The Aftermarathon

The title of this post is taken from The Competitive Runner’s Handbook. I bought a second hand copy of this recently and have been dipping in and out and enjoying how thorough and level-headed it is. My other half, S., made fun of me having a dated-looking book on the bedside table (it was published in 1999), but little does he know that the principles in it are timeless. In fact, most of the more recent articles I read online seem to be based on foundations from this book. So there.

It’s just over three weeks since I ran Abingdon Marathon, so technically I’m still in the Aftermarathon phase (the handbook suggests that you shouldn’t race again for four weeks after doing a marathon). I’ve actually run quite a lot in the last few weeks. I took five whole days off running after the marathon, even though I didn’t feel too bad. I then did a pretty good parkrun on the Saturday, and a pretty bad four-mile run the day after that.

As well as a few easy-ish mid-week runs in the 3-6 mile range, I also took part in the Winter Ballbuster duathlon on Box Hill, Surrey, as part of a relay team. Unfortunately the event was called off after the first run because of awful weather (there were very strong winds and it would have been too dangerous to cycle).

However, I was doing the first run and I was allowed to finish. It was eight miles, with much of the first half downhill, and the last few miles very much uphill. I was pleased that while I wasn’t fast, I kept a nice steady pace throughout and made it up the hill despite the slashing rain and gusty winds.

This weekend just gone, I was away in Manchester for a friend’s wedding. S. and I managed to squeeze in a parkrun on Saturday morning. We ran there and back for a total of 11 miles. The parkrun itself wasn’t that enjoyable because it was very crowded in the first mile, and because of deep mud and puddles (hi, winter running!). Still, I’m glad that we got the run in and we had a really nice breakfast at the hotel afterwards and a lovely time at the wedding.

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Delicious post-run breakfast 🙂

I’m starting to feel impatient about getting back into running. I’m going to try and do some speed running this week, but will ease myself in gently. I’m looking forward to having the energy to do more tempo and speed runs now that I don’t have to do 16+ mile runs every week. Here’s to not marathon training! Cheers *raises teacup*.

Abingdon Marathon training, weeks 1 & 2

So, after feeling like I still had ages to go until I started training for Abingdon Marathon, suddenly I’m in the thick of it. I’ve been following this training plan. I’ve completed all the sessions in weeks one and two – and have already learnt some lessons.

In week one, I did two easy runs and one hard run in the week – an easy three miles, a five-mile tempo, and then four miles easy. Although this is more volume in mid-week than I’m used to, I did cope okay. I think it helps that there is only one difficult mid-week run in this plan, whereas in the plan I used for Hannover Marathon there were two, which was too much.

For the week one weekend runs, I was meant to do an easy three miles and then 10 miles with a strong finish. I did parkrun on the Saturday – but not at an easy pace. I did the 10 miles okay, though, and managed to make my last mile the fastest. So, a pretty good start to the training.

Week two (which would be last week) followed the same format – short, easy run on Tuesday; harder run on Wednesday (5 miles with 3 miles at marathon pace); easy run on Friday; easy three miles on Saturday; then a long run on Sunday. I got all the runs in the bag, but, once again, ran too hard at parkrun on Saturday.

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A nice morning for a parkrun

I think this had a detrimental effect on Sunday’s long run. It was meant to be 12 miles, with the mid 4 miles at marathon pace. I managed the distance, but found the run really, really hard (especially the marathon pace section). I had been thinking of my marathon pace as 9-minute miles – but it’s clear now that this is not what I should be aiming for. I guess it’s good to learn these lessons early on.

So, to summarise:

  1. I like the fact that there is only one difficult mid-week run in this plan.
  2. My marathon pace is about 30-40 seconds slower per mile than I had thought it was (or wanted it to be). This is a relief. I’m still going to follow the plan I’m using, but will adjust my pacing.
  3. If I do a parkrun on a Saturday, I should not get carried away. I need to run it at an easy pace.
  4. I am not sure if I can handle five runs a week, every week. I should look at how I’m feeling from week to week and adjust mileage if necessary.

14 weeks to go!

Weekly running report, 3-9 June 2019

Since finishing Hannover Marathon two months ago, I’ve fallen out of the habit of blogging. I think this is partly because I haven’t been training for anything; but also because when I’ve tried to build my running back up again, I’ve been sidelined by pain in my IT band.

Thankfully, that seems to have settled down now. I’ve been able to get back into more consistent running – which has also been great for my mood. (Although I managed to just write and delete a whole post and so I’m having to type it again from scratch – not the best start to my blogging comeback.)

At the beginning of this week, I took a couple of days off after a relatively heavy weekend of running (6.7 miles fast-ish on the Saturday; 8 miles very slow on the Sunday). On Wednesday I did a slow 3.4 miles into Bushy Park and back; and then an easy 4-miler on Friday morning.

Saturday was parkrun day. I wasn’t feeling great, but I managed a reasonable run. I squeezed in at just under 26 minutes. This felt hard. It baffled me that I ran it at the same pace at which I’d run the Vitality London 10,000 at the end of May; and the pace at which I’d like to run next week’s half marathon. That seems impossible at the moment. (Yes, I’m running a half marathon next week. I’m feeling vastly undertrained for it. So we’ll see how that goes.)

Today I went for a long, slow run in the morning. The weather was perfect for running: sunny, cool, and with a light wind. I did 11 miles – firstly through Bushy, then I ventured down to the towpath for some lovely views along the river (I took no photos, sadly). I then toddled around Hampton Court Palace, and back into Bushy again before heading home. I noted, once again, how very lucky I am to live where I do.

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Me on my new bike

In other exciting news, I bought a bike this week. I haven’t had a bike for – I don’t actually know. Many years. I took it on its first proper outing today, after my run. I cycled into Bushy with S, who was doing a brick run (running after a bike ride). We then sat in the sun at a new café with friends. A nice ending to the week (and well-timed, as there was an unexpected torrential downpour this afternoon).

Week 15/16: Best laid plans

After I last wrote, I did my third run of Week 15: a parkrun. It was a beautifully sunny Saturday morning, with light winds and dry ground. I wasn’t sure what pace I was going to run at. I ended up running the first mile by feel. I looked at the mile split on my watch. It was an 8:05 pace, so I carried on with that. It felt fairly hard, but not as if I was going all-out; and I kept a steady pace until the end. My official time was 25:05.

I had a busy but good Saturday afternoon and evening. I met up with old friends, went to the theatre, wandered around Covent Garden in the sun, and ate and drank lots. I didn’t get home that late, but I felt rough on Sunday morning. However, I told myself I needed to get out and do a six-mile run.

The weather was much worse than on Saturday – cold, cloudy and windy, and I felt underdressed in a short-sleeved top. The prospect of six miles around the park felt like too much, even though it was only a fraction of the distance of my long runs. I jogged through a small local park on the way to Bushy Park. When I got out of the gate, I ran down the pavement leading to the main road, and then – BAM! Fell over. My knees and hands slammed into the ground. I lay there, stunned, for a bit; then picked myself up. I decided to walk back home rather than complete the run. I tried jogging but my knee hurt.

2019-03-31 10.47.35Back at home, I assessed the damage. The biggest casualty was my left knee. I ripped a hole in my running tights. There was blood and bruising. I had also knocked my right hand, right knee, elbows, and right hip.

I spent the rest of the day feeling annoyed and sorry for myself. I still don’t know why I tripped – I’m guessing it was uneven pavement that I wasn’t paying attention to because I was tired. I iced my knees and put a dressing on the knee wound. Today, I can walk, although stairs are painful, and my left knee feels very sore and stiff.

And there are only six days until Hannover Marathon. It is frustrating to have put in so much work, only to possibly ruin it all because of something silly. These things happen, though, and I can’t do anything about it now except rest as much as I can, and see how I feel on the day. Onwards and upwards.

Week 8, runs 3 & 4: The halfway point

Yesterday I combined my long run with parkrun. I’ve decided to increase the distance of my long run every other week rather than every week, and this week I thought I would try a cutback run of about 10 miles.

I thought I might try to do this ‘shorter’ run at a quicker pace than I normally do longer distances, but when I set out, I didn’t feel great. I was tired and also queasy for some reason, so I ran slower than intended.

I did my usual loop of Bushy Park (as I’m still paranoid about my ankle/calf pain, and therefore wary of unfamiliar routes). At around the five or six mile point, I somehow started to feel better and as if I could pick up the pace, so I did.

I ran just over seven miles before the start of parkrun. I got to the start a little early and the Run Director was still giving the briefing. Not wanting to interrupt my run, I did a few laps back and forth alongside the Diana Fountain, and then joined in the run as soon as it started.

Conditions weren’t brilliant: it was muddy and slippery in places, and there was a strong wind; but I managed to keep up the pace and finish strongly. My parkrun time was 27:27. My overall run time was about 1 hour 35, with a second-best-ever 10-mile time of 1 hour 32. I’m very pleased with that effort. (And although my ankle/calf pain started playing up during parkrun, it thankfully remained a background nuisance and didn’t stop me running. Yay.)

Today’s run was a bit of a treat, relatively speaking: just three miles at a slow pace. I plodded along in the drizzle, into Bushy Park again. I met S., who was just finishing a fast half marathon training run. We then met some friends at a nice café we hadn’t been to before, and I had a large cooked breakfast that wasn’t really justified by the morning’s gentle activity, but I’ve decided that it was a postponed breakfast from more-deserving Saturday.

So, it’s the end of Week 8, which means I’m already half way through my training for Hannover Marathon. It hasn’t quite gone to plan, especially after Week 6 (when I also started this blog – coincidence?); but this week I’ve started to get back on track again. I’m feeling more positive about the next eight weeks (and also really, really ready for spring).

Miles run this weekend: 13.2 (10.2 on Saturday + 3 on Sunday) / Types of run: Long and steady on Saturday; short recovery on Sunday / Average paces: 9:12-minute miles on Saturday (9:30 progressing to about 8:40); 10:17 on Sunday / Miles run this week: 21

Week 6, run 4: How many times can you say ‘parkrun’?

It’s finally the weekend, which means for me, these days, mornings spent running and then having extended breakfasts with running friends. Saturday morning is for parkrun (yes, with a small ‘p’). I’ve been doing it now for over four years. I had some extended breaks from it due to injuries, but now I go every week unless I have something else on (and if I’m away somewhere, I’ll always see if there is a parkrun nearby so I can get my weekly fix).

For those not in the know, parkrun is a 5 km run, free to take part in. You register and print out a barcode, which is scanned at the end and your time is recorded. Parkrun started in 2004 with 13 people in Bushy Park, which also happens to be the location of my nearest parkrun. Now, over 1000 people regularly do parkrun there, with close to 1500 for the last few weeks. There are now parkruns all over the world. (I swear I’m not taking part in a competition to see how many times I can write ‘parkrun’ in a paragraph, but if I were, I’d probably win. Parkrun.)

The marathon training plan I’m following says to do a parkrun or a three-mile easy run on Saturdays, so that’s worked out quite well. Today, after a hard week and also feeling a little under the weather, I decided to take it easy. I jogged to the park from home. There are many routes I could take. I chose a shorter one – about two-and-a-half miles. I then did a nice steady parkrun, although got a little carried away at the end and went for a sprint finish, which I sort of regretted afterwards.

Then I made my way to the Pheasantry Café, which can get extremely busy, especially in winter when you can’t sit outside; but it’s always good to have a hot cup of tea with my other half (who was volunteering as a marshal today – it takes around 50-60 volunteers to put the event on every week) and our friends. It’s always one of the highlights of my week, and it’s great to be able to include something different from the grind of solo mid-week runs as part of my training.

Miles run today: 5.6 (warm up 2.5 + parkrun 3.1) / Average pace: 10:29 for warm up; 8:46 for parkrun / Type of run: Easy and then steady/tempo / Miles run this week: 19.8