Week 15: Emerging from the chrysalis (or something)

So, my first marathon is next weekend. Next weekend!! These past 15 weeks of training have gone by quickly – but also slowly. Not sure how that’s possible, but that’s how it feels.

This is my first real taper week (after not taking it as easy as I should have last week). I did a slow run home from work on Tuesday which was actually really nice. As it’s light again in the evenings now, I was able to run through Bushy Park rather than sticking to the streets. The weather has been sunny and spring-like for much of this week, which is an added bonus.

I feel like I’ve come full circle: park running in the light evenings in late autumn; getting through the grind of a cold, dark winter; and now, finally, emerging at the other end into the light again, as a fully-fledged newbie marathon hopeful. Or something like that.

I managed a morning run before work yesterday. I decided to do some intervals to mix the pace up a little. I aimed to do 10 x 200m, but I had to stop after six because I felt really sick. I guess I’m not used to speed work at the moment. And I probably went too fast. So much for taking it easy! It was a short run overall, though – only 2.5 miles – so hopefully I didn’t do too much damage.

I have a couple of short runs planned for this weekend, and then it’ll be race week. It’s so close…and yet so far away.

9 days to go!

 

Week 13: My only friend

When I last wrote, the main issue seemed to be the wind. And it’s still extremely windy. I have come to believe that wind is my least favourite weather condition to run in (although any sort of extreme – biting cold; searing heat – is obviously not pleasant).

Wind, however, makes it so much harder. I’m reminded of that scene from The Mighty Boosh in which Howard claims that the wind is his only friend, to which the wind replies, “I hate yoooou.” (I’ve just realised that episode is now 15 years old. Perhaps we’ll gloss over that.)

I took two days’ rest at the beginning of this week, although I wish I’d braved the weather and done a recovery run on Tuesday, as my legs have felt stiff since Sunday’s challenging long run (it was really windy – did I mention that?) I did run yesterday – a one-mile jog to the park, then two miles at slightly slower than ideal marathon pace, then a jog home. It is nice that the evenings are getting lighter. This means I can run in the park after work instead of sticking to the local streets.

I also ran yesterday evening. I jogged to the park again, then pushed myself by running for 3.5 miles at tempo pace, with some faster sections. I had planned to do 3 x 1 mile with recoveries in between, but messed up the interval setting on my watch. I think it turned out for the best, though, as I enjoyed doing a more random, run-by-feel workout. I also had to slow down several times for herds of deer crossing the path (not an unusual event in Bushy Park).

I am worried about continuing discomfort in my right hip, and calf issues in my left leg. I am also not really following a training plan any more, except as a rough guide, so I feel that I’m making it up as I go along at the moment. This is a little unsettling, but I think, with only three weeks to go, that it is probably okay. I need to listen to my body rather than pushing on regardless simply because a workout is ‘in the plan’.

23 days to go!

Weeks 9 & 10 of marathon training: Update

Somehow it’s Wednesday and Week 10 of marathon training already, and I haven’t written about the last two runs of Week 9 yet. I hope the next six weeks don’t go so quickly. I feel like I still have a lot of training to squeeze in!

On Saturday I decided to get up early and get my long run out of the way. This wasn’t too difficult as I was wide awake at 4am. I’m not sure why – excitement about running, maybe?!

2019-02-16 06.34.04I left the house at 6.45, and ran to Bushy Park. It was lovely and quiet – practically empty, apart from a couple of dog-walkers. I ran one lap of the park fairly slowly (which works out at about 7 miles, when I run from home) and then a slightly shorter lap (about 6 miles), and arrived at the parkrun start a few minutes early. Not wanting to break up the run, I did a few laps back and forth alongside the Diana Fountain. When everyone set off, I joined in at the back of the pack.

I was feeling tired by then, but quite strong, and managed to pick up my pace to run parkrun at roughly marathon pace (dream marathon pace, anyway). When I stopped my watch at the finish line, I had run 16.4 miles – my longest run ever. I felt a little emotional, I think because I believed, perhaps for the first time, that I could actually run a marathon.

On Sunday, after Saturday’s efforts, I thought I would just do about 30 minutes around the block at a very easy pace. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and I was glad to get out, but it became clear very quickly that my legs were very heavy and I was only going to do about 20 minutes (one lap of the block).

I plodded around and then went home and got ready to go for a pub lunch in Ashtead, where I was meeting S. and a load of running friends, many of whom were running to the pub from various different locations. We worked out that we ran a collective total of at least 154 miles on Sunday (although I brought the total down by cheating and getting my long run out of the way on Saturday).

Phew. So those were the final runs of Week 9. Yesterday evening I forced myself back out after getting home from work to do the first run of Week 10 – mile intervals. I was supposed to do these earlier in the training plan, but had ended up substituting it for something else.

This was my first attempt at mile intervals, and although it was hard and I pushed myself, I actually enjoyed it! I especially enjoyed the 400m cool-down between each interval, something you don’t get in a tempo run. I did three intervals and managed to do each mile at a faster pace than the last one.

I still have occasional pain in my ankle/calf and also my other calf, now, so I still need to be a bit careful; but generally, I feel strong and ready to tackle this last stretch. 46 days to go!

Miles run at the weekend: 18.4 / Types of run: Long and slow on Saturday; Short recovery on Sunday / Average pace: Saturday: 9:52-minute miles; Sunday: 10:48

Miles run yesterday: 5.4 / Type of run: Mile intervals / Average pace: 9:01 (with mile sections at 7:42-8:09) / Miles run this week: 5.4

Week 6, run 2: Running into the wind

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be able to run at lunchtime, which meant in daylight. Unheard of! I’d had a crappy morning, though, and wasn’t sure I could face doing the planned interval session. In the end, I (and my other half) told myself: just do it. Run the crap out of your system (although hopefully not literally).

I headed for a small local park which has a nice triangular shape with long, straight paths, ideal for intervals (although it can get busy with dog walkers). I started with a one-mile jog to warm up, and then did the planned session: two minutes fast followed by two-minute recoveries, repeated eight times, with a one-mile jog to cool down.

Normally the interval sessions in the training plan I’m following are measured by distance, not time; but this one was meant to be a hill session (run two minutes up hill and then jog back). As it’s hard for me to get to a big enough hill during the week, I’ve decided to replace the hill sessions with intervals on the flat.

I don’t think I pushed myself as much as I could, but I still tried fairly hard. There was a ferocious cold wind blowing against me much of the time, so I’ll use that as my excuse. I was wrapped up in two long-sleeved layers, a hat, gloves and buff (and tights, of course); but I had a numb face and streaming eyes and nose. The hot shower and cup of tea afterwards were very welcome (and necessary). The weather has been pretty brutal this week.

Today I’m supposed to be doing a tempo run. I chickened out of doing it this morning (I mean, I’ve already done one early-morning run this week. I can’t possibly do another!) so I need to get out and do it this evening. It was probably a good idea to give myself a bit more recovery time after yesterday’s run, as normally I don’t do two hard runs two days in a row. It’s still very cold, and I’m also feeling a bit under the weather, so I’m not looking forward to it. Roll on spring.

Miles run yesterday: 5.3 / Average pace: 9:36 minute-miles (interval sections around 7:30-7:45 pace) / Type of run: Speed / Miles run this week: 9.6