Tag Archives: marathon training

Hanson’s Marathon Method Month 1

I’m already into week 8 of the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan, time seems to be flying by this summer. This is the first Autumn race I’ve trained for in years, and with all this hot weather I now remember why! I started the beginner plan on week 3, as the first two weeks were easy base mileage, and I was recovering from NDW50 and still had decent miles in my legs.

I spent the first 3 weeks of the plan, getting back into running, with some light mileage weeks (20-25miles), just to shake off the cobwebs from a few weeks of rest and ease back into running. I know I won’t have lost my endurance completely in those 2 weeks, but it always feels hard to get back into it after a break.

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For week 1 of my training I was in Wales staying with my parents, they helped to look after my dog for the best part of 3 weeks while we were having our bathroom renovated, and I stayed with them for over a week to escape the chaos at home too. This meant I could get lots of nice easy runs in, in a different location, and some Cardiff parkrun’s too. On the weekend of the Champions League final we had to run an alternate, alternate course, as the regular and alternate courses were unavailable due to the football, it was a really nice route, more like a cross country and a bit hillier than the usual course, but nice for a change. This was my fastest parkrun in a while at 24.56, slightly surprising given the terrain and elevation. I am creeping closer to that PB (24.12) again, though I probably won’t be attempting it for a while as the weekend runs on Hanson’s are at long run (9.38mm) or easy pace (10-10.40mm).

Week 2 was another week of decent mileage. I did a really hilly run up to Castell Coch on the Taff Trail while in Wales, and put in a decent parkrun at Southwark of 25.27, despite feeling pretty crummy after just getting my period.

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Week 3 I did my first speed session in ages. I looked at Hanson’s plan and saw 12 x 400m on next week’s plan for the first speed session, and had a sight panic. I just did 5 x 400m, with 400m recovery’s to ease back in as my body is not used to any speedwork at all. This was the start of the June heatwave, with temps reaching 30+ in London, so I felt pretty tired and sluggish out there all week. I have felt much better running this week (early July) in the heat and sun, so I think my body has started to get used to it now, but back in June I was really struggling. Unfortunately, I got a couple of really bad bites while volunteering all night on the SDW100, and they just got worse over the course of 10 days so I had to go on antibiotics for a week, and fingers crossed it has sorted it out. Not ideal though.

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Week 4 was the first proper week of training. My mileage jumped from early 20’s to almost 40 miles this week, and I also increased from 5 runs a week, to 6. This will be the first time I’ve run 6 times a week during a training plan so I am interested to see how my body copes with this. On the Hanson’s plan, Mon/Fri/Sat are easy days, Tues Intervals, Thurs tempo and Sunday long run, I like how it’s all set out and knowing exactly what I have to do that day. I did my first speedwork session of 8 miles in boiling conditions, I took a while to get used to using my watch and didn’t hit my target pace once during the reps although I was using my Garmin in miles rather than meters and I think that would explain it. I really enjoyed the new challenge of speedwork and trying to hit the required pace. I swapped my tempo run to Friday this week as Thursday was extremely hot and humid, and it turned out to be the right decision. My tempo pace is 8.58, and I had no problem hitting this for 5 miles with a one mile warm up and cool down. This was another really enjoyable run, I’m having to use my watch a lot at the moment, but hopefully I can start to trust in my own pacing soon. This week had two weekend runs of 8 miles to ease back into longer runs, these were my longest runs since the NDW50 in May, so it was good to put in some higher mileage.

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I’ve been sticking to my three gyms sessions a week (push, pull, legs with a bit of core each time) and so far it’s working out fine, I feel good during my sessions, it’s just a case of training in the gym at the right times so I can recover for the really big run sessions. The mileage stays kind of steady for the next few weeks, and I’m looking forward to more of these speed sessions.

Week 1: 23 miles
Week 2: 21.6 miles
Week 3: 25 miles
Week 4: 39 miles

What to do when your motivation dips?

Marathon training is a long process, week after week of grinding out the miles, amongst those weeks there are bound to be natural peaks and troughs in terms of everything but particularly motivation. I am not currently training for a marathon-although I am running one in a week or so-but I am having a running motivation dip.

Last week, I found it really really hard to get out of the door, I didn’t want to run, I didn’t even want to put my trainers on, on my days off I just procrastinated around the house until late. This is so unlike me, I’m usually up and out, excited to run, but it just all disappeared last week. Maybe I’m a little burnt out, maybe I just need to mix things up, maybe it was just a temporary blip in my love affair with running, maybe I was bored of running the same routes.

I raced at the Red Bull Wings for Life on the weekend, and although I had a great time at the event, and hung out with some old and new friends, I didn’t really enjoy the race. It felt like a struggle, my legs felt heavy and slow, and I was so relieved when I was caught by the catcher car. I felt that I was battling against my body rather than working in harmony with it.

I am tired, my body is tired, sometimes it’s hurts to walk up the stairs, but more than the physical, I think I’ve neglected to consider the mental drain of long distance training, and it’s taken its toll a little. I have been scheduling drop back weeks, been trying to focus on my recovery, and I know I should be doing more yoga and meditation.

I don’t like feeling like I have to drag myself out the door, so on some days last week when I had planned to I just didn’t run, for whatever reason my body/mind was just giving me the sense that it needed the break, so I worked in some extra rest.

This week I have tried to change up my routine, running with the other half, running in new places, listen to something new (love the new Mumford album), running in new kit, abandoning my hill session, and putting in an unscheduled tempo one because I felt good. My mind feels better this week, a little refreshed and ready to go again.

I don’t know what brought on the lull, but I think I’ve reached the stage where everything ahead seemed too overwhelming. I needed to stop looking at the big picture, and just focus on the now, one week/one day/one run at a time. When training for months at a time, not every week is going to be a perfect one, and actually the worst weeks just like the worst runs are usually the ones that teach us the most and stand us in good stead for the challenges that lie ahead!

What’s next?

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It’s been two weeks since Berlin and I’ve now had time to reflect on the race, and I guess my running year as a whole. In some ways it doesn’t feel like I’ve just gone through another marathon training period due to my enforced lack of training. This is nice in a way as I’m not fed up with running at this point, but in another way I actually really missed doing those long training runs!

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Berlin was not a race I really had on the agenda for this year, with the main focus the Ultra and Manchester marathon earlier in the year. Had I not got into the ballot, I don’t think I would have been rushing up to sign up for another autumn marathon. I am now realising that 3 marathons and an ultra within a 6 month period is pretty tough on the body, and mine has broken down several times throughout this year which reflects that.

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That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider doing the same again, I’ve learnt a lot from all the different races, and up and down training periods, and injuries to deal with. If anything it has taught me to focus more on run specific strength training, as well as my pre/post run routine. It’s something I’ve always just taken for granted, but I realise now-especially with all the longer distance stuff-I can’t really afford to mess about, and keep avoiding these things. I’ve also come to realise that I can’t follow tough training programs like the Fat Burn Revolution, or Insanity alongside marathon training, and I’d say doing so was largely to blame for my injuries too. Trying to cram in too much causes my body to break down, and I end up knackered all of the time as well. I will be looking to try and fit in programs like this during the time I am not training for long distance races to build some strength, and then focus on running and more run specific strength stuff during race training.

The body has recovered OK since Berlin, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, given I hadn’t run over 13 miles for months, and my training had been all over the place. My ITB has actually been pretty good, it’s the rest of my body and mind that have been struggling post race. Some days I’ve been suffering with ridiculous fatigue, I think it’s a combination of all the stuff we have had going on lately with the move etc, plus pushing my body to somewhere it wasn’t really trained to go! Some days are better than others, but some I can’t even haul myself up the stairs, I guess it’s normal to feel tired post marathon and it does seem to be easing as the days go by.

I don’t know what’s next, I feel like I want to continue the long distance stuff, but be a bit more sensible about it. The injuries this year and time out have made me realise how much I love running and that I need to do everything I can to minimize injury risk and look after my body so I can continue to do it!

There are two races I really want to do next year, but they are both around the same time, so I think I will have to choose between the two. I didn’t get into London, so I am still debating whether I want to do a spring marathon and probably won’t decide until early next year after taking a few months off of proper training.Muddy trail shoes

I am hoping to do a few of the trailscape events including the half in Essex this weekend. After 3 trail races this year I realise it’s absolutely where my heart lies with running, and is something I want to do more of. After that I have the Brighton half in Feb, and I would really like to train properly for that as I haven’t trained for a half since I dipped under 2 hours at Cardiff last year, and would like to have a crack at beating that again.

What events do you have lined up?

Berlin Marathon Training Wrap

If you’ve been following for the last 3 months, you’ll know my Berlin training has been less than ideal! It reads something like: left calf injury, left knee injury, right knee injury, sinusitis, ITBS, and little to no running. In fact I haven’t run over 26 miles in a week since July, and yet somehow I’m going to push myself to run that for the marathon!

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Week 1: 28 miles
Week 2: 26 miles
Week 3: 14 miles
Week 4: 0 miles
Week 5: 28 miles
Week 6: 1 mile
Week 7: 14 miles
Week 8: 22 miles
Week 9: 18 miles
Week 10: 2 miles
Week 11: 0 miles
Week 12: 3 miles
Week 13: 20 miles
Week 14: 25 miles
Week 15: 27 miles

Consistently inconsistent! I think I didn’t take enough time off post-ultra, and then it’s just been one injury after the other. Thankfully the last 3 weeks I’ve managed to get in some solid training, it’s a little late in the day, but at least it gives me a little more confidence and I know that I will be on the start line on Sunday.

I really wanted this to be my goal marathon, I wanted to try and get close to 4 hours, with a solid period of training after the ultra, and on what is supposed to be a fast, flat course. Alas, things were not meant to be, I would like to think that one day I think I will run a marathon having had an ideal period of training, as the three I have previously run have all had issues: Dublin: gastroenteritis the week before, in bed for 4 days prior, Manchester: Injured missed loads of training, Milton Keynes: follow up to Manchester not something I trained towards.

Maybe I should have taken more time off post-ultra, and not followed a tough weight training program while injured, but it’s easy to look back and say these things were to blame or that I should have done things differently. Would it have made a difference, I don’t know. I think that everything happens for a reason, and I’ve learnt a lot from the injuries, and ultimately in the long run, dealing with them will make me a better and stronger runner.

Obviously time is completely out the window, which actually is quite nice in the way, as there is no pressure, and I can just enjoy running around one of my favourite cities, soak up the atmosphere and the sights. I have no guarantee that my ITBS won’t flare up, and the race is going to be bloody painful having not got the miles in my legs, my longest runs have only been 13 miles, and a few of those were ages ago. I’m also probably in the worst shape I’ve been in in a long time, I’ve basically stopped all exercise other than walking and the odd few runs of the last few weeks, and my nutrition hasn’t been on form as we don’t have a fridge and have been so busy and stressed with the house I haven’t had much time to cook at all. Despite this I’m determined to get round, and whether I can run the whole thing I don’t know, but I’m determined to at least start and try and run this amazing race!

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I’m jetting off to Berlin in the morning, and will be disconnecting from the online world for a bit. So fingers crossed it all goes well, good luck to all my fellow runners, and see you on the other side!

Letting go (or not) of Berlin

One week ago, I was hobbling home after 2 miles of another failed run, my ITBS had flared up again and my knee was really hurting. I pathetically sobbed the mile walk home, and knew that a decision on Berlin had been made for me. The tears were just a symbolic release of letting go of this race, the frustration during the last few months, and almost a sense of relief at finally deciding to pull out.

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I got home, emailed the organisers to see if I could defer my entry for next year, and was told I could, so that was it, Berlin was over, I was absolutely gutted, but in some way it felt like a huge weight had been lifted too. It was constantly playing on my mind, should I do it or not.

I went to physio the day after and told him of my intention to defer, he didn’t advise me one way or another, other than saying if I did decide to do it, it would probably be very painful if the ITBS flared up, and I can’t argue with that, when it’s bad I can barely walk, so even run/walking the marathon would be highly difficult. I decided that I wouldn’t send the deferral letter in until the following week- weirdly you can defer right up the day before-but ultimately I knew it was pretty much all over.

I decided after a few days rest to go for a few runs, not aiming towards Berlin, but just testing the leg out, and seeing if there was any improvement.

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On Wednesday I set out and ran 3.5 miles in a decent clip considering the lack of training, and surprisingly the knee felt much better. I also ran commute home in the evening, during which time I got lost trying to find London Bridge and ran past it in the opposite directions twice (seriously?!) and ended up running 3 miles total, again with no pain. I thought this was a one off, and that I would be paying for it the next day.

Thursday night I left work really late and only had 15 minutes to get to my train (around 1.5 mile distance and then get to platform) so I knew I had to blast it, risky with the knee but I wanted to get home sometime that evening! I was stunned when I got to the station to find I had run a 7.44 mile? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 7 on my Strava, not that I ever really aim to run fast outside of races, I much prefer a plod! This was just 2 miles total, but again there was no issues.

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On Friday I thought I would give a mid distance run one last chance, this was the real tester after the previous runs and on consecutive days. My legs felt really tired and heavy after a busy week and the previous runs, but I pushed through it, and had absolutely no pain at all during a 10 mile run. It hurt like hell physically, I’ve lost a lot of fitness as I’ve been not doing very much at all exercise wise, so it felt hard, but at least I was doing it! I recovered well, and didn’t have pain later on, or the next day either.

Yesterday morning was the big tester following on from the longer one, again I ran a solid 6 miles, and had absolutely no pain. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and for the first time since May, I felt like I was running on my terms. No injury dictating everything.

I have no idea why the ITBS has gone away quite suddenly. I’ve been doing the Kinetic Revolution program daily, as well as physio stretches/rolling, not sitting very much at all thanks to doing DIY around the house and working, and I’ve slightly changed my running style. I think all these factors have contributed, but I wonder in some way as well, if admitting defeat on Berlin, and the massive weight and pressure this lifted somehow played into it. I was putting so much pressure on myself to make the race, and fighting against the injury, weighed down with so much negativity about it, that I find it ironic that after finally accepting I wouldn’t be able to do it, the injury seems to be improving.

Anyway, this leaves me with 2 weeks to go, a deferral letter in my possession, and a glimmer of positivity on the running horizon. Clearly I’ve done little to no training, I’m not in any sort of shape to run a half let alone a marathon, and there is no guarantee that the ITBS won’t flare up. Ultimately though, I’ve always had this feeling deep inside that I would, and could run this race, for some reason I felt that I needed to do this race. It’s not going to be a PB, and I’m ok with that, because I know just getting to the start line will have been more of an achievement than anything else. I’m actually looking forward to not getting carried away about time and just enjoying what is set to be an epic race!

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I read the above quote in Ira Rainey’s book Fatman to Greenman this morning, and was like ok, let’s do this race! I have made peace with the fact that I might not make it round, and if that happens, it’s totally ok. I think I would regret not doing the race, feeling as I do now, and the ‘what ifs’ would play on my mind. I think I’d rather try and fail, than not try it at all.