Ooops, I seem to have left this a little late! My apologies for that folks.
Week 13 was the second (and last) ‘recovery’ week of my marathon training programme. As per the last recovery week, what this generally means is a minor drop in distance and a lower intensity.
The practical implications of this were a track session on Tuesday and a parkrun on Saturday with no added ‘steady miles on tired legs’ at the end of each. The mid-length Thursday run was simply a steady 10 miles. The problem that I faced here was that with Delilah not sleeping well on Wednesday night, and Lyndsey feeling a little under the weather she was in no mood to do the full morning routine whilst I jogged off to work. Instead I had to hastily pack a bag and instead run home.
By the end of the day I was feeling tired, lethargic, a little bit sicky and generally uninspired for the run – weirdly the first time I have really suffered this affliction in the whole training period. But, run I did. The long run meant I saw the sun setting in front of me and I had remembered to bring my headtorch for the first run in a very long time. Only in the last mile or so did I need to flick it on though – mostly to highlight to the cars that I was there (as an added precaution over the high-vis vest I had on). The run seemed to really blow the cobwebs away and it was a shining example of that adage that “you never regret going for a run.”
It was nice, on Saturday, to jog straight to the startline at parkrun and back again without the extras. It didn’t seem to help my time though as the ground continues to soften slightly – I almost took my spikes in preparation for the XC season that is fast approaching, but I didn’t; it won’t be long now though.
On Sunday it was time for the longest run in a very long time – 21 miles. I had planned to do the route of the Cranleigh 21 race which is held annually in the spring. Almost as soon as I headed out the door I just felt, I don’t know, kind of out-of-sorts. Nothing seemed to flow, and despite a good porridgy breakfast I was a little empty. A few miles in seemed to ease this disquiet slightly and the gels every half an hour sought to fill me up a bit. At the end of the larger ten mile loop the route joins the Downs Link very briefly before heading south for two five mile (ish) loops. I decided here that rather than face two dull loops incorporating a small section of the A281, I would instead follow the Downs Link for five miles or so before turning back. By now I was feeling quite good and the beautiful Downs Link cheered me a little. This didn’t last all that long, and by the time I turned around at the old train station in Bramley I was very aware that I still had six miles to go and I wasn’t excited by the prospect – I was starting to get a slightly unsettled stomach feeling. I finished, but not overly comfortably, and worst of all I had run out of Marathon Talk episodes so I was running with only my own thoughts which were generally reminding me how much more comfortable I had felt last week: what a disaster that must have made this week.
It wasn’t a disaster. Not at all. It just wasn’t as ‘easy’. That’s OK. I am 13 weeks into a long marathon training schedule. With the exception of about 10 days in the first fortnight, I have nailed 5 sessions every single week with increasing intensity and a prolonged sense of achievement.
If someone had told me at the start of this marathon journey that a recovery week would include 45 miles of running then I’d have laughed my head off!
This week is the last big week, and it really is a BIG WEEK (for me at least – I mean it’s not a 100mile +) and it’s marked at the end with another big run finishing with six miles slightly quicker than marathon pace. I’m nervous about it, but that can only be a good thing surely, because if it works then it has to be a sure sign that I am ready, and if it doesn’t then so what? It’s only one run after all.