The “Help! I ate my mojo!” half marathon challenge: Week 1

I did it – a whole week of training! Actual proper training. I did miss a couple of sessions, but that was due to a) a planned time trial on the weekend instead of a long run, and b) heavy rain that you couldn’t have coaxed me into for love nor money, let alone get me running on the track!

Monday: Speedwork
Planned workout: 5 x [3mins @ threshold pace; 2 mins recovery] +5mins warm up/cool down
Actual workout: 5 x [3mins @ 5K pace; 2 mins recovery] +5mins warm up/cool down
I joined my local gym in the winter and do my speedwork on the treadmill sometimes. This is normally OK, but clearly I was feeling a bit stupid on Monday and set the treadmill to the wrong speed. I was finding the session tougher than usual, but put that down to  feeling groggy pre-breakfast. Actually it was tough because I was running my efforts at 5K pace, not a threshold pace… Ah well, that’s one way to get ready for the week, eh?!

Tuesday: Strength
3 sets of 12 reps
20kg deadlifts
20kg Romanian deadlifts
20kg lunges (12 on each leg)
15kg overhead clean and presses
6kg dumbbell fly press (from bosu ball bridge)
9kg tricep dip things (is it called a tricep dip when you do it overhead, rather than on a bench like a badass?)
5kg Russian twists
It’s no secret that I bloody love strength work. I love pretending to be well tough (I was totally out-toughed by a badass lady in the gym this morning though, who I’ve decided to stalk and make my new friend), but it’s tough being tough when you’re stumbling around the weights room of the gym, surrounded by regulars who are sweating/grunting/gossiping next to the barbell you really want to use because you’re not entirely sure how to use anything else in the room…

The weights room has always intimidated the hell out of me and everytime I pluck up the courage to go in, I scarper back to the treadmill faster than you can say ‘deadlift‘. A couple of weeks ago I got brave though. I accosted a particularly hench looking gym instructor and asked him to show me around. It was totally worth it! Not only did he show me where all the equipment was and explain the weights room etiquette (put shit away, carry a towel), he also checked my deadlift form and gave me some great advice on weights, reps and recoveries (apparently we should be able to deadlift our own bodyweight, 12 reps max with a weight that leaves you exhausted by the 12th, 30 seconds recovery).

For the first time I left a strength session properly shaking and sweating – it was amazing. The cycle ride home from the gym was distinctly less amazing though.

Wednesday: Rest
Waking up was painful on Wednesday. The moment my alarm went off and I launched towards it, my muscles screamed at me! Thankfully I was travelling to a meeting up North and had no time for a run that day. Cycling to and from Euston had to suffice.

Thursday: (Unplanned) Rest
I had planned on attending my club’s track session, but at lunchtime the heavens opened and did not let up for the rest of the day. I was totally bummed out. I contemplated running in park, but decided against it because I’m not completely insane. I then considered cycling to the gym and hitting the treadmill, but decided against that too because it would also involve getting absolutely soaked. So I stayed in for the evening and sewed a new patchwork laptop sleeve. Pretty, huh?


Friday: Rest
This one was planned, I promise…

Saturday: 10K race
‘Self Transcendence’ series, Battersea Park and yoga
Earlier in the year  had doped to run this race and chase down a new PB. Instead I dithered around, sort of training, sort of not, but definitely ignoring the race in my diary. When it became obvious that I had left it too late to train for a PB I decided to run it anyway as a kind of start of half marathon training time trial. And I am so glad that I did. The course is pancake flat, so no excuses to be made. The Self Transcendence series races are always small and low key, so no excuses about crowds either. The races are well reputed and thus popular with club runners, which makes for a very exciting race (ever been lapped by a 32-minute 10K runner? Trust me, they’re an impressive bunch!). And having run this course twice last summer I was able to gauge my current fitness against that of Marathon-Me last year.

Guess what? I didn’t too badly! Actually, screw modesty – I’m thrilled with my time! A minute over my PB, but my 47:30 finish is a firm average. It looks like my sporadic Spring training hasn’t been too shabby after all!



After the race I went out for a well deserved breakfast withSarah, and then to yoga at the Castle Climbing Centre on Green Lanes. Not my usual class – I like to go to the classes in the park after parkrun – but I made an exception this week.

Sunday: Rest day and volunteering

I’ve recently started volunteering at a new event in Tottenham, Your Race No Pace. The event is one of several being set up to encourage people to get more active. The Tottenham event is on the Lordship Recreation Ground and we have a 2km, 3km and 4km loop for people to walk, jog, run, push, skip – whatever! – their way around. This week the wheelchair racers outnumbered the joggers! And I got to rest my wearing legs in the sunshine as I cheered everyone round.


Week 1 done! Let’s hope week 2 goes as well!



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