Running A Marathon. Training Plan Week 13. Slapstick Prep Followed By Good 18 Mile Run
Running A Marathon. Training Plan: Week 13/30. Slapstick Preparation Followed By A Half Decent Run. Stiff and Tired At The End – Not Sure Where The Extra Miles Will Come From?
Running Do’s: Breakdown Your Long Run Into Smaller Chunks To Make It Feel More Achievable. I Always Break Mine Into Quarters.
Running Don’ts: Wearing New Trainers For A Long Run Or Race Will Likely Give You Blisters The Size Of Jupiter!
Background: I have signed up to the London Marathon 2015, having never run before and recently having undergone major knee surgery (twice). This is my weekly diary which captures the highs and lows of my attempt to get fit enough to run the marathon in April 2015. I am running for the mental health charity Mind. Please donate to my Virgin Just Giving page – every penny goes directly to Mind and helping people with their mental health – thank you. I am following a 30 week marathon training schedule that has been defined for me by Jeff Galloway the American Olympic Marathon runner. Jeff espouses the run – walk – run method which enables you to gradually build up your strength, endurance and speed.
Week 13 Schedule: 18 Miles (2 miles walk, 16 miles at run 10 secs/walk 40 secs) completed in 4.03 hours. 2 X 60 min cadence and track sessions.
Weekly Diary: Ok I am guilty as charged. In my Top Tip in my Week 12 post I was banging on about how you can mentally prepare for race day by treating your long runs as ‘races’. This tip was given to me by a good friend Dave who is a successful Triathelete and Ironman. This made such good sense that I included it in the blog and vowed to follow his advice.
Now as it happened the day before my 18 miler we had friends around till late and while I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol (I am tee total so that bit is easy) I didn’t get to bed early nor did I increase my carb intake or get my kit ready. So far so bad. It was fine I thought as I would get up early and organise my gear and get my head in the game. Great plan – but as so often happens in our household one of the kids ended up in our bed and I got turfed out to go and sleep in ‘Baby Bear’s Bed’. This has the dual outcome of me having a crap night’s sleep (my feet were sticking through the bars at the end for starters and I woke up on a layer of hard plastic toys – whatever happened to cuddly toys?) and me having left my alarm clock in my own bedroom. So there I was – up late and with no sleep and no gear – clearly the preparation of the elite!
I eventually got going 2 hours later than planned – already under pressure for being late and having to go running for 18 miles on an already busy day. As with all my longer runs I use the 2 mile walk at the beginning to warm up – a slow walk, followed by a quicker walk and then a walk run ratio of 5/55. Part of my run takes me out into the countryside and while it was cold it was also beautiful – my decision to run without earphones has really enabled to appreciate the detail of my surroundings rather than aimlessly running past. As you can see from the picture it was still a little icy so I did have to be careful in places.
As with my longer runs I started off well – getting into my run walk routine and really trying to focus on relaxing and taking small quick and light steps in my running segments and not allowing myself to mentally wander off during my walking sections. I noticed that by simply paying attention to my running style I could improve on my mile timings by a whole minute. Dropping from 12.58 mins per mile to 11.58 mins.
I noticed that by simply paying attention to my running style I could improve on my mile timings by a whole minute. Dropping from 12.58 mins to 11.58 mins per mile.
I broke down the run into quarters – I do this on all my long runs as it makes running them feel more achievable and allows me to focus better. My legs felt fine and the continual icing on my Achilles was really helping – in fact my Achilles have not given me any problems for some time now – much to my relief. So I just kept grinding through the early miles – enjoying the fact that I was outside and doing something worthwhile.
As the miles passed my legs began to stiffen and tire – probably around the 14 mile mark – I felt I was running in treacle. I think this is related to my lack of nutritional preparation before the run. During the run itself I was taking a high energy gel every 3 miles which aligned with the recommended number of calories (15-20) per mile to keep my blood sugar level up. To be honest – the gels make me feel really sick and I cannot see how I can see how they will be viable for a full marathon. As such I have decided to switch to Rowntree's Fruit PastillesThe last few miles were difficult – the temperature was around 1 degree and the sun was going down. To stop my legs from seizing up again I decided to increase my run walk ratio from 10 secs running/40 secs walking to 40 secs running and 10 secs walking. Even though I was tired this actually felt manageable and I did start to warm up.
I finished my 18 miles at 4.03 hours – happy to have completed another new milestone – but stiff, tired and wandering where on earth I am going to find the energy for the remaining 8.2 miles!
From a gear perspective I have mentioned Compressport R2 Race & Recovery Calf Guards in my top tips. These have been recommended to me by almost every runner I know. I have been using them for a while and they deserve all the praise they get in their reviews. If you struggle with your shins or calves these are definitely worth a try. Something else every running blog/website/guide talks about is getting trainers that suit your pronation (i.e. the way the foot rolls inward when you walk and run).
If you over-pronate like me (i.e. your foot turns inward when you run) you need to consider investing in some ‘control shoes’. After researching various articles I purchased two pairs of (great name!) and I have found that they have been brilliant at stopping my knees (particularly the newly operated one) from hurting and aggravating my Achilles. So I have seen first hand the efficacy of wearing appropriate footwear. If you are not sure just go to your nearest running store or running club – they will be more than happy to help you.