Monday, 31 October 2011

The magic bullet?

After a couple of really full run weeks I was pretty pooped by the time I got to this weekend. At some time in the weekend I was meant to fit in my last long run before the Luton Marathon, but as the weekend drew nearer I was getting more and more tired, grumpy and rough feeling; I just didn't want to do it. In the meantime Adam and I had arranged a paddle and I also arranged for us to meet Jamie and Jo at Elmbridge. We paddled the Mystere down there and then bimbled around the island. Jamie and Jo looked really good and pulled away from us easily. If they decide to do the DW next year then I'm sure they'll do really well. Adam and I did an hour but Adam was finding his position uncomfortable and we think that it's more of a core strength issue. Between now and Christmas it's just going to be a case of getting out on the water little and often and to hit the swiss ball. We are a lot further ahead when we compare ourselves to last year but we've got a long way to go also. Being mowed down by the Elmbridge club on our way back showed us how much more work we have to do on our technique.

After another busy weekend it got to Sunday night and I couldn't put it off any longer, so headed out for this run. It was a slow start running at 8.10 minute miles for the first 8 miles or so before picking it up to around 7.30 minute miles for the rest of the 18 miles. Two things stand out from this. One, proper hydration with nuun beforehand really helped.Even though I didn't take on any gels I did not bonk at all at the end of the run and I feel that ensuring I was properly hydrated with electrolytes ensured that I finished the run strongly. Two, my hamstrings are in a terrible state; they really began to protest and as I begin the taper over the next three weeks I am going to really focus on stretching and strengthening them as much as I can.

In terms of what pace / time to aim for I feel that 7.45 miles should be suitable, which would give a finish time of around 3.23. If I'm honest, this is slower than I would want but I need to keep my ego in check, finish the run strongly and use the experience to improve next time. Slowly slowly catchy monkey.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tempo running is fun, but it hurts

Last week was a recovery week in my marathon buildup, with no major long run to have to get through, but I ended up putting more stress on my body and my lower legs in particular, than I intended. The weekend was packed with family and friend stuff, the culmination being a Medieval banquet for a friend's birthday. A flagon of mead is a rubbish pre-run drink. :-/

Anyway, early Saturday morning I had a spare 35 minutes so I went out for a run. It was meant to be a steady run, but as I was under pressure to get it done in time, I went out and smacked it pretty hard. Very hard. I was dying by the time I got back to the car, but I had enjoyed it so ticked it off as a run well done.
The next day, after the effects of the mead had worn off I went for a 20km marathon pace run. Again, I went too fast. I started off steady and built into it, but I kept building and with about 5km's to go I found myself pushing on pretty hard. I was really enjoying it. After the long 20 milers I have been doing recently where I have had to constantly keep myself in check and running at a pace that I don't think is doing me any favours biomechanically, I was enjoying the feeling of just letting myself run at a pace that was testing but I felt I was maintaining relatively comfortably. 19km's in 1hr25mins. :-)

The next morning I paid for my ill-discipline. My lower legs were more tight and sore than they had been for a long time. Stupidly, I didn't listen to my body and have a rest, but I decided to try and run instead, as I'm on holiday and have a bit of free time. Sitting on the sofa watching 'Homes under the hammer' isn't going to take me to a sub 11 IM time next year. So I ran, and then regretted it. My run was barely above a walk and at halfway my painful hobble did become a walk. More walking ensued as I gingerly turned for home. Instead of running on elastic and supple muscles and tendons I looked more like I was trying to sprint on stilts. Douglas Bader would have looked more fluid.

It had a positive effect however. That night I iced, stretched, rolled and heated my muscles into submission and finally ordered myself a new pair of trainers that I had been promising myself for the last week or so and by this morning things were much improved, with an easy 43 minute run, restoring my confidence a little in my own body.

Tomorrow will be some long intervals at marathon pace, so nothing too heroic. The lesson has been learnt. And ten on Friday it will be another long, slow, fat burning run in the hills. I might even get on the turbo.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hilly running

I was meant to run 20 miles at the weekend but due to a dicky tummy I ended up doing 2 much shorter runs on each day; one a tempo effort for 45 minutes while the other was a slow, one hour plod. By Monday evening I felt a lot better so I left work and set out to do a route the Simon had shown me. My reason for picking it was twofold; firstly, it was a lot more pretty than my usual route, taking in Leatherhead, Fetcham, Bookham, Bocketts Farm, Nork and a few other places, all linked by trail paths. The other reason was that it was a considerably more hilly route than I was used to and I was hoping that this varied terrain would engage other muscles and maybe help to alleviate the battered feeling in my quads that I had during my last long run.

Once again, I started really slowly. Unfortunately, my heart rate monitor was playing silly beggers so I had to go by feel but it was very comfortable. The long climbs and descents were taken really steadily and I felt pretty strong and as I came onto the A24 for the last time at approximately 13 miles I began to push on above marathon pace. The gels at 90 and 120 minutes really helped again and I feel that a couple more in the race will help a lot. I did get tired and I could feel my heart rate increasing considerably but I felt a lot stronger than the last long run. It was hurting at the end, but I think I am starting to win the mental game and I pushed on, focusing on keeping a good leg turnover.

20 miles in 2.44, with a comfortable negative split. Not too bad, but over the next three weeks I am going to have to do some long marathon pace efforts in order to see what pace I should aim for. I'll be looking at doing 13-14 miles at 3.15 pace, take my HR data and see whether it looks sustainable, but at the moment my feeling is to be more conservative when it actually comes to the race. I still have 6 weeks.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

So, how do you run long?

This is a question that's beginning to bug me, for the simple reason I am finding it quite hard. Although I have had a cold for 10 days or so I have managed to keep ticking over, either on the bike or doing a fairly low quality run. Before that however, I was running pretty well and was comfortably increasing the mileage, with two 16 mile runs, with negative splits in a shade over 2 hours. All was looking good.

On Sunday evening, I went out for my latest long run in preparation for the Luton Marathon. The plan was broadly similar as to my last long runs pre cold. I intended to run slowly for the first lap and a half of my route (13 miles) and then begin to increase the pace to around marathon effort. I also took along two high 5 gels in order to try them out and I would take them at 90 minutes and 2 hrs in. From the off, I felt uncomfortable, feeling the effects of the tempo run the day before (not ideal long run prep, I know but it had to be done). But, I knew that I would feel better as I warmed up and sure enough after 30 minutes I began feeling looser and settled into the run. 90 minutes came round and it was time to use the gel. I've always used gels in triathlons but never when running. In 2008 when training for the London Marathon I had forgone all use of gels and nutrition and when the wheels spectacularly started to fall off at 18 miles I knew then that looking at improving my nutrition was required. Anyway, I took the gel, grimacing as I knocked it back although it didn't react with my stomach. Over then next hour, two things happened, one good, one bad.

The good was that the two gels kept my energy levels up and I didn't feel the usual bonk that became a familiar feature of my long runs in 2008. The bad was the feeling that my quads had been attacked with hammers. 16 miles I can run and feel relatively fresh but even though I started really slowly, I would describe those last couple of miles as genuinely painful. It wasn't my ITB playing up; it was purely muscular. My leg turnover was good and I felt good aerobically but I was finding it harder and harder to run fluently.

I am hoping that it's a hydration issue; I didn't take any fluids during the run although I was well hydrated beforehand. If it's not, then I'm in trouble.

Hodge - Maybe ;-)