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– new unofficial 10 km PR of 56:04, again at the Montrose 10km, shaving 1:53 off my PR. I call this one ‘unofficial’ because the race distance has been disputed.
– many consistent sub-9 minute miles, both in training and races
– longest distance run: 9.63 miles
All these PR’s clearly indicate the programme was a success. Regardless of stats, I feel I’ve become a much stronger and faster runner, and I’ve noticed an improvement in my fitness and ability to recover from hills during runs and just keep going, rather than previously slowing down at the top of the hill to recover before picking up the pace again. It has also given me more confidence in my ability, and has given me reassurance that I can in fact do the difficult intervals, tempo runs and long runs that other, more serious runners do, (does this mean I’ve also become a more serious runner?). Not to mention the fact that others have noticed a change to my body; apparently, I’ve lost weight? A nice bonus.
My sucess wasn’t completely perfect though: I admit to stopping the supplementary interval exercises once studying for my Life in the UK test became more intense, and also because I found my legs were often heavy when doing intervals and tempo runs, meaning they were probably not fully recovered. Although I could manage the exercises and noticed an improvement in my stamina during them, I found them difficult to schedule in to also allow for rest and running on more rested legs. I also admit to not doing all the prescribed interval and tempo run distances and time; I still did intervals and tempos, but for shorter periods of time instead. In this respect, I confess to fearing the pain and difficulty that comes with interval and tempo running, and this is something I know I need to work on. I do think it’s a small success to still have stuck to speed training though, and will continue to work towards sticking to the programme in this respect.
Before I give you my list of lessons learned, can I just say how much I love long runs???!?!?! If I had to rank the different types of runs I did during this programme, I would have to say long runs were my favourite, then tempo runs, with interval running last. Before I started this training programme, the longest I’d run was a stiff 7 miles. I used to think that my body couldn’t take long runs, that it was too tough on my knees and ankles, so I stayed away from them. I also feared the distance; again, this programme totally took me out of my comfort zone, but due to continued success, I saw the results of continually being challenged, so I continued to follow. I would wake up Sunday mornings, excited for my long run, and my friends and I would find new routes in the countryside to keep things fresh. It was also a great bonding time for my friends and I as we had serious girl talks during this time. I’ve read that you get to know your running friends quite well because of the time you spend together, and the fact you see each other when you’re always dishevelled; it’s like the act of running is barrier-free. This long run practice is something I could definitely get used to.
I’m linking up with Hyedi‘s post, Here we go again: what I learned from marathon training, to give you:
1. Everything revolves around the long run: your breakfast that day, hydration and diet the day before, your activities the day before, your activities the days leading up to the long run, and everything that happens after the long run until two days later. Or at least this is how I feel. I found that my long runs went really well when I wasn’t physically active the day before, but if I’d done the interval exercises, or heaven forbid, one Saturday I went out on my Stand-up and Paddleboard (SUP), my long runs were difficult and the post-SUP one was a disaster.
The lesson here was to have at least one day’s rest before the long run.
2. When doing new routes for a long run, drive the route first and map it out: twice during this programme, we got surprises along our routes. My first long run with my friend Wendy, we ran a route her husband suggested, thinking it would be the 8 miles he thought it was. After stopping a mile out of town after 1:35:xx of running, I was pretty sure the route was longer than 8 miles. I went home and mapped it out on Map My Run to discover it was 10 miles instead! Another shock was the 9.63 mile run: I knew we’d have to run up two big hills, but not the THREE big hills we encountered! This was on very tired, post-SUP legs, so needless to say, the last two miles consisted of run-walking. Hence one reason why it was a disaster.
The lesson here was to know your route, don’t discover it!
|The elevation chart for the very tough 9.63 miles|
3. Heart Rate Monitors should only be used for speed training runs: and not long runs at a slow pace. I made the mistake of wearing my HRM on my first long run, and got some pretty bad chafing just below my sternum, which resulted in some discomfort and stinging in the shower.
The lesson here was HRM’s are for speed only! (for me anyway). A visual representation of one of my speed workouts, 10 x 30 second hill reps:
7. Cold showers/baths are uncomfortable but totally worth it: they help speed up recovery and make your legs feel better after a long run. At the end of my post-run shower, I turn the temperature to cold and run the shower head up and down both legs, front and back. It’s shocking and unpleasant, but invigorating at the same time. I do cold baths after long runs, which elicit the same result, and make my legs feel better afterwards. I even used our neighbour’s daughter’s pool to soak my tired legs after my hard 9.63 miles, still in my running clothes.