The Road to Cardiff – Week 1

So this week has been a good test of the new plan, with a mix of real world intrusions and niggles to add to the mix. Here’s a little recap of the runs this week…

Monday

The training started with an easy 3 miles. I opted to do a simple loop through Pontyclun and up into Talbot Green. I’d been out on Saturday and Sunday, so I was happy to keep it steady and just turn the legs, especially given it was warmer and more humid than I was expecting. Keeping the run at about 5:15 min/km pace was very pleasant.

Tuesday

This was meant to be a hill session and I’d planned to do this in a Road Runners session, but I was seeing Coldplay in Cardiff on Tuesday night. Decisions, decisions… So one joy of having a flexible plan is that things can be swapped about – the answer was to move my Tuesday and Thursday sessions around, and go out for a 40 minute tempo run instead. The idea is to warm up for 10 minutes or so, then over the next 20 minutes build up to tempo pace (for me that’s 4:40 min/km), then slow it down for the last 10 minutes. Ideally this should be done on a relatively flat surface to allow for a clean pace effort, but that’s easier said than done round here!

I did toy with jumping into the car and heading down to Llandaff, but the weather was threatening and I didn’t want to waste too much time, so instead I opted for a route which put the bulk of the climb into the first section by running up to Llanharry then heading down to Brynsadler and back. I wasn’t going to hold myself to hitting pace cleanly because of the route and because it was the first week of training, but I was pleased that I was pretty much able to hit my mark as planned. By the end of this session my ankles were reminding me that I’d now run 4 days in a row. I also had my first twinge of shin splints, so when I came home I chucked on a tube grip bandage to give some compression, particularly since I’d be spending the rest of the evening walking, standing, dancing etc..!

As an aside, Coldplay were excellent!

Wednesday

Yet another change to plan. This was meant to be a 3 mile easy run, but I’d opted to run the Cosmeston Relays with the club. Happily the relay lap distance just happened to be 3 miles, so the change was from ‘easy’ to ‘fast’! By the last kilometre I could feel that this was day 5 running in a row (albeit no great distances), so I was happy to be able to keep it to about 4:40 pace. Slower than my 5k Parkrun pace on Saturday, but this was not a parkrun course. I ended up being the ‘A’ runner for ‘Team Earth’ (me, Steve Paskell and Jonathan Mead). The start was abrupt, and I was surprised that up to the first turn we were scything through long grass! The heavy rain yesterday hadn’t done much to affect the route so it was broadly dry underfoot. The evening was still warm though not nearly so humid as earlier in the week. Once we were on to the footpath round the park, the course was undulating but fun. The twists and turns all round the route kept the mind focussed on the run itself rather than get fixated on distance or time, and it was great to be part of a team effort. As evidenced by the posts on Facebook, our three teams did the Road Runners proud, all in all!

Thursday

Time for the hills! I headed out to Cemetery Hill during the morning and used my Garmin to help map out the 100m sections of the hill, ready for the evening’s run. We had half a dozen runners for the Thursday 6pm run turn up, with a really good mix of abilities – something I was hoping to see, as often sessions like this can put off those who don’t think their running is ‘up to it’. Well we disproved that theory as everyone completed the session and enjoyed it!

Beginning at the bottom of the hill, we all ran at fast pace up 300m, then jogged back 100m and ran back to the top again. A pause to walk off the exertions, then back down the hill gently and repeat. Six times. By the end of this run I could feel the effort in my thighs and hips, but the break after each sprint meant that people were able to confidently complete all six rather than falling by the wayside. I’m already looking forward to the next hill session. 🙂

Friday

Rest 🙁

This is challenging! After running for six days on the trot, it felt like I should go out and at least do a gently run. As all runners know however, it’s the rest days that allow the body to build on all the training sessions. I was tempted to hit the gym but in the end I think that properly taking it easy was the right thing to do for this week.

Saturday

Back to running. Another gentle 3 miler. The weather wasn’t exactly the best (though when I looked at the effort put in by club mates at the Celtic Great Half Marathon, the full CG Marathon, and the Rabbit Run it didn’t seem so bad to take a gentle turn in the light drizzle). As I set off my right thigh and hip were really feeling sore, doubtless a result of the hill session on Thursday, and I was immediately glad I’d taken the Friday off. It took a good mile or more before the discomfort subsided, though it was still a little achy when I finished the run. I ended up doing this one  a little faster than I planned, but I was pleased with a consistent pace.

Sunday

A 90 minute long run, with the last quarter being an increase in pace from easy to tempo. Or rather that was the plan. In the event I opted for just under 90 minutes, and all of it at a middling pace. Why? Well this was my first run at this distance (15k) for quite some time. My plan after the Manchester Marathon to keep regular 10 and 20 mile runs in my repertoire somehow didn’t quite happen this year, and particularly in the last few months I’ve found myself limiting my distances to about 10k or less. Also, my ankle and thigh twinges from yesterday were still in evidence. Conscious that achilles and hamstring problems can occur when runners go too fast, too long, too soon, I decided that this was my body telling me to take it a little easy for this occasion. Anyway, I’d ended up pushing pace earlier in the week at the Cosmeston Relays, so overall this week I didn’t feel I was wimping out.

Conclusion

Good points? The plan had survived contact with real life; I’d managed to do the distance I planned for, with the planned mix of miles and efforts.

Bad points? I didn’t fit in the non-running activities that I’d been aiming for. I wanted to get two or three gym sessions in so as to keep my core working well. I’m definitely going to make a greater effort on this next week.

Niggles? No serious problems as yet. The left ankle/calf feels very tight when I run, and my right hip and thigh are aching. This is down to a lack of flexibility and some known glute weaknesses. The solution is to get to the gym more! Oh, and I’m going to start getting my fortnightly physio sessions again. I really found this useful during my last training routine.

Roll on week 2…

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