Week 4: The morning of the dreaded Cooper test had arrived. I could put it off no longer. I had to go through the excruciating pain of running for 12 minutes as fast as my slightly short legs could carry me.
It was the closest thing to a race I had done in a while and I felt nervous.
After breakfasting on three Weetabix (my usual pre-race menu - too much fibre might have undesirable effects) I headed down to the local park with my trusty four-legged companions.
Everything was in my favour; weather conditions were perfect; the ground was firm; my dogs behaved considerately and didn’t stop or sniff or get under my feet; and other park users were few and far between.
But I didn’t beat my 7:43 min mile pace. I averaged 7:48.
Maybe it just wasn’t my day. Both Anne and a fellow runner suggested that it could be linked to the stage I am at in my cycle. Apparently there is some science behind this. Actually, I think I was just tired. It was my fourth consecutive day of running. The day before I had done an ‘easy’ five mile run, the day before that, a nine mile run, and the day before that, hill reps.
More R&R needed
During a post-mortem with Anne, we agreed that every fourth week needed to involve much more recovery. Anne tweaked my plan to incorporate more upper body and core work, easy runs and reduced mileage during that week. Recovery weeks give our bodies a chance to adapt to an increased training load and establish fitness gains, she said.
Within a couple of days, I was over my disappointment and gearing up for the next challenge in my training plan - a timed 5k targeting 8 min miles.
Anne was concerned about me doing two speed tests in the same week. But anyone who knows me well will verify that once I get the bit between my teeth there’s no dissuading me. I was determined to give it a go.
I had an alcohol-free rest day on Friday, then on Saturday morning, I got up bright and early, had my Weetabix and met my friend Cath – who has glutes of steel from lifting kettle bells that weigh as much as small children and had offered to pace me.
The skies were grey and the lanes were wet from relentless drizzle, but 8 min miles felt reasonably comfortable - so much so that I was pushing closer to 7:40. There was a moment when I came close to crashing out - I stopped, spat and swore, but then I collected myself, carried on and completed the 5k in 24:25, averaging 7:49 min miles. Boom.
Week 8 looms
That was almost four weeks ago. I am now coming up to week 8, when I repeat the fitness tests.
I have no idea whether I will have made further improvements.
I guess I must have done…
I am almost where I want to be weight-wise. In the last four weeks I have lost a further 3lb and am now down to 9st - a loss of 9lb in seven weeks.
Last Sunday I did my LSR (Long Slow Run) at 8:57 min miles, chatting the entire way round, and did 13 miles instead of 11 miles by accident (wrong turn - navigation is not my strong point).
I am no longer daunted by the prospect of targeting a sub 8 min mile pace, doing two sets of 15 press ups or holding a plank position for over a minute.
During my latest interval session of 4 x 4 min intervals, my average pace was 7:14 - faster than my training plan target. Could that sub 7 minute mile be achievable by week 12?
Week 8 is not just a milestone for me - it’s a big week for Anne.
On Monday, it’s the live final of the 2020 Fitness Trainer Competition. I will take part in a half-hour Zoom stability & strengthening class whilst four judges look on and critique Anne’s training style.
Fingers crossed Anne gets the recognition she deserves!