Marathon Training week 17 – tapering

This week was all about making sure I kept up some running, while also staying rested, and keeping a positive mental attitude. I managed that – I imagine the sun and 20+ degrees of heat probably helped! There is nothing that can’t be cured with a little sunshine ūüôā

Run 1 – 4 miles

This run felt AWFUL. Seriously, just awful. Like every step was running through treacle, with legs made of lead. I was much slower than my 10 mile run at the weekend, and it felt much harder. Funny how the body can do that to you. I ran from my flat to Retiro Park, round the lake and up a bit further before coming back to my flat and I was SO grateful to stop. At one point I felt twinges in my hip so stopped and walked for a minute or so – with hindsight I think this pain was entirely psychological as it did disappear with just a minute of walking and came out of nowhere! But the last thing I wanted was to injure myself, always better safe than sorry.

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Here is my mental plan for dealing with bad runs. I go through everything in my head which will not be the case on race day. For example:

1) I ran 10 miles yesterday (or the day before)
2) I haven’t had any breakfast
3) I’m wearing the wrong socks
4) I’m wearing a rucksack
5) I started running too soon after I woke up….

I could go on. There are a list of things that tend to apply to my “bad runs”. I also then take comfort in the fact that I have had bad runs before immediately followed by really good ones….. see below.

Run 2 – 3.3 miles

I had thought about doing four runs this week, two short ones of around 3 miles. However, when my alarm went off on Wednesday morning I felt exhausted and my body hurt. So I reminded myself that this is all about tapering, and if my body needs rest, my body shall get rest. So I rested and instead spent half an hour at lunch time doing some yoga and body strength exercises.

Thursday morning, when my alarm went off, I was raring to go! It was FREEZING. I mean literally, below zero degrees celsius and I was not expecting it, given it had been almost 20 degrees the day before and the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Luckily I was in my long tights and top but without gloves or headband…. And in England when it was that temperature I would be wearing two pairs of tights and a jacket! I think the cold is less noticeable when the sky is so summery blue and the sun is shining.

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Anyway, this run felt great. I wasn’t wearing a watch but I felt like I was flying effortlessly on the way to the park. On the way back, I realised it had been because I was going downhill with a tailwind. Ah. So I pushed myself up the hill (a tiny incline that continued over a bit of distance) and into the wind and ended up actually running the second half faster than the first!

Even when I run without a watch I always track my runs on strava – it is good to have a record of the paces you run at when you are not trying to run to a specific pace, if that makes sense.

The 3.3 miles was almost a full minute faster than my planned marathon pace and I finished with freezing cold hands and lips but a smile on my face.

(p.s. this run kind of ruined my bad run theory as this was also immediately after I’d gotten out of bed AND I hadn’t had any breakfast either. Oh well)

Run 3 – 8 miles

Although the run actually ended up being 7.8miles and I had run out of time to go round the block and add on those all-important extra 0.2 miles. I was due to meet someone for lunch at 2.15, 25 minutes away, and I got back in the house at 1.39 – yup, 11 minutes to shower and dress and yes I managed it! Even putting some makeup on. ūüôā

The plan was to run down to the river, along the river, and then back tracing my steps. It went great. I loved the first half, felt strong and good and as if I was flying down the hill. Then my legs started to feel heavy, I felt hungry, and I felt as if I really struggled coming back along the river, also knowing that I had over a kilometre of climbing with an elevation gain of about 70m coming up ahead of me. I kept powering on and tried my hardest up the hill. The other reason this felt hard is that I was purposefully avoiding the shade and running the sun. I was worried that Barcelona might be hot and sunny, and I wanted practice of how much I should be drinking and how hot I would get if I ran in the sun. It was not fun. It was well over 20 degrees at this point and far too hot to be running uphill in the full force of the midday sun.

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Obviously in the marathon I will be seeking out shade where ever possible but I just wanted to know what it felt like! I continued trudging on up the hill, and then flew downhill for the last kilometre and a half with one of my fastest kms in a really long time! Overall the run was over 30 seconds faster than marathon goal pace, without really pushing myself – only pushing myself to keep trudging on when my legs felt really heavy. It was only 8 miles but I am feeling positive at this point…. the only worry is what will happen to me after 18 miles as I have no idea! Just pain, pain and more pain I imagine :/

Cross-training

I did a total of 5 hours exercise this week which included one swim, one spin class, and numerous little yoga / body-strength sessions. My bike is still wrapped in bubble wrap from its trip over here….

Something fun that is nothing to do with running

The whole of Saturday! And Sunday afternoon! Of which more in my next blog post but let’s just say it involved sun, wine and tapas. What more could a person want from a weekend in their new home?!

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