Christmas Catch Up

It has been quite a few weeks since I last wrote a blog, mainly because my university exams have been ruining my life. Thankfully, they went well (I think), which means I can now sit back, relax and genuinely do nothing with my life for the next two weeks! I took a little break from training after the New York 5th Avenue Mile and went on holiday to Calpe. Spain.

Jet-ski of hell
El Penon de Ifach (far left)
A few steps away from the SNAKE!
It really was an amazing little town. I decided to go jet-skiing for the first time ever but as we were waiting to go on, for some stupid, stupid reason the first thing I googled was ‘jet-ski deaths’, to which hundreds of results popped up! Not good. For the remaining 30minutes out at sea, I was screaming the entire time to slow down. Jet-skiing is definitely not for me. To make matter worse, to save money we decided to skip getting a taxi home and walk across the rocks – a more direct route – back to the hotel. Another stupid idea… which ended up with me almost stepping on a snake. YES, a real live snake. This does not happen in Scotland! On our last morning in Spain, we took a walk up the El Penon de Ifach, which is a HUGEEE amazing rock which is open as a natural park. At the very top you can see views over the whole of Calpe. Again, due to me being a huge girl – I didn’t actually make it up to the very top – something I deeply regret, as it looked amazing! Next time…. maybe.
UKA Awards
UKA Awards
UKA Awards
On return from my break, it was a quick turn around back into training again. Winter training has hit me hard. The cold, dark morning and evenings are not the most enjoyable but there the ones that make you stronger, (or so I keep being told?!). My mileage has increased significantly, as this summer, due to my previous foot injury – I haven’t ran any more than 45-50 mile a week. Not because I couldn’t, but because I wanted to limit any chance of injury in order to make the Olympic Team. Obviously, this winter will be my best opportunity to increase this to where it probably should be! So far, things have been going well and I have been extremely fortunate to have stayed injury and niggle free. Sessions are pretty tough especially when it’s absolutely freezing down at the track. It also doesn’t help that half the lights at our local track aren’t working – which means that every 100m we run into complete darkness and then re-emerge from the darkness again like a really rubbish version of Batman. But I am extremely fortunate to have such an amazing training group which makes things 100 times easier. My times have improved hugely from previous years which is another positive sign – although – I am purely running at the moment. I haven’t been able to do any sort of strength and conditioning program or hurdles at the moment as I am constantly tired and still adjusting to this new winter schedule. At this time of the year, I just want to make sure I am running and keeping injury free!
Running around the High St. with my cone head…
 May look stupid but guess who has dry hair?!
This meant that my first little race wasn’t an enjoyable one. I had taken three weeks off and then had about two weeks training before deciding to do a small road race for my University. The 5mile Alan Scally Road race is always a great event – although I didn’t particularly feel like I had ran well – I managed to run the fastest female time and it was over a minute quicker than I had previously ran! I had a few XC’s that were scheduled in but due to things changing – my plans have changed and I haven’t done any this year at all! A big change in my training program has been introducing more grass sessions and the majority of my easy runs are all done on grass – whereas previously, I only ran on roads. It has definitely made me a lot stronger over that surface and strengthened up my ‘bad’ foot to the point where I no longer look like a deranged Bambi.
Another change is that I am now a Nike Athlete. I am extremely fortunate to now have the support of the largest sporting brand in the world and I am really enjoying being part of the team. Shoes for me – is obviously a huge factor – especially after having such a huge problem with my foot last year. It has got to the stage where I avoid wearing any shoes that cannot fit my insoles in, as my foot can still be quite sore on a daily basis. I was a bit concerned about changing trainers as sometimes your feet can get used to a certain pair and almost adapt to fit those set pair of trainers – but I have been able to change my trainers to Nike with absolutely no problems at all! My new spikes also look amazing so I can’t wait till the summer season begins!
Harvey Nicholls Event
Scottish Sport Awards
Harvey Nicholls
Over the next few weeks, I will be enjoying a very quiet Christmas and New Year before heading to Kenya for the first time ever on the 3rd January. Attitude training is something that I have never tried before so I am thoroughly looking forward to this opportunity. To be heading out with the likes of Mo Farah, Hannah England and several other amazing athletes – will be a pretty cool experience. I have also been given an altitude tent to try out over the next season in order to try to adjust me to the Altitude of the Rift Valley before I head over there – and also to try to maintain my bloods once I return back to the freezing cold temperatures of Scotland.
This week I took a small trip down to Loughborough for a few days to get some physiological testing done. This is also something that I have never experienced before – but it was extremely helpful and gave me an insight into the way in which my body works. The treadmill was a huge machine which could fit cyclists or wheelchair athletes on it. It was a weird experience running on this huge treadmill whilst wearing a very warm mask. The first test was to check the changes within my lactic levels as the speed was increased. This required me to run 3minute repetitions, 6 times, and in between every one, take a prick of blood from my ear to test my lactic. Barry Fudge (UKA) was conducting the tests and said that my lactic levels were extremely low, which was very unusual. For the first two runs my levels weren’t increasing above 1. I then had to do one extra repetition in order to try increase my lactic levels above 4. Over the years, in training sessions when other athletes have been lying on the ground explaining that their ‘legs are like bricks’ or that there ‘jaw has lactic’ – iv’e never been able to relate. I always used to say that I didn’t ever feel lactic that bad – to which people in my training group always told me to shut up whilst they lay dying on the ground. Now, I have some data which proves I wasn’t being a pain in the ass and joking around with them! Haha – I just don’t have a very large lactic build up like others do. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but i’m sure the other athletes in my training group would kill to have less lactic build up – so i’ll take it!
Physiological Testing
The final test was to get my max on the treadmill. The breathing apparatus was so warm to have over my face that it was quite difficult to breathe and run with at a quick pace. In this test, the treadmill picked up speed every minute by 1km. With having such a rigid foot, I found it quite hard not to keep tripping up every time the treadmill had a rapid increase in speed. This made me panic slightly as I had a horrible image of me tumbling of this massive treadmill but still hanging on by the breathing mask attached tightly to my face! That wouldn’t of been a cool look. But thankfully I managed to keep upright and on my feet! I managed to stay on for about 5 minutes before Barry told me to stop to take my lactic levels again. He said that my Vo2 Max came back in the high 60s which for my age and taking into account that my weekly mileage has only been 50miles – was a good starting point. Vo2 max’s don’t particularly give an insight into what a good or bad a runner you are – you could have a fantastically high Vo2 Max but not be a good athlete. It’s about how you utilise the capacity you have and also how economical you are. Economy and efficiency within your running is effectively more important than these values but it was nice just to have a set figure and know where my aerobic profile is. Barry claimed that my profile came back as a Marathon Runner. Obviously this pricked up my mums ears and she claimed ‘she knew that one day I would be a good marathon runner’, my ears flopped down like a sad little dog. Marathons are definitely not going to happen anytime soon… and if I have my way – they will never happen! Muhahaha!

‘Camping out’ in the Altitude Tent
I will post some videos from my testing when I get them through – not sure how interesting they would be – but you can see me dying on a huge treadmill with a weird ‘gas-mask’ sort of thing – but hey, whatever might float your boat. I’ll make sure I take some pictures and videos whilst out in Kenya to give you an insight into my first ever altitude camp, hopefully i’ll make it back in one piece and avoid the mozzies….and lions.
There have been another few changes within my current training set-up. Due to no longer having a car (as of January 2013), I am looking to move flats from Carnoustie into the centre of Dundee. It makes a lot more sense logistically and financially as I can walk to University, walk to a gym and jog 2.5mile to the track and save on petrol. The only problem I face is travel to races… but i’ll worry about that nearer the time! For now, it’s time to pretend I don’t a ‘to-do list’ the size of Everest and enjoy the multiple Christmas films on TV.
Merry Christmas (Eve) to Everyone – I hope santa is good to you all!

One thought on “Christmas Catch Up

  1. Great blog Eilish and very interesting to get some proper insight into the life on an elite athlete! Can't be easy fitting in training around uni.. And no car! But hopefully Team Nike helps out as time goes on! Thanks for sharing and I hope the trip to Kenya pays dividends and doesn't hurt too much. All the very best, Colin.


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