Marathon training weeks 4 & 5, and taking to the track

So I finished week 3 of my marathon training plan with a return of the dreaded shin splints (those things really just won’t quit). I’m pleased to say that my tactic of steering away from the treadmill as much as possible over the last few weeks seems to have helped and I am now back to running pretty much pain free, aside from the odd niggle that anyone would expect. I am admittedly a little over sensitive to any pain in my shin with my injury history so I am certain some of this is in my head. I have also been doing a little experiment with my shoes as I suspect my Hoka Clifton’s are not actually suitable for me after all.

I currently alternate between Asics Gel Nimbus 17’s (best shoe I’ve ever had) and a pair of Hoka Clifton 2’s that I bought on a whim. I’ve done about 400 miles in the Nimbus (new pair in the wardrobe will be out soon) and just over 200 in the Hoka. I’ve alternated between the 2 over the last 6 months (favouring the Nimbus) and looking back at my run history I think most of my runs where I have had some pain have been after wearing the Hoka’s. I will continue to test my theory and report back. Unfortunately the Nimbus 17’s are old news and have been discontinued. They’re proving really difficult to find now so I am going to have to accept that once the next pair wear out it will be time for a change. A lot of the review sites say the 18’s were a bit harder which doesn’t appeal so I will wait and see what the feedback is about the 19’s before taking the plunge.

Despite the shin pain I pushed on with the 80/20 marathon training plan. Week 4 ended with 40.2 miles in the bank which was my best running week ever! This included a fast finish run and a hill reps workout for the first time – all new territory for me – and a 10 mile long run on Sunday which went really well. Week 5 I eased back slightly as I had signed up to do a track marathon on the Saturday. Well, not the full marathon yet, but as part of a 2 man relay team. I  moved some of the runs around so that my long run was on the Saturday and although it was only supposed to be 11 miles, a coupe of extra won’t do any harm.

The track marathon was a really interesting experience. I was worried that it was going to  be intensely boring just doing the same 400m time and time again. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t like that at all. The presence of other runners from my club certainly helped and as I was doing the second leg of the marathon for my team I was able to give regular encouragement to the crazy fools doing the full marathon as I took to the track fresh as a daisy. When you registered for the race you had to submit 5 song choices as well which they played over the loudspeaker at the track. This made for a very eclectic play list which also helped as you ended up listening to lots of new music that wouldn’t ordinarily be on my running playlist.

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The intention was to just treat this as an 80/20 Long run and spend the whole “race” in HR zone 2. This would mean running somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30 minute miles. That honestly was my intention, but it lasted about 5 miles. I don’t know what it was that made me speed up. I wasn’t going to be competing with any of the the other runners and I wasn’t even doing the full distance so my time wouldn’t “count” as such. Plus the weather was awful – cold, windy and wet. However at mile 5 I noticed that although I had started slowly, each mile had been getting faster and faster. I think in hindsight it was a combination of never having run on a track before and the constant overtaking of other runners and being overtaken by faster runners that got my competitive juices flowing.

At that point I just decided that as I felt strong I would just listen to my body and run as fast as it wanted to. That made for some relatively quick miles in the middle of the race between 6 and 10 (see above), and my age old problem of “blowing up” at mile 10 meant the final 3 were a bit slower. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near as bad of a “breakdown” as I have had before and mile 10 in my previous half marathons and I am certainly putting this down to my increased fitness and endurance since being on the 80/20 training plan. Anyway, I came home for my leg of the race in 1:52:17 (although as I hadn’t hugged the inside lane all the way I ended up with 13.37 miles on the watch).

Given my initial 5 miles were quite slow this was a very pleasing result and I was most pleased that at the finish I didn’t feel completely wiped out and that there was more in the tank. Hopefully a good sign for a marathon. The track marathon was a double header, with another race the following day. Some crazy souls did 2 marathons in 2 days so they have my ultimate respect and admiration. For me, I am happy to take a positive experience, the medal and the miles for my training.

Onward to week 6 of marathon training

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