Bouncing Back

I know I should be tapering for the Marathon now, but after having to wimp out of my final pre-marathon long run at the weekend, I decided to make my midweek runs a bit longer than usual to compensate.

Normally, I just do a couple of 5K (or thereabouts) sessions during the week to keep things ticking over. I like these runs because I know that I can make them as easy or as challenging as I like, and they don’t take up too much of my evening. I can get out, get it done and be home in time to have some dinner, write up my blog post and still have time to chill out for an hour or before bedtime.

This evening though, I figured it would be worth taking an extra half hour of running to get myself back on track – if not physically, then at least mentally. My leg is feeling a lot better now and, while I can still feel a bit of discomfort in the hamstring and calf, it’s nothing compared to what it was. So, I figured it would be safe enough to head for the seafront for a nice easy 10K.

It has been a while since I’ve run 10K, so I wasn’t sure about pacing. In the end though, I just decided to go by feel, taking it nice and slowly to make sure I didn’t aggravate anything in my leg. I also wanted to make sure that I didn’t tire myself out too much as I’m aiming to do another 10K on Thursday and a longish run on Saturday – probably something around 15-20K, but we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, the run was fine. I started early so that I’d have to slow down to cross the main roads and navigate the poorly lit uneven pavements. And it was slow. Very slow. But it did the trick. I completed the 10K route in just over 1 hour and 10 minutes and felt pretty good at the end of it. Ok, so the old leg was a bit tight again, but nothing that a bit of stretching couldn’t sort out.

More importantly though, I’m starting to feel more positive about the marathon again. After the weekend’s set-back and with less than three weeks to go until race day, I really needed a confidence boost and this evening’s run certainly gave me that!

How’s your training going? What do you do to help yourself bounce back from a disappointing run? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Taking No Chances

Yesterday was supposed to be my final long run before starting my taper for the Brighton Marathon. However, ever since my 36K run two weeks ago, my left leg has been giving me a bit of grief.

I don’t think it’s anything too serious, but there’s a dull ache that goes from the top of the leg all the way down to the ankle achilles. It’s probably just a case of having to stretch out the muscles as my calves are really tight.

In fact, the left one is so tight that when I felt a spasm last week and rolled up my trousers to have a look, I could actually see a long indentation along the calf where the muscle was tightening. It would have been pretty cool had it not been so painful. But it only lasted a few seconds. So, like I said, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

Not wanting to take any chances with another long run yesterday though, I decided to spend the day doing some stretching to see if it would be any better this morning. If it was, I’d get the run in; if not, I’d just do a shorter one instead.

As it turned out, my leg still didn’t feel great so I opted for an easy 5K to Portslade and back again. I’ve been using this route as part of my longer runs and quite like it. Although it does involve crossing a few roads, the roads are pretty quiet in the morning and it makes a nice change from the seafront. It also means I don’t have to walk as far before I start running!

In terms of missing out on the long run, I am a bit worried if I’m honest about it. Even though I’ve run more than the recommended 20 miles in recent weeks, there will be a five week gap between my last long run and the marathon, which is too long for a taper; and if I do the long run next weekend, then there won’t be enough time to taper and recover before the big day.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do, but I’m thinking that I might run 13.1 miles / 21.1 km next weekend as a compromise, and try to get a couple of 10K runs in midweek if I can get my leg to behave itself. But we’ll see what happens.

Either way, I know that I will complete the marathon even if it is slower than I would like – after all, I did manage to do a 100K last year on much less training! Ok, so I walked most of that, but still, when the chips are down you just have to get on with it, right?

How’s your training going? How do you deal with niggles and injuries when you’re getting close to race day? Do you stick to the training plan or take a compromise? Please share your thoughts, tips and ideas in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. Click here to find out more and join the fun!

Circle Hop

A Nice Easy Mid Week Run

In my last post I got a bit confused and said that there was a little over four weeks to go until the Brighton Marathon, when in reality it’s only a little over three weeks – scary thought when you think about it, so I decided that I’m not going to think about it.

Luckily though, my training plan is correct though as my final long run is on Sunday and the taper starts three weeks before race day. That means two weekends in a row when I won’t have to spend the whole of Saturday morning running, the rest of Saturday stretching, moaning and devouring the contents of the fridge, and the whole of Sunday watching Netflix and dozing on the couch.

Still, I will be doing that this weekend so I wanted to make sure that I got a decent run in this evening to get myself back on track after my less than consistent training over the last couple of weeks. The problem I had though was that while I felt I needed to up the distance a bit for this evening’s run, I didn’t want to tire myself out for Saturday.

In the end, I decided to extend the distance to 8K instead of the usual 5K, but made sure that I kept things nice and slow. Starting the run early so that I would have to cross some roads before reaching the seafront helped in that respect and I completed my run in just under an hour. A very slow time for me, but it’s good practice for Saturday’s pace so I’m not complaining.

How’s your training going? Do you find yourself flagging on the build up to your final run before you start tapering? How do you keep yourself motivated to get out there and get it done? Please share your thoughts, tips and ideas in the comments.

Plugging On

With months of training under my belt and a little more than four weeks until the Brighton Marathon, I have to admit that I’m kind of looking forward to the taper. In the meantime though, I still need to keep plugging on and try to make up for my missing training sessions over the last few weeks.

Last night I wasn’t really in the mood for running, but I knew that I needed to get two mid-week runs in this week to make sure that I could cope with my final long run next weekend. So, when I got home from work, I did what I always tell other people to do when they aren’t feeling it – I switched off my brain, changed into my running gear and got my ass over the doorstep.

I decided to head for the seafront as usual but, as I was keen to get the run over with, I started running early so that I’d complete my first half kilometre before I even got there. This meant a bit of stopping to cross some main roads, but I didn’t mind. I couldn’t afford to risk a fast paced run anyway, especially if I wanted to get a second run done on Thursday.

By the time I got to the seafront, I was feeling pretty relaxed and started to enjoy taking it nice and slowly. There were a few other runners around and a couple of dog walkers. Nothing unusual there. But then I spotted a man sitting on a bench, listening to headphones and typing on a laptop. Now, I know that some people like to work on their laptops outside, but in the evening on the seafront when it’s already dark? Maybe it’s just me, but it did seem a bit odd.

The strangest thing though, was when I reached The View, a small bar/club on the seafront. I noticed that, as well as there being a lot more people than usual enjoying a drink outside, there was a large group standing by a row of campfires along the beach right next to them.

I wasn’t sure what was going on as there were a lot of young children around too. Perhaps something to do with Saint Patrick’s Day? Or just another one of Brighton and Hove’s many quirky gatherings? Who knows? But when people are hanging around the beach in the evening, it’s a sure sign that spring is on it’s way.

As for the run, I turned back at the campfires, past the man with the laptop, returned to my starting point and added a bit more to make it a full 6K. Not too bad for a Tuesday evening.

How’s your training going? Are you starting to notice the first signs of Spring? What unusual sightings have you spotted on your running adventures? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

It’s A Bling Thing

JG 13.1With all of last week’s running avoidance, I completely forgot to mention that I finally received my Jeff Galloway 13.1 race medal!

I ran the JG 13.1 back in December and it has taken this long for the medal to arrive, but it was well worth the wait. The medal is pretty big compared to any of my other medals and has a really nice silk ribbon too. My only gripe, however, is that the t-shirt is massive! I ordered a men’s medium because women’s t-shirts tend to be fitted and I like my clothes to be fairly loose, but this is more like a tent than a t-shirt. Still, I suppose I can always use it as a night shirt.

Talking of bling and virtual racing, I’ve also been developing my virtual running website and recently partnered up with UK Run Chat to host some virtual races for them. I even designed my first Virtual Running medal! It’s not as big and colourful as the Jeff Galloway medal, but it’s certainly very shiny and I think it looks pretty cool with the white ribbon too.

UK Run Chat MedalAlthough the medal was designed for the February Virtual Race Series, we’ve still got a few left so we’re keeping it going for March and April too. If you’d like one, all you have to do is visit Virtual Running UK, sign up for the UK Run Chat Race and then run 5K, 10K or a Half Marathon before 22nd March.

Shameless plugs aside though, I really need to find a better way of displaying my race bling. At the moment I’m using an old canvas covered in red fabric which is sitting on a shelf above the fireplace in my bedroom. I think it looks ok, but the medals keep falling off every time I try to add a new one, so any ideas about how to display medals would be much appreciated.

Medal Display

How’s your training going? Have you ever taken part in a virtual race? What’s your favourite race bling that you’ve won so far? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Not Much Running

Last weekend’s long run left me feeling a bit worse for wear. In terms of energy and stiffness, I recovered within a couple of days, but on Sunday my ankle didn’t feel quite right. It didn’t feel injured, but there was a weakness there – that dull familiar ache of my previous injury coming back to haunt me? With a month to go until the Brighton Marathon, I wasn’t going to take any chances.

According to my self-styled training plan, today was to be a longish run of 15K, but as I hadn’t run all week and didn’t know how my ankle would hold out, I decided to just go for an easy 5K instead. As it turned out, this was a good call. The ankle was fine, although still a little weak, but I could really notice the difference of not having run for a whole week.

The main problem was that, eager to get going, I completely forgot about my pacing and started out too fast. Fortunately I realised this after the first kilometre and didn’t have to drop my ratio to complete the run, but it was slow. Still, it was good to get it done.

This week, I’m going to have to step things up a bit and make sure I get two decent mid-week runs in before my final long run next Saturday. After that, it’s taper time, so I need to make sure I’m back on track by then.

How’s your training going? What injury prevention strategies do you use as your training load starts to increase? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

The Penultimate Long Run

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 21.25.09With only five weeks left until the Brighton Marathon, I figured that I’ve just about got enough time for two more long runs before the big day.

While most marathon training programs suggest a maximum of 20 miles in the final long run before the marathon, I’m not convinced. For me, being able to run an extra 6 miles (10K) for the first time on race day seems optimistic at best – if there’s a wall at 20 miles then it makes sense to me that that’s where I’d hit it if I’d never gone beyond it before. After all, with my pace, we are talking about more than an hour on top of that to finish a marathon.

So, my plan for today’s run was to run something between 35 and 37K, or four and a half hours, depending on how it went.

To be honest, I wash’t really feeling up for it this morning. Despite getting up early, my stomach wasn’t quite ready for running until after 8:00 am, which meant that I would finish later than I had planned. Still, as it is Saturday, I had the whole day so it didn’t really matter that much.

I didn’t plan a route and thought it better to just play it by ear in case I decided to cut it short. My stomach still wasn’t great when I headed out so I wasn’t going to take any chances by heading off towards Saltdean too early. Instead, I ran along some of the main roads in Hove for the first 10K, until nature called me down to the public toilets on the seafront.

Once all of that was sorted, I took my first gel and decided that I would be fine to head to Saltdean on the undercliff path.

The first half of the run went really well. I took a gel every hour, stuck to my ratio, hydrated at every walk break and was on pace to hit my target of 37K in 4:30. But then at around 23K things started to slow down.

I know that you can’t run that kind of distance without some discomfort, and I can usually handle the aches in my calves and the backs of my thighs, but not today. Today just after 23 kilometres, I had to stop, just for a few minutes, to stretch out my legs before I could go on.

The stretching seemed to do the trick and the pain went for long enough to get me through the marina and back onto the promenade. But by then I faced another problem. People!

While I love seeing runners and walkers and cyclists out on the promenade, by late morning the place was crammed with people with dogs and scooter powered children, strolling along, taking their time and generally making things too crowded to run. Frustrating as this was, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to drop my ratio to negotiate the crowds and, once I got back to Hove Lawns, I made my escape to the main road.

By this point I had covered over 30 kilometres and, while my legs were pretty much shot, I still felt confident that I could get to 37K within 4:30. The only problem though, was that the pain in my legs was getting a lot worse and I was having to stop more and more frequently to stretch, so I decided to make a deal with myself. I would run for 4:30 and then finish whichever kilometre I was on before calling it day.

So that’s what I did. 36K in 4:31:19 – just one kilometre short of my goal and just over six short of a marathon. Not bad going all things considered.

In terms of running 42.2K before marathon day, I can’t see that happening, but if I can add another few kilometres to my final long run in two weeks time, I’ll be happy with that.

How’s your training going? How far do you run for your final long run before a marathon? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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