The kind people at the RMT and TSSA unions were up to their usual tricks attempting to paralyse London, which is particularly mean on a frosty Monday morning.  Luckily I was prepared.  After a wonderful day at the Sanctuary yesterday I popped into the office to drop off clothes etc so that I could run in this morning, thereby both avoiding the transport disruption and getting my mid-week tempo run done in one fell swoop. Smug, me?

Actually, not all that smug, because boy was it cold this morning.  Although we’ve not yet seen any snow to speak of in London (apart from a few insignificant flecks last night) it was well below freezing when I left the house, and the park trails were frozen harder than the tarmac paths.  It was beautifully sunny though, and as I ran along the Serpentine, admiring through the trees and frosty air flashes of winter sun glancing off the London Eye and the ever-growing Shard tower, I once again rejoiced to have the option of such a visually spectacular commute.  No miserable hours in bus stop queues for me.

As usual on morning runs it took me a little while to really get going, and I marvelled again at how much more effort the 5.35 miles this morning was than the 6.2 on Saturday afternoon.  But I kept a fairly steady pace and once I got to the Mall I was feeling good, getting to the office bang on target in 53.34.  My arms, legs and bum were frozen solid by that point (though the vaseline I had daubed on my nose before I left seemed to have done its job because I still had some feeling in that at least) but a swift bowl of hot porridge later and I am about defrosted, and ready for the week ahead.  Bring on December.

Distance: 5.35 miles
Time: 53:34
Route: Run to work
Time of day:  8.00am
Weather:  freezing, sunny
Notable features:  frost

Monday was also the day on which Oxfam launched their new website for people running, or thinking of running, to raise money for them.  Having been told about it by the nice guys manning the stand at the London Running Show, I duly checked it out this afternoon.  Imagine my glee when I discovered that the footer of every page on the site is adorned with the beaming post-marathon face of David Haworth, one of the partners I work for, and Mrs H.  Much office merriment ensued. 


Farewell to Autumn

Well, this time at least I wasn’t hungover – I managed a full 12 hours of sleep and felt great for it.  After a lazy morning I headed out mid-afternoon for an easy 10K to Putney Bridge and back.  On the coldest day of the year so far, my warm fleecy gilet and gloves were very much needed, but it was bright and dry and a lovely day for getting out there.  It was very much a run of two halves.  After the mile down to the river I had the towpath to myself all the way to Putney.  I loved being out in the crisp air at the turn of the season, sharing it only with those hardy residents of the London Wetlands Centre that haven’t flown off to warmer climes for the winter.  But as I neared Putney the silence was rent by the roars of the crowd at Craven Cottage watching Birmingham City draw with Fulham, and although I missed the worst of the crowds the second half of the run back up Fulham Palace Road was lined with the buses of the Brummie tourists, and I had to dodge few latecomers in football hats and scarves dashing to get to the stadium before kick-off.  It was a super-easy run despite the cold and I had to make a conscious effort to keep it to a long run pace.

After I got back I headed to the London Running Show at Olympia, which conveniently is located about 100 yards from my house.  I misjudged the timing – I thought it was open till 6.30 and showed up at 5 thinking I’d have plenty of time, but in fact it closed at 5.30 so I had to race round, and lots of stuff was starting to shut up.  Fortunately I had a list of what I needed and successfully whizzed around to collect 2 Shock Absorber Run bras, a pair of running tights and a high-viz Saucony jacket.  Plus my Oxfam fundraising pack and t-shirt.  Not bad for 25 minutes.

Particularly lovely rest day coming up tomorrow, as I’m off for a pampering day at the Sanctuary Spa with a friend for her 30th birthday.  Bliss.

Distance:  6.2 miles
Time: 59.34
Route:  Putney Bridge
Weather:  freezing, but dry and bright
Time of day: 2.15pm
Notable features:  football fans

Week 4
Total miles: 13.2
Cross training: spin and core class; gym session inc rowing and ski machine; weights and abs after treadmill sessions

Pounding the treadmill

Work is getting in the way of the schedule a bit at the moment. Fortunately, this being Week 4 of the plan means that it’s a week of easing off slightly – the midweek runs are both only 3 miles (and even this weekend’s long run is stepped back to just 10K).  Consequently, it’s been simple to squeeze both my interval and tempo runs in by nipping down to the gym in the office.  I wasn’t expecting to do them on consecutive days, but I narrowly missed my spin class this lunchtime having failed to get a client off the phone in time, so I decided to do the tempo run this evening just to make sure it got done.

Yesterday’s intervals were 2 x 1 mile at 10.9 kph (with the warm up, recovery between intervals and cool down making up the other mile).  I think the mile intervals will be my favourite of the speedwork sessions as they were far less painful than the previous weeks’ efforts, although having finally remembered my iPod definitely made a huge difference.   I followed up the run with some upper body weights and was pleased with my stolen 45 minutes of exercise.

This evening’s tempo run was excellent, at least in terms of the running.  I had lots of pent up energy from spending so much time at my desk and was chomping at the bit to expend some of it on the treadmill.  However, for one reason and another I was keen to get out of the gym again as quickly as possible so I just kept upping the pace.  I ended up averaging 8:43 minutes per mile, which is great, and almost a minute per mile faster than the prescribed tempo pace. (Although,  I had forgotten to put on any gradient to make up for the lack of wind resistance.)  Also managed to fit in some abs work on the mats before hitting the shower and racing back to my desk.

I suspect that if my workload keeps going as it has lately then there could be a fair amount of treadmill running in the months to come.  Given the likelihood of snow soon that’s possibly not such a bad thing in the short term, but I hope I get out into the fresh air again soon.

Distance:  3 miles (both days)
Time:  27.37, inc 2 x 1 mile at 10.9kph (Tues);  26.10 (Wed)
Terrain:  Treadmill
Time of day:  6pm (both days)
Notable features:  the iPod really does make a massive difference on the treadmill

8 mile

At some stage in this marathon training I am going have to stop starting my long run posts with the words “I woke up late and hungover”.  It’s unlikely that will happen this side of Christmas now.  I was expecting to be clear-headed and well-rested this morning as my Saturday plans had consisted of a quiet day/night in with a very pregnant friend, but then we got the news that some good friends of ours had got engaged (coincidentally the second engagement this week to be sealed with a sapphire ring formerly belonging to the groom-to-be’s mother) and our quiet evening soon saw its way to the pub for celebratory bubbles.

Which didn’t bode brilliantly for my planned eight-miler today, and in the end the only thing that got me out at 2.30pm was the realisation that if I didn’t go soon it would be dark before I got back.  So fuelled by some yummy pancakes courtesy of my flatmate’s boyfriend, I went for a lap of Hyde Park with Green Park tagged on to make up the distance.

Given that I was tired and a bit hungover, the run was, for the most part, pretty easy and the distance fine.  I finished it in 1:22:40, which given that I spent several minutes waiting at traffic lights at Wellington Arch (in both directions), means I must have been going a fair bit faster than the 10.30 minute miles my training plan ideally requires.  In the last mile though I did get a horrible side stitch.  They are pretty common for me and I can normally run through them fine but this one almost pulled me up (in fact I only kept running rather than walking it off for a while because I was so close to the end).  Plus my right knee was making grumpy noises towards the end too – seems ok now but I’ll need to keep an eye on it.

As the runs get longer you become more aware of how much time running gives you to be alone with your thoughts.  Most of the time this is a good thing but for various reasons I was feeling a bit morose today and although the fresh air and exercise has completely cleared my hangover, it hasn’t done anything to improve my mood.  I’m sure a bit of sunshine would have made a difference, but with all the winter training ahead I’ll have to make sure to put my happy hat on before I leave the house in future.

Distance:  8.00 miles
Time: 01:22:40 (including at least 4 minutes at traffic lights)
Route: Hyde Park/Green Park
Terrain:  road
Weather:  grey
Notable features:  a mood to match the weather


For me, it seems, the terms “early morning” and “tempo run” shouldn’t really be put together.  I am not a morning person at the best of times, and trying to do a fast run when I am barely awake is just not something that my body appears to be capable of.  Running at all in that state is tricky enough, but manageable with willpower; but there are some physical limits that even the greatest amount of determination in the world could not break.  And needless to say, 8am on a gloomy Thursday is not my most determined time.

So when I woke up later than planned this morning and realised that I needed to be out of the door and running to work within the next 15 minutes if I wasn’t going to be horribly late, I knew it was unlikely to be my best performance.  Technically, according to my FIRST running schedule, this mid-week run is supposed to be a tempo run, at a 10 minute mile pace.  (Actually, 10 minute miles are about my easy average pace even for my long runs at the moment, so perhaps something has gone a bit wrong there.  I’m not sure that I fancy adjusting those suggested paces just yet though because the speedwork ones seem to be pretty challenging so far, and I reckon I’ll inevitably slow down as the long runs get longer.)  But when I first left the house I felt sleepy and sluggish and every step seemed like an effort.

Once I got into a rhythm though, things picked up, including the weather – the sun started glinting through the clouds and the temperature was perfect.  Hyde Park looks very pretty on an autumn morning like that.  There were some equestrian types trotting round in a circle waving flags in a rather ridiculous way, so I stopped briefly to take a picture or two to illustrate this morning’s effort.  But they didn’t come out well (see? they really do have flags, honestly) and I immediately felt guilty about stopping at all on a tempo run, so I decided to make up for it by putting in a bit more effort on the second half of the run.  Which I did – I ran fairly hard and felt strong and was pleased that I must have done a negative split at least.   When I got to the office my watch informed me that I had done the 5.35 mile route in 54.01 (including picture and traffic light stops) – so almost exactly on the 10 min mile target.  And the last 2.23 miles from Wellington Arch (with no stops) was done in 21 minutes flat, an average pace of 9.25 min miles.  Which is not bad at all for first thing. 

Distance:  5.35 miles
Time: 54:01
Route:  Run to work
Terrain:  road, park
Time of day:  8am
Weather:  pleasant autumn morning
Notable features:  horsey types riding in circles waving flags

Juggling Janathon

This schedule requires a bit of juggling.  I was supposed to go to spin at lunchtime today but work got in the way and I ended up only popping down to the gym for 20 minutes on the rowing machine plus some upper body weights and abs work.  Which means that I have to fit in a spin session on Friday morning, which means missing pilates, which I could do as usual on Saturday but then I’d be late meeting my friend, or I could do pilates on Friday morning and spin on Saturday morning but that means getting up early on my one lie-in day which isn’t very appealing, unless maybe I do my long run on Saturday morning and go swimming and do pilates on Sunday.  See?  Confusing.


In other news, I have signed myself up for Janathon, despite two abject Juneathon failures under my belt so far.  The rules are the same as with Juneathon – run (preferably) or otherwise exercise every day in January, blog about it and generally be a good blogosphere sport by supporting everyone’s else’s efforts and blogs too.  On the one hand, it seems a bit mental to be trying to complete Janathon at the same time as ramping up the marathon training.  On the other hand, the marathon training has me doing something, albeit not all running, on six days of the week anyhow.  So as long as I can just do a quick set of crunches and tricep dips on my “rest” day each week then this new winter challenge ought to be do-able.  That said though, for the first few days of January at least I will be going to stay with a very pregnant friend to look after her until sproglet arrives (she is single); and whilst Janathon is obviously very important, I suspect a woman in labour might not agree it is more important than her, so Janathon could get scuppered early in the delivery room.  Let’s find out.

A right royal run around

Back in the gym today for more intervals.  I forgot my iPod again, but since it was late afternoon rather than late at night I had counted on at least having MTV tunes on in the background.  But no, some bright spark had taken advantage of the gym being quiet to switch the TV to unrelenting “live” coverage of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton.  (Quite how streaming endless reels of two to four-year old footage of Kate at various events constitutes “live” coverage I don’t know.  Especially since they’ve actually been engaged for the best part of a month already.)   Obviously I’m very pleased for them and all that, but really I’d have been much happier with a bit of Rihanna to run to.  

Apparently the royal pair will tie the knot in “spring or summer 2011”.  I think we can safely assume it won’t be the weekend of 16-17 April: tens of thousands of exhausted sweaty runners streaming past the palace might get a bit in the way of the wedding cars.

As for the running itself, today’s session was 3 x 800m at 11.4 kph.  Short, so not too bad (although my pasta lunch caused some stitches towards the end) but I am slightly dreading the point at which the number of intervals starts ramping up.  The schedule currently has me down for 8 of these 800m reps on my 30th birthday itself, which does not seem to me like a very happy way to mark the start of a new decade.  But then I suppose I’ve only myself to blame.

Distance:  4.4 km/2.75 miles, including 800m warm up, then 3 x 800m at 11.4 kph with 400m recovery between and 400m cool down
Time: 27:16
Terrain: treadmill
Time of day: 4pm
Notable features: Kate Middleton (lots)