Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Quicky

Just a quick post to say I'm ridiculously busy!

Having the boys on holiday makes everything a little harder. Running 62 miles this week, as well as working, looking after the boys for at least some of the time I'm not working, and trying to keep a house running relatively smoothly makes for a very tiring time.

Still it'll feel so easy when all I have to do is run!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

How to avoid injury or "Neuroses R Us!"

It was supposed to be 22 miles, but the neither the mind nor the body was in the slightest bit interested. To manage 18 miles was in fact a real bonus.

I have been struggling with stiff knees this week, mainly due to a weights programme designed to build leg strength and protect joints. The side effect has been stiff tired knees. Couple that with a rather large dollop of neuroses, and you have a rubbish long run.

One of the reasons I think I have managed to avoid injury for the last 4 years is that I am an incredibly neurotic runner. Every little twinge and I am convinced I am injured and will have to give up running forever. So, if something isn't right I try and find a way to deal with it immediately. On Thursday I had the best hilly 6 mile run for a while, my knees were completely niggle free. Then I followed it up with a slightly hard strength workout followed directly by 3 miles power walking. During the walk my left knee was tight, very tight. As a result Friday and Saturday both saw a complete loss of confidence. Running long for me, especially when you are tired, and you are in the final week of a 3 week hard cycle, has a great deal to do with how confident you feel as a runner.

On starting Saturday's run my thoughts were "if I manage 3 miles, at least it's a run." This gradually crept up to "8 miles is a decent length", then "10 miles is double figures", "16 miles is a proper long run", and I finished on "18 miles will do today". I am convinced if I hadn't procrastinated on Saturday morning and got out of bed earlier, that 18 miles might even have been 22.

I am disappointed in myself that I have failed to hit my target twice in the last month. I have of course had very valid reasons for not hitting those targets, but just the simple task of having to adjust my schedule to take account of those missed targets has had me soul searching and wondering how things will pan out over the next few months. It is or course 15 weeks until the 3 marathons in 3 days, my first real test, so allowing myself a little more time to acclimatise to the high mileage is very sensible. Yesterday I thought 18 miles instead of 22 was an early sign my training was falling apart. I suppose I am pretty hard on myself.

Next week sees the boys break up from school and my husband away for 5 days, so no childcare, and limited running opportunities. I hope to be able to squeeze in some early morning running, but it will be a light week for miles, which will do me good. A chance to regain my confidence and give my body a chance to recover a little energy.

This week I have learnt that this challenge is very much a solo event, and that means training as well as completing the actual challenge. Unless Rory Coleman, or another ultra distance coach suddenly decides to become my patron, mentor and all round good guy, then the only one who's going to get me through this is me. So starting to unravel the reasons behind some of my more debilitating neuroses would be a good way to free myself up to just run. Whoever realised running would involve so much psychoanalysis?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ran a lot - learnt a lot!

What I didn't expect was to be on such a journey so soon.

I honestly expected to just add a little bit to my training every week or so, and to pootle along until I was ready to take part in some events. What I hadn't anticipated was how much I would learn about myself and about running so early in my training. It's been 11 weeks since I started training for running across Wales, and the biggest thing I've realised to date, is that this challenge will be far more mental than physical.

For the last 6-8 weeks I have been suffering with a "tweaky" left knee. At some point I twisted it, and it just twinges when I land awkwardly, or I have to run particularly slowly. I have been stretching, had my massage therapist check it out, and recently I have been strength training as well. I have known for months if not years that I need to strength train to protect my joints, but it is only the last week that has seen me take that seriously. I have found some full body exercises specifically designed for marathon runners by the Furman Institute, that take only 15 mins to complete twice a week. It's made me feel more tired this week, but having seen results already I now realise it's essential. My right achilles/calf has been tight for weeks, but after strength training, it's feeling a lot better. Why oh why didn't I do this earlier??

I have also learnt this week, that I need to pay more attention to detail. Having done 60 miles this week, with 12 on Friday and 20 on Saturday, with stiff knees............ I suddenly remembered I needed new running shoes. I had it in my head that I was doing roughly 40 miles per week, which would mean new shoes in August, but for the last 8 weeks I have been doing 50 as a minimum, and it all adds up. Thank goodness I have some new shoes ready to go. To be honest I usually just wait until my current running shoes feel like slippers, all sloppy and no support. I think I really need to be a bit more scientific about it and actually count the miles in each pair rather than waiting til they feel used. My knees have definitely suffered over the last couple of weeks running in shoes that should have been in the bin already.

The biggest thing I've learnt this week by far is that I'm not a natural risk taker. Friday's 12 miles was really tough, quite hilly and my energy levels were really low. After the run I felt like I'd done a long run, sore legs, tired (even had a little nap), and stiff. Technically by now 12 miles should be something I take in my stride, so the thought of going out and running 20 miles the next day was hugely daunting. I had convinced myself I would be running at 12mm, and struggling the whole way. In fact I ran sub 10.45mm over a very hilly route and coped well with the heat. I worry all the time that I'm going to break my body. I think my body is able to do far more than I give it credit for. But it still seems a hell of a long way from where I am now to being able to run 30 miles every day for a week. Another 60 miles to do next week, and then it's an easy week to recover.

Oh and then there's the question of my food intake again. I had another realisation this week. On Wednesday I had an hour's work in the morning, and then the rest of the day to run and do whatever I liked. Having worked so hard last week I decided to run, and then do some clothes shopping. I enjoyed myself so much shopping that I didn't realise the time, and had just 1 small snack between breakfast at 7.30am and lunch at 2pm. I ate well at lunch and didn't think anything more of it. However the next morning, I paid the price. I woke at 6.30am so hungry I felt sick and weak. I had a big bowl of porridge, and felt still hungry, an hour later my stomach was rumbling again, so I had a couple of pieces of toast. During my run I was constantly hungry, and it was tough. I can't miss out on calories, or I pay for it. Since Thursday I have been eating well and often. And I do love food, but even I am struggling to eat enough to fuel my running.

Another week done, another long list of things learnt, another tired Sunday pottering round feeling a bit spaced................... running is great!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Food glorious food!

Another long run done, another week completed.

This week was 58 miles plus 16 miles power walking, plus normal life. Quite a lot, and I am a bit tired.

18 miles off road completed yesterday around the Gower including some pretty steep hills and fantastic views. A bit of soft sand too. Since I started training for ultras my husband has taken over the cooking at the weekend..... and he's fantastic at it. Today we had beetroot, goat's cheese and hazelnut puff pastry tart with mange tout, and strawberry and raspberry flan with creme fraiche to finish. Delicious! A lot of the ingredients came from his allotment (I would say ours, but I have managed 30 minutes of weeding in the last 8 months of ownership). Which is not only very satisfying but cheap and tasty.

It's a good job the food is so good, because I worked out this week I used 1300 extra calories a day exercising, that's a daily requirement of 3300 calories, and it's only going to get worse. The temptation when you are physically tired and hungry is to wolf down anything to hand, so having someone else cook the kind of food I really should be eating is really wonderful. At this rate I may never cook again!

Next week I have a slightly less hectic week as a couple of clients are on holiday, and I have fewer meetings for work, so I hope to be able to choose routes for running that are a little more scenic. 60 miles to do next week, bring it on!