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You know how they tell you not to go shopping when you are hungry because you will make bad decisions and just buy everything you feel like eating? Well I feel like that sometimes about exercise. I, like everyone, have a couple of opposing considerations which have to be weighed up in juggling my exercise. So first, I am reconciled to the fact that I will not consistently get up early to exercise. S’cool. It is what it is. So I need to work around that.

So during the week I need to exercise in the evening after work. So typically I arrive home from work during the week from about 7pm. It is variable and it can be later, plus later again if I have to stop for shopping or whatever. So from whenever I arrive home from work, I have to juggle some exercise, dinner while trying not to eat too late and whatever pure recreation I might allow myself before hopefully retiring to bed at a reasonable hour to get enough sleep. These are all reasonable goals with their own importance to my health and well-being.

The problem comes with the fact that the me that Just Home From Work Deege is a totally different person to Sensible and Balanced Deege. JHFWD plays dirty and is not at all afraid of shamelessly leveraging the various health benefits of early eating, sensible recreation and getting early to bed to justify not having to haul her butt off the couch just when she was looking forward to watching some Battlestar Galactica. And then SABD cracks it the next day when she emerges and there is a stony silence throughout my consciousness and all is not well with the world.

So after several months of this simmering battle, SABD set down some rules, which JHFWD has to follow. First, when SABD is in charge she schedules exercise in the diary – just for that reinforcement that when JHFWD arrives, she is not deciding whether to exercise or not, at best she is trying to wheedle out of it. Secondly, every evening I arrive home before 8pm, I have to exercise.

So far it seems to be working reasonably well, but improved since I introduced a regular part of my routine (more on that later) which is a very intense but relatively short session at home. It is an absolute killer of a session but I promptly forget how brutal it is as soon as I finish. So when JHFWD is moaning at dragging her feet to the gym (all of 200m down the road), she jumps at the chance to do an “easy” short session in the comfort of home. Then she gets the total arse-kicking she so richly deserves.

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Geddit? I slay me.

So I kind of have a lot on my plate at the moment with work, sick family members and helping out with a camping extravaganza on the weekend (in the cold and wet). So last night I was home late from work and I had already arranged to meet someone at our church to organise what we need to take on the weekend. I still needed to organise dinner for Hub (aforementioned sick family member) and it all seemed too hard. I walked through the door and told him about my day and slumped on the couch saying “maybe I shouldn’t go for a run”. His response (bless him) “I think this means that you should go for one”. So I made him some toast and a cup of tea so he didn’t expire from hunger before I got back, pulled on the running clothes and incorporated my run into my errands.

Ran about 3.5K to the church building, spent an hour or so completing my planning and packing stuff, then ran another 4K back to the house. Marvellous. Ended up getting a nice little jaunt in when it seemed difficult. Will take the shoes and try to get in a couple of runs in the cold while camping, but may not have time. Unless I have to pop to the milk bar, which would be a good 5K from where we are staying…

Realising that your evening run is going pretty well and spending the rest of it composing a blog post about your new training PB for your 5K course (it contained the phrase “my 5K loop is my bitch”). Then arriving home, loading the info up to Sportstracks only to realise that in fact, you missed a training PB by a good 40sec (sure missed celebrating that training PB).

Dammit.

You know the great thing about being on a training program? If you approach it the way that I have, you can potentially stay on the same program forever!! Hub’s 40th birthday (happy birthday, sneaky reader!!) and a weekend away put paid to the rest of the week running-wise, so like a bad kid at school, am repeating last week’s program (again) – so far I have done 6 weeks worth of week one and two of this program.

Don’t worry, still doing fine. Still enjoying myself. And that greek banquet was well worth the break from a measly couple of runs.

So now that I know that I am not going to keel over from too much exercise, I have been able to enjoy my increasing running without that thought in the back of my mind that I could get in trouble with my doctor.

Actually, my doctor’s office contacted me the other day to reschedule an appointment because the leave that she was going to take was cancelled. I was all “That’s fantastic!! I’ve never been able to get in to see her this quickly” etc then felt really bad because I was celebrating that her leave was cancelled. Oh well, it was kind of amazing to have a choice of appointments.

Anyway, the training program (pdf) that I am doing at the moment includes “aerobic intervals”, defined as:

You push the pace. But just a little. Find a tempo that feels somewhere between comfortable and “Hey, I’m workin’ a little here.” Don’t run this too hard.

This definition just tickles me silly. It’s so delightfully vague, but I know exactly what it means. Anyway, I started the program from the start again after the GTR recovery, so last night I had my “quality” session of 3K warm up, 5-7 x 1:00min AI, 3K cool down. Part of me dreads these sessions and part of me really looks forward to them. The part that looks forward to them does so because at the end of it, I feel like an absolute hero. Last night I managed 7 repeats of the AI and ended up with 8K in total for the evening.

The funny thing is that it is like being back on the Couch 2 5K program. I am suddenly keeping an eye on nudge counting down the time I have left until I can drop back to a jog. The difference is that instead of alternating running and walking, I am now alternating faster running and slower running. And every time as I increase my effort and number of intervals, I find that my training PBs keep dropping off the side of the screen. That kind of tickles me silly as well.

The switch to the new training program has been great – April and May (even though May has not finished yet) are my best two running months distance-wise since I started the PROJECT ™. And in switching, I appear to have passed another milestone without even noticing it. Apart from the taper, the shortest run on that program is 5-7K easy. Which means that I have graduated running loops again.

You see, when I first started the C25K, I had a 2K loop that I used for most of my running. For ease of notation in my log, I called it my “local block”. As I finished the C25K, I created a new notation for my “long local block” – just once around my main local block, a total distance of about 3.2K. It was a long local block because it never occurred to me that I would ever be running a course which was much longer than that one.

Over time I graduated to a 4K block, and then to a 5K block. I haven’t become much faster – my average pace is often in the same range as when I started – but my average distance is increasing. The only time I have used my “long local block” in the past 4 months was for a gentle hit out when I was trying to test out an injury. In the last two – three months, my 4K block (the one that takes me straight past the local mosque and makes me feel self-conscious for flashing my legs) has been largely neglected. And now, since the start of this program, my normal local loop has changed again. The 5K block which takes me past the souvlaki van has largely been abandoned in favour of the 7K block which takes me past Leo Russells Shoe Store (Mmmm, shoes).

It might have taken a bloody long time, but since starting the C25K in April last year, I am now running more than 5K on most of my outings. And that – if you must know – tickles me the silliest of all.

Nothing serious, but the body is complaining at the increase in consistency and distance thanks to the program at the moment. The real difference is that being on a program I can’t take a soft option. My records indicate that over time my monthly kms have hovered at about the same pathetic level for months and I haven’t been able to make any significant change in my max weekly kms. The biggest reason for this is that I just haven’t strung good weeks together. And too often, I have just ticked the box in going for a run and satisfied myself with an easy 4K jaunt rather than pushing myself a bit more.

The real challenge here is keeping on track now that I am back at work, with the demands which often result in me cutting out or cutting short runs. I was getting all hyped up about how to fit the Great Train Race into my program – that would result in me building intensity in the week before the race and the week after. Then I remembered that I am not actually training for any particular HM so next week I will keep to the lower edge of the distance range, cut out the intervals and drop the run scheduled for the day before GTR. Then the week after I will do whatever recovery I can manage, then pick up where I left off.

I do want to share a bit of a secret though. I am terrified about the Great Train Race. It is really going to hurt. A lot. And even though I am in very good form at the moment (for me) I wonder whether it is a bit too early to be attempting this. But I will go and if I have to walk bits then I will walk bits. I won’t be beating any trains and it probably won’t be pretty, but hopefully I will enjoy myself anyway.

UPDATE – the legs are still complaining a bit this afternoon so have decided to shelve the run I planned to do tonight – trying to be sensible during all of this increasing so as to avoid injury.

Starting the new program has been great for me. This is my biggest week so far, and this month (with one week to go) is already my biggest month so far. With the program I have I am on target to SMASH my progress.

Today on the program was 10-11km and I wanted to do the longer run so that I could get in a couple of longer runs before the great train race. I did it on a flat course though. It was tough (as I expected it to be) but not as tough as I expected. It was my longest run since the R4TK so was happy to turn in a respectable long run pace for me (the first respectable pace I have managed since the R4TK).

Like every good AFL player, I finished my run with a walk in the bay. It was absolutely gorgeous out there tonight – just after dusk, with the tiniest bit of light on the water, dead still and FRIGGIN FREEZING. I stayed in until my feet felt like they were going to fall off (which actually wasn’t that long). Then home and in trouble from Hub for not sufficiently informing him of where I was and when I was coming back (my bad). I feel like I am about a hundred.

My short term goal is to be able to do this sort of run without feeling like I need to spend a week in recovery. Might take a while. According to the running log this is my third longest run ever, so I suppose I should suck it up a bit.

So you wouldn’t have thought that two days into a new program and already I am postponing a run. I had a good excuse though – my bra was in the wash and not yet dry. But today was okay so went out for a scheduled 6K with 4 gentle pick ups. And took the opportunity to take my NEW SHOES for a spin.

kayanos.jpg

Aren’t they pretty? They are the most expensive pair of shoes that I have EVER bought. Seriously. For my wedding my shoes cost $40 (who is ever going to wear cream shoes again?) but I can’t think when I have ever previously gotten close to spending over $200 on shoes. Expensive little hobby I have here. But what the hey, I said I would splurge on the kayanos this time. I actually wanted to find a non-asics shoe that suited me so that I can rotate them, but after trying on half a dozen pairs nothing else fit my munted feet.

So took the new shoes on the run tonight and they were about the only thing that was working well tonight. Nudge was out of control and had me alternating 2min kms with 9min kms (hopefully neither were accurate). Even after the extra unplanned rest day the body was still protesting about doing two longish (for me) runs in a row. And so I struggled through it. My feet felt the best they have for months though. Which is a little depressing, because it means that I probably have very little life left in the old shoes (something I already suspected) and need to find a new pair to rotate as soon as these ones are broken in.

New shoes are very bright. It was dark when I was finishing off the run tonight and I swear that the kayanos were lighting my path.

A couple of you asked what HM I am planning to do now that I have started my HM training program. In truth I am not planning on any particularly. The program I am doing has a longest run of about 15K, which I think won’t be adequate preparation for me to actually complete a half. I was tentatively planning to do the half at MM in October but it looks like I will be going to the US at that stage.

For this year my goal is to consolidate my training and get some more experience running distances in the 8K to 15K range, whether races or just in training. At present I have only run further than 10K a handful of times and I nearly died when I tried to run 15K. If I choose to do a half, then I will find myself another program which I think is better suited to help me do it well. But I am not going to push it and just see how I go.

For now I have enough on my plate trying to get my mix cd for the ausrun forum finished and mailed (true story – this is taking forever to nail down my song choices) while trying to deal with my new grueling program.

Okay, so I decided I really need to get with a training program that defines properly what I need to be doing on particular days. I got a bit lost in the run up to the R4TK, just doing whatever I could fit in while concentrating on increasing the long runs. I made good progress, but I am one of those anal people who work better with defined tasks. While I have been off work the last week or so it has been far too easy to just faff around and blow off a run. But NO MORE. Reasonable recovery time has passed, legs are back to good, time to get back on track.

My medium term aims are to continue to increase my distances while trying to push myself a bit harder speed/intensity wise. However, hard to find training programs that suit me. I don’t want to do too much intensive speed work, and don’t want to jump to more than about 3-4 runs per week (because that is often unrealistic for me workwise). Anyway I found this half marathon program which I am going to do. It is still a pretty decent increase in intensity for me, but in a good way. The minimum distance of an easy run is about 6K which I can do, but is longer than what my normal base runs are.

I think that this will be good for me, push me to increase things a little bit and see how much I can get out of myself. At the end of this program I should be up to about 50km per week with a long run of about 15K. That is pretty much where I have been wanting to get to for a while and I think it would bring some more good improvements. So here’s to the next couple of months.