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
This week was the beginning of my scheduled two week taper. However, after not getting a solid week of training in last week I decided to try and get back to a more normal type of training week. This meant I have actually increased my mileage from that of the week before, but at the level the plan expected.
It had the normal structure to the the week with a couple of steady slow runs and a couple of interval speed play sessions. I really focused on the slow runs and making sure they were slow enough to allow me to push on the hard sessions. These were nice and rather enjoyable but the speed sessions are still hard.
The long run on Sunday was a speedplay session with a quarter mile at a target of 6:30 pace with 3 quarters of a mile at around 7:20 pace. This went well and with most of my runs, the first half was much more comfortable. Need to think about how I plan my routes so I don’t become too frustrated with coming back on myself and knowing the distance left.
Squeezed it out to 13 miles so a solid run but was still frustrated that I missed the last 20 miles as would liked to have got closer to 24 on a training run.
Go into the final week wanting to keep my legs ticking over but also getting a good number of runs in. The main aim is not to destroy my legs in the final week
Things I will take from this week:
- Getting the taper right is hard but quite nice not to be doing a post injury inverse taper
- Do what feels right but bare in mind the impact it will have in the long term
- Slow runs can be enjoyable and beneficial
- Speedplay long runs are interesting and generating fatigue but getting in some consistent paced miles would be good
This week seemed to go fairly to plan but I was hit with a cold for the weekend which really impacted on my training. I went out on Saturday feeling a bit under the weather and generally drained and still aimed to get out for the full long run on the Sunday but there was no way o could manage the full 20 miles that I had planned.
Got a steady 4 miles in and decided that it would be best to head back home which I estimated would be a few miles, 8 at most. Turns out I got a little lost and experimented with some new routes and completed a 12 mile run. Quite pleased with that considering the cold but ultimately probably a bit silly.
Things I will take away from this week:
- Accept I will get a cold and listen to my body properly
- Think long term and sacrifice a run for the long term training benefits as it could easily have knocked me off the consistent plan
Frustratingly from a running perspective, but happily overall, running took a slight back seat this week in terms of the sessions I could manage. This week was Dani’s birthday week and there were activities planned, by me, that would impact my running.
The week started okay with the Tuesday session getting done after work, even though I was slightly reluctant. Turned out to be a good run but on this run it decided to start raining hard after about 5 minutes so by the time I got back I was drenched! A nice challenge to overcome and I always feel better for getting sessions done in rubbish weather, it’s a greater feeling of accomplishment.
I had a massage booked for Thursday to try and stay on top of my muscular issues. By this point I had really noticed my quads being tight which I feel is down to hill cycling. Managed to get these worked, a bit on my hamstrings and calves and then followed with some real pain as tackled the front of my shin. He really found some spots on the tibialis anterior.
From this point my training dipped. I never really know whether to do anything after a massage. I’ve just paid to have my muscles relaxed so why would I stress them out. On Friday I had to leave work and head straight to Dani’s mum which meant time sat driving in car and when we arrived it was time for dinner. I probably should have gone for a run then but chose not too.
Saturday was always going to be tricky but I hoped there would be a brief window in the mid afternoon. I didn’t want to get up extra early to run after being quite tired all week and the 7am wake up was going to be early enough to take dani for her birthday treat. We ended up being out longer than planned which meant we only got back to Bristol as our guests arrived so I could not really nip out for a run then. Also, with the guests staying over I didn’t want to be anti social and go out for a run and miss seeing them in the morning before they left.
I did manage to get out for a run on Sunday but it was about 4 pm and was not with the best preparation. I had a good breakfast but my lunch was a cream tea! It was delicious though! I digested this for an hour or so before running and was not feeling too optimistic. Still, I got out and had 20 miles as my target. It actually went much better than planned. I decided to keep it slower than target pace. This was so I did not burn out and because I had not prepared brilliantly. Apart from a couple of slow miles fiddling with ear phones and taking on water, I was quite pleased with my pacing but not happy with how i burnt out around mile 15/16.
After the ice bath I sat down feeling really cold and realised how weird it feels to do such a long run on a Sunday evening. I think I prefer the early morning.
Things I will take away from this week:
- I still need to keep doing some sort of foam rolling occasionally
- 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
- It is hard to know exactly where my form is
The story of this week was about recovering and not doing proper damage to my calves and the achilles.
After the disastrous attempt at a long run being cut very short I knew I would need to rest. Well, to be honest rest was my only option because I could not run. I was quite panicked by the idea of getting an injury so close to the race and during the big peak of training.
I decided to book in with Ben, my physio chap who gives me a massage when I need it. Luckily, he was able to fit me in on Tuesday. On Monday, not being able to run I decided to do a few deadlifts – something I have done no where near enough of. This caused my hamstrings to ache nicely on Tuesday. Something that was shown up during my massage.
Got a bit of work on my calves and a general rub down on the quads and hamstrings, along with a bit on my hip too. This is an area I think needs more work but I need to save that for after the marathon as the day to day ache is not as bad as it has been when I’m running regularly and balancing the work load.
In the following days I did a couple of gentle jogs to ease back in and on the Saturday I did a deliberate slow run to be healthy for a long run on the Sunday. I used the KT tape on my calves for the long run but I don’t really know if it is the placebo affect of not. Managed to bank 20 miles so can’t complain.
Things I will take away from this week are:
I should do more strengthening work
- I need to research how to balance strengthening work with running
- Prevention is better than treatment
This has turned out to be quite a rubbish week. The week started in Whistler and ended with me bailing on my long run after less than a mile. I skipped a couple of runs on Monday and Tuesday because I was a bit tired and didn’t want to be even more mopey on my holiday so decided to put the holiday first. Plus we were moving back down to Vancouver for the final night of the holiday.
On Wednesday, the final day in Canada, I did get out for a run and decided it was important to get a session in. It was a tempo session with 4 lots of 10 minutes which was a good little run to test my speed endurance. I did most of it without glancing at my watch but knew that the second two reps were slightly slower. Not too much though so that was a positive. It was on this run that my calf first tweaked a little near the start but soon vanished.
Then that evening I flew back home to England and when we were waiting at the airport, the legs definitely began to seize up slightly so I was trying to stretch and massage. During the flight I got a middle seat so felt bad asking the aisle seat stranger to keep letting me out for walkabouts. This meant I didn’t move around too much on the whole flight and then drove home – I got be passenger after barely sleeping on the plane.
By now it was Thursday UK time and that evening I was shattered. On Friday the plan would be to go for the second session run of the week which was a high intensity tempo interval. I had to do 4 lots of 5 minutes at basically threshold heart rate with 3 minutes recovery. This was a rather challenging session because of the speed expectation and holding it. It turned out my distances were all pretty similar for each interval with the obvious decline for the last few being surprisingly minimal. As I got home I could feel
A slight strain on my Achilles which reminded me of the plantar fasciitis that I had previously tackled. A bit of a stretch like normal and I hoped it would be okay.
For Saturday I was keen to include parkrun in my run and got for a steady 9 miles to get my weekly total up and make up for the lack of runs. I would do 3 there, park run and then 3 back. However, feeling jet lagged, I didn’t wake up until 1030. So that went really well to plan. I still got myself out but instantly felt a bit robotic. One of those where the whole body aches and doesn’t feel smooth. As I jogged from the house I felt the calves being a bit tight so stopped to stretch them out, watching another runner float past. By the time I got up the hill to my parkrun course at Pomprey Hill I could tell it was not in a good place. Pomprey Hill has, like it hints in the name, a hill on the route. The first time up was fairly good but the second lap I just couldn’t run up. The pressure on my Achilles was just too much. I bailed on the run I had planned and run/walked the rest of the way home feeling really frustrated
I really hate it when runs don’t go to plan so I’m sure you can emphasise with my frustration when I tried my Sunday long run only to get less than a mile down the road before bailing. It was just pointless and I was thinking long term. If I carried on, the run would have been rubbish and it could have wrecked my training. It is a really sad feeling to give up on a run but I would tell everybody to listen to their body and think about the end goal.
I’m going to be resting for a couple of days and have been able to book a massage in on Tuesday to help aid recovery. I’ll also be taking some ibuprofen to aid recovery. I really have my fingers crossed that I can get back running by Wednesday or Thursday, squeezing a steady loosener in followed by the next session on the plan. May even extend it if I feel good.
Things I will take away from this week are:
- When flying make sure I rehydrate and if it means I need to keep using the plane then so be it.
- I really should get an aisle seat when flying.
- I have not learnt that I really need to look after my calves and Achilles and must get back on the strengthening exercises.
- If the body says it is not ready for a run, listen to it and adapt the session- or even skip it!
- Thinking long term is a good focus but can lead to short term slacking.
- I must work my training to allow me to hit the main peak of my training 5/6 weeks out at maximum
On my holiday I decided I would do the local Parkrun for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would be a good way to get to know the area and meet some people. Secondly I haven’t done one for a while and it’s also a short run so wouldn’t take up too much time but I could push hard to get some training benefits.
I didn’t know much about the course or its profile in advance just that it would be a cool thing to do. It turns out that it was by a lake which we wanted to check out called The Lost Lake. We got there early and had a little stroll before I headed to the start area. There was two Parkrun volunteers there to run the event and I had a nice little chat with them and another runner about the area and general Parkrun chat. As we were called for the brief briefing, about 20 of us (if that) wondered over. After asking how many people had done it before, it was soon revealed that we were all tourists. It was a quick explanation of the route which had also been coned to further guide us round. We were told about a couple of points that might confuse us: a u turn after 2k and a cut back after 4K. Good to know I thought and felt confident with the reassurances of it being marked out so put it to the back of my mind.
As we set off the weirdest thing happened – I was in the front! I had opened up a small gap to some people behind me and as I realised this, I had a slight panic that a) I might have gone the wrong way b) what if I go the wrong way and they follow me! After a couple of minutes there was a fork in the road and I instantly wished I had listened better to course info. I thought for a bit that I was meant to turn left but just in time I spotted a cone in the distance and carried on straight forwards. Phew. As it went on I stayed in the lead and even passed Dani who was walking the lake whilst I ran. Asked how I was doing I declared that I went off too fast and expected to be caught.
Not long after this I approached the u turn sign and had a second moment of doubt. Do I turn before the sign? Or do I turn before it? Do I come back on myself or up the slope back towards myself? After a brief pause to check the slope and with nobody around to check I decided it must mean run back on yourself. It turns out it did mean this. Phew!
Turning back I was able to see the gap I had which was more than I expected but I also still thought I’d be caught at some point. I then moved to go round alongside the lake. The views of the lake and the backdrop were an amazing view to have. I was glad that I would have time to go back round it afterwards and soak it in properly.
Passing the 4K marker I was still expecting someone to take me before the line so I tried to just maintain my pace. The slight decline towards the line helped me out. I got to the line and stopped my watch. Having not looked down the whole run I had no clue what it would say. It said 20:32. A new PB. Delightful. And on a slightly hilly course. I also managed to cross the line first. I know it is not a proper race and it depends on who turns up but it was a pretty cool and surreal feeling. I came first in a Parkrun. Not sure how many people can say that. I know I won’t repeat that again in any race for a very long time, if ever, so I will appreciate that feeling.
Training has been going well so a PB is good but I feel that on a flatter 5 k route I think I could manage a 19 and change. Something I will leave until after the marathon in 6 weeks time!