Autumn marathon -week 14

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

Autumn marathon – week 13

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 

Whistler Parkrun – 5k personal best

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!

Autumn marathon – week 12

This week I was on holiday in Canada. It is the first big holiday that I’ve probably done as an adult as I’ve only done beachy holidays before and it has so far lived up to and maybe actually surpassed my expectations. But this isn’t a holiday blog, it is a running one so let me tell you about how I attempted to balance my training with making the most of such an awesome holiday. 
I went into the week with an idea of the sessions I wanted to run and on what days so that I could try to keep the consistency with the normal routine. Then, we came up with a plan for each day regards activities we wanted to do. It was at this point I had to think about how I was going to get the most out of the running I was able to do. I didn’t want it to take over my holiday but with seven weeks to race day, neither did I want to not run. I realised I had to prioritise the specific run sessions and be flexible with the steady and recovery runs. My mindset was that the tougher sessions are where I get most of the gains so these should be priority. I also knew we would be doing a bit of walking and cycling so could count those if I needed.

On the Monday it would normally have been a steady run but with the long run being done on the Friday before I decided to make it a session day. The reasoning for this was to bank my runs whilst I could in case activities later in the week impacted on them. It was also down to a frustrating event with Dani’s contact lenses which meant we had a slot of time to be waiting around so I went out on a run.

The run was about 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the sun was properly out for my tempo session. I found a running track on a map and headed over to it for my run as it would be easier than stopping at a crossing on my fast interval. However, when I got there it was not a tarmac track but a slight dusty gravel track. Good enough so I got on with my run. Considering I hadn’t fuelled properly due to my morning activities I was pleased with the speeds I hit and maintained. Not sure my mile PB on my Garmin was truly accurate!

The Tuesday was whale watching day which was an early start so managed to get out for a steady run of about 45 minutes to get about 6 miles under my belt. It was a good shakeout from the previous day and meant I wouldn’t be too tired for standing up whale watching.

On Wednesday we had planned to take on a tourist challenge know as the Grouse Grind. It was a 3k hike to the top of Grouse Mountain before you caught the cable car back to the bottom. You could catch it up also, but then you miss out on the grind. After reading reviews about it, I decided that this should be the main session of the day and it was a good thing to. The climb was awesome but quite tough in places with it getting really steep at some points. They break it down with quarter markers which helped keep me and other hikers motivated. They have a scanner down the bottom and at the top for those who want to time themselves and go back to beat their time. I really would have liked to have tried doing it as fast as I could, just for the challenge and to see what I could do. Hating hills like I do I am certain that running up it would have been one of the toughest things I’d have ever done. I think we did it in about an hour and 45.

Thursday started with a gentle tourist cycle around to a local market on Granville Island before I had some time to get another session in. Again it was super hot but I decided to take myself down to the sea wall to do the run. It was short intervals and dodging through the crowd wasn’t super easy – I nearly got taken out by a child, or nearly took a child out who ran across the path without looking. I had some good speed but the heat soon began to take its toll. I had taken water with me but it wasn’t enough. I also had a deadline to be back at the apartment for, so the few miles after the intervals were quite tough as I was tired but knew I couldn’t slow down and walk. It was probably a good thing.
There was no run on Friday as we moved to the second part of our holiday in Whistler and travel time took out the day. However, I was up early on Saturday to take part in Whistler Park Run. I’m pretty sure I got a PB in this event so I will talk more about it in another post (here) but all I need to say is that it was a really awesome place to run and I got to go in a lake afterwards. It also turned out that by the end of the day we had walked quite a few miles.

The week finished with this morning’s long run. I was really looking forward to exploring the trails on offer, even more so after chatting to people after Park Run. I had planned to get out at a normal sort of Sunday run time and be running for between 2 hours and 2 and a half hours. I knew I would not get high mileage because there would be hills but the time on my feet would be good for me. It started off fairly cool and the tree cover in the trails helped this. I was running with a bottle and managed to find my way to some water fountains when I needed to. The route was really cool with some lovely views and it was awesome just to hear my footsteps and no traffic. I didn’t go exploring as far afield as I hoped but that was partly due to my lack of forward planning. But, the trails and route I did was still cool and I think I did one section a couple of times and it didn’t get boring at all. After the run I went straight to the lake to meet Dani and dipped straight in for a natural ice bath. A refreshing way to end my week of running.

Things I will take away from this week are:

  • I need to develop better hydration strategies as I am getting thirsty quite a lot when running at the moment
  • 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
  • Running in the afternoon after lunch and in hot weather is not ideal
  • Sometimes it will work out okay if I just get out and run without worrying about it.

Autumn marathon – week 11

At the end of this week I went on holiday to Canada which I am very excited about. However, this meant that I would need to try and make sure that I squeezed in all the important runs and sessions before I left.

We were flying on Saturday and I knew there was no chance I would be able to squeeze a run in on this day. Although I did consider running against the little airport travelators but thought better of it This meant that I had to be really flexible with my runs at the same time as wanting to up my mileage.

I managed to keep things pretty much the same as normal but the main difference was that I had to move my long run to the Friday. I have never done a long run on a Friday before and it did feel really weird having to do it, especially as I didn’t do my normal evening before high carb meal. Also, the run session I had the day before was a short interval session with 12 fast 90 second reps. These normally leave me feeling a bit fatigued the day after but I didn’t have time to be affected by this as the long run had to get done. In the end the long run went well and I even got in my highest mileage run of my programme so far.

When I do a long run I take my bladder bag with me so I can drink as I go and this has normally been really useful and easy to use. However, I have begun to find issues with it as it is really hard to drink from when I am out of breath which means to get a really good drink I find myself needing to take a walk. Not ideal and this is something I may have to review soon but will have to make do for the rest of the training block.

With my flight to Canada taking the whole of Saturday – getting into our hotel at 1am Sunday, Canada time I knew my body would need a shake out and after all this travelling I knew a long run would be detrimental, which is why I did it on Friday. I decided to go and do a steady 45 minutes along the roads of Canada which was cool but there was not much scenery around our airport hotel. I managed to find a little park along the way which was nice change from the shop fronts. As there is meant to be no jay walking in Canada I found myself having to stop at a lot of crossings which affected my rhythm but as it was only a loosener it didn’t matter too much.

We move into Vancouver central next week and I am very excited about exploring the city through my runs.

Things I will take away from this week are:

  • Travelling for a whole day can leave your legs restless
  • Sometimes you just have to wake up the person next to you on the plane to go to the loo and stretch your legs
  • A long run on a Friday is weird but possible if I’m not working
  • I need to add squats or something every time I stop at a crossing
  • I need to keep myself hydrated and start working out some strategies for race day
  • I need to buy new shoes before my current ones begin to fall apart

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 sessions 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.