Monday 15th to Sunday 21st February 2016

Training for: Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

Runs: 3, Total Distance: 44.6km, Total Time: 3:34

Week 4 - Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

Week 4 – Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

What a good week; the week that was.

On Monday I learned that kettlebell workouts, to the uninitiated, hurt! Quite a lot. I carried the burn in my shoulders and back until around Thursday’s yoga session but it was a great burn to carry. After the class I felt like I had been pushed and I felt strong and happy – pretty much what I look for in a workout. Prior to the kettlebell class I ran to collect my car from my best friend’s house as I left it there Sunday night after cooking a Goan fish curry and drinking some beers. I was extremely pleased to run hard and to clock 19:20 for the 5k before running a nice and easy 1k cool down. My speed is there but I definitely struggle to push the sub-4 minutes klicks whereas I used to be able to switch my mind off and push harder through the pain – I think that will come back eventually but, at the end of the day, speed isn’t really my primary focus (not over short distances anyway).

On Tuesday I continued to develop my love for and focus on yoga. I knew I wanted to swim but as I mentioned I was carrying a fair amount of tension and pain after my kettlebell initiation so I spent forty minutes stretching my spine, shoulders and lower back and then headed out to the pool for a 2000m session that had zero focus at all – I just wanted swim, to rotate my shoulder and lengthen my spine, in effect I wanted an extension of my yoga session! Well, it didn’t quite work out that way because I ended up going through 1000m in 19:08 and, because that is pretty quick for someone like me I decided to power on and try for a negative split. Unfortunately I just missed it but I really enjoyed the swim and the stretch! Afterwards I sat in the sauna for quite some time contemplating trying some bikram yoga but I figured that could wait until I’m more confident.

On Wednesday I chose to rest and take it easy because, as I always need to remind myself, recovery is just as important to the growth of the body and mind as much as the actual workouts! I don’t think I’m alone in this either, most of us involved in ultra and endurance sport constantly need reminding by others or by ourselves to chill out a little.

I felt much better and recovered from my kettle exertions on Thursday, although I was tired after a pretty hectic day of work! Even though Wednesday was a rest day I found that I slept badly which made my day at work just drag on, and on, and on… Still, I really wanted to go for a run. I also really wanted to take down a Strava CR that I had no idea about until last week when I came within 2 seconds of it! I hit the road and took the first 4km relatively easy and once I got to the CR section which is a long, steep downhill I took the brakes off and ran hard – along with the CR my goals for the run were 8k under 34:00 and 10k under 44:00. I achieved both goals and hit 8k in 33:58 and 10k in 42:26. It was such a good run and complimented Monday’s speed session really well.

After the run I continued with my path towards becoming a running yogi and followed a quite challenging one hour session – I managed a shoulder stand, the fish pose and a few other more advanced things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of only a month ago! The yoga really is helping me to feel stronger in the legs and core but not only that, I have found a real inner peace and a quieter mind on the run and during my swimming sessions.

I followed up Thursday with an unusual one for me. I got up real early on Friday because I knew I’d be going to see a comedy show with a friend after work, therefore there was no way I would be able to run or do any other kind of workout unless it happened before work. So I followed a 20 minute pilates workout on YouTube and then immediately followed that with a flowing yoga session to stretch out and balance before heading out to work. Later that evening, after a few beers and a comedy show I found myself in a fairly empty train carriage on the way home and decided to spend the entire 20 minute journey in the squat position and focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing – I felt great when the train stopped and I opened my eyes and practically floated home.

Saturday’s long run was an out and back, as usual on one of my favourite routes along the Grand Union Canal. The ‘Out’ section I decided to run at aerobic HR (around 150bpm) to see where my body is at with regards to that – it took a long time to get back into the rhythm of slower running and I’m actually amazed at how much slower I’ve become running aerobically. I was running between 4:45/5:00pkm over the last 3 months of 2015 but stopped focused HR training in January and after this one I’m tempted to get back to it as I clocked the 11.1km out with an average of 5:26pkm!!

Prior to setting off I decided that the back section would be more of a mental workout and that I would push myself to see if I could run a faster pace all the way home, so, after a quick stop to pee and then rehydrate at the end of the ‘Out’ section I set off back the way I came at an effort I felt I could hold for probably 5k.

The aim of this workout was to get as close as possible to arbitrary time/distance targets set along the way and based on my physical deterioration during the run – learning to run when feeling the pain and then pushing harder I guess. The targets were 22:00 5k, 36:xx 8k, 46:xx for 10k and 52:xx for 11km. I was off all of the goals by anywhere from a few seconds to a minute and change going 22:09, 37:21, 46:54 and 52:09. Still it was good to at least push on and push through – I had to have 2 brief hiking breaks to take on water at one point (6k) and then to get a Shot Blok on board (7.5k) because I felt like I was bonking. It was a tough run, for sure, especially given that it was raining from start to finish but I sat there a the end of it with a smile on my face and I didn’t throw up so I couldn’t complain!

Later that evening, to relax and recover I undertook my longest yoga practice to date. It was both challenging but also relaxing. Of the 80 minutes, 60 were pushing the stretches and the final 20 were focus really more on breathing and emptying the mind. Something that I am really beginning to believe in at the moment is that a negative mind will never produce a positive life!

So, with my positive mindset I woke early on Sunday with then intention, initially, of undertaking a fasted swim and treadmill session before heading into work for a rare weekend/overnight shift (I’ve decided to do one a month because, well, who doesn’t need a bit of extra income?!). I would describe my swim as, well, ‘off-the-hook’! I swam 18:46 for 1000m and felt like I was just gliding along in the water, it really felt that easy right up until around the mile mark when I started to feel the burn. I wrapped it up at 2000m and then did some underwater swimming drills and slow lengths of the pool using combat swimmer stroke to cool down. From there I quickly dried off and go straight work on a variable incline treadmill session.

I jumped on the treadmill and spent 6 minutes at 3%, 3.5%, 4%, 4.5% and then 6 minutes at 5% running the whole workout at an average of 5:29pkm. Surprisingly I felt really good the whole time and could have carried on had it not been for the fact I needed to get home, eat and then get to work! I got off the treadmill feeling positive and smiling to myself. I couldn’t resist the call of the sauna and decided, then and there, to turn my double fasted workout into a triple by undertaking 20 minutes of Bikram yoga in the sauna.

I took 10 minutes to rehydrate and sort out my wet swimming and sweaty running gear and then headed to the sauna for some easy yoga poses: Shoulder Stretch, Kneeling Twist, Child’s Pose, Mountain Pose, Extended Prayer Pose, Locus Pose, Fish Pose, Corpse Pose. Although I felt light of mind and body afterwards I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak! I felt absolutely fine until I actually got to work. I had a vague feeling that something wasn’t quite right but in addition to feeling tired I also noticed I was dehydrated (very dark pee, TMI? We’re all runners, calm donw!) and ravenously hungry throughout the shift. From 1315hrs when I arrived until I retired to the Duty Officer room for sleep at 0000hrs I just wanted to eat and/or sleep – neither of which were options! I battled through feeling under the weather and then settled down for a much needed, well earned sleep!

[As I’m writing this on Tuesday 23rd I can tell you that when I woke on Monday, and after having a hearty porridge breakfast and plenty of water, I felt fine – it’s all good mental training!]

That’s it for this week dear reader! Sorry if this post rambled on a little – I am finding it quite difficult to write about the workouts/yoga I’ve been doing as opposed to the pure running (with some swimming) I’ve been doing for almost the past five years. I’m sure I’ll find a groove soon enough and hopefully you are still enjoying the read!

Until next week dear reader,

Peace & Blessings

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