Goal: Increase Speed

Those walking speeds are quite poor, aren’t they? We need to bump up that walk to at least a 15 minute pace. I’m okay with our running speed. That’s not so bad. But the walking is much too slow so I’ve been reading up on what exercises we can do to increase our speed.

Livestrong.com recommends hill repeats. I don’t think my hubby would be too fond of these. And frankly, neither would I. But I like the idea of the repetitiveness of this exercise. We could do this one on a neighboring road or in Hampstead Heath park.

Another option, which is in our training plan, is to run intervals. At a track we would start with running 400M x 4. For the next interval Active.com says we would, “Increase the number of 400s every week by two more until, 10 days before the race, the final workout is: 14 x 400. Each 400 (one lap around a track) should be run eight seconds faster than you want to average per quarter mile in your 5K race.”

I find option three the most fun, a turnover drill. Jeff Galloway’s method would be best for a beginner and would prevent injury since it allows the body to recover. Here is the drill as written on his website:

1. Warm up by jogging slowly for half a mile.

2. Now begin to run at your normal training pace. After you’ve got your momentum going, start your watch. For exactly 1 minute, count the number of times your right foot pushes off. Then multiply that number by two. This is your current turnover rate.

3. Jog slowly back to the start.

4. Repeat step 2, and try to increase the number of right-foot push-offs per minute by two to five. Follow up with another recovery jog.

5. Do two to four more repeats, continuing to increase your push-offs each time until you’re not running comfortably anymore. Back off the cadence at that point, and for any remaining repeats, maintain the number of push-offs that allows you to stay relaxed while still using a faster turnover.

I love the idea of being distracted by keeping count. It would be a nice challenge to increase that number at each try. Also, a recovery walk would be oh so welcomed. I love me a walk break.

And then there’s option four: fartlek. It’s the least structured. No track or watch is needed. You basically just run as fast as you can to a certain landmark. Then you pick a farther landmark and repeat. The recovery in between the repeats are up to you.

I’m quite torn between turnover drills and fartlek. But I am leaning towards structure so turnover drills might be it. Luckily we still have time to decide. We won’t start on these until next week or so.

If you can offer any speed training tips I would greatly appreciate it!

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And the knee verdict is…

…there is none. The doctor still doesn’t know what is causing the pain. But she says it’s definitely not a baker’s cyst or a clogged something. So at least there’s that. She thinks the last thing I have to try before giving another doctor a go is physical therapy. I have that lined up at the end of the month (I was referred in December. Thanks NHS!). So here’s hoping. Until then I am going to look into a knee brace and see if that combined with ibuprofen will help with the swelling and pain.

Enough of that.

Our hill training kicked our asses today. We are quite slow when compared to the average runner. Throw in a few slopes here and there and we run almost as fast as we walk. D’oh! Luckily, the race we’re training for will be mostly flat. Thank goodness. I really don’t want to concentrate on hill training. We do the hill workouts because we live in a hilly area, not because we really want to. We try to plan mostly flat routes but the longer the distances the more hills we encounter. Bummer. My main goal for race day is to conquer the flat roads injury-free.

This week I will be looking at what foods we can eat to help us (um…me) last better during our longer runs. I have been getting quite bonky by mile 3 and that’s no bueno.

Slowly but surely…

…we’re getting faster.

Below are three recent 30 minute runs we completed (click to view better).

And four of our last runs.

We’re not mid-packers yet, but maybe this time next year we can be.

A few things we need to work on:

1. Walking faster. We tend to mosey when the timer goes off.

2. Increase our intervals. We’re still doing 1:1 intervals (run:walk) and although they are not hard, they aren’t easy. We live in a hilly neighborhood so it takes a lot of mental and physical strength not to walk the hills during a long run. I’m hoping that by June we’ll be up to 2:1. And maybe 3:1 by September? Maybe a bit ambitious considering my knee problem.

3. Sort out my knee. I’ve had an ultrasound and an MRI showing no issues with my knee. But I definitely have a prominent bump in the back of my left knee. It swells up during training and prevents me from bending it. It screams Baker’s cyst to me so I’m not sure why the doctors haven’t done any further exams. I’m going back tomorrow to insist something be done immediately. I have blogged considerably about the long wait to get health issues sorted.
4. Think positively. As soon as my knee starts acting up my determination crumbles. I am truly amazed that I managed to finish two long runs without crying. I felt like it but instead I moaned and moaned some more. My poor husband. Ever the great running partner he listened and kept me going. I need to try and work out how to…well…work out with this knee problem. I’d hate for it to slow me down and make me feel defeated.

So those are just a few things I’ve been thinking about where running is concerned. I’m pretty happy with our stats. I love to see how well we’re doing considering the hills that we have to tackle (mostly during our long runs). Yeah, quite happy.

What keeps you going?

This past weekend’s long race made me realize that I no longer hydrate as well as I used to. My calves felt like they wanted to snap apart. When I worked I carried a 32 oz jug of water all day long. And I would almost always finish it. The day before a race I often chugged a pint of Accelerade and I ran better because of all the water and Accelerade I took in. My muscles rarely cramped. So now that I’m not working I am drinking loads less water. It gets worse. I have increased my caffeine intake which hinders whatever little water I do have throughout the day.

So this week I am going to work on drinking more water but I am still left with another wee problem. I have run out of my favorite sports drink. Accelerade kept me hydrated under the Texan sun and never made me fill sick to my stomach. I need to find a substitute because I can’t find it anywhere in the UK. Does anyone know of something similar? It has a carb to protein ratio of 4:1. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I’m curious…how often do you fuel during a run?

One month and still going!

Ever the superstitious person I’ve been delaying blogging about my new running routine. What’s that you may ask, “She’s running again?” Well yes. Yes I am. I am back to running, Galloway method, of course. I’m not fit…yet.

I was inspired to post by my bestie’s return to all things good: healthy eating, planning and exercise. I was nervous about sharing my recent activity because I was really scared that I might fail. You see, I’m training for my 6th half marathon! I know, crazy. I’ve been barely walking a mile a day and now I’m running four times a week and dragging my husband with me. He sincerely is the best man alive. He HATES every single moment of it but each running day he gets up with no not that much complaining. He’s the best cheerleader. He got me through this past weekend’s 4 miler. I had stupidly eaten a super salty calzone the night before and I was heavily dehydrated. My legs felt like boulders, so tight and heavy. But I finished. Slow and steady.

I’m looking forward to sharing how training goes with a husband as my sole running partner and an unreliable* English sky.

Now…if only I could be guaranteed to look like this at the end of all this training?

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*We’ve been having gorgeous sunny spring weather this past month now snow is expected Wednesday. Nutso!

Check, check and check

I woke up with a spring in my step and with purpose. I got my whole wheat dough done and it’s currently slow fermenting in the fridge. Cannot wait to bake it. I’ve been craving hummus, veggie, and chicken sandwiches. Random, I know.

Got to have lunch with my friend in Hampstead Heath. But I decided to trade my EA Activity for a nice 3 mile walk.

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I took a different route, passing by homes that I wasn’t familiar with. So I took photos of them because they were all quite different from each other. Especially the first one. It’s the one that does not belong.

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I think I wouldn’t mind living in any of those. The funny thing is that chances are none of those homes have a/c. I guess it’s only needed a week out of the year so it’s not worth the expense of installing it.

Today was a great day. I often don’t mind living in London when the sun shines.

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Digging Deep

This past week I have felt the gas empty out of my engine fast. Really fast. My lost in doing, moving has got me a bit worried. So I am having to dig deep and think of ways past this roadblock. I started the month on fire: eating well, staying true to my exercise goals and sewing a bunch. Today I all I want to do is munch, not move from the computer, and my sewing project remains only a quarter done. I don’t like to half-ass commit to anything so these feeble attempts to get active again are frustrating. But I am just going to pause. Take a deep breath and start again. So what am I going to do different?

I really want to make it a point to plan out a day in advance. I’ve always been a list-maker and get a gushing rush over ticking something once it’s completed. My lists are going to to be quite simple but it should keep me motivated. Tomorrow I’d like to: write up the policies for my Etsy shop, have lunch with a friend, do the next step in dress, make bread dough, make a beef stew, and do EA Sports Active (or run if the sun is out). Doesn’t look so bad when I see it written down. But when I was thinking about them all, I felt paralyzed, anxious. All of it seemed like work. But not so much now.

So I am going to give this advance planning a go for a month, hoping it becomes a good habit.

Today’s activity: pushups!