What now?

Well, I’m not too sure. All of 2019 (& the end of 2018, really) has been consumed by running.

After a full week of rest, I headed out in the rain for a recovery run this morning. Just 5km, just round the block like a usual short training run.

Despite getting a bit agitated during the week of rest, it was a good idea to fully recover & not try & run a couple of days after a marathon with stiff muscles & worrying about my heart rate. Getting back to the gym is nice too. My eating has been relatively healthy & I am enjoying all the spare time I seem to have.

I have a 10km & a half marathon over the next few months, and a couple of shorter races that I am tempted by, but I will be taking bit of a break from running. There are too many other awesome things to do, & not just exercise related. I have friends in other parts of the country that I need to visit. I have items I really need to finish knitting, books to read, sleep to catch up on. The marathon is the easy part in a very long, high volume training programme that has been amazing for my discipline & propelled me well towards my 1000km/year, a milestone I usually reach in the last third of the year.

1km was New Year’s Day, of course

To hit this in May is incredible, but it’s time for a change. Working on my upper body strength, & particularly my back, will be happening. I was making good progress last year until I stopped lifting as much.

This rest has been the longest break I have taken in 2019, & it already feels weird. I haven’t even hit 10,000 steps a day this week. But it has probably been good for me in the long run.

The best finish line…

… is the one coming up tomorrow. Now we’re talking. Spot the jump from maintenance cardio to the heavy miles at the start of the year. The last five months have been intense. Edinburgh Marathon is nearly here & then I am having a rest & a break from running & selfies.

So – here we go for another 30 mile week. Except 26.2 of them are all at once.

Monday: rest day, & working in London. This mostly involves trains, catching trains for very short distances & worrying about the timetable change, so it was physically restful but mentally a bit fraught.

Tuesday: more London. I’d asked the wisdom of Instagram whether I should run or not when I was away – results were mixed

but I had a busy day & plenty of walking to do, so that was enough. Glorious weather too, so walking was better than running.

Wednesday: home time: three miles easy & a strength session, keeping the weights low.

Thursday: another rest. Stretchy stretch time (& voting)

Friday: the intention was two miles steady along the river, keeping it the same as I did in London. However, the day before a long weekend plus the political excitement had the odds thoroughly stacked against taking a lunch hour, so I waited until the evening for this & then chilled in the garden afterwards.

Saturday: volunteering at parkrun, which is always very inspiring & good fun, & then brunch.

I like being able to bring coffee with me

The rest of the day’s been quite lazy, & the alarm call tomorrow is early. It will go how it goes. I wish I was looking forward to it more.

The weather forecast is problematic:

but I am prepped for an afternoon of celebration & an evening of watching the European election results on the sofa.

The best part of tomorrow will be the company. Although I am so grateful for support from anyone – I confessed to this marathon at work yesterday during ‘plans for the weekend?’ chat after a meeting, & the reactions reminded me that most people don’t spend their time doing this & it’s actually quite a big deal – but running pals are nice to have. London was awesome but lonely in parts, & with a huge club turnout for the official GFR spring marathon, I hope that those of us who are pushing for a similar time can keep each other going, as we’ve done in the past.

also beverages

Week before race week…

& it’s amazing how much better I feel mentally. Physically, I am needing a bit of a rest or a change, & I can’t wait until it’s all over…

Monday: rest day. Not difficult in the lovely sunshine. Did some yoga stretches in the garden, listening to the relaxing sounds of my cat’s enraged howling that another cat had dared to come within 5 metres of the house.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE

Tuesday: still sunny, but headed to the air-conditioned gym for a speed session. Kept the speed a bit more tempo-style & managed 12 reps of 250m, with 60 seconds recovery time & a short warmup and cooldown of about 1km each. Finished off with a bit of strength training, mostly back and arms to give the legs a break.

Wednesday: skipped the easy run again & went for a sports massage, which was niiiiiiice & found all the knots in my right calf that have been slowly improving since London. My calves have usually been fairly reliable so soreness & stiffness mid-race was unusual.

Thursday: 4 miles of speed work, outside when it got a bit cooler. The plan was to run at lunchtime but I was too hungry to only have a light lunch & running by the river can be tough when it’s hot.

It went well, with defined fast & slow kms.

Friday: strength session in the form of pole. Managed to get upside down for a bit, & more gracefully than last time I practiced, but my grip & core strength has deteriorated a bit & shoulder mounts just feel like pain. I’ll get there.

Saturday: was planning Drumchapel parkrun, but with the weather being a bit damp & drizzly, a flatter option seemed better to save my hamstrings. Good solid time on a moderate effort, & a nice steady run there & back covered almost 8 miles.

Sunday: A steady couple of miles with Cyclebox, later in the day than my usual Sunday run. Topped up the miles with another 3 miles on the treadmill, a good tempo pace all the way.

Kelvingrove steps fear

Total miles: 19.5. I hadn’t appreciated how much mileage the easy runs added. Skipping the midweek 6-8 milers, mostly due to time pressures, really brings the total distance down. I’ve replaced with strength sessions, sports massages or general rest, so that’s OK – I see the benefit of miles in the bank during the bulk of the training, but right now is about preventing fatigue.

Nutrition: interesting this week. I’ve been mostly vegetarian (mostly = not checking labels strictly, but all meals have been meat free). No particular reason, but I feel good for it anyway. Had a couple of alcoholic drinks midweek too, something I have been avoiding for the vast majority of the plan except that time at the end of March.

halloumi fries solve everything

Feeling: good. A bit of pain in the right hip, not sure if it’s linked to running as I first started feeling it when sleeping on my right side, but now it aches after running too. Stretching sort of helps but it’s in the soft tissue around the hip bone, not the hip flexor itself, so it does feel a bit weird. Sore to the touch.

Friday’s pole session is still being felt all over my shoulders & triceps, but there’s less core stiffness than last week, so I must be re-learning how to use my core properly rather than relying on momentum & luck.

no fear of heights though

I’m working away for the first half of next week, so rather than trying to squeeze exercise sessions in, I will concentrate on good nutrition & sleep. It’s a shame because I am working in one of my favourite parts of London that has some awesome running routes, but I can’t fit in everything. The kit will come with me, of course, but if it doesn’t happen then I won’t stress.

Week whatever

Seriously, I don’t know where I am right now. Two weeks post marathon & two weeks pre marathon. Tired, mostly. This week started off meh & ended much better – the nice weather has had an awesome effect on my mood, for sure. I almost forgot about the double marathon thing.

Monday: ‘rest day’, if rest is a 12 hour work day. Bank holidays are great unless you work for an essential service, retail, or in comms for critical infrastructure.

Realised I missed going to pole, so went for a lesson to make sure I could reliably hang upside down without failure. It turns out I have retained a bit of strength, but have lost some skill. Will keep practising.

Haven’t missed the palm callouses

Tuesday: back on the speed work. After running on an achy Achilles’ tendon, I realised I am not particularly capable of knowing my limits. This session felt difficult, & I kept thinking I was incapable before realising that I was only a few days post marathon. The intention was 3 fast km sandwiched between a warm up and cool down at a slower pace – by the end of the second fast km I was unhappy, so kept the rest of it steady. Had a good stretch & a good dinner though.

Wednesday: the plan was an easy six miles. As is usual for working-at-Parliament days, though, I didn’t have time for lunch & ended up going home straight from Edinburgh and having an early dinner. I’d read this great post from Jordan earlier in the day & having had similar feelings during my own speed work the evening before (as well as a similar, if much slower, London Marathon experience) I decided to give running a miss. It was miserable weather & I had stuff to bring home from work, so it all worked out well really.

Thursday: gym time tonight: it’s still super busy at peak times but it was good to just lift & not think about running. 3 miles was on the training plan, but cleans, deadlifts, split squats & planks substituted.

Indoors is better

Friday: didn’t fancy resting, so Cyclebox it was. 45 minutes of hardcore spinning, working my legs without too much impact. Still incredibly tough though – early class means no breakfast, & it’s difficult to last the distance on the sprints. Need more coffee next time, or the 0930 rather than the 0730.

I get to keep an eye on the trains when I’m here too

Saturday: went for a faster parkrun, & happy to see gains on this distance; 26:06 felt quite relaxed. 7 miles in total.

Sunday: a longer but steadier run around Glasgow: 5 miles on my own with podcasts, 6 miles with Frontrunners, and a final couple of miles with the Cyclebox inaugural run club.

lovely colours

Cyclebox’s promise of “just a bit of HIIT” turned out to be repeats of the Kelvingrove steps & some Monument Hill sprints. I will not do this at the end of a long run ever again, but I have ideas for my Tuesday coaching sessions.

After today, I disagree

Total miles: 25. Lowest weekly mileage for some time, but I think the rest & change did me good. Serious shoulder & back DOMS from cleans & deadlifts means it’s been too long away from that sort of workout.

Nutrition: good, apart from a couple of busy days. Plenty of protein, good lunches, less coffee, frequently vegetarian. I am trying to eat less meat & dairy & it’s a challenge.

Feeling: OK. Mood up & down, and despite lots of good sessions I have fallen out of love with running. Work has been very busy & I get stuck in a cycle of getting stressed about being too busy, then annoyed when the run does not go well or eating nonsense. Usually managed to keep off that, & the week ended much more positively than it began. The nice weather definitely helped.

I am not really feeling positive about Edinburgh though, & I cannot be bothered at all with the Great North Run which suddenly seems a lot closer. The dawning realisation, not helped by blog post archives, that I have spent all of 2019 either running, thinking about running, or doing laundry loads made up of sweaty gym clothes, is not good. I am bad at responding to texts & emails. I have forgotten to send birthday cards or even birthday messages & I spent a good chunk of a nice holiday thinking about running, or how I wasn’t running enough or eating too much. I am in a fairly good place, & it’s been a good exercise in discipline & dedication, but marathon training is tough on life. I miss my other hobbies, & sleeping.

But with only two weeks to go, I might as well run the thing. I hope the excitement returns soon. Speedwork will need to be up to standard next week; hopefully I am fully recovered now & can get the most out of the next few sessions.

“Two marathons in a month?”

Yes. London was a bit of an anomaly in the plan.

Headed out this morning for my first ‘proper’ run since London, easing back into a training plan that had me taking a couple of rest days & a couple of recovery runs before hitting the proper miles again. Now LDN’s done & dusted, it’s all about EMF.

more like East Lothian marathon really but

Edinburgh is one of the nearest marathons to me, and despite it being a bit of a boring route and a bit late in the year for a spring marathon, it has a good medal, a good atmosphere & I can sleep in my own bed the night before, which is always a joy. I’ve done the half marathon twice, spectated & supported on a few more, & always had a decent race.

I noticed a few dual or triple marathoners last year on Instagram using the Hal Higdon maintenance plan, as well as getting good feedback from club mates who use these plans. This is why I went for a Higdon plan in the first place, starting from the point of view of more than one marathon and working backwards. There are a range of plans available; four weeks between seems a long time, especially after seeing folk on Instagram running Manchester & Paris/Brighton, or one of these and then London too, but it is not overly regimented & advises intermediate & advanced runners to keep the speedwork up but pay attention to how they feel.

Four weeks between has the speed work kept up twice a week, plus a couple of easy longer distances to remind your body of the long run feels. Set off this morning with the plan to do 10 miles minimum, & 12 if it felt OK.

Ended up as 15.5 because I joined the GFR group catching the train to Balloch, & that’s how long it takes to get back to my house from there. Not ideal as recovery, but the pace was very steady & I was fully prepared to stop earlier if I felt it was needed. The rest of the team are legends & did the full 23 miles back to the city.

It was nice to run the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon route in slightly better weather than last time, & running with company is nice. It struck me that during London I didn’t speak to anyone after the starting pen until the final corner, unlike any other marathon where I have always had company. It maybe had an effect I didn’t realise at the time.

Currently feeling pretty good, but slightly sore after today’s miles. Same quad ache that I had following the marathon, and calf pain has moved into the Achilles’ tendon on one side which is actually quite painful to walk on too, so I will be cautious. This is quite a lot to put my body through & still stay injury-free. Nutrition and sleep remain as important as getting the miles in – & it’s not ideal, as work has been chaotic & I have been skipping lunch, eating doughnuts & staying up too late since London. Getting back on track with a long Sunday run has helped me focus, although I’m typing this with a glass of wine in hand…

Weekly round-up:

Monday: rest, except for a brief saunter to Tower Bridge for a post-marathon medal photo & a slow walk to my London workplace which has SO MANY STAIRS I never noticed this before today. 4 hours on the train home was better than I thought it would be for soreness.

Tuesday: more rest. Some foam rolling, which was sore. A very slow jog as part of coaching GFR, which didn’t feel good at all: probably less than 500m covered in an hour long session but it was always very slow. Legs were achy.

Wednesday: a steady 3 miles before dinner. It felt a bit weird – breathing hard but my heart rate stayed low & Garmin called it ‘unproductive’. Slightly tender calves & quads were not great but this was loosened by running in a way that stretching hadn’t helped with, so that was a nice bonus.

Showcasing some of the ££££ I spent at the expo

Thursday: in the midst of a very busy work day, I managed a 4 mile jaunt up and down the Clyde, at a much improved recovery speed.

Friday: rest day. Went to see Avengers: Endgame, finally. Cried a bit.

Saturday: an easy 5 miles was the plan. Pace was all over the place, my Achilles hurt during & my hip hurt once I stopped. Recovery is weird.

Sunday: 15.5 miles down the River Leven & Forth and Clyde Canal. Point to point is fun for motivation, although on balance I prefer running out & then heading back with a coffee (unless it’s rainy). The chatty group on the train got quieter & quieter as we sped away from Glasgow towards Loch Lomond, realising just how far it is. But weather conditions were perfect & everyone did well.

Total miles: 27.7. Good, with so many rest days. No lifting or cross-training at all.

Nutrition: a few days off track this week. Wasn’t overly hungry on Monday morning, so just snacked all day & then got a takeaway when I arrived home. Didn’t get to the supermarket properly until Wednesday, so this week has been a bit off course & there have been too many poor choices. Back on it by Saturday with roast veg pasta.

Feeling: fine enough. Not too sore on Monday/Tuesday & kept stretching & walking as much as I could. Running fine by Thursday, mildly achy after the long run. Baths & stretching & kino tape required to keep me together.

My left foot is a bit damaged looking. Toenails are useful, I think – the toes without them are struggling. Otherwise all is good.

Higher mileage & higher intensity next week: hopefully I am properly recovered.

Week sixteen

I have miscounted the weeks, clearly. Or the next 7 days does not count as training but just involves gentle jogging, anxiety & pasta. MAYBE IT’S BOTH.

 

I knew that travelling during the taper would mess up my plans a bit, but honestly I thought I would cope better. I used to be good at jetlag but this time it’s been really bad – I was more or less ready for bed by 9pm for the first few days in the US, & then it was time to come back & sleeping on the plane never happens & I was awake from Tuesday morning until Wednesday night. But as a result I’ve had the most & best sleep for months, too. I hope this continues.

Even better, it is so true what they say about rest. I have been beating myself up for a week about enjoying myself too much whilst travelling and not sticking to the plan, but when I have trained, it’s always been amazing. I have felt light, springy & energetic on each run, so clearly the rest & sleep has been good for me and it’s fine.

Monday: stretching, & 30,000 steps in the Chicago sunshine.

love at first sight

Tuesday: 5 miles on the lakefront – started easy but parts of it got a bit faster when I was feeling like stretching it out, which was usually whenever I was out of the serious headwind. It felt nicely challenging.

Wednesday: Jetlag & no sleep = rest day. Fine by me.

Red eye breakfast of champs

Thursday: First full day back at work + jetlag = a steady six miles in the evening. It had cooled down a bit by the time I ran, which was nice.

Friday: Cyclebox. Harsh, especially sprints, and there were some mild arm muscle DOMS the following day. My left shoulder is still a bit painful so when I get back into stuff that’s not running, I am going to have to figure out exactly what’s wrong as it affects my punching as well as lifting. I can run, though, so worth ignoring for now*

*bad advice, terrible

Saturday: a steady 8 (ish) miles, getting used to being on my feet again after a week or so of shorter faster runs.

Sunday: 4 miles & a strength workout, then Easter with my family. I love Easter.

It’s very hot

4 miles was made up of a warm-up run to the gym and 5x400m sprints.

Total miles: 23, which seems super low nowadays. Trust the taper…

Feeling: a bit nervous, now. Trying not to be too stressed about not following the training plan for a week, messing up my good regular pattern of rest days & exercise. I’ve just about clawed it back now, and the walking I did in Chicago kept the leg muscles ticking over, with plenty of stretching whenever I could manage. I didn’t foam roll whilst I was away but have been on it twice a day since getting back.

Nutrition: better, after taking advantage of Chicago’s amazing cuisine & the USA’s cheap 500g bags of peanut butter M+Ms. Since getting back I have been packing in the nutrients like crazy, but I do miss these pancakes.

Meals weren’t always excessive, but US portions are often a bit much. A superfood salad I ordered one evening was delicious – avocado, quinoa, radishes, celery & loads of other crunchy stuff, but it came in a serving bowl and was the size I’d make if I was hosting a small dinner party.

This salmon with pak choi and hazelnut pesto from The Kitchen was amazing, though.

This was equally amazing, but as expected from somewhere I found out about on Instagram, it was more of a photo opportunity than a food item. $8 of sugar, and happily I didn’t even come close to finishing it.

Since I’ve been back it’s all about good protein, green veg & caffeine. Fairly standard for my normal routine, but Chicago was carb-heavy & a few days of that made me feel heavy, bloated & ridiculous. There has been a brief break for Easter egg, but that’s allowed, I think. Happy Easter!

Week 15

Not long now!

Taper has involved more rest than I expected, after travelling, the midwest’s VERY VARIABLE WEATHER & a weird ankle niggle took more time to get over than I expected. But all training I’ve managed this week has had a purpose & been very well focused.

Monday: Morning Cyclebox. Can you do an hour of spin & HIIT less than 24 hours after knocking out 20 miles?

of course

Seems like it. Struggled a bit on some of the longer sprints but the climbs were fine. I had to down a double espresso 20 minutes before the class started but it worked well enough.

Tuesday: No time for running but I read lots of books, chilled out & drank lots of water as well as the complimentary wine.

Trainers in the hand luggage, obvs. I did actually consider going for a little shakeout run in the evening after I’d got a bit of a second wind, but the tiredness & jet lag hit me like a tidal wave about an hour later, so probably for the best that I was crashed out asleep by 8:30pm. I did see a lot of runners whilst I was wandering around, though.

Wednesday: took some time to explore this city o’skyscrapers & deep dish, with over 30,000 steps walked. No running, though. Still tired after a 5am start to the day (jetlag blows) & it was absolutely freezing with occasional hailstorms, so I ended up having another rest.

It is VERY COLD

Thursday: With the best of intentions, I did not manage to get out for a run today either. I am sleeping so much & eating at the wrong times, & walking around the city a lot has given me a bit of foot/ankle/calf pain that doesn’t feel great to run on. Also the first item on the local news was about someone being attacked in the park I was planning on running through, so that wasn’t the best.

Friday: finally felt up to running, & got my lazy self up for 3 miles on the dreadmill. After a few days of rest it was fast & enjoyable. Sunday to Friday has been the longest break I’ve had from running since December, & it felt very strange & I did get a bit anxious for a while, in between the sleeping.

Saturday: 5 miles: met up with Chicago Frontrunners for their Saturday morning session in beautiful warm weather. Nice & speedy, but the conversation kept me distracted & I barely noticed the good pace.

I was worried about missing the meeting point, but no

Sunday: no more blue skies in Chicago, but a snowstorm. Not that cold but slushy underfoot, so not ideal for running & far too windy. Another day of resting, reading & stretching, but I started with some HIIT & weights.

Total miles: 8! Not quite what I wanted, but enough speedwork to keep my hand in and miles in the bank. The sleeping & resting has more than likely been better for me than running, or at least as good.

Nutrition: average/excessive. Travelling can be a bit of a nightmare for good nutrition but I tried hard.

Are you even flying if you don’t get an airport Wetherspoons

It’s a bit early for carb loading, sadly, as USA style breakfast food is my forever love. But I’m seriously considering the Chicago Marathon just so I get to legitimately fuel this way.

Feeling: good, surprisingly. After meticulous planning at the start of the year, I got a bit nervous about this break because of the potential to mess up the routine, & because work has been very busy. But this trip was booked & planned before either the marathons or the no-longer-new job were a reality, & I do need this break. I have been sleeping so much, & really needed the opportunity to get out of my usual routine & away from reality for a while. Chicago is amazing & I will be coming back here for sure.

Fitting running into a disrupted routine isn’t always easy & couldn’t be done the way I wanted due to tiredness & lack of opportunity, but it’s OK. Reading, sleeping & having fun is good too.

Books & travel is all I need

Onto the second taper week, with hopefully a bit more running…

Week 14

I should now be counting in days, I think.

This week has not been a particularly photogenic one – it’s either been sweaty gym time or raining outside. The weather has been sunny & mild occasionally but I have mostly missed the good stuff, always running in the worst of it instead.

This made me smile on Wednesday, though. I like Star Wars & I am in awe of anyone who can run in any fancy dress, let alone in kit like this.

Maybe one day

It’s not been the best week for the most part. Bad, sad news & associated difficulties around that, alongside general work and life stress. But: keep on keeping on, etc. Running has been the light in the darkness, as it often is.

Monday: the drive to go to the gym was low after an 11 hour work day and ALL THE STRESS, but it was worth it in the end and actually a good way to wind down. Nice strength session, everything felt comfortable & I made time for proper stretching.

Tuesday: early gym for a threshold sesh: 5x1km, aiming for a consistent 4:50min/km & a gentle jog of a few minutes in between. 8km later, I began another 11-hour work day & I was glad to get this out of the way.

It was difficult by the last km, as it always seems to be at this stage. The best tip I’ve read about speed training says not to worry about getting out of breath – you’re supposed to breathe quickly to get enough oxygen – but the last repeat was tough & I had to do two 500m stints with 30 seconds off in between. Did it, though, & spent the evening in Edinburgh feeling smug.

still loving the light evenings even if I have to work

Wednesday: 8 miles easy to work: it rained, but the pace was excellent for an easy run & I was really pleased with how easy it felt.

Didn’t make it to the gym in the evening, despite intentions. I am really neglecting gym sessions the past couple of weeks & it is annoying. I miss it so much but running has to be prioritised & I can’t do everything.

Thursday: Had a sports massage at lunchtime so gave the planned 5 miles a miss & went for a light evening gym session instead. Good times, & I felt better than I would have done trying to cram this session into Wednesday evening.

This gym is still super busy all the time but no one likes the 10kg bars except me – I find snatch/clean reps easier with the thinner bar, but it messes up my weight plate calculations. Also it is slightly too short for the platform unless you’re dead centre, so I am usually that person dropping the bar onto the ground from height and making all the noise.

Massage was great. I am not a fan of heavy pressure sports massage but I have trained with / been massaged by Paul McArdle for several years now and I trust him to listen to me when I ask for less pressure; in return I listen when he tells me not to run after a massage.

This is my first sports massage of this training cycle due to lack of time, & it has hopefully made a difference. I’ve booked another one for a few days before the race just to freshen the legs up a bit.

Friday: 8x400m, 1.5km warm up and cool down, average 2 mins between reps but occasionally longer. It felt challenging but the sense of achievement was worth it.

Also: race number & final instructions came through! So now it is time to start a family/supporters WhatsApp group so they can all figure out where they need to be.

all quite real now

Saturday: 5 miles at a steady pace; back to Victoria parkrun & its wonderful lack of inclines. I was feeling a bit of Thursday gym DOMS but once I’d loosened up on the jog there, the actual parkrun was good & I was pleased with how easy it felt to run at that pace. Averaging 5:33/km but there were some faster kms within that.

Only 5 miles on the plan today though, so coffee & the bus home afterwards.

Sunday: third of the 20 miles! The actual 26 miles is gonna be a joy after these. Great company, as ever, and a good route round the southside/deep south suburbs that are definitely not Glasgow. I do enjoy crossing a few county boundaries for a real sense of achievement.

Never heard of it

Went for a toilet break in McDonalds about half way in, & thought about chicken McNuggets for the rest of the run. Guess what I am having tonight it was very tempting to stop for a coffee, but I managed to hang on until the end.

Thinking about pals running Manchester kept me going, too. Good results all round from what I can see but will need a full report later. Holly’s running it again, & I sent all the good vibes.

IT WON’T BE THE SAME WITHOUT ME BESIDE YOU

Total miles: 43. Not sure where I lost out on two miles, but meh.

Nutrition: OK. Less snacking this week, but some days have not been nutritious enough & I am obsessed with trying to fuel properly for the longer runs. 8 miles to work, arriving at breakfast time, remains a bit unpleasant & I absolutely demolished a Pret brioche sausage & egg roll & several coffees as soon as I had finished. On other days, I wondered why I was so grumpy & tired at 3pm before realising I’d only had 3 cups of coffee, a slice of toast and a tangerine since 6am. This may well have been the problem with Friday’s sprints, alongside not enough sleep.

Mostly good when I’ve made the effort though.

Feeling: good. Some stressful and busy work days again, & a couple of insomnia/busy work day/not enough food/straight to bed days, but it keeps me out of trouble. The end is in sight, and I can’t wait: I miss my life. Marathon training is tough. Edinburgh is barely even a focus right now – the maintenance plan looks reasonable from this side of marathon #1, but I’m sure I’ll feel differently when I’m in the thick of it.

Midweek shit news was not great, but long runs are good for thinking & remembering, & there was a lot of that.

Next week is going to be a bit different for training: I hope I can stick to the plan.

Week 13

Guys we are so deep in this plan now, where does the time go

Genuinely measuring the time in days, now. SCARY.

Monday: I initially scoffed at rest day because I was still high af after the excellent 20-miler the day before. Packed a gym bag & everything. In the end, work & life admin took up a lot of time & energy so I spent the later part of the evening watching TV under a blanket. I did stretch & foam roll though, which is going to happen EVERY DAY from now on (…)

Tuesday: 7:00am at the gym for 8x400m sprints and a 1500m warm up/cool down. I wanted consistency here so kept the speed slightly lower than flat out, & each repeat was fine. The speed will therefore increase for the next session & 8-10 reps will be challenging & unpleasant again, hooray.

New shoes went well tho

7:00pm was gym for strength training. Enjoyable to just keep things moving, with a light weights full body workout of

  • 4×3 push press
  • 4×5 back squat
  • 4×8 lat pulldown
  • 4×8 RDL

Plenty stretching too, and some core work. My shoulder is still pulling a bit on the push presses, but we’ll see how that goes. It could well be under-use as my arms and shoulders have been rather neglected in the past few weeks.

Wednesday: easy 5ish  miles home from work, then straight into the shower &  to the cinema, which wasn’t great for a proper post-run stretch but was enjoyable for sure. Slightly faster than easy due to the time pressure, but hey ho.

mostly because of this

The actual run was average; it was very mild weather and I had a jacket on because of a need for pockets, but it was too warm despite the riverside breeze. I started feeling a bit sick which may or may not have been related. Ended up fine though.

Thursday: Running outside didn’t happen due to work nonsense, so a treadmill 5 miles with steady increases of speed happened instead. Pleased with how it went, but it was dull. Treadmill is good for pace consistency.

Friday: another rest! Truly I am spoiled.

(only a rest from running, though. I did go & lift some stuff & stretch for a bit)

I also went to the pub, drank lime & soda & talked about my training with people who don’t run & feigned interest very well. Marathon training turns you into a difficult friend, for sure.

I learned that they read this blog though, so HI GUYS YOU’RE AWESOME

I stayed out longer than intended & was eventually on the vodka instead. It was nice to kick back a bit – in this training cycle I have been mostly not drinking at all because of the training volume. I don’t drink much anyway but it does feel like a proper focused training plan should be completely sober.

I sent this picture to my best pal for reasons that are not obvious

Saturday: usual parkrun sandwich, but after two speed sessions this week I swapped a fast Victoria for a steadier Drumchapel. Oh, the hills. 2 minutes off my January time, though. Appreciating the downhills, although that 200m finish sprint feels like about a mile.

The anticipation is worst

Afterwards, I celebrated with a doughnut at Tantrum Doughnuts, & a nice walk around the West End.

Yum

Sunday: the plan was 12 miles easy, partially with a GFR 5 mile group to Ruchill Park flagpole. Lovely weather again, making the snowy Sundays seem a long time ago.

 My legs were heavy for most of it though, & once I’d stretched & cooled down with the group, sticking it out an extra 4 and a bit miles was not appealing. It was warm & I needed coffee: when I saw two friends sitting outside a cafe & I still had two miles to go, I just stopped immediately. Several flat whites & gossip later, I couldn’t be bothered to slow-jog home either…

Total miles: 32.5 for the last dropback week. 188 total in March.

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT MILES

I am a bit speechless at this, to be honest. It is so many miles, & there are so many more to go, & I am surprised at how my body is handling this. Compared to the last quarter of 2018 it’s a huge jump, but as I’ve noted before it is so much higher compared to this time last year too. I can’t understand how I feel so much better on this volume of running.

Nutrition: mostly good, if slightly excessive some days. There has been a lot of snacking, & not always the best choices. I am so hungry all the time.

After Tuesday’s long day & double gym session, I made cheese on toast with a can of beans (with spicy sauce added in…) & a poached egg: yes yes yes.

*homer simpson noises*

I noticed a skirt I bought before Xmas feeling a bit roomy on the waist so I jumped on the gym scales & I am 4kgs down from January. I dread to think how much of this is muscle loss, but am already counting the days to being back on the weights & protein.

Me in a few weeks, perhaps

I was chatting to a running buddy about supplements last week, & Instagram archives reminded me that I was double-dosing multivitamins this time last year, so I will be doing that again. I am considering electrolyte tablets as I am definitely a bit dehydrated sometimes, despite drinking plenty. It’s fine when I am in the office but when I am out on sites or at meetings I get distracted or drink far too much coffee & forget about the water.

The meals have been good this week though, even with a couple of meals out.

Feeling: very well. Achy hips this week, possibly from strength training, but running is good & I am mentally feeling much better. Two rest days this week seemed excessive, which illustrates the relentless grind of marathon training, but both of the days were spent well so there is definitely a benefit.

Next week is high mileage again & a really long long run, & then it’s magical taper time. I am absolutely pumped to cheer people on for Manchester Marathon too – can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since that brilliant weekend.

Week 12

Ups and downs, physically & mentally, but this week has seen a mileage peak and some good speedy runs as part of that. Didn’t quite split the mileage as the plan specified, but it all evened out by the end of the week.

 

Monday: Cyclebox for the cross-training day. Legs felt strong & weren’t burning during the cycling, which was good as I was hitting the levels each track. Left shoulder is still a little sore when boxing, which has also happened when shoulder pressing/push pressing/anything involving arms over the head. This niggle moved down my back over the next couple of days & was mostly fine when easy running, but I could feel it a bit when going faster. It seems to have resolved itself but back injuries scare me so I am keeping a close eye on it and stretching a lot.

Tuesday: 10x400m sprints with 2ish minutes recovery in between and a 1 mile warm up and cool down. Did this on the skillmill as my recovery time can be really variable and I don’t always want to faff around with the treadmill settings. Skillmill solved that, but 45 minutes of me being VERY LOUD in the middle of the gym was probably not ideal for the morning crowd. Worked for me, though, and the sprints were at a good pace.

Wednesday: Working in London, & the intention had been to hit up London Frontrunners for their Regent’s Park loop, as it’s my favourite run of theirs & my favourite social afterwards. The last few times I’ve been it has been too dark to take in the Primrose Hill views, so I wanted that. But circumstances happened & work was very busy & I would have struggled to fit everything in, so I moved rest day & went for dinner with my dad instead.

Pumpkin & sage gnocchi: nice work

I did get stressed again about changing the plan at last minute, but managed my expectations/got over myself quite quickly. Also made sure to turbo-charge rest day by having a very early night. Spending time with my loved ones was awesome too.

Thursday: 6 miles steady, & the impromptu rest gave me the energy for a bit of fartlek to keep it interesting. Needed the company & good chat of GFR to keep a decent steady pace, & it worked.

Friday: lovely rest Not a proper rest day, but kept the should-have-been-Wednesday’s 8 miles very easy. Ran home from work, with daylight & podcasts all the way, and I made it home before the rain started AND dinner was ready when I got home.

enjoying the lighter evenings too

Saturday: 7 miles, split into 4 miles easy & 3 miles of parkrun at race pace. Pleased with the parkrun time of 25:49 – it felt nicely challenging but not flat out, which bodes well for a sub-25 soon when I am less tired.

Sunday: The second of three 20 milers in this plan. Last time I did this it was livened up with a race as well as a hailstorm, but I was happy for this effort to be a steady plod and not feel too exhausted by it. Time on the feet is more important.

Apprehension for this distance sets in quick but the run turned out excellent, mostly because of the company and a good route through the Southside. I’ve not been very adventurous with running routes for various reasons so exploring some different bits of the city is always nice.

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team thumbs up

Kept a pretty good pace, slightly slower than what I wanted but there was a lot of rain & headwind so I’m knocking off a few minutes for that. Cake at the end, obviously:

Total miles: 45.6. I definitely have the energy for a 400 yard jog…

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On Sundays we run far

Nutrition: very good, even when travelling. Made aneffort this week to stay off the trash snacks, & it’s been good – lots of pasta and lots of protein. As always, prep is key.

I had no resolve when invited to Stack & Still, though I did choose the protein pancakes.

Exceptional pancakes

Feeling: good enough. Achy calf, shoulder & back at various stages of pretty much every run, but I stretched lots, slept well (although not always enough hours) & work was so busy that getting out & running was always a relief. Rooted to the sofa binge-watching Fleabag for a couple of evenings was good for resting too.

I got really down for a while on Wednesday when I wasn’t able to go for my planned run because of travelling for work, but was able to get through it OK. Being away from routine and home in a high mileage week isn’t good, but things improved. Mood swings are a bit too frequent at the moment, & tiredness is probably compounding it.

With 5 weeks to go, I also got new trainers. A few easy treadmill runs will be necessary to settle these in, but I am fairly brand-loyal & have never had any problems with Brooks.

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These are the updated version of my current shoes which have done nearly 500 miles. I like the colour the way these feel so I’m sticking with them. Great service at Run4it, as usual.

Next week is more speedwork and less mileage again, and fitting in more strength sessions will be good too. Meticulous planning is required.