In the last couple of weeks Conor’s gaelic training has changed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday. It has put a real spanner in my cycling. His training starts at 1130am and finishes at 1245pm. It doesn’t give me enough time before unless I get up really early and afterwards I only have a couple of hours before darkness. I’ve found it difficult to get motivated to go out in the cold and wet afternoons. However, both of the last two Sundays I’ve made it out for a run.
Today my legs were feeling tired and heavy but the bright winter sunshine was nice to be out in. I did underestimate how cold the strong breeze was though and was glad to finish the warm up walk and start running.
There is a local 5K running event scheduled for Boxing Day. I’m still in two minds whether to enter or not. I’m not sure I can run the 5K without walking and I don’t see the point of doing it otherwise. I plan to run Tuesday and Thursday and then decide.
Really struggling to get motivated to cycle this month. I have lots of excuses. The biggest, and only genuine reason, is that the weather has been horrible, really horrible. My days off have coincided with wet and windy weather. I know it’s possible to go out with the right clothing but it’s not enjoyable.
Since my Audax ride in the middle of October I have only been on the bike six times and my distance for November is as low as it has been for a while.
Despite my lack of cycling motivation and excellent excuse generation I have been moving. I decided at the start of the month to try and reverse my declining activity by committing to at least one recorded activity (walk, run or cycle) each day of November. 22 days in and so far, so good.
This week I need to reverse my lack of cycling motivation as I’ve only got two more opportunities this month to complete my metric century for my 2020 challenge. It would be a shame to give up on it now with only two months left to go.
There are a couple of streak challenges out there that have caught my eye over the years. One of these is “Every Day in May“. The aim of this challenge is to complete a physical activity every day for the month of May with the option of raising money for charity while doing so. The challenge is designed mainly for walking and running 5 or 10K each day but in 2017 I decided to do it as a cycling challenge. I completed the challenge with a total of 1500km for the month.
That was the year when I was at my fittest and strongest on the bike. I did my first 200km Audax that May and went on to complete the Four Provinces Challenge and a total of five 200km Audax events for the year starting a four month streak for RRTY that unfortunately died when I missed December. RRTY remains an aspiration for me as does the next level challenge of Super Randonneur.
I had the Four Provinces medals framed by one of my friends who is a photographer and it is one of my favourite possessions.
I originally came across Every Day in May when I saw a reference to “30 Days of Biking“. By then it was well into April so I went looking for something similar. I completed Every Day in May in 2019 again, mostly with walking activities, but I’ve never gone back to do 30 Days of Biking. I looked at it earlier this year but with Covid19 restrictions I couldn’t build up enough motivation to ride my bike at all never mind every day.
My running has been going well and I finished the None2Run program at the end of June.
Since then I’ve played around with a number of 10K training plans and ran a further four 5Ks while trying to find a good progression plan. Eventually I settled on a modified version of N2R that was suggested by another member of the N2R Facebook group. It involves slow/fast running intervals instead of walking/running for the 25 minutes. It’s the perfect program for me as I eventually worked out that I don’t really want to run 10K, I like intervals, like running early in the morning and don’t want to give up more time in the morning before work. Unfortunately, I’ve managed to pick up an injury after completing the first week when I ran a 5K. It was my fastest 5K ever and I think that was the problem.
The injury is the same as the one that stopped me in my tracks in December. It’s a strained left calf muscle and I worked out in November that it was caused by running too much, too quickly in the program. I figure I’m once again running too fast, too quick and have aggravated the same muscle. I need to slow down and build speed and distance more slowly but first I need to rest and heal.
Initially I decided to walk on my run days but that’s taking a full hour and isn’t really resting my calf. Instead I’ve decided to take on the 30 Days of Biking challenge for the month of August, making it into a 31 Days of Biking. I’m going to keep getting up before work for a 25km/1 hour spin and keep up my longer spins on my days off. In 2017 I managed 1500km and I’ve only hit 1000km three times ever, with the last time being May 2017, so I’m also setting a distance target of 1000km for August just to keep me fully focused each week. It may seem odd to increase my cycling activity to rest my leg but cycling and running use quite different muscles or at least the same ones in different ways.
So far I’m off to a good start with an early morning 25km yesterday and a 74km spin this afternoon to the Ghost House. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so I’m planning to add another slightly longer spin to keep me ahead of schedule for the month.
The plan is to be a lot fitter and stronger by the start of September and ready to get back running again.
I’m getting to the stage where cycling and running at the same time is really starting to improve both.
I first noticed this last week when I ran my first 5K on Tuesday. That day and the next my legs, especially my quads were really stiff and achy. I went for an easy ride on Wednesday to spin out the stiffness and was able to get out running again on Thursday with a lot more comfort than I expected.
Since then I’ve had four runs, including another 5K on Sunday, but haven’t had another chance to get on the bike until this afternoon. Despite feeling tired and needing to really push myself out the door and into the heat I had a great spin averaging 29.2km/h over 40km and 292m of climbing. I’ve noticed my speed gradually increasing over the last few weeks but I don’t think I’ve ever averaged that fast on my own!
Having written myself off as a runner for many years I’m really pleased that I can now run consistently but even more pleased that it’s making me a better cyclist.
Back in October I started the None2Run program. This is a program for complete beginners, very similar to Couch25K (C25K) but slowed down and extended from 9 to 12 weeks. C25K has a distance aim of 5km at the end whereas N2R is based solely on time. It goes from Week 1 running intervals of 30sec and walking 2min to running 25min in Week 12.
I pushed the program too hard, adding extra time to intervals and running some of them back to back quite early on. This led to pulling a muscle in my left calf that knocked me off running for 2-3 weeks. The injury happened in the middle of December so I wasn’t recovered until Xmas and then laziness set in. Cycling took over a bit in January and it wasn’t until lockdown at the beginning of April that I decided to try again.
I restarted the program on Week 3 as I had been doing quite a bit of walking and figured I had a decent amount of strength in my legs. Apart from a 2 week gap at the beginning of May I’ve been consistently moving through the weeks.
Last week was my first time to run non-stop for 20 min in Week 10. This was a big deal for me as I’ve always said I’m not a runner. Today was the first of my Week 11 runs and I ran a full 5km without walking! Not only that but I ran sub 30min at 29:38. I never thought I’d achieve either of those targets and pleased would be a massive understatement!
The mantra on the N2R Facebook group is that if you are running, even for only 30sec, then you are a runner. Last week was a big step but it’s today that I really feel like a runner 🏃
Week 1 was fine but I had to do Week 2 twice as I only managed one run the first time before life intervened and knocked me off track. Restarted it last week and also felt able to add some extra time on R2 and 3 starting each of the 7 intervals 5sec early, adding on an extra 10sec and running 2min for the final interval.
I started W3 a day early today as I won’t be able to run during the week. It meant I was running for the 4th day in 7 and there are two additional intervals so I decided to stick with the plan. However, on the last interval I felt good and decided to run 2min once again 😊
This plan starts very easy and increases very slightly each week so it suits me really well. I had strong doubts I would make it this far and that I wasn’t built to run but so far so good. I haven’t been doing the strength training though which needs to change before the difficulty increases much further but I can already feel a significant change in the strength of my legs.
After the excitement of R1 tonight was more of a reality check. R1 was a well rested Sunday morning while today was in the dark after 2 busy days at work averaging 10k steps each day and a row/cross trainer session in the gym yesterday evening.
I felt slow and awkward on the running intervals but in hindsight the trails in Monellan are too rough for comfort in the dark and wearing trainers. They’re great in hiking boots and walking the dog, even in the dark, but not for running. As my runs will be mostly in the evening and therefore in the dark I need to pick another location but I have one in mind.
I also felt very flat footed and heavy this evening which is why I previously gave up on C25K after the first couple of runs. I’m not sure if I’m being hyper sensitive to my gait, if it was the trail and the dark that was throwing me off or if my gait is that bad? Sitting on the sofa now there’s some tenderness in my shins but no pain. Running was the same.
After all that negativity I did enjoy it, especially the better sections of the trail and I did do three 40/45 second intervals. I was tempted to do an extra one or two but I managed to keep control of the enthusiasm to avoid injury and stuck with the plan.
Walked about 1km extra back to the start in about 10min but have decided to only record the actual N2R workouts so I can monitor progress properly.
I’ve been cycling for almost 7 years now and I’ve always enjoyed hiking and walking but I’ve never been a runner! Up to now this image has described me perfectly:
I’ve tried running a few times but it was always a case of too much, too soon due to lack of understanding how to start running. I’ve tried Couch25K a couple of times but gave up after a couple of runs due to lack of motivation. I also have a really bad running style that combined with a poor training strategy has resulted in a tendency towards shin splints.
I was researching C25K again last week and came across NoneToRun (N2R) which is for pure beginners. C25K is distance based with the ultimate aim of running 5km at the end of 9 weeks. N2R is time based with the aim of running 25min non-stop at the end of 12 weeks. It’s also walk/run based but incorporates some basic strength training to build endurance and avoid injury. It also has a very active and very supportive Facebook Group.
I had planned to cycle this morning but was suffering from a complete lack of motivation to get on the bike. Eventually I was that pissed off I decided to give N2R Week 1 a go 😱
To make things that bit easier I decided to go to Monellan Woods so I could run on the trails. I know Monellan well from walking the dog and MTBing and figured it would be less public and easier on the joints as well as a more enjoyable environment.
The first couple of run/walk intervals felt quite easy but I could feel the effects increasing towards the end. I did feel pretty comfortable throughout and could see the temptation to do more but stuck to the plan.
I ended up at 35min as my 25min finished and I was still 10min from the car but left the watch recording to the end.
I did have a few niggles with my shins but nothing bad so hopefully that doesn’t get any worse and with time my legs will get stronger and my gait and form will improve so that I avoid injury.
I had Rosie with me for company. She loves Monellan but her reaction to my running sections was so funny. Totally confused and over excited the first couple of times. Only issue was having to stop twice to put her on the lead when we met other walkers. If I go early or later in the evening then I won’t have that issue.