Janathon Day 20 – yet more intervals…but faster ones this time

As most of my friends know, I really hate early mornings and I really, really hate doing exercise first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, now that I’ve started back at work, the only time that I have to do exercise is in the morning. This meant that I dragged myself out of bed and straight into running tights and shoes on Monday morning. Luckily the weather cooperated and it was a glorious sunny and crisp day. My goal for the day was:

Warm up, 15 minutes. Run, Z4, 2 minutes. Run/Shuffle Z2, 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Cool down, 15 minutes.  Stretch

It was cold and crisp when I stumbled out the door. I was not psyched for running and I think I’m hitting one of the many stumbling blocks that will dot the 12 week training path. I digress. It was cold and crisp – well actually freezing when I left the house. I started the slow warm up with gloves and ear warmers on. The pavement was frosty and a week bit slippy. This worried me because I was supposed to be hitting Z4, which would involve me running more than a shuffle pace. I decided to stick to the sunny, relatively flat roads to try and limit the potential for landing on my ass.

Originally I didn’t intend to stick to the 15 minute warm-up, but 10 minutes hit and I still didn’t feel ready to go for a lung busting sprint. I also learnt that coffee really does mess my heart rate around. I could easily keep in Z2 warming up and in recovery during this run. Clearly, I need to train before coffee. That means doing exercise early. Hmmm

After my 15 minutes warm-up, I still wasn’t keen on the idea of pushing my heart rate but went for it. It was so nice to run faster than snails pace – at least for the first 50 seconds. I managed to get my heart rate into Z4 relatively easily and it did hurt a bit to keep it there. I was happy to slow back down to Z2 for the 2 minute shuffle. After 2 reps of this, I started to run out of road. I had to take a diversion and ended up running down a hill and doubling back on myself.

I got some fairly odd looks by sprinting/shuffling, but I felt so good by the time I finished. I did cheat on the warm-down though. I only did 10 minutes.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 5.01 km
  • Time – 30:18
  • Elevation gain – 157 m
  • Pace – 6:03 min/km


  • Distance – 71.1 km
  • Time – 8:21:00
  • Elevation gain – 1272 m
  • Runs – 11

Janathon Day 16: hitting the wall and intervals (again)

It’s day 16 of Janathon and week 2, day 7 of my 10 km training plan. I’m feeling it a bit now. I had trouble keeping my heart rate stable on Tuesday (Janathon day 14) and today I had the same thing happen. As soon as I set off, my heart rate soared to 164 and I had to slow down to a complete crawl to get it back into zone 2. I kept to the training plan, and ran intervals; however, I didn’t check what type of intervals for the training session. I thought it would be the usual 5 min at the top end of z2 followed by 5 min at the bottom end of z2. What I was actually supposed to do is 7 min at top end of z2 followed by 3 min at bottom end of z2. Oh well, considering how rubbish I was feeling, it was probably for the best that I stuck to the easier option. I did 4 reps rather than 3 though.

I also experimented with my form when running down hill. I think that I prefer and feel most comfortable sitting deeper and leaning into the hill rather than leaning forward. It seems to keep my weight over my feet a bit more, especially if I take smaller steps. Over time, I’m sure I’ll become more comfortable, but it will probably take a while. For the moment, I’ll just be slower.

I think I’m quite tired at the moment. It’s a fine balance between pushing forward and making sure that I don’t burn out. I’m getting happier with not being super fast all the time and I think I’m starting to see gains. It’ll be interesting when I take my resting heart rate in February to see if it has come down at all. As I’m writing this, I’m just looking forward to my rest day on Friday and letting my legs recover. Of course, I’ll still be going to the Climbing Works – it’s a Friday after all!

Some stats:

  • Distance – 5.9 km
  • Time – 46:44
  • Pace – 7:52 min/km
  • Elevation gain – 113 m


  • Distance – 58.8 km
  • Time – 6:56:00
  • Elevation gain – 885m
  • Runs – 9


Janathon Day 13: Interval Training in the Wet

After the (relative) heat of Rome, I returned home to Sheffield in the rain with the sun setting over the hills. I was quite glad to be home – there’s something about sleeping in my own bed with my cats that makes me happy. Anyway, I’m determined to stick to my  training program – by Monday I was already on week 2, day 4. So, even though it was dank and miserable outside, I pulled on my running shoes and set out to do some intervals.

The aim of Monday’s session was:

• Walk, Z2, 5 minutes. Run easy, Z2, 10 minutes. Repeat 2 times. • Cool down, 5-10 minutes. • Stretch. [source]

I slightly tinkered with it and decided to repeat the intervals 3 times. I decided to do a bit of exploring around my area as well. Shaking up the training runs means I won’t get bored and I’ll cover a greater range of hills, flats and downhills. This worked out well, and I covered a fair amount of distance, while also being more diverting. The shape of my run also looked remarkably like a chef taking a bow.

I felt really good on Monday, my heart rate stayed where it ought to and I felt like my niggles had started to go away. In the end I ran 6.42 km in 51 minutes, with an average pace of 7:58 min/km.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 6.42 km
  • Time – 51.07
  • Elevation gain – 146 m
  • Pace – 7:58 min/km


  • Distance – 44.1 km
  • Time – 5:07:00
  • Elevation gain – 579 m
  • Runs – 7

Janathon day 11: Interval training around EUR, Rome

I was up relatively early. It was sunny and warm (well for a Canadian) in Rome and I wanted to be out! After having a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, I put my shoes on and trotted down the stairs into the great outdoors. Did I say it was sunny?

I followed the same path as before, and as I was doing an interval session, I started fairly slowly and tried to keep my HR down. This was easier to maintain because I hadn’t had any coffee yet. (My brother doesn’t have any in his house – how can he have 2 small kids and no coffee?! It doesn’t make sense!) I started around the lake, and the first set of intervals saw me well within HR zone 2. I received many odd looks because I was in shorts and a T-Shirt. Also, I was checking my cycle computer every 2 minutes as well.

Eventually I ran out of lake, and set off up the small incline into a different part of EUR. I ran past a police station, dodged traffic and people and generally received odd looks. It’s so much harder to maintain z2 when going up even the shallowest incline. I was really shuffling this time.

It is so nice to run in the warmth and sunshine. I regretted not bringing my sunglasses.

My results seem much better too. There isn’t the totally scattered GPS points like there were last night. Both Garmin and Strava seem to agree on the distance that I ran as well.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 4.6 km (Strava)
  • Time – 34:31
  • Elevation gain – 30 m
  • Pace – 7:28 min/km


  • Distance – 37.7 km
  • Time – 4:17:00
  • Elevation gain – 602 m
  • Runs – 6

Janathon Day 9: A wet and windy interval training session

 I managed to time my training run perfectly with a rain squall on Thursday. After doing some work (I just love deadlines), I looked up and saw the ominous clouds were looking more ominous. I stopped work, quickly got changed and started out just as the first drops began to fall. The rain didn’t let up the whole run and actually got heavier towards the end. I looked rather like a drowned rat when I finished.

I didn’t think my training session was too bad. I felt light on my feet, my left calf and Achilles were okay(ish) and I felt like I had sorted out a good distance eating pace towards the end of it. Unfortunately, I had set up my HR zones incorrectly on my Garmin so everything that I have been doing since the 1st of January is in zone 3/2 rather than all in zone 2. Hopefully this hasn’t scuppered things too much.

I found it quite hard to keep my heart rate down. I was really glad that I included the 5 minute warm-up as my heart rate went super high (191 bpm) and was all over the place. I had had a coffee just before leaving, so I wonder if that has a greater effect on my heart rate than I gave it credit for. It did settle down eventually, but it seemed more susceptible to skipping and jumping between different HR zones.

I’ve also noticed that I’m getting very different results between Strava and Garmin Connect. According to Strava, I clocked in a 5.6 km run, whereas Garmin Connect only registered 4.85 km. Does anyone know why this may be? I posit that it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve got the cycling computer on my wrist, so it’s clocking more mileage as my arms are swinging? This doesn’t stand up because Garmin also do wrist GPS and I don’t think they have this problem. Also, the discrepancy is at the logging end rather than the recording end. It remains a mystery.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 5.6 km (Strava); 4.85 (Garmin)
  • Time – 36:35
  • (Average moving) Pace – 6:35 min/km; 7:06 min/km (Garmin)
  • Elevation gain – 96 m


  • Distance 26.2 km
  • Time – 3:07:00
  • Elevation gain – 523 m
  • Runs – 4


Janathon Day 6: Day 4 of my 10k Training Plan & Muay Thai

I’m really suffering from anxiety and insomnia at the moment. For me, they often come together and in waves. For months I’ll be fine and then something will trigger my anxiety and I can’t get to sleep – and if I do get to sleep it’s usually about 3 in the morning and I get up at 7:30.

I had a bad night and was determined to keep on with my training programme, so when the alarm went at 8:00am, I dozed for 15 minutes and got up and out. It was another interval session and considering how my heart rate was all over the place last time, I included a 5 minute warm up into the session. Surprisingly, my heart rate didn’t jump all over the place and stayed in Z2 for the whole session. I felt really good – although I still have to shuffle up hills. I seemed to cover more distance as well in the same amount of time.

Towards the end of the run, the bottom part of my left calf was starting to hurt. I usually get some discomfort in my left calf when running, especially in my neutral running shoes. I think it’s related to an old ballet injury, but I might get it checked out because I really don’t want to have to quit less than a week into the new year!

In the same day, I also went for my first ever Muay Thai kickboxing lesson. I went with a friend who had been to Thailand to learn, and used to go 3 times a week (although she had not been for a long time). I was quite nervous! I’m not really one for wanting to punch things and to actually punch a person seems a bit weird, but my physio said that I need to integrate something that twists my torso into my training to help with my lower back, so I chose Muay Thai.

Oh my god. It hurts! It’s awesome and very, very tiring. We went to the beginner’s class at Wicker Camp MuayThai in Sheffield and in the first lesson we learnt the fighting stance, how to jab, cross and defend. We also got to do a couple of rounds of sparring to practice these. First we practiced aiming the jab and cross with hands, and then the pads came out.

I felt odd punching my friend (albeit with pads) and there was quite a lot of giggling at the incongruity, but after a while I focused down and really enjoyed it. I need to work on driving my punches from my hips and my fighters stance, I don’t think it’s as good as it can be, and I’d probably be knocked off my feet immediately if I got in the ring. After 2 rounds of punching followed by 2 rounds of holding the pads I found it hard to lift my arms up! I can’t believe how much effort and exercise it was, and I think it would be a good complement to climbing as it works the antagonist muscles and requires fast twitch, explosive movements – things that I’m not great at.

Wicker Camp also has an insane circuit training class on Fridays. I’d like to give it a go, but it looks pretty terrifying! Maybe after a couple of more lessons.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 4.5 km
  • Time – 33:38
  • Pace – 7:30 min/km
  • Elevation Gain – 90 m


  • Distance – 20.6 km
  • Time – 2:31:00
  • Elevation Gain – 427 m
  • Runs – 3

Janathon Day 4: Starting my 10k training program

Today I started my training program to get up to running 10 km again. I’m not planning to do any races, but I figured it would be a good way to get my baseline fitness back up again in time for getting back on the bike. I know, I should really be on the bike as the different forms of cardio energy aren’t that transferable, but the weather here in Sheffield is miserable and I’m not that much of a die-hard cycling enthusiast to go out in all weathers.

My training program started with running intervals. I am using Garmin’s Level 1 10 km program, which includes 3 workouts per week. It starts at a very low level, and because of this, I’m tweaking it a bit. The first training session is as follows:

• Run easy, Z2, 5 minutes. Walk, Z2, 5 minutes. Repeat 2 times. • Cool down, 5-10 minutes. • Stretch.

I tweaked this a bit. Firstly because the first set of intervals was my warm up and my heart rate was all over the place, and secondly because my base-line fitness is greater than a beginner/starter runner but I don’t have as much time to give as required in the Level 2 programmes. I ran 1 set of intervals as my warm up, and then did the suggested training session. While keeping in Zone 2 heart rate, I ran towards the higher end of Z2 for the first interval and then slowed right down and kept to a shuffle for the ‘walking’ interval. This was because if I did walk, my heart rate went down to Z1 and I was getting cold.

I found I could keep in z2, but I felt very silly doing so. My fitness is so poor at the moment that I was pretty much reduced to shuffling up hills and when in ‘recovery’ interval, going at a snails pace. In fact, it was so slow that my Garmin cycle computer thought I was stationary so the timing of my intervals was probably off a bit.

I’d like to think I looked like Jessica Ennis in the Olympics:

Jessica Ennis at the London Olympics 2012. Source: flemings-mayfair.co.uk

Jessica Ennis displaying a lovely long stride and looking beautifully at ease.

When in reality, I probably looked more like this:

Running blog: how was your weekend running? Source: guardian.co.uk

Two women running with less aplomb, in the winter and with more of a shuffly gait.

Some stats:

  • Distance  – 3.7 km
  • Time – 27:45
  • Pace – 7:32 min/km
  • Elevation gain – 73m


  • Distance – 16.1 km
  • Time – 1:57:00
  • Elevation gain – 337m
  • Runs – 2