Making Some Tweaks: Marathon Training Week 3

In my first marathon training post of the year I stated that it was important not to be a slave to your training plan and that it’s ok to make some tweaks here and there so that the plan fits in with your life rather than the other way around. Based on my first couple of weeks of training, some tweaks have already been made to my plan to try and maximise what I can achieve. Since the plan I’m following this year is so different to what I’ve done before, it’s constantly under review to make sure I’m progressing as I should be.

So what are these changes, I hear you ask. First off, on Steve’s advice, the fortnightly club hill reps have been ditched for the time being. A couple of weeks ago I tried doing some mile repeats on the treadmill and although I described them as “hateful” at the time, I did feel the benefit of them in my long run. With this in mind, the hill reps have now been substituted with mile repeats. I’ll not enjoy them, but I’ll certainly gain from them. Secondly, the distances of my Sunday long runs are being tweaked. I’m feeling strong and running well, so where my original plan called for me to stick at the same distance next Sunday, I feel ready to add on a couple of miles since each time I come back from a run I feel sure that I could maintain my pace for a bit longer and am desperate to run a bit further. The distance of future Sunday runs may also be changed, however much depends on how my training progresses in the coming weeks.

Planned training this week:
Monday: Gym
Tuesday: Club Run
Wednesday: Gym
Thursday: Mile repeats
Friday: 10K
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 8 miles

Again, I felt that I recovered well this week. Monday and Wednesday saw a return to upper body work using the TRX (and torturing my abs!) but I think my work with the TRX during the autumn and early part of the winter when I wasn’t running due to injury has contributed to how well I’m running now so I’ll persevere. On Tuesday there was a club event on which involved running about in the dark woods with a head torch. Not being noted for my grace in such situations, I decided I’d be better going for the regular club run since the last thing I need right now is to twist my ankle falling over a rabbit hole/tree branch and lose valuable training time to injury! Numbers were down at the club, however everyone headed out on the same route so that nobody would end up by themselves and a route was chosen that would allow runners of different speeds to run more/less of the route so that everyone would get back at roughly the same time. Running with someone just a little faster than me, I again impressed myself by averaging a slightly quicker pace than last week and not getting left too far behind when my running partner wanted to speed up a bit on the way back in.

On Thursday, it was those hateful mile repeats. I was dreading them all day as I had a pretty packed day at work and was feeling tired. I also remembered the workout as being quite tough and I had to add on two further reps at the same pace as last time. Interestingly, I found the workout easier than I expected. I was digging in a bit during the last couple of reps, which is as it should be, however at no time did I doubt that I would complete the workout. A warm up, 6x 1mile @ 7mph with 0.2 mile recovery gave me a total workout of about 7.5 miles. Longer than any single run so far! Tough, but more of a mental challenge than a physical one as there’s not much to distract you when running on the “dreadmill”!

Friday is normally a rest day, however since I had a hair appointment on Saturday (just because I’m running about getting sweaty and dishevelled, there’s no need to let myself go!), I went for the steady paced run I would normally have on a Saturday morning. I’ve written previously about how hard I’ve been finding it to keep my pace down on this run as my legs are wanting to do more, however coming just 24 hours after the mile repeats it was, at first, much easier to run at a slower pace! In the second half of the run I was once more having to reign it in to keep my pace down as my legs were loosened off and I was warmed up, but overall I did average the right pace range and I felt good on the run.

After a day off training, I set out for my Sunday run using my usual 8mile route. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and the temperature had risen since earlier in the week so I thoroughly enjoyed my run. Despite a killer hill (on which I distracted myself with an inner monologue in French – je suis un dadais!) I still maintained the average pace I’ve been running at over the last few weeks. I even ran the last mile in 8:12 which is unheard of! In the end, I completed the route in 1:11:05, which is over 4 minutes faster than I ran it in May last year when I was in between my two marathons. A very satisfying improvement!

In general, then, I’m pleased with how my training has gone this week. Not only do I feel strong, but I seem to be getting my nutrition right too. In the past I’ve noticed that around about this point in my training I suffer from an unbelievable hunger and nothing seems to fill me up for very long. This year, I’m noticing a very sudden hunger (one minute I’m stuffed, the next I’m starving) but this tends to be around about meal times anyway and is not causing any problems so far. This may yet change, but for now I’m happy.

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