Week four of 40: A week’s training in four days

Monday 22nd January to Sunday 28th

My training blog for last week is brief! The training was crammed into four days, from Tuesday to Friday, due to a busy work week and family commitments.  I ran  33 miles over three slow runs with the longest being 12.5 miles, and I did three My Ride Spin Classes.

I feel very mileage-depleted and am a little worried about the lack of long runs for my ‘tempo’ marathon. But I am pleased with what I managed to fit in this week, as commitments on the off days just got in the way of training. It’s all about adaptability.

Friday’s brick session was challenging, a tough My Ride, followed by 12.5 miles of running – but very satisfying.

I also saw my physio at Studio 57, who gave me some great exercises to do for the recovery of my broken collar-bone*. She also taped me up as I may give a race a go and I want to avoid too much vibration and irritation to my broken bone.

I’ve done a little video of my exercises which I will share if the guys at Studio 57 are happy for me to so. You can see the ‘still’. And also how I was wrapped up should I choose to race.

*Note I am a little ahead and this might not be right for everyone at this stage.

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Week three of 40: Getting back in the groove

Monday 15th January to Sunday 21st

Training last week got me feeling back in the groove. I’m taking baby steps back to Ironman training. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I feel fitter and I even managed to go for a run sling-free on Sunday!

So here’s the week of Ironman training… On Monday evening I headed off to My Ride (spin class). The instructor saw my sling and spent ages getting me set up and in place, but two minutes into the class I started to get the familiar flashing lights that show a migraine is on its way. For me my migraines are more about vision than the super intense headaches, starting with a few flecks, and flashes, then full-blown kaleidoscope after about 10 minutes. I tried sticking it out for two tracks, but the Toronto river walk on the screen was making me feel sick and I could barely see, so off I went!

Tuesday started much better, although the migraine had lingered on all night on Monday, so I still kept the pace easy and enjoyed a 10 mile sling-run along the seafront. On Wednesday I had a busy day in London so it was an early start at My Ride, then off! On Thursday I met Rachael Woolston for an FTP test. I’m not quite sure I mastered it, but the score was, as I expected very low,  but it was good to get a benchmark. After this session I ran and felt okay so decided to throw in some tempo running around 8 min mile pace and managed five miles at this pace, nearly nine in total (I’m conscious that marathons need mileage so it’s good to add in extra when I can). On Friday I joined Bri Tri Club for our early morning spin class. Using My Ride, we were training in colour zones (blue easy, red, hard – that’s very simplified) which was motivating and good fun. I followed this with a freezing cold sling-run, including one mile sling-free. I headed off to The National Running Show on the 7.09am train on Saturday morning and didn’t train, but on Sunday I met Rachael near the NEC and we had a chatty run around a small lake. I had intended to continue round the lake, but when I found myself jogging in the Hilton car park, I felt it was time for the treadmill.  headed inside and hopped on for a 10K run (I say hopped on, it takes all my mental strength to do a treadmill session). I managed the entire 11.5 miles without my sling. I was four miles short of a target of 41, but pleased to be back to basics.

Fiona Bugler's collar bone break X-ray showing six screws and plate

Clever surgeons have nailed it!

So-long sling

Guest Blog: Seven Years to go from Zero To 100-mile Ultra Runner

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Victoria Fraser, a 42 year-old pharmacy technician and ultra runner from Oxfordshire  sent me her blog. She’s single and has one daughter, Heidi, age 15.  She started running with a five-mile race in 2010. Seven years later she’d completed a 100-mile off-road race. And her appetite for distance hasn’t waned…

“Did I find ultra running or did running find me?  It was like a calling, one of those things that fitted into my life, without me really trying to fit it in. Only twice before in my life has that happened. The first time, when I was a dancer, and the second, when I started my pharmacy career.

’And my introduction to running was accidental. I never planned to do it  Some people have a  bucket list in life often including running a marathon, I never had this and I really had no wish to run big distances, or even a Parkrun. It just happened!

‘It began at work when a colleague’s daughter was running a five-mile charity fun run at Blenheim Palace, I said I’d sponsor her. Then without thinking, I said I’d do it too. ‘What? Why did I say that?’ I hadn’t run since school. I certainly wasn’t unfit – I’d been a dancer up to the age of 20 and then did a lot of cycling to keep fit – but since becoming a mum I lived in a whirl of crazy activity and hadn’t followed a structured fitness regime.

‘So, the five-mile fun run day arrived April 2010 Because it was only five miles I didn’t train – no need right? Only five miles? Ouch!  No proper training and not wearing the right running shoes taught me the hard way. My lungs were screaming after the first mile, but I still finished in just over an hour and was buzzing that I’d done it. When I got home, still aching, I was looking for more…

‘The next step was to enter an off-road 10K, the Candleford Canter, organised by Alchester Running Club in Bicester. Every weekend I increased the mileage by just half to one mile usually running twice at weekends . I completed the 10k in just over an hour.  Without a great master plan I just started to run more. Gradually, as I ran further, and continued to refine my training, I felt confident to set bigger goals, and very soon , six months later  I ran  an off-road half marathon.

’I was becoming a runner, and it was now more part of my life. And soon I made running friends by joining Runners World online  community, and as runners do, chat about going further, and different races started. And it was in one of these chats the idea was planted to run a marathon. But I was quickly drawn to the ‘dark side’ of ultra running – it was like a magnet for me. My friend, Nick had talked about a 35-mile he had done and it captured my imagination. I knew I had to do it. I entered a marathon in January 2012, but only to use as a stepping stone to the world of ultras. I completed the marathon in January 2012, and was already looking ahead to the Northants Shires and Spires  35-mile race. With this done, the next goal, the Centurion North Downs Way 50 soon followed, it was taking place in August 2012.

‘I was gripped by distance, trails and hills. There was so much to take in, navigation, technical off-road running and nutrition but I was keen to learn and met the right people, asked the right questions and soon I’d become a fully fledged ultra runner.

‘As a mum,  fitting in training could be difficult. And the longer the races and the longer the training runs the more I needed to be organised. My daughter Heidi, who was just seven when I started running, and saw me going out for a short run and her being able to come and watch to mum going to an event and having to leave the night before and not re-appearing until Saturday night! Fitting in more miles has got easier as she’s got older  and early morning runs done before the day’s duties at weekends. Now she’s a teenager and having a mum that runs 100 miles is quite cool! I believe I’m teaching my daughter that there are no limits and if she really wants to do something then she can. Hard work, training, persistence and confidence in yourself will result in achievements.

‘I continued to race in 2013 and 2014 and my body grew stronger and confidently covered the distance. In 2015 I wanted to push it further and so I entered the 100K Race to the Stones. There was no time pressure and I just wanted to cover the distance,  and it felt good knowing I could still run further without injury or issue.

‘By this time I was getting good at knowing which kit worked for me, and how to get fuel,  hydration and pacing right. I’m not fast but I’m a consistent runner. I pace steadily and strongly. I was also learning to trust my mind,  and to respect the fine line between being blasé and thinking nothing will go wrong, and knowing how to push hard.

‘In 2016 I set myself my biggest goal to date, a grand slam of 50-mile races, adding up to 400 miles and 27,000 ft elevation in total. I had a step-by-step approach, and broke each race down into manageable chunks, not daring to think about the next race. It was an amazing year of running! And as I suspected once completed, my appetite to run further was still there.

‘So in 2017 I decide to reach for 100 miles in one go. This was another step up and now I had to consider crew, a pacer, and drop bags – I had to have a plan. I chose the South Downs Way 100 in June. Two months before I’d run the South Downs Way 50 and had knocked a lot of time off the previous race time, so I knew I was in good shape. The night run was fantastic. I knew the second half of the course which would be at night so this helped, and my trusted friend, James acted as my pacer and confidence builder, reminding me I could do it.

‘When it came to the night, it all went to plan. The weather was prefect, there was a full moon all night and I couldn’t have asked for more help than I had. There were tough moments – steep climbs and hallucinations – and there were beautiful moments – looking back over the hills at Southease to see tiny bobbing head torches in he distance!  I arrived in Eastbourne and crossed the line at 8am on Sunday morning, severely sleep-deprived but elated. Later, as I sat with my cup of tea in the sports hall, I smiled to myself as I looked at my 100-mile running buckle resting on my knee, and remembered it had all started with a five-mile run, and once again asked myself, did I find running, or did it find me?

‘As for what’s next. I want to keep seeing what I can do. I hope to complete the Centurion slam of four 100-mile races in 2018, and then I hope to progress into mountain ultras such as Tenerife Blue Trail or Transvulcania Ultra, both of which are on volcanic mountain terrain. The journey continues.’

 

Week two of 40: New Goals

Monday 8th January to Sunday 14th

Week two of 40 weeks of Ironman Training with the focus still on recovery and building fitness for the first shorter term goal of getting fit enough to run the Brighton Marathon.

Week two was about getting started again, and getting some goals in place.  My collar-bone feels very stiff and I’m guessing it’s how should feel when the bone starts fusing back, but it’s making me feel a bit more cautious about  doing longer or faster running.

I didn’t quite manage the 10 hours plan! I did train for 5.5 hours. I think 10 is probably too lofty a goal at this stage.  The good things were the weight gain, dropped off and I’m not fast, but I’m not too unfit as I was able to get out and about and join My Ride classes and do some easy ‘sling-running’.

Sling Runner

Week two included getting my tooth fixed, and losing the top-dressing on my clavicle and I’m moving about and mostly normal! I went to the physio at Studio 57 too early (typical me –inpatient) but have booked another appointment for week three.

So what did I do? I ran four times, and got on the stationary bike three times. As always adjustments have been made. Midweek, I thought I might get a long run done at the weekend, but after seeing the physio and feeling more tired than I expected, I procrastinated my way out of it and just ran 10K easy on Sunday.

I was told that even though I feel fine, I have to wear the sling still to protect the healing I cannot see and avoid too much vibration. I was told by a friend who’s also a radiologist that when you break a bone and it’s in plaster you have to stop, but a collar-bone, with a plate that feels fine, still needs to be treated with care. I did listen.

It’s not brilliant going ‘sling-running’, but it’s not awful either. It’s annoying but I feel more confident on my feet now and I don’t think I’m compromising my running gait too much. To make myself feel I’m still moving forward I did however, set myself a goal. You can read about my Marathon Goal here.

Parkrun

Volunteering at park run was a real positive and something I would like to do more of, injured or not. Such a great event. All life unfolding in front of me as I stood at the boulders, watching the two per cent of the population who can be bothered to get up and get out on a Saturday morning – fastest and the slowest putting in the same amount effort, feeling the same pain – it was truly inspiring.

This is a quickly composed post (possibly riddled with typos)as work has suddenly got very busy – and as a self-employed content consultant I’m going with it and planning to run around 40 miles and do some My Ride Bike training sessions. I  will update next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marathon Goal

 & What it took me to run sub 3.30 and sub 3.15 for the marathon…

The drama of the broken bone is done. I need to get fixed and get fit. I feel like I’m starting all over again and have a blank sheet for 2018. For me the thing to do is to set some goals (realistic goals) – and given the time of the year, it’s time to set my marathon goal, which this year, is a stepping stone to the Ironman in October and I’m calling it my ‘tempo’ marathon.

My collar-bone has another four weeks to fully heal, and although I’m sling running and cycling this is pre-training, training. I have set the marathon goal and written it down (to be revealed later) but whether I do the marathon or not is still to be confirmed and full marathon commitment is on hold for five weeks. In five weeks I’ll know whether my collar-bone has healed properly and I’ll have either got the running started, or not! I’m certain that I do not want to put short-term gains ahead of the long-term and be left with an arthritic, achy shoulder.

I keep good records of training and know what results I can expect from the mileage I do. Based on the previous evidence, and my current fitness and time available, I know that the best mileage I can expect to accumulate for the Brighton Marathon in 14 weeks is a maximum of around 650, which is really only over 12 weeks as I have a week’s skiing and a week Tri training in this block. I’ve added to that 100 miles ran for the previous six weeks (when I had 2.5 weeks out due to injury and illness and ran less anyway!) and that’s a total of 750 for 20 weeks. This is roughly 75 per cent of past marathon mileage for 20 week blocks. However, I will also be re-introducing cycling on the road, and swimming from mid Feb onwards.

Come April it’ll be three and a half years since I last ran a marathon (although I did take part in the Ben Nevis Braveheart Triathlon in September 2016). 2017 was my rest year. I didn’t do any distance racing, I had a few injuries that meant I took more than a month off. This wasn’t planned, but I do think I’ve benefited from having a rest year, a year where I ticked over with some triathlon and 5Ks.

I have set myself my Tempo marathon goal. It’s considerably slower than the past but it gives me a starting point to take me into the V50 category and beyond. I’ve written it down today and photographed it to be shared when/if I cross the finish line in April.

And as far as what I did to run sub 3.30 and sub 3.15 marathon, here’s the mileage I ran:

1190/ 2009 Nice

3.13.22

1114.4/ 2010 London

3.12.23

1095.5/ 2011 Brighton

3.16: hot day should have been quicker – ran a 320 off road in Richmond a few weeks later after a night out!

1023.5/ 2012 Berlin

3.09.08

899.3/ 2013 London

3.11.05

 

973.5/ 2014 London (had also done Himalayan 100 in 2013 so good for endurance)

3.12.40

926.3/ 2014 Amsterdam

3.27

909.4/ 2015 New York

3.29

Endurance Women Marathon Schedules

Endurance Women are happy to announce we’re giving away FREE marathon training schedules written by Fiona Bugler, a former level three personal trainer and running coach with 10 years coaching experience, as well as experience writing schedules and plans for a number of publications and brands.

The novice marathon schedule is based on three key runs a week. You can walk/run or do easy runs two more times a week. The intensity is relative to you. For information about our Core Sessions, CLICK HERE.

For your free schedule, fill in the form below stating ‘NOVICE’, ‘INTERMEDIATE’ or ‘ADVANCED’ in the message box.

Half marathon, cycling and triathlon schedules coming soon.

 

Recovery: Week one of 40

Monday 1st January to Sunday 7th

I miscounted my weeks! I had to count in my iCal twice, but I’m pretty certain from Monday 1st Jan to October 8th 2018 is actually 40 weeks. And I like 40 as my new countdown, it’s kind of biblical – and it’s the start of my recovery period.

I’m writing this towards the end of week one of 40 on Saturday morning. Yesterday, I had my operation on my broken clavicle  (or more precisely, a ‘displaced multi-fragmental clavicle fracture with two thin butterfly fragments’) and now have a plate stabilised with six screws – making me an Ironman in the making!

My planned 10 hours training will start next week, but this week I’ve made sure I’ve got out and walked every day – albeit for just half a mile to two miles and I’ve done some squats, lunges etc. Today I’ve started my post op exercises including swinging my arm and bicep curls without the weight, and I’ve booked an appointment to have my nails done which means walking and coffee.

I do feel like I have my very own mountain to climb to get back to fitness. I’ve put on half a stone and feel very unfit. But the endurance journey happens one step at a time. My amateur athletic performance has dropped off since 2014, the last time I ran a sub 1.30 half, a sub 3.15 marathon and sub 20 5K. So it’s a new voyage of discovery with the hiccups of last year’s bilateral avulsion to the ankle and the multi-fragmental clavicle fracture – and a much lower base fitness.

But for now it’s all about recovery – and so far so good. My arm fixed , my face healing (I’ve almost lost my Hitler mousetache-scab!) and spin bike sessions booked up from tomorrow morning. I was very lucky to have a five-time Ironman surgeon, who told me I could start turbo immediately – no excuses then!

week two

week one

 

 

 

Core Runs

 Whether you’re an elite athlete, or an absolute beginner, these core runs are the running ingredients you need to create the perfect menu of success.

From beginner to elite level you can apply the guidance below to your microcycle of training (a week to 10-day block).

The only thing that changes as you progress is the volume (how far) and the intensity (how fast) of your running. 

LONG RUN 

Build endurance and aerobic fitness by running (or for beginners walk/running) a slow easy long run every week, from 30 minutes for 5K to three hours for a marathon.

Benefits
Boosts your aerobic endurance by improving V02 max (maximum oxygen uptake).

Intensity: Run at six to seven out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

TEMPO RUN

Run (power-walk for beginners) for up to 20 minutes to an hour at a pace that feels comfortably hard to get used to running faster for longer. Optimal training is progressive, so this is a good one to measure if you can cover more ground in the same amount of time (week three and week six). Tempo or threshold running is great race practise and you can easily fit it in by doing a parkrun, with 10 to 20 minutes warm up and cool down either side (go longer either side if you’re marathon training or feel you need to build your endurance). The definition of this longer sustained pace running can also describe threshold marathon training runs of up to 10 miles at marathon pace, or even longer tempo intervals of such as 3 x 2 miles.

Benefits
This type of running raises your lactate threshold. This is the top end of your aerobic zone, the point before you go into anaerobic (i.e. without oxygen, sprint zone). The higher your threshold, the longer you can sustain race pace.

Intensity: Run at seven to eight out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

INTERVALS

Anything from power walking hard/easy between lampposts 10 times to dedicated track sets fall into this category. Intervals are usually based on short bursts of time, or repetitions around a 400m track, such as 6 x 800M with one minute recovery (which could be 6 x 3-4 minutes for the intermediate runner). The best way to include interval or speed training into your schedule is to join a running club track or road session.

Benefits
Short, sharper, faster high intensity intervals will help you run faster and boost your overall fitness. Speed work will increase the number of type-two muscle fibres (the ones that help you run fast); strengthen quads and improve the strength of the breathing muscles.

Intensity: Run at eight plus out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

RECOVERY

Easy runs run at a conversational pace will help boost your overall aerobic fitness and the more you add in the fitter you will become, particularly for longer distance races. However, don’t just do recovery for the sake of it, make sure you plan these easier runs into your training package.

Intensity: Run at five to six out of 10 on the Running Intensity Scale.

OPTIONAL SESSIONS TO SWAP WITH INTERVALS OR TEMPO RUNS

CIRCUIT RUN

Do this run on the track or on grass. Warm up for 20 minutes. In this run you will combine short, fast bursts of running in a circuit to increase leg turnover/cadence, muscle reactivity and strength endurance, and improve running form and economy and race speed. Between each circuit you will recover for six to seven minutes, because there of lactate build-up.

Aim to do three circuits of six to eight exercises, such as below (as recommended to me by running coach Martin Cox).

  • 30m fast
  • 10 jumps from the ankles
  • 30m fast
  • 10 skips
  • 30m fast
  • 10 side skips with arm circles
  • 30m fast
  • 30m butt kicks
  • 30m fast
  • 30m high knees
  • 30m fast
  • 30m hopping
  • 30m fast
  • 10 squat jumps on the spot

Jog for six minutes and repeat the circuit three times.

HILL SPRINTS

When: During an easy run 

The aim of hill sprints is to improve leg strength, foot speed and muscle elasticity, and develop the capacity of the nervous system. Hill training also improves stride length and stride frequency. During easy running you recruit only 30 per cent of muscle fibres, and always the same 30 per cent – the others are ‘resting’. So hill sprints will remove deficiencies within, and improve the basic overall quality of your muscles (by recruiting the highest possible percentage of muscle fibres including the hard to activate fast-twitch fibres). The steeper the hill, the shorter the sprint. Run easier grades of 10 to 15 per cent sprint for 12 to 15 seconds; and with very steep hills of 20 to 30 per cent, sprint for only eight to 10 seconds.

  • Stretch before you start and do the first two sprints a little slower than the rest to warm into them.
  • Jog on flat ground to start.
  • When you reach the hill it is important to run explosively but not so hard that you sacrifice good form.
  • Keep your body upright, drive with your arms, and try to think about high knees and a high frequency of leg turnover.
  • Allow two to three minutes to walk or jog back down to the start of the hill. Don’t start the next sprint until you feel totally ready to go again (this is not endurance training, it is strength training). Repeat six to eight times.

STRIDES

You can include 20 second strides after a 45 minute steady run and some stretches to flush out residual lactic acid and boost your running economy and mechanics. These short strides include plenty of recovery (around two minutes) and require you to run hard, but not flat out, focussing on form: be relaxed, land on your midfoot, make sure you have good posture. In their book, Advanced Marathoning Pfitzinger and Daiels recommend marathon runners include 8-10 stride reps of around 100m  as part of medium distances runs at least twice a week.

Cross Training: It’s great if you can include weight training, swimming, cycling, walking in addition to running. Don’t be tempted to try to combine running training with super hard circuit classes – choose yoga, stretching and maintenance weight training.

AND DON’T FORGET TO PLAN IN REST & stretch

Running Intensity: how hard should it feel?

It’s hard to define and Running Intensity because it depends on your individual level of fitness, which will increase as your training progresses. It doesn’t matter how you get to hard, whether it’s power walking or sprinting at five-minute mile pace, the way you feel should be the same.

The more endurance fit you are, the longer you’ll be able to maintain a harder pace (for example tempo). The table below is based on the Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion table but for simplicity uses one to 10 to measure intensity perception.

PERCEIVED RATE OF EXERTION 

Effort level Effort rating Activity (approximate, depending on fitness) Description
1 None None Standing still
2 Minimal Shuffle Minimal activity
3 Easy Slow walk COOL DOWN.
4 Light Moderate walk Normal pace – WARM UP/COOL DOWN AND RECOVERY.
5 Fairly light Brisk walk/light jog Walking – striding out or jogging a little above march pace; heart rate and breathing increase a little. WARM UP/COOL DOWN AND RECOVERY.
6 Moderate Jog/easy running Easy jog – active but not challenging; breathing is easy and steady; can hold full conversation.

LONG RUN SESSIONS.

7 Slightly challenging Steady running Sustainable steady running – general race pace; breathing and heart rate are raised but not uncomfortable; can talk but not entire way round.

LONG RUN/TEMPO.

8 Challenging/slightly hard Tempo running Brisk – challenging running at increased pace; breathing should be harder; comfortably hard; can speak one or two words.

TEMPO/INTERVALS.

9 Hard Hard running Fast running with arms pumping; can’t speak. INTERVALS.
10 Maximum Maximum Maximum effort – sustainable for one minute or less; can’t speak. SHORT STRIDE OUTS AT THE END OF EASY RUNS.

 

 

 

Goal-Setting & Planning Your Training

When goal-setting, all good coaches will look at the bigger picture and periodise training for endurance. The start of the year is a great time to plan your training and set goals for the long-term, the medium term, and the short-term.

What’s your goal

The bigger picture: the Macrocycle

This is the period that spans your entire plan. When an elite athlete is goal-setting, it might be a whole year, or the run up to the Olympic games. For recreational athletes a macrocycle may refer to a four-month training plan for a marathon or cycling sportive, or a six-month weight-loss target. New year is a good time to draw up your goals and map out your macrocycle.

Medium term: Mesocycle

Medium term goal-setting usually is between six and eight-week period blocks, where you’ll focus on improving different elements of running fitness, e.g. endurance, or speed endurance, or speed/race prep near the end of a schedule, or a specific four-week block, like the cycling time trial plan.

Most of the mesocycles in our schedules include a step-back week scheduled in after three weeks, and on the fourth week volume/intensity is maintained, ready to continue to progress in weeks five and six.

Shorter term/day to day: Microcycle

Goal-setting needs to include every day of the week! Sunday a night is a good time to review goals for the week ahead and commit to your plan.  A microcycle doesn’t have to be a seven-day period, such as a shift worker may plan in blocks of five or 10 days).

In this part of the schedule you’ll need to consider what frequency of training you will do (i.e. how many times a week); plan the intensity (i.e. allow a rest/recovery between a long run and a speed session); and allocate time for each session.

You can choose your day to train, but make sure you think of your harder sessions, such as in running, your interval, tempo, and long run as a two-day block, as you need to recover after each of these sessions. Similarly, cross training intensity should be monitored, for example, a relaxing yoga class may replace or be done on a recovery day, but a hardcore circuits class would need to replace an interval or tempo session. Don’t try to pack in what you missed, just pick up the schedule and build up in a progressive way again, allowing time to recover and build.