"Gettin' It Done"
Such is the name of my 5am alarm on my phone. I actually arose feeling pretty good, having made it to bed at a sufficiently early hour the night before. This was the beginning of a new regime in our household; I work slightly odd hours and, in order to be able to fit my workouts in, have to rise at sparrow-fart. In order to ensure that I'm able to do my bit with the wee bairn first thing in the morning, Rachel has grudgingly agreed to spend a month on my schedule on a trial basis. I hereby rename our house The People's Democractic Republic of Ben, on the basis that it's neither democratic nor a republic.
Monday means track, and this week it was 6x800s with 400 to recover. 2 mile warm-up, 2 mile cool-down. The intervals actually clicked off quite nicely and I felt good. A very slight fade, but overall the splits themselves were pretty consistent. Was I actually starting to enjoy this?! Shockingly, the answer may be 'yes'. Now, don't get me wrong; I will never ever EVER be a track runner. I am way too slow. The idea of a 5 minute mile is nuts to me at the moment, and there are kids that knock those out (and much quicker) as warm-ups all over the country. But, I'm starting to feel a bit stronger and like I'm stretching the length of time that I can hold my top speed for, which is the goal of these track workouts: increase endurance at speed for distance running, rather than increase speed itself.
Something I did differently this week, which may well have contributed to me feeling stronger on the intervals, was stick to a specific plan for my warm-up, recovery laps, and cool-down. Namely, I tried to keep my heart rate in my Maff Zone; currently for me that's < 143bpm. It's slightly mixing apples and oranges, interspersing redline efforts with Maff training, but I figured it was as good a way as any of ensuring that I was actually recovering, and therefore able to run quality intervals. Plus, it meant that I got 5.5 miles of aerobic training in. Win. Once I managed to control that egotistical little voice in my head that kept whispering "You're shuffling along like an old man. You don't look like a runner. How embarrassing. Maybe you should sprint this lap, just so people know you're 'for realz'" it worked out pretty well, and will be my approach to recovery on the track from this point on. I plan on exploring Maff training in more detail come autumn/winter, when I'll be looking to build a solid aerobic base before next year's escapades, so watch for a more detailed post.
Workout music was Rage Against The Machine as usual, but for the cool-down I stuck on 'Canterbury' by The Ginger Runner, Ethan Newbury. Ethan does some hilarious-yet-informative gear reviews and interviews on Youtube, but also makes short films. These are beautifully shot (I highly recommend Amongst the Evergreens), and the soundtracks are all his own compositions. It's not my normal taste, but hey! As Duke Ellington once famously said, there are two kinds of music: good music, and the other kind.
I did manage to get locked out of the leisure centre whilst I was doing my workout. They really don't seem geared up for having people using that particular facility! Lots of banging on windows ensued before I was eventually allowed back inside.
Tuesday was International Day of Yoga, so I swapped workouts around and did a 30min flow instead of Jillian Michaels (who got me on Wednesday). Not fitting in as much yoga as I would like, but Daddy-duties are coming first. Trying to fit in some sporadic stretching as often as I can throughout the day, but I'm feeling myself becoming tighter.
Wednesday, as above, was Jillian Michaels. Nothing much to say; same workout, and no noticeable progression.
Thursday was 7 miles at 6.45m/m. I had a lot on my mind Wednesday night and took a long time to get to sleep; consequently, I didn't feel quite as sharp as I would have liked when it came to lace up the trainers. Despite that, I gutted it out and, again, ended up over-cooking the pace, averaging 6.31m/m. My average heart rate seems to be coming down for that kind of effort too, which is good, though I'd be happier if it was substantially lower still; that kind of effort isn't sustainable for a marathon, but these paces are what I need to be running in training to stand a chance of hitting my goal time for Robin Hood. Ho hum. Need to trust the program; it's only week 3, and there's a long way to go yet.
Friday. The referendum. Britain leaving the EU. I don't want to get into politics too much; this is a blog about running, after all. I spent the morning hitting refresh on the BBC News app on my phone and swearing loudly both to, and along with, my wife. Eventually, I summoned the motivation to go and do a workout. Upped the weights, burned off some cortisol. Spent the rest of the day following the news and cuddling my little boy.
Saturday was supposed to just be a long run (13 miles at 7.30m/m) but, having seen the elevation profile for the Ingram HM next month, I decided I needed to get some vert in, and so I added in some hill repeats. 1,666ft gain over 13 miles. Still not really comparable to Ingram, but the legs felt quite strong, and the heart rate is coming down for that kind of effort, so I'm definitely seeing progress. Felt good to get a hard workout in.
A few weeks ago, Rachel and I finally pulled our fingers out and bought ourselves a 'family' tent; the prospect of coping with Xan in a 2-person tent wasn't especially appealing! A search of Gumtree located an Outwell Colorado 5 going for a song. It had (apparently... see below) only been used a couple of times, and so off we went to collect it. No opportunity to inspect it because of lack of space, so all I managed was a sniff-check for mildew. That test passed, we handed over the cash, and were now in possession of what I have taken to calling the Adventure Tent. It's a bit of a misnomer really, as the size of it somewhat limits the adventure potential! Still, they will be adventures for Xander at least.
We got it pitched in our back garden (just; the thing is enormous) the weekend afterwards and it was in pretty good condition for the most part, though it clearly had been put away wet at least once as the taping on the seams was starting to come away. Xan coped brilliantly with two nights of test camping, so we decided to take him further afield and booked Saturday night at a campsite in the North of the Lakes, about 16 miles from Keswick. The site was lovely, with excellent facilities, and perfect for his first night away under canvas. The tent held up pretty well to some reasonable rainfall, although some of the seams did start to leak. Still, if in doubt, gaffer tape out. We all remained dry, and upon returning home I started stripping the old tape off in preparation for resealing using Seamgrip. Despite the expense of doing this, we'll still have probably half the cost of a new Outwell invested in the Adventure Tent, so all is well. Next outing, if I can get the seams resealed in time, will be the night before Ingram, and then the plan is to camp before races where possible rather than having an early start and mad dash.
Thanks to Tesco Clubcard Boost, I also picked up a Regatta SIM for a fiver. Despite my gear-snobbery about all things Regatta, it was actually pretty good (especially for the price I paid). Bonus.