Barcelona Marathon Training: 4 weeks to go!

Dude, how did this happen? How are there only 4 weeks left? How is there just 1 long run between me and the taper? (This week is a cut-back week, with Bramley 10 tomorrow).

I’m suddenly feeling super under prepared. I swear I had more miles under my belt at this point before Paris and Brighton. I’m probably just paranoid, right!?

However, despite last week’s minor freak-out, I did in fact manage my long run last weekend – 16 miles along the Downs Link and Wey Navigations river path. It was long, it was fairly flat, it was out-and-back and the scenery, whilst quite nice, was pretty repetitive. I thought it would be fairly easy going, but mentally it was quite difficult as there wasn’t much to break up the miles!

I felt like a bit of a wally when I set off, as I was wearing 2 watches to test out the Epson against my Garmin. It didn’t half make the Garmin look like a brick!

Garmin and Epson Watches for 16 Miler

The things I do for science.

I could probably have picked a better time of year to run this route. It was absolutely stunning on my cycle to Brighton last year!

But on a cold, grey morning in February, it was ever so slightly uninspiring. Peaceful, quiet, and more pleasant than main roads, but it all began to look the same after a while:

Downs Link and Wey Navigations Long Run

Trust me, it’s a dream in the summer. And I’ll definitely be back to run it again after the marathon!

To prove that I did enjoy it just a little bit, I took my first ever run selfie:

16 Mile Run Selfie

A bit blurred, but you get the gist. I also took a photo of my poor shoes, which saw more mud that day than in the 2 months beforehand! (Though I didn’t actually get a picture of the muddy bits. I was too busy trying not to faceplant and/or stumble into the river…)

Whilst I did still take quite a few breaks (the river path was quite hard going, it was muddy, it was early, I found it hard to zone out…) my average moving pace was 33 seconds/mile faster than the Kingston Breakfast Run last year, and only 3s/mile off the pace I did my last 16 miler. Result!

16 Mile Run Splits

Now I just need to man up and cut out some of the walking breaks. Oh, and add on another 10 miles.

Ah, marathons. I do love you really.

– – –

Have you run/got a long run planned this weekend? What sort of route have you picked?

Struggling with nerves before a long run

You’d think that after 2 marathons, my brain would have gotten over the whole ‘ok, you need to run quite a long way now’ thing.

Erm, or not.

I recently mapped out an A-to-B route for one of my long runs, which I’ll be doing the weekend after next. (I was originally going to do it this weekend, but decided to give the 16 miler another go instead, and use this one as my last long run before the taper). Mapped out like that, it looks like a flipping long way:

Long Run Route

It’s actually Hampton Court to Worplesdon/Guildford, so not the whole thing! About 18-20 miles if all goes well. So still pretty far. (It takes 30 mins by train, and having also cycled the route I know it’s not something to be taken lightly!)

But I’ve done 18 milers before. I’ve done 16 milers, 17 milers, and 2 full marathons. And I did alright.

So why am I freaking out about running that distance this time round?

This seems to happen every year. I sign up for a marathon, I get to the 16-mile point, and suddenly I start to get so many doubts and insecurities when faced with the distance.

Last year, I did my 16 miler at the Kingston Breakfast Run, and crossed the finish line with a big grin, feeling strong and capable:

Kingston Breakfast Run 16m Finish Line

I think this year’s tendon injury has really set me back; not just physically, but mentally, too. My training started so well, with 5k and 10k PBs, and sub-10:00 miles for my 12 miler (unheard of for me!)

But each time I run, I worry about the niggle. I’m hyper aware of every ache and twinge, and I’m convinced it’s going to flare up again. I’m conscious of my bad running form, of my weak core and wobbly ankles and overpronation. And I’m starting to convince myself that I’m not strong enough to run long distance.

In previous years, I’ve hit tough patches in a long run and been able to power through them. This time round, I’m finding it harder and harder to stop myself from taking a walking break when it gets tough. I’m more sporadic, and feel like the mental side of things is letting me down.

My leg IS holding up ok, and I know that my body is capable of the distance. I’m faster than before, doing more cross training, and I’m progressing well. But I’m worried that I’ve psyched myself out – that I’ve lost the mental strength which has got me through those tough final miles in the past.

And without the mental strength, it almost doesn’t matter how much training I put in – I end up walking or stopping when I’ve still got energy in the tank and miles in my legs, and I could kick myself for wasting the long runs the way I’ve been doing.

Please tell me I’m not the only one!?

– – –

Have you ever faced this problem? How did you snap yourself out of it?

… Anyone fancy running 18 miles through Surrey or London with me in a couple of weeks!?

Barcelona Marathon Training: 7 weeks to go!

I’m not doing a weekly summary this time, because after last weekend’s dog drama I decided to give myself a week off to rest my leg. That means that my training basically consisted of the long run: 16 miles.

As you can probably tell from the photos below, the run started out with me worrying how long my tendon would cooperate for (and wondering whether I’d need to walk home at some point!), and ended with ALL THE HAPPY when I stopped my Garmin at 16.02 miles:

Barcelona Marathon Long Training Run

What a difference 16 miles can make…

Whilst I took a few breaks to reshuffle kit, have a drink, take a gel, stretch or just generally have a bit of a wobble (long distance running, all the LOLs), my moving time gave me a 10:24/mile average, and a 14 minute PB over last year’s 16 miler at the Kingston Breakfast Run! (Though obviously my breaks were counted there, so I probably slightly cheated today).

I had a bit of a moment when I accidentally hit the ‘lap’ button (which I’d never even noticed before!) and then tried to fix the lap setting but ended up pausing the Garmin instead, losing nearly 1/4 of a mile. And being the stats fiend that I am, I obviously decided that the lost 1/4 mile didn’t count, and I had to make it up. So I technically ran about 16.25. (Grumble, grumble).

I had a moment of doubt after one of the bigger hills on the route, and turned to Twitter for some much-needed encouragement/a big kick up the backside:

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The #ukrunchat community certainly delivered, and gave me just the boost I needed. It was tough, it hurt, but my tendon behaved and I’m over the moon with my time!

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Just goes to show, sometimes your body is capable of far more than you think! 😀

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How was your week? Did you run this weekend?

Barcelona Marathon Training: Week 7/16

I’m baaack!

These weekly training posts have disappeared for a little while now, thanks to a tendon injury I’ve been trying to recover from. This was my first full week of training after a 2-week break (which still included a bit of running, but at a gentle pace and nothing over 5k). Quite frankly, I haven’t really been doing enough for a weekly summary!

Today, I cut the scheduled 17 miler to 14 miles and re-jigged the plan a bit (thank goodness for cut-back weeks giving me some wiggle room…) and I’m officially back on track! Come at me, Barcelona!

Barcelona Training Run With Head Torch

I got a running backpack for Christmas, and a head torch a few weeks back, and today was the first time I ran with them. (Yep, I’ve been skipping my run commutes – ooops!)

I felt slightly dubious before I set off. Having used a belt and water bottle for my last 2 marathons, I felt like a bit of a wannabe with my new kit! But it made my run SO much easier. I’m never doing a long run without the pack ever again, ever ever ever! 😀

Barcelona Training Run With Head Torch 2

The head torch was seriously fun, too. Now that I can see where I’m going, the possibilities for run routes are ENDLESS, and thanks to the backpack they’ll be made even better with ALL THE SNACKS! (Oh, and I can now run home without faffing with my belt/tripping over tree routes. An added bonus).

Sooo, without further rambling, my week looked like this:

Tuesday: 5k @ 9:29/mile. I took it easy as I didn’t want to shoot off and have to walk home (the physio had told me to go easy on both speed and distance until my leg was better). It was tough after a break, but given that my 5k PB was 9:40/mile back in August, hitting 9:29 on an ‘easy’ run felt brilliant. And no pain, either!

Thursday: 4m @ 9:40/mile. This was meant to be 7 miles, but I ran out of time and cut it short. I also accidentally recorded the first half a mile as a cycle, rather than a run, but as a result I discovered the funky ‘multi sport’ option on my Garmin – so there’s that!

Sunday: 14m @ 10:16/mile. I also clocked a half marathon ‘moving’ time of 2:15:07, which is a PB of 7 minutes and 3 seconds! Woop woop! And miles 13 and 14 were my fastest, at 9:57 and 9:39. This isn’t counting the breaks I took to stretch, adjust the pack, put the head torch on, cross roads etc. but it’s pretty awesome regardless!

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Do you have a spring race you’re training for? How’s it all going?

Paris Marathon Training: Over half way!

(Well ok, technically I’ve still got weeks and weeks to go – but I’m over the 13.1 mark!)

The past couple of long runs have been a bit of a way off what I thought I’d be capable of by now. Lots of 12:00+ minute miles, heavy legs, aches, pains and grumbling.

As a result, I was quite nervous when I headed out this morning for 14 miles – I had no idea if my body would even cooperate over that sort of distance. But I figured I’d give it a go anyway (despite the SNOW as I left home!)

Miles 1-3 were uncomfortable, to say the least. I was supposed to do the first 10k as an out-and-back along the river path, but it was iced over, so I turned round and headed for my standard (hilly!) loop instead. My calves were extremely tight, and my legs were aching and heavy – I was really worried that I’d have to cut the run short. The weather went from snow, to sleet, to rain, to wind, to rain, to (finally) sunshine.

Miles 4-5 were better – after a few breaks to stretch out the niggles, my legs loosened up a bit and things started to settle. Still a bit tired and heavy, though.

I met my friend at 5 miles, as she wanted to run a 10k (I was supposed to do 7-8 before I met her, but thanks to the route change and various breaks I fell behind a little.) Chatting took my mind off the legs, and we settled into a comfortable pace quite quickly, which was nice. A runner passed us in the opposite direction at about 8 miles and my friend called out ‘HIGH FIVE, DUDE!’ (it worked), which made me laugh out loud. Just what you need on a long run! 🙂

It was at this point that I went to take one of my gels, only to realise it went out of date last June. Running fail. Luckily, by tweaking my route a little I could stop off at Sainsburys for CHOCOLATE at the 10 mile mark – obviously the most effective substitute 😉 This meant that this was the furthest I’d run since Brighton without a gel, and I was pretty impressed to find that I felt pretty comfortable from miles 6-10 without one! Peanut butter on toast for breakfast was clearly a good call.

14milesI counted my friend down to the end of her 10k, which was mile 11 for me – and she waved me off for the last 3. Those were a lot tougher than the rest, and I ended up taking a short walking break almost every half mile. At 13, I passed her (we were doing laps of the park – her walking, me running/jogging/shuffling) and she gave me a cheer, which was hilarious but brilliant 🙂 When I saw her next, I was 0.9 miles from the end and she jogged alongside me, with a ’14 miles! Yeah! You can do this!’ and a bit of a whoop and a cheer. Got quite a few looks for that, but it gave me the energy to pick up the pace for the last stretch! (Why can’t every run come with a cheer squad!?)

When I looked at my Garmin, I saw that my final mile was under 12:00 – a great sign, given that the last 2 were shorter runs and much slower. But it wasn’t until I got home and uploaded my run data that I realised just how much of an improvement this week was:

14m split

An average pace of 11:32 (30 seconds/mile off last week’s moving pace average, despite the breaks), and an average moving pace of 11:14!

I was even more excited to see that the average moving pace of FIVE of those miles was under 11:00, and only one was over 12:00!

I guess the hard work is finally starting to pay off 😀