Category Archives: Virgin Money London Marathon 2017

Race Report: Virgin Money London Marathon 2017

It’s been 3 months since I ran the Virgin Money London Marathon. I didn’t want to blog it straight away, as I wanted some time to reflect on it and write objectively about my experience as a whole and only now do I feel recovered and refreshed enough to do it. I did want to do it sooner than this though, I blame my expert procrastination skills!

It’s been a dream of mine to run London ever since I started running. My “Mission GFA” was designed to enable me to run a qualifying time, after many unsuccessful ballot entries. When I was drawn at our club ballot to be awarded our “club place” it was a dream come true! And I spent the next 6 months furiously planning my visit and of course training to ensure I had the best possible experience.

I documented my training extensively right up until race weekend. So lets pick up where I left off.

Saturday

The most important part of the London Marathon experience is attending the expo. Primarily because this is where you register and pick up your number and timing chip – so without attending you can’t run! But for the first timer the expo is a chance to experience an overwhelming buzz of nervous anticipation mixed with commercial advertising.

The Expo was held at London’s Excel arena as it is every year – a popular exhibition centre just off the DLR. Our hotel literally looked over the Excel which was very handy, though as we were travelling from Mile End parkrun we needed to take the DLR to get there anyway.

I’d been to the expo before when Jodie ran London in 2015, but returning to collect my own registration was an exciting and slightly emotional experience. For so long I’d worked towards running London, and when I finally picked up that race packet I could finally relax – I knew I was going to make it to the start line.

After getting my number I went through to get my timing chip – which you get to keep, unusually. But it’s a nice memento of your run as its London Marathon 2017 branded.

After collecting my number, I was into the expo proper – the arena was filled with rows and rows of stands of mainly retailers, but also other races trying to recruit you to attend their events. There were plenty of opportunities to grab freebies, leaflets and “tat”, as well as photo/video opportunities. I made the most and got fully into the swing of things. After all, we had all day!

Some of the highlights for me were the New Balance video, the official London Marathon photo spots and also meeting the guys at Fitness Rewards including Jenna, who sold us our life insurance policy. I had a go on their agility game – I was pretty woeful though!

We left the expo at about lunchtime and headed back to our hotel where our room wasn’t quite ready. So we had lunch in the lobby, chilling out until check in time. It seems the hotel were understaffed, as no-ones rooms were ready for when it was advertised. We eventually got in at about 4 and spent the time chatting to a nice lady from Edinburgh who was also doing her first London Marathon.

When we eventually got to our room I made my final kit check and obligatory kit photo before chilling out in our room.

In the evening we procured some hearty Italian fare (I ate a lot more than I needed) which arrived stupidly early – we were expecting it at 7 as we requested on Just Eat, and it arrived at 6! Then we met Marcus and Pippa for a drink in the evening – once we worked out they WEREN’T in the same hotel as us like we thought!

We headed to bed to watch some rubbish on TV and I set my alarm, drifting off to sleep at about 10. Not too bad considering how nervously excited I was.

Pre Race

I woke up, naturally very excited about the day that lay ahead. My prior preparation meant that I had plenty of time to get ready, as my kit was all laid out nicely. I put the hot water in my porridge pots (I had 3 of them…) and got in the shower to freshen up. I was awake, raring to go.

We loaded up our bags and checked I could get it in my official kit bag – success! But then a rather lovely spanner was thrown in the works – we won the hotel’s marathon prize draw! We were awarded a hamper of goodies, which contained energy bars, Lucozade, a fit ball, a pedometer, sweets and all sorts of other bits and bobs. It was brilliant – if only we didn’t have to try and fit it in with all of our existing stuff and have Jodie carry it around London! We had to remove all the packaging from everything, but we eventually managed to make it fit.

We went to meet Marcus and Pip and headed to the DLR station. Marcus said his goodbyes as he was meeting the club later to go to the cheering spots they’d organised, so Pip was in our capable hands.

We were nervously chatting on the DLR journey to Cutty Sark station, on a carriage with a few other runners and supporters. What surprised me was how quiet it was – I was expenting a lot more activity, but then again I guess it was quite early still. As we left the station we walked past the Cutty Sark ship – they were getting it ready for the swarms of people that would be cheering here – it’s one of the most popular points on the course. It was a bit quieter when we got this snap than it would be later! I was already picturing how it would feel running past this after 10k. My nervous anticipation was already building.

We walked towards Greenwich Park. I made a slight cock up with the directions, but we got there in the end, heading up the hill toward the start zones. There isn’t a race like it with start zones like London. So many people all gathering to fulfil their ambitions after months of long hard training – there was such an amazing buzz.

We had arranged a meeting point to get a club photo at the start and almost everyone made it! It was fantastic to share the experience with my club mates, all of whom had gone through their own journeys to get here. We were all raring to go!

Then, I had another great surprise. Race day was also the day of our nephews birthday party.  So there weren’t any plans for the in-laws to come and watch. But just as we were about to head to the start area, my father in law Robin came strolling across the field! He’d gotten the early train and come all across London, just to see me and wish me luck. It was a really touching thing for him to do and I can’t express how much that meant to me. It really gave me an amazing boost and I am so thankful that he came.

Then after a few “good luck” and “all the best” to everyone, we went our separate ways! At London, there are 3 start zones. Green, Red which is mainly charity runners (and that’s where most of the club had to start) and Blue was for Ballot and Club Places ran from, so I headed to Blue with Steve Vellacott. It was Steve’s first ever marathon, but you wouldn’t have thought it – he was as cool and calm as you like. I remember on my first in Paris – I was a nervous wreck in the start pen! We had a wander around, and I grabbed a coffee to get a caffeine boost (It was free which I didn’t realize!)

The start areas were so well organised and with so much space it was a really nice place to make final preparations. The weather was lovely and bright with little breeze, and listening to the theme tune and other announcements over the tannoy, I really felt part of it now – I was finally experiencing the London Marathon! Before long we were making last toilet visits and depositing our bags.

Speaking of bags, mine almost didn’t get checked in…. Bulging with swag from the raffle, I tried squeezing it in the provided polythene bag and ended up splitting it slightly! Luckily I was able to tie it up and get it on the truck.

I then cracked open my banana, said goodbye to Steve, and we headed to the start pens. It was starting to get very real.

I was fortunate enough to be in zone 3, so very close to the front. I was quite surprised how small the pens were. They did a great job of getting the right paced runners into small enough groups. I had a short warm up and then stood near the front of the pen. People were talking about their sub-3 ambitions and I felt a bit out of place but I thought, sod it. I’ve worked hard and I’m going to stand where I bloody well like!

Before long we were ushered forwards, slowly came around a roundabout, and there I was – I could see the start gantry about 40 meters in front of me. I was literally ON the start line – I felt so fortunate. The emotion really started to set in now, and I gulped. Despite not being religious I looked to the sky.

How was the heat going to affect me?

Have I trained enough?

Is my race plan was suicidal?

But it was a bit late now. They called the elites names. Then the gun went. We were off!

The Race

In the short walk to cross the start line, I gulped down a gel and reviewed my plan. 7 minute miling. Simple. Don’t get carried away through the first downhill 5k, get to Tower Bridge and review.

I quashed my nerves, and by the time I crossed the line I had my game face on – a smile! Finally a lifelong ambition was being realized. Time to enjoy it!

The first 3 miles were an absolute whirlwind. Despite being in a “faster” group near the front, the amount of congestion was still crazy. I found myself having to tread very carefully, especially in the first mile. Looking back I can see that my biggest mistake came after the 1st mile. I ran it in 7.08, which was a little slower than target (Only 4 seconds… but in my head I thought that was too much) and I ended up trying to claw it back over the next 2 miles – especially as the course was due to get MORE congested once the red start joined our course. This resulted in a 6.55, which was EXACTLY what I wanted, but then came the damage… Mile 3 in 6.34. It was downhill granted, but just the same that was too quick.

I hadn’t really taken much in at this point, but somewhere along here I could see the back of Rob Deering – host of the “Running Commentary” podcast which I listen to religiously. I’d heard what his race plans were on the show, and given that I’d just banged in a 6.34 mile I knew that was not in his plan! So I said “Bit quick? Love the show!”. He said thanks and I continued on my merry way. At this stage I felt comfortable and strong – but of course, you are supposed to – there was still 23.2 miles to go!

At mile 4 or so we ran through Charlton and saw the R4T cheer squad. I gave them a big wave – it was great to see them there, so many had come to experience marathon day as a spectator – and even spectating is a special experience. Thank you to all you guys who came to cheer us on.

Around here my gel strategy commenced. I planned to take a Gu every 4 miles (It’s my tried and tested fuelling method) so took one on just in time to see Jodie, my mum, stepdad and brother! That was another nice lift.

It was around here that I really noticed it was getting warmer. The sun was forecast to be sunny spells but mostly cloudy. I’d not seen any clouds yet, it was very sunny and I could feel myself sweating more than I’d have liked.

Before long we were rounding the 10k point and the cheers became deafening – Cutty Sark really is everything they say it is! A real spectator hotspot and an amazing experience.

After Cutty Sark I did a quick time check. I was definitely up on pace by about a minute thanks to a 6.43, a 6.48, a 6.57. Definitely too fast. I knew I was ahead and I just wanted to sustain my pace now. I thought if I could get to half way with a minute in the bank I would be OK, so I tried to be a bit more conservative, and spent the next 6 miles hovering around 7s. 6.51, 6.51, 7.00, 7.01, 6.52, 6.56. I seem to recall seeing Lucy and Stephen around this section, but I can;t be sure now looking back.

I wasn’t familiar with Rotherhithe at all, and knew there wasn’t to much to see. I’d pretty much zoned out focussing on trying to stay relaxed, thinking about my cadence and form.

I also remember Jimbob catching me up. Jim is a multiple sub-3 marathoner, so when he passed me I had an inkling I was going too fast. We had a brief chat, and he said just to run it out til you get to 20 and see what I had left. I then let him go ahead of me. Its amazing to think when you have 40,000 runners in the same race  of runners with different abilities from 3 different starts that you end up running with someone you know!

After 12 miles you start thinking about Tower Bridge. It’s an iconic part of the marathon and running over it was really special. I heard my name halfway across and saw James Parrot cheering me on. How I heard him I don’t know, there was so much noise! I didn’t realize until I was headed toward the bridge, that the drag towards it is ever so slightly uphill. That was a bit of a warning sign that my legs were tiring, as I felt the slope a lot more than I should have done. I thought I was prepared for it though, and I went through halfway in 1.31.05. That was a minute and a half too fast. Again, I convinced myself that this was “time in the bank” whilst still acutely aware that my legs were starting to diminish.

Running towards the Isle of Dogs I tried to get things back under control by staying closer to my target pace of 7.04. Miles 13-16 were 6.54, 6.53, 6.54, 6.55 – the model of consistency – but too bloody quick! Looking back now I wonder what the hell was going on in my head… Why didn’t I slow down?!

It was around here I saw Jodie and my family again. Great timing! I still felt OK but knew it was on a knifed edge now. Big smiles again for them as I trotted around the Isle.   By the time I saw them again at around mile 19-20, my smile had dropped and it was my real game face.

Liam still found time to expertly time a boomerang though!

I was just about hanging on to my target pace. Before long I came across 20 mile marker. That’s supposed to be a big boost as there is only 10k to go – but it didn’t feel that way to me.

At this stage I was telling myself “One mile at a time”, and that worked until I passed the corner around the 21 mile mark. The R4T cheer squad was around about here and I was grimacing – Dave shouted “It’s all mental from here” and I felt like shouting “That’s not what my fu*king legs are thinking!!” but I just mumbled “I can’t do it!”.

By the time 22 came along, I couldn’t hold on any more, and I had to walk. Just as I started walking, I saw Fred Fox. He tried his best to get me going, but I was suffering. I managed to start running again, butthe next couple of miles I was run walking. Everything below the waist hurt and I was just so hot.

At around 24 miles or so, I came to an absolutely standstill and had to lean against the railings. I felt broken. The supporters were amazing and offered me jelly babies and water which I gladly took. The encouraged me to keep going, and I did.

The embankment is supposed to be one of the biggest highlights of the marathon, and I was looking forward to running along it feeling comfortable and soaking up the atmposhere pushing on for glory  but it wasn’t like that for me. For me it was a painful, humbling experience and I was crying for small parts of it. Partly due to the pain, but mostly because the “good for age” time I had trained so hard for was disappearing before my very eyes, and I just didn’t have it in me to claw it back.

I had to have a good word with myself and tell myself to “man up”. I had less than 2 miles to go and I just needed to put one foot in front of the other and enjoy the rest of it. And that’s what I did.

Running towards Big Ben I stopped worrying about my pace and just waved to the crowds and took in the atmosphere. It was magnificent. I heard an almighty “Come on Matt” from the Grandstand and there was James Gibbons – wow what a pair of lungs he has!! It was EXACTLY what I needed.

Video of that can be found here. Thanks for getting it on film, Holly, and thanks for lifting my spirits James.

Birdcage Walk was a tough slog but I knew the end was in sight. Those infernal “800m to go!” signs weren’t coming quick enough, but I dug deep and rounded the corner under the “385m to go!” gantry. It was the Mall. I could see the finish, so I gave it all I had left, looking around, clapping to the supporters and put in the best “sprint” I could muster and just before the finish line a shot of cramp ran up my leg! I stumbled but crossed the line in an official time of 3.08.43.

There is a video of me finishing here.

As I turned around and looked back down the mall and saw everyone behind me crossing the line. I had done it, I had completed the London Marathon!

It was a strange mix of emotions. I fulfilled a lifetime ambition, setting a 5 minute PB, running a time I should have been really proud of. Most of the people in the race would have been pleased with a 3.08. But my target had been 3.05 so I could run this wonderful event again.

It took many weeks for me to reconcile those two things in my head, but I reached that sense of pride eventually. I collected my medal, a wry smile on my face and got my bag before calling Jodie.

We met, and with my mum, step dad and brother had a celebratory drink in Green Park. They were so proud of me and did a brilliant job of lifting my spirits.

It was the best race of my life… But I have unfinished business and I’m not giving up on Good for Age just yet.

Analysis

It’s only now I can look back objectively and try and understand what went “wrong”. As you can tell, going out too fast and sustaining a face faster than target was a big factor. It was only a few seconds per mile, but I guess when you are running on the very edge of your capabilities, this can have a massive effect.

It was pleasing that despite a detonation in the last 10k the slowest mile I ran was only 8.17.

The heat though transpired to be the biggest factor. I underestimated how much of an effect it would have.  I found out after the race was that Neil and Jason – both sub-3 marathoners – also struggled on the day.  So when I put my run into context, it wasn’t so bad after all.

Looking at my heart rate, it was very much under control – all in the right heart rate zone.

Its when I consider all of this, I really don’t think i could have prepared any better. This was the best I could do on that course, on that day, in those conditions. If the conditions were slightly more favourable…. who knows.

According to the results, I finished in the top 7% of the field and in the top 11% of men. In spite of my detonation, over the last 7.2k I still overtook more people than I was passed by.

Looking back, I am now very proud of my performance.

Strava Activity.

Summary

The London Marathon really is the greatest race in the world and I am so proud to have completed it. I need to thank the following people.

  • Mum and John, who came to support on the day. They looked after Ivy when we were in Yeovil and both Jodie and I needed to train. It really was invaluable.
  • Liam, for coming to support and enjoying some support beers
  • Trish, for looking after Ivy when we needed to train and taking care of here on race day
  • Mac, for coming to see me at the start of the race despite how busy your day would be. You supported me throughout my training too.
  • Dave Purchase, for motivation and being a sound pair of ears for me
  • Running for Time, for being the best club, and to everyone from the club who came to support and run.
  • Jodie – for literally EVERYTHING.
  • And of course little Ivy.

Virgin Money London Marathon: Training Analysis

Well, I’ve started writing this in week 16 and will edit it right up until it eventually gets posted – and I’m scheduling the post to go out the night before the race so that its not skewed by any potential bias based upon my finishing result.

It’s my 4th time using P&D and I’ve had somewhat mixed resuts in the past. In 2015 I ran Manchester, and ran a 40 minute PB. That doesn;t tell the whole story though – I cramped a lot in the last few miles and had to do some walking in the last few miles. I attribute this to a decent amount of goal creep in the build up to the race – a 40 minute PB shows that I improved a lot during a 1 year period, but I really didn’t have a good handle on how just how much. I went out too fast, and paid the price in the last few miles. It was a PB, but later it was discovered the course was short – so it actually wasn’t a PB at all as I hadn’t completed the distance, but sill a good yardstick. I couldn’t attribute that issue at the end to the training regime.

Manchester 2016 was a lot better, not to mention the course was accurately measured. Same training plan, different result. I managed a 3.13 after a difficult year plagued by plantar fasciitis. To come away with a sub-3.15 was massive to me. Yes, the last 6 miles were tough and I did slow measurably, but it was nothing compared to 2015. I felt like the training plan had really played it’s part here thanks to being able to spend the autumn of 2015 re building my base mileage.

Bournemouth 2016 in was a different story. Training started well but was always destined to fail. In the middle of the training we moved house (relocating 60 miles up the road) and had a baby. There was an awful lot of upheaval and I suffered from the lack of consistency, sleep and mental change that this brought on.

So we have a pattern. Manchester 2015, bad (ish). Manchester 2016 good. Bournemouth 2016 bad (worse than that – horrific). And now, London 2017. By the pattern it should be good, but its not about the pattern. Its about how well the training went, and for this spring campaign, it really has gone better than ever.

I seem to have coped with the volume much better than previously. My General Aerobic runs have been faster, as have my medium-long and Long runs. This was deliberate – I wanted to condition my legs to handle the fatigue better, by running faster for longer and it seems to have worked. The major test being the Bramley 20 back in February, where I was able to maintain my target marathon pace for the full 20 miles. This was so pleasing and provided a great indicator that training was going well.

More than this though, despite the long mileage, my legs felt like they recovered better than ever before and I was able to nail more of the quality sessions than I have before, struggling only with a couple of them.

Historically, the sessions I had difficulty with were the long intervals. The 5 x 1k session was particularly difficult, but this was because of my HM PB at Silverstone two days previously. Conversely though, the 3 x 1mi session, which I have always struggled with, went brilliantly this year at a pace I would have DREAMED of last year.

Threshold sessions have always been difficult for me. There was one in particular when I was in Birmingham that I just could not maintain. But this was 9 days after my Bramley 20 race. My legs felt pretty beat up after it, so that’s hardly surprising.

One pre-training target I didn’t quite hit was a sub 18.30 5k time. I had to “settle” for 18.39 at Blandford, which isn’t too far away! It reminded me that I really hated running a hard 5k! I ran Newbury a few weeks later on a slightly tougher course and only managed 19.09 but where I was in my training, again, I kind of expected it.

The weight loss in this campaign has also been hugely successful. I’ve shifted over a stone and I’m going into the race some half a stone lower than I was for Manchester 2016. If weight really is worth 2 seconds per mile, per pound, I’m not far away from that target pace!

All being said, I’m moving into race day feeling confident. The training has worked. I know I can run the pace for 20 miles, and I know the London crowd can carry me home.

I’m ready.

 

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 18 of 18

I can hardly believe that tomorrow I am running the London Marathon – finally fulfilling an ambition I have held for a long time… certainly long before I started even running. It’s an event that I always watched on the TV as a youngster and even as a young man thinking that the distance would be impossible for me to achieve. Now I look forward to my fifth crack at the distance at the course I’ve always wanted to run. I am buzzing with excitement!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest  Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 5m Recovery 6m Recovery
Wednesday 7m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 6m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 7m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 
Thursday Rest 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Friday 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Total Mileage 22m 19m 21m

 

It’s been a bit of a bizarre week. Not only was the weekend fuelled by Easter Chocolate, I had to take a trip to Copenhagen for work. This meant my Tuesday and Wednesday runs were in Denmark!

Tuesday was a bit odd. I arrived at Copenhagen at about lunchtime, but my Icelandic colleague had his flight delayed, which meant I had to wait in the airport for him. I spent the afternoon working from a coffee shop in the airport, and at the end of the day I changed in the toilet, stored my case in an airport locker and ran my 6 miles recovery from Copenhagen airport! Its certainly one of the more unusual runs I’ve done. It was a bit chilly and I looked a bit daft in my vest, especially when it started snowing! It felt quite tough too, I finished hoping the taper would kick in soon and my legs would start feeling fresh! 

Wednesday I was working in Copenhagen and had to fly back in the evening. This meant my 7m race rehearsal needed to be EARLY. I hate running that early in the morning, but the need called for it. It all adds to mental toughness I guess. It also doesn;t hekp that I didn’t know the area, so I had to use Strava to try and work out a route the night before. It ended up as a long flat out and back, which suited me as it meant I didn’t need to think about it. Again, my legs still weren’t feeling match fit… Is it going to all fall apart at the last minute?! 

On Thursday I ran a 5 mile recovery run with strides. The book said I should have run this on Friday, but it was going to be such a crazy day getting ready for London, Thursday was the better choice. The ran went well and I felt nimble on the Strides. Finally something positive! 

Finally on Saturday it was expo day – We decided to travel to London good and early and take in a 3 mile recovery parkrun close to the expo. This meant we’d be right by our hotel AND the expo so we could visit it “parkrun fresh”, though we hoped that the hotel would allow us an early check in. We decided to go to Mile End parkrun as it was nearby and there were lockers we could keep our stuff in during the run. It was a nice easy run and just wanted to keep the legs moving and have a good stretch afterwards. 

Summary

Well that’s it! The hard work is done. The easy work is done too. My legs feel OK but I’m neither nervous nor confident… It’s a strange kind of feeling really. I’m sure when I get to the expo that the excitement will really set in. 

Training has gone really well, and I’ve set PBs at all distances I’ve raced.

Now I just need to man up and do it. 

Sub 3.05. Bring it on. 

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 17 of 18

If you read the literature, everyone says that you should avoid any undue stress in the last few weeks before a marathon… chance would be a fine thing! With the 16 weeks previous being a metronomic picture of training consistency, week 17 has been flying by the seat of my pants.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest  Rest
Tuesday 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) Rest
Wednesday 8m (3 x 1m Intervals) Rest 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Thursday Rest 8m (3 x 1m Intervals) 7m (3 x 1m Intervals)
Friday 5m (6 x 100m Strides) Rest Rest
Saturday Rest 5m (6 x 100m Strides) 5m (6 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 12m Medium-Long 12m Medium-Long 12m Medium-Long
Total Mileage 32m 32m 31m

On Tuesday I was meant to run… but I had a last minute request for work to go to Reading in the morning. This put back the whole day, which meant I didn’t end up having any time prior to the club AGM. So instead, it was Wednesday before I ran my 7 miles with 8 strides. The extra rest day really helped – my legs felt amazing, and the run was very comfortable. I even managed probably the fastest complete set of strides I’ve ever managed. This was very encouraging!

This meant I missed the rest on Wednesday and went back-to-back on Thursday with 7 miles and 3 x 1m Intervals. The book wanted 8, but I wanted to drop the mileage a little farther this week so cut it down just a tad, and made for a simple 2 mile warm up/down. I’ve always struggled with this session in the past. This time, I really nailed it. Some great reps, just a shame the last wasn’t a smidge quicker – but there were some obstacles slowing me down! Finished feeling like I’d had a good workout, but didn’t feel too battered. The taper may just be working!

On parkrunday we stayed close to home as I was still working on a DIY project I needed to be home for. Got in my 5 miles with strides. Got some funny looks as I was switching between 8m/m and then sprinting off at sub-5 pace! Good session though, with some super speedy strides.

Sunday was the last “long” run, 12 mile medium-long. My legs were still VERY sore from all the DIY which meant it was a lot tougher than it should have been. I really would have liked for it to be a real easy confidence builder. Not to be! I ran a decent pace though, and even managed to grab a CR on a segment I’ve had my eye on for a while.

Summary

 

Welll that’s pretty much it! All that’s left is a few recovery runs and a rehearsal run. I’m writing this on Easter Monday, full of chocolate. I’m off to Copenhagen tomorrow morning for work and will soend the next 5 days eating very clean as a last minute boost to self confidence. Before I know it, I’ll be at the expo!

Looking at my “Fitness Trend” I’m about where I need to be. With 6 days to go, I’m hoping my remaining runs keep me where I am at and let my legs freshen up.

And here’s what I’ll be doing next week!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 5m Recovery  Just a minor mileage reduction
Wednesday 7m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace) 6m General Aerobic (2m Marathon Pace)  Just a minor mileage reduction
Thursday Rest 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Friday 5m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery  Just a minor mileage reduction
Sunday VMLM 2017 VMLM 2017
Total Mileage 22m (Pre-race!) 19m (Pre-race!)

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 16 of 18

Heading into the first week of the taper, I felt quite lucky that my legs didn’t feel TOO shot to pieces. On the contrary in fact, they felt pretty strong just fatigued from the mileage. All my joints felt pretty good and I was hopeful that taper madness would remain at bay.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest  Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Thursday Rest 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest
Friday 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) Rest 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Saturday 8k-15k Tune-up race Newbury parkrun Newbury parkrun
Sunday 16m Medium-long 16m Medium-long 16m Medium-long
Total Mileage ~39m 37m 37m

A common mistake in tapering is  that people reduce volume AND  intensity, and I think that means your legs lose that sharpness the last 4 months of training have given you. No chance of that with a P&D schedule, with week 16 starting the same way week 14 did – 8 miles with 5 x 600m Intervals. These short sharp intervals are great for speed. Week 14 was tough. This week, I felt much stronger. I decided to try and remain as relaxed and comfortable as I could from the start, rather than going all out. And the results were pretty pleasing, with a royal flush progression of paces, running them at 5.43, 5.38, 5.35, 5.33 and finishing at 5.25 pace. Best of all, I finished not feeling totally exhausted and the jog back was nice and relaxed. A very enjoyable and very productive session!

Wednesday was a fairly uneventful 6 recovery miles. I ran this early in the morning as I was in Birmingham and not sure when I’d be able to leave the office. I’m not a huge fan of 6am starts but with 17 days until the race I was leaving nothing to chance and missing no planned session!

On Thursday I took another trip to Andover Therapy, where Martin gave my legs a good rub down. There were definitely some tight areas so I’m glad I went. When I left he said he was happy with my legs that they were ready and raring to go!

When I originally wrote my training plan I switched the book’s Friday run to Thursday, so I could feel fresher for Saturday’s tune-up parkrun. But when I PBed at Blandford, I kept the run on Friday… So I did the same this week too. I rested Thursday, so Friday I ran 4 miles with 6 strides. I really went for the pace with the strides, and I’m glad I did – I managed the fastest strides I think I’ve ever managed. Just the sort of sharpener I wanted ahead of a 5k PB attempt in the morning.

Come Saturday, I didn’t quite feel ready for a tilt at a PB, but we headed to Newbury parkrun anyway. I gave it everything I could but finished in 19.09 for 5th place. I would have liked a sub-19 but it wasn’t to be. Previously I thought this was avery flat course (which it largely is) though there are a couple of inclines which I’ve always told people are not hills. After Saturday, I’ve changed my mind! They definitely are! The course measured a bit long and Blandford measured a bit short, so I reckon I’m in similar shape if not better if I take the hills into account. Looking at HR couldn’t have given it any more! It served its purpose in the context of my training. The first mile was a blinder (Fastest ever, according to Strava). Mile 2 was slower but I was on pace, but mile 3s climbs are what killed it off.

I woke up on Sunday feeling VERY achey. I’d spent most of saturday doign DIY laying a laminate floor and other odd jobs. I stretched muscles I didn;t realise I had, though I’m not sure it counts as cross training! I headed out on my long run targeting 7.45 pace. It started well until about 5 miles in when the tummy cramos started. This resulted in 5 miles of start stop until I managed to get to Asda to use the facilities. By then, I’d stiffened right up and the last 6 miles were really tough. But its in the bank – though I finished wondering how the hell I’d manage another 10 miles on top of that AND 45s per mile faster! But in the training I must trust.

Weight

Weight wise not so good this week, put on a pound. But with a weekend away for Jodies Marathon it wasn’t surprising and I’m not concerned. if I can lose that pound back before the race then great. If I can’t then I’m still significantly lighter than last year.

Summary

I’m through the first taper week unscathed, after 2 very tough runs. I have 1 real “session” left to do next week on Thursday and then thats it! I can’t believe we are only 2 weeks away. Maranoia hasn’t kicked in yet and I hope that it won’t!

Next weeks plan:

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 8m (3 x 1m Intervals)  Rest
Thursday Rest  8m (3 x 1m Intervals)
Friday 5m (6 x 100m Strides)  Rest
Saturday Rest  5m (6 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 12 Medium-long  12 Medium-long
Total Mileage 32m  32m

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 15 of 18

Week 15 signals the last week of tough training and it means I can pull the party poppers – I’m tapering! Peak mileage week and on the whole I could tell… I’ve been very tired this week and have had a very hectic work week. My legs are definitely ready for a mileage reduction!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals) 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals) 10m (4 x 1200m Intervals)
Thursday  Rest Rest 11m Medium-long Moved to Thursday so not to run back to back long runs
Friday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 22m Long  22m Long Needed to move to Saturday as supporting Jodie and Manchester on Sunday
Sunday 20m Long 5m Recovery  5m Recovery Switched from Sunday
Total Mileage 52m 55m

Tuesday was very unusual. I had to be in Lewes, Sussex for 10am, and back ready for a birthday dinner at 6pm. The intention was, due to the early start I would get home and do this run at lunchtime. But then last thing Monday, I was diverted to work in Hook on the way home in the afternoon which meant I wouldn’t have time to squeeze it in. So I had to do it first thing, and didn’t want to get up and run at 5am. So instead, I got up at 5am, drove for 2+ hours to Lewes, then did my run – at least I was 2 hours awake. I had to have a wet wipe shower but as it was only 7  miles recovery with 6 strides I didn’t work too hard. The strides were more for form than speed and really felt my stride was lengthening as the reps went on.

On Wednesday I was due for 10 miles, with 4 x 1200m intervals. Originally I was going to do this at lunchtime and go to the track, but work took over so I wasn’t able to. So I had to run in the evening and the intervals were on cycle path. I did them out and back, and the “out” was slightly uphill. The first 2 I managed to maintain a decent pace, but by the time I got to the third, my legs were swimming in lactic and felt like dead weights. I think the first 2 were too fast, which meant the second 2 had a few pauses. Considering how tired I was it wasn’t too bad. it got me thinking though… back when I was a bit slower, running 6.45-paced intervals when I was a 7 min/m 5k PB, that 15s was quite manageable. Running 15s per mile faster than 6.05 pace is a different story – the faster you get the tighter the margins, especially on longer intervals. I think if I had run 5.59s (5s faster than 5k) I probably could have maintained and would have been a more helpful session. Still, you live and learn!

Friday’s 11m Medium-long was bumped to Thursday – It was Manchester Marathon weekend which meant I needed to get my 22 in on Saturday – so I thought better of it running 11 then 22 without a rest day between! It was understandably tough, mainly because I ran it faster than it needed to be. But with the 22 scheduled to be slower than usual (concentrating on time on feet) and with Wednesdays intervals being a bit off, I thought it important to get a decent run in. Averaging 7.29 (GAP average 7.23) I think I accomplished that! A good boost after a couple of tough days.

As it was Manchester Marathon weekend for Jodie, I needed to do my last long run on Saturday. 22 miles in 3h05, so I could just spend the same amount of time on my feet as I hope to in London. I set off at 7am and ran between Andover and Basingstoke. It was a really locely route, with plenty of hills and lots of nice country views and running through villages. It was a great experience, one I will definitely do again! The HR monitor must have been playing up, as it was a very comfortable run, much easier than the HR monitor suggests.

As I mentioned, Jodie ran Manchester Marathon on Sunday. She’s had some injury setbacks in the last couple of months and it was touch and go if she was going to run, but I think she is glad she did. She ran with her friend Lucy on what turned out to be a very warm day. From what I saw, the event had significant improvements. The race village was expanded over a wider area, the start was more organised and the trams seemed to run a bit better. I think its a great event. Jodie and Lucy ran a fantastic 4.33, a PB for Lucy. I am very proud of Jodie for such an amazing accomplishment especially as she only gave birth 8 months ago. I just ran my uneventful 5 mile recovery when we got back!

Weight

After a weekend and a bit of eating pretty much crap, I wasn’t expecting to lose… in fact I wasn’t going to weigh myself because I thought it would be a gain! So I was pleasantly surprised to weigh in at 13st 9lbs, a 1lb drop for the week!

It looks like I may not quite meet my target – if I lose 1lb per week I’d reach 13st 6lbs. So it will take a week of really big effort to try and get a 2 pounder… However, even if I ran at the weight I am today, I would still be very happy. I’m going to try really hard this week to be good. The high mileage will drop so I need to be careful anyway, and hopefully with less mileage I’ll experience less hunger!

Summary

Well thats it then! The last big weeks training. I’m moving into the taper phase and I’m feeling pretty good. Getting through this week, with the long runs and long intervals, relatively unscathed gives me a lot of confidence. Time for the volume to reduce but I need to remember to keep the intensity up.

My fitness trend this week is a bit skewed by a couple of activities with dodgy heart rate readings. Not much I can do about it now anyway, I’m going to trust my taper and see how well the trend correlates to how I feel as my legs gradually find their way back to me!

Next weeks plan- a piece of cake compared to previous weeks!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (5 x 600m Intervals) 8m (5 x 600m Intervals)
Wednesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 4m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Saturday 8-15k Tune-up race Poole parkrun
Sunday 16m Long 16m Long
Total Mileage ~40m 37m

 

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

 

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