The Road to Paris – Week 6

Not only was this week 6 of my marathon training, it was also week 6 of the Jantastic challenge, the mid-point of the whole thing. The last 6 weeks have flown by really quickly and it’s scary exciting to think that by the time Jantastic finishes I will be tapering for Paris!

This was also an odd week as it started with another parents’ evening, but finished with a long weekend for our half-term break. This meant that although I had to make an adjustment to my routine at the beginning of the week, I was then able to relax and recharge over the weekend, whilst still completing all of my training.

To account for all this, the basis of my plan for the week was:

Monday – rest (parents’ evening)
Tuesday – 6 miles hilly
Wednesday – conditioning
Thursday – cadence drills
Friday – Metafit
Saturday – Parkrun
Sunday – 16 miles

At first I wasn’t too bothered by missing my swim on Monday, after all I would have a day with no activity at all as my rest day which was bound to be good, but as it turned out I really noticed the difference when it came to my run on Tuesday. The combined forces of not having my swim (active rest/leg recovery), missing my last sports massage due to my therapist having to cancel at the last minute with a family emergency, and some hard running the week before (including a massive Parkrun PB) meant that my legs were beginning to feel a bit weary. My first mile was definitely slower than of late and although I picked up the pace later, I did make a conscious decision to back off the pace a little overall. Not quite a recovery run, but still a chance for my legs to ease off and I did feel much better by the time I got home.

I also received my medal for the previous Tuesday’s virtual race, so that made me very happy. I’m really enjoying these virtual races as it gives me an extra incentive to run well in training and then I have the joy of getting a medal in the post! And the proceeds go to a different charity each month too – what’s not to like?

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My recovery was further helped by my conditioning session on Wednesday. I was able to get down to the studio and Steve had me working through the squat-based exercises I have been doing each week, but with a real focus on extending the range of movement and powering up from the squatted position. He also made one or two other adjustments to make these exercises harder and make me work a bit more. Although I find these quite tough, I know they are making a difference and the focus on range of movement also gives me a bonus stretch so any tightness/weariness is eased away a bit more.

By Thursday, the weariness had definitely cleared, and a good thing too since I had reached the peak number of drills for my current cadence (20 reps) and wanted to be able to work hard through these. Even better, this was the first day of my long weekend and the sun was shining so I was able to complete my workout in daylight. I found this really made a difference to my mindset compared to completing them in the dark when my choice of running location is a bit more limited, and the reps seemed to be over in no time. The evenings are getting lighter though, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to get some daylight for all my evening runs.

After my session I headed to the pool for a few lengths since I missed out on Monday. It was nice to be in the water (I never expected to be saying that!) and overall I felt like I swam reasonably well. There’s a little more consistency now so things are definitely heading in the right direction.

On Thursday evening I was helping Steve with his running club again, but this time with the Go Faster group rather than the Zero to 5k group. This one is after Zero to 5k so it will be nice not to have such a rush on a Thursday evening now! This group is focusing on drills to help them improve their performance so the first step was to time them over a set distance to then compare this to how they perform over the same route at the end of the block. My job was to head out to the turning point to keep everyone right and offer encouragement, the only problem was I didn’t have much of a head start so I had to run quite hard to make sure I got there ahead of the first runner – not easy after a tough workout that morning, but I made it (just!).

I slept very well on Thursday night after all that and felt refreshed on Friday. Metafit wasn’t until 6pm so I had the day to myself. I find some Metafit workouts a little less challenging than others, but this was one of the tougher ones for the legs and I think the new one that we’ll be doing next week will also be rather “character building”. Eek!

Saturday saw me up bright and early ready for Parkrun. While my Facebook feed was full of photos of others having decadent breakfasts to start Valentine’s Day, Steve had been out for an early run before work and I had a date with 193 other parkrunners!

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I’m trying to ignore the random capital “C” (and lack of apostrophe) here since I rather like the sentiment!

I had no expectations of a fast time as my legs were certainly not as fresh as last week and the temperature was much milder so the grass section was guaranteed to be much softer (and therefore much more energy-sapping). Still, I gave it my best shot and was only about 20 seconds slower than my PB time from last week so I’m more than happy with that. I don’t think I could have run any harder on the day and the squelchy, muddy grass section was certainly harder to run across than the hard, frozen surface it has been up until now.

After Parkrun I had to rush off as I had a sports massage booked and it was great to have some work done on those weary legs!

We did, of course, mark Valentine’s Day with a little sweet treat in the afternoon:

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White chocolate and strawberry scone and a dark mocha. Yum!

And had a nice dinner at home later on:

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Pea & mint scallops

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Steak and peppercorn sauce with chunky chips

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Salted caramel profiteroles

It was all absolutely delicious, but for the second time in this training cycle I found myself a bit sluggish on my long run the next day. And what do both of these runs have in common? They were both fuelled with a steak dinner the night before. I’d say that’s the beginning of a pattern and clearly steak/chips is not the best running fuel for me. Now that I’ve reached the longer distances on my Sunday runs I need to make sure I get my fuel right so I can run strongly the next day. I do know what works best for me, but the lure of steak was just too much this time!

Looking at my stats, I still had a decent run. My average pace overall was spot on for my target marathon pace, and that’s despite the “treat” of what I’m calling the “Three Peaks Challenge” (i.e. a run taking in three of the steepest hills I know around here!). I had to work a bit hard to hit my pace, but I did it and will be interested to compare my performance next week when I have the same distance to run and will make sure my preparation is a bit better.

Run done (and Jantastic target met!), Steve had a treat in store for me in the afternoon – a delicious afternoon tea. We were booked into a local patisserie/coffee lounge where all the baked goods are freshly made on the premises. A bit decadent, but totally worth it and a lovely end to my long weekend. I even managed to get a photo before we demolished it all!

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16 miles beforehand meant this lot vanished pretty quickly!

My other news this week relates to race entries. First up, the Paris Breakfast Run finally opened for entries and after a fantastic experience last year, we were quick to make sure we signed up. Now the final piece of the puzzle is in place for our Paris weekend. Secondly, we have both signed up to the Tayside Challenge the week before the Etape Caledonia. This 46 miles bike ride will give us a chance to have a warm up for the Etape over similar terrain as well as providing a chance to test out our fuelling strategies and kit for the big day. Now all I need to do is start working some cycling into my plan so I’ve put my bike in for a service to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. I’m hoping that now the weather seems to be getting a bit better I’ll be able to get out on my bike again.

Now I’m all ready to hit the second half of Jantastic and keep on working towards my goals.

How is your training going?
Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?

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6 thoughts on “The Road to Paris – Week 6

  1. Sounds like you had a great week. Finding out what fuels your body well for a run can take some time. I ran with a new to me gel last week at the Cedar 12k and near the end of my race it started to make my stomach upset. I told Warren that it wouldn’t be one I would have again, especially for my marathon. Learning now is the best time instead of race day.

    Sweet of Steve to arrange the yummy surprise for you.

    We had Valentine’s Day dinner at our house and it was nice. We enjoy a steak dinner and some PB and chocolate…oh and some wine. 🙂

    Like

  2. Oh my gosh your blog has made me incredibly hungry! Also felt a big urge to say well done on the 16miler! I’d need all that food as well if I’d done what you have 🙂 Lovely to have had something nice after your run…So nice to be treated isn’t it?!

    Liked by 1 person

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