Last week I missed some of my runs by choice. This week, the choice was made for me by sheer exhaustion – a combination of jetlag and far too much work. Jetlag this way is not fun – it seems to linger longer and makes getting out of bed every morning a real struggle. Almost every day I tried to get up but was just so deep in sleep when my alarm went off that I couldn’t face it. I think I need to remember that a holiday involving time changes doesn’t just affect training the week of the holiday, but also the week after!
Run 1: hill intervals. Or so it was meant to be. But I could not get up in the morning to run to hilly Brockwell Park before work and there are no hills anywhere near my office. It was Thursday by this point after 2 very busy days at work (I flew back from Chicago on Monday) and things had finally quietened down so instead I decided to head out at lunch time.
It was a disaster. I had just had a smoothie for breakfast rather than my usual porridge so I was hungry and lacking in energy from the start. Plus it was 30 degrees – SO HOT – and I didn’t have any water. And I was tired after not getting home from work until midnight the night before. I tried to pick up the pace but my body just said no and started hurting so I gave up on any idea of mile repeats and just plodded slowly on.
Run 2: the tempo run. I set my alarm for 6.30am on Friday morning, full of good intentions. But when it went off, it was pouring with rain outside. Literally, rain bouncing off the windowsill pouring. 10 miles in that – with my work clothes in my rucksack – was not going to be fun and I was pretty certain everything was going to get wet. So I gave up on that idea. Luckily, it being Friday, I finished work pretty early (i.e. just after 6pm). I was going out for dinner with some friends from work, but not until 8pm, so decided I had time for the run then. I always have kit at work for the gym so I was sorted! Two slow warmup miles and then I started running at tempo pace. It felt great – that 8.30-8.50 pace now feels tough, but do-able over a relatively long run.
I didn’t want to be running along the canal in the dark so I turned back at 4 miles, the plan being to run an extra 2 miles on the better lit paths around Canary Wharf.
But by 7 miles my feet were killing me. I ran in these shoes on a treadmill before I bought them (and they were fitted by the guy at the shop!) and they felt fine. Then I went for a long run, my toes were agony, so I went back and was able to exchange them for a size bigger. But something about them – they still just end up really hurting. I wear them regularly on the treadmill for a max of about 5-6 miles, I’ve run 10km in them in a triathlon – all of that is fine. It’s only really once I’ve run for more than an hour that they really start to hurt. Long story short, I cut the run short at 8.5 miles. It just seemed silly to do myself some damage just because of running in the wrong shoes! I still got in a good 6.5 miles at much faster than the planned pace of 8.50/mile and my warm-up was pretty quick too. I knew I could continue running for another mile and a half, no problem, if it hadn’t been for my feet. So I was happy.
Run 3: the long run – 16 miles. In the last few weeks my long runs have included runs of 15 and 16 miles so I knew what I was doing with this, knew I could do it, knew I’d enjoyed my last few runs of that distance. But on the other hand, I woke up with stiff sore legs which is less good! My new house has stairs and they’re quite steep so I tend to judge my stiffness by whether I can walk up and down them like a normal person.
I had a lot of work to do on Sunday morning so got up and got stuck into 3 hours of reading and writing about Brexit and trade together with several cups of tea and coffee. I finished just after I’d finished my lunch so let my food digest for a bit before heading out.
My limbs made themselves known immediately with a strange, shooting pain in my right knee that disappeared as quickly as it arrived and a hotspot on my left foot from Friday’s trainer debacle. I told myself just to ignore it and reassess after 2 miles. That came and went in a flash and I was running easily and comfortably at just under a 10 min/mile pace. In fact, the first 6 miles went in a flash.
Last time, I started to feel a bit sore just after the halfway point. This didn’t really happen this time, after I was warmed up my legs felt great the whole way round, but after about 12 miles I just started to feel really tired and lacking in energy.
I have been trying to work on fast finishes. My plan for the marathon is to run the first half at 4hr15 pace, then to pick it up and see how fast I can finish. So as I got tired at the end of this run I did the same, telling my tired legs to go away and that it was all good practice. I used my memory of the end of Brighton Marathon to help, visualising how I “sprinted” the last mile and how it felt to do that on tired legs. And my last few miles were 9.41, 9.18 and 8.55 so it clearly worked! 16 miles in 2 hours 36 minutes. Again – my fastest yet.
Cross-training: basically nada. 10 minutes of yoga, one day of cycling to and from work. Not ideal. 6 hours 40 of training in total.
Something fun that was nothing to do with running: dinner with my work colleagues on Friday night, lots of wine drunk and good food eaten. Roast dinner with my best friends on Sunday night – almost straight after my 16 mile run so I wolfed down a roast beef and had a huge brownie that disappeared in practically one gulp. Plus 2 glasses of red wine. Perfect end to the weekend!
Oh – and a brief little rant. I was listening to a rick roll podcast while I ran which had an interview with Shalane Flanagan, the American marathoner, who has just brought out a new cookbook that is all about taking the time to cook things in the kitchen (“Run Fast Eat Slow”). At the end of the podcast, her co-writer said “Shalane’s running all these crazy miles and if she’s able to spend the time in the kitchen making a proper meal, anyone can“. Firstly – I am a big fan of making meals yourself and very, very rarely eat a ready-meal. HOWEVER. Yes Shalane is running a lot more than I am. Probably about 3 times as much in miles – although she runs them almost twice as fast as I do so she doesn’t spend 3 times as many hours…. And of course she has her cross-training sessions too. BUT she doesn’t also have a job. In fact, part of her job is spending 2 hours a day trying to nap or just lying down for recovery. Imagine you’re a serious amateur athlete, or you’re training for an Ironman. You’re training double the amount of time I am. You have a job that takes up 12 hours a day. Maybe you have kids. You definitely do NOT have as much time to cook a meal as Shalane does. I know it was a throwaway comment to try to sell the book but to be honest, it really annoyed me!!