Half Mary Musings | Week 2

I’m currently training for my first half marathon in Aviemore, October 13th, 2013. Half Mary Musings is my weekly reflection of how training went, what I’m doing well and what I need to work on.

Hello and good bye week 2!

Keep in mind these different speeds as you read:
easy run: 60% effort, you can run and easily carry a conversation.
long/steady run: 65% to 75% effort, at least 1 min slower than race pace.
threshold run: 80% effort, comfortably hard, also known as tempo
intervals: 85% to 95%, close to all out effort, leaves you out of breath.

Monday: Abs!!!! + blogging, because it does take up some time.

Tuesday: 2 x 10-min easy run/10-mins threshold run. This looked like 10 minutes at easy pace,10 minutes at comfortably hard, 10 minutes easy pace, 10 minutes comfortably hard, finished off with an easy jog all the way back.

distance: 4.2 miles in 40:11 (9:32, 8:30!, 9:55, 9:09)

I quite like threshold runs, especially when there’s small rest breaks in between. I think I need to work on more even pacing though, because I start out too quickly then lose steam towards the end. I feel I should run these as a kinda-sorta progression run, with the second half faster than the first half, and this will be something I’ll work on. I’m also still unsure about paces for each speed, so that makes it difficult to know exactly how fast I should be running. It’s difficult to rely on how the pace feels because I may feel great due to that small adrenaline rush from the excitement of starting the run, which makes that 9:32 mile feels easy, but then I seem to tire too easily and slow down for the rest of the run. I really I think my easy pace is about 9:45 to 10 minute miles. This is why my Garmin is handy! Maybe I should follow it instead!

I ran in my blue New Balance runners above (maybe you’ve seen them before????), which still have miles in them, but not nearly the cushioning my Nikes have. These are ready for retirement I think.

Thursday: 10-min easy run / 2 x 7 mins of hills at threshold / 10-min easy run. Like last week, I think I may have done this wrong. After speaking to my unofficial running coach at work, this should’ve looked like 10 minutes easy run, followed by 7 minutes of running uphill at comfortably hard, with a 3-ish minute downhill cool down, then again 7 minutes of running uphill at comfortably hard. Finished off with 10 minutes of easy running. Instead, based on what last week’s hill run was, I wrongly assumed that, for the hill running, I was to run continuous hills (45 seconds up, 45 seconds down) for 7 minutes, followed by a few minutes rest, then again 7 minutes of continuous hills (45 up, 45 down). But that is what we did it, and we survived. And by we, I mean myself, Amy and Wendy, who are joining me in the half marathon training journey, even though they haven’t entered the race. Pretty fantastic friends, huh?

distance: 3.46 miles in 39:21

Confusion aside, I felt really good about this run. Running hills a threshold pace is tough, a tiny bit breathless, but definitely so much easier than hill sprints. We never required extra recovery time before starting the next hill rep, and our rest time in between was just enough. There were never any thoughts of quitting either. Overall, success!

Saturday: Abs again! + slow-cooked pulled pork. We also bought this beautiful Art Nouveau, Louis Comfort Tiffany lamp from my friend Wendy’s husband’s antique shop. This is our first non-Ikea, non-used purchase for our home.

I love it!

Sunday: 70-min easy/steady run

distance: 7.08 miles in 1:16:10, average pace of 10:45.

This was run with my friend Wendy. It had a 200 foot hill climb 1 mile in, immediately followed by a long descent. I wore my heart rate monitor to see how much of a difference the easy pace would be compared to speed training, but actually found I was paying more attention to my soaring heart rate during the run than my pace. My max HR was 186 beats per minute (bpm), and my average HR was 169 bpm. Looking back to my last long run with my heart rate monitor, it was about the same, so seemingly everything is normal, it just felt like the run was more difficult than it really was.

To remedy the heavy legs feeling, we stopped at mile 5 to stretch, which seemed to really help, and by mile 6, I had finally gotten into my groove. Too bad the run was almost over! Unfortunately, no mantras were used this week.

Areas of Strength:

perseverance: I never once thought about giving up with the hill reps, which before I would’ve. I also could’ve easily cut my long run short or stopped to walk considering how my legs were feeling, but I didn’t. I just kept running!

support: Both Wendy and Amy ran my assigned runs with me this week, and I really appreciated the company. It took my mind off of how hard the hills were, and how many more reps we still needed to do. And all our talking in between and during the long run makes time pass quickly. I’m grateful for such good friends who also run.

– I did two ab work outs this week! As mentioned though, ideally I’d like to do three. I’ll aim for that this week.

 Areas for Growth:

– definitely still need to work on pacing! I’m going to spend some time with the McMillan Calculator for some realistic and achieveable paces. And then stick to them. We’ll see how that goes.

– starting out slower and finishing faster: I seem to get a small adrenaline burst of excitement and rather than pushing speed to see how it goes (which I know I can never maintain), I should start out slower so I can push speed at the end instead. 

– Continue to enhance my understanding of the programme (can you tell I’m teacher judging by that sentence???? Totally something I would write on reports). I now realise it’s not just about knowing what you’re running for that hilly run tomorrow, but also how that run looks in comparison to next week’s hilly run. It’s also about picking out certain words too, like ‘continuous’ or just hills. These little things make a huge difference!

– Dust off the old yoga mat. I still haven’t done a yoga session. I partly attribute this to a busy week of getting ready for guests Tuesday night, then hosting house guests Wednesday night, but I also know that those weren’t the only days I could’ve done yoga. Maybe try for Wednesday or Friday night yoga at home then?

In non-running news… normally, Sundays are our rest days, but yesterday was a special day. My husband works as a groundskeeper for MacPhie of Glenbervie, a food company based quite close to where we live. The company is part of the Glenbervie Estate, a 200 acre piece of land which is owned by the MacPhie family and houses among other things a castle, a graveyeard (where Robert Burns’ parents are burried), the food factory and buildings, farm land and farm buildings, those delicious Glenbervie beef cows, houses for the estate employees, and one of the most beautiful walled gardens I’ve seen in Scotland. I’m no expert in walled gardens, but Glenbervie’s is truly exceptional, and my husband’s colleagues Kevin and Sally, the estate gardeners, do some very impressive work. Yesterday, they got to show off their work to the public! Every year, Glenbervie hosts an open garden for Scotland’s Gardens, a charity which raises funds by opening private gardens to the public every year. People come to see the beautiful garden:

Then stay for the most delicious cakes, muffins, scones, brownies and strawberry tarts, all baked in the MacPhie factory.

Strawberry tarts on an industrial scale

This year, Pat and I were both asked to help with the day’s festivities, so after my run with Wendy, I showered, ate lunch, got ready and then we were off to work the afternoon for a great cause. Pat directed traffic in the field-turned-parking lot, while I put my six years of restaurant and serving experience to good use, serving teas, coffees and platters of delicious and moist baking. It was a tiring afternoon, but there was a good turn out. Plus, we got some treats to take home! The day was culminated with a staff BBQ, where we all got to chat and unwind, and dine on some delicious Glenbervie beef burgers, steaks, along with chicken and lamb kebabs, and some very nice salads too. A tiring day, but rewarding!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend too. I’ll leave you with this teaser for an oh-so-easy recipe I’ll be posting this week, I promise!

Do you use a heart rate monitor when you run?
Am I the only person that has a hard time reading running programmes?
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7 thoughts on “Half Mary Musings | Week 2

  1. Yeah, I'm definitely not so sure about all of those things either. I've kind of made up my own way of pacing, and it works, so as long as it is working for you and you feel like you are getting faster and stronger, that's all that matters!

    For hills, we usually go by distance (quarter mile uphill, quarter mile recovery back down repeating 10 times…for a half I think 1/10 of a mile might work just fine) instead of by time. For tempo runs, we do 10 minutes warm-up, XX minutes at 10-K/half marathon pace depending on distance, and 10 minutes cool-down. I've never seen a tempo listed they way your program does (it's listed more as an interval). The purpose of tempo runs is to build up your lactic threshold by sustaining a hard pace for a longer period of time. I'm not sure if adding a recovery interval will also accomplish that (or maybe it helps more because you're getting TWO sustained workouts instead of one?), but if it is working for your group and it is listed that way on the plan, then go for it!

    Beautiful Tiffany lamp! I love that stuff!

  2. I agree with Amy. I'm still figuring it all out! I need to add some more hills into my training.

    Gorgeous lamp!

    I sometimes use a HRM when I run, but only every so often.

  3. What a week! I shall refarin from throwing in something cheesy like 'you go, girl!'.

    Your hills sound fine to me! Ours are 1 minute up and 1 minute down for specific reps with a recovery run between one hill and the next before going at it again.

  4. Thanks for all your in-depth advice Amy! I was thinking the same about the threshold runs as well, because my last programme had tempo runs that were for longer, rather than the intervals. For the easy run parts, I'm running at about 9:45-9:55 pace, then just seeing how comfortably hard I can push it without sprinting. Each threshold interval gets progressively slower though, should it get progressively faster instead? I guess I'm learning as I go!

    I've always loved Tiffany lamps (now that I know what they're called). So happy we bought one!

  5. It's reassuring that you're still figuring it out too. I guess the more we keep at it, the better we'll get with reading programmes and pacing.

    Hills are awesome and have made me some much more of a stronger runner, but they're tough and can be exhausting!

  6. Pingback: 2013: The Year that Was | I Eat Therefore I Run

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