Once again I’m late with my training update. I think I need to bite the bullet and accept that I’m going to be late with it every week.
Week 6 was a cutback week, but I ended up cutting back more than intended. I’m hoping that this has had a good effect, but it’s probably too soon to tell. Here’s the full recap, anyway.
Monday, Wednesday, Sunday – these were all rest days. I was only meant to have two rest days, but I missed my long run on Sunday because I was too tired. I did plan on doing a shorter run – but ended up doing nothing at all.
Tuesday – an easy 4 miles at lunchtime. I remember very little about this run, so I assume it was fine and uneventful.
Thursday – another lunchtime run, this time 6 miles with the mid 4 miles at marathon pace. I recently bought two new pairs of trainers, as my current ones are on the point of wearing out. I wore one of the new pairs for this run. I had tightness in my calf and ankle, but this eased off after a while. My feet also hurt a little. I’ve since worn the trainers again with no issues, so I think they just needed to be broken in.
Friday – another run at lunchtime. This was meant to be 5 miles, but I was so tired that I only ended up doing 2 miles easy. I wore my other new pair of trainers, and, once again, had a tight and painful ankle/calf. I haven’t worn these again since, so I need to test them out one more time to see if they are a problem or not.
Saturday – I did a 5.5k warm up with friends, and then ran parkrun with them, for 6.9 miles in total. It was an enjoyable run. I felt surprisingly good, especially considering how crap I’d felt on Friday. I wore my old trainers and had no niggles at all.
It’s almost the end of week 5 of marathon training, and I haven’t recapped week 4’s training yet. It’s also already August, somehow.
I had two rest days at the beginning of week 4. I can’t remember why this was; but it meant I ended up running five days in a row. Here’s what I did, summarised in a bullet point list for your convenience.
Wednesday – 4 miles at an easy pace. I’ve found it tough to get up early lately because I’ve not been sleeping that well (because of the heat?), but I managed to get out for a run before starting work.
Thursday – This was a hot day, with temperatures reaching a ridiculous 38 degrees in London. I managed to get out for a run at 8am, when it was already very warm, but not unbearably so. My training plan called for hill repeats, but I wasn’t organised or motivated enough to get to a hill. Instead, I did intervals on the flat – 4 x 800m with long recoveries and a warm up and cool down, for a total of 6.4 miles. On paper this wasn’t that taxing a workout, but it felt hard enough.
Friday – I did a race in the evening, the Wedding Day 7k (so called because the first event took place in 1981, on the bank holiday to commemorate the wedding of Charles and Diana). I’ve done it twice before and it’s always hot, humid, and tough, and a weird distance (the tactic is usually to run at 5k pace and try to hold on). My time this year was 36:23 – my fastest by almost two minutes. We also had a relaxed picnic afterwards, even though it was spotting with rain.
Saturday – I did parkrun at an easy, steady pace. It felt quite hard, though, because my legs were tired.
Sunday – Long run day. I did 14 miles – two loops of Bushy Park. I was tired and found this hard; but I’m pleased I managed the distance (and ran the second half faster than the first, which is always nice).
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.
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:
I like the fact that there is only one difficult mid-week run in this plan.
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.
If I do a parkrun on a Saturday, I should not get carried away. I need to run it at an easy pace.
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.
After my recovery run last Monday, I took a couple of rest days because I was feeling under the weather and not sleeping well. I slept better on Wednesday night, and did an easy 4-miler through the park on Thursday lunchtime. It was sunny and warm, but also really windy.
I took another rest day on Friday. Saturday was parkrun day. S. and I cycled there and back, which is our new way of getting to parkrun since I got my bike. I prefer it to driving there because it’s less stressful – there’s no getting stuck in traffic or worrying about not being able to park; and, of course, it’s better for the environment. Bushy parkrun is a popular event, attracting over 1,000 runners each week, often from far afield. While this is a great thing, it also means that on Saturday mornings there are lots of cars coming into the park and vying for parking spaces. It feels good to be able to lessen that impact a little.
I did a decent run, anyway, although I slowed after the first mile. It was a hot day – already around 22 degrees at 9am.
On Sunday it was slightly cooler and cloudier. I ran down through the park and along the the towpath; then back through the park. I finished at a nice new brunch place for California-style eggs benedict and a latte (and much-needed ice-cold water). It was still warm, and nice enough to sit outside. I ran 9.86 miles before brunch; and then 1.53 miles home with S., so a total of 11.39 miles for the day.
Yesterday I took another rest day. This morning I did an easy 5k – the first run in my training plan for Abingdon Marathon. I wasn’t feeling great so kept the pace really slow. It was already warm; but thankfully not unbearably so (Saturday was definitely too warm).
I’m still feeling under the weather, and currently not super-motivated to get stuck into marathon training. I think it’s important to take each day as it comes, and not push myself if I don’t feel up to it. I know that running can often help me feel better, so I’ll keep that in mind too; but I also need to be aware that it is a fine balance.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
It’s now just over three weeks since Hannover Marathon. I’m still in a post-race limbo. I’ve done several short, easy runs since then. I’ve had some knee pains which oddly seem to turn up on every other run and feel like faint echoes of the last few miles of the marathon.
Today, I ran six miles, which felt hard, even though the pace was easy. It is baffling that three weeks ago, I ran (okay, ran-walked-hobbled) that same distance after already having run 20 miles. I also watched some of the London Marathon on TV. For the first time, I felt like I knew how the runners’ legs were feeling when they crossed the finish line. A noble club to be a new member of.
Right now, I feel like my fitness has disappeared. I am trying not to think about this too much. I am hoping that if I keep plugging away, gradually bringing back some faster and longer runs, the fitness will return without me realising. One day, it’ll just be there again, and I’ll greet it like an old friend (“Oh! Hi, Fitness! Great to see you again”).
In other news, I have ‘given back to the community’ in the last few weeks. Instead of running the usual 5k parkrun on Saturday mornings, I volunteered. In the last few years, I have run parkrun so much that I accidentally forgot to volunteer. Last Saturday and the one before, I was a marshal.
Last week was a cushy assignment. The weather was beautifully sunny. I bagged the first marshalling point where all the runners/walkers charge/stroll up the path and are all gone in the space of about five minutes, signalling the end of the marshalling duty.
The second one, yesterday, was less cushy but arguably more rewarding. It was windy and cold. After a short while, I could no longer feel my toes. I was stationed at a turn around 1.5k from the end of the run, where the field thins out considerably so there is a long gap between the first and last participants. The first speedy runners came through at about 9.10am; the last ones at around 9.50am. My fellow marshal and I clapped and offered words of encouragement. We received many ‘Thank you marshals’, waves, high-fives, and a selfie with an Australian parkrun tourist. I felt tired but thoroughly cheered by the end of it. It was refreshing to experience the weekly run from a different angle.
This week coming, I am, in theory, getting back into training again for the few shorter races (two relays and a 10k) I have coming up in May and June. I’m not feeling massively geared up for it at the moment, but, as I told myself on today’s run: just focus on the steps you’re doing and don’t worry about anything else. Sorted.
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.
Back 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.
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.
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).
I’ve managed to cram in four runs since I last wrote. The first of these was a tempo run last Thursday evening. I don’t have any strong memories of this, so I’m assuming it was a reasonable run. I did a mile warm up, three miles at tempo pace, and a mile cool down. I do recall now, actually, having to stop and walk for a bit after the third tempo mile, as I was feeling tired and had pain in my side – so, perhaps unsurprisingly, I probably wasn’t quite recovered from the previous Sunday’s half marathon.
I don’t normally run on Fridays, but last Friday I decided to run home from work. I took the shortest route (after walking for a bit to warm up), which worked out at 2.6 miles. Again, I have no strong memories of this (this is why I should update more regularly), but I managed to get myself home so mission accomplished, I guess.
Saturday was parkrun, which is more memorable (running with 1400 other people helps with that). It was a grey day and muddy underfoot from rain on Friday, but it was also mild. I had planned to do an easy run, but on the day I felt like I could get away with running a bit quicker. I started at a steady pace, then sped up for the last half and felt strong. My watch time was 25:38. I’m pleased that what not long ago would have been a very hard run for me is now a lot more manageable. It’s good to be reminded sometimes of how much progress I’ve made.
Sunday’s run was the grand finale of Week 11. As with all my long runs, I felt apprehensive about it. The weather was rubbish: wet and very windy, but also still mild, which makes it hard to dress because you want to be protected from the elements, but also not get too hot. In the end I went for my favourite pink running jacket with a short-sleeved t-shirt underneath, and long tights. I did get quite warm, but was also glad to have a barrier against the wind.
When I started running, I felt lacking in energy and had really tight lower calves, to the extent that I had to run/walk for the first mile. I contemplated cutting the run short and going home, but eventually my calves felt better and I was able to keep running.
My intention was to run for three hours and ten minutes. I stuck to Bushy Park and did three laps. On some stretches, I was running against the wind, which was trying, to say the least. I took a short break to go to the toilets, and a couple of very short walking breaks to take gels or drink water, but for the most part, I stuck to an easy pace of around 9:30-10:30-minute-miles.
Right up until I reached the two-hour mark, I continuously doubted whether I would be able to make it to three hours; but after I’d gone beyond that, it started to feel achievable. I finally stopped my watch at 3 hours and 8 minutes – a couple of minutes early; but I’d covered 18.3 miles and felt that that justified calling it a day.
So, that was my longest run so far in the bag (longest not only literally, but also figuratively). I didn’t feel emotional at all (unlike during the 16-miler of two weeks ago), but I am pleased that I have been able to cover that distance at a good pace, and that I am still in one piece. I felt tired afterwards, but my legs felt strangely good yesterday (a rest day).
Despite the fact that my body is feeling okay, mentally I could do with a break. However, it’s now Week 12. This week and next week involve some more tough training before a three-week taper and then the Big Day, so I can’t really rest just yet. I know, though, that recovery is equally as important as training. I need to remember to schedule in some proper relaxation (something I definitely need to get better at).