Best Christmas present ever:
Long-time readers may remember that my mam started running a few years ago. It all started when she came to watch me run the Cardiff Half Marathon and saw (in her words) women older than her running faster than me. Since then she’s joined her local club, the Wye Valley Runners, completed two 10K races (both under an hour!) and fallen in love with her local parkrun. But despite this, and despite saying she would like to try, she has refused to run a half marathon – until now! She has signed us both up to run the Bath Half on March 1st.
I’m not going to worry too much about why she changed her mind. I don’t have time to – the race is in 7 weeks!
Though we won’t be running together on the day, we will be virtual training buddies. I helped put together her training plan, accommodating her club runs and beloved parkruns and we have been checking up on each others’ training throughout the weeks.
Unlike my previous races I have not pinned a time goal to the Bath Half. Instead I am aiming to:
- Complete the training according to plan, stay motivated and stay positive
- Complete my Jantastic challenge with as close to 100% as possible, by sticking to my training plan
- Run my third sub-1:50 half marathon, thus proving that I am not getting slower despite eating all of the mince pies/ice cream/cheese
I would love, love, love, to dip under 1:48 and get a PB, but that would just be a bonus. I feel so thankful to enjoy running and training again that PBs are pretty far from my mind right now!
Training was inevitably going to be infrequent during the Christmas period. Some people power through the festive period, but I like dancefloors and drinking far too much to not get distracted. I therefore decided to formally start training in the New Year, going for an intense 8 weeks of training instead of a haphazard 12. The training plan is very conservative, sticking to tried and tested sessions, but has the added excitement of ongoing swim sessions in preparation for my first ever triathlon in June. Here’s how last week’s training went down:
Plan: Endurance focused swim
Actual: 5 x 200m freestyle
I started swimming in November last year having never been able to complete a 25m length of freestyle with my face in the water. It’s taken a lot of practice, embarrassment and spluttering, but when I have a session like this it is all worth it. I was totally elated for days afterwards.
The furthest I had continuously swum front crawl before this session was 150m. On Monday I swam 5 sets of 800m and it felt amazing. I don’t expect every session to go this well – swimming is really technical and I find it easier to concentrate some days than others – but it was wonderful to feel my efforts paying off!
Plan: Club run at half marathon pace
Actual: 5.6 miles in 46 minutes (approx 8:15/mile)
Rather than focus on pace during this run, I focused on effort, aiming for a steady pace that would still feel manageable by the end of the 5.6 mile route. And I did.
Plan: Drill focused swim session and strength training
Actual: A few drills, a lot of swimming for enjoyment, an attempt at using the TRX
The kettlebell used to be my go-to piece of equipment for strength training, but my new gym doesn’t have any. I decided to give the TRX a go instead, but think I will probably go to a different gym next week…
Plan: Threshold session
Actual: Slobbing on the sofa
There was no chance in hell that I was running on Thursday. Not only was I shattered from a late night teaching at a two bike clubs Wednesday evening, I had also endured two bike journeys through the shitting rain, the journey home in wet gear because nothing had dried out. I curled up on the sofa and wondered if I would ever feel warm again.
Plan: Rest or recovery swim
Actual: 5 x 5 minutes @ threshold effort with 1 minute recoveries
I thoroughly enjoyed my slobby night on Thursday, but knew it would come at a price… I welcomed in the weekend on the treadmill, hitting the gym on my way home from work to run a strangely tough threshold session. I say strangely tough, because I was running sets of 6 minute efforts just a few weeks ago! But at the end of a high activity week this felt hard. It came at the end of a tedious day in the office, but thankfully just before a night in the pub. Somewhere between the running, the whiskey and the good company I managed to unwind…
Plan: Parkrun at 9am
Actual: 4.5 miles easy at 4pm
…and somewhere between the whiskey and the good company I overslept and missed parkrun. Determined to complete my first week of Jantastic and run all three planned runs though I hauled my hungover ass out of the house for some gentle miles around the neighbourhood and over a few hills. Are you proud of me? I’m proud of me.
Plan: Long cycle ride with the triathlon ladies
Actual: An even longer cycle ride (60km)
No long run this week. Instead me and my triathlon chums decided to go for a long ride. It was my first of the year and my word did I know it! More on my cycle rides in a separate post, but for now here is a photo of Sarah (a.k.a. Lipstick Runner) and Nicola riding through Epping Forest.