Sunday, 22 February 2015

Back-to-back runs

This weekend I completed my first back-to-back run for my Highland Fling training. When you enter the world of ultra-running you will regularly hear about people doing back-to-back runs as part of their build-up to a race.  Some runners swear by them, especially as you increase the distance that you are racing, others don't really view them as having much benefit and stick to one (extra) long session.

 I've never really done them wholeheartedly before but it is one of the new training techniques I'm trying to apply this year.  Everyone has different views on what constitutes a back-to-back session. Huge mileage runners will possibly say you need to do a minimum of 2 x 20 miles on subsequent days. Others will say you need to just be in double figures on each day.

Here are my own rules for back-to-backs:

Both runs must take place within a 2 day time window.
Both runs must be double figures.
One run must be a minimum of 15 miles.
Total mileage for the two days must be 30+ mile.

This weekend I did 22 hilly trail miles on Saturday.  I ran this a lot stronger than I expected and blasted the final 2 mile descent to ensure my average pace was sub 10m/m.  Today I did a road run which I expected to be of a similar pace to yesterday due to the tiredness in my legs, but after an easy first mile my legs were feeling remarkably strong and I was able to sustain sub 9m/m for my run despite the shocking weather.  Overall it has been a really positive weekend of running, and helped me go over 50 miles for the week.  This is the first time I have managed this all year so I am really pleased.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Solo running

Since having kids I tend to do around 90% or my running on my own because I have to fit running in around my family and work.  It can be really tough.  When you have company there is always someone there to pull you along when you are struggling (and vice versa), it's fun, sociable and it can make you as physically stronger runner as you push to chase others down.  Solo running makes you stronger too - mentally - as you have to do all the 'work' yourself.

Here's a great piece on why women should strike out on their own every now and then...

Women: 7 Reasons You Should Go Solo

The countdown is on...

My first, and one of only two races I have entered this year is the Hoka Highland Fling at the end of April.  It's only 9 weeks away and I feel completely behind in my training despite my best efforts.  With all the things life has been throwing at me lately I've been struggling with my health, my time available for training and general motivation.  

Support crew modeling race apparel.

I have tried a few new things to try and maximize the benefits from what I am able to do with my training time but I think it will take time before I can see if these are working or not.  The main problem I have is sleep, or lack of it.  The past 3 1/2 years have been a constant struggle against sleep deprivation and sleep disruption of varying extremes.  Such is the lot of some parents. It's not for a lack of trying to get sleep via sleep training of the wee ones but even the health visitors were at a loss.  On top of your own tiredness, you get really tired of people passing comment or 'blaming the parents'. Sure, sometimes it is through bad habits, but sometimes it can be a medical thing, and sometimes you just have children who are resistant to 'training' and will sleep through when they are ready.  This is a perfectly natural state of affairs.  Those parents (like us) just have to try and plough on through and hope it gets better sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately for us ultra-runners sleep is crucial for effective recovery, and therefore crucial for effective training.  When your physical and mental batteries are never above 70% max, you are not going to be able to produce the best results because you cannot train for the best results.  I have a time target that I would like to achieve at the Highland Fling but given my current circumstances I know that realistically I need to reevaluate this target. It's hard to do that though, and I fear I will be disappointed even if I do set myself a new time. Perhaps I should look at this year as a transition year - doing what I can, when I can, and hoping to come out the other side a stronger runner ready to tackle new things in 2016.  It's hard to know how best to move forward at the moment.

The key is obviously to enjoy my running and when I am on the trails, in the mountains, or running with my friends I am having fun.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

F5 Refresh feed

Almost 12 months ago my little boy Daniel was born, and I've barely had a minutes rest since.  You think life is busy when you have one child, then along comes number two and, if you find the time, you ask yourself how you ever thought you were busy when there was only one child! ;-)

Whilst on maternity leave I had a major digital clear-out of my blog and social media and I was looking to make a fresh start.   I have been back at work for months now and I have still not got around to that fresh start.  This is so symptomatic of life as a working, ultra-running parent of two. Life is 100% crazy, but when you see those little faces smiling up at you, you wouldn't want it any other way.  Who wants easy, predictable and mundane anyway?

Most blog posts from here-on will probably be about as short and sweet as this one: I don't have time to be typing out 'Paradise Lost' every week.  My time is spent with my family, working, and running (and that is literally it!) but hopefully it will still be worth a read.

My two time managers! #lovefamily