Well five weeks down and 25% of the way through this training plan and we are still going strong, well still going at least. The last two weeks haven’t been as planned, but that was due to fitting in a second marathon in week 4 of my training plan, this meant cutting back the training, usually I would taper a few weeks prior to a marathon but this time I wanted to keep going all the way up to it, which I think went pretty well. Now that is out of the way, it is time to pick things back up and crack on with the training. Having already exceeded my expectations / hopes for Berlin, i.e. running sub 4hrs to start but mainly under 3:40, I am now in a place where I can either consolidate the time I ran in Liverpool or keep pushing and training even harder to improve on that 3:39.
Berlin is a more favourable course, its flat and being a major I am certainly going to be feeling pumped at the start. One thing I have learnt from my two marathons so far is that warm, humid weather really has an impact on my running, I feel really drained and slowed dramatically in Paris due to the heat, whereas a cooler, overcast Liverpool, I actually ran my fastest 5k at the end of the marathon. So, an end of summer central European marathon? The weather could go either way, hot or manageable. One thing I will have is more experience of running during warmer conditions now our lovely British weather is picking up. So, Berlin targets? The target always has to be to run quicker than last time and improve yourself, if in doing so I can run under 3:30 then I would be really really pleased with that. This post will be here to keep me accountable and motivated to smash this target once again.
Monday – I plan to mix things up slightly this week and concentrate on hill running, getting some good climbing training in before this weekend’s Potters ‘arf marathon. Looking at the course elevation it tends to vary somewhere between 850ft – 1,100ft of gain which feels like quite a lot. Today was a 4-mile run taking in part of the Mow Cop climb giving me a 394ft of gain, I didn’t want to push it too much today after feeling ill for the last 3 – 4 days, happily I do feel better despite having to do this run in the pouring rain and strong winds. In fact, I am pretty sure this is the first time I have ran in the rain since before picking up the injury on 18th Feb so it’s been a good spell of dry weather running.
Tuesday – Continuing with hill week, I went all out today and ran the Mow Cop Killer Mile route. Usually I have to stop and walk on or just after the first steep part and then again at the 25% section near to the top. Today I managed to run half of the way up before needing to walk for a little while, and again on the 25% part. This gave me a new PB time for the Killer Mile of 9:26 which is the fastest Strava tracked time of 2017 so far!!! Go me!! More impressively it was 1:30 quicker than my previous best. In total that was another 748ft of gain in the bag. Nearly half of this weekend’s HM elevation gain in that one mile.
Wednesday – Global Running Day today so needless to say, I was out running in a repeat of yesterday’s Killer Mile, this time I missed out on beating yesterday’s PB time by 5 seconds, but I am still happy with that, I now have the 2 fastest times of the year.
Thursday – After spending the day having family time at The Ice Cream Farm near to Chester, eating burger & chips for lunch and a big Mint Choc Chip ice cream, I wasn’t best prepared for another hill session today, I swapped back to my training plan and went for a 3-mile recovery run. Also, fitting in a 45min core workout in the evening.
Friday – Rather than go for the usual Hill Rep Friday, I feel hill rep’d out right now so went on another 3-mile run but turned off notifications on my watch so I could just run at a pace that felt right. I did really struggle running tonight, I felt really out of breath and slow, however, when I checked Garmin Connect, I was actually running low 7 min mile pace and it was really muggy and humid tonight so it was no wonder I was struggling. I managed to fit in some arm strength training after dinner and a good foam rolling just before bed.
Saturday – Congleton Parkrun today, it was wet and very dark this morning, I was sat in the car thinking about going home and running later on, but a girl ran past in shorts and a vest top so I thought, if she is out in it then why can’t I do it too, after 10 mins stretching in the rain it thankfully stopped. I had a 1.5-mile warmup and recon of the route to see where the puddles were, funnily enough they were everywhere. I wasn’t planning a quick one today, I wanted to save my energy and go for a PB in tomorrow’s half marathon, but whilst waiting to start I remembered I had not done my mile PB attempt so decided to go for it from the get go and try to beat my 1 mile PB of 6:04. After that first mile I then decided to just run as hard as I could, obviously I had gone out far too fast for my usual 5k pace so mile 2 and 3 were slower but I still managed to beat my Parkrun PB with a 19:46 time and also set a new 1 mile PB of 6:01 too. The rest of today was about hydrating well for tomorrow and a nice Epsom salt soak to get the legs ready.
Sunday – Potters ‘arf marathon today, take a look at my POTTERS ‘ARF 2017 RACE RECAP to find out how I went out.
Running Stats: Total Miles 37.6, elevation gain 3,133ft, time 4h 44m
Monday – Back at it again after a successful Potters ‘arf yesterday. The plan for Monday’s is recovery run, I set off with this in mind but after running the first mile I felt pretty good so having read up on sub 40 10k pace earlier I thought I would blast out a 4-miler and see how quickly I could go. I managed to get around with a 6:50 pace, short of what is required for a sub 40 10k, but I didn’t go for it in the first mile and the route did have two hills totalling 180ft of gain so I think I could run a quicker average pace. The question is, could I keep it up for a further 2 miles?
Tuesday – Today wasn’t the best run, I should usually be doing sprint intervals on a Tuesday but I ate dinner late and wasn’t feeling too good even before setting out so I settled for an easy 2-mile run to let the legs have a rest.
Wednesday – ok so last nights lacklustre run which I put down to eating dinner late was a little more serious than I first thought. It turned out that I had a sickness bug, I found this out after spending the night being rather ill and not getting much sleep. I did not think that I would be able to get a run in at all today with how rough I felt but thankfully things cleared up around lunchtime so I could get some food and start to rebuild my energy levels. I got in a slow paced 2-mile run along the canal but it was a tough run with having such low energy levels.
Thursday – After being ill yesterday things are starting to get back to normal today, back in work and back eating properly. Since Christmas I have been weighing myself daily as soon as I get up, initially my weight dropped by around 10lbs due to the increased activity levels and stabilised at around 170lbs (I know this is really Thursday’s training but I thought a little background goes well here). After returning from the Dom Rep and my 10 day illness out there I was under 160lbs and again this morning my weight had dropped to 165lbs in just one day. I will get that weight back quite quickly but the effect this has on my running is massive. After the illness back in March my first couple of runs were a big struggle, I was slower than I liked and heart rate was high resulting in my VO2 Max dropping from 56 to 51 (it was up to 58 when I last checked 2 weeks ago). Needless to say, tonights run wasn’t one of the best. I pencilled in a 5-mile run hoping to make up some of the missed miles from Tue & Wed, I set off running at my usual pace clocking the first 3 miles at a 7:20 pace then around 5k I pretty much hit the wall. I just had no energy left and my legs felt really heavy. I did manage to push on to make it to 4-miles then walked the last mile back to home.
I do like to always be positive, upbeat and encourage others with my blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts but I also want my social media to be true, honest and open. So often people will cherry pick the best photos, the best stories, the best posts etc all giving a misleading view of their life, their training and how they are feeling. I am not afraid to say when I am struggling or how hard I am finding things. This week has been possibly one of the toughest weeks I have had with running and has been such a struggle to get motivated, get out and run due to a number of things. Partly with being ill and tired but also balancing running with family life is tough. Time is needed for visiting my mother who is now in a care home, time is needed for playing and enjoying family life at home with my wife and 18 month old daughter, time is needed for work and then fitting in 7 runs per week, cycling, weights, strength and stretching as well. It is tough and hard work. I need to learn to improve my nutrition, eat more regularly and fuel my body with the correct foods and drinks and not skipping meals.
Over the past 18 months since beginning this fitness journey I have come along way from struggling to run 2 miles non-stop, running at a high 8 min pace and long runs of 5 or 6 miles were like marathons. I have made lots and lots of mistakes, done things “wrong”, been injured from not training correctly. But then, had I not made the mistakes I would not be where I am today, I have learnt from them, learnt new ways of training, stretching and warming up. Now I need to learn about food and nutrition, the next phase of my journey which will help me to keep running and push on further and reach my goals of running a Boston Qualifying time (sub 3:10 marathon!!! omg) and finishing a 70.3 Ironman in 2018.
This week is a tough struggle, I have not found it easy at all and feel really downbeat about things at the moment, but I have to re-focus on my end goal, which in this case is running the Berlin Marathon fit and healthy, time comes second to that. Take the positives from my journey so far and look to build on them. Tomorrow is a new day…. a hill rep day (bastard hill rep day as its fondly known as), lets see how we feel in the morning and fuel correctly for Mow Cop.
Friday – Still not feeling 100% I decided to continue with the run streak and take it over 50 days. Today was hill reps but I decided to only do 4 reps this week instead of the usual 7, still not totally back to fitness I thought this to be the more sensible option. It was nice to get the run in and to complete it without any ill effects, this will help build my confidence back up. Tomorrow I am going for my long run of 10 miles a day earlier as I am riding the Cheshire Cheetah 70-mile sportive Sunday morning, I think it would be too much to do a long brick run after a long bike ride, even more so given the high temps we are expecting this weekend.
Saturday – With riding the Sportive tomorrow, I moved my long run forward to today and combined it with the Congleton Parkrun. I ran the 4.4-miles from home to the Parkrun, leaving myself 10 minutes to catch my breath before running the Parkrun. I had decided to not race it this week, instead just plod around at my long run pace. Fortunately I bumped into an old school friend so we ran it together having a good chat on the way, I came home in 74th place in 24:48, a full 5 minutes slower than last week but thats not the point of this run. Once clocking my time, I ran the 4.4-miles back home giving me a total of 11.5 miles. It was starting to get really hot on the way back and I had not really brought enough water with me for a hot long run which left me a little dehydrated, I was hoping to get around 12 miles but 11.5 was still more than I had down on my original plan.
Sunday – So today was one of two days I had been dreading when I put together this training plan and Run Streak. This morning I took part in the Wiggle Cheshire Cheetah Sportive, cycling just under 74-miles around cheshire, climbing over 4,000ft. Setting off at 7:30am we were done by 1pm but still had a good tan to show for it, my Garmin Edge was showing 30c for the last hour. now to continue with this Run Streak I need to run again after the Sportive. All things considered, I felt in pretty good shape after the ride, I had a slight pain in my left knee but mostly just needed to eat and top up on the fluids. I held off on running until 8pm once it had cooled down slightly. As I had missed this weeks tempo run with being ill on Wednesday and feeling pretty good I decided I would go for a 3.3-mile tempo run, pacing it at 7:20.
Running Stats: Total Miles 31.2, elevation gain 965ft, time 4h 08m
Cycling Stats: Total Miles 90.2, elevation gain 5,154ft, time 6h 09m