Taming the beast

I thought I’d seen the last of the snow. After being plagued by it for large parts of December and January plus a bit of February I dared hope that was it for this winter.

Ohhhhh no … that wouldn’t do, would it? The so-called ‘Beast From The East’ weather system hit the British Isles this week and whilst most of the impact was borne by England/Scotland it did cross the Irish Sea and hit good old Ballymena. Again.

Look, I know snow is pretty and all that but, seriously, can it just do one?

Anyway, this is a running blog so let’s blog about running.

Given the snow overnight and the forecast for today I seriously doubted whether I could get out for a run. I was a bit miffed because I had targeted today as my last shake out ahead of The Big Half on Sunday. I know I had the option of the gym/treadmill but it’s not the same, not really.

Happily, the anticipated snow that was forecast didn’t materialise and, indeed, it turned out to be a pretty decent day albeit a bitterly, bitterly cold one.

So, after a positive phone call regarding a little project I’m planning (more soon), I decided to layer up and get out for a run while I could, just in case the weather turned.

There were still plenty of patches of snow and ice around so I decided to restrict myself to the playing fields close to home, they promised more grip and stability (and a softer landing!) than the footpaths plus being within sight of my house I wouldn’t have had to far to go should the conditions have worsened or, being more honest, if I just got fed up with the cold!

I had to do at least 6km to reach my 100km target for the month to earn the Virtual Runner February medal so that gave me something to aim for.

Given the conditions I started off very tentatively but after a few metres I realised that it wasn’t too bad underfoot. It was a different matter when I did venture briefly onto the footpaths but the little trail-like tracks around the football pitches were good despite appearances.

I wanted to go slow and take it easy. My body was still in bits after two exercise classes and a decent run already this week but fairly soon in I felt myself loosen up considerably and actually found myself settling into a very reasonable pace which I managed to maintain generally for the entirety of the run.

Except I can’t prove it. The gremlins appeared to get into my Garmin when I tried to sync the run and after a couple of attempts the watch decided to shut itself down it, duly deleting my entire run history in the process. Disaster!

Thankfully my Garmin Connect account had everything stored so the only stats I had lost were from today’s run although, luckily, I had remembered my time and distance so at least I was able to manually enter that.

Tech problems aside (no route map, no stats, no Relive) it was a good last proper run before leaving for London. I felt good, I felt fluid and didn’t detect any niggles or worries. A pretty decent outing, and one I was pleased with.

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Monday Monday

Two runs today … an early morning shorter one to the gym, followed by the normal Monday night club session.

My first run of the day was a 4km round-trip to my gym for the 6:30am HIIT class. I’ll admit to waking up this morning and wondering just what I was thinking.

The Saints & Slimmers programme is over, I have no need to be out this early on a Monday morning yet, here I was, getting ready to head out in the cold and dark for a 30-minute class in the middle of an industrial estate.

But out I went. Perhaps as a consequence of not having done anything since my 10-miler on Wednesday night I struggled a little on the outward run. Struggle is maybe even too strong a term, but I certainly wasn’t comfortable nor did I enjoy it.

However, despite the tough class, I felt an awful lot better on the return run and felt quite nippy (later borne out by the stats) which surprised me given what I’d put my body through already this morning.

I had started to let the old doubts creep back in over the weekend. Logically I knew that a few days rest were good for my body but the illogical part of me started to believe that I’ll have lost all the fitness and improvements I’d built up over the previous six or seven weeks.

Those doubts were well and truly quashed this morning.

On so onto the club session in the evening. My knees were a little stiff during the day – perhaps unsurprisingly – so I wasn’t entirely sure what group to run with.

I decided to go with the 60s in the end, mainly because most of my running buddies did. Yes, I can be a sheep at times!

My last outing with the 60-minute group was an unmitigated disaster so I was a bit apprehensive about how it’d go.

Happily, tonight was every bit as good as my last attempt was bad. As has been the norm lately I felt very comfortable throughout. I was ticking over at a reasonable pace, and feeling I had more to give should I needed to but, with Sunday in mind, I was happy enough to run with the pack and resisted the temptation to open up a bit when the opportunity presented itself.

Given the weather forecast for the rest of the week I don’t really want to make plans too far in advance but I am hoping to squeeze in another couple of runs before leaving for London on Friday.

The important thing at this stage is just to keep active without overdoing it and, ahead of a major race, I’m feeling as good as I have done for quite a while.

Relive my run – part one

Relive my run – part two

The perfect ten … and a bit

Tonight I really stepped up my training … or at least my distances. Having not gone further than nine miles since the Belfast Half last September I finally broke into double figures this evening with less than a fortnight to go until The Big Half in London.

I needed to do it but with the Saints & Slimmers commitment taking up a lot of my time recently it was difficult getting the opportunity. However, the chance arose this evening to go out for ten miles with Parveen, Iverene and Bronagh from the club so I grabbed it with both hands.

I’ve been running well lately, getting progressively faster but tonight wasn’t about speed. I badly needed at least a 10-miler in my legs so this was all about time on feet and not pace.

It was a route I devised myself and, if I’m honest, I deliberately made it a bit challenging. It was literally a loop of the town, starting at the Seven Towers Roundabout, going to the top of the Grove Road and back again.

Of course there were detours thrown in like the Toome Road, Galgorm Road (and a very late addition of Princes Street!) etc. and included a few notable ascents although there were a few welcome downhill sections too.

I’m happy to report I felt comfortable throughout. Because the four of us are at different stages in our training and run at different speeds there was plenty of opportunities to fall back to keep the back marker company as well being able to stretch our legs at other times.

I’ve run this distance – and further – many times so I knew I could do it, I just needed to remind my legs that they could! However, for my three running buddies, it was their first time going as far as this so I was really pleased for them when we got to the 10-mile mark. It’s a huge psychological battle to get into double figures and I recall how I felt when I first managed it.

Overall, in terms of pace, I was quite pleased with the final outcome even though that wasn’t my objective as I said earlier. Also pleasing was running the vast majority of the route in HR Zones 3 & 4, with very little in Zone 5 – something I’ve been attempting to do recently but not quite managing.

That suggests to me there is a lot more leftin the tank, and that when I do need to up the tempo I have it well within my capabilities to do so.

All told it was a good workout, bringing me up to 15 miles in two days. I’d like to get another double figures run done before London but, even if I don’t, tonight was an important confidence booster.

Relive my run