An Early Start to the Day

Day 64 – Tuesday 4th March 2013.

The last month has been nothing short of a disappointing effort in my overall training regime. After having started the month brilliantly with not missing a day during the month of January I did not train at all throughout all of February, not one run! There are many reasons behind this occurring, the most significant being a long list of injuries. Over the last month I have had a swollen ankle for over a week and a half from someone stomping on me in a social soccer game as well as hip and glute problems. The last few days is the best I have felt physically since January.

All of this aside, I knew it was important for me to now get back into some sort of routine this week. Our baby is due in the next week and if I don’t get on top of training now, as a friend pointed out to me, things are just going to be more difficult later on!

Day 64This morning I decided to ease back into it with a 4.5km run, I was not out to break any records but rather just get it done. I awoke this morning at 5:29 am, my alarm was set for 5:30 so this was great as I didn’t disturb my wife who was still asleep in bed next to me. The morning air felt really fresh and I was looking forward to hitting the pavement.

By 5:45 am I was beginning my run around Lake Monger, the sun had only just risen by this stage. I love the feeling of an early morning run as the sun is just coming up or even starting when it is dark and witnessing that moment of transition from night to day. There is just something about witnessing the entire world wake up to a brand new day, an opportunity for redemption and to start a fresh on many new adventures.

The run itself was quite enjoyable, I didn’t really time myself today although I would say it would have been approximately 25 minutes to complete the circuit. This isn’t the best time int he world but I am happy with how my body felt and I know that if I can continue to get up and get on with my running that this time can very quickly come down.

This year I think one of my goals should be to run in a few races, not to compete but rather to measure my development and hopefully hold me accountable. The first I am thinking of is the HBF run for a Reason. It’s not too long only being 14km so it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for me.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I am hoping that this month will be a much more successful one for exercise and committing to my regime. I suppose all I can do is make sure I get up int he mornings when my alarm goes off and give it my best…let’s see how that goes once the baby arrives!

Reflection is a Powerful Tool

Day 31 – Thursday 31st January 2013.

Today marks the end of the first month of my new training regime. As I write this I am reminded that in order to grow and develop one needs to not only look forward at what is to come but also backwards as to what has previously occurred, assess the results of this and decide how things can be improved to encourage a better tomorrow. I feel that as I write today’s post that I could possibly try and cover some of these aspects.

I have been happy with the progress I have made so far throughout this month, whilst there have been some hurdles including a move which took away a good two weeks of training, I have seen growth and development in my abilities. It is still a struggle to get out of bed and do my runs but I believe already I am seeing the benefits with me feeling fitter and definitely looking like I have lost some of the weight already from around my middle. As my desire for doing this training is to maintain a healthier lifestyle I think that I am hitting this target.

Going forward into the next month I would love to get to the end of February having run on every weekday of the month. This is a challenge that is not impossible but will stretch me, especially with full time work now having kicked in.

Day 31Today’s run began just after 6:00am, it was another planned short run of 4.5km. I started the run feeling quite well although I couldn’t get into a fast rhythm. It was a fairly uneventful run, my focus was on trying to complete the lap in under 20 minutes. I felt whilst this would be a challenging target that it would be possible to achieve if I worked hard throughout the entire run.

By the one kilometre mark I had been running for just over five minutes, I knew that this would be off the pace from what I needed to be setting of 4 minute and 40 seconds per kilometre. I tried to pick up the pace but found it challenging to increase my speed, I did manage this however with my next kilometre coming up in 10 minutes. I then experienced the usual problem, my shoelaces came undone, this time both feet!

Picking the pace back up after the shoelace tying was a challenge, but manageable. Unfortunately by this stage I knew that I wouldn’t be breaking my previous best time and going under the 20 minute mark for the 4.5km. My attention now turned to completing it under 25 minutes, this would still be a reasonable effort on my behalf.

By the time I completed the lap and returned to the car my clock clicked over to 22 minutes and 14 seconds which meant the average kilometre was run in 4 minutes and 54 seconds.

If I can get up early enough tomorrow I might try and extend myself with three laps…it all depends on what time I get up in the morning!

Easing Back to Full Routine

Day 30 – Wednesday 30th January 2013.

Today’s run was another step closer to resuming the full workload that I will be carrying throughout this coming year as a result of the return to school. The remainder of this week I will be at school participating in PD for the teaching staff, and whilst it isn’t the same level of intensity as one on one lessons or running an ensemble it is a considerable step up in terms of strain compared to being on holidays. Part of this preparation meant going to bed at an earlier time than I have been with me being in bed just after 11:00pm.

I woke before my alarm at 5:50am, with my alarm set for 6:00am I spent 10 minutes dozing in bed before getting up to go for the 8km run. I had prepared my cloths for the run the night before but had neglected to get out a couple of items which meant I made a lot of noise whilst getting ready which made me feel sorry for my poor wife. By 6:20am I was in the car and headed to the parking spot to start my run.

Day 30I started my run just after 6:25am, I had hoped to better the previous time I had set for the 8km distance of sub 40 minutes. Today was not the day that I would beat this mark. I felt good at the start of the run, just a little slow and tired with my body still waking up from my slumber. I was surprised at the number of people already out running at this time. This sight is something that I will need to get used to, in the coming days I shall start winding the start time back to earlier as I need to be finished my run by 6:30am once the students return to school next Monday. I am keen to leave enough time to get home and eat a good breakfast before heading into school for 7:15am rehearsals which I will be running most mornings of the week before school.

After my first kilometre I was sitting on a split of 5 minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre. I tried a number of times to increase the intensity of this but my legs just felt like lead and wouldn’t move at a faster rate. I have been really conscious of my running style so far this year and worked on not over extending my stride. After listening to some long distance runners I decided to make the effort to take smaller steps more frequently as this reduces the impact on legs and, as a result in incidence of shin splints and other injuries.

As I came up to the end of my first lap I was feeling a pain in my right shoulder. I think that I was feeling quite tired and it was more of a referred pain from holding my body in a position of stress. I corrected this by trying to relax my upper body as I entered the second lap.

The second lap continued along the same line as the first, I continued to try and increase the pace I was running but kept coming up against a barrier. I had contemplated doing three laps today but during the second lap new that firstly my legs wouldn’t cope and secondly that I would run out of time. Still I tried to push myself and coming up to the last 2km I realised that a sub 40 minute time was not going to happen, my hope turned to running the distance in under 45 minutes, this would still be a respectable time for distance even though it wouldn’t be a PB.

I entered the last km just after the 37 minute mark, I figured the time of 42 minutes would be a good effort. I headed over the footbridge and across to the car park where the time was stopped at 41 minutes and 16 seconds. This being an average time of 5 minutes and 10 seconds per kilometre.

Tomorrow will be a shorter run, only the one lap making a total of 4.5km from the car park. Hopefully I can push myself and better my previous times.

A Shorter Distance

Day 29 – Tuesday 29th January 2013.

Today I continued with my planned regime of alternating between a longer distance run and a shorter distance by completing a 4.5km run from the car park, around Lake Monger and back to the car park. I wanted to try and do this distance in a reasonable time but also was aware that the purpose of alternating distances is to provide some respite for my legs and ensure that I don’t burn out from over doing things.

I began my run just after 8:00am, my legs felt good from the beginning of the run as I picked up the pace to the regular tempo that I wanted to hold throughout the exercise. By the 1 km mark I was making good pace completing it in just over 5 minutes, I felt that if I can hold that sort of pace then it would be a successful outing. My legs began to feel a little heavy as I approached the 2 km mark, the fatigue from the day before had started to set in but I did manage to fight off this fatigue and kept up my pace.

Day 29

Then at 2.5km my shoelaces came undone! I had forgotten this morning to tighten them an paid the price. This always tends to upset my rhythm, I stopped to tie it quickly, and tightly, and got back into the run within 30 seconds. Knowing the effect shoelace tying normally has on me I intentionally picked up the tempo for the next kilometre to counter any loss of rhythm.

As I entered the last kilometre of the run I knew that it wouldn’t be under 20 minutes for it, my hope now was to get under the 25 minute mark. This would still be an acceptable time for 4.5km although it would mean that I had missed the sub 5 minute average. I picked up my pace to stretch for the best time possible and managed to reach the car by 22 minutes and 22 seconds.

This time, whilst not a PB for the distance translates to running each kilometre at an average of 4 minutes and 58 seconds. I had managed to maintain a sub 5 minute per kilometre speed for the entire run.

Tomorrow I might decide to extend myself with an 11.5km run. This will largely depend on the time I manage to start as tomorrow also marks the first day back at school.

The Last of the Late Starts

Day 28 – Monday 28th January 2013.

Today’s run probably marks the last of my late starts for the foreseeable future. The start of the school year means that I will be returning to early starts come Wednesday morning when I have to turn up for the first of the teacher Personal Development days, which means a return to 6:00am starts.

I enjoyed my last late start with an 8km run from where I parked my car, two laps around Lake Monger and back to my car starting at just before 9:00am. The cooler days in Perth has meant it is possible to run later and not have to worry about being too affected by the blistering heat we had prior to the New Year.

The beginning of run went remarkably well, I began at a good pace and felt fresh largely due to the two days rest I have had over the weekend. By the end of the first kilometre I was setting a pace of around 5 minutes and 30 seconds, and felt strong throughout my body. Throughout the first lap I managed to sustain this sort of pace to the point that coming up to the end of my first lap I had run 4km in just over 21 minutes, this meant I was running at a pace around 5 minutes and 15 seconds per kilometre.

Day 28

Along the back straight at Lake Monger you can see for approximately 500 metres in front of you and I could see in the distance a runner who I decided I wanted to catch and pass. I began on this task and slowly managed to pull him closer to me. In another 1 kilometre I managed to over take him and continued to pull away, I had increased my pace to be sitting around the 5 minutes flat per kilometre by my estimates.

As I entered the last kilometre of the run I could see that it would be possible to get under the 40 minute mark if I pushed myself. I tried to increase my pace further but found that my legs were now tiring so I managed to hold the consistency of my pace as I headed back over the footbridge and back to the car. With legs burning I continued across the park to the car park and stopped my watch at 38 minutes and 59 seconds, a new Personal Best time!

The second lap of 4 kilometres I had managed to run in approximately 18 minutes, this being equal to an average time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometre! It is not surprising that I was feeling tired come the end of the run.

Tomorrow I will need to start at an earlier time and I think it will probably be a lighter running day of one lap around Lake Monger. I think it might be time to consider building up to a 3 lap course (11.5km) later in the week. Fingers crossed everything keeps going well.

Taking Some Wise Advice

Day 25 – Friday 25ht January 2013.

One of the lessons in life I learnt a long time ago is to always listen to the advice people more experienced than you in a field of life. I am not saying that you necessarily have to always do exactly what they say, rather that in listening you can then make an informed decision on what is the right decision and line of action for one self to then take. This morning’s run was definitely one of these moments.

Yesterday I felt great after my run, there was no fatigue or heaviness in my legs and I thought to myself that today I would be able to go out there ad repeat the exact same things, maybe even push it a little harder. Then last night I was playing my social game of soccer and afterwards I talking to a good friend of mine who is right into long distance running and he said in passing that maybe I should look at alternating between harder days and easier days to try and build up the endurance in my legs. I thought about it but didn’t think that I’d need to worry about it overly because I was feeling really good.

Last night at about 9:00pm I was overcome by a wave of fatigue, it was like my whole body all of a sudden crashed. Whilst I didn’t want to go bed early as there’s still a lot to get done my wife managed to get me to listen to her and have a good night sleep.

I got up this morning and found that my legs felt really heavy and tired, the fatigue from the run yesterday had set in. I was still keen to do a run though and it made me think back to what my mate had told me to maybe alternate days. I decided that today would be a shorter run, only 4km in length rather than the 7.5km of yesterday.

I arrived at the car park approximately 250m away from Lake Monger just before 9:0am and began my run. I felt tired, lethargic and heavy throughout all my legs, it was going to be a slow single lap of the lake today. Within 200m I had a middle age woman pass me in running, it was a humbling experience but I kept my concentration on loosening up my legs and getting some movement back into them rather than trying to catch her.

Day 25

By the 500m mark my legs were starting to feel a bit better so I slowly started increasing my pace, by the 1km mark I could see the lady who had passed me. My mission became simple, to pass her before the lap finished. I continued to increase my pace and incredibly by the next marker (1.5km into the run) I caught her and passed her. My focus now turned to the other runners and walkers around me and setting myself goals and targets to try and motivate me to keep pushing this lap. Then my shoelace can undone!

It might seem like an insignificant thing but yet again as I stopped to tie my shoelace I found I lost all of my rhythm and momentum. It was difficult getting started up again, I found my legs felt heavier than before and I was coming up to the 2.5km marker by this stage. I tried pushing myself and managed to raise the intensity a little, it was important to me to try and finish well. I headed around the corner and up onto the footbridge, this part really hurt with my legs burning and feeling like lead weights but still I managed to keep pushing through.

I arrived back at my car as the clock ticked over to 9:22am. I managed to complete the 4km run in 22min which is not a bad effort with that being an average of doing each kilometre in 5 min and 30 seconds.

If I am keeping to a training regime tomorrow should be a slightly longer run. Now it’s time to get myself rehydrated and full of food to replace the energy I have lost over the course of the run.

Back to the Grind

Day 24 – Thursday 24th January 2013.

Today is the first day I have managed to get back into my running program for almost two weeks. Whilst I have had every intention of training throughout the move it unfortunately proved too much for me physically with fatigue being the largest factor from being able to do my runs / training sessions.

I woke up today feeling tired and not wanting to exercise but knowing that it isn’t going to get any easier when school goes back next week I managed to get myself organised and motivated enough to go for my run. Today was going to be a 7.5km run which would be Lake Monger (7km) plus an additional 500m with where I parked.

I set myself no real goals from a time point of view, it was more the matter of doing it, but when I got into the car I realised that I had forgotten my iPod which meant that I would be running to no music. I wasn’t sure whether this would prove to be a good thing or a bad thing…only time would tell.

I arrived at the footbridge car park that I would be starting from today at 8:45am and began on my two lap trip around the lake. Although I found myself feeling tight to begin with I found that very quickly I loosened up and was feeling good. I seemed to be setting a good time and pace with my rhythm, I had no way to judge this without my music or a watch but it seemed that I was only being influenced by my rhythm and not the tempo of the songs I listen to.

Day 24Very quickly I found myself half way through the first lap, feeling good and certain that my time was going to be a good one. On a couple of occasions I could feel my pace drop off as my mind wandered through the things I have to get done today and tomorrow (the last few days of holidays), financial concerns and worries, ways I could bolster my number of private students, goals for this year (especially if I wanted to start training towards a long distance race which one of my best mates would be keen for me to do with them), what I was going to do from a Catholic Liturgical music perspective this year and what posts could I write / need to write for both and to help people in their everyday life. I managed to always get refocused quickly and pick the pace back up to a constant rhythm.

By the end of the first lap I was feeling a little tired but still fresh enough that I didn’t even consider stopping, powering through I found myself a quarter of the way through this lap in good time. I began judging my speed against the other runners by how far they had walked / run in the opposite direction by the time I passed them for the second, third and even fourth time. This helped motivate me and push me on, another way I did this was by setting targets of when I would catch the person in front or beat the person in the other direction to a specific object.

The last kilometre of the run I tried to pick up the pace. My legs had started to fatigue from the run and I found myself having to really fight and push to achieve this. I think I did manage to increase my speed, even if it was just a little. The hardest part of the run was at the very end, the footbridge. Running back up the footbridge I pushed myself hard to keep the pace constant, this caused a great burning in my legs all the way through to my car.

Having arrived back at the car I checked the time to find it the time had just ticked over to 9:25am, making the time for the run 40 minutes for 7.5km. This means that I ran 5 min and 20 second kilometres on average. The time is also just off the best speed I had managed for a distance of 7km, I ran an extra 500m in the same sort of time!

All of this good work will be undone if I don’t go for my run tomorrow morning. Here’s to getting back into the grind of everyday life!

Rounding Out the Week

Day 11 – Friday 11th January 2013.

I have found that as the week has progressed I have been feeling increasingly tired and have needed more rest / sleep time to fully recover. I think that this is just going to be a temporary state as my body is still getting used to the rigours of my new training regime, especially when combined with two soccer games this week and also moving house at the same time. What can I say, I just don’t like to do things by half!

This morning I was hoping to get up at 7:00am so I could get in my full cardio gym session before heading down to Fremantle to meet with a good friend of mine and have a cup of coffee. Unfortunately this didn’t eventuate and it was 8:00am before I was out of bed. Immediately I knew that this shortened time period would result in me not getting the usual gym session done and being in Fremantle by the 10:00am meeting time so I decided to modify my session for today. I also felt that my legs would appreciate some respite as I was feeling sorer and tighter than I have done so previously since beginning this new regime.

I arrived at the gym and began my workout just after 8:30am. I started with only 10 minutes on the treadmill and decided not to push myself too hard, this would be the warm up for the remainder of the session. My routine followed its usually course of 5 minutes on 7.5km/h before 5 minutes on 10 km/h, this meant that by the 10 minute mark I had run 1.45km. Throughout the run my legs felt quite tight, especially my left hamstring, so I decided to continually monitor my progress throughout the session the last thing I wanted to do was pull a muscle at this stage of the regime.

My 10 minute row was next, I went into this hoping to try and beat my personal best and row over 2.4km in the time frame. To achieve this I started out harder than usual and after a few minutes settled into 30 strokes per minute with a 500m split of 2 minutes and 10 seconds. I started doing the calculations in my head and realised that even at this pace I would fall short of the 2.4km mark inside the time frame. I lifted my stroke and work rate with my 500m split getting down to between 2 minutes and 2 minutes and 5 seconds, this I managed to hold throughout the remaining row but still missed my target falling short by 100m with a distance of 2.3km coming up right on the 10 minutes. I guess the lesson to learn is that in the early stages I need to get my distance up and not leave everything until after the 5 minute mark!

Day 11

To finish I headed over to the cycle for a 10 minute ride. I kept the same regime of alternating between 6 effort level and 3 effort level and had the goal of reaching a distance of over 5km inside the time limit. My first 2 minutes I did fall behind the pace slightly in only riding .9km, this didn’t worry me overly as I always did a slower first two minutes as I built up speed and a rhythm. In the next two minutes I was back on track having ridden 2km inside the four minutes. I decided that I would stretch myself and see what I could achieve, I pulled further ahead int he next 2 minutes and reached the 3km mark by 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I kept pushing myself through to the end of the 10 minutes and managed to ride 6.1km inside this time, a great effort.

Usually at this point I would head over to the mats, stretch and work on my abdominals but I had run out of time. I headed off to have a shower and get changed to go and meet my friend in Fremantle.

I am quite happy with the effort today. Tomorrow’s session is supposed to be a run outside however I might not even get to my session due to the amount I still need to organise and pack for the big move coming up. Normally it would be a just get up earlier, but with how tired I have been feeling and needing my energy to concentrate on the packing and moving of heavy objects it might turn into a miss. As my Saturday sessions I think will become an optional extra in my regime as the year progresses I am not too phased, I still achieved five sessions in this second week.

Missing the Bar

Day 10 – Thursday 10th January 2013.

Today’s run was a bit of a disappointing affair with me not setting any new best times. In all fairness I did start my run about an hour later than I usually did but the overall weather today has been a lot cooler so really that shouldn’t not have been a factor in the outcomes of the run.

Today was an outdoor run, the 7km track I have been doing around Lake Monger (2 laps in total). I began at just after 8:00am and felt quite good early on in the run, I felt that I was making good time as I finished the first kilometre. In the middle part of the run I think I slowed down significantly, the reason behind this would not have been because of fatigue but more because of the amount of large decisions I have had to deal with recently and I found my mind wandering through all the different possibilities involved in buying a new house which settled yesterday.

Day 10All those things aside, I realised that I had fallen behind as I was at the 4.5km mark due to the song that was playing. I raised the tempo to try and make up the distance I had lost, unfortunately I did end up falling short of the 40 minute mark by a minute and a half. This meant I came nowhere near my hoped 37 minutes and 30 second goal. I will have to wait until Saturday before having another attempt at that one.

Whilst there is disappointment from not setting a new PB on this run I am still happy with my overall progress. I am continuing to feel fitter and better about myself and seem to already being able to focus for longer and harder on the various work details I need to get done at the moment. I haven’t really seen any significant weight loss as of yet but I know that as I commit to the regime this will come over the next few weeks.

Tomorrow’s session is supposed to be back int he gym for another cross training session. I am really savouring every one of these that I do because I might need to freeze my membership for a period of time, not because of not using it but more as a saving measure over the next few months. We’ll just have to wait and see what is necessary in the future.

Reaching New Bests

Day 9 – Wednesday 9th January 2013.

Today I still find myself struggling with the desire to actually do my gym sessions. I know that you go through periods where things are just difficult and you don’t “feel like it” so for me that isn’t really a problem you just do it anyway. As someone once said to me, you do something based on a decision and not on a feeling at the time because feelings come and go.

This morning I got up a little later than usual, I decided that I had better try and recover a little after the hard start to the week and as I didn’t really need to get up urgently didn’t rise until 8:00am. I then headed into the gym to complete my scheduled cross-training session.

The sessions so far have been going well, at least once I get there, so I decided today I would push myself a little harder. I wanted to leave having set new bests across all three disciplines of running (20 minutes), rowing (10 minutes) and bike (15 minutes). This challenge I knew would take it’s toll but I figure that it would be worth giving it a crack and seeing how close I would get.

I began with my 20 minute run on the treadmill and started on the usual for 5 minutes before increasing it to 10 km/h for the next 5 minutes. I would usually leave it on 10km/h for another 5 minutes but decided instead to push myself and raised the level to 12.5km/h. This additional pace took me to doing 4 minute and 48 second kilometres and after holding this for 5 minutes I reduced the speed back to 11km/h. I think that my next session I will try a similar thing but only reduce the final 5 minutes to 11.5km/h and gradually build it up like this.

Day 9My rowing started off well, a stroke rate of 30 per minute and a split of 500m in around the 2 minutes 14 seconds. My aim today was to get over the 2.4km mark inside the 10 minutes, a feat that in itself hasn’t proven that easy in the past. By the 5 minute mark I knew that I was falling behind, I’d be lucky to reach the 2.3km in the time so I increased my work rate by lifting the stroke rate to 32 per minute and reduced my split to 2 minutes and 8 seconds per 500m. By the 8 minute mark I had improved my position but the 2.4km seemed to be proving still elusive, i increased my output by reducing my split down to 2 minutes per 500m and held that for the remaining time. Unfortunately I fell just over 500m short of the 2.4km with a row of 2.345km inside the 10 minutes.

I was feeling quite tired by this point in time as I headed over to the bike for my 15 minute ride. I had missed out on setting new PBs across all three apparatus but was hoping that I could finish by riding over 8km in 15 minutes. I kept the same regime of alternate 2 minute effort levels and began at an alright pace, the rpm was holding around the 100 mark and by the end of 2 minutes I was only just under having ridden a kilometre. I decided to try and push myself that little harder to make up the time and managed to be on track having ridden over 2km by the 4 minute mark with my rpm up at 110. I kept pushing myself and kept pulling further in front, I was not sure whether or not I would get over the 8km in the time and found myself setting targets of distance to have covered by certain times. I know that on average I can ride about 600 metres in every minute on the bike, it would be close but I should be able to get there. By the 13 minute and 30 second mark I had ridden 7km, the end was insight and definitely possible, at approximately 14 minutes and 40 seconds I crossed over the 8km mark – it was done! The ride finished at 15 minutes with a distance of 8.1km being covered, an effort that I am quite proud of.

To finish the session I completed my usual three sets of 50 sit ups, today I pushed myself  with the use of a 9kg medicine ball, the extra weight made it a little harder. I spent the next 10 minutes stretching out my legs, tomorrow I have another 7km run to complete and would like to see if I can get down to 37.5 minutes for it.

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