Sunday, 30 March 2014

MK Marathon training: last long run

I've just finished my last 20 mile training run for MK Marathon on May 5th. I've not run since Monday, when I completed my fast mile for Jantastic, because I wanted to rest a tight hamstring. I've been stretching and rolling in the week to help it, and it feels OK now (except when I sit down for a long period).

The plan for the 20 miles was to run 10 laps of the village, which is a 2 mile route we run with the beginners group at Stotfold Runners sometimes. Running laps can be tedious, but it's good mental training for an endurance race, with the added benefit of being able to pop home for a wee :)

I ran with several friends: Ed, Helen, Adam, Tracey, and Ralph. Ed is tapering for Manchester Marathon next weekend so he didn't run far, but it was great he came and he's looking comfortable (and uninjured!) ahead of the race. Helen is coming back from illness and is training (with Adam) for a local 10K next week then their first half marathon in May; they both did really well. Tracey was out running while her family made her Mother's Day breakfast (hope it was good!). 

Ralph came for the last 10 miles, his first run since a nasty accident while on his road bike (stupid dogs). I don't think he intended to stay for 10 miles, but he caught me during my moaning phase -- the point when I hit 14 miles and start to think marathons are a silly idea and I want to go home; he made me carry on despite me saying my legs hurt ("Are they injured hurt or tired hurt?" Tired hurt. "Let's do 20 miles then.")

I'm glad I ran the full 20 miles now I'm home and recovering, I'd have been kicking myself if I'd stopped at 18 miles. I had a cold bath for 10 minutes to help recovery, during which my children brought me Mother's Day breakfast. Eating a bacon sandwich in the bath is very wrong indeed. 

The run was my slowest 20 miler to date, but I'm happy (on reflection) because I've completed three 20-mile training runs this month and I only planned two, plus I didn't walk at all, and when I last trained for a marathon I ran-walked my only 20 miler while injured. Getting to the "end" of marathon training uninjured is a huge relief!

For the next 2 weeks I'm aiming to do some speed training with my husband. He's determined to have me running 5K in 22 minutes! I'm planning a 15 mile run around the Easter holidays as an official start to the taper. Race Day approaches!

March 31CoreRestPilates 5K tempoCore6-10 milesPilates
April 75K tempoCore6-10 milesPilates5K tempoCore6-10 miles
April 14PilatesRestRestClub runCore15 milesPilates
April 215K tempoClub run & Pilates6 milesClub run RestCross
8 miles
April 28CircuitsClub run & Pilates4 milesClub run RestNHRR 5K
2 miles
May 5MK marathon


Monday, 24 March 2014

Mile time trial for Jantastic

It's the last week of Jantastic, a 3-month running challenge. In January the challenge was to set a weekly run target, in February it was meet the weekly run target AND set a weekly long-run distance, and in March it was to meet the weekly run target, the distance challenge, AND run a set distance in a specific time.

I set myself the challenge to run 4 times a week. The long run targets were based on my marathon plan, so had 20 milers on there (failed at this last week when I swapped a shorter run of 14 miles for another 20 miler). But with not having any races booked for March I was a bit stuck for the distance challenge. I decided to challenge myself to run a mile as fast as I could. I originally set a time of 7 minutes, but changed it about a week ago to 7:05 because I got scared (and I decided it would be good to try to match the mile time I set in February when I was challenged by my husband).

I struggle with short distances, I need a few miles to warm up before I can run very fast. I used this morning's circuit training class as a warm up, then ran to the usual club time trial spot on the Greenway (1 mile away). Set off way too fast, but settled down eventually. Hated every moment. Finished in 6:57! That's new mile PB! The run home made 3 miles in total.

This just proves I should have left my Jantastic target well alone. And I shouldn't doubt myself. Blah blah blah...

In other news, my right hamstring is REALLY sore, so I'm going to rest it now until my last 20 mile long run on Saturday. Lots of stretching and rolling in the meantime.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The seemingly pointless midweek long run

After my second 20 mile long run in 2 weeks last Sunday, the last thing I wanted was to be running long again, it's bad enough making myself run 4 miles of 0.25 mile intervals, but my training plan this week included a 9 mile long run for today (with the last 6 miles at marathon pace).

I use a marathon plan based partly on one from FetchEveryone (which is quite specific about midweek speedwork) and Hal Higdon's Intermediate 2. Higdon's theory is that the total distance of your midweek runs should equal the distance of your one long run on the weekend. Also, the midweek long run is usually half the distance of the weekend long run. So, with 18 miles originally planned for Sunday, this week was supposed to be 2 miles Tuesday + 9 miles Wednesday + 7 miles Thursday (2+5 mile club runs).

I've switched around my plan a bit this week: I'm not running 18 miles this weekend, I'm running 13. I haven't messed with the midweek long run/speedwork plan though; I can't control Tuesday and Thursday runs because they're with the club, but I like to be told what to do on a Wednesday because I tend to dither* if I don't know what to do, then I sometimes do nothing.

Anyway, today's run wasn't strictly speedwork, rather a change of pace at the end. I didn't manage it, I'd eaten breakfast earlier than usual (so much so that I forgot I'd had any), and then dithered* and ended up not running until about 11:30, meaning I'd be running through lunch. So, I was hungry and out of energy. I couldn't decide what route to take either, but eventually opted for the off-road route to Langford, which avoids the need to see people.

I set my Garmin pace band to 8:40-9:40 (knowing I'd never run faster than 8:40) and started off OK, first 4 miles weren't too bad considering I'd run across a field (hurdling a low gate) and up a hill, but then I started to slow on the long downhill from Langford to Henlow (on a downhill!), and I wanted my lunch, and a drink. A series of kissing gates made my watch pause itself through "inactivity", so I had a slow 10 minute mile at the 6 mile mark (that's my excuse anyway).

This run is going down as "recovery" rather than "progressive". And with a reminder to myself to eat more.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The "nearly finished" training plan

Last week...

I made a triumphant* return to circuits on Monday. It was partner circuits, which means you work in a pair and one person does a number of lunges (for example) while you do sit ups, then you swap over. I was with Tracey, and we were quite evenly matched, but she decided to take her time choosing a resistance band to use for lateral raises, so I ended up doing over a minute of non-stop climbers. I will get my revenge...


On Tuesday I helped at beginners running club and took some of the run-walkers on a 2 mile slow-paced run (2 min run/1 min walk). I think I broke one of the ladies because she told Pete after that her shins really hurt. Oops. Pilates was hard on arms and core this week, with more lateral raises and lots of press ups. I think Zanna and Pete are collaborating :(

I intended to run either after the morning school run or at lunchtime on Wednesday, but work meant I was busy until 2pm. Giving myself 45 minutes, I decided to run up to Wilbury Hills/Standalone Farm. It's just over 5 miles, and I finished in just over 45 minutes (no time for a shower before the school pick up!). A very good tempo run that made me feel happy at the end.

I went to both running club sessions on Thursday. Ed and I took the run-walker beginners for an underpass session (fast up and slow down). I joined in on some of the sprints but didn't push hard. For inters we did a pyramid session: 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m sprints. Didn't do all that badly really, even though I hate doing sprints. 

I didn't do anything on Friday and Saturday in preparation for my long run on Sunday. Original plan was 14 miles as a cutback week, but after chatting to Lewis about long runs he convinced me to run another 20 miler. (Completely screws up my Jantastic plan for March but nevermind!) Ed suggested we run 2 mile laps of Stotfold (the route we take our beginners on), which meant other people could join us for one or more laps and not have to run too far. The aim was to run at marathon pace, which for Ed is 8:30-9:00. I stuck with him for about 10 miles but then started to tire. Lewis joined us at 10 miles and I ran with him for a bit, then with Pete. I thought I was running backwards at one point, perceived slowness. Anyway, finished the 20 miles in 3:03, which is 12 minutes faster than last weekend, thanks mainly to Ed and his fast first 10 miles.

Next week...

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: Beginners running club (2 miles); Pilates
Wednesday: 9 miles, with 6 @ marathon pace
Thursday: Both running club sessions. I'm leading this week, so will be general runs out and back to Fairfield (for both groups). Will hopefully gain miles by looping back between groups
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: Bike ride, I'm behind on my annual target so I'm thinking of an early morning 15 mile cycle ride around the Greenway
Sunday: 13 miles, running with a friend on the Greenway from Standalone

Sunday, 9 March 2014

3 long runs to go...

Last week...

I helped at Stotfold Runners on Tuesday and took a rather large group of new starters on a 2 minute/1 minute run/walk. We took it really easy and covered 2 miles exactly. Pilates afterwards focused on arms, shoulders, and core, but we had chance to use the foam roller on our legs at the end. That was quite painful and I resolved to use my own roller a lot more regularly.

On Wednesday I had loads of work to do so couldn't go out for my planned long tempo run (boooo). But, I had a bit of a surprise in the post when a parcel arrived for my husband and he told me it was for me: a new Garmin 620! That's the power of moaning constantly, eventually it works*. I set it up to test the intervals feature, and late Wednesday evening I went out and ran 4 x 400 m intervals with a warm up and cool down. The workout feature is really cool and I've been fiddling some more so expect some random interval workouts next week.

*Doesn't always work, see Thursday.

On Thursday we had no broadband and I got really cross and moaned a lot (it didn't help). Because I couldn't work, and I'd missed my long Wednesday run, and I knew I was going to miss Stotfold Runners inters session that evening, I went out for an 8 mile run. I had no plan other than to test my new Garmin and figure out the alerts and other features. I managed to maintain marathon pace (9 min/mile) or faster so that was quite good I reckon. I made Stotfold Runners beginners club and led a 200 m sprint session, we had a short warm up jog, then did 5 x 200 m sprints, with 200 m jogged recoveries, then a cool down jog back. My husband had taken the children out for a mile jog at 7:15, and they met us at 7:30 so my husband could go to the inters speed session. We bought chocolate from the shop and skipped home happily.

The Garmin 620 has a feature that tells you how well you are recovering and how long you should rest for before your next run. I'm not sure how this works but I guess it's something to do with heart rate during the last run. Anyway, it said I needed 26 hours to recover before my next run, so that meant a rest day for Friday, before my long run on Saturday.

Last week was my first 20 mile long run, and I decided to plan it so other club runners could join me if they wanted to. So, similar to my last 20 mile run for marathon training (in 2012, during which I injured my knee and had to stop training 6 weeks before my race), I ran 3 laps of the Standalone 10K route. For the first lap at 6 am I was joined by Andy and John (who were running the full 20 miles with me), Paul (who ran 15 miles), and Robbie (who ran one lap because it was his first run since the end of 2013). I'd set my watch to beep if I ran slower than 10:10 min/mile pace, which is a great feature. We had to be back at the start within 65 minutes for the second lap and to meet any one else running, and we made good progress and finished the first 6.5 miles in 63 minutes. For the second lap, Simon, Tracey, Scott, and Mel joined me Paul, Andy, and John, so it was a good social run. We finished the second lap a bit faster than the first lap, which gave me chance to stop for a wee at Tracey's house... For the third lap, Scott, Mel, and Tracey left and Naomi joined us. We were starting to slow a bit, so Naomi and Simon sped up a bit, and then Simon took off for home (he was running 20 miles also but had to get back to Arlesey so had further to run). John, Andy, and I ran up and down the High St until we made 20 miles, and that was it, 20 miles in the bag. Uninjured, a whole hour faster than I ran 20 miles last time I attempted it (3:15), full of jelly babies. And with my watch telling me to recover for 36 hours.

Next week...

Monday: Circuit training
Tuesday: Beginners run club (2 miles); Pilates
Wednesday: Tempo run: 5 miles (middle 3 miles at 10K pace, or Strava segment run)
Thursday: Run club (both sessions, I've insisted!)
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: Bike ride or swimming
Sunday: 15 miles at marathon pace or faster

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Week 17 training plan

Long runs

I'm finding my long runs really tough at the moment, I seem to have a mental barrier at 7 miles when I decide that running a marathon is a stupid idea, particularly trying to run it under 4 hours. At 14 miles it's even worse, I'm tired and just want to go home, and I keep reminding myself that I will have to run the same distance again (almost). These mental battles with myself are all part of the training, and learning to push through the low points will help on race day. 

During MK Marathon training I've run only two of my long runs on my own, the majority have been with friends. I like running in a group because it's good to have someone to talk to, to distract you from the distance, to commiserate if its raining and/or cold, or to push you on when you're feeling like jacking it all in (or to moan louder than you, so you forget your own discomfort). I love the feeling when we all finish the run and we share biscuits or cake and have a chat. But they've not all been great: sometimes I've not eaten properly beforehand, or not brought food and water with me, and I've struggled to keep up or keep going (and then felt guilty for having to walk, or for slowing other people down); sometimes the pace has been faster than I wanted and, although running fast once in a while isn't a bad thing, I don't enjoy knowing I'm the slowest runner in the group. 

The two long runs I've done on my own have been tough; I've walked every time, which isn't good for me feeling like I did my best run (although walking up steep hills is allowed I reckon). But it's nice to run at my own pace, to seek out a challenging route, and to get home knowing I ran all by myself with no help.

Today's long run was planned last week, after I read my friend Lewis' comment on Strava about his long run being a long painful slog. I know that feeling! I knew we had about the same distance to run this week (I had 18 miles planned and he had 16) so I offered to run with him. At the NHRR 5K on Saturday, my friend Ed asked what my long run plans were, so we arranged for the three of us to run together. 

I ran earlier than our arranged meeting time so I could get my extra 2 miles in beforehand (nothing worse than having to add on miles at the end of a group run). Met Ed by chance, who was running 20 miles, and he dragged me around the new estate at 8:30 pace before I complained loudly. 

The route we ran was one I'd run a few weeks earlier with some other club friends, to Baldock, following the Baldock Beast course until Wallington, and then run back to Ashwell (where we split up and Ed headed back home to complete his 20 miles). It entails crossing two A roads, but I'm now used to doing this so I wasn't as scared (a little bit scared). I had a moan at 7 miles when we were unfortunately also running up a steep hill, and I felt tired and wanted to go home on the long run from Hinxworth to the A1 (on a flat road but into a headwind). With no sympathy forthcoming I just had to get on with it. (Next time, invite a girl.)

Carrot cake was the reward this week. Sorry Ed, forgot to give you your piece in Ashwell, so Lewis got double.
Last week

I missed club on both days this week, family reasons on Tuesday and then work on Thursday. So I had to run on my own (getting used to this). Tuesday lunchtime I ran intervals at a local underpass, I did 10 sprints up the long incline (which is about 150 metres) then meandered home, running 5 miles. Wednesday I ran 8 miles in the evening after dinner, just a steady run (because of the nearness of eating). Then NHRR 5K on Saturday, but conditions were too muddy for me to run fast, unfortunately, so I had to view the muddy struggle as a workout rather than a run. 

Next week

Monday: Rest day 
Tuesday: Beginners run club (2 miles); Pilates
Wednesday: Tempo run: 6 miles with 0.5 mile fast/slow repeats
Thursday: Run club (both sessions)
Friday: Rest day
20 miles easy (3 x laps of Standalone, or 2 x Letchworth loops. Or 10 laps of Stotfold)
Sunday: Rest day