Sunday, July 29, 2012

Garmin 180

I have had quite a week of back and forths on the email front with Coach Doug this week. I have gone from having all the answers to having, well none, to finally, FINALLY starting to 'get it'. It all started with me thinking the 6:30-6:40 pace for my threshold runs was too slow. I based this on the fact that I can run them faster and it's therefore obvious that I ought to, right? Wrong. 

I wasn't questioning Coach Doug's expertise, I have 100% trust and faith that this guys knows his stuff. I just had to clarify why I was running the paces he has set. I have always thought that the harder you work the faster you will get but I have had this philosophy turned on it's head this week and it's a little bit scary. 

The upshot is, if I am going to commit to Coach Doug's training schedule (which I am) then I have to be 100%, completely and utterly on board with all aspects of it. I can see that it's not fair for me to say yes to 100 miles but then ignore the recovery paces, long run paces, threshold paces etc etc that have been set. I now understand that these paces are of equal importance as the miles, intervals, hills etc that I will run.

I feel like I have taken a HUGE step this week in getting myself closer to my dream of a sub 3 hour marathon and ultimately a 2:4?.....2:3? PR (dream big or go home). 

This is going to take discipline but the type of discipline I have never had to exercise before. I will no longer allow myself to run my long runs as hard as I or whoever I'm running with feels like on any given Saturday. I will stick to the paces I have been given, like glue. So I have had to go dig my garmin out of the bin, dust if off and charge it up. This is new territory for me, being dictated to by a pace during every single run I will for the next 6 months to Houston and beyond. 

I don't feel like I need the watch to judge the pace I'm running, I'm a pretty good judge of pace but I know myself well enough to know that if I leave it behind like normal then I will be tempted to push on with any of my group who are having a good one! So I need to learn how to set the upper and lower pace alerts (you can do that right?) and eat my words. 

I do not HATE the Garmin. There I did it!

It is about to become an invaluable tool that will help me get to where I want to be. I also know I am going to have to get good at saying 'no' and ignoring the inevitable peer pressure my running friends throw my way. They are not used to having me hang back in long runs and it's bound to raise eyebrows but maybe come January they'll all be taking their long runs a little bit easier ;)

All of this means that I am also taking all my running hopes and dreams and placing them completely 100% in Coach Doug's hands. Even typing that makes my anxiety level rise a little, I admit it, but I think that I must have done something right in a past life because sheer luck has brought me a coach who I believe can get me that Olympic qualifying time I so crave. 

This has probably been my biggest week ever in regards to my understanding of running and training. I feel like a big penny has dropped. I also feel like I still have so much more running in me and I think I've found the guy that can drag it out. I'm so excited to see where this ride takes me :) 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unrest be gone!

I am feeling a little bit like I have ALL the answers at the moment! Go on ask me anything, I bet I have the answer ;) 

I have been really struggling to find a workout routine that works for me (and by me I mean the kids) for the last few months. I have been getting up early, going to the Y during the morning and even occasionally running of an evening (which I HATE). Last week was a disaster. I missed 2 days due to a sore stomach and another 2 due to those unforeseen things that life throws at you every now and again (broken air con and dislocated elbows amongst other things). So that was 4 days of ZERO running. The knock on effect of that is awful for all concerned. I am like a bear with a sore head if I miss one session let alone 4. It scares me a little how dependent upon running I have become in the last 18 months just to help get me through the day with my 3 young kids and life in general as a stay at home mum. But that's another post.

The positive from all those missed sessions was it forced me to concede that the ONLY time I can guarantee fitting all my training in without outside influences affecting them is lunatic o'clock. This involves getting up at 4:00am and being ready to run at 4:30 for those of you unfamiliar with lunatic o'clock. So that's what I've been doing and what I will continue to do as it's what works for me and my family. 

I cannot begin to express how good it feels to finally be at peace with how to juggle a family and running schedule. The good thing about it is that when I am reaching my big miles in the build up to Houston I will be able to fit in a second session later in the morning to help accommodate all those miles. 

Onto my next reason for feeling so much more settled and at peace this week. I have my new training schedule in from Coach Doug :) I have been taking it easy and just winging it for a while now and was chomping at the bit to get back into some more structured training. I am really happy with how it looks. We are starting at around 40 miles with a high of 50+ in the next month and so the climb towards those 100 miles begins. I would love to rush in and start putting in 80+ miles a week but that's why I need a coach, to make me behave myself. I have openly admitted in the past to being a lazy runner in as much as I am happy to be told what to do and I will do it but as I learn more and get to know myself all over again as a runner my input into these schedules is increasing. 

I politely requested lots of miles, hills and balls out (threshold/tempo) runs and Doug happily obliged. I asked for 5 mile threshold runs building to 8 and 10 and he has happily obliged. There is still a bit of negotiation to be down pace wise on these threshold runs (I want them to be faster than he has requested) so we'll see how that goes. 

I feel like I have had a bit of a eureka moment with regard to my running whilst I've been taking it easy these past few weeks. It's nothing earth shattering, and the majority of motivated runners out there will already have this firmly imbedded in the training philosophy I'm sure, but for me it was a eureka moment. I feel like I realized what's been missing for me for the last few months - threshold. Some serious threshold miles strung together one after the other after the other (after the other and other, I like 5 miles what can I say!) I have had 3 threshold miles in my long runs all summer but in all honesty have found it hard to hit the paces I'd like and I blame that pure and simply on the heat and humidity of Houston. Here comes part 2 of my eureka moment:

ALL my threshold runs have to be done on the treadmill in the relative comfort of my local Y during these hot months. It seems so clear to me now. The ONLY way to get faster is to push hard, really hard on a regular basis. That's how I dragged my approximately 158lb self from only managing 3 miles at 10 min mile pace 18 months ago to running my 1st marathon in 3:13 12 months later (weighing in at 137lbs). I love to run hard, and as much as I loath the garmin I have found the treadmill to be a wonderful tool to help me achieve the kind of nausea enduring runs required to get me where I want to be. 
I have missed these runs for the last few months and whilst the twice a week track sessions have been tough they don't get me to the same place a good solid threshold run can. 

This all leads to a question, one that I will ask Coach Doug too (when I'm sweet talking my way into faster than 6:30-6:40 pace for my threshold runs). I have the book (Daniels) sometimes I even open it ;) and I look at the calculator (McMillan) but I feel that the paces my races indicate are too slow, I mean I can perform my threshhold runs at a faster pace than they suggest I ought to and I feel that, for me, these runs ought to be unlimited in as much as I want free reign to really go for it and, for instance, go for my best times when I'm feeling good.
I am still only 18 months back into running (starting from zero exercise and being completely out of shape) and am still improving and I want that improvement to keep going.

With all this in mind, why shouldn't I (or anyone else) push myself HARD on runs that are supposed to be hard, what are the benefits of holding back a bit? Is it risk of injury? I hate to be limited on threshold runs and whilst I get the reasoning behind the paces for recovery runs and long runs, I don't understand why threshold/tempo ought to be anything other than 'balls out'. Thoughts please???

One final note, I am excited to think that I am where I am but still have the benefit of a LOT of threshold runs to come, I am looking for a big half marathon PR this autumn, watch this space! :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

The secret to a 5mile PR...cowboys of course!

chilling out with middle cherub

I have been away on my holibobs for the last wee while and have been neglectful of my blog and reading those that I so enjoy. We escaped the heat and humidity of Houston for the....heat and, at times, humidity of Wainscott, Long Island. I got to run on the beach, in the ocean, up hills and down hills WOOP WOOP! I love the countryside feel the place my mother in law lives has, I also feel like I CAN run there, no terrible humidity dragging me down, which is nice. 

I did run but not very much and not all that often. I was under strict instructions from Coach Doug to the it easy 'nothing more than 6 and all at recovery pace'. And yes, I did as I was told, for the most part. I also ate everything in sight as usual so came home with an extra 4lbs too, all bought and paid for ;) 

Enjoying a shoeless run next to (and in) the Atlantic

I managed to squeeze a little race in which I treated as low key, not to be taken too seriously 8k - Southampton Firecracker. I ran it in around 34mins which is way slower than I would have liked but to be fair my hubbie and I had gone out on the town 2 nights prior and I had taken it upon myself to sample every single cocktail East Hampton and Amagansett had to offer. This resulted in the worst 2 day hangover ever, I thought I might actually die at the 2 mile mark when vodka, gin and every other type of alcohol started to sweat from every pore! I only actually feel fully recovered a week after this painting of the town red and am VERY happy to be back into my more comfortable clean living lifestyle that having 3 kids demands (I have to be on my game to cope with them, the merest whiff of a hangover and they'd eat me for breakfast). 

So, this week I have just been getting back into it, still not on a set schedule, I'll get that this weekend, just putting in a few miles here and there and enjoying a 'balls out' (tempo/threshold) 5 miles on the treadmill today. 

Ok, time to explain the slightly obscure and up until now completely ignored title of this blog. I have discovered the 'Country Music Channel' and have been plugging myself in every day this week during my sessions at the Y. I never listen to music when I run but I think I'm on to something here. Oh my goodness there are some nice looking cowboys out there, where exactly I'm not sure, as currently living in Texas I feel I ought to be surrounded by them but not so much as a glimpse in over 2 years. But here they all are, singing their handsome hearts out on my treadmill at the Y - who knew?! I actually pulled the plug on them at around the 2 mile mark today as in reality I can't listen to music and run hard, I find I have to focus on....the hurt? Not sure but I need to concentrate 100% on running when I'm in balls out mode. 

Anyhoo, I haven't attacked this run for ages and I've missed it. So today I went for it, started at 6:30 pace and after 2 miles started to pick it up (once I'd ditched the cowboys). I finished in 31:27 for a nice new 'balls out 5' PR of 63seconds. I am totally shattered now but am happy to know I am still improving and maybe all that speed work over the summer was worthwhile! I also think I have more in there, I mean it was hard but I could conceivably start at 6:15 pace and go from there, will give it another crack in a week or 2. 

I have asked Coach Doug to give me lots of hill work, tempo runs and BIG miles in the build up to Houston, all of which I'm sure he would have anyway (I did mention before how he asked if I thought 100 miles a week was doable). 

A change is as good as a break and I think the last 2 weeks of easy, no focus, just run and enjoy has been good for me. I used to HAVE to take 2 weeks off when I was at school from running between cross country and track which I hated. I felt so out of shape after it but I did agree in principle it was probably a good idea to do it, it always made me more determined to shed that sluggish feeling and get back into shape if nothing else! This time round, I didn't stop entirely just stepped it down a lot and ran for fun and now I am as recharged as I can be with my 3 little cherubs to chase after.
I also drank enough alcohol for a year and danced my little socks off, for the 1st time in around 100 years, in a place that didn't strictly speaking have a dance floor - whatever. Something interesting you don't know about me, I am the best dancer in the world when I'm drunk, or so I believe :)

The 4lbs have gone and I have 13 miles on the cards tomorrow with M. 

Happy days :)

We had a jam packed day in NY which the kids LOVED (no cowboys here either)