Marathon Training – Week 2: From gloom to boom

It didn’t start exactly to plan. For the first time in seemingly forever, I actually got to sleep before 11pm the night before a run. I was going to get up early and do an easy 35 minutes on Monday morning to kick off the second week of training for the Greater Manchester Marathon. Around 2:30am I was woken as one of my kids also woke in the early morning hour. She was sent to cuddle up next to me, a tactic which has recently worked in order to get her to sleep a little more independently. Well, she quietly stayed awake, and I never felt in a full state of sleep from then until about 5:25am. Which was when my alarm went off. She was now asleep, but laid on top of my arm. I was too tired to free it, and fell asleep until 6:40am, which was too late for me to go running as I had work to prepare for. I couldn’t do the run in the evening either as I had to be home for my kids which a bus would do quicker than my feet. Typically, a missed run (not a rest day) usually means trouble in my world. And so it proved – the day at work was a tough one and I was stuck with a phone which now had a weakening battery, but too skint to get a new handset at this point. I finished late at work and then I saw a bus I chased down leave before I could reach it. I exploded in the middle of Huddersfield with sheer frustration. I hadn’t felt this rough for a while, but it was one of those days where I genuinely had nothing go my way and not being able to go into the day having run and thus clearing my head really did compound everything that followed. Monday. 0 for 1, both for week 2 of marathon training, and for the first week of Jantastic 2015, in which I’m aiming to stick to my five runs a week schedule.

I was determined to bound back from this. I looked forward to the Tuesday interval with much vigour, and it was a reasonably warm 8C for a dark January morning. Not sure it felt like it, but enough to go without a jacket or thermals. I made my way towards the Calder-Hebble Navigation, my favourite running spot and one I shall be visiting again and again on this journey towards Manchester. It was pitch black but for some of the streetlights from Elland Road, the occasional factory/business, or the odd passing cyclist with their beams on. I’m still without glasses (I lost them in November – that’s another story altogether) – and still without a headtorch. So there was a certain amount of reckless abandon as I hit my threshold in two minute bursts, but this ultimately made it more of a thrill and in the end I got back to Brighouse a bit too early, effectively concluding my run in Tesco car park as I just had to go the full length the training suggested. 6.25 miles covered. When I looked back at my pace charts, I was pleased to see I was sub 6 minute mile pace regularly in those intervals and my final one went for around 5:30-5:40 mile pace. I knew I was on it!

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Interval data 06-01-2015

I decided I would feel comfortable making up for Monday’s disappointment by running twice on Thursday – once in the morning, the other on the way home from work in the evening. The Thursday run was 40 minutes at steady pace, so I decided I would do this run in the evening as I would hit the uphill section of Huddersfield Road halfway through. Given a tight morning schedule, with the kids now attending nursery, I busted out the Monday session with just over four relaxed miles, and in the evening I clocked 5.13 miles in the 40 minute session. I have to say I didn’t feel tip top on this run – I feel I had eaten right in preparation for the run but over the course of the day, the calorie count was perhaps just counting against me, and it was great I had my recovery/protein food waiting for me in the fridge when I got home.

Up to Saturday I have to say I felt rather sluggish on all three of those runs, but Saturday’s run of 50 minutes with 30 minutes steady pace in the middle was much better. The weather was squalid but it seems to be weather I thrive in, and I achieved a 7:34/mile pace over 6.56 miles. It was what I was looking for, posting some good low-end seven minute miles. I ran towards and along Leeds Road in Hipperholme and Lower Wyke. It’s a busy main road normally but it’s a great undulating route to take, and strangely one I’d never done before despite my relative proximity to the area.

Sunday’s run was an easy 8-miler, but this was purposely planned out to prepare me a little for Liversedge. I remember last year how hard I raced before arriving at Thornhill Bank Lane, the uphill country road that arrives roughly halfway into the race. I devised a route that looked a bit like a rhinoceros head on the outline and for once I actually had a route that I was happy running past part of more than once – I’m always a one lap or A to B person.

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I expected it to be slower but in the end I clocked my 8 miles in 1:01:03, averaging 7:38/mi pace and with some reasonably steady, rather than easy miles. It was pretty comfortable in the end – it didn’t take rocket science to work out that keeping reserves in the tank would help me get up Thornhill Bank Lane with less huff, but in any event I coped better and I enjoyed myself. After a mixed bag from the working week, the weekend put the boom back into my step. The only disappointment? Two seconds outside of a binary time (1:01:01)!

Outside of the running aspect, I’ve decided I must get back on board with strength training after it seemed my right knee was once again showing signs of the cursed ‘runner’s knee’. It was just a minor thing I could feel after both last Sunday and then Tuesday’s sessions. I got back to doing the strength exercises my physio showed me back in 2013 and after both runs on Thursday I couldn’t feel it. Admittedly I wasn’t pushing it very hard but any news is good news on that front and at the moment I seem to be managing fine. I could do with investing in a foam roller and giving myself another option but in any event, it’s important I push on this regard as I physically want to be in the best possible shape for Manchester, and that is something I take very seriously – as evidenced by this shot I took of myself planking in the office changing and shower rooms!

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Nutritionally, things are looking up as we’re almost set up to get a new oven and cooker top, which will mean finally being able to cook pasta and rice properly and cooking much healthier food too. As well as that we have a new George Foreman grill in the house which this time we hope not to drop a tin on! Not having either for months has severely limited my family’s nutritional options and if it wasn’t for the slow cooker or the microwave oven we might have been snookered.

With week 2 finished and the first week of the Jantastic challenge also complete, next week marks another slight step with a Tuesday interval and a 10 miler on the Sunday. Nothing at this stage I haven’t faced before, just a step up in the distance and intensity of the sessions. Relatively gentle stuff for now, just clocking up the miles and preparing for the big challenges starting around week 5. Until then, I’ll check back next week and I hope you continue enjoy an injury free, efficient January.

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