Marathon training week 13 – back on track with a long run

Sometimes I think we have rubbish training weeks because we need to have rubbish training weeks. Maybe we’re ill, maybe we’re tired, maybe life gets in the way. I have at least one every training cycle … and what I always forget is that the next week ends up really good. I think sometimes a little enforced rest is just what we need. So that’s a long-winded way of saying I was really pleased with my training in general and my running this week – a bit of confidence for the marathon and some motivation to see me through the next few weeks of big training.

Run 1 – the interval run: this was slightly longer this week, with 4 x 4 minutes at goal 5km speed. Again, didn’t feel like I was dying, it was very manageable, so I’m upping the number of reps next week. I think probably helped by the fact that my hairband broke half way through so I had to go back to the changing rooms and find another… #girlproblems

Run 2 – the tempo run: I have this wonderful new garmin watch which I absolutely adore (a Fenix 3) but I am still getting to grips with how to set it up and use it. So on run 2 I had a plan for 2 warm-up miles, 3 tempo miles, 3 cool-down miles to make 8 miles altogether. But as I set off I realised that I had my watch set to show me my current pace in miles, but EVERYTHING ELSE (including distance, lap pace etc) in kilometres. Annoying!

So I just kind of guessed when I wanted to speed up from my slow warm-up miles. My splits were pretty perfect although the route into work seemed shorter than I remembered, at closer to 7 miles than 8. Two slow warm-up miles and then 8.11, 8.41, 8.09(!!), 8.30 (I was feeling good so kept on with the tempo miles) before a final cool-down as I came into Canary Wharf. I was really pleased with my run, especially as it didn’t feel too hard. No, running at those speeds wasn’t easy, but everything felt relatively comfortable. I’ve gone much slower and found it much harder before!

Run 3 – the long run – 16 miles: and the first really long run of this marathon training cycle. Really long being anything over a half marathon. I was meant to do 14 miles last week but illness and family put paid to that, so this was going to be quite a big step up in distance. For that reason, I resolved to keep it very slow and easy, at least for the first part of the run. And I managed that! I went down to Parkrun and finished my slowest ever park run at just under 35 minutes. It was very different running around at the back, much less clear to see who was doing park run and who wasn’t, and a lot fewer people around me. I swear it also didn’t feel any easier than when I run it almost 10 minutes faster!! It just went on forever….. At the end I wished I had a sign on me saying “I’m going to be running 16 miles this morning!“.

From there I headed off through south London to Clapham Common, where I joined hundreds of other joggers to run slowly and gently through the Common, before taking a right and running slowly towards the Thames. There I joined my usual route, running along the Thames for a little bit before turning for home.

The start at Park Run had broken up the run quite a bit so I felt very fresh even an hour into the run. And actually, I continued to feel that way the whole way through. I had a few brief twinges in ankles and knees, but nothing that lasted more than a few seconds, and it was probably mainly mental. As I ran through Battersea Park and approached the last two miles I realised I still had plenty of energy so picked up the pace to finish with a 10.04 mile and then an 8.59 mile! Talk about a fast finish ūüėÄ (clearly, it’s all relative!)

I actually ran this at a very similar speed to my 15 and 17 mile runs from last year’s training but it felt very different. I felt that I was more in control of my speed, consciously going slower at the beginning and then picking up the pace at the end. I was more comfortable and much less tired at the end – I could have kept running quite easily had I needed to! And I now have no fear for my 18 miler in two weeks time.

Cross-training: testament to my increased fitness is the fact that the day after running 16 miles I went out and hiked 10.8 miles – stage 3 of the North Downs Way. That made 27 miles on my feet over the weekend plus a couple of miles of general moving around. Post about our hike coming up! 

I trained for a total of 12 hours 16 minutes last week (which would explain why I’m so exhausted today!), also including 2 yoga sessions, 1 strength session, the hike and one swim. The swim was fantastic – my fastest ever 100m at 1 minute 40 seconds and a series of 100ms all between 1 minute 49 and 55. I am doing very little swimming right now but feel as if I am in the best swim-shape I have ever been. Hopefully I can hold onto that and then really dial it up in triathlon season!

Best marathon training eat: the wonderful lasagna cooked by James on Sunday night after our long hike. I was exhausted and ravenous and James’ lasagna is my favourite meal. Just exactly what I needed!

Something fun that was nothing to do with running: a lovely dinner and two large glasses of wine at Gremio Brixton with an old school friend, Sarah. She’s been my friend since we were ten years old and her baby sister was just a few months old – said sister is now learning to drive which is terrifying! It’s always good to catch up.

Marathon training inspiration:

This week’s inspiration comes from a blog post I just read by Iron Rob.

Strength does not come from lifting weights.

Strength comes from having the ability to lift yourself up having been knocked down.

If you believe you can ‚Äď you are halfway there.

It made me think a little, as I don’t really know what strength means to me… I feel strong when I look at my watch after a fast swim set and my breathing is heaving, but I don’t feel strong when I’m actually doing the swim! Strangely enough, I don’t think I have ever thought of myself as strong. Ever. I think I need to think about this one a bit ūüôā


One comment

  1. Something about pasta and meat sauce (lasagna in your case) that just hits the spot, eh?

    My wife will make spaghetti after a tough ride every now and again and I swear, I turn into a hoover vacuum.

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