Marathon training

My training session for injury recovery

Training sessions (wc 13th May)

After my recent knee issues I have been scouring the net for ideas to help improve my IT Band and knee issue.

From what I have gathered, it looks like it may have resulted from my dodgy hips. Now I have been aware that my hip flexor is not the most stretchy and have been working on it with lots of lunge stretching, but I did not realise the impact that my hips have been having on the rest of my body.

About 7 or 8 years ago I had a phase of going to a chiropractor to sort out some back issues which caused me a lot of grief. Although they helped I think there has always been something not quite right. I get very fidgety when sat down for too long (much to the annoyance of my better half). I also have a slight grind on my left side if I raise my leg up past a certain point and my lower back aches fairly regularly. Once this marathon is out of the way I plan to get to the root cause of these issues starting with a trip to the GP.

I have found a number of exercises that people have suggested and placed these into a little exercise routine in the hope that it will firstly get me to a state that makes the marathon ok to run and secondly help properly fix my IT Band issues.

Training session

I start with a 20 minute jog (the only running I’m currently doing which is way harder physically then it should be) as I am worried about what my knee can take and it has seemed to be ok during it. I have been doing this over at the local pitches close to my house which is good because I can walk there, and back. However, it can get a bit lonely doing laps in a small park as they only seem to take about 3 and a half minutes each.

Then I go through this mini circuit:

20 leg raises (each side) – Lying on my side, I raise a straight leg from my heel, with toes pointing down as much as possible. I have found it can be a bit tricky to get the balance right so I sometimes angle my bottom leg backwards for that added stability.

20 leg clams (each side) – Lying on my side again, I bring my knees out in front of me, close to 90 degrees from the waist. The feet rest in line with the spine and the top knee is then raised whilst keeping the feet in contact. When I did this in my gym I used a resistance band, but have not still got myself one yet.

10 pistol squats (each leg) – Standing on one leg I push one leg out in front of me as I do a squat on one leg only. This is quite wobbly until you get used to it so you may want to have something to hold onto. The further down you go, the harder it gets but I try and get as close to 90 degrees in the knee as I can.

I have been doing these for just over the week and feel like they have been helping me and I clearly have a weakness that it picks up, which probably means I need to train those areas.

Afterwards I am stretching and make sure I do the stretch pictured below each time as it really picks up my glutes which is not always easy.

Post training glute stretch to help injury recovery

Glute stretch after exercise

Once the marathon is out of the way and I know what state I am in, I will reassess the exercises I will be doing going forwards.

5K Personal best – Little Stoke Park Run

I first visited Little Stoke Park Run when my better half decided she wanted to go along. So, I went to support and then as soon as they said go I continued to support her by immediately leaving her at the start line as I got swept along with the crowds and trying to find my rhythm. I think she preferred this as she always says she doesn’t like me running with her and I was instantly keen to go and do my own race and try and find something to get out of this run.

I was carrying a post-London Marathon niggle so it was more of a ‘lets see what happens’ kind of a morning. I enjoyed it and thought the whole idea of Park Run was absolutely brilliant and made me wish I had got involved sooner. The second time I went along, I went solo and tried to get a decent time but didn’t quite achieve as good a time as hoped.

I find the 5K distance a really strange one, but similar to 10K I suppose. You are basically pushing yourself as hard as possible but only to a point where you know you only have to maintain it for a relatively short amount of time. So when I find myself in that uncomfortable zone I have to just remind myself that if I cant stay there then the race will end quicker. I have never considered training for this event and use it as a chance to try and go above what my marathon pace would ideally be.

It was on my third Park Run experience that I earned my current 5K PB in January this year. I was at the beginning of my more specific marathon training starting and had been building up slowly beforehand so I wanted to lay a marker and thought this would be ideal. I was aiming for anywhere around the 21 minute mark as this would have been close to my target marathon time.

I started off steady and found my rhythm to start with. Then I did my classic thing of finding someone who was going at close to my pace and tagging on to them. They got me through most before they stepped up their speed earlier then I wanted as I was pushing on my limit of acceptable discomfort. Then a younger lad was hovering near me and came past me on the last lap. He didn’t pull away from me so he was my next target. Yes, I know Park Run is an enjoyable social experience, but I have to find those targets and people to chase to keep me pushing. As we got to the home straight I started to gain on him and ended up going alongside him into the finish pen.

I was really chuffed with the time as it beat my previous by a decent amount. I look forward to going back every few months to test myself and see where I am at, although I may be looking elsewhere now.

5K PB – Little Stoke Park Run – 21:30

 

Ashford Half Marathon race personal best medal finish time

Half Marathon Personal Best – Ashford and District

On my yearly trip back home to the seaside paradise of Dymchurch in Kent over Easter I went to visit some good friends for a game of Pointless and drinks. My friend Becca is new to running but has signed up to the London to Brighton Ultra Marathon in May and is smashing her training. She has been signing up to a number of races to help keep her motivated and prepared. Discussions soon moved onto this and I was told of the 2nd Pod Plus Ashford and District Half Marathon that was taking place on the Sunday. She was doing the Full Marathon, as her first ever marathon. I was tempted, but also peer pressured, so I signed up.

As it turned out, I was glad I did because I managed to get a PB. After a last minute location change for the start of the race I felt they were really organised and had thought about parking for all as we found a space at the local doctors 2 minutes away. On arrival at the local primary school they were using, it was quick and easy to get my race number and there was a nice buzz in the hall. One issue was the amount of toilets as there was quite a queue – even though I thought I would be proactive and go early. That was my only gripe – and that is only a small one! There was a good briefing with plenty of information where those doing the marathon were told about the plans for their second lap. At this point I was relieved I was only doing half.

Shortly after, we made our way out the school and down to the start of the race. As we got together in the ‘start pen’  on a T-junction outside some peoples houses, the starter shouted ‘go’. No horn – but then it was a Sunday morning and some people love a lay in. I started off well and got into my own target pace which was 8:30 minute miles. It was an undulating course but some of the climbs were pushing what some might describe as hilly. That was how it was billed online so I can’t complain about it. It slowed me down on the way up but meant I was able to push on the way down.

Ashford Half Marathon

Reaching one downhill section, I found myself going to fast and almost struggling to slow myself down. In hindsight, I feel this may have been where I agitated my left knee/IT Band. The course included a lovely trail section which they did warn us about. It lasted about a mile or so, but the previous days rain meant it was quite muddy and this made me realise why people need specific trail shoes. I had zero grip so had to work hard to find my foot placing. It was a nice change and added to the experience.

After about mile 6 I tagged along to a runner (cheers Trevor) who has obviously been doing more training than I have and he was going to be going round twice to do the marathon. His pace was just what I needed and having him there gave me a target. Even after I took a couple of walking steps, his few words of encouragement made me get going again and I worked to catch him up.

As we approached the end of my lap, we parted ways. He turned right to go round again, I turned left to complete a strong finish with a nice number of people there to cheer me home. It was a nice touch having a big screen with each runner’s names and times coming up. I also enjoyed the treats right at the finish line and being able to move away at my own leisure. At this point I may have rewarded myself with some chocolate treats. I was also able to grab a quick little massage as the hall was quiet, but I think their intentions were that people booked before the race so I was quite fortunate.

When leaving, the Sat Nav took us along some of the running route, which turned out to be quite awkward when we accidentally drove past Becca on her marathon route! A lovely organised event and I may go back next year.

Half Marathon PB – Ashford and District Half Marathon – 1h34:45

Bristol to Bath Railway path

I have ridden the Bristol to Bath Railway path a number of times and have found it really enjoyable, especially when the sun is out and I have always thought it to be an ideal running route. So, as I was getting towards a decent long run I started to think about using it more. Then the time came this weekend, when I had a 20 miler planned, to take on the railway path.

For me to get to the path I had to go up and down a couple of steady hills, which were fine at the start of the run. It was about 1.5 miles in before I reached the path so only had to go 8.5miles before turning round. The weather was pretty good for running as it wasn’t too hot but there was potential for rain, so I had squeezed a waterproof (and some gels) into my backpack for the run. My aim was to go long and steady and test out my gels.

At the start of the path I found it okay to get into my rhythm with a few people ahead to slowly chase down. To begin with you go through Fishponds which isn’t the most scenic part but once you get through that you run through a tunnel of trees – and then an actual tunnel! On a warm day you really notice the chill entering the tunnel which was a strange sensation. I also lost GPS signal on my watch but fortunately got it back fairly quickly when I came out the other side.

One of my favourite parts of the route is going through Warmley where there is a superb little tea rooms. On this occasion I did not stop but if you ever wanted to plan for somewhere to end your run or cycle, then I would recommend here!

Towards the end of my out leg, my legs started to twinge, only this time it was not the leg I had been nursing, but the outside of my left knee around the IT Band. Just what I needed with another 10 miles to jog back! Managed to make it back most of the path but did have the occasional walk to try and relieve some pressure and release some frustration. Luckily the route is very flat so I had no real hills to contend – helping the knee slightly.

Ultimately by the time I got off the path I was in quite a bit of pain, but realised if I walked all the way back it would have taken ages so I did the silly thing of continuing to jog as much as I could. Managed to get half a mile back and up one of the hills before realising it was a stupid idea and that I would need to walk. Typically, just as I did this it began to tip it down so out came my waterproof which did very little and I continued to walk home in pain and soaked through. This time I had taken a pound coin out with me (for any random emergency where £1 would be the difference) and decided I would have an ice bath when I got in. For this I would nip to the local store to purchase some ice, only to be devastated when it was being sold at £1.05 ! By time I got home I decided I would rather have a warm shower and I did not return for the ice.

I consider this the day where my issues began!