My first marathon: Week 4 & 5

Oh my, I have been naughty! Apologies for the unannounced blogging hiatus, but rest assured that while I may have skived off the blog I did not skive off my training. I am a marathon training machine (apparently)!

5 weeks in and I can report that marathon training feels weird. It’s hard, but it’s not hard. It’s been challenging, but with very few challenges. It’s all long runs and slow runs, and though I ache – believe me I ache – I don’t feel tired enough to have really earned that right to ache, because I’m not really doing very much tiring stuff.

During these early training weeks I have only run one fast session each week. The rest of my training has been steady pace runs or long slow runs and I have been genuinely shocked by the effect this has had on my attitude towards running.

I like to feel challenged when I’m training. I like threshold sessions that build week on week – extra reps, longer reps – and the sense of achievement when I nail that pace. I like speedwork that leaves me panting, sweating and swearing. The half marathon pace that I trained towards this Spring wasn’t much slower than my threshold pace, so race pace runs felt challenging and left me buzzing afterwards. But marathon pace is slower and steadier, and so my weekly 6 mile marathon pace run doesn’t fill me with quite the same enthusiasm and doesn’t deliver quite the same buzz.

However, though I may not feel like I’m doing very much  when I’m running I sure am tired! In Week 4 I ran my longest ever long run and totaled my highest ever weekly mileage of 34 miles! And even though this last week (Week 5) was a rest week, it was sandwiched by two 70 mile cycle rides into Kent and contained another 45 mile ride out to Hertfordshire. Phew!

So yes, I feel slower, but I don’t think it’s because I’m not running fast. I think it’s because my body is tired and I feel heavy. This realisation doesn’t solve the problem of my waning enthusiasm obviously, but over the next few weeks I am going to try and think more holistically about my training. This means that rather than grumbling about another steady run I need to think about how that steady run, combined with the long run, the race pace mile reps and single threshold session will contribute towards the development of superhero-like running abilities, or at least successfully hauling my ass 26.2 miles around the New Forest.

WEEK 4

Monday: Threshold
4 x [8 mins run; 90 secs rest]
It was tough – my reps have never been this long before and just 90 seconds recovery made it tough to hold my pace. But I did it – just. Pace was definitely at the lower end, which bummed me out a bit, but the aim is to run them evenly and so I begrudgingly accept this session to be a success.

Tuesday: Strength training (am); 6 mile MP run (pm)
I had hoped to run my Tuesday MP runs with my club each Tuesday, but that means waiting until the evening to run. I got itchy feet during the day and so I ran solo instead, taking in the hills of Crouch End and Hornsey.

Wednesday: Long run (16 miles)
Despite vowing to only run long runs after a rest day, a bike ride planned for Thursday left me with no choice but to bosh out 16 miles on Wednesday instead. It was my longest run ever and so I avoided hills and headed down to the Thames and ran along the Southbank, crossed the river at Waterloo and took in the touristy sights and sounds of my beloved London Town: Parliament Square, a parade outside Buckingham Palace (I couldn’t get through the crowds and so I ran on the pristine lawns that are fenced off – take that royal family!) the Serpentine, Marbel Arch and Regents Park.

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16 miles

Thursday: Rest day

Friday:  MP mile reps
5 x [mile @MP; 3 minutes jog]
I will learn to enjoy marathon pace sessions.
I will learn to enjoy marathon pace sessions.
I will learn to enjoy marathon pace sessions.
I will learn to enjoy marathon pace sessions…

Saturday: Parkrun
After such a slow few weeks I was really looking forward this weeks parkrun. My schedule listed it as ‘hard tempo – 7:35/mile’ i.e. my hardest 10K pace. I was a bit naughty and ran as hard as I could. I finished about 10 seconds outside of my usual parkrun time, but considering I’d already run 31 miles that week I was happy with that!

Unflattering running photo alert!

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Sunday: Rest day/Cycle ride
70 miles-ish across hills
I had to scout out a new route for the Rapha Women’s 100 ride to Whitstable and so I recruited a couple of friends to ride with me. A couple of wrong turns and a heck of a lot of hills later and we made it to the beach. It was hard though – really hard – and I had to push up a couple of hills towards the end. The scenery and company made it all worth while. Thanks to Edd and Dave, and to Paul who came part of the way!

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WEEK 5

Monday: Rest day
I barely slept Sunday night. Despite being completely exhausted from Sunday’s ride, my legs ached so much I just couldn’t get comfortable in bed. I woke up groggy on Monday and was chocked I managed to stay upright when I eventually braved getting out of bed. I pottered around stiffly for a while before resigning myself to a gentle jog and 30 minutes of crying/foam rolling.

Tuesday: Strength training (am); 6 mile MP run (pm)
I did a naughty again and skipped my club run, instead running 6 miles alone. Though I miss the company it does mean I am able to concentrate more on my pace, which is kind of the point. I think I am going to continue running these MP sessions alone and keep my club runs social.

Wednesday: Rest day
NTC workout and stretching
Even though this week was an easy training week, I decided to do some crosstraining and did an NTC workout at home followed by some yoga and stretching. So relaxing…

Thursday: Rest day/cycle ride
I think I’m going to have to rename my rest days, because they’re not really very restful, are they? Thursday’s rest became a 45 mile cycle ride to St Albans and back, 45 miles in total. Perhaps I should call them ‘non-running days’.

Friday: Rest day
Again, not a restful rest day, but not too tough either. A 30 minute circuit style workout in my living room courtesy of my Nike Training Club app, and then 15 minutes of stretching and 15 minutes of torturous foam rolling.

Saturday: Parkrun
After an easier training week I thought I should have a bash at another fast parkrun, but it was hot and humid and I settled into a enjoyable tempo run instead – uncomfortable, but sustainable.

Sunday: Non-running day
Rapha Womens 100 cycle ride
Yesterday I led a group from Dulwich in South London to Whitstable in Kent. That’s 67 miles across the North Downs on one of the hottest days of the year so far. It was a fantastic day of cycling with fantastic people (some of whom I’d not met before) and fantastic cakes and treats. Look out for a separate post about this ride in the week!

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How is your running and training going? Do you have any advice for beating marathon monotony?

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One thought on “My first marathon: Week 4 & 5

  1. You just have to push through the training and try to enjoy the peace and tranquility that running provides. The marathon will be the culmination of alp of your hard work. Keep running!

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