In deep

14 January 2014, 12:49

January is the time of year for people to start new exercise habits, new training plans, and – if they’re running a spring marathon – wake up and suddenly realise they’ve got to start training ASAP.

But for me, I’ve been training for London Marathon since November, and I’m now in my third monthly plan from my trainer. November was all about getting back into good habits after a 6 week planned break, December was where she really upped my mileage and introduced me to “doubles” for the first time (that is, two runs on the same day), and January is taking this all further with one of those doubles as a tempo run, plus running my main tempo session with the fastest, “Elites” group at Run dem Crew, too.

In a lot of ways, I really enjoy being a slave to a good training plan – I enjoy the consistency of it, not having to think about how far or fast I should go, and knowing that if I push hard for three weeks, there’s a stepback week at the end of it for me. For instance, last week I ran 7 times in 6 days for a total of 73km (nearly 46 miles), which I’m pretty proud of.

The weather has not been the most optimal for running this month, and I feel sorry for the resolutioners, because this really is the worst time of year for running anyhow, let along when you’re new to it and everything’s a painful slog. But with the wet weather comes the great opportunity to run the trails and get muddy.

Muddy trainers

I’ve spoken before how I really don’t enjoy cross country, and some of you were confused at how I could enjoy trail running. I mean, they’re both off-road and muddy, right?

Not so much – my Saturday long, trail runs are a great mix of road, paths (some gravel, some woodland), open fields, hills, and some flat stretches here and there. There’s always something to look out for – tree roots, cars, pedestrians, dogs, steps, flowing streams, bridges, boot camp classes – and you’ve got to judge these hazards while moving at speed with other people and keeping your forward momentum going and your core strong to prevent any sudden movements that could lead to injury. The solid and flat bits allow you to regain something approaching normal form, and it’s a great workout overall.

Watching the Cross Country championships in Edinburgh over the weekend just made me jealous – sure, the course was entirely in open fields with some hills (and a single, hilarious hay bale to jump over!), but where were the Somme-like levels of mud I had to endure during my horrible two cross country outings? If English cross country was like what you see on tv, I might’ve actually enjoyed it. But in reality, it’s not like that at all.

The main difference between my Saturday trail runs and the cross country meets is that you there’s variety in the former. I don’t mind mud when it’s just one of a mix of experiences (and I’ve got the right footwear!), so I vastly prefer trail running to make me a more well-rounded runner.

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  1. Wow! Double run days! I cannot even imagine that, good on you, you’re going to scream through the finish line! The weather though……it’s just too horrid for training ! Last night we did a speed session in driving rain around a trading estate. It really helps being part if a group to share the madness! You’ve obviously bypassed weather-reluctance….Keep enjoying your training :-)

    Scruffy badger    15 January 2014, 07:21    #

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