Latest training

Autumn marathon – week 10

I’m a little bit late writing this week’s update because I’ve been a little bit busy travelling around. I went to see a friend who moved down to Cornwall last year with his family. He is a big cycling fan so took my bike down with me and I knew in advance that he would take me on quite a challenging ride. With this in mind I had to once again change my schedule. 

I drove down on Wednesday which meant an early drive, leaving at 7am. When I got down there, it was straight onto the bikes for a cycle over to Lands End from Penzance. A lovely ride but there are some proper hills down that way. They were tough but I did alright and my friend only had a short wait at the top of each hill. 

This meant I didn’t run on Wednesday but got up early for a sunny run along the sea in Penzance. The nice scenery was a good distraction from the pain of my intervals and it is a really cool thing to be able to go and run in different locations. 

On the Saturday I drove back from Cornwall but it was not as enjoyable as it could have been because of the roads and traffic. By the time I got home I was shattered and we ended up getting dinner from the chip shop. Lining up my long run on Sunday, this was not the best option for fuelling and in hindsight I should really have predicted it. Being sat in the car for so long probably did not do my legs any favours either. 

The long run on Sunday was a 16 mile speed play session which meant for every mile I ran a quarter hard and recovered for three quarters. It started off well and my pace for both parts was good and comfortable enough but it soon became tough.

This was also the first time I encouraged Dani to come out and cycle alongside me because it was a sunny day. In my head this would have been a really enjoyable experience with smiles, laughter and chat. However, it soon turned out that because I was struggling, I did not enjoy her being there for parts of it. When I needed to walk, her encouragement was not welcomed by me and this happened a couple of times. I think I was really struggling because of my dehydration. It was so hot out there. We managed to make it back okay and we were still on quite good terms as we walked back up the hill. 

I think next time I will only invite her along on more steady runs!

These sessions and long runs are really tough and I know I am not where I want to be but in my head I keep telling myself that these sessions are what will make me stronger. 

Things I will take away from this week are:

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

Finding new places to run keeps training fresh and interesting

Sessions are hard but they are what will make me stronger

My arms got tired in the long run so I need to build up a bit more strength

Autumn marathon – week 9

This week was meant to be a dip in session as the third week in the mini cycles, allowing me to have a slight break before the subsequent two weeks step up. However, I feel that I need to get more mileage under my belt so that I can stay strong in the second half of the marathon. With this in mind, I ended up doing more mileage than perhaps I should have but I still focused on the intensity of these runs. 

Due to my flexibility with the plan in week 8, my long run was going to kick off my week. I got 16.5 miles under the belt at a steady tempo. I tried to explore a little bit more on this run and entered a few footpath trails and even had to turn back on some due to how overgrown they were. I miss running on trails every now and then because it always distracts the mind allowing me to enjoy my running. After this marathon I am really going to focus on finding some trails to explore for my training runs. 

I decided to get myself a massage this week too as I haven’t been for quite a while. I decided at the start of this sequence to try and get myself regular massages just to help the body recover. This week was the first time I went with no real problems to target. My knee has had a slight niggle which links to my hips but I had a general leg massage which always feels good after. 


I ended the week with another long run today and although my plan said 11, I wanted a little more so pushed to just past 13. I also wanted to check my marathon pace so put that into action for the last 3 miles and I have mixed feelings about how it went. I managed to keep it fairly consistent but the pace was still a little tough so more to do in the coming weeks. 

Things I will take away from this week:

Massages are helpful at being proactive with regards to injuries. 

I really enjoy exploring trails and finding new routes but I’m not quite ready to invest in trail shoes. 

I need to keep working on my hips flexibility and strength and avoid putting it off. 

My upper body strength is still not good enough so I think I might start a press up challenge. 

I can finish at a pace after a long run. 

My feet are wide and it makes it tricky to get new shoes. 

Autumn marathon – week 8

First week of the school holidays and my plan to really step up my training didn’t really happen. There is always tomorrow. That’s what I found myself thinking. Even though I know how stupid that is and sounds. I had to rearrange some runs so my long run was on the Monday and I just found it impacted on the rest of the week as a consequence. 

Being the holidays, I like to make a visit home to Kent and the beaches of the Romney Marsh to visit my family. I planned a first week visit to help my dad with his bungalow. Before I could go on my travels I had to squeeze in 13 miles. It was a tough slog and didn’t go as well as hoped. I only managed 12.5! I don’t think I need to say much more about it. It was one of those but I got the miles done. 

Then began a couple of days of driving and a lot of time sat behind the wheel in my car. I don’t mind the idea of driving, but I really do begin to feel discomfort when driving too much. It has been a niggle in my back and legs for quite a few years now which I can cope with when driving but can ache subsequently. I got to my dad’s house later than planned and after and extra hours driving thanks to motorway works. This meant I was tired when I woke up the next day and this continued. It led me to not feel like doing all my runs. 
I did manage to sneak in a 6 miler at decent pace which became a royal flush in the most part. But I skipped My run the next day as I felt fatigue and tiredness catching up. 

I spent the rest of the week out of sync and didn’t do my long run on Sunday either because of a social event on the Saturday. Just got in feeling exhausted so decided to push the 16 miler to Monday. I did want to run and wanted to do more than just a plod but didn’t fancy going too long. In my head I had 8 miles (4 out, 4 back) as a nice challenge but knowing I could stop for 6. I soon got a nice rhythm and began noticing I was comfortable picking up the tempo each mile and I soon had a royal flush in my sight. I got 6 miles in before having to back out of the flush and accept the last two miles would not be counted for it. Still pleased to know I could pick the pace up like that and finish on a good pace. 

As I got to 1.5 miles from home the skies opened and I got drenched. I see that as karma for not doing the long run. A nice change from the sunny runs though. 

Things I will take away from this week are:

Listen to your body and rest if you need to

Being flexible is okay but I feel much happier with a routine 

A Royal flush is a great way to make a run more exciting – make each consecutive mile faster than the previous

My control and consistency of pace is still not quite where I want it

My pace is not quite at my target marathon time and I really need to keep my training focused and commit more

Autumn marathon – week 7

This week took me to the end of the school year which meant there would be a number of social events to schedule my training around. I’m finding I can do this better now then I previously could but I still like my routine. Friday was our unofficial end of year party on the last day of term so I would have no time to run and Saturday would immediately be written off with a hangover before the week even started. I was proved correct about the hangover thanks to the cocktail happy hour!

The running stepped up slightly this week and my fast finish run went up to 15 minutes which was only a few more minutes. But I noticed it when running and had to keep pushing to maintain my pace. Afterwards my legs were quite tired and stiff which made it hard to get some sleep. This had a knock on effect on my Tuesday. 

I made a last minute decision to run to school as we had our official staff party in the evening so would not be able to run. It was such a slog. I felt stiff and just generally tired. I’m pretty sure I had a few little walk sections to it just to keep my breath and not to beat my body up too much! Still meant I could tick the miles off though. 

Thursday saw me spend a day at my new school which is right near Clifton Downs which is a big green space over looking the River Avon and Bristol’s suspension bridge. It is a lovely spot and I don’t get over there too much. Another positive for it is that it is all pretty level but surrounded by hills if you wanted to use them. This was why I was here today – for my hill run. As I started it turned out that o was dehydrated and the sun had properly come out. Before I got to the hill I had chosen I knew it was going to be a horribly hot and sweaty run. The intervals also increased to one minute. It was so much harder. I just had to keep telling myself that I am busting a gut for 8 minutes and then it is over. But the recovery sections didn’t exactly help as much as I hoped. When I got to the top for the last one I still had to jog up an incline to get back to my car but it was too much and I had to walk up it. My legs were shot. 

I am happy to push this hard because I need to make the most of these sessions because I believe this is where my gains come from. I didn’t maximise these sessions last training programme round so I’m working as much as I can to make the most of them. 

No long run this week because of my social life but I did a nice 45 minute recovery easy run this morning and made it to 5 miles. This sets me up nicely for my long run on Monday which should be 13 miles. By the end of the week I should be able to get back to my regular routine as I think I can get my long run in on Sunday. 

Things I will take away from this week:

I cannot drink as much as I used to

I can still go out and get drunk and prove the doubters wrong who think I will peak too early

Water is essential on a night out to help recovery for running the next day

It is important to have a social life

I can prioritise sessions so that I can do the best with my plan

I still have a long way to go to reach my goal pace

Autumn marathon – week 6

I have had quite a different week during this training week which has meant my body has been challenged slightly. I

Week six has been quite different to previous weeks. Firstly, I have not been cycling to work on the usual commute because my bike is a bit poorly. But as I’m leaving my school this summer it has been useful having the car to take stuff back home. Secondly, I finally went to my local running club! Also, this week we have had staff vs parents netball and football which has pushed my body in different ways. 

Not cycling has been a bit weird as the cycle is a nice way to loosen up my legs and freshen them up pre runs. But it has encouraged me to get out more due to the stiffness I would feel in my legs. It has been a shame that I have not got the extra  cross training in but it’s been a drop down week at the end of the 3 week cycle so it is a good week to do it. 

I got my fast finish run in on Monday and got some good splits for my final two miles which is always a nice motivator going forwards. 

On Tuesday I finally went along to my local running club which was a really positive experience. It was a really rainy day so was actually good motivation to get out with other people as it would have been slightly boring on my own. It turns out the rain put quite a few runners off as there was a group of about ten of us. The run was a 5 mile loop up and down some hills which showed me some new hills near my house that I will be using in the future. 

The Thursday saw us take on the parents in a netball match. I started centre as I love just running around and don’t like to be confined! As soon as it started I was like a rabbit in the headlights. Didn’t know where to go, who to follow and what I was doing. I realised that I have no change of direction anymore. Due to big teacher turnout I knew I wouldn’t play much so scheduled my hill run in. Tough as always but got it done !

Friday football vs parents followed and it was less agility intense so I fared slightly better. Ended up getting some sore early on set of blisters on the sole of my feet due to hard ground and boots I hadn’t worn for a year. 

Think I have managed to avoid too much damage though as I was able to get my long run done one Saturday which was a nice shorter 8 miles. Hoping if I look after it, I will be able to avoid time on the sidelines. 

From this point on I think my training is going into the peak phase which will see some tougher sessions come along. I have a few staff social events this week so I’m going to continue my flexibility with my organisation to cater for this. After this week I’m on school holidays so will be free to up the intensity and focus on the session. 

Things I will take away from this week:

I am not sport specific fit and need to avoid netball through my training 

I miss playing football and not being capable of my best (not that I’m outstanding btw)

Hills still hurt but they are working

I must consider how to deal with doms, which turn up every now and then, so that I recover better

Autumn marathon – week five

Following the progress I made with my training last week, I have been able to continue it this week with a solid run of sessions. I have had to be a bit more flexible about when to do my sessions due to other events happening in the week but it hasn’t felt like too much hassle. 

I had given the legs a run rest on Monday and just did the cycle commute which seems to work well for me. Never take it too easy as I have always got things to do at work so need to get there promptly- mostly to be at the head of the queue for the shower!

Tuesday was my fast finish session. I have been meaning to go to a running club but seem to keep bottling it. I was thinking of going Tuesday but got home slightly late so would have missed the start. Therefore I got on with my planned run. I went along a route I had been before, hoping that when I turned for the return leg, my ‘fast finish’ 12 minutes would be on a flatter bit of road. It started like this but I soon hit the hill I had earlier run down. It got very hard. So hard I stopped and almost decide to call it at 8 minutes. Then again at 10. Sometimes you just think it is too hard. But I managed to squeeze out the last 2 minutes. It wasn’t pretty but I got it done. 

Wednesday was my slower miles, getting 5 done at a decent ish pace on the way home up the hill. After last week’s run commute I was not expecting it to feel as comfortable as it did. It still was not easy but it was better. I didn’t feel feint during it – small victory. 

With my bike in work I drove in Thursday so I could go somewhere to do my hill session. After feeling awful doing it last Saturday and not wanting to do it on a Friday I scheduled it for Thursday. Driving over to the Clifton Downs, I found a hill that would be good enough. 

I’m never  sure how steep the hill should be but this one allowed me to get the session done consistently well. Maybe it was too easy but I needed to complete the session with the struggle from last week fresh in my mind. The reps were upped to 12 and I really focused on my striding and on trying to reach or go past my previous marker on each climb. Looking at the stats afterwards, I was quite pleased. 

Friday meant I had to run into school which I enjoy more than running home. The morning was warming up quickly so I was a sweaty mess when I arrived. 

Due to visiting friends Saturday night, wanting to buy Ed Sheeran tickets and not wanting to do it on Sunday, I did my long run Saturday morning. I kept my same alarm time as I have through the week which is slightly sad but it was worth it. By 9:15 I had done my 12 miles. It was a lovely morning and I took a different turn and found myself a new trail to run along. It was so nice to find somewhere new and it reminded me what I love about being able to do the long runs. 

I am writing this in my garden on Sunday lunch time and plan to have a small run later followed by some strength and core work. You may notice a lack of mention for this in my week but this is because I haven’t done any. I get back from a run and when they are nearly an hour I feel bad for then spending more time doing exercise. I have also felt quite tired and worry it might impact my running sessions. Excuses I know and I will get back to it this week. 

Things I will take away from this week are:

It is okay to be flexible with my sessions and fit them around my non running life. 

I really need to get to a running club to help push myself harder. 

I still don’t like hill running

I need to do more hill running. 

Saturday long runs can be really good and useful. 

I really enjoy exploring new routes on my long runs and finding new places. Great for the motivation. 

Autumn marathon – week four

I’m back in the game! A much better week of training to see June out and welcome in the rest of my journey to the Autumn marathon. 

Having seen Strava promoting their magic mile event that had to be done by the end of June I decided to set aside my fast finish run on Tuesday as the run to make my attempt and I would do it at the end of a 30 minute zone 2 run (which seems to be about 8 minute miling). I have never just ran a flat out mile before.  The closest I came was when I was at college and we started the year with a 1.5 mile run which I think I did in about 12 minutes. I went into this hoping for around 6:15 but without really having a reason to justify that. I tried to find a section which was fairly flat and it was also very quiet so wouldn’t have to do much dodging. 

It was SOOO hard! I was on the edge and felt like my heart would pop out. I wanted to push to get a fair reflection and I think I paced it to the limit which I guess is where you need to be. Got myself 5:55 which was great as I broke 6 minutes. This would work out about 18:30-19 minute 5 k time. Great! Except there is now way I could have done three of this in a row! May try again at another point in my plan to track my progress. 

My hill session this week was scheduled for Friday which is just stupid. Who wants to run hills on a Friday. I will be moving them to Thursday from now on. This Friday my brother came to visit so we went out for dinner. A burger. A massive burger and it was delicious. It was early evening so thought I could sneak a run in before bed. But then they came over for tea so I resulted to normal Friday mode of being tired. I delayed it to Saturday. Not too bad doing that as I could chill out the rest of the day and be recovered for the Sunday long run. 

However, Danielle and I wanted to see the Lion’s match so had to go to the pub at 830 in the morning to do this. Once there we had a breakfast as I thought I would digest it by the time I ran when I returned home. I may have done but when I went to do the hill runs it was clear I should not have eaten it. I felt horrid. Hills are hard enough but today they were extra hard and it was my fault. I’m just glad I managed to get them done though. Also worked my glutes nicely as they were letting me know about it by bed time! 

Things I will take away this week are :

Do not eat a full English breakfast hours before doing a tough hill session. 

Do not schedule runs for set nights and commit because it is better to move them around other events in the week to make the plan work me. 

I can push myself hard for a mile and maybe a sub 20 minute 5k might be possible. 

Strava is such a cool community for running and cycling and I will share my thoughts more soon.