Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Marathon Training Week 8

Brighton Marathon Training Week 8

Runners at Rickmansworth Parkrun

Reaching the end of this week official marked halfway through my training plan - how is it going by so fast?!

After last week being pretty all over the place, it was nice to resume a little bit more routine again and to get building the mileage back up.

As always, I started with a Monday rest day which made for three consecutive rest days having spent the weekend in Eastbourne. It definitely gave me a bit of refresh and set me up ready for a good week.

Track Tuesday saw me doing 700m reps and finally I managed a full session on the track! I've missed a few sessions due to work and weather conditions, and the sessions that I have made I've not completed for one reason or another so it was a great confidence boost to actually run the whole set. They weren't the most consistent reps, ranging from 2:43 to 3:05, but I felt like I worked hard in the session.

Wednesday was another "rest" day that was actually a twelve hour shift at work, then Thursday I did ten easy miles after work. Now that I've started a new job and am in the same place Monday to Friday, it's easier for me to do some runs from work, so I jogged down through the Royal Parks in the sunshine, enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Thames and met up with the runners at Southwark Run Talk Run. Joining them for the final 4 miles of my run was such a good way of extending it because I honestly never notice the running when I'm busy chatting! The conversational pace also really helps me to slow down and run genuine easy miles that I'm sure do me a lot of benefit.

Sunset over River Thames

Friday had me back in the purple pod of happiness for another Hotpod Yoga nurturing flow, perfect for recovering my muscles after the runs earlier in the week.

For this week I decided to switch my weekend around a bit and do my long run on the Saturday instead. This gave me the chance to also do a bit of (local) Parkrun tourism at Rickmansworth Parkrun. I ran about six miles to parkrun, ran the parkrun, and then ran another seven-ish home again. I used this run to practise a bit of marathon pace again, and it felt good to be able to do this even towards the end of my run. It was a really hilly route (much hillier than Brighton will be... I think!) but I was feeling fairly strong for most of it, although did walk some of the ridiculously steep sections on the way home. It was also another chance to practise with the gels again and make sure that I do get on with them ok.

Strava data for long run

Sunday I relaxed and had a bit of a lie in before venturing out into glorious sunshine for an easy five mile recovery run done at a nice and gentle pace. I was definitely feeling the previous day's long run in my legs and back - the downhills seem to cause me quite a lot of muscle soreness, but getting out for a run did ease it quite a bit.

I totalled 37.7 miles for week 8, finish off a pretty strong first half of training!

Marathon Training Week 7

Brighton Marathon Training Week 7

Marathon training run

This was a busy week for me, with my work shifts being all over the place thanks to a new job, and then being away at the weekend. But no matter what life is throwing at me, marathon training goes on.

I started off week seven by turning twenty-six. No big birthday celebrations this year – not even so much as a cake! But I did head to Hotpod Yoga in the evening for a lovely flow – I’m so glad I’ve made this a firm part of my training now.

Day two and I was working a late shift again, so it was another early morning run and out the door by 6:15am for 5km. Finally an opportunity to try out my new Asics Dynaflyte 3’s and a reminder of just how good that new shoe feeling is. These will be my marathon shoes so I’m trying to break them in enough to be sure they’ll be comfortable, without wearing them out too much pre-race.

Day three, Wednesday, was technically my first day of my new job rotation – but I was starting on night shifts. Luckily this worked out nicely for me and meant I could use Wednesday day time for my long run. I wanted to try and get out into the woods for it really, but I needed to make sure I didn’t get distracted (or lost) running off exploring new trails, so stuck to a tried-and-tested road route so that I’d be sure of being home with plenty of time for an afternoon nap. I did a couple of sections at “marathon pace” but actually ended up with these being a bit faster than planned because they kept coinciding with steep downhills. This run felt brilliant though, giving me a lot of confidence over the longer distances. It was also a chance to start thinking about how I’m going to use gels for race day, and I experimented with a gel after the first hour and another about 45 minutes later. I really wanted to just check that I don’t get any problems from taking more than one gel, as well as to figure out the best timing for them. Slightly annoyingly on this run I broke the zip on my shorts pocket so I had to carry my phone, keys and second gel in my hand, along with a water bottle – this wasn’t great for relaxing my shoulders which doesn’t help my running form much.  

My night shift turned out to be a really busy one and I didn’t actually get to rest until 4:30am. I’m generally lucky with my nights that I can get a bit of sleep overnight which helps me keep up my training around them, but this was a rogue one. Nevertheless I got a bit of sleep when I got home, before heading out in the sunshine for an easy 5.5 miles around the roads and local park. I think the beautiful sunshine on this day made a world of difference – I’m not sure I’d have bothered going out if it was dark or raining!

My second night shift was much better and although it’s not quite like getting a proper night sleep at home, I did get some decent rest so was feeling able to manage an afternoon run on Friday. I decided to do some intervals, so ran down to the lido (about 1.5 mile warm up), did 2 x 1mi then 3 x 0.25mi at “faster than marathon pace”,  with jog recoveries inbetween. Not easy doing speed workouts when I’m tired, but I felt good for getting it done.

I was away for the weekend and didn’t run, but I think this was definitely beneficial to me and gave me lots of consecutive rest days ready to hit week eight. This was a week for adapting the plan to fit around my life, and although I didn’t make it to a track session or a parkrun, I’m quite pleased that I managed to get in some good runs. Total mileage for the week was 28.8 miles - a bit under the planned 36 but oh well!


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Marathon Training Week 6

Brighton Marathon Training Week 6

Another week done, and so far all is going reasonably well! This week however brought about the thing I new I'd find toughest - dealing with the weather. I remember last year seeing people preparing for spring marathons and hearing stories of 20+ mile runs being conducted on treadmills or as laps of the garden. Something I am finding tough is hitting my planned mileage, I'm coming a few miles short every week right now. I'm still progressing and building it up, but it's a bit frustrating even if it is all down to things out of my control.

Running cross country in Oxon league at Addebury
Photo by Barry Cornelius

I began the week with something totally new for me - a hot yoga class. A Hotpod Yoga studio opened locally and having seen quite a few people talking about these sessions lately I was keen to give it a go myself. Safe to say I am completely hooked! I've never actually attended a yoga class before but have been practising with Youtube videos for a few years so at least I knew the poses. This was supposedly a rest day for me, but this was certainly a workout - albeit a nice, stretchy one that left me feeling very relaxed afterwards.

Tuesday was my first time back at the track since before Christmas and I had been really looking forward to finally getting a chance to do some speedwork again. I have been doing some intervals and hill training by myself, but there's nothing quite like doing track with other people to help motivate you. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious! I got out the car into pouring rain, "warmed up" with four laps of the track and I think was about 200m into the first of the 600m reps before the sleet began. There was absolutely nothing enjoyable about this run and I quite honestly could have cried when I pulled after each interval, except I was just too cold to be emotional. It's a shame because my running was feeling good, I was hitting a pace I was happy with and kept fairly consistent for the first 7 reps. After that though I felt myself struggling mentally and the conditions were just too bad. I stopped after 10 reps despite it being a planned session of 16. I'd also meant to do half a mile of cooling down afterwards but all I wanted to do was get in the car, get home and dry off!

Wednesday I had planned a 3 mile easy run, but was working a long day again so didn't have time to fit it in and to be honest I really fancied a bit of rest from running after the delightful weather the previous day!

Thursday I had the day off as annual leave which turned out to have been excellent planning. It was a beautiful, bright winter day and I used it to head out for an easy run. The pavements were a little icy, so I pulled on my trail shoes and went off for a tour of the woods around me. There are so many parts I've never explored before so this was such a fun run just making up the route as I went along, exploring lots of new places I'll be coming back to. I should say that I do know the roads and areas around the woods, so I wasn't just going completely in unknown territory alone! This run certainly helped lift me after Tuesday's horribleness.

Friday was another rest day, and another day off work for me. I had the evening to myself and so decided to head back to Hotpod Yoga for a nuturing flow which was delightful. I'm definitely going to be including plenty of this into my training from now on.

Saturday should have been Parkrun and I wanted to add some miles around it. However the weather had other ideas. I waited around for a decision from Harrow Parkrun before leaving, but hadn't heard by 8:15 and needed to get going so I could run there at an easy pace. Unfortunately by the time I was a mile there I saw that it was now cancelled. I knew that South Oxhey was still going ahead, but according to my phone I was 5 miles away. I did start running there at a quick-ish pace, thinking that even if I was a bit late I'd just join the end, but I soon realised I was just never going to make it soon enough. The route is quite hilly and with the snow and ice around I couldn't safely run fast enough. So I completed a solo eight miles, including a little jaunt through the woods.

Sunday I was back in Banbury for the first time in a while for my final cross country race of the season at Addebury. Temperatures were barely above freezing, the ground was solid in places and slippery with ice-cold mud in others. The run didn't feel easy, but I decided not to attack it too much - I'm not trying to be a fast XC runner right now and I wasn't really going to gain much by pushing too hard. I backed off, kept it fast but comfortable and tried to enjoy the craziness of being out on a freezing February day in a vest and shorts!

Marathon Training Week 5

Brighton Marathon Training Week 5

I am so out of sync with writing these posts, it's a bit of a memory exercise just trying to recall the weeks and runs! I'm writing this midway through week seven - oops.

running Farnborough Half Marathon

As always, I began with a Monday rest day and a chance to recover after the previous weekend's long run.

Tuesday was then supposed to have been my first day back at the track since before Christmas. I'd been quite looking forward to it all day as I wanted to try and get a decent speedwork session in. But on my train journey home, I spotted a few white flakes falling from the sky... And when I got off and began my walk home, it was feeling pretty cold, wet and a little bit slippery. I was weighing up in my head whether it was sensible to skip the track session, or if I should just brave the weather and get on with it. In the twenty minutes or so I spent considering though, I got news that the session was cancelled and when I looked out the window it was pretty clear why - there was about an inch of snow settled on the ground already! Instead I decided to go for a swim so that I was still getting some sort of a workout in, even if it wasn't going to be running. The swim actually felt like quite hard work though and I only managed about half of what I would normally do - but still better than nothing I guess! Swimming is definitely one of my preferred cross training methods though and I wish I could fit it into my routine more regularly.

Wednesday was another rest day, and I was working the late shift at work again so couldn't have fitted anything in even if I'd wanted to.

Thursday evening I got out for a run after work with some longer intervals, which made me feel at least a bit better about not being able to go to the track earlier in the week. I ran a one mile warm up before doing three sets of 8 minutes at tempo pace and 2 minutes of easy pace, with the tempo pace being somewhere around 7:20min/mi. I enjoyed this run a lot - the tempo paces were challenging but not painful and it was nice to see how I could push myself.

Friday I took another rest day.

Saturday I decided to add in some miles before parkrun, so ran just under four miles to get there at an easy pace. I'm the sort of person who massively overestimates how much time I'll need for anything so was of course about half an hour early for parkrun. This was great though as it gave me chance to chat to a few people beforehand and to be pretty much recovered enough to run a quicker parkrun. I still wasn't going all out or aiming to get anywhere near to PB time, but just to hold a comfortably fast pace for me. I was second lady with a time of 22:35 and I'm really pleased with that because it's only a matter of months ago that I'd have been really pushing hard to get that kind of time and this felt relatively relaxed. 

Sunday and long run day came around again. I made a fairly last minute entry to Farnborough Half Marathon to make my 14 mile long run a bit more interesting and a lot less lonely. It was a freezing cold morning and I was not keen to strip the layers off at the start, but once we were out in the sun it was a lovely day! I knew I needed to be sensible and not try and run this too fast, so I deliberately stuck with Dylan and Joanna for the first 10km to keep my pace nice and easy so I wouldn't be tempted to start trying to race. We were doing around 10 minute miles which was about perfect for what I wanted. After 10km I then did up my pace to between 7:45-8:00min/mi to finish off the second half. I've been trying to incorporate faster running later in my long runs to prepare myself for running harder when I'm tired at the end of the marathon. The race atmosphere was ideal for keeping me motivated to run and I really enjoyed it all the way round! I had to add on an extra nearly-mile at the end to meet my planned distance so jogged around for a bit wearing my finisher's medal and bag, not the most comfortable but every mile counts!

And that concludes my fifth week of training. Just eleven more to go...
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