Monday, 26 March 2018

Samaritans Run 2018 - What's New

I really enjoy being a part of local races, whether running them, working behind the scenes or supporting on the sidelines. I'm especially fond of The Samaritans Run, which I've run every year for the past 4 years!
The Sam Run, as it's affectionately known, is a 5k and 10k race, usually part of my running club championship, in aid of the Bracknell branch of The Samaritans. It's a vital event in their fundraising calendar and it always has a good turn out. This year it will be held on June 30th and not only am I entered in the 10k event but I'm also an ambassador for it! What does that mean? Well, I'm helping to promote the event, I'll be helping out on race day (when I'm not running), I'll be leading training runs and have provided training plans.

The event used to start at Wellington College, moved to Fujitsu and has now found a new home at Easthampstead Park School. The organisers have been working really hard to take into account the feedback given last year and there have been some changes! I went out to recce the course last weekend (in the snow) which has been simplified and has a new section through the woods. The start and finish point will still be in the school field and 10k-ers will pass through here to start their second lap.
Last year the race village had a lovely community vibe and this year will be no exception. There's stacks of free parking, a new kids fun run and all finishers will receive a nutrition bar, bottle of water, banana and bespoke Samaritans Run medal.
The medals have moved on a bit since this one!
One of the perks of being an ambassador is that I've been given a handful of half price race entries to share. Everyone who comes along to one of my training runs will be entered into a draw to win one of these entries (draw will take place on the afternoon following the training run). I'm planning four training runs, giving you the opportunity to familiarise yourself with the course (although I encourage you to do your speed training/race pace practice in addition to these) and meet smoother participants. You can do either 5k or 10k on the course with pace will take into consideration those taking part.

  1. Sunday 22nd April 10am
  2. Friday 11th May 6:30pm
  3. Sunday 27th May 10am
  4. June - TBC
Be sure to follow my Facebook page to join these events! If you don't fancy your chances in the draws, or can't wait that long, you can enter the event here.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Snow, Stetsons & Socialising

The last three weeks have been eventful to say the least! The week after the Wokingham half marathon was a mixed bag. I had to shuffle my training sessions around a lot to allow for work and a weekend with the children. As such my "recovery run" became a 10 mile "comfortable run" which I nailed - felt really strong and had some good pace. It all fell apart a bit after that mind you. I had a sports massage on Wednesday and also a review of my training plan with coach Ellie. We discussed the outcome of the race and how I felt about it, what was coming up in the weeks ahead and as such my training plan has been tweaked and a couple more events signed up to (for training purposes only).
Two hours of ice skating for a child's birthday treat... better than a long run?
I routinely shift longer sessions planned for the weekend, to during the week. This isn't because I necessarily have more time but there are chunks of time where I'm not working and I'd rather train then than take time away from Dean and the kids on the weekend, so this is something that is changing in my plan. I also struggle with going outside on my bike. I freak out. I don't know where to go, worry about traffic and a number of other things, so turbo sessions are becoming more structured and I've signed up to a sportive and some social rides.

Monday 19th - Rest day
Tuesday 20th - 10 mile comfortable run
Wednesday 21st - Rest day (skipped track session)
Thursday 22nd - Swim & bike intervals
Friday 23rd - 2h bike ride & Tri club swim session
Saturday 24th - parkrun
Sunday 25th - Rest day (skipped bike intervals)

Reading with the cat
The week of the 26th was the week of the Beast from the East, with snow that caused a fair amount of upheaval. The beginning of the week was fairly straightforward, swims, cycles and so on all completed but several sessions got cancelled due to the snow and I felt unnecessarily guilty about that. Out of my control but I hated missing sessions when I had the energy to do something. I switched track for strength work (which I don't do nearly enough of) and my rest day on Thursday coincided with the snow laying thicker on the ground and the organisations I freelance for deciding to cancel all classes. It was like having a mini holiday! I read, caught up on some admin and drank copious amounts of tea. I completed my turbo session on Friday but got a notification later afternoon that the triathlon club swim session was cancelled as the sports centre was closing early, by which point I couldn't get to any pool to do any kind of swim, and there was no hope of fitting it in at the weekend!
Strength and stretching kit
Dean and I joined some friends on Saturday for a snowy run in the forest, punctuated by walking breaks, photo stops and much chatter. I know full well neither of us would have gone out on our own on the roads or in the woods and having committed to meet up with others meant we couldn't back out. And a snow mile is worth at least 1.5 road miles right?
Monday 26th - Swim
Tuesday 27th - 1h15 bike & 20 minute run
Wednesday 28th - Strength training (track session cancelled)
Thursday 1st - Rest day
Friday 2nd - Bike intervals (swim session cancelled)
Saturday 3rd - 11.5 mile comfortable run
Sunday 4th - 2h bike intervals
Breakfast at Carluccios

Last week was a great week training wise. I knew I was spending the weekend at the C2C country music festival at the O2 with acts starting around 10:30am on Saturday and Sunday and so would only have time for shorter sessions early morning. I'd discussed this with Ellie previously and she had adjusted things accordingly. For the first time in I can't remember how long, I completed every training session last week, getting up early on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to fit in my training. Not all went according to plan... I couldn't hit the heart rate zones in one ride, cadence monitors failed and a swim had to be cut short, but all in all I was really pleased.
I had another session with the osteopath who reassured me that my posture is improving and I have been more diligent with my stretches since. I found time to meet up with friends for lunch and breakfast and booked a flotation session for a few weeks time. I drank too many cocktails at the festival and ate out more times that I was truly comfortable with and have had a string of very late nights but all in all a good week and weekend.
Sunday's early morning run
Monday 5th - Swim
Tuesday 6th - 1h bike ride
Wednesday 7th - track session (fartleks), osteopath
Thursday 8th - 1h bike ride
Friday 9th - Swim
Saturday 10th - parkrun
Sunday 11th - 1h negative split run
Lattes with a friend. Poncy lattes. They were very good.
This weekend I'm doing the Finchley 20 on Sunday, provided we don't get the rumoured snow to disrupt things. I'm going to use the event to practise my marathon pace and nutrition strategy. I'm feeling quietly confident at the moment!

How did the snow disrupt your training if at all? Did you accept the time off or find alternative things to do?

Thursday, 1 March 2018

The Power of Comparison

Comparison: a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people.

Training is time consuming. Not only is my training taking up my time but it's consuming my brain power. I find myself thinking a lot about what I'm doing, how well I'm doing it, what sessions I have to juggle or move this particular week to fit in with other things. It's exhausting, and that's without actually completing the sets!
But in all seriousness it's comparison that's really occupying my mind. I am training for a full distance triathlon. That is my end goal. 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.s miles of running. There's a few intermediate goals along the way but they are all going to help me reach my end goal. The only other person I know well who's training for a similar thing is my husband Dean. I know several people training for marathons, Swimathon, personal bests, long distance bike rides. I even have a friend whose marathon goal is exactly the same as mine; same event, same time. But no one else is doing exactly the same thing overall. 
So why is it that I keep on finding myself comparing my efforts to theirs? Comparison is a natural thing for us to do I think. It's a way of validating our efforts, of answering the question "am I doing this right"? But with it often comes frustration, disappointment, feelings of inadequacy. The friend who is doing the same marathon as me recently obliterated her previous 10k PB. My speeds have been coming down but nowhere near to what she's achieving. We are doing different things and we have different goals; triathlon vs multiple running events.
Is comparing yourself to others always wasted energy? The positive aspect of comparing myself to someone else, as long as it's someone with similar goals, is that I can look at what is different and decide if there's anything I can bring into my training that would help. For example I'm training over three different disciplines, not just running, but my friend is doing more gym work than I am. So perhaps I could add in some focused strength work once a week which would make me more resilient, less prone to injury, stronger and faster. If I feel that my schedule really doesn't allow for that then I need to accept that I won't get those benefits.
The best kind of comparison is between my achievements now and my achievements a week/month/year ago. I keep a training diary with not only distances and times but energy levels, moods and of course PBs. I'm seeing my PBs coming down, my body better able to cope with the training volumes now than it was a month ago, my training more structured than it was last year and it also helps me to identify times when I might be overtraining.

So I'm making an effort not to compare myself to others, but if I do, to only take the positives from it, and to take time to look back on my journey from time to time to see just how far I have come.