Week 12 of marathon training: a windy week

It was very windy here last week, and it shows no signs of letting up at the moment. This has made running a lot harder. I haven’t attempted any of my Week 13 runs yet.  I’m very tempted to leave them until the wind dies down, even though that may not be until next week. I need to find some motivation from somewhere!

Last week I managed two mid-week runs – an easy 30 minutes on Tuesday and a tempo run on Thursday. Just like when I last updated, I’ve left it too long to remember much about these runs, but I think the ‘easy’ 30 minutes was actually pretty hard as I was still recovering from an 18-mile run two days before.

The tempo run was also hard, because of the weather, but also because I was tired and weary. I got up early and ran before work (always a challenge for me, but usually worth it!). I ran through Bushy Park – one mile to warm up, two miles at tempo pace, and then just short of a mile to cool down. The wind was pretty strong and I was running against it for some long stretches. The flat landscape of the park is beautiful, but also very exposed. This meant, anyway, that my pace was not as quick as I wanted it to be. Still, it was good to get another fairly decent run in the bag.

Saturday was parkrun day. I don’t remember it being that windy during the run, but it definitely was at the finish, as I remember standing around in it (and wanting to be somewhere warm instead!) The run itself was a pretty good one. I felt lacking in energy at first; but warmed up by around halfway and was able to do a strong finish.

My official time was 25:37 – exactly the same as last week. This meant that I gained the Groundhog Day badge for parkrun challenges (running the same time at the same parkrun location on two consecutive parkruns). Parkrun challenges is just a fun way to add a bit more interest to the weekly run (although some people do take it quite seriously!). There are loads of challenges, from running at parkruns beginning with all the letters of the alphabet, to running more than 100 runs in different locations (a.k.a. parkrun tourism).

Sunday’s run was a long one. I was planning to do around 20-21 miles as part of an informal event called Not the London Marathon, which was started 11 years ago as a way for runners to add some variety to their marathon training. It involves running laps of the old Bushy parkrun course, as many times as you want.

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Despite the wind, there was a good turnout for Not the London Marathon.

The plan is usually to have a picnic afterwards, but the weather has often prevented that. Last year there was snow and ice; another year it was hailstones. This year it was, of course, the wind. It was gusty to start with, but it was still possible to run and keep up a steady-ish pace. By the time I’d reached my sixth lap, though, the wind was incredibly strong, and I gave up trying to battle against it and had to walk a bit. I finished my run at 18.7 miles, which I was pleased with in those conditions. The park was actually closed for the rest of the day because of the risk of falling trees.

I had a sore hip during the run and it’s still not quite right now, so I’m going to try and be diligent about stretching and strength exercises this week (and maybe try and force myself out into the awful weather this evening to try a very gentle run).

26 days to go! (Wow.)

Week 6, run 3: The wood for the trees

This has continued to be a challenging week, and I’m even more glad than usual that it’s Friday. I am also glad that I’ve managed to get in my three mid-week runs, even though the two key runs (speed and tempo) didn’t go as well as I would have liked.

I squeezed in my tempo run yesterday evening, after getting home from work. It was very cold, and dark, and I didn’t much feel like going out again; but I guess the running habit is so ingrained in me now that somehow I got out of the door. I ran a mile to warm up, and then three miles at tempo pace. I found this really hard, and I was slower than I wanted to be, perhaps because I’d done my speed run on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, and my legs were still suffering a bit. I was then supposed to run a mile to cool down, but I cut this short in my haste to get back home and into the warm.

Right now, I’m finding it hard to see the wood for the trees. Life is proving difficult and all-consuming at times, and it’s easy to get caught up in that and forget about marathon training, and I sometimes wonder why I’m even doing it. I am hoping, though, that if I keep putting in the work anyway, even if I don’t feel I’m achieving much at the time, it will all add up. I am hoping it means that I will get out of this thicket and be in a good place on the starting line in ten weeks’ time.

Miles run yesterday: 4.4 / Average pace: 9:09 minute-miles (with tempo section at about 8:30-8:40 pace) / Miles run this week: 14.1

Week 6, run 1: Not a morning person

This week is a stressful one for various reasons. I sometimes find it challenging to fit my weekday running around other commitments, especially as my other commitments are rigid, and especially in winter, when it is usually dark at the times I have available to run. I would love to have a more flexible schedule, and, partly thanks to running, I’m starting to think more seriously about how I can achieve that.

Anyway. As my weekday runs for marathon training have become longer and more challenging, I’ve been thinking about how I can mix it up, such as with different routes and running at different times. There is a running track near where I work. I haven’t used it yet, as I find it difficult to get away from my conviction that it is for proper runners, and I am not one. However, it would be useful to do a weekday speed session there, as I could just go over straight after work, and not have to worry about an early morning or late evening run. And, of course, a track is a perfect setting for speed work.

I was planning to be brave and use the track this week, but because of other things going on, I’ve changed my plans a little. Today is usually a speed day, but I swapped it with tomorrow’s slow run. I ran early this morning, as I saw that sleet is forecast for this evening. Although it was dark and very cold, I appreciated the peacefulness of the streets, and I felt energised after running at a gentle recovery pace.

When I run in the early morning, I always enjoy it and tell myself I should do it more, even though I see myself as not-a-morning-person. I don’t have a lot of time in the mornings and it takes me a while after waking up to become human, so I often leave running to the evening. This is okay, but my motivation to run usually declines as the day goes on, and it does involve some effort to get out of the door again once I’ve arrived home.

Anyway, week 6, run 1 is done. And, as I suggested in my last post, I am feeling a little better today than I was yesterday (and running definitely helped with this).

Miles run today: 4.3 / Type of run: Recovery / Average pace: 10:16 minute-miles / Miles run this week: 4.3

 

Hannover Marathon training: the dawn of week 6

I am currently training for my first marathon – Hannover in April. I chose this one rather than one in the UK because I went there in April last year with a group of running friends, some of whom did the marathon (others did the half marathon). I was part of a five-person relay team. I ran the third leg, which was about five miles long. I enjoyed this so much that I thought Hannover would be a good place to do a first marathon – it was flat, and there seemed to be lots of space, and the weather was sunny and gorgeous after what had felt like months of bleak, cold UK winter.

Of course, I have no idea what the weather will be like this time, and 26.2 miles is a tad further than five. Nevertheless, having the memory of last year’s positive experience to draw on, however rose-tinted it may be, is proving to be very helpful at the moment.

I have just completed week five of a Runner’s World training plan. There are 11 weeks to go, and although so far my body has handled the increased training load quite well, there is still a lot to come, and I am a little apprehensive. This is uncharted territory for me. I try to be sensible with stretching and doing strength exercises, but, to be honest, I, like many others, find these dark winter months really sap my general energy levels and can also affect my mental health. Some days the hardest demons to conquer are the mental ones.

So far, I have completed all my training runs; but I do my three mid-week runs alone and it has been difficult on occasion to motivate myself. I have tweaked the plan slightly in the last few weeks so that I do fewer miles in the week and more at the weekend, when I tend to run with others (or at least meet them afterwards). I don’t know if this is a sensible approach or not, being the marathon newbie that I am; but I figured that if I do the same overall weekly mileage as stated in the plan, I should be okay.

Anyway. Today is a non-running day, and, frankly, the mental demons have been raging. I can only hope that they’ll get bored and disappear and that tomorrow, a running day, will dawn bright and shiny new.