Thursday, 24 January 2013

Training plan – the early weeks: resolutions and lessons learned

I am booked in to run the Edinburgh Half Marathon in May. There, I said it. As I started training properly, this was 3.1 miles further than I’d ever run before. 

I’m armed with a training plan. It’s a spreadsheet chock-full of detail, impending pain, and a few shivers. Can I really run a half marathon in under 100 minutes? I know I can run a 10k at about that speed, but this is more than twice as far. It’s quite daunting, but targets help, right? 

I suppose I better stick to the plan. First on the list, is a regular yoga session. This is to lengthen my stride as I tend to trot like a pony. I’ve never done yoga before, and it turns out I’m spectacularly rubbish at it. How come everyone else is so bendy? Did the bendy people notice me falling over at the back? Still, it’s the first form of exercise I’ve ever done where I’ve almost immediately felt the benefits. 

For your edification, here are some of the things I’ve learned or noticed so far: 
  • Variety is the spice of training. I’m doing longer slow runs, shorter quick ones, hill reps, track sessions, and normal evening runs and track sessions with the Striders, in order to build up speed, strength, stamina and probably other things beginning with ‘S’. It’s been tough but never dull so far. 
  • If you have a heavy cold or cough, it’s best not to run too much. It turns out breathing is actually quite important, and coughing while running wasn’t particularly good for my back, said my friendly local osteopath.
  • It’s really difficult to swallow smooth peanut butter if you’ve been running for 90 minutes. 
  • It’s hard to start running again when you’ve stopped for any reason. 
  • I speed up when I spot a runner coming towards me. I need to stop doing that, as it’s knackering me out, and I’m not impressing anybody. 
  • If you’re running loads, you can eat whatever you like. This is probably not true but I’m certainly eating shed loads. 
  • If you say 'I can run faster than this speed, but I’m doing 4 miles straight afterwards' to people you’re running with at parkrun, they don’t tend to like it.
  • If you head out before dawn on Christmas Day to go for a run, your in-laws may well think you’re nuts. They may be right. 
I’m only in my early weeks. I’ve already had two falls, but so far no submissions. I’ve had several occasions when I’ve thought I’ve broken my body, but many more runner’s highs to compensate. And my first rest week coincided with the snow and ice, which was a bonus. 

Plenty of training time to go. Bring it on! 

Richard Sved

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