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, week 6

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.

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I failed to take any photos last week. Here’s one from last summer instead.

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.

Total miles: 18.9

10 weeks to go!

Week 14: Hindsight is a wonderful thing

This week has been busy and stressful. I’ve fit in five runs, and most of them have felt rubbish. After last Saturday’s 20-miler (and then a busy weekend travelling to visit various different family members), I’ve felt tired and achy.

This week was meant to be the first week of tapering for the marathon, and although I have dropped my overall weekly mileage slightly, I don’t feel that it’s been a restful week. Some of this is due to decisions I made about my runs – I think I probably ran some of them too hard.

Tuesday’s run was an easy four miles into Bushy Park and back. For some reason I tried to run a little quicker than easy pace once I’d done a mile warm-up; but my legs wisely stopped me from persisting with that, and I dropped back to an easy pace again. It was a strange evening – lots of dark cloud and barely anyone around, even though there had been loads of runners in the park when I ran on the previous Tuesday evening.

On Thursday I was at home, although I had lots to do. I managed to get out for a 20-minute run around the block in the late morning. I remember feeling okay for this, and I picked up the pace in the second half.

On Friday I had a full-on morning and early afternoon. I was itching for all the various events to be over so that I could get out and run, and blow away the cobwebs. I was free to do this around mid-afternoon. I ran through Bushy again – a 7-mile loop. Once again, I felt tired, but still tried to push the pace. I managed to do marathon pace for one mile in the middle, but then dropped back again. I think, with hindsight, I should have done a shorter and easier run.

This was followed by parkrun on Saturday (my weekly 5k fix). Although I didn’t feel amazing for this run, it wasn’t too bad. I started off conservatively at a 9:10 pace, then did a progressive run, finishing around 8:30-8:10 pace. I felt like there was little power in my legs, but I had no aches or pains and felt reasonably comfortable. My official time was 27:26.

This morning was my final run of Week 14. It is a beautiful day today. It started off chilly, but is now cool and sunny – a perfect spring day and great running weather. Once again, though, even though I wasn’t feeling great, I tried to push myself. I did three miles at an easy pace (in a busy Bushy Park) and then picked it up to slightly faster than marathon pace for six miles. This felt so hard, much harder than it should have; but I forced myself to keep it up. When I finally hit the 9-mile mark, I eased off and jogged/walked two miles home. I felt broken: I had an aching back and hips, and my legs were not happy.

This week my aim was to get in some marathon-pace miles. My thinking was that because I wouldn’t be doing any very long runs, I could do the shorter runs at a quicker pace. And I got this done, but I think I should have listened to my body and kept it all easy. I should also have remembered that stress elsewhere in my life has an impact, and that the body doesn’t distinguish between running-stress and life-stress.

Well, what’s done is done. Next week I’m going to do a proper taper: mostly short, easy runs, and much less overall weekly mileage. I am in real need of some proper recovery now.

14 days to go!

Week 6, run 5: Finding my limits

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well my marathon training has been going, especially considering that I have increased my mileage a lot. It was always in the back of my mind, though, that I needed to be careful and not get carried away, or I could set myself back.

The training plan said 13 miles for today’s long slow run, but as my running had been going well, I was going to go for 14. I felt a strong urge to stay in bed this morning, but I didn’t listen to myself. All I was thinking was that I had to get this 14 miles done, because it was on the plan.

My other half, S., drove us to Bushy Park where we were meeting a friend. S. went to do his long run (18 miles) and I ran with our friend, H., who has been keeping me company on some of my long runs in the last few weeks. The weather was pretty awful: there was a nasty cold wind; although the sun did come out and the rain held off until later.

We followed a slightly hilly and at times muddy and slippery route through Richmond Park. I’m not used to hills at the moment, but I seemed to tackle them okay. We ran down to Kingston and along the towpath, where I started getting pain just to the left of my ankle. I thought it might ease off, especially after I stopped to stretch; but it got worse and worse until I had to stop and walk. We ran for eight miles; then walked the last two (with some bits of jogging purely to try and keep warm).

The run seemed like a failure to me. My ankle felt really sore, and it felt like my marathon training had gone the drain. I thought: well, here it is. I was waiting for it all to fall apart, and now it has.

In reality, though, it wasn’t that bad a run. Even with the walking miles included, it was still an 11:10 pace overall, and 10 miles is not a bad distance (and I have run the same number of miles this week as I did last week – my highest ever weekly mileage). And, in a way, I am glad that I have this pain, because it’s made me stop and reassess how the plan is going: whether it is right for me, and not whether I can mould myself to it and carry it out at all costs.

I have had a similar ankle pain before, and I think it is to do with referred pain from elsewhere rather than the ankle itself. This means easing off from running and concentrating on strengthening and stretching the rest of my body; and also giving myself a bit of a mental break. I pushed myself on some hard runs this week, even though I was already stressed and fatigued not only from running, but for other reasons.

Right now, my plan is to take each day as it comes, and to listen to myself. And, really, one failed (not really failed) run in six weeks of training is not that big a deal. Onwards and upwards.

Miles run today: 10.43 / Average pace: 11:10 minute-miles / Type of run: Long and slow / Miles run this week: 30.2

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