My first marathon: Week 13

This is a late weekly recap, I know, but the reason for my tardiness is also the focus of my weekly wonderings.

I had a few drinks after work on Sunday – OK, I had quite a few – and this Monday was just a complete write off. I got all of the essential and unavoidable stuff done, including attending the London Cycling Campaign’s demonstration in the evening, but the hangover sucked, and it isn’t the first time a hangover has distracted me from training. I’ve spent all week catching up on myself and, while my night out was fun, that just doesn’t seem like a good enough excuse for falling behind with work, errands and training.

IMG_1930Slow mass rides are excellent protests and publicity stunts, but terrible hangover cures.

Before you go jumping to any conclusions, I’m not a big drinker. I used to be back in my student days (and maybe afterwards too…), but since I took up running I’ve been less inclined to drink as often or as much. My social life exists outside of pubs and clubs now – it’s in leisure centres, bike workshops and local parks – and while I love all of this, it does mean I’m a little out of practice.

Yup, that’s right. I’m a lightweight.
2 pints is now my limit. Anymore and the next day is a struggle.
And so I have to ask myself, is it worth it?

My marathon is now less than 3 weeks away, and I’ve been training for over two months. I think we can all agree that I would be a twat to dent my chances now. Yes, I’m tapering, and so no, I don’t need to train quite so hard everyday, but this taper period is essential for my body to repair itself and get ready for the big race. While I don’t think that all alcohol is bad for you, I do think that attempting to drink all of the alcohol in one night will limit my body’s ability to heal and transform itself into a marathon running machine.

And so I’m putting this out there: I’m off the sauce.

It’s only for a few weeks, and my diary doesn’t have any particularly boozey engagements in it, so I reckon it’s a good idea. I’ve been cleaning up my diet in recent weeks anyway, so surely this is just part of that process. Alcohol isn’t necessary bad for you, and there are proven benefits of drinking red wine in moderation. But I’m not drinking red wine, and so I can’t help thinking about the dehydration and the toxins.

Plus, a few weeks of abstinence will make that post-marathon pint taste all the better…

Monday: Rest
It was the Bank Holiday and so I kicked back with my housemates and some friends with a BBQ in the back garden.

Tuesday: Attempted my weekly 9mile steady run, managed 3 miles
I’ve had some really bad calf tightness recently and had a physio appointment already booked that for Tuesday evening, so maybe this pain was psychosomatic, but after a mile my right ankle began to ache and got progressively worse. I stopped to stretch out my calves, but it made no difference and so I turned back home, clocking up just 3 miles.

Up on the physio’s table I was given a ticking off for not foam rolling in recent weeks and for writing off my calf tightness as just one of those things that runners get.

Wednesday: Yoga
Yoga in the park felt rather uncomfortable after my sports massage, but it was still enjoyable. I remain unbendy.

Thursday: Threshold
8 x [4 minutes @ threshold, 90 seconds rest]
After my sports massage this run felt good. I hit a consistent low threshold pace and breezed around the park. One rest period extended to 6 minutes when I found a crying child who had run from the playpark and lost her mum (they were soon reunited, and I made a new friend), but the calf tightness creeped back in towards the end, but otherwise it went well.

Friday: 5 x [1 mile @ target marathon pace, 2 minutes rest]
This run also felt good! I felt bouncier than I had in weeks and running at this pace felt easy. I was tempted to do another few reps, but heeded the physio’s warnings and stuck to the planned session.

Saturday: Parkrun
Last week’s parkrun at target marathon pace was a good confidence building run as I focused on maintaining a steady pace while others raced, puffed and panted past me. I decided to do this again, but this time without my watch. The result? About 15 seconds/mile too fast, but still good practice.

Afterwards I set off for another physio appointment. Two appointments in one week, and massages that were what I imagine being trampled by New Forest ponies might be like, and my calves are certainly feeling better. But they’re far from perfect. Originally I had been advised to wait until after this second appointment to do my last long run (planned for Sunday), but she ended up telling me ease off the long runs sooner than I had planned, to keep my training load as light as possible until the marathon (maintaining fitness levels only), and to stretch and foam roll several times a day. And so Sunday became that fateful, drunk rest day…

Sunday: Rest
A rest day that ended in the pub.

Tonight I am going to my local pub quiz, sans booze. This marathon had better be worth the sacrifice…


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