Counting down … and back up again

FullSizeRender 38London Marathon Training
Week 10, Day 2

Next weekend I have two races inside three days, the Spar Craic 10k in Belfast on St. Patrick’s Day then it’s off to Hastings for the Half Marathon on Sunday 19th.

Therefore my immediate priority for the next seven days will be that double header. Obviously, with one eye still very much on London, I’ll still do my long run this weekend but my midweek runs will have either Belfast or Hastings in mind.

So that’s why I did 5k tonight with an emphasis on climbing. Hastings, as I’ve mentioned in other postings, is stupidly hilly for the first part so I focused on that.

There are two fairly steep climbs near me, and I made it my priority to get up them without stopping for a breather, or even a walk, regardless of how long it took me.

As usual I walked to the top of the Antrim Road for a little downhill start, just to get moving really and to regulate my breathing. Then, at the bottom, I turned onto the Toome Road – a steady climb that seems to go on much longer than it does, you can see it stretch out in front of you so it’s as much a mental battle as it is physical.

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That conquered I ran on down the other side, down through the tunnel and up as far as the Tullygarley Road roundabout.

The only problem with that was I had to turn and go back the same way, and that meant tackling the tunnel from the opposite end – and that *is* steep. Everytime I’ve tackled it before I’ve struggled to reach the dog poo bin halfway up but I was determined that wasn’t going to happen tonight.

And neither it did. The bin came and went, I dug deep (but not into the bin …. ewww) and ploughed on, right to the top but instead of resting on my laurels I kept plugging and hauled myself over the deceptive little kick that followed. On its own it’s not much of a rise, but after clambering up the hill beforehand it’s usually greeted with an array of expletives. Tonight I felt like laughing at it. Take that, hill, take that.

But I wasn’t finished there, I coasted back down the Toome Road – as I said speed wasn’t my concern tonight – preparing myself for the Antrim Road, or at least the bottom part of it, and another little climb.

As a standalone 5k I wouldn’t have been happy with my time, but as a 5k with some considerable hills I was delighted. It wasn’t pretty, and my running style no doubt left a lot to be desired, but it was a case of getting the head down and going for it.

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

London Marathon Training (156.7 miles – 34 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 – 18 miles (3 runs; average 6 miles per run)
Week 10 – 5.76 miles (2 runs; average 2.88 miles per run)

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Going steady

FullSizeRender 35London Marathon Training
Week 10, Day 1

Week Ten. TEN!!!! Jeepers oh!

Monday night is club night, but because my legs were feeling heavy walking up to the Leisure Centre after yesterday, and in light of what happened last Thursday, I decided to go with the 30-minute group again.

I’m beginning to think this might well be my strategy for the next few weeks as my Sunday runs get progressively longer, use Monday to recover. Then, once I enter the taper phase, I’ll go up to 45 minutes and then, after the marathon, move up to the 60s.

Everything is geared towards London at the minute and, given my history, I don’t want to risk that.

Tonight’s run was a brisk 2.65 miles. Steady overall, I opened the throttle considerably on the long straits and then slowed right down to almost a walk in other sections as the group doubled back to bunch up again.

I enjoy the 30-minute group. It has a real cross section in it each week, from experienced runners making a comeback from injury, to people like me using it as a recovery from the weekend, to others taking their first tentative steps and everything in between.

For me, the rest of the week holds one hill work session and another focusing on intervals, before 16 miles on Sunday. Hopefully that’s what happens this time and my leg doesn’t have other ideas.

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

London Marathon Training (153.6 miles – 33 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 – 18 miles (3 runs; average 6 miles per run)
Week 10 – 2.65 miles (1 run; average 2.65 miles per run)

Uncharted territory

fullsizerender-33London Marathon Training
Week 9, Day 3

During the entirety of my training for London last year I never went longer than 13.1 miles in any run. That was mainly because my preparations were hindered so much by injury that I didn’t have time to build my long runs up before I needed to start tapering – and the fact that I was so terrified of picking up another injury that I was ridiculously cautious.

Obviously, as history shows, I did finish the marathon but it was a massive leap from not going further than a half to completing the full thing, and last week’s run was the first time since that fateful day last April that I went up to 13 again.

Therefore, today’s 14.5 mile run was basically uncharted territory for me, my longest training run ever.

My preparations weren’t exactly ideal. I aborted my run on Thursday after just a mile because of concerns over my left leg. The niggle in it continued into Friday and Saturday, albeit lessening each day, but I would ideally have liked to get a few miles in my legs before tackling today’s run. Unfortunately I didn’t, but the leg felt fine this morning so I knew I couldn’t use it as an excuse not to go out.

Naturally, I was concerned with how it’d cope with such a long distance although, on a positive note, I didn’t really harbour any thoughts of cutting the run short if it didn’t react well. Mentally I was in this for 14.5 miles and 14.5 miles was what I was going to do.

I decided to take it really easy, so started off doing a few laps of the Ballee Park ‘n’ Ride, 3 miles worth of laps in fact. Then I got bored and turned onto the dual carriageway towards the industrial estate with the intention of going to the shop on the other side to get a bottle of water.

After feeling faint last week, I knew I needed to hydrate more on my long runs so buying water along the way was part of my strategy. I reckoned since it was only water, and that because I’d only take a few drinks and then bin it again (I didn’t want to carry it around with me), that I’d go for the cheapest they had, a 54p bottle of Silverbrook Falls which, according to the blurb on the bottle, is distilled at source.

Well, let me tell you, this ‘source’ must have been the local sewage works because this was absolutely vile. I’m sure the good people of Silverbrook Falls are very proud of their product but, c’mon folks, a bit of quality control wouldn’t go amiss! Other brands of bottled water are available and, from now on, I’ll be availing of them.

Anyway, I digress, back to my run … after pulling all sorts of disgusted faces I ran on into the town centre, taking an elongated route in order to avoid as many hills as possible, and out the other side towards the village of Broughshane.

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It was long, straight and extremely soul destroying but I knew that once I got to the Woodside Road I’d be exactly three miles from home, at which point I’d turn and come back again.

Unfortunately, after getting to around 11 miles, my lack of preparation this week came back to bite me on the arse. Not that my legs were sore or anything like that – which is good – but they just drained of all energy. I guess this happens, just one of those things really.

I wasn’t faint, I wasn’t hungry … in fact, I actually felt stuffed so it’s possible I took on too much fuel up until then. I had a bigger breakfast than I normally would so it could have been that. Maybe I should have the same amount next week but leave it two hours before setting off rather than the one this week. These training runs are all about finding what works.

Up until mile 11 I was on course to beat last week’s half marathon time but because I started to struggle I ultimately dropped just outside it. It was disappointing but, on reflection, it points to consistency which is no bad thing I suppose.

I really began to tire towards the end of the run but, as I said at the outset, this was my longest ever training run. Thinking back to London last year, it was around the 14 mile mark that the cramp in my legs really began to bite but I had none of that today which is clearly a positive.

So, yes, today’s run could have gone better towards the end but I wasn’t in any pain, my leg responded well and my only issue was tiredness. Indeed, sitting in the bath afterwards soaking my poor wee muscles, I asked myself could I have gone further and I concluded that I could.

Hopefully I remember that next Sunday morning when I set off on my 16-miler!!!!

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 London Marathon charity this year – Asthma UK? No amount is too small, and all donations are received with such heartfelt thanks. My fundraising page can be found here. Thank-you so much.

London Marathon Training (153.6 miles – 33 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 – 18 miles (3 runs; average 6 miles per run)