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!

Running report, 10-24 June

Although I have two weeks of running to recap, it probably won’t take that long. Last week was especially light on running as I was away on holiday (although it was still a rather active holiday). Anyway, here’s what I did.

Tuesday 11th June – a short, slow lunchtime run into Bushy Park and back. I recently started a new job where I can work from home a lot. Lunchtime running from home, or running slightly later in the morning before sitting at my desk, is working well for me. Definitely beats having to try to squeeze runs into the early or late hours of the day.

I wanted to do another run before we went on holiday on 13th June, but on the 12th June I ended up not having time because of having lots of work to finish/having no water all day at home because of a burst pipe/having to pack for the holiday.

We arrived in Luxembourg on Thursday 13th June (after driving through Belgium and France). Friday 14th was spent sorting out registration for the Ironman event that we were taking part in.

On Saturday 15th, a group of us drove from Luxembourg to the nearest parkrun – Leinpfad, which was 45 minutes away, and happened to be in Merzig, Germany. We received a friendly welcome. The course was twisty for the first half (and went through a zoo, which featured llamas); then it was out and back along the towpath (hence the name of the parkrun – Leinpfad means towpath). It was rather warm and I didn’t do the greatest run ever; but it rained near the end which provided some welcome relief from the humidity.

Sunday 16th was the day of the Ironman 70.3 triathlon. My other half, S., and six of the friends we’d come with were all doing the full event. I was in a relay team, doing the run part of the course (a half marathon). I watched the swim start at around 9am; then waited around and spectated before running at 1.45pm.

It was a tough run: it was very warm; I had knee pain from around five miles in and had to slow down; and it was a mentally gruelling three-lap course up and down a long, straight road. I squeezed in at under two hours – my official time was 1:59:07. I was pleased with that, seeing as I’d wanted to quit during the second lap; but I know I could have done better. Still, it was good to get a decent result for the team; and everyone else did really well on the full event (there were several PBs).

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Our home for the week

On Monday 17th, we packed up and drove to Fourdrain, France, where we were spending a week in a château, with the aim of relaxing, eating, and drinking. A lot of eating and drinking was definitely done; but I didn’t get much chance to relax.

On Tuesday I went on two bike rides – a 5-mile round trip to a bakery and back, and then a 40-mile ride to the town of Marle and back. I think I can safely say that I’ve well and truly christened the new bike. I coped well with the hefty mileage, although my knee was aggravated again towards the end.

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Wednesday was a rest day, with just a gentle stroll around the old and pretty town of Laon. On Thursday I went for what I thought was going to be a 5k easy road run with a couple of the others; but it turned into a cross-country adventure through long, wet grass; a steep uphill section through a wood; a slippery, muddy downhill slope; and a stretch of uneven terrain alongside a busy road. Fun, but also mildly panic-inducing. I was glad to get back to the house in one piece.

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Woodland running

Friday was another cycling day – a shorter ride this time, 14 miles to Tergnier. I bailed out there and got a lift back home as my knee was playing up again. Saturday was travelling-home day.

Yesterday, back at home, I ran to the park with the intention of doing 10k at an easy pace. I did the distance; but was feeling surprisingly good, despite the humidity, so I picked up the pace in the second half. I must have looked like I was really going for it, as an elderly man called out, ‘You go girl!’ I was pleased to get to the café, and once I’d finally stopped sweating buckets, rewarded myself with tea and a cookie.

Today I ran again – an easy 4 miles at lunchtime. It felt good to be running at a relaxed pace, and it seemed to loosen some stiffness in my legs. It was still very humid – when I got home I cooled myself down with an orange ice lolly.

This week is my final ‘rest’ week before diving into marathon training again. It is now less than three months until Abingdon Marathon. I am feeling apprehensive about training for another marathon after doing my first one not very long ago. I think I’m going to take a one-day-at-a-time approach and see how that goes.