This week’s running – 15th to 21st of August 2016

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Always time for jazz hands, even on a 22 mile run – photo by Lis Yu

Week 15 of the 22 week marathon schedule was all about going long. And suffering.

NOT 11 miles with 7 at marathon pace

I’ve reached that stage of summer training where I’m entirely ready to embrace winter training. Regular readers will know I relish the cold, where there’s a choice of layering up or running faster to stay warm. In the summer, once you’re too hot, there’s little that can be done to cool-down.

On Tuesday, I went out too hard for the conditions. Warm temperatures and strong winds returned as I went out at target marathon pace, which simply wasn’t sustainable. I managed to put up a decent fight, but ultimately had to call it quits after 5 miles at pace due to feeling rather sick and nauseous, then realised I still had some 3 miles to jog before reaching home…

To give you an idea of how much the run had taken out of me, my Garmin reported a 54 hour recovery window – the most I’d encountered up to that point was 48 hours!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles recovery – to Cannon Hill and back

I was ultra-cautious to keep this recovery run very easy, reflecting upon the meltdown only a day earlier.

Confirming my thoughts that I was a little under the weather, my VO2max of 61 nose-dived to 56. I kinda expected this scenario to appear sooner or later, especially as I’m now entering the several densest training weeks of my marathon plan.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

12 miles from work

Still licking my wounds from Tuesday’s semi-aborted run, I went into these 12 miles with some trepidation. The warmth persisted to remind me to ease myself in to make it out in one piece.

For what turned out to be a welcome break from mundane normality, canal towpath closures required that I detour back on to roads around Birmingham University, before eventually re-joining the canal at Selly Oak. A long stretch of downhill did a number on my quads; I’m woefully inexperienced when it comes to downhill running, so I look forward to developing the skill whilst the diversions are in place.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Newport Parkrun

With 22 miles to run on Sunday, I didn’t want to jeopardise the plan by going bananas at a Parkrun. Being in Wales for the weekend, there was no shortage of nearby events to visit, and after some chopping and changing, I offered to pace my friend, Nigel, to a sub-22 finish at Newport’s Tredegar House event. Due to the uneven terrain featuring sand, gravel and dirt, I wanted to give us quite a wide berth of hitting the goal – Nigel has a 20:40 5k PB to his name from 2014 on the same course, so I knew he could probably withstand a pace more akin to 21:35 to 21:45 without much trouble.

Weather conditions were truly atrocious, with heavy showers early that morning soaking the sensitive terrain and strong winds to make hard work of the more exposed portions of the course.

The start was fast and I had to quickly rein Nigel in from running ahead of me. A number of other runners had latched on to our pace, though few were able to stay with us especially on the more technical parts of the route. With only a km remaining, we chucked in a fast finish to surpass our target by a couple of seconds for 21:33.

Caught completely off-guard, Nigel went on to generously present me with his copy of Like The Wind magazine issue 1. I declined to take it because we both knew how rare the out of print issue had become – “Now it’s yours,” came Nigel’s reply. As much as I enjoy hitting my own goals, I’m just as happy to get stuck in and help others on the way to theirs. Thanks again, Nige!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

22 miles – to Little Mill and back

This was a significant milestone because it equals my longest ever training run, originally covered in 2014 at a much slower pace, though with no less effort involved!

I thanked the big man upstairs for the overcast skies and cooler temperatures, though still took no chances and loaded up my ultra-vest with its full 1 litre capacity of liquid. A High 5 Isogel (Citrus Plus, laced with caffeine) also joined me for the jaunt – a rarity this training schedule which I can only put down to becoming better fat adapted.

Despite running uphill and into a headwind for around 7 miles in the first half, I felt pretty damn good! The slightly unfamiliar middle third of the route kept my concentration from wandering off, and the break from torrid conditions gave me just that bit of extra capacity to get the job done.

The last couple of miles saw a guest appearance from the sun for firmly gritted teeth; I occasionally resorted to counting from 1 to 100 to see the distance through…

Confidence boosted, I didn’t feel too beaten up afterwards, helped along by near immediate re-hydration and some loafing around watching the Olympic men’s marathon (which Eliud Kipchoge fully deserved to win).

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The road to the Yorkshire Marathon

Scarily, including race week, there are just 7 weeks to go in the training schedule. I’m feeling pretty good and I just need to keep things together for a while longer before I can settle into a taper. But before that can happen, I need to get next week’s 18 miles with 14 at marathon pace out of the way first…

I’ve begun delving into which pair of race shoes I want to tackle the marathon in. On Wednesday’s recovery run, I broke out a box fresh pair of Adidas Adios Boost 2s from last Christmas. Due to how warm it was, my feet had swollen up a touch to make the once perfect fit a little tighter than I’d have liked. Some more break-in will be needed before I conclude whether they’re race-worthy, or use the rapidly diminishing time before Sunday 9th of October to pick up a pair of Nike’s new Zoom Streak 6s, hot from being worn by both women’s and men’s Olympic marathons champions, amongst countless others during the respective events.

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