Tag Archives: Virgin Money London Marathon

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Week 9 of 18

It’s the end of week 9 and halfway through the programme. That means only 6 weeks until the taper kicks in! The weather is improving and the tides are turning. But more on that later…

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest Rest
Tuesday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Wednesday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long
Thursday 6m Recovery 6m Recovery 6m Recovery
Friday
Saturday 6m Recovery (6 x 100m Strides) 3m Recovery 3m Recovery
Sunday 16m (12m Marathon Pace) Bramley 20 (Race) Bramley 20 (Race)
Total Mileage 48m 49m 49m

Tuesday had a 6 mile recovery run. I was working from home so managed to sneak out at lunchtime. My legs were still pretty weary from Sunday, but this definitely loosened them up a bit.

Wednesday was my least favourite run of the entire program. I’ve always hated it every time I’ve used the schedule. 14 miles medium-long. There’s just something crap about having to run longer than half-marathon distance on a cold winter evening after a full day of work. This time I had the excuse of running it a bit slower than usual, thanks to Sunday’s upcoming race. So I dropped the pace by about 25-30 seconds per mile to how I would have ordinarily run it. My legs were still a bit creaky, but my heart rate was nice and comfortable all the way round and there was some decent elevation in there too. Finishing it was a relief – maximum 12 miles midweek from here on out. What was nice though, was heading out in daylight for 45 minutes. Spring is definitely in the air!

Thursday was another 6 mile recovery run. it was a bit quicker than Tuesdays as the legs were feeling not too bad, even after Wednesdays big effort.

On parkrunday we went to Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun, as we needed to go to Fareham to pick up a parcel, and Fareham is not buggy friendly! Still, this event was on our “to do” list in order to run all Hampshire parkruns! The course was in the middle of a business estate and was an out, back, and out and back again course on cycle path and gravel trailway. It wasn’t the most inspiring of courses but flat enough and buggy friendly.

The people were very nice too. It was a relatively small event with only 186 finishers. I ran it as a 3m Recovery so as not to over exert myself before Sunday’s race. Afterwards there was a nice Starbucks where we had some porridge and a free coffee (Courtesy of our Vitality membership!) and there was a good vibe in the place. All in all, a very nice little event.

On Sunday, the book session was supposed to be 16 miles, with 12 at Marathon Pace. Instead, we went to do the Bramley 20. I had 2 options heading in. I could have run the first 8 with the last 12 @ MP in line with the session, or I could run it as a straight MP effort. I decided on Friday that I would do the latter. I agonised with the decision, but I felt that it would be a good test to see how training has been going.

 

The course is pretty well suited to it as a test – there are some inclines at 6 and 8 miles, and its a 2 lap course, so I figured I’d be 16 miles in before it got really tough. Then if I could handle the hills, perhaps slow down a bit for them, I knew from last year its a pretty fast gradual downhill for the last mile or so. Prior to the race, my form score was just about in the positive, so I was just about in shape to run it well.

You can click here for the full Race Report, but in short I ran it just how I needed to. Bang on pace coming in at 2.20.44, 7.03 per mile. I suffered from some cramps toward the end but all in all delighted, and absolutely brimming with confidence. For a first race of the year, it couldn’t have gone any better.

 

Weight

More good news on the weight loss! Another pound off, which means I’m now 13st 12lbs. Back when I originally mapped out my Masterplan, my target for this week (Bramley 20 weekend) was between 14st 1lb and 13st 11lbs (By March 6th) so I am definitely on track!

Importantly, my Body Fat% is reducing too which is my main measure. Looking at the trend line it looks like I’m set to reach my target weight of 13st 5lbs by 10th March, though I don’t think that’s realistic. The rate of loss seems to have settled at 1lb per week, and although I want to try my very best to re-accellerate that, it would still bring me on target by race day.

Looking at the data though, I’m not sure losing the remaining 7lbs will bring my BF% down to the 17% zone I am after. At the moment, 1lb seems to represent 0.5%. So that means 7lbs should roughly equate to 3.5% which would be 17.8% – so I may need to go to 13st 3lbs to hit that number. I shan’t be breaking myself to get that low or be disappointed if I don’t get there pre-race – but that’s 9lbs with 9 weeks to go. So possible! Especially if I can get a 2lb week!

Summary

Well, what a fantastic week. With the midweek 14 miler I didn’t think my fatigue would go down enough to be fresh for the race – but it did. Now I just need to hope the legs can recover well for the rest of the training programme.

Week 10 is a recovery week (Hooray!) and I definitely need it. But when you look closely, it doesn’t look like there’s much recovery… It’s more just a mileage cutback. Hopefully I can get through the midweek interval session with a good set, but I’ll not be too hard on myself if they are a little slow!

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m General Aerobic 6m Recovery Following a big 20 mile race I think I need to take this one easy.
Wednesday 8m (6 x 800m Intervals) 8m (6 x 800m Intervals)
Thursday 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides) 8m General Aerobic (8 x 100m Strides)
Sunday 14m Medium-long 14m Medium-long
Total Mileage 43m 41m

 

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 3 of 18

Winter really kicked in this week. Most of my runs have been in the bitter cold and a few a little bit slippy. I’ve started to feel the training load a little bit, particularly early on in the week but that seems to have subsided a bit toward the end of the week. Running my long run on a Saturday again doesn’t help I don’t think, but I think this is the last time I’ll need to do that.

Saying that I’m still feeling like its all manageable and I am going into my sessions feeling fresh which is very positive. No doubt thanks to this very well controlled gradual mileage progression I’ve carefully worked towards over the last few months!

I’m trying to maintain this steady increase until the next mesocycle when the MP runs and recovery weeks jolt the mileage around a bit, but by then I’m hoping the gradual conditioning I’ve done will mean I can take that all in my stride!

Day Book Plan My Plan Actual Notes
Monday Rest Rest 10m General Aerobic Moved as work meant I wouldn’t have time on Tuesday.
Tuesday 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic Rest
Wednesday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery 5m Recovery
Thursday 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold) 8m (4m Lactate Threshold)
Friday Rest Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery 16m Medium-long Wouldn’t have time on Sunday so switched it to Saturday. Incorporated Andover parkrun.
Sunday 14m Medium-long 16m Medium-long 5m Recovery
Total Mileage 40m 44m

Due to work schedules meaning I wouldn’t have time to run on Tuesday, I moved my General Aerobic run to Monday, and boy was it tough. I still had Saturday’s MP long run in my legs, then on Sunday the parkrun double – I really felt the burn! Despite some good elevation I managed to retain the pace zone I needed to be in – but man oh man Tuesday’s rest day was bliss!

The key session of the week was the Lactate Threshold run and it was a bit of a beast. it was FREEZING cold but I still went out in a vest (I knew/thought I’d warm up – I didn’t). I reached about 2.5 miles into the threshold section when my brain started telling me to stop or rest or take a break. it took quite a lot for me to ignore it! I’m glad I did though, but the thought of extending the threshold section to 5 miles in 2 weeks time worries me as I was blowing out of my ass after the 4! Still, there’s 2 weeks to go before I need to worry about that!

The long run had to be moved to Saturday due to some scheduling issues with Family coming over, so I ended up doing 12 and a bit miles, to parkrun then parkrun with the buggy! I managed to time the first 12 pretty well to get there a little ahead of the run brief (I didn’t want to be hanging around standing still) – and managed to sneak in a bit more too so by the end of parkrun I was at 15.9 so just topped it up before scanning!

It took a while to get going thanks to the early start – 7.20am! Not often I head out that early, but it was worth it to get home at 10am knowing 16 miles were in the bank. After 4 miles or so I thought I was going to struggle all the way around but after 6 I feel like I found my flow. It helped that by then it wasn’t very dark and I was a bit more awake! So the pace increased a bit.

I tested my gels for the first time this campaign and am sticking with 1 every 4 miles as its worked for me before. From a hydration point of view, I felt I didn’t have enough – but thats challenging for me on a long run. I don’t like carrying bottles. I slowly drank from a 500ml bottle for the first 10m. I then stopped in the shop and needed to down another 500ml to rehydrate (I got another one too to take with me). So maybe I need about 100ml per mile?

The parkrun course was muddy as anything – and pushing the buggy around it in my road shoes made it really tough going with some slower miles. But the average pace for the whole run was 7.58 per mile – right where I wanted it! So thats a good confidence booster. Need to try and sustain it for 2 more miles next week. 18 at that sort of pace would make me very happy!

Weight

So one of the key parts of my strategy for running a Good for Age time is losing weight. Unfortunately, I’ve been woefully inept up until this point in making a start on it. In my defence, it has been Christmas!

Jodie and I, since Monday, have been making a dedicated effort at shedding the excess timber. We’re both back to obsessively entering every morsel into MyFitnessPal and will be weighing in every week on a Friday.

As an added motivator, I sent an email round at work this week to set up a “new year weight loss challenge” with an entry fee, with whoever loses the most weight (As a percentage of their starting weight) wins half the money (The other half goes to charity). Had a few bites, so will use that as a motivating tool as well.

Here’s my starting stats – the only ones I’m really interested in tracking at least:

Weight: 14st 12lbs
Body Fat %: 24.9%

Its not as bad as I feared, but still have around 21lbs to lose if I want to reach 17% body fat (Rough calculation). That’s a shade under 1.5lbs a week and very acheiveable. It also means I’ll be around a stone lighter than I was for Manchester – that’s got to have an impact on my finish time right?!

Summary

Another solid weeks training. I’m still feeling very strong and all my metrics are pointing in the right direction. Looking at how this week has affected my Fitness Trend I can see a sensible amount of overload that isn’t forcing my “form” score below 20.

If I can keep this solid and sensible training increase I’m confident good things come come – hand in hand with a sensible week’s diet improvements should be forthcoming.

Onwards and upwards into week 4!

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 10m General Aerobic 10m General Aerobic
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 4m Recovery 5m Recovery Extra mile to continue weekly mileage increase
Sunday 15m Medium-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

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: Prologue

It doesn’t seem long ago that I received the fantastic news that I’d been awarded the sole London Marathon “Club Place” we get at Running for Time. And yet here we are, Christmas Week, running the first week of my usual 18 week training schedule –  an adapted version of the “Pfitzinger and Douglas Advanced Marathoning 18 week/Up to 55mile per week” schedule.

Despite the grand plans to “pre-train” I made in my previous post, this didn’t quite go according to plan. I ended up participating in our local cross-country league for 3 of the 4 fixtures, which I performed well in – certainly better than I expected to!

bryanstonme

I also ran the “Full Monty“, a local, brutal 10m XC race with massive un-runnable hills which I again did better at than I thought I would

monty

So this, along with a  couple of speedy attempts at parkrun, meant most of my quality mileage was in Races, though I was able to put in some great track sessions which has clearly helped my speed my speed a lot.

races

My ultimate pre-training target was for a Sub-19:30 parkrun and to lose some weight. I had hoped for sub-20 at Swindon parkrun in mid-November as a “stepping stone” but only managed 20:21. Then at Newbury last week I ran a 19:47 in spite of the fact I’ve actually gained a bit of weight.

newburyWhat this shows me is that the training is working and if I had lost the weight I’d probably have hit that arbitrary goal – 30 seconds off my 5k time shows I am moving in the right direction. Given we’ve had birthdays and Christmas its unsurprising I’ve not been able to lose weight really. I’m still confident of my marathon goal of sub 3:05 though, as its usually in the new year when my mileage climbs that I am able to really focus on calorie control.

What the Newbury time trial has enabled me to do is reset my training paces to something more recent and relevant. Cracking out the trusty McMillan Calculator I plugged the numbers in and came back with these.

vLT (Lactate Threshold): 6:49 – So this is the sort of pace I’ll be running my Tempo runs at – hopefully, just under.

Long Runs: 7:30 – 8:46 – I’ve been trying to keep my long runs at s sub-8 pace in the build up, which falls in line with this range. The reason being is that I seem to run more economically at that pace and feel it will better prepare me come race day. So my target pace is 7:59

Easy Runs: 7:26 – 8:27 – I roughly translate this as my “General Aerobic” pace in the book. Again, in pre-training I’ve been trying to run at 7:30-7:45 so that will be my target range.

Recovery Runs: 8:32 – 9:13 – Yep, hopefully the slower end of this pace to give myself optimum chace to repair any damage I do!

 

So, I’m injury-free, my training plan is ready, I have my training paces. I’m ready to go! So here’s week 1’s planned schedule.

Day Book Plan My Plan Notes
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 8m (4m Threshold) 8m (4m Threshold)
Wednesday Rest 4m Recovery I like to run 5 times a week
Thursday 9m General Aerobic 9m General Aerobic
Friday Rest 14m Medium-Long Christmas day on Sunday! Not doing a 14 miler then!
Saturday 4m Recovery 3m Recovery Standard parkrun day
Sunday 12m Medium-Long 3m Recovery Bonus Christmas Day parkrun

So this is 8 miles more than the book would have me run, however the overall weekly mileage is within 10% of an increase over the previous week, and my long runs are already ahead of plan so I should finish this week reasonably comfortably.

Time to get training!

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