So how did that happen? One minute I was moaning that January, as always, seemed like the longest month ever (was it really just 31 days?) and the next I found myself over a quarter of the way through February, with the weeks slipping by quickly and the first of my three marathons just 8 weeks away! From this point on all my long runs will be beyond half marathon distance and by the end of the month I’ll be on the cusp of my two longest runs (both 20 miles). If December is about base building and January is about gradually increasing the mileage, February and March are where we really get to the business end of training for a spring marathon. I’ve been here before and know that consistency and recovery are key to completing these monster months problem-free.
Fortunately, both consistency and recovery have been going well for me so far in this training cycle. I’ve been able to pace all my sessions right and recovered quite quickly from my long runs. Yes, there has been a degree of weariness in my legs after the intensity of my Friday-Tuesday programme, but no more than I would expect and easily overcome with my scheduled rest day, stretching and massage.
Based on this consistency and my good recovery so far, my programme for February will continue with many of the same sessions as January, but with some increase in mileage: my Tuesday run will gradually increase in distance, my Saturday easy run is now slightly longer and my Sunday long run, of course, will continue to increase. I will also continue with a couple of Metafit classes per week and with helping Steve to coach his Thursday night running group as it looks like numbers are going to remain high there. Somewhat unsurprisingly, in February I shall be mostly running!
For the first full week of February this meant that my training schedule was:
Monday – Metafit
Tuesday – 5 miles
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – rest (unavoidable due to a parents’ night at work)
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 40 mins easy
Sunday – 16 miles
Once more, my legs felt good on Monday after my Sunday long run. Alongside all my usual Sunday recovery plans (stretching, foam rolling, compression and an evening bath), my post-run swim and dip in the jacuzzi also seem to have helped so I’ll consider adding them to my recovery after my forthcoming long runs. Metafit went well and I felt in good shape ahead of my Tuesday run. With the increase to 5 miles from my previous hilly 4, I knew I would need to alter my route. Short of time to plot something out, I simply took a guess and came up with a route I wanted to run, which turned out to be a little over 5.5 miles. Still, better to have done a little extra than to have cut my run short!
In many ways, that little bit extra didn’t really matter as I knew it would be Friday before I would get another workout. Steve and I actually had another commitment on Friday evening which would keep us from the normal Metafit class, so instead I went straight to the studio on my way home from work and completed a Metafit workout by myself. These solo sessions are always much harder due to the increased “personal attention” which means there’s absolutely no chance of taking it easy! Steve made me work hard and my legs definitely noticed the two minutes of burpees which finished the workout!
Heading into the weekend proper, I first of all had my favourite session of the week – my Saturday easy run. The extra 10 minutes required a change in route so I was able to head out on one of my favourite Saturday morning runs which takes me through a nearby woodland park at a nice gentle pace. I smile and greet all the dog walkers I meet and it’s nice when they greet me in return. I also had to fit in a trip to the Post Office to pick up the parcels which had arrived during the week. Running stuff of course as I needed to stock up on my recovery shakes and also get some new water bottles.
I’ll be interested to see if these Clean Bottles really do live up to their promise of not getting mouldy as keeping bottles clean is an ongoing struggle – I actually sterilise them regularly with Milton like you would a baby’s bottle, but the mould always finds a way!
Sunday morning inevitably saw me heading out for my long run. I had a route in mind which would be just over 16 miles from our flat, but decided at the last minute that I wanted to start at the gym instead so I would have access to the pool and jacuzzi afterwards. Like a total twit, I didn’t really consider the difference this would make to the length of my route until I set out and realised that it would most certainly be “16 and a bit”! Undaunted, I carried on as I was keen to follow a favourite route which I had not been on since 2012. It’s really hilly (well, all routes around here are!) with some beautiful scenery and, of course, is great preparation for any marathon. There was a strong headwind but, finally, I actually got a dry day! I was so sure before setting out that the rain would stay off that I took a gamble and left my waterproof jacket at home so I’m really pleased that gamble paid off. I even had my sunglasses with me as it was quite bright and I didn’t want to be screwing up my eyes and squinting for over two hours!
Overall I had a great run. Even with the hills and strong wind I still nailed my marathon pace which is a really positive sign and I kept that pace up right to the end – including the “bonus mile” I had to run to get back to the gym (yes, my “16 and a bit” turned out to be 17!) and even managed to sneak another half marathon record along the way! I kept my mind occupied with some calculations and assuming the wheels don’t fall off in the last 10k (and every marathon runner knows that’s where our goals are really won or lost) things are looking good for my coveted PB this year. Originally I thought that my best shot at a good time this year would be in Edinburgh as I will be feeling much more relaxed having already completed one marathon a few weeks beforehand, but lately I’ve been tending to focus a bit more on Paris and the thought that if I achieve my goal there, I can take it easier round the other two marathons. That said, anything can happen on the day, so only time will tell. As long as I finish knowing I’ve done my best on the day, I’ll be happy. Let’s just hope I don’t manage to add on any “bonus miles” there!
Have you ever added some unplanned “bonus miles” to a run?
What are your February training plans?