Keep on Running: Marathon Training Week 5

Another week, another round of training, and things were not without challenge this week for a variety of reasons.

Planned training this week:
Monday – Gym
Tuesday – Club Run
Wednesday – Gym
Thursday – Mile Repeats
Friday – Rest/Swim
Saturday – 12 miles
Sunday – Rest

Once more, Steve was unable to see me at a suitable time for a PT session on Monday so, just like last week, I opted for a swim instead. My calves were feeling pretty tired after my quick and hilly 10miles last Sunday so it was quite good for my recovery. They still felt pretty weary on Tuesday too so I really surprised myself by completing a 6.4 mile loop at a slightly quicker pace than Sunday. My poor calves were screaming a bit by the last couple of miles, but those miles on Tuesday took me to a grand total of 100 miles for January which is more than I’ve ever run in a month before.

Coming to the end of the first month of marathon training gave me a chance to look back and assess how I’ve progressed and how I feel. In terms of progression, I’m very happy. I’m running better than I ever have, am recovering well and have accumulated a healthy number of miles. And how do I feel? In one word, hungry! After being struck by The Hunger at the end of last week, I made some adjustments to my nutrition, adding in a protein shake mid-morning along with my apple and carrying a supply of nuts and seeds to snack on if necessary. I do feel better, but meals are definitely being burnt off super quickly and my colleagues are certainly beginning to notice how much food I am managing to put away! I haven’t taken any official measurement of my weight, however although I’m aware my body shape has changed a bit (I’m moving into what I call “marathon shape” now) I don’t think there has been any drastic reduction in weight. If anything, I’ll have lost some body fat, however as long as I maintain muscle mass then that is the ideal position to be in. So all-in-all a very positive start to the year. Which brings us nicely to a new month of training, and the beginning of this week’s challenges!

Wednesday was my regular arms ‘n’ abs session on the TRX then Thursday those hideous mile repeats again. Since I’ve been running well, Steve felt that I should increase my pace on those now rather than in a few weeks so I stuck to the same number of reps as last time, but a bit quicker. The session was 6x 1 mile at 7.5 mph with 0.2 miles recovery. With my warm up, this took me to a tough 7.4 mile workout. Tough, but I managed it and felt good. It was later that evening, however, that I encountered my first challenge: the threat of illness.

All Thursday evening my stomach just didn’t feel quite right. I thought I was just hungry and tired from the mile repeats so had some food and an early night. During the night, however, I felt worse and the real possibility of some sort of bug/upset entered my mind. Fortunately, I woke up on Friday morning feeling ok and went to work as usual, although it was only in the afternoon that I would have said I felt 100% myself again. I decided to relax in the jacuzzi and sauna, after which I was most definitely back to normal. I had not eaten much during the day so I was just about seeing double with hunger and was feeling quite sleepy. I demolished my dinner without really tasting it and had a good night’s sleep – normal service was, fortunately, resumed!

But on Saturday, challenge number 2 reared its head, this time courtesy of Mother Nature. It had been quite cold all week (comparatively speaking) and there had been constant forecasts of snow. Being a mature and rational person, I decided the best way to deal with this was to ignore it and hope it would go away! To an extent, this worked. I woke up on Saturday morning to a snow-free view, however my plans for a 12 mile countryside run were dashed when Steve called to say it was incredibly slippy. The low temperatures had led to widespread ice, there had been some snow/sleet and the temperature had actually increased a bit so the roads were either icy or slushy. The route I had planned to take would have been quite hazardous and, as a result, I was ordered onto the dreaded treadmill. And I wasn’t alone: everyone who had planned a Saturday long run was either cancelling their plans or heading to the treadmill. Most of us had planned to run on Saturday rather than Sunday due to our running club having its presentation dinner on Saturday night so postponing until Sunday wasn’t really ideal. Besides, there was no guarantee conditions would improve, so a treadmill run it was.

Up until now, the furthest I’ve ever run on a treadmill is 8 miles and that was at the start of my marathon training last year when, again, underfoot conditions were too dangerous to get outside. I knew 12 miles on the “dreadmill” would be a real mental challenge, even with my idea of watching a film on my iPad while I ran, so I decided to run for around an hour and a half at a gradually increasing pace and see how I got on. This meant I could combine endurance work with speed work and do a bit of mental conditioning for good measure! At the end of the hour and a half I was so close to 10 miles that I kept going a bit longer to finish off the last mile. 10 treadmill miles done!

A wee nap on Saturday afternoon meant I was raring to go for our presentation dinner in the evening, and with Sunday now scheduled as a rest day, I was free to enjoy a glass of wine with my meal and a couple of drinks to celebrate gaining a club championship medal. This medal is awarded to members who complete 7 of the 9 championship races (or 6 + a marathon) but do not place in the top 3. Now I always enjoy getting a medal, but combined with the fact that I also got to dress up a bit (another of my favourite things) and the stage was set for an enjoyable evening. That medal marks the culmination of my running achievements from 2011. Now I just have to keep working hard and see what I can achieve in 2012…

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