Saturday, 24 May 2014

10k training with the BHF and some athletic superstars

Now that marathon is over (did I mention that I ran a marathon??), I can get back to doing some of the other fun stuff I love to do like swimming, spinning and running shorter distances that 26.2 miles. 

While I love half marathons and they are probably my 'goldilocks' race - just right - I do love a swift 10K. As a beginner runner 10K is a great distance to set your sights on, which is exactly what I did back in the day and worked my way down from about 60 mins to a recent PB of 50.39. Now I've had more experience of longer distances, I realised that 10Ks are a fun distance and great to really sink your teeth in to when it comes to working towards a new PB. 

Post last year's Mo Run 10K - good times!
I've made a decision that, although I will most likely run another marathon in future, I'm not going to chase a marathon PB beyond the 4h23 I ran at London. Not because I don't think that with dedication and commitment I couldn't - I'm sure if I dedicated my life (possibly quite literally!) to it I could - but because I don't want to. I just don't have the time on my hands or the drive to do what is needed to achieve a close-to- or sub-4h marathon. With 10K, however, I have a goal that is clear, definite and - most importantly for me - realistic: sub 50.

Fortunately I have friends who share in this goal AND who are lucky winners of competitions. Enter Josie, who was jammy enough to win a 'you plus one' 10K training session, organised by the British Heart Foundation, with Laura Fountain (of Lazy Girl Running fame) and World Championship heptathlete Louise Hazel. Possibly the best 'plus one' invite I'll ever have!

Smile for the camera!
(My technique is horrible - but let's ignore that for now...)
We rocked up to Regents Park on a sunny April evening and met with the other 4 people who made up the training guinea pigs. We started with a dynamic warm up of jogging, high knees, side-stepping, then a 10 minute warm-up run over to the track that's hidden away at the back of the park. 

Don't get too excited now: it's gravelly, like what you'd have played hockey on at school if you're from my generation - a 'don't fall in it or you'll be picking red grit out your knees for weeks' kind of terrain. But it's oval shaped and almost 400m round. Who needs an exact 400m anyway? If you're sprinting round that then high five to you, even if it is only 379 metres long. PBs for the '800m' all round! I digress.

Laura led us in some sprint sessions, which she suggested we incorporate once a week into our own training plans to help speed us up and hit those 10K goals. Our session was:

4 x 400m at a little below target 10K pace (for me this was around 4.8min/km or 8min/mile) with 90 sec rest between sets
2 x 60m sprint @ 90-100% effort, 150m jog, 60m sprint @ 90-100% effort, 150m jog. No rests between.

It seemed like we were all playing a game of 'stalk Louise Hazel' at times - she was so fast and it looked so effortless! 

The most conspicuous stalkers ever
This was the result:
Trying not to spew. At least Louise Hazel looks a bit puffed too!

As if all that wasn't enough to knacker us out, we then moved back in to the park where Louise took us through our paces with a fast, full-body workout.

Moving from planks, to mountain climbers, to back raises, to side plank, to crunches - there were 15 moves in total and each was completed one after the other, again no rests, for 30 seconds each. Oooft! We all survived though, and my abs reminded me of my effort for at least 3 days after.

Josie and me - being put through our paces by Louise
It was a tough but great session, and reminded me that effective running doesn't always have to be about pounding the pavements for hours. If I want to hit that sub-50 goal then my abs, glutes and arms are going to have to get used to a bit of hard work and pain with some full body workouts. It's a little different to the endless miles of road running I've been used to over the past 6 months, but it's time to shake things up and get this body back in '10k fit' mode. 

Thanks to the BHF for putting on the event, to Louise and Laura for their excellent advice, and to Josie for letting me be her plus one. The BHF have tons of running events going on around the country, so why not get some speed and strength work on the go along with some running sessions and get involved - find out more here

All images courtesy of Jordan Curtis Hughes.

Katy | City Girl Fit

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