My first marathon: Week 11

After my easy and restful week last week training is feeling good again. That 20-miler has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for this marathon. When following a training plan it’s easy to fall into a ‘box-ticking’ mentality and it’s hard to muster the will to run 9 miles over hills, but that 20-miler reminded me of the challenge that I have been hankering for. I’m feeling focused again.

Monday: That progressive run
15 miles
I began the week with a second attempt at that 15 mile progressive run. Yeah, the one that fell apart last week. I considered it my punishment for boozing the night before a run date and I’m pleased to report that it was good. Better than good in fact. I was expecting it to be a killer session and so, despite running most of my long runs and marathon paced runs on hills, I ran this session on a flat course. I headed East towards Victoria Park – 5 miles at an easy pace that translated into 9:30-40/mile. As I entered Victoria Park and my GPS watched ticked over 5 miles I picked up the pace and ran a steady effort. Though I’m still undecided about my actual marathon time/pace goal, I’ve been training at a ‘steady’ effort which on my hilly routes has translated as 9:00-9:15/mile. On the flat though this ‘steady’ effort was 8:45. As I approached 10 miles I braced myself for 5 miles slightly faster still. I decided not to look at my watch, but to just pick a pace that felt sustainable and focus on holding it. The result? 5 miles at 7:50-8:10/mile. Not entirely sure where that came from!

Tuesday: Marathon pace run
9 miles
These weekly marathon pace runs have been really tough during the heatwave, so I was really happy to head out into a mild and cloudy day on Tuesday for 9 hilly miles! Finding a ‘steady’ and potential marathon pace continues to be tricky, but I’m starting to get a feel for it. It’s on the cusp between jogging and running, but just pacey enough to feel like the latter, but after 9 miles I am not out of breath. In fact I feel like I could push on a few more miles at that pace, just like how I felt after my race pace runs during half marathon training. Is this a good sign? I daren’t get too cocky.

Wednesday: Rest day
I had hoped to attend a new yoga class that I have found in my local park, but I turned up an hour late…

Thursday: Speedwork
6 x [1 mile @ threshold; 3 minute recovery]
This was a tough, but fun session. I love speed work and after weeks of longer slower stuff it was fun to stretch out a bit. I ran loops over the undulations of Finsbury Park, just like the old days…

In the afternoon I headed over to the Olympic Park and the new Copperbox Arena to volunteer at the Street Games festival. Street Games is a scheme that provides doorstep sports opportunities to teens and young adults in deprived communities. They use links with numerous sports organisations and coaches to deliver sessions in youth clubs, schools and at events such as this.

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The festival had football and basketball tournaments, as well as opportunities to play lacrosse, netball, handball and volleyball on the courts. There were also loads of sports taster sessions taking place continuously throughout the day, such as indoor rowing and canoeing, boxing, table tennis, fencing, zumba, street dance, roller skiing, rugby, parkour and a graffiti workshop too. There was also an athletics track for sprint races!

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IMG_1831The volunteers got to have a go as well! I tried my hand at sprinting (not so good)…

IMG_1898…and indoor rowing (pretty good – I won the race in lane 1 by a whisker!)

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It was an incredible event – much bigger and slicker than I had imagined it could be – and everyone there seemed to be having a great time. Fingers crossed I get to volunteer with them again.

Friday: Unscheduled rest day
I had scheduled in some easy miles to top up my weekly mileage, but I’ve just started a new job and was just a bit too tired out.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 10K race
When I wrote my training schedule I had planned to race this race, not use it as a training run. But then the realities of marathon training made me change my plans and run it as a MP run. But then I changed my mind on the start line and tried to run it hard. This mind-changing meant I wasn’t particularly psyched up, but I managed a good effort anyway. The first 3 miles past in freakishly even splits of 7:23, 7:24 and 7:22 that would also have given me a PB if I’d kept it up, but then I lost GPS signal and couldn’t keep track of my pace. I knew I was doing better than my 10K race a couple of weeks ago, because there was a hint of nausea that signaled I was close to my lactate threshold, but then in the last lap and a half I gave up the fight. I shifted from ‘push dammit, push the pace, run through the pain and BE AWESOME‘ to ‘meh, a tempo run would just as good for your training as a race would be, so chill out…‘. And so, somewhere between going out too fast and giving up the fight in the second half I finished the race in what has become an average time. Meh…

Everytime I fail to run close to my PBs over 5K and 10K it’s hard not to feel disappointed, but I’m trying to take my consistent times as indicators of my fitness levels and use them to establish a pace goal for the big day. That’s a bit too scary to write about today though…

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3 thoughts on “My first marathon: Week 11

  1. Hi – interesting blog. I’m running theNew Forest Marathon too as my first over this distance and found your blog via a Google search. I’m a member of a running club in north London and have not told many people what I’m training for as I want it to be less pressured – they know I’ve signed up for Brighton next year, but not this. ran the NF half last year and really enjoyed it d

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  2. …despite the pouring rain. Anyway, will follow your blog with interest as I’m ticking off all the same mileage milestones too. Ran a half last Sunday at TMP and am debating now on adjusting it slightly or whether to rely on the tapering period to prepare me comfortably. Haven’t done much speed work but am toying with idea of a parkrun this weekend to see if I’ve gained/lost much oomph from my training. Good luck!

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    1. Hi NLR, nice to have you on board! Good on you for running a HM recently – I couldn’t get to one so am doing weekly 9 mile TMP runs instead. I wouldn’t be surprised if it felt tough, especially if your mileage is quite high at the moment and you didn’t rest well beforehand, but I’m a firm believer in listening to your body so I hope you find a pace that you are comfortable with. Good luck at parkrun!

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