Back to the long run again after a couple of weeks off for the Bath Half. I wanted to watch the finals of the ski slopestyle which meant getting up early in order to be out and back before they started. I get up a lot earlier at the weekend to go running than I do the rest of the week.
I was a little bit worried I’d forgotten how to run slowly and how to cope mentally with being out on my feet for so long and my heart rate monitor was playing up for the first ten minutes or so, it seems to take a while to catch up to my actual heart rate at which point I am pushing too hard and have to slow down again.
I passed one of my club mates on my way out, and managed to come back through a race on my return journey. I was a little worried about hitting marathon pace (and for so long) since it had been a while since I’d last run it, but it started off feeling pretty easy (particularly compared to half marathon pace), but last week’s half came back to bite me a little towards the end. I didn’t drop out of my desired pace zone, but the quads were making their presence known, along with my feet. I’m looking forward to having a day’s rest tomorrow (with stretching).
This week’s long run session was an exact replica of the previous week’s, 90 minutes easy followed by 45 minutes of marathon pace, finishing off with 15 minutes of easy cooldown pace.
Last week this session was the toughest I had done and I wasn’t looking forward to it again this week. I was underslept, a little dehydrated, and had spent the previous day mostly on my feet and had been eating at weird times. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hit marathon pace when the time came to it, especially after the struggle I had had the previous week. But I laced up my trainers and zipped up my woman suit and went out and did it.
It felt good, surprisingly good. I was able to hit marathon pace without a problem and instead of getting ‘slow’ warnings for my pace I was getting ‘fast’ warnings instead. I held the pace (a little bit faster than target pace) without it feeling like a constant struggle unlike the previous week. I could see how I would be able to hold the pace for longer (but still not three and a half hours). When I dropped back down to the slower pace for cooldown, my body didn’t feel like it was falling apart. Hopefully this is a sign that all of the training is working, with 8 weeks to go now.
Looking at the data compared to the previous week I was able to go faster (and therefore further) in the easy section, but with a lower average heart rate; I went faster (and further) in the marathon pace section, again with a lower average heart rate; and went faster (and further) in the cooldown, also with a lower average heart rate. Part of it may be that I was mentally prepared for the effort, part of it may be that my body was more prepared for it having had a go the previous week. Either way, I’ll take it.
Up until now the training sessions have all been pretty manageable. I won’t say easy or particularly comfortable, but I’ve got them done and it’s been OK. We’re now 63 days away from London and things are getting serious. My schedule has been brought forward slightly (my own fault for saying that last week’s two and a half hour run wasn’t too bad) and that meant marathon pace in a long run, after tiring my legs out a bit.
The session was 90 minutes of easy pace (which at my heart rate zones comes out to be around 6:00 min/km aka 10:00 min/mile pace), then picking it up to 45 minutes of marathon pace (4:55 min/km aka 7:55 min/mile pace), before cooling down with 15 minutes back at easy pace.
The first 90 minutes was fine, it’s still tricky running that slowly and I was getting lots of alerts of my heart rate going over the zone limit and having to slow it down again. The initial pick-up to marathon pace also went surprisingly well, actually going faster than scheduled to start with, but then the warnings started coming in that I was going too slowly and I had to keep pushing to get back on pace. From then on it was a constant battle to stay on pace. I just about managed to get on board a couple of gels and some water whilst maintaining the pace (and crossed a couple of roads), but it was tough and there was a lot of clock watching and counting down. As soon as the 45 minutes was over and I dropped the pace everything that had been hinting about hurting started to say hello. Even running slower than I had at the start, my heart rate refused to drop back into the required zone (and any slower I would have been walking). How I’m going to manage 3 hours 30 of that pace I can’t see right now, but I’m focusing on the fact that I did manage to complete the session as set. I hit the pace I wanted and managed to maintain it for the full duration, even if I was hanging on there towards the end.
Feet up for the rest of the day now (after a bath that the kittens were very curious about). The watch gave up on recording my recovery time in hours and advised me I needed 3 and a half days off, but it’s 45 minutes recovery run tomorrow, let’s hope the epsom salts do the job.
The distance of the long run is slowly edging up, after 2 hours 15 last week it was 2 hours 30 this week (to be repeated again next week). It was split into 70 minutes easy (z2), 70 minutes steady (z3), 10 minutes easy (z2). I judged the turnaround point better this time, though went out even further along the railway path, properly into the countryside.
I was hoping to practise in some of my marathon gear to check how it held up over the longer distance as there aren’t that many long runs left to go now, but it was far too cold for the shorts I intend to wear, so I made do with practising fuelling and reviewing my marathon playlist (which is mostly cheesy pop with some mash-up and rock thrown in). I managed to get through 4 gels (one after 40 minutes, then one every 30, which felt about right), and even took on some water (which meant the belt had to come out as I’m not running with a bottle).
Today’s solo Sunday long run saw me heading out on the railway path once more (and there will be many more miles spent on it over the next couple of months). I started off counting the other runners and was up to 8 women and 15 men before encountering Fleur in a group too large to count everyone in time, just before Warmley.
This was the furthest I had been out on the railway path to date, and I slightly miscalculated when to turn and head back, particularly when I found out I was turning back into a headwind. This meant I ended up finishing a little bit further from home than intended (after a bit of a faff with my watch when I accidentally told it I’d finished when I hadn’t). I uploaded my run while walking back then did a bonus jog to Tesco for some milk for my protein recovery drink (which was much needed, along with the stretching) and to not freeze to death.
Sunday is still long run day, but my long run was set at ’60-90 mins easy’ today so I was able to meet up with friends and go out on the Sunday social run from Ashton Court. Both groups (10k+ and 10 miles) headed out together before I split off with one other in the 10k+ group.
We managed 13km in an hour and 26 minutes in the rain along some lovely undulating off-road tracks. We even slotted in the second half of Ashton Court parkrun (which neither of us had run the previous day).
Sunday is still long run day, but with a progression run on the schedule and lots of friends off at the Doynton Hard Half Marathon, it was a solo rather than a social run. Out onto the railway path (so not really undulating or off-road, sorry coach but the off-road trails I won’t get lost on are narrow and muddy at the moment) and out past Warmley this time. The initial 25 minutes were still awkward at such a low heart rate/pace and it was good to be able to stretch the legs out as I went into Warmley and moved into the ‘steady’ part of the run.
I was trying out my High5 nutrition belt, which allowed me to carry my phone as well as some gels, so paused a couple of times to take some photos (and took two gels, one every 45 minutes). As I turned around to come back home I was taking a photo when a fox trotted out across the path and over the rail tracks.
I was so close to half marathon distance at the end that I sped up a smidge and just went over my 2 hour limit in order to register it (since I’d gone so far). This is much more like it in terms of long run distance and I think all of my future long runs are going to have to be done solo without the pauses you get on a social run. I’ll still see the gang at parkrun on a Saturday (for as long as the schedule allows).
Sunday is still long run day and week 5 was brought to a close by taking in the new link road before it opens to vehicles tomorrow. This only took the very first part of the run though and the remainder was the more traditional off-road and muddy fare. No cows today, but three very interested horses at one point when we cut through their field (it was marked as a footpath, we think).
I had to do a smidge extra when we got back to Ashton Court, just to get up to the allotted 2 hours, but just an extra lap of the house and a bit of the car park. My longest run since before training officially started (when I did an off-road over 13-miler the day before meeting up with everyone and starting the BigMarathonChallenge).
Sunday is long run day and this week it was back to Ashton Court for the usual Sunday Social. I had intended to go out with the 10 mile group, but after we got up Nightingale (ignoring the heart rate alerts) decided that they were going a little too fast for the effort level I was going for, so went with the 10k group.
I left them when we got back into the estate after a lap around Abbott’s Pool (on the paths, not in the water), and did the remainder of my run on my own in the mist, looping around the golf course, down the zig zags, back up through the fallow deer park then back through the red deer park. Around about 9 and a half miles, getting back a couple of minutes after the 10 mile group for tea and teacakes.
I was looking forward to today’s long run a somewhat worrying amount. It had been an age since my last long run on 18th December, and that had only been 70 minutes long (with an extra 20 minutes tacked on a bit later). I had been run director at Ashton Court parkrun in the morning, and had been itching to pull on my own running shoes and rack up some mileage.
This was my first chance to go out on my own on a long run and work at an ‘easy’ effort (or heart rate zone 2) as I often do my long run with friends. The first quarter of the run felt terrible. Not because I had a niggle or it was hard work, but rather the opposite. It felt so incredibly slow. I could barely move above a brisk walk without my watch telling me that my heart rate was too high.
I was already mentally composing an email to my coach about how I must be allowed to do this long run at a higher intensity of effort and was worried that I would never get in any decent mileage, maybe only 8 miles or so, certainly I would never make it to Warmley my usual turning point for a 10 mile run.
But little by little I was finding it easier to run at such a relatively slow pace, and the warnings about going over my desired max heart rate were becoming fewer and fewer. I also started gaming the system. I knew that when I run downhill that it places less strain on my heart, so I sped up a bit then, and managed to hit Warmley just at my turnaround time.
The strange thing was that I felt fatigue just as if I had done the same route at a faster pace (which doesn’t somehow seem fair), so I understand a bit more the purpose of this run. As ‘time on feet’ it came it at half my intended marathon time in April, though I only covered just under 40% of the marathon distance.
It brought my total distance run for 2016 to 2,528km or 1,570 miles, a little less than last year, but not by much and I think this year’s running has been ‘smarter’ with more of a purpose behind each run rather than just the daily challenge.
Bring it on for 2017!