Monday 7th to Sunday 13th March 2016

Training for: Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

Runs: 4 (Walks: 1), Total Distance: 53.1km, Total Time: 5:25

Week 7 - Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

Week 7 – Mont Blanc Marathon / Lakeland 50 / TDS

It is Friday 18th March and here I am about to write about my training from last week! Apologies to regular readers for the delay – it’s just been a very long, busy and tiring week and so hard to find the time.

So, on with it.

Monday I went to a hardcore punk show, one of the originators, Gorilla Biscuits. What a show it was! I had an amazing night out with my friends and I was super happy when they even played a true to original cover of my favourite Judge song (‘New York Crew’) and I went CRAZY! I would say it was a genuine workout because I didn’t stop moving from the start to the end of the set and I left the venue with a massive smile and drenched in sweat. I reckon I managed more stage dives and high fives during this gig any from my youth. Awesome, crazy fun.

After Monday night’s antics antics I was feeling pretty tired and a bit sore! But instead of opting for a nap after work (and trying to put off my workout!) I decided to use some untapped energy to get on the treadmill and get my week of training proper underway.

In a total change from punk I opted for a Hindu mantra the whole time on the dreadmill – I find mantras make treadmill incline workouts on tired legs slightly more bearable than if I was listening to techno (like usual) or metal/punk. As the run got underway I felt fine and the aches and soreness from the gig faded after about 10 minutes. Klicks 6 and 7 seemed to go on forever which so I decided to push for a fast finish increasing from 5:00pkm pace to 3:56 from the final 1100m – during my cool down walk it was all I could do not to throw up! From there I had a quick cold shower and then into the sauna for a short Bikram yoga session. To give you an idea of what my short sauna sessions look like here is a breakdown of the poses:

10mins top deck (42c): pranyama, upward & downward dog, cobra, pigeon
10mins standing (38c): mountain, tree, Warrior I & Warrior II, chair
5mins bottom deck (35c): reverse namaste, Eagle, pranyama
5mins top deck (42c): pranyama, corpse

Later in the evening on Tuesday, as I was feeling a little restless in the mind, I also undertook a simple, slow Yin yoga session which eased me into sleep quite comfortably.

Wednesday was practically a rest day as I did nothing at all except a one hour Ying yoga practice before bed. I was tempted to hit the gym for a kettlebell session but my body and mind got together to give me enough signs to suggest this would be a foolish and unwise option to take! I’m glad I heeded their call because I know that would have been somewhat damaging because I’ve still yet to figure out how to pace a weights workout and tend to just go all out with a weight that is probably slightly too heavy for my current strength base.

The week at work up to Thursday had been quite stressful and it had tired me out a fair amount but as is often the case with runners I really, really felt the need to run as therapy – no matter how frazzled I might have felt! So, I hit the road with a loose objective of running fast.

I knew I wanted to run fast but around the 3km mark  I decided I was going to try for a sub-19 5k. It looked like I would narrowly miss it at 4.5k but I ended up being 23 seconds off the mark in the end – not the narrowest margin but not bad at all, especially considering part of the 4-5k section was steeply uphill. Although I yet again failed to hit sub-19 I enjoyed the feeling of running with purpose; not a goal or a target but to get a feeling of freedom and release which occurred as soon as I hit my stride after the first klick. After the run I felt so much better than I had done all week and on reviewing the Strava results of the run I was very surprised to have registered an estimated 1 Mile PR, a 2nd best 2 Mile and 3rd best 1 Klick!

After returning from my restorative run I ate a light dinner and then headed out to try a yoga class at a different venue to my usual, with a different yogi leading the practice. The clas was not so much focused on spirituality and a bit quicker than my usual Sunday Hatha class. Julia, the Yogi, really likes to throw in some challenging poses and enjoys interacting with the class and for the class to talk to one another during practice. I wasn’t sure if I was going to take to it during the first 5 minutes but by the end of the class I felt energised and relaxed – I really enjoyed it, particularly the end of the class which returned to the spiritual root of yoga by ending with the whole class undertaking three extended ‘Om’ exhalations.

On Friday I opted to swim in a bid to save my legs for Saturday’s long run. As is so often the case in the pool I use I found my swim started off peacefully and then became a mix of flailing arms and legs as other lanes were merged and purged for swimming lessons. I gave up trying to swim through or around people and attempted three fully submerged laps. I got to around 15m before surfacing on the first and third laps but to 20m on the middle attempt.

After a short while something miraculous occurred and lots of people decided to stop ‘swimming’ and head for home so I decided to swim 1,250m which, with my previous 400m, would make just over a mile. I can handle that for a Friday workout – nothing too strenuous at all. I went through 1000m in 19:49 and then breezed the final 250m as a cool down. Afterwards I had 2 more attempts at a fully submerged lap, swimming down the pool both times. I swam back to the top of the pool using combat swimmer stroke. On both attempts underwater I got to around 20m again before having to surface. From there it was upstairs to the sauna for 40 minutes of pretty intense Bikram – it was very hot in the sauna and I had to leave for 2 minutes at one point to get under a cold shower, the possibility of passing out felt all too real before I did that!

When I woke up on Saturday I found I had another struggle to motivate myself out of the front door for my long run – this has been happening pretty frequently since early December 2015 and I can’t really figure out the reason behind it. But, as usual, as soon as I got going I enjoyed myself…until the wheels well and truly came off the bus at 22.5km and all of a sudden I found myself walking. When I started to run again at 23k I managed a mile before having to take another walk break. Two things happened here:

(1) I started off too fast without thinking about it and

2) I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and had no fuel along for the run.

Silly me. Silly rookie mistake that turned a great run into a lesson in how not to undertake a long run!

When you have to stop running and start walking you may as well try to smile, take a picture and then keep on keeping on!

When you have to stop running and start walking you may as well try to smile, take a picture and then keep on keeping on! [Also, please notice the flies. So, many, flies!]

I cannot remember the last time I had to take an extended walk break during a training run and it did nit feel great to have such a noticeable, fast decline! However, I kept my head up, kept moving and kept smiling. If it had been 22k into a marathon or ultra there would definitely have been no smiling and the ‘Flowers Fury’ would have started to build, of this I have no doubt – once I get hungry and start to bonk a little I tend to get quite angry at myself and I find that everything and everyone annoys we to the point of anger too! Thankfully the ‘Flowers Fury’ was kept at bay and I actually did enjoy the. It was nice to run a different section of the Grand Union Canal and it was a beautiful, sunny spring day. Each section of the canal has its own distinct character. For some people it’s just a flat path next to flat water but to me it’s like running along a piece of England’s industrial history – some sections on either side of the canal you see fields, woods and countryside and other sections warehouses, factories and industries and yet others you can find yourself running with suburbia or cityscape on either side. It really is a varied and interesting route! As I mulled this over during the decent part of my run something was confirmed for me that I’ve been mulling over whilst daydreaming at work, in the pool and on the run – to enter the GUCR or not? Well, ladies and gents, I’m going to throw my hat into the ring for it next year and I will hopefully get a spot!

On Sunday I walked to my friend’s flat to see his new human, Alfred (4 months old). I wore my weighted vest and ankle weights and, because the weather was warmer than expected, the walk wasn’t as comfortable as usual! I really felt it but it was worth the effort to see the Fred. It was great to spend some time with the little guy and attempting to help him learn to crawl – he’ll get there soon enough I’ve no doubt. From my friend’s house I headed to the gym for a pre-yoga treadmill session. I’ll admit the long run bonk from Saturday was weighing heavily on my mind and I was dreading getting onto the ‘mill for a run of any length, at any pace and at any incline. But, these things have to be done on the search for our personal limits! I won’t go into detail but I had planned to run 8km at 4% but ended up bailing on the idea at 6km – as a punishment I increased the pace over the final 500m to 3:53pkm after running at 5:13pkm prior to that. No pain, no gain. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

After my harsh treadmill session I found my favourite yoga class in my fledgling exploration of the practice wasn’t as flowing as usual for me! I wasn’t a flexible as usual because there seemed to be a lot of tension and stress building in my glutes and hamstrings. I plan to hit the legs hard with the foam roller all through next week to try and dissipate some of this and hopefully it will work. So, as I couldn’t hold many of the poses for too long I focused a lot of my energy and attention during the class to my breathing and tried to sync it with holding the core on the in breath and the pelvic floor on the out. Afterwards I still found my usual peaceful and tranquil feeling so there were no complaints from me! I rounded out the week of training and yoga by jumping under a cold shower straight after my Hatha class and then heading to the sauna. I wanted to do a spot of Yin yoga to try and loosen some tension in my legs but the sauna was really busy so I couldn’t find the room so instead I sat in the far corner with my eyes closed and tried to focus inwards on my intention and my breathing – not easy when you have about 6 people talking incessantly about rugby and other stuff but I held out for 25 minutes!

And, with that dear reader, I shall bid thee adieu. May the roads, trails and treadmills treat you well, until the next time.

Peace & Blessings

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