker in 43:07… However, I also knew at that point that there was no way that I would match up to Irene’s amazing 84 minute run last year.

Salisbury 10 mile race number

Salisbury 10 mile race number

I pushed on, but as usual, a negative split was unlikely. At about 8.5 miles the runner that i passed earlier in the race went past me, but I didn’t want to quit. As I was heading towards the athletics track, where the race finishes, I saw Stu, Rikki and Dean running towards me. I threw them my gloves and carried on running. I caught up with the other club runner as we went onto the track and decided to make a last ditch effort to sprint. She cheered me on in a sportsmanlike way and I managed to sprint about 100m before reverting to my distance runner’s shuffle. As I crossed the line I checked my watch: 1:27:44, a 1:15 PB. Not quite as good as I’d hoped for, but I’ll settle for that!

On Monday evening, I was expecting to lead a sprint session with Irene and Group B. Unfortunately, the extreme cold weather (it snowed all day) meant that very few people turned up to training. Three ladies were dithering about rejoining Group B, but in the end we decided to join Group A* with Mike and do a warm up before breaking down the 5k parkrun route into manageable sections and to discuss strategies for tackling them. This worked out well and meant that no-one ended up standing around for too long getting cold.

Straight afterwards was a Run Leader meeting followed by a Coaching Management Team meeting, so it was after 10pm when I got home and I ended up going to bed late. I really must make more of an effort to get to bed early.

It was hard work getting up yesterday morning and we ended up being late for Run Camp. The warm up was quite brisk and then Stu, Jenny, Rosie and I moved over to the usual path for some activities. We were focussing on the width of our stride, which was very odd as it meant that I was purposely running with my feet further apart than usual. It felt very unnatural. We also did some more hopping over hurdles, but as my right leg still wasn’t quite right, I sat out of some of them. (Well, I just ran past them).

Yesterday evening was a rest evening, so I did lots of organising. I decided to try to use up some of the food that is in the fridge. I’ve also signed up for an appointment with a nutritionist on 27th March, so I need to keep a food diary for the next week. I know that food diaries are usually thought to be inaccurate as people under-report what they eat, but I know mine will be accurate as I cannot lie. As a consequence, I am likely to eat well this week and hope that it will get me back on track for Paris Marathon.

Birthday running

4 Mar

Well, it’s been a few days since I last posted as I’ve been so busy.

The big event on my birthday was the Heartbreak Half – a 14 mile race out in the New Forest that is known for its steep hills. The course had been altered slightly from last year’s route, but that didn’t make it any less tough. The start of the race is at the foot of an enormous mountain. Luckily I was aware of what was ahead, so I took it fairly steadily with Irene. The course wound its way out of the caravan park and out onto the main road. Just before the turn off into the forest, I noticed a runner making his way towards us on the road. He seemed to be running too quickly to be an early casualty, so it seemed odd that he was going against the flow of the runners… it took me several moments to realise that it was my husband who had run the 18 miles from our house to cheer me on. What a hero!

Heartbreak Half race number

Heartbreak Half race number

During the race, several runners spoke to Irene and I including someone who ran Paris marathon last year. She told me that 80% of the runners are male, so women in the crowd are very supportive whenever a woman runs past.

Last year, I found the Heartbreak Half to be incredibly difficult. I struggled with hip and leg pain and ended up walking quite a few of the hills. This year I felt on great form and didn’t feel the need to walk at any time. I particularly enjoyed running down the final hill and am convinced that I could have run it at least 5 minutes faster than my eventual time. Anyway, I had decided to enjoy it as it was my birthday, so I took it steady and still managed a PB. This has helped me to feel more confident that I can do well at Paris.

In the evening, I had my first swimming lesson. I was incredibly nervous, but the instructor was friendly and reassuring. There are 3 other people in my group, an older lady called Victoria, a young Portuguese woman and a Chinese lad called Liu. Liu was absent, so there were only 3 of us. The first thing we were asked to do was to swim a length of crawl, so I had to remind the instructor that I can’t do it. He asked me to try, so I managed to move from one end of the other by waving my arms around. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and the instructor thinks that if we can work on my breathing I should be OK. We did quite a few drills to focus on crawl breathing, including one that involved swimming on my side with one arm stretched out in front of me. I didn’t like it much as I was convinced that I would swallow lots of water.

After a while spent on crawl, we did a couple of lengths of back stroke. This is the stroke that I find easiest as I don’t need to worry about my breathing. Unfortunately, I was too focussed on travelling down the pool quickly and didn’t spend enough time concentrating on my legs. I now know that I kick from the knees and not from my hips, so I will have to work on that.

Next, we moved onto breaststroke. I was feeling quite confident that I would be able to hold my own for this part. The instructor told me that I need to slow down and not bring my arms in such a wide sweep. I thought I did really well, doing two strokes underwater and one stroke out… it was only when I spoke to Stuart in the evening that he pointed out that in competition your head must come out of the water once in each stroke. Doh! I never knew that before, so clearly there’s a lot that I have to work on.

Overall, I think I made progress even during the one lesson as I feel more confident and understand a lot more about how each stroke should work.

After swimming, I drove down to Sprinkles Gelato for my birthday treat of an ice-cream sundae. It broke all of my diet rules, but it was my birthday!

On Monday evening, Irene and I were leading a circuit training session with our running group. Irene wasn’t confident about leading the exercises, so we agreed that she would devise various running/hopping/stepping exercises and lead half of the group through those. Half the group did an exercise while the other half ran and then they swapped. This seemed like a great idea until I realised that I would have to spend 45 minutes squatting and doing various other strength training exercises. I’m never impressed when an instructor expects people to do things that they wouldn’t do themselves, so I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it!

On Tuesday and Thursday morning, I did Run Camp. It wasn’t too bad, but the squats were hard work after Monday evening. It’s quite nice that it’s getting lighter in the mornings, but a disadvantage is that The Common seems to be getting busier, so we have to move out of the way for bikes more often. I think the exercises are working as it was quite hard to do squats first of all and now I can do one-legged jumping squats.

I didn’t swim on Monday morning as I was feeling exhausted, but I did swim on Wednesday morning. It seems odd not to be focussing on counting lengths and going as fast as possible, but I’m hoping that working on my technique will pay dividends in the end. I did quite a few arm exercises and tried to do a length of crawl, but I still feel very self-conscious.

On Wednesday evening, I went to see Pete at YouMassageTherapy for a sports massage. The last few times I’ve visited, I’ve had holistic massages and deep tissue massages, so I had forgotten how painful sports massages can be. I really must get myself into the habit of stretching properly after running. Pete only focussed on my neck and thighs. I felt so bruised afterwards and was stiff on Thursday. I hope it’s doing me good.

I was tempted to be lazy and not run on Thursday evening, but then realised that ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’, so I laced up my shoes and headed out for the social run. There were quite a few people there, which was good. We did a run that went to The Common and then when we got there, we headed towards Glen Eyre before going back to Oasis. I managed to chat to quite a few different people, which was good.On Friday evening, Wai was unable to take our Yoga for Runners class, so her friend Zhao was taking the class. Zhao is very enthusiastic, but used to stronger, more flexible people than us. We did a lot of core exercises and I was disappointed by how weak I have become. I really miss the abs and core classes that I used to do at Bournemouth University. My arms also seemed to be very feeble 😦

On Saturday, I had an entire day’s break from running as I was Run Directing at parkrun. It was a pretty stressful event as 2/3 stopwatches didn’t start, but fortunately, I was able to resolve it all in the end – phew!Yesterday, I managed to get myself back into the swing of things. I had planned to run to the CC6 (cross-country race) at Fleming Park with Kirsty and then run home again, but I came across two problems. Firstly, Kirsty was ill and unable to run. For most people, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m a social runner and I find it hard to run alone as I like to chat. My second problem was that Stu pointed out that he thought it was 7 miles to Fleming Park and I didn’t get myself ready on time. yet again, I had to remind myself that I can’t quit now, so I left home and realised that I’d just have to do the best I could.

The route from my house to Fleming Park is mostly downhill, which was a relief, but I was still concerned that I might not get there on time. I had worked out a safe route to get there, but it was quite a long route, so I foolishly took my life in my hands and ran about half a mile down a busy dual carriageway to try to cut some of the distance. The roundabout by the motorway was quiet, so I was able to sneak across and managed to cut the distance down to 9.5km (under 6 miles), so I arrived with enough time to change into my trail shoes.

As women’s captain of my running club, I am aware that some people expect me to be one of the club’s fastest runners, however, my role is to participate in events and encourage others to attend. I knew I wouldn’t be one of the scoring runners for my club, so I enjoyed the 4 mile route whilst chatting to Irene. Rob and Stu had been for a long run, so they ran about half a mile of the route with us before heading home. At the end of the CC6, I stopped long enough to congratulate the female runner from my club who won the series and for the men’s team to be crowned winners (and to eat a slice of cake) before it was time for me to run home. My training schedule told me that I should run 20 miles, but my Garmin is set in kms and I reset it at the start of each run, so I didn’t do the maths properly and only ended up running 19 miles, which was annoying as I had enough energy to run another mile – grrr! Oh well, at least I was still feeling strong after running that far.

In the evening, I had my second swimming lesson, which was even more of a success than the last one. We did a few lengths of crawl, backstroke and breaststroke, before doing some breaststroke drills. We had to do two kicks to each arm stroke. It felt odd, but my breathing worked better. Then we moved onto to trying butterfly and tumble turns. We had to swim half a length, turn and then swim half a length back. My first half-length seemed OK until I remembered that I hadn’t been using my legs properly. The second half-length was better. The tumble turns and somersaults in the water were rubbish. I was too afraid that I would somehow get stuck underwater and drown. Victoria tried to reassure me by telling me that after the initial panic apparently drowning is a peaceful experience. That does not reassure me. I think I need to spend some time in a pool with Stu learning how to somersault. I saw this article on Facebook on doing sub 10 hour triathlons on less than 10 hours of training and thought it was interesting:


I also saw this post on how to “Super Charge your new training Phase” By Neil Aitken of Embrace Sports: http://www.run-fast-retail.net/know-how/super-charge-c-378_486_491.html

I was sent this link to an Open Water swimming article written by Chrissie Wellington: http://www.220triathlon.com/article/chrissie-wellington%E2%80%99s-guide-open-water-pt-15

Oh well, I’d better publish this now, or I’ll never get back to date!!!

Rest day or laziness?

23 Feb

After two late nights in a row, I really didn’t want to get out of bed on Wednesday morning. My legs were also feeling really tired and I was concerned by the size of our laundry pile and the general untidiness of the house. Another issue was the fact that I hadn’t got all of my stuff (lunch, clothes etc.) ready on Tuesday night. This left me facing a dilemma: should I swim or not?

I had been looking forward to swimming since I had my assessment, but I also realised that I had been neglecting other areas of my life. I know that to be an Ironman takes single-minded determination, but I just don’t think I’m there yet, so I didn’t swim. A lot of my friends would tell me that it’s good to have a rest day every week, but it felt like laziness to me… On the positive side, I caught up with laundry and did some healthy-ish cooking in the evening followed by food shopping. This meant that I also didn’t do my scheduled track session, but sandwiched between a 20 mile race and a 14 miler, that seemed like a sensible decision? What do you think? What would you have done in my position?

Another positive on Wednesday, was my visit to Weight Watchers. I have been dithering about whether or not to quit (mainly because I’d like to achieve a happy weight without obsessing about what I eat, although I suspect that’s not possible), but despite being lax about my diet, I lost 2.5lbs 🙂

On Thursday morning, I managed to peel myself out of bed in time for Run Camp. It was a quiet session, with just Stuart, an older female triathlete and I… But it was also another 2k time trial. My heart sank, but I hoped I would be able to do better than on Tuesday as my legs were feeling less tired. I set off at a fast pace (as usual), but by the time I was 1k in, I realised that the older lady was hot on my heels, which made me want to push on… I hate being last. Towards the end, she picked up her pace, so I gave it my all for the last 100m. Fortunately, I beat my competitor and finished in a time that was 25-30 seconds faster than on Monday, although it still wasn’t the sort of time I should be running.

I chose not to train again on Thursday evening, partly because of the race on Sunday, and also because I was offered a heavily discounted deep tissue massage at You Massage Therapy. It really helped to relax my neck and I hadn’t realised how tight my legs were – I really must stretch more after exercise and also use the foam roller more often. The massage felt great and my shoulders instantly felt more relaxed. Unfortunately, I ate two Danish pastries after leaving You Massage Therapy. Why do I do this to myself?

When I got home from my massage, Stu was able to give me some new running shoes 😀 Brooks have on a special trial offer, so I am able to try a pair of Brooks Cadence for free for one week and at the end of the week, I need to fill in a feedback form, before I’m entitled to £25 off a pair of Brooks shoes. I’m excited about trying them out! They’re lightweight shoes and the look quite cool… but I was disappointed that I was sent the most dull colour scheme of all of the pairs available: black and white 😦

I also finished off an article aimed at getting runners at my club to run in the most appropriate group: http://www.facebook.com/notes/lordshill-road-runners/are-you-running-in-the-right-group/550860651615336 I was a bit nervous that the article would not go down well, but it seems to have received a positive reception. I also jazzed it up a bit in In-Design so that it can be included in my running club’s newsletter.

On Friday morning, I got myself back on track by going swimming before work. It was another day when I didn’t count my lengths as I was trying to do drills. I managed to do an entire length of the pool breathing properly whilst swimming breast stroke and in 41s which matches my PB, so that felt like a huge win. I am still really struggling to get my front crawl arms going with the breathing. I did half a length and then got paranoid that people were looking at me because they thought I was drowning, so I resumed breast stroke. I am going to have to get over my fear of being watched.

In the afternoon, I was able to pop into the University library to collect a book that I reserved: Swim, Bike, Run It’s a bit dated now, but there seems to be sensible advice in it. If anyone else can recommend a really good book for a complete newbie, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

Finally, I have to make a decision about parkrun. I had planned to run with Kirsty and get paced to a Southampton parkrun PB by Tony, but that was before I got a place in the Heartbreak Half. Do I race it bearing in mind that I have to run 14 miles the next day? Do I try out the new shoes? What would you do?

34 years and 360 days…

19 Feb

It was so hard to get out of bed this morning to go to Run Camp. I really wanted to have a lie in, but I also knew that it was the day of our time trial, so I forced myself to get up. If I’m ever going to fit in Ironman training, I’m going to have to give up any semblance of a social life that I have AND learn to live with less sleep AND get faster, otherwise there’s no way I’ll fit it all in!!!

I ended up running a little late, so I didn’t really have the warm up that I would have liked before we had to do the 2k time trial. We did a loop on Southampton Common including the hill that I hate, but the good news was that we had to run it in reverse of what we do for parkrun, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. My time was nearly 11 minutes, which I’m disappointed with as I know I should be able to do it in under 10 minutes… but I can still feel Sunday’s run. Anyway, I managed to get through the rest of the session and just need to keep reminding myself THE LAST MILES COUNT THE MOST in any endurance event.

I tried to sneak in a few minutes online before going to work and was surprised to find an email in my inbox from Heartbreaker Run Festival. I had agreed to do the Heartbreak Half (a 14 mile hilly trail run) with my friend Irene, but forgot to enter on time. I felt terrible telling her that she’d have to do it on her own, so it was great to receive a message telling me that there is a place for me now. It also fits nicely into my training schedule which dictates that I should do a 15 mile run on Sunday… I think steep hills must make up that extra mile! Last year I did the course in 2:16, so hopefully, I can improve on that this year. I also intend to take advantage of the free soup, sauna and swimming afterwards… but need to remember that I have my first swimming lesson at  6:20pm and I want to go to Sprinkles Gelato afterwards. (I’ve never been there before, and it doesn’t fit into my diet plan, but it sounds amazing!!!)

I had a short bike ride to work before I got to sit down for an hour or so. It’s a gloriously sunny day outside, so I’m looking forward to cycling off for a work meeting… and I get to cycle home via the Post office where there’s a parcel waiting for me. I suspect it’s a birthday present from my sister that has arrived early – how exciting!!!