Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Let normality recommence


We were away again until Sunday evening and had a fair disruption to routine during this time - meal out with Sue's family, a big family meal, an extensive post funeral buffet, buying in food daily, a meal out with work, one night in a b&b with subsequent cooked breakfast, the perils of an over full parental biscuit tin, poor sleep, stress etc.

I'll weigh myself this morning, out of interest, and will look to eat normally over the next couple of weeks, hopefully seeing a little drop. That's important for me psychologically both in terms of benefit for running and also in order to give a feeling of control. I certainly don't want to carry on as I have been doing the last 2 weeks - I can feel and see the effects without the need of scales!

Running and exercise were hit a bit more this time.

I haven't made it to the gym (as I haven't really been here) and consequently haven't done any cross training or core work. There doesn't seem to have been a cost to that though - groin is pain free.

Running wise: so, so. I think when I last blogged I'd skipped my Tuesday run through inertia and the same thing happened with Wednesday's. The three days at home last week were a strange 'in between' period and I just couldn't stick to things.

Thursday's cross training was a victim of being away again, as was Saturday's, but I did manage Friday's tempo run and Sunday's endurance run, though both were away from home throwing in some challenges.

On Friday I managed the run OK: 1.5 miles warm up, 7.5 miles at 7:28 pace and then 1.6 miles cool down; but confess that I stopped twice during the tempo element. Not sure if I wasn't fully prepared mentally, wasn't hydrated well enough or if it was just down to my wearing clothing more suited to a temperature a few degrees lower. Probably a little of all three.

Sunday's run was the first of two 22 mile runs ahead of Paris. Distance wise I had no concerns ahead of Sunday as I'd done 21 two weeks earlier and expected to do this one a good 30s a mile slower anyway. Preparation and route weren't so easy as we were still away. For the route I decided to run a mile and a half along the Ashby canal then head north along the Coventry canal until I got to 11 miles then turn round and reverse it. I knew that a fair section of that had a good towpath and there were few, if any, locks. It did mean though, that I had to drive 50 minutes north from Sue's mothers.

Initially I'd thought to do the run at about 9:00 mile pace but later felt that might be a little slow, opting instead for 'about 8:40/8:45' and that's how I proceeded with the first two miles at 8:54 and 8:44 respectively, with the first mile held up by quite thick mud and an almost non existent tow path alongside the rarely used stretch of canal.

Then followed 8:32, 8:37, 8:29, 8:39, 8:37 and 8:28 taking me up to 7 miles with faster/slower miles generally relating to whether it was on good firm path or muddy/grass.

Round about this time I began to feel looser (having still felt Friday's run in my calves), so though I was already a fraction ahead of target I began to slowly speed up without paying any attention to the splits with 8:21, 8:15 and 8:02 taking me to halfway. That last mile and a bit had contained 6 individual and well spread downhill locks, probably accounting for the speed up in that final mile.

At that turnaround point I looked at the overall time of 1:33:38 and thought it would be nice to do this long run with negative splits, finishing in 3:06/3:07 but had no plan to do any more than that. Yet.

First return miles came in at a fairly consistent 8:16, 8:15, 8:13, 8:10 and by that last mile I'd decided (foolishly) to incorporate a few marathon pace miles from mile 16. Schoolboy error. The longest endurance runs are all about distance or time on your feet, others are a little shorter and concern running at marathon pace. The only day you bring them together is race day - not 5 weeks before.

So, I went through the next miles at 7:59, 8:03, 7:55, 7:59 and 7:58 to take me to 20 miles and from 17 onwards I'd found it appreciably tough. In fact, I'd probably felt it a little from about 13/14 miles but put that down to disjointed preparation.

I tried to push on at the same pace into mile 21 but my legs were getting weary and a little stiff and the final third of that mile was back in the thick mud which not only slowed me through slipping but also tired me out far more and, crucially, disrupted my rhythm. When I'm tired its keeping in a rhythm that keeps me going at a consistent pace; once the rhythm is gone I struggle to hold it. Mile 21 took me 8:14.

Mile 22 was a similar story, though with mud for all of it and as a result that slowed to 8:19. Mentally I was really pulling on the positive self talk to keep me going by this point though the chink in the armour was that there wasn't really a target time to aim at and earlier in the run I'd told myself I'd only go for marathon pace until 20 or 21 so I could jog the remainder. The devil on my shoulder kept reminding me of that in order to sap my resolve to try and push on at marathon pace.

Having ran a little further than 11 miles on the way out I was still 0.1 miles from 'home' and somehow summoned the energy to run that as a mini sprint finish back on tarmac. As a result the pace for that final bit was 6:50/mile. Overall, 3:03:54 for 22.10 miles.

Unfortunately (and predictably) I stiffened up quite a lot afterwards and recovery wasn't helped by the need to drive for 50 minutes to get Sue and the kids then another two and a half hours back to Leeds. I also missed the ice bath, couldn't refuel and rehydrate as well and rant out of NSAIDs an hour from home.

Yesterday I remained stiff and still feel some of it today. I may or may not do a little light exercise later, but there doesn't seem to be any lasting damage.

On the plus side it was good mental toughness training and was the penultimate (very) long run completed. I've also learned a little more about nutrition during the run and realised I need a little more water on these longer runs - another 300ml could have made a big difference to how I felt.

On the down side the muscle soreness has a bit of an effect on this week's running already and feeling that way at 22 miles with only a few at marathon pace makes 26.2 at 8:00 mile pace a little daunting a prospect.

However, while I was running I made a list. I love lists. This one concerned all the things that will be in my favour on the 10th April:
  1. I'll have the training benefit of Sunday's run and one other long one - my endurance will be stronger.
  2. I'll have completed another lengthy spell at marathon pace in this coming Sunday's run so my speed endurance will be better.
  3. I'll have had the benefit of the taper so I'll start with fresh legs.
  4. I'll have more nutrition & hydration during the run to keep me going.
  5. I'll have carb loaded beforehand so my glycogen reserves will start higher.
  6. I'll be running on a more consistent surface so I can keep a good rhythm.
  7. I'll be a few pounds lighter.
  8. I'll be wearing/carrying less kit - so less weight still.
  9. I'll be running in road shoes not mud caked trail shoes.
  10. I'll have the option of following the pacemakers.
  11. I'll be buoyed by race day adrenaline and crowd support.

Hopefully, that little lot will each contribute just a little to getting me round within target time. Allay my nerves further and let me know if there's anything I've missed!


~Jessica~ said...

I can't think of any other factors to add to your list, but those are all valid points.

I can't believe you're being so down on yourself for such an amazing training run. After the week you've had, most people would be struggling to maintain anything near race pace. Never underestimate the effect of stress on the body. You're probably drained, emotionally and physically.

Race day is nothing like training: the only thing that might cause you problems is psyching yourself out. Have some self-belief because from all of your runs so far it's obvious you have the ability to go sub-3:30. You just need the faith to go with it.


Rose said...

I'm late to this party but would also like to add my admiration that you managed such a great training run on unfamiliar, untested ground, a rubbish week and all the other kind of challenges that you were facing.

Hope everything is settling down for you all now and that Sue is bearing up okay


BabyWilt said...

I can understand that the closer you get to marathon day the more critical you can get with yourself, analysing everything. To be honest I think it helps & if it keeps the leggies going the so be it. Personally I have nothing but admiration for you and seeing this all through.

Wanted to send Sue another special hug xxx

Alison said...

I agree with the others: I think the fact that you have managed to keep on top of training in some form through this is admirable, and to still knock out a run near race pace is astounding. Like Jess says, I think your biggest battle now is a mental one, because from an outsiders perspective, this is in the bag.

Laura said...

Well done on those great runs, especially given the circumstances. A lot of people would probably have given up!