Sunday, October 21, 2007

Running in and like the wind

It’s been a busy week and I’ve had little motivation to blog, but I thought I should check in with a quick breakdown of the week’s training. This was to be the week of trying to get back into a routine, of testing out my fitness levels, of discipline. Overall I was successful in achieving my aims.

On Monday I managed to get up early and head to the gym before work for a lower-body weights session. It was good to be back. My only concession to the break was to reduce the number of frog-jumps. Even so, it all felt reasonably light. Perhaps I didn’t push myself enough.

On Monday night Sarah and I arranged to walk to the gym together. I’d planned 40 minutes of rolling hills. Sarah was going to run with the Squad. I bumped into Ingrid in the changing rooms and she invited me to run with them. Feeling a little guilty I took up the offer. It was great to catch up with everyone again. I realised how much I miss the social factor of being a Squad junkie.

I wasn’t planning on going hard, as I was still supposed to be taking it easy. However I found myself in the front pack as we ran along the waterfront towards Bowen Street. I backed off a little bit as we ran up the hill, not knowing how hard to push myself. At the top we were supposed to turn left and run uphill for another six minutes. Duck turned to me and sent me off down Tinakori instead. A part of me was disappointed, but I wasn’t going to argue with her and loped off down the hill on my own.

My legs could feel the leg press that I’d done earlier that day. There was a certain heaviness in my stride that spoke of recently fatigued muscles. To add to that my feet felt really slappy, hitting the ground with a thump each stride. I felt as though my glutes weren’t firing enough to keep my feet light. I was a little frustrated! All the same I was surprised by my pace, particularly along Thorndon Quay. I think I was afraid of being caught up by the front of the pack, and that was enough to motivate me to keep going (sure enough, that night I dreamed I was running a cross-country half marathon and trying to keep ahead of someone who was running behind me). I made it to Frank Kitts bang on 40 minutes, then had to wait another five minutes or so for the speedies to catch up.

On Tuesday I headed off for Mike’s Balance class. It turns out that the class is now one of Les Mill’s new ‘Express’ classes. This means it has been shortened to 45 minutes. No hip track, no twist track. In other words – a shorter class means that some components are dropped all together, rather than all components being shortened. None of the large contingent of regulars were impressed. Those who can’t afford a whole hour usually just leave before the meditation tracks, so an Express Balance is a little redundant. Mike wasn’t terribly happy either. Next week he’s going to try using shorter tracks and dropping one meditation track. We all put notes in the suggestion box asking for the class to be returned to one hour.

After work it was a case of “where should I run to avoid the wind”? Gale force Northerlies were rocking the city, and I felt insane as I headed out for my half-hour session. My legs were suffering a little DOMS from the weights session, but oddly my feet weren’t as heavy. I slogged it through a headwind up Molesworth, doing the usual Tinakori Rd, Thorndon Quay loop, with a little extra waterfront running thrown in to make up the half hour. Again my speed wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, though I still felt slow.

Any hopes of getting up Wednesday morning to do upper body/core weights were blown away, literally, by the same gale-force wind. It kept me awake all night waiting for the roof to blow off or the window to blow in. Hamish couldn’t sleep either, and we were both pretty groggy. I was also still feeling it a bit from Monday and Tuesday. I get really frustrated by how long it takes my muscles to recover. I don’t want to drop the number of runs I do, but I find it hard to recover enough if I run too many days in succession.

Thankfully the wind dropped as the day went on, so I decided to run for 40 minutes from the Terrace gym out past Oriental Bay and back. I kept up a medium to fast pace for the first twenty minutes, dropping back slightly on the return. This run actually felt a lot better than it should have done. I stopped briefly near Freyberg to check that a cyclist who had been knocked off his bike wasn’t someone I knew, then kept going. He had lots of people helping him and didn’t seem too badly injured. Back at the gym I briefly considered joining in the Balance class that was about to start, but decided to head home instead. I ended up standing at the bus stop in the wind and cold (with dust from nearby construction blowing into my eyes) for over half an hour. Needless to say I was not impressed, and was only cheered by Hamish playing the nearest episode of Heroes for me when I got home. That’s the karma I earned for not doing Balance!

So should I have hoped for an early session on Thursday? Nope! Duck had me in the studio again jumping and hopping over a row of power bags, lifting the powerbags over my shoulder and squatting (“you can lift heavy for a little thing” she says, as I struggle with an unwieldy 20kg bag), and doing pressups and shoulder raises. From there we moved to drills with a rope ladder spread on the ground – lots of knee raises and stepping in and out of the rungs of the ladder. I love those sorts of workouts, even if that particular session left me with sore shoulders of doom the next day.

All of which was going to make Balance interesting on Friday. First though I had to get through RPM. My legs were NOT impressed, and I wasn’t really having as much fun as usual. However I did it, although that will be the last Friday RPM I will do for a while. It’s too hard to blast my legs all week then expect them to co-operate with me when I ask them to do a long run on a Saturday morning. Oh, and Balance – hard. Thanks Clare for picking an intense release with lots of standing lunges and stuff that made my shoulders hurt.

I ended up putting my Saturday run back a day, partly to give my legs a chance to recover, and partly because I needed to go into the Sanctuary to check on my nestboxes. So it wasn’t really a rest day – several hours of hauling myself up and down bush-clad slopes.

Which led to today. Sunday – the middle of a long weekend. I snapped awake at 7am, and my first thought was “hey, it’s sunny”. Ten minutes later – “hey, it’s silent – there’s no wind”. Five minutes later – “hang on, I need to do a 70 minute run today”. One minute later “hey, I’d better leave now, before it gets windy again”. Half an hour later I was out the door.

My goal for today was to enjoy my run. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to worry about speed. I just had to get out there and keep putting one foot in front of the other for 70 minutes, on the flat. Thankfully Wellington put on some weather that was extremely conducive to enjoying myself. Yes, there was a bit of a headwind, but it was needed on the way back to keep me cool. I felt good right from the start. There were plenty of runners out, and everyone was in a good mood. I got nodded at and greeted more than ever before.

I told myself I wasn’t allowed to look at my watch until after Greta Point and I relaxed into things. As I reached Oriental Bay I spotted a younger female runner ahead of me. She was decked out with a fuel belt and iPod, and I wondered how far she was going. I overtook her fairly easily, but that wasn’t the end of the story. As I got to Maidevale Rd something suddenly started beeping loudly, a bit like a truck reversing. I kept going and realised that the sound was following me. Turning around I saw the woman I had earlier overtaken. Yes, that beeping was her heartrate monitor sounding off at her. With her iPod blaring in her ears I realised she probably couldn’t hear it. I wondered if she was maxing out trying to pace herself off me.

I kept running and she kept beeping. I looked over my shoulder at her a couple of times, but she kept on grimly keeping on and didn’t get the hint. Now, am I being unreasonable in being annoyed by having to run to the accompaniment of a continually beeping monitor? Once I had decided the noise was annoying of course it started to obsess me. In the end I stopped and let her get ahead of me until I could no longer hear her. Relieved, I kept going, running past the new sea cadet buildings before turning around.

On the way back and around the 39 minute mark I suddenly felt like Superwoman. My muscles woke up and I found myself powering back towards the gym. I briefly considered running up Maidevale, but decided to stick to the plan and run on the flat. I stopped at Balaena for water, although I decided in the end that I hadn’t really needed to. At Oriental Bay swimmers in wetsuits were doing circuits of the fountain. I asked one guy walking past holding a wetsuit how the water was and he replied that it was warming up. I considered going home for my wetsuit. I kept running all the way back to the gym, for a negative split. Nice!

A good long stretch at the gym, a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market, and a cooked breakfast to get Hamish out of bed. I knew I’d had a good run because I was feeling charged rather than exhausted. My legs felt fine, my hip felt fine. I opened the bedroom curtains and told Hamish that unless he could find a beach with WiFi there was no way he was working today.

So we spent the afternoon on the beach at Queen Elizabeth Park. And now I have a face the colour of a radish. Oops. First sunburn of the season.

I have a half hour tempo run on the cards for tomorrow and it’s going to be a blast. Today’s run’s made me feel confident again. It will be hard not to get carried away this week. I need to keep myself reined in for a little longer!


Lisa said...

I always worry when I'm running with my iPod that I'm annoying other people with my super load music, but never beeping. Beeping is just rude.

Then again people can always escape me by running faster, lol.

Your workout schedule never ceases to amaze me! I feel so lazy when I read your site, haha.

Pip said...

Well, you're the one running 20 milers!

Glad to hear you thought the beeping was rude. I was getting nervous that I was being unreasonable!