Abingdon Marathon training, week 13

Unlike week 12, week 13 didn’t quite go to plan. I was supposed to do a mid-week 7 miles with 4 at tempo pace, but this didn’t happen. This was mainly because I was tired and a bit broken from the 20-miler on the Sunday of week 12. However, I still managed to get four runs in. Here’s a short and sweet recap.

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: rest days

Wednesday: An easy 4.8 miles in the park after work.

Friday: A lunchtime 4.3 miles at an easy pace.

Saturday: 15 miles. Started off slowly, still feeling tired; but ended with parkrun. I think parkrun is magic: during the rest of the run I couldn’t have sped up to faster than about 9:30 pace if I’d tried, but once I’d joined parkrun, I ran 9-minute miles all the way and felt strong. So, a good run, in the end.

Sunday: An easy 5k recovery run around the block. I tried to avoid the rain (we’ve had a lot of it lately), but got caught in it anyway.

Total weekly mileage: 27.3

3 weeks to go!!! (And I’ve received my race number already!) (Excuse the crappy photo: my camera phone is broken and I need to get round to buying a new phone.)2019-10-01 12.14.26

Abingdon Marathon training, weeks 9 & 10

Time has once again galloped away and there are two whole weeks of training that I haven’t recapped. I’m feeling unmotivated at the moment. Recording what I’ve already done seems to help keep me on track, so here we go.

Week 9

This is a distant memory now. This was a low-mileage week, partly because I was travelling all day on the Sunday so didn’t run then; and partly because I’d done a lot of mileage in the two weeks before. Having a low-mileage week now and then seems to work well for my recovery.

I did two shorter, faster runs in the week – 3.4 miles with some strides; and 6 miles including 2 x 2 miles at tempo pace. I remember this feeling like a tough run. I wasn’t able to hold tempo pace for long enough.

On the Friday I was supposed to do a longer run, but only managed two miles. I had been suffering from a stiff and painful/ankle calf and it was particularly bad that day. Saturday’s run went better, thankfully: 12.2 miles in total, starting with an easy five miles and then a faster seven, with a 26:49 parkrun on the end.

Week 10

I was on holiday/triathlon spectating in the south of France (Marseille and Nice) all week. This was great, of course, but before going I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fit in my training. It turned out that the holiday was actually great for my training, as not only were there many hills so I could finally do some hill repeats, I had a group of enthusiastic running friends to keep me company.

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On the Monday I was supposed to do an easy four miles. This was hillier than my routes at home so it wasn’t that easy; but it was a fun and beautiful run with four friends.

Tuesday was 6 x 2 minute hill repeats – difficult, but satisfying. I was glad to get that session in the bag. Wednesday was a longer one: seven miles, mostly along the waterfront, with the mid five miles at marathon pace. I found this hard because of the heat and still feeling the hills in my legs.

I rested on the Thursday. That was also the day we travelled from Marseille to Nice. On the Friday morning I ran up and down the Promenade des Anglais for three-and-a-half hours, clocking 20 miles in total.

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That was a very hard run. I didn’t eat much before going out. It was hot and humid, even at 7am. My legs were still tired from the hills. My pace was slow, but fairly consistent.

I wanted to quit at 10 miles; then at 12. At 17 miles, I sent S. a message saying I was bailing. But I carried on, promising myself the treat of my last gel if I got to 18.6 miles.

As soon as my watch ticked over to 20 miles, I immediately sat on a bench in relief and exhaustion. I then had to begin the long walk back as I’d finished halfway down the prom. It was a mentally gruelling session. I hope that I’ve gained some strength from this, both mental and physical. My legs definitely felt it the next day.

I have found it hard to switch back to my routine this week, running and otherwise; but generally, my training has been on track, or close to it. Whoop.

Total mileage, week 9: 23.8

Total mileage, week 10: 35.4

6 weeks to go!

Abingdon Marathon training, week 8

The weeks are running away and I’m already halfway through my marathon training. Here’s what I did last week.

Monday, Thursday and Sunday – rest days

Tuesday – I ran in the evening, just an easy three miles around the block at recovery pace. I wore new trainers and still had a tight/ankle calf. This doesn’t seem to stop me wearing them, though. I am convinced that if I wear them for a few more miles, they’ll be broken in and I won’t have any more niggles.

Wednesday – A lunchtime run: 5.6 miles with 6 x 90 seconds fast up a slope in the park. This was instead of doing hill repeats. My training plan does call for hill repeats, but I haven’t managed to make it to a proper hill yet. It was very warm and this was a tough run.

Friday – An easy four miles at lunchtime, wearing my other new pair of trainers. I still had a stiff ankle/calf (although I’d worn the same trainers on Wednesday and don’t think I had any issues then). It was still hot. I’d intended to run a bit longer and a bit faster, but I felt sapped of energy, as always in the heat.

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Saturday – Long run day – 18 miles. It was an early start, but a beautiful one. I was worried that my ankle/calf might give out and I’d have to cut the run short; but although it hurt at first, it was okay after a while. I stuck to the park and the towpath, and finished with parkrun. I managed to run the second half faster than the first, and finished well, although not quite as strongly as I’d hoped (it was hot again).

Total mileage for the week: 30.8

8 weeks to go!

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!

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!

Abingdon Marathon training, week 5

Once again, the week has zoomed by and it’s already Thursday of week 6 of my training. Never fear, though, because here’s a recap of my week 5 training. Better late than never, eh.

Monday and Tuesday – Just like in week 4, I took these both as rest days and can’t remember why. I have noticed, though, that when I take a rest day at the moment, I feel awful. So sluggish, both mentally and physically. I know rest days are much needed, and essential for my body to recover, but I’m not handling them well. I am probably not doing enough activity besides running. Perhaps I’ll go for some gentle walks and do yoga and stretching to help combat the sluggishness (but not too much).

Wednesday – A lunchtime 3.2 miles into the park and back, with 8 x 10 second bursts of speed in the middle. I enjoy running at that super-fast pace for a short time. Even though it has no effect on my fitness, it breaks up the grind and tedium of slow-paced training runs.

Thursday – I had a long, busy day, but went back out for a run in the evening. It was meant to be a tempo run – 5 miles, with the mid 3 miles at tempo pace. I managed the distance, but it was a struggle. I ran the mid 3 miles quicker than usual, but fell well short of tempo pace. I was hot, tired and hungry. Swarms of flies kept flying into my mouth and splatting themselves all over me. Not the greatest run ever. With hindsight, I probably should have bailed out early or postponed it.

Friday – Not willing to be beaten, I ventured out again for a run. This time it was an easy 5 miles at lunchtime. Although it was still hot, I was grateful for the easy pace and felt better than I did on Thursday.

Saturday – I had a lie-in! It was great. This meant that I missed parkrun, but I made up for this by going out later for an easy 5k run around the block.

Sunday – Long run day. I was apprehensive about this, although I’m not sure why. Part of the reason could have been that I had decided to try a new route. Most of my long runs for the last marathon were in or near Bushy Park, mainly because I was paranoid about my ankle and didn’t want to run too far from home so I could get back easily if needed.

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This run was good, anyway. The route worked out well. It was an out-and-back: I ran to Petersham where I joined the Thames towpath to Kew for 8 miles in total; and then 8 miles back to get to 16 miles. Breaking the run into two halves made the distance feel more manageable. It wasn’t too hot, which was definitely a bonus (and made a very welcome change). I kept the pace slow and enjoyed the views. 

Total mileage for the week: 32.4

11 weeks to go!

 

Abingdon Marathon training, week 4

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.

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  • 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).
  • Total mileage: 32.2
  • 12 weeks to go!

Abingdon Marathon training, week 3

Last week’s training was – well, it was fine. Nothing spectacular, but nothing too awful, so I suppose I’m happy with it.

On Tuesday I did an early evening run – 4 miles into the park and back. The training plan said to do some short intervals at the end – only 10-second bursts, just to remind my legs what it’s like to run fast. I did the bursts in the middle rather than at the end. This worked out well logistically, as I had a nice long, wide path to do the speedy bits on. I actually enjoyed this change from grinding out the long, slow miles, even with the humid weather.

Wednesday was a tempo run, in the early evening again – 2 miles, with a mile warm up and 2 miles cool down. I ran this on feel and was slower than I wanted to be. I forgave myself because it was really warm and there was a headwind most of the way.

After a rest day on Thursday, I should have been feeling refreshed and sprightly on Friday. I felt far from that, for some reason. It was a wet, warm day. I forced myself to go out for a run at lunchtime, once the rain had eased off. I did the planned easy 4 miles, but found it hard-going. I had to stop and walk for a short time in the second mile.

Saturday was parkrun day. I reminded myself that I was supposed to be running it at an easy pace, but I don’t think I could have done a quick one anyway. It was still humid, and my legs felt heavy. Still, I ran a consistent 9-minute mile pace and felt okay by the end.

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On Sunday I substituted my long run for a shorter race – the Elmbridge 10k. I ran this with my other half, S., and a few other running friends. The race start is on a running track which is part of a fairly new sports centre complex. I did a one-mile warm up on the track. I could quite happily have run round and round it for a while. The race itself, though, went out of the sports centre and along roads, down a towpath, and back again.

I took part in this race last year and found it tough then. This year was no different. I started too fast – again. This is easy to do as it’s slightly downhill at the start, down a nice, smooth path. I faded very quickly. The next 5.2 miles were a relentless slog. The weather seemed to become more and more humid. The gravelly towpath felt like a difficult surface to run on. Any sort of mental strength seemed to desert me.

I finished with a time of 52:34. I had hoped for better. But it was two minutes faster than my time last year. It was my second fastest ever official 10k race time. So it wasn’t all that bad, really.

This week the temperature is supposed to get up to 35 degrees. I will need to plan my training strategically – which means early morning running. Ugh. I often feel like morning running is great while I’m doing it – but it’s getting up and getting out there that’s usually the problem. Wish me luck.

13 weeks to go!

Abingdon Marathon training, weeks 1 & 2

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.

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A nice morning for a parkrun

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:

  1. I like the fact that there is only one difficult mid-week run in this plan.
  2. 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.
  3. If I do a parkrun on a Saturday, I should not get carried away. I need to run it at an easy pace.
  4. 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.

14 weeks to go!

Weekly running report, 3-9 June 2019

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.

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Me on my new bike

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).