On the twelfth day of Juneathon, it rained (and rained, and rained)

What has happened to the beautiful summer we were having?  I had planned a ten-miler yesterday but the weather was just so bleak I couldn’t make myself do it.  All those hours of marathon training round Richmond Park in freezing, sleety conditions are still too fresh in the memory to make me want to do it again when I don’t absolutely have to.  Plus, I figured, if staying indoors is good enough for Andy Murray at the Queen’s Club less than a mile away, then it’s good enough for me.

But this being Juneathon and everything, I did eventually brave the elements for the one minute dash to the gym at 6pm.  A mile on the treadmill, followed by a mile on the rowing machine, followed by another mile on the treadmill.  All rounded off with a few planks, and that was Juneathon Day 12 done and dusted.

Fortunately Day 13 was luckier – this morning’s 60 minute Spin instructor was brilliant (much better than the crazy ones I’ve had lately), and we had an awesome, cheesy-tune filled, very hardcore workout all done by 9am.  A great start to the week.

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On the eleventh day of Juneathon, I zumbaed

Part of the whole Juneathon thing is getting out and doing things you wouldn’t otherwise necessarily do exercise-wise.  My Mum has been going on about how great zumba is for ages so this Saturday I decided that I would have a go at a class.  I am a notoriously bad dancer (not an embarrassing dancer, I can move OK but I just can’t get the footwork) so I was expecting to be pretty terrible at it.  But it sounded fun so what the hell.  Very happily for me, my lovely flatmate was keen to come along and give it a go too so we went down to the gym together.

It was a LOT of fun.  As expected, I was pretty dreadful at anything that involved complicated footwork but the wiggling around didn’t totally defeat me and having an equally clueless friend there really helped as we could just laugh along in solidarity.  At least I escaped poor Rachel’s fate of a seriously bruised shin after she managed to kick herself really quite hard.  It was also a very decent workout – I didn’t expect to sweat so much but after an hour I was definitely very hot and happy.  Not sure I’ll be going every week but I’m glad to have given it a try.

The rest of the day isn’t going to be all that restful either – we are moving house next Saturday so today and tomorrow will largely be spent packing up all our worldly possessions.  But even that can be fun when you do it together with some Lady Gaga, a bottle of wine and some pizza.  Yay!

Blood boiling, but not sweating

That was how my lunchtime spin class left me today.  I don’t seem to be having much luck with stand-in instructors at the moment – after Sauron last week today we had the woman who frankly deserves the Guinness World Record for being the Most Annoying Woman Ever To Be Given A Bike And A Microphone.  Quite apart from being certifiably insane, she absolutely insisted on “singing” along to every track, which I wouldn’t mind so much but the woman REALLY couldn’t sing.  The foxes and cats who like to fight behind my house are more tuneful.  And when she wasn’t singing she was just wailing and grunting for no apparent reason at all.  I was audibly willing her to shut up by the end.

All of which would have been bearable if it had at least been a good workout, but it wasn’t.  Instead of doing hills or sprints or jumps to the tracks we just had to keep pedalling along in time with the beat, which is all very well but it’s not challenging in the same way.  I had barely broken a sweat by the end of the 45 minutes so I had to go and take out some of my rage and frustration on the rowing machine for 10 minutes afterwards.  That was more satisfying.

One third of the way through Juneathon!  I know there have been a couple of days that I could at best call “slack”, and at worst, “fail”, but I am going to keep plodding on regardless – as iliketocount has reminded me today, that bikini still has to be gotten into!

On the sixth and seventh days of Juneathon, I went to the dentist (a lot)

I’m managing to keep up the actual Juneathoning, but fitting the blogging in is becoming a bit more difficult, not least because I’ve had so many trips to the dentist in the last few days. For the last ten months I’ve been wearing Invisalign braces to straighten my teeth a bit, and on Monday the top ones came off and were replaced with a fixed wire retainer behind my front teeth. That necessitated three trips to the orthodontist in twenty four hours, but I am really pleased with the results. Only another 12 weeks and the bottom ones will be gone too.

On Monday, I had thought about trying to run to and from my lunchtime dentist appointment like I did during marathon training, but annoyingly work appointments wouldn’t have left me enough time for a shower.  So I went to a spin class in the evening instead – fortunately no fictional evil overlords in this one, although the 15 minutes abs clinic immediately afterwards was a killer.  Yesterday I managed a quick gym trip involving the cross-trainer, rowing machine and weights as I try and tone my arms.  I also walked the couple of miles to my cousin’s place for dinner – a lovely evening stroll along the river in the sunshine that I used to do every week when we did pilates together with Claire last year.  The additional exercise might have been slightly undone by the large Dominos pizza and bottle of wine we shared once I got there.  Need to get a grip on that, because a week into Juneathon I think I am more out of shape than ever, which is not how it is supposed to go.

On the first day of Juneathon, I cycled up Mount Doom

I think it’s fair to say that Juneathon has got off to a fairly extreme start.  As this was originally a festival of running, and given the glorious weather outside today, I couldn’t help wondering whether heading to the basement gym for a spin class was perhaps a bit of a cop out.  It wasn’t.

Raj, the usual Wednesday instructor, is away on holiday and was replaced today by Sauro.  I can only assume that this is short for Sauron, because he was at about the same level on the evil scale as Tolkein’s Dark Lord.  After a brutal warm up he informed us that the session was going to involve “two hills” – each of 13 minutes – and then some intervals.  Those insanely long hills basically went: up, sprint, up, sprint, up some more, sprint some more, forever and ever and ever and ever… I was certainly in as much pain and sweating as much as if I really was on the fiery slopes of Mount Doom.  The intervals were even worse – he kept screaming at us that we weren’t in enough pain and I started to feel quite a sympathetic affinity with the orcs of Mordor.

Fortunately, he let us go after 45 minutes without anyone losing a finger or having to be rescued by an enormous eagle.  It was undoubtedly an effective workout, but I think I’ll be paying for it tomorrow which doesn’t bode well for the 29 days still to come.  I have a feeling that Juneathon is going to hurt more than the marathon.

Taper (or running out of steam)

I fear that I may have peaked too soon.  Since the 20 mile run the other week, I have been feeling far less motivated about running, and even training more generally.  The taper period has started now, so I deliberately took it easy last week in an attempt to help my poorly quad recover from whatever it is that is ailing it.  It did appear to help – my first-thing-in-the-morning limp is less pronounced – but the general apathy that has come with the tail-off has taken me by surprise.

Admittedly, work has been busy, but since my last post ten days ago I have only managed the following in terms of training:

Wednesday evening: short gym session on the rower, cross-trainer and free weights;
Thursday morning: Spin and Tone session (unfortunately the toning session focused on the same upper body muscles as my own workout the night before, so it was a struggle);
Friday:  30 minute yoga/pilates class;
Sunday late afternoon:  ten mile run/walk; and
Tuesday evening: a 5k interval session on the treadmill. 

All of which is OK for what it’s worth but is much less than I had intended.  The plan was for the long run on Sunday (a whole week after my last run) to be 16 miles rather than 10, but my heart just wasn’t in it.  I dithered all day and am pretty sure that if it hadn’t been such a glorious day outside I wouldn’t have gone at all.  I decided to do a river loop between Barnes and Putney, and had it not been warm and sunny I would have turned towards home when I got back to Hammersmith Bridge at 5.5 miles rather than continuing on along the south bank.  But even though I resolved to keep going, it was with the promise to myself that provided I covered the 10 miles one way or another, I could just walk it and enjoy being outside in the lovely spring weather instead of pushing on through.  I did run bits of it but got a nasty stitch two and a half miles from home and just meandered my way back from there.  Hardly gritted determination to succeed at all costs.

Yesterday’s treadmill session was more of the same.  My schedule suggested 7 x 800m intervals, which I thought was optimistic even before I started and so I resolved to do six.  I did three reasonably happily, but without my iPod and with the gym hot and sticky I was tired of it after just three.  In the end I did manage to push on for a fourth and made a point of making it faster (flat out sprinting the last 200m), but it was really just a lame attempt to justify quitting before I was done.  Rubbish really.

I’ve also deliberately slept through 2 morning spin classes so far this week, which isn’t great.  I’m hoping it’ll be third time lucky tomorrow.

Lots of people are asking me now whether I’m excited or nervous and how the training is going – all I can tell them is that I just want to get it over and done with now.  I know its common to feel strange and frustrated during a taper period but I don’t feel like I want to get out and run, I just feel apathetic and want it to be over.  Anyone else felt like this?

The plan for the weekend is to go home to Warwickshire tomorrow night for a brief Mother’s Day visit, and head out Saturday morning for the same 15.25 miler that I did back in February.  The good thing about that is that really there’s no turning back once you’re committed to that run, and I’ll have my parents to kick me out of the door in the morning, so I’m hoping to get my mojo back that way.  Fingers crossed anyway.

PS.  I’ve been invited to a Cheesefest the Friday night before the marathon, which is exactly as it sounds – a bunch of friends and lots and lots of lovely cheese.  A wonderful idea as far as I’m concerned, but I’m not sure whether the timing is so great.  Any thoughts on the possible implications of cheese overdose 36 hours before a marathon greatly appreciated!

Stats (2 runs)
Distance:  10 miles; 5k
Time: not sure; 00:29:26
Terrain:  river path; treadmill
Time of day:  late afternoon; evening
Weather:  wall to wall sunshine;  just walls, no windows
Notable features:  lethargy, grumpiness and not finishing the job

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.

Stats
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