Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 14 of 18

Moving into week 14 I was acutely aware that training was going all in all, pretty well. Previously I feel I have gotten to this stage in training and cruised a bit. This week I wanted to push on – there were still 2 weeks to get as much training benefit as I could before tapering and that could be the difference between 3.04.59 and 3.05.00.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 4m (6 x 100m Strides) 4m (6 x 100m Strides)
Saturday 8-15k Tune-up Race Blandford parkrun
Sunday 17m Long 16m Medium-long (inc pacing Yeovil Half)
Total Mileage ~46m 42m

The first run of the week was on Tuesday for 8 miles with 5 x 600m Intervals. This has historically been a good session for me. In the past my intervals on a known slight downhill loop have been pretty decent, averaging sub 5.20 pace for the same session last year. This year wasn’t quite so good, but still encouraging – last year it was 9 days after a hard 5k, this year it was 8 days after a hard half. Different build ups so not much to be concerned with. I’m still classing the session as “good”, the paces were faster than McMillan says they needed to be.

Using GAP (each interval was alternated except the last, which was out and back, and 2 were into the wind!), the splits were 5.40, 5.36, 5.43, 5.33, 5.34  for an average of 5.37 per mile.

On Wednesday it was another (penultimate!) midweek MLR, this time 11 miles.  This session fell on a bad day last year (grandfathers funeral) and I ran on a gut full of buffet food and a couple of pints. I was conscious going into this run I wanted to keep the intensity up – certainly higher than my previous MLRs, mainly because as training has gone on I have clearly (As is evidenced by recent race times) gotten fitter, therefore I need to increase the training stimulus. And I have to say, I totally nailed it. My legs were weary, but in a way I expected given the last few days training. They weren’t suffering from that “empty” feeling, they just felt a bit tired. As such I was able to keep a good pace and even motored on up and over Micheldever hill, a bit of a nemesis of mine, in sub-8 pace – which, in the middle of a run with a few miles still to go I was really pleased with. Heart rate was where it should have been too.  The average pace was 7.36 (GAP 7.29). I was pretty pleased with that!

After a rest day Thursday, I had a short 4 mile recovery run with some strides. It was a solid run serving no purpose other than to get some pace into my legs ahead of Saturday’s tune up race. I kept the route nice and flat and tried to keep the pace slow, but the strides as fast as I could muster.

So Saturday I was due another tune-up race. Although parkrun isn’t a race, I use them as a race effort (I rarely run a hard parkrun) and as such when I am using one as a tune up I try as much as possible to treat it like a race. That means wearing club kit, wearing the compression guards, a proper warm up etc. It helps get me in the right head space for a tough effort. We went to Blandford, which we have been to a couple of times before. It is a pretty fast course (though an out-and-back) though I personally feel it may be a touch short, though that’s totally unsubstantiated. An additional benefit was that it was pacer week and they had a 19 minute pacer, which was around my target – PB going into the run was 18.54 and I was hoping I’d come away with a brand new one.

We didn’t get there quite early enough for a full warm up but managed a bit. I was stood basically right at the front next to the pacer and before long we were off at what felt like a blistering pace.

There were 2 lads who were off a bit faster and a group of 3 with the  29 minute pacer. The lady dropped off after the first mile, and another guy went ahead just before halfway. We rounded the turn (its and out-and-back course) in 9.08 which basic maths told me was 18.16 pace! Too fast! The pacer was about 10 meters ahead and I was starting to struggle. I passed Jodie and she took and amazing pic of me! My favourite running photo of me I’ve ever had.

Coming back was into the wind and I really didn’t think i’d be able to maintain. We came back in under the underpass and up the steep slope and I was now in touching distance of the pacer. He had slowed I think he knew he’d gone to fast. With  400m to go I just gave it all I had left and passed him in a sprint finish. I crossed the line in 18.39 by my watch (later confirmed in the official results) which is a spanking new PB!

Looking at how the race panned out, and given the slightly undulating nature of the course (compared with Poole – Blandford is definitely flat but not as flat as Poole) and with the wind taken into account, I think that 18.30 target I set out back in my masterplan is still on for 2 weeks time. I’ll certainly be giving it a damn good shot!

On Sunday was the biggest race of the year for the club, the Yeovil Half Marathon. As a club we had over 50 members running – not bad considering the club is only a year old! Kerry hosted us pre-race at The Beach Cafe Bar where we all congregated pre-race, and she kindly offered for us to leave our kit there. There was a terrific vibe and Shane got this fantastic pre-race photo of us all.

As we headed to the start the atmosphere grew and everyone really was buzzing. Before long we were off. The support was fantastic, and the organisation was great too. The route was the same as in 2016 aside from a slightly moved start and finish – both of which were good improvements.

I was running as part of a 16 mile medium-long run, and I was trying to pace a few members to sub 1.50. Unfortunately my group gradually drifted off though iw as able to catch David and spur him on to finish ahead of me (His target was 1.45-1.50). The mile markers were a bit out and I think I got my maths wrong as I was a 1 minute faster than I should have been.

The atmosphere throughout the course was fantastic, I saw so many running friends and club mates and the town center finish was superb. This year we even got a tee shirt! It was great value and a great day out. Afterwards, anyone who was left went back to the beach for food. It was a really cracking day and can’t wait for next year already!

Weight

This is the week I was FINALLY able to break the plateau! I’m not even sure what I did to do it – I’ve had a stubborn cold for the last 2 months, so maybe that’s related? Now I’m finally kicking it (great timing!) then my body is letting it go? Or maybe its a continued build up of volume and intensity and my body has shaken itself into action. Either way, the loss was 2lbs, taking me down to 13st 10lbs.

All the other stats pointed in the right way too. Fat % down, Muscle % up.

I hit the “midway” goal in reaching this weight and I have a theoretical 5lbs more to lose to try to reach that 17.9% body fat target but it will get me pretty close. With 4 weeks til race day I’m not convinced I’ll lose all 5 lbs but I’m going to try my hardest. Either way, I’ll be considerably more trim compared to Manchester!

 

Summary

Another great week in the bag. A good interval session, a good midweek MLR, a tasty new 5k PB, and a terrific club day at the Yeovil Half Marathon. The legs are feeling decent and with only one week left of the really hard training until the taper, I’m feeling confident!

Interestingly, looking at my Fitness Trend, despite the hard 5k and the 16 miler, I’m hovering in the Neutral zone. This week wasn’t officially a recovery week, though looking at the pattern and structure of the programme this is where one would naturally fall, this has seemingly recovered me a bit. Next week is the last tough week and I expect to push myself well into overload by the time I finish my 22 miler on Saturday!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals) 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals)
Thursday Rest 11m Medium-long Moved to Thursday as I don;t want to do 11 on Friday as I have to run 22 on Saturday!
Friday 11m Medium-long Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 22m Long Have to run on Saturday as Jodie is running Manchester ont he Sunday! This will be a time on feet long run 22 miles that will take 3.05
Sunday 20m Long 5m Recovery See above. Adding an extra mile to make it a joint highest mileage week.
Total Mileage 52m 55m

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 13 of 18

Coming into “unlucky” week 13 my legs were still shot to bits following Sunday’s epic PB. All of this with a marathon paced session at the end of the week.

One of the things I did before this week was plug my new Half PB into the McMillan Calculator to give me my new training paces. It was interesting to see how they had changed, my tempo/threshold pace increased a bit as did my Interval paces, but my long run and general aerobic paces didn’t shift too much. Still, I’ll try to run them slightly quicker anyway to increase the training stimulus in line with my new fitness levels.

Here’s what was planned and what I actually did.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic
Wednesday 9m (5 x 1km Intervals) 9m (5 x 1km Intervals) 9m (5 x 1km Intervals)
Thursday Rest Rest Rest
Friday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 18m (14m Marathon pace) 18m (14m Marathon pace) 20m (14m Marathon pace) [Part 2] Want an extra 20 miler
Total Mileage 52m 52m 54m

Tuesday was 8 miles General Aerobic. My new paces say I should really try to run my GA runs at sub 7.30s (At least that’s where I’d like them to be) but after Sunday I had no chance! So I tried for 7.45s instead. The first couple of miles my head was a bit all over the place, feeling really woozy. I stopped after 2.5 miles to take a break and after that I felt better. I managed a respectable 7.42 average which I’ll take!

On Wednesday was my next interval session. 9 miles including 5 x 1km. According to McMillan I should have been running these at between 6.05 and 5.50. As soon as I set off, I knew this would be a struggle.  Again, my head was woozy at the start and had to stop for some fuel in Tesco in the 3 mile warm up. The first Interval was so hard I wanted to give up, I even had a brief pause at half way. Everything was so laboured. After the 2nd rep though, things improved (comparatively speaking) and I felt I could at least put in some solid efforts and finish the session. The pace for the intervals were on the surface not very good. But if I take a look at the GAP pace, they actually aren’t so bad at all.

Interval Pace GAP
1 6:13 5:58
2 6:15 6:20
3 6:20 6:04
4 6:00 6:05
5 6.10 6.01

I got better as the session went on and whilst they aren’t where I would like them (I’d have preferred them at the faster end of the range), I have to remember that Sunday took a lot out of me. I think I’ll take them!

On Friday I had a 12 mile Medium-long. As I had the afternoon off I went out at lunchtime and tried a different route to the usual. I decided to take this one quite casually – a marathon paced run was planned for Sunday and my legs were desperate for a bit of a recovery. I targetted 8.15s and had plenty of stops to take some photos. It was a nice pleasant run and found some nice trails and hills to try out in the summer.

On Saturday we originally intended to go to Didcot parkrun, but it was cancelled ahead of time so we went the extra few miles to Abingdon. And we weren’t alone! It seems like most of the Didcot regulars ended up there too! Parking is free for 2 hours (though you still have to get a ticket!) and it is very close to the town centre. The course was really nice. A 2 lapper around a meadow next to the Thames, taking in Abingdon Lock and some good multi terrain running. It was pancake flat but the terrain made it quite tough, especially with the buggy – there was a very narrow gate that it was lucky to get through and there was one section where the mud had been pretty much plowed by tractor tyres and the buggy’s wheels weren’t big enough – I had to lift it across! The people were lovely as always, though we weren’t able to sample the cafe culture as we had to shoot on.

My run for the day was 5 miles recovery and after Friday’s run it was tougher than it should have been!

I agonised over what to do on Sunday. On the one hand, I was due to run another 14 miles at Marathon pace. On the other hand, I already ran the Bramley 20 at MP so it wouldn’t be anything new. My legs still felt in a terrible state and I was conscious that I wanted to do another 20+ miler. Add to the mix that I had no good options for a flattish route with running laps (which I HATE) I was tempted to just go for a straight 22. In the end, I decided I would do the MP run as the legs still need to be trained. I figured I’d run 4 miles to my “laps”, then run MP around those and then run 2 miles back making it 20 in total. A good compromise, if my legs could hold it together.

It was far from pretty. I had a toilet stop, a water stop and a couple of pauses in the last two miles too… but it was 14 miles at MP and given how I was still feeling post-silverstone, I will take it! Most of my splits were under 7m/m and it looked even better by GAP. The route took in 2 minor climbs per lap which I ran 3 times… they were just steep/long enough to take the momentum and life from your legs. Oh and there was a wicked headwind too, though it seemed to drop when it could have been advantageous to me!

I stopped the activity by accident… the other 2 miles are recorded separately

This was always going to be the hardest session of the campaign, and I’m glad it’s over that’s for sure.

Weight

A bit boring but I stayed the same again. At the moment I just can’t stop eating… so it’s a good job the mileage is high enough to support my runger!

Summary

Week 13 hasn’t been unlucky, but it has been the toughest yet – and this is by design. It’s the toughest MP run, on top of 3 runs in excess of 9 miles in the week. I always consider this the peak week, and although week 15 is strictly speaking the (joint) longest week by volume, and I run my last long run to be longer as time-on-feet than target pace, this is still very much at the “business end” of things.

U nsurprisingly, I spent most of this week in the “neutral” zone of my fitness trend. This is because my legs were still recovering from Sunday, I’ve just not been able to get the effort levels up! Sunday’s MP run put me right back into “overload” though and as I am writing this on Sunday night, that is an accurate assessment!

Next week isn’t officially a recovery week, but it is a reduction in volume. A shorter long-run and a shorter interval session, as Saturday is another “tune up race”. Only 2 more weeks of the tough stuff until the taper. Hopefully my body can hold it all together!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 4m (6 x 100m Strides) 4m (6 x 100m Strides)
Saturday 8-15k Tune-up Race Blandford parkrun
Sunday 17m Long 16m Medium-long (inc pacing Yeovil Half) A bit of a recovery but not much before next weeks peak
Total Mileage ~46m 42m

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 12 of 18

Well, here we are in Week 12 “Race Preparation”. The focus for the next 4 weeks is about pace. With weekly interval sessions and a “tune up” race every other week it’s time to build on the good aerobic base and half decent threshold to smash out some speedy stuff.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 6m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Thursday Rest 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Friday 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest Rest
Saturday 8-15k Tune Up Race 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Sunday 17m Long Silverstone Half Marathon Silverstone Half Marathon No races on Saturdays around here
Total Mileage ~52m 41m 41m

Tuesday was my first Interval session of the programme.  I was supposed to do one a couple of weeks ago, but it was right after the Bramley 20 and my legs were in no fit state. This session was 6 miles with a set of 5 x 600m Intervals. The programme called for 8, but I was short on time so shortened the warm up and cool down. The intervals were a bit better than the same session last year, though the location I ran these in was covered over by trees so I’m not convinced of the pacings, as I suspect there was some suspect GPS readings. It was still encouraging though, given I still had some fatigue in my legs from Sunday. The intervals were nowhere near as quick as the sessions I was running in the latter part of the programme for Manchester, though I think that my legs need to get used to running faster for sustained periods rather than just strides. I have some tune-up 5ks planned too, which should aid with that.

Wednesday was another 12 mile medium long. Deliberately went out at an easier pace than normal as I was racing on Sunday and wanted to give my legs a bit of a chance to recover. They were far from fresh, that’s for sure and it was all a bit of a laboured effort. Still there was some elevation gain and they were still good miles through the legs. It was definitely harder than it should have been, but my Garmin seemed to go mental with my Heart Rate towards the end – no way was I running at Maximum HR!

On Thursday, I ran my 5 miles recovery with 6 strides at lunchtime. it was a glorious day for a run, though my legs didn’t really agree. I felt utterly drained, no doubt from the previous 2 days. I can see why the book insists this is supposed to be a rest day!

On Friday, Jodie and I treated ourselves to a sports massage. I’ve not had one for over a year and didn’t know where to go. After some research we came across Martin Allen at Andover Therapy. He was reasonably priced and, most importantly, a runner himself – which is the main reason I chose to book an appointment with him. He also suggested we both have half an hour each and just pay for the full hour between us which saved us some money. He was very knowledgeable and did a fantastic job and I will certainly be back, before London as my legs felt fantastic since then! He found my left leg was a lot tenser than my right, which made sense, and explained away a few of my niggles and concerns and I went away with some preventative advise too. Thanks Martin!

On Saturday, we visited Lymington Woodside parkrun, one of only two Hampshire parkruns we were yet to visit (Though another is starting on April 1st!). The directions to get to the event weren’t particularly clear but we were quite early so it wasn’t a problem. it is a relatively new event and had a real sense of community to it. Based in Woodside Gardens, the course was a 3 lapper with about 60% Tarmac, 38% grass and 2% gravel.

There was a lovely pavilion where the event was “headquartered” and provided toilets and the social bar which was opened for tea, coffee and bacon baguettes. A real locals event, though we were made to feel very welcome. The volunteers were excellent, very enthusiastic and supportive. A little gem of a parkrun in all aspects but the course – though that is a personal preference.

Sunday saw me participate in the Silverstone Half Marathon. I have written a full race report here. But to summarise, I smashed it! I ran a  2 minute PB and came in with an official time of 1.27.24. I feel like the massage really helped, as I ran with confidence on both legs and felt a lot more balanced.

This is well in line with my targets and is obviously a HUGE confidence booster! I really didn’t think I’d be capable of running it that fast, and thought sub 1.28 was a stretch goal – but it goes to show, if you go out and have a go, sometimes it pays off!

Weight

Not much to add here – I’ve stayed the same. Not too worried though, I’m running well and in line with where I want to be.

Summary

Put simply, an excellent week. The intervals were tough but I managed them, and in spite of a trickier MLR than I expected I finished out with a flourish and a magnificent Half PB.

Looking at my fitness trend, you can see I had a mini-peak for Silverstone and the race effort has put me back into the Overload zone – right where I expected.

There’s 3 more weeks of high volume training before I taper and 6 weeks until the big day. So far so good!

 

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic
Wednesday 9m (5 x 1k Intervals) 9m (5 x 1k Intervals)
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 18m (14m Marathon Pace) 20m (14m Marathon Pace) Wanted to get in 6x 20+ milers and this is the only way I can fit it in
Total Mileage 52m 54m

 

Race Report: Silverstone Half Marathon 2017

Silverstone  Half Marathon has been a race on our list for a couple of years now. It’s ideally placed as a warm up for many spring marathons, though it tends to clash with other major half’s. This year, given that we lived an hour closer than we used to, we thought it was the best time to do it.

Organised by the London Marathon company, It really is excellently priced compared to other events of a similar scale. Signing up was hassle free and our race packs arrived in the post with plenty of time, along with a very detailed “Final Instructions” magazine. it was all very similar to the London Marathon process, and I wonder if they use this as THEIR warm up prior to the big event from an administration point of view!

Pre Race

Unusually the start time of the race is 12.00 noon. one of the advantages of running on a race track is that along with a traffic free course there is no time pressure to reopen roads so they can start it at a sensible time! I wasn’t sure how I would feel running at Noon. Usually I’m a morning racer and this meant I had to change-up my usual pre-race routine, particularly on the breakfast front!

We woke up at the same time we always do (thanks to having a 7 month old baby!) which was quite nice, not too early a start, and drove Ivy to her grandparents where she would stay for the day, before we made our 90 minute drive to Silverstone. The conditions when we set off were horrendous, it was a difficult drive. It started to clear but it remained drizzly right up until the start of the race.

I’ve never been to Silverstone, but as a former F1 fan the thought of running on the race track was really quite exciting! We were forewarned about parking and that it was a bit of a walk to the race village in the far end of the circuit from the car park. There was a special car park for sub 1.35 runners, though I’m not really sure if there was any benefit to parking there. Though the traffic was congested it kept moving and the parking marshals were excellent.

The walk to the village itself was definitely less than a mile, but the problem was the foot traffic had to go across a couple of bridges with some tight bottle necks. This slowed everything right down, so a 10 minute walk ended up being about 20. But we were there in plenty of time and there was actually quite a lot of hanging around.

There were more toilets than I’ve ever seen with the shortest queues I’ve seen as such a big event, really well maintained too and they were proper toilets, in portakabins! It was positively luxurious! The bag drop was instant and easy with so many volunteers on hand there really was no hanging around. This was organisation at its finest.

The other thing I noticed was the number of “official photographers”. They were absolutely everywhere, I’ve never seen so many. Not that I ever buy them as they are horrendously overpriced, but for those that like that sort of thing or wanted a decent memento from their first half, then you’d be guaranteed at least one good snap.

We headed to the start pens in plenty of time and they were enormous – lots of room for a proper warm up, particularly down near the front where there was even extra toilets! I took care of business one last time whilst there, just because I could!

The drizzle started easing off just in time for the start and before long we were off – the official starters were apparently the band “Scouting for Girls”, not that I knew that at the time, who then jumped into the pack and ran the race themselves.

The Race

The start of the race was on the F1 circuit.  The wet surface made it very squeaky, but it was a great wide track and meant for little congestion. The first few miles were all on smooth race track, and I found myself trying to hit the apexes like I was an F1 driver taking the shortest possible route. Though i have to say, even running the tangents, by the end of the race I’d run 0.25 miles farther than advertised distance. I didn’t weave  around THAT much and being near to the front there wasn’t a huge amount of traffic to get around.

Seeing the sights that the drivers pass at considerably faster than we were running was quite a thrill. It was a lot of fun running through and around the F1 pit lane though, past the F1 podium and rounding famous turns like Maggotts and Stowe. Looking at the map from Strava below, you’ll see just how confusing it is. If it wasn’t marked out, you’d never be able to go and do it as a “freedom run”!

Sadly the race also spent a lot of time on support roads and other minor race tracks where people weren’t easily able to get to support. So crowds were sparse in places and it got quite lonely sometimes, but where there were crowds it was quite dense and had some good cheers.

The number of marshals were plentiful and I have to say they were outstanding in terms of encouragement and support. First rate!

The course itself is reasonably flat, the climbs though are long and gradual and it’s not till you crest them, blowing out of your arse that you realise you’ve run uphill. Additionally there were two bridges to cross that were quite steep – and you definitely knew about them, they really take the wind from your sails.

The last couple of miles seemed mainly uphill, and seeing the finish gantry in the distance was torture! The support on the final stretch was great.

Post Race

Crossing the finish line was a relief. The funnel was well-managed , with the ramps and volunteers cutting off the timing chips, and I was able to quickly move through to get a pretty decent goody bag – lots of food, drinks and a nice medal. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a technical tee instead of a cotton one. I don’t understand why the event is sponsored by adidas and there is no tech tee, whereas events like the London 10,000 are not sponsored by adidas but you DO get a tech tee!

After I finished I stood waiting for Jodie watching the masses come in, the event really does have a great vibe and a wide range of abilities.

After Jodie crossed the line we started heading back and got a selfie on the way through.

Getting out was a bit more of a problem than it was to get in. The walk back was much slower as there were more people and the same pinch points. Traffic on the way out was busy, but in line with the scale of the event.

All in all a good event which I am glad we have done. It was fantastic value for money and would recommend it – though don’t think we’ll be hurrying back, as I preferred other events in the same time of year like Reading, and I also want to do Bath next year which is usually on the same day.

My Race Analysis

I was using the race as a tune up for London, like many others. I was a bit unsure how I would perform for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s the first half I’ve run with a decent block of training for over a year. Secondly, because when I ran Cardiff last spring I blew up after about 10 miles. I still PBed, but I felt I was in shape to run a bit quicker. Thirdly, when I tried my last threshold run which was 7 miles with 11 at lactate threshold, it all fell apart.

The numbers however, looked good. If I was targeting a half rather than using it as part of a marathon build up, I would have tapered a bit more than I did. As it was, I just reduced volume and intensity for the last couple of runs before the race, and my Fitness Trend looked like I had a mini-peak (I was at + 11 “Freshness”), so I felt I could give it a good go.

To be on target for my sub 3.05 in London, using McMillan I knew I’d need to run under 1.28. That was quite a scary prospect as it was a good minute quicker than I’d gone last year, it was totally uncharted territory. That’s about 6.40 a mile, so that’s what I had in my head when I set off.

Almost immediately, my watch was short of the first mile marker, and I was 8 seconds over my target. I felt pretty comfortable though, so stepped it up a gear for the next couple and was probably a little too fast. Up until 7-8 miles I felt pretty good, but there was a long drag uphill there. I managed to claw some back up until 10, and my watch said that if I kept going I might sneak under 1.27! However I knew pretty quickly that was optimistic, and instead I focused on trying to hang on for dear life for that sub 1.28. With 2 to go I was really struggling, and the last mile really was a case of sheer bloody mindedness.

I crossed the line delighted, but as I had been manually lapping I didn’t stop my watch, I just pressed lap again! I did stop it and I knew I had comfortably beaten my target. Later that evening my time was officially recorded as 1.27.24 – a PB by over 2 minutes! I finished in P160 of 6690, beaten by only 6 ladies and 117th in my age group. Not bad for a (former) fay lad!

Looking at the Strava analysis, I can see it wasn’t the best executed of races, with the second half definitely being slower, but the course profile naturally causes this with most of the climbing in the second half.

From an effort point of view, I really couldn’t have given a lot more. Strava recorded it as “Epic” and rightly so. Looking at the line graph you can see a progressive increase, peaking just toward the finish. I really was spent.

Walking away with such a PB I can be nothing but delighted, and I am perfectly on target for London. Now, I just need to stay in one piece!

Strava Activityhttps://www.strava.com/activities/897381889

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 11 of 18

Well, week 11 has come and gone. Last weeks recovery week didn’t make me feel very recovered, and it definitely carried through into this week.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (5 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 11m (7m lactate Threshold) 11m (7m lactate Threshold) 11m (7m lactate Threshold)
Thursday Rest Rest Rest
Friday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 20m Long 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage  55m 55m   55m

 

First run of the week was Tuesday, with 7 miles recovery with a set of strides. I missed the first stride as I didn’t hear my watch beep though! Legs were still pretty heavy and was probably a little bit quicker than I should have done.

Wednesday was meant to be a key session, but it didn’t go to plan at all. 11 miles with 7 at Lactate Threshold. On the surface the splits look OK, but they don’t tell the whole story. I got about 3.5 miles through the threshold section and then my legs just lost interest completely. They were lacking any sort of bounce whatsoever and my heart rate seemed way too high. Looking back on it, I was right.

Looking at the positives, I did manage 7 miles at threshold, and having a sustained high heart rate will be good in some ways for training purposes. Also, last time I struggled with a threshold run was whilst I was in Birmingham, not the flattest route and I perform better on the known route I usually use at home. You don’t lose fitness overnight, and I am probably still recovering from the race last week. After I last struggled with the threshold run, the week after I performed much better. So I am hopeful I can bounce back in a few days.

Thursday was a rest day, which helped me out for Friday’s 12 mile medium-long. I was still a bit emotionally scarred from Wednesday so I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Especially on a frigging Friday! I headed out at a decent clip, faster than I needed to, really – I was targeting just sub 8s – and when I hit the hill I had on the route my mind went into “flight” mode, like I was trying too hard and that I should give up. I managed to shit that nonsense down and once I crested the hill managed to keep the pace up. Mentally, it felt good. Physically, the ball of my left foot started hurting, a burning sensation which was similar to how it felt after Bramley. In the end the average was about 7.42 per mile. That’s some 15s per mile than when I ran this route last month, and I remember I struggled with that too. Also, comparing suffer scores, there wasn’t much in it. So that’s really positive.

On Saturday we visited Southsea parkrun. One of the few remaining Hampshire parkruns we had yet to visit. It was about a 50 minute drive to the event, which was based near the Pyramids centre. We got there at 8.35 and managed to park right by the start though it was £3.10 for 2 hours parking! The event is an out and back along the esplanade. The weather was good, but having visited Southsea before for the Great South Run we expected a wicked wind. It was not to be. In fact, with the course as flat as it was and the weather as good, it definitely had PB potential! The people were very friendly, and we chatted to a few of the locals who welcomed us as tourists. We also got chatting to another lady buggy runner who had her 3 month old with her. The toilets were nearby and the cafe was great, right on the seafront and a really good vibe to it! A top event as ever.

I ran 2 miles beforehand as I needed to run 5 miles recovery for the day. When I woke up though, I felt some weakness in my knee which meant I struggled with the stairs. The first few hundred yards in Southsea I felt it twinge quite a lot and was very uncomfortable but once it loosened up it felt a bit better. I think the combination of a long run the day before late in the evening followed by this early run meant the leg just stiffened up a bit. Saturday afternoon it felt better, and I did some mild strengthening exercises during the day in preparation for Sunday’s long run.

Speaking of which… 20 miles. It was tough. The weather forecast wasn’t great, but thankfully I got away with only a short burst of a shower about 13 miles in. I managed to have a good toilet drop off in the morning so I thought I’d have a good comfortable run… My bowels had other ideas. I was having some very bad cramps and resulted in a  few walks whilst they subsided. You can see the HR dips every time I needed to stop. it was frequent!

I eventually got to a loo at about 9 miles. I was given about 4 miles respite before they started again and needed another loo stop at 17 miles. Aside from that, it was OK. I struggled to maintain pace up some of the hills, but that could have been a combination of fatigue from Friday and Saturday and the tummy aches. So whilst it wasn’t the most consistent of 20 milers, I’ll take it.

Weight

Another week staying the same. It’s hardly surprising, I’ve spent the last 2 weeks “recovering” in more ways than just through rest. I have felt my body has needed more food, so I’ve listened to it. I’m actually quite pleased I am not increasing it, so that’s a real positive.

This weeks training has gone a lot better and I’m feeling a bit more confident, so this week I’m hoping to take another pound off.

Summary

It’s been a tough week. By the book this is the peak mileage week, and no doubt about it, 37 miles in 3 days, along with a mammoth tempo run has been a challenge. The Bramley 20 took far more out of me than I expected, and its been a psychologically (and physically of course) tough 14 days of getting back to where I was. But now, 2 weeks later, I feel like things are back on the up.

Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see a strong push back into overload – that’s a good thing. In previous campaigns I feel I’ve started cruising at about this stage. I want to keep the intensity up and improve every bit I can ahead of the big day so I can ht that ambitious target.

It’s the end of the Lactate Threshold + Endurance mesocycle. The mileage has stopped ramping up, and its now going to be all about sharpening up and building on that base.

I have some mild concerns about my knee, but I’m going to keep strengthening it, and hopefully after a rest day on Monday it will improve.

The big event of next week is my practice half at Silverstone. I’m hoping for a good fast time, 88.xx at the very least and if I can taper in well enough, 87.xx would be dreamland.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Thursday Rest 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Switch to Thursday to give myself the rest day closer to the practise race.
Friday 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest
Saturday 8-15k Tune Up Race 3m Recovery
Sunday 17m Long Silverstone Half Marathon No good practise races here on Saturdays!
Total Mileage ~52m 42m