Marathon Training Week 4 – Getting Back in the Groove

I felt a little on the negative side at the end of last week’s blog. Thankfully, I think I have shaken it off this week and moved forwards.

Having to pop into the office on Monday morning meant that I got to fit my recovery run in on a drizzly hilltop where I was lucky enough to witness a full moon. No I was not running at night, but on a busy footpath a lady had decided she simply could not wait, or indeed walk any further into the woods, and instead dropped to squat and pee right on the side of the footpath; rightly so, she seemed a little embarrassed as I ran past.

I swapped my schedule around a little after that as I decided to run the club handicap race on Wednesday night instead of attending the track on Tuesday. Marc signed this off with one proviso: “you have to race it hard!”

My 5km PB is quite slow within the club group so I set off one minute after the very first runners with Andy and Rob. The group was well spread out and John, the last runner, set off a full 15 minutes after the very first runners! I have tried before to complete the course but two years ago I went over on my ankle after a little less than a mile and I had to give up and turn around. Last year I was injured. I didn’t know what to expect, though I do know this area as it is on the North Downs Way.

I heard Andy behind me cursing my ‘new found speed’ as I pushed off in search of the two in front. The footing was solid on this track before we got to the farm road for a few hundred yards. It didn’t last long before we were sent off to the right and the sandy hell began. Traction in the soft sand was almost non existent and the hills were sapping energy; I pushed on as I overtook first one then a second runner to take the lead. I managed to hold onto this for almost a mile and a half before Philip came past me – I’d made him keep behind me along on the narrow, nettle-lined, singletrack but as soon as the path opened up again he cruised comfortably past me. I tried to use him as something of a carrot but he slowly pulled away.

Running past Loseley House always provides a nice backdrop and the sight of a barn owl swooping in front of me lifted my spirits as energy levels were dropping by now. The hill up the road nearly killed me and I was certain that runners behind me would catch me soon as Philip seemed to be pulling ahead of me. I held on to second place on the night, and we all came through within about five minutes.

John won overall and made up over two minutes every mile on me. Speedy!

We finished the evening in the pub eating delicious pizza, drinking beer, and talking about running, healthy eating, and the pros and cons of enforcing school dinners on children.

The problem was that by saving this effort for Wednesday meant that Thursdays Marathon Pace session felt a little harder than perhaps it should have done; four miles at 8min/mile were completed in pretty perfect timing, once I had the pace dialed in.

A lovely rest day on Friday was followed swiftly by a parkrun attempt on Saturday which was ultimately blighted by horribly strong headwinds. The course was in perfect condition considering the rain we have endured recently, but the long straight was just such hard work that I felt like I was making more effort than last week, but I ran slower overall. I finished the run, scanned my barcodes and immediately set off for a steady-pace mile : if it’s good enough for Mo…

Talking of headwinds, Sunday’s long run effort was decimated by them. The goal was to run seven miles at a steady 8:30 pace before finishing up with a further four at 7:30. When I set off, during a rare break in the rain, the weather had been almost perfect for a long run. Not long before my turn around point water started to fall gently from the sky and I was aware of the wind picking up behind me. By the time my Garmin counted me down to the four mile effort I was blowing out of my arse and the closest I seemed to get was about 7:40. It was just insane.

I consoled myself with the thought that all the effort I put in now is going to make the marathon that much easier in a few months time, and as I type this wearing my T-Shirt from Like The Wind, I catch sight of the immortal words of Steve Prefontaine and smile.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift!”

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