Little did I know before committing to a summer marathon that we’d end up with heatwave conditions right at the point when my training mileage was at its peak.
I don’t actually mind running in the heat, but distances up to 20 miles have been pretty draining to say the least and I’ve definitely felt it in my ankles when running off-road with the ground being so rock hard.
Still, I can’t deny it’s been good practice given that race day itself could be equally scorching – plus my runner’s tan (head, neck and forearms!) is coming along very nicely.
Since my last update I’ve ticked off the final two long runs of 19 and 20 miles respectively and my highest weekly mileage of the programme, which was just over 38 miles. The 19 miler was solid and well-paced up until about 16 miles, then I started to fade quite rapidly and had to resort to run-walk for a bit.
The heat wasn’t helping and by this point I was out of water. But I got it back for the final mile and finished well. Sore feet and a small blister confirmed what I already suspected – this particular pair of trainers were shot, having clocked up 500 training and race miles.
They’ll still be OK for the odd shorter run, but there isn’t enough support left in the soles for distance work. No matter, I had a replacement pair waiting at home – same make and model, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17s.
I’ve had to give up on the 18s I bought for Manchester as the new design simply doesn’t suit my feet. Brooks made them lighter with thinner lining and I can only assume that’s what is causing them to rub and give me blisters. Perhaps I could go down half a size, but that’s an expensive gamble and I know the 15s, 16s and 17s suit me really well. I’ll look out for any old stock that’s on sale and keep a few in reserve.
Anyway, onto the next week and my first concern wasn’t footwear, it was wear and tear on me. Yes, that pesky thigh strain was rearing its ugly head again. I contemplated dropping the 20 mile run and resting for a few days, but in the end things improved with a little stretching, icing and the use of a compression sleeve.
I’m glad I did complete the 20 mile run in the end as I did a lot of good for my confidence. No fade on this run, despite throwing in a few tricky hills in the final third. Perfect pacing too, with a gentle start followed by consistent nine minute miles most of the way and a finishing time of just under 3hrs 4m.
If I can replicate that performance on race day, it would put me right where I want to be. Said race is on 5 August, the Forest of Dean trail marathon. It will be my sixth marathon – one of three this year – and my first off-roader.
Manchester back in April was about recovery, Snowdonia in October will be about finishing and enjoying a shared experience with my fellow Buzzers. This one is about having another crack at a PB. Now it’s time to taper, keeping the miles ticking over and continuing the twice weekly core and weights sessions.
I know I’m in decent shape, my recent run of Parkrun and 10k PBs proved that. I only hope I can translate everything into a strong marathon performance in three weeks’ time.
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