Sunday 30 October 2011

October stats

So October was the month in which I got rid of my insoles, ran my longest runs since September 2010, and increased my weekly mileage at last.

Last week was half-term school holiday, and I took the kids to my parents' for a few days. Being away meant I couldn't use my bike, but I did run there twice - a couple of nice 3-milers. We came back on Thursday, and I ran again with the local group. It was a hill session, which involved running hard up a short but steep hill 10 times, with recovery between each one. On the last hill I ran as hard a I could. It was really tough, but I felt great afterwards.

But on Friday I started to get a pain in my backside, and after walking around town with the kids and then around the supermarket, I was experiencing a lot of bum discomfort! It was my sciatic nerve, which often gets irritated, but this was worse than usual. I tried rolling around on a tennis ball and using my foam roller, and they really helped, but it was still sore on Saturday, so I went for a bike ride instead of a run. I found another route through some beautiful countryside and the autumn leaves were looking great.

Today I finally found time for my long run, and pounded out a tough 7.4 miles. It was windy, the route was very undulating and I hadn't had enough sleep, and I found the last couple of miles hard-going. My bum felt ok though, and afterwards I felt fantastic! I was so pleased to have run another longer-than-last-week run.

Afterwards Pete and I also went for a walk with the kids. We wandered along the South Downs, stopped for a picnic, and tried to admire the view in spite of cloudy, overcast weather. It was really great though.

Windy at the top of the hill!

This week I only cycled 9.1 miles, but I ran 18.1 miles - presumably a record for 2011 - yay!

Stats for October:

Ran - 13x - 57.1 miles
Cycled - 6x - 61.8 miles.

Pretty good for 2011. I'll probably go out on my bike tomorrow, which is still technically October, but it feels like the end of the month today. Next weekend I'm going away, so I'm not sure where I'll fit in a long run - I might not. I may just make it a 'cutback' week, and aim for a long run over 8 miles the following week. I'm not training for anything, so it doesn't matter too much - there's no rush!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Last week

It's half term in England this week, which finds me at my parents' house for a few days with the kids. One of the reasons we wanted to move from Scotland to England was so that we could travel more easily to see our families, and I am putting this into practice now! So far since arriving on Sunday I've enjoyed some shopping, quite a bit of reading, an evening in the pub with old school-friends, good sleep and one run. It's good to recharge the batteries a bit.

Last week Emma's nursery took an extra day's holiday, which got in the way of my usual bike ride on Friday. I also got a bit of a cold, and felt pretty rough over the weekend, so I missed a planned run.

However, last Monday I had an excellent run! I increased my long run from the previous week, and did 7.2 miles. Incredibly, this is the furthest I have run since 19th September 2010 (the Great North Run I hobbled with a bad foot). It was great to up my mileage at last, and I really enjoyed the run.

After that I had a great 13 mile bike ride on Tuesday, and then I ran with the local group on Thursday evening. That turned out to be a Paarlauf session - something I'd never tried (or indeed heard of) before. Basically each runner is paired up with someone of a similar ability, and you take it in turns to run loops. So my partner ran a hard loop round the block, then tagged me and I ran a similar loop. While she was running, I was jogging back to my starting point as recovery.

It was quite hard. I ran each lap with 3 others, and my partner and I started at the back of each pack. Then I had a burst of energy in the middle, and overtook into second position. We maintained that for most of the session but I flagged badly on the last few laps and was a distant last by the final lap! It was good fun to do something new, and made me push myself.

And that was it for the week, so only 2 runs and 1 bike ride due to circumstances beyond my control. I was pleased to have increased my long run at last though, and I hope to go longer again this week!

Friday 21 October 2011

Change of seasons

All of a sudden it's definitely autumn and summer is gone. In a very short space of time, the temperature has plummeted by about 10 degrees C and I've had to change my running and cycling wardrobe. Just a couple of weeks ago we were walking round in t-shirts, and then yesterday morning I had to scrape the ice off the car before I did the school run! It's been a bit of a shock to the system.

An autumnal trail

Last night I went to my running group. I thought I'd better not go overboard with winter clothing as it's only October, so I wore capris, a t-shirt with medium length sleeves and a sleeveless jacket. When I arrived I was pretty cold, and observed that I was one of the least warmly-dressed of the runners. Some people were in hoodies, jogging bottoms and gloves. Considering I am the sort of person who always feels the cold and wants to switch the heating on immediately at the end of summer, I wondered if I had overdone the hardiness and underdone the warm clothing. However, as soon as we were running of course I was fine, and warmed up really quickly.

I was also perturbed to see that it was a very small group last night, and others were discussing how numbers tend to drop off in cold weather. I can understand being put off by heavy rain, but running is such a great way to keep warm when it's cold! Why wouldn't you move your body and get sweaty to warm up and deal with winter blues?

I love a crisp, cold, winter's day run, and as all you runners know, there's not much that a woolly hat, gloves and plenty of layers can't cope with. There is a saying I like that goes 'Champions are made in the winter', which refers to all the training that elite athletes do in the dark, cold months before the major marathons and other events of spring. I first heard that when I was training for my marathon in May 2010 - it inspired me when I was plodding through snow-covered streets on dark, chilly mornings in January and February.

Of course a change in temperature also means that you have to go shopping for more running kit - yay! I can't wait to get stuck into some winter running.

Crunchy autumn leaves

Monday 17 October 2011

Weekly round up

My plan to increase my mileage has been put into action at last! I just cannot believe it's been over a year since I ran anything over 10k - curse my plantar fascia!

I decided to do my long run on Monday, as I had some free time while Emma was at nursery, and I wanted to get stuck in at the start of the week. It was a really nice run of 6.2 miles. Ok, so I still haven't gone further than 10k, but I'm building up to it! I tried to keep my pace comfortable, and ran over 9 mins for each mile, but miles 4 and 5 were the fastest - I think I turned around and ran on a slight downhill incline there. So although it felt fairly easy, it ended up being 20 seconds faster than the 10k race I did last month! This was obviously down to the flatter route and cooler conditions. My average pace was 9.09 min/miles.

I ran on the cycle path and bridleway, which is such a great route. It's quiet, away from traffic, mostly flat and nice to look at. I had to turn round and come back the same way, rather than do a loop, but as it was slightly more downhill on the way back, I didn't mind.

On Wednesday I couldn't help but run faster, and I did a nice 5k in the dark at 8.35 min/mile pace. I didn't get to running club this week as Pete was away, but I did run just over 4 miles on Saturday. So I stuck to my cautious, careful plan of running 3 times and leaving a full day between each run. I also had two nice bike rides.

Since we moved here, I've been so lucky with the weather. I've only run in the rain once, and never had to get wet on the bike or cycle through mud. Long may that continue. (Er, it's raining as I write this though).

So my total miles were:
Ran: 13.6 miles
Cycled: 19.3 miles.

I just hope I can keep running longer without getting injured again...

Friday 14 October 2011

Out with the insoles

Long-time followers with good memories may remember that after my fun times with Plantar Faciitis started last September (that's September 2010), my Physio prescribed a fetching pair of orthotics. They were quite uncomfortable at first, but I gradually got used to them and have been running with them in my trainers ever since.

However, a few runs ago I decided to try a run without them. So far, there hasn't been any sudden resurgence of strong heel pain, and I have now run maybe 3 or 4 times without the insoles.

There were a few reasons why I decided to try running without them. The main one was that in the last few weeks, I've been getting a few unusual pains in the foot, particularly after a longer run. I started noticing some discomfort around the ball of my foot, and I just had a feeling that this was being caused by the distorting shape of the orthotics. I haven't had any more of those pains since I removed them.

Secondly, I know when I started using them that a lot of people weren't sure it was the best way to go. From comments on my blog, reading other people's blogs and a few conversations with runners, I was prompted to spend a lot of time thinking about the whole debate over increased padding and protection (insoles and supportive trainers) v. minimalist running (barefeet). I'm still not sure what I think about all this, but I do think there's only so much support your feet can take before you lose the ability to run in a natural way.

Thirdly, it's coming up to a year since I first started using them, and the Physio said that they should be replaced after a year. So I might as well try running without them.

Finally, I've never really been convinced that they did any good anyway. The process of getting back into running was a long gradual one with many false starts. I still feel pain in my heel (allbeit on a much smaller scale than this time last year), and there was no one solution to the problem - certainly not the addition of orthotics.

I haven't thrown them away, they are under the bed so if needs be I can always put them back in again. But my plan for now is to take things sensibly and carefully - I know, really boring - but I'm going to stick to 3 runs a week for now, no running on consecutive days, and a gradual steady increase in mileage each week.

Luckily I've found some fantastic paths and trails to run and cycle on near my new home, so upping the mileage should be enjoyable...

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Easy running

Last week I posted that I would hopefully be going for a run with the local group on Thursday despite a little ankle pain. In fact, Pete wasn't home in time, so I decided to run on my own anyway. It was dark, so I thought I'd stick to residential streets which were more likely to be well-lit. I had a vague plan of where to run, but as I don't know the local area well-enough yet, I was prepared to divert away from dark roads.

I decided to do something a bit different from my usual runs. As it was 7.30pm, and I didn't have time for a long run, I would normally run about 3 miles (probably 3.1 just to make it 5k), and aim to go as fast as I could. In fact all my running recently has been based around going as fast as I can, and if my pace is significantly over 9 min/miles, I'm not happy. But on Thursday I thought 'What if I try and run slower? Maybe it'll help when I go longer?'

So I went for an easy, comfortable pace. It was a revelation! It was just soooo enjoyable! I ended up going a different way than I had planned, and had a good explore around an area I haven't been to before. Although it was dark, I investigated the sight of the town (a windmill!) and I felt so comfortable the whole time, I could have gone a lot further.

When I first started running and struggled to keep going for 5 minutes, I never could have imagined that I could find it so relaxing and comfortable.

I only ran 4 miles because it was late and I hadn't had dinner, so for the last mile, I decided to speed up and see how fast I could get home. My mile splits were like this: 9.30; 9.42; 9.43; 8.28.

I definitely plan to include more slow running, especially when I'm building my distance back up again. I need to look at the Garmin less and not worry about trying to run faster than 9min/miles for every mile. Why do I obsess over that all the time? Ridiculous. I can't overstate how much I enjoyed that run! (The ankle pain was ok, by the way).

Anyway, apart from that, it wasn't much of a high mileage week:
Ran: 10.3 miles
Cycled: 20.3 miles

We had my sister and her family to visit at the weekend, and ate loads of crap food, got through a few bottles of wine and stayed up too late, so I was impressed that I managed any sort of run at all on Sunday. I could only face 3 miles, hence no long run last week. More mileage to come this week!

Our very own tourist attraction

Thursday 6 October 2011

Saying no

Since we moved, I've really enjoyed going to the local running group. As I don't know anyone round here, and often don't speak to another adult during the day when Pete's at work, it's great for social reasons as well as to improve my running. Training is held twice a week, and while I have managed to attend 3 weeks in a row, I've only been once a week. This is because Pete's been working long hours and has been making a special effort to get home early once a week. So while I've attended 3 Thursdays, I've never been on a Tuesday.

Then this Tuesday, I was getting the kids' dinner ready when Pete called and said he was on his way back, and did I want to go. I hadn't expected that, and it meant I would have to rush the kids' dinner and bath, but I knew that was worth it for a run. I'd also been for a 10-mile bike ride that afternoon, and my legs were tired, but I knew I would be able to run well enough. I was about to say yes, when I suddenly remembered - a niggle I probably shouldn't ignore.

Since running last weekend, I've had a pain in my left shin, just above the ankle. It's something that happened gradually, but on Monday's run I noticed it quite clearly. It's fine most of the time, but hurts when I put my foot down with impact.

So with reluctance, I did the sensible thing - I said no. I'm sure many of you know how difficult this was. Particularly when I'm struggling to find the time to get out for a run, it's very hard to turn down the opportunity. I probably could have run with the pain and not felt it too much, but it might have exacerbated the injury.

Anyway, I congratulated myself on being so wise, and had a complete rest day yesterday. I massaged the sore area, but that seems to have made it worse! It's very tender to the touch as well now. I put ice on it last night and sat with my leg up on the sofa, but the pain is still there when I run.

So assuming that Pete makes it on time tonight (and he's gone up to London today, so has further to travel), I will definitely be saying yes to tonight's run. I've tried the sensible route, and I'm not missing out again! Maybe it's one of those little niggles that responds to exercise? I think it's feeling a bit better anyway... yes I can think of lots of justification for why I should run tonight!

At least I am balancing out the running with plenty of cross-training, thank goodness for my new bike.

Monday 3 October 2011


There's a title I never thought I'd use for a post. The weather in the UK last week was record-breakingly hot. It was glorious sunshine all week, culminating in temperatures around 29 degrees Celsius at the weekend. Fantastic, I love it, as long as I don't have to work in it.

After last weekend's 10k race, I had a few days off. I was achey on Monday, then it was Robbie's birthday on Tuesday so we were celebrating him turning 6. 6!!! Unbelievable. I finally ran on Thursday, with the local running group again. This was my 3rd time there, and we ran figures of eight, with one loop run hard, followed by a loop of recovery. We did this 8 times, and I felt that I was running pretty well. No doubt a few days off did me good. On Friday I enjoyed a really good 10m cycle in the sun, and on Saturday morning, I did an exploring run, where I ended up running over the bumps of a BMX track. This was not intentional, not much fun, and I won't be venturing down that path again.

As for the month of September, it turned out to be the month of getting back into a routine. After the chaos of August, (i.e.moving house), I stepped up the running, did only my second race of 2011, and bought a new bike!

In total I ran 12 times, equalling 49.4miles; and cycled 5 times which made 40.7 miles. Great!

Injuries and illness permitting - I seem to get constant niggles in my feet and I've got a cough and sore throat today - I would like to keep up the number of times I'm running and cycling each week, and increase the running distance to include a long run each week. I haven't run much over 6 miles since September LAST YEAR when the plantar fasciitis first hit, so I'd love to be able to run 10, then 13 or so miles without injury. I'll be taking it steady though - any heel pain and I'll attend to it straight away!

Robbie and his cake