Some half marathon progress

Well I’m now quite excited at the prospect of entering the half-marathon here in Glasgow on 2nd September. I had been rather worried that I was being rather optimistic about my fitness, and whether I could manage the distance. But a few things have happened to get my optimism back on track, indeed I’m today sending off an application form for a 10k at the end of June!

The reason for my worrying was that I’d go out for a run, and not then manage my efforts particularly well. I’m basically not that good at focusing on what I should be doing after I leave the house, and get swept along by the adrenaline. I have (well, had) a terrible predilection to looking down at my watch and thinking about my pace, rather than what I had intended to do and what structure I’d intended to take. I also found I was getting really rather tired, and sneaking in walking breaks at times, and my times hadn’t really improved either in a good few months. So pain with no gain. And certainly no fitter or faster. I had hit a plateau and couldn’t see a way past.

So I started reading running books and magazines quite extensively the last few weeks with a view to better training and approaches, and it was very clear I was simply pushing too hard, too often. What I needed was a way of managing my efforts. A running club is definitely on the agenda, but I still feel I need to have been doing this for a bit longer – and certainly more consistently – before I join my local club which does have a minimum ability requirement. So, being the geek I am, I decided to splash out on a heart-monitor/GPS trainer gadget and manage my efforts myself, at least for now. I like working towards goals, and this gives you them by the bucket load: Run 1km at this pace. Slow Jog 2km in Heart Rate zone 3. Run 0.2km. etc.

It’s also *very* shiny.

It’s already proved it’s worth. I set out to do my usual run (so I could first understand what I was doing wrong), and was rather shocked to discover I spent most of the time in the top heart-rate band (Band 5 – 89%+ of maximum heart rate). No wonder I was feeling so tired! Training guides are really quite clear on the subject that you’re not really improving when you’re pushing hard all the time – that’s for race days, and even then it’s best kept to the end.

So I set off on Sunday morning to do something more in-line with the training guides (and, perhaps, common sense) which was a slower, easier run. I decided to aim for a 10k route to build on the distance, but not at any point getting into the top heart-rate band holding it mainly in bands 3 (70-79 of MHR) and 4 (80-89). Much harder said than done! Trying to find the right pacing so as not to trigger my new gadget to beep at me for having a Heart rate in the wrong zone was difficult. But it’s all about understanding you levels, and I got there in the end, and the result was a very pleasant, thoroughly enjoyable and refreshingly slow 10k at an average pace of 6.15m/km, so just over an hour. I know I can push harder if I need to, but for now I’ll just take the fact that (other than crossing a couple of roads), I didn’t walk at all, and learnt how to keep my heart rate consistent and in effective zones. If you’ve Google Earth installed, and are interested, here’s the route I ran (You may need to ‘Save As’ and then open it; The laps are my gadgets HR zone distance zones, ie. HR 4 for 2k). The joys of technology! 🙂

I’ve a few other programmes lined up: I’m able to plan my workouts in advance with the device which should make being more organised about my training much easier. But I do need to calibrate the pre-programmed workouts with my existing fitness level and half-marathon training programme I’m following. But this new device is looking very good, and that’s even before I get to get excited about graphs, maps and analysis tools at my disposal now!

Other plans in the next wee while: I’m hoping to get new running shoes tomorrow. My current pair are safely over the 300 mile mark now, so I need to get another pair in good time so off for a fitting. Then there’s the East Kilbride 10k on 24th June, to get me some race experience and see if a month of half-marathon training has helped.

But it’s a much more structured and enforced training programme for me over the next three months, which I’m hoping should put me in good stead to firstly finish it, but – with luck a time of around 2 hours. My only immediate challenge now is how I’m going to fit in the training runs when I’m on holiday *on* the Norfolk Broads! Thankfully there are plenty of places to moor, and lots of flat land, so it should work out well 🙂

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