Blog Move: http://www.runningmatters.me.uk

Hi folks,

This blog has moved. I’ve made a small investment and gone self hosted.

You can follow me here: http://www.runningmatters.me.uk

Cheers,

Matt

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Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 4 of 18

OK, so weeks 1, 2 and 3 didn’t get written, but it was Christmas and New year, a very busy time for everyone and I couldn’t find the time to write anything.

But with the turn of every New Year comes a newly renewed enthusiasm which I’m hoping will keep my writing.

Despite the lack of posting, there has been no lack of training! I’ve remained as consistent as I can be and have stuck to the plan all aside from an abandoned Tempo Session on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, I’ll try and summarise the last three weeks training best I can!

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Over the festive period we managed a brilliant 5 parkruns, in 5 different locations – 4 of which we’d never been to before. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check out any of the post-parkrun cafeterias due to a lack of time, but needless to say all the people we encountered were as lovely as you would expect at any parkrun.

On Christmas Day we stayed local with the very well attended Basingstoke parkrun. I ran a little quicker than intended but the course was a bit of a mudfest… a theme that developed even further over the period…

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Bracknell was our destination on Boxing Day. Tucked away in a nice forest park, this flat 3 lapper saw some tarmac, some forest trail, but mostly (what used to be and is currently mud) grass. Parking was plentiful and there was a pavilion with loos and a bit of cover to leave your (unsecured of course) stuff. The support here was brilliant, the course passed within close proximity of the start/finish twice per lap so plenty of applause! There were some very slippy places though and nearly lost my footing a few times! Took it nice and easy but felt sluggish from Christmas Day indulgence.

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New years day is one of my favourite days of the year as we can do a parkrun double! We wanted to run with Jodie’s sister so we headed to Hampshire for the 9am starting Andover parkrun. Such a lovely course! A flat 2 lapper mostly on grass. It was squelchy and muddy in places but it took in some lovely fields and lakes and had a really good vibe. Their first timers briefing was very welcoming and the runners were chatty as I jogged round. Brilliant event! Loads of parking available and I think there are usually loos, but they were closed as it was New Years Day. Good PB potential!

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We then headed down the A303 and A34 to Winchester. It was a bit tricky to find. The website gave sat-nav directions to a car park but wasn’t best placed really for the run, but its in the town center and I’ve found other events are similarly troubled when in town centers. It was also pay and display (though with it being NYD, it was free!) and the loos were open in the nearby leisure centre. The course was 3 windy laps of playing fields, almost entirely on grass which was slippy mud on the day. The course wasn’t particularly inspiring and tough we won’t rush back, the marshals and volunteers were brilliantly supportive.

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Back on “normal” parkrunday we visited Poole parkrun. Reportedly a fast and flat course, today was not going to deliver on that! Flat, yes, but the howling wind and rain made it very tough. We ran the “B” course, which had a slightly deviated start and finish, but the main feature is 2 laps around a big lake on tarmac. There is nothing to stop you falling in the river, so caution is recommended! If the conditions weren’t so bad this is definitely a PB friendly course. Being in the town center the parking was also pay and display, but there were toilets and a pavilion to keep dry in. This is a really big parkrun, regularly attracting over 500 runners so a very different experience for us, but despite a congested start the organisation was flawless thanks in no small measure to the amazing marshals and fantastic finish funnel system.

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Long Runs

4 weeks means there were four key long runs for the plan.

The first was meant to be a 12 miler,  but I shamefully avoided it due to a raging hangover. I managed about 7 with the group but they were horrid!

The second was a particularly tough 14 miler with 8 of them at Marathon Pace. I wasn’t sure I was quite fit enough for my target/anticipated MP but had a go anyway. Progressed nicely through the first 6 miles and then hit a pace actually a bit faster than I needed to (3:07 pace)- which explained why the last couple of miles were so tough. Lesson learned for next time, run at 3:12 pace and see how that feels.

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Week 3 saw 16 easy miles around Basingstoke, though once again I was faster than I needed to be. I really must learn to control it,so I can save energy for the midweek session.

Week 4 was the longest run for a while, and it was seriously tough. For whatever reason I went out without any water, which was a mistake when doing that sort of distance. I tried progressing through the gears and through the pace zone, and all went well until about mile 13. Then the legs started feeling very heavy. I think I got a bit greedy on the pace. The last 2 miles were just a world of pain. I craved chocolate and fluids and wasn;t right for a good couple of hours. Not fun at all! A valuable lesson learned.

Sessions

The only 2 sessions in this three 3 week period were Tempo sessions, 8 miles with 4 at Tempo. Unfortunately I managed neither.

The first was the day of our office Christmas party, so I ran the Easy portion at lunchtime, then did 4 miles at Tempo the day after, which were comfortable and controlled.

The second was Christmas Eve. I went out for the first 2 miles but I really wasn’t feeling it. If I’m honest, I hadn’t felt it when I woke up either. But I tried and after 2 miles I jacked it in. Instead, when I got to Basingstoke later that day I did a gentle 5 miler with the intention of tempo-ing a Festive parkrun to make up the effort balance. I did this at Poole.

General Aerobic Runs

I’ve been consciously trying to keep my Easy/General Aerobic runs at just under 8 minute miling. This is because its 15s per mile quicker than I trained last year. Despite maybe not QUITE being “easy” on the effort scale, I hope that as my weight drops and fitness increases it will become easier. “The only way to run faster is to run faster”. My body is pretty injury free right now so fingers crossed this little ploy pays off!

Weight

Nothing to report. I’m too afraid to get on the scales, but now its new year I’m having a clean week and will weigh in next Sunday as my new start point so I can be sub 14st by Manchester.

Summary

Running has gone well and I feel my base is building well. Now to shift the christmas (and more) weight and start getting on with the tougher business!

Lessons:

  1. In the upcoming 20 miler in a few weeks, take water! This means investing in some sort of hydration belt/bag – I don’t want to have to stop.
  2. Stop being a pussy and get on the scales, fatty!
  3. See point 2 and start using MyFitnessPal again once you’ve gotten a starting weight.
  4. Blog next week.

 

 

 

Reflections on my Manchester Training

Back in December I outlined my plan of attack for Manchester. After a good deal of research I went for the Pfitzinger and Douglas 18 week, up to 55 mile training plan from the book “Advanced Marathoning”.

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How did I find the structure?

I was very pleased with the structure of the plan. The 4 mesocycles leading up to the race were really well designed and I found they made logical sense and flowed into each other nicely.

On a week by week basis, the balance was excellent. Mixing basic principles to do with hard days and easy days, and the balance of mileage was really excellent. Reading the book to understand this I feel was essential. It explained the principles behind the training, the reasons why there are a certain amount of days between sessions of different types, why threshold running is important. it really helped me to trust the plan, and would highly recommend to anyone following a schedule, to read the book alongside it.

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Reading the book also helped me to understand how to restructure the plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as my travel arrangements, and not to worry if I had to move things around a bit. Which leads me on to my next section…

Did I stick to the plan?

I tried, by and large, to follow the plan as close to the prescribed schedule as possible, but there were some areas I couldn’t make fit.

I had to get a bit creative with Tune Up Races. Around the UK, Sunday is race day, but with P&D they want them on Saturdays, and usually prescribed 8-10km. The closest I could come to reconciling this in my training, was running parkrun on a saturday morning at a “Race Effort”. Obviously these are a bit shorter than prescribed, but I also ran the Reading Half Marathon, which in my head was a bit longer so made up for the other tune up races being short. Essentially, I ran the prescribed number of race pace mileage, just in a slightly different distribution. It’s hard to tell if this had any effect on my final 26.2 result, but I suspect not.

Credit to Aime and Neil Biss

Credit to Aime and Neil Biss

In general, my Saturday runs were probably the sessions I deviated most. This was in order to keep parkrunning (The plan is for Jodie and I to run our 50th together the week before our wedding) so i tried to fit parkruns in with them, either as part of the session or a total replacement. I DID still try and do them at the prescribed intensity though. Most of these were at General Aerobic pace with some strides though, so little “quality” and don’t think they affected the result too much either.

The other area I strayed from a bit, specifically in the early days were the long runs. I already had a high mileage tolerance, so I expedited the ramp up in mileage. This affected me quite a lot, I found the early phases of training very physically demanding, and I probably wouldn’t do the same thing again. This may have left me fresher for the remaining 3 phases of the plan which means I could have performed my sessions better and netted a better finishing time.

Speaking of long runs, there were quite a few of them that were in 2 parts, as I tried to use races as training runs at training paces. Specifically, half marathons. This often meant a break between the two sessions. My final 20 miler for example saw a 7 mile warm up, an hour and a half break, and then the Yeovil Half Marathon. I think this affected the quality of the long run, and again, could have had an impact on my final result. I still like using Half Marathons as part of training runs, as it means aid staions are provided, but in future I would do the half, jog through the funnel, direct to the car to deposit any goody bag/treats and just keep going, leaving as little “rest” as possible.

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What did I like about the plan?

I liked the structure. Following a regimented plan which i understood the theory behind gave me trust and confidence to follow it in the same way I would follow advice from a coach.
I like the marathon paced long runs, they really helped build confidence that I could run at my target race pace, and I feel my legs really benefited from these too.
I liked the progressive phases concentrating on specific areas, like ramping up mileage, then threshold, then speed followed by the taper. It meant you concentrated on one straining stimulus type at a time so I wasn’t too worried about overtraining injuries.
I liked that through all the training, I remained uninjured. It means the plan is well balanced, provided you stick within their guided pace zones.
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I liked being introduced to strides these were great bursts of speed which, though I wasn’t training for 5k made me feel like I wasn’t losing any short distance speed. I think ti also helped my technique as I felt my legs were stretching longer and hopefully will aid my efficiency long term.

What didn’t I like?

The structure was brilliant, but it meant missing out on a lot of social runs with the club and the training group I run with. This meant some of my runs were pretty lonely. Its hard finding someone doing the same plan, for the same race, at the same pace to run with. Next time, I’d treat the General Aerobic runs a bit more liberally. I’d try and switch some of those to run with other people swap it out for a club run now and then.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Lactate Threshold runs.I just don’t think I liked the structure of them very well. I would have preferred doing them as cruise intervals or something similar, rather than at one stage running 7 miles at threshold. It knackered me out for days and I think I could have gotten the same benefit from 3 x 15 minutes at LT pace with jog recoveries, provided I did the same volume at LT, then I’m sure I’d receive the same benefit.

Was it successful?

I’d have to say yes.
OK, so I missed my race day target of sub-3:20 by 33 seconds. But over the course of 26.2 miles that is only just over a second per mile. Its pretty darned close. And I shouldn;t forget, at the start of the training plan, my target was sub-3:25, which I actually did achieve.
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So it delivered me a 39 minute Marathon PB.
But I also ran Reading Half in 1:30:08 – a 6 minute PB, and I set a 5k PB too (though that sub-20 still eludes me!)
I didn’t get anywhere near my weight loss target for the race, but I now have another year and a half to bring that down. Not to mention, that should make me even faster!

Would I follow the same plan again?

100% yes. I’ll almost certainly use exactly the same schedule. I really enjoyed and would definitely recommend it – as long as you read the book with it and don’t just follow it blindly!
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Race Report: Greater Manchester Marathon

So race weekend had finally arrived. 18 weeks of training had been completed successfully and all that left was the 26.2 painful miles that lay ahead of me and the 9000 other competitors, all of whom had followed similar journeys.

Here is my Race Report – its a bit of a beast, so apologies for the mammoth essay but I didn’t want to do multiple posts!

The Night Before

I’d arrived in Manchester on Saturday, having flown in from Dubai at 7.30am (Not an ideal preparation I must admit) and checked myself into the Travelodge, a short walk from the start. I’d arranged an early check in, and after a short jog around the beautiful Salford Quays (the stunning sunny weather helped) went to the hotel lobby to hydrate and eat whilst I waited for Simon to join me. My hydration strategy pre race mainly consisted of drinking 15 free cups of tea in that lobby!

The hotel already had a bit of a marathon buzz about it, and one of the staff estimated 75% of the residents were here for the race.

Once Simon arrived we went to get some food. My night before meal was a pasta arrabiata and dough balls from Pizza Express, which was very nice. That and of course a bottle of Peroni! Can’t have a race without a beer the night before…

On the way back to the hotel we went via the race village. It was empty and locked up, but was good to take some of it in before all the hustle and bustle that lay ahead in the morning.WP_20150418_004 There was an ENORMOUS poster near the start that we’d end up running past in the race, and it was great to see the local area had gotten behind the event. We of course took the opportunity to strike a pose!

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Then we headed back to the hotel for some more carb loading…

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… and an early night. I was in bed by 8.30, my night flight from Dubai had left me good and tired. It was actually a blessing in disguise, as it meant I fell fast asleep and snoozed right through to morning. I was still able to do perhaps the 2 most important things in my pre-race ritual. Number one, the obligatory kit prep photo…

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And number 2… a number 2! This was quite a relief, what with the majority of my long runs being plagued by runners tum.

Race Morning

I managed to wake up naturally without the alarm, which to me indicated that  I had slept enough, and most importantly, I hadn’t OVERslept! I boiled the kettle and had my pre race breakfast. 2 x Oat So Simple porridge pots and a glass of Orange Juice. All good, reliable carbs I knew my stomach could handle. Last thing I wanted to do was try anything new.

We left for the start at about 7.45 am and joined the streams of runners heading toward Old Trafford.

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Speaking of Old Trafford, despite being an Arsenal fan and a Liverpool fan, we were both hugely impressed with the venue. Its a magnificent stadium and a great place to host a race.

The village was seemingly well organised, not that we did much here. All we did pre-race was make use of the baggage drops, which were seamlessly handled by a troop of army cadets. And with that, we were ready!

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After a quick number 1, we headed to the start pens. Not quite as strictly regimented as other races I’ve been to, largely due to there not being a great need for it. There were “only” 9000 or so runners. We had fast access to the pen, despite only getting there 10 minutes before the start! We shook hands, wished each other luck, then we waited patiently for the gun.

The Race

The race was started by British marathon legend, Ron Hill – not that I got to see him (until after the race) and the gun caught me a bit by surprise as everyone cautiously surged (If that’s even possible…) toward the start line. Very quickly – less than a minute later – I pressed the start button on my Garmin as I crossed the mat and registered my start of the race with the live tracking service…

… which didn’t actually work for me. It didn’t register any of my splits, or even give me a finishing result. Turns out there was a glitch in the system. As I was running with a replacement number, I don’t think it was hooked into the system probably. I knew I’d get a result in the end, but all my family and friends were frantically trying to track me, and were worried that I hadn’t even started! Less than ideal, but not much I could do about it!

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My strategy was to run consistent 7:30 miling, expecting to fade over the last few miles. 7:30s would have been about 3:17 and my target was 3:20, so I figured that was plenty of slack. not to mention, this was the marathon pace I was training with. I very quickly settled into my pace and cadence of around 176, and found it to be quite comfortable.

The first section was a short out and back away from Old Trafford. I was a bit shocked to see the 1 mile marker when my Garmin had only registered 0.7m! I know GPS isn’t accurate, but surely this was a bit extreme? As we turned and came back, it was obvious that the mile marker was around the wrong way as my watch beeped almost exactly as I passed it again.

I found myself a bit crowded, and I realised it was because I was quite near the 3:15 pacer. This was too fast for me, so I held back a bit to give a bit of a cushion and found some clearer space. We soon reached the start again and took a right, passed the huge poster we’d seen earlier and headed out for another out and back, this time taking us right past the Coronation Street studios! There was another misplaced mile marker here (Maybe mile 4?) that was the wrong way round, and as I was contemplating this, a guy not far in front of me ran into a cone and hit the deck, hard. He was knocked out cold. Some people attended to him and called for a marshal. I felt bad as I thought maybe I should have helped, but he received plenty of attention and in reality I probably wouldn’t have been of much benefit. I just remember thinking to myself “Steer clear of any cones you see”!

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After about 4-5 miles we came back around Old Trafford before heading the long road out to Altrincham along a main road. In total we passed Old Trafford 4 times, and each time the crowd support was magnificent! This section I just remember focussing on my pace, clocking through the miles and staying focussed. There was a few inclines as we crossed bridges, but it was largely flat as described. There were messages of support scrawled on the floor, and there was some amazing support on the way out, much of it for Ealing Eagles!

The next few miles were progressing nicely, with pockets of great support, and then we reached Altrincham which was AMAZING! A great woman shouted “Welcome to Altrincham, we have great entertainment for you!” and the crowds were great! We looped around the town center with tremendous applause and cheering before veering down a slope and through the halfway mark. I was bang on track at this point, and I still had the 3.15 pacer in my sights, which i couldn’t tell if it was a good or a bad thing. As we reached 14 miles I found myself accidentally right in the 3.15 pace group and saw Zoe from Maiden Newton Runners who i said hello too. Then I realised it was definitely a bad thing, and my pace was a bit too quick, so I eased off. We ran back along the way we came toward Sale before turning left toward Carrington.

manmarStill feeling reasonably strong, I maintained my target pace. it started getting a little quieter support wise here, especially as we progressed through miles 18-20. Having taken my gel on at mile 20, things started to get a bit tougher. Nothing to do with the gels, which worked well, but my legs just started tiring. Mile markers seemed to be a bit all over the place and I couldn’t really work out what was more inaccurate, my Garmin or the mile markers. probably a bit of both. As we turned right through Urmston it was getting tougher and tougher. I passed a guy with a sign”If your Garmin says 26.1, will you do another lap?” and I actually said to him “No!” because mine was measuring short!

The drag back towards Old Trafford was hard and at around mile 22 I had to have a walk break. The wheels had fallen off. From 22 – 26 my mile splits got worse and worse as more breaks were needed. This is graphically demonstrated by Strava below.

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I know with the pace I went out at, I had some slack to make my sub 3:20 goal, but I didn’t anticipate just how battered my legs would be. It wasn’t a total obliteration, but it was bad enough to need to walk for 10 meter sections at regular intervals. I was disappointed. My brain had gone to mush. Still the distances on my Garmin and the mile markers weren’t reconciling and I thought the opportunity to make target had gone. It turns out my Garmin was quite a long way short (0.2 miles) and I eventually saw the turn for the finish, and somehow I managed to pick up some speed. Conscious I’d still be able to finish in 3:20.xx, I turned the corner and I had a minute to cross the line. I mustered all I could. The look on my face tells the story.

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If I had realised I had less distance to run, I might have been able to kick on earlier and still make goal.

If I had adjusted my pace by 5s per mile, I may have had enough energy to finish strong.

If I hadn’t had a late flight in Dubai…

If I had lost a bit more weight…

If, then, but… None of it really mattered. As I crossed the line, I started crying. I couldn’t really work out why. I was grateful to be finished. I was disappointed to have blown a 3 minute cushion on my goal time, but I was delighted to be a 3:20 marathoner. Not to mention, it was a 40 minute PB, whats not to be pleased about?!

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And looking pragmatically back in the cold light of day, that was the most important thing of all.

I am a 3:20 marathoner. And I am VERY proud of it.

I immediately went to get my back so I could call Jodie. I had a text from her that she wanted me to call her urgently… I was worried.

Turns out that they were even more worried because of the chip issue. Jodie had been fielding messages from all over the place, people not able to see my progress. It was lovely to know that people were so interested, and I’m sorry they couldn’t track me. The organizers eventually sorted out my final result.

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I have learned some lessons for the next marathon(Yep, no “Never again” here this time) and will utilise the ones I have learned at Brighton next year. I certainly won’t fade like that again, and I won’t go out as aggressively either. I’ll also have another stone in weight off and a years worth of further training – so the only way is up.

Post Race

After getting off the phone with Jodie, and being very emotional, I saw Simon. he had had a blinding race, coming in 7 minutes ahead of schedule in 3:23! We congratulated each other and he built on Jodie’s work of trying to lift the little disappointment I had. We got the obligatory selfie with our medals, which were mighty impressive!

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The goody bag was pretty decent too! Chocolate oat milk shake (Which I thought was going to be minging but was actually very nice), Dairy Milk chocolate, sports drink, water, cereal bar, jointace, pain relief gel and an absolutely lovely finishers tee shirt. A good haul really!

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My legs were stiff as boards, and even now, 2 days later, my quads are suffering with a major case of DOMS. But we took in some of the surroundings, including this great photo opportunity board…

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… Watching the presentation of prizes, awarded by the legend that is Ron Hill…

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… and then pretending we’d made it to the podium.

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We then retired to the hotel for some beers.

It was nice to remain in the hotel afterwards too. Despite leaving to get some food, there were still many other finishers also staying for the extra night to recover, and it was a lovely experience chatting to runners of all speeds and abilities as to how their races went. it puts my mild disappointment into a lot of perspective.

Summary

Its easy to summarise the Greater Manchester Marathon. Brilliant, if a little flawed. If the mile markers were right and i could have trusted them I may have been able to make target. it was also disappointing for my results to have been bodged and not have my family track me.

But on the whole, the race village was excellent, the crowd were superb, the course was flat, the medal was stunning and the goody bag was full of actual goodies. I would recommend this race to anyone as an alternative to London and once I’ve finished my bucket list of marathons, its certainly on my “to return to” list.

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 18 of 18 – Race Day Tomorrow!

This week has been probably one of the more unusual weeks of my life, which just happens to have coincided with the last taper week before the race.

I was asked to attend a conference for work, in Dubai. I know I’d been training for Manchester for 18 weeks, and I really was torn about whether I should accept it or not,as I have put my heart and soul into this race. But how many times do you get to go to Dubai on expenses?

Apologies for the blurriness, taken whilst on the run!

Apologies for the blurriness, taken whilst on the run!

I saw some amazing things, stayed 5 star and had dinner at the worlds tallest building. An unforgettable trip of a lifetime! It made training a bit trickier, squeezing in runs when I could, when travel allowed it, and when it wasn’t too hot! You can see this be quite apparent when looking at my calendar.

week18Tuesday had to be cancelled as I didn’t get to the Hotel til 11pm. I vowed to get up early though and go for a run – the problem was, I didn’t know where to go yet so ended up on the dreadmill for my Marathon paced session, which probably wasn;t the best quality or most accurate in the world. Despite having the footpod on, the treadmill and my Garmin showed totally different distances!

The temperature in the gym, even at 6am was INTENSE. I was still tired from the night before and it made for a tough run. I thought as I missed the Tuesday run, I’d do a short recovery 5k (ish – dpeneding on if you believe the footpod or the treadmill!) at an easy jog to recover the legs through. This worked a treat!

After this though, I had arranged with my boss to go on the running route he’d found at the stunning Dubai marina. We did a five mile out and back and an easy jog. it was 6pm but still very warm, and humid. But wow – how the other half live!

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The Marina, aside from being filled with luxury yachts, its a brand spanking new flat walkway lined with restaurants and shops. popular with tourists, it made the run a bit of an obstacle course, but an amazing experience.

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Friday was a travel day, but unfortunately the travel was overnight. It was a red-eye flight taking off at midnight UK time (3am Dubai time). I’ve had a few hours sleep on the plane but it was quite broken. Less than ideal, but I’m hoping it means I’ll be able to get a god early night tonight.

Anyway, back to the running, the original plan was to get to Wythenshawe parkrun, which is closeby to Manchester airport. But the plane was delayed which meant I was an hour late and couldn’t make it. I DID however go out for a nice 4 mile recovery jog around the Salford Quays. I saw the Lowry, MediaCity, the Coronation Street Studios and Old Trafford. What a week of tourism!

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Ran past the setup of the Race Village too, though it looks like they still have plenty to do by morning! I saw lots of runners in general, some running others in club hoodies all obviously in town waiting for the race. I think its going to be a great event.

So I’m sat here in the Travelodge Salford Quays drinking free tea listening to some great tunes. Its a good chill out which is what I need. The last 18 weeks have been a whirlwind, and whilst I wish this week was a LITTLE less intense, I am feeling strong and confident. Some more stretching through the day and I’ll be happy.

Challenge number 1 – make the start line is now complete. I’m injury free! Now just to get around it in a respectable time.

Good luck to everyone running Manchester tomorrow. See you on the flipside!

P.S. If you want to track me throughout the race, you can do it on this link. I’m number 11680!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 17 of 18

“Well if the taper is meant to help your legs recover, so far, so NOT good.”

That was what I said last week. This week though, finally, with 2 miles left of my last Sunday run today, this turned around to finally feel like I am approaching match fitness. 17 weeks are in the bank, and its race week next week, with nothing but a few short sharp runs standing between me and my second piece of marathon bling.

Despite being a taper week, it wasn’t without my own brand of personal anguish I like to bring on myself though. But here’s what P&D prescribed…

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And this is what I actually ran. This screen and activity link below are from Strava today, as Garmin Connect was having yet another off day…

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All exactly according to plan (Friday’s failure the exception, though the intent was there…), even to the detriment of my parkrun “road to 50!”. It’s been a week of “lasts” too. Many events have led me to say “Last on of those before Manchester now”. With the exception of Saturday the weather this week has been GLORIOUS, perfect running conditions.

Monday was a bank holiday and I had no walk following last weeks “tougher than it should have been” 16 miler. But Tuesday allowed me to recovery with a 7 miler including a set of strides. Happy with the strides, some of them I even took uphill thanks to some poor route planning. It was my last run in Coleshill before Manchester and I finished feeling reasonaby fresh.

Wednesday, I was back in Basingstoke for the last tough session. 8 miles including 3 x 1mi Intervals. The warm up went fine and the first 2 intervals were good too, but the third – just like when I am racing over 5k – saw me fade. I know more speedwork will help with this, and my main focus post Manchester is 5k so hopefully I can correct that.

Thursday was a rest day in favour of a recovery run with strides on Friday. And thats when the wheels fell off! Poor planning meant I had a crap breakfast (4 treat sized flakes and a creme egg) following a poor nights sleep, and had to run at lunchtime which I’m not used to either. I also had to run in my glasses, which made me feel a bit strange from the start. But to cut a long story short, the run was a struggle and after 2 miles my body just had nothing left. I cut my losses and walked back.

Its easy to look back with hindsight and attribute the problems appropriately, but at the time all that was going through my head was “I can barely run 2 miles at a recovery pace, how am I going to run 26.2??”. It’s just a hint of taper madness though. You don’t become unfit or a bad runner overnight, its just one of those things. And its better happening now than race day!

On Saturday, as I am trying to stick to the plan, I did not run at parkrun, rather I did some voluncheer tourism at Basingstoke. And what a day I picked for it! After some glorious weather this week, some how I ended up at the far corner of the curse marshalling in the miserable wind and rain, and it was freezing! Good to give back though, and was a very different experience to volunteering “back home”. It was lovely for many of the runners to say “thank you”. It’s something I do when I parkrun (And even in races sometimes, when I have the breath) and implore all runners to do the same. Without volunteers we have no parkruns or races!

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Sunday saw my final long run. In the context of this training programme, 12 miles doesn’t seem that long! The first 8 miles were a real struggle. I continued to struggle with GI issues and had to stop twice. My biggest fear for next week is that I end up needing to stop to use the loo. I need to strategize to prevent that happening. Though the first 8 were a bit of a struggle, something then just clicked! The last 4 were an absolute pleasure and it had FINALLY felt like the taper had kicked in.

So there are now just 6 days to go, and 4 runs left until the Marathon. I’m off to Dubai for work on Tuesday, which means 3 of those runs will be in the warm climbs of the UAE on a dead flat beach path designed for running on. I can’t work out if this will be good preparation or not!

 

 

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 16 of 18

Well if the taper is meant to help your legs recover, so far, so NOT good. The past week has been tough, and today has seen the first hint of “taper madness” as my tired legs are telling me “You are so tired and you’re only doing 8 miles and slower than marathon pace you are never going to do the marathon”. I keep telling the taper gremlins to pipe down, and its working so far – but there is still 2 weeks to go! Lets see how the week went against the plan

pd16And it all went according to plan, except for my Saturday “tune up race” only being 5k at parkrun.

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Monday saw no evening walk for me, but I did manage 3 miles at lunchtime to help stretch the legs. But the quality of Sunday’s run was a little less intense than the week before so the legs didn’t feel so bad.

On Tuesday I had 8 miles with 5 sets of 600m Intervals. Going into the run I really wasn’t expecting much from the reps, but looking back on them I can see they were pretty solid – all around the 6m/m mark. Though the run home was less spectacular!

On Wednesday, I had a 6 mile recovery paced run, which was harder than it should have been but not unexpected given Tuesday’s fast intervals.

Thursday, unusually for me, was a rest day. But this worked quite well as I was travelling back home from Birmingham for the long Easter weekend, and this meant on Friday I went for a short 4m recovery run with some strides. This provided some good strides and the legs felt much better than Tuesday and Wednesday. It was nice to run with Jodie for the first time in a while too!

On Saturday I was scheduled for a tune up race which, as already mentioned, was a parkrun. This week we visited Reading, as detailed in this post. It was at full effort, though not the PB or sub-20 I had hoped for, mainly due to the course conditions I still hope to break that 20 minute mark soon – though now it won’t be til after Manchester.

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Sunday saw my first tapered long run, at a “paltry” 16 miles. My legs did NOT enjoy it. It was not helped by having to stop a couple of times due to toilet requirements. Nor did it help that this meant I diverted from route an got a bit lost. Finally, I fell over after about 5 miles and have a massive bruise on my hip! So all in all, not the biggest confidence boost!

2 weeks out, my legs are still flagging but I am going to do what I have done all along – trust in the plan. I keep looking at the sessions I have left and can’t help but feel I’m doing too much. But people much smarter than me wrote it, and its been used successfully by people around the world – so I’m going to keep trusting it, right til the end. Though I am going to take my remaining easy runs much easier.

With 2 weeks to go, perhaps the most important reflection to consider is that I am injury free! My “dodgy” knee feels much stronger and doesn’t twinge. All in all I think my legs are reasonably well conditioned, though I will reassess that at the end of this week as my mileage is around half of what I have been doing.

Time to put my head down and push through, ignore any hint of taper madness and believe in myself. I know I can do it, I just need to keep reminding myself!