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, week 16

So, it’s all done now. The hay is in the barn, or whatever the saying is. I’ve done 16 weeks’ worth of running, all geared towards one marathon tomorrow morning. And all because I had unfinished business from my first marathon, which I ran a mere six months ago.

What did I do this week?

Monday, Thursday: rest days. I did very little activity at all on Thursday. Rather than this making me feel calm and refreshed, I suddenly seemed to have loads of random pains in my legs and other parts of my body. I told myself this was just normal taper madness, but it’s still alarming when you’re in the midst of it.

Tuesday: One of my usual lunchtime runs – 3.5 miles easy, with 8 x 10 second bursts in the middle. Felt quite good on this run, I think. I always enjoy those little sprints.

Wednesday: My last marathon-paced run. At lunchtime again. 1 mile easy, 2 miles at marathon pace (run on feel rather than trying to keep to any particular pace), then a mile to cool down.

Friday: My training plan said 2 miles easy, or rest. As I was working at home and not doing much other activity, I was feeling a little restless and decided I’d do the 2 miles. Went out for an easy jog around the block. I’m glad I did, as I felt a bit more clear-headed and a bit less agitated afterwards.

Saturday (today): Again, I either had to run 2 miles easy, or rest. I opted for resting, but I did volunteer at parkrun this morning. I scanned barcodes. It was a little chilly, but a beautifully sunny autumn morning. I enjoyed watching the runners come in and admiring the grazing deer (from a safe distance). After a nice coffee with friends, I am now spending the afternoon with my feet up at home.

I won’t deny that there are some pretty frenetic butterflies in my stomach at the moment. I’m working on accepting them as part of the excitement, and calming them with peppermint tea and listening to music. 

Miles this week: 9.5

18 hours to go!

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I’m still terrible at remembering to take photos at the moment. I blame marathon madness. Here’s Bushy Park in July, at the start of my Abingdon training.

Abingdon Marathon training, week 15

It’s some kind of miracle: I’m actually posting about a week of training at the end of that week, rather than a week or two later! Perhaps it’s because it’s been a lighter week, so I actually have the energy to write on a Sunday afternoon. Here it is, then.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: rest days (although once again, my Wednesday was not restful: I had to travel to Birmingham and back for a work conference).

Tuesday: 3.4 easy miles at lunchtime.

Thursday: Another lunchtime run. 4.2 miles: 1 mile warm up, 1 mile at marathon pace, 1 mile at tempo pace, then a 1.2-mile cool down. I had planned to just do an easy run, but spontaneously threw in the tempo mile. It was in my training plan to do a 1-2 mile tempo run this week, so perhaps I told myself I should get that done rather than talking myself out of it.

Saturday: Long run with heavy legs and a tired mind. I ran 6 slow miles to parkrun, then a slightly quicker (but still slow) parkrun. I did 9.1 miles in total. The weather was strange: it was rainy and there was a cold wind (I wore a short-sleeved top and wished I’d gone for long sleeves), but it was also humid and felt clammy and muggy. Ugh. I am very much ready for crisp, cool autumn days now, please.

I spent Saturday afternoon catching up with Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour marathon attempt. It was inspiring stuff. I hope to channel Kipchoge next week – his relaxed style and habit of smiling when things feel tough might help. As a tea fanatic, I was also cheered by reading that a large part of his training diet consists of loads of sweet, milky tea.

Sunday (today!): I had a much-desired lie-in, then went for an easy 3.2-mile jog around the block. The weather was even more gross than yesterday: drizzly, grey and windy, but a very stuffy 17 degrees. Yuck. Glad to be on the sofa with a cup of tea (what else?) now.

Total miles for the week: 20 exactly.

One week to go!!!

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I failed to take any photos this week. This is one of my favourites from last winter.

Abingdon Marathon training, week 14

Once again, time has galloped away and it’s almost the end of week 15 of my training, so week 14 is now a bit hazy. I’ll try my best to do a recap.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday – rest days (although Wednesday was a long and stressful day involving a lot of meetings and travel for work, so not restful at all!)

Tuesday – 4.6 lunchtime miles with 10-second bursts of speed in the middle. Always fun to do those.

Thursday – Another lunchtime run: 5.4 miles with mid three at marathon pace. I felt like I had excess energy to burn on this run, and perhaps ran some of the marathon pace section a bit too fast.

Saturday – I did a slow 3.8-mile jog to parkrun, and then ran parkrun at about 9:10 pace. It was parkrun’s 15th anniversary so a lot of runners turned up – over 1800 in total!

Sunday – I took part in Kingston Half Marathon. I only signed up for this a few weeks ago. I’d been thinking for a while it would be good to do a half marathon before Abingdon, just to keep my racing muscles warmed up and to see how I might do in the marathon. I think doing one two weeks before the marathon might be a bit close; but we’ll see.

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The Thames from Kingston Bridge – taken by S, who kindly supported me during the race 🙂

I didn’t feel great on this run. I had heavy legs and my head wasn’t really in it. The race started in the town centre. The first mile was very crowded and twisty-turny so I went out slowly – probably a good thing.

I then sped up and managed to stick to around 8:30-8:40 pace for most of the run. I stopped and walked at all the water stations so that I could make sure to drink enough (they used cups, which I can’t drink from while running). I usually take water with me on my long runs and I really wished I’d taken some for the race, as I was feeling a bit dehydrated. After lagging a bit in miles 10-12, I pulled myself together for the last stretch and finished strongly. My official time was 1:55:09 – my second best official HM time. So that’s pretty good.

Total mileage for the week: 30.1

2 weeks to go!!

Abingdon Marathon training, week 13

Unlike week 12, week 13 didn’t quite go to plan. I was supposed to do a mid-week 7 miles with 4 at tempo pace, but this didn’t happen. This was mainly because I was tired and a bit broken from the 20-miler on the Sunday of week 12. However, I still managed to get four runs in. Here’s a short and sweet recap.

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: rest days

Wednesday: An easy 4.8 miles in the park after work.

Friday: A lunchtime 4.3 miles at an easy pace.

Saturday: 15 miles. Started off slowly, still feeling tired; but ended with parkrun. I think parkrun is magic: during the rest of the run I couldn’t have sped up to faster than about 9:30 pace if I’d tried, but once I’d joined parkrun, I ran 9-minute miles all the way and felt strong. So, a good run, in the end.

Sunday: An easy 5k recovery run around the block. I tried to avoid the rain (we’ve had a lot of it lately), but got caught in it anyway.

Total weekly mileage: 27.3

3 weeks to go!!! (And I’ve received my race number already!) (Excuse the crappy photo: my camera phone is broken and I need to get round to buying a new phone.)2019-10-01 12.14.26

Abingdon Marathon training, week 12

Week 12 was the first week in my training in which I actually stuck to the plan. I mean, I’ve had weeks where I’ve pretty much done everything on the plan, but with runs swapped around, or slightly different distances or paces, etc. But in week 12, I did every run just as I was supposed to. *polishes halo*

The plan only has four runs in week 12 (most weeks have five runs). Weirdly, I felt like I was having too much rest, even though I knew that the reduced overall load was sensible, seeing as I had to do my second 20-miler on Sunday. Anyway, here’s what I did.

Monday, Thursday, Saturday – rest days (a.k.a. pacing around like a caged animal)

Tuesday – the plan said 3-5 miles easy. I got out for an easy 3.2 miles at lunchtime.

Wednesday – the plan called for 5 miles with 3 at marathon pace. I’m still not entirely sure what my marathon pace is – I seem to veer wildly from day to day as to what I think I’m capable of. In this run, I went for the slower end – about 9:15-9:30 pace.

Friday – plan: 4-5 miles easy. Me: 4.2 lunchtime miles. Average pace 9:56, picking it up by 30 seconds or so for the middle mile.

Sunday – the run I had been dreading all week: my second 20-miler. I did my first one two weeks before, and while I got the mileage done, it was a miserable slog in hot weather. This run wasn’t much different. It was humid. I’d thought it was going to be wet, as well; but there were only a few brief showers.

I took myself around Richmond Park. With hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done, as whenever I run in Richmond Park I pick up hip and knee problems from the hills. Sure enough, at the end of my run I had knee pain; and, the day after, hip pain. I’m okay now, though.

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Autumnal in look but not in feel

I was relieved to get the miles done, and to know that all my runs now will be shorter (apart from, ahem, the marathon itself). I’m also hoping for cooler weather. Although it’s starting to look autumnal, it’s still too humid for running. I’m hoping that when the temperature drops, my pace will get faster without me even trying, and it’ll all feel a whole lot easier. Here’s hoping.

Weekly mileage: 32.4

4 weeks to go!

 

Abingdon Marathon training, week 11

Although I ran five times last week and stuck to the training plan quite closely, it felt like a tough week.

On Monday I was travelling back from France all day. Our flight was cancelled. We ended up getting the Eurostar. The journey was fine; but it took all day and we didn’t get home till midnight.

I took the day off work on Tuesday. In the afternoon, I ran 4 miles easy with some 10-second bursts.

Wednesday was another very long day. I was up at 5am to travel to Manchester for an all-day work meeting. That finished at 4pm; but then I met up with an old friend who now lives in Manchester. I didn’t get home until around 11pm.

On Thursday evening, tired and with very sore and achy leg muscles (as they had been all week), I set out to try and do a 10k tempo run with a warm up and cool down. I knew as soon as I started running that I didn’t have it in me. I managed 3.6 miles, mostly at an easy pace. I did feel better as the run went on, so maybe I could have got it done; but hey. I felt relieved as soon as I’d decided to cut it short, so it was probably a good decision.

On Friday I did another short, easy run – a lunchtime 3.5 miles into the park and back.

On Saturday, my legs were still feeling tired and achy, but I got a good workout in the bag. I ran 4 miles before parkrun. A friend who was also doing a warm up caught up with me on the way, providing some company and much-needed motivation (especially as he is a faster runner than me). I did 7.2 miles altogether, finishing with parkrun at a consistent tempo pace. I was pleased with that.

On Sunday, I did a long run of 12 miles, at a fairly slow pace. Although this was a shorter long run than usual, it felt long. It was a lot warmer than I’d thought it would be.

This week my motivation has dropped even lower. Although my legs feel okay now, I have a niggle in my ankle/calf that I seem to be fixating on. I feel cranky and am doubting if I will be able to complete all of this week’s sessions. But I’ve just read an article that says even elite athletes start having doubts from about week 12 of marathon training – so it seems this is just normal. And if I go back and read my posts from Hannover Marathon training, perhaps I’ll see the same pattern. So, in conclusion: I should just suck it up and keep on going. (But also try to be nice to myself and remember rest is very important too.)

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I forgot to take any photos last week. Here’s one from my holiday in Nice the week before.

Total mileage: 30.3

5 weeks to go!!

Abingdon Marathon training, weeks 9 & 10

Time has once again galloped away and there are two whole weeks of training that I haven’t recapped. I’m feeling unmotivated at the moment. Recording what I’ve already done seems to help keep me on track, so here we go.

Week 9

This is a distant memory now. This was a low-mileage week, partly because I was travelling all day on the Sunday so didn’t run then; and partly because I’d done a lot of mileage in the two weeks before. Having a low-mileage week now and then seems to work well for my recovery.

I did two shorter, faster runs in the week – 3.4 miles with some strides; and 6 miles including 2 x 2 miles at tempo pace. I remember this feeling like a tough run. I wasn’t able to hold tempo pace for long enough.

On the Friday I was supposed to do a longer run, but only managed two miles. I had been suffering from a stiff and painful/ankle calf and it was particularly bad that day. Saturday’s run went better, thankfully: 12.2 miles in total, starting with an easy five miles and then a faster seven, with a 26:49 parkrun on the end.

Week 10

I was on holiday/triathlon spectating in the south of France (Marseille and Nice) all week. This was great, of course, but before going I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fit in my training. It turned out that the holiday was actually great for my training, as not only were there many hills so I could finally do some hill repeats, I had a group of enthusiastic running friends to keep me company.

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On the Monday I was supposed to do an easy four miles. This was hillier than my routes at home so it wasn’t that easy; but it was a fun and beautiful run with four friends.

Tuesday was 6 x 2 minute hill repeats – difficult, but satisfying. I was glad to get that session in the bag. Wednesday was a longer one: seven miles, mostly along the waterfront, with the mid five miles at marathon pace. I found this hard because of the heat and still feeling the hills in my legs.

I rested on the Thursday. That was also the day we travelled from Marseille to Nice. On the Friday morning I ran up and down the Promenade des Anglais for three-and-a-half hours, clocking 20 miles in total.

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That was a very hard run. I didn’t eat much before going out. It was hot and humid, even at 7am. My legs were still tired from the hills. My pace was slow, but fairly consistent.

I wanted to quit at 10 miles; then at 12. At 17 miles, I sent S. a message saying I was bailing. But I carried on, promising myself the treat of my last gel if I got to 18.6 miles.

As soon as my watch ticked over to 20 miles, I immediately sat on a bench in relief and exhaustion. I then had to begin the long walk back as I’d finished halfway down the prom. It was a mentally gruelling session. I hope that I’ve gained some strength from this, both mental and physical. My legs definitely felt it the next day.

I have found it hard to switch back to my routine this week, running and otherwise; but generally, my training has been on track, or close to it. Whoop.

Total mileage, week 9: 23.8

Total mileage, week 10: 35.4

6 weeks to go!

Abingdon Marathon training, week 8

The weeks are running away and I’m already halfway through my marathon training. Here’s what I did last week.

Monday, Thursday and Sunday – rest days

Tuesday – I ran in the evening, just an easy three miles around the block at recovery pace. I wore new trainers and still had a tight/ankle calf. This doesn’t seem to stop me wearing them, though. I am convinced that if I wear them for a few more miles, they’ll be broken in and I won’t have any more niggles.

Wednesday – A lunchtime run: 5.6 miles with 6 x 90 seconds fast up a slope in the park. This was instead of doing hill repeats. My training plan does call for hill repeats, but I haven’t managed to make it to a proper hill yet. It was very warm and this was a tough run.

Friday – An easy four miles at lunchtime, wearing my other new pair of trainers. I still had a stiff ankle/calf (although I’d worn the same trainers on Wednesday and don’t think I had any issues then). It was still hot. I’d intended to run a bit longer and a bit faster, but I felt sapped of energy, as always in the heat.

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Saturday – Long run day – 18 miles. It was an early start, but a beautiful one. I was worried that my ankle/calf might give out and I’d have to cut the run short; but although it hurt at first, it was okay after a while. I stuck to the park and the towpath, and finished with parkrun. I managed to run the second half faster than the first, and finished well, although not quite as strongly as I’d hoped (it was hot again).

Total mileage for the week: 30.8

8 weeks to go!

Abingdon Marathon training, week 7

Week 7 was a good week of training. Resting last Sunday was a good idea, as I seemed to handle the increased amount of running well.

Monday and Thursday – these were rest days.

Tuesday –  I ran 3.8 miles in the park at lunchtime. I did some fast bursts in the middle, which is always fun. I wore my new trainers again, and they seemed fine. Phew.

Wednesday – This was a tough run: 7.5 miles including 4 x 1 mile at tempo pace. The weather wasn’t great: warm, but wet and windy. I also realised afterwards that I had misread the training plan and made my recoveries after the tempo sections longer than they were supposed to be. Oops.

Friday – An easy run: 4.2 miles in the park at lunchtime again. Once again, it was warm but wet and windy.

Saturday – I cycled to parkrun with S. We were both volunteering: he as Volunteer Coordinator, and me as a marshal. I supervised a spot at a crossroads near the beginning where runners have to veer off to the right and not carry on straight ahead where they would be joining the end of the course (it’s tempting to take a shortcut at that point). I then joined the marshal on the other side of the crossroads to cheer the runners to the end.

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Deer in the park. It was nice to dawdle and appreciate the scenery for once.

After that, we cycled home. I (reluctantly) went out again and ran an easy 5k around the block. I wore my other new trainers. Unfortunately, although they felt better than last time, I still felt discomfort in my calf/ankle. And it rained again! It’s been a wet week.

Sunday – I did my long run – 17 miles. I followed a similar route to the 16-miler I did two weeks ago: an out-and-back along the Thames path. I felt apprehensive, again, as I seem to do before all my long runs. I checked the weather forecast. It said sunny and dry. It was sunny and dry for about half of the run – but then there was a torrential downpour which only got heavier. I wasn’t prepared at all for rain, let alone that much. I was cold and absolutely soaked – and I still had over an hour’s worth of running left.

I briefly took shelter under a tree about three miles from the end to phone S and ask if he could bring dry socks, trainers and extra clothes for me as I was supposed to be meeting him for brunch. I got to the brunch place looking like a miserable drowned rat. After changing and thawing out, I had a pot of tea and a cooked breakfast and felt better. I’m not sure I could class this as my worst training run ever in terms of weather conditions, but it’s probably in the top ten.

Total mileage: 35.8 (my highest ever weekly mileage!)

9 weeks to go!