Commuting: running vs cycling

The training plan said 4 miles today. As I skipped my weekend runs (Parkrun was cancelled on Saturday, and our flat was so hot and stuffy on Sunday that by 7pm – the time I meant to head to the gym for my 8 miler – I felt so lethargic and sleepy that I went for a cool shower and then stayed home instead) I decided to join my friend on her run in to the office.

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Actual sunshine! In England!

The total distance was around 6 miles, but I walked to her place as a warmup and we walked most of the 2 big hills. Given that and the gazillion road crossings (I paused my sports band for each walking break) the total distance we ran was 4.65. Whilst this might not have been as much as I’d hoped, it was still more than I ran before work on Thursday (4.44), and above the 4 miles the plan asked for, sooo ..

As I’ve said before, marathon training (and running in general) takes a bit of trial and error. Today, I had a banana before I left – as I ran out of energy without it on Thursday – but I didn’t learn from my sports drink mistake, and grabbed a bottle of the normal (not light) stuff, and forgot to dilute it. By 3 miles or so, my stomach started to feel a little uncomfy (though I had made sure to just take regular little sips rather than gulping it down) so I stopped drinking it and just decided to rehydrate properly with a glass of water at the office.

The last mile felt really good, and I would have happily carried on for a couple more if I’d had time. I had expected the heat to be an issue – it was already creeping up towards 18 degrees when I left, and the breeze wasn’t much help – but it was only on the last stretch of main road that it got really warm. I imagine this was because of the tarmac (and the fact that it was 21 degrees, with no breeze). Once we got into the residential areas near our office, there were plenty of trees along the path, which meant plenty of shade!

When we got to the High Street by our office, I popped into Sainsburys to grab some lunch for later (and treated myself to a nice cold latte!) and got some funny looks .. To be fair, I was very red and pretty sweaty .. But it meant people gave me plenty of space and I was in and out within a few minutes! Win! 😀

I definitely think that early mornings are the way to go. I’ve coped with them much better than I’d expected, though the first couple miles are always a little uncomfortable and I’m pretty sleepy to begin with (well, all day, really). The tiredness is SO worth it, though. I get to go home this evening and relax without feeling the slightest bit guilty – and I’ve crossed off a training run before breakfast!

I was thinking about it on the way in, and I can’t decide which I prefer – cycling to work, or running. There are a few pros and cons for each. Firstly, cycling up the hills is a LOT harder on my legs (quads, especially) than running up them. On the other hand, it takes me a good couple of miles to get into a decent rhythm when running, as my breathing doesn’t settle right away. On the plus side, running downhill feels better than cycling downhill, because whilst you still put in the effort to continue running, it almost feels effortless – so awesome.

Then there are the roads. When cycling, you get overtaken and cut off and pushed into the gutter .. it’s dangerous, and it also takes a lot of effort to pick up your speed after coming to a stop on the bike (which is the moment when cars usually blast their horn at you). But running isn’t much better – you constantly have to cross over the big roads, and cars almost never stop to let you go. Then again, whilst the stopping and starting breaks up the rhythm quite a lot, it offers a bit of a breather and a stretch, and it’s not too hard to get going again.

I think running might just win 😀 And in any case, it’s running that I’m focusing on at the moment. And I’m hoping that as my fitness improves and my legs get stronger, it’ll get easier. Ironically, it’s the cycling that caused my recent knee niggles – they’ve felt absolutely fine on my recent runs! (Though my legs ache much more after a run than a cycle. But it’s a good ache, which I’ve missed!)

Do you prefer running, or cycling? How do you get to work?

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30 things you never hear runners say

devonThere are some really beautiful places to run in Devon .. Wish I was there!

I was browsing the Running Bug recently and found the following article, which I found quite funny – 30 things you never hear runners say:

1. I hope there are lots of over-friendly dogs out on my run today!

2. I’m so glad I had that burger before my run.

3. I wish all runs were uphill.

4. My shorts are just too short (men).

5. I’m waiting for it to start raining so I can go out on my run.

6. I don’t care that I didn’t get a PB – it’s all about the experience.

7. I just love the muscly calves that running has given me (women).

8. Ooh, let’s take the stairs.

9. No, I couldn’t possibly manage another piece of chocolate.

10. Oh I’m so glad I’m injured so I can take some time off.

11. My shins never hurt.

12. I find my foam roller so relaxing.

13. I’m so flexible – I can touch my toes AND put my head on my knees.

14. ‘Run Forrest, run!’ Bravo. What a witty and thoughtful observation.

15. I’m so glad (insert rival’s name here) beat me today, he/she deserved it!

16. I don’t need a new pair of trainers.

17. Let’s skip running today and watch football.

18. I can run in any old shoe.

19. I’m not hungry.

20. Lycra’s for losers.

21. Running is bad for your knees.

22. I love it when cars get really close to me when they go past.

23. I hate my slender toned body. Now I can wear skinny jeans *sigh*.

24. I always feel so depressed after a run.

25. I think I will leave my watch at home today and just guess how long I’ve run for.

26. I only run to keep fit for my race walking career.

27. I have a mental map of all the public bathrooms within 10 miles of my home (though it’s true).

28. I’m looking forward to hitting the wall at mile twenty.

29. I’m looking forward to mile twenty so I can take my next energy gel .. Yum.

30. I’m one hundred percent fit for this race, my training couldn’t have gone better.

I’d have to agree with the comments and add:

31. I don’t mind it when a group of people blocks the pavement so I have to run around them onto the busy main road.

What would your friends never hear YOU say?

Early morning running

I’m on quite a high right now! I’d forgotten just how energised a (good) run can make you.

As mentioned yesterday (in the blog post I wrote instead of going on my five miler .. ehem ..) I’ve been really keen to move my training sessions from evening to morning. Last night, I decided that I’d give it a go today. I set my alarm for 6:30 (not early by some people’s standards, but still) and then .. I lay in bed trying to fall asleep until about 1am (at that point, I stopped looking at the time). D’oh.

Despite the late night, I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm. The trick? Drink a few hundred ml of water before going to bed, and by the time you wake up you’ll need the loo so badly that you won’t be able to get back to sleep! Genius!

Well yknow, desperate times and all ..

I wanted to get out of the door fairly sharpish, so I didn’t eat before I left. Instead, I drank some water, and grabbed a sports drink to give me some extra energy during my run:

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I don’t pretend to be an expert. I’m a pretty average runner, and this is the first real ‘early morning’ run that I’ve done. I’m just experimenting as I go. But personally, this method really worked for me. I usually feel fairly dehydrated when I wake up, and was worried about muscle cramps and dehydration during my run, but (surprisingly) neither of these things happened. I took a few sips of water before leaving, and regular sips of sports drink whilst I was out – I like the light version, as it doesn’t taste as sugary as the regular ones, though I think I’d have felt better if I’d diluted it a little. My stomach was a little sensitive by the end – it felt the same as when you take a gel and don’t drink enough water afterwards.

When I got back, I treated myself to a mocha, as I didn’t quite feel ready to eat anything. I don’t know whether it was the run, the sports drink or the caffeine but I was buzzing by the time I got on my bike to go to work! Unfortunately, my quads weren’t quite so happy, and I’ll admit there was a lot of swearing in my head on the big hills. On the plus side, compared to cycling, running up long hills is almost enjoyable – my legs don’t hurt nearly as much!

.. How I’m going to cycle home this evening, I have no clue. Might have to hop on the train with my bike – I’ll see how stubborn I’m feeling later.

I think next time I might grab a banana before I leave, and eat something more carby the night before, as I felt I ran out of energy by the end. I’ve found that a banana works really well as a pre-run snack (at least, it does for 5k Parkruns) and it doesn’t affect my stomach at all even if I eat one up to 20/30 minutes before. My pace this morning was a little inconsistent:

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(The slow bit right at the end – about .1 of a mile – might have been me running on the spot outside my house to get it to 4.4, as 4.3 didn’t look as nice on the screen .. It was exactly 4.44 at the end. Yes, I’m a bit sad haha). I covered just over 5 miles in total, but paused the band during my warmup jog. (Not that the rest of the run was much faster than a jog ..) So I can tick my 5 miler on the training plan! Woo!

At the end of the day, I wasn’t going for speed – I simply wanted to try out an early morning run. (And an outdoor run, as I’ve chickened out and run in the gym for the past few weeks). Given that I’m not a morning person, I was expecting it to be uncomfortable .. but I LOVED it. The weather was perfect – warm enough for a tshirt but with a constant cool breeze, and it was almost deserted. (I only saw 4 other runners in the hour I was out). Really peaceful. I’ll definitely be doing more of my runs earlier in the day 🙂

Yay for early morning running!

Running in the heat

I can’t believe how beautiful the weather has been over the past few days – and it’s set to continue until at least next week! It’s more sun than we had over the whole 2 weeks we were in Portugal .. Though we really made the most of the few hot days. One of my favourite trips was to the ‘End of the World’ (the furthest South-Westerly point of Europe) where we looked out across the Atlantic, and enjoyed the evening sun and the cool breeze:

p1To be fair, Surrey is pretty beautiful, too. Though I don’t get to enjoy the sun quite so much from the office! On the plus side, cycling to and from work has been lovely. The only problem with the lovely weather has been all of the Porsche convertibles (or rather, their drivers). They don’t give you much space when overtaking, but man, the noise of those engines ..

When it comes to running, the heat really saps my energy. I guess I’m kind of hesitant to get outside and run in the heat because I know that it’s going to be difficult – especially as I haven’t run outside in a good month or so! (Wow, I’m a slacker). I might have enjoyed my 1hr run last Thursday, but it has to be said that running on the treadmill is much less challenging than running outside. Whilst my (budget) gym might not be air conditioned, there’s a distinct lack of hills or wind resistance!

I’ve really been meaning to get out before work, to avoid the heat. It occurred to me that it makes much more sense to train earlier in the day – not least because it gets it out of the way before the day begins! By the time I get home, it’s easy to find excuses not to run – especially when I’ve already done an hour of cardio by cycling to and from work. Another bonus is that it’s cooler outside, and much quieter – but the main reason is that races (especially longer races) have fairly early starting times. (D’oh). The thing is, I’m really not a morning person. I don’t get up hugely early – 7:30 for work, and 8:00 on Saturdays for Parkrun – and I even find that a bit of an effort!

I’d love to get up an hour earlier and go for a decent run first thing. I know that once I get outside I’ll enjoy it, and I’ll feel great knowing I can cross off a training run before breakfast (and put marathons out of my head for the rest of the day), but I can see it’ll take a bit of adjusting.

Then again, plenty of people train first thing – it can’t be that hard, surely!?

And the training begins!

I was supposed to do my first post-holiday training run on Tuesday. Last Tuesday, actually. But in true Lucy fashion, I came up with a ton of excuses (some were kiiind of valid) to do anything BUT run. And the longer I put it off, the less I wanted to get back out there, because I knew it would be tough and uncomfortable and frustrating.

But when my friend (the one who ran her first 5k recently) managed to run the 6(ish) miles to work on Tuesday, my competitive side gave me the kick in the bum that I needed. Running was my thing – I didn’t want a colleague or friend or anyone else to overtake me! Especially one that I was supposed to be helping to train for a half marathon that I made her sign up for! (Just FYI, wine is an awesome incentive).

I never really considered myself to be hugely competitive, but I guess sometimes I can get pretty bad. You should see me at Parkrun! In fact, thinking about it, I was even doing it during our 31 mile hike across Exmoor – picking people off on the way round. And that wasn’t even a race. Sigh.

Anyway, it jolted me into gear. Today, the scheduled training run was 5 miles. I cycled to work as usual, tried out a pilates class at lunch (which was actually brilliant, though my core strength is non existent), cycled home, and then went to the gym with said friend, determined to at least get a 5k in.

20 minutes on the treadmill and I wanted to stop. I was bored, my chest hurt, and with the gym lacking any sort of air conditioning, I was sweating buckets. Yay, gym. I was also flipping hungry, which wasn’t great motivation to do any sort of exercise at all!

Thing is, my competitive nature came out again. The girl on the treadmill next to me (who started around the same time) was still going, so of course I couldn’t stop. Then she finished her workout and left, but I was so close to 5k by that point that I figured I might as well go for a little bit longer. But when I hit 5k, the time wasn’t a round number, so I figured I should carry on just until the minutes ended with a 5 or 0. (Silly, I know. You should see the excuses I come up with NOT to run ..)

Then someone else got on the treadmill next to me. My friend decided to go and do some other bits, so I told her I’d just be another 15-20 minutes. She agreed, and I carried on going. Thing is, so did the girl next to me .. So of course I couldn’t bail! It got to 50:43 minutes and my friend got back, but it wasn’t a round number, and I was so close to the hour mark, and the girl was still running next to me, so I had to keep going just a bit more.

The girl bailed around 56 minutes (GET IN), and by then it seemed silly not to do the extra 4 minutes to hit the hour mark. I mean, what’s 4 minutes after 56, right?

So I ran for an hour 🙂 It wasn’t the fastest or most comfortable run of my life (especially after cycling and pilates) but whilst I was there, I realised that I really do love running. It makes me happy, and I’m excited to have gotten back into it. I’ll probably still have trouble motivating myself to get out there, but at least now I know that I haven’t lost ALL of my fitness.

Yay running!