Marathon training is hard!

Not much in life comes easily. And if you want to run a marathon you have to do the training. I’m just back from a two week cruise which was wonderful in terms of a holiday and life experience but perhaps not the easiest means of continuing marathon training. The boat was too small to run on; it wasn’t safe to run when we berthed because I was scared I would drop keys, security passes etc and the only real option in the small gym on board was a treadmill. I know some people like treadmills but I’m not one of them. I did my best but at best my training stalled for two weeks and at worst it regressed a little. I’ve done two runs since coming back and they weren’t good in terms of pace and heartbeat. The big test will be the long run tomorrow which ramps up to 18 miles.

However to finish on the positive side I didn’t put as much weight on as I feared. I’m still completely injury free. I have two months left to get to where I want to be on the starting line. My only worries are about my finish time and not whether I can complete it.

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.”

All good

No injuries, good health and running programme going very well. What more could you ask for?
The weather recently has ranged from
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to
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I never thought I would say this but I am really looking forward to running a half marathon a week on Sunday.
My running programme is now in the taper (reduction) So just as I’m raring to go, wanting to run every day I have to hold myself back and not run. It’s like locking up a dog for a week then opening the door. Or telling the student revising for their finals to take the week before the exams off from studying. It seems wrong but strangely it works. I only have short easy runs left. And then a week on Sunday all that pent up energy and strength can be unleashed on the 13.1 miles around Alloa.

Well that’s the theory anyway!

Proper preparation

It’s a long time since I had a proper job but deep in the mists of time I recall a mantra at work along the lines of “proper preparation prevents poor performance” Or was it “proper planning ..”? Well all the planning and preparation in the world didn’t prevent a few calamitous work performances by yours truly but you can apply the mantra to running and it rings truer.

I’ve decided to liken my preparation for the Alloa Half Marathon to a military campaign which I’m going to fight on four fronts. Firstly and most importantly the running programme. Secondly diet. Thirdly exercises to strengthen muscles. And last but not least mental confidence.

So how is it going?

The running itself is great. No sign of the injury recurring. I feel comfortable and the programme I’m following is challenging but possible. It includes two long runs a week so as the distance builds it will be a challenge fitting the second long run into my weekly schedule. The Sunday morning long runs make me think I’m preparing for a marathon but I reassure my tired legs that it is only a half this time round.

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Diet is okay but not prefect. Several scones, Aberdeen butteries and sweet desserts have crept past security but I’ve lost my Christmas weight and have not totally lost control. No alcohol until March!

I’ve fallen short on muscle training, stretching, fitness training and strength endurance. I need to build this up. It is not my favourite thing and I avoid gyms like the plague but I need to do more.

Lastly mental confidence. It is too early to pysche myself up for the actual race but I’m building confidence in my running. I’m very happy about that because it is not a natural strength. Each completed run is a step nearer achieving a good performance and hopefully a personal best on 15 March.

Two runs achieved!

I waited 12 days from the last aborted run and tried a very gentle and untimed 5k on Saturday. This was make or break really because if the injury recurred on a short gentle run after almost 2 weeks rest then I was in big trouble in terms of a March half marathon. The good news is that no twinges were experienced either then or today when I ran six miles timed but at slowish pace. So I can start training properly for the half marathon without having missed too much of the programme.

Today was an interesting day to run. It was the sort of morning that I can best describe through invoking the gorgeous black labrador that I take for walks. If I had taken him for a walk this morning he would have got outside his house, stood still and looked around him at the wind, rain and temperature. He would then have looked me straight in the eye and said (he doesn’t need words) “If you think I’m leaving my nice warm bed to go out in this weather then you can think again pal!” But these are the conditions that you need to train in because (heaven forbid) it could be like that on race day. And if it isn’t then you are still prepared. I had one small mishap during the run where rather than run through a huge puddle I veered up the hilly verge to avoid it. It was basically a mud slide under a light covering of grass and I felt my legs go from under me like a deer on ice. Fortunately the ground was soft and only pride was hurt. Next time I’ll do what you should always do and run straight through it. The only time this doesn’t work is when there’s an alligator under the water.

The best laid plans!

Well I hope that you had a peaceful and restful festive period. And that 2015 is a great year for you.

Christmas and New year always results in a weight gain for me but I was happy that this year it only amounted to a kilo and a half. Rarely have so few mincemeat pies been consumed and the absence of a home-made Christmas cake was a definite factor in the modest weight gain. The start of January sees a flood of health and fitness campaigns, often linked to charitable giving. So there is Dryathon (no alcohol in January); Janathon (specific fitness and training commitments) ; Jantastic (even more fitness and running) and a host of others. I managed to resist committing to any of these but I did download a ten week training programme to see me at the starting line of the Alloa Half Marathon in as healthy and fit condition as my advanced years permit.

But as we all know – the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley. Before Christmas I was experiencing tightness in my calf muscle when running. I left it a week without running then tried an easy 5k about ten days ago. After just 2k the pain started up again and I foolishly kept going because it wasn’t unbearably sore and I was at the furthest point from home and didn’t want a long walk home. Let’s just say that a good piece of running advice is – if something is hurting when you’re running, then it’s a pretty sensible thing to stop running. I haven’t tried running since even though my training programme should have started this Monday. Missing a week of the programme is potentially less of a problem than  not getting rid of this injury.

The Alloa Half Marathon is capped at 2200 runners and yesterday we were told that there are less than 400 places left. It will probably be full by the end of the week. So if you want to join me you need to enter now! And if I can’t take my place I can always offer it to someone else.