This is part of a series of posts reflecting on my experiences in the run up to the Yorkshire Marathon in October. I’m currently at the start of a twelve week training programme. The idea is to write a post every week charting my progress and reflecting on my training.
It’s funny what pops into your head when you’re running.
“He knows how to regulate.”
Recognise the quote?
For those of you not familiar with AMC’s The Walking Dead series, it’s a quote from series four about the governor, played by the brilliant David Morrissey. Being able ‘to regulate’ refers to his ability to keep a cool head in stressful situations (in this case, a zombie apocalypse – fairly stressful).
What’s this got to do with running? You might ask.
Well, I’d set off at a fast pace on the weekly parkrun and was concentrating on regulating my breathing and pace. I’d set off a little too quick and had set a pace that wasn’t sustainable for the full 5k.
I knew I had to control my breathing as the sprint start was making me short of breath. That’s when, bizarrely, the quote popped into my head.
In the adrenaline rush of the start of the run my mind had started to wander, as it often does when I’m running. I had to get a grip on my breathing, for sure, but there are a lot of other things I’d need to ‘regulate’ too if I was going to be in marathon form by week twelve.
Putting in the runs on its own wasn’t enough, I knew I would have to make some pretty big lifestyle changes if I’m going to do the marathon any justice. I’m talking about diet, general fitness, alcohol intake, sleep, and so on.
This post (and the ones that follow) are essentially a record of how well I’ve managed to keep to my programme. There’ll be a few slips along the way, I don’t doubt. But if I can keep discipline and a watching brief of my progress from week to week I can hold myself to account. I can learn lessons.
I can improve and get to where I want to be in October.
Diet and general fitness
Week one has been a good week – no injuries, no niggles to speak of (other than the niggles all men of a certain age get, but we don’t like to talk about them, because we’re men, right? ;-)).
I’ve eaten healthily too. Lots of fruit and veg. I have a smoothie blender (I can recommend these) that makes getting your five a day easier. I’ve treated myself to a fair amount of protein too with the odd steak.
Most importantly though – I haven’t drank any beer all week. Being a real ale old fart I don’t expect this to last throughout the entire twelve weeks – you have to be realistic. Besides, I don’t intend on staying in for three months and making myself miserable – life’s too short. Still, if I can keep the alcohol intake to a reasonable level then that’s okay.
To complement the sensible diet I’ve been taking regular visits to the local gym in Worksop to build up my core strength. I’m pleased to say too that a sensible diet combined with exercise has improved my personal wellbeing and the beer belly is in retreat (but isn’t routing!).
One thing that has definitely had impact has been to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. I’ve been going to a Les Mills Body Pump class at the gym. It is as painful as it sounds, but it’s good to work out in a class with others as it can get a bit boring going to the gym and doing the same thing every time.
Week one has included the following:
- Monday: Rest day from running, but I managed a couple of hours in the gym working on building up my core strength.
- Tuesday: Steady 10k at a fairly slow pace. I had to discipline myself to slow the pace right down for this run and found it surprisingly hard going slower. The hot weather didn’t help mind.
- Wednesday: Rest day from running, but did a steady session in the gym mixing a bit of cardio (rowing, cross training) with weights.
- Thursday: This day started off early with some fartleks – 10 x 1 minute at 5K-10K effort, with a 1 minute recovery jog between each repetition; including a 10 minute warm-up and 15 minute cool-down. I hate mornings and I hate fartleks – both send my body into shock. I’m exaggerating, of course, but I do find these hard and I guess you’re meant to. Then at dinner time I went to the Les Mills Body Pump class, because I’d clearly not put my body through enough stress earlier. I spent most of the evening shambling round the house like the walking dead.
- Friday: Rest day – and I did rest, totally. I did absolutely nothing. This might sound odd, maybe it’s the enthusiasm you get when you first start something, but I actually found it quite difficult to do nothing.
- Saturday: Technically this should have been a rest day too according to my programme, but it’s also parkrun day and I hate to miss it. I’ve been going to the Clumber Park parkrun for about four years now and I really enjoy meeting up with friends there. So I went – a 5k run couldn’t hurt, right? This is when my mind started drifting to obscure quotes about The Walking Dead. It’s also when I smashed my personal best by a massive 28 seconds. I couldn’t believe it – still can’t. What a great start to my training!
- Sunday: Long run at a steady pace. The goal today was time on your feet trumps speed – so I did a relaxed hour and a half and let the miles roll by (10 to be exact). It felt good not pressuring myself to go fast and I was still on a high from yesterday’s parkrun result.
To return to the quote, this week has all been about regulating and that’s the lesson I’ve learned. Whether it’s regulating pace, breathing or even diet, it all takes discipline. I’m hoping the discipline of regulating everything I do will see me through the next eleven weeks of training.
And should we find ourselves in a zombie apocalypse in that time – at least I’ll be able to run fast!
Apologies to those of you who usually drop by for updates about learning technology – I tend to post about that kind of thing on Jisc’s Inspiring Learning blog. I intend to use this blog for more personal, non-related work posts in future.