Four days until Loch Rannoch Marathon!

I’m really looking forward to my second marathon this Sunday. My training has gone spectacularly well. No injuries, good runs, excellent times (for me!) and I feel that in terms of strength, fitness and weight I’m pretty much exactly where I want to be.

 

This isn’t Loch Rannoch but it serves as a reminder of how great it will be to run surrounded by beautiful Scottish scenery. I’m aiming to run a personal best – my time in the first marathon I ran was 3 hours 43 minutes 41 seconds so that’s the first target.IMG_0303

The forecast for Sunday isn’t too bad. Cool with a very light breeze would be ideal!

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Never easy

Week 4 of marathon training didn’t go so well. I had three runs and in each one I struggled with pace, time, heart-rate and energy levels. When runs don’t go so well you frantically go through in your mind the possible reasons. These include the weather conditions : heat, wind, wet surfaces etc then your own condition. Is there a fitness problem; is there an injury or the start of one; are you eating the right foods; are you over-training or increasing your distance too quickly? Are your running shoes needing replaced; are you worrying about something which is affecting your running; are you thinking negative thoughts or have you generally lost confidence? And there are a number of other possibilities!

After more than a little thought, I’m unsure what the problem is but I refuse to worry about it. It’s only week 4 of 18 and I’m fairly sure it’s nothing physical. On the positive side I’m on page 2 (of 4) of my training schedule and my long run at the start of week 5 was 10 miles and it was a much better run. Where running is concerned there’s a lot of truth in the saying : “You can if you think you can.”

Marathon training week two

Well there’s a title I never expected to be writing again.

I don’t normally enthuse about anything but I’ve had a great time since entering the Loch Rannoch Marathon. It just feels so right to be working towards something big but achievable. Better still the doctor has cleared me to run. She asked a few questions and then took my blood pressure. It shows how much I want to do this that before she tested it I told her that my blood pressure is always considerably higher when I visit the doctor due to “white coat syndrome.” In the event the pressure was fine, almost normal in fact.

And I’ve had an early birthday present of two very important helpers :

It’s a rubbish photo but it is in fact a Garmin Forerunner and a heart rate monitor. Don’t ask how they work but they tell you everything you need to know when running about time, distance, pace, cadence(strides per minute), heart rate, elevation gain and so on. After the run it produces reports which geeks like me can pour over for hours :

 

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Because I’ve been running regularly all year my basic fitness levels aren’t too bad and as a result the first week of training has been pretty straightforward. It will get harder though!

When the weight goes on

It’s hard to conceive now that in the middle of March this year I had achieved a decent level of fitness. I posted pb’s in 5k and the half marathon. I did relax after that and got into bad habits during the 7 week summer holidays that Edinburgh schools enjoyed. I put weight on (almost 6kg) and exercised less. When I was back in my routine after the holidays I thought the weight would come off but it has proved worryingly resistant and I still need to lose just over 4kg.

So I’ve found my next target which is to lose 4kg. It won’t be easy and I’m not joining a slimming club or doing anything weird or excessive. Somehow I need to eat less, exercise more and drink fewer calories than I have been. I need to reduce sugar intake. Very simple, basic stuff but I’ve been trying unsuccessfully for 6 weeks now. So here’s the plan. I’m going public and to keep me accountable I will weigh myself every fortnight and post it here.

And I’ll try and tell you interesting things about how the process is going.

DNF (Did not finish!)

Well given that my last two posts described running personal bests it seems only fair that this one should describe total failure. I’ve had two months of overeating and minimal exercise so you reap what you sow. I’ve been volunteering at my beloved Edinburgh parkrun but last Saturday their volunteer rota was full so I thought I would check out the new parkrun on the block – Portobello parkrun just over 6 miles from home. I told myself I would run it gently as I am out of condition. It is a scenic parkrun – three laps of a pretty park with pond,river and nice views of Arthur’s Seat – the hill that dominates the Edinburgh skyline. It was a pleasant morning with a gentle breeze. There was a happy relaxed atmosphere pre-race with lots of visiting runners who were in Edinburgh for the popular Edinburgh Marathon Festival. What could possibly go wrong?

Well quite a lot if you were stupid me. I went off far too fast and even though I knew I was going too fast I kept chasing people instead of dropping back. As we approached the end of the first lap the famous running quote from George Sheehan came into my head : “Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants to quit.” Now as most runners will know this happens at least once every time you run and part of learning to run is saying “no” to that voice. But to my shame I gave in and pulled up after one lap. So an inglorious dnf (did not finish) for me and lots of negative thoughts afterwards.

Edinburgh parkrun on Valentines Day

I hadn’t run competitively since October last year so an outing at Edinburgh parkrun last Saturday was eagerly anticipated. My half marathon training had been going so well that I fancied seeing where I was in terms of pace at 5k. The weather forecast was decent so everything seemed well placed for a successful run. As we lined up the only recognition of it being Valentine’s Day was the announcement that one of the runners was getting married later in the day. As the applause for the condemned man died down, a wag beside me shouted out : “Keep running mate – as fast as you can!”

Now if you’ve any familiarity with running and runners’ blogs then you’ll know that despite my pre-race optimism, you can take nothing for granted when you’re running. The first problem on Saturday was that it was damp overhead and wet on the running surface. Secondly a nasty 8mph easterly wind had decided to make a rare appearance. That meant running into the wind for the first half. My third difficulty was that I had forgotten how physically hard running a 5k at top pace actually feels. On the plus side I kept going and despite low periods during the race never contemplated giving up. The final result was 20 minutes 40 seconds – 39 seconds slower than my personal best and 41 seconds outside the time I desperately want to run. Only two of the five kilometres were run at the required pace and the middle three of 4:16; 4:16 and 4:14 were way slower than the required pace.

However I’m not too discouraged. I’ve only been training for six weeks and I will get stronger and hopefully faster. The half marathon training continues to go really well and I think my first goal is to run a decent half marathon three weeks on Sunday. Then I can worry about the 5k after that!