Training week -8 done

29th February 2020

Another week ticked off and while things continue in the right direction it was a quiet week and my mileage was somewhat down on previous weeks and not where I’d want to be. I think I can cope with a fallow week, though, and I hope to get the mileage back up soon. It wasn’t through any injuries just a combination of events that limited my ability to run for longer.

Let’s have a look at the week’s training plan, and I can see that things are getting serious and any slack I had in my training is being eroded quickly and for the first time I have come up short of the plan.

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – The next few weeks are all about the long run, building your capacity to run the marathon. Do not worry about covering the race distance before the event, just trust the training. Practise your hydration and fuel strategies on your long runREST DAY
Walk (5km)
TuesdayREST DAYTEMPO RUN 60 Minutes (10km)
WednesdayRUN 30 MINUTES – 10-minute easy run, (4-minute tempo run, 3-minute easy jog/walk recovery) x 4, 10-minute easy runREST DAY
Core Conditioning
ThursdayREST DAYHILL TRAINING 60 Minutes (6km)
SaturdayRUN 2 HOURS – (28-minute run, 2-minute walk) x 4, or distance goal of 10 to 12 miles 30 Minute parkrun (5km)

Following my half marathon distance run last Saturday my legs were too sore to try another run or spin class on Sunday. While my son played hockey I took the opportunity to take a brisk walk around a section of the route I’d usually run. It was just a leg stretcher and I wouldn’t count it in my training miles but it got rid of some of the tiredness.

Monday was a regular yoga class but I’m aware I haven’t swum for a few weeks now and I will have to find a way to get that back into the routine. Tuesday is club night and yet again I was able to make it there. Unfortunately due to a delay getting home from the office and a late breaking pancake emergency (no Nutella!) I didn’t have time to run to the meeting point. This meant I had to drive which cost me several kilometres out of my weekly total. The group run was good, though, and we covered the best part of 10km at a pace just shy of my regular 10k race pace. I made up the difference getting back to the car but given this should have been one of my longer runs it was a shame.

Distance covered 10km

Wednesday was another rest day with just some extended stretching and work with the gym ball to keep things moving before taking on hill training again on Thursday. I’m feeling a bit of an energy lull this week and found the climb up Summer Hill harder than usual. I seem to spend all my time running this hill recently. I’m doing repeats of it most Thursdays and I’m sure all of my recent club runs, bar one, have taken it in as well. You’d think I’d get better at it but I’m not sure that is the case. ‘Easy’ is not the word that comes to mind as I scale it but according to Strava I am getting quicker at it so that is progression I guess.

Distance covered 6km

Friday evening was a social night as I went for beer and curry with some of the rugby dad’s from my son’s old club. It was a great evening but not great for the training regime as several pints and a heavy meal took their toll the next morning. Saturday 29th February was a special parkrun day as it will be the last time you can run on that date until 2048 so while I really didn’t feel in a fit state for running I forced myself to the start line. I couldn’t face running there and back and the weather was appalling so I was restricted to just the 5km, again well short of previous weeks. I am having a good relationship with parkrun this week and have several targets for this year. Firstly I am now within 15 runs of getting my 250 shirt and will hopefully get that by late summer. I am also closing in on 200 runs at my home event and having managed to get the New Year’s Day double in I’m looking to run 40 events in 2020 for the first time. Add in a few new locations to add to my tourist total and it could be a successful parkrun year. That does leave me a little guilty about not volunteering as much but I will repay that debt later.

Distance covered 5km

I wish I could say that a relatively light week meant that my legs had time to recover but I am feeling some discomfort in my right knee and a general tightening in my legs each morning. I am going to spend more time on stretching and building up my legs but equally I know I will have to target longer distances as the training plan is pretty unforgiving throughout March. Now’s the time I need all that complementary training to come good for me.

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin class

1 Yoga class

0 Swim session

3 Runs (total distance 21km)

Current weight 12”12’

Training week -9 done

22nd February 2020

A variable week that ended well but didn’t cover as much training as I would’ve liked. I’m back to the doubts I had from the start and while I’m happy with the distances I’m running and how I’m coping with them I can’t help seeing how much further I need to go and how fast the time is ticking by. I’ve also started working at a new location with a new client which has been a little disruptive. It’s still in a busy part of London but far from the marathon route or quieter Docklands roads so I will have to investigate the area to see if there are any workable lunchtime routes I can run. It’s also a couple of miles further from home and I’m planning to use this in the next week or so to extend my long(est) run to somewhere between 25-30km.

Week 8 of the VLM plan looks like this, hard to comprehend that I’m now at the halfway point of the actual training plan.

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – This week, feel your heart pounding and your breathing quicken with the tempo runningSpin Class 60 Minutes
TuesdayREST DAYSTEADY RUN 40 Minutes (2 x 3km) TEMPO RUN 55 Minutes (9KM)
WednesdayRUN 50 MINUTES – 10-minute easy jog, (60 sec tempo running, 2 minute walk/jog) x 10, 10-minute easy jogSTEADY HIKE 120 Minutes (10km)
SaturdayRUN 1HR 40 MINUTES – (25-minute jog, 5-minute brisk walk) x 4, or distance goal of 8 to 10 milesSTEADY RUN 45 Minutes (6.5km) TEMPO RUN 29 Minutes (5km parkrun) STEADY RUN 70 Minutes (10km)

Sunday was a strange day. I started with a 60-minute spin class, a substitute instructor replacing my regular one. She had a different approach and focused more on working with much higher resistances. I liked the variety but I missed my instructor’s clear guidance and class management. Soon after midday my son had a hockey match on the other side of London so it wasn’t long after getting back from the gym that I headed out again. With Storm Dennis battering away it had been touch and go whether the fixture would take place but everyone was keen and we were assured the pitch was playable. I didn’t do any more training myself but the drive round the M25 through the fierce wind and rain certainly got my heart pounding. By the time of the match the weather had improved but sadly they lost a close match by the odd goal. The drive home was calmer as the weather had improved but there were plenty of sections under water that proved tricky to navigate.

On Monday we tried something different. At my wife’s suggestion we ran to the gym and then took our yoga class before running home. I have avoided this in the past as I don’t think they complement each other when that close together but you don’t know until you try. The intention was to run at a gentle pace there to arrive calm and relaxed but, unfortunately, a misjudged leaving time meant we had to really pick up the pace in the last kilometre to make it in time. As it was we rocked up with a minute to spare and squeezed into a couple of half-spaces around the edge. Breathing heavily in an otherwise peaceful room plus being incredibly hot for the first quarter of an hour made me feel quite self-conscious but once we got into the pace of things it was as enjoyable as usual. Straight after the session we headed home on the harder, uphill, leg of the trip and this proved quite a challenge. This run represented a significant step up in distance for my wife and I don’t think we’ll be trying this approach again. Sandwiching a relaxing yoga session between two runs diminished both and any advantage of combining into a single evening is wasted.

Distance covered 10km

Tuesday night, and I’m beginning to bore myself, but yet again I managed to attend a club night. I’ve lost count of how many on the trot this is now but at this rate some of the members might even begin to recognise me. I managed to include running there and back again as well as sticking with the faster group. They went at a very good pace, probably quicker than my 10k pace for many sections, which made for a very good session. I headed home just before the finish and took a direct route so distance was a little down on previous weeks but even so I thought it had been a good session.

Distance covered 15km

On Wednesday I went on a lovely muddy hike in the Kent countryside with my wife and son, mainly so that we could have lunch in this pub that serves wonderful, homemade pies. It was a steady walk over a couple of hours and while not exactly training, the VLM plan does still include some minor references to walking so I’ll throw it in for good measure. On Thursday I started on a new client site so that, combined with half term cancelling evening dance classes meant I did nothing else until the end of the week.

Saturday is parkrun day and this marathon training has really got a hold of me as my running to and from the park has become an order of magnitude bigger than the event itself. This time I got out of the house early enough to take a longer, looping run there and while it ended up being a little shorter than I had hoped worked out quite well as I arrived in good time. The event was as crowded as ever but once I was able to get into my stride I held a good pace until the end. My overall pace would have seen me through in around 28 minutes but the congested start probably added a minute to that. For a quicker section within a longer run I was happy with that. For the run back I followed a similar looping route along quiet rural roads as last week, with a small detour at the end to take the mileage over the half marathon distance. The route was quite hilly in places and I took a couple opportunities to walk but overall the pace was good and, taking into account some lulls either side of the parkrun, was close to my target marathon pace. The route map on Strava was very encouraging as well as the parkrun section was forced into a tiny corner by the rambling route I took there and back.

Distance covered 21.2km

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

1 Yoga class

0 Swim session

4 Runs (total distance 46.2km)

Current weight 12”13’

Training week -10 done

15th February 2020

One more week ticked off. I can sense a twitchiness building as I feel the race day closing in on me. Having not really given it much mind recently it is beginning to re-enter my thoughts and plans and rather than just turning the handle of training I’m now approaching each session with the thought ‘does this get me closer to the start line’. I hope I’m not getting ahead of myself.

Let’s revisit the training plan:

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – A solid week in the bank allowing training to settle and routine to continue Spin Class 60 Minutes
Monday40 MINUTES EASY RUN Swimming 1km
TuesdayREST DAYTempo Run 60 Minutes (9km) plus Steady Run 45 minutes (6.5km)
WednesdayRUN 40 MINUTES – 10-minute easy run, (45 sec tempo running, 1 minute 45 sec walk/run) x 8, 10-minute easy run REST DAY Core Conditioning
ThursdayREST DAY 7 minutes Easy Run, 30 minutes interval running, 7 minutes easy run (6km)
SaturdayRUN 1HR 45 MINUTES – (30-minute jog, 5-minute brisk walk) x 3, or distance goal of 8 miles 25 minute steady run (4km), 30 minute parkrun (5km), 45 minute steady run (7km)

Wednesday was a run free day with just a 30-minute core session with the gym ball. On Thursday I plumped for an interval running session. I did laps of a local private housing estate, the million-pound homes and wide, quiet roads make it a very safe and peaceful place to run. At the heart of the development is a block about 1.5km around and I used this to measure out my interval runs. Tempo Run along one side, Easy Run along the next and so on. Three laps in total plus another couple of Kilometres there and back and that was the session complete. I’m not sure this workout achieved much but it is good to introduce some variety and I will try and alternate with hill work over the next month or so.

Distance covered 6km

With the start of half term I was able to persuade both my children to join me at parkrun to make it a family affair and while they made their own way there I took the chance to add some extra miles to the day. I had hoped to run a longer way around to get there, but I was slow getting out of the door and didn’t have time so plumped for my regular route which is quite short and pleasantly downhill. I met up with them a few minutes before the start and while it was chilly the conditions were undeniably good. My son headed closer to the front while I held back with my daughter, deep in the pack. While this was an honest approach it did put us at a disadvantage. With several hundred runners trying to head off down a narrow path it’s a good hundred metres before you cross the start line and then probably a few hundred more before you can get fully into your stride. All this combines to make it difficult to get close to your best time, but we made it round without a pause in just over 30 minutes and that was good going as we only get to run a couple of these together each year. I headed home on a nice looping route that took in some pleasant, almost rural, roads to bring me within touching distance of 10 miles.

Distance covered 16km

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

0 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 1km)

4 Runs (total distance 37.5km)

Current weight 12”13’

Training week -10 begins

12th February 2020

I’m now, theoretically, deep into the VLM training plan but to be honest I haven’t actually followed it at all. I’m using it to make sure that I don’t go too far off track or go too slowly but in reality I am working under the premise that if I gradually increase my weekly mileage, cross train with swimming and yoga and stay injury free I’ll be OK. I think that will be fine.

As the new week started I couldn’t help noticing that sometimes things work in your favour and you really have nowhere to hide. From the start of this process I have doubted myself and my ability to see it through, I have looked at my running history and found no indication that I am capable of running a marathon. I started the training heavier than when I started running eight years ago and slower than when I started, eight years ago. But, in the few months of training I have lost that weight and got back to running (slightly) quicker. Everything is telling me ‘I can do it’ and to just keep going. Take this weekend just gone, Saturday was lovely with clear skies and just a gentle breeze but on Sunday Storm Ciara turned the UK into a swirling, soaked nightmare. Which day had I arranged my only organised event to date? Yes, Saturday. I can’t deny it, the universe is determined to make me do the marathon and there isn’t anything I can do about it.

OK, just for reference, let’s look at the VLM plan for week 7.

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – A solid week in the bank allowing training to settle and routine to continueSpin Class 60 Minutes
Monday40 MINUTES EASY RUNSwimming 1km
TuesdayREST DAYTempo Run 60 Minutes (9km) plus Steady Run 45 minutes (6.5km)
WednesdayRUN 40 MINUTES – 10-minute easy run, (45 sec tempo running, 1 minute 45 sec walk/run) x 8, 10-minute easy runREST DAY
ThursdayREST DAY
SaturdayRUN 1HR 45 MINUTES – (30-minute jog, 5-minute brisk walk) x 3, or distance goal of 8 miles

In my running career I have done two half marathons. The first was an unpleasantly difficult rural hill-fest that took me days to recover from and after which left me with no desire to run so far again.  Last Saturday I ran another, albeit flatter, half and by the time I got home I felt fine. The following morning I did my weekly spin class and while I was on alert for any tiredness or fatigue I managed to hammer out a really good session despite none of my favourite tracks being played. It was as if it hadn’t happened, which is perplexing.

Later in the day we had a family get-together for my dad’s 93rd birthday and it was lovely to catch up with everyone again. Talk inevitably turned to running as a couple of us are preparing for the London Marathon and my niece’s husband said something interesting about marathons and people’s perceptions. Whenever you mention that you are doing/have done a marathon there is inevitably a short pause before the next question comes out: ‘what time are you aiming for/did you do?’ This immediate value judgement is very strange and, for me at least, a little awkward. If I give an honest answer of ‘about five hours’ I can feel a sense of ‘Oh, is that it’. I know, I’ve done it myself. If I give an ambitious answer of ‘maybe 4:30 with a bit of luck’ I feel dishonest, or I’m setting myself up for failure along with the fact that I know it is still not a great time in the scheme of things. The strange thing is, according to him (after he’s done a few of these events) when you do longer distances nobody EVER asks you how fast you did an event. Bearing in mind that a 50km race is considered an Ultra and is only a little further than a regular marathon maybe I’ll train for one of those so no one ever again asks me what I’m aiming for. Damn, that’s maudlin. Let’s talk about fun stuff.

Tuesday is club night and I am so impressed with myself. Four weeks on the trot now just blows my previous attendance out of the water. Once again I ran there and back but this time I decided to move up to a faster group as it would be led by an old friend. It was following the same route as I went on last week but the higher group was no joke and I could feel myself straining within the first few miles. I stuck with it to the end and held on, I should have more faith in myself. I usually give in and run slower when on my own but these groups are very good at pushing me further and faster. By the end I came up just short of the magic 10 miles but that was ok, and I rounded the evening off with a good twenty minutes of stretching and roller work. What was interesting was that the following day my legs were properly messed up, they ached way more than they had after the half marathon and were still tired by the evening. I guess that’s what actually putting some effort in can do to you.

Distance covered 15.5km

My next training run will be on Thursday and I’m undecided between hill work or interval training as per the training plan. Given the dark evenings I will have to do the interval training on public roads and risk looking a bit silly. So be it.

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’

Training week -12 done

1st February 2020

I’m struggling to keep up this training diary and I know I’m not jotting down my thoughts as much as before Christmas. I feel I made a lot of progress in the first few weeks and I’ve rather stagnated recently. I’m still doing the training and putting in the miles but I haven’t been progressing at the rate I was before. In some ways that may be a good thing as a lot of people warned me against ‘too much, too soon’ so settling into a calmer routine may be a good thing. I do worry that while before I was ahead of the training plan pretty soon it will come back and overtake me. It certainly isn’t dominating my thoughts as much as before and, again, maybe that’s a good thing.

Let’s look at this week’s VLM training plan for week 5:

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – A lighter week to allow for adaptation to the training loadsRest Day

Pool Swim (1km) Yoga
TuesdayREST DAYTempo Run 60 minutes (9km) plus Steady Run 70 minutes (9.5km)
Wednesday30 MINUTES EASY RUNRest Day – Core conditioning
ThursdayREST DAYHill work 45 minutes (6km)
FridayREST DAYRest Day
SaturdayRUN 52 MINUTES – 25-minute easy run, 2-minute walk, 25-minute easy runRace Pace parkrun (5km) 29 minutes plus 2x1km warm up & cool down 15 minutes

There was no training on Sunday. My son had a hockey match in Brighton and that meant being up and out by 8:30am to drop my wife at the gym and find the ground by 10:00. It was a good match and while two early goals put our boys on the back foot, they held their nerve and got back into the game. They had more possession, but their opponents were more direct and for the next two quarters it was evenly matched. Deep into the final quarter they managed a quick break and two passes out of defence found our striker and with a smart finish they were back in the game. They hammered away for the last few minutes but to no avail and it finished 2-1. Being that far south it seemed rude not to hit the coast and get a bag of chips so that’s what we did. It was pretty cold and blustery but chips always taste better when you can see the sea. We got home late afternoon and that is a long-winded way of saying I did nothing worth noting.

Monday is my active rest day and I got back to the pool after a little break. We were down to two lanes again due to an Aqua Fit class and it was all a bit messy. This is clearly the wrong time to be trying to go. If I was a better writer I could probably get a sitcom out of this but in the meantime I will just try to describe the scene and the players. You might remember my early forays back in the pool where I had to share a lane with Aquaman, well now there are two of them with their swim caps, flippers and barrel turns. There was also a normal swimmer doing regular lengths like me and finally there were three children under the watchful gaze of their non-swimming parents. Don’t get me wrong, they were good swimmers but they also had a habit of stopping a couple of metres short on each length to get some affirmation from mum or dad. It was a very disjointed session but we managed to keep out each other’s way enough to get my required lengths in. After a quick trip to the steam room I finished the day with a very good yoga session.

Distance covered 1km

As I said at the top the marathon is not dominating my thoughts as much as before but I am getting some good training in. Tuesday is club night and I used this to get my long run in. I trotted to the meeting point at a nice steady pace, a bit quicker than previous weeks when I probably took this bit too easy. For the group run I went at a comfortable 10k pace and acted as sweeper for the group. This means I would run at the back of the 20-odd runners to make sure no one gets into trouble or is left behind. Like pacing at parkrun this adds a different element to a run and while it isn’t particularly taxing it does give you something to think about. After the group run and a quick stretch I headed on a long loop home, again at a good steady pace and while it isn’t the distances I was doing before Christmas it was a good one to get under my belt.

Distance covered 18.5km

The week is turning into a repeat of last week and on Thursday my daughter’s dance class gave me the chance to do some more hill work. The hill I run is actually just one half as once you’ve gone down to the train station at the bottom the road rises up on the other side to make a matching pair. Usually I would run to the station and back up four times but this week I ran the full length and back twice. The opposite side is a little shorter but correspondingly a little steeper, so it was a good challenge. I don’t particularly like hills and find them hard work, but I guess that’s the point and it was another good session to put in the bank. There’s a few more weeks of this dance training so I’m hoping to get more hill sessions in through February.

Distance covered 6km

Saturday is the last rugby match of the season for my son and we had to travel all the way to Essex but it did allow me to add to my parkrun tourism and Valentines parkrun in Ilford gave me a valuable ‘V’ in the alphabet challenge (parkrun obsessives will know what I’m talking about). I used to live close to here and often went to this park to watch county cricket matches, but I’d forgotten just how lovely a park it was. The course was nice and flat but I was disappointed to feel so heavy legged and my time reflected that. Still, it’s nice to run at race effort levels even if results aren’t what you’d want. There was no opportunity to extend the run but I did manage a short lap of the park before and after to warm up / cool down. Annoyingly, the rugby kicked off fifteen minutes earlier than listed and by the time I got there our boys where seven tries up. It was a one-sided affair but they played up and played well and it was a good end to the season. This team have come a long way this year, they’ve really gelled into a good unit and it’s been great to watch them do so well. Next year moves to full fifteen-a-side with addition of flankers and introduces some new set-pieces so it will be interesting to see how they adapt. A couple of weeks off and then it will be the cricket season.

Distance covered 7km

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin classes

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (1km)

3 Runs (total distance 31.5km)

Current weight 13”2’

Training week -13 done

25th January 2020

Week four of training and I’m looking forward to getting some miles under my belt after missing out on a long run last week. I have a few medium runs planned and then will use Tuesday’s club run to combine a tempo run with a long run, such alchemy.

Here is the schedule for this week:

DayVLM Training PlanWhat I did
SundayREST DAY – The first block of four weeks is almost done. Stick to your plan this week and build up to your longest time on your feetSteady Run 40 minutes (6km)
Monday40 MINUTES EASY RUNRest Day with Yoga
TuesdayREST DAYTempo Run 60 minutes (9km) plus Steady Run 45 minutes (7km)
WednesdayRUN/WALK 55 MINUTES – 5-minute brisk walk, 45-minute easy run, 5-minute brisk walkRest Day – Core conditioning
ThursdayREST DAYHill work 45 minutes (6km)
FridayREST DAYRest Day
SaturdayRUN/WALK 90 MINUTES – 10-minute walk, 30-minute jog, 10-minute walk, 30-minute jog, 10-minute walk, or distance goal of 6 to 8 miles2 x Steady Runs 60 minutes (9km) sandwiching a full pace parkrun 27 minutes (5km)

Sunday was a bit of a mess. I had planned to run a 10k loop while my son played hockey but while driving there we got the message that his session had been cancelled due to a frozen pitch. So, thinking quickly we dropped my wife at the gym for the spin session I often take and took my son home. Then I drove back to the gym, left the car for her to drive home and set off running. It was cold, very cold, but I learnt a valuable lesson: wear a hat. Sounds simple but I hadn’t really thought about it before. I had a Ron Hill one in the drawer that came with some gloves I’d bought a while back and with that in place I was positively toasty for the run home. I took the slightly longer, hillier route home and while it wasn’t as far as I’d hoped to cover it was a nice run all the same.

Distance covered 6km

On Monday I skipped the swim session again. I don’t know what it is but my enthusiasm for swimming has waned as quickly as it grew. I need to get back into a rhythm and build it into a routine again, there’s always next week.

In training terms Tuesday night was a win as I managed to get back to my club night run which included running there and back as well. As usual I was over cautious on the way there running very conservatively and arrived a good ten minutes early so that was little more than a gentle warm up really. By chance the group I ran with then ran back past my house before turning and looping back to the start so that when I ran home I had covered a lot of the same roads four times in one evening. The club section was close to my current 10k pace and the remainder was at an optimistic marathon pace so that aspect was good. On the way back I added a hilly little diversion to increase the distance and effort and all in all it was a good evening.

Distance covered 16km

I took a rest day on Wednesday, making it up with some conditioning work with the gym ball at home followed by 20 minutes of yoga style stretching. That probably sounds more productive than it was as I don’t really know what I’m doing but if I follow the instruction book and throw in some shapes from my Monday yoga class it probably comes close to being useful.

On Thursday evening my daughter returned to her dance class and I took the opportunity to get in some hill work in the hour or so I had before taking her home. It’s called Summer Hill and it really is an idyllic blend of the suburban and the rural; as you crest the hill to your left is a centuries old coaching inn pub while on your right a picturesque cricket green welcomes you to the top of the climb. However, on a rainy January evening both of these are invisible, and all the bucolic beauty is for nothing leaving you with just the git of a hill do over and over again. Makes for good training, though, and another session I’m glad to get under my belt.

Distance covered 6km

Friday is a rest day in the most complete sense as I did nothing that I can even optimistically call marathon training and certainly nothing that reached my Strava account which just leaves Saturday. I had big plans for my parkrun but as my son had a rare weekend without a rugby match I thought I could make this into something more substantial. Whenever I speak to friends or family about marathon training they talk about taking opportunities to run back from wherever just to get those miles in. I’ve been doing parkrun for years now but more and more when it is a ‘home’ parkrun I try and fit at least a run home in. Today I got organised in time to run there at a comfortable pace, taking into account it is mostly downhill all the way, knocking out a full-on parkrun (27:13) before heading back uphill towards home. Just like on club night I don’t know if this counts as a long run given the regular breaks but I’m happy to be putting the effort in.

Distance covered 14km

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin classes

1 Yoga class

0 Swim session

4 Runs (total distance 43km)

Current weight 13”1’

I suspect a significant backlog of beer from Christmas has stopped my weight going in the right direction but there is time to get that back on track. Weekly mileage is good but I’m disappointed not to have got a genuine long run in, maybe I’m being seduced by the training plan but I haven’t run a half marathon distance for a few weeks now and I think I need to address this soon.