Monday, 27 February 2012

Here comes the Sun

20.14 miles, 2:56:03, 8:45 min/mile pace

Sunday, traditionally the day of the long run in the runners week. Although I've been following no specific marathon training plan for London, I decided my longest run this year would fit in nicely today. The milestone 20 miler.

Most my recent long runs have been in the company of friends, which has been great company and motivation but I was actually looking forward to heading out the door on my own today and have a bit of me time. It was a glorious day, blue skies and warm. Spring had decided to come early in February. It seemed only like yesterday I was running in leggings, gloves and hat.

Over this sort of distance it's a great chance to try your nutrition out. I filled my Camelbak with 1 litre of Lucozade diluted with a little water to make it go further. Lucozade is the official sports drink used on the marathon course, so I thought it best that I get used to it. I also took one Lucozade gel which I used at mile 12 and one of my favourite Carmen Muesli Bars (Real Food!) which I happily munched through at mile 15.

I had been troubled the days leading up to this run with some slight discomfort on the inside of my right shin and was in two minds whether I should be taking this run on. I decided after chatting with my Twitter running friends that this would be make or break and I let my head rule my heart. This time I had made the right decision with absolutely no pain on the run or after. Quite a relief.

For a short while at mile 16, I had the canal path to myself, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and listening to my footsteps on the gravel towpath, it was one of those moments on the run when everything felt just great.

As I went through the last miles I gradually starting getting tired, and leading up to mile 20 I asked myself the question 'Could you go on for another 6 miles today?'...possibly! but I've still another couple of months to go of training so hopefully will have a more positive answer to that question on 22nd April.

After all a marathon has only just begun at mile 20!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Back to Back Runs

Back to Back!

It's Saturday morning and I've just awoken from a much needed 10 hour sleep. Yesterday I completed my first back to back run. I read recently ultrarunner Scott Jurek's explanation of a back to back run or a 'double' as he calls them "Doubles should include a recovery period of six to 10 hours between runs."

A back to back run is a way of training for long miles without cramming it into one long run and so reducing the risk of injury. Although you have a recovery period it's not long enough for the legs to recover and so the affect on the legs is that they've just run a big distance.

Believe me when I say the legs definitely do not recover. I ran 12.25 miles home from work on Thursday evening slower than marathon pace on a generally flat course along the canal tow path before finishing with a few miles on the undulating terrain and hills across the ranges. When I got home rather than soaking in a nice warm bath and getting too comfortable, I showered and done some stretching so not to give too much time concentrating on recovering the legs (after all this is half way through a long run).

Homemade tomato sauce and pasta and...ahem...some chicken nuggets (PROTEIN!) and then bed. Before I knew it, morning, change and then back to work this time all the way along the towpath. For the first six miles my legs felt fine, so in theory I was on mile 18, and just like if I had gone out for a long run of this distance my legs began to complain. The final six miles were tough and felt like I had been running straight through, so the back to back runs had worked with the affect of time on my feet.

I'm going to do a back to back run every other week and then the in the alternate weeks in between do a 18-20 mile long run on a Sunday. This way I've got a two week break from running long straight through runs and cutting back on the risk of injury.

The long run of course is still the most important part of marathon training as essentially it's getting the body prepared for the big day and last Sunday I got out for an 18 mile run. It was great because I met up with friends Tim and Brian although we were all doing our own thing. Brian had set out an hour earlier to do his 18 miles as he had to get back home and Tim was out for one of his 'small' training runs of 34 miles! The Basingstoke canal is over 30 miles long and runs through the Village where Brian and myself live through to Woking 12 miles away where Tim lives, so at some point we could all meet up with each other.

Like a fine tuned SAS rendezvous the timings were perfect and I met up with Brian and Tim where I had expected. Brian continued with us for another 6 miles before tailing off to complete his 18 miles for the day and Tim and myself continued. I completed all my 18 miles with Tim which was great before Tim went on to complete his momentous ultra training run.

I'm looking forward to a nice weekend off after some big miles over the last 7 days and it will be nice to enjoy it without the pressure of getting out for a long run.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


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