Well hello there?! It’s been a little while.
The last time I wrote a blog, it was before the Great North Run in September 2021 and I never wrote a race report. Where have I been? Why didn’t I write the race report?
These are very good questions.
Like many, many (if not all) people, I sort of ran out of steam last year. In fact, from a pandemic point of view, I found last year harder than 2020. Things were normal enough that we could do things, but it never felt easy and it never felt without risk. I was COMPLETELY exhausted by it all. I finished the Great North Run and as I travelled up and ran it alone, I felt very proud of myself and so on many levels it was a triumph. But it was also the slowest half marathon I’d ever run and so it left me feeling very flat. I needed some time away. I needed to re-group and I needed a new plan.
Incidentally, if you would like to see what happened at the Great North Run, I live vlogged it via my Instagram page @ladyclaireabell and it’s all saved in my highlights (the circles under my name when you look at my page. To be honest, it’s me rambling along before, during and after the race, but it does cover what my blog was supposed to, but didn’t.)
2019 was supposed to be my big race year. I did complete the 113 Middle Distance Triathlon, (albeit with a knackered ankle) which was supposed to be the trial run for the big event: Weymouth Half Ironman. But as you know, the Dark Summer meant that I never raced it. The aftermath of the Dark Summer took us into Covid and now here we are.
I’d become complacent. I still ran, I still lifted a few weights, but it was a bit half hearted with no real races to train for coupled with the never-ending anxiety about Covid and when would it ever end? I’d slowly gained a stone in weight (which other than my jeans feeling a little big snug around the middle), I don’t think you can really see, but it annoyed me. An extra stone when you’re cycling up hills isn’t helpful. Of course, it’s easy to try and ignore too when due to the pandemic, I largely exist now in clothes with an elasticated middle….
I was run/walking. Now again, run/walking is excellent. It’s a great way to run. It’s been very successful for me. My fastest 5k and 10k times ever are both thanks to a run/walk and you are less likely to get injured. These are all magnificent reasons to run/walk, but I want to be able to race. And fast. Not all the time, but at least once. To be fit and in good shape and to race. I’ve only ever managed a sub 3 hour half marathon once, and I was paced. I want to do it again. To race and know that I was fit and gave it my best and my all.
Goals. I needed goals. I needed a plan and big race to motivate me.
So basically, 2022 is a re-run of 2019 (the race bits anyway).
I’ve signed up for the 113 again (lake swim 1.9k, Flattish bike 90k, flat run 21.2k) and this is early June. But this is the trial race, the test, the entrée. The main course is…again…Weymouth which is the same distances but the swim is in the sea, the bike is very hilly and the run is flat and along the seafront. Weymouth is in September.
I want to do it properly. I will almost certainly be one of the slowest over the finish line, but Weymouth has timing cutoffs and if you are too slow, they don’t let you start the bike, stop you half way round the bike course, don’t let you start the run. If you don’t finish in 8 hours 30 minutes, you don’t get a medal. The stakes are high (just how I like them) so I needed a proper plan. I needed a coach.
So I have a coach. We’ll call him “M”. If this makes me Bond, then I’m definitely more of a Daniel Craig (knackered knees, drinks slightly too much) than a smooth and efficient Sean Connery, but I’m Bond nonetheless.
M is in charge. He writes the plan, monitors my progress. Is tough when he needs to be and also knows when I’m knackered and need a little rest.
We started base training in October and spent the weeks before Christmas learning to run without walking again. Obviously there was some cycling and swimming each week, as well as my continued PT sessions with Fitbit Sister and Sara, but the main focus was running.
By Christmas I was back running 30 minutes without walking, relatively comfortably. I doubt it will ever be effortless as I’m not that kind of runner, but I shocked myself how quickly it came back.
Since Christmas, it’s fair to say that the training has ramped up quite a bit and I’m currently 7 weeks away from competing in Cardiff Half Marathon. We started the plan initially with a “3 weeks on and 1 week off” ie recovery week, but it didn’t take long to realise that it was too much. I started falling asleep in my dinner, needing lunchtime naps and usually by the beginning of the third week the wheels were coming off, so we changed it to 2 weeks on and 1 week recovery. This is MUCH better. I’m still tired, but knowing that a rest week isn’t too far away really helps psychologically. I’m also a Mum to two teenage daughters, a wife and I run my own business. There isn’t a lot of free time and I’m fitting the training in before work, lunchtimes and after work.
A typical week (and I’ll talk more about this in future blogs) consists of:
3 runs (1 of which is intervals and 1 being a long run)
2 bikes (interval and a long ride)
2 swims (drills and a swim)
2 strength sessions (1 of which is PT)
And I have 1 rest day a week.
It is challenging and I’m struggling to work out what to eat and when as I’m ALWAYS hungry – it’s a work in progress and some days I get it right and some days I wake up at 3am because I’m starving. But I’m getting better at it.
So this is where I am and as you look at the training plan you’ll understand why I haven’t written too many blogs of late! I am very time poor but I will try and write more regularly now. Especially as we approach the first big race of the year.
Edit: the week after I wrote this blog, I caught covid. Prepare for everything to change……..