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!
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.
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?