Taking on the Long Runs (Road to Bournemouth week 24)

I’m a great fan of planning. It takes the decision making out of training, gives it direction and allows you to just get on with it, however, what I have found is it is very easy to write down gradually increasing numbers on a bit of paper, and much more challenging to translate these numbers into actual miles!

Initially the longer runs were incorporated into races, 10 miles at Maverick Surrey, a half marathon in Woking, a lapped race where I clocked up 18 miles, and physiologically this makes getting the distance done much easier. You are supported, there are water stations, there are other runners in the same boat as you, there are jelly babies, you are not alone! Tackling long runs on your own though is a whole different ball game.

Part of the problem came when I lost motivation and interest in such a long term plan at exactly the time when I should be ramping things up. I struggled to get out and run when I was supposed to and after a good start with a steady increase in distance week on week, it became sporadic, some weeks I was running what I was supposed to, and other weeks the distance was dropping instead of increasing.

Going well until July, then things get more sporadic!

Once we got to 6 weeks out I knew I had to get myself back on track, the long runs were going to be an important step in conditioning my body for the marathon distance to come and to practice some race day strategies for nutrition.

I set out a new plan to do three long runs, increasing each by 5 miles, then giving myself 3 weeks to taper back down. The first of these runs was a 10 mile run, and as mentioned in the week 21 blog It was awful, no energy, slow and painful. I walked an awful lot and it was incredibly disheartening. I was dreading the next weeks long run.

The next week it was 15 miles, but I planned this much better, thinking much more carefully about my nutrition. My week 22 blog was much more positive, and although I struggled towards the end, it had been a much better run.

Hasting Seafront during my 15 mile run

The next week I was supposed to be doing my last and longest long training run, instead I got sick! I was well enough by the end of the week to do my personal training session so I sought the advice of my PT as to weather I should move the 20 mile run to the following week or start to taper as planned. He did not tell me what I wanted to here, instead he said that as long as I did it early in the week, I should go ahead and run! Damn!!

I slept terribly the night before this run, I was genuinely dreading it and not at all sure how I would manage. My husband planned me a route that took me near to a few train stations in case I needed to bail out at any point, so I packed my flipbelt with gels, prepared my water bottle, checked my iPod and watch were charged up and headed out the door.

It was a beautiful day and the majority of my run was along the coast affording me gorgeous views out to sea, which was blue and as still as a pond. The sun was shining and the day was so warm that I had to stop and strip my base-layer off before continuing.

Beautiful Views

I took care not to start off too fast, and followed the same nutritional strategies as the week before. This worked well, my pace remained steady and I made it to the halfway point of 10 miles without much trouble. I turned around and started making my way back and actually sped up a bit along Bexhill seafront, a very different story to the last two runs.

Making it to half way

I did stop to walk a couple of times, but never for long, and my pace wasn’t dropping. I got back to Hastings with a little more to go, I took myself round the park to complete the last mile, spending more and more time glancing at my watch, willing it to beep off the last mile. Finally I was done, exhausted but elated, for the first time in a long time I actually believed this marathon was possible.

Once I uploaded my run to strava it showed that I had successfully kept a reasonably even pace throughout the whole run, without tailing off at the end, and that my average pace was actually faster than the previous two long runs, despite the increase in distance!

Strava data from the three long runs

Now it really is time to taper, I have a half marathon to run next weekend (some poor planning on my part) but my training runs are all set to be short. I can’t hand on heart say that I have loved this Marathon training. I’m not  sure I’ll want to do another one, but two weeks to go and this will all be over!

Week 24 Running Total: 50km

 

Rother Valley 10k (Road to Bournemouth week 23)

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. This week I was supposed to do my last and longest long run before beginning to taper down to the Marathon, but what happened in reality was a sudden striking down with a sickness bug. It was swift and nasty, but thankfully short lived, it did, however, put paid to me running 20 miles!

By the end of the week I finally got out and plodded a 10k around Hastings, feeling much better, then at the weekend it was race time.

The Rother Valley 10k is a new race on the block, starting at the village of Northiam and taking you out for a hilly 10 kilometres to finish at Bodiam castle.

There is a steam train line that runs between Northiam and Bodiam and you could book discounted tickets to get back on the train if you so wished (we were lucky, we had supporters ready to give us a ride back to the car.) and the race started at the station in Northiam.

The race started up hill, and continued upwards for at least a kilometre and a half. Any flats on this race were short lived as you were soon down hill again, followed by more ups!

The race was set on quiet country lanes with very little traffic, and seemed pretty, when I paid attention and wasn’t cursing the hills. The course marking was excellent and unusually accurate for a road race, each KM sign being pretty much bang on according to my watch.

The downhill running was great fun, but there always felt like twice as much uphill, and  that was a struggle, especially coming off the back of the sickness bug from the beginning of the week. I stopped to walk on one hill but a lovely lady from Hastings Runners encouraged me to start running again before running off and leaving me for dust!

I felt like I struggled a lot during the race, and finished saying “god that was awful” but in hindsight although it was tough, I probably would do it again! One thing I do know it that despite visiting it many many times, I have never in my life been so pleased to see Bodiam Castle! It was a nice downhill to the finish, but as you came into the grounds at Bodiam and could see the finish tantalisingly ahead of you, you first had to veer off around the field to finish off the final few meters of the 10k run.

This was a very well run event for it’s first time, and well worth a look in the future.

Weekly running total: 20.3km

3 weeks to go…

Rye Summer Classic Series 5k (Road to Bournemouth week 22)

Another week gone, another week closer to the Marathon I’m coming to dread. After the horrific feeling 10 miles last week I wasn’t looking forward to doing a 15 mile run but I made an effort to make sure I was well fuelled this time, adding a portion of brown rice to my evening meal to give me a carb boost, and deciding on the morning of the run to try something called tailwind that my husband thinks is good mixed up in a water bottle, as well as packing some gels planning to see what might work for me on Marathon day.

I set out on the long run, and I felt like I had much more energy than the previous week. The weather was good, sunny but cool, and I felt much better than last time. At around 10k I took a gel, while continuing to also sip at the tailwind mixture and my energy levels were still good. I was running slowly, and allowing myself a few breaks but I wasn’t hating every step like my previous run.

When I got to 10miles, where last week I was in pain and completely done in, this time I was able to carry on. After another 10k I decided against taking my second gel as I didn’t have much more to do, but I could have used it. I managed to complete my 15miles though feeling much better about it than the shorter run the week before. Maybe I can do this Marathon after all!!

Part way through my 15mile run

I got in a good few shorter runs this week too, as part of my training sessions and then on Friday night it was the final race in the Rye Summer Series.

The final race in the series is a 5k out and back at the Rye Nature Reserve starting at Rye Harbour, and the weather all day had been apocalyptic! Driving rain and winds, running wasn’t a pleasant prospect. Luckily though the rain seemed to die out around the time the run was due to start. We set off, and although the wind on the reserve was bad, driving you back on the way out, it wasn’t the worst wind I have experienced there (see my twilight chase blog for that hideous experience!) The turn around point seemed to come up quickly having been used to running 10ks here. Then it was just a push back along to the finish, the wind now at your back. I was pushed to run harder than I knew I still had in me by a woman who insisted on overtaking me only to drop in front and slow down so I was almost tripping over her heals. It was annoying but she just wasn’t going quite fast enough so it spurred me on to push a little bit faster and get her out of my way and stop her doing it again.

In the end It was the quickest run I have done in some time, not quite as fast as this time last year, but a really respectable 24mins, and also put me in 4th place for the series, again not quite the first place I managed last year but better than I could ever have expected.

Now there are 4 weeks and a couple more races to go until B-day, and after that right now I feel like I’ll never want to do a long run ever again!

Week 22 Running Total: 50.1km

4 weeks to go…