Sunday, January 20, 2019

Marathon Training Week 4

Brighton Marathon Training - Week Four

After last week's busy schedule, fitting runs in around working everyday, it was far nicer to have a relaxed week for week four. When I was planning my training, I intended for this to be a bit of a cutback week in terms of mileage, and that fitted in nicely with a holiday.

Monday I got home from work at about 10am and thankfully had had a pretty good shift to finish. It was a beautiful day and although I wasn't planning to run, I couldn't resist getting out for more easy miles. Five gentle miles in the woods, not paying any attention to pace and instead just enjoying the scenery was the perfect way to wind down after working the weekend.

On Tuesday I was up early, but instead of out for a run I was on my way to the airport! I spent a few days this week in Switzerland. Originally I'd planned to run 5km of progressive splits, something I thought I could manage on a treadmill at the hotel but I was busy sightseeing and decided that I was going to put my holiday as a higher priority this week.

Wednesday was the most restful of rest days as I spent a good chunk of it in an incredible alpine spa in the mountains! There were swimming pools, but I don't think I can really consider floating in a heated outdoor infinity pool as any kind of training session... views of the mountains were gorgeous though. Pools, saunas and steam rooms felt like exactly what my muscles needed though after all the recent running.

After a very relaxed day, I was awake early on the Thursday and decided to make use of the hotel gym for a bit of strength training and a run on the treadmill. I forgot how much I hate treadmills. I had considered doing up to six miles, but the boredom levels were at maximum before even the first mile was complete! I managed to keep going until 3.1 miles but that really was enough for me. I wish I'd taken cold weather running kit with to Switzerland and then I could have run outside, but I was trying not to pack too much and wasn't sure if there were suitable routes (there were).

Friday I wanted to get in some speed/strength type running again and decided some hills would be a good idea. Since I moved house, I've been finding it hard to find good hills nearby that I can use for this kind of training, but then I remembered the woods nearby has loads of hills that would be nice and quiet and I can run up and down them without lots of traffic around! Hard efforts up some steep hills, with a few logs to hurdle now and again - definitely got a workout from it. This was the day  though when I realised how mentally tough marathon training was going to be. I was prepared for the tiredness, the physical pain of running hard intervals and for dealing with days when I "just can't be bothered" to run, but what I wasn't expecting was the anxiety and self-doubt about training. I questioned whether I'd actually be able to run 26.2 miles, whether I was undertraining, whether actually by worrying about undertraining I was now overtraining...

Saturday was going to be parkrun but I couldn't make it and didn't have time to make up the run later in the day, so I had another rest day instead.

And for the final day of week four, it was a 10 mile long run. I ran the first two miles at a nice gentle pace with my dog for a bit of company. She's not much of an endurance runner but I think she enjoyed sprinting back and forth between me, and my dad and sister who were walking behind. It was a good opportunity to run somewhere I hadn't been before, and to enjoy some new trails. Then while my family and the dog drove home, I ran another eight miles back. I tried to push the pace a bit more, but to feel rather than looking at my watch and I was pleasantly surprised to be running sub-8 minute miles very comfortably - a lot of it was closer to 7:30min/mi. That's still probably faster than my marathon pace, but it felt good and I really enjoyed this run.

A lower mileage week this time, with 22.1 in total, but considering it was my week off work and a time to relax mentally and physically, I'm not too concerned and I'm feeling in good shape now to pick it all back up again next week!

Marathon Training Week 3

Brighton Marathon Training Week 3

I'm a bit behind with writing the recap of this week, so the training isn't that fresh in my mind anymore! Lucky I have a print out of my plan, Strava and Instagram to refer to...

Monday was originally going to be a rest day, but I was feeling extremely stiff after the weekend's cross country - I could feel the effects of steep hills and XC spikes in my calves! I decided therefore to do some active recovery with a very gentle 4.2 miles after work. I kept the pace really slow (I couldn't have gone much faster even I'd wanted to really...) and HR was down too so hopefully I got some good quality recovery from this run.

Tuesday morning was the first early morning run of this block. I was working until 9pm at night and so to fit my run in meant getting out in the dark at 6:30am. I ran another 4.4 miles, aiming to pick up the pace a bit with each mile. I don't love an early morning run, but I do find it sets me up nicely for the day so I don't mind putting them in now and again when I need to.

Wednesday was another planned easy run - I'm trying to include lots of easy miles into my training to build aerobic fitness. I'd scheduled myself 5 miles, but ended up doing 8 in total. All at a steady pace though and the only big effort was running up a steep hill that I'm trying to improve my time on (it's a Strava segment and also just a really satisfying hill when you get to the top!).

I can't remember why I didn't run on Thursday - probably just tiredness! I did plan six miles with a couple at tempo pace, but decided to take the day off instead. Having already run on five consecutive days I was probably due a rest anyway.

Friday was the start of my weekend night shifts so a good opportunity for a long run before an afternoon nap ready to work through the night. I ran 12 miles at 8:30min/mi average pace which I was really pleased with as it felt comfortable. This run did make me realise though that I really need to start considering my hydration and nutrition tactics.

Saturday was another rest day which was good as I'd had a busier than usual Friday night at work so did actually need to come home and sleep properly instead of just napping on the sofa.

Sunday I came home from work, slept for a few hours and then went out for my run just before lunch. Although night shifts can be tiring and mess with your body clock, I do really appreciate being able to go out and run in the middle of the day. I ran just over a mile to warm up, a couple of laps at hard effort around the resevoir and then another mile to cool down. Keeping up the pace in the middle did take a lot of mental effort but I'm glad I was able to push through and get it done. This run was my replacement for parkrun, but it definitely makes me realise just how much I get from the other parkrunners and the marshals in terms of motivation to keep running hard!

Despite working every single day in the week, this was my highest weekly mileage in a couple of months, totalling out at 34.1. This is definitely where writing/adapting my own training plan has been useful because I know what's reasonable to do around my shifts at work.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Marathon Training - Week 2

Brighton Marathon 2019 - Week 2 of training

New Year's Day Parkrun Double - Parkrun No. 2 (Harrow)

Are all the weeks going to go by this quickly?! I suspect the 14th April is going to come around pretty fast...

I started off week two with a rest day. It was New Year's Eve and I was working a 12 hour shift so didn't have time for much anyway, plus I've generally kept Mondays as rest days for now.

Week two, day two was 1st of January and what better way to begin the year than with a double dose of parkrun? First up was Canons Park and I took this one pretty steady, coming in at around 25 minutes. With hindsight it might have been a good idea to go even steadier on it but it felt pretty comfortable and I was cold running much slower! Then we headed over to Harrow, my home parkrun, for another go. This time I wanted to go a bit faster, and thanks to lots of encouragement from Dylan I did just over 22 minutes. Not a PB, but considering I'd already run once that morning I was more than happy to have just kept up a fast-ish pace. Parkrun PBs might have to take a bit of a backseat for the next few months anyway.

Day three I had planned to run 4 easy miles, but then a friend I've been meaning to catch up with for months was finally free for a couple of hours and I didn't want to pass up on a brief moment when we were both in the same country and not working! So no running after work, but a bit of work/run/life balance enacted.

Day four I went out to run six steady miles. I was really enjoying running slowly and just focusing on my form and staying relaxed, keeping to just over 9min/mile. But at around 3.5 miles I started getting an odd sensation in my right knee - not pain as such, just a feeling that something twisting or out of line. I was tempted to keep going and finish six miles, but I also really didn't want to do any damage, especially so early on in training, so I sensibly stopped at 4 miles and went home for a goods stretch which seemed to have been the right decision as I've not had any problem since.

Day five was a scheduled rest day so I did some yoga early in the morning, something I'm trying to get back into the habit of whenever I can.

I moved my long run to Saturday this week and decided to do it as a parkrun sandwich. 4.5 miles to Harrow at 8:15-8:20min/mi pace got me there slightly earlier than intended so I continued for another 1.5 miles to make it to six pre-parkrun. Putting parkrun at the end of a long run was a great way to keep up the pace and stop myself getting bored.

I finished off week two with a cross country race at Oxford. I wasn't expecting too much from myself beforehand, but felt pretty good on the day. This time I started much steadier which I'm learning does work much better for me than dashing off at the start of a race! It was a course that suited me quite well - trails and hills, and although the big hills hurt on the second time around, I quite enjoyed myself and felt pretty strong throughout.

So although I finished week two with slightly less mileage than planned, I still feel like it was a good week of training. I'm still not quite into normal weekly routines again yet, so it's taking time to settle into it but I'll get there!

Marathon Training - Week 1

Brighton Marathon 2019 - Week 1 of Training

After weeks of studying training plans, combining them to suit me and formatting it all into a neat spreadsheet, marathon training has finally begun.
I’ve been looking forward to this, even if it scares me. A lot. 2018 has been a brilliant year of running and racing for me and although it’s beyond my comfort zone, I do feel like I’m ready to take on a marathon.
My plan began on Christmas Eve with a rest day – I liked to think of it as a day to just mentally get around the fact that the next sixteen weeks are going to be dedicated to the challenge ahead.
This meant that my very first run of this training cycle was on Christmas Day. I’ve never run before at Christmas – two years ago there’s no way I’d even have considered it! But if you’re going to run on Christmas Day then a Parkrun is the way to do it. My dad and I joined over 230 other runners at Canons Park, a new course for both of us. I completed it in 21:30 which was certainly a nice way to start off as it’s my fastest parkrun time since October. The course had some gradual hills and a few muddy patches which also slowed me down a little. I’d actually planned to include a mile warm up beforehand and a cooldown afterwards, but I was busy chatting to the other festive parkrunners instead.
Canons Park Christmas Day Parkrun
Day 3 (Boxing Day) I went for a “steady” 5 mile run down to the reservoir and back. I was feeling good on this run – perhaps fuelled by the previous day’s feasting – and so was running probably faster than I ought to. I averaged 8:42/mi and while it felt pretty comfortable, I think I do need to try and make sure my easy runs are low intensity so I don’t fatigue myself through this training. I followed this up with some bodyweight strength training.
Day 4 was another 5 mile run, this one at a quicker pace. I’d planned to run at a consistent pace for the entire run, but ended up doing the first 2.5 miles at about 7:35/mi and then getting tired so I ran a much slower, steadier mile to recover before picking back up to that pace again for another 0.5 miles, and then slowed down again for the final 0.5 miles. This was definitely one of those testing runs, the ones I want to remember when it comes to marathon day and I think back about all the times I’ve pushed through wanting to quit.

Day 5 was a much needed rest day.
Day 6 was back at Parkrun and a return to my home parkrun at Harrow. It’s always tempting to try and run parkruns as fast as I can but I tried not to go all out on this one and instead held back a little bit for a 22:11. Still felt like hard work and a good way of keeping some speedy runs in, but without tiring myself too much.
Day 7 – the first of the long runs, and I began with 10 miles. The first four or five miles of this run felt great, but I came to a long hill in mile six and was starting to really feel the effort. I reminded myself this is only the start of a long training period and that there’s no need to totally exhaust myself so early on, and decided to walk parts of the hill. Something I think I’m going to learn during this training is when I need to just push through a bit of negative thinking, and when I need to take things sensibly to avoid fatigue or injury. I reached 8 miles and was so ready to stop at this point, but was able to motivate myself to just keep going, to keep reaching the next half-mile until finally 10 miles were complete.
Overall, I’m glad I’ve been able to complete the first week and stick to the plan despite it being a busy one with all the Christmas celebrations. It’s been a more unusual week because of the two parkruns, so there’s been more fast runs than normal, and I haven’t had any track sessions. It’s great to be back running with a plan and although I can already sense that marathon training is going to be hard work, I’m enjoying it so far!
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