I must admit I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for this time last year when I was throwing myself into training for the Big M and my first half marathon was only a week away! I really did live, eat and breathe running for the first four months of last year. It was insane, but in a good way.
Today's "retro" post for you is a rather random one where I talk about my first real effort at interval training. Prior to training for a marathon, even though I had run a half marathon before, I didn't really have much of an idea about mixing the training up and varying the style and pace of your running to build strength and stamina. I just thought getting out there and just running was enough. I thought mileage was the most important thing. What I learned in my marathon training, thanks to Coach Julia, and since, is that in order to build up the endurance levels for such a big race, you need to vary things and you have to push yourself to your threshold. And beyond, as was often the case for me!
But also, you have to vary things because when you're training for something like a marathon or half marathon, it takes up a great deal of your life and you can be out there for hours at a time, so you need to mix it up to keep yourself motivated and switched on!
Check out the tag "training" under the what I blog about section in the sidebar if you'd like to see any more of my training posts. Looking back I wish I'd come on here a bit more regularly and written in more detail about it all at the time, for my own amusement as much as anything. It was all over so quickly! It really was such a monumental challenge and there are still some days where I can't believe I did it. The races I did stand out quite vividly in the memory - Silverstone half, Reading half, Kingston Breakfast run - but the training I must admit has become a bit of a blur. It's become a kaleidoscope of sorts, where moments from training runs I remember have all blurred into one big picture. It's amazing how quickly you forget the pain, the tiredness, and the having to get up early!
My next half marathon is in 7 weeks. I'm not too nervous at this point (touch wood!) but I know I need to step things up. Since we got back from Oz I've been getting out there regularly (apart from when it snowed!) but I've just been doing my usual loop and haven't really varied the pace. Apart from one time when Tom came with me and in order to keep up with him I had to gun it! :P
I have to admit - I don't like being uncomfortable when I run and will try to avoid it where possible. I know that I tend to run at a fairly moderate pace throughout and don't mix it up as much as I should purely to avoid being uncomfortable. That's fine if I'm happy to stay where I am.....but I'm not! And I know I need to start getting into full gung-ho training mode for this upcoming race so I need to start following the advice I give everyone else - get out of your comfort zone, because that's where the magic happens :)
So I've been putting a rough training plan for the next seven weeks together and yesterday I picked up the latest Running Fitness [by the way, my column The Latte Files is on page 12 ;)] and read a brilliant guide to running a faster 10k, written by my mate Martin Yelling. In it, he recommended a few threshold workouts in which you run at the very edge of your aerobic tipping point! I felt brave and up for a challenge, so I decided to give his Triple 10 a go for yesterday's run. Which was:
10 minutes easy running warm up
3 x 10 minutes at threshold pace, then 3 minutes recovery walk or jog
10 minutes easy running cool down
It sounds a lot easier than it is! 10 minutes is an eternity when you're giving it pretty much everything you have and you've been on cruise control with your running for the last little while! Those 3 minute walking breaks were more welcome to me than a cold beer on a stinking hot day ;)
|Me, before I headed out! But I was still grinning at the end :)|
But when I was on the last 10 minute threshold blitz, I got such a surge of adrenalin, such a buzz, that in a strange, masochistic way I really didn't want it to end! I'd forgotten what a high you get when you really push yourself. You'd be a wealthy person indeed if you could bottle that feeling, and in a funny way I have tried to mentally bottle it for myself, if that makes sense. The more regular my runs, and the more regular my challenges, the more often I feel that incredible high, which makes it easier to remember how good it feels. It makes me want to get out there and keep going. It's why I still love training for long distance races, and why I might do another marathon one day. I haven't ruled it out!!
For the last six months I have been running regularly but mostly to keep fit and keep the mental cobwebs at bay. I've been happy just to be out there. And I still am. Even when exercising and keeping fit is important to you and has become a big part of your life, you still need to psych yourself up to actually do it and there are days when just getting out there is good enough. But lately, now that I'm in training mode again, I crave that high that comes with having blitzed your threshold to smithereens. It's why I don't ever see myself giving this up.
Getting "goal itchy" again, as Martin put it in the podcast, feels wonderful.
Are you training for something at the moment? How's it going? :)