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.

week 10

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!


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.


Newbury parkrun

As we are spending the next several weekends in Basingstoke, we have the opportunity to do some more parkrun tourism. Looking at the options, we found Newbury was most local (good), flat (good) and a one lapper (good)! So our choice was made. Newbury was my 14th different event, and 37th overall parkrun.

We turned up good and early (as I like to), and the sat nav directed us to a trading estate on the outskirts of Newbury. Greenham Common, where the run takes place, was at the very back of this estate, and if it weren’t for the excellent signage, could have been an absolute nightmare to a parkrun tourist!

Interestingly, future father in law used to work at Greenham Common when he was in the army, it used to be an army base and is dotted with nuclear bunkers!

Anyway, full marks to the early volunteers who helped us find our way and parked us efficiently.

The start was a short walk away, but we followed the mass of runners to find “Run HQ” and it was the “Keep it simple” philosophy personified. A piece of tarp for bags, and a couple of tables for barcode registration. Perfect parkrun!


It was freezing cold, though a very sunny day, very good conditions for running. The briefing was short and sweet, and interestingly they used the term “race” a lot here. Just a pet peeve of mine perhaps, but interesting to see how other events handle things. Before long we were off. Thankfully I positioned myself toward the front as I was hunting a PB, as there were a LOT of people and only a relatively narrow track.

The route is predominantly stony track, and is a single lap course which is basically flat. You run out on the path for 500 meters before taking a left to cross the disused airstrip, which was a bit manky and muddy. Once crossed, take a right on the track and follow the track all the way, looping back to the finish. It was well marked by cones, but very little in the way of marshals, which may be a concern to some. If there is an incident at the far corner of the course, it would take a very long time to relay that back to the start, but maybe thats just my risk averse nature!


One of the disadvantages of single lappers can be a lack of crowd “support” and this had some of the same. There were some supportive dog walkers and social runners, but it wasn’t quite the same as Yeovil Montacute or Basingstoke. The finish straight was excellently attended and superb encouragement from the gathered “masses”.

The route was a bit wet from previous days rain, but I quite like puddles – I go through the middle whilst others take the effort to go to the sides – makes it easier to pass people and makes my run a little shorter than theirs!

Although the course is flat, the last kilometer has a very slight incline, which, when coupled up with the blustery headwind made it a tough finish – must go back in the summer! When looking at my splits I can see my pace drop off despite my heart rate continuing to rise, which affected my time a bit.


There were some very friendly runners here too. Even on the run I was getting tips and advice from people, or just one chap in particular who advised me to tuck in and avoid the wind. Very nice of him to let me draft him!

My run went very well until the last KM. I was targetting a sub 20 for a 40 second PB, but with the last KM being so tough I missed out. On the plus side, I still managed a 19s all time 5k PB (20:22)! The sub-20 will just have to wait.


Jodie and Lucy joined me on tour, and despite neither registering a PB they found it an enjoyable run, and it was nice to hear from them that they struggled with the last section too, made me think it wasn’t just me being a wuss!

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Barcode registration was a doddle as always and the volunteers at the finish area first class. Unfortunately we had to get back so couldn’t stick around for a post-run coffee, but we’ll definitely be back in the summer! Thank you Newbury parkrun 🙂

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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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


Onward to week 9 and the halfway point!


Monthly Review: January 2015

January has been all about marathon training. Running long and building a base. Following christmas, my weight had gone up and I needed to focus on getting that back down and getting more miles through my legs. I have tried to remain consistent and so far, despite the big upturn in mileage compared to December, my body has fared pretty well!


A fantastic level of consistency, running 5 times per week (Except one, curse you Jantastic badge hunting!) with 2 days rest per week. I’ve found this to be a much better balance than the 6 days a week I was running before Christmas. I can now recognise that was silly, and long terms plans will involve only 5 training days per week.

I watched the weekly mileage build at a steady rate before havign a recovery week and a drop in volume, but managed a new record 60 mile week in the last week of Jan. writing this a couple of days after, I wouldn’t have known – I still feel pretty good.

I set myself these goals for the month.

  • Score 100% in JantasticAcheived! Jantastic has been a fantastic way to keep motivated and be consistent.
  • Increase the Average elevation gainAcheived! Through my long runs and easier runs I’ve tried to run more hills and build leg strength.
  • Get my weight down to my pre-christmas weight (14st 3lbs)Failed! By a lousy 1lb. But still pleased to have come so close.


Looking at the monthly progress chart brings up a few interesting points.

Firstly, compared with January last year, my elevation gain is significantly up, and is an increase from December too. My average elevation “PB” was in August, which wasn’t long before my big PB at the Bristol Half Marathon. I’d like to increase my elevation gain to above this level over the next two months to peak in March, and then greatly reduce the elevation in the weeks leading up to the marathon. An “Elevation taper”!

Secondly, my average run mileage is unsurprisingly a new high, given the volume heavy trainign plan i’m following, which I hope will pay dividends.

Thirdly, my average speed has been maintained (A very slight dip) in the face of a much more significant mileage increase. This is very pleasing! The next phase of my training plan seeks to increase my base speed, so if I can remain on track I hope it means good things will happen like they did last year – when I came off the back of a marathon and smashed my 5 and 10k PBs.

I just wanted to add a photo here to break up the text!
I just wanted to add a photo here to break up the text!

Finally, and looking at things over a much longer timeframe, is my average heartrate. its maintained a very consistent level recently, which shows a positive adaptation to training.

My February goals are again quite straightforward. I have no races planned and I’m 100% focussed on the marathon, so these have been designed with that in mind.

  • Score 100% in Jantastic for February
  • Increase my average elevation gain vs. January
  • Get my weight down to 13st 10lbs (2lbs per week)

To be honest, I think the first two are definitely going to be achieved just through my natural training curve. The big challenge will be to maintain the weight loss. If I can get achieve that or a bit more, I may be able to reach my target weight in time for the Reading Half Marathon. I’ve set the aggressive target of 2lbs per week, and luckily I’ve been able to hit it so far, but I think it’s going to be even tougher this month which means I need to remain more disciplined than ever. However, looking pragmatically at the goal, i should be pleased with (And still on track for Manchester) with an end of month weight of 13st 13lbs or less – Which is my next significant weight milestone – the eighth stone.

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.


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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Race Report: Blackmore Vale Half Marathon 2015

This was somewhat of a late addition to our race schedule. Jodie and I are both marathon training, and whilst we are trying to do some “Races” this didn’t really fit with our plans. However, the announcement that personal inspiration Steve Way was doing it made us change those plans a little! (And I did get to see him briefly, regrettably though I did not speak to him 🙁 )

I was scheduled to do a 20 miler, my first of the campaign, and Jodie 19. We switched Jodie’s cutback week so this would be her “recovery” week, and I decided to do a 7 mile “warm up”. The intention was to both treat the race like a training run and take it nice and easy.

As such, our preparation wasn’t the best! A friends birthday the night before resulted in one of us (And it wasn’t me…) getting in at 2.30am! A very short nights sleep later, thanks to my need to do 7 miles beforehand, meant we got there super early and we were the first car to park in the car park – and there were plenty of attendants to help with this. Very slickly organised. Though it was a sunny, pretty morning, it was bitingly cold in the wind. I went off on my first warm up to clear my head and after 3 miles I’d forgotten about the cold, and the wind and my head was relatively sober!

Getting back to the carpark, I couldn’t believe it was the same place I left an hour before! It  was a transformation, heaving full with runners everywhere. I found the car and Jodie and we went to get registered. I was a little surprised it wasn’t chip timed, but that’s not really a big deal to me and on the whole the registration was very well organised. Though like seemingly every race it was a bit short of toilets with some long queues.

It didn’t take long for us all to be called to the start area – no time allocated start pens here! Proper old school. And then we were off.

I spent the first bit with Jodie before going our separate ways. The first mile or so was downhill and good to get some momentum. The sun was shining and the countryside route was stunning! Picturesque views and although there were no road closures, traffic wasn’t much of a concern. The drivers were very accommodating.


Water stations were plentiful, though in plastic cups which I find it tough to drink from, especially at race pace. All the volunteers were an absolute credit and as I wasn’t racing I think I managed to say thank you to every one I passed. Their efforts really are appreciated!

The route was very much “Undulating”, with one enormous hill in the middle – at the top of which were parkrun friends Neil and Aime taking some pictures and cheering us on! Thank you to them for the motivation!

I’d managed to keep my pace at around 8:30s, which was faster than I really should have been going/wanting to go. But Dave summed it up afterwards – you just roll off the hills. I actually think its not a slow course at all, just not brilliantly fast.

I even managed to stop for a (prearranged) cup of team in Kings Stag, as my friends farm was directly on the route! Made a nice pitstop, though it did mean trying to re-overtake everyone I’d spent 9 miles passing!

The last mile and a half was a slog though, all uphill! Crossing the line I forgot the free tee shirt, a nice cotton souvenir which was nice for such a cheap race. Catching up with Dave and Si (Dave paced Si to a massive PB! Good work both of them!) after the finish, we started chatting about what time Jodie was going for. I thought she was only doing a training run – so it was quite the shock to see her, with the clock just ticking over 1:59, rounding the last corner! Dave saw her first and I couldn’t believe it – Jodie was going to do it in under two hours! That was her target for the much flatter Reading half in 2 months!

She absolutely smashed it and she was beaming from ear to ear after the run. I am extremely proud of her. 16 minute PB, sub 2 hours. Chuffed as nuts!


It was a brilliantly organised and beautiful race and I have nothing but praise for it. Despite not being chip timed, the results were up very promptly! I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again, though I can’t promise I’d be saying the same if it was cold and wet!

More Photos:

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