Monster Month Madness: Marathon Training Week 10

Traditionally, March is known as the “Monster Month” in the spring marathon training schedule. It’s the month runners should clock their longest runs before the taper into April and the big day. For me, this month is certainly living up to those high mileage expectations so far. Although I “only” ran 10 miles last Sunday, it was a race and I ran them hard. A race at this stage was valuable in terms of getting my “racing head” on and testing out my race day routine. Yet, with all my other running during the week, I’m already over halfway towards equalling last month’s mileage and it’s only the 11th of the month with a lot of mileage still planned! Fortunately, I’m still feeling strong and rather enjoying the spring weather Mother Nature has delivered in recent days – there’s nothing quite like a long run in the countryside on a beautiful spring morning – and it’s been nice to feel the sun on my arms once more after weeks of long sleeved tops and base layers!

One thing I did learn this week is that having run hard last Sunday, my legs were just about as weary as after a longer, slightly slower run and did not feel as fresh as I would have hoped earlier in the week. That said, my training continued as planned and I’ve definitely enjoyed the warm glow of knowing I have a 10 mile PB in the bag so early in the racing season.

Planned training this week:
Monday – Gym
Tuesday – Club Run
Wednesday – Gym
Thursday – Club Track Session
Friday – Rest/Swim
Saturday – 6 miles
Sunday – 16 miles

I managed to get to the gym early on Monday and squeezed in a short recovery run before my PT session. It was good to loosen the legs off after racing and the subsequent work on the TRX once again included some stretching alongside the strength work.

Despite the stretching, my calves were still a little tight on Tuesday and this was not helped by a hilly club run. I know that my different approach to training this year has meant that my Tuesday runs are not as tough as last year as my recovery is better, but equally I’m still finding it tricky to keep up with those running on fresher legs and know that this will remain the case for the next few weeks. I’m not too bothered about that though as I know the important thing is to get the mileage in and so long as I know the route, I’m happy to run a little behind the rest of my group if I have to.

On Wednesday I asked Steve if we could include a little more stretching in the session again as I was feeling the effects of a hilly race on Sunday followed by a hilly run the previous night. By the time I was relaxing in the sauna I definitely felt a lot better and was almost looking forward to my track session the next night (anything is preferable to mile repeats after all!)

Thursday, however, turned out to be a somewhat blustery day and I spent the afternoon anxiously listening to the wind whistling outside my window, knowing how exposed the track can be. In the past the wind has whirled around the track so no part of it had any respite. This week it was a little different. The tailwind was so strong along the back straight that you almost felt as if you were flying, but coming off the final bend was like smacking headlong into a wall as the wind pushed you back. I found that I couldn’t even run in a straight line on the home straight and just had to get my head down and dig in to the finish line. The session was 2x 800m, 4x 400m, 4x 200m. There was 1 minute recovery between each 800 and 400 rep then 30secs between the 200 reps. A tough session but I was pleased with my performance (and even more pleased to check my splits and find I had been very consistent at each distance, even with the wind).

My Friday rest day was a welcome sight after all that and I decided to spend it enjoying the jacuzzi and sauna to give me a chance to relax ahead of my weekend mileage. The forecast for the weekend was good and I was looking forward to getting out there and clocking some miles in the sunshine.

On Saturday I headed out for a steady 6 miles and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a nice route which took in some woodland trails as well as roads, the weather was ideal and I was trotting quite happy along enjoying the scenery. This set me up nicely for Sunday and my longest training run this season (the second-longest in my training plan). Unlike my 15 mile route a couple of weeks ago, the 16 mile route I chose included a lot more uphill work, some of it quite steep. It was also one of those days when there seemed to be a headwind no matter which way you turned. Despite the fact that I was running a loop, the wind never seemed to be behind me so it was quite a demanding run. That said, it was sunny and I had a lovely time exploring a route I’m not very familiar with. I also experimented with my idea of taking a gel roughly every 45 mins/5 miles and felt this worked well. My average pace was a little slower overall, but this can be accounted for by the wind and elevation profile of the route and I’m perfectly happy with my performance. The route was a little longer than 16 miles (16.37 by my Garmin!) but that’s no big deal and I now have a fairly good idea of my route for my 18 mile run in a couple of weeks.

Overall, another very positive week. At the start of the year my marathon goal was sub- 4 hrs 30. As the weeks have passed I’ve been re-adjusting this. I’m now aiming (hopefully!) somewhere closer to 4 hours but, as any marathon runner will tell you, the last 6-8 miles can be unpredictable. I will simply do my best and see what happens. Completing 26.2 miles is an achievement in itself, at any pace, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of meeting my goal of setting a new PB. 5 weeks to go and counting…!

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