Saturday, 29 November 2014

Winter Sessions

So the marathon season is coming to an end.  My two marathons this year seem a distant memory and the Dash is done.  What now?   
I suppose a reflection on the last few races is a good place to start this blog.   In the build up to Chester whilst my focus was on the long runs needed to complete the marathon I also had an eye on the Abbey Dash as an end of season blast to keep the speed in the legs.     So much of the “speed work” I was doing in the build up to the Dash had a 10km focus.  Typically sessions like 3 x 10 minutes at 10km speed or 800 repeats at 10km speed with minimal recovery were a regular feature.   It’s good to see progress being made and most sessions there was a glimmer of progress but while the marathon was looming my focus was always on the long runs so the speed sessions were a means to an end.  Once the recovery from Chester was done the focus turned more to the 10km sessions and there was a good few weeks of repeating key sessions, tweaking recoveries and increasing time at 10km pace to get me to the Dash in the best possible shape for an attempt at Sub 34.   
I had a decent (solid) if unspectacular race at the Maltby 7 mile race.  It was my fourth Maltby in five years and my 2014 time of 39.50 was my fastest since 2011 (39.49) and 18 seconds quicker than my last run in 2012 where I clocked 40.08 and went onto run 33.56 at the Dash.     Maltby is one of those races that I like with a tough first half with a few climbs then a fast winding route to finish.   

A rare racing smile!

In the weeks leading up to the Abbey Dash I saw some measurable improvements in sessions and felt like I was coming into form at the right time.   In the end a 34.01 10km to end the season shouldn’t be a disappointment but In all honesty I was gutted not to break 34 minutes.  I could spend time looking back at sessions,  looking back at the race and over analysing but to be honest I don’t think it was anything to with my training leading up to it.  I think the difference is simply how much I wanted to do well in that race.  I have never had a problem in the past with getting myself up for the big races but the more I concentrate on the marathon the less I feel “up” for other races.  It’s like there is something in my head that is telling me that this is just a means to an end and not as important to me as a marathon.   It could also be a result of increased mileage and less focus on speed.   I’ve also developed this “cautious” first mile approach which is most suitable for a marathon but possibly leaves me with a lot to do over the shorter distances.  There were a lot of bodies to get past at Leeds!  Partly the reason for the cautious start these days is the old body needs a bit of getting going so its not all about choosing to start easy!
So I am unlikely to race much for the remainder of 2014 (except possibly the North East Cross Country Champs for a bit of fun!) and concentrate on building a good base for the 2015 season. 
I’ve entered the Brass Monkey Half to give me a bit of focus over the winter and so speed sessions are focusing on 10km work and half marathon pace tempos.   I’ve got the long runs back on track with a decent 16 mile effort at the weekend and a base mileage of around 65 miles per week settling in as “the norm”.  I’m using a schedule for the half that is focussing on the 10km speed work over the long runs as the relationship between the half marathon and the 10km is closer than the relationship between the marathon and the half marathon.  If nothing else that makes sense given the closeness of the distances (11km difference vs 21km difference).  One of the key sessions is the planned half marathon pace runs which so far are around the 4 and 5 mile mark but build up to the 9/10 mile region by the end of the programme.
For me its about what fits in to the week and what works.  That means back to back sessions on Wednesday (10km based session) and the half marathon paced tempo (Thursday).  That does make the Thursday session a bit tougher but so far i’m hitting targets and am on track.  It does mean the Friday is a very very easy recovery run to put the body back together after two hard sessions.  
Marathon wise I’ve entered Manchester Marathon in April and following this up with the Potteries Marathon in July.  That gives me the option of a third marathon in October and I would look no further than Chester for another outing along the Cheshire/North Wales border.   

Other races in 2015 will be the Locke Park 20 in March and a few 5km and 10kms mixed into the year.   It’s going to be a real focussed year for me in 2015 as I attempt to lower my marathon time further.   The extra marathon in July will be something new and it may not suit me but sometimes it’s good to experiment.   

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