Training Plans

Four weeks in to my chosen training plan and I would say I’m going “ok”.  I’ve managed the three core runs each week (except for this week!) but no extras and I haven’t stuck to it 100%.  But that’s ok and I’m happy with what I’ve been doing and my legs feel like they’re getting stronger.

Most weeks I’ve managed a 45 minute orienteering run which I’ve counted as a “Speed” session along the lines of a fartlek/interval.  Although with my toe still in recovery mode I’ve been taking it a little easier and am just getting back to pace on these now.  There’s been a treadmill session each week which has mostly been intervals. My paces on these are based on a line I semi-randomly chose from the Nike training plan based on one of the only times I’ve done a straight 10km run and my currentish 5km road pace.  I’ve been finding these a bit slow and the intervals a bit easy, so I’ll probably increase these paces a little over the next few weeks.

Then there’s the Endurance run on the weekend.  I think I’ve done one of these properly which was last weekend.  The first two weeks I was supposed to do a 6.5km slow and steady – one week I did trails and the other I was on a girls weekend away and managed to squeeze in a fast 4km instead.  This weekend I’m a bit under the weather, so chose not to run.  So the only real one of these I’ve done is last weekends 10km.  I didn’t want to run the hilly 10km my husband heads out on most weekends, so just did a flattish out and back instead.  It’s a long time since I did a 10km steady run – in fact, I’ve only ever done it twice before!  I slowed right down and managed to keep moving the whole way (minus two pauses at traffic lights).  My other goal was to slightly increase my pace as I went which I also succeeded with!  Every kilometre in the second half was faster than every kilometre in the first half with kilometre nine being my fastest.

Now it starts getting a bit more focussed.  The speed sessions get a bit more intense and I’ll be increasing the pace as well.  The long runs also get a lot longer quite quickly, jumping from 10km to 13km next week and 16km the following week!  The treadmill is definitely getting some use.

Coincidence and Training Plans

I’m currently bang in the middle of two weeks work free while I’m between jobs.  I had grand plans to do some runs in different locations or even put in some decent length hikes, but the broken toe put paid to those plans – for the first week anyway!

So I’m trying to make sure I don’t waste all of my time and wrote a ridiculously long list of things I wanted to achieve across the two weeks.  Within that list was to find a training plan so that I can try and make sure I’m ready for the Nosh Footrace this year.  Both times I’ve run this I’ve ended up with horrible cramps in my achilles and really struggling – but this is my year!  Using trusty old google search, I quickly discovered that there weren’t too many free pre-written training plans for a 16km (or 10 mile) event.  The 5km, 10km, 1/2 marathon and marathon are extremely well catered for, not so much the less “standard” distances.  After scanning over a few of them – one had me running only 3 times a week, one running every day and the length of plans ranging from 8 weeks to 16 weeks I opened up the Nike 10 mile training plan to take a bit more of a look.

Gotta say, it looks pretty intense!  Taking a closer look it breaks down into 3 “workout runs” each week and 4 “recovery” days which can be either shorter run or no-run days.  This could actually work pretty well.  I’m going to have to review it all and make some changes based on the fact that I’ll be doing a trail run and I’m pretty sure this is written for a road race, but I think it’s a good starting point.  It’s also a 14 week plan, which I thought was probably a good idea – a longer plan probably eases into it a bit better for me.  So I checked my calendar to see how far off the Nosh is – it will be exactly 14 weeks from this Sunday!  Couldn’t have planned that better if I tried – coincidence?

On The Dreadmill

Getting out for two runs a week is manageable in summer.  In winter just getting one in requires a bit more effort.  Fitting in three runs a week on a regular basis requires more organisation than I possess.  The solution?  In January, I bought a treadmill.  The only way running farther is going to happen for me is to gradually increase my running by running more frequently.  And the only way I will be able to run more frequently is if I can run without leaving the house.  Hopefully this will also help stop me from pushing harder than I should when I only run infrequently and hence ending up injured more than I would like!

While my intentions are good, it’s been off to an incredibly slow start.  Firstly, I bought the treadmill the day after the physio had told me not to run for 2 weeks – boo!  Then when I was allowed to run again, I wanted to head outside, because I had missed it too much to just run at home.  I started getting back into a rhythm and put a couple of short 2-3km runs on the treadmill – all part of my plan to run a little more frequently without over doing things.  Then two weeks ago, I broke my toe.  Not running related.

Since we have another rogaine on this weekend, I really needed to test out my toe beforehand – so on the trusty treadmill for this purpose.  This way if my toe started screaming at me at any point, I was already home.  I buddy taped my toe, with a little extra tape to prevent possible blisters on the toes now pushed together.  I slipped on my shoes – all good so far.  My plan was to do an hour on the treadmill at whatever pace the toe could cope with.  I hadn’t run for two weeks, and with the break in January as well, my fitness is rapidly decreasing.  Walking 4km/hr was ok, so I turned the speed up and settled at 5.5km/hr – not pushing things, but not dawdling either.  After 20 minutes I increased the speed to 8km/hr for 5 minutes to see how it all went with a bit of running action.  To my surprise, I still felt absolutely no pain or discomfort.  Another 20 minutes of walking, 5 minutes running and ended the hour with a final 10 minutes walking.

Success!  An hour on the treadmill, no pain in the toe and I now have high hopes of coping with the rogaine tomorrow.  I loved that the treadmill allowed me to do this at home so I had the security of knowing that if the toe caused issues, I could stop at any point.  Or is the taping was problematic, I could take a break and sort it out before continuing.  It also meant that I didn’t have to worry about silly things like stubbing my toe on uneven pavements or tree roots on a trail.  While this rogaine is another 6hr event, we will again only be there for a shorter time – no more than 5hrs due to babysitting constraints.  Probably a good thing really.

Summer Series – Belrose

Last weeks orienteering effort had looked to be an interesting run, with a good bit more on trail than usual.  There was a mid-week break in the hot weather and although rain was threatening, it never eventuated.  Having a rough idea of the location we put the trail shoes on expecting to see a bit of work in the dirt and even more mud out there after the heavy rains earlier.  There was a fair bit more of the course on the road than we expected, but we were still glad to have the trail shoes on anyway.

After a quick look over the course, we both went with my suggestion to hit the trails first.  It was more of a set loop and would then leave us with the roads at the end and plenty of options for altering our plan on the run depending on time.  Started off at a good pace, picking up the first couple of points quickly.  Nick was ahead of me, letting me track down a couple of controls a bit quicker than I otherwise would have following the glimpses of his red shirt through the bush.  One of the speedy men’s runners flew through at this point too.  Due to a couple of wrong turns and misreads of the map on Nicks part, I saw him a couple more times while on the trails.  He is fitter, stronger and faster than me, so I feel pretty good when I can show up ahead of him through some better map reading.  It wasn’t pristine bush running as we ran behind a power station, and some of the control locations had descriptions I hadn’t come across before, such as “car wreck”!  Speedy guy, having picked up several extra trail controls I had skipped, went past again as I took the below photo.  I was happy with my progress along the trails, my hip was handling it all well and the terrain was a lot less hilly than expected.

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Then it was back on the roads to work out what I could fit in the time remaining.  I followed my initial plan, although one ten point control I should have left out – too much up and down to be worth it – speedy guy passed by again here.  Then with 15 minutes still to go, I thought I could cover more than I had originally planned.  This was a tough one, the last few times I tried this it was a disaster, so I was tempted to stay with my original line up, but this had the potential to add a good few points and I thought I could still make it back in time.  No time for thinking too much, so off I went, nabbed my extra thirty pointer (there goes speedy guy again!) and then made the haul back towards the start hoping to pick up another seventy points on the way.  Another thirty points and I was getting low on time, dammit, I wasn’t going to make it to those other 40 points and I was starting to get tired. Push, push, push, less than one minute to go, push a bit harder and reached the finish with 15 seconds to spare!

Post run, I reassessed my route choice.  Yes, I could have made some better decisions, but in the end it would have only seen me ten or maybe twenty points better off.  At this point, I’m ok with that.  As I said to my uncle before the run, this is my first season orienteering on my own and it’s all a learning game at the moment.  And speedy guy?  He came first in his age category – was interesting to see another person on the course so many times, it doesn’t often happen that way.

Numbers

  • Distance: 5.6km
  • Elevation: 76m
  • Time: 44:43

Stumbling Blocks

After a few weeks of physio in January to sort out my hip, the start of February was off to a great start.  Last week the latest of the summer heatwaves really set in and all bets were off as I waited for the cooler weather that was due.  We stayed away (in air conditioning!) for a couple of days, heading home as the southerly changes were hitting, my mind already planning when/how my next runs would be.  Unpacking the car, I kicked a stack of wood at the back of the carport.  Damn that hurt, hang on, no, that really, really hurt!

I iced my toes for close to an hour in the vain hope that it was just a minor stubbed toe and I would be right in a bit.  After an hour of ice and rest I took a few steps.  Nope, off to the GP.  Probably broken was the consensus, but get an x-ray in 2-3 days just to check.  In the meantime, tape it up and keep off it as much as possible.  The pain when touching it was excruciating.  Nooooo!  We had just signed up for a 6 hour rogaine in two weeks time.

Needless to say, I wasn’t being overly dramatic and the x-ray showed a fracture in my middle toe.  The bruising is really quite spectacular, but oddly enough there’s very little swelling.  The GP I saw this time was quite optimistic about the whole thing.  It’ll be right in 2-3 weeks.  When can I run again?  Oh, in another week you should be right, it might hurt a bit, but it will be ok.  So, I have a 6 hour event in 10 days, will that be ok?  Sure, the fracture will be fine, it’s just about managing the pain and how long you can deal with it.  Ok….

At this point, I’m going to give a walk on the treadmill a go on the weekend and see how it copes – I’m currently still limping a little, but the pain is reducing quite quickly (although I still haven’t poked it again).  It means my goal of getting to 30km for the rogaine won’t be happening, but at least we should still be able to make it.

Ouch!

Ouch!

January Stats

While off to a good start, January slowed down pretty quickly when I started experiencing pain at the top of my quad at the start of each run.  It was pretty intense but settled down after a couple of minutes only to return post run.  After my third run for the year the next day it hurt to walk, so it was off to the physio.  Some excruciating massage, needling and manipulation later I was told not to run for a while – which turned into one run in 3 weeks.  I’m back on things again now, still a bit of pain but have exercises to help things out and hopefully stop it returning in force.  If I behave myself and don’t overdo things.

So my numbers for January looked a little dismal, but there’s still plenty of the year left and better to get things fixed now than end up needing months off later on!

  • Distance: 31km
  • Elevation: 142m
  • No. of runs: 5

Heat and hills

After almost 3 weeks of no running on physio’s orders due to a niggling pain around my right hip/quad, I’ve managed a few outings over the past week.  Things are definitely improving, but still not 100%, so it’s gentle runs and, in theory, no hills.  That kind of went astray on Sunday, but I did make sure I walked most of it – partly due to my leg, but mostly just because it was just so damn hot!

I told Nick I would be up to an hour, I was heading off to explore another track in our local area.  To date, this hasn’t been overly successful, leading mostly to narrow, overgrown trails that were walkable at best in places and in some cases completely impassable.  But if we don’t try, we won’t know, so I headed off to check out one more.  I had high hopes for this one and it could eventually lead to a good long run route with minimal road time.  Let’s just say I was optimistic with my timing!

Nice easy start on the road, then to the top of the unexplored fire trail

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Looking good so far!  Then it was endless, easy downhill on beautiful wide open fire trail.

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Looking back up the fire trail

In the back of my mind though, I know this is an out and back run, so I’m going to have to head back up this at the end.  I reached the bottom of the fire trail at the pipeline with single track heading off along the creek in both directions.

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Only 250m to the creek crossing, didn’t sound too bad.  It felt like it took me ten minutes to make that 250m though!  Firstly, I had my spider web stick up and sweeping back and forth – it was morning and I didn’t trust that anyone else had been along here yet.  It was a tricky bit of track in places and I had to slow down and pay attention to where I was putting my feet as well as looking up to make sure I didn’t hit any spiderwebs.  Still managed to collect a few on my arms, legs, face… It wasn’t pretty.  Then I found the creek, passed a family playing in the water and came across the stairs that make their way up to the fire trail on the side.

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It was starting to get hot.  Really hot.  It was nearly 30 degrees when I set out and was forecast to reach 40, it was dead calm down in the gully and humidity was high.  At this point I was debating whether to make a call and get picked up where the trail meets the road.  Stubbornness kicked in and instead I decided to add some extra distance/hill and go up to the nearby oval for a toilet and water stop.  This was my turnaround point, I was 4.5km in to what was originally planned as a 6km return trip in under an hour and I’d already been 45 minutes.  I felt refreshed after my break and headed back down the hill and managed to keep up a steady jog along the fire trail before heading down the steps back to the creek crossing.

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I stopped in the middle and splashed water over my face, head and legs (I think I saw tadpoles!).  Bugger it, my feet were cooking, so I sloshed around in there with shoes on as well.  Stepped out to keep going, dammit – I had forgotten I was wearing my cotton socks, not my usual compression socks and they were now waterlogged.  I made my way along the trail a little before sitting down, shoes and socks off, wrung out my socks as best I could before continuing on my way.  It was at this point of course that another runner came past – first one I’d seen – catching me sitting in the middle of the trail with shoes off!  He did check I was ok before continuing on at least.  With my feet more comfortable, I crossed fingers for no blisters and continued back along the single track.  A lot more fun this time knowing there would be no spider webs!

Looks pretty smooth at this point!

Looks pretty smooth at this point!

Then back up, up, up the endless fire trail – walking of course, physio’s orders.  Not because I was hot. And tired. And in desperate need of a drink.  I reached the top, just over one kilometre of road left before I would make it home.  It just kept getting hotter.  I picked up the pace to a jog when I could on the flat, but I mostly just walked.  What had started out as a sub-hour 6km jaunt had turned into a 9km slog that took over an hour and a half.  The sight of the shops at the end of the street was like a mirage – this was my start/end point and an easy 200m downhill in shade to get home, get my hands on an icy cold powerade and jump in the pool to cool off.

The mirage!

The mirage!

I won’t be heading out to do that again in a hurry, at least not until the weather cools down a little and my leg sorts itself out so I can run it a bit more.  Was very pleased to find a good, well defined trail that will let me connect up with other trails for much longer runs.  It will easily extend to about 12km without touching any more roads.  And if you add in crossing a bridge, then it can extend almost indefinitely on more trails, another 20km+ isn’t out of the question – certainly more than I will be able to do for quite a while, anyway!

To top things off, my garmin record of the run had “issues” – all my graphs and stats were a mess.  I opened the file in notepad to see if there was anything obvious or simple that I could do to fix it.  My run apparently started at the right time, but at some point in the middle of things it jumped forward more than a month!  So my run took a looooooong time.  Luckily, the timing of the minutes was still spot on, so a quick find/replace and it uploaded correctly – woohoo!  Because, you know, if it’s not on Garmin/Strava, it didn’t happen…

  • Distance: 9km
  • Elevation: 200m
  • Time: 1hr 40min (1hr 22 min moving time)

2017 Goals

What do I want to achieve with my running this year?  Despite injuries, I achieved most of what I wanted although there’s still plenty of room for improvement – especially in consistency.  So, in no particular order, here goes!

  • Sydney Summer Series – improving my map reading, route planning and distance I can cover.  This year is still very much a year of working on myself, especially now Nick and I run separately so while we compare our planned routes, we do them slightly differently since Nick can go further than me in the 45 minute time limit.
  • 3+ Rogaines: I think we will again only manage 3, but I’d like to do more.  If I can remain injury free, I’d love to get up to 30km in a 6hr rogaine and hit half marathon distance in a 3hr event.
  • Great NOSH Footrace: See if I can hit the <2hr time goal this year!  The first part of the race is now my local long run trail, so see if that helps at all.
  • Turkey Trot: Will try for sub 1hr 40min this year on the medium course.
  • Manly Trail Series: Would love to get along to one of these and see what it is like.

Non-event specific goals:

  • Increase my long run distance from 10km to 15km
  • Continue focusing on increasing my cadence – easier to do on road runs than trails though!
  • Explore the local trails and find some good regular routes.
  • Consistency: 2-3 runs per week, every week
  • Aim for 600km total distance for 2017
  • NO overuse injuries this year!

Phew!  I think that’s enough to keep me focused.  I’m really enjoying the Rogaines and the orienteering events we’re doing, so want to focus more on trails and increasing my distance.  I’m not as concerned with pace as it’s impacted so much by the quality of a trail and the elevation involved, t’s time on feet that will help me the most with the longer events.

Photos of a Run

Moved into our new home, plotted out an approx 10km trail based on maps from Wildwalks (awesome resource for finding trails and detailed directions!) and very limited local knowledge.  The run started pleasantly enough, saw some of the local wildlife, scrambled down a steep, but well defined trail and continued along the river edge.  The track rapidly deteriorated, turned into a slow bush bash along poorly defined track with the occasional tape tied to a tree letting me know I wasn’t completely lost.  Struggled to find the crossing for the first river, but after that it became a little easier, with the trail eventually becoming runnable again.  My “quick” 10km had turned into a two and a half hour slog.  Fortunately I had planned and taken water with me and some jelly beans.  Since I was walking, and I’m unlikely to take this exact route again, I took a few photos:

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Doesn’t get much better than this – shortly after this photo I came across a wallaby grazing by the trail!

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Gorgeous views

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The river

The trail rapidly deteriorated

The trail rapidly deteriorated

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Thank goodness for tape on trees

Finally found the first river crossing

Finally found the first river crossing

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On the other side and a bit of open space!

Bungaroo river crossing

Bungaroo river crossing

Finally back on defined trails again!

Finally back on defined trails again!

Another river crossing!

Another river crossing!

Still gorgeous scenery

Still gorgeous scenery

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

And I made it to the end.  Where my husband and girls were patiently waiting for me.  Never again!

Goals from 2016

So how did I go in 2016 for the goals I set myself at the start of the year?  Below is my list from early in the year:

  • Sydney Summer Series: Finished the season having made it to 12 of the 26 events.  Since your top 12 scores are taken into account for the final tally, this was my goal to get to.  I didn’t do well, but the aim was to get along and just keep going and improving my map skills, route planning, etc.  Ran most of them with Nick which had its good and bad points (for both of us!).
  • 2-3 Rogaines: Squeezed in 3 rogaines this year!  Two earlier in the year and the final one at the end of November.  We only made it to the metro events, so I’m hoping to get along to something a little further afield in the next couple of years.
  • Great Nosh Footrace (16k) <2hrs: First date was rained out by an absolute deluge and storm that destroyed parts of Sydney’s coastline.  Made it to the new date and had trouble with my achilles cramping in both legs again this year.  Along with the additional distance and elevation, I only managed the same time as the previous year.  Checking a few other people that I know ran both years, it seems everyone ran a little worse this year than previously.
  • Turkey Trot (12k) <1:40: Made it in 1hr 48m for over 13km of navigation.  This was a pleasant run together and was interesting seeing more of the trails in the suburbs.  Maybe make the time goal next time!
  • 2 Metro League: Made it along to one.  Didn’t really enjoy it.  Didn’t look too hard for another to get to.  Might try again this year if it’s convenient and we have nothing else on.
  • Goanna – medium: Did it!  Took a little while to get my head in the map, was a very slooooow run, but interesting area that I haven’t been into before.  Much more a bush navigation than most orienteering events I’ve done.
  • Parkrun – regular sub-30’s: Ha!  Haven’t managed a single sub-30 5km the entire year.  Only made it along to a few Parkruns early in the year and we haven’t been back.  A lot of other things took over our lives this year, but with a new Parkrun recently started where we now live, maybe we will get along this year.  Then again, maybe not.

Coming soon: Goals for 2017