So my first week back to any semblance of running has been interesting, to say the least. As described in an earlier post, during one session I had to throw in a surprise sprint interval in order to catch the thief who I spotted disappearing down a path with all my gear – hat, gloves, phone, car keys, windbreaker … Two days ago I had a surprise strength session thrown in as I was obliged to climb over the doors of the public toilets having somehow locked myself in!! And no, there was no point in yelling for help. It was chucking it down outside, the wind was howling and nobody in their right mind was on the seafront – apart from me, of course
So it was with a little trepidation that I set out this morning. What would be in store for me this time? Well, I am happy to report that this morning’s session was one of those magical ones when everything more or less went to plan. How often does that happen? Not very often in my book!
I knew the minute I started out that I was being treated to an early Christmas present of nearly-new running legs! After three months or so of pains, aches and niggles my reconstruction strategy appears to once again be working for me. Early days, but ever the optimist! It’s been a cautious week back and I’ve been very tentative but a 40-mile week will do just fine. It’s looking-after-No-1’s-knees time and I’m not going to jeopardize that too soon.
Today it was time to step up to the 10-mile mark. I was on the road by 7 a.m. and on the Downs by 7.30. Gorgeous. Not a cloud in sight and the lack of wind somewhat made up for the chilly temperatures. Over the Downs, across the race course and back along the seafront – perfect! Of course, there was walking involved but I will happily ignore all the rolled eyes and raised eyebrows from other runners and stick with my own plan. And I DID have a plan. Today I was working on an aspect of running that was completely new to me: CADENCE! See, now I’m showing my true ignorance, aren’t I? I love it! I love that I’ve discovered this new insanity called ultra and with it has come a whole new life of learning!
Cadence! From my triathlon days I know about cadence on the bike, but I have never thought about linking that word to running. Silly, really, but – and I’m hoping I’m making typical beginner errors here and not being totally and utterly stupid (??) – I always thought of running in terms of strides and pace/speed. I thought about ‘running faster’ but usually more in terms of lengthening stride. And if I’m going to be totally honest I might as well reveal just how much of an idiot I’ve been … lengthening stride really aggravates my knees quite a lot so in my head that meant I would just have to run slowly all the time – with short strides!! It never occurred to me that maybe if I just turned my legs over more quickly ……… D’OH!!
Thanks to Ian Corless’s fantastic Talk Ultra podcast – http://iancorless.org/podcast/ I had a fun session this morning noting, for the first time ever, what my natural cadence is and then trying to bring that up to a more acceptable 85+/minute. Fascinating! It didn’t take that long for me to relax into that slightly faster cadence and I already feel that this is going to help my running a lot. Yes, it was too easy to slip back into the cadence that I’ve been running/jogging/crawling at for the last two years, but once I consciously switched to watching my cadence again I found I could naturally hit a very steady 87/minute for several consecutive minutes without much effort. The aim will be to improve on this. It’s exciting finding something new to work on.
Thanks to another Talk Ultra programme I’m also going to start working on my running confidence. I realise I’ve talked myself into accepting that I’m the slowest runner on the planet but I need to fight for some more PBs on shorter distances. The programme was talking about beginner runners hitting PBs as ‘part of’ a longer race (e.g. hitting a half-marathon PB during a marathon race!). The reason? Because, like me, they have just one running pace and, like me (guilty!!), they don’t dare to run faster in the shorter races!!!
So … that’s the new plan! I’m going to try and dig up a little more faith in myself on shorter races, go out a little harder and see what happens (that is SUCH a scary thought)! And I’m going to work on … Cadence!
NINE WEEKS TILL THE PILGRIM CHALLENGE – $#&%!!!!