Amsterdam Weeks 5-8

Weeks 5-8

The second four weeks flew by (so fast in fact, I missed this blog post whoops). They’ve been busy, full of working, holidays, socialising and trying to fit in some running.

I have been figuring out how to fit training around my schedule, and not letting it dictate my schedule.

That being said ‘I have to go on a run …’ has become an all too common excuse for being late/sober/absent. But I am okay with it.

I am actually enjoying the training cycle. I am enjoying adding new challenges and variations to my running, such as intervals and hills. I am also relishing not having to plan gym work outs, then battle a hundred other sweaty, angry Londoners in a gym. I much prefer just putting a pair of trainers on, listening to some good music and having some time to myself.

That being said, nothing makes you want to drag yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning with the sight of 28km ahead of you. In fact, the long runs have made me nervous for a few days before them. This is something I am working on getting past, because I can do them, I have do them, and I will do them. But the nerves are real.

Nonetheless, the long runs have led me to visit new parts of London: Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park, Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Regent’s Canal and Barnes. It is easier to motivate myself when the prospect of a good view, and a timely photograph lay await.

Nutrition 

With longer runs, comes the need to learn to fuel myself properly. This is both before and during (the post-run refuel comes naturally…).

Increasing the carbohydrates in my meals the night before long runs has been useful. Along with a good night’s sleep, I have found that I run best with the additional carbs and a mid-morning long run. I always eat the same breakfast before a run, as having something you know your stomach can handle is important.

During long runs I have been trying out using gels. I have heard mixed reviews about them but I have liked them, and they stop me from burning out.

The real run saver though, has been sweets. I recommend a fizzy/sugar coated sweet. A maom fizz ball or a tangfastic are my personal favourites. At 5% of the cost, a pack of tangfastics has almost the same effect and significantly increases my mood.

Real talk … sweets will not fuel you sufficiently for a longer run, you need more calories and complex carbohydrates. I use gels and chews – taking on the calories in liquid form is useful.

Nonetheless, I bag of hairbo has saved a 4km in melt down.

The 10% rule

The 10% rule has been the best advice I have been given about my training. I have heard the term used both to refer to an increase in total weekly mileage and in the length of long runs. I have actually used it for both. The 10% ‘rule’ comes from the idea that you should not increase by more than 10% at a time. That is how the increase is manageable.

Every week from weeks 1-8 I increased by mileage by 10% up to 75km a week, and I have since tried to sustain 65-75km a week.

This might seem like a high weekly mileage for many people but thee gradual increase made the increase fairly easy. Running a higher weekly mileage has worked really well for me. I think it is why I have found my training fairly easy and very effective.

My speed, fitness and distance have improved and I find ‘recovery’ easier because my body is used to the volume.

For my long runs, I have increased the distance by 10% on a weekly basis at first, and then bi-weekly (i.e. my weekly long runs have been: 25km, then 21km, 28km, then 23km, then 30km etc.). The bi-weekly increase as the runs have become longer is to allow for recovery and to make the training plan less straining and monotonous.

Product Recommendations/Reviews

SIS gels – SIS gels have been recommended to me by a lot of runners, and I can see why. They are a really easy way to take on carbohydrates and energy during a long run. I like that they come in 90kcal sachets, as some gels are twice that, and this allows me to spread out my intake more to my preference. Tip: Berry flavour is a no go. Orange and the other citrus flavours have been much better.

Cliff Bloks – I have only recently discovered Cliff Bloks, and I really like them. I was not sure about a solid supplement during running but they are really easy to eat. These provide carbohydrates and energy and I definitely feel the effects. I have tested out having one just as I start my run, and I found it fuelled the first few kms, before I properly warm up and get my head into the run, really well. It is also a good technique for anyone who does not like to eat too heavily just before a run. Mountain berry flavour is my favourite.

Garmin 235 Forerunner – I have resisted writing about my Garmin. I don’t want to be too negative about a good brand. My frustration comes from the Garmin’s incompatibility with the city. The GPS is always out in the city, where I do 80% of my running, and it is infuriating. The battery life is also not as good as I would like. Out of the city, when the watch works well, it is great – the information you can get whilst running is really useful and well broken down. The pace, lap splits, time, heart rate information etc. is ideal. I also LOVE the workout settings, and being able to set up farkleks, intervals etc and the watch simply buzzes to tell me when to run/speed up/rest/slow down. In this respect, the watch has been invaluable for my training. I also really like the large face and the many features. The heart rate monitor is consistent and useful to understand the impact of training on my body and the intensity of sessions. However, I don’t think the watch is particularly intuitive to use, and its rivals such as Fitbit have more user friendly apps. Overall I am unsure about the Garmin. I still use it every day, and I think it has been really good for my training. I prefer it to my Fitbit, but I am still underwhelmed with some of its performance.

Top Tips

Long run nerves – It is all in your head. I have found the first 8-10km of my long runs difficult. I have been close to ‘mission abort’ on the last few, despite knowing I can do 4km, and I can do 8km. Struggling at this point in the run seems ridiculous. But running is a mental game as well as a physical one. Remind yourself that you can do it, but also not being able to do it is okay.

Run – seems a strange top tip right? Just put your shoes on and run. Try not to over think it, beat yourself up about it, or force yourself. Run as much as you can, both on plan and off plan. Then when you don’t run, it never seems so bad because there will be more and there will be other days.

In the words of Bon Jovi ‘woooahhh we’re half way there’.

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