Sub-1:50 half Marathon training: Week 1 DONE.

Running summary for w/c 7/1/13:
Miles run: 21.6
Cross training: Cycling, dancing.

Week 1 of training for the Waltham Forest Half is DONE. My training plan is stuck on my bedroom wall and I am gratuitously ticking off each session as I run it.

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Monday: Strength training
I’d run a 10K race the day before, so I wanted a no-running day and scheduled in some strength training. Previously my strength sessions have focused on my legs and general stability, but this time round I want to work on my shoulders and core too. A half marathon is a bloody long way and all of the muscles are screaming in those last few miles, so I’m doing my best to toughen them all up. Tricep dips, rows, a couple of weighted variations on bicycle crunches, flies… and half press ups!

I should have known this first strength session would be a killer, but my word… The following morning (Tuesday) my housemate took a tumble down the stairs at 5.30am and as I launched out of bed to see if he was OK my tummy muscles cramped up and I realised that DOMS had well and truly set in! Come Wednesday – 2 days after I completed the collection of arm and core exercises pieced together from various Women’s Running magazine workouts – and my tummy muscles still hurt.

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I’m doing OK now, thanks for asking. By Thursday my muscles had forgiven me and the good news is that my press ups are coming on a treat. In December I confessed that I could not complete a single press up, but after a month of regularly doing half press ups (AKA girl press ups, but this is an awful name that is wholly inaccurate because there is no reason whatsoever that girls can’t do full press ups once we’ve built up the strength – but that’s another post…) I can now complete 3 sets of 5 half press ups. Some of you may scoff at that, but I think I’m feeling like Superman right now.

Tuesday: 6 x (4 minutes at 7:50min/mile; 1 minute rest) + 1/2 mile warm up/cool down
I was supposed to run this session at 10K pace, i.e. closer to 7:40-7:45, but I was running around hilly Finsbury Park and struggled to pace myself well. Plus my legs were tired from Sunday. Plus my tummy hurt from Monday. I almost quit at 5 reps, but I finished the 5th rep at the opposite end of the park to my house and realised that I would get home much faster at threshold pace than jogging!

Wednesday: 2 x miles at target HM pace (8:15 min/mile) with 3 minutes recovery, + 1/2 mile warm up/cool down
I had some rather unexpected company on my first race pace run as the GF has also signed up for the Waltham Forest Half and has become curiously enthusiastic about my early morning runs. The company was great – cold, dark mornings alone in the park are getting quite tedious – but the session was quite hard. It was really difficult to nail my pace when running around such a hilly park! We ran the mile reps at an average 8:05, but our pace varied from 7:30 (downhill) to 8:40 (uphill). This does not constitute good race pace training, surely? I’ve decided that early morning race pace sessions will now have to take place in the flatter parks of Haringey, such as Clissold Park or Chestnuts Park. Any other suggestions?

Thursday: Rest…
By Thursday I was shattered! Not only was this my first week back at training, it was also my first week back at work after a 3 week Christmas break (there are benefits to working term-time only!) which meant that I was cycling the 12 mile round trip to work and back every day. I spent Thursday at home doing some of my own work and research, in my PJs, and drinking tea. It was fabulous…

Friday: Impromptu steady run
I had to travel to my second teaching job on Friday to do some admin chores for the exam boards, so I had swapped my scheduled long run to Sunday. However, the GF, with her new enthusiasm for running, got me out of bed at 7am for a couple of steady miles around the park. It was surprisingly nice to just run – no pace, no repeats – and my day in the office felt much better for having had a good dose of fresh air that morning.

Saturday: HM pace parkrun
There was a cross country fixture in the afternoon that I had hoped to run, but the logic of the schedule suggested a race pace 5K would be more suitable and so, determined to improve on Wednesday’s race pace effort, I set of to my local parkrun. It was really strange trying to run parkrun slowly, especially when everyone around me is racing! I really struggled to slow myself from 5K pace to HM pace, and clocked my first mile in 7:34. But by mile 3 (and a bit) I had slowed to around 8:10 and began to enjoy the steady feeling of that pace – not too fast, but definitely faster than a jog. I did not enjoy the man who was using me as a pacer and spitting every minute or two though. If you’re a spitter, please do me a favour and don’t run next to me.

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Looks like I’m not the only one using parkrun for Spring training – check out the queue of runners waiting to get their barcodes scanned at Finsbury Park!

Sunday: 8 (and a bit) mile long, slow run
I went dancing Saturday night and might have hit the sauce too hard… I got home in the not so early hours after getting the wrong bus to the wrong end of Haringey and woke up feeling decidedly, er… dehydrated. I had arranged the day before to meet up with some Chasers for a long run though, so at noon I was up, breakfasting and getting the lycra on (I had thankfully suggested meeting at 1pm.) In the end one of our running party fell victim to a much worse hangover than I, and so it was just me and Sarah out on the Parkland Walk, looping Highgate and Kentish Town. The run was uncomfortable as I felt really dehydrated, and I stopped at 8 miles despite scheduling in 11, but I felt good for having got out there and tried. Next week is 12 miles, and if it’s hard then I have only myself to blame…

So that’s it. Week 1 done. 22 miles and I’m feeling good. Let’s hope my positivity lasts! How has your week’s training been?

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