I think I might ache tomorrow. And the day after.
Thanks to the lovely Jogblog putting in a good word for me, I am now the proud owner of a media place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October (pizza and beer will come your way Cathy, don’t you worry). I was recently sent a very bright pre-race race top to try out and show off and last night seemed like a good time to give it a South East London debut. I am a big fan of green, and this is definitely green, a lovely shade of green that allowed me to be seen from all areas of the park, a good thing during an evening run I say. There is a great image on the back, showing a running tree and this seemed to suit my leafy Ladywell Fields jaunt perfectly. As I am embarking on a month of running – more on that later – I had earlier done a bit of a running-shelf-sort-out, putting things in piles called ‘bottoms’, ‘summer tops’, winter tops’, ‘feeling brave’ and ‘only for decorating’ and two race shirts went straight in the ‘only for decorating pile’. This Royal Parks t-shirt will definitely be worn on a regular basis: it’s good quality, a really nice fit and even has a lower back than front which is ever so flattering.
I seem to have fixed my poorly Garmin by letting it run down completely, then charging it up completely, but it’s struggling to pick up a signal so some of this run was a bit lacking in data.
Time: 31 minutes 9 seconds
Distance: 3.03 miles
Average Pace: 10.16
Best Pace: 7.14
As part of my fabulous Royal Parks package, I was invited to take part in a workshop today, to help me pick up the pace for the race. I got up bright and early (as usual, that’s life with a four-year-old) and headed up to Mayfair and the swish Matt Roberts Personal Training. Gradually lots of women – mostly – in various shades of pink – mostly – trickled in and we were soon put into our groups to start the ‘Improve your time’ workshop. I was in the group that first of all went with a personal trainer and discussed strength training, something I always imagine will be a good idea but never actually get round to doing. We were shown a few important moves and told that it’s best to look at ‘functional’ moves, things that will help your running specifically, and to try to fit this sort of session in twice a week. We did a few squats and were shown how to add weights to intensify the moves.
We then moved on to the Mizuno area and were told all about the importance of correctly fitting shoes and how this can help prevent injury; the woman was incredibly knowledgable and really helpful, though not particularly pushing her own brand, which was refreshing. This session was supported by the next stage with a physio from Matt Roberts Personal Training who talked about gait analysis. She had various tools for looking at how we land and so on and used volunteers to demonstrate how she breaks down the activity of walking to work out where improvements can be made and to locate any problems when dealing with injury. We then went over to a Matt Roberts look-a-likie called Gareth who talked about intervals and tempo running and how we should think about following a schedule to get the best out of our training. I owned up to always printing out a schedule, but never actually sticking to it and Gareth suggested prioritising the intervals and adding to a session to maximise speed work, since it’s speed that I want to gain.
Following this session, we were given a talk by a chap from Lucozade, a sports nutritionist who works with elite athletes on their diets for training and competition. He had some great advice about race day strategies and the importance of starting a race already hydrated. I asked him about cramping, something that I have had problems with in past races, and he said I should stick to the sports drinks over gels in a race to replenish electrolytes and said I might like to try Nuun, which you can just pop in a bottle of water. We were also allowed to help ourselves to some Lucozade Sport, gels and jelly beans to try out in training, as this will be the drink around the course on race day.
The Lucozade Sport proved a necessity in the next section of the day, British Military Fitness.
We piled our bags into the British Military Fitness van and walked as a group over to Hyde Park Corner. It was super busy in Hyde Park, with a concert about to start and loads of young drunk people, just waiting to stare at us and shout abuse. Great. I have looked on these British Military Fitness nutters in the past and thought ‘fools’ as I plod around the park, and here I was subjecting myself to goodness knows what in broad daylight, for all to see. There were three instructors who, after giving us a thorough warming up, divided us into smaller groups and asked us if we were tired yet. Yes. There was a lot of squatting. I like a good squat and thought I had done pretty much every kind of squat going, but these guys are the kings of squat. We even did one in a circle, holding hands, on one leg – you stuck your leg out straight in front and lowered yourself right down, leg off the ground. You then lifted yourself back up again, keeping the leg straight. In theory. I did get the going down bit eventually, but I don’t think I looked pretty.
The thing I liked about the BritMilFit session was just how pleasant these chaps were about making us hurt. I had preconceived ideas about being shouted at and having mud kicked in my face, but they were smiley, encouraging and ever so polite: what they were making us do was tough, but they were not tough with us. One thing I found very useful was the interval session: we sprinted in a line to the first tree in a row then jogged back, sprinted to the second tree and jogged back and so on for five trees. This was hard, but I really pushed myself and got back with one other woman ahead of the others and I could easily replicate this in the park on my own. If I could afford it, I would definitely be signing up for BritMilFit because I loved it, but I will try to do some of the exercises on my own, though I doubt I could ever achieve the same level of effort I got from the group session.
I really enjoyed the workshop, and think it will give me a good boost for the start of my half marathon training. Things I will take away with me and try my hardest – really, I will – to implement in my weekly schedule are strength training and intervals. I think, if I am to run my dream of a two-hour half marathon, then I need to kick my own arse into gear and these chaps might just have helped me on my way. There are other workshops coming up and also training runs, and I would recommend them highly.
On my return journey I bumped into one of the other participants, who it turns out lives not very far from here. We talked about running clubs and how having children slows you down then went our separate ways to be with our families. I caught the tail end of the school summer fair with a happy Hector and Edward, and decided to run alongside them on the bike as we made our weary way home.
Time: 21 minutes 48 seconds
Distance: 2.12 miles
Average Pace: 10.18
Best Pace: 7.02
Now to this running for a month lark. I totally missed out on Juneathon this year, I tried, but June was such a silly month for me that there was no chance I could keep up. July, however, is a different month entirely and I have decided to do my own little Julyathon. I will attempt to run and blog as with Juneathon/Janathon and, if anyone else wants to join in, then please do! One person who is definitely on board is Highway Kind, who is not only dedicating himself to another month, but the rest of the year, go HK!