Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th February 2016

Training for: Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

Runs: 4, Total Distance: 64km, Total Time: 5:31

Week 5 - Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

Week 5 – Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

I did a lot of yoga and, surprisingly, a lot of running last week!

I didn’t feel up to a kettlebell session on Monday because I was pretty tired – unfortunately I couldn’t get onto the Wednesday evening class but I am hoping to keep Monday as a yoga only day and move kettlebells to Wednesday. Anyway, I did 40 minutes of Hatha yoga straight after work and then an hour and ten minutes before bed. I went to sleep feeling relaxed but also strong in my core and legs.

I put the strength to the test on Tuesday and ran a long incline workout on the treadmill. I started at 3% and increased by .5% up to 24:00. From there until 60:00 I ran at 5%, 60-66 minutes at 5.5% and the final 6 minutes at 6%. I felt very comfortable all the way up to the final six minutes – I was cool and calm, very focused on form and steady breathing and my mind was completely empty for the most part. Thoughts seemed to appear but before they had a chance to form they were gone! About ten minutes after the treadmill session I went to the sauna and did some slow stretches and breathing exercises at 41 celcius – it was a very rewarding practice and my legs felt great afterwards!

I mixed it up a lot on Wednesday after work. As I mentioned earlier I couldn’t get a spot on a kettlebell class so I went through my own circuit workout at home using bodyweight and a couple of 6kg dumbells. Afterwards I continued my transformation into running yogi and rolled out my newly delivered yoga mat for a 40 minute Hatha session – I followed a practice that focused mainly on balance, hips and shoulders and, as ever, it left me feeling strong in the body and quiet in the mind. I had a quick bite to eat and some water before heading off for a swim. I had planned to swim an easy 2500m, not particularly a workout as such, just a relaxing swim.

Unfortuantely there were lots of slow people in the pool so I had to put in a fair amount of effort to get past and to keep at up a semblance of rhythm – therefore I ended up going through 1000m in 18:41! I felt pretty tired after around the 1100m mark and then made the decision to call it a day after going through the mile in 30:36 which, for me anyway, is a fast swim! I cooled down with 100m of combat swimmer stroke and then two attempts at 25m fully underwater, managing 15m each time. I really enjoy this kind of cool down swim as it teaches you to focus on swimming effortlessly and to expend as little energy as possible. From the pool I headed to the sauna and sat in sukhasana pose (cross-legged) and focused on pranyama (breathing) for 30 minutes at 38 celcius. Later in the evening I couldn’t resist yet another yoga practice (!) so I relaxed through a 30 minutes Yin session before drifting to sleep.

“Soon I shall no longer be what I am now.” – Natasha Rostov, ‘War & Peace’

On Thursday, I went back to the gym (I’m becoming a familiar face over there!) for my first taught Pilates class in over a year. I learned that I am very much out of practice because this taught class felt tough even with all of my core focused workouts and yoga of late! I found it particularly difficult to change my breathing pattern from the yoga nasal focus to nasal/mouth required for pilates it was definitely worth it and I’ll return next week even though, something of note; in a class of 12 I was the only male!

From the Pilates studio I jumped onto my favoured treadmill and set off on another incline workout. This was a tough one as I began only ten minutes after the aforementioned Pilates class! I increased my pace by 40s/pkm to 12.5/kph which made it just that bit more difficult as my last few incline workouts have been at 11kmph and 11.5kmph. I ran for 6:30 at each incline setting from 3.5% to 5.5% and I can tell you that the final 3km were a real mental struggle! I think if I’d have tried for a 10km it would have turned into a physical challenge too. I may try that next week though!

I guess I could call Friday a rest day as there were no multiple workouts – yoga, running, swimming or otherwise! Instead I opted for a couple of beers with my colleague after work and then just before bed I undertook a Yin yoga practice of 45 minutes. Afterwards I slept like a log!

Saturday was long run day. And a long run it certainly did turn out to be! I woke up feeling a bit grey and down – as I have done most Saturdays in 2016. For some reason I seem to find them more of a struggle than the rest of the weekend, maybe it’s boredom? Maybe I feel I have too much time on my hands? I do not know. All I do know is that after getting through the early part of the day I found myself staring down the barrel of what I thought was going to be a 26km long run. A long run that I really, really did not want to go on. That is, until I set off.

When I started my heart rate didn’t want to get up above 140 until about 5 or 6km and this really wasn’t helping my melancholy! I was fighting with myself wondering whether to turn around and head home but I pushed on and as soon as I hit the Grand Union Canal path I cheered up greatly – I reckon it has something to do with the proximity of water and the fact that for long stretches you are surrounded by tranquil narrow boats and lush, green fields. By the time I reach the 13km mark I was feeling fresh as a daisy, moving well and had really started to thoroughly enjoy myself!

I reached 14km with a smile and decided to carry on until 16km and then I threw caution to the wind and tacked on another two before turning around to begin my journey home! I had two very short walk breaks on the way back, at 26km to eat my last Shot Blok (I ate three in total) and to drink and swill some water at 30km. I started to physically struggle at 31km due to lack of fuel and water and so I just had to keep reminding myself I didn’t have far to go – ‘Keep on Keeping on Al, just keep on moving forwards’!

As well as my ‘Keep on Keeping On’ mantra I played another distraction game and tried to compile my thoughts from the run and this is what I remembered (in no particular order):

(1) to start my travels in Pakistan or try Tibet instead

(2) Wouldn’t it be great to live on a canal boat

(3) Wow, that swan is huge, stay where you are

(4) Should I run a 42km training run next weekend

(5) What a beautiful sunset

(6) I wish I had another Shot Blok (7) I can’t wait to have a bath, a beer and baked potatoes for dinner.

When I reached my front door with 3:10:10 showing on my watch I was very pleased and the shroud of melancholy and despair I had carried throughout the early part of the day had dissipated! I cracked open a beer, ran a hot bath and then put some potatoes in the oven to bake. After two beers (one of which I drank whilst in the bath) I ate dinner and I was asleep by 2230hrs – maybe I’m getting old before my time but, for me, that is one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday evening?!

Finally Sunday arrived and I realised I was on for a pretty high mileage week considering I’m taking it easy and not running 6 days per week at the moment! I was woken early by a text from a friend telling me they weren’t going to run a trail marathon I had helped with training for and, instead of going straight back to sleep, I decided to get up, do my housework and then start the day with a simple Vinyāsa practice – I centred myself, focused on pranyama and flowed through a 30 minute session thinking through my intentions for the day. The intentions I stated for myself: spend time with my brother and talk about the future, smile more than on Saturday, relax in the company of others and savour the last day of the week.

After this session I went to the supermarket, picked up some ingredients to cook vegan chilli for my friends later in the day and then went to visit my brother. We decided to drive out to the countryside and to have a pub lunch – it was good to spend a good few quality hours with my little brother as we both seem to have a lot on this year and not much time to talk it through and to enjoy each others company! After lunch and a little country driving I dropped my bro at his house and then drove to the gym.

Initially I my plan was to run 3.4km to get me up to 61km for the week. But, well, I felt good so I set the time on the dreadmill to 31:00, took a deep breath and enjoyed the feeling of travelling without moving! I set the speed to 12.5kmph and then incline at 3.5% for the first 15 minutes followed by 4.5% for the final 16 minutes. I covered 6.4km and rounded out my mileage at 64km for Week 5 of my Big Mountain Summer Training!

I followed up my treadmill run with my taught/group yoga session of the week. I got into the studio 10 minutes early so therefore I began my practice 10 minutes early. The yogi, Matt, put some really challenging poses into the class today and they showed that my flexibility and strength is improving greatly – I was surprised that I actually managed half splits on my right side (couldn’t quite manage it on the left) and also surprised when I managed to lift my left foot from the floor during one pretty complex pose that I forget the name of! At the end of the 70 minutes I began to wonder what I did before I found yoga?! I absolutely love it because it really, really calms me down and clears my mind. It pushes me physically and it soothes me spiritually – it’s the perfect partner/balance for endurance sports! I spoke to Matt for a little while after class and then I decided to enter the sauna for a short restorative yoga session (what can I say?! I have an addictive personality)! I sat for 10 minutes in sukhasana focused on pranyama and then spent 5 minutes in variations of balasana before finishing with 5 minutes of savasana at 40℃.

I left the gym just after 1800 on Sunday evening and then drove to my best friend’s house to cook dinner and drink beers as is usual for us on a Sunday. I think I can safely say that Sunday 28th February was definitely the best of the year so far and it set up me up nicely to flow into the week that lies ahead.

Thanks fore sticking with this pretty LONG post dear reader! I hope that the road, treadmills and trails treat you well this week.

Peace & Blessings

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