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

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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

Fit for five

As has been happening a lot lately I’ve split my run into two parts – the run to a class, and the return leg back home.

Tonight’s ‘class’ was dance practice ahead, the venue was Tullyglass House Hotel which is approximately 2.5 miles from my house so the theory was to run there, and then go the opposite direction on the way home to complete a five-mile loop.

I hadn’t danced in Tullyglass since my wedding day over 25 years ago so it was a bit weird to be back on the floor tonight … but the less said about my dancing the better!

The run there started off going in the direction of the town centre before turning away at the bus station onto the long drag that is the Galgorm Road. Normally this run bores me and breaks me but tonight it wasn’t too bad … indeed, I got faster the more I ran which was very pleasing.

Returning home I was immediately treated to a downhill section but this was soon cancelled out by another long drag, this time the Tullygarley Road which rises deceptively before turning onto the Toome Road and a bit of a descent.

However, approaching the Toome Road from this direction means facing the very steep kick halfway along. I’ve always struggled with this but I conquered it last Wednesday and I beat it tonight as well. That’s real progress in my book.

In fact, the whole run was a success. I took it easy throughout, never really feeling anything resembling a struggle at any point which is especially good considering I’ve done this route quite a few times and found it quite difficult in places.

It feels great to be a lot fitter nowadays – long may it continue! Ten miles planned tomorrow, let’s see how that goes.

Relive my run