Sunday 24 February 2013

Half term - and a blip in training

It can be hard fitting in all your runs when the kids are off school for a week, and this is particularly problematic when training for a marathon. But the main reason for me having a poor week of training last week was a cold. I haven't had a sniffle since November, so I think I've been doing ok as there have been so many horrible viruses around this winter. This week was just my turn to get a runny nose, sore throat and cough...

I had a great few days at my parents with the kids. It was easy to get my runs done there as I had free babysitters! On Tuesday I ran 6 miles at my new 'easy' pace. I'm making an effort to ensure that my long runs and easy runs are slower than marathon or half marathon pace, and this run averaged 9.49 min/ miles, which felt about right.

On Wednesday I tried a more structured speed session. There is a park near my parents' house which has a path going round it in a big loop. There are markers on the path to indicate a start line, then 100m, 200m, 300m, and 400m. There is a gap of about 10- 20m between the 400m mark and the start, so it wouldn't be much good for an 800m run!

Of course I have no idea  how accurate these measurements are, but it's a great place to do some speed training as at least you know that you're running the same distance each time, and it's fast and flat. There are some little forks in the path, and it's not always obvious which route to take, but I did the same each time.

I jogged about 1 mile as a warm up, then did 6 x 400 m, with about 400m recovery jog between each one. Having looked at a pace calculator online again, it seemed that I should be aiming for each 400m to be around 1.49 mins, and although I'm not sure of the exact splits, I know that they were all between 1.40 and 1.49 mins. So it was a fun session (although I took those photos the day before when it was gorgeous weather - on Weds it was grey and overcast).

While I was at Mum and Dad's I started to get a sore throat. I could have run on Thursday or Friday, but didn't, as I was planning to do Parkrun on Saturday. But the worst of the cold came on Friday night and Saturday morning, and in the end I made the 'sensible' decision to rest.

Today I had thought about running 18 miles, but I wasn't quite sure what my plan was, as I'm running a half marathon race next Sunday. It's part of my marathon training, so I don't want to taper for it, but of course I'd like to run a good race if I can.

With the snotty nose and general lethargy brought on by feeling unwell, I cut my run to 10 miles. I felt pretty rubbish, and it was really cold and windy, which didn't help. I aimed for 10 min miles again, and averaged exactly that, so I was pleased with my pacing at least.

Now I'm feeling on the mend, I might try and get a few longer mid-week runs in this week to make up for lost mileage. Or I suppose I could add on a run after the Half next Sunday - it depends how hard I run that.

So last week was a low mileage week as I only ran 3x, totalling 20.3 miles, and did no cross-training, or strength training, and not much stretching.

But we had fun with the grandparents. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday 17 February 2013

Running slow

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my last post with advice about pacing, especially Jill! It was really helpful, and on Friday morning I took the advice, and aimed to run my long run at 10 min/ mile pace.

This was 30 seconds per mile slower than my last long run, but 2 miles longer, so it seemed appropriate to slow down anyway. I picked the same route as before, running towards the beach and then along it. I was lucky enough to have another fabulous day for running, as the sun was out, it was mild and there was hardly any wind.

For the first few miles I found it quite hard to run slowly. I had to keep forcing myself to slow down, and concentrate on how fast I was running. It just wasn't my natural pace. However, as I got used to it, and as I got more tired, it became a lot easier to stick to this pace.

I ran along the beach until the Garmin hit 8 miles, and then I turned around to come back. At that stage, I was feeling pretty comfortable. I did stop a few times, to take photos, to cross busy roads, and once when I saw someone I knew and stopped for a chat. But the last 5 miles or so were continuous, and for the last 4 miles, I tried to pick up the pace a bit. I was hoping for 9.30 mins for those, but it felt a bit too hard, and I didn't want to push too hard as this has been a big mileage week for me!

This is what my splits looked like:
I was really pleased to see that my last 2 miles were the fastest of the run! My average pace for the whole run was 9.56 min miles, so job done.

The following morning I went along to Parkrun, although I probably shouldn't have run so soon after that long run, my legs felt in need of recovery. But I like the social aspect of running with others. It was my slowest 5k for a few years as I ran at 9.32 pace, which was probably faster than I should have. I jogged most of it, then sprinted at the end to get under 30 minutes! I couldn't help myself.

After that, my legs were well and truly stuffed. I didn't get a chance to cycle this week (because of work commitments), but it's been my biggest running week since 2010, when I trained for my last marathon! I ran 30.1 miles. Perhaps it's no wonder then that I'm absolutely shattered. Today I'm off to visit my parents with the kids for a few days, as it's half term holiday this week. I'm looking forward to some relaxing, and then starting the next week of running in my home town.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Pacing questions

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not following any particular training plan for the marathon. But I have made my own loose plan, based mainly on increasing the long run each week, and adding in other sessions from plans I've looked at.

The long run is always at a slower pace than the shorter runs, but I always want to go as fast as I can manage. Last Friday I ran 14 miles, and I had a vague idea that I wanted to run around 9.30 min/mile pace. I knew I could run a half marathon faster than that, and I'd be happy to run a bit slower than that in the marathon. I ran it at 9.25 pace, and felt reasonably ok.

But later I looked at a pacing calulator (on the runner's world website). It calculates the pace you should be doing various training runs at according to a recent race time. The last race I did was the Poppy Half marathon in November, but that wasn't a very good one, so I used my 10 mile race from October. I think I've lost some fitness since then though.

Anyway, after I typed in my time, it told me that my long run pace should be 10.21 - 11.40 min/miles! I wouldn't be surprised if that ended up being the pace in the marathon, but that seems very slow for shorter training runs, and certainly a lot slower than I have been doing.

The calculator also gave me a tempo running pace, which was great as I had no idea what it should be. I suppose that depends a lot on the distance, but it suggested a pace of 8.39 min/miles. So yesterday I put some fast music on my ipod (always a help), and ran 3.4 miles aimimng for tempo run pace. I finished with 8.27 pace, and that included a warm up half mile! So again, the suggested pace seemed a bit slow.

Tomorrow I'm aiming to do a 16 mile run. I suppose I'll try to go out as slow as I can, and see what that 10.21 pace feels like. It might make the run feel easier, or it might mean that I can speed up on the way back.

So does anyone have any advice on this? I'm pretty clueless. It seems to me that if I want to run a certain pace in the marathon, I've got to be capable of that pace or a little faster on my training runs. Or not? Any advice greatly appreciated!

Sunday 10 February 2013

Enjoying the long runs

As usual I'm not really following a training plan in the build up to my 2nd marathon. I've just never found a training plan for any race that fits neatly into my life. I've tried to look at the key components of various plans and put them together in a way that seems effective but also fits into the time I have.

So the long run is really important. I'd like to be averaging a higher weekly mileage, but I don't think that's quite as essential as the long run in terms of me being able to get round the course. I started a bit behind in January, so I've had to increase each long run by a couple of miles most weeks.

Last week I ran 12 miles, which was fairly tough, and this week I had planned 13 miles, but when Friday came around I decided to push it to 14. It's only 9 weeks until the marathon, and I've got a half-marathon in there too, so I haven't really got much time to get to the really long runs.

Anyway, I had a pretty good run on Friday. To my great delight, it was a beautiful sunny morning. I was happy to get out there, although it was still reasonably cold, so I kept my gloves, long trousers and long sleeves on. The day before, I realised that this was to be my longest run since 2010 (when I did my other marathon). In the last 3 years I've run 3 half marathons and a 10-mile race, but never as far as 14 miles. This meant I didn't have a route that I'd done before, (as obviously in 2010 I was doing all my long runs in Scotland).

But, inspired by the weather, I had a brilliant idea. I decided to run to the beach. This isn't as obvious as it sounds, as it's in the next town, and by the most direct route, about 5 1/2 miles away. So it would be pretty pointless going that far for any shorter run.

This was perfect though. When I hit the seafront at 5.45 miles, the sun was out, there was hardly any wind, it was around lunchtime, and there were quite a few people strolling along the beach. I got to jog along the path for about 1 1/2 miles to the pier, then turned round and ran back in the other direction.

It was lovely to run along the beach, and this was also following part of the route for the half marathon  I'll be doing in March. I really enjoyed it, and although the last 3 or 4 miles were on very familiar, rather boring paths and roads, I found the whole run very achievable. For some reason I was very confident that I could do it, perhaps becuase I've done all these distances before, even though it was 3 years ago. I've done a lot more running since the last marathon of course, and I suppose all the other 10 mile+ runs and half marathon races have made me stronger.

Anyway, I was pleased to get that run done as always. The following day I decided to parkrun, which was a rather tired 5k. I have some idea that a little run less than 24-hours after my long run might be helpful in building stamina.

So the week came out as:
Ran - 26.3m
Cycled - 11.4m
Strength - 2x

There's always such a great feeling after completing the week's long run, as you feel as though you've really achieved something. However, within a day or so, you start thinking about the following week, and the feat of doing it all over again but longer!

Thursday 7 February 2013

My favourite way to cross-train

Today I returned to one of my all time favourite 'training sessions', although to be honest it's more of a treat than a workout. A few months ago I came up with the brilliant idea of cycling to a nearby cafe.

The next town to the North of ours is about 3.5 miles away, and there is a cycle / foot path all the way there and further. It's a great route for cycling, as long as you keep an eye out for dogs, walkers and horse-riders, especially on a sunny day. Today was lovely and sunny, but freezing, so it wasn't too busy.

I wrapped up warm with 2 jackets and 2 pairs of gloves, and had a fairly relaxed ride along the path. It's slightly uphill most of the way there. I went past the town centre and continued on the path a bit further to extend the distance of the ride, and then turned onto roads to go back into the town.

When I got to the shopping centre, I'd covered about 7.5 miles. I locked up my bike, and went in the warm and cosy cafe. Personally I can't think of a more indulgent treat on an average morning than to sit in a cafe with a latte and a book. Since the kids were born, quiet time for reading has become a real luxury, and to add delicious coffee (and of course a tasty and unhealthy snack), is just the height of hedonistic pleasure.

After 30 mins with my kindle, I rode the 4 miles or so home. It's always a breeze on the way back as not only are my legs powered by caffeine, but it is mostly downhill.

This is a little outing I can only do when I have plenty of time, which is why I haven't done it for a while. I was lucky today that a non-work day coincided with some sunshine.

Tomorrow things will be much tougher, as I'll be dragging myself through a 13-14 mile run, involving no coffee, reading or pastry, so I'm glad I got my treat today.

Sunday 3 February 2013

January Rundown

At the start of this month marathon training was not looking at all good. With about 15 weeks to go I should have been in the first weeks of a training programme, with a long run preferably around 8-10 miles. Instead I had a minor injury and had lost a lot of fitness after weeks of very little running. In December my longest run was 4 miles.

But in January I gradually dragged myself a bit further in the direction of where I need to go. I tried to get the right balance between increasing my long run quickly, but not overdoing it in a way that might lead to injury. The long runs increased from 5m, to 7m, to 8m , to 10m. Ideally I'd like to be running a little longer, but it's not an ideal world, so I'm fairly happy with that.

I've also more or less established a pattern of weekly training. I've run 4 times each week, including 1 long run, 1 hill or interval run, and 2 other runs. I've also FINALLY started to include some strength training, and most weeks I did 3 sessions of core work. I also did my physio-prescribed stretches at least once a day, and usually twice (but I was aiming for three times...).

My weekly training schedule has changed umpteen times due to the fact that I've suddenly got loads of teaching work, and then due to other commitments, which has meant my long run has gone from Wednesday to Friday to Saturday. But at least I've been getting them all done!

So my stats for January are:

Ran - 19x = 82.8 miles
Cycled - 3x = 24.2 miles
Strength Training - 13x
Stretches - Everyday

I also did one Parkrun, which was the 1 year anniversary event for Eastbourne.

Me on the right side in pink top next to man in blue!

Next month I've still got a lot of work on the horizon, and there'll be a week of half-term to contend with. I seriously admire people who work full-time and train for marathons. I've only been working part-time, and I have found it a real logistical challenge to fit the runs in. That's not going to change in the next few weeks, and I need to keep building long runs and weekly mileage, so fingers crossed!