Technically my training for the Prague Half Marathon started weeks ago. But it has only been for the last week that I felt as if I was actually training rather than just trying to get some mileage in. This has been the first week in a long time where I tried to change my runs up, making each one have a purpose. The past week looked like this:
Sunday – long run, 12k. Felt lousy for the first half, but found my rhythm and the last half felt great. It was also a beautiful winter’s dusk and I had the rural road to myself. At some point everything changed to simple shades of white, blue and grey – perfectly still and absolutely gorgeous.
Monday – off
Tuesday – 5k, a warm up on a gradual but tiring hill, then three hill repeats on a steeper hill. All done on a gloriously sunny but wickedly cold afternoon. it would have been easy to say it was too cold out to run but I couldn’t resist the chance to be in the sunshine, even if my body was so covered up it was probably impossible to gain any vitamin D. I wasn’t the only one out there as I met another crazy runner on this popular running hill. He was older than me and significantly faster than me. Ah, running, the great age equalizer! He pushed me to go faster than I would have on my own and we’ve agreed to plan our hill runs to happen at the same time. A little competitive motivation on hills can go a long way, though I think I am getting the better end of this deal since I might have been slowing him down a little!
Wednesday – an hour and a half of Yin Yoga. My first yoga class since the fall and I was so glad to be back. Hopefully is starts to loosen up my very tight hips.
Thursday – 7k with five 70 metre strides repeats. This was my first time doing strides. Before this I wasn’t really even sure what strides were. I kept hearing about them but thought it was something track people did. To be honest I sort of had a picture of runners on the track opening each stride up, trying to extend the length of each stride to its maximum. Ends up strides are actually 60 to 100 metre repeats of speed, making sure you catch your breath between each repeat. I tried accelerating for 20 steps, holding the speed for 20 steps and then decelerating for the last 20 steps. The general rule of thumb is you must be fully recovered before starting the next set of strides. They should also be done on an “easy” run day, after your run or most of the run is completed. I opted to do one more easy km after my strides were finished. I definitely enjoyed doing these. They are fun without being too strenuous. They might sound a little like intervals, but those are longer and as one article pointed out, make you want to throw up. Strides are definitely more fun, but should prep me for intervals closer to race time.
Friday – 7.5k treadmill run (ugh, I have gone to the dark side!), each km increasing speed with the exception of cool down towards the end. I generally don’t use treadmills but I decided to pick up a 10 pack pass for the local recreation centre. I am still not a fan but it does allow me to work on increasing speed for each km in a controlled environment and I am hoping it will make it less difficult for me to adapt when the warmer weather returns.
Saturday – off
And to start the new week:
Today – 14.5 km of awful running, this was a run I did not get into, not even once. I did the first 7k on snow packed trails with lots of elevation change, then switched to pavement largely because my legs felt like led, then finished up on the trails again. Not a single moment of “Wow, this feels good,” or even “Well, I feel better for having made it out for a run in today.” To be honest I considered bailing but instead allowed myself to stop my watch and take stretch breaks in order to complete the job. As a result, it was not even close to anything resembling a continuous run. I specifically avoided looking at my Garmin map so i wouldn’t have to see all of the “pause” images.
Prior to this morning’s run I had convinced myself to sign up soon for the Hypothermic Half in three weeks. The morning race is already sold out but last time I checked there were still spaces for the afternoon run. I’m happy to take an afternoon shift since that would more closely mimic the noon start time in Prague and because, well I really hate early mornings, particularly in the winter. But after today, the thought of running 21 km in three weeks just seems so far-fetched that I remain unsure if I will register. It could give me a chance to do a pre-Prague training run with a group of people rather than on my own, followed by a late brunch/lunch, (which is included in the registration). It also could be 21 km of frozen hell on an open, rolling golf course. I have visions of me huddling up at the farthest tee, being either too cold or too tired to make it back to the clubhouse. But there would be one of these snowflake medals waiting at the finish:
And did I mention the food? Always a motivator 🙂