Marathon training week 15 – 18 miles!

The week started with me feeling completely exhausted – I think going up to Scotland for two days last week and then a jam-packed day in London last Saturday took it out of me more than I realised at the time. I had zero energy or motivation at the beginning of the week but it gradually came back to me. I’ve now had a very busy weekend with a hen do and am again feeling very sleepy this morning!

Run 1: the interval run – on Monday afternoon I started to get this strange pain in my lower leg, unlike any running pain I’ve had before. It started just below the knee, on the outside of my right leg, and by the evening I was almost limping when walking. I woke up on Tuesday morning hoping it would be better, but no such luck. But I had an interval run to do. I cycled into work VERY slowly, trying to put the least amount of effort possible through my leg. My leg still wasn’t great and I felt exhausted by the time i arrived at work so slowly hopped on the treadmill.

It didn’t actually hurt too much on the treadmill – it was worse walking – and I felt I was able to stick to my usual running gait, so off I went in my usual slow warmup. Which felt ten times harder than normal.

Long story short – although I threw in a few fast intervals, I didn’t do my usual structured session and kept at warmup pace for most of the run, which I cut short to 30 minutes. Everything just felt off and awful and I was scared of making my leg worse. Its about this time that I got injured in my last marathon training and I really would like to avoid it this time round!

Run 2 – the tempo run: My leg was still really sore for the rest of Tuesday and in the evening I booked a physio appointment for first thing Thursday morning. The question was – should I do the tempo run?

The decision was made much easier for me when I woke up on Wednesday with barely any pain whatsoever. I cancelled my physio and booked a massage for next Monday instead.

I had also decided to do the tempo run on the treadmill – I think after the last few weeks, when I was planning this week’s runs I felt fired up and as if I could manage some good, specific, fast paces. I went into work early so I could take a longer lunch break and do the run at lunch. It did not work as I wanted it to. Slow paces felt hard, just as above. My leg didn’t hurt but I was still concerned about not causing it to hurt. It was boring. I almost but didn’t quite manage the run I’d planned, finishing at just shy of an hour and just under 9km. Never mind.

Run 3 – the long run – I remember so clearly the first and only 18 mile run I had done before this one, the longest run I managed in last year’s training cycle. I remember it so clearly because I remember the pain of the last two miles, my legs aching with every step, only keeping going because it actually felt worse to walk then to run. I was interested to see how the run would go this year – brilliantly, it turned out!

Towards the end of the week I started to feel as if I had a little bit more energy. Due to Charlotte’s hen do, my long run (18 miles) was planned for Friday morning and so I took things very easy at my Thursday yoga class (it felt strange always taking the easy option but I knew it was for the best), only drank one glass of wine despite going out for dinner on Thursday evening, and was early to bed.

A whole 9 hours of sleep later and I felt pretty great when I got out of bed shortly after 8am! I made myself some porridge with raspberries (we were out of bananas) and got ready to go. Annoyingly, I then discovered I had left my new trainers and my running watch at work! Not the end of the world as I was planning to run on feel anyway but slightly annoying.

I set out and immediately realised I was going to be too hot with gloves, and the socks I had on were uncomfortable. With hindsight, I think this was just my brain making excuses as 18 miles later, those same socks still hadn’t caused any blisters! I gave myself a stern talking-to and kept running – all my favourite socks were in the wash anyway.

Without a watch, I was running on feel, but I did have Strava tracking me so every mile I had a little update in my earphones to tell me how far I’d ran, my overall time, and how long my last mile had taken. I had two aims for the run: 1) same time or quicker than the last time I ran 18 miles last year; 2) finish strong. My first mile was perhaps slightly too fast at 10.18/ mile (last year’s average pace was 10.40) so I slowed a bit but ended up relatively consistent with 15 miles faster than 10.30.

It was a beautiful day and there were loads of people out in the parks, including some kind of kids race with lots of people in fancy dress at Wandsworth Park. There were pictures and motivation drawn in chalk all over the path and I even had to run under a huge multicoloured bit of cloth that four people were holding up for runners and cheering as people went through! Would love to know what was going on if anyone knows?

From there I was almost at Fulham and then onto the trail around Barnes. It was so beautiful and peaceful and I still felt relatively good. I turned around at 9 miles, tired but happy to keep running.

Between 9 miles and 12 miles I felt as if I was flagging a little, running 10.22 and then 2 miles at 10.25. I stopped for a toilet break at the pub that was at 12 miles and spent slightly too long just enjoying being sat down! It seemed to do the trick though as the next mile was a lot faster at 9.50!

I tried to keep the pace up the whole way back, ticking off the landmarks, but with about 4 miles to go I felt a shooting pain in my left thigh – really wierd as I’ve never felt pain there before! I eased off slightly but still had the odd few twinges – it didn’t seem to be a constant thing so I felt I was fine to keep running but just monitored it.

Finally I was on the home straight, feeling tired and looking forward to the run being over, but still with quite a bit of energy. I picked the pace up again to finish with my fastest mile at 9.39!

All in all it was a great run and a fantastic confidence-boost for the marathon. As I said, 18 miles was the longest I ran last year so now at least I know I run the marathon as long as I’m not injured on the day. Plus, the speed, the lack of pain, the energy left at the end and my general enjoyment of the whole run was all very motivating!

Cross-training: 7 hours and 40 minutes of training this week, with one swim, one yoga session, one strength session and one day of cycling to work.

I have just realised that my first triathlon this year is only six weeks after the marathon which means I do need to start thinking about swim and cycle training. I think my cycle will be really poor in this first tri – I just have not done enough of it so far this year.  However, another thing I realised this week was the cause – or at least one of them – of the injury in my last marathon training cycle. The day after running 18 miles, I went out and cycled 45 hilly miles in Northumberland, pushing the pace (for me) as I was cycling with James and his brother. It was the week after that that I started to feel knee pain, cycled to work quite a lot and then ran a fast (for me) half marathon the following weekend. That did it – I then didn’t run for three weeks!

This year I am taking things very sensibly / cautiously so as to not overdo it. If I manage to finish this marathon without injuring myself, then I will have learnt a little more about my limits and can push it more next time!

Best marathon training eat: afternoon tea! This weekend was my best friend’s hen do, which I have spent the past few months organising down in Brighton. As part of it, on Saturday afternoon we went out for afternoon tea with prosecco. It was delicious!

Something fun that was nothing to do with running: the whole hen do  weekend! Brighton was beautifully sunny over the weekend so we spent quite a bit of time just sitting on the beach and a lot of time drinking cocktails with a really lovely group of girls.

We had cocktails in our rented house on Friday night, afternoon tea on Saturday, and then went out dancing on Saturday night. I danced in heels until almost 4 am! And that left me more stiff than the 18 mile run 🙂

Marathon training inspiration:


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