Training Week -16

4 January 2020

I hope I’ve counted right. I think I need to kick-off my formal marathon training this week and start the 16-week countdown, that doesn’t sound very long but it is half as long again as I’ve been training so far so maybe there is enough time to get ready. My eye is firmly on the prize now and I’m ready to get some real work under my belt.

It is also New Year’s week so I don’t suppose I will be that consistent with my training but I will see how that goes. I will nominally be following the VLM’s own beginner training plan for want of anything better. Week 1 looks like this:

MondayREST DAY – Increase time on your feet and build a strong foundation and routine 
WednesdayREST DAY 
ThursdayRUN/WALK 40 MINUTES – 10-minute brisk walk, 20-minute easy run, 10-minute brisk walk 
SaturdayREST DAY 
SundayRUN/WALK 50 MINUTES – 10-minute walk, 30-minute easy run, 10-minute walk 

There’s already a problem, I’ve set myself up to start the week on a Sunday so I’m going to switch that from the get-go. Also, as I’ve noticed before this starts off very sedately so for the first few weeks I’m going to be training above and beyond that required. I expect our paths will cross at some point and as long as I feel comfortable, I will continue as I’ve been going. I will also continue to use the rest days for my yoga and swimming sessions.

I ran a lot on Friday and Saturday so on Sunday I returned to my regular 60-minute spin class without running there or back. The class was as good as ever, although the music was blandly unmemorable.

On Monday I went for a long run early in the morning. It was bright with clear skies all around and a beautiful time to be out. It was, however, much colder than I expected and I was poorly dressed for the conditions. For the first half I was uncomfortably cold and frustrated with myself as I have perfectly adequate kit to wear but hadn’t put it on. I followed the route I’d been on when I bashed my face in week five and it was a lot easier in the daytime. At one point the map indicated a footpath and bridge over a busy junction so I took this only to find myself on the back nine of a local golf course. The grass was very wet and I soon had soaking feet not to mention it was quite heavy underfoot which took a toll on my pace and comfort levels. I had initially planned to run 18-20k but I actually wanted to save my legs for New Year’s Day so cut it back a little. It’s a good route with plenty of long sections to really get into a rhythm although some parts get quite hilly. I will definitely be using this one for my longer runs when I start getting to the 20-mile mark.

Distance covered 15km 

On New Year’s Eve I went to the gym early to get a swim in and although it was slightly busier than usual we all soon found a rhythm and kept out of each other’s way. Not for the first time I’ve started a training session somewhat down on energy. I don’t think it’s a motivation thing at this stage but I am giving some thought as what it might be and if I can do anything to avoid it. I kept to the same distance as before and tried to push a little harder on some of the sections. I also experimented with the floats to isolate my legs or arms and this made for some more challenging lengths. And that’s that for 2019.

Distance covered 1km

New Year’s Day is special for parkrunners as it’s the only day you are allowed to run in two events on the same day. I’ve never managed to actually achieve this but I made my plans early this time around and with a little willpower I was confident I could get it done. Following a 7:00am alarm call I was in good time for the 8:30 start at Maidstone parkrun. This is a lovely course running along a very pretty section of the River Medway and a great way to shake off any residual tiredness from the night before. Being pretty flat for most of the way around this would probably be quite a quick course but sections do get narrow which concertinaed the group a few times. Following this I had plenty of time to head across Kent to the Shorne Woods Country Park for their event at 10:30. This was another lovely course, gently undulating through woods but the large numbers didn’t agree with the narrow trails and congestion meant long sections had to be walked. A great start to the year though. One of the great things about parkrun is that while every event is different, and running in different locations is rewarding and invigorating, much of the experience is reassuringly familiar. Your barcode works everywhere in the world, every run briefing covers the same instructions and the enthusiasm of all the volunteers and runners is never dimmed. It is just a great thing to be part of.

Distance covered 10km (2 x 5km)

Thursday saw me back at the gym for a 45-minute spin class with my regular instructor. Maybe it was due to another early start but I didn’t feel I got as much out of the class as usual. That afternoon we went for a walk near Hever Castle, I don’t normally include these here as they are, more often than not, leisurely strolls but this one was a little further than normal and we had to maintain a brisk pace throughout to beat the approaching dusk. It was also incredibly muddy in places which combined to make it quite a workout.

Distance covered 10km

Friday was scheduled to be a rest day but my wife fancied a run so we headed out for a quick trot around a local loop. I can feel it getting colder than it was in December and this morning was particularly fresh but clear skies made it very pleasant.

Distance covered 5.4km

On Saturday I returned to my local parkrun with my son and we took advantage of the good conditions to put in a good effort. The numbers were up again over the 800 mark and this really does put a strain on the winter route as all the runners try to fit onto a two-metre wide footpath at the start. You eventually find some space and can run at your own pace but it is crowded all the way to the finish. It is also over 2 ¾ laps so there is a lot of lapping taking place with runners of very different speeds trying to cover the same ground and this can cause some friction when etiquette isn’t observed. I was able to come home in a shade over 27 minutes which is just quick enough not to be lapped and one I should be happy with. Obviously I’m not though, I felt I had to push myself quite hard just to achieve that and I was disappointed not to have got 26-something at least. There’s always next week, though, and a return to my parkrun home-from-home as the school rugby season reconvenes.

Distance covered 5km

Weekly Training Summary

2 Spin classes

0 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 1.0km)

5 Runs (total distance 35.4km)

Current weight 13”1’

Sadly, no yoga for two weeks now so will have to make a point of returning to that sooner rather than later. Running distance is good given the time of year and inevitably my weight slipped back a little over the holiday. Next week should see me return in earnest to training and all-round good habits. Roll on week -15.

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