Seventh week done

30th November 2019

Week seven complete and I have to admit things are getting a little scruffy. I’ve fallen out of routine a little and my intention to make this something of a rest and reset week leaves me feeling like I’ve lost some momentum. To let you glimpse behind the curtain a little I must also admit I’m writing this update on a Monday and something happened on Sunday’s run that has given me a wrinkle of concern. Nothing major and I will talk through it on my next update but it does play into my main fear in the marathon prep. More of that later, for now let’s return to the week just gone.

Friday was very much a night off from training as I was planning an evening out with some dads from my son’s school. Although we all work across central London we often meet in Sevenoaks as it is more relaxed and still easy for us to get home from. However the events on London Bridge that afternoon meant all stations near us were closed and we decided to stay in town instead. I work hard by Tower Bridge so this attack was very much on my doorstep and I know the area where it happened very well. As always, I am awestruck by the bravery of those who tackled the man and the swift and decisive actions of the police to bring the situation to a close. I’ve worked in London all my life and I remember when I started back in the late eighties it was IRA bombs causing disruption and through the years I have found myself there or thereabouts for other incidents where people seek to make their statements through violence and fear and it is consistently affirming to witness how people on the scene come together in their stoicism and their unwillingness to be cowed or distracted from their quotidian life.

Anyway, no politics here and I need to talk about my training. The evening was enjoyable and I had several beers followed by a hearty Italian meal accompanied by a couple of bottles of wine. What the hell, I’m not training for the Olympics here.

Saturday’s plan had me running at a new parkrun close by where my son was playing rugby but what a clustermuddle that turned out to be. On Friday I had checked out the ‘parkruns near me’ site and saw there were five suitable events close by the school he would be playing at. Three of these I had done before so I plumped for the nearest new one. Come the morning we arrived at the frosty car park at 8:30 and I prepared to leave him grumpy and moaning with 45 minutes to kill while I jogged the mile and a half to the 9:00 start. It was then that the plaintive cry came out ‘did you pack my boots?’  ‘No’ I replied, ‘didn’t you pack your boots?’ I already knew the answer. It was a twenty minute journey home and another thirty back (traffic getting worse) but while I resigned myself to missing the parkrun I figured I would have 40 odd minutes to get my own run in while he warmed up with the team. In the end we made it back just before 9:30 only to be told we should’ve been at a different set of playing fields a couple of miles away by someone helping out at the school. He then gave me a long string of directions; second left then right then right again then first left then second right he didn’t say because he clearly didn’t appreciate the three instruction rule and I’d forgotten what he’d said even as I thanked him and rolled up my window. ‘Did you get that?’ I asked my son, he replied ‘yes’ and got us there first time. I guess that’s why he made it into a grammar school and I didn’t. Anyway, the upshot was we only made the right place ten minutes before kick-off and I had no time to run. And that isn’t even the worst of it. By the by, the match was a lot of fun as he had several primary school friends on the other team so beating them comprehensively was very satisfying.

No, the real kicker came later when I checked my Strava feed and saw several of my running club colleagues had gone to that very same parkrun as part of a club event I hadn’t been paying attention to. And they were all posting photos of themselves standing next to Dame Kelly Holmes! Of all people, can you believe it? I tried not to make too big a deal out of it to my son, but, arghhh!

So, that’s the final running diary entry for the week with no running to report on. Great.

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 0.8km)

3 Runs (total distance 26km)

Current weight 13” 2’

Hills and ramblings

29th November 2019       

I’ve got a little out of step in my diary updates this week and I haven’t got much to report on as a result. I don’t want to overload the end of week update so for now I’ll give a quick summary of the last couple of days and then some musings on a topic that has been on my mind for a while. I might go ahead and work through some more of these issues in the future to break up the routine updates.

Wednesday is a rest day and coincidentally it was also my daughter’s sixteenth so we had a nice family evening being mean about the Apprentice candidates. I had lost interest in it for the last few years but my kids are coming to it fresh for the first time so I’m enjoying it again through their eyes. On Thursday I tried something new and while my daughter was having her dance lesson I tackled some solid hill training for the first time since I started prepping for the marathon. From the car park where I dropped her it was a 1k jog to a bus stop at the top of the hill before heading down to the train station at the bottom turning and heading back up to the bus stop. Each there and back being about 1k. This hill is a favourite at my running club and is about as tough as hills get around this leafy suburb. When a run leader announces this on their route you might find yourself thinking about moving up or down unless you’re feeling strong. I’m not great at hills and often give in to walking when on my own which is why I want to include more into my plans. This time I was aiming for three round trips, managed four and would’ve done a fifth but I ran out of time. I felt very good and on the 1k stretch back to the car gave it the beans, well, my equivalent of that anyway, and came home at something approaching my parkrun pace. All in all a very successful session and I think I’ll do the same again next week. If I can get my act together a bit quicker I might even fit in that fifth climb.

Distance covered 6km.

So, for now, something a little different…

Headphones

Headphones are such a thorny issue for runners and my use of them has troubled me down the years. I’ve always run with them, sometimes with music and more recently with podcasts. In the past I’ve used a carefully curated playlist at my local parkrun so that I get a feel for where I should be as each track starts and if I miss my target time I crash into some jarring track as punishment. Sadly, as I am so far off my PB I haven’t used that for a while. I also have a general running playlist of indeterminate length made up of tracks that generally get me up and that is quite helpful for getting through longer races.

I’ve tried apps that use music metronomically to encourage a particular pace but these tended to be bpm based dance tracks that drove me mad so I quickly ditched them. The music I have isn’t especially pace driven rather they are tracks that I like and will therefore be distracting and they need to get my energy levels up. So, yes, the theme from Rocky is on there plus a couple of tracks from Riverdance , inspired by my Spin instructor.

I tend to run on my own. Even at events I will place myself in a bubble and run in my own little world, I might occasionally challenge myself to catch up to the runner in front but most of the time I will try and find a good pace and hold on until the end. A solid distraction seems to help with this.

For most races and training runs I always have them. I’ve become blasé about reading race info packs but I feel that most events advise against or outright ban the use of headphones but it was only at a recent 10K event that I was actually told off by a marshal for using them so finished with them in my pocket. There were still many on the course persevering with theirs.

However…

When I run with my club I don’t use headphones. I think it would be rude to the group leader and the other runners. While I don’t normally chat a whole lot on these runs (due to lack of puff usually) I enjoy the conversations and chit-chat around the group.  

I occasionally run as a pacer at my local parkrun and again I don’t wear them so that I don’t isolate myself from those following me. As with the club runs I don’t really chat much but it is nice to keep track of who is still with you, give updates on progress and generally provide words of encouragement. On neither occasion do I feel their absence nor do I detect any impact on performance.

But…

One of the biggest problems I found when training and running the half marathon was the boredom I felt running for so long. I’ve done so many 10k races that I’m conditioned to running for an hour at a time, running for two hours was bordering on tedious even during the race itself. How am I going to cope with five hours?  I’ve never run with a big crowd before, does that make enough of a difference? If I run on my own without headphones, especially on very familiar routes, my mind is invariably filled with those little worms telling you how tired you are and how that twinge in your ankle probably means it’s broken and I really need to fill my head with something else. If I can hit on something I find the time can pass quite easily. This can be a presentation I’m planning for or, God forbid, developing a new graphical way for representing large datasets (I don’t have a very exciting job) but these don’t always come to mind. On a recent run I spent the whole time preparing a Run Director’s briefing even though I’ve never done this role and have no plans to do so in the future. Have to say it worked a treat though. The other time in my life I ever ran vaguely seriously was during my A Levels, a very long time ago. My venerable Sony Walkman wasn’t up to the rigours of running so I would set out with just my thoughts for company. I used this time to help with revision and would write essay answers or practice maths solutions in my head as I ran and this meant the time and miles drifted by. I’m not sure how far I ran in those days, long before GPS and Garmins it would take a piece of string and the A To Z to work that out, but I would usually run for 90 minutes or so.

Is there that much difference in planning an essay answer and listening to a podcast? They are both serving the same purpose; a podcast is just more passive.

Given that I run solo most of the time there is also the question of safety. Most of my runs are on suburban pavements so I don’t feel a physical danger from traffic and as a driver myself I am very conscientious at junctions. Male privilege also means I don’t have such a sense of personal vulnerability either. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of yelled comments and had a few half eaten burgers thrown my way but I’ve never felt personally under threat. On the occasions I have found myself on narrow country lanes I would usually pop the headphones off until I got back to the safety of a pavement.

Yet while…

 I like running in headphones I never see fast runners wearing them, am I giving myself the wrong message? Does that mean I’m not a serious runner? Maybe listening to a podcast is detrimental to my pace. The time passes and the miles get covered but is my energy a little down.

Maybe…

I’ll just keep them for the distance crunching runs and ditch them for the shorter, threshold runs.

OK…

Yes, that sounds like a plan.

Regular running updates will resume at the weekend.

Week seven begins

26th November 2019

Seven weeks! That’s gone in a blink of an eye. I’ve made good progress though and I think I’ll spend the next couple of weeks consolidating where I’ve got to and trying to get comfortable with the distances I have been reaching for. After hitting the half marathon mark last week I’m going roll that back to week 2/3 distances and then build back up over the month.

Sunday morning would normally be a tough spin class followed by a jog home. This week family travels made it more attractive to drop my son at his hockey club and from there go for a medium length run rather than try and head back to the gym. I know the area where he trains quite well but have never run there so it was a refreshing change and I only needed to confer with Google maps once or twice. It was relatively flat but my legs still felt tired from the parkrun efforts on Saturday so pace was a little off. Nice to cover the distance and I got to watch the last 30 minutes of his training session.

Distance covered 8km

That afternoon my son wanted to go to the park for some rugby/football kickabout fun so with boots on we headed out. For the rugby he mainly wanted to practice his catching under the high ball and his own kicking from hand while the football ended up with a crossbar challenge. The upshot was I spent most of the time booting the ball as far as I could with the result that on Monday my legs were very achy. Maybe it was the running, maybe it was the kicking but I really welcomed the rest from running that day.

Monday evening saw me at the gym for some recuperative swimming and yoga. I’m creeping back towards the 1k mark in the pool and this week worked through 32 lengths. My Garmin is supposed to be waterproof but I don’t want to risk it so I’m tracking these manually. The pool was quite busy this evening and several of us had to share each lane, including Aquaman and his tumble turns. We all muddled through though and more or less kept out of each other’s way but it wasn’t ideal. I’m stuck with this time slot so will just go with the flow each week and, to be fair, my tired legs felt significantly better for the effort.

Distance covered 800m

This was followed by my weekly yoga session, I really needed a good leg session this time but the instructor had other plans. For most of the evening we were in either dolphin or dolphin plank; awkward poses where you support yourself on your forearms and it turned into quite a workout. She also has a habit of leaving you in tough poses for extended periods while she works her way round the group correcting postures here and there before belatedly allowing you to collapse into a restful child pose. Good session though, if not the leg work I was hoping for.

Tuesday is club night and I had intended to return after a couple of weeks chasing longer distances however when my wife came home from work and asked to run with me I could hardly say no. Although she has rarely shown any affection for running in the past, since I started this training she has come out with me several times. Previously we had run in the morning so were able to go through local woodland but this time the darker evening meant staying on the roads. I’ve gently extended the distance we’ve run each time and this time I picked a route that covered around 6.5km, probably the furthest she has run. The conditions were challenging as we set off all buttoned up against some very heavy rain but within ten minutes it had dried up and become almost muggy and we began to feel too hot in our waterproofs. She took to the run well though and we managed a good pace over a fairly up and down course, something not far off my current long distance pace. I might even be able to persuade her to join my running club at this rate; with her gym fitness I think she’d be pretty good in no time at all. After dropping her back to our house I tacked on a local 5k loop and worked to speed up towards my 10k pace. All in all a satisfactory run and I was back in time to watch the unfolding soap opera that is Spurs under Jose Mourinho.

Distance covered 12km

Wednesday is nominally a rest day and this week it is also my daughter’s 16th birthday so there will be pizzas and presents and no exercise at all. Hopefully I will be back in the saddle on Thursday. After a month of GCSE mocks we will be returning to dance classes and I plan to fit in a short run while I wait. Not sure if time will allow but there is a particularly unpleasant hill nearby which I may well try and run up a couple of times. We’ll see.

Sixth week done

23rd November 2019

It’s probably around the half way mark on my pre marathon training plan marathon training plan so that would be a good point to take stock. Six weeks in and around six weeks left in the year, have I turned into Paula Radcliffe yet? Hmm, not quite.

If I’m honest I think progress has been good. I’ve shifted some weight, reduced my drinking and got some good mileage under my belt. Realistically though, I have only turned back the clock six months so far. Most of that weight and extra drinking came on over the summer. I’m not sure what triggered this but presume the two are linked. I expect the next stage of weight loss will be harder as this is weight I have been carrying for a decade. On this topic, I have been dabbling with non-alcoholic beer this week and have to say I’m really impressed. I’ve tried an IPA from Brew Dog and a lager from Moretti and both are excellent. After a curious little aftertaste on the first mouthful both taste just like their full-fat colleagues and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Lower calorie as well, which is nice.

So, my year end goals for weight, mileage and injury avoidance are all on track. What’s missing is pace and endurance. I’m not seriously expecting to become an ‘athlete’ in this time but I would hope to be closing in on where I was a few years ago at least, I guess I just need to give it more time.

While I’m pleased with progress so far I’m also aware that I’ve only been going over known ground so far. I’m going to peg my mileage to current levels until the end of the year, to build up resilience and familiarity, but in the new year I will begin to run distances I haven’t attempted before and I worry what the physical effects of this will be. Oh well, that’s why I’m keeping this diary I suppose.

Following the half marathon distance run on Wednesday I had a quiet end to the week as my tired legs recovered; it was deep into Friday before I felt fully refreshed but at least I was ready for the weekend. It did leave me one run down for the week for the second time in a row.

Saturday followed a familiar pattern as I got the train to my son’s school where he had a rugby match and I could hit the local parkrun. Also on the train were several ladies from my running club going to the same parkrun for a bit of tourism so it was nice to see some familiar faces around the course. This is also Dame Kelly Holmes’ local parkrun and I know she has run several times but I have yet to see her. How awesome would it be to run in the same race as her? My friend has seen her a couple of times and tells me she has a habit of starting at the back before working her way through the field, encouraging everyone as she goes. I don’t think I’m back there this year but I expect I will do it many more times over the years so maybe one day. Anyway, this is my blog so how did I do? I deliberately started further up the field this week to reduce the congestion and worked through the first 1k at a higher tempo so was disappointed when I checked my Garmin to see I was still only going at 30 minute pace. I held on to come in just under the 30 minute mark so while on the one hand it was an improvement on recent weeks equally it is way off what I want to be doing. I’m really not that fussed about pace on my long runs but I’ve done nearly 250 parkruns and I know I should be quicker.

Distance covered 5km

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 0.7km)

3 Runs (total distance 31.1km)

Current weight 13” 2’

Half way there

21st November 2019

I skipped the club run on Tuesday to watch my local non-league team in the FA Cup on BT Sport. It was very odd to see their humble ground given the Champions League treatment and while the two teams trotted onto the pitch looking very professional when the ball ended up in the car park within two touches of the kick-off I felt very much at home. They lost by the way and the highlight was when a fan threw a flare onto the artificial surface and melted a big hole that stopped the game for five minutes.

This bumped my long run to Wednesday night and I had prepared myself for a further extension on previous week’s distances before dialling back the mileage over the next couple of weeks. I wanted to capitalise on the recent progress and tick off a couple of training goals so I returned to my usual 10k loop and stretched it to breaking point to fit in a 21k half marathon route. To be honest this made for an unsatisfactory route as I had to make several twists and turns to keep adding half a kilometre here and there to fill out the distance and as a consequence there were very few long enough stretches to get any rhythm going. The route I took last week is better suited to this kind of distance, and indeed for going further, but it just doesn’t work for after dark running. Will have to have a rethink in a couple of weeks when I get back to this distance.

The upshot was I found the run challenging and a bit of a slog and although I didn’t feel any particular discomfort I found myself walking sections I probably didn’t need to. While I’m very pleased with the distance and the progress this represents I miss the good feelings of recent weeks. More reason to wind back the distance and build back up again, there is a 10k race in a couple of weeks and I think I might have a go at that for a bit of variety.

Distance covered 21.1km

This is a good opportunity to look at those targets to focus on the positives this week:

15k – DONE – 29th October 2019

10 Mile – DONE – 5th November 2019

10 Mile Race – Target 2019 (Struggling to find one at the moment)

20k – DONE – 20th November 2019

13.1 Mile – DONE – 20th November 2019

13.1 Mile Race – Target 2020

25k – Target 2020

3 Hour Run – Target 2020

30k – Target 2020

20 Mile – Target 2020

20 Mile Race – Target 2020

4 Hour Run – Target 2020

26.2 Mile – Target 2020

That may well be it until the weekend now. It’s Thursday lunchtime now and my legs are still tired from the run so that, plus another sixth form open evening tonight, will probably put paid to anything until parkrun time. I’ll be back to the same course as last week which will be interesting.

Week six begins

19th November 2019

A new week starts and I feel I am closing in on the first round of my marathon prep. I’m hoping to extend my long run to beyond 20k this week and hopefully hit the half marathon distance, if only for the psychological bonus that would bring. I then propose to drop the long run distance back down, maybe take in a 10k race, before building up again through the month. I would then repeat that the following month before spending the last couple of months deeply embedded in a formal training plan. I’ve also got my hands on some gels, so I might give them a try this week to see if they have any effect.

Sunday morning saw me at my usual 60 minute RPM class, but it wasn’t as enjoyable as other weeks. This is a very popular class and my gym has an online booking system that usually fills within minutes of opening. You are then either in the class or on a waiting list. Through the week there are inevitably several cancellations and the waiting list gets promoted. Come Sunday morning and hangovers take their toll so by 9:00am most people can get in. There are occasions though, when there are more people than bikes and this week was one of them. Arriving with my wife a few minutes before the class was due to start we found all bikes taken, despite both being ‘in the class’. We dutifully stood at the front while the instructor asked anyone still on the waiting list to relinquish their seats. Inevitably no one moved so he produced a class list whereupon several people started looking earnestly at their phones and shuffled away. By the time we got onto a bike and had it set up the class was five minutes late starting and I never really got any momentum so didn’t feel I got the most out of the hour. Sorry, that was a really long winded way of telling a very low stakes story but these things are the difference between a good session and a bad one. Anyway, following the class and a brief trip to the gym floor I managed to fit in a run home which was cold but nice to get under my belt.

Distance covered 5km

Monday evening saw me back at the gym for what is a cherished non-rest rest day. First up was a good session in the pool. There was an aqua fit class running at the same time leaving us one lane down so I had to share mine with AquaMan from last week. All swim cap and flippers he was ploughing up and down at a prodigious rate and I had to fit my 28 lengths around that. It wasn’t really a problem and we found a good rhythm so it all worked out in the end. After that I had my yoga class, a high point in my training week. This one was another tough class with lots of time spent in plank and side plank but I always feel in a good place afterwards.

Distance covered 700m

Tomorrow night is club night and I’m tempted back to group runs after last week’s collision but equally my local non-league team are live on telly in the FA Cup so that might be fun to watch. If I don’t make it out Tuesday I will definitely be out Wednesday.

Fifth week done

17th November 2019

Well, that was an eventful week. Several positives, one big negative and if I’m honest it ended a little disappointingly. I’ll come to that and you’ll see I’m probably over reacting.

Just to catch up. Come Thursday evening and my legs still felt a little tired from the long run earlier in the week and using this more as an excuse than a reason I persuaded myself that I would be better off watching England playing on the telly with my son. I also hadn’t planned for a run on Friday so that left me one run fewer than usual for the week.

There were no lingering effects as a result of running into that branch on Tuesday. I got plenty of sympathy on Strava and some fearful stick at work but physically I didn’t notice anything adverse. I wonder if it made it easier to forego the run on Thursday, but I don’t know if that’s the case. Come Saturday the lure of parkrun blew any other reticence out of the water anyway.

Saturday morning saw me at my parkrun home from home as my son’s rugby match was at his school. I’m nearly at double figures for this parkrun so I’m getting a feel for what I should be doing here and after last week’s effort I was really looking forward to posting a good time as, in theory, it is a flatter, faster course. A year ago I ran here for the first time and got round in 29:30, not a great time but, equally, I haven’t beaten it since. It is a really nice route with some short tarmac sections but mostly on walking trails through woods and parkland. It is very flat with a pleasant mid-section around a lake but it is also quite frustrating. It is very popular and regularly attracts 500+ runners and with significant sections of the route being single file plus several pinch points where you are brought to a shuffling pace, if not an actual stop, it is easy to find yourself far behind your target pace. Those are all excuses though and you only ever run against yourself. The last time I ran this was at the start of this marathon blog when I went round with a massive hangover, this time I felt fine and had no excuses and while I beat that time by over a minute I still didn’t get under thirty. Given that this route feels quite a bit easier than last week’s I can’t help being a little disappointed with myself and a bit deflated. I just need to check now where he is playing next week to see where I will be running to get this hiccup behind me.

Distance covered 5km

Otherwise, this week has gone to plan. I enjoyed swimming and yoga sessions and despite the head bump continue injury free. I continued with the homemade salads and overall ate well. I can’t quite break the habit of a few beers through the week but I did dabble with some alcohol free versions which I think may be a good compromise. Good? Perhaps that should just be a more workable compromise. We’ll see.

Weekly Training Summary

0 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 0.6km)

3 Runs (total distance 28.9km)

Current weight 13” 3’

That did NOT go well

OK, so this is what happened. I skipped the club run to go on my own longer route, the one that flirted with quieter, unlit roads. I’m feeling quite strong at the moment and keen to carry this momentum on so went with the longer route and with lights packed I headed off. The first section of about 7km runs alongside a busy A road. There is a wide, quiet pavement alongside which is really nice to run down and as this part is well lit and largely downhill it is a pleasant, confidence building start. The path was covered with leaves and I was a little concerned about my footing, particularly when I clipped a fallen branch and stumbled slightly around the 6k mark. A little further on I was closing in on the section that would be unpaved and unlit and began to think about how I would tackle that when BANG! I slammed my head into a low hanging branch that turned out to be quite substantial. I paused to assess the damage which amounted to a lump on my forehead and a cut cheek but strangely not much blood. I had enough wits about me to eventually pause my Garmin and then consider what I should do next. I was pretty much at the furthest point from home having run virtually in a straight line so heading straight back wasn’t an obviously easy option. What were the other choices; I live near a hospital, did I need A&E? Nothing was hurting that much and there wasn’t much blood so I figured that would be an overreaction. I walked a few paces, no problem. I ran a few paces, no problem. If I continued for the next few kilometres I wouldn’t be getting any further from my house and there would be several opportunities to turn home should I need to. Restarting the Garmin I headed towards the next section which would take me through the unlit/unpaved area and while this section turned out to be fine it really was an unnecessary risk so I was glad it was only for a couple of hundred metres. Following this was a kilometre section alongside another busy A road but this time with a wide grass verge. I’ve run this area before in summer and it is quite pleasant but this evening, given the earlier events, it was quite stressful as I was constantly trying to look up and down at the same time. By the time I got back onto nice, clear suburban pavements I was about 9k in and the first of several opportunities to turn towards home appeared so I quickly assessed how I felt. Head felt fine, concentration was good and my legs felt they had the juice to finish the run so I continued on. Back on the clear pavements the run was much more enjoyable and I was able to see it through to the end. The biggest problem with where I live is that it is at a high point in the area and therefore most runs always finish uphill and this route in particular spent the last 3-4k trudging upwards and at points this reduced me to walking.

Lessons learnt? No matter how good the route is and how good the street lighting is it’s just too stressful after dark when there is so much going on underfoot (and at head height). I’ll stick to my usual suburban routes. Positives? Distance was up a good chunk, pace was good throughout (apart from that mid-section) and recovery was well progressed by the following lunchtime. I’ve just got to go to work with a battered face now. Apologies for the photo.

Distance covered 18.5km

Don’t run near trees in the dark

I’ve decided to drop the Wednesday yoga for good now. Too many evenings out of the house and I think I need a day of complete rest each week.

I’ll decide on Thursday evening about a run, I’m thinking some hill work with my son might be in order but with England on the telly I might just stay in and watch that. I’m going to keep Friday clear this week and then it will be back to my home parkrun on Saturday where it will be interesting to see if there is any positive impact from this training.

Week five begins

12th November 2019

Into my second month of marathon training, or preparation for marathon training if I’m being honest, and overall I have to say I’m quite pleased at how training has gone so far and I feel I’m on track. It won’t be long before I enter unknown territory as I go beyond the training I did when I entered the half marathon in 2016 and start working on longer and longer distances but I am strangely looking forward to that. The flip side is that at that time I was probably at my best in running terms and was setting PBs at both 5 & 10k. Sadly I am a long way from that at the moment but I hope this window of training will address that.

On Sunday morning family commitments meant I wasn’t able to make my usual RPM class. To make up for this, and take advantage of a lovely morning, my wife and I went for a short run early on. A marathon inspired running bug seems to have struck her too. A daily gym botherer, she is way fitter than me but detests running. I’ve only managed to persuade her to join me for a handful of parkruns, usually on holiday, but for the third week on the trot she has foregone a gym class to insist on running with me. Some beautiful autumnal mornings haven’t hurt and we again toured local parks and woodland. Not sure if this habit will continue but I hope we can do more together over the winter.

Distance covered 5.4km

I was able to continue good habits on Monday with a nice session in the pool followed by another enjoyable yoga session. The pool was quiet and I had the medium pace lane to myself so I was able to plod my way through my 24 lengths at my own pace. In the fast lane there was a chap in swim cap, mitts and flippers who barrel-turned his way through god only knows how many lengths at the same time. At a guess he was probably doing at least two lengths to each of mine and he was still going when I hit the hot tub, I imagine we’re training for different events. This week’s yoga class focused on shoulder strength and flexibility and there was a fair amount of protesting clicking from my joints but by the end they were comfortably warm and it was another enjoyable session.

Distance covered 600m

Tomorrow night is club night but I am in two minds about attending. I’ve got a taste for the longer runs and I’ve mapped out a nice extension on a new route which I’m very tempted to try instead. I’m familiar with the roads in a car but I’m not 100% sure there are footpaths where some of the sections are verging on rural so I may come unstuck. If it is workable it would open up some nice longer routes that could take me up to the 30k mark so it is worth trying. I’ll pack my running lights and have some Ready Brek to make sure I’m properly visible.

Fourth Week Done

10th November 2019

Four weeks down and a whole month has gone already, it is really flying by. I guess that’s the difference between preparing for something set for a specific day and outside of your control, it will happen regardless of what you think or do. While I usually work on the basis that my preparations are for something ‘in the future’ and I’m therefore off the hook for making any actual progress, up to now this has suited me just fine. The reality is I run enough to know how bad I am at running, how short I’ve got on endurance and pace and this is why I started this process so early and so seriously. I think I can get there but I know it needs more than the standard 16 week schedule.

Good habits were aimed for but not quite hit this week. I managed to get back to the homemade salads but I still had a beer most evenings and a little fried breakfast on Friday. It therefore took some very tactical weighing to ensure I continued in the right direction on that front. Long run mileage was up and I remain injury free so generally progress is good.

Saturday morning returned to the normal routine following the distraction of the Rugby World Cup. My son had a rugby match down in Rochester and as usual we got there early so that I could drop him at the ground and head off to a local parkrun. He’s often a little grumpy to be made to hang around but luckily this time he saw some team mates there early as well so he was fine and I blithely rushed off as time was tight. Getting to the parkrun I had barely minutes to lose some layers, get a parking ticket (through one of several apps), secure the car and make the start line. In the end I had to run the last couple of hundred metres while the run briefing concluded and then started without breaking stride. Phew.

I was interested to see if the last few weeks of training would make any difference. I ran this course in May but had put on several pounds over the summer and if this had been in September I would not have been especially confident. It’s a really nice course, dumb-bell shaped with the bar section being a noticeable incline over a few hundred metres. It’s a two lapper with nice views at the top end and best of all a nice long downhill finish. The upshot was I felt good running it and bettered my earlier time by 90 seconds. That gave a time of just over 28 minutes and while this is still a way off my pb it was a marked improvement on recent months. I wouldn’t call it a hard course but it is tougher than either of my usual events so I’m taking that as a positive.

On returning to his match I realised why so many others had arrived early as well. Kick off was thirty minutes earlier than normal and the second half was well underway by the time I pitched up, oops. His team won comfortably though and it was so foggy I’m not sure he noticed if I was there or not.

Distance covered 5.3km

It was good to get back to parkrun and continue ticking off events until I get my 250 shirt. I’d like to get that by marathon day but realistically I think it will be next summer. I don’t think there is anything in the diary for next week so I should be able to get a regular week’s training in. Well done me.

Weekly Training Summary

1 Spin class

1 Yoga class

1 Swim session (total distance 0.5km)

4 Runs (total distance 32.8km)

Current weight 13” 4’