Marathon/ultra training (26/03/18 – 01/04/18)

Not a bad weeks training this week. Managed to fit in 4 runs and a half decent kettlebell workout. My mileage covered wasn’t huge (46.9 km) but three out of my 4 runs were pretty challenging with lots of hill work, so I guess there was a bit of quality over quantity on show this week.

Monday:

So I decided to start the week off by giving the aching old knees a break and do some more kettlebell snatches… I managed 396 reps in 30 minutes… I was happy to set another PB but gutted I didn’t make the 400 rep mark. I normally do this workout as a pyramid (1 snatch each arm, then 2, 3 etc etc) and then tally my reps up at the end of the workout, if I knew how close to 400 reps I was I probably could have pushed a bit harder. Oh well I now have aching shoulders to go with my aching knees anyway!

Tuesday:

So today was the first of my challenging runs. Although it was only just under 10k it left me with two overriding thoughts from run….

1: can I class this run as a hill session?

2: I wish I lived somewhere flat!

The hill at the halfway point is a killer, it’s only about 600m in distance but climbs a good 100m. If I listened more in school I’m sure I could use Pythagoras’ Theorem to tell you just how steep that hill is… but I didn’t listen so you’ll just have to take my word and my aching legs as witnesses that it’s real steep!

Wednesday:

Nice easy 5k tonight to help my legs recover from yesterday’s hilly run.

Friday:

Another hilly run today around Brynbach lake and the surrounding area. Not as hilly as Tuesdays run but still a bit “undulating”. Pretty good practice for the Brynbach 6 mile race in a few weeks too.

Saturday:

“Don’t think, feel….it is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory!”

Bruce Lee.

So today I stopped concentrating on the finger and went exploring. Armed with a hydration pack filled with tailwind nutrition and a vague idea of what direction I was going I set off. I got lost, then found my way, then got lost again… but thoroughly enjoyed it!

As much as I enjoyed it, it was still a pretty challenging run. The out part of the run was a lot easier than the return leg. I didn’t realise how much of a decline it was when I was running down it but felt it when I was running back up!

I’ve lived in the area all my life but never been to the places I’ve ran today despite them being right on my doorstep. Some real breathtaking views and a lot of history in this area that most people, like myself, are probably not aware of. Definitely be exploring these areas again and next time I will be stopping to take some pictures!

Just wanted to finish off with my normal reminder: if you’ve taken the time to read this far please take another few minutes to look at my JustGiving page! Raising awareness and money for the National Autistic Society is the main reason for me doing all this.

http://www.justgiving.com/Owain-Williams14

Thanks in advance!

Owain Williams – The Valley Runner

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Ultra/marathon training (12/03/18 – 18/03/17)

Well if I’m honest that was another disappointing week when it came to my running. Work, niggling injuries, lost mojo, cancelled races and the return of the beast from the east… I only managed three runs totalling then amazing grand total distance of 18.9 km.

Monday:

So my knees been a bit tender the last few days so I decided to give the run a miss and give the kettlebell snatch half marathon another go. I managed 346 reps in the 30 minutes time limit. The first time I tried this last week I only managed 319 reps so I was pretty happy with today’s workout.

Tuesday:

Only a 6.73 kilometre run tonight but god I felt like stopping a few times! I threw in three hill repeats into an already hilly run, I would love to call them hill sprints but was pretty much crawling by the top! God those hills are nasty! Not sure if I should look for a hill with less of an incline to do my hill work on… maybe less incline more speed would be more beneficial than steep inclines and snail pace… who knows, something to experiment with in the coming weeks.

Thursday:

Just another steady paced 6k tonight, it’s really hard to run fast when you’ve got to look for your mojo all the way around… I wouldn’t say I’m a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination but when I run on my own I’m normally average around 5:30 minutes per km, but today I averaged 5:49 min/km, and if I’m honest I was very surprised I ran that fast. Nothing zaps energy more than negativity… and I really wasn’t feeling that run one bit, every step I took was a struggle… but on the plus side I got it done, and I guess I felt a little bit better about things knowing I got a few miles in.

Saturday:

With the weather already pretty crappy and forecasted to be getting worse there’s was a good chance tomorrow’s newport half marathon could be cancelled AGAIN… so I decided to brave the snow for a little run in the morning before it got too bad.

It was the first time I’ve ran in snow in years, so dressed like I was about to rob a bank I set off!Iced over snow covered paths and bitterly cold strong winds made the going really slow… although I wore my inov8 parkclaw trail trainers the conditions underfoot were still pretty dodgy, I was planning on going a bit further but after almost slipping and falling on my ass a few times decided to stick to 6 km.

Sunday:

So with today’s Newport half marathon cancelled for a second time due to the snow, and another load of snow in the South Wales valleys I turned to the kettlebell again. Today I managed 361 kettlebell snatches in 30 minutes, a further improvement from Monday’s workout. As much as I need to get my mileage back up I’m really keen to add more kettlebell and strength work to my training too! If I’m honest with myself I just need to be doing more whatever I’m doing!!

Just wanted to finish off with my normal reminder: if you’ve taken the time to read this far please take another few minutes to look at my JustGiving page! Raising awareness and money for the National Autistic Society is the main reason for me doing all this.

http://www.justgiving.com/Owain-Williams14

Thanks in advance!

Owain Williams – The Valley Runner

Ultra/Marathon training (05/03/18 – 11/03/18)

So the week started very much like last week, hampered by snow! The effects of the beast from the east were still very evident in the South Wales valleys. Roads might have been cleared and traffic moving freely, but all that snow had to go somewhere… and it just happened to be piled high on the pavements making running pretty difficult.

Monday:

There was still way too much snow about to really run safely so instead I planned another kettlebell workout.

I couldn’t really decide what I wanted to do so googled kettlebells and marathon training to look for some decent workouts. I came across a website that talked about kettlebell marathons. You have to preform as many reps as possible of either the Jerk, Long Cycle, Snatch or Half Snatch in 30 minutes (the half marathon) or 60 minutes (the full marathon), if you place the kettlebell down at any point your done… I quite liked the sound of this so I decided to give the kettlebell half marathon a go!

It went a lot better than I expected if I’m honest! I decided to attempt it doing the snatch with my 16kg kettlebell. I’ve not snatched a kettlebell in months so was really anticipating not making it through the 30 minutes, but I did and managed 319 reps.

Tuesday:

So today took it to over a week since my last run, and although the weather was getting better there was still plenty of snow down and I thought I’d leave it another day just to be safe.

So instead of a run I did another kettlebell half marathon, this time doing the kettlebell long cycle (aka clean and jerk). I managed 259 reps. Today’s session felt a lot harder than yesterday’s, my hands were really feeling the effects of all that snow shovelling last week and yesterday’s snatches, still a pretty decent workout and I was pretty happy with my 259 reps.

Wednesday:

So today was my first run in over a week. I ran 6 km along the Brecon Monmouthshire canal after work. It’s less than 20 miles from where I live but it was like a different world… you wouldn’t even know they had snow if it wasn’t for the white peaks of the mountains and the odd patch of snow visible in the bordering fields.

I was really surprised my average pace was 5:13 min/km, my legs felts SO heavy from the first stride, I honestly thought I was running 6+ min/km. Still very nice to be out running again.

Thursday:

Another 7 km done today. I ran with my other half after work alone the canal again. Such a lovely place to go running, really scenic plus being along the canal it’s also really flat, definitely a bonus!!

Saturday:

Another 11.75 km done today with my girlfriend. I’ve always been a solo runner but the more I run with other people the more I think I enjoy it. Distance running can be quite boring and lonely especially when your out running for 2+ hours on your own. I might need to add to my “running crew” though, running with my girlfriend is fun but could probably do with someone that runs a similar pace or faster too to really challenge me.

Sunday:

I was planning a long run today but when I got up this morning I just really wasn’t feeling it. Got a few little niggles, a strange lump on the top of my foot… both knees feeling a little tender (not good for someone that suffers from runners knee)… so instead I decided to do my normal 7.5 km loop.

Just wanted to finish off with my normal reminder: if you’ve taken the time to read this far please take another few minutes to look at my JustGiving page! Raising awareness and money for the National Autistic Society is the main reason for me doing all this.

http://www.justgiving.com/Owain-Williams14

Thanks in advance!

Owain Williams – The Valley Runner

Ultra/Marathon training (26/02/18 – 04/03/18)

Broken treadmill + crazy weather = one really crappy week when it came to running!

Only managed to get out for one run this week, managed a few kettlebell workouts and lots of snow shovelling though to keep me from going crazy and try to keep my fitness levels up!

Monday:

So this turned out to be my one and only run of the week! My “go to” 7.5 km loop. My legs were heavy from the start, I don’t know if it was from the two back to back long runs Saturday and Sunday… or the extra layers I was wearing due to it being -4 out! (You know it’s cold when your considering taking a post run ice bath just to warm up!)

Anyway between the tired legs and horrible conditions tonight’s run was a right old struggle! On the plus side really happy with my new Silva Ninox 2 head torch though! First time I’ve used it, definitely made running at night a bit easier!

Tuesday:

Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!! If I knew how bad the weather would be for the rest of the week I really would have run tonight! But instead I ignored the weather warnings and listened to my body! Yesterday’s run was hard enough, my legs needed a break, so I decided to take one!

Wednesday:

So it’s snowing! It’ll be ok though, I’m sure it won’t come to anything and I can still run after work… well that’s what I thought till I got home from work and it was still snowing! No run today!!

Thursday:

Snow day!!! And no chance am I going running in that. So I thought I’d make the most of my day off and fix my treadmill! At no point would I ever confess to being a handy man… changing a light bulb is probably the extent of my DIY skills, but after 20 minutes tinkling I had my treadmill working again… well at least so I thought. Two minutes into my planned 10k run the treadmill came to a grinding halt again. So another run missed I decided to get the Kettlebells out! 21-15-9 reps of burpees and kettlebell swings… followed by some one hand swings and Turkish get ups! Nice little workout!

Friday:

So it’s still snowing! So another day without running and another day of kettlebells! Today’s workout was:

50 kettlebell swings – 10 sit ups

40 kettlebell swings – 20 sit ups

30 kettlebell swings – 30 sit ups

20 kettlebell swings – 40 sit ups

10 kettlebell swings – 50 sit ups

Although I’m slightly gutted the bad weather is stopping me running I’m a huge fan of kettlebell training. I feel it has a huge benefits for my running. Not only does it improve strength (especially in the hips and hamstrings) it’s a great conditioning tool too, I managed to get my heart rate as high as 193 bpm in today’s workout.

Saturday:

Today’s long run was replaced with a long dig, three hours of shovelling snow… with some of the drifts over a meter high it turned in a half decent workout, worked up a good sweat and my heart rate reaching over 160 bpm! Plus it’s nice to do something good for the community!

Sunday:

The day after a long run my legs ache… the day after hours of shovelling snow, EVERYTHING ACHES! Oh my god I’m in a world of pain today! From my back and abs to the tips of my fingers everything is aching! Really hoping the roads will be clear enough tomorrow so I can run! Really had enough of this snow!!!!

Marathon/Ultramarathon training (19/02/18 – 25/02/18)

So after last weeks “rest week” I finally got my mojo back and got a few decent runs in. It was also my first full week of training without my treadmill so I had no choice but to hit the streets. I managed 5 runs and covered a total of 51km, with 2 rest days.

Monday:

So I started my week with 7.5km of the least motivated running ever… my mojo still wasn’t quite back but I still got it done! I prefer to run at night but realised today that my £5 head torch from Aldi’s held together with tape has seen way better days… probably would have had more light if I carried a candle around with me! Still 42:35 for 7.58 km wasn’t too bad.

Tuesday:

Today I did a run that if I had to categorise it with one word I’d probably go with undulating! Although it was only 6km it felt a hell of a lot longer. The run goes along the mountain cycle path towards Blaenavon… it’s pretty open up there and always windy, I’m not sure what the temperature actually was but with the windchill it felt like I could easily be in the minus degrees. I also threw in a couple of hill repeats… I only managed two and I was spent. There’s a real nasty hill on this run I decided to do my hill repeats on… it’s probably only about a 200m stretch but feels like it’s almost vertical at points it’s that steep. Good for the leg strength though.

Thursday:

Another cold dark 7.5 km tonight. The same run as I did Monday but about 2 minutes faster. I felt a lot better today than Monday and I think the time showed that.

Saturday:

First long run of the week, and another 15k in the bag. Ran the first 10k with my other/better half, I don’t normally run with other people so quite enjoyed today. Deciding to run the mountain path after the first 10k was a bit of a school boy error though… felt pretty hard on the legs but still a nice 15k.

Sunday:

Made the most of another beautiful day with another 13.89km. Really felt yesterday’s 15k in the last 5k though, felt like I was running in treacle. The gorgeous views made the run a bit easier though!

Marathon training (12-2-18 to 18-2-18)

So this week ended up turning into a bit of a rest week, it wasn’t planned but for one reason or another I only ended up running four times totalling 29.9 km.

Monday:

Today I did a CrossFit run WOD I’d seen years ago in a men’s health magazine. 1600m – 3min rest – 1200m – 2min rest – 800m – 1min rest – 400mI set my Garmin forerunner watch to open intervals and open rest periods and to give me prompts every 400m so I knew when to stop each interval….but in hindsight I really should have gone up the running track as my interval distances turned out to be all over the place! Still a pretty decent workout if you do it properly! I managed to finish in a time of 25:43.

Tuesday:

10k treadmill time trial today. I decided to incorporate my hill session too so set the treadmill to 5% gradient for the run. Really didn’t anticipate how hard running 10k up hill would be! Started at 12 km/h and after about 2k my legs were burning so had to slow down. Still a nice little workout though!

Thursday:

30 minute fartlek run tonight, really wasn’t feeling it but still had to be done. I managed to cover a total distance of 6.50 km in the half hour. This is where I must confess, I was planning on running for 45 minutes but like I said I really wasn’t feeling it so stuck to 30 minutes.

Saturday:

So today my treadmill died on me…. I was planning on doing 16km but it came to a screeching halt just after the halfway point… looks like I’ll be manning up and running the streets a lot more.Like I said earlier this weeks kind of turned into an unscheduled rest week, I’ve missed a few runs with work commitments, Valentine’s Day and just lack of running motivation. On the plus side I’ve managed to land myself a new job this week and I’m hoping the rest will help me kick on with my training next week!

Treadmills and mental toughness….

Whenever I talk about treadmill running I get a little bit nervous. I know it’s a subject often frowned upon by most “hard-core” runners, and the “dreadmill” as it’s often referred to, is often the very last resort for those runners. By last resort I’m talking weather of biblical proportion outside… Or suffering from some highly contagious disease and quarantined from the outside world… Some people really don’t like running on treadmills and will do everything possible to avoid them.

This might be where I get ostracised by these hard-core runners, but personally I’m OK with running on treadmills. Not everyone likes running in two foot of snow like some kind of montage scene from a Rocky film… some people might live in a rough neighbourhood and not want to run around late at night… some people might just prefer running on the treadmill!!

I think running on treadmills can give you a lot of benefits in your training. From accurately judging your pace in your speed sessions, customising your hill work using the treadmills incline, to running set distances in your interval sessions. Another benefit of treadmill running is its possible link to improving mental toughness.

I read a post the other day by runnerdier, titled “things I will never do”. In it she talks about running 19 miles on the treadmill…

https://runnerdier.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/things-i-will-neverdo/

One quote that really stood out was when she recalled what her friend told her…

“… if I could run 19 miles on the treadmill, I could run 50 on the trail…”

One of the biggest issues people seem to have with treadmill running is the whole monotony and boredom of it, but could this possibly help build up some mental toughness?

I strongly believe that mental toughness is forged through struggle, from putting yourself out of your comfort zone and doing things you find challenging… And pushing through it.

Running for 2+ hours on a treadmill will mentally challenge most people. I don’t mean running whilst watching your favourite TV show or listening to your favourite playlist, I mean just running in the same spot for 2+ hours, looking at the same spot in the wall. No change of scenery, no change in terrain, no running buddies to motivate you. You can also set your pace, make it uncomfortable for yourself, and just try to keep up with it! Just run!

That kind of monotony for that length of time will be a struggle, knowing you can stop it at anytime by simply pressing one button just adding another mental factor. Negative thoughts will creep in, you will want to stop, but if you can control your mind, stay focused on that task at hand, push through those negative thoughts, you will build a bit of an edge, a bit of toughness about you.

I’m not suggesting some running revolution, where everyone leaves the pavements and trails in favour of the local gym. Nothing will ever beat running outside! But I am suggesting that perhaps the treadmill shouldn’t be so frowned upon, and it could still be a valuable tool in the toolbox of even the most anti treadmill runner. We’ve all heard the saying “Running is 90 percent mental and the rest is physical.” So if fitting in a handful of long boring treadmill runs into your training cycle could give you a bit of a mental edge it should be considered….