Amsterdam 2018: Weeks 1 – 4

Hello! You find me in Week 5 of #missionmarathon #projectamsterdam #AM2018 (… I am not sure what the cool hash tags are anymore) and so far so good. The first 4 weeks have been about getting my plan started and finding my feet.

Weeks 1-4 Training

I have used these first four weeks to begin to increase my total mileage, incorporate weekly long runs, and to try out new styles of training.

I am enjoying new challenges and new elements to my running – hill sprints certainly break up a run (and my calves…). Weeks 2 and 3 saw me learn to enjoy some hill sprints, though nothing prepared me for the Week 4 Primrose Hill sprint session with the Rep Runners.

Week 4 saw me adding some Farkleks and Intervals – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed both of these. They added a different element to my training plan.

For my weekly long runs, I have just been listening to my body. I set goals for the distances I want/need to achieve each week, but for these first few weeks I am focusing on finding out what I can do. If I can run a bit further or a bit faster I do. Alternatively, if I need to embrace my easy pace, I am.

Cross training

I learnt the hard way in week three, that over ‘cross training’ is not a good idea. I usually do not mind DOMS. They are a sign of a good work out and new muscle targeting/development. Though DOMS before/during a long run and in fact any run, are brutal. I attended a full body class at 1Rebel and a circuit training session on the Friday and Saturday of week three. I had all the best intentions of mixing up my training and keep other parts of my body strong. However, focuses in both classes on legs, and intense training, which my body has grown less used to whilst I have focused on running, led to some serious DOMS come Sunday. DOMS that I carried through every one of the 21km I ran, and the 9km recovery run on Monday. “Running it of” never happened.

In future, I am going to stick to some lighter arm/core work and spin classes, where my training plan permits. Training heavy in other areas and intense classes can wait, they will still be there to cause me pain come November.

Tech and Equipment

I have made a few purchases to start my marathon journey. I appear to be going for the ‘all the gear no idea’ approach.

Airhead Visor

Airhead are a brand sold by Crew Room which is aimed at rowers. Nonetheless, I have found this comfortable visor a great addition to my summer training. I was recommended the brand by my cousin, a rower, and was well informed that ‘all the cool kids’ have them. I obviously proceeded to purchase one immediately.

To cut to the chase, I am low key obsessed with it.

It is really comfortable, fits well to the head and does not slip or rub, even when sweating. It is surprising how much cooler you feel with the sun off your face in this ridiculous heatwave.

I got mine at a discounted price of £15, and would definitely recommend the purchase.

Adidas Running Water Bottle 

I bought this water bottle after I lost my small Rebook running water bottle/ left it in 1Rebel.

Although the larger size allows for more water to be carried, I found it clunky and irritating. I could maybe put up with it on a shorter run, but it will be left behind for long runs in the future. The annoyance actually led me to my next purchase below.

Kalenji Hydration Vest

Hydration in this heatwave is important. After the annoyance of my water bottle in my last few long runs, I decided to purchase a hydration vest. I found this one here on Decathalon, for the very reasonable price of £15.99 (I have seen others for £100+).

It carries up to 1 litre of water in the camel bak (provided) and space for 5l of ‘other stuff’ should you need it.

It is very thoughtfully designed, with neat ways to roll up excess straps and clip things away. There are pocket options to store valuables and to store items that you want to be easily accessible. There is also a tube for easy hydration and front pockets for gels or a smaller bottle.

The vest is comfortable and does not rub. It is a much better alternative to carrying water or other running belts I have tried.

I would definitely recommend this product and I am really pleased with mine.

Looking forward: Weeks 5-8

Now that I have my new training plan underway, and I am getting comfortable with hills, intervals, strides and farkleks, I want to focus more on pace.

My plan was to run slow in the first few weeks. The benefits of running slow are building muscles and form, and training your body to use glycogen stores efficiently. Although my long runs have not been quick, I have lost focus on incorporating some decent slow runs and I will not be reaping the benefits.

In the next few weeks, especially as my mileage increases, I am going to make sure I add in some dedicated easy runs.

Things I have learnt so far:

  • Do not over cross train
  • Do embrace the rest day or active recovery day
  • Hydrate before/during/after a long run, it makes all the difference
  • Don’t stress and look at the big picture – view your runs and plan as a whole and do not compare the minutia with yourself or others – not all miles are good miles, but they can be useful miles.