Constantly Learning/ Responding

Yesterday was my long run day. I had to work in the morning, so it made sense to go straight from work (I work in a town 10 miles away).

The plan was to run 17 miles, and knowing that I would be unlikely to want to do a loop when I got back home, I started by doing 2 times around a 3.1 mile loop down there before I started on my way home. Also, I was aware how sore my hip was the previous week so I popped a couple ibuprofen an hour before I started, hoping to keep it at bay.

I can honestly that the first few miles was the most fun and happy I have ever run. I felt great, the running was easy, my heart rate was low, and I really did believe I could keep running forever. My smile was large and my hopes were very high.

My hip started to twinge at about mile 2, but it was enough to ignore and think about something else. As all the advice says, your long run should be about 1-1.5 minutes slower than race pace, so I managed to slow down to 13 minute miles whilst still actually running. My heart rate was low 130’s- this was going really well.

Then mile 10 came, and things went to pot. My hip started really hurting, and this meant I was dragging my right foot- I could bearly lift it off the ground. From the earlier highs I hit a real black spot. I switched from eating nuts and soreen to eating energy gels which lifted me mentally, but the physical side was still dreadful. I was walking/ running but with longer walking and shorter running.

I arrived at mile 13 and knew that another 4 miles was going to be hard but I was determined to do it. My leg was dragging so badly now that I could not even lift it over debris on the tarka trail (I actually tripped over some mud- very embarrassing!).  I turned and headed towards home, by now it was 100 metre running/ 100 walking.

I was still determined to do 17 miles, and I felt positive that I could tick it off. However, when my garmin ticked over 15 miles,  I just stopped. I was mostly walking, and when I did run, it was running with my right leg 2 steps behind me. So I did the sensible thing- I called it. It was not doing me any good, I was not getting better because of it, and I was getting cold.

So- things I have learnt from this-

-There is a place for energy gels etc- they made a real difference to me mentally.

-I am sensible enough not to keep going when I should not.

-I can run slowly! Really slowly.I mean, I could have timed myself with Halley’s Comet, not a Garmin.

-London is now looking like a run/ walk strategy.

– I need to balance my runs ahead of the day. I have got 2x 20 miles run planned- this now does not make sense. I need shorter strength building runs and sensible distance runs.

In truth, when this all started I thought it would be my heart which would limit me. Now it seems my body has other ideas. I know looking beyond London, running longer distances will not be something which will matter- but in the meantime, I need to do what is right for me to get me to the end of the Mall.


Will I ever learn?

We started with a plan. A very clear plan. 12-minute miles for the first 5 miles; then gradually knock it up and finish strong. Easy. Do-able. Sensible.

So when the blower went off, and we started running, I threw the plan out the window. Totally.

Like an idiot.

Early miles were too fast. I caught myself about 200 metres in running at 8 minute 45 second pace- ludicrous. I eased back and eased back but still the timings were too fast. I tried to justify it to Ian- ‘I feel fine’, ‘It feels comfortable’.

I started to suffer from about mile 7, with a sore hip. Had to switch to a walk/ run strategy at mile 9. All very ugly.

I would love to say that I nailed it, that it has given me strength and there is lots to be positive about, but I would be lying. I am very disappointed that I am not further down the line, better, faster. It so clearly is what it is, and I need to plan now for London knowing this. My end time was 2 hours 25- five minutes slower than my target, so on the timings, it can be said I dodged a bullet; the thing is, I need to learn from all this when I get to London, or else it will break me.

I suffered chest pains in the final mile, which is not good. If I ever was going to get them it should be in the last mile, but it is worrying how they came when my heart rate was above 160- something which has not happened before. I guess I was just tired from the earlier stupid-ness. This is something I have to monitor, though.

When I get there I aim to find the 5-hour pacer and stick to them like glue, mainly for the reason it should slow me down at the start. If I loose him half way then I do- but it will not be from starting too quickly.

So what should have given me confidence and a spring in my step has left me feeling flat and knackered. But it is all learning, and would only be silly and pointless if I ignore the lessons from it.



Just Ugly

I can think of little to be positive of about today’s run.

Ian and I set out to run 14 miles, but my own gastric problems within the first mile saw a restart.

From here, it went downhill (both literally and figuratively). We both found it hard- although Storm Doris has gone, today was windier than Thursday by a fair way. We set out towards Braunton to mix it up but the headwind hit us straight away.

Frequent walking sections, accompanied by even more frequent swearing followed. We turned at Braunton (the Salt rock roundabout) and found it easier but by then the damage was done.

Further gastric problems, the wind, the cold, the rough surface… the run had it all. My nice Saloman rain coat I have now found out is not breathable, meaning that by 10 miles the sweat was running out the ends of my sleeves. My Camelbak felt like a small child on my back. What else…mmm….. Donald Trump. Let’s blame him a bit.

Put simply, it was not our day. I have taken consolation in that Ian was struggling today (although not as much as me). I know Ian wanted to keep going but by 11 miles I was freezing and the amount of walking we were doing meant that really we were just wasting our time, so I called it.

14 miles in all (including the restart), and strangely, not much slower than last week, considering. The 17 miler will have to wait- today running was the victor.

Long and Steady

Today was my long and steady, and sharing it with me was Ian. We set out for a half marathon, but my retention for round figures meant that if we did 14 miles, I would have run 40 miles for my week off.

I think we got it right today. Because of the company, the miles came and went, and the plan of running about 1.5-2 minutes slower than normal training was easily achieved. In fact, we even managed a couple sprints in the last half a mile, which showed that we were within ourselves.

This whole week has been an immense confidence booster, and I can honestly say that I am a far better runner than when I came into it. Although I was scuffing a bit towards the end, my position was upright and confident. I am learning to let go of timings and speeds, and to enjoy the distance and the minutes and the achievements. My next big challenge is Bideford half marathon in 2 weeks time, where I would love to break 2 hours 15 minutes, but 2 hours 30 minutes should be a bit more realistic.

With eyes to London, I feel like I am reading a book, where the pages are slowly turning and showing me the way ahead. I do not know what the next page will tell me, but right now, it is feeling like 5 hours is a new target.

Bring on the mall!


My First Half

I was working yesterday morning, and I came up with the half-baked idea of running back. The training schedule I had written months ago called for a half marathon this weekend. The run straight back would be about 9 miles, and the thought had entered my head to extend to a half. I knew I would find it hard, but to break down this wall would be a brilliant confidence booster.

So I went for it. I added a loop in Bideford of 3 miles before I started to run back to help me, using the logic that if I did some miles before I started to come back, they would be in the bag. I am glad I did this, and it helped my confidence greatly knowing that I had already done 5k before I even started to head back home.

I popped my headphones in at 4 miles and listened to an audiobook about someone running across the Sahara desert. He was running 60 miles a day for 3 months; surely 13.1 miles would be easy? I guess the lack of audio feedback from my running must have meant my form was dropping without me knowing, as people along the Tarka Trail seemed to turn and look a while before I got there. Although my foot was not great, it was not dragging either, which is a good thing- all my squats I have been doing seemed to have been helping.

Once I got to mile 8 I started to count down the miles. I was struggling now, and introduced a short walk every mile or so just to loosen me up. My heart rate was consistently high- but then it always is when I carry my Camelbak- it seems to be around 10 beats higher a minute than with nothing on my back. Anyone else found this?

The last couple miles were really ugly, but I gritted my teeth and got through them. At the finish, it was the slowest and hardest half I have ever done, but it was a great feeling to have it in the bag.

I am questioning about the Bideford in 4 weeks time; can I get enough fitness in between to do it respectably (that is, no walking)? Also- the full marathon- twice the distance and time I did yesterday- still feels totally out of reach. However, I know it is closer because of runs like these.

*One little extra thought. I got home and took off my shoes, and found I have a large blood blister on one of my feet which I never knew about (see the twitter feed for a picture).  Not pretty! Just as well I have new trainers on their way.

Sunday Long One

Yesterdays malaise continued into this morning, so I cancelled Ian travelling up to run with me- only seemed fair. I went back to bed and fell back to sleep- which is what I truly wanted to do.

I felt better for it. After some coffee and a muffin it was out on the road with a goal of doing 6 miles. I felt OK- surprisingly- so I clicked it up to 7 miles by taking a detour around the back of the new Asda’s. I had started doing some good mile times compared to my previous runs, but my heart rate alarm was starting to vibrate so I just had to pull it back slightly to stay on plan.

Running (slowly) up Sticklepath Hill I still felt OK so I took another detour and clocked it up to 8 miles. This means now I have done more than the 10 miles I was originally planning to do this weekend, and hopefully did some good doing it across back to back days.

I am currently up to 5 miles per marathon mile, and I hope to be adding another 10 miles per marathon mile come the big day. I do feel like I am getting somewhere now with it, and I am slowly feeling improvements. I will never be at the stage I would ideally like to be- run sub 4 hours without too much of a sweat- but it does feel nice to know I am progressing.

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