Sunday, June 23, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 7

Summer is really here and we've just celebrated midsummer. Running is going great and I'm getting used to think, plan and run marathon training. A year ago I never could have imagined that I actually would consider and train for a marathon. Now I think it is a lot of fun and in my head I can see myself crossing the finish line at the Panathinaikos stadium in Athens. In my  imagination I'm running the last bit inside the stadium very strong, looking like an experienced marathoner. Well, we'll see what happens when the day comes but there is nothing wrong with having the dream.

Wednesday: I started out thinking this would be an ordinary, 7km or so, run but enjoyed myself so much that I extended the planned distance with a couple of kms.

Friday: I was forced to go running in the midday sun to not miss out on my exercise as we were going to celebrate midsummer with friends in the evening. It was much too warm to make this a pleasant run but I tried to stay in the shade of trees. It was still quite warm. For the last half of the run I was running in an area with fields around me and there were no shade but instead there were a steady breeze which brought some cooling. It was still very warm. The idea of extending this run never crossed my mind.

Sunday: The plan called for a magic mile trial today and I started by warming up and also transport myself to the mile that I've measured up on the bike path. When I got to the starting point I walked for 5 minutes and then restarted my Gymboss and set off. Wise from my last attempt I started out in a more moderate pace. I took the one minute walkbreak after running three minutes which occurred quite close to half way. Then I ran to the finish point and stopped my watch. It showed 7:49, 5 seconds faster than last time. After my "sprint" I walked for 5 minutes before I headed towards home. When I came closer to the village I thought it was a shame to just go back home and "waste" the beautiful summer evening so I turned left and ran/walked a loop of 6-7kms. Running went well and I had a great time. The nature is beautiful now and the scent of clover flowers followed me most of the way. That is a scent that I connect with my childhood summers. I only wish I had found some wild strawberries, that would have made the memories complete.

Total distance for the week: 30.6kms/19miles. A great week.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 6

This was yet another very busy week. I'm really pleased that I could fit the running in but my plan of running Tuesdays and Thursdays had to be abandoned as I was forced to swap days again. The weather have been a little cooler and we've had a few thunderstorms with heavy rainfall and strong winds. Luckily my exercise days have been mostly dry.

I apologize for not being able to podcast in a long time. I would like very much to talk about my training with you all but life has just been too hectic lately. I 'll be on summer holiday soon and my first project for the time off from work will be producing a new episode. In the mean time, here is a sum up of this weeks marathon training.

Wednesday: Just an ordinary maintenance run without any special events to report. This week have been less eventful than earlier weeks with nearly no animal spottings at all. Well, there are lots of birds around and I've seen a deer or two but that is the normal thing for the roads and paths I chose to run. I felt a bit stiff as I started the run probably because of the hills I ran on Sunday but I loosened up pretty quick and felt very good after just a short while.

Friday: I couldn't really find the time for running but the thought of skipping this run made me disappointed so as I finally got myself ready and headed out the time was after 11pm. Since it was that late I only did a shorter, 5ish km, run out and back on the bike path. Summer nights can be beautiful here, and it was even if it was a bit chilly and not nearly as light as it can be because of the clouds that drifted rapidly over my head in the strong wind. I'm glad I could fit the run in.

Sunday: This weeks long run was supposed to be 20.1 km and I had planned what loop to run. I wasn't really sure what the distance would be but was pretty sure it was going to be quite close to 20. As I started out on our street and was going to make my first turn I realized how windy it was and very quickly decided to run the loop the other way around so I turned right instead of left because I thought that way I would experience less headwind. As it turned out it was the wrong decision. I had the wind in my face most of the time and the long stretch where I thought I would benefit from having the wind at my back was more or less sheltered by trees and buildings so I don't think I got much help from the wind there.
 I know I'm running my long runs too fast but find it difficult to slow down because it feels awkward and that might be because I'm concentrating too much on my pace and steps. So this time I decided to not pay any attention to the Garmin, I was just going to run the way that felt good. I focused on being relaxed, run with a good posture and breath properly. It was successful and I felt very good for most of the run. I ran my fastest km in 6:08 and the slowest in 6:59, so I think I kept a fairly even pace throughout the distance. The variation in pace can't be explained by being earlier or later in the run, me being more tired at the end, but is more likely to be caused by the surface. Forest paths are usually slower than tarmac roads, running uphill is often done a bit slower than running downhill etc.
 As I was closing in on home I realized that the loop would be a little short of 20 kms so I extended my run with another little loop to increase the distance and to be able to cool down by walking a little before I reached my home. At 20.4 kms I entered a railroad bridge and I found the climb there to be a good point to stop running and start the cool down walk.

I've had a good running week with a total distance of 34.1km/21.2miles.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 5

Another great week of running. A fantastic week when it comes to experiencing the forest and the wildlife. I still think marathon training is a lot of fun, the weather has been good, my training is going great and I feel invincible. I suspect that this feeling might change later on when the distances gets longer and the inspiration perhaps fades. But I'm very thankful for every good day and I'm so happy that I can do this.

Tuesday: A thrilling run in which I came upon at least three wild boar that I apparently scared, and I saw them cross the path I was aiming for and disappear into the woods. They were only around 20 meters from me and finally seeing them and not only their tracks made me both excited and and a bit nervous. The ones that I saw wasn't too big they were probably born last spring and now, comfortably seated in my home, I can't really understand why they made me nervous but I would be really scared if I ran into a group of a mother with her newly born. I don't want to come between them, or surprise a fully grown male at a close range.
 The encounter uplifted my spirits and I ran the rest of my run almost euphoric.

Friday: I postponed the Thursday run one day due to a headache but felt fine on Friday and headed out to explore a "new" road. It is only a shorter stretch of a known loop but it will give me the chance to chose a different scenery. I ended up taking a wrong turn which led me on to a surface that wasn't really runable and then I had to do a bit of climbing to get back to the road but I now know where I should have turned and will do so next time.
 On this run I saw a moose on a field beside the road. The moose stood just beside the road and I stopped to see what he was going to do. We looked at each other for a short while and then the moose turned and ran across the field giving me free passage. I enjoy seeing animals when running but not too close. And it's the same thing with moose as it is with boar I would be really scared to come too close to a mother with her calf. Most of the animals, however, are more scared of us than we of them and will retire if they have the chance. I'm sure there have been many animals that have heard me coming but went further into the forest before I got the chance to see them.

Sunday: There is no long run scheduled for this week so I thought I'd do some hill training instead. Since the Athens marathon is more or less one long hill, I think that some preparation of running hills could be useful when the day comes. The area where I live is fairly flat but I looked up an undulating part of a forest road and ran the "hill" up and down for a while. I ran up, jogged down and walked for a long minute,  and the routine fitted very well with the 3/1 run walk ratio so I let the gymboss signal be the start for each "climb" during the exercise. For each completed interval I picked up a pebble to keep count of how many repetitions I did. When I was done I put ten pebbles on the top of a tree stump and for my imagination I could see the stump all covered up with pebbles by the end of the summer. We'll see whether I'll be able to keep doing the exercise, I can't really say that I enjoyed it that much but hopefully it was good for me.
 When I was bored with running back and forth, up and down, I took a detour through the forest on my way back. I'm glad I did because the forest was absolutely amazing. It was a bit wet after a couple of thunderstorms and rain this afternoon but I didn't mind. The air was so fresh and rich of oxygen, and the birds where singing louder than ever. The sun was setting and spread a warm light, giving everything a yellower tone. The sun was shining on a male deer with fairly long antlers and I had to stop and just watch and listen and take in the atmosphere. The sun was also shining on a layer of mist rising over the fields I passed. The mist appeared to be of gold dust. And again I had to stop and enjoy what I saw. This has been an incredible week. I can't really grasp how lucky I am that I'm able to run and that I can experience the beauty and the magic of the environment that I enjoy so much - the narrow paths.

Total distance for the week, 25.6km/15.9miles but maybe that isn't very important since the Galloway plan doesn't count distances other than for the weekend run. The middle of the week runs are measured by minutes and not distance. Anyway, I think it is interesting to keep track and I'm very pleased with what I've accomplished so far.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 4

Once again a very busy work week with some traveling that forced me to swap the training days around. I assume that there isn't anything wrong with that and I'm pleased that I had the opportunity to get all of the scheduled running done.
 When traveling I brought my mp3 player and listened back to The Extra Mile Podcast - Galloway Edition. I listened to the episodes that covers the first weeks of the program in hope of learning more about how to train. One thing that came very clear is that I am running my long runs too fast. I should probably slow down at least 1 minute/km or even 1:30/km and I also ought to run a 2/1 ratio instead of the 3/1 that I'm currently doing.
 So for the Sunday long run of 17.7km/11miles, according to the plan, I tried to slow down but... read more about it below.

Wednesday: After a terrible day at work it was so good to be running in the forest. The weather was perfect, the scenery was breathtaking, the air was filled with birdsong and after just a little while all the negative thoughts and the stress that I brought home from work just disappeared. I'm very lucky to be able to run and to have the environment that I enjoy so much nearby. This run was, beside the training, therapy for a stressed mind.

Friday: As I started the run I felt good and strong and I begun to wonder what would happen if I skipped the walk breaks. I haven't run without walk breaks for a long time so I got curious to find out if I was strong enough to run 5kms without them. I didn't turn my Gymboss off, I just ignored the vibrating signals and kept running. Around 1½ - 2 kms into the run I still felt good and strong and my curiosity changed focus. Now I begun to wonder how fast I could run 5kms without walk breaks. So I turned the run into a race and speeded up a little. I'm aware that running the way I did isn't described in the Galloway program but there is the opportunity of doing fartleks or speed play runs so let's consider this run as that. I ended up a little more tired than usual but very pleased with my performance. I finished the 5k in 26:29.

Sunday: For my long run I was determined to slow down and my aim was to run a pace of 7:30/km or so in order to follow the Galloway program more strict. I didn't dare to change the run/walk ratio as I now am so used to the 3/1 that I would probably get very confused not run/walking the 3/1. But, I really tried to run slower but I didn't feel comfortable and my running didn't feel natural so I gave up and just ran the way that felt right. I didn't pay too much attention to the pace or to the Garmin but only ran to feel good. I did pay attention to my breathing since Mr Galloway strongly forbids huffing and puffing on a long run. I might have huffed once or twice going uphill but not a single puff was heard during the entire run so I think I might get away with running faster than stipulated in the program.
 All in all a great running week with a total distance of 31,3km/19.4miles.