And so begins the second half …

fullsizerender-31London Marathon Training
Week 9, Day 1

If it’s Monday that must mean it’s club night, and the beginning of the second half of my marathon training. I opted to go with the 30-minute group but it was very much a calculated decision.

My legs, specifically my thighs, felt a bit heavy after yesterday’s run although they did loosen up considerably as I walked towards the Leisure Centre.

I wasn’t sure whether to remain with the 45s, as per recent weeks, or drop down just to be on the safe side. However, after seeing who else had decided to go with the 30s I knew it would be a good group.

Although small in number – I think there was six in total – it was comprised of those returning from injury or needing a shorter, recovery run after something much longer in recent days. In short, all experienced runners, and what an inspired decision it proved to be.

The entire run was conducted at a pleasingly steady tempo. We got lucky with the roads, there was absolutely no stopping at any point, and whilst it was brisk never at any stage was it difficult to hold a conversation with those around me.

Importantly, it was very reassuring to turn in a good, solid half-an-hour after yesterday and to shake the heaviness out of my legs.

So that’s February done and dusted, and a new monthly record of 75 miles, an increase of 11 on last month despite there being less days. I’ll take tomorrow off and then get back on it again on Wednesday, weather and circumstances permitting.

London Marathon Training (138.1 miles – 31 runs)
Week 1 – 12.2 miles (4 runs; average 3.05 miles per run)
Week 2 – 9.3 miles (2 runs; average 4.65 miles per run)
Week 3 – 17.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.4 miles per run)
Week 4 – 18.8 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 5 – 14.9 miles (4 runs; average 3.7 miles per run)
Week 6 – 18.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 7 – 20.3 miles (4 runs; average 5.1 miles per run)
Week 8 – 23.7 miles (4 runs; average 5.9 miles per run)
Week 9 – 2.5 miles (1 run; average 2.5 miles per run)

“You’ve done it once, now go and do it again.”

fullsizerender-29London Marathon Training
Week 8, Day 4

Apologies for deliberately misquoting England World Cup winning boss Alf Ramsey, but the title of this entry sums up my run today, the first half-marathon of my training plan.

All I need to do is to repeat today’s run straightaway and I’ll have completed the full thing. Easy, right? Hmmm, yes, quite.

First of all, the facts. I set a new personal best over 13.1 miles. Woo-hoo! In fact, I smashed it, slicing an incredible 16 minutes 21 seconds off my best time for a standalone half-marathon, and over 20 minutes off my last time for the distance.

Without being boastful, I knew I would do it although I dared not say for fear of jinxing it. All my recent longer training runs pointed to it, and I actually finished a couple of minutes faster than my predicted time. That’ll do me rightly, but it’s something to build on because I’m confident I can go faster.

But it was tough. Bloody hell, it was tough.

fullsizerender-30With Hastings in mind I deliberately picked a route that would gradually get steeper and steeper and steeper before literally going straight up and back down again – as you can see from the elevation graph – and although it’s good for me I did, at several points, curse the town planners for not having the foresight to construct a town that was flat. What were they thinking, the sadists?

The weather didn’t help either. Heavy rain had been forecast but when I set off there was nothing and I thought I’d get away with it. Ha! After the first five minutes or so it lashed down, and didn’t stop.

Psychologically it was a difficult run. The course took me around the entire outskirts of the town, which basically meant the halfway point was as far away from my front door as it was possible to get, and it was also the most elevated part of the course. It was a real mental battle getting there but I knew that once I did I’d be homeward bound, and that was a real boost.

As regards pace, I was bang on what I’d expected, which was encouraging. I didn’t go too fast, I didn’t lose too much ground on the slower sections and I maintained the same mph as last week’s 11.5 mile run.

I did have a bit of a wobble around the 10 mile mark. I’m not sure what it was, but I did feel momentarily slightly dizzy, which has never happened before.

Was it my sugar levels? Probably, but I acted quickly to take on some gels and sugar and I felt grand again after that. The conditions most likely didn’t help either, the rain really was torrential at this point. Something to work on, that’s what the training runs are for after all, as well as getting miles in my legs.

On a positive, no cramp again. Previously I’d begin to suffer from it around nine miles in but I seem to have found the solution to that with my salt tablets.

So, on reflection, a pretty successful end to week eight. A half-marathon to mark the halfway point in my training. It’ll only get tougher from this point forward but the increases are gradual so I’m confident I’ll cope with whatever is thrown at me, as long as I remember to focus on the run in front of me and don’t look several weeks ahead.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about my progress so far could I be so bold as to ask you if you’d consider making a donation to my chosen charity this year – Asthma UK? No amount is too small, and all donations are received with heartfelt thanks. My fundraising page can be found here. Thank-you so much.

London Marathon Training (135.6 miles – 30 runs)
Week 1 – 12.2 miles (4 runs; average 3.05 miles per run)
Week 2 – 9.3 miles (2 runs; average 4.65 miles per run)
Week 3 – 17.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.4 miles per run)
Week 4 – 18.8 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 5 – 14.9 miles (4 runs; average 3.7 miles per run)
Week 6 – 18.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 7 – 20.3 miles (4 runs; average 5.1 miles per run)
Week 8 – 23.7 miles (4 runs; average 5.9 miles per run)

Never happy?

fullsizerender-28London Marathon Training
Week 8, Day 3

I’m not happy.

However, go with me on this … I’m not happy despite just recording my second best 5k time since November 2015.

I’m not happy because for so long on this run I pushed hard for a PB, only to let it slip towards the end.

But it’s good I’m not happy.

I haven’t run since Tuesday night, and I didn’t really want to run this afternoon, so for me to get so close to a PB despite not being up for it has pissed me off a bit. Just imagine what I’d have done if I had been in the mood.

I’m not happy because I let myself get into that mood. I need to stop that from happening. I need to trust in my training and my own ability, limited as it is, and believe that I am improving all the time.

However, this is all positive. Honestly, it is. If I was content with what I did today I *really* wouldn’t be happy. It’s good that I’m annoyed because I’ll be able to use that to drive me on.

Yes, I gave it everything I had but I can always give more. There’s always that nagging sense at the end of each run that at some point somewhere I could have squeezed a few extra seconds out here and there.

Ironically, looking at my individual km splits, three of them were faster than last week. I ‘lost’ it today in that pesky fourth kilometre – and even then it was touch and go.

Ending on a promising note, I did do this today after not running since Tuesday after all. Logic might suggest that having a rest is a good thing but, for me, I find that leaving it more than three days means I start to lose my form … today I didn’t.

It also reassures me ahead of my long run tomorrow, a half-marathon, my first since April last year. It’ll not be quick (deliberately so) and it’ll definitely not be pretty but it will be very interesting to see how I cope with the distance.

London Marathon Training (122.5 miles – 29 runs)
Week 1 – 12.2 miles (4 runs; average 3.05 miles per run)
Week 2 – 9.3 miles (2 runs; average 4.65 miles per run)
Week 3 – 17.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.4 miles per run)
Week 4 – 18.8 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 5 – 14.9 miles (4 runs; average 3.7 miles per run)
Week 6 – 18.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 7 – 20.3 miles (4 runs; average 5.1 miles per run)
Week 8 – 10.6 miles (3 runs; average 3.5 miles per run)