My longest run in nearly 5 years!

An illustration of a woman running on a road with snow and ice around.

I’ve been really busy at work in the last couple of weeks delivering a webinar and a face-to-face class, alongside all of my usual activities. However, despite this, I managed to complete my longest run in nearly 5 years. I’m also persevering with the rest of my training.

Monday night run with LRR

Monday night was an interval session on the Common, led by Malcolm. He’d planned a ‘Kenyan hills’ session. This is a type of workout that involves running up and down hills in order to improve running speed and endurance.

We did a short warm-up before the session started. The aim of a Kenyan hills session is to run at a moderate intensity for a set distance on a hill. However, the main difference between Kenyan Hills and a normal hill session is that on the downhill you’re looking to maintain the same effort (akin to running a tempo-paced session) and should not use this section as a traditional recovery. We were using a section of the Common that is a gradual steady incline from the Bellemoor up to the crossroads. It’s about 500m long with ~5m ascent.

The workout focuses on building strength and endurance in the legs, particularly in the quads and glutes, as well as improving cardiovascular fitness. My legs felt OK during the session, but I could feel the cardio impact of the session. It was a really good workout.

Thursday night endurance run

Thursday night was the time for Lordshill Road Runners’ regular endurance session. It was the first time that I’d been to one of Ben’s sessions for several years, so it was nice to see him there.

There weren’t many others from my group there when I looked around at the start, so I ran the first lap with Ben, which was fun. I knew I was running much faster than I should be, but I enjoyed having someone to chat with. After that, Ben needed to sprint off to check on the other runners.

I ran the second lap alone. Partway, I had to stop to tie my shoelace, at which point Lynne ran past me. I was unable to catch up with her.

On the final lap, I caught up with Lynne and we ran together until the end of the session.

Again, I don’t think I completed the session as expected, but I achieved what I wanted to which was getting out and running for an hour.

parkrun and long run

The last time I ran 20km or more was back in July 2018, when I completed the Long Course Weekend half marathon. I was struggling to fit in running whilst working full time with a toddler who didn’t sleep, so my training started to deteriorate.

My marathon training plan said that I needed to complete a 20km long run. I’ve very rarely run anything over 10km on my own. For me, the joy of running is being outside chatting with friends whilst exercising. Luckily, Shokz headphones work for me, so I can listen to podcasts when running. I left the house before sunrise and ran down to the Common. Then I ran through Portswood and down to Riverside Park. I ran through Woodmill and up to Burgess Road.

At the University I paused to take on some energy gel before running to the far end of Burgess Road. Annoyingly, the traffic lights were not working properly.

I ran down to St James Park before running along St James road and back to Hill Lane. I ran up Hill Lane and onto the Common in time for the start of parkrun.

Getting to the start of parkrun

Parts of my run were extremely icy, so I had not managed to run as fast as I had hoped to. I ended up running 14.5km before the start of parkrun.

M had agreed to assist the Run Director, so I didn’t have her as a running buddy. I started off with Pete but quickly realised that I wasn’t fit enough to keep up with him.

I managed to catch up with Pete on the second lap and then on the final hill, I ran with Andrew for a bit, but he wasn’t fatigued so was able to speed off to finish strong. Afterwards, I joined Andrew for a selfie.

I forgot to stop my watch at the end of the run, so my results email was the first time I had any idea of how quickly or slowly I ran. 32:40 was much quicker than I was expecting! (After I spoke to a few people, I needed to run another 500m – it was only at that point I realised my watch was still running. The 22-minute kilometre really ruined my average pace!)

I was so pleased that I had completed my longest run for nearly five years!

Monday night LRR run

On Monday night, Steph led us in another endurance session: Indian file running. This is a method of running in which a single file of runners follows one after the other, with the person in front setting the pace. It can be a beneficial training method for runners for several reasons:

  1. Pacing: By following the person in front, you can learn to maintain a consistent pace and not start too fast.
  2. Drafting: You can use less energy by running in the slipstream of the person in front.
  3. Team building: It allows for talking with your fellow runners, which can make training more enjoyable.
  4. Mental toughness: Indian file running can also be a mental workout, especially when the pace is fast and the terrain is challenging.
  5. Variety: Indian file running can break up the monotony of running, and can be a good way to change the training routine.

For Indian file running, it is important that the group can all run at the same pace and want to work together. It does not go well if a runner decides that they’re going to pick up the pace too much.

I really enjoyed the session as it kept me moving at a consistent pace. To keep our motivation up, halfway through Steph got us to start reciting sweet treats in alphabetical order (one per runner). Then we moved onto holiday destinations. It was a good distraction – I was so busy thinking of words that I forgot about the effort I was putting in!

I had chosen to wear some of my racing flats and was quite pleased that they were comfortable and my legs felt Ok afterwards.

Thursday night endurance session

By Thursday evening I felt tired, so I offered myself a choice. I could either attend the LRR training session or I could spend an hour running on my treadmill. In the end, I chose the former.

This week there was only one person from Group C who had turned up. We run at different speeds and have very different interests, so did not run together.

The session was a 15-minute warm-up; 15 minutes at half marathon pace; 5 minutes recovery; 15 minutes at half marathon pace. We were instructed to run anti-clockwise for the warm-up and the first half-marathon pace section and then to change direction for the recovery and second half-marathon pace section.

I ran with friends from Group D for the warm-up. I knew that I should probably be running more slowly, but I really enjoy running whilst talking with others. As soon as we got to the half-marathon pace section I was on my own. The 15-minute warm-up took us in one complete loop, so I was pleased that I was able to maintain that pace for the 15-minute half marathon pace section. The recovery was (intentionally) very slow and then the second half-marathon pace section wasn’t much slower than the first (I think I did about 100m less).

I had chosen to wear my Hokas, but they made my right ankle really hurt. I don’t think they’re worn out, so I think maybe I need to get used to them again. I’m trying to alternate my running shoes so that I can save my favourite Brooks pair for long runs and the marathon.

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