A Week in Review (21 Feb – 26 Feb 2012)

A solid week in the bag. Let’s have some more!!

7 days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. This is a summary of my running week. Ups and downs. Aches and pains. Feelings and emotions.

Distance: 37.48 miles | Time on my feet: 5:43:06 | Races: 0 | PBs: 0

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

After my performance at Sleaford, this week was partially about recovery and partially about preparation for the long run – the last time I see a sub-20mile run on a weekend for over a month.

Main points of note:

Tuesday

8.73 miles, 1:16:19 (08:44/mile)

Given the work that went into Sunday’s race, Monday went without any noticeable ache or pain which was something of a novelty. At the risk of going on about them, those £30 socks have really turned out to be something of a bargain (that’s it, I promise. I’m not on commission!). I was, however, to develop an unusual niggle on Tuesday, mind, as the lower-outside of my left calf felt as though a small patch of muscle was about to either spasm or give up altogether, and I had a few hours of minor worry going into the run on Tuesday evening that an injury was developing. Thankfully, the run went OK, and whilst it was still present it didn’t hurt when I ran (it was more when I circled my foot when resting) and it had passed by Thursday only to be replaced by something else…

The run itself was a stride-session; the fast sections being relatively comfortable (I still can’t believe I can get down to 06:something pace. I don’t know what happened on the first mile, but I don’t remember doing 03:34!!)

Split Avg Pace Best Pace
1 10:49 03:34
2 09:25 08:19
3 09:02 07:35
4 08:28 07:13
5 08:44 07:42
6 08:10 07:15
7 07:51 06:37
8 07:22 06:07
9 08:49 07:17
 Summary 08:44 03:34

Thursday

10.17 miles, 1:28:28 (08:42/mile)

Another solid run on Thursday, and chance for me to test my marathon pace.

Halfway into Thursday’s run I left the rest of the group who wanted to do 6.5 miles and turned off so I could get my scheduled 10 miles in. A few hundred yards later, it felt as though an egg-sized ‘lump’ had suddenly appeared  on my left thigh, again on the outside but towards the top and which felt as though I’d been punched. I carried on running on it for another 2 miles but it gradually got worse to the point I was convinced something was going to go TWANG! I had no choice but to stop for a few seconds and try to stretch it out and while this helped it came back again a mile later. It did ease towards the end of the run and I sighed a breath of relief when the next day it was as if it had never existed. Definitely weird goings on with my left side!

Split Avg Pace Best Pace
1 09:24 08:19
2 08:53 07:30
3 08:34 07:44
4 08:13 07:09
5 08:37 07:39
6 09:02 06:23
7 08:17 07:31
8 08:31 07:44
9 08:52 08:02
10 08:32 07:47
11 08:56 08:06
 Summary 08:42

06:23

Friday

I had my second deep-massage booked for Friday and was full of hope that another session would help to loosen me up even more in readiness for Sunday’s planned 18-miler. Since a lot of the investigation work had been done the first time, we were able to get straight down to business and moments later I was in absolute agony as my masseuse quickly found a tight section of muscle in my upper back and proceeded to try and put her thumbs right through it and into my lungs. For the next 50 minutes she worked her way down, poking and prodding and successfully finding painful spot after painful spot and dealing with each of them in the same way. By the end of the session I was absolutely shattered (but not as much as she was – she earned her money that night!) but walked away feeling 3stone lighter – and for the first time I didn’t have my sciatica pain in the left buttock! Another way of spending £30 that I can’t recommend highly enough!

And then there was Sunday’s run. A planned 18-miler marking the first of several serious distance runs to come. How was it going to go with my freshly-massaged, looser legs? Would the blisters be bearable…?

Sunday

18.57 miles, 2:54:24 (09:23/mile)

Respect for the mileage and hills that lay in front of us meant pace management was the order of the day as we headed out in the glorious morning sunshine and into the Lincolnshire Wolds. Running in the hills really does add an extra dimension to the training (as if it’s not hard enough!). Every time we do this route, though, the hills seem a little less steep, a little less daunting. As the miles came and went I was surprised, however, to look at my watch and see that we were approaching the 11 mile mark and that my body was hardly reflecting it. My God, could it be the training’s working?! Given how I felt a few weeks ago nearing the end of a 15 miler this was a real bonus. This was also around the time I noticed my unusually pain-free feet. I think psychologically, knowing that I can do 11 miles and feel that way really helps with dealing with the miles ahead. The rest of the run felt solid and consistent and although I did inevitably start to tire and tighten up towards the end I know I could’ve put another couple of miles in if I needed to, which gives me confidence for next weekend’s run and the first of the 20-milers.

I tried a slightly different strategy this week with my drinks and energy gels. I have been taking them both with me for a while now on the long runs, but this time, after hearing how another runner at the club approaches it, I took my first gel after 6 miles and another one about every 3 miles after that. I have a running belt which has two small ‘flasks’, each contains 2 x gel sachets. I also was more mindful of how often I drank – a couple of mouthfuls every mile or so. It might be too early to tell but maybe part of why I ended the run as well as I did was down to  my new regime. Something to repeat again next week, that’s for sure.

—-

One thing I did consciously do this week is knock out the 2 x 5-mile ‘recovery’ runs. The first, on Wednesday, as a result of my ankle pain on Tuesday and the second, on Saturday, as a result of my massage the night before. On balance, I don’t think missing these two runs out did me any harm whatsoever, although my weekly total is clearly 10 miles down. My other runs have been solid and comfortable, which I think is more important.

So as the week draws to a close, how do I feel?

Hamstrings. Although they ache today (not suprisingly maybe) they are MUCH better than they have been. As the miles pass, I still need to pay them attention through proper post-race stretching, but compared to how they were a fortnight ago I’m very happy.

Feet. For the first time ever, I finished Sunday’s long run with a blister-free left foot. My right foot wasn’t too bad either, but given that the bulk of the attention with my massage was on my left side I’m convinced now that it’s a worthy investment. In fact I’ve booked in again – once in a month’s time and another the week before my race as I taper down. I think this is further evidence that my blisters are being caused by a bio-mechanical imbalance caused by tightness. And the good news is it can be fixed! Fantastic!

My legs feel stronger than ever and I don’t think I’ve ever been as fit or as fast as I am right now. Long may it last!

Psychological

Renewed confidence. Up until this week, doubt had started to take root, but the result at Sleaford (conditions taken into account) and my running this week has given me a real boost. Finishing the 18 miler this week feeling as good as I did was a great sign and I’m now starting to believe that this is well within my grasp.

Motivation and Focus. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was starting to wonder what my motivation actually was for running this marathon and so far I’ve not found what I would consider to be a strong enough driver to hang my hat on. Rather than keep looking, I’m happy to know that whatever it is it’s working – I’m looking forward to my training sessions and don’t find it necessary at all to motivate myself to do it. Instead, I am focussing on the weeks and runs ahead. The weeks are flying by – weekends punctuate them with seemingly ever-increasing frequency – and with less than 7 of them left my energy is more usefully spent concentrating on the task at hand than looking for something I don’t need to find.

 

Schedule vs. Actual

Schedule Actual
Monday Rest Rest
Tuesday 7 miles with strides 8.73 miles (peak stride pace 06:07/mile)
Wednesday 5 miles recovery Rest
Thursday 10 miles 10.17 miles
Friday Rest Rest
Saturday 18 miles 18.57
Sunday 5 miles recovery Rest
TOTAL 45 miles 37.48 miles


I can’t wait for another week like this one!

48 days, 15 hours and 16minutes to go…

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