Training journal | Week 25| The Eden Project

Exploring new spaces was one of the goals G and I set ourselves at the start of the year. We’re relatively new to Devon and still laying down favourite paths and mapping out new routes. So, the pinnacle of this weeks training would be a trip to the Eden Project near St Ausell in Cornwall. The site, originally a china clay quarry was developed over the end of the last Millenium and opened in 2001. Designed as a charity and social enterprise with its feet firmly in the environment, it opened to great acclaim. I had been desperate to visit it for years.

But first, at the start of another week to excel, I had training to do. I had missed a running session the previous week and started the week with good intentions to nudge the session to the rest day on Monday. I’m sure it’s not the best way to plan training (my plan, certainly not Jon’s) and I’m sure I’ve read that Fink would advise to let the session go. In any respect it was a moot point. I was still sore from the previous weeks efforts and couldn’t bring myself to get dressed, never mind complete a session. Tuesday we were back in the pool and still trying to find the best time to go. We opted for after work – G met me there and we were delighted to find a rather empty pool.

It was an unstructured hour swim, my favourite! For some reason I could not get my arms and legs to work in rhythm, so it ended up being rather a slog. I was happy to get it done nonetheless. It’s no secret that I’m desperate to get in the sea. Open water is much more refreshing and invigorating. And therefore more satisfying. But as Hollywood pointed out, I may be waiting a while for it to warm it!

The weather in the first part of the week was gorgeous and I was a little envious of people posting outdoor training sessions while I was looking at the sunshine from my desk. I snuck outdoors for a weights session during the week which I loved. I love the freedom of riding my bike or exploring new places on foot but nothing generates exhilaration than lifting heavy weights over my head. But, it was with some relief I headed outdoors for a rescheduled run and first of the week on Thursday.

It was only forty five minutes long, so not enough to head for trail on the South West Coast path (at least not the bits that are still firm enough to make progress on). So I opted for a gentle loop around the peninsula through Appledore and back up the hill to Northam. It was one of those runs! The good ones where you felt liberated and like you could run forever. I was aware of fresh air and space around me. I felt like I could finally breathe deeply. Which is rather fortuitous considering what I was doing! After being cooped up all week, it was delicious.

On Saturday I woke just before the alarm with a sense of excitement not normally experienced by this 47 year old. We were off to Eden. G and I got dressed, filled the travel mugs with coffee, picked up packed bags and headed off on the two hour journey into Cornwall.

It was dark and at times foggy. Despite that, we made good progress, not hampered by too much traffic on the roads and arrived just after 8am. My scheduled run was longer than the time it would take to do parkrun so I headed out on one of the cycle trails into the hills behind the park. The trail was (ahem) undulating and would have made for a very exciting ride. But for running it was perfect.

The trail climbed steadily over a variety of surfaces. Occasionally swinging sharp left or right through a gate until I was properly up and away from Eden. I plodded steadily, feeling the effort of yesterdays run in tired thighs. I was keen not to get lost, so stuck to the path and planned an ‘out and back’. The up was more up than I thought and so I made much better progress on the way back, falling short of the extra half an hour by five minutes or so.

Even so, I reached the new runners briefing just as they finished (some would say perfect timing) and looped round the car park a couple of times to try and makeup the lost time.

As you would expect, the run attracts a lot of tourists and I estimated numbers of around 300. The start was a gentle climb out of the car park, over the lip and down what I assume is a service road into the park proper. It offered an unencumbered view of the whole site. And it was exactly how I had imagined with steep sides, geometric biomes mushrooming out of the ground and lots of structured areas for planting. My legs felt tired but strong enough not to collapse under me so I pushed the pace slightly down the hill. I made up a reasonable amount of ground and despite starting at the back, I was certainly not last as we entered the park.

The route was described as two and a half laps of the venue. It became clear that this was actually almost three. It was wonderful seeing runners looped around all of the paths and I stopped a couple of times to take photos and just take it all in. Then to the business of running. I was surprised, that despite the loops the climbs were relatively short and steep and the descents were long and steady. A much faster course than I had originally imagined. The course was narrow in places and once the faster runners started to lap back markers, it got a tad congested. Here I was happy enough plodding along and looking at all of the plants until the paths opened up again and I was able to push on.

G was back running after a persistent knee problem. Taking it easy but still faster than my efforts. At times he was walking faster than I was running! But despite this, we finished together strongly and I was overjoyed with a time of just a smidge over 36 minutes.

We popped for a quick coffee before heading back up to the car to get changed. Then headed back to the project for a good look around.

I paid for the effort and particularly the downhill the day after. My quads keep locking and I couldn’t bend my leg . Not really conducive to a two hour cycle so I opted for a gentle walk to aid recovery and start getting things moving again. Not he perfect end to the week but a week where I feel like I’ve made progress nonetheless.

Training journal | Week 22 to 24 | The Waste Lands

A quick look on Strava tells me I have completed sixteen activities this month. A glance at Training Peaks tells me I have 17 weeks to Lanza. Neither are quite enough but better than I was expecting.

The fibromyalgia has been a bit of a beast in the last few weeks. Probably a consequence of the stress of the election in the build up to Christmas and some poor food choices during the holiday period. The fatigue has been a cloak of fog, slowing my brain and making it much harder to execute even simple tasks.  I have dropped a lot of stuff and then struggled to pick it up again. Manual dexterity at the moment is definitely not my forte. It’s not helped by the physical manifestations which, among the general aches and pains, has settled in my hands, making the slightest activity painful.

Because my brain is so slow at the moment, I’ve not even been able to write, crochet or do any of the normal out of hours activities I normally do for relaxation. Save picking up the wonderful Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater and savouring the days on his countdown to Christmas. I must save all my energy to be able to concentrate on getting through the working day without the boss realising how unwell I’ve been.

Adapt and overcome has been required. The intensity of the Ironman training has been too much and I’ve missed a few of the session set. Or in certain circumstances have not completed the whole session. Movement is definitely the way to recovery. I learned that lesson the hard way a few years ago, and so no matter how uncomfortable it is, I know the importance of keeping going. 

That’s not to say I haven’t thought about quitting. Several times. Jon has been kind and has revamped the program to make it more accessible. Slowly I’m getting better and managing to maintain the fitness I’m fighting so hard to gain.

I’ve realised that habit is crucial to getting the sessions in. I have to fight to start each session but that fight is much easier where the groundwork has been done. Parkrun is still a stalwart. Knowing that being outdoors and just putting one foot in front of another on the route generates a peace that makes it much easier to get to the start line. The hills are certainly enough to silence the voices for a time while I just focus on breathing and taking in the beautiful views.

Swimming has been much more difficult. The hot water making my joints throb for hours after I’ve got out. I must confess I have been looking for excuses to miss the sessions. It’s a task made much easier by the leisure centre and it’s social opening hours. I long for warmer weather and more open water swimming. Hopefully, it shouldn’t be too long.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. I’ve built some confidence getting on the spin bike and hitting the HR sessions. They are fun, psychologically easier than the rest of the activities and I love the feeling of nailing a session in the garage. During Storm Brendon, sick to death of getting soaked while running, I took the easy route and went to the gym. It worked really well as I had a conditioning session to complete too and was working in Surrey, well away from the weights and my garden. 

The gym was a real surprise. I loved being around folk who were clearly into their sessions and having a good time. The mood was catching and I finished the set completely energised. I do wonder if I spend too much time training on my own?

I have a rest day today, and time to pull myself together to get ready for the bigger efforts that I know are coming. Taking one day at a time is the plan.