Marathon training week 7 – Christmas week!

Judging from the media – both social and otherwise – you would assume that everybody struggles to get their exercise in over Christmas, their training time decreases dramatically and they have to fight to stop themselves eating five times their body weight every day. Well I feel the same about the eating but for me the Christmas break is a fantastic time for training – all that time off work! It is so lovely not to have to fit everything in around long working days, plus I get to run WITH other people which is wonderful.

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I managed almost 12 hours of training this week which was fantastic. Two long walks (one short walk not counted above), 1 easy cycle, 1 faster cycle, 1 swim, several yoga sessions and three runs!

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Run 1 – the interval run

I think this might be my last structured interval run as I’ve been really struggling with them, finding that they are really hurting my hip and leaving me limping afterwards. That is not ideal when I have a marathon to run. So this may be my last interval run. It was meant to be 5x1k but I only managed 1.5 times 5k before I had to limp off the treadmill.

Run 2 – the tempo run

I set out mid-afternoon with my mum for the tempo run. 1 slow mile, 4 tempo, 1 slow cool-down mile. The first tempo mile didn’t go so well as I still wasn’t fully warmed up but we soon picked up the pace as we ran around the back of the nearby villages. Enforced stops as we came to the railway line both times and a train was rushing through gave us a nice rest and our last tempo mile was 8:41 for an average of 9:06 per mile (aim 9:16).

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The next few days were filled with long dog walks up the South Downs and along the beach at West Witterings, a short but sweet cycle ride with my mum, both of us taking turns to pull and power forward along a flat section. Oh and Christmas Day!!!

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Run 3 – the long run – 14 miles

I’d planned to run this 14 miles with my mum but come Sunday morning she had a sore throat and had woken up at 4am to take my sister to the airport. Luckily my uncle, aunt and cousins were visiting and my uncle fancied a run. I’ve been following his runs on Strava and know that, while he is faster on a short distance, we’re pretty much even on long distances and I’ve been runner more double digit miles than him recently, so I figured we’d be a pretty good match.

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We set out at 9.30 and it was still very icy, the pavement shimmering white in front of us and the grass frozen solid. We picked our way gingerly for the first two miles then were able to settle into more of a rhythm. We began running along the main road towards Chichester, crossed over a railway bridge, and then set off along the Centurion Way towards Lavant. It follows the old route of a disused railway (I seem to like running on these this year!), which, in itself, follows the route of an old Roman road. We ran up this path for five miles, slightly undulating, and then turned off on a footpath along the side of a field. The last hour or so was spent running along tiny empty country lanes past cyclists and other runners.

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I hated the first 40 minutes or so, muscles cold and still warming up. This is becoming a recurring feature – how do you warm up for a long winter run? I am running slowly anyway so 20 min slow run warm-up is part of the run really – and I hate it! Any advice much appreciated. However, after that I was warmed up and in a wonderful rhythm, the next 8 miles or so flew by with relative ease. I was enjoying the views, the weather, the company. It only really started to hurt for the last 2 miles but I managed to push the pace for the last ten minutes and ended with a 10:40 average pace, just over 30 secs above Planned Marathon Pace (PMP) and a good bit faster than my lower limit for the day – 60 secs above PMP.

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I ended up loving it. It was a fantastic run, a brilliant end to the Christmas week and a incredible end (almost) to the year!

something good that’s nothing to do with running…. too much this week I’m afraid. Brunch at a restaurant on the beach in the glorious sunshine, a wonderful birthday dinner at Fat Olives, Christmas Day, stunning walks in the sun, lunches with family and dinner with some of my school friends. Clear blue skies, brightly shining sun, frost on the ground.

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