I’m sitting outside on the patio in the scorching heat typing this blog with a slight furrow in my brow.
I’m concentrating. I feel really really tired. My husband has just brought me a lovely mug of coffee and I’m hoping that its true what they say – hot drinks can refresh you in the heat.
I’ve just completed my first month of coached training in conjunction with Training Peaks. So how do I feel except for tired? How has it been following a set out plan? How easy/hard are the sessions? Well I’ve set out below the main points which answer these questions and more.
How have I felt?
Great! I feel fitter and stronger. With each passing strength session I’m getting stronger. I’m still not lifting very heavy weights but I feel a little stronger each week. Earlier in the year I was worried that my glutes were not activated. Now I can feel them when I run or do my strength workout sessions.
Cycling doesn’t feel as hard as it did a month ago. After a long break from outdoor cycling I definitely found it hard going at first. I now feel I’m getting my mojo back. It’s hard to say if speed is back or not since I’m supposed to take my long rides really easy, so currently they are very slow.
Running sessions pass quickly. I have the workout written on my hand or on a small bit of paper in my pocket. I get lost in the workout and the scenery. I don’t get bored and I don’t run out of energy like I used to.
I’ve restarted yoga lessons. These particular ones are hard strength poses with quick switches from one to another. I feel like I can do these better than I used to and they give you a really good strength workout. The picture above is not me but it is one of the poses we do.
What have you learnt?
Quite a lot in a short space of time tbh. Ive realised that most of my training (previously) was decent but lacked ‘polarisation’ as the coach called it. By this he means doing certain specific quality workouts and ensuring that workouts are either about recovery or hard work. The middle ground is gone.
I generally have two hard sessions a week. One for running and one for bike. The hard running session will include either hill repeats or sprint intervals. If its the latter it might be longer intervals at half marathon pace or very short sprints at 3k pace. It varies a lot, so its always interesting. The hard bike workout is generally hill work using big gears and grinding up at a slow rpm. This is designed to build leg strength. I find the latter really hard and have always relied on my cardio to get me up hills, spinning away in an easier gear. So I guess its a good session for me to do – one that challenges me.
I have 2-3 recovery runs or bikes a week. These have to be done at a very slow/easy pace. The aim is to keep heart rate much lower i.e. in zone 2. I found this really hard at first but I’m getting better at it and actually I quite enjoy these sessions now. I’ve realised that at this really slow pace I could run forever. Well maybe not, but it feels like it. I’ve also noticed my average heart rate is coming down relative to effort so I think thats a good thing. I assume that eventually my really easy slow run will be faster relative to the same heart rate/level of effort.
I have one long run and one long bike a week, generally done at a slow to moderate pace. Then there are two swims. These can include technique and sprint sessions but are always deemed recovery workouts as your heart rate just doesn’t get that high on a swim.
How has it been following a set plan?
At times this is difficult. Take today for example, I really really cba. But the program said I should do a 2-3 hour bike ride so I heaved myself out of a comfortable armchair, went out and got it done. The majority of the time though I prefer having planned sessions. I dont have to think or workout how to get ready for my next race or target. It’s all done for me. It takes the thinking out of it, which is really nice. It leaves me to concentrate on enjoying whatever workout is set for that day.
Do I find the sessions easy/hard?
See above about polarised workouts. The easy sessions are very very easy. The hard sessions can be very very hard. The hardest ones I’ve found were the hill sprints and a 3km test run which was ‘run as hard as you can for 3km’ – that killed me. Mind you, it was a hot day, high pollen day, which didn’t help.
So what else has changed? In the past if I’d suddenly gone from 9km max run one week to 14k the next my body would of complained – loudly. In the last two weeks I did exactly that and what happened? Nothing. I feel absolutely fine. I’ve realised this is in fact possible when you run slower, warm up properly and make sure your glutes/calves etc are switched on.
So where do we go from here? Well I’ve put my goals into the training app. They include training for a 25k very hilly trail run in September (its actually 27km), possibly doing a weeks bike touring with my husband (also Sept), cycling from Andratx to Puerto Pollensa in Mallorca in October (pandemic dependent) and a 10k run in November. Oh and the little run from John O Groats to Lands End in Sept 2022. That’s the ultimate goal that all of this is working towards.
I’m expecting my second/third months of training to focus on increased efforts on the run and the bike towards these goals. Looking forward to it.