Monday, May 25, 2020

Long walks and new tilt at the couch to 5k training app

Lockdown walking everyday

During the COVID-19 lockdown here in Wales we have been doing a one hour family walk as our one permissible exercise a day (before that was eased slightly to allow more exercise if needed). We have been very consistent with it and it has certainly paid off for the dog as we have covered more and more distance and more and more 'exciting' new routes. I only wish that the lockdown has done for my physique what it has done for the dag, she was badly ill just before the UK (belatedly) triggered the lockdown and so we've had the job of getting her back to fitness... she has done that and then some (she looks the doggie equivalent of ripped just now!).

All of this and the running below is being tracked by my Strava account, which for me has had something of a usage revival of late. Presumably Strava are one of those companies that have seen a positive impact upon business from the current pandemic situation.

Friday C25K week one run 1 - 3.39km 29:59

The one where he thought stuff this let's go!  I have been itching to over the few weeks but my foot (still rubbish) and the one exercise a day lockdown stopped me.

So I opted to restart the BBC backed C25K (this time with the DJ Jo Whiley narrating / coaching / coaxing), and so it seemed that I just had to go out and run. Having hooked up the wireless headphones and phone eventually and there was no other excuse really.  It was a gorgeous day for a run, and was only interrupted by me turning back to pick up a dropped card from inside my phone case, d'oh!  This time I'm making no comeback promises or goals, but run one get done!

Sunday - C25K week one run 2 -  3.71km

The one with the corrupted file (that I have had to delete) - this one was an interesting run where my GPS watch tried to tell the world that I had developed super powers and flown to southern Russia and back! The Strava track that I tried to upload and edit absolutely blew the calculations within my account to bits with records, times, and runs all going awry. So all I was left with was deleting it and entering a distance and time.

The actual run was quite different from the first and was more of a mental effort to complete, the new narration was helpful but I was aware that I was wrestling the instructions a bit. I think my body was also letting me know that this return to running though easy to imagine would be trickier to achieve. Still the GPS shenanigans afterwards made me laugh (in the end!).

Sunday - C25K week one run 3 - 34:51, 4.06 km

Had to delay the third instalment of my new couch-to-5k journey because of a foot injury caused by turning my ankle over during a family walk (!).  Basically I gave all of my ligaments in my ankle a nice wrench while on a gravel path, which was nice.

The eldest offspring (who has not gotten enough exercise, like most of us, during recent lockdown weeks - Joe Wicks has had his time in our house I'm afraid) said she was happy to come too and so we set out with me relaying the instructions from my headphones to her as we went.  She was very pleased with the 5 minute warm up and even more pleased to discover that my pace was considerably slower than she'd thought and that she could cruise along through the 60sec intervals.

We had good banter around the way and had to navigate a couple of unplanned turns thanks to the sunny weather bringing lots of people out onto the paths of the estate.  We were taking it in turns almost to spot a possible close pass and move us this way or that to make sure we were out of peoples way.  Think there were quite a few smiles from people recognising that a poor ole Dad was being shown how its done by a pre-teen.

By the end I think I may have found myself a c25k buddy, that I will believe that once we've done a few more (she is a pre-teen after all!?! hehe).  My foot seemed pretty well behaved although for some reason the pace was a bit quicker than I had originally planned.

Friday, January 03, 2020

RED January 2020 - day 2

RED January 2020 day 2 - starting afresh - second consecutive year of RED January

It was a long time ago now that I started running and that was walking and running around a local park until I felt that I could run constantly for longer and longer periods... and that is where I am today, learning to run again. I know how to run continuously as my mind and body retain the memory and can mimic how I used to run happily for some time, but because I am unfit and untrained it would not take many runs before I become broken in some way. So I am telling myself I am a beginner and starting at the beginning - where any good run should start. I am over the phase of being frustrated that I can't go out and run a 10k with relative comfort two or three times a week, and I have made peace with the fact that I weigh too much for my body to cope with running how I would like to.
@REDJanuaryUK 2020 is a fundraiser for MIND, the Mental Health Charity please do support them if you can. The link below take you to my fundraising page...
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
So this #REDJanuary is all about the process of (re)learning and enjoying the idea of being a new runner. I will walk a lot, I will simply stop if I need to, I will though keep going gradually and patiently. Too many Januarys have shown me that charging at the target like a crazed cartoon bull will only lead to me missing the red cape completely and flying into the anvil hidden behind. My goal is to do what I did years ago and just go out and learn and build incrementally. I have races bought and paid for, but I will simply go and have fun - and carefully forget that I have ever been a runner before.

Happy January peeps, take those resolutions slow and steady, and by next January you will be relieved at not having to make the same resolution again.  This text was first posted on my Strava feed "Andrew Hollins" (by me; with the details of my run session - of course), and then on my Instagram feed "andy_hollins" (with a picture - of course). 

Friday, October 18, 2019

So what happened that smashed a hole in my running year?

If I was to have drawn out my plan of the year it would look nothing like it has turned out. January began with a block of consistent running that was unprecedented in my lifetime, running everyday for 50 days blew away any previous 'streak'. From there I was really enjoying my running and thought that the year was going to be amazing in my running shoes, two marathons were coming next and I thought it was all systems go. Then, as if I haven't telegraphed it, the shoes fell off.

So whilst running a 20 mile race in March, my first one, I began to unravel. Sadly for me, it wasn't just hitting the wall it was race misjudgement, fitness misjudgement, psychological misjudgement and missed steps leaving the event behind. I'll get to each part in a moment but should first mention that the event itself was great, the organisation, support, course, and facilities were all en pointe... so what happened that smashed a hole in the rest of the year?

These four things were what left my running in tatters - firstly 'race judgement' - this was the simplest of the elements and not a unique one in any way... I went out too fast and gave myself a mammoth task in the second ten mile loop. I let, what my physio calls, happy legs run away with me, and although I wasn't far from my overall target time I ran the first half so quickly that the second half was always going to be a physical wrestling match. This played into the second component 'physical misjudgement' - running relatively shorter distances everyday for 50 days gave me a false impression of my base fitness. I had run longer sessions through that period but not with enough structure to give me the kind of long run endurance strength that I needed. Truth be told if I hadn't broken down over the twenty mile distance 26.2 would have undone me a whole lot more.

Fitness being an issue played into the third element 'psychological' - as I muscled my way through the second half pushing and cudgelling myself into getting it done I began to question myself, and question myself, and question myself. Before the end of the race I had verbally (and loudly) laid into myself for  being foolish enough to consider myself a runner... I took myself apart over my preparation, my physical condition, my belief that I was a runner, my lack of ability, my drawing down time from other areas of life to push along with misplaced goals,... it wasn't pretty, I wasn't kind, I wasn't logical, and trust me I used words that I wouldn't level at anyone else I've ever met or will ever meet. I pulled my stuff back together enough to cross the line trying to smile, but I had taken my sporting soul and popped it through a shredder. Suffice to say that I have yet to fully reconcile myself with that 5 minute self-flagellation.

Once over the line feeling mental numb and physically smashed I just wanted to get home, which meant I limped through the leisure centre it was based out of, collected a t-shirt, a drink, and then collapsed into the car to drive myself off to lunch as soon as I could. I didn't stretch, I didn't give myself time to sprawl out and relax my limbs, I crammed myself in the driving position and set off - the fourth element. On the way home I got stuck in traffic for 30 minutes and got back even more sore than when I'd crossed the finish line.

After that the marathons came and went without me bothering the start-line, the terrific physio4motion sorted me out with restorative stretches and exercises, but my running soul was cowering somewhere out of sight. I actually found for the first time in years that I didn't want to run, not that I admitted that to anyone. Running doesn't happen in isolation of course and there were huge things going on in my work life and the counselling room that added to the mess (other stories not for here).

So where am I now? Currently I am injured working through a round of plantar fasciitis which has evolved into some sort of a tendon issue in my right foot. I have run a 10k race with a friend which was amazing, and I'm not sure just what I am taking from the fact that I could go out and run in the middle of an injury, but that was likely an outcome of wanting to help someone complete their first ever 10k. Psychological I am still not "on it", but I am hoping that sorting out my foot will get me closer to running regularly again.

Monday, June 10, 2019

On the 2019 rollercoaster

This year started so very well with my running delivering great things, I ran everyday between new years day and Valentine's day before the wheels completely fell off my wagon. Not long after the streak and a few fun races I broke myself at my first ever 20 mile race. In the days that followed a hip issue left me barely able to get out of bed in the mornings, and so my running and mood plummeted. Roll on to now and my mood has not improved much and neither has my running - I now have a heel / plantar fascia issue on the foot of the opposite leg to the now resolved hip issue.

Suffice to say that I am desperate for a run, or at this point any other consistent physical exercise but it feels some way off. I am not done with running, I still have a lot of ambitions to do events and to do some events I have never tackled before. Something needs to change and I am wrestling with how to do that just now.

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019 has certainly started

I have belatedly realised that I have not yet posted in 2019, so here it is a post! It has been a busy beginning to the year and so that is probably why I haven't blogged. If you are a follower of my running over on Strava you have a fair idea of what shenanigans I have been up to. I won't write much more now but suffice it to say I have my first ever 20mile race on Sunday. More soon...

...will have to see if I can beat 5 posts this year (my average for the last two years)... no promises!?!?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Run#7 spring marathon training block

Run#7 of my journey to spring marathons (my 48th parkrun)

This morning I got myself down to the Blackweir parkrun (Cardiff), my outing was split into three parts:

Part 1 - warm-up on the way to the parkrun start

This morning I used the 1km commute to parkrun to jog, and do a dynamic warm-up (including a bit of plyometric skipping). It was a really good warm-up and happily I wasn't skipping when I passed two fellow Pegs Ellen and Caroline. Both of them looked to be well set for a good run and were doing their warm-ups looking relaxed.

At the start area I took of the extra layers that thought it wise to use for a change and left them in the parkrun baggage drop. Near enough the first time I have used it for warm clothes because I usually barrel down in my running kit, survive whatever the weather throws at me and then run home before I get to cold / wet (or both). Once I had sorted myself I stood waiting feeling clear in my purpose for my run session, a warm "good morning" from another Peg, Colin, made me feel even more at my ease.

Part 2 - Blackweir parkrun (A course)

So I set out this morning with a fully formed plan for both preparation and the run, and happily ended up nailing a good parkrun for the third in a row. The middle 3k were as balanced an effort as possible and the numbers look nye on perfect. Today was about borrowing some last kilometre speed and spreading it through the first 4k to take me to sub-30mins for parkrun for the first time this year. The last km was still a controlled burn and happily felt as strong as my last parkrun.

My kilometre splits according to Strava were quite staggering 5:59, 5:37, 5:37, 5:37, 5:00 - I focused hard in the middle on technique and rhythm but was surprised by the quality of the outcome when I interrogated my watch once I got home.

As soon as I got out of the finish token collecting funnel I enjoyed a quick catch up with Luke (another Peg runner), he finished well ahead of me and looked fresh but reported that he has been wrestling with some niggles that are stubbornly not clearing up. I hope he is back to full fitness soon as I hope to be chasing him around some more parkruns in coming months.

Once I was done I got my kit back on and stretched before setting off for home. Pre-warm-up and layers to put back on afterwards were all part of trying to go into each run from here with the best approach / preparation that I can.

Part 3 - the strategic walk home

So then it was the final element in my cunning plan... walking home warming down gradually. It felt good in the moment and I hope that the active stretching of the walk home will improve my post-parkrun recovery time.

#parkrun #blackweir #strava #2018PB #runningwithaplan #marathontraining #brightonmarthon2019training #running #pegasusrc #persistantpegs #dontcallitacomeback

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sunday long steady run that wasn't quite...

It was not really a steady run it was more of a marathon paced run, to see how I would get on. This run turned out to be one of those eventful ones that will stick in the memory for a while. The run started out close to my old marathon pace and then saw how long it would - not long as my post run Strava km splits revealed. I was really pleased with how much better this run went than last weeks run, I felt far more fluid and was in a really good frame of mind setting out.

The plan was to practice gels and take one an hour with one before - having gone around Cardiff Bay to the second gel at two hours of running I discovered I'd lost it somewhere (it must have worked its way out of my run belt). Happily I had packed a pack of 'just in case' sports beans, so I smashed those down and finished of the bottle of water I had carried / used until that point.

On the way back towards town I realised the park entrances to the Taff trial would be locked and I couldn't retrace my steps, new plan hatched (that I calculated wouldn't add too much distance) I ploughed on. Into town it was quite busy and I was greeted by three lads who yelled "Oi, fat slob!!" as I passed them. Already feeling a bit out of sorts at other hiccups this just about mentally finished me off... the long gradual hill up North road was incredibly hard.

Finally I got within a kilometer of home and entertained thoughts of a final push, to which my legs said "no chance!", and then the wall hit and I was in gripped by a full energy bonk as I got back. Breathing rate up, heart rate up, deep fatigue, legs legs jelly... yeah, it was not a long steady run, it was basically a 3 hour tempo run. Glad it was done, glad that I stayed focused (for the most part), and glad that it sets me up to get round Bournemouth marathon (albeit now perhaps as a recce for a better attempt at it another year).