Sunday, 22 June 2014

Marathon Build Up Weeks 1 to 3

215 miles in three weeks.  Not quite up there with the 100 plus mile weeks enjoyed by some marathoners but a nice block of training as the build up to Chester starts in earnest.  As I write this its 15 weeks to go and quite honestly I feel like things are moving well and truly in the right direction.

A 75 mile week after the Middlesbrough 5km which ended in an 18 mile run averaging 6:47 was the week that kick started the build up.   It took a difficult track session and a few "conversations" to prompt the marathon build up switch despite being tempted to stick to some faster stuff and see what I could push in terms of 5km/10km performances.

Week 2 was a slightly lower week with 70 miles but with two quality interval sessions mixed in.  An 8 x 800m session @ half marathon pace  on the road  was followed up the following day with a 4 x 1 mile session with the miles at 10km pace and the recovery being a 400m float.  There was no real science behind the back to back sessions more convenience as I felt that the Tuesday was better spent recovering from the long run on the Sunday.   I do like back to back sessions sometimes though and feel it can build up leg strength particularly in the marathon build up.   I also feel that my recovery from sessions is pretty good and usually my long runs don't leave me feeling too tired.   Week two long run was a hilly 19.5 miles with Steve Hepples for company.  I know that putting a few hilly long runs into the mix will be a good idea seeing as Chester is not exactly a flat marathon (describing it as hilly would be a bit much though!).

This week Ive enjoyed another two interval based sessions with a slightly quicker 8 x 800m session this time at about 5km pace on Tuesday followed by a 3 x 10 minute 10km pace effort with a four minute rest recovery.  Looking at the distance covered we would be slightly under 34 minute 10km pace for the duration which I was really pleased with given the miles in the legs.  I had a blast round Locke parkrun yesterday (17:15) and ended the week with a 20 miler at an average pace of 6:50.

Today's run was all the more satisfying as it was on my own, ran without any gels or even water (until over 2 hours into the run) and my pace gradually increased from 7 minute plus miles to 6:40's and 6:30's in the second half.   It was also a run on my own and one that from around 6 miles I felt would be a long old slog as I just didn't seem to be "feeling it".   It was a case of concentrating on efficiency of running, switching off the negative thoughts and just ticking off the miles.  It worked and once I was in the "long run region" I knew that the hard miles were behind me and the last few would be ones to enjoy.   I almost felt a sense of "come on bring me some pain I'm supposed to be toughening myself up for 26 miles!

So a 71 mile week and now time for a bit of recovery as I look to the Coast Road 5km on Wednesday.  Last year in the same race and a week earlier in the marathon build up I clocked 16.36.   I hope to get close to that again this year but it will all depend on the recovery from today's long run.  20 minutes of aqua jogging tonight seems to have hit the right spot (as well as homemade curry, rice and Slimming World Onion Bhajis! which are apparently almost free food so I can eat as many as I like!  Not like I need an excuse to fill my face especially in marathon training!). 

I was feeling good about my three week block of mileage then I read Steve Way's highly entertaining blog. which made me feel a bit inadequate in terms of mileage!   I do think though there is a bit of room for me to up the mileage a little from previous marathons but its a fine line.  Ive coped so far with 70 mile weeks so lets see what 80 miles a week feels like after a bit of a recovery week.  

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Marathon Time

Well thats it.  Decision made.  Im now officially in marathon training.   Week 1 of the 18 week plan is underway.

Tonights track session was the clincher.  The 400m intervals @ 3km pace with 200m recovery at marathon pace was just not happening tonight.   I didn't feel good, missed my splits and just felt flat.  Ive also looked at my build up to my last two marathons and the long build up has certainly helped especially given that the 18 weeks have been eaten into by the odd niggle and holidays.

So my first four weeks are planned out and I'm looking how best to accommodate some build up races into the plan without compromising the need for consistent long runs.

My target at Chester will be around 2-37 which will mean 6 minute miling for the 26.2 miles.  Thats going to be a big ask so the longer build up will certainly help.   My aim on each run is to make marathon pace seem easy, to be efficient at running at marathon pace and to effectively recover from key sessions.

For my last two marathons i've planned out the full build up only to find Ive needed to tweak it to take account of enforced change.  This year i've planned out a broad plan, looked at build up races and identified key weeks where I will do some big mileage.

Time is on my side and the first few long runs will just be about time on my feet.  The path is clear and its now down to me to make it happen!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The dilemma - which way now!

After the decent run at Melmerby last week I knew that all things being equal I could expect a decent run at the Middlesbrough 5km.  The niggling doubt in my mind was the lack of specific 5km training I've been doing.    Most of my "sessions" have not quite hit 5km speed.  My sets of road based 800s have mainly been at 10km pace and my track work has just not quite hit full speed.

The lack of "speed" in my legs was underlined by the recent mile relay where I posted a relatively lacklustre 5-18 for the all out mile and although I tried to convince myself that the course wasn't that quick you just cant help looking at other results and thinking "Where's the speed gone!".

Thanks to Erin Corbyn for the ation shot!

The field at Middlesbrough was fully loaded with local star Matty Hynes expected to dominate the field but facing some stiff competition from last years winner Dominic Shaw and paralympian star Wondiye Fikre Indelbu with Veteran Ian Hudspith always likely to feature.   Results

My own race went well.  A seemingly "steady" start was actually surprisingly quick for me with a 5-06 but still quite a way down the field.  The next mile was a case of picking off the odd fast starter here and there and working my way through the field.  Another 5-06 and a few more people picked off it was down to the business end of the race with just a few people possibly "catchable" in my signts and a few people behind me who I was determined to hold off.  The third mile was a real tough one particularly given the twisting nature of the course at the finish but a 5-23 mile meant that the "chariots of fire" run in would be a case of job done in terms of the sub 16-30 but I was also determined that unlike last year I wasn't going to be "taken down" in the Riverside in a sprint finish.  Given that there was a bit of daylight it was a great feeling to run round the hallowed turf of the Riverside enjoying the atmosphere secure in the knowledge that nobody was going past me!

Stopped the watch at 16-20 and I was over the moon!  Its another 85% Age grader and beats the Melmerby performance to my number 1 race on age grading of all time. 

I can honestly say I don't know where that came from but it does present a bit of a dilemma in that the "script" was to do Middlesbrough 5km as a sort of end of the mini speed block that I planned "between marathons" and as a starting point for the next marathon campaign about 18 weeks away.

The question now is...Do I shorten the marathon build up and try and sharpen the speed up a bit more and target a few more 5kms/10kms or do i plough on with the marathon build up secure in the knowledge that I'm in great shape to cope with the miles ahead.

That's something I'm going to ponder this week and see how I feel.  There are a few race options I'm considering and its tempting to keep this momentum going but at the same time the thought of a long build up to Chester to really get things right in the marathon is tempting. 

On the age grading front an 85% is in the 2:34 region which to be honest is dreamland for me!  Can I find 5 minutes over the next 4 months?   Well its starting to feel believable!

There were some pretty spectacular performances on Sunday but three in particular stuck out for me. 

A massive pb for Steve Munro (newly joined New Marske Harrier) with a storming 15:47 for 11th this space this guy has massive potential!

A first time under 17 minutes for V45 Clive Thornton of New Marske Harriers showing that hard work and commitment equals results.

A massive pb for Michael Joyeux hitting the big time with a 16-06.  His blog is a great read.

Running is a good place at the moment!