Debut Marathon Adventure – Week 2 of training (out of 3 weeks!)
Last week, I shared my first week of marathon training. In today’s blog, I explain how my second week of marathon training went.
Day 9, Monday 8th May: REST. Not surprisingly, I was feeling like I’d run 19 miles the previous day and walking was a painful experience. The main parts of my body that ached were my thighs and buttocks. My calf muscles were mercifully fine.
Day 10, Tuesday 9th May: Today, I had a race sandwich lined up (run to the race, race, run home again)! I wanted to run the distance of a half marathon again, at a decent pace. I also knew that if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up going too fast in the race which wouldn’t really help me in terms of my marathon preparation. Therefore, I made a deal with myself. I would run to the race at 4:30/km pace (6k – https://www.strava.com/activities/978788839) and do the same on the way back (https://www.strava.com/activities/978788859), and try to stick to an approximate 4:00/km pace during the race, going progressively quicker so as not to burn myself out. I thought that the concentration and discipline required to do this would also be a good mental challenge for me and take my mind away from full-blown racing against the rest of the field in the heat of the moment.
The run there was really pleasant in the summer evening sunshine, running alongside the canal and I arrived at the start line feeling fresh and loose. The race was a club race for Long Eaton Running Club, hosted by Ilkeston Running Club in the local road running league. The running club is such a great bunch of folks and the buzz of running amongst lots of like-minded people is always something I really enjoy. I wish I could do more of it and am planning on being more of a regular. I finished the 8.4km route in 33:33, averaging 3:59/km pace. How’s that for discipline?
The run home felt tougher, probably due in part to the ‘come down’ after the exhilaration of the race, but also knowing full well that had I not been marathon training, I would have performed faster and been right up there mixing it with the quicker guys and girls. On my notes, I’ve written that my legs were feeling tired on the way back, my right quad was niggling, my left groin and both hamstrings. It must have been a hangover from Sunday’s long run that my body was trying to recover from. This was one of those moments when it would have been good to share with others that I was training for a marathon, but as I’d already resolved to keep it to myself, I couldn’t share the reason for my performance. My race performance is here: https://www.strava.com/activities/978788867.
Day 11, Wednesday 10th May: REST. This word, ‘rest’ is something that doesn’t come particularly naturally to me. I like to be active, but reading up on the topic (I do a lot of reading about running!), it made me realise just how important it is to do it well. I don’t recall now which sporting superstar wrote something in their book that really stuck with me – it could be Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Geraint Thomas (they all have excellent books which I read with enthusiasm), or someone else! – but they said that if they were having to face up to being injured, then they were going to be the absolute best possible patient, doing all the rehab and rest like a boss to ensure they got back as soon as possible and in the best shape possible to start training again. I really like that attitude and so, wherever possible, I resolved to take my rest as seriously as my training sessions.
Day 12, Thursday 11th May: Unusually, I took the decision to do today’s run on a treadmill at the gym. The weather was pretty awful outside and my legs were still pretty tired. I’d decided that I was going to try and run for an hour and leave it at that, knowing that it would be sensible to give myself the best chance to nail the Sunday long run. After all, that’s what all my training was geared up for.
I learnt that running on a treadmill for an hour, staring at a white wall with no music is quite possibly the dullest experience imaginable. The minutes groaned by in slow-motion, as I sweated ever more profusely not realising there was a fan on the machine if I just opened my eyes! I completed 13.6km in the hour, which was at a speed on average of 4:25/km – just shy of my target marathon pace. I resolved right then to never run for this long on a treadmill ever again (in time, the irony will not be lost on you – see future blog posts!). As I wasn’t running for over an hour, I didn’t use any gels for this run. I used my Saucony Kinvara running shoes and I think it was this run that made up my mind that for the demands of a marathon, I needed to go with my more cushioned running shoes, the Skechers Sonic Go Runs.
Day 13, Friday 12th May: REST
Day 14, Saturday 13th May: REST
Day 15: Sunday 14th May: This was the big one. As close to a dress rehearsal as I was able to get in the short amount of time and training that I had planned for next week’s marathon. For today’s run, I was up in Cleethorpes, visiting my Mum and Stepdad. As such, I was less familiar with a long distance route I could take, but I did spend most of Saturday night poring over possible places to run on my phone, looking at Google Maps (my preferred way of finding routes – doing it myself!).
I resolved to head off in a certain direction and then just see how it went. I knew I could always do a standard out and back run if I needed to. At times, I came across a dead end and had to head back. Sometimes this was because I’d found a cul-de-sac, at other times it was because the hedges etc had completely overgrown public footpaths that were quite clearly no longer used by local people. I always find that such a shame when these paths aren’t used – there is so much to explore in your local area if you just take the time to go and find out.
Anyway, armed to the teeth with my High5 energy gels, bumbag with my phone in it, CLIF BLOKS energy chews and two small bottles of water, I went off at about 9:00am, explaining that I would likely be back in about three hours. After my Mum’s protestations (I now had to extend my circle of those in the know to 4 to justify sneaking out for an entire morning!), I escaped and set off on my big adventure, not knowing exactly where I was heading, or if I’d make the 38km distance as I hoped to achieve.
The next three hours, or 2 hours and about 40 minutes, were pure joy (the last 20 minutes was painful!). I wasn’t running super fast, but I felt steady, felt good, the sun was shining and the places I was running through were beautiful. I ran through some quaint villages, through farmers fields and along disused railway lines, past horses, next to streams leading to the sea and eventually, I made it to the Cleethorpes promenade. This was like my victory lap. I’d made it to the sea front and I knew now that I was going to have achieved my aim of running for three hours, regardless of whether I made it to 38km or not. This gave me a great boost ahead of next week’s race, knowing that I could run for this long without stopping. The energy gels and chews went down easily and didn’t repeat on me. The water helped too to wash them down and I found that I didn’t need to go to the toilet as I’d feared might happen on a long run like this. After running along the promenade and the pier, I was still going to be short of my target time and distance and so I ran to a nearby park and did a few laps on the blessedly cushioned grass. By this point, my joints were aching and my body was pestering me to relent and lie down for a very long time.
The run can be seen on strava here: https://www.strava.com/activities/985712728
Whilst I was exhausted, I was so happy that I’d completed my run. I now felt that I could complete a marathon and that the biggest question now was what time I could do it in. That first glass of water whilst sitting down was the most wonderful drink! One week to go now!
Next time – the final week of my training and my race report from my debut marathon!
What do you use for energy on your long runs?