Rat. Drowned.

Here in the North West we have had a hosepipe ban since July 9th. Since July 13th it has rained. Every single day. We have had every single type ranging from light drizzle through to a full-on torrential thunder storm, but it’s still bloody rain.

Today I did 7 miles in the rain, which I have to admit wasn’t as bad as I expected, although it was a bit warm and clammy in my waterproof jacket. The route that I did is one that I’ve done a couple of times with mixed success, last time was in April when I ran about 6 miles of it (walking up a couple of hilly bits) and then run-walking home. I’m pleased to report that I ran the whole 7 miles today – it felt comfortable, despite the fact that I’m still going faster than my training plan advises, and I really enjoyed it.

I suspect that I will have to get used to running in the rain given that this is our 5 day forecast from the Beeb. I give my word that I won’t use the hosepipe over the next week.

5 day forecast

Taller, thinner, faster

I suspect that I’m going have a love-hate relationship with intervals. I know they’re good for me and (at the moment) they’re the most exciting thing in my training plan (I say that now, in a few weeks I’ll look back with fond memories at having to do an easy 3 miles), but when faced with them, I will try to weasel out of it.

And weasel I did on Monday morning . And again on Monday evening. But not on Tuesday. No sir. With hope in my heart and nothing in my ears (I didn’t think Radio 4 was conducive to speed), I plodded off on my easy mile, taking a shortcut so that my intervals would start on a flat bit. The intervals themselves weren’t as bad as I expected, although I was very aware of how much my posture changes when I speed up – tailbone tucks under, buttocks clench, shoulders go back, height goes up a few inches… I can nearly convince myself that I look like the tall thin runner that I’m meant to be!

After work I went to try on sunglasses with Ginge. My family have always enjoyed putting hats and glasses on me, and Ginge is no exception, especially when I’m as grumpy about it as I was tonight. Having squinted my through most of Juneathon, I’m finally coming round to the idea of running in sunglasses. Grudgingly. On the one hand, I know it’s bad for my eyes, I scrunch up my face which makes me uncomfortable and I’ve set off enough times in my normal sunnies to know that it’s a good idea. On the other hand, I’m convinced that I’ll look like an arse.

Has anyone else faced the same dilemma? Do you look like an arse running in sunglasses? And what should I be looking for in a pair? (other than won’t fall my face/don’t make me look too much of an arse, which are my only criteria at the moment).

Week One I should have run… I actually ran…
Session 1 3 miles easy (12.21 min/mile) 3 miles at 11.59
Session 2 2 miles steady (10.44 min/mile) 3 miles at 10.49
Session 3 5 miles easy (12.21 min/mile) 5 miles at 11.46
Session 4 1M jog, 4x400m fast (9.17 to 8.57min/mile) with 200m recoveries,  (13min/mile to effectively being asleep), 1M jog 1M at 11.46
Intervals at 8.48/12.07 9.04/12.24
1M at 11.36

Making my mind up

My post-Juneathon plan appeared to be simple and yet I nearly fell at the first hurdle, which was to find a training plan. I’m not training for a particular event, just trying to get out of doing junk miles and turn my efforts into actual improvement in terms of endurance and maybe a little speed. I decided that a half marathon programme fitted the bill and that’s where the choices began.

Using the scientific method of googling “half marathon training”, I found a multitude of different regimes and didn’t know where to start (and for once this wasn’t just advanced procrastinating).  Did I want an eight week plan? Twelve weeks? Fifteen perhaps? Am I using heart race or pace? Do I want fartleks? Do I want to be paced by speed or subjectively by myself? Am I that much of a Guardian reader that I want to use their training programme, or do I just want the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes from the Saturday magazine?

Eventually I came to the conclusion that they’re all more or less a variation on the following

  1. Run fast on this day
  2. Run long on this day
  3. Run for a bit to recover on this day
  4. Repeat

I’ve plumped for the Runner’s World Garmin ready programme on the grounds that it’s Garmin ready, it gives pace in minutes/mile and I couldn’t be bothered looking at any more as my eyes were going funny. The pace thing is because I need the discipline of sticking to a slower pace on my long runs and if I have to judge it myself, I’ll set off thinking “I feel fine…” and then run out of steam. Using their Race Pace calculator, Runners World have taken my single 10k result (1 hour 6 minutes 7 seconds – it’s etched in my brain) and told me that I’d potter round 13.1 miles in 2 hours 25 minutes. Using the pace guide thingy on the training programmes, I’ve decided that I can knock ten minutes off that and am following the plan for a sub-2.15 (just typing that makes me feel like a real runner). So that’s that.

With the benefit of training plan hindsight, I can say that Wednesday morning’s 3 miles round the village was actually a Steady 3 miles. Even better, my 3 miles up and down the canal hearing about my mate’s exploits fending off amorous Italian waiters (they’ve got some classy lines and only claimed to need two minutes for whatever they were promising. Romantic and efficient…) was in fact a perfect Slow 3 mile pace. I’ve decided that these are near enough the plan to count towards it, even though I only chose the plan after the canal run…

Which brings me nicely onto the second part of my post-Juneathon plan – stick to the plan and not decide that I know better. Trying to run at an easy pace was so much harder than I imagined – it was excruciating and embarassing and I wanted a sign saying “I can go faster you know”. There was no way  that I could have managed to slow down to my prescribed pace of 12.21min/mile; I tried everything, but just ended up with a strange sort of jig-jog where I held my arms like Riverdance and shook my head in despair. In the end my garmin told me I’d done an average pace of 11.46min/mile, but couldn’t tell me any more than that because you can’t use the autolap feature with advanced workouts, giving me a single split of 5 miles which is neither use nor ornament.

So these are the scores on the doors so far, tomorrow should prove to be hilarious.

Week One I should have run… I actually ran…
Session 1 3 miles easy (12.21 min/mile) 3 miles at 11.59
Session 2 2 miles steady (10.44 min/mile) 3 miles at 10.49
Session 3 5 miles easy (12.21 min/mile) 5 miles at 11.46
Session 4 1M jog, 4x400m fast with 200m recoveries, 1M jog tomorrow

Juneathon – a reflection. Or, What I did on my holidays.

In true occupational therapist stylee, I thought I’d have a proper reflect on Juneathon. Apologies that it’s a bit late, but the limited technology I had didn’t really help matters (sites made of anything more swishy than html make my phone fall over) so I’m afraid that it’s had to wait til we’re back up north to ponder on the whole thing.

Trainers outside tent

The Tent - home of Juneathon days 25-30

What went well?
Two things get equal billing for being the best part of Juneathon. It was either 7.24 on the 30th when I knew that it was over and I could have a lovely rest (and not upset anyone on the campsite with the sight of my sweaty lycra-clad self) or Saturday morning when I found out that I had been lucky enough to win stuff from the very kind people at  Audiofuel. In all honesty, I was chuffed enough to have completed the task – it was only on day 29 that I was 100% convinced that I could do it.  Juneathon has challenged me and my perception of myself as a runner. I’m not as reluctant a runner as I make out, in fact I’ve rather enjoyed the discipline of going out everyday.


On the last day Juneathon, do not let a loved one persuade you to climb a lighthouse. It is foolish.

I’ve also surprised myself by not getting injured. I’m not the fittest or most well built of people (I click, creak and crunch in various joints and could only be more flat footed if I had flippers), but the only injury that I’ve sustained is a blister on the ball of my right foot. The daft thing is, the blister has nothing to do with Juneathon and everything to do with the ridiculous shoes that I wore to the funeral 3 weeks into Juneathon.

Ladies Walk

Ah. So that's where I've been going wrong

What didn’t go so well?
One of the worries that I’ve had throughout June is the niggling doubt that I’ve not been doing myself any good. In going out every day, have I been sacrificing both quality and quantity (in terms distance)? I still don’t know the answer to that one, I suspect that time will tell when I start trying to improve quality and quantity.  What I do know is that my Garmin tells me that of the 20th fastest runs it’s recorded since I got it last August, 4 were done last September/October, 15 were during  Juneathon and one was when I sent Ginge out with it to prove that he runs way faster than me.

Footpath sign

Footpath signs lead to chaos. Even if the little man on them looks terribly jaunty.

The downside of going on holiday is that I’ve had limited access to other people’s updates and haven’t been able to comment on things as often as I’d have liked to. I was a bit nervous when I saw how big Juneathon was this year, but once again it’s been fantastic to read about other people’s adventures and to have support and encouragement from Proper Runners, many of whom I remain in awe of (I was blushing for days after being name-checked by I Run Because I Love Food). I think I realised how much I valued you all was when my rationed internet access meant that I had the choice of looking at facebook or looking at blogs, and  it was Juneathon what won it.


Regularly woken at donkey o'clock

So how will this affect my running?

At a basic level, the week in Kent has taught me the value of running in new places and without music.  My excuses for not running are also looking flimsier (Not enough time/Need a ‘rest day’/Wrong weather/On holiday…). Most importantly, I know that I can do more than I’ve given myself credit for. If I take the discipline of Juneathon and apply it to a more focussed training plan, what could happen? What definitely needs to happen is that I need to be more controlled about my pace. Most of my runs have been 3 miles and I’m tending to set off at a 3mile pace when I should be saving myself for the longer distances (the first half of The Essence of Running’s experience sounds very similar to my issues).

So that’s that – all I need to do now is find a training plan, not ignore it and do my own thing, pace myself nicely and repeat until excellence is achieved.

A huge thank you is due to the unholy trinity of Juneathon – the creator, the protector and the independent adjudicator – for organising this wonderful thing. You’re all fantastic!

Oh, and on the penultimate day of our holiday I did a lovely 6 mile loop through the fields.

Fields. Photo as requested by eirefairy