Onwards, but not very quickly

As with any planned project, things haven’t gone as smoothly as I might have hoped. My plan was to follow the prompts on my Garmin as they came on each morning and monitor how my fitness changed.

As far as Garmin was concerning itself, the rough plan involved a good 10ish weeks of base training before ramping up into any sort of actual training plan. Which of course makes sense having effectively not done any focused training this side of the pandemic due to all the various breakages along the way.

So i was quite surprised and, dare I say, excited when Garmin set its first speed session, after multiple weeks of 30 minute bursts of gentle plodding. The session itself actually intrigued me because it was an anaerobic sprint session, something that in the past I’ve not done, instead focusing more on 5k/10k paced speed sessions which were more tuned to marathon training blocks.

In fact it was suggesting a pace way beyond anything I’d done before, which begged the question as to whether the body would take it OK as well as trying to assess whether the suggested warm-up would be sufficient.

As it happens I tweaked the warm up to include a few drills, a few strides just to try to prepare the body for the unknown.

The first session was 9x 15s sprints and I found an area of park in Stockport where I felt I could throw myself down with limited risk of other park users getting in the way. The first one was way off pace, mostly because I had no idea what the right pace felt like. But sprints 2 and 3 were actually where they were supposed to be.

After this first set I realised someone at the track area nearby was trying to get my attention and let me know that I could use the track if I wanted to avoid other park users. So that was a nice gesture and change as it’s been at least 6 years since I’ve been on the track.

It enabled me to do the remaining 6 sprints on the 100m track area out of everyone’s way. And up until the penultimate one everything was fine, but I became aware of a slight ache in my knee……. I finished the session, stretched, jogged back to the car, stretched again and then went home. Shattered but fulfilled.

Over the next few days I definitely experienced significant DOMS which again is not surprising given the intensity of the session. Unfortunately it did seem to upset my grumpy Haglunds lump on a trail run the following day although a sports massage loosened that all off. Running slowly on the flat was fine and a week later Garmin offered something speedy which was more familiar.

I did get to the gym a few days later but quickly realised that stuff was hurting. Rather than pushing through common sense prevailed and I left shortly afterwards. I want to strengthen the body, not break it even more.

The second of its speed sessions was 7x 1min at 5km pace which I felt a lot more confident with. One of my favourite speed sessions of the past was 5x 1km at 5km pace and whilst I’d struggle to do that justice at the moment, 1 min intervals did feel achievable.

The problem I realised part way through was that my left quad was pulling. I’m not sure if it was a left over from the sprints session or if I’d tweaked it elsewhere, but it did mean I couldn’t commit as fully as I wanted to with the session. It felt OK, but I didn’t want to push it.

The net result was having to rest it properly afterwards, which is a problem when I have commitments to lead runs for 3 other groups during the week. The quad did seem to settle but was never far away. Any stretch of it, something that happens if you’re bending down to pick something up, or building flat pack furniture, or persuading the cat out from under the car, definitely caused a reaction, or worse feeling it pop again.

Since then we seem to have had summer where the temperatures have actually been on the warm side. Nothing balmy but when you’ve spent most of the year to date in single digit Celsius temperatures anything feels hot!

I’ve been good and taken things steady, sticking only to relatively flat road routes and back at the plodding pace. The intention is to gradually improve fitness and not to expect a magical rapid improvement. These may happen when you’re 30, but they’re less prevalent once you’ve turned 50…..

So the weekly mileage totals are as follows:
Week 3 – 23 miles
Week 4 – 17 miles
Week 5 – 11 miles

Week 5 was somewhat shortened due to losing the weekend to travelling and thus little chance to actually squeeze a run in. However off the back of the niggles, hot weather and general life fatigue I’m much more comfortable with things on the lighter side. And in fact with doing an amount of travelling over the next couple of weeks, the intention is to stick with that.

I’m still in the base training phase of getting fit. The speed sessions were fun but my focus remains getting myself covering straightforward miles easily. The “racing sharpness” isn’t a priority as I’m not racing. I just want to feel better about my overall fitness. I’m conscious that whilst a plan might wish to throw in some of these speed sessions that due to my overall fitness level they may not yet be appropriate, although equally I may just have to do my own additional warm up before starting the one included in the session itself.

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