Silverstone Half-Marathon 2014 training : Week 8

Week 8, and I am going to focus on my nutrition this week…

Monday 20 January 2014

I woke up too tired to do my exercises, which was a pity.  I will do them when I get home.  I want to really focus on my nutrition this week, so be prepared to hear about every single thing I eat.  This morning I ate an apple during my drive in, ate some dates when I got into the office, drank a cup of water with a Redoxon vitamin C plus zinc tablet, and took a Wellman Sport tablet and a Seven Seas cod liver oil plus multivitamins tablet.  That is pretty much my normal morning now.  I drank more water through the morning, because I am conscious that I do not drink enough of it, and my drinking generally tends to tail off as the day goes on.  I want to make sure I am properly hydrated for my lunchtime runs, and then for my evening activities.  About mid-morning I ate some Rude Health muesli with milk, to which I added spirulina, hemp and flaxseed, and it tasted fine.  I also drank a cup of yerba mate tea from Teapigs before going for my run.  This is a South American tea, said to increase focus and alertness, while helping with detoxing and weight loss.  Brendan Brazier describes it as a stimulant in his Thrive Fitness book, so I thought I would try it.  The run felt good, although I think I need to work on my initial warm up because my legs did not truly get into it until about half way through.  Today was my VO2 max training, and I covered a longer distance than my previous time on the work route, getting just beyond half way along the pavement infront of C.Butt, and I had been pushing it all the way.  I got back into the office, ate a couple of dates and drank half a cup of milk, and after my shower add some muesli with a drop of milk, to which I added some hemp for the protein and some maca to counterbalance the yerba mate.  After drinking yerba mate it is important to make sure the adrenals are well nourished to help speed recovery, and the maca will do this.  I also did some squats after the run to warm down my legs.  I drank water and ate dates through the afternoon.  I need to find out how many dates I should be eating.

I ate a banana before heading off to hatha yoga at The Yoga Hall in St Albans.  I very quickly remembered that Finlay puts on a tough session, and I really felt that I had worked out by the end of it.  I know this is going to be beneficial.  There were peppermint teas and cookies available afterwards, which is always welcome.

We got home and ate stuffed garlic mushrooms with roasted carrots, potatoes and onion, which was delicious.  I also ate some crackers with cottage cheese.

  1. Run (work) – VO2 Max
  2. Squats – 50
  3. Yoga – 1 hour 30 minutes
  4. Press ups – 3 x 30

Tuesday 21 January 2014

I was still tired when I woke up but I forced myself into doing my press ups.  The number of sets has gone up but the repetitions have gone down, so it was easy, to be honest.  I followed what is now my usual morning routine but because of my afternoon schedule had to bring forward my ‘lunchtime’ run, and only managed to drink half of my cup of yerba mate tea.  There have been a lot of buts in this entry so far, and I am pleased to report that the run contained no buts and went very well indeed.  Today I was doing an Interval Workout, which would be six sets of 400 metres at 5km pace, each followed by 400 metres at 10km pace.  I ran 3 minutes of warm up followed by six sets of 1 minute at the full pace, with a minute after each at the recovery pace.  Doing that I managed to complete one big lap and got down to the bottom of the driveway with the final ‘sprint’.  I was rushed when I got back into the office so I took my maca in my cup of milk, and it tasted quite nice, with a dry, caramel flavour.

I had a work meeting at lunchtime, which is generally bad news when it comes to food.  I stuck with the brown bread sandwiches, having one egg mayonaise, one prawn mayonaise and one tuna with cucumber.  These were quarters from a slice of bread, so not too much.  I also ate a flapjack and drank water through the meeting.  Later in the after noon I ate a packet of Go Ahead apple and sultana flavour.

I was ready for Regiment Fitness at Welwyn Garden Ciy, despite the cold, and was determined to push it this evening.  Which is the same as the intro to last week’s session, but this evening it was really very cold, and I was at the later 1915 session.  It was being run by Tom and Richard again, and I enjoy their sessions, which are creative and always manage to include something challenging yet fun.  This evening would prove to be a very good example of that.  We began with a running on the spot warm up without too much falling on to the mud, before we finished off with a run to the far end and back, after which I was certainly feeling warmed up and also feeling good.  We moved on to a triangle circuit, carrying out 30 repetitions  of each exercise at each pole, before running a lap of the triangle and moving on to the next exercise.  We did press ups, squat jumps, half sit ups, and the arm movement thing going from the press up position to plank and back, before we finished with 20 burpees at each pole.  I can really feel my improvement in a circuit like this since I was doing it in the summer.  We split into two groups and I was doing the boxing first, which was mostly sitting down, but do not let that fool you.  From a sit up position we did straight arm punching in singles, with two sets of tens and then finished with a set of 100.  We then did hooks from the half sit up position, before linking legs and coming up for single punches together.  We swapped groups and we moved on to the fun part of the session, a gun run using a log, a jerry can, two tyres and two medicine balls, with us in groups of five.  In our groups we had to move the equipment to another part of the field and set it up as the gun again.  I carried the jerry can and a tyre for all but one run when I was carrying a tyre and a medicine ball.  We ran from the van to the first goal, then on to the second goal, then back again to the first goal, then the van, and then because we still had some time available we went all the way down the field and then back again.  I have to say I was impressed that I was able to run all the way down and back again while carrying the equipment in the way that I did, and especially because at the very start of this part of the session I felt some stiffness in my left thigh – but it was a team game, so I just had to push on.  I really can feel things improving.  The warm down always feels good, and I almost had a feeling that it was not so cold outside any more.

I got home and ate three boiled eggs, and some crackers with cottage cheese, to which I added maca and some hemp.

  1. Press ups – 4 x 12
  2. Run (work) – 6 x 400 Interval Workout
  3. Squats – 30
  4. Regiment Fitness – 1 hour

Wednesday 22 January 2014

I managed to do my press ups challenge before leaving the house, and then followed my morning routine and added some walnuts to the dates I ate when I got into the office.  I ate my meusli with flaxseed, hemp and spirulina just before midday, in preparation for a run at 1230, and also drank a cup of yerba mate tea.  It was mild outside and I ran at a steady pace, which I believe I could sustain for a half-marathon.  My knees still ache but the rest of me feels good, and I completed the run in a time of 50 minutes and 32 seconds, which is faster than last week by almost a minute and just outside of 10 minutes per mile pace, so I am pleased with that.  My two big laps each took 28 minutes, and the smaller laps took 11 minutes, so there’s consistency for you.  I got back into the office and ate dates, walnuts, meusli with some hemp and maca, and drank some milk.  Now I need to properly recover in time for my bootcamp session this evening, so I ate a few more dates and walnuts through the afternoon and drank more water.

I went to Regiment Fitness in St Albans in the evening and it was being run by Adam, presumably to show he is not permanently behind the camera, as he was on Saturday at the Warrior Adrenaline Race training camp, which you can read about here.  The weather was dry and mild, although the wind had a bite to it when it did blow through.  We started with a running warm up, doing shuttles between the poles while doing different dynamic warm up exercises, and my knees were enjoying the fact that we were on grass.  They were not going to enjoy the circuit so much.  We split into two groups and for some reason I ended up in the group who were going to be pushing it, which meant longer runs in the circuit.  Then we split into pairs so that one of us would be doing shuttle runs while the other did tyre shoulder presses, then squats while holding the tyre and putting in a shoulder press as we came up, then with our arms straight out lifting the tyre up from waist height, then press ups on the tyre, before we left the tyre out of things and did squat jumps, star jumps and finally burpees.  The running was a mixture of two, three and four shuttles, and did for me.  We moved on to boxing in pairs, standing for a mixture of straight arm punching, upper cuts, and hooks.  Then we split into teams of four and three of us linked hands around the pole while the fourth tried to tag one of us.  I got very close but not close enough and ended up with a forfeit of ten burpees.  We split into pairs again for forced sit ups, where our partner would provide resistance by pushing down on our shoulders as we came up.  We thought it was all over.  We should be so lucky.  We got into a circle for a series of controlled squats.  And now it was all over and we finished off with the warm down.  The running had been tough for me but I need that, and the session had been excellent.  You must be getting bored of me telling you that each and every Regiment Session is excellent, but they really are.  I would not keep going if they were not, and especially not in the current cold weather.

We had been talking about food during the session and when I got home I ate what I had said I would – cottage cheese and boiled eggs.

  1. Press ups – 4 x 14
  2. Run (work) – 5 miles – 50 minutes 32 seconds
  3. Squats – 50
  4. Regiment Fitness – 1 hour

Thursday 23 January 2014

I was not going to have a lot of spare time away from work matters today so I decided to go to the Regiment Fitness morning session at Harpenden and ate a banana as I drove over.  It began to rain during my journey and by the time I arrived at the location it was pouring down very hard.  So hard, in fact, that I left my fleece on for the warm up.  The session was being taken by Coxy and he started us off with a running warm up around one of the squares he had set up for the circuit.  Coxy always has interesting and demanding circuits, and this morning was no different.  He had set up three squares inside each other, and we would run around the square first before doing 16 repetitions of each exercise at each corner of the big square, 8 repetitions at each corner of the medium square and 4 repetitions at each corner of the smaller square.  If we were taking it on we would run around the square again after doing the exercises before moving on to the next square.  We began with squat jumps and after those I got an extra push of running to the far goalposts and back.  Then we had sit ups, and after those I got arm pumps until the rest of the group had finished.  We fiished with press ups, and I got 20 repetitions on the last two poles instead of 4, before a few of us rejoined the circuit from the middle of the middle square to bring in the final member of the group, doing the press ups at her pace.  We moved on to boxing in pairs, doing a selection of straight arm punches, hooks and upper cuts before running the length of the football pitch and back, and doing that twice each.  We then continued with punches from each hand individually, doing 30 straight arm punches with each, then 40, and finally 50, before I finished off with shadow boxing, moving it up to 100% for 10 seconds.  Some fun brought the excellent session to a close, with resisted running to far end of the football pitch, with our partner facing us and putting their hands on our shoulders as we pumped our legs to run.  I thought it was bad enough trying to run forward with no grip from my trainers in the mud, but when I was supposed to be providing resistance I just slid backwards – still, that meant he was having to push 95kg.  Then we changed it around and came back down the pitch doing fire and manouevre in two groups, doing mountain climbers on our toes when we were the fire team.  A quick warm down and I felt more than ready for the day ahead.

Harpenden was a bit wet

Harpenden was a bit wet

I went into London for the evening to attend a Burns Dinner, which you can read about here.  I wore a suit which I had bought many, many years ago but had never been able to fit into (even when I bought it), so that was pleasing.

Haggis, neeps, tatties and a dram

Haggis, neeps, tatties and a dram

  1. Regiment Fitness – 1 hour

Friday 24 January 2014

I did my press up challenge and ate an apple before leaving the house to go down to the park in St Albans for the morning session with Regiment Fitness.  It was a dry, mild morning but I could see surface water in areas of the park, so I knew it would be wet where we were training.  The session was being taken by Luke, who I am not sure I have trained with before, and there appeared to be poles and cones everywhere.  We began with a run over to the other side of the park and back, going through the swamp both ways, before we continued with a running on the spot warm up.  Luke then had us run round the outside orange circle of cones to get us into pairs for the gate circuit he had planned.  There were two gates leading on to  an outer circle of orange cones and an inner circle of yellow cones.  There was so much chatter going on that we got a forfeit of press ups while we were given the circuit instructions, which are simple enough – one person does a static exercise while the other person runs the laps.  We did squats while two laps were run, held the plank position while another two laps were run, did burpees while one lap was run, and finished off with crunchies while one and a half laps were run.  I ran the orange laps for the first exercise and then a path half way between the orange and yellow cones for the other laps.  Yes, I still need to work on my running.  Then we had a race in our two groups, running a daisy-chain around the orange lap.   Our group got an immediate forfeit of five press ups because we had tried to start too soon, and half way round we were made to drop down to the ground and get up again, and when we eventually lost we also got ten burpees as a forfeit.  We split into pairs for the boxing, standing some distance apart and then running over to our partner to do sit ups with straight punches, doing 5, then 10, then 15, and finally 20, and running back to the other side after each set so they could run over to us to do theirs.  Then we lined up in two rows and one by one we came along our row doing ten straight arm punches with each person as quickly as we could.

Fast, sharp, straight punches

Fast, sharp, straight punches

The team I was in lost this one as well, so that was another ten burpees forfeit coming my way.  We split into teams of four to do sit ups with a log, going up and down as instructed before doing a minute as hard as we could.  We then did shoulder raises with the log, lifting it from one shoulder to the other, before we ran with the log to another part of the field.  We did not use the logs for the next exercise, which was a daisy-chain shuttle relay run in teams of 7, and which does not rank among my favourite parts of any Regiment Fitness session.

Daisy-chain shuttle runs

Daisy-chain shuttle runs

It was not helped by getting yet another forfeit, this time five press ups for not going round the pole.  I was also on the receiving end of a ten sit ups forfeit for being in the losing team.  And as it turned out, we had brought the logs out to this part of the field only so we could carry them back to the van.  Luke called us in to sit around him on the ground, which we did, and then he told us to do ten burpees before running to the other end of the field and back, and everyone was up and ready to do that when he said he was joking, because it was time for the warm down.  It had been an excellent, fun session, and although the weather had stayed dry I came away wet and muddy anyway.

Wet, muddy and lots and lots of fun

Wet, muddy and lots and lots of fun

In the evening we went to Whole Foods Market in London to get a number of keys ingredients for some items I hope to be adding into my diet.  More about that in next week’s blog.  I ate a vegetable burrito while I was there, and when we got home I ate some buckwheat crackers with cottage cheese and added hemp and flaxseed, before enjoying a wild mushroom, lemon and thyme risotto.

  1. Press ups – 4 x 18
  2. Regiment Fitness – 1 hour

Saturday 25 January 2014

My running training schedule required me to run 9 miles this weekend and I decided that Saturday morning was the best time to do that.  Unfortunately, I woke up later than planned so was rushing to get out of the house, and rushing to get some food and drink into me.  I added spirulina, hemp and flaxseed to some rude health muesli, and then used some yerba mate tea as the liquid in it.  I did my warm up and set off, intending to do just over four of my big laps, which would take me just beyond 9 miles.  The weather was mild and dry, if a little cold, and I was feeling good, having taken the precaution of wearing my compression tights as this would be a long run.  The first lap went very well and then during my second lap a fox ran across my route, and I reckon that must be the equivalent of about five black cats.  My knees had had something of an ache in them from the beginning but had held up all right through the first two laps, and my bigger problem going into the third lap was my tendency to put negative thoughts into my own head, always with the suggestion that it would be far easier to be walking than running.  I pushed on, tried to avoid the feeling that I needed a toilet break, and my body was still feeling fine at the end of the third lap.  It was during the fourth lap that I began to feel my energy levels dropping, and I had not brought anything out with me to compensate for that.  Towards the end of the fourth lap I also felt a twinge down the outside of the top of my left thigh, in the same place I had felt it during the gun run with Regiment Fitness on Tuesday.  I carried on regardless.  In the end my lap times were around 24 minutes, 24 minutes, 26 minutes and 27 minutes, and I would say the drop over the second half was down to my knees and needing that extra shot of energy.  Overall, I was satisfied with the performance and that is another long run under my belt, at around 11 minutes per mile pace, which will do for now, and which I intend to bring down over the next few weeks.  I ran the whole distance and am also pleased because my home route is definitely harder than my work route and of the two is more similar to the type of route I will run in the half-marathon, so this puts me on target for what I want to do there.

I got in and ate an apple to deal with my blood sugar levels and then two hard boiled eggs to take in some protein.  Later in the afternoon we ate lentils with a baked sweet potato and I added some maca, hemp and flaxseed to my lentils.  My blog next week will go into more detail about why I am doing that.  I also drank a few pints of water, which went down very easily.  It had been a hard run and I was tired.

In the evening we ate buckwheat pasta with mushrooms, which tasted delicious.

  1. Run (home) – 9.3 miles – 1 hour 41 minutes and 36 seconds

Sunday 26 January 2014

I decided that my knees needed a rest from any running today so I ate some dates and did my press up challenge, plank and squats.  I have to say, the press up challenge is not proving to be any challenge at all for me, which is hardly surprising given how many press ups I can be required to do at Regiment Fitness sessions.  I will need to think about what challenge I will take on through February, and what should make up my morning routine.  I will definitely keep the plank and squats in there.

I ate some crackers with cottage cheese and flaxseed during the morning and later on we had a red onion tarte which Debbie had baked.

We went to yoga in the evening, which was another tough session with Finlay, although I do feel I am getting back into the rhythm of things, and I am certainly enjoying it.  One part in particular really worked my shoulders and I could feel a positive effect on the pain I have been getting in my left shoulder.  I came away feeling energised.

  1. Press ups – 4 x 22
  2. Plank – 150 seconds
  3. Squats – 50
  4. Yoga – 1 hour 30 minutes

Positives from this week – I put in a long run and continued with the yoga, and both of those will have continuing benefits.

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