Time for reflection

After wanting a good break from all things training plan after my Bournemouth Marathon, I decided that I would not look back at my previous blog posts to reflect until I was ready to look forwards.

I feel that I have reached a point where I am ready to begin looking forwards and realigning my running goals. Therefore I thought the first thing I should do is to reflect on the key points I highlighted during each training week/blog post to take forwards into the future. Although at the time of writing each little list at the end of my posts, I know that they did not all get used. Hopefully by going through them, they will give me focus when I make my plan soon and if they help you out, then that is also great!

Here are the things that I should take into my future training.

  • I need to be prepared to listen to my body. If I’m ill, I should not be running and rest will help me long term.
  • If I am going away for a weekend, try to prioritise an early run so that the rest of the day can be enjoyed.
  • I need to do as much as I can to keep myself healthy such as eating fruit and veg, perhaps taking multivitamins too.
  • Do not eat a full English breakfast hours before doing a tough hill session.
  • Do not schedule runs for set nights and be more flexible so that the plan works for me.
  • I can push myself harder than I think I can if I keep training consistently.
  • Strava is such a cool community for running and cycling and I will share my thoughts more soon.
  • It is okay to be flexible with my sessions and fit them around my non running life. This should not make me feel guilty.
  • I really need to get to a running club regularly to push myself harder.
  • I still don’t like hill running but…
  • I need to do more hill running. Both sessions and including them in all run types.
  • Saturday long runs can be really good and useful but must still be flexible.
  • I really enjoy exploring new routes on my long runs and finding new places. This is great for my motivation and something I must do more of.
  • I am not sport specific fit and need to avoid netball!
  • I miss playing football. But I have made the commitment to running and would hate to pick up an injury by playing football.
  • Hills still hurt but they do work.
  • I must consider how to deal with DOMS to recover better. Perhaps regularly foam rolling.
  • Water is essential on a night out to help recovery for running the next day
  • It is important to have a social life during a training programme.
  • I can prioritise the faster specific sessions so that I can do the best with my plan.
  • Listen to your body and rest if you need to or take the run easier.
  • Being flexible is okay but having a routine can still be a good thing.
  • A Royal flush is a great way to make a run more exciting – make each consecutive mile faster than the previous
  • Massages are helpful at being proactive with regards to injuries.
  • I really enjoy exploring trails and finding new routes but I’m not sure if I’m ready to invest in trail shoes.
  • I need to keep working on my hips flexibility and strength and avoid putting it off.
  • A strength programme of some sort is really important and I must get this in my plan regularly.
  • My feet are wide and it makes it tricky to get new shoes. I also must get new shoes before my current ones are completely bust.
  • Cross training can have good benefits and I should do it more
  • Driving seems to make my legs tired
  • Chips for dinner the night before a long run is not really sensible
  • Running with a non running partner has the potential to be enjoyable but it is important to choose a good run
  • Travelling for a whole day can leave your legs restless
  • A long run on a Friday is weird but possible if I’m not working
  • I need to keep myself hydrated and start working out some better strategies for race day
  • I need to find opportunities to just run for the pleasure of running and not focusing on splits, speed and distance
  • I really need to learn to swim better so I can be more confident in the water and use it for cross training
  • I have not learnt that I really need to look after my calves and Achilles.
  • Prevention is better than treatment
  • Sometimes it is fun to run in the rain and not as bad as you might expect
  • Long runs on Sunday afternoon are weird
  • Cream tea is not a great pre run meal
  • Think long term and sacrifice a run for the long term training benefits as it could easily knock you off the consistent plan
  • Stop over worrying and letting maranoia take over. Reflect on why it is silly to think about
  • A slow run the day before the race felt good

 

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Hitting the track

After the clocks changed and the evenings got dark so ridiculously early, I immediately lost motivation for running when I got home. Two weeks later and I still feel a bit like that, tired, peckish and just wanting to chill and be cosy. 

However, one aspect of my training that is helping to motivate me to do some hard running is my return to the local track for a weekly session. I made an attempt over a year ago to try and add it to my routine but it didn’t really stick and I only made two visits. This time though I think it will be different. I have been on the last two Thursday’s and found the sessions to be hard and tough but achievable. I also do not think I would have pushed myself consistently hard like I have done at the track. It has also been good to have other people in the group with you, not just to keep up with but for a small chat to break up the session on the short rest sections. 

With my marathon not until early April I am just keen to keep my training fairly relaxed and enjoyable. I have done a few evening runs but I am okay if I miss an opportunity to run after work. Especially with the track session. 

I have also done a couple of park runs recently to add a bit more enjoyment to the weekly training. The first one I ran with a friend for their first ever park run which was really enjoyable just chatting as we ran but also being able to push down the hill. Then the following week I sandwiched parkrun in between a 3 mile jog to and from the venue. I was surprisingly still able to get a decent time which was a shock because my legs felt really tired. 

Hoping to try and get to the track a couple of times a week in the build up to my training plan starting and keeping one visit a week during the plan. Not going to think about marathon until the end of November though. Now is the time to enjoy running. 

Marathon recovery 

It has now been two weeks since I ran the marathon and I have only been out for one very short and slow run since. It has felt bad but I now find myself feeling ready to get back running again. I also went for a hike up Pen Y Fan which I have not managed to do in my training programme. 

The first week I was exhausted and feeling negative about running but this week has seen my mindset change for the better. Although I have not run, I have cycled to work and back every day except one which has been nice to know that I’m actually doing some sort of training or physical activity. Cycling home on Friday was very tough though but I feel that is a result of me not running and my body being uncomfortable from a lack of running. 

On Tuesday I finally got back to Ben for my post marathon massage which was really good. As well as the physical benefits of flushing out the aches, it was really good to have a chat with Ben about my running and also some of his recent experiences. It helped me to reflect and become more positive about my running going forwards. 

I discussed my thoughts about where I went wrong And the whole lack of strengthening in my plan. He had some good advice and talked about how I might have had the wrong perception of a strength programme alongside my running. I always thought it was all about high reps to build strength endurance and not doing heavy weighs as this would bulk up. He pointed out that you start with high weights low reps in the build up phase of running when the low mileage is being done. 

I plan to do more research into this to really improve the legs over those last 6…9…13 miles of the marathon. I may go for a few PT sessions to check my technique to make sure I’m doing it right. 

Autumn marathon – Bournemouth Marathon part 2

So if you read part 1, you know this is a week after my race in the Bournemouth marathon. I want to share my experience for anyone else looking to to run it or wanting to know how my training worked out. 

Pre race

Having been to Uni in Bournemouth I had some friends to see on the Saturday so went down from Bristol in the early afternoon and checked out the beach, saw the finish line and caught the end of some kids races. Really nice experience for children and I hope it motivates them to love sport forever. We avoided hotels and made use of an Air b&b room in someone’s house in Winton. This was the same set up we used for my Southampton Spring marathon. They were happy for my to use pans to make my morning porridge and the house was really quiet. 

On Saturday evening we met up with Luke, who ran it last year, for a drink and some dinner at the local Italian. I may have had a pint which I probably should have avoided, but run, life balance and all that. My pasta was a good portion so I would recommend Bellaggios if you are looking for some food. 

On race morning I woke up feeling fine and got a lift off Dani to the start where she dropped me off. There were some queues to the car park but you can easily drop off outside of the car park. I walked down to where the baggage trucks are and made use of the loo at the athletics stadium before I put my bag in. Not too bad for queues but there is plenty by the start pen. Easy to get bags handed in and I made a short walk from luggage lorries to the start and found some space to go through my warm up routine. 

Race 

I got into the start pen with about ten minutes to go and bumped into James off Instagram! (@shoulderrunner). It was nice to have a chat and settle my nerves but as the start got nearer I began to focus more. My aim for the race was 3:05 but accepting that I might blow up a bit and get 3:15 (all the time really only thinking about 3:05). 

The race started and off I went. I managed to get my pace to where I wanted it fairly quickly which was helped by being in the front white pen. Before I knew it we were heading on a slight decline so I used that to up my pace but focusing on maintaining effort levels. This worked and I was feeling good by the 5k point and felt I was being controlled with my pacing. By increasing slightly on the downs it would compensate for when I would go up! 

At about mile 4 when we turned at Hengitsbury Head, I took on some water and this was when my race began to change. For some reason it did not sit well with my belly and I began to get discomfort in my belly. Nothing so serious I should stop but not what it should be like after a few miles. I continued on and soon went on a slight incline but was holding my pace and feeling capable, even if my belly was not. 

After an hour I took on board my first gel about mile 9 and near a water station but this just made the belly funny again. By the time we got to the beach I was on the time targets I had set myself. Even if the race mile markers did not match up with my garmin. This was frustrating as I didn’t know what to believe. I decided that if the mile was the time it said, it didn’t matter if it was the correct mile as long as for that mile I did it at that speed. 

From about mile 5 I felt like I was running rather solo. There was a group of about 6-8 up ahead but I could not get to them or keep with them so I made the decision to let them go and stay focused. This solo running continued until I got onto the beach for the first time when I picked up a small group. This helped keep me going but I was trying to focus on my pace and if I felt they were too slow I would go past or if they were too fast let them go. It was all about my pace. 

I did weirdly feel a bit selfish about the race as I had my own goals. I didn’t even interact too much with the kids because I wanted to hold my line. I had my head down and I was trying to do what I had to do. 

We finally came to the first incline in Boscombe gardens and it was tough. Fairly short but still tough and then you do a small little loop which was more of a chance to get the legs back to normal before continuing onwards. As we got to the top of the decline to Bournemouth pier just past half way, I made the decision to open the legs up going down. All the time not using more effort. I didn’t take the bend too well and it was hard to then re accelerate. I just managed to spot Dani in the crowd which was a nice surprise. 

The next part was out to Boscombe pier and back to Bournemouth pier. This is where my race began to unravel. After getting through half way in 1:31 I was feeling good but only a mile later I was really struggling. The first pier was tough, my legs were telling e they were tired. Then on the way back I spotted James who was looking comfortable and that helped motivate me more. Round Bournemouth pier and I was finding it tough. My pace had slowed. 

At this marathon they do this wonderfully motivating thing of making you run through  the finish line at mile 17, just before the massive hill. As I ran under, feeling awful, the clocked hit 2:00:00, I can still picture it now. It crushed me. I would have to run 9 miles in an hour, including up this big hilly section. If I was feeling more positive I would have thought about how I could make to up on the flat last 6 miles and the down hill. But I wasn’t and all I could think about was how much it sucked. 

I approached the hill with the best intentions of running up it, getting the race back on track and maybe getting 3:10 instead. The hill beat me and I had to run walk up it. The route at the top then became very lonely as I was struggling and solo for pretty much all of it.  By this point my belly was really suffering and I tried an energy cube I had but had no energy to even chew it and didn’t want to risk more issues with a gel. 

As I finally headed down to the beach I saw Dani on the bend as planned. She thought she would’ve handing me a gel but was flashing a W with my hand for water. Luckily she got it. I stopped for a big drink telling her I felt sick. Then jogged 20 steps before bending over and wretching. This was ridiculous. I felt awful and my legs were useless. My pace was really slowing and I needed up doing a lot of run walking just to make it back. 

The part of the course out to Poole was tough because I knew I would be coming back but I though once I turned around it would be okay but the run walk co rubies. I managed to find a couple of good paced stints but not enough to get me home under 3:15. A surge in speed need the end as I approached the funnel nearly cause some cramp but that stayed away and I finished in 3:15:38. 

At the finish line I didnt want to move. I got my medal and badge went to the grass, saw Dani and then lay down on the grass to get some energy back. Luke had made it to the finish too and offered to collect my luggage which was really kind and helpful of him. 

My first thoughts were how I should be happy after feeling so bad and struggling but I knew for sure that I did not want to do Bournemouth again. Those hills were horrible and the heat just drained me! I would however, suggest to anyone else that it is worth doing as the views are great. It just might not be a real PB course. 

Post race

After the race I went for a dip in the sea to mirror my ice baths. My body was so hot it did not feel as cold as it maybe should have but I’m glad I did it. 

Then we went to a burger bar called Monty’s and indulged in a burger, two types of fries and a freak shake. It was awesome!

Autumn marathon- Bournemouth Marathon part 1

Normally I would try to reflect on a race a lot sooner after I have finished so that it is fresh in my mind. I though that I would write my blog post in the car on the 2 hour journey back home whilst the positive feeling and adrenaline was still pushing around my body. 

However, I didn’t!

I did not enjoy the race any where near as much as I expected and assumed I would ( to assume is to make an ass out of u and me!). I knew it would be tough. I don’t seem able to do anything but. Especially with my high personal expectations. This left me feeling rather negative towards the whole marathon ‘thing’. I was also so tired after this race that I would not have been capable of focusing on producing a review of any quality (although some may question the quality of this). 

After Sunday passed I thought I would write about it on Monday but after a long day of teaching and people asking how I got on, I was completely exhausted and I also realised I didn’t want to think about it too much. I spent the rest of the week not being bothered about running which is actually quite sad. 

I think ultimately it comes down to the fact that although I managed to get a personal best, it was not as much as I hoped for, not as much as I trained for and definitely not as much as I wanted. The marathon can be a cruel beast and when Mother Nature is involved it cannot be guaranteed to go your way. It hurt a lot and so ultimately I’m happy to PB but it didn’t go as I hoped and that can be hard to swallow. 

After a week of feeling rubbish towards running, aching a lot and being more tired than normal I have finally started to think about maximising on all the training I have banked these past months and going to slay the beast once again. I have just this minute signed up to Manchester Marathon on April 8th! A big 25 weeks away. Just under half a year. Plenty of time to raise my game… I hope. 

Things I will take away from this week are: 

  • Plan better for the week after – by this I mean get food in the house so you can eat properly as there is no time for shopping after a marathon. 
  • Also, get some chilled out evening activities lined up to avoid just sitting on the sofa – cinema perhaps
  • Getting on the bike was tiring but actually quite nice and non impact – although I drove to work on Monday , cycling 6 miles each way on Tuesday and Wednesday felt good 
  • Indulge and do not feel guilty about it as I was pretty good over the last 18 weeks!
  • Don’t feel too bad if running takes a back step
  • Be proud of your achievements – something that takes a bit of work 
  • Pre book a massage early so you can get it when you want or need! 

Check out part 2 for a review of my actual race. 

London marathon rejection 

Along with the many thousands of hopefuls I was excited to find out if I was successful in the ballot this week. 

I was not. 

Not too surprised but still disappointing.

I am fortunate enough to have done it in 2015 as my first marathon so I cannot feel too bad. But I loved it so much and I want to go back. 

When I ran it I was determined to get a time which meant that stopped me fully appreciating the race at its best and I want to go back and really embrace it as an awesome running event, rather than a race. 

Maybe one day I will be lucky in the ballot. 

Or I might get good for age qualifying….

Until one of those, I will just enjoy my rejection clothes. Quite like the full zip and front pockets in this years model. 

Autumn marathon – week 18

So I finally made it to my last training week for this marathon. It has been a long slog and to be honest I think 18 weeks is a bit too long to be on a plan. I found myself struggling for motivation the last couple of weeks. This may be down to other things going outside of running such as life, but in the future if I can keep and a good fitness level before commencing a plan it could be more enjoyable. 

This week my focus was on getting in a few runs and trying to get some carbs in at the start of the week to keep me topped up in the build up to race day. I was topping up my normal diet with a portion of pasta at 4pm when the kids left school. Bit boring but alright I guess. 

Did a few runs but mostly slow and short just to keep my legs ticking over. Found myself getting anxious and the normal maranoia such as what if I do a run and trip on a curb. Obviously could happen but not worth worrying about. I also only cycled to work a couple of times to help save my legs too. On Friday I even got the bus home so I didn’t have to cycle or sit in traffic driving. 

I decided to go for a short slow run on Saturday. The penultimate day before marathon just to turn them over as would be sat around a lot for the rest of the day travelling. Felt a bit weird but was nice to know I had no real niggles before going to Bournemouth to race. 

Bags packed and ready to go. Next stop Marathon time. 

Things I will take away from this week:

  • Be confident in the plan and know that what you planned is the right thing to do. 
  • Stop over worrying and letting maranoia take over. Reflect on why it is silly to think about
  • A slow run the day before the race felt good