I’m pleased to say the shin splints are currently under control. They haven;t completely disappeared and I am still getting some discomfort when running, but the situation is manageable. As such I have been able to crack on with my marathon training. I have now finally booked my place in the Liverpool “Rock & Roll” marathon – monies have been paid, family members as support crew are engaged and there is no turning back now. The absolute dread I thought I would feel when I pressed the “PAY NOW” button didn’t materialise. Instead I was filled with a sense of excitement as I am now committed to something I never thought I would either be capable or willing to do. This is probably going to be one of my biggest ever challenges (aside from trying to plait my 4 year old daughter’s hair) and I’m giving it the respect it deserves by putting in the necessary training. Plus, the medal isn’t too shabby either 🙂
Week 6 of marathon training went well and I covered just under 37 miles. This wasn’t a bad result all things considered as every third week is an “easy” week in the plan to aid recovery. After completing the track half marathon this was very welcome. The week consisted of mainly foundation runs, but with some slow recovery runs sprinkled in there too. It is still tough to hold back on these recovery runs as it means running pretty slowly in order to to keep the heart rate in zone 1. The temptation is always to slowly increase the speed, but I was a good boy and managed to stick within the confines of 131 to 140 bpm (pretty much). A more intense hill reps run featured this week, which is something that I have rarely done in any training before, mainly due to concerns about my shin splints flaring up. I found the hill reps quite tough as the 30 second top HR sprints at incline were hard. I certainly found this the toughest run of the week, even though it was the shortest.
The week finished with a long run but as it was a rest week it was only 8 miles so not the long in the grand scheme of things. Still, every mile counts and is more towards my endurance.
Week 7 saw some slightly longer foundation and fast finish runs entering into the equation, along with longer hill reps, recovery runs and a long run at the end of the week of 13 miles. I was pleased with Tuesday’s Fast Finish 8 run. This consists of a short 5 min warm up in HR zone 1, 35 minutes in HR zone 2 (141 – 155 bpm) and then a 15 minute stretch at HR zone 3 (156 – 167 bpm). Although not fast in the true sense of the word (around 8 minute miles) this is pretty quick for the 80/20 plan I am following, and it is nice every now and then to get a reminder that you don’t lose speed overnight doing this plan. I got back out with Warrington Running Club on Thursday and it was again nice to run with others at my training pace without sticking too rigidly to the prescribed HR zones int he plan. You’ve got to have a little bit of flexibility every now and then and talking to others about their training and their goals also helps to remind you that you’re not the only one putting in the miles towards achieving a goal.
My long run this week was supposed to be 14 miles but I had previously signed up for my very first trail race as it was organised by my PT, Stuart. I helped out with marshalling on the Saturday (part 1 of a marathon double header) and then ran the half marathon on the Sunday. This was totally out of my comfort zone as I had never attempted anything like this before. Living where I do the area is very flat and I mostly run on the roads, so to go to the trails/fells and across the moors was uncharted territory.
The recent wet weather meant that there were large sections of the route that were very boggy, well over ankle deep in places and there were plenty of inclines that defeated me and I had run walk many of them. I was only hoping to get round and wasn’t really interested in a time, so I wasn’t disappointed with a time of 2hrs 45mins – I was just happy to finish in one piece (despite a very muddy and wet fall out on the course). The medal was brilliant and I had a real sense of achievement when I crossed the line. Even more so when I discovered that a good number of half marathon runners had opted not to do the 2nd loop of the course and settled for a 10K instead. I can’t say I will be rushing back to do another trail race in the near future, but I wouldn’t rule one out – maybe in the drier months though 🙂
The training kicks up a notch from here on in as I approach the “peak” phase of marathon training. 16 miles is the long run this week and I am going to try out gels for the first time as I know with a marathon I will have to refuel on route and have never done this before. Some practice and some experimenting with different gels and brands to get something that suits me. I’ve also got some cliff blocks to try as well as I am worried about the consistency issues with gels! I will report back with my findings in due course.
How do you fuel your long runs?
Do you love the trails or worship the tarmac?