Tag Archives: Advanced Marathoning

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 8 of 18

Off the back of a fantastic 20 miler, my slightly weary legs entered week 8 on the back foot. On the plus side, the evenings were getting slightly lighter and some evenings I was able to head out and run the first 20 minutes or so in some actual daylight!

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 (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Thursday Rest Rest Rest
Friday 10m (6m Lactate Threshold) 10m (6m Lactate Threshold) 10m (6m Lactate Threshold)
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 20m Long 22m Long 22m Long
Total Mileage 54m 56m 56m 4m increase on previous week

First run of the week was 7 miles at recovery pace with a set of 6 strides. Kept it very easy indeed for the recovery and just casually trotted along. It felt very comfortable indeed considering Sunday’s effort. The strides felt GREAT. I maintained good form and a long stride and this was rewarded with a great pace. Felt really strong and finished feeling fantastic.

Wednesday’s 12 mile medium-long run wasn’t quite as straightforward. I went out and felt comfortable but after a few miles, the fatigue from Sunday really kicked in. I found it really tough to maintain the target pace, my legs body and mind felt a bit empty. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I picked up Ivy’s chesty cough so was under the weather. By the time it got to mile 9, I realised I needed to put a real shift in to bring the average pace down. So I dug in and had a fast finish. It felt pretty decent to be able to dig in when I needed it but felt battered when I finished.

Unusually, this week had Thursday as a rest day, as Friday had another Lactate Threshold session, so you need a day off between the two. I was dreading it. 10 miles with 6 at Lactate Threshold was going to be tough, especially considering how badly my last threshold run went (and was a mile shorter) and how I felt finishing up on Wednesday. I went out for the first 2 easier than last time, saving myself for the threshold section. Then I needed to stop for a quick wee before the fast part and forgot to pause the watch! So the first lap looks a bit lax – but I did put the effort in, honest! Anyway, as the run progressed it got tougher as it should, but I felt in control all the way through it and even got to the end feeling like I could have done another mile or two. I managed to maintain an average of 6.44 per mile for the threshold part. I finished feeling amazing! It was a massive confidence boost and even in the evening I felt brilliant. Looking back on previous campaigns, I’ve never done this session so well. It can only be an indicator that training is going well!

Saturday was 5 miles recovery and we included Andover parkrun into the mix. The legs were a bit stiff to start off with from Friday’s session, but loosened up after a few miles.

Sunday was 22 miles and I wasn’t looking forward to it, mainly as my threshold run was only on Friday, I felt I may not be properly recovered for it. I procrastinated on going out but eventually did and hit my target pace from the start. Aside from maybe 2 miles they were all sub-8s – bang on target. The first 15 miles were pretty decent, and then at 16-17 I started with some self motivating phrases. The last 2 miles were understandably tough! But that’s the first long run I’ve ever managed at that pace outside of a race. As I write this a few hours after the run, my legs don’t feel TOO bad – but that may change tomorrow! It was a HUGE confidence booster and really do feel like training is going very well now.

Weight

Rather delightfully, I lost a pound which takes me into the 8 stone overall weight loss zone! I weight 13st 13lbs which is 8lbs away from target. I posted more about it here.

Summary

Well this was a tough week, with a midweek 12 miler, a tough threshold and a 22 miler. I feel fantastic though, like I’ve flown through it. My legs are feeling in good shape and I feel like I’m on fire! Looking at the Fitness Trend chart, you can see how the training has affected me – pushing me (just) into the overload zone.

Next weeks plan is a bit different as I am racing a 20 miler on Sunday, which will be a real test as to how training is going. I’m still not sure if I’ll race the 20 (Which I’ll do at target marathon pace) or progress through the first 8 to run the last 12 at MP, which is more in line with what the plan calls for. The following week is a recovery week, but I have REALLY loaded the training this week. I’ll probably make the call on Saturday.

Its my least favourite week of the plan though, thanks to having to run 14 bleeding miles on a Wednesday night! With the race in mind, I’ll probably run that slower than usual, maybe 8.30s a mile rather than 8s.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Wednesday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long
Thursday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 6m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 3m Recovery
Sunday 16m (12m Marathon Pace) Race: Bramley 20 The Bramley 20 is a great tune up race and I’m planning to try and run this at target Marathon pace as a barometer to how training is going.
Total Mileage 48m 49m Reduction to accommodate MP run (Well, Bramley 20)

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 7 of 18

Following on from my first “Recovery Week” came the first week of Mesocycle 2: Lactate Threshold + Endurance. This basically means there’s a LT run every week for the next 5 weeks (Week 3 is actually an MP run so the LT is dropped to focus on that). Basically, everything gets turned up a notch!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Friday Rest
Saturday 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 18m Long 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage 50m 52m 52m 6 mile increase on highest week so far.

Well I had hoped going into my 10 miles with 5 at Threshold that the recovery week might have meant I was in good shape to run a decent session. Alas not! The threshold section was very broken with lots of pauses. I just couldn’t maintain the pace. I came away feeling pretty disappointed, but on reflection there were a number of contributing factors – the main one being the fact I’d had next to no sleep as we had a poorly little girl. I lost the psychological battle with the session the morning before too. Driving up to our Coleshill office, I was worrying about the route I was taking, if it would be flat, and then questioning if maybe I should go to a gym to do it on a treadmill… all the while really NOT being up for it due to tiredness. Anyway, it was the first bad run of the campaign, which 7 weeks in isn’t so bad.

If I then look at the same run last year I was still ahead of it by about 10 seconds per mile and I struggled a bit last year too. Also, I still managed the required distance and pace, getting my HR up where it needed to be. Will chalk it down to experience and try again next week!

As Tuesday was so tough, I opted to keep my 4 mile recovery nice and light… at least that’s what I intended. It felt very comfortable but was faster than it should have been. What a difference a good nights sleep makes!

One of the “highlights” of this Mesocycle is the midweek medium-long run. Ranging from 11-14 miles I don’t enjoy these as after a long day at work going running for 90 minutes plus isn’t the best when you have a family! Thankfully my wife is amazing so puts up with me doing such stupid things. This week was 11 miles, and I was trying to keep my pace at a sub 8 minute average, which I achieved. It was difficult pacing it, as my GPS had a right wobbler… The first mile put me at starting in totally the wrong place! Still the effort was solid and nothing to complain about.

On parkrunday we went to Black Park parkrun. It’s an event on forestry commission land and I love them! It was billed as a fast and flat course, a single lap squashed figure of 8 (The crossover point is early enough so the first runners don’t have to cross over the pack). We got there a bit late and couldn’t stick around either, but the biggest shocker was the parking was £2.50 for all day – and there wasn’t an option for a half day, or even a couple of hours! Not to mention the machine didn’t take notes and was not “RingGo” either, so the father-in-law dropped me off so I could run my session while he and Jodie went to make change!

My session was 7 miles General Aerobic with 8 strides. I managed to squeeze in 2 and a bit miles before the start of the event, which meant my strides started in the last 400 metres. I made up a lot of places, and I’m sure some folks were wondering what the hell I was up to! Then I ran the rest immediately after. I felt I ran the session a bit hard, as my recoveries got progressively slower! I was worried I’d suffer during the next days 20 miler!

Back to the parkrun though, it was pacer day so they had one for every minute from 20-40 I think. The problem was many of the pacers started near the front and not spaced out throughout the (very full) starting area. I started with the 32min pacer and had to fight my way through to the 23 minute pacer over the first mile! It was a very congested first kilometre but after that the field stretched out for a lovely run around the woods. It definitely is a fast course. Would have loved to have stuck around for a coffee but alas had no time. Toilets were available near the start though!

Sunday had me running my first 20 miler of the training plan. This is always a run I DREAD. I know I’m not alone, and that many people find the 20 miler the hardest of any training plan. The advantage to it though, is that when its done it feels like you are that bit closer to the race. I was dreading this even more though, as I had in my mind a target of running this with a sub 8 minute average. I’ve built up my long runs with this pace and figured I’d keep trying to maintain it. The first half felt really ridiculously easy (Aside from the mahoosive hill at mile 3). At about halfway there was another hill and that’s when it started to get difficult. I managed it though and the last few miles were pretty hard, especially with the last being uphill! Took some deep digging mind.

Weight

Given that I was slightly disappointed with last weeks weight loss I came into the week with a renewed vigor to try to bring it back in line. And it worked…

14st exactly – a 5lb loss!

Again, I’m not going to get too excited, I imagine that this will be counteracted by either a smaller loss or no loss at all next week, owing to scales sometimes having funny moments and the body having fluctuations but I’m chuffed with this. It’s my lowest ever recorded weight and a measly 1lb away from reaching 8st total weight loss. I may have a little party if I break that next week!

Anyway, here’s the stats. It shows I’m well on target to reach my desired race weight and if I can keep it up, maybe a 9th stone loss is on the cards?

Summary

It felt great to get through this week. Getting that 20 miler out-of-the-way was a big relief, but the downside to it was my poor threshold effort. Still, there is another one next week to make up for it and given this weeks great weight loss I’m hoping another week will mean I’ll be a bit lighter and be able to really nail that session.

I had expected my fitness trend to have increased following the recovery week last week, but it didn’t really… Not until the 20 miler, which gave it the peak I was expecting!

Now, here’s next weeks plan. Almost the same as the book, but with a chunky looking 22 miler as I like to increase the weekly volume a bit quicker than the book does.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 7m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Thursday Rest Rest
Friday 10m (6m Lactate Threshold) 10m (6m Lactate Threshold)
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 20m Long 22m Long
Total Mileage 54m 56m 4 mile increase on the week

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 6 of 18

Week 6 is a recovery week, so I dialled back the paces along with doing the prescribed lower mileage. This week also marked the end of the “endurance” mesocycle – the first phase of training is officially complete!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)  8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic Part 1 | Part 2
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery parkrun
Sunday 12m Medium Long 12m Medium Long 12m Medium Long
Total Mileage 37m 37m  36m 10m reduction – nearly 25%

I made a conscious decision to run the 8 mile General Aerobic with Strides at a slightly slower pace than I have been as this is intended as a recovery week. My legs were pretty much shot to smithereens after Sunday anyway, so this was quite easy to do! In spite of how my legs felt, I still managed a rapid set of strides, aside from the one which I got a bit lost on. See, I was in Exeter on a route I didn’t really know. it was pitch black and foggy as hell, and my head torch only really lit up about 2 feet in front of me as it just made the fog in the immediate vicinity glow rather than provide any tangible benefit! So when mid-stride I came across a bend/turn I wasn’t expecting, I had to make a not-so-rapid change in direction. Still a solid set.

I also kept my midweek 5 mile recovery run very easy too. I was in my home town and my club had a track session. I went down to the track and just ran laps for 5 miles shooting te breeze with Steve, and anyone else who would listen to my witterings!

Thursday’s 8 mile General Aerobic had to be done at lunchtime de to a complicated travel schedule this week. I ran around the local village at a reduced pace again.

We went to parkrun in Andover as both Jodie and I were having recovery runs, mine was meant to be 4 miles but as it was only a recovery I decided just to run parkrun rather than adding an extra mile. It was a very muddy course this week, and the buggy ended up with big clumps in the mud guards slowing us down!

I went out for Sunday’s 12 mile medium-long with the intention of keeping it nice and relaxed. It started out that way, mainly thanks to the mahoosive Micheldever Road climb (I’m the CR on that one, though it wasn’t today!). After that the weather started to turn a bit and it started raining. That made me very cold thanks to the vest I was wearing! My hands could hardly move so as I was putting my hand up to wave to other runners and cars who were giving me room on country lanes, I ended up putting my whole arm up, bending at the elbow! I ran a bit quicker to warm up!

Weight

Well I stayed the same weight this week. Not bad considering I’ve had a lot of work related travel which always makes it difficult for me to control what I eat. That and a larger than usual loss last week means I’m not concerned and still on track.

Summary

There’s usually little to report on a recovery week, but I noticed/thought about something on Saturday. My legs definitely felt a bit lethargic, in the same way they did in my first taper week for Manchester last year. The reason I thought about it was because that week last year I ran the Cardiff World Half Champs and felt the same way. That’s probably a good thing, that my body really was recovering, but on the other hand I need to step up my game for the next 5 weeks with some seriously tough threshold sessions!

Here’s my fitness trend chart. it looks as though the recovery week has served its purpose and brought me back to that centre-ground ready to push onwards and upwards!

Next week sees my first 20 miler of the campaign!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m (5m Lactate Threshold) 10m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 11m Medium-long 11m Medium-long
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 7m General Aerobic  (8 x 100m Strides) 7m General Aerobic  (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 20m Long 20m Long
Total Mileage 52m 52m 6 mile increase compared to before MP and Recovery week. Big step up!

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 5 of 18

Well week 5 has been a bit of a beast! With a Lactate Threshold run, a marathon paced run, Baltic weather and a lot of travel, I’m not too sure where the time has gone!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace)
Total Mileage 45m 45m 1m less than previous week. Close enough 🙂

I wasn’t looking forward to Tuesday’s 9m with 5 miles Lactate Threshold run. I had to commute 2 hours home from Birmingham and was running from my in-laws house. When I’m doing a session I like to run familiar routes so I can focus on the running (And so I can find some slightly flatter profiles!). This was not one of those routes, so mentally I was already a bit despondent. I forgot my contact lenses and can’t run in my glasses as it makes me dizzy so I couldn’t see very well. AND I headed out with my head torch and didn’t realise the batteries were in a shit state and it was so cold all I could see in front of my was my breath! So I didn’t know sections of the route and could hardly see. Not a good start!

Thankfully though once I got out and found a bit of a rhythm I settled a bit. There were a few dodgy parts where I didn’t see the pavement drop, so I jolted a bit, but thankfully they were infrequent. The lactate section was fine for the first 3 miles or so, then I was faced with an incline. I did expect it, but at LT pace it sent my HR a bit high so I elected to walk a few meters to recover before cracking back on. There was another incline just after 4 miles which I adopted the same strategy for. I paused the watch for these walks.

My splits were good and I was very happy, though I was less happy that I had to walk a bit. Though I am confident that if the profile was flat I would have been able to sustain it. I will make sure when I do the 10 with 5@LT in 2 weeks time I find a flat area to run it on just to ensure I am right!

Average pace for the LT was 6:41 – So a bit faster than McMillan’s 6:50 calculation. However I’m about 5-6 pounds lighter than I was when I ran Newbury parkrun which I based the times on.

Tuesdays session meant I took Wednesday’s 5 mile Recovery at a very leisurely pace. My legs were shot to bits!

The feeling in my legs continued through to Thursday’s 10 mile General Aerobic run. The legs had a bit of a whinge and it was bloody freezing again but got the job done at a pace I was happy with. 7:33 average, 7:26 using GAP. My TRIMP was 143 compared to the 148 I scored for the same session and route last week so that’s encouraging!

We stayed local for parkrun this week, so I ran with the buggy on the Andover Winter Course and ran the 2 miles home  to make up the 5 miles recovery I needed. Legs felt fresh-ish but still wasn’t sure how I’d cope on Sunday… Was nice running with Lucy and Stephen and they came back to ours after for a calorie busting brunch! Not so good for the diet but was good for the rest of the day 🙂

The 16 miles with 10 at Marathon Pace was a bit of a mixed bag. I forgot my water so had to stop in Sainsburys after a mile. The I needed a number 2 so stopped in Tesco at mile 3. Miles 4 and 5 were ballsed up on the GPS so look a bit weird and have a dodgy run track section. Then I had to pause to reset the GPS. The I stopped at 5.5m for my planned water stop. After that the Marathon Paced section was actually pretty good. Had some solid splits bit it was really tough. Tough enough for me to question if I’m actually able to sustain it for 26.2.

On the surface they look pretty good, but I had to pause at the end of my 9th MP mile though when I finished I immediately regretted it. I do think I could have managed, and the clock won’t stop on race day!

On further analysis, using GAP I can actually see that the preceding progression section had some quick GAP miles so I actually managed a lot more at marathon pace than intended, nearly 12 miles – so I shan’t be too downhearted about it.

The average pace for the MP section was 7:01, so on schedule (7:04 is GFA/3:05 pace)

The other thing to consider with this run is that this was done at the end of a tough 5 weeks worth of hard training. I am thankful that I did so well with it and will now look forward to next weeks recovery week!

Weight

I had a great result with my weight loss this week, scoring a 5lbs loss! This either means it was a slight misread this week or last week, as I haven’t burned that big a calorie deficit, but its the long-term view that’s important so as long as the trend of loss keeps heading downwards I’ll be happy!

Weight: 14st 5lbs (-5lbs)
Body Fat %: 22.8% (-1.3%)

So of the 5lbs lost, apparently 4lbs was body fat and I managed to increase my muscle mass and water content! Something not quite stacking up there, but it’s not a zero-sum thing and purely guidance. Basically, I’m chuffed! Well on track.

Now I just need to have another good week. usually after a big loss I relax. I need to power on through and build on the good momentum I’ve got and shoot for another 2lbs next week.

Summary

So all in all a decent week’s training but I am thankful the Marathon Paced run went ok – I was dreading it. Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see again I have managed a sensible training load, and I have increased my fitness score by 2 pints week on week. Everything is headed in the right direction!

Next week is a “Recovery” week. Slight mileage cutback, and will try to ease up the intensities a little just to let the legs recover. I may even swap out Saturday’s recovery for a hard parkrun effort as a bit of a shape test, but we’ll see! Unbelievably next week is the end of the first Mesocycle. When that’s finished only 12 weeks to go, and 9 weeks until the taper!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m General Aerobic 8m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Sunday 12m Medium-long 12m Medium-long
Total Mileage 37m 37m 7 miles less than previous as its a “recovery” week.

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 4 of 18

So week 4 has come and gone and its been a productive week – All my runs went rather well and as I write this on Monday by legs are only feeling slightly fatigued.

This is the last week for which I can’t compare my posts compared to Manchester. I only started blogging in Week 5 for Manchester, so it will be interesting, given that I’m on the same training schedule, how I am feeling week on week compared to back then. Based upon my limited memory I do feel like I am doing better.

Here’s how this week went.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) Rest
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery  5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic  10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest  Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery  5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 15m Medium-long 18m Long  18m Long Build up my long runs faster as already running this distance pre-plan
Total Mileage 42m 46m 2m more than previous week

The first run of the week I moved to Monday. I thought this was OK as Sunday had a Recovery run (As I switched my Long Run to Saturday) and as I was working away it was a better use of my time as it meant when I got back from Birmingham on Tuesday I could spend time with my girls instead.

It was 8 miles General Aerobic with 10 strides toward the end. I’ve always wondered if I should be marking this as a “Workout” and consider it a “session”. It definitely is, especially at the quicker end of my pace range. But I felt fantastic, and one of the strides was at 4:34 minute mile pace! – it was really tough but I felt my legs had the strength to carry me through. I felt really sharp and I could feel the weight loss already helping out. It was a great session.

Upon reviewing what the book says about the Strides it says the recoveries should be easy jogs or walks – I tend to try and stick to my GA pace. I’m not sure why, but I feel like sustaining the effort makes for a better session? I’m not sure if that’s right or not but it’s what I’ve always done, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Thursday was a truly horrific day to go running in. With howling rain and 42mph gusts of wind and snow forecast and 1 decree celsius it was not nice heading out! My limbs and digits were all freezing and I don’t think I warmed up through the run at all. That said, I managed to maintain a very tidy pace and I felt like it was a good run. It had some good climbing in there too which added to the difficulty too.

It’s runs like this, when the conditions are terrible, that are actually the BEST that there are. If you can head out in the worst conditions you develop mental and physical resilience so you know come race day, whatever the weather throws at you, you have faced it before.

On Saturday, Jodie and her Dad were planning on getting their gait analysis done at Reading Sweatshop. So we visited Woodley parkrun. Our second visit there, our last visit was Christmastime 2015 (The Saturday after Boxing day if I recall). It’s a 3 lap course, mostly flat. The weather was clear and crisp and there were 350 finishers – one of them being the Father in law smashing his PB and coming in in 28:50! It wasn’t long ago he was delighted to run around in 33, then 32, then 31 minutes so this is an amazing achievement! Everyone at Woodley was so friendly – Volunteers and runners, it really is a template for everything parkrun can be. We couldn’t stop around for a coffee but have no doubt it would have been excellent!

Sunday saw the longest run since the Bournemouth Marathon, 18 miles. Again, my target was to keep it at just sub-8 minute miling. I’d managed it for my 16 last week, so I hoped I could push through for a bit more distance – and I’m delighted to say I could! Aside from a toilet stop and a water stop I felt very controlled through most of it, with some very consistent splits. The route is a bit tricky as the first half is mostly uphill which meant that the second half was mostly down – I think that helped a lot.

It did get noticeably tougher after 16 miles, which I was expecting. Not so much cardio-wise, but certainly in the legs. But as I got to the end I still felt I had more to give. I finished feeling pretty pleased with myself for both the consistency and the way I was feeling afterwards. Good for the confidence!

Weight

The second week of the diet and its been much tougher than the first. I knew it would be, it always is, and I know if I can get through the next 2 weeks as well then the main cravings will subside and it will be a bit easier to maintain.

My vital stats were:

Weight: 14st 10lbs (-2lbs)
Body Fat %: 24.1% (-0.8%)

Using some basic maths I worked out this meant my entire weight loss was fat which is good! Somehow I’d also gained a little bit of muscle mass too. It is a little less than I had hope, I’d hoped to push into the 3lb loss zone, but its headed in the right direction!

Now I need to consolidate this with another strict week.

Summary

All in all, a very good week and I’m feeling very pleased. My legs are feeling a bit tired, so I am thankful of the rest day today (Monday) though I’m not sure how my legs are going to react for a Threshold run on tuesday (See below) but just like with every run, I’ll give it all I’ve got. No pain no gain!

Looking at my Fitness Trend I can see I have had a reasonably loaded week, though my Long Run didn’t affect me as much as it did last week, according the the data.

Now, I know I felt comfortable for the whole run but the Heart Rate data does seem a bit low. it was a very wet run, and I’m not sure if that had an effect. On the other hand, my long run was actually on the Sunday rather than jamming it in on a Saturday so had a bit more recovery for it – The week previous was Threshold Run/Rest Day/Long Run which could also explain it. More great examples of why StravistiX is awesome!

Next Week

For the first time this cycle, my plan matches the book! There are 2 key sessions – A threshold Run and a Marathon paced run. This is a big week – thankfully its a “Recovery Week” after this which also signals the end of the first training mesocycle – the time is flying by!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 9m (5m Lactate Threshold) 9m (5m Lactate Threshold)
Wednesday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Sunday 16m (10m Marathon Pace) 16m (10m Marathon Pace)
Total Mileage 45m 45m

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 2 of 18

Happy New Year!

2016 is over and as I write/post this on New Years day I’ve already banged in 2 parkruns. Thats dedication!

Training has gone well on the whole this week, hitting all my sessions. I am pleased for the new year to come now though. Its time to really eat cleanly and knuckle down with the training. Its such a shame Jantastic isn’t around any more, it was a great incentive for the new year!

There was a noticable temperature drop this week too, its been bloody freezing outside! Had to be a bit careful not to slip on my arse. Still out in a vest mind, in spite of the sub-zero temperatures!

So, here’s how the week went.

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday Rest 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 14m (8m Marathon Pace) 14m (8m Marathon Pace) Moved to saturday to accommodate the parkrun NYD double
Sunday 13m (8m Marathon Pace) 5m Recovery 3m Recovery
3m Recovery
Parkrun NYD double!
Total Mileage 40m 42m  43.2m 1.5m more than previous week

The key session this week was the Marathon-paced run. I wasn’t really looking forward to it and spent the night before agonising over a route.I was right to be wary, the last few miles were awful. I’m carrying some Christmas weight, so the fact I hit all my splits was more through sheer bloody mindedness than anything else, as it was anything BUT comfortable.

There was also a speed session run this week, 10 strides in an 8 miler. The strides felt really good and I love injecting some speed into a longer run – I really feel it benefits my running economy and lengthens my stride out well. Didn’t plan the route very well though, the last couple were uphill!

My General Aerobic running always seems to end up being faster than I should be running. I think I need to focus on that a bit more next week, try and rein it in a bit and leave me a bit fresher for the bigger runs.

This week also saw me hit my target of 2016 miles in 2016! I made it with 5 days to go – easy! I rounded the year off with 2049 miles – might highest annual mileage ever – pretty chuffed with that.

The week rounded off with the annual NYD parkrun double! We always try and visit new venues for this special day and this year was no exception, visiting Havant and Queen Elizabeth.

Havant parkrun

The first stop on this years NYD double was Havant. It was about a 50 minute drive to get there, and wasn’t until we arrived that we realised it was £1.80 to park! We didn’t have any change though so risked it without… and got away with it!

The biggest piece of news here was that Havant was my 50th different venue! Thats halfway to joining the “Cowell Club”. (Well, over halfway now as Queen Elizabeth was venue 51!)

Based in Staunton Country Park, the course was a mini loop followed by 2 bigger loops. The mini loop was on higher ground than the bulk of the bigger loop which meant there was a steep downhill and a less steep uphill to negotiate – twice!

The pre-run brief was a bit muffled – there were a lot of people and it was mostly misheard, but it seemed many were parkrun regulars with, unsurprisingly, a lot of tourists!

The course was quite tricky for a buggy. Lots of deep puddles/potholes, a very rocky surface which meant it was a bumpy ride for the baby, and lots of rutted channels. I lost control a couple of times as the single front wheel got channelled away from me!

We kept a good “recovery” pace (Following Saturday’s move Marathon-paced long run) and came round in just under 30 minutes.

There were toilets nearby but couldn’t sample the cafe as we needed to get up the road to venue 2 for the day!

Queen Elizabeth parkun

6 miles away (according to the sat-nav) was Queen Elizabeth Country Park. The drive was short and we stopped to get parking change on the way too! Driving in was lovely, a real country park along the lines of Alice Holt or a National Trust/Forestry Commission venue. A really stunning location!

Parking is £1.80 if you go in the visitor centre and show your barcode. This was a more favourable option than waiting in the bloody long queue for the pay and display machine!

Looking at the previous results this is a small parkrun, rarely breaking to 100 finishers mark – and I can see why. The picturesque location will be secondary for most to a more favourable course – as QE is NOT easy. 1 small lap followed by 1 big lap, with a monster of a hill which means you are climbing for about 1.5 k of the course!

This does of course mean there are some potentially fast downhills but the course is mostly woodland trail with some rocky/rutted sections so of course it is a bit risky, especially with the buggy! I gave it a good rinsing though! To the point all the contents of the basket came out! Oops! Thankfully all the very friendly parkrunners offered their help and support to return my possessions!

The long flattish section was a very muddy section which played havoc with the buggy wheels (and many ill prepared runners underfoot grip – My Salomans loved it!) and at one point the buggy got totally stuck – I literally had to lift it out!

But with all that said, I loved it. A course right up my street, with bags of character. The cafe was excellent too, and though very busy, the staff were brilliant and extended the “breakfast” times to make up for the fact the queue of hungry parkrunners was snaking around the inside of the cafe around the tables!

Queen Elizabeth goes on my “favourites” list as it was a lot of fun. Jodie disagreed though!!

Summary

A successful second weeks training, and now the festive period is over its time to crack down. No booze in January, and back on MyFitnessPal with regular weigh ins. the REAL hard work starts now!

Now heres next week’s plan.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Wednesday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Thursday 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold)
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 14m Medium-long 16m Medium-long Build up my long runs faster as already running this distance pre-plan
Total Mileage 40m 44m 1m more than previous week

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 1 of 18

Merry Christmas everyone! Week 1 of my training happened to fall in Christmas week which is quite tough really. Simon commented to me the other day that he didn’t know how I manage to train before Christmas. The only answer I can reflectively come up with for that is that its an 18 week plan and this is, by calendar, where that 18 weeks falls into. And I don’t want to skip the first 2 weeks – that would be like building a house but not digging the foundations!

It’s been a really positive week and managed to do all my planned sessions

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual (Strava) Brief Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (4m Threshold) 8m (4m Threshold) 8m (4m Threshold)  Recovering from cold.
Wednesday Rest 4m Recovery 4m Recovery
Thursday 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic
Friday Rest 14m Medium-Long 14m Medium-long
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Sunday 12m Medium-Long 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Total Mileage 33m 41m 41.5m

They key sessions of the week were the Threshold Run and the Medium-Long run.

I was really pleased with how the Threshold run went. I really wasn’t up for it and had been struggling with a cold and a tight chest so it probably wasn’t a brilliant idea, but I managed it and hit my paces just about bang on.

The 14m medium-long run was more challenging than it should have been, thanks to the Christmas rescheduling. But I just about managed to squeeze all my miles as subs except for one – which was stupidly uphill! The challenge of running round Yeovil is the amount of elevation you accrue, it makes it really tough going. Legs were utterly dead by the time I finished and with hindsight I probably would have planned this differently – but I got through it unscathed and should have gained some good leg strength from it!

On Christmas eve we visited Seaton parkrun. All in all it was a pretty disappointing experience. We were aware that sections of the course were on pebbles, and that on the website it says buggies are ‘unsuitable’ – but given all this and that I wasn’t going for a time I thought it would be OK. Unfortunately the run director on the day told me, mid run brief, that buggies were not allowed as is clearly advertised on the website! It is definitely NOT clear! Jodie took one for the team and just ran up and down the promenade with Ivy for 5k whilst I trudged round in a recovery jog, my legs still in bits. I felt a bit picked on and singled out and feel the RD handled it very badly and quite rudely. I am an experienced and capable Buggy runner and whilst it would have been difficult, I could see no reasons from a safety point of view why the pebbles would have affected the Buggy. It would have been slow but there was plenty of passing space on the affected sections. It was a very disappointing parkrun.

In Christmas day we stayed at our home parkrun in Andover. The opposite of seaton we had loads of fun and we’re joined by family.  It was a terrific atmosphere and was a brilliant start to our Christmas.

Summary

A positive start to training! Getting through week one can be a tough mental hurdle and given the season adds an extra dimension to the word “dedication”! Onwards and upwards!

Next weeks plan:

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (10 x 100m Strides)
Wednesday Rest 5m Recovery
Thursday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 5m Recovery 14m (8m Marathon Pace)
Sunday 13m (8m Marathon Pace) 5m Recovery
Total Mileage 40m 42m 1m more than previous week

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: The Masterplan

It still hasn’t quite sunken in that I’m actually going to be running the London Marathon! It’s a long held dream of mine to be able to run that 26.2 miles between Blackheath and Buckingham Palace and to think i am actually going to do it makes me giddy with excitement! So much so I’ve been meticulously planning every detail of just how I’m going to get to the start line. After all, “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.

As such I’ve been frantically applying for my place officially (Which is confirmed – I will be number 21162) and finding a hotel that’s nearby the expo and with decent transport links to the start. We’ve gotten a room at the Ibis next to the Excel, perfect for the expo, but a (potentially very busy) DLR trip with 1 change to the start.

Phew. That was the admin sorted nice and early.

My thoughts then turned to “How am I going to get myself in shape to run a Good-for-Age” time. And the method is as simple as it was for Manchester. Train hard, lose weight. A bit like this snazzy diagram I’ve put together.

plan

Training

No good marathon was ever run without good training behind it. I needed a good training plan to get me in the right sort of shape – and why change what has worked before? I used the Pfitzinger and Douglas up to 55 miles, 18 week plan for 2 successful Greater Manchester Marathons. The third, Bournemouth, I tinkered with the method to use heart rate zones rather than pace zones with less than stellar results. So I’m going back to the tried and tested and use the old faithful McMillan Running Calculator to tell me my pace zones.

There are some things I know based upon my last Manchester experience. Firstly, they all need to be a bit faster than I did in Manchester, to get my body used to running at faster paces. This will of course be carefully built up and I must not forget, I am in significantly better shape now than I was this time last year. Secondly, the marathon paced runs are crucial. For Bournemouth I missed all of them, and boy did I suffer.

So I’ve carefully plugged all of my sessions into Garmin Connect calendar so my watch will tell me when to run, how far, and how fast.

I also learned at Manchester to trust the training. It really did deliver and it’s only on reflection I can recognise that.

I’m also going to make a conscious effort to work on my Core and upper body. So I have bolstered my training with a series of “30 day challenges” which I’m hoping will earn me some marginal gains.

Racing

The P&D training has some slots for “tune up” races later in the schedule. These were really helpful confidence boosters to me last year. o get faster at the marathon you need to get faster at the shorter distances. Before Manchester I ran an 18.54 so I figure to get GFA I’ll need to run a sub 18:30.  In the build up to Christmas (When P&D starts) I have a mini plan I’ve put together with some targets to get me at least sub 19:30 by then. With any luck a solid training block will see me break that a bit lower even, especially with the other “strand” of my training in play.

Moving into next year, along with some tune up 5ks I’ve scheduled in some bigger, longer races. The first one is Bramley 20. According to my schedule, this should be 18 miles with 12 at MP. So its a slight break from the plan, but its a good race thats relatively flat and a good distance to test myself with. My thinking is that I want to try and race this at target Marathon Pace, so 7.03 per mile (Sub 2.21). It will give me a good measure of “where I am”. If I can run that at MP or close to it with 8 weeks to go, I’d hope the remainder of my training can deliver me that extra 6 miles come race day.

The next big race is one Jodie and I have wanted to for a while, the Silverstone Half Marathon. A flat fast course around the famous racetrack, this is organised by London Marathon Events and PB friendly. According to McMillan I’ll need to run around 1.27.30 to be “on track”. Before I ran Cardiff in the build up to Manchester I thought this was in reach, but come race day I wasn’t feeling great, the weather was poor and it was actually during the Taper, so badly timed. Silverstone is much better positioned in my calendar this year and I’m hoping that if training goes well I’ll get somewhere near this.

Weight

No getting around it, the lighter I am the easier it will be to run. Its a lifelong battle but with the London Marathon on the horizon this is “game time”!

Using some fairly ropey calculations and information identified on Wikipedia, the body fat % for an “athlete” is < 18% which for me will likely equate to 13st 5lbs.

I’m going to start using MyFitnessPal again, but to be honest I know exactly what I need to do and I know I just need some willpower. Now London is in sight its the biggest motivator ever.

Time to execute the plan!

Race Report: Bournemouth Marathon 2016

Well, that didn’t exactly go to plan…

Saturday

Coming into the weekend of 1st and 2nd October I was in a bit of a mixed bag as to how I felt about this, my autumn target race. As I mentioned in my previous post, training had been a bit up and down, but I felt I may have just been able to squeeze out a decent performance come race day.

We headed to Bournemouth with a little optimism on Saturday morning, so we could take in Bournemouth parkun. This doubled up a bit of parkrun tourism with a recce of the Race HQ.

bournemouth-parkrun

The weather was a bit rubbish, but the rain just about held off as we completed 2 big and 1 small laps between Kings Park Athletics Stadium and AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium. The course itself is a mix of tarmac, trail path and a bit of grass. There is a room at the stadium you can change/shelter in with toilets on hand there too. Naturally with it being marathon weekend, there were plenty of tourists about and there was an excitable vibe to the event.

bournemouthmapsplits

Though we were taking it easy, it wasn’t as flat as advertised in my opinion – I wouldn’t go there on a PB hunt – but the marshals and volunteers were excellent. Thank you!

We had to hurry off to check into our AirBnB so couldn’t stick around, but there is a cafe onsite for post-parkrun cake, coffee and gossip!

After getting to our digs we headed into town to check out the finish area where most of the activity was going to be over the course of the festival. It was already bustling. I had to pick up a replacement number as mine never arrived. This was a painless process except it was a generic unbranded number which was a little disappointing, as they are souvenirs to me. never mind!

After a bit of shopping, a trip to Starbucks, some playing the amusements and even a cheeky pint, we decided to watch the races. There were a couple of kids fun runs first and then the 10k in the late afternoon. The course for these was fast and flat as it was all along the beachfront, and I was amazed at the size of the field! Saw plenty of folks I knew running and cheered everyone in both directions as good neutral supporters should!

Then we headed back to the AirBnB. In all we did 20,000 steps on Saturday which may be a little high for the day before a Marathon! But never mind eh.

Dinner was pasta from a local JustEat vendor. Good food and the same stuff I had pre-Manchester. We got a reasonably early night as Jodie was off in the Half at 8am which meant a VERY early start!

Prerace

Getting up at 6am wasn’t a great deal of fun, but as we went to sleep early it didn’t feel like too bad a hardship. I feasted on my usual 3 porridge pots and armed myself up with a couple of bananas for before the race and we took the short walk to race HQ. The weather was perfect! Clear skies and no wind at a cool temperature. You couldn’t have picked better marathon weather.

As we were pinning Jodie’s number on for the half, we noticed the foam had gone from her embedded timing chip. We checked at the helpdesk to make sure the chip was fine, but they weren’t sure – so issued her a new number. Which was the same unbranded type as me! So at least we both had crap bibs!

numbers

One thing became clear as the morning went on, and that was that the half seemed significantly better attended than the Marathon.

Jodie was a little nervous about her race at it was her first half since our daughter Ivy was born. I dropped her off in the start pen and headed a bit further on from the start and took this Facebook Live video of the start of the race. Logistics meant I couldn’t see her anywhere else on the course so all I had left to do was wait nervously for the start.

startline

I headed back to the cafe to have a cup of tea and it was a little chilly! I had checked my bag in with Jodie’s number, as she’d need it at the finish first, but was wearing a “disposable” hoody – just my race hear other than that! As the 2 hour wait went on, more and more people arrived, though it was still notably a much smaller affair than the half. I got a bit bored but before long it was time to head to the start.

I was assigned a pen right near the front due to my estimated (ha!) finish time. So I had plenty of loos to use and warmed up at the side of the course. I saw Ben of Marathon 401 fame who was starting the race on the warm up too, but didn’t introduce myself – he seemed busy. Then before long I was in the pen. It was nearly time to go!

startselfie

The Race

My race plan was to go out at 3.10 pace, so that was around 7.14 a mile. I figured if I could get to 20 miles at that pace I’d try and cling on for the rest of it.

For the first few miles I ticked along quite nicely. A little fast, but it was downhill. There was some good support along here. I felt comfortable at the pace I was running, and when it levelled off a few miles later I slowed a little naturally to bring me back into target range.

One of the challenges with this course was the number of “out and backs” you have to contend with. By mile 7 I was already on my way back of the second of these alone – the “out” here was gradually uphill, but I managed to stay on pace before we dropped back down to the seafront for a few more miles, heading towards Boscombe Pier.

Now, I like the seaside, and I like the view of the sea. But that was all there was to see. I found myself getting a little bit bored of trudging along promenade for mile after mile with nothing but beach huts and the english channel to look at.

By mile 12 there was the first of 2 not-insignificant hills. 30 metres of climbing in 400 metres which is 8% incline! And believe me, by the time I got to the top, I knew about it. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have eased off a bit here to save the legs, but my stupidity/pride meant I tried to stay at target pace – which did work…

Once we reached the top it was a mile through to the half marathon split, by which point local parkrunner Miles Caswell caught up with me. This lad is super speedy round Yeovil Montacute parkrun and he was running his first marathon with a similar goal to me. We chatted for a bit but by this point I was starting to flag.

Thankfully, this was when we dropped back down into the finish area (for the first time). The crowds were MAGNIFICENT. I, being the crowd pleasing tart that I am, was pumping my arms in the air to get them going – and it worked. Miles and I appreciated the roar of support echoing around us like a mexican wave. I bet not every runner got that!

Shortly after this I saw Jodie for the first time. She had managed to get a marshal to cheer for me too which was lovely, but then I looked ahead to Boscombe Pier, which we’d already seen once… and yet more promenade running my head started sinking.

14449012_10157484088425075_1532617465598465119_n

By the time I got to Boscombe I had eased back to my target marathon pace. Running with Miles and the support at half way meant I had increased effort and I was starting to suffer. I encouraged Miles to push on without me. Running the pier and then back toward the finish area (For the 2nd time) I saw Jodie and told her things were not good. I ran Bournemouth pier and got a high 5 from King Danny and then ran THROUGH the finish (3rd time!) before looping around onto some road then running past the finish for a 4th time.

Realisation had struck by this point that this pace was not only unsustainable, but utterly ludicrous – my legs were shot to bits. Ahead of me lay the biggest and longest hill of the course, at which point, my race plan was abandoned. I walked the hill. All of it. At the top of it was a toilet – I stopped in there too at which point I think the bluetooth/internet connection on my phone went, so the LiveTrack i had set up on my phone stopped. This meant Jodie and others thought I’d stopped, or switched it off in a huff. I didn’t! It just stopped working, promise!

bournemouthmap

The next few miles were around some park, some closed roads and were a bit lonely. It was a tough part of the course for me and it was a bit undulating too. I had decided by now that I was run walking for the rest of the race.

We eventually dropped back onto the promenade (for a change) and the last 6 miles were out and back along the beach. I was losing my sense of humour. It felt incredibly patronising for all these beach hut owners to tell me I was doing really well, even though I really wasn’t. I smiled politely and said thank you though. It wasn’t their fault I was having a bad race, and again, with hindsight I can say the support was excellent throughout.

With slightly more running than walking I eventually got back to Bournemouth Pier to see the finish line for the 5th and final time. I crossed the line, a bit emotional, and headed to the funnel to see Jodie. I had a bit of a “moment” with her and I was obviously disappointed but a 3.33 marathon is a time many would be proud of, and a marathon is a marathon.

Jodie had also had a tough day coming in a little slower than she would have liked, but still faster than her lowest target.

14448944_10157486357725075_6139344987753252747_n

It was a very well organised event, with great support. However we both really bloody hated the course. We also weren’t too impressed that everyone got the same tee shirt. All the 5k and 10k runners got the same T shirt as the half and marathon runners! Either way unfortunately we won’t be back for the half or the marathon, but I do quite fancy the 10k for a speedy time.

Analysis

In the cold light of day, and thanks to Strava, I can see where my race really went wrong.

bournemouth-analysisNot only was I too fast in terms of pace, in effort terms I was far too fast over the first half. In GAP I was running a GAP average of 7.04 a mile (3.05 pace) and if I then extend that to mile 16 it was 7.00 a mile (3.03 pace)! So its hardly any wonder I blew up.

firsthalfsplits

I barely felt like I was in 3.10 pace so to find I was actually running faster than that means that I wasn’t actually far off form wise (I don’t think) but not understanding/using my effort as a gauge is what really cost me.

My spring marathon is much flat, so with this in mind, a strong block of training having gotten through the bulk of life upheaval the last few months, I’m still encouraged that Mission GFA is on.

Strava Activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/731955875/overview

 

Bournemouth Marathon 2016: Update

Well, its been a while since I posted. The small matter of moving house and having a baby smack bang in the middle of training had far more of an affect than I thought it would!

baby

Training took a bit of a wobble. A lack of sleep, a massive change in routine, a change in working circumstances… All contributing factors to me having a bit of a difficult few weeks running wise. I missed some long runs, I realized I hadn’t done a SINGLE ONE of my “Marathon Paced” sessions, and running to heart rate was just doing my absolute head in.

brokentraining

So I ditched the plan. Instead I focused on trying to regain a bit of mojo. I went back to easy running, shorter runs (I kept my weekly long run mileage up though) and doing the odd interval session.

I ran one hard parkrun at Netley Abbey but that wasn’t even sub-20. My interval paces are miles away from what they were pre-Manchester. My weight was well over what  want it to be too. Things just don’t look good.

netleyabbey

That said, I’ve been running shorter runs at MP and finding them comfortable, though my HR is higher than it was for Manchester.

But as I’m writing this my legs feel better than they have done for weeks. I’ve lost about 6lbs (Though I’m still not near race weight) and I’ve got a sliver of confidence.

I’ve had a good year of training overall. I’ve maintained a good aerobic base in spite of my lack of speed work. I’m totally injury and niggle free.

Maybe… just maybe… With a good nights sleep, carbed up, morning start, free from the daily work stress and properly hydrated… maybe I may be able to sneak in a PB.

It won’t be a sub 3.10 that I targeted at the start, but its still progress and would be a confidence booster for my Spring GFA plan.

7.15 ish per mile would do it. Doesn’t that sound easy…