Training week -11 done

8th February 2020

I think it’s time to step my training back up and begin building the running to continually stretch myself week on week rather than the recent training I’ve been doing which has been very much ‘within myself’.

I’ve targeted February for tackling an organised half marathon as a challenge to myself and as a gauge for how my training is going. It should also help a lot in setting expectations for the race itself. These events are always hard to schedule alongside family commitments but there are a couple I have in mind that might be achievable, I will look into these later in the week.

Week 6 of the VLM Beginner Plan

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – This week is when the marathon training kicks in, building more time on your feet, and introducing some mixed paced runningSpin Class 60 Minutes
Steady Run 40 minutes (6km)
TuesdayREST DAYTempo Run 60 minutes (9km) plus Steady Run 50 minutes (7.5 km)
WednesdayRUN 40 MINUTES – 10-minute easy run, (30 sec tempo running, 2 minute walk) x 8, 10 minute easy runRest Day – Core conditioning
ThursdayREST DAYEasy Run 35 minutes (5km)
FridayREST DAYRest Day
SaturdayRUN/WALK 1HR 40 MINUTES – (20-minute easy run, 5-minute brisk walk) x 4, or distance goal of 6 to 8 milesHalf Marathon Race 2:10 (21km)

Sunday was a double header which started with a heavy-duty spin class with my favourite instructor. All the best tracks were there, and I really pushed myself right to the end building up one hell of a sweat.

In the afternoon my son had a hockey match and while he was warming up with the team I went for a quick Steady Run using the longer route I often use when he is training. It was really quite chilly but I’m getting the hang of the kit now and I was comfortable all the way round. He played well, as did the team, scoring a nice goal before the team went on to win comfortably.

Distance covered 6km

Monday would normally be an active rest day but a mix up with my gym class booking plus wanting to help my son prepare for the year end exams kicking off this week meant I stayed in during the evening. A fair trade for yesterday’s double cardio efforts.

I think I set something of a personal record on Tuesday by attending my third club night on the trot, I doubt I’ve ever been that consistent before. I was joined in running there and back by a friend who is also preparing for the London Marathon, he is a little quicker than me and runs in a faster group on these nights but it‘s always rewarding to run with him as it pushes me a little quicker. We were both a little tired but it was good to get the yards in at a realistic (for me) marathon pace. My group took in the infamous Summer Hill section where I’ve been basing my recent hill work and was interesting to see how that work had built my confidence in working to the top.

Distance covered 16.4 (9km + 2 x 3.7km)

I usually take another rest day on a Wednesday and did the same this week, limiting myself to some stretching and core work with the gym ball. What’s interesting is the interval training in the VLM plan that harks back to something I tried in the earlier weeks of my training and the longer evenings of last October. At the time I now use for hill training I would then run back and forth along a football pitch on some school playing fields. I haven’t done that for a while so perhaps I should reintroduce it and alternate with the hill work.

I’ve decided on the half marathon now and will being undertaking one this Saturday. I’d got it down to a choice of two; one being an attractive one along the river at Richmond and another in a rather more mundane London park. Sadly, the Richmond one was a little too disruptive for the family, so I plumped for a Run Through race in East London. I like these Run Through events, I ran several of their 10k races last year, they’re well managed and well supported. However, they do tend to fold these longer distances into limited spaces and this race will be a six lapper! This will present its own challenge in terms of focus and engagement and it’s interesting that this mental side of it is worrying me more than the distance. Before this training began a half marathon in 2016 had been the pinnacle of my running but now it is just a step on a bigger journey. To allow for a mini taper I skipped the hill work I’ve been working on recently and went on a gentle run with my wife on Thursday around my regular shorter local loop.

Distance covered 5km

No training on Friday and plenty of rest in preparation for tomorrow’s early start and race. With a 6:30 alarm call I headed into London Bridge and got a bus to Victoria Park in Bethnal Green. On the way I met a club mate who was running the 10k as part of his training to beat 1:20 for a half in a few weeks. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the same sport as other people. Anyway, he’s a really nice guy who used to coach my kids at tennis a few years ago and he was very encouraging about my training and progress. I got there in plenty of time and as it was quite chilly I took my time attaching the number to my top and losing some layers. I even took the time to join the warm-up session. I’m really not very good at prepping for events like these, I can do a little stretching and maybe a brisk walk to the start but anything beyond that makes me nervous. I have the unsupportable fear that I have a finite amount of energy and any that I use in warming up is less I can call on during the event. I also suffer from poor race craft in that the early miles are always the fastest and I get slower towards the end when I know it should be the other way around. It’s just that I have more energy at the start and if I can get a few miles in at a good pace then it’s time in the bank as far as I’m concerned. The runners were called to the start in order of estimated finish time – all 80-minute runners first and then progressing up. I suspect people are a little ambitious here so when they called the 2-hour group I joined them even though I worried I could be 20 minutes off that. Inevitably I started off stronger than intended and when I checked my Garmin a couple km in I was surprised to see I was going at a good parkrun pace, I backed off a touch and tried to settle in for the next two hours. The course ran for 6 ½ laps and you tracked progress by counting passes of the water station close to the finish line which you clocked seven times. This was a blessing and a curse, the route was very flat so there were no sections to worry about but when I passed the station for the second time at about 6km I was hit by the knowledge that I had five more go arounds left, however when I passed it for the fourth time you felt the joy of knowing you had only three left, then two and then the final pass which only left the short finish to go. In the end the multi-lap format worked very well and as each lap passed relatively quickly you could get a feel for progress and have confidence there were no horrors to be faced before the end. I held a good pace throughout, not far off my 10k pace, and was very satisfied to take five minutes off my last half marathon time. This was also my first organised race since I started training (not counting parkruns) and I was reminded of the positive effect this has on performance. I think this represents good progress and I’m trying not to be too strict with myself. I keep reminding myself I don’t need to be marathon ready this week but I couldn’t help noticing how shot my legs were by the end and wondering how I’m supposed to do that twice.

I think that represents the biggest progress, before this process I had no intention of running a half ever again but today it is just a tick in the training plan and the medal is already in the drawer.

Distance covered 21km

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

0 Yoga class

0 Swim session

4 Runs (total distance 48.5km)

Current weight 12”13’

One thought on “Training week -11 done

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