I’ve been winding down my running a little since doing my marathon last month, after the intensity and focus on training in the weeks leading up to it’s been quite nice to have a few weeks of just running when I feel like it and not feeling the pressure of needing to do a particular distance.
But now it’s time to spend a bit of time planning my winter training over the next couple of months and I’m thinking of doing things a bit differently. I’ve built up quite a decent base fitness I think and so inspired by the discussions on Talk Ultra in recent weeks I’m going to focus my time on running form and speed work.
My intention is to not do any races in December and January and instead use this time to focus on technique and also build some speed. After all I’ve spent most the year doing lots of runs but mostly not particularly fast and a little stop start as I run with the hound 90% of the time. This also has the advantage of adding some variety to my training which is never a bad thing after a long year.
I haven’t quite figured out what working on my running form looks like yet but I may do those sessions at lunch times as they should be shorter in length. I am also tempted to get a session with a professional for some proper coaching and advice. My thinking is that if I want to progress to running ultra’s then good form will go a long way to making that achievable.
The speed work will most likely take a few different forms, today I did a 5 mile tempo run at a decent pace for example. But will also try to do some 6 x 3 minute effort sessions and possibly even some hill reps. All good things to build some speed in the legs which always helps when you hit that last hill in a tough race and of course also means running race pace in an ultra will feel easy!
I’ll still of course be heading out quite a few mornings each week with the hound but those will be short and an easy pace (there’s only so fast you can run off road in the dark without breaking an ankle). They’ll keep me ticking over nicely and leave my legs reasonably fresh for the other sessions.
So that’s my plan, what have you got planned for the next couple of months? Racing or focused on training?
Last week I had the rare pleasure of an early evening run in the beautiful autumn sun rather than my usual trudge at 6am in the pitch black. All facilitated by bunking off work early (I had been working hard and deserved an early finish of course) and maybe also persuading my lovely wife to do solo bath time with the little monsters.
Given that I’m marathon training and really should be doing something other than easy runs I thought I’d make use of the daylight to do a tempo run. So me and the hound headed off on one of our usual trails in the Wiltshire countryside at a nice pace which felt great, not sure how much Bracken appreciated the lack of chances to sniff things though.
Yes, yes I know that post title would probably be at home in the Daily mail, I’m clearly not going from zero running to running a marathon in 5 weeks. In fact I’ve notched up 800 miles this year so far so my legs are fairly used to the occasional run. Think of it more as a fine tuning plan, a few tweaks to my normal weeks running to get me ready for the challenge.
The reality has definitely set in about the whole running a marathon thing, but as a good chunk of finishing these things is mental I’ve chosen to ignore that reality.
But I do have a plan which so far has been going well apart from the nicely bruised ankle I’m currently sporting from what turned out to be a very short run on Tuesday. The idea is to keep going with my normal routine of 4 or 5 morning runs with Bracken but mix them up a little in terms of what I do.
Exactly one month from today I shall be (hopefully) finishing that little race I’ve signed up for. *whispers* you know the one that involves crossing Scotland from coast to coast. Which means I’m at that point before a big challenge where I’m part excited and part in denial about exactly what I’m going to do.
I’m also having a small panic over whether I’m fit enough, I think I am but the cycling still worries me as I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. Work has limited my plans for evening rides, not to mention the 2 weeks of travel to the USA. But this was also why I found myself setting an alarm for 5.30am today to get out for a 2 hour ride before work. The advantage of working from home 1 day a week is I can be a bit flexible with start times on those days and not worry about commuting to the office.
My legs felt terrible all the way around the ride, but when I got back it was not only my highest average speed (16 MPH) but also the longest at 28 miles. Not even halfway to the distance I’ll do in the race but good to know that even when feeling that my legs have no energy I can do a good pace and one higher than we plan for the race anyway.