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Manchester Marathon Training: Week 16 of 18

Well if the taper is meant to help your legs recover, so far, so NOT good. The past week has been tough, and today has seen the first hint of “taper madness” as my tired legs are telling me “You are so tired and you’re only doing 8 miles and slower than marathon pace you are never going to do the marathon”. I keep telling the taper gremlins to pipe down, and its working so far – but there is still 2 weeks to go! Lets see how the week went against the plan

pd16And it all went according to plan, except for my Saturday “tune up race” only being 5k at parkrun.

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Monday saw no evening walk for me, but I did manage 3 miles at lunchtime to help stretch the legs. But the quality of Sunday’s run was a little less intense than the week before so the legs didn’t feel so bad.

On Tuesday I had 8 miles with 5 sets of 600m Intervals. Going into the run I really wasn’t expecting much from the reps, but looking back on them I can see they were pretty solid – all around the 6m/m mark. Though the run home was less spectacular!

On Wednesday, I had a 6 mile recovery paced run, which was harder than it should have been but not unexpected given Tuesday’s fast intervals.

Thursday, unusually for me, was a rest day. But this worked quite well as I was travelling back home from Birmingham for the long Easter weekend, and this meant on Friday I went for a short 4m recovery run with some strides. This provided some good strides and the legs felt much better than Tuesday and Wednesday. It was nice to run with Jodie for the first time in a while too!

On Saturday I was scheduled for a tune up race which, as already mentioned, was a parkrun. This week we visited Reading, as detailed in this post. It was at full effort, though not the PB or sub-20 I had hoped for, mainly due to the course conditions I still hope to break that 20 minute mark soon – though now it won’t be til after Manchester.

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Sunday saw my first tapered long run, at a “paltry” 16 miles. My legs did NOT enjoy it. It was not helped by having to stop a couple of times due to toilet requirements. Nor did it help that this meant I diverted from route an got a bit lost. Finally, I fell over after about 5 miles and have a massive bruise on my hip! So all in all, not the biggest confidence boost!

2 weeks out, my legs are still flagging but I am going to do what I have done all along – trust in the plan. I keep looking at the sessions I have left and can’t help but feel I’m doing too much. But people much smarter than me wrote it, and its been used successfully by people around the world – so I’m going to keep trusting it, right til the end. Though I am going to take my remaining easy runs much easier.

With 2 weeks to go, perhaps the most important reflection to consider is that I am injury free! My “dodgy” knee feels much stronger and doesn’t twinge. All in all I think my legs are reasonably well conditioned, though I will reassess that at the end of this week as my mileage is around half of what I have been doing.

Time to put my head down and push through, ignore any hint of taper madness and believe in myself. I know I can do it, I just need to keep reminding myself!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 15 of 18

I entered this week of training knowing two things. One, I was bloody shattered following the Reading Half. And Two, this was the final big week of training before the taper. And now it has finished, I have to say, its a relief.

Here is what P&D had me down for…

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…VS what I actually did. It was actually pretty close, except I failed my Interval session, I was still recovering from the race, my Saturday run was a bit quick, I had a bonus run for a Jantastic badge, and my 20 miler was split across 2 to take into account that I did the Yeovil Half Marathon.

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Waking up on Monday was bloody agony. I woke up still absolutely creamed from the day before, and my legs really didn’t want to work. I managed a 5 mile walk to stretch them a bit which may have helped in advanced of Tuesday’s 7 mile recovery run with strides, but I wasn’t convinced. Though the strides started strong, they weren’t exactly consistent and faded near the end of the set.

On Wednesday I was down for a 10 miler with 4 x 1200m Intervals. I knew from the beginning it wasn’t going to be a success as I still felt tired. But I gave it a go. The first rep was OK, but the 2nd rep I just had nothing left, so did an extended jog home. I’m not too concerned about it, I was asking a bit much to expect any sort of speed so soon after the race!

Thursday was a rest day, which was unusual for me as usually I’ve had to switch my Friday runs for Thursday as I was travelling. So when Friday came along, after a long stressful day at work, finishing late, the LAST thing I wanted to do was drag myself out for an 11 mile medium-long run. But I did, and it went well, I even managed a decent progression and a marathon paced last mile.

Saturday was parkrunday and I ran at “home” for the first time for ages! I was meant to run it at recovery pace but ended up a bit quicker than that. It was great catching up with everyone and chatting with people as I progressed through the field. Though everyone made fun of my (definitely not) amazing cakes!

16953002392_f016c6e301In the afternoon I needed to go to the shop, and I had this niggle that I still had one potential Jantastic badge to get. The badge award was for any run which had an average page of 6:30m/m or less. Unfortunately, on my only “legitimate” attempt, a rounding issue done me out of it! So I went for a brisk half mile effort to try and win the badge. Cheeky maybe, but hey – I’ll take it! And it’s only for a badge – I wouldn’t have classed it if I needed it to complete the challenge proper.

Sunday was the Yeovil Half Marathon which I was running as part of a 20 miler. So I got up ridiculously early and did a 7 miler to “warm up” (Though it was miserbale, cold and wet). Then prepped for the half with the Running for Time group and met Ryan who I was trying to pace round in 1:57.

Credit to Olly Ayles
Credit to Olly Ayles

Unfortunately due to injury related fatigue, we didn’t hit the pace target, but we did have a brilliant time, it was well supported and I chatted with so many friends. Despite the weather I had a really good time!

This week therefore, along with completing the “Race Preparation” mesocycle marked the end of Jantastic, with which I scored 100%! I’ll post tomorrow detailing my experiences, but I have to say I love the challenge and love what it did for my running.

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Now the hard work and high mileage is over, its time to cut back in volume and maintain intensity as I navigate the pitfalls of taper madness and let my legs recover. Its brilliant getting through the bulk of the programme unscathed and I’m now itching to get to the start line!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 14 of 18

14 weeks into the 18 week journey, and I have finally reaped the rewards in the form of a spanking new half-marathon PB. This week in the plan was always intended to be a big week, but I wasn’t sure how it would pan out. After last weeks marathon paced effort, I was going into it, a relative cutback week, with Reading Half Marathon waiting for me at the other end. As such, I made a decision to alter the plan a bit in order to have a mini taper for the race. It would transpire that this would be a good move.

For what it’s worth, P&D would have had me doing this.

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As I’ve said before, training races of 8-15k around here on a Saturday are a rarity, but last year (And following popular opinion online) a practice half was a great confidence booster and allowed me to assess the shape I was in, wearing race gear, in order to set a sensible goal for the marathon and build confidence. So I elected to slot Reading into my plan in place of my long run, have a recovery parkrun on Saturday, and swap out the 11m MLR in favour of a shorter, recovery run with some Strides to keep me sharp. And this is what it looked like. All according to (My modified) plan!

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Monday I managed to have a nice walk as usual. My legs were understandably a bit stiff but it managed to loosen them off, and I think the stretch and bath helped afterwards too.

Tuesday saw another short Interval session, 5 x 600 meter efforts as part of an 8 miler. I didn’t think I’d do much with them to be honest, but surprised myself with a 5.57m/m average on the intervals! Though it was only 3km’s worth, would be interesting to see how I’d fare doing a full set of 8. Still it was an encouraging start to a race week.

Wednesday saw a 5 miler with some strides, and Thursday saw a 4 miler with some strides. Neither run had much to report, though Thursdays strides were more consistent and faster than Wednesdays, getting close to 5m/m.

Friday had a good solid rest day, and Saturday we wanted to get a parkrun in. We had to keep it local (Well, my away from home local) as we were busy that day so took the opportunity to go back to Basingstoke again. My tenth visit there!

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I treated it as a bit of a fartlek, which was quite lucky really as I ended up having to chase down a parent who had irresponsibly left his 8 year old son eating his dust, and the 8 year old fell over and got quite upset, so I sent him back to his child. Jodie, supposedly taking it easy, managed to crack in a PB! I managed to have a chat with Steve, Event Director and he seemed like a thoroughly nice chap!

And then it came to Sunday. I have extensively covered the Reading Half Marathon in this post, so I have little to add other than to Summarize that it was a brilliantly organised event which I went round in 90:08, smashing my 92 minute Jantastic target, but agonizingly close to sub-90! But I gave it everything and didn’t have anything left, so I really can’t complain at a 5+ minute PB!

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Speaking of Jantastic, as I managed to beat my “Timed Goal” this week, provided I run 5 times in the next 7 days, I’ll complete the challenge with 100%, which will be splendid! The only badges I feel I’ll miss out on that were in my reach (Sort of), are the Sub Zero badge – though the temperatures never actually dropped below zero – and the Speed Demon Badge – as I am still to nail my sub-20 5k (Though I am scheduled to have a crack at it the week after Jantastic, dammit!). Still it is clear that Jantastic has been massively beneficial when working hand in hand with my training plan.

It has delivered me a 90 minute half marathon, which as delighted as I am, puts me in a difficult position going into Manchester, in a reallygood way. It means I should be able to comfortably go for sub 3.20, which, if I’d have been offered at Christmas, I’d have taken in a heartbeat. But there is the outside possibility of a 3.15. The problem is, if I go out with that in mind I may just blow to smithereens after 20 miles.

Decisions decisions!

Either way, I’m going into week 15, the last week of the “Race Prep” mesocycle and the last week of “proper” training before tapering in high spirits, high in confidence, giving myself a high-5!

Manchester, bring it on!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 13 of 18

I’m writing this safe in the knowledge that this time in 5 weeks it’ll all be over. Its quite a comforting feeling, as I have been thinking this week just how nice it will be to get back to shorter distances in time for summer, and hopefully some faster runs.

This week was, arguably, my toughest week. There was a a tough Interval session, a midweek MLR and the toughest (And in my view, most important) marathon paced session long run. It certainly felt like I have been peaking in my training.

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P&D had this, as you can see from the below, I pretty much achieved this. The only notable exception being I needed to switch my Friday run to Thursday as I would be away on Friday evening.

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Although I rested on Monday, I did have a nice 5 mile walk after work. I think this loosened up my legs following Sunday’s 22.

Tuesday saw a straightforward 8 mile general aerobic effort. I expected this to be tough, but I actually breezed through it. I think my GA pace zone has naturally increased, as even at the end of the run I felt very strong.

Wednesday was a bit of a beast. 3 mile warm up followed by a set of 5k Intervals at faster than 5k pace, and a 3 mile cool down. The warm up was good, solid and I think my legs appreciated it. The reps were good too, at a much faster pace than I’ve managed a similar workout before. The 3 mile warm down however was TOUGH. Very heavy legged, unsurprisingly given the beasting from the Intervals. Usually when I do an interval session I have a VERY short, light warmup jog. Sandwiching them in as part of a 9 mile run really changed the dynamic of the session, and hopefully was good for endurance as well as speed.

Thursday was supposed to be a rest day. But as I was travelling to Newport and attending a parkrun conference in the evening, I rescheduled this 12 mile medium long run. I knew this would make it tough, and I was not wrong. Legs just felt so tired, but not “overtired”. My body still felt willing, so it was quite literally a case of needing a rest day. Once I got into it, it became a little easier, but certainly wasn’t as comfortable as last weeks identical session. There was also a load of climbing on this route too. Due to doing the intervals the day before, rather than progressing through the pace zone, again I just ran on feel and found my comfort zone which was about right. Glad to finish it, but even more glad to have a rest on Friday!

Friday was good news weigh day, as I lost another 2 lbs. I’m now a mere 1lb away from that elusive 8th stone and 15lbs away from my overall goal.

14stoneexactlyUnfortunately I’m definitely going to miss my weight loss target in time for Manchester. I have though, still got time to make it to 13st5lbs, which would mean I was exactly 2 stone lighter for Manchester than I was in Paris. Which would still be an excellent result. But to be fair, any weight I can lose in the meantime would still be a bonus. I still have plenty of time to shift the remainder before my wedding in July!

On Friday night I went to a parkrun Event Directors conference and had a blast as you can find out here. Running wise, I was scheduled for 5 recovery miles, but I got the red mist of competition and ended up just doing a straight parkrun at a decent effort.

I was fully anticipating Sunday to be the toughest run so far, and it dd not disappoint. 18 miles, with the last 14 at Marathon Pace. Thankfully I wasn’t hungover, but I was suffering from a lack of motivation. Jodie managed to pep me up a bit though. “Whats the worst that could happen? You don’t run it as fast?” and when put in that context, it’s not so bad. As it goes, I needn’t have worried. Despite me mis-planning my route so my first MP mile was up Hendford Hill, I managed to keep all of my splits just about right. I tell you though, if the purpose of these marathon paced runs is to simulate the end of the marathon, they work. The last 2 miles really hurt! And I’m walking like John  Wayne today! But still, to have nailed this key session I’m feeling very chuffed and confident heading toward the race.

Still maintaining 100% for Jantastic, though that could all change next week as my Timed Run (Reading Half Marathon) takes center stage.

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To summarise week 13, I can only deem it a success. 5 weeks to go, and I’m feeling confident. If I can hit my Reading Half target I’ll be in prime position to take down my Marathon “A” goal of sub-3h20.

 

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 12 of 18

After a bit of a downer in week 11, things picked up again in week 12. I think my decision to abandon one of my sessions mid run was actually a contributing factor, as it meant rather than further punishing myself it gave me a bit of respite, and I hadn’t overcooked things.

It’s strange thinking that now there are just 6 weeks to go, and only 3 of those with meaningful training before tapering. It seems to have crept up on me a bit! Here’s what P&D prescribed for me this week.
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I knew I’d have to stray from the plan here early on. And in fact, what i designed to do this week changed right up until a few days before the week started. In this phase every 2 weeks I should be doing a “tune up race” of 8-15k on Saturday. The problem is, races around these parts are on Sundays! I certainly wasn’t about to race Sunday instead of doing a long run, so I settled on doing a parkrun at race effort. It’s obviously only 5k, but I elected to up the mileage into my long run to make it an equally productive week.week12

Tuesday was as per plans, and consisted of an 8 miler with some Intervals thrown in. 5 sets of 600m to be precise at faster than 5k pace. I felt quite tired when I started but the 3 mile warm up was at a decent steady pace which loosened me up, and I maaged a good set of intervals at an average of a little over 6 minute miling, which I was pleased with. The jog back was a little slower as I had a visit from the gingerbread man, which seemed to be a common occurance this week…

On Wednesday I did a 12 mile MLR, which after recent outings I decided to keep at a sensible slowish pace. My legs actually felt really good which meant I had to be extra careful not to push it too hard. I averaged about 8.30s, which is actually a little faster than I needed to be, but it was a consistent pace rather than a progressive pace, which meant at the end I still felt quite fresh.

On Thursday I went on a 5 mile recovery run with Jodie, and did a set of strides towards the end. I really enjoyed the strides too – My stride length was very long and I actually felt quite graceful when running them. My cadence was lower than usual though and felt a bit more “Stridey” rather than just doing some sprints. What was interesting was, when I was running at recovery pace my muscles hurt more than in my strides – I must be using different muscles, or in different ways. Perhaps it makes me more efficient? An interesting finding to explore further. This run was meant to be on Friday, but had to shift it due to travel arrangements.

Friday saw me weigh in – and I am still the same. I’ve not been really actively dieting or monitoring, but had felt a little “heavy” recently, so it was good to know I’m still on track. Need to revise my pre-marathon wight ambitions though.

Saturday was scheduled for an 8-15k practice race, but as already discussed I decided a parkrun at race effort would be the only way to test my body on Saturday. It saw us visit Alice Holt parkrun, one of the best I’ve been to. I’ve documented it more in this blog post. It was definitely a race effort, and an encouraging time to boot. Worth much more on the flat, and hoping to break that sub-20 on a flat course pre-Manchester. It was a good speedwork session.

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According to P&D, Sunday should have been 17 miles. With a shorter tune up race than prescribed, and because I wanted to do 5 x 20+ milers this year, and because I wanted to do a 22 as I felt it boosted my confidence last year, that’s what I opted for instead. The night before the run though, I went to a family party and had a few more drinks than I should have. So waking up, thick headed, I wasn’t keen on the run. But I got out and did it and felt fine after a mile or two. P&D say after a tune up race, to take the long runs easy, which is what I did again, rather than progressing through the gears. I rarely looked at my watch and ran mostly on feel. Unfortunately, thanks to the booze the night before, I had some excruciating stomach cramps which meant I needed to stop to use the loo 3 times, which broke things up a bit. This actually made the run harder, as the stop-start nature meant I didn’t get too much of a rhythm. Looking back though I was happy to complete thr un. The last 5 miles were tough, but on a 22 miler hey are always going to be. Writing this today my legs feel better than they did last year, so all being well I am on track.

In my Jantastic update, I’m still on 100% after 9 weeks, and I now have a brilliant 30 badges (though that’ll get updated tomorrow). I’ve decided that my timed workout will be the Reading Half, and my target is 1:32:30, which would be a 4 minute PB, and put me on track for a 3:15 marathon, according to McMillan. Not sure I have the bottle to go for the 3:15 yet but will reassess after Reading.

3 weeks of the mesocycle to go before I start tapering and things are feeling strong, and I’m building in confidence. My last big test is this weeks sunday run, 18 miles with 14 at marathon pace. I’m nervous about it, but convinced I can nail it. I’m just not sure at what “marathon pace” I’ll use!

 

 

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 11 of 18

Week 11! Well over the hump of the programme and this was the last week of the “Endurance + Lactate Threshold” mesocycle of the programme. it also happened to be the toughest, for a few reasons. Stresses at work gave me some sleepless nights, which meant I was tired, not recovering properly and didn’t have enough energy to complete some of my sessions.

Add to that the fact that I overate to try and compensate and get some energy on board, I’m not entirely happy with how it went. Not to mention that I totally overdid the intensity at the weekend compared with what I was meant to do, it totally serves me right.

Lets have a look with what I was scheduled for and what I actually did.

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My plan matched the P&D schedule, but in practise it just didn’t work out that way.

Tuesday started with an 11 miler with 7 at threshold, but it was a misery. The 7 miles at threshold were, for all intents and purposes, in the zone, but I stopped for a breather about 7 times. My body just had nothing left.

I followed this up on Wednesday with what was meant to be 7 with some strides, but after 3 miles I just had the feeling that I “Couldn’t be bothered” and gave up. It’s the first time that’s happened for a very long time, but it was such a struggle, I literally had had enough and walked back to the hotel. Being away for work I always seem to struggle, not sure if its because the routes are less familiar. I went home and had a good filling carvery and an early night, which definitely helped.

Thursday was meant to be a rest day, but as I was travelling on Friday I had to switch days around. I was naturally nervous about the 12 miles I was meant to do, but managed it. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but It wasn’t as bad as I thought, and I managed it without a struggle which was a bit of a relief. It was also the first evening I’ve gone out for a run in the sunlight – for the first 20 minutes! Spring is springing and its quite nice going out with some daylight.

Friday was a rest, but Saturday saw us head out on parkrun tour. This time to Frimley Green. I’ll write a separate post about this of course, but the intention was to do a mile warm up and down either side of a relaxed run. Due to both the fact that I made a boo boo on the motorway, causing us to arrive just in time for the briefing (But not for a mile warm up) and the weather being lousy, decided just to do the parkrun. I did it more as a fartlek, with some parts being faster than others and the finish being at a decent pace. My legs felt much better and running with some pace gave me a bit of confidence back.

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Sunday saw the return of the 20 miler! Being in Basingstoke for the weekend, I painstakingly planned a route that I thought I’d easily navigate myself around. It ALMOST worked, and only had to stop twice to check the map. I rarely looked at my watch. The pace alerts were on but I ran it mostly on feel, and looking back at the splits I was quite pleased. It was about where I needed it to be, and was delighted to make it round on one piece given how I felt earlier in the week. The last 2 miles were tough, but over that distance they always are!

Jantastic wise, I’m up to 25 badges! It looks like with the weather improving the opportunity to get the “Sub Zero” badge has gone. What an unseasonably mild winter we had! Despite a wobble this week, I’m heading into the March phase with a 100% record.

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As part of the challenge, I now have to set myself a target time to try and achieve over a distance of my choosing. It needs to be ambitious but achieveable. No sandbagging and no cheating! I’m not sure whether to go for a sub 20 5k or a sub 1:33 half marathon. I have a week to decide.

Next week is the start of the “Race Preparation” mesocycle. It introduces an interval session every week all the way through to the marathon, and also 3 “warm up” races. The first is next week, which will be a parkrun. I’ll be looking for another PB wherever we end up going. It’ll also see my only 22 miler of the campaign.

Its been a wobbly week, but I hope I’ve turned the corner. Work stresses have eased, although I do need to shift te schedule a bit to accommodate for travelling.

4 more weeks til the taper!

 

 

 

 

 

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 10 of 18

Well its week 10 of 18 and I’m still uninjured, still running to plan, and still on track for sub 3:20 if all is well. 3:15 isn’t a million miles beyond the realms of possibility, but more on that later.

This week, the P&D schedule called for the below versus what I actually ran.

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Strictly speaking, a recovery week, but how a 45+ mile week can be called “recovery” is tough to understand!

Tuesday’s general aerobic 8 miler was run slightly quicker than I should have, as I wanted to test the legs after last Sunday’s marathon paced effort. Pleasingly, the run went really well including the amount of climbing I had to do.

Unfortunately, this had a knock-on effect on Wednesday’s first Interval session of the programme, an 8 miler with 5 x 800m efforts at quicker than 5k pace. My legs felt heavy and lethargic from the start, and though I just about managed to keep my reps in line with where I needed them, it wasn’t a particularly pleasant session!

Thursday was a straightforward enough 5 mile recovery run, which was fine except for a case of the “gingerbreads” meaning I needed a detour via the shopping center!

Saturday is where things were a bit different. As we are spending many weekends away from home at the moment, we have a wide range of parkruns to choose from in the Basingstoke area, where the in-laws live.  I looked at the training plan and figured a quick parkrun and a 5 mile recovery run afterwards was a good alternative to an 8 mile GA run with some strides. So it was settled – we were off to Newbury!

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I registered a new 5k PB (20:22) which was a little off of my target. I need to be in sub 20 shape for a realistic crack at 3:15, which is what I’d love to be able to target for Manchester. Its also been a long term goal for a while so I’d love to get it as part of my marathon build up. It is great to know that I am on track for sub 3:20 though!

Sunday was scheduled for a 14 mile MLR, however Jodie and I need to get some races in (for top secret reasons) and we had entered the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon. the intention was to do it at LR pace, but decided I wanted to do some marathon paced stuff too, so ran the second half at MP. The effort needed to sustain MP was higher than usual though, thanks to the bitterly cold wind and rain! I’ll do a full review of the race later in the week, when the photos are online – though In excellent news, despite it being a “training run” with poor conditions, Jodie bagged a PB!

Not a lot new to report this week. Jantastic is still progressing and I hope to have a bunch of new badges next week. Still maintaining 100% there and I have set my March targets, with my “Timed run” target being 19:59 for 5k. With any luck it’ll be faster rather than slower than that! The next mesocycle brings in the speedwork which I hope will help with that mini mission.

 

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 9 of 18

I can’t quite believe I’m halfway through the training plan. Officially over the hump and its now downhill from here. only 6 weeks real training left before things start cutting down for the taper. Its been a tough week, with 2 long runs including one at marathon pace, and I am very much looking forward to next week’s “Recovery” week.

This week I ran exactly as prescribed in the P&D schedule, shown below.

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My legs felt surprisingly good on Monday, which was encouraging given the previous day’s 20 miler. So going into Tuesday’s recovery run they felt a little fresher than usual, though were still suffering with fatigue. Thankfully, by the end of the run things had improved greatly. Love these recovery runs! Ran it with Jodie which made it all the more nice too 🙂

On Wednesday I had my longest midweek medium-long run of the whole training plan, 14 miles. Last week I struggled through the 12 miles on a relatively flat – but unfamiliar – route, so this I went into this run with some trepidation. I’d already had a long work day, and the idea of a 2 and a quarter hour run didn’t exactly thrill me! This week however on a much hillier yet much more familiar course I managed to consistently hit my negative splits, progressing right the way through my long run pace zone, and ran the last mile a little short of marathon pace. It felt great to be able to do a run of that length midweek and still feel strong at the end.

Thursday however was just awful. 6 recovery miles. I had next to no energy and as a result, next to no pace. I was in the right pace zone, and my heartrate was about right, but my legs just did not want to co-operate! Thankfully, Friday was a rest day.

Friday though was a much more positive day. I didn’t weigh myself last week, but this week continued my post christmas downward trajectory. I’m now at a NEW lowest weight ever and just 3lbs from that magical 8th stone. I’m hoping to be there for next weeks weigh in!

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I am still just about on track to make my goal weight by Manchester, though I could do with a couple of 3lb weeks really to give myself a degree of comfort. Check out my awesome spreadsheet – conditional formatting too to highlight exactly when I hope to achieve my short term goals! Great for motivation 🙂 So I am on track to hit Target B by Reading too, which would be another little milestone.

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Ultimately I’m not massively concerned if I don’t hit those numbers exactly. I know that I am already well over a stone lighter than my pre-Paris weight. If I can be 2 stone below Paris weight by Manchester I will be just as pleased. So thats my backup target (13st 5lbs) which could be more achievable. Save the big goal for a pre-wedding target!

I was Run Directing this parkrunday, 184 runners ably assisted by 24 amazing volunteers on this special Valentines run, the theme being “Fifty Shades of Red”. It was a good day and despite some minor timing and scanning issues the results were processed just fine! Jodie ran her 35th run and is now only 1 behind me as we bid to reach our 50th, together, the week before the wedding.

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I took my opportunity to run later in the day, and the weather perked right up. Even went out in a vest! Just like summer (though a tad colder…)! 6 recovery miles with 6 strides near the end, though I missed my watch beep for the 6th so had to just make one up in the middle of my last half mile. The strides were great, I concentrated on my form and felt like I was really running!

Sunday was a big one. The second of three “marathon paced” long runs in the program. All three are 18 miles, the first was with 10 miles at marathon pace, the second (this one) was 12 at marathon pace. (The last one is 14 at MP). To say I was nervous pre-run is an understatement, I was dreading it. But it all turned out fine. In fact, the last mile before the marathon pace section was only 10s off MP too, so in essence it was 13 miles. And with almost 900ft of elevation gain, to say I was chuffed to finish it so strongly (With a sub 7 mile) would also be a massive understatement! Its real evidence that training is working and gives me even more confidence that I’m on the right track.

It seems the mileage has really conditioned my legs well, as I’m sat here writing this feeling naturally fatigued, but nowhere near wiped out. I’m not going to revise my goal just yet, but after seeing Steve Way say something along the lines of “If you are comfortably running marathon paced efforts over a long distance you might want to think about your goal” I may reassess it after the last MP run.

I’ve also now broken in my new Asics Gel Kayano 21s (Blue) and retired my Orange 20s. I always like new trainers, I’m not sure how psychological it is but any niggles I’ve had always seem better and I feel faster. Getting the new model was a slight risk, but there seem to be few changes from a comfort point of view and to the lay man (me) they feel no different.

Halfway through February in Jantastic and I am still on 100%. I’m hoping next week I’ll get that 6th run in for the February “Pro” badge by doing a quick parkrun on Saturday morning, and an easy 5 in the evening as the plan calls for 8.

It’s literally downhill from here, just 6 weeks real training left until the taper and just 2 more weeks of this mesocycle before we start the real speedwork. Still loving it!

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 8 of 18

OK, week 8 of 18 has come and gone, almost at the halfway point and 2 out of 5 weeks through the second mesocycle of the plan. As of tomorrow, its now “9 weeks to race week” – single digits! Its flying by. This week I had made no alterations at all to what the proper plan recommends. So the calendar diagram below is exactly match the P&D 18/55.

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Monday was a well deserved rest day after Sunday’s exertions, but Tuesday’s recovery run with strides was a little tougher as a result. I could tell I ran it a little faster than I probably should have, so I resolved myself to run this weeks long run at a slow pace. See, reflective thinking in action! What I was pleased with was the pace of the strides, and my form when I was running them. Marathon training seems to trick my brain into thinking I’m incapable of running fast (perhaps contributing to last weeks tempo failure?) but this is not the case with some very quick sections – albeit only for 100 meters!

Wednesday saw a midweek medium-long run of 12 miles. I thought, as a time save, I would get dropped off on the way hoe from work and run the distance I needed home. Route planned, I set off. Unfortunately I left the maps I had printed on my desk, which meant I had to stop and refer to my phone twice! I wasn’t a fan of running the route I did – unfamiliar country lanes in the pitch black. It was a bit depressing. I found it a bit tough, I think I was partially dehydrated and should have eaten more before the run, but still managed to hit negative splits throughout the run, with the exception of Stone Lane, a giant mega hill! Picked it back up afterwards though.

Spot Stone Lane!
Spot Stone Lane!

Unusually, Thursday was a rest day this week. 7 of the next 10 weeks have Thursday as the rest day in favour of a Friday run for some reason. Might take some getting used to!

When Friday came along I was extremely apprehensive. 10 miles with 6 of them at Lactate Threshold pace. I failed this run last time so psychologically I needed to nail this. I planned a route I knew well, and despite a couple of Garmin glitches in the 2 mile warm up I found the pace I needed, maintained it, and even increased it. I came away bouncing with confidence!

I was scheduled for 5m at recovery pace on parkrunday, so did a mile warm up and cool down either end of a very relaxing run with Jodie! We did pre-event setup and clear down and I processed the results, so it was nice to be able to just enjoy the run.

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As I enjoyed my group run a couple of weeks ago, I joined them again on Sunday. They ran the Yeovil Half route, and as I needed to do 20 miles I decided to tag them on the end. The first 13 flew by, very sociable miles running at a variety of paces chatting to a lot of different people. Then after a pitstop for water at the car, I motored on with a progression run going from 9m/m through to just under 8s, with a beast of a climb the only thing making me miss out on some nice negative splits!

After 2 x 20 mile runs with the Gu gels, both at 4 mile intervals, I am pretty happy with that as a nutrition strategy for the race. Next Sunday sees a marathon paced run, so will be fun to try them!

My legs (writing this on a Sunday afternoon) feel a little tired, but no more than I expected. I’m feeling much better after my 20 milers this time around then I did last year, and my legs are carrying me through well on a weekly basis. On the whole I’m very happy with the plan and my progress so far.

So much so that I am still nailing Jantastic. Still rocking the 100% score! #boom!

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Onward to week 9 and the halfway point!

 

Manchester Marathon Training: Week 7 of 18

Week 7 is the first week of the “Lactate Threshold + Endurance”, second mesocycle of the P&D Advanced Marathoning training plan. Introducing a little more speed and a little more training at Lactate Threshold to increase the speed endurance.

The only change I made to the “Original” plan here was that I wanted to run a 20 mile long run instead of the prescribed 18. The other planned sessions were all identical.

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I started the week on monday with a nice short recovery run – the intention being to get a 6th run in and earn the Jantastic “Pro” badge!

I can’t work out if this affected Tuesday’s aborted 10 miler with the middle 5 at lactate threshold pace, which was a bit of a failure. I managed to mis-plan my route so the first mile was uphill, I needed to make a toilet stop, and halfway through the lactate threshold section i just couldn’t maintain pace. With the benefit of hindsight I recognise that I hadn’t slept enough, hadn’t really eaten enough and was still recovering from a cold, all of which clearly affected my ability.

Still I was concerned I may have overtrained again. Last time I felt like this was after the Street 5k. The day after that run I went out for 4 miles at recovery pace and still felt horrendous. Thankfully, this was not the case on this occasion, as Wednesday’s run was fine. A good nights sleep and some extra food really helped.

Still feeling a bit concerned though, I went out on Thursday’s 11 mile Medium-Long Run with caution. Though thankfully I felt fine all the way around and even managed my target of making each mile split slightly quicker than the previous! I felt very pleased with myself 🙂

Friday was weigh-day. I was hopeful I had lost weight, but I wasn’t expecting a 4lb shift! I take these big jumps with a pinch of salt, it probably means this Friday I’ll lose less or even slightly gain. But still it was a nice feeling! It means I’m just 1lb over my pre-christmas weight, so very soon I’ll be “treading new ground” again.

Spot Christmas!
Spot Christmas!

parkrunday saw a bit of a strange, broken run. I was down for 7 miles with 8 strides. I also wanted to get parkrun in though, and I also had to volunteer as a car park attendant. So I ended up running to parkrun, doing my volunteer stint then running parkrun! It was a bit strange as I was going slow then fast, I kept swapping places with people and they must have thought I was a bit mad/crap. But still I got my strides in. Not as quick as they could have been (And have been when running on the road as part of a “proper” session), but better than 5k pace nonetheless, which was the purpose.

Credit to Aime and Neil Biss
Credit to Aime and Neil Biss

Sunday saw my first long run as part of the campaign. I have detailed about this run in this blog post, but essentially I ran a 7 mile warm up then the Blackmore Vale Half Marathon at training pace. It was a great event, and I was quite pleased as my legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected them to, and much better than when I did my first 20 miler last year! Also, I’ll reiterate that I was super proud of Jodie for her massive PB!

Credit to Aime and Neil Biss
Credit to Aime and Neil Biss

This week also sees the first month of Jantastic draw to a close! I’m happy to report a 100% score for the month, and finish the month with a fantastic 14 badges! Every badge I went for and could have possibly gotten I achieved.

Onwards and upwards to week 8!

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