Oregon Circuits

Tonight was my return to my local running club’s Wednesday night session.

Wednesday night sessions are for the hardcore, the dedicated, or the just plain crazy ones (me!). We meet at a track at 7.45pm, usually have a warm up of a “light jog” around the track, followed by some drills (high knees, skipping, kicking heels back – that kind of stuff). Usually I’m ready to throw in the towel right there, but no! It’s just getting started…

These sessions are different from your long runs/ easy runs, they focus on a specific activity designed to push you, improve performance and make you feel like your heart is about to beat out of your chest. Tonight’s session was focusing on Oregon Circuits. We ran around the track, and sprinted between two sets of cones (about 100m) before returning to normal pace to complete one lap. At the end of the lap we then did 8/10/12 press-ups before repeating the lap and 100m sprint. At the end of each lap we had a different activity – burpees, spotty dogs etc. We repeated this SIX times. Before having a short break. Then we did it another SIX times.

This was a tough one to come back on, after each exercise my legs felt like dead weights trying to drag myself around the next running lap. Being out of practice and back after a long time away I was the slowest in the group and I got slight cramp in my toes and some lovely gnat bites! They’re almost like my war wounds from the session 😉

But I did it. I braved the first session back, which is always the hardest. I look forward to getting back into the swing of things, perhaps with some bug spray on in future.

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Slow and steady really is best

Let me post my first of probably many many running stats:

500 meter sprints:

09/04       22/04
1: 2.45 2.36
2: 2.41 2.34
3: 2.40 2.35
4: 2.50 2.45

An average of 6 seconds faster per sprint! To some that might not mean anything, but to me it’s a great achievement. Over the past two weeks I have not focused my efforts on running, I haven’t set out to get faster and it was by pure coincidence that I decided to do these sprint sessions two weeks apart.

Over the past two weeks I have mainly been going to the gym, trying out (and loving) hot yoga, and training my mum up to be able to run 5km. Her pace is somewhat slower than mine and we walk portions of the 5km route. At no point during these two weeks have I gone out and run at my pace.

And yet, I managed to beat my sprints! This just goes to show that slow running (aka slower than race pace) does not mean you aren’t improving. I googled a little bit about slow running when I was stepping up my training before I deferred my marathon place but I don’t think I ever saw the benefits of the method – until now. Here are a few other benefits:

  • It’s good active recovery. Meaning it helps your legs to recover by facilitating blood flow to damaged muscles.
  • It builds aerobic fitness, endurance, and fat-burning capacity.
  • It’s a way to build mileage in your training without putting your body under too much wear and tear. (The theory is, run slower = able to run further).

I will definitely be building some easy runs into my plan when I step up my training from now on!

My new yoga pants

Since my last post I have turned into a yoga guru. I’ve been to FIVE classes this week (answers the question of how I spent my Easter!) and now I know the difference between the cobra and an upward facing dog. I felt like my new found passion and knowledge deserved some funky new gear. Check out my cool new yoga pants!

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When in doubt, sweat it out

Apart from a 1 hour free taster session in South India last year, I’ve never really done the whole ‘yoga’ thing. I prefer my workouts to get me out of breath and slightly worn out at the end of it rather than relaxed and sleepy. But increasingly I’m seeing articles like this one which are telling me if I’m serious about running and staying injury free, incorporating yoga into my training plan is a must. And as many marathon runners know, marathon training is really just an exercise in avoiding injury. You can only defer your ballot place once so I’m determined to stay as healthy as possible over the next 12 months.

Let me just say this: I am incredibly inflexible. I can’t touch my toes. Even sitting on the floor cross-legged is a challenge. My current yoga level is more like this:

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But then I heard about Bikram Yoga (or Hot Yoga) where they heat the room up to 40+ degrees. It’s yoga, but you sweat. A lot. Which makes me think you’ll almost feel like you’ve done a workout even if it is a class based on stretching. (I’m guessing – before today I literally knew next to nothing about what yoga is).

Before I went along to my local beginners Hot Yoga class I read the top ten reasons why runners love bikram yoga, yoga for runners and this blog and I’m beginning to think maybe I should take this new craze a bit more seriously?!

So I spent the day drinking lots of water like they advise you to do before you go along to a class, and subsequently running to the loo a lot! When you enter the room it feels like…if  you’ve ever been to Delhi in their hottest month (May) – as I have – then it feels almost exactly like the heat you experience there. I had to remind myself that I’m in no danger of catching Delhi belly if I touch anything in the room without first drenching my hands in sanitiser. It’s not India. But it felt just as hot.

The teacher comes in and wastes no time in getting us to work on our breathing before we move swiftly on to the cobra, the downward dog and trying to balance on one bent leg with one arm in the air and the other behind our back, twisting at the hips and looking to the ceiling. And this was a beginner class! I managed to keep up for the most part, and other times I pretended I really needed a drink as a cover for my stiffness. I think it worked. Throughout the class it never felt like I was doing yoga and focusing on being ‘at one with oneself’. It was a challenge, I could feel it working, I felt like I was getting a workout. Happy days! By the end of it I actually welcomed lying still on the mat while our teacher talked through how relaxed all the areas of our body are: “Your eyes are still, your eyes are soft, your eyes are relaxed, your whole body is relaxed”.  And finish with a unison “ommmm”.

 

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This was supposed to be me!

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Well ok, not quite…

But I was meant to be running in the glorious sun two days ago in the London Marathon. It was good sense that I deferred my entry to 2015 due to foot related issues – If I’m going to compete with Mo I need longer to prepare!

I’ve got just over a year now to get myself ready for the 35th – and my first ever – London Marathon, and right now I’m buzzing from the atmosphere on Sunday. I’m hoping to harness that motivation to get me through the next…375 days!

First up, I have created a little ‘marathon log’ and pinned it to my bedroom wall to track my exercise and progress. My dad is running the Brighton Marathon next year so is reading up about anything marathon-related. Recently he found an article that said Hot Yoga is great for runners, so that’s where we’re heading tonight! 1 full hour in a room heated to 40+ degrees…wish me luck!