Trust your training!

Running summary for w/c 20th August
Miles: 18.9
Cross training: A few cycle commutes, about 50 miles

The great thing about running is that you reap the rewards of your hard work all the time and you can see evidence of your progress by just pulling on your trainers. Just a few weeks decent training can be rewarded at your free local parkrun as you watch your 5K times tumble.

But equally, the other great thing about running is that it calls you out on your BS. You can only reap the rewards of the hard work that you have actually put in. I learnt the hard way last year that there is a big difference between running a race that you think you’ve sort of trained alright for and running a race that you have genuinely slogged your guts out for. The difference is about 10 minutes at a half marathon finish line by the way, in case you’re wondering.

One of the best tools that I have used in my running training this year has been keeping a log of every training session that I complete. It means that I can see how many miles I have run in a week and how regularly I have done those all important conditioning sessions. Once all of your training is presented to you, in black and white and in simple figures, the truth is unavoidable: you’ve either trained enough or you haven’t.

But even when you’ve put in the miles it can be difficult to get rid of those niggles of self-doubt. After 3 weeks of solid training for the Cardiff 10K I have haven’t had chance to find out if my training is working and with only 2 weeks to go I’m feeling really quite daunted by the challenge of knocking nearly 2 minutes off my PB. Today’s 5 mile race in Battersea Park couldn’t have come at a better time then, could it?

Today’s race was the last in the Summer League, a series of London inter-club races. It’s a flat, 3 lap course around Battersea park that I ran last year in just under 45 minutes, a solid 9 minute/mile that Iwas desperate to beat. In fact for my training to be on target I needed to finish the 5 miles in 42 minutes. That just seemed ridiculous. It’s a pace that I’ve been dreaming of sustaining for longer than 5K, but seemed totally out of reach. But not only did I reach it, I totally bloody smashed it! I finished the race in 41:27 by my watch (official time pending) – a PB by almost 3 minutes and run at my target 10K pace. I am absolutely over the moon and haven’t been able to stop smiling all afternoon (nothing to do with the celebratory pints with a fellow Chaser…).

Sometimes I find it baffling that a couple of lunchtimes of treadmill-based torture each week really can make the enormous difference that they do, or that squats and lunges while watching Hollyoaks can give me such a strength boost, but slowly I am beginning to trust my training. After all, it’s all there in black and white.

My running log is just a simple spreadsheet that I made in Google docs, so I can update it wherever I have access to a computer. It totals my weekly mileage and averages my pace for each run. I choose not to use it to total my cycling miles but I do include the time I spend doing any kind of exercise. That way I have a record of my paces, my running mileage, and my total time being sweaty. I also find it really useful to see at a glance if I am due an easier week, recommended every fourth week. Because I am super nice to y’all, below is a link to the template for my 2012 training log so you can try using it yourselves. But beware, the running log doesn’t lie…

http://tiny.cc/RedHeadOnTheRun_log2012

To use this log you will need to have a Google account and click the ‘sign in’ button in the top right hand corner. You can then save the document to your own Google docs by clicking ‘file’, ‘make a copy’, and giving it a title. You will now have a fully editable version of the spreadsheet to fill with your own running truths. This ‘copied’ document now lives in your own Google docs account and can be made private or shared with friends.

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