Abingdon Marathon training, week 7

Week 7 was a good week of training. Resting last Sunday was a good idea, as I seemed to handle the increased amount of running well.

Monday and Thursday – these were rest days.

Tuesday –  I ran 3.8 miles in the park at lunchtime. I did some fast bursts in the middle, which is always fun. I wore my new trainers again, and they seemed fine. Phew.

Wednesday – This was a tough run: 7.5 miles including 4 x 1 mile at tempo pace. The weather wasn’t great: warm, but wet and windy. I also realised afterwards that I had misread the training plan and made my recoveries after the tempo sections longer than they were supposed to be. Oops.

Friday – An easy run: 4.2 miles in the park at lunchtime again. Once again, it was warm but wet and windy.

Saturday – I cycled to parkrun with S. We were both volunteering: he as Volunteer Coordinator, and me as a marshal. I supervised a spot at a crossroads near the beginning where runners have to veer off to the right and not carry on straight ahead where they would be joining the end of the course (it’s tempting to take a shortcut at that point). I then joined the marshal on the other side of the crossroads to cheer the runners to the end.

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Deer in the park. It was nice to dawdle and appreciate the scenery for once.

After that, we cycled home. I (reluctantly) went out again and ran an easy 5k around the block. I wore my other new trainers. Unfortunately, although they felt better than last time, I still felt discomfort in my calf/ankle. And it rained again! It’s been a wet week.

Sunday – I did my long run – 17 miles. I followed a similar route to the 16-miler I did two weeks ago: an out-and-back along the Thames path. I felt apprehensive, again, as I seem to do before all my long runs. I checked the weather forecast. It said sunny and dry. It was sunny and dry for about half of the run – but then there was a torrential downpour which only got heavier. I wasn’t prepared at all for rain, let alone that much. I was cold and absolutely soaked – and I still had over an hour’s worth of running left.

I briefly took shelter under a tree about three miles from the end to phone S and ask if he could bring dry socks, trainers and extra clothes for me as I was supposed to be meeting him for brunch. I got to the brunch place looking like a miserable drowned rat. After changing and thawing out, I had a pot of tea and a cooked breakfast and felt better. I’m not sure I could class this as my worst training run ever in terms of weather conditions, but it’s probably in the top ten.

Total mileage: 35.8 (my highest ever weekly mileage!)

9 weeks 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!

Week 11 of marathon training: Building up

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.

2019-03-03 07.47.37Sunday’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).

33 days to go!

Week 9, runs 1 & 2: The cautious approach

It’s a little scary that it’s already Week 9 of marathon training. There’s really not long left now (51 days, as the giant countdown calendar to the right of this screen tells me), and I still have the hardest runs yet to come.

I’ve decided not to attempt a speed run until next week (I’m being super-cautious about my ankle/calf). On Tuesday, I ran home from work, with a full, heavy rucksack (and a back-to-front t-shirt, which I didn’t realise until I got home, somehow). I felt quite good, at least at first; but by the end I was tired and had shoulder ache from my bag.

I took Wednesday as a rest day, mainly because I was so tired. I haven’t slept well this week. On Wednesday I also ended up walking home from work for an hour in the cold (because of transport issues, not out of choice). I didn’t feel much like running after that.

On Thursday, I managed to squeeze in a tempo run after work. It was a lot milder than it has been (today is positively springlike). I was apprehensive about doing a harder run, but it actually went well. On my last tempo run I didn’t manage to hit my preferred pace (and found it extremely hard), but on this one I did, and then some (and actually felt quite good).

My heart rate was very high, which suggests I’m not back to the fitness level I was at before I took five days off (which is a little disheartening – does it really take that short a time to lose it?!) Still, I’m glad that my cautious approach in the last few weeks seems to be paying off. My ankle/calf pain was nowhere to be found this week.

Types of run: Tuesday: Easy, although added weight made it not-that-easy; Thursday: Tempo / Average pace: Tuesday: 10:04; Thursday: 8:55, with tempo section at 8:18-8:27 / Miles run this week: 8.5

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