And we’re back at it for another week! Hope you’re all refreshed and raring to go. I’m feeling well and truly into marathon training now and excited for the coming weeks (and when I say excited I mean terrified obviously).
Saturday was the standard parkrun affair at Netley Abbey. I got there early to help set the course up. Our flags for pointing the course directions are so sad and pathetic as they’re falling apart and very shabby. But my running club has donated a chunk of money to help Netley buy new ones so hopefully we’ll be getting them soon – how very exciting! (OK, not that exciting but good news for us who have to deal with dilapidating signs every week).
After a very stormy and rainy night I was pleased to find the wind had died down somewhat and the rain was MIA. Though the course was very wet and muddy. On driving to Netley I realised I’d forgotten my Garmin – which is quite shocking for me. I’m a data geek so the thought of not recording a run is a bit crazy for me. That’s not to say I have to actually see my watch when I run (‘naked’ runs where I’ll cover up my watch are very freeing and always good to do), but I like to have the data afterwards at least to eyeball my stats. Luckily I had my phone so I could turn on the Strava app, but this was quite annoying as it meant running with my phone in my hand as I don’t normally run with it at parkrun anymore so don’t bother bringing my armband.
I ran with my friend Mark, who’s normally a lot faster than me but was doing a longer run with parkrun wedged in the middle, so he ‘slummed’ it at a slower pace Having my phone meant a bit of selfie fun while running, but I’m definitely out of practice as both photos were blurry.
Always a good laugh! As I was using my phone I couldn’t see (or at least I couldn’t work out how to see) my current pace or distance so I just went by feel. I didn’t want to attempt any great speeds for this parkrun as I was concerned about my 16 mile run I had planned the next day. I found by running hard last Saturday, my Sunday run felt quite tough. My aim was to take it steady as my true speed session was my hill session earlier in the week.
I’m really pleased with those splits (and overall time of 23:49). I’m not sure how I’ve managed to do this but for whatever reason I can now seem to consistently negative split a 5k. I just save myself some extra ‘oomph’ at the end and then power to the finish. Mentally it works far better for me that way.
Later I met with my parents to go for a nice walk. We went to Stansted House (which is where one of my favourite races in the year takes place: Stansted Slog half marathon).
The house and grounds sadly weren’t open but we had a nice walk regardless and then stopped for a snack in the Pavilion Cafe.
The cafe was lovely in the greenhouse type building. I saw the cakes and I was sold. I’d already had lunch a few hours earlier so afternoon tea seemed rather excessive… But I wanted something. I couldn’t decide between the bread and pudding cake or a scone with cream and jam. So I went with both. I’ve been craving bread and butter pudding for ages since it’s always for sale at the cafe at parkrun but I never buy it as I don’t want to spoil my breakfast.
I had the scone first (I had clotted cream with it, not sure why they also gave me a slab of butter as well) and then the bread and butter pudding. I didn’t realise quite how dense the bread and butter pudding would be and found it really filling. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually be able to finish it (this is crazy talk!). I did though obviously.
I was considering getting an armchair from Next but they take around 12 weeks and are quite pricy. This was a beautiful alternative for over £100 cheaper.
Sunday morning was long run time. I sometimes get nervous about my long runs. I run them on my own and plan the route beforehand but there’s something so daunting about the distance. I felt 16 miles was definitely stepping it up. One way I find that really helps calm myself about it is to mentally run the route. I know the route really well as it’s where I did most of my marathon training last year; along the seafront at Lee-on-Solent and the surrounding areas. I just ticked the miles off in my head and gave myself milestone points to break things down. I really find this helps.
I also told myself to start off slowly. There’s quite a beast of a hill towards the beginning of the run so I didn’t want to knacker myself. Despite continually telling myself to go slowly I still found I was naturally running 8-8.15min/miles. I don’t really look at my watch that much during long runs – I tend to zone out and focus on my podcast. In fact it’s always such a great feeling when your watch beeps and you think you’ve done 6 miles when actually you’ve done 7!.
I know I could really force myself to run slower but should I when it feels that natural? I just don’t know. Last year most of my marathon training long runs were around this speed and I found it really helped make me stronger. I’m not planning on running Boston any quicker – if anything, it’ll probably be slower due to the course being quite challenging. I do think though that for my 18 miler planned in two weeks time I’m going to really force myself to slow down, but then hopefully increase the speed as I go along. I know it impacts the following week otherwise.
I did struggle mentally though on this run. It was quite gusty along the coast and I just felt like I was plodding and I’d never finish. It just felt like such a long way. Physically I felt drained – probably from ridiculous amounts of sugar the day before. But I did feel good running in terms of no niggles. Thank God.
That and a hot shower and I was human again. I spent the rest of the day just chilling at my flat, eating, watching the Armstrong Lie (very good documentary about Lance Armstrong), walking Alfie and doing general chores. Perfect!
How was your weekend?
How do you mentally prepare for a big workout or long run?
How many speed sessions do you do a week (or targeted sessions where you’re not just doing a steady state workout)?