Half Mary Musings | Week 3

I’m currently training for my second half marathon in Edinburgh, May 25th, 2014. Half Mary Musings is my weekly reflection of how training went, what I’m doing well and things I need to improve upon.


Keep in mind this information as you read:

easy run: 60% effort; you can run while easily carrying a conversation, and you’re running significantly slower than normal pace.
steady run: 65% to 75% effort; at least 1 min slower than race pace.
threshold run: 80% effort; comfortably hard, also known as tempo. Conversation is simply a breathless ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’
intervals: 85% to 95%; close to all out effort, leaves you out of breath, and you can’t speak at all. Only week 10 calls for intervals.

Monday: power yoga for my glutes, hips and hamstrings, and to prevent injury. It was very nice, especially on my hip flexors 🙂

Tuesday: 3 x 7-min easy / 7-min threshold run -> this looked like easy pace for 7 minutes to warm up, then 7 minutes at comfortably hard pace. Again, back down to 7 minutes easy pace, and finished with 7 minutes at threshold pace.

My legs felt extremely heavy the majority of this run and I just felt drained; looking back, I think I was drained more emotionally than physically, sometimes you just have days when you get into a funk, right? I was at the back of the pack of my running group friends, but still adhered to my threshold sets. This was the first time in a long time when I could’ve easily called it quits. But I didn’t.

4.48 miles in 42:12, average pace – 9:26/mile

Wednesday: 1 minute plank, followed by a power yoga sesh, then guess what? I did abs!

Thursday: 10-min easy, 3 x 5 mins of continuous hills at threshold, 10-min easy -> this looked like a 10 minute warm up at easy pace, then a 5 minute set where we ran uphill for 45 seconds at comfortably hard pace, then downhill for 45 seconds; repeat this continuously until 5 minutes are up. We then jogged about 3 minutes to recover and to our next hill in Laurencekirk, and repeated the 5 minute set again. Again, we did a recovery jog to the next hill and the final set of 5 minutes. The run ended with a 10 minute cool down at easy pace.

While it seems every Thursday is continuous hills, I promise, as the weeks go on, things will change. I can definitely say I prefer the hill repeats over threshold runs. In last week’s post, I forgot to write about how I approach hill repeats mentally, and how I push myself during each one. I go into each session knowing that it’s going to be hard, it will hurt and it will make my legs feel heavy, maybe achy, but I also know that I will come out the other end having made some progress. After the first uphill run, I basically have a benchmark for each subsequent repeat where I turn downhill, and my goal, every time, is to surpass my last benchmark. I egg myself on by shouting landmarks in my head, like “Bench! Bench! Bench!” or “Red car! Red car! Red car!” and even “Bush! Bush! Bush!” Sometimes, I’ll even swear, in my head of course, saying “Get to that f-ing hedge!” and when I actually pass that landmark with time still ticking, I applaud myself. In my head of course.

This run was like the rest of my hill-repeat, talking-to-my-inner-self runs. I really pushed it on my last set of hills, and seemed to have a lightbulb moment where my form changed from tired and slouched (and thus wasting energy), to standing more upright, leaning forward, and knees high, which gave me more speed. And with that, my last set finished with an inner narrative of “Clear that f-ing bridge!” followed by some inner applause. It was done and I felt very good.

5.02 miles in 51:50 (including walk breaks), average pace: 10:20/mile. Again, walk breaks.

Friday: rest and loosing my Walking Dead virginity. Only four years late.

Better late than never

Saturday: rest again, more Walking Dead (we finished season 1) and a trip up to Aberdeen for some groceries and to see Wes Anderson’s latest quirky film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, (with Ralph Fiennes, one of my favourites).

I also made a seemingly indulgent but not lunch of keto-adapted Bacon Deviled Eggs using avocado instead of mayo, (I heart you Maria Emmerich), with the not-so keto-adapted brocoli roasted in coconut oil. Did I mention that brocoli roasted in coconut oil with a tiny bit of sea salt is my new favourite?


We  also received two large jars of coconut oil in the mail.


And I put it to good use by making these:


I’ve been wanting some sweet treats lately, but I’ve not made anything because I’m waiting for an order of xylitol, stevia glycerite and coconut flour to arrive so I can start making some baked treats with good fats and good sugars, and no starches. I caved a bit a found an ‘in the meantime’ recipe of healthier Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies made with no flour, jumbo oats, honey, brown sugar and of course, my love of the moment: coconut oil.

Sunday: 75-min easy/steady -> this looked like running at steady pace for 75 minutes (or 1:15:00).

Like  every other Sunday this year, we had the soundtrack (?) of wind accompanying us on our journey. We did an out and back route, with some slight hills and through farms, on the quiet country roads outside of Laurencekirk. We got smacked in the face with a horrible headwind the first half mile, then turned left, with the wind at our side instead. My friend Wendy lost her hat early on as the wind blew it off her head, and I lost a bobby pin (or kirby grip) that was holding my bangs (or fringe) in place. On the way back, we stopped to retrieve Wendy’s hat, which had blown into a ditch and was soaked. At least she got it. And as if it wasn’t harsh weather already, Mother Nature decided to add some sleet to the mix. I aired my feelings about the wind on Facebook soon after:

FB status7.32 miles in 75 minutes, average pace: 10:15/mile

Areas of strength:

– yoga, because it makes me feel so good. The best feeling from power yoga is a nice, deep stretch into the hip flexors and Psoas muscles, and along the obliques. As Rebecca Pacheco says, your sides don’t get enough love!

– Pushing / motivating myself to run faster and harder during hill repeats. I simply love them.

– Eating -> I plan to do a post to bring you up to date with all this keto-adapted-ness. To keep it brief, I’ve cut out as much sugar and starch from my diet as I can, and have started eating a lot more healthy fats. I didn’t do this for health reasons, instead, I did it because the way I was eating before wasn’t working for me.

Areas of growth:

– more abs, they don’t have any feel good associations, so I’m not so motivated to do them. I need to change my thinking though, because they are so important to running.

– core yoga -> I didn’t do any this week because I basically love power yoga. One session a week + abs should do.

– slowing down on long runs -> while they are slow, I think they could be slower. My fastest pace should be 10:30, not 10 minute miles like Sunday. I’ll aim for 10:45-11:00 miles next weekend. My friend Amy was saying that one of the Stonehaven running clubs do their long runs by having the slowest member of the group set the long run pace. We said that we would try this next weekend. I’m the slowest in the group, therefore I’m the pacesetter!

By the way, Sunday finished off with a dinner of my most favourite beef dish, slow cooked brisket, with grilled purple kale, green (or spring) onions and zucchini (or courgette), cooked in coconut oil, naturally.


Are you a Walking Dead fan?

Who’s your favourite actor (in general)?

What’s your favourite healthier sweet treat?

Do you use coconut oil?


10 thoughts on “Half Mary Musings | Week 3

    • I was tough, but what a sense of accomplishment. I’m not sure how to describe how steep they were, nothing incredibly steep like 14% gradient or anything like that. The middle hill was comparable to the Royal Mile leading to Edinburgh Castle, and the other two were less steep than the hill heading down from the Royal Mile, by the Thai Orchid. Hope that gives you an idea?

  1. Ha- I love the bobby pins name!
    Looks like you had another solid week. I love that you push yourself on every hill repeat to go further. Sometimes a little yelling helps!
    Where do you order your baking goods from? We have coconut oil that we give our dog for a treat sometimes!

    • Yeah, some of the names here are quite ‘interesting’ we’ll say 😉

      Sometimes, I also tell my running group friends to ‘Make this hill your bitch,’ or something along those lines.

      I actually order off of Amazon UK; it literally sells EVERYTHING! The nearest health food store is about an hour round trip, requiring a special trip into the city, and the grocery stores around us have just started carrying coconut oil and quinoa, never mind the other things we get. I love that I can just order and receive some top notch products from the comfort of my own home. Amazon UK also has a subscription service where you can set up food items to be shipped out on a regular basis. I have yet to do that.

      That’s a good idea for your dog! I’ll try it the next time we take care of my in-law’s dog. People can also ‘oil pull’ coconut oil. I do it on occasion.

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