Slverstone Half-Marathon Training : Week 10

Week 10, and the half-marathon runner is about to find out if it is safe…

Monday 11 February 2013

It snowed overnight so I decided to work from home until I needed to drive across to Amersham to go to the dentist.  I did the Two-Minute Drill but I need to get hold of a better stopwatch to time the 15 seconds.  At the moment I am largely guessing, usually going over, but bringing down the rate of repetition towards the end of each exercise as I move my arm to check the time.  I said in my previous training blog, which you can still read here, that I would describe each of the exercises in the Drill, and I will do that while also providing photographic guidance featuring The Big Red Shorts and a variety of Prog tshirts – see if you can guess them all.  All the exercises can be done without any equipment, so there is no barrier to anyone being able to do them in the comfort of their own home.  The first is Crunches, lying on my back with my knees bent,

Crunches start position

Crunches start position

I keep my neck and back straight and use my abs to lift my shoulders off the floor,

Not just lying down any more

Not just lying down any more

then release and repeat.  I was not feeling very hungry with the visit to the dentist coming up later, and did not even get round to having my supplements, just drinking water.  I do not like going to the dentists, although I have nothing whatsoever against my own dentist, would highly recommend him, and have been seeing him since 1983.  Well, I say I have been seeing him, but when I went to see him towards the end of last year it turned out I had not been for about 9 years.  I was, therefore, surprised to find out that I only had three things which needed to be dealt with, one of which was a replacement filling.  The trouble was the other two were an extraction and root canal treatment, and I found out two weeks ago that the root canal treatment would not be possible so I needed to have that tooth extracted as well.  And so I found myself at The Lindfield Dental Surgery in Amersham at 4 o’clock to see Christopher Morrell.  He did not even once ask me if it was safe and made me feel very comfortable before spending less than 10 minutes pulling out my tooth.  He also gave me a prescription for a new set of antibiotics (Erythromycin) which should fully clear up the infection I picked up two weeks ago.  All of this is a perfect example of where Dave Brailsford (British Cycling’s performance director) is coming from when he talks about marginal gains – I pick up one infection because of a tooth which requires treatment and it hits my training for at least two and a half weeks, so if I had cut out the possibility of that infection I would have many more miles under my belt right now and would not still be looking to catch up on the longer distances.  Anyway, I had some tomato soup for my dinner and went to bed at 2300.  I was not able to do any more exercise as I allowed the gap where my tooth had been to recover.

  1. Two-Minute Drill

Tuesday 12 February 2013

I could not do any exercise this morning before going into the office because the place where my tooth used to be still felt very tender.  My post-extraction instructions warn me to avoid strenuous exercise because it may restart the bleeding, so I will be taking it carefully.  Still, that should not deny you, the reader, from hearing about the second exercise in the Two-Minute Drill, which is the Press-Up.  With body straight and hands roughly shoulder-width apart,

Easy !

Easy !

I lower myself till my chest nearly touches the floor.

OK, it just got harder

OK, it just got harder

I then push back up and repeat.  I took my fizzy vitamin C and supplements and ate a pot of Oats So Simple.  I had a meeting at another office on the estate and decided to walk there and back.  I drank water through the meeting and when I returned I ate a pot of tuna, a pot of cheese, drank a cup of milk and ate a pot of granola with natural yoghurt and honey.  I did not want to eat too much because I was going to the Helen & Douglas House Pasta Night later on.  They are the charity I am running the half-marathon for, you can read more about the Pasta Night here, and you really should because it was both fun and informative.  If you want to sponsor me then you should go to my JustGiving page.

  1. Walk – 1.7 miles

Wednesday 13 February 2013

I was still feeling tender so I chose to miss the Two-Minute Drill again this morning.  The third exercise in the set is High Knees.  Keeping my upper body straight, I start running on the spot.

Obvious tshirt, so name the bands on the bill

Obvious tshirt, so name the bands on the bill

I keep my knees high and swing my opposite hand for a smoother rhythm.

Sarah Ashley should know this tshirt

Sarah Ashley should know this tshirt

I will try to do the Drill this evening and will be going for a run at lunchtime.  I got into the office and followed my usual morning routine.  I ate a banana and drank a couple of cups of milk, and then went for my run at lunchtime, managing 4 miles in 40 minutes and 58 seconds, which I am very pleased with.  The pavements were mostly clear of snow and ice, but it was still cold out there, and I was glad to be wearing my hat and gloves.  The first 3 miles went very well indeed and there was a little tailing off in the fourth mile.  That is my first run since Sunday 27 January, so maybe the rest has done me good.  I will get in a 10 mile run over the weekend and consider myself almost back on track.  I drank some more milk as soon as I got in from the run, and after my shower ate a pot of tuna, a pot of cheese, and a pot of granola with yoghurt and honey.  It looks like I finished my run just before the snow shows up again.  I have already had more than enough of it.  After doing my run at lunchtime I feel good enough to do the Two-Minute Drill when I get home, and so will take the opportunity to tell you about the next exercise, so that I fit all eight within this blog.  The fourth exercise is Side-to-Side Hops, starting with my feet together, I push off with my right foot to hop onto my left.

Dynamic

Dynamic

I land on my left foot and follow with my right, then hop back.

Nice to find out this tshirt still fits me

Nice to find out this tshirt still fits me

It is a lot easier than it sounds !  Dinner was delicious – a Pangasius fillet with Thai butter from Marks & Spencer, with rainbow veegetable stir-fry.  It is just a pity that my serving contained 20.8g of fat and 12.3g of saturated fat.

  1. Run (work) – 4 miles – 40 minutes 58 seconds
  2. Two-Minute Drill

Thursday 14 February 2013

I started my morning with the Two-Minute Drill and followed it up with two minutes of plank.  The fifth exercise in the Drill is Jumping Jacks, where I start with my feet hip-width apart and my hands at my sides.

Another easy start

Another easy start

I simultaneously raise my arms above my head and jump.

It does get harder

It does get harder

And repeat for the 15 seconds.  I got to work and followed my usual routine of fizzy vitamin C drink with supplements, and a cup of milk.  I will drink a lot of water this morning because I plan another run at lunchtime.  Funny how easily my plans go out of the window…an unexpected meeting and conference call got in the way of things, both in terms of drinking water and having time available for my run, so I changed my plan and decided to run 1.5 miles to measure myself against the British Army Basic Fitness Test.  I ran it in 14 minutes and 29 seconds, which ranks as worse than Poor for my age, and I did not hit the minimum requirement.  So, there is work to be done on my speed and I will keep doing the BFT once a month to monitor progress.  I had my tuna, cheese and granola with yoghurt and honey pots for lunch and just some fruit in the evening.

  1. Two-Minute Drill
  2. Plank
  3. Run (work) – 1.5 miles – 14 minutes 29 seconds

Friday 15 February 2013

The sixth exercise in the Two-Minute Drill is Prisoner Squats.  I do not make up these names, so do not blame me.  I stand with my chest out, elbows back, and hands either side of my head.

Ready...

Ready…

Like a prisoner, then.  I sit back and bend my knees to lower my body.

Go !

Go !

That would be a squat, then.  I then push myself back up and repeat.  So I did my Two-Minute Drill and followed it up with plank, and then followed my usual routine when I got into the office.  I brought in my kit and having initially been unsure, have now determined to go for a run at lunchtime.  The small concern I have is that I can feel a niggle in the side of my right knee, but it just feels like a bruise and is probably due to me coming back to running after a break of over two weeks.  Anyway, I drank some milk and ate a banana before going out and took the run steadily in the good conditions – the sun was out and the air felt mild, although there was a bite in the wind.  Three miles felt about right, and I certainly did not want to push it too much because I must get out for my long run over the weekend.  I drank some more milk when I got back to the office and ate a pot of tuna, a pot of granola with natural yoghurt and honey, and also ate an Eat Natural bar – 24% dates, 17% walnuts, 13% sultanas, 8% pumpkin seeds, 6% dried apricots.  Pity about the glucose syrup (somewhere between 13% and 17%), the ‘crisped rice’ (which is rice and sugar, and somewhere between 8% and 13%), and the honey (somewhere between 6% and 8%).  It tastes nice, though.  What tasted far nicer was the special Valentine’s meal I came home to, cooked by Debbie – a goat’s cheese and red onion tart for starter, then pork belly, asparagus and potato Dauphinoise for main, and a chocolate love cake in the shape of a heart for dessert.  It was all delicious.

  1. Two-Minute Drill
  2. Plank
  3. Run (work) – 3 miles – 31 minutes 10 seconds

Saturday 16 February 2013

This may well be silly, but I decided to do my Two-Minute Drill before going to training with Christianne this morning.  Exercise number seven is Mountain Climbers.  No mountains are involved.  I start in a press-up position with my shoulders directly over my hands.

Looks a lot easier than it is

Looks a lot easier than it is

I bring my right knee to my chest, then extend back and do the same with my left knee, repeating quickly.

Yes...repeating...quickly

Yes…repeating…quickly

Training was very good fun, more kicking on the punchbag, and lots of free weights and kettlebells.  Christianne measured my body fat percentage at the end of our session and I am down to 18.5%.  In next week’s blog I will be comparing that to how I stand according to the BMI.  I will admit that I was not happy failing the BFT earlier in the week, so I decided to carry out the other two British Army fitness tests, to see how I came out.  First up was the press up.  The perfect British Army press up begins with the hands shoulder width apart, the fingers pointing forward, back straight and the body in a straight line.  Looking slightly ahead, the body is lowered towards the floor, the elbows pointing back and not splaying out to the side.  The chest and the hips get to an inch off the floor, then the arms are straightened to return to the start position.  The test is to see how many press ups can be done in two minutes.  I managed 56, which is rated as being Very Good for my age.  After my birthday in August that would have moved up to being Excellent.  So I am happier now.  Sit ups will follow…but probably tomorrow because we are off to Loch Fyne for a late lunch and are then going over to the cinema at the Hatfield Galleria to see the broadcast of Rigoletto from The Met.  The meal at Loch Fyne was as excellent as ever, and I had the cullen skink for starter, which is smoked haddock chowder, and the taglioline provencale for my main course, with king prawns and squid, together with a glass of orange juice.  The latest issue of Men’s Health magazine lists the healthiest placest to eat out from the UK’s top 100 high street restaurant chains, and Loch Fyne came in third.  Of course, I had my usual salted popcorn at the cinema.

  1. Two-Minute Drill
  2. Training
  3. British Army press ups (56 in two minutes)

Sunday 17 February 2013

I weighed myself when I got up and I was 98.6 kgs, up from my weight of 97.9 kgs last week, but when I got in from my run I was down to 97.2 kgs.  I am going to pick the last number.  You will be wanting to know about the final exercise in the Two-Minute Drill, and then I will tell you about my run.  I should have saved the last exercise for next week’s blog, so that you had to read that one as well, but I am a generous soul.  I will reveal the tshirts in the next blog, though.  The eighth and final exercise is Bodyweight Thrusters.  Just thrust that body weight.  Right, keeping my back straight, I bend at the knees into a squat,

Bend...

Bend…

then drive my legs straight while extending my arms above my head,

...and thrust !

…and thrust !

and as with all the exercises I repeat for 15 seconds.  I ate a bowl of Oats So Simple and took my supplements with a glass of water, then stretched and got ready for my long run.  I had forgotten to bring my Ron Hill waterproof home with me from work on Friday so I had to wear my slightly heavier Rab jacket, and I also wore my Mountain Equipment beanie because it was a frosty morning.  I took my iPad Shuffle in case I needed it later in the run, and also a proto pure energy gel (orange flavour), a proto pure endurance bar, and about 600ml of water with two zero highs tablets in them (electrolytes).  I have two routes at home which I have measured – one is 2.2 miles and the other is 0.7 miles, and they converge near to my home.  My idea was to run five laps of the first route, see how it went, and then add on two or maybe three laps of the second route.  I would run at least 11 miles, might run 12.4 miles, or could even run the full half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles.  It was a frosty morning but not too cold as I set off at 0915.  Rather than thinking in terms of miles, I was thinking about the number of laps, to keep it more manageable.  The first two laps felt easy and I began to sip on my drink as I started the third lap.  I was running at between a 10 and 11 minute per mile pace.  It was getting a little warmer as the sun came out and I began to wish I had not worn my hat, but I think it helped me at the beginning.  About half way through the fourth lap I started to eat the energy gel and I could feel that make a difference.  I kept eating it in small portions through into the fifth lap.  It had a good, if somewhat sweet, taste to it.  I was continuing to sip on my drink.  As I was going through the fifth lap I knew that I was going to run the full 13.1 miles, and it was just a matter of what my time would be.  I was dropping down nearer to a 12 minute per mile pace by now.  I finished the fifth lap of the first route, which meant 11 miles, and suddenly my thighs had gone.  This was an interesting feeling.  I had had a little niggle in my right knee and my left hip, but I am used to them by now.  This felt like my thighs were just not going to operate properly.  I pushed on, because I only had the three shorter laps to do now, but it really was a matter of pushing on regardless rather than running it in.  With two miles left to go it would have been silly to stop, and thinking about it I cannot believe that I was considering it to only be two miles to go – how far I have come on in the last ten weeks.  I kept drinking my water and pushing for home, and brought in 13.1 miles in 2 hours 36 minutes and 26 seconds, pretty much spot on 12 minute per mile pace.  That will do me for now, and is the number to beat when I get to the race for real.  I stretched for some time after that and when I got back inside I drank some milk and ate a Bounce almond protein hit natural energy ball, which takes a bit of eating.  I could feel something in my right knee and my left hip, both of which came as no surprise, but I also seem to have rubbed my right nipple a little too much, which could be painful.  We went for lunch at Carluccio’s and I had the courgette and gorgonzola soup, the gnocchi al gorgonzola (which has spinach in it), and a glass of cranberry juice.  That felt like good recovery food.  This evening we are off to the Walthamstow Assembly Hall to enjoy Edgar Bailey performing Sibelius Violin Concerto, and I only hope my run this morning does not leave me too exhausted to stay awake.  Thankfully it did not and I stayed awake through it all and it was excellent.  We got home and had some chicken and chips.

  1. Run (home) – 13.1 miles – 2 hours 36 minutes 26 seconds

Positives from this week – I ran 13.1 miles.  I do not need any positive beyond that.  Meeting everyone at the pasta night was also a huge positive, though, and now I am really looking forward to race day.  I will not push too hard between now and then, and I want to get some yoga in.

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