Sunday, January 14, 2007

Slight change of strategy

Slight change of strategy. Life took over last week and I didn't get all my runs in and I realised I was crazy trying to get ready for a 20 miler in 4 weeks when I haven't run further than 6 in three months.. I was putting so much pressure on myself to accelerate through a training schedule that a knee pain I haven't felt in years emerged and that's when I realised I had to stop and be sensible.

So, my reasoned response is to pull out Stamford and instead I've entered the White Peak marathon in May. It's a totally different marathon from NYC and Chicago. Only 200 entrants, run on trails (though not very difficult ones, apparently road shoes are fine), very few water stations and not many spectators. However, the scenery should be pretty spectacular - Derbyshire is beautiful - and I just love being in that area. I'm going to try and not pressurize myself time-wise - I just need to get past the 10M point by 2 hours as they pull you off otherwise - there aren't enough people marshalling to be able to deal with the slowpokes, apparently. If I can cruise at 1o minute miles I should be fine though. So I'm going back to Hal Higdon's intermediate I programme and doing the cross training properly this time as well as some strength and hill training (thanks for that tip Terry - I've been quite lax on that in the past and particularly for this marathon it's going to be really important).

In the course of my training I'm planning a few shorter races - perhaps the Sleaford half (if my knee is recovered) and the Lincoln 10K. Going back to the knee - I hope that it can be remedied with new shoes. I've been running in my Asics Gel Kayanos which I love but which I think are just a tad too unsupportive. I went back to an old pair of Brooks Adrenalins today and the pain was much alleviated. I think I've done more than 500 miles in both pairs though so as soon as there is a glimmer of light in my financial darkness I shall invest in something new.

Went to our local running shop on Friday to buy my husband some running kit - yes! - and they introduced me to the concept of Skins - this amazing compression clothing which they say has a marked effect on your recovery rate. I'm quite tempted by a new pair of tights - I spilled bleach down my one pair and they're looking pretty grim now - but hoo ha! the price! 60 pounds for a pair! Anyone out there tried them and reckon they're worth it? I'm very willing to be convinced but need some independent support.. In the meantime, it's not been too cold to run in shorts yet so I'm fine, if a tad blue.

Right - schedule begins tomorrow. Cross training and weights. So I'm going to do 30mins on my crosstrainer (I'll try to do 6K in that time) and then do weight and resistance. After listening to Adam Tinkov of Burning Twenty I decided to invest in some weights and a resistance band - I will keep you posted on progress or lack thereof. I'm somewhat daunted - it all looks amazingly serious for me - but hey - 4 years ago I had never run more than a mile so maybe I can manage some light weights and some exercises. I am always stumped by the enormous amount of things I have to remember at the same time with exercises - when to breathe, what to relax, what to tighten - my brain starts to panic - but I'm really going to try this time. I might even post some pictures if I can manage to make it all look faintly credible.

Off to bed now after an alcohol-free night - oh, the thrills of being an athlete...

Friday, January 05, 2007

on to the next challenge - 20M in 5 weeks!

My running has been a bit lacklustre recently - although I've maintained about 5 runs a week of about 45 mins, I haven't run for more than an hour since the marathon and running has slipped a bit in my list of priorities over the past month. Now that my son is well again and he and my daughter are back at nursery / school, it's time to ramp things up again..

To kick things off, my friend Stephen has suggested we run the Stamford 30K on February 11th. This is aimed at London marathoners, I guess, though even for them it's early on to be doing 20M races, let alone for someone like me who hasn't gone very far for quite some time. A good indication of how slack my running has become is that I haven't used my heart rate monitor / distance measurement thingie since Chicago either..

Anyway - it'll get me moving and I'll decide closer to the date whether I'll actually go through with it. I can always just diesel it - they've got pacing teams this year going as far back as (gasp) 11 minute miles so I'll just hook up with them and chug in, eventually. Steve Phedippidations Runner did a great podcast recently, attacking the points a writer made who criticised the slower runners in marathons. Being a back to mid packer myself, I wholeheartedly agree with him. Am running the race with 2 men though so I imagine they'll be psyching each other up to go all out. Oh the joys of being a woman and just being able to ignore all that..

As far as a schedule goes, ominously, there is no schedule I can find starting today which gets me to 20M in 5 weeks (I wonder why?..). So I'm just going to follow Hal Higdon's Intermediate II schedule which I think has me running 14M by that Sunday. I'm going to try to be a bit more diligent about the cross training days - when I used Intermediate I last year I tended to take Mondays (cross training days) off as well as Fridays. I have a cross trainer so I might as well use it. Additionally, Hal's schedules don't include speedwork and while this suits me (I hate it and am bad at it and tend to get injured doing it) I could do speedwork on the crosstrainer which is much less impact and so get some of the benefit without the damage.. A thought, anyway..

So today - ha! - the schedule has me on for a rest day. Won't do that though, I'm going to do yesterday's 3M run. Hardly taxing, even for a slightly post-christmas / stress heavier, lazier me..

Monday, January 01, 2007

What a year! And then 2007...

It's been such a weird month - running and otherwise. I've actually managed to get quite a lot of running in, particularly towards the end of the month. No long runs, but daily 45 minutes which is kind of my maintenance running when life is too busy to prioritise running or even choose and focus on a schedule. Not every day - some days I've just been tired to do anything.

Looking back, it's been a crazy month. My brave sick, then recovering son has been with me for the past 5 weeks without much of a break. We had lots of family and friends with us for Christmas and New Year and there was lots of cooking to do in this time. Very little time for myself but then, after the harrowing time in hospital, it was good to be at home having fun and time with everyone. At times, the pressure of cooking yet another meal or unloading yet another dishwasher got too much, but most of the time I was able to remind myself that I wanted this and that I really enjoy looking after everyone. However, without my runs (particularly on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and boxing day) I would have gone nuts. 45 minutes alone with my iShuffle and Steve Runner or other running podcasts and I was restored.

And now January - the time to settle back to normal. I used to hate it when my mother said that life should go back to normal, but maybe it's age - I now realise that it's a good thing. I'm back down to London tomorrow with my son, hopefully for the last time for a while. He can then (hopefully) go back to nursery a few days a week, I'll get some time back to myself to sort myself out and my running will come properly back on track again. It needs to because, for one thing, this holiday season I have really packed on the pounds. The combination of available sweet things (normally I don't keep temptation in the house), tiredness, alcohol and excessive emotionality have led to some serious overeating sessions and I am now 5 pounds heavier than I want to be. Aarrgghh. Time to prioritise healthy living and healthy running and leave that champagne alone for a while..

Goals for 2007? A marathon, probably in autumn, though I'm not sure which one. I'd like to go out to the States again for one, but I'm not sure about doing another big city one. I'd quite like to do a smaller one. There's one in October in Maine on Mt. Desert Island which is seriously tempting. Otherwise, if I'm being sensible, I might run one in the UK, and possible the Nottingham Marathon in September. The only reason I have avoided running one locally in the past is that it is such an enormous deal / effort to get oneself trained up for a marathon and if you run one locally I just know I'm going to come home to a pile of ironing and cooking supper - anticlimactic when compared to drinks at the Waldorf (after the New York Marathon) or champagne in our hotel room (after the Chicago marathon). Still - the upside is that I could get loads of supporters to come and watch and encourage, and that I could save my money for my friend Dawnie's 40th birthday trip to Napa Valley in 2008.. Other races I'm running are a St. Valentine's 30K (I think, even though it's quite a hard course and quite hard core - everyone running it is very fast) and the Lincoln 10K (my local race and I'm raising money for my daughter's school this year).

So now, all I have to do is train. Next post will be on my schedule - I'm going to do some research in the next few days and decide on how to train this season. Also, now I'm with a running club I can discuss this with my fellow runners (and not bore all my non-running friends).

Happy new year to everyone!