I was thinking of giving this blog the title ‘a good time for an injury’ but then I thought that would be a little over-dramatic (something I very rarely am!). Two weeks ago, I developed the strange ‘injury’ called Infective Olecranon Bursitis. Basically, a very painful elbow injury. Hardly one that would seriously damage my training plan but still one that made me feel less than 100% and just when I thought it might get in the way of my running… the snow came to my rescue and I couldn’t run anyway. I missed my tempo run in week 11, but miraculously the snow, and the injury, had disappeared just in time for the long run on the Sunday, it felt like the running gods were smiling on me, especially when we saw how many people were far more hampered by the snow, I felt blessed. This last week I have started a new job which has meant long days of standing and walking around, this has meant running on tired legs, but as this is week 12 of a 16-week plan, I wouldn’t have expected anything else.
On the whole then I have to say I am happy with how the last two weeks have gone, the excitement is building. I sometimes wonder what non-runners (and indeed some runners too) would make of some of mine and Jenny’s conversations recently as we go over and over talking about race strategy and pace. I almost bore myself at times! (But not really…) This is all part of the thrill of it for me, the fact that this training plan is all working towards one day, one morning, hopefully just 3 and a half hours when everything has to be aligned, everything has to go to plan…
But what plan? This changes and evolves as each week passes. And what is so exciting, and a little scary, is that all the best laid plans can fall flat on their face on the day. Of course, we never really get a rehearsal, my plan gives me 2 twenty mile training runs; a lot of plans do, some plans throw in a 22 mile run, rarely any further. So there is a 6.2 mile ‘unknown’; (notwithstanding the other 12 marathons I’ve run) where we can only hope things will go ‘to plan’. It is in these six miles that my worst marathons have all come into trouble. Obvious I know, when else would they?! You could say that my troubles’ seeds were sown in the first six miles of a few of my races, and I am determined to be disciplined enough this time to avoid repeating that. I am going to have a strict plan. In fact for Manchester I think I have finally settled on the idea that I will find the sub 3.30 pacer and stick to them like glue for as long as possible. In the past I have found this frustrating as I have felt they go too slow at the beginning and I have lacked patience, gone off ahead, only to be reeled in and passed in the dreaded last 6 miles. I really don’t want that to happen again this time.
I won’t bore you with all the stats of my 5 runs from these weeks, just to say there are 3 smiley faces and two sad faces on the plan.
One interesting observation, something I think we should always remind ourselves of before we beat ourselves up after a bad run; it is often very little to do with ability or form and much more to do with conditions and preparation. My tempo run this week was 8 miles, target pace 7.40. I had no choice but to run it at the end of a hard day at work on my feet for 8 hours. It was dark, it was raining and cold, I had to run where there were street lights, so I found myself crossing roads and unsure of my footing at times. My legs were so heavy. It was all I could do to slog away at an average pace of 8.23. I was not happy.
Today was my long run, 15 miles, target pace 8.40. I had a good night’s sleep last night, good fuelling this morning, a bright sunny day, starting my run around 11am, no rain, no roads, good music on my iPod. A good mood and a desire to just go for it. My first mile was 7.44, the next one was faster, I decided at that moment to aim at ‘Marathon pace’ of sub 8 min miles. There were moments when I felt so good, like everything was falling into place. Yes there were some tough miles too but I finished with an average pace of 7.54. And although I’m not sure if I could have kept that up for another11 miles, well, it feels tantalisingly close…
Happy training everyone, not long now!
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