Well here we are, two months in! And I actually managed some pretty good training this week, despite being in Colombia! Just the one country this week but I saw several bits of it, beginning the week with a long run in Guatape, spending a few days exploring Medellin, and then meeting up with my mum in Desierto de la Tatacoa. Now we are on our way to the Caribbean coast! No rest 😀
Run 1: the long run occurred in Guatape, a small village about a 2 hour journey from Medellin where I went over the weekend, returning to Medellin on Monday afternoon. As it was out in the countryside, but still in a pretty touristy area (mainly Colombian tourists from Medellin), I figured it would be a pretty safe and beautiful place to run. I planned on 10 miles – 5 miles away from my hotel and five miles back, with a stop in the town on the way back for breakfast.
I had been umm-ing and oh-ing over whether or not to do the run, as I had gone out the day before for a shorter run and found it incredibly difficult due to the altitude – close to 2000m above sea level or well over 6000 feet if that means more to you! It kind of amused me that my mum had done some “high altitude” training when visiting my sister who lived at a ski resort… At less than 4000 feet! And here I was contending with altitude, humidity and heat. I just decided that I would walk up the steep hills and not care how long it took me as long as I managed 10 miles.
I set my alarm super-early to beat the heat – if you’ve been reading along you may be aware I have constantly been complaining of not getting up early enough for the heat. Well on Monday I definately did… Only to look out of my window into the “valley” in which I was going to run to see that it was filled with mist. Now, I wouldn’t run in the dark by myself in a strange country for safety reasons, so I didn’t really want to run in a thick mist either. So I waited. And waited.
Eventually it seemed to lift a little so I decided just to get on with it. Off I went, and you know, I actually felt cold! The hills at altitude were much easier the second time, once I was accustomed to the tightness in my chest and also not fighting with the heat at the same time. I ran into and through Guatape, and then out the other side, where it began to get a lot hillier and I took a few walk breaks up the hills. Particularly that one you can see in the middle of the elevation graph, below.
The further I ran, the further away I was getting from the town (obviously) and the mistier it was becoming as I climbed up. Round about 4 miles, I decided I didn’t like it anymore. I didn’t feel comfortable running by myself there, with nobody else around and the mist rising. I decided it would be a good idea to listen to my intuition and turn back before the planned 5 miles.
This meant I then had to do a few lengths of the promenade at the front of Guatape town to the bemused looks of the few locals out and about at that time!! I had an empananda and a coffee for breakfast for a total of 50 pence and then ran the final 2 miles back home. The sun was coming out by then, although it was still a lot cloudier then on previous days, and it was pretty uncomfortably hot for my last half a mile – so I thought I had timed the whole thing pretty well! I ended up running 10.3 miles in a slow 1hr 52 – back in the UK a few weeks ago I ran 10.7 miles 15 minutes faster!! But never mind, it’s not the speed that matters but the challenge of the run.
Run 2: the tempo run – I managed my first proper tempo run since I started my travels! I treated myself to a nice hotel in Medellin that had a gym and treadmills, giving me more flexibility over when I could run and how I could run. So Wednesday evening, as the sun began to set, I was on the treadmill, getting in a 10km tempo run. 2 slow miles to start, 3 tempo miles varying between 5km and 10km pace, and then a few cool-down kilometres to round it up to 10km. The treadmill was in km and my training plan in miles hence the mixture! I really enjoyed getting in some faster miles but… The treadmill is boring.
Run 3: the interval run. More boring treadmill running for some intervals – the first proper fast running I have done since the New Year. I went for 3 x 1km at my goal 5km pace (5 mins a km) with a 3 minute rest interval (plus warm up and cool down). The RI was meant to be at a slow jog but I was combining my run with Facebooking James in an attempt to book flights to see his parents in Andalucia over easter. So my rest intervals involved lots of typing and looking up flight details.
I was pleased with the intervals – they were hard but I think I possibly could have cracked out another one. The aim is 5x 1km but I had had a slight niggle in my knee and my right ankle after my previous run (which was followed by a LOT of walking) so, given I hadn’t done any speed work in ages, I didn’t want to push things and end up injured!!
Cross-training: not so much here. I got to one yoga class in Medellin – 108 Yoga. The class was fantastic, the perfect level of challenging for me (ie there was a lot I couldn’t do but not everything and I was able to work on my headstand!), and I was quite pleased that I could understand everything that was going on despite the fact the class was in Spanish. One of the great things about yoga – it is very similar all around the globe! I also did a yoga workout from the Fitstar Yoga app on my iPad and some hiking, both in the hills around Medellin and in the desert (see below!) I totalled just over 7 hours.
Best marathon training eat: a number of the meals I had in Medellin – they were “international” food – think pulled pork and burgers but it had been so long since I had had that kind of food that I loved it!
Something fun that was nothing to do with running: exploring the Cusco area of Desierto de la Tatacoa in Colombia, at sunrise. The rock formations were just incredible, the landscape like nothing I had ever seen before and it was just beautiful. It was also really good fun to meet up with my mum after travelling by myself for almost three weeks!!! We spent one night roughing it and one night in a really posh hotel in the middle of the desert – it was so lovely to lie out by the pool reading our books with the most incredible view!
Marathon training inspiration: not inspiration so much as a tip I received from reading Hungry Runner Girl’s blog. If you are running and your legs feel really tired, concentrate on pumping your arms instead of your legs – your legs will automatically follow and it will feel easier! I practiced this through my fast treadmill intervals and my treadmill tempo workout and it is true – it really does help.