After placing question marks over my own training plan in last week’s post, I decided to continue with my daily early morning runs but change my daily schedule to fit in other things that I believe will make a difference and the signs seem to be positive do far.
My week has looked something like this:
Monday: 4 miles am; Mobility workout pm
Tuesday: 4 miles am; Hill Reps pm; Mobility workout pm
Wednesday: 10km am; Mobility workout pm
Thursday: 4 miles am; Running Technique Drills
Friday: 4 miles am; Mobility workout pm
Sunday: 12 miles
Putting Other Pieces Into Place
I’ve started incorporating mobility workouts into my afternoons. These involve a series of movements designed to get all the joints moving better and I much prefer to do these kind of workouts rather than doing static stretches as they’re much more fun, feel more like playing than exercise and I feel a lot looser afterwards. I’ve also started having 20-30 minute naps after lunch and these have been amazing! I was beginning to feel more tired in the evenings from the earlier starts but these allow me to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day. I’m also making changes to my diet so have been having salmon fillets with veg or omelettes for lunch. I’m feeling more energised throughout the day and less likely to reach for something unhealthy to keep me going until the next meal. The result? Better performances when I run and my body feels better throughout each day.
My morning runs are not designed to be fast but on Tuesday morning, my body felt that’s what it wanted to do and did my first 30 minute 4 miles of the year and also a “Royal Flush” of each mile being faster than the one before. Wednesday saw me do hill reps for the first time in ages. I’m normally used to taking my running groups on hill reps but seldom do them myself so decided to go for it on Wednesday afternoon. I had given this particular workout to Allison in her training plan and wanted to try it myself. It involved running 3/4 mile from the house to a road that goes uphill with an increasing gradient. I picked out a few lampposts and decided I would do 5 reps to one, 4 reps to the next then 3 reps to the third one. Allison swore at me after doing it and I found myself doing the same as I went through it! The gradient changed between each of the lampposts, even though the distance between the lampposts is actually quite short! The recovery jog home was ‘fun’ as the road sits on an incline and the return home feels so much tougher as you don’t feel that much of an advantage going downhill on the same stretch. We all know how effective hill reps can be so I will be back for more.
Thursday brought one of my all time favourite sessions – technique drills with my Run Faster group. This is where I bring out the agility ladder and hurdles with the purpose of hopping with them. I created a sequence of hopping exercises using the ladder, did some with the hurdles then combined both. I performed them regularly last year and credit them for helping me go sub 19mins at Parkrun but it’s been a while since I last did them and boy, did I feel it! The purpose of the hopping drills is to drive the knee forward at the hip and create a much more efficient foot strike. If you want to improve your running form, work on driving forward from the hip (the main movement of running) rather than doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in the legs. You can have strong muscles but they won’t necessarily make you a better runner.
After taking it easy on Friday afternoon (purposely trying not to get carried away and join in the workout at my Metafit class) and a great night’s sleep, I felt fresh going into Parkrun and that brought a return of 19:37, around 30 seconds faster than the week before. This was largely down to spotting Eddie, one of our faster runners, about 100m behind me. With just less than 1km to go, I knew I was going to have to step it up if I wanted to stay ahead of him. Nothing like a bit of healthy pressure to test us! I dug deep and went for it, driving my arms and legs as hard as I could even though I was already feeling the pace from having gone through the first mile in 6.11. By the time we were about 200m from the finish, my lungs were hurting but I was afraid to look over my shoulder so just kept going. I could barely talk once I’d crossed the line and I was pleased to have finished ahead of Eddie. He told me he had spotted me and was trying to catch me but I think picking it up when I did made the difference. While the time isn’t near my best, I’m pleased I’m getting closer and I’m also pleased I was able to shift up that other gear, something I’ve not done for a long time.
Having ‘just’ done 5km last Sunday, I decided to go for 12 miles this week with the intention of running every 3rd mile faster than target pace of 7.15 min/mile. I wasn’t sure how well it would go so I decided to give it a go and if I struggled late on, I would be fine with it and just finish my run no matter what. This seemed to work quite well and I became more aware of my cadence and managed to up it to 185spm during my faster splits from my average of 164spm. I’m delighted that my plan was successful with the exception of the last mile but that was uphill so I’m not too bothered about not hitting my target pace there.
After expressing doubts last week, I’m much happier this week and can see I’m moving in the right direction. There will be elements I need to change and already have my eyes on doing some Threshold Pace training this coming week as that has worked for me in the past.
How’s your training going? Are you happy with the progress you’re making?