Silverstone Half-Marathon 2014 training : Week 9

Week 9, and I need to push it with the speed work…

Monday 27 January 2014

I woke up tired but still did my plank and press ups.  I need to get my squats going again.  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 my normal morning when I am in the office now.  If only I were so good at following that when I am at home.  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 (which is excellent in itself, containing oats, rye flakes, raisins, sultanas, barley flakes, apricots, almonds, brazil nuts, dates, golden linseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cranberries, quinoa flakes, apple, buckwheat flakes, goji berries, hazelnuts, puffed rice, blueberries, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and cinnamon), to which I added spirulina, hemp, flaxseed, and chia.  For the liquid I added a cup of yerba mate tea from Teapigs.   This is a South American tea, said to increase focus and alertness, while helping with detoxing and weight loss.  Yes, this week I am going to explain why I am adding things to my food.  Today was my VO2 max training, where I run for 5 minutes to warm up, then run three repetitions of 30 seconds
hard, each time followed by 30 seconds recovery, then run two repetitions of 1 minute hard, again both times followed by 1 minute recovery, and finally run another three repetitions of 30 seconds hard, again each time followed by 30 seconds recovery, and while it was cold outside I covered a longer distance than my previous time on the work route, getting to the road the other side of C.Butt, and I had been pushing it all the way, which is the main thing.  I got back into the office, drank half a cup of milk, and after some squats and my shower ate a mango Chia Pod (chia seed gel, mango puree and coconut milk), to which I added some hemp and flaxseed, and also 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 ate some walnuts and a few dates through the afternoon and drank water.  I also had a walk to deal with some documents, and felt how the air had got colder since lunchtime.

So why am I adding Spirulina ?

Spirulina is a blue-green microalgae that nourished the Aztecs.  Now, I appreciate they died out, but do not write it off just because of that !  High contents of Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B12 support a healthy heart and nervous system.  Iron and Vitamin B6 promote a strong immune system, concentration and memory.  Spirulina is high in easily absorbed protein (64%), Vitamin E and a source of beta-carotene and chlorophyll.  The chlorophyll helps to alkalize the body, which reduces inflammation and helps maintain bone health, and also helps muscles to recover and to lower cortisol levels.  It is much the same as chlorella but cheaper to buy, and it turns everything green, which is a good enough reason to add it to other food anyway.

I ate a banana before heading off to hatha yoga at The Yoga Hall in St Albans.  I am pleased at how quickly I am getting back into this, and also at how varied the sessions are – each one has been different since we started back.  I really enjoyed some of the work on our legs in this session.  There were peppermint teas and fig rolls available afterwards, which was nice.

We got home and ate stuffed garlic mushrooms with roasted carrots, potatoes and onion, which was delicious.

  1. Plank – 150 seconds
  2. Press ups – 4 x 24
  3. Run (work) – VO2 Max
  4. Squats – 50
  5. Walk – 1 mile
  6. Yoga – 1 hour 30 minutes

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Today was mostly spent driving five hours in the car, which did not go down well with my knees, but I had to go to a meeting near Sheffield.  I ate some dates and walnuts and drank water through the day.

So why am I adding hemp ?

Hemp is a source of complete easily digestible protein containing the full spectrum of amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids our body cannot make, and it also contains the important fatty acids Omega 3, 6 and 9.  The amino acids boost the immune system and hasten recovery.  Hemp also has natural anti-inflammatory properties, key factors for speeding the repair of soft tissue damage caused by physical activity.

I was not in any state to go to Regiment Fitness when I got home so I did my plank, press ups challenge and squats.

  1. Plank – 150 seconds
  2. Press ups – 4 x 26
  3. Squats – 50

Wednesday 29 January 2014

I was going to a seminar in London in the morning and managed to do my plank and press ups challenge before leaving the house.  When I got back home from the seminar I ate a bowl of muesli with the spirulina, hemp, flaxseed, chia and yerba mate added and went for my weekly 5 mile run in the rain.  That is a weekly run, although at the moment it does seem to always be in the rain.  It was also cold outside.  And yet something happened with my running.  I was doing two of my big laps and one smaller laps, and the first big lap went really well, felt smooth and (comparatively speeking) fast.  The second big lap still felt good if not so fast, and the smaller lap was good enough that I was able to finish it off with a quick burst, bringing it all in at 51 minutes and 40 seconds, so under 10 minutes per mile pace for a decent length distance.  I have to be pleased with that, and especially because it was on my home route, which I consider to be harder than my work route.  I got back in and ate some cottage cheese with maca, hemp and flaxseed.  I ate an apple during the afternoon, drank more water, and ate a banana before heading out in the evening for my bootcamp session.  I had noticed a lot of surface water during my run and it had continued to rain through the afternoon, so I did wonder what state I would find the park to be in.

So why am I adding flaxseed ?

Flaxseed is one of nature’s richest sources of the essential fatty acid Omega 3 (24%), and also contains Omega 6 and Omega 9.  It also contains lignans, is rich in fibre and high in potassium.  The Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation caused by movement and also plays an integral part in the metabolism of fat, with flaxseed allowing the body to more efficiently burn body fat as fuel, which in turn significantly improves endurance.

I jogged down to Regiment Fitness in St Albans in the evening and it was being run by Graham, who I had encountered at the first Warrior Adrenaline Race Training Camp, which you can read about here.  The place where the van is normally parked was flooded to the extent that it looked like a lake.  There was a mound in the middle with trees which Graham referred to as Burpee Island, suggesting that we would crawl over to the lake, wade out to the island, do the burpees and come back.  I think I need to start questioning my sanity because not only do I believe all this stuff, but I am also ready to do it.  Of course, as Graham pointed out, he had not been able to carry out a risk assessment on the area so we could not possibly do it.  Even though I suspect I was not alone in thinking it would be fun to give it a go…  Anyway, we started for real with an on the spot running warm up, which included being split into two groups, with one group running over to the bench and back twice while the other group did tuck jumps, and we finished up with a run to the further bench and back, which confirmed that it was a swamp out there.  The circuit consisted of static exercises using equipment, and Graham said he had deliberately put this together so that we were not just slipping around in the mud.  We spent two minutes doing each exercise before moving on to the next one, doing log shoulder presses, squats while holding a pole across our shoulders, burpees while holding a tyre (so that it was down on the ground when we were down, and above our head when we were jumping), medicine ball chest presses, from the press up position moving our hands up and down on to a jerry can, toe taps on tyre, and squat walks from a row of cones to the poles (which, given the waterlogged conditions, we had to do as a duck).  We then repeated it for 30 seconds on each exercise.  We had lined up by a piece of equipment, filling up from the front, and as I looked around while standing by my tyre I realised I was the only one in my row.  That meant I got to be the duck first, and I think I pulled off the role pretty well thanks to my flourescent yellow Ron Hill jacket.  It also meant that I was the only one doing the log shoulder presses when I got to that point, and not before long felt Graham leaning on the log to resist my attempts to press it.  That was a big effort, and I enjoyed the push.  We split into pairs for relays with one running with the medicine ball and then doing 20 tricep dips with it above the head while the other held the press up position, and we did that three times.  We finished off the session with some interval training, running round a rectangle made of six poles, sprinting one side and jogging three, then sprinting two sides and jogging two, then sprinting three sides and jogging one, before sprinting all four sides, and then repeating it in reverse.  That definitely did for me.  It was not part of the session as such, but then we brought all the equipment back to the van and it certainly felt like weight training !  We finished with a warm down and I realised I had been so wrapped up in the excellent session that I had not even noticed if it had been raining while we had been doing it.  It had been, and I was soaked.  And it was at that point that I decided to push it, jogged away from the park to the bottom of the hill which goes into the centre of St Albans, and ran up the hill to the traffic lights.  That finished things off for sure.

It's a bit wet out there

It’s a bit wet out there

I got home and ate some cottage cheese with maca, hemp and flaxseed, before we ate a delicious kale and mushroom gluten-free pizza which Debbie had made.  We will definitely be having that again.

  1. Plank – 150 seconds
  2. Press ups – 4 x 28
  3. Run (home) – 5.3 miles – 51 minutes 40 seconds
  4. Squats – 50
  5. Run – 1 mile
  6. Regiment Fitness – 1 hour
  7. Hill run

Thursday 30 January 2014

I ate an apple during my drive in for an early morning meeting which meant I had not had any time to do anything before I left the house.  After the meeting I ate some dates and walnuts, 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.  I drank more water through the morning before eating my special muesli.  Today I was doing an Interval Workout, which would be six sets of 800 metres at 5km pace, each followed by 400 metres at 10km pace.  I ran 3 minutes of warm up followed by six sets of 2 minutes 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 Disabled sign on the main road on a small lap, and then I continued on to finish 2.5 miles in 23 minutes and 40 seconds.  I got back into the office and ate a couple of dates while drinking half a cup of milk, did some squats and took my shower, then ate a blueberry Chia Pod with maca, hemp, flaxseed and, quite unnecessarily, some extra chia.  I knew there was a reason I did not need to add that last one.  I found a box of teabags as I was trying to find a very important document (which is a bit like spotting a squirrel) so I enjoyed a cup of lemon & ginger tea.

So why am I adding chia ?

I was looking for salba when I found out that it is a variety of chia, and chia is much easier to find in this country.  It is particularly high in magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron, and so effectively replenishes minerals used in muscle contractions and lost in sweat.  It is also packed with antioxidants and contains about 20% high quality protein.  It works as both a pre- and a post-exercise food.

I got home too late from work to be able to do anything more.

  1. Run (work) – 6 x 800 Interval Workout
  2. Squats – 50
  3. Plank – 150 seconds
  4. Press ups – 4 x 30

Friday 31 January 2014

I ploughed into some work very early in the morning to make room for some training and ate a banana before leaving the house to go down to the park in St Albans for the morning session with Regiment Fitness.  It was a dry, cold morning and I could see the surface water had spread since Wednesday night.

That's Burpee Island in the middle of the swamp

That’s Burpee Island in the middle of the swamp

The session was being taken by Luke, like last Friday, and he had set up all sorts of equipment on the drier side of the park.  I immediately thought that would be the circuit, as it had been with Graham on Wednesday, but I was wrong.  Our warm up started with us running around the outer yellow square of poles and set the tone for the session as we moved on to a boxing circuit which included as much running as it did boxing.  We worked in pairs and began at one pole by doing 150 straight arm punches then running a large lap and continuing to the next pole, where we did 200 straight arm punches.  I then moved on to running the inner lap so I did not hold up my partner and at the next pole we did 250 straight arm punches, then 300, and finally when we were back at the beginning again we did 350 straight arm punches followed by a final lap.  All that and then Luke had us doing press ups for a minute.  You would have thought we had already done enough boxing for the day, but apparently not.  We stayed in our pairs, doing 50, 60 and 70 upper cuts with burpees inbetween each set, and I did two lots of 7 burpees and finished with 10.  Just in case our arms had not had enough at this point Luke made us hold them straight out to the sides of our body and rotate our hands in very small circles for 1 minute one way and then another minute the other way.  That hurt.  So, clearly still not having done enough to our amrs we moved on to log shoulder presses, working in pairs so that while one of us was doing 50, then 60, then 70, and finally 80 repetitions before running to the pole and back, our partner would be doing squats on to a tyre.  Or at least that was the plan until Serena picked up her tyre and Caused Luke to change it to shoulder presses with the tyre.  To be fair to her, Serena was not having a good day at this point and after we had been given strict instructions to place the log carefully down on to the ground after each series she dropped hers down, so with her partner she had to run with it to the other side of this part of the park and back.  The session was not quite over as we got to carry all the equipment back to the van, and then we brought it all to a close with the warm down.  It had been another excellent one.

So why am I adding maca ?

Maca has been cherished by the Inca and used in Peru for over 2000 years.  It took us in the West a while to catch on to the benefits of quinoa, and it is taking us even longer to catch on to maca.  Its rich content of iron, phosphorus and manganese help with energy levels and reduce tiredness and fatigue.  Calcium and zinc in maca help maintain healthy skin, bones and teeth.  It curtails the effects of stress by aiding the regeneration of the adrenal glands, and helps lower cortisol levels, which will improve sleep quality.

And then I went and changed the game entirely by signing up to run the Fan Dance on 5 July.  I will write more about that next week.

  1. Plank – 150 seconds
  2. Press ups – 4 x 32
  3. Regiment Fitness – 1 hour

Saturday 01 February 2014

My running training schedule required me to run 10 miles this weekend and I decided that Saturday morning was the best time to do that.  I added spirulina, hemp and flaxseed to some rude health porridge, and then used some yerba mate tea as the liquid in it.  I did my warm up and set off, intending to do four of my big laps, and one of my small laps, which would take me to 10 miles.  The weather was cold, even though the sun was out, and I was feeling good so I just pushed on through it all, with the only thing trying to stop me being my own negative thoughts.  I really need to do something about that.  My knees held up fine and I will get more squats into my daily routine to help them.

I ate some boiled eggs with hemp, flaxseed and maca when I got in.

  1. Run (home) – 10 miles – 1 hour 44 minutes and 27 seconds

Sunday 02 February 2014

I did some training at home because I was out for a party during the day.

Cake :)

Cake 🙂

  1. Plank – 150 seconds
  2. Press ups – 4 x 32
  3. Squats – 50
  4. Thrive – Shoulders

Positives from this week – I put in a long run and my running pace is getting better.

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