Do the Monster Mash!

For anyone training for an early spring marathon (Paris, London, Brighton, etc) allow me to welcome you to The Monster Month. That’s right, March (and the last long training runs that come with it) is now upon us. These are the final few exhausting weeks before the taper towards The Big Day when most training plans will have marathoners completing long runs of 18-22 miles and, if we’re lucky, the weather may start to show signs of improvement, even here in Scotland!

Not only is March the start of the Monster Month, it’s also the start of the Around the World Running Blog Relay (ATWRBR2014) set up by Kyla over at the Motivation blog so each week I’ll be submitting my mileage to be added to the count. I’m really excited to see just how far we manage to run collectively. You can still sign up to be part of it by heading over to the blog and following the links.

Having started March with a 20 mile run last Sunday, I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel throughout this week. So far I have recovered well, but as the weeks go on and the miles creep up, the weariness inevitably begins to set in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving my running, but at the same time I’ll be pleased to start my taper and give my legs a chance to recover and feel fresh ahead of Paris.

During March, my training will focus on my longest runs, some shorter midweek runs for time on my feet, at least one Metafit class per week and the beginning of my taper during which the frequency of my workouts will remain the same, but the intensity/distance will drop down.

To begin the month, this week’s training schedule was:

Monday – 20 min recovery jog, stretch, sauna
Tuesday – 6 miles easy
Wednesday – Metafit
Thursday – coaching running club
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – 40 mins easy
Sunday – 16 miles (cutback week)

As it turned out, my legs didn’t feel too bad at the start of the week. I certainly knew I had run a fair distance, but there was no sign of any adverse tightness or niggles. Oddly enough, my recovery jog on Monday actually felt a bit easier than the same session the previous week, even though I had run further – no idea why that would be other than perhaps the effects of whatever bug I had fought off the week before. It was also nice to spend some time unwinding in the jacuzzi and sauna after a hard day at work.

Monday also brought with it the rather disappointing news that the organisers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Edinburgh half marathon have decided to cancel the event, a decision which leaves in its wake a multitude of disgruntled runners. For me, it is merely a mild irritation, but for many others it is a major inconvenience as they have booked flights and accommodation to plan a trip around a race that now does not exist. Everyone will be refunded their race entry fee, but for those who have shelled out a lot of money, I can understand their frustration and feelings of being let down. I mention it now because it was part of my race/fundraising plan for the year and I want to be open about the fact that this has now changed. I will now need to have a bit of a rethink and am currently considering other races to replace it with on my calendar, not least because I was hoping to pick up a half marathon PB at that one!

Coming back to my current training, the rest of the week was actually fairly packed and demanding, starting with persuading my legs into a 6 mile easy run on Tuesday evening. Despite my recovery run on Monday, my legs were still weary from the 20 mile Sunday run so I was glad I could keep the pace easy. To be honest, I’m not sure I would have managed a faster run at that point! Still, as the run went on my legs felt better and better so I found myself unconsciously picking up the pace in the second half.

My legs were still weary on Wednesday when I went to Metafit, although I wasn’t really aware of this until it was time for burpees and squat thrusts in the workout. My calves and lower legs were doing ok, but the muscles above my knees were protesting and doing their absolute best to resemble jelly. Not the most useful for those particular exercises! Since it was midweek, I was already starting to think about my weekend runs and wondering how my legs were going to fare.

Thursday brought with it the penultimate session for the current running group aka The Hill Sprints Week. Rather than repeat exactly the same session the group had completed as part of their Zero to 5k training, we had them run to a hill a bit further away which required a little uphill running first. The hill we used also has a bit of a sting in the tail as it starts on a quite gradual incline but gets steeper in direct proportion to the legs getting wearier. It was a great session for boosting lung power and leg strength and was certainly character building! Judging by how some of the group looked afterwards, they definitely worked hard and should now find culminating the programme with their 10k run next week much easier. Needless to say, the downhill run back to finish the session was very welcome!

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I’ve really enjoyed working with this group over the last couple of months and it has been wonderful to see them progress from not really running at all to being ready to complete 10k. It’s fantastic and inspirational progress. I’m really glad to have met them, but a feel a little sad that our time working together is coming to an end.

The advantage for me in that Thursday session was that I didn’t have to do too much running, so my legs got a bit of a break. Still, in Friday’s Metafit class I was still noticing a bit of a protest from my legs over the burpees and squat thrusts! Fortunately, my easy run on Saturday morning got them feeling much better and I awoke on Sunday feeling fresher and ready to tackle my long run.

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This week being a cutback week meant that I “only” had to run 16 miles. Not only that, but although the sky was overcast there was no rain forecast for the morning (unlike Saturday when I got wet again!) so I thought I would head out for a loop around one of my favourite country roads for the first half of my run – without my waterproof! The first 3 miles or so of this route are uphill, but after that comes a brilliant section of undulating road which I’ve heard some runners refer to as “the roller coaster”. I love running this particular route but actually haven’t done it in ages. I feel a real sense of freedom as I hurtle down the hills, tempered only by a lung-busting hill climb towards the finish which is sure to induce that jelly-legged feeling!

I finished the run with my staple route out to Scone. Like a few weeks ago, I managed to overshoot my 16 miles, but at least this time it was only by 0.2 of a mile rather than a full “bonus mile”!  As I ran, I thought about how our perspective on things can change. A few weeks ago, as the mileage was increasing, 16 miles sounded like a long way (which it is) and presented a degree of challenge. Having now completed two 18 mile runs and a 20 mile run, 16 suddenly seemed refreshingly “short” (and, dare I say, reasonably easy!) in comparison. 16 miles is also below the 17/18 miles threshold which leads my brain to pack up for the afternoon leaving me completely unable to think,  so I had the energy and brainpower to deal with a few domestic tasks before heading out for my Sunday afternoon coffee. Of course I am still following my established recovery plan of stretching, compression and hot bath – I’ve come too far to mess things up by missing one of these crucial steps now!

The benefit of this cutback week is that although I will still have my usual training through the coming week, by next Sunday my legs should feel much fresher ahead of my final 20 mile long run before the taper.

That 16 mile run will not be included in the ATWRBR2014 total until next week, however my first mileage submission for Saturday 1st – Saturday 8th March was 36.2 miles. In total I’ve already surpassed 50 miles for the first 9 days of March – not a bad start to the month and another big mileage week to come. Bring it on!

What’s the furthest you’ve ever run?
How is your March training going so far?

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17 thoughts on “Do the Monster Mash!

  1. The furthest I’ve ever run is 13.1mile at Forfar. Next month will be my furthest – 15mile at Balmoral. I’m going to concentrate on half-marathon distance & under for the rest of the year. I I would like you to do marathon distance offroad trail races at some point, though I’ve a lot of work still to do physically I’ve lost 2stone in 9months, but I still need to lose at least another 1stone and continue to tone up and improve my fitness which will make running easier – so this year my goal is continue with physical improvement and progress from being comfortable at 10k (which I am now) – to being comfortable & confident at half-marathon distance.

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    • You’re doing really well Ian and I’m quite sure you will manage your goal. Becoming strong and comfortable at a distance before moving on is definitely a good idea to develop a solid base to build on. Keep doing what you’re doing!

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  2. My furthest run is only 12K, so nothing compared to those of you preparing for a marathon! I’m training for the Brighton Marathon 10K (my second 10K race) but hopefully this time next year I’ll be training for the marathon itself. As for Paris, what a way to see the city! I can’t wait to read your race report afterwards. 🙂

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    • I’ve heard good things about Brighton so I’m sure that will be a great event. I’ll DEFINITELY be writing plenty about Paris – it’s my favourite city so I’m starting to get really excited now it’s getting closer!

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  3. Sounds like a good, solid week and some good distance for the Around the World Relay! I’m disappointed that RnR Edinburgh has been cancelled, fortunately I hadn’t booked accommodation. But it will be a miss from my calendar: I might try to do RnR Liverpool instead…

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    • It’s amazing how the distances mount up in marathon training, and how something that seems really daunting as the miles increase, is so much easier once they are decreasing again!
      I find 15 miles quite a nice distance – long enough to be a challenge but not so long that it takes up too much of the day. Ideally I like to try and run 15 miles in training for a half marathon to make the half seem easier!

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  4. The furthest I’ve ever run is my half marathon. I really like that race distance in general, same with 10 mile races. March equals the start of my EMF half training, so my distance Around the World relay distance will drop from 17 miles last week.

    You should enter the EMF half instead, you’ll be there anyway!

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    • Haha my husband may be mental enough to run the half followed immediately by the full marathon, but I know my limits lol!
      10 miles is a good race distance too – I sometimes get a bit fed up between miles 11 and 12 of a half but 10 is over before that.

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  5. The furthest I’ve run so far is 20 miles and it was a bit of a challenge to try and teach Metafit straight after! March is going well and it’s going to be all about fitting shorter runs in regularly as much as the long runs so I can improve my speed for the marathon 🙂

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  6. Sounds like your training is going super well! I’ve got the Rome marathon next weekend, so I’m deep into my taper now (especially considering that I raced a half marathon only two days ago! It’s so NOT the way to taper…!). Unfortunately, this means that I did all my super long runs before ATWRBR started, but I’ll still contribute what I can. =) Incidentally, I’ve been thinking about heading to Scone for a run at some point as well – if you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!

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    • Rome sounds like it will be brilliant and I hope it goes well for you.
      There are plenty of nice running opportunities around Scone both on and off road. I like running out towards the Palace/Racecourse then heading uphill on the road through Scone Woods towards a more residential area. There are also some nice runs around the Murrayshall area as well as in and around a place called The Den which are all fairly staple routes for runners around here.

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      • Brilliant, thank you! I’ll definitely make sure I’ll have a look at these places. I was there a few years ago with my horse at an equestrian event, and remember that I thought the area was really lovely. It’s only about a 50 minute drive from here, so it’ll be an easy trip one of these Sunday mornings. I’m so looking forward to my trip to Rome next weekend, and only hope it won’t be too hot to run comfortably. I’ll post about it shortly because bizarrely, I’m planning a slow marathon in Rome… 😉

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