As always, Monday is easy run day. Because I’d had a race on Sunday, I used this session to have a proper recovery run. Now I know I’m not alone in saying that it’s always difficult for a runner to have a recovery run – it may sound counter-intuitive, but when you run regularly it’s hard to run slow!
Before you accuse me of being speedist in some way, please note, I mean “slow for you”. We all have our default easy running pace, but a recovery run is specifically meant to be at least 30 secs slower than that, and this often means you feel like you are barely moving. It is also very easy to switch off during these runs and before you know it you find you are picking your pace back up.
That said, when I started Monday’s run, I was struggling to run at all – my right shin was agony. I’ve mentioned previously that I have a tendency to get shin splints, and with the increased running mileage in recent weeks it was always likely that I’d start to pick up some shin pain. As the run when on the pain receded, but I’m now wearing strapping on my calf whenever I’m not running and using compression sleeves on my easy runs. Overall I was pleased on Monday that I was able to keep the pace slow as planned, and felt very happy being able to stretch out my legs post-race.
The plan was for hills, the PRR plan was for fartlek efforts. Once again, childcare priorities meant that I couldn’t get out for two runs so I figured I’d get the same level of speed and muscle exercise from fartlek. Becky organised a great session, which was enjoyable despite the inclement weather. Rather than traditional speed fartlek, we did distance pyramids, so running fast for 200m, slow for 200m, then fast for 400m etc, up to 800m and then back down the other side. Strava analysis came into its own here; using the manual lap option on my Garmin I was able to clearly see the different effort for each part of the session:
It was good fun, and the rain at the end of the event was welcome!
As always with the Wednesday runs, I get to sneak them in before Amanda goes on the Womble. The weather was comfortable, and this was just an easy run.
Before the run I carried out some eccentric exercises. Not eccentric in the sense of weird, but ‘the motion of an active muscle whilst it is lengthening under load’. There’s a good youtube video here which demonstrates the movement. My ankle soreness is probably my main niggle at the moment, so I’m trying to do something about it. I’m trying daily ankle stretches, 3×15 reps of straight leg and 3×15 reps of bent leg stretches. It’s painful (!) but I’m going to keep doing it for the duration of this training period and see if it helps.
As for the run itself, nothing special, just another 5k to tick off the list…
The plan for Thursday was a tempo run. Vicky was taking a progression run for the Road Runners, so that was a perfect match. Vicky asked me to take out the front runners and keep the pace steadily increasing. In hindsight I probably let the pace jump too quickly after the first kilometre, but in general it worked pretty well. We ran up past the hospital on the footpath to the gate then kept the pace increasing back to Talbot Green. I started to have some stomach cramps when I hit Talbot Green however, so revised my plan and used the last km as a recovery section, reducing the pace in a controlled manner. I can’t really explain where the stomach pains came from, but we all have the odd ‘off day’ so I’m not too anxious about it.
Friday was a day off as usual. Saturday’s plan called for a race pace 5k (bearing in mind that this is HM race pace). I couldn’t do the Parkrun, my normal ‘go-to’ for race pace work, so instead went out later in the afternoon. I do sometimes find it difficult to do these sort of pace runs when I’m out solo as it’s too easy to listen to the niggles and twinges, and equally it’s not that easy to commit to a regular pace around Pontyclun because we have so many undulations round here! I went for the simple Miskin loop, as this gives me space to do a warm up and cool down kilometre either side. I did have some mild stomach pains again as I was pushing the pace, not as bad as Thursday, but that didn’t stop me running. I did start wondering whether this was a developing problem, or just a comment on my diet. I’ve been trying to eat well and in moderation as I think nutrition is a big part of running well, though Friday is often a time for a glass of wine.
I was taking the Sunday long run. I’d been trying to find a decent 10 mile route to vary things a little, but there are only so many that will suit a range of runners, and the joy of our club is that you’re never quite sure who’s going to turn up! So I went back to an old favourite, the Hensol loop. I tweaked the default run slightly to take the group the long way round Welsh St Donats, just to increase the mileage and include yet another hill.
It’s funny; this is not an easy run in any sense, as it often feels like it’s continually climbing. A number of the hills are also quite challenging, pretty much to the end of the run, and yet everyone loves this route! It has to be said that it’s probably one of the most picturesque routes we do, taking you through tranquil little villages, skirting large woods, and opening up lovely views every time you crest one of those difficult hills. We were lucky to have great weather for this too – the right amount of sunshine and shade, and the high hedges skirting many of the roads are great for limiting the amount of wind.
I’d planned for this to be a very gentle run, not being sure who we’d have turn up. In the end however the contingent were all pretty fast so we ended up doing something like 5:30 km pace which, for this route, is quite decent. I’m always keen to separate my distance work from my speed work, partly so I can concentrate on one thing at a time, and partly to reduce the risk of injury. In this instance the pace wasn’t too intense, and I was feeling good. The stomach pains of the last two runs were nowhere in sight during this run.
Cardiff is still a little way off, but the lead-in does include a number of races. I have the Severn Bridge Half in two week’s time, then the Cardiff 10k the following week. In the last few weeks I’ve gradually upped my overall mileage, topping 50k this week for the first time. I’m therefore planning on tweaking the plan over the next fortnight so as not to overdo it. Physically I’m feeling pretty good. The eccentric ankle exercises loop to be having some good effect already, and other than the sensitive shins I don’t seem to be picking up any other real aches or pains.