Week 10

Firstly, I can’t believe I am ten weeks into marathon training on a vastly different plan from any of the other times & still feeling good with it. I have increased my weekly running mileage by 200% since December, & am averaging about 50 miles a month more than the last training programme. Ridiculous amounts of running, & I am naturally rather lazy so I was expecting this to be a lot worse. It isn’t. I feel good.

Secondly, this has been another peak week so I am tired, a bit achy & eating everything. Second lunch happens most days at about 3:30pm. I am physically tired but struggling to sleep well. The first km of every run is not fun at all. I am down to 8 normal-looking toenails. It’s a good job I’m happy with my progress…

Monday: strength & bike time, and I enjoyed it. Gym’s still busy, but I am lucky enough to work flexibly so I can usually mix up when I go.

Nobody likes the baby 10kg bar except me

I have dropped the weight right down on all my lifts, so the strength sessions are just about maintenance right now. Getting good advice from my coach, not stressing my legs out too much, & keeping up shoulder, back & core strength is key. The longer distances are sometimes causing fatigue & affecting my posture & form. I don’t want to be injured so I need to stay strong.

Tuesday: 5 miles of speedwork. The speedy parts were 5 reps of a 1km threshold run. Couple of minutes gentle jogging in between, & slightly over 1km warm up and cool down. It felt good, but I still had achy hips from Sunday’s long run & speedwork + treadmill did not help.

Wednesday: early start, so did 8 miles easy after work again. It rained a bit, and my Garmin did not record properly & that made me sad.

A bath made it better

Thursday: 6 miles with GFR. Celebrating International Women’s Day with an all-female Jog Leader collection & a run round points of historical feminist interest. There was a suffragette altercation at the Kibble Palace in January 1914, so my group went there for a look & a think.

Purple, white and green (mostly) – celebrating International Women’s Day
Women supporting women

Managed a bit of fartlek-style speedwork during the run, which was good enough for a chilly Thursday.

Friday: rest day & very ready for it. Mexican food & binge-watching The Good Place, living my best life. I had been forgetting to stretch and foam roll all week, but you can do that whilst watching tv which is awesome.

Saturday: 8 miles of parkrun sandwich. Pleased that an easy parkrun is now 28-ish minutes, because a few years ago that was an all-out effort or unachievable.

Sunday: long runs do get boring, so taking part in the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon offered a bit of a competitive edge to a route that I love running but don’t always manage, because it can be quite isolated in parts. Medal & a new tech top is a nice bonus and I was very happy with a 2 hour ish time, because the weather was awful and slush underfoot made it slippery. I had several slow miles on the more exposed footpaths where I was terrified of skidding & knackering a hamstring. Big credit to Dunbartonshire AAA for not cancelling the race, even though several folk did take up their offer of getting bussed back to Clydebank…

I hate finish line pictures

The traditional chips on the chip boat at the end would have been AMAZING, but I had to clock 19 miles today so I ran off into the distance with my new medal. The weather was hideous. After a few days of spring, winter has come screaming back and it was not nice at all. Snow, sleet, hail and rain are all quite different forms of precipitation when they’re hitting you directly in the face.

It wasn’t actually that cold, even though I wore shorts, but the last 4km or so was just torrential rain that turned to hail. It was so, so miserable.

Never been more grateful to be out of the damn rain

Jelly babies & political podcasts were alright, but running into a friend doing their long run the opposite way & getting a hug & some inspiring words helped a lot.

support & kind words mean so much

Total miles: 47

Nutrition: adequate. Highlights being pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, a very beige-carb buffet at a meeting on Wednesday, and chicken pesto pasta on Saturday night.

Bagels are wonderful. Carbs are magic. Help me.

Feeling: tired but good. Happy with the increased speedwork, keeping the easy runs very easy to ensure I was fit for the long run on Sunday.

Double-digit miles in the sleet is not great and there has been chafing. The Brooks Juno is generally the best bra for longer runs – Shock Absorber seems to sit oddly on my ribs sometimes & it affects my breathing – but the back clasps can rub, & it is quite sore right now in the very middle of my back where I can’t reach to put sudocrem on.

Also my shoes and my feet are potentially a bit fucked after the weather on Sunday – I will give them a few days to dry off, and make a decision later.

Newspaper trick usually works

Trusting in the plan, next week is another mileage drop, with a shortened long run and easy midweek run. The overall mileage is still higher than my last training plan so I am just believing in it & hoping the speedwork will prove to be the key. As the miles go down next week, I’m going to really push the speedwork sessions to get the most benefit. An extra strength session will fit in well too with reduced mileage.

Tired but happy

Running is a cheap form of exercise

Unless you have no self control when it comes to buying gym gear, and a huge IKEA wardrobe.

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(this is as bad as it gets – I  refold everything about once a week…)

Honestly, I have ridiculous amounts of gym kit. It mostly mixes and matches, but I do have preferences for different kit for different types of training – when I started getting into serious lifting, I wore sleeveless tops and leggings more often so I could see the muscle tone & movement in my back and shoulders, as well as to minimise deadlift shin (long socks also work for this). Also I am too lazy to get changed after evening workouts, so clothing that keeps me warm enough on the walk home is better when it’s cold. For outdoor running in the winter I don’t like having both my arms & legs covered, unless it’s really chilly, so I have a pretty big collection of exercise clothing.

Trainers: these days it has to be Brooks. My current pair are Ravenna 9, but I’ve worn Vapor 2 and Vapor 3 in the past and also Saucony Omni, when I first started running & got shin splints. I also have a cheap pair of Karrimor Caracals for trail running or very wet weather. I’ll run shorter distances on treadmills in more basic trainers but for anything over four miles or so, I need my proper runners. I am lucky enough to rarely get blisters, but I am down to nine toenails.

I get my gait analysed in run4it’s RunLab every couple of years, they’ve always been incredibly helpful and do not do the hard sell on expensive gear.

I do not have a lot of time for ‘women’s trainers’ (& women’s kit in general) because they’re mostly pink/purple and have flowers on. I wear a size 7/8 shoe so I can quite often get mens’ trainers, which is good.

Bra: I do not compromise on sports bras. Like a lot of women, my running improved a huge amount when I found a sports bra that fitted well and was right for me. I like the Shock Absorber Run, but the way the back straps work mean that once it’s stretched a bit the support isn’t as good. Current favourite is the Brooks Juno, despite the expense – fits well, feels nice, looks good. I haven’t run long distances in this bra though so things may change as training progresses – I still have scars on my back from a 3 hour training run in 2017 where it rained heavily and the back clasp chafed me really badly. Never had that with a Shock Absorber so we’ll see how this winter’s training goes.

Tops: meh. A lot of my workout tops are race finisher shirts, most of which I can’t bring myself to get rid of even though I only wear about half of them on a regular basis. I like the idea of having them made into a blanket/throw type of thing, but I’d probably just keep that in a cupboard too. I guess it would save space. I will mostly train in whatever’s there; races are invariably in GFR club kit. I prefer a t-shirt to a vest.

Leggings/shorts/etc – one day I’ll find ones that fit nicely and perfectly and I will buy six pairs and that will be the end of it. Current favourites are some Ronhill long reflective leggings I picked up in the run4it sale, some 3/4 length mesh Nike tights that were also in the run4it sale, and some adidas supernova half-length leggings with reflective strips at the knee which are my fave for night-time running. I almost always race in the same pair of Nike shorts I’ve had for several years.

Jackets: I used to wear running jackets a lot more often, because I wanted to cover my body as much as I could. Nowadays I usually cba unless I need the pockets. Jackets don’t keep the rain off, and if you’re going out for a run in the rain you might as well wear short sleeves and get wet. I have a nice Ronhill jacket which is very reflective, has a decent pocket, and has a LED in the back, which comes in handy jog leading. This year’s London Marathon rejection jacket is also nice, although mine is a bit tight at the moment. Hopefully it will fit better soon.

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Rejection jacket 2019 & the Nike shorts

Socks: Cheap 3-packs from the Nike outlet store most of the time. I have a couple of pairs of Hilly twinskins & I also like Feetures. I find compression socks or sleeves are really nice for longer distances – I have a pair of bright pink 2xu compression socks which are good for getting noticed but the foot of the sock is less comfortable and bunches up sometimes. I also have a pair of less ostentatiously bright Hilly calf sleeves and a cheap pair of red compression socks that I bought to match the GFR club vest. After a 3-4 hour training run, compression socks do really make a difference to calf ache or discomfort, so I’ll be wearing these a lot in training.

Accessories: I have a flipbelt and a Nike waistpack with a bottle carrier, as well as a soft armband to carry my phone if I’m not using a waistpack. The door key and £5 can fit in the tiny stupid zipper pockets in shorts/leggings. My watch is a Garmin 235 and I’ll probably do a specific post about that and the statistics it tells me at some other point. For music, I have Urbanista Boston wireless earpieces and Skullcandy running earbuds, mixing & matching depending on length of run. I don’t always listen to music or podcasts when running, though

So, quite a lot of exercise gear. Too much. Another 2019 commitment will be to not buy any more new gym clothing. I will need a fresh pair of trainers between now and April, but nothing else. Let’s hope I stick to that…