Cross Country and Speed Training Madness

Since the 30 miles on the Punchbowl event I’ve been keeping myself busy with helping freshly pressed runners get to 10k.  A local distance run, a local hill sprint session with the family and finally tackled a 5 mile cross country event in Nottingham.  It’s Monday morning and I feel wrecked! I felt better after 30 miles of mud and floods!!! Why???? The week one session started this weekend which also coincided with a cross country event in Nottingham.  Plus I haven’t done hill sprints for at least a couple years and demonstrating the core exercises to my husband has resulted in a wrecked me Monday morning!!

10k training – I’ve helped my husband and a local to run 5k and thoroughly enjoyed helping someone get back into running.  What felt better was the fact that I’d taken the NHS couch to 5k program and made it a little easier to cope with.  Breaking down the difficulty of how stupidly hard it is to run 1 mile to then run 3 miles. I remember how frustrating it was and how much I hated myself for being so slow and unable to run such incomprehensible distances that appeared to be so easy to other runners!! It was unfair!!  Now I’m one of those runners that can run stupid distances

Training to 10k appeared to be far more confusing.  There appeared to be little or no support after the couch to 5k programs and this felt a little odd.  Great, you can run 5k so lets go for a 5 mile run.  For newbies this just sounds like they’ve been asked to climb a mountain with slippers.  So I decided to go investigating and I’m currently testing a program with some local runners – and my husband lol!! It’s been interesting investigating how NHS, Runner’s World and other sites advise how you tackle your first 10k.  Some start you from scratch with a brutal training program that appears to be for people who are already running at least 5k.  Some start with a much kinder approach as though the program is aimed at a complete novice to running with cross training exercises thrown in.  Somehow – for newbies – you’ve got to decipher this mess of information that’s completely alien to you and make sense of it all.  Now, I’m not the fastest in the bunch and I’ve been the slowest because I’ve taken the wrong approach to training.  I’m definitely no expert on how to train novice runners either.  So what have I come up with?  A gradual increase in distance each week just like the couch to 5k.  This will keep the training familiar for complete beginners so they start with the couch to 5k and then progress to the 5k to 10k training when they’re strong enough.  A mix of hill sprint training one week and track sprint training the following week.  Giving the body time to rebuild and recover without causing overuse injuries.  Core strength exercises – a few basics that help improve ankle, knee and hip strength.  Most importantly – rest days.  It’s early days and I’m taking a lot of notes but it looks promising. 

So Friday evening I was out in the cold with husband, son (6), Dawn and Jan.  Apart from my son and Dawn the others want to get up to 10k.  A short warm up lap and I had them all doing their first hill sprints.  I didn’t stand and watch either.  I put everything into that short hill and powered into it as hard as I could.  I was shocked and amazed that I managed to go up again and again.  What was that about??? My husband and Jan found it incredibly difficult, which it is!! Lots of praise and support because they’re at the beginning of the journey I took over 4 years ago.  There’s no overnight magic pill.  It’s hard work and determination but most of all support.  A few more “hard as you can” efforts up the hill and that’s it for the night.  A gentle warm down and recovery for a day or so. 

What did I do next? 

Saturday Nottingham Cross Country with Leighton Buzzard Athletics Club. 

Saucony English Cross Country Nationals 2014.  There was a great club turnout even though a few were missing.  The sun was shining, the strong breeze was cool and the ground was forgiving but firm.  I got there around noon just in time to see some of the juniors return looking like they had been splashing around in deep, thick mud puddles.  Shoelaces caked in mud and legs looking like they had been through the latest mud beauty treatment.  I kept myself warm in my normal clothes for as long as I could.  The cool breeze would chill me in seconds.  Having tackled freezing water and thigh deep mud for 30 miles in the punchbowl event a couple weeks ago the thought of running two 2.5 mile laps around this lovely estate looked like fun.  I wasn’t sure about running as hard as I could up some of the hills but I was completely okay getting soaked with muddy water! Go figure! The gun fired and I was pushing up the first hill.  I even managed to push myself up the short steep hill.  Wow, the hill training must be doing some good!! The log jump was hilarious – a log, across the whole route, a big log.  Jump it? Climb over it? Step onto it and over? No, full on jump over at full pelt.  Then a nice flatish bimble around to some sticky mud, then a large wide puddle of liquid, sticky mud.  Back up to the hill I tackled on the start and around again.  It all felt so short.  It took me 48 minutes but it still felt short.  Back to the tent and get changed from muddy clothes back to nice warm clothes.  Thoroughly enjoyed myself. 

Then because I obviously hadn’t done enough miles over the weekend. 

Sunday – I took Dawn and Jan on a 6k run that included as many hills as possible in that distance.  I wasn’t at my best.  The full on push on Friday and Saturday had drained me more than I realised.  My body was more used to a long endurance bimble on the trails with the continual buffet of food along the way.  I’d been on the high intensity sugar train all weekend and it was making me feel downright rough! The 6k was tough.  Jan did a fabulous effort on the hills.  I was ready for bed!!

After all of that I end up with a urine infection that’s knocked me for six.  How can I bimble away on such long distances with little or no injury whatsoever yet hill sprints, 5 mile full on run and a gentle 6k run over the weekend and I’m knocked for six.  Sheesh!!

So this sprint training and distance running is going to be rethought a bit.  I need to go back and have a look at my energy and fuel for shorter, faster running.  Just when I thought I’d figured it out, I’m right back at the beginning again.  This time, a little wiser and stronger.  Grrrrrr

Happy running

Helen

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