Training torture

Five weeks have passed since I went haring off in the wrong direction in San Francisco. And it’s been a big five weeks. In this time, I have run 280+ miles and my body is feeling it. I think I’ve added at least 10 years to my knees. I’ve had a mild case of plantar fasciitis and sore achilles. In over-icing these, I burnt my ankle and my big toe has taken the brunt of my compensatory running style. I might have to learn to start walking on my hands soon!

In the last week alone I have experienced the lows of a poor 25km tempo run and putting it right four days later with a 27km fartlek run at a morale boosting three seconds/km off of target marathon pace and on tired training legs!

Which naturally called for a bit of this.

Of all the types of workout ranging from interval to fartlek, tempo runs really are the acid test. There are different types of tempo workout; there’s a fairly decent summary here about what they are and why/when you should do them – In marathon training, you should spend most of your workouts assembling the pieces so that you can further (long runs) and faster (speed work). Faster tempo workouts bring this all together and there is nowhere to hide. You’ll find out how you are progressing towards your goal; is your target race pace too ambitious or are you under promising?

It’s easy to get disheartened with one poor workout but it never really pays to dwell on it in a way that will adversely affect your next big one. Instead focus on putting right what didn’t go so well and celebrate the positives. I had a bad tempo a) because I had small case of man flu and b) because I allowed myself an overly lengthy water stop. Once you stop or delay starting because you feel a bit tired, you will find it all too tempting to stop again. Don’t stop when things are getting tough, just slow down! You’ll be surprised how quickly you recover and return to the pace you were aiming for.

So, the tempo was disappointing. I hit my target 3’40/km pace for 25km but I stopped a few times in the second half. Thankfully, four days later and I had a chance to put it right with a 27km fartlek. I initially tried early morning but decided to postpone until after work. And this time I had to deploy my secret weapon Hannah to help keep me going. It worked! I ran each 3km at 3’33/km or quicker (target marathon pace, ouch!) and the 1km recoveries at 3’50/km. Across the whole 27km I hit 3’35/km.

She didn’t look this happy after waiting for 1hr 40 for me to finish!

And another two days later I was pounding the roads again, this time for 43km. The first half was like a living nightmare. My legs felt like two thin poles of led. It took one and a half hours for them to wake up. It would have been quicker to have reverted to my hands and arms!  But three hours later and I was done. The beauty (and there isn’t much) of running a marathon in training is that it builds confidence that with minimal effort and fueling, you can handle the distance. It just leaves the small matter of doing it all again on race day but much faster.

To cap off one of the most difficult training periods I have experienced, last night I completed a shorter fartlek of 50mins with 25x 1min at 3’15/km and 1min at 3’50/km.

And again, a bit more of this just because.

Here is my last full week and a bit of training;

Sun – 25km fast (tempo)

Mon – 50’ v.easy

Tue – AM 50’ easy/PM 30’ easy

Weds – 1hr 20

Thur – 7x 3km/1km

Fri – Rest

Sat – 43km

Sun – AM 50’ v easy/PM 30’ v.easy

Mon – 1hr with pace changes + hill sprints

Tue – 25x 1min/1min

I’ve got just about enough time to recover ahead of the Maidenhead Half Marathon this Sunday. Provided I don’t get lost or have any toilet troubles, I’m hoping to put on a good show ahead of Berlin which is now only 25 days away!

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