Marathon training week 11 – the first half marathon 

There comes a point in marathon training where a week with a half marathon “long run” is a cut-back week, a short run. I’m not quite there yet, but I remember the feeling from last year and so I still don’t really think of a half marathon as a “long run”…. And am therefore slightly surprised when it certainly feels like a long one!

So this week I decided to run the Portsmouth Valentines Day half as kind of a fitness test, a benchmark of how my training whilst travelling had gone. And of course, it was my first week back into my usual routine, a week in which I was very busy at work as we are going to court in a week.

Run 1 – the interval run 

I was feeling a bit stiff and tired after my long flight back from Colombia, followed by running 20km the next day, so decided not to make this an interval run, but just to have a short treadmill run at just above marathon pace. And so I did! I had a few twinges in my knees so I was pleased I’d decided not to go all-out.

Run 2 – the tempo run 

Again, my knees were giving me a bit of complaint and I am very cautious about my knees after they derailed my training last year. So I decided I wouldn’t make this one a tempo run but would instead focus on running slow and easy. And I wanted to have some energy for my race at the weekend! I was very happy to discover that it was light outside when it was time to leave – wonderful not to have to run in the dark! It was very cold but I was wearing a lot of clothes so felt pretty good. The run was wonderful. Slow, but great. It never felt like a struggle, I felt as if I could have continued longer, and although it was slow, I did occasionally purposefully slow myself down as I felt my knees every time I sped up.

Run 3 – the long run 

I’ll do a proper race recap later – Portsmouth half marathon was very hard, very windy, and basically cross-country at a lot of points due to the amount of wind! I didn’t quite make my goal due to the conditions but was pleased with my 2 hours, 2 minutes, 50 seconds nonetheless, and was very pleased with the fact that I had no real aches or pains throughout the run! 

Cross-training : I trained for a total of 5 hours 17 this week. One swim session where I tested my swim speed with a timed 400m followed by a timed 200m. I was very pleased that my times were the second fastest I’d ever swum! I also had a great weights session in the gym which left my arms aching the next day and one yoga class. No cycling to work at all due to jetlag making it very hard to get up in the morning!

Best marathon training eat: James and I had a wonderful welcome-home dinner on Friday night at a relatively new restaurant in London called Pidgin, which just so happens to be fronted by a very old friend from school who I hadn’t seen in years. A set four course menu which changes every week, it was delicious. 

And then after the half marathon I went for a lovely lunch with my mum and cousin and I ate a whole baked camembert…. Followed by lots and lots of cake….

Followed by a roast gammon dinner (and lots of Valentines Day presents – I’m a lucky girl AND I didn’t have to do the washing up)

Something fun that was nothing to do with running: My Valentines Day evening where James cooked a lovely dinner as slowly did some chores around the house and then we watched the Hobbit with a few glasses of wine. Very relaxing and a lovely way to finish the weekend!

Marathon training inspiration: Something I listened to on a Marathon Talk podcast as I was racing. On their Training Talk segment they were discussing progression in training and spoke about the importance of going slowly. One of the hosts said that he went for a cycle with Alastair Brownlee, the best Olympic distance triathlete in the world, and that both he (the podcast host) and his wife (a good age-group triathlete) found the speed of the cycle so easy it wasn’t challenging for them. When they asked Alastair why on earth he would do a workout that he could probably do in his sleep, he pointed out the importance of the slow efforts. 

It reminded me that I need to do more of that in my training. I’ve been so happy with my times that I’ve been looking to improve them, and while I was travelling, the conditions were such that it was kind of impossible to not be putting in a hard effort (even if the times are slow). So next weekend, when I head out for my long run, I am going to focus on slowing it down, keeping it reeeeaaaaaallly slow and easy and only looking at the time to make sure I’m not going too fast!

If you think you are running too fast, you are DEFINITELY running too fast… If you think you’re running slowly, you’re probably STILL running too fast!



  1. Thanks for your recap of marathon training this week! Sounds like you’ve put in some great miles and cross training (and some fun like eating that amazing cake as well!). Great work and good luck with your runs this week!

  2. Heh, heh… You know where I’m going with that slow cycling stuff… I never got fast going slow, that much is for certain. For a recovery ride? Because I choose to ride every day and I need a rest now and again? Now we’re talking about a good reason to go slow. Otherwise, Katie bar the door! 😉

    • The impression I had gotten from reading your blog is that you did get fast by going slow! As it allowed you to cycle more and to give more on the hard efforts… Which is my aim for next week! if it’s good enough for the pros it’s good enough for me 🙂

      • Actually, not so much. I got fast by going fast… I went medium fast and slow too but my “slow” back then was an 18 mph average. That was for the first four years. Last year I embraced slow to ride with my wife, after I hit a bit of a plateau that I didn’t want to bust through with effort. I’d simply gotten fast enough that I didn’t want to work any harder to get faster. The slow days are there to get out and enjoy the scenery where I used to miss everything trying to keep the pedals going. I’m happier today, for going slower, but definitely not faster. Thanks for noticing though, excellently challenged. Enjoy your effort, whatever that may be. 😉

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