Can an average runner take on 53-miles in the Scottish Highlands? In the fifth week of her training our Online News Ed Rhalou starts to find her feet.
As a laid back soul runner, I confess I’ve never been one to follow a training plan. Before an event I often start my training full of good intentions, but by week two I usually fall off the wagon in favour of freestyling. However, this time around with a weekly blog to contend with (click here for last week’s) and a 53-mile ultra marathon the Hoka Highland Fling to complete, for the first time in my life I’ve been following my plan to a T. Now that it’s week 5, unsurprisingly I’ve started to see results.
Initially I found it quite tough sticking to such a rigid plan and my rebellious side wanted to sack it off and run it my way. But after a few weeks I’ve settled comfortably into the routine and I’ve started to enjoy it. For week five my training plan stipulated two separate 35-minute runs on the same day, an interval session, an easy 60-minute run, some strength and conditioning work and a half-marathon distance tempo run at the weekend.
The concept of running twice in one day made me a bit anxious, so I decided to combine the double run day with a run commute. Running into work was a great way to start the day and put me in a brilliant mood all morning. Running home at the end of a hectic day was also surprisingly pleasurable and not as tiring as I anticipated. The post double run commute smug glow was also pretty special, (as was the celebratory gin). I’m going to structure run commutes into my weekly routine, as it not only made me feel great, but multitasking and utilising travel time made me feel like a winner.
As a soul runner who shuns gadgets in favour of listening to my own body, I don’t wear a watch. The downside being, it’s a bugger to do interval training when you haven’t got a clue what the time is. Fortunately with the help of a few lampposts, I managed to cobble one together in the park. I simply sped up and then returned to my comfortable pace, alternating between posts, which tend to be evenly placed. The great thing about training in my local park is the sneaky incline, which adds an extra kick to interval training. 40 minutes of that and I was exhausted and had to cruise home on wobbly legs.
At the weekend I had planned to run with a couple of my girlfriends, both of whom are faster than me, to help me keep up the pace. By the time Sunday rolled around I was feeling tired and anxious about tackling a long run quicker than my natural pace. At first I struggled to keep up, but with a bit of effort I managed to maintain my pace and I was delighted to discover that I am definitely getting fitter.
Together we ran just over a half marathon distance along the canal in the glorious sunshine and on more than one occasion I felt grateful for following my training plan. I’ve sped up, toned up, lost a bit of weight and most importantly I think I might just have a shot at 53-miles. Perhaps this training plan malarkey isn’t so daft after all. We’ll make an ultra runner of me yet.
Follow my progress here and find me on Twitter @Rhalou.