Marathon Training Week 7 – Best Laid Plans

The following is a dissemination of the week running up to the Liversedge Half Marathon. Now you already know the result if you follow me on social media, but I guarantee that it was a right pig in a poke to get to the start line. Full Liversedge report soon. For now, enjoy Week 7’s trials and tribulations.

The week was packed with activities and obstacles to work my running schedule around – the kids’ nursery starts combining with my late shifts meaning no running those mornings, Valentine’s Day, playgym meetups with friends, and indeed, work. Monday was a no go due to helping getting the kids ready for nursery, and later having to get home as quick as possible for my kids in the evening. I did have a day off Tuesday, however, so I got up early and so I did double time on the treadmill – a tempo interval session early morning, and the original Monday session, 40 minutes easy, late in the afternoon, having had a good catchup with friends as well as running around the aforementioned playgym after my kids.

Events took a rather curious turn for the worse on Wednesday evening, when my best laid plans were once again ruthlessly dismantled by circumstances. You see, I had planned out a run to work on Thursday that would see me set off just before 6am to complete 8.5 miles in a projected 65 minutes. The obstacle was a late finish at work the night before, which meant I wouldn’t have a lot of time awake at home to eat should I want to get an early night. And I was scheduled to start at 8:00am the next morning. So I decided I would have a late tea at work during the final hour, which would be a baguette, along with some yogurt, which I could eat at my desk and save me faffing about at home and potentially losing out on sleep. All in all though, I had my plan in mind, my route was researched and I was looking forward to cranking out a good lengthy midweek training run.

I walked up to the fridge around 8pm for my lunch. Only to find it wasn’t there. My sandwich wasn’t there. I checked my bag. I double checked the fridge. I doubled checked the bag. I triple checked the fridge. I checked my desk drawers. Nowhere. I was sure I had put it in the fridge. Now it wasn’t there. Some tealeaf had obviously had their way with it. Now I was going to have to cook something when I got home, with no guarantee the kids were going to be asleep upon my return to allow me to do so.

I arrived home at around 9:45pm that night, and lo, the kids were still awake. We started to get them to sleep but this didn’t end until 10:40pm. I went downstairs and cooked up beans on toasted sliced mini bagel – we didn’t have a loaf – and that was my tea. And the end result due to trying to prepare for my run the day after was that I didn’t get to bed until 11:50pm. I was barely going to get five hours sleep. But no matter. I was still determined to get up for this run and I would be ready.

To my surprise, I got up before my alarm! I walked into the bathroom to use the toilet. I came back out and looked at my watch. Oh. It was 1:17am. And there I was, pumped and ready to get going. I guess it was off back to sleep. How I wish I’d have left right there and then, because what was about to unfold was far worse than a late tea time and lost sleep. At 2:30am, one of my daughters was sick. We still co-sleep, and the result was it pretty much went into the bed and onto our duvets by the time we’d got into action. I had to go and get some towels together. And some replacement bedsheets. But the sickness became more and more frequent, initially 20 minute intervals, then later around 40 minutes up until around 6:00am. I was up around 5:35am but that was it. The run had to be cancelled and I spent much of my morning trying to get towels and bedding washed before getting the bus to work at 7:15am. I didn’t even take my running gear with me, because I would end up having to buy more bedding – which to be fair, we needed – and so I was faced again with trying to fit in this run and potentially Saturday’s hill sprint session, which was already facing the chop due to a work shift on the same day.

Me and my wife decided to forego tea until the girls were asleep the following evening. The poorly daughter had slept frequently through the day, the other had remained well but hadn’t slept at all. All being well, that would have worked out rather well. But it didn’t. That night, the same daughter was sick again just after 8:30pm, over numerous pillows. She seemed perky but the problem now was, the girls wouldn’t sleep. We had a bit of a struggle and then eventually they got to sleep around 10pm. We ended up ordering a takeaway pizza. I swore blind I wouldn’t eat one of those at the start of my training! But I’d cracked. I was at a loose end now, hungry again, with our plans for an evening meal out already in tatters due to unforeseen circumstances. Well, we shared at that pizza and then it was pretty much off to sleep – well, after watching a bit of OSW and the recent hilarious footage of Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage winning big on The Price Is Right.

By around midnight, there had been no sickness and so I felt inclined to get back into my running clothes and sleep in them. I felt if there was no further sickness that night I might have a shot of doing this 65 minute run in the morning before travelling to work. Well, how wrong I was – 1:30am and yet again more sickness. This was a difficult situation for all and I was forced to rethink again. She was sick several more times around 6:00am and I spent much of the morning instead with my other daughter, teaching her instead a joke about how bees style their hair (answers below if you know!).

On top of all this, I started to come down with a cold, just two days before race day. It just wasn’t my week, was it? But thankfully it stayed nasal and all was well enough for me to fit in a run home from work that featured hill sprinting. Doing that tired me out but it made sure I got my hill sprint session, unreachable on Saturday, into and out of my system in some fashion. Unfortunately, my other child was sick the morning after, and as Saturday evening approached, there seemed to be no end in sight to the tide of illness.

As far as running goes, really its been a horrendum paucis diebus – that’s ‘horrible few days’ in Latin – because what I didn’t want before Liversedge was to be going into it as though I was tapering. I wanted to train as normal for this race given I am, ultimately, treating it as a training run for the marathon. Circumstances and priorities take hold over running, however, and no more so than the health of my family. Sickness is an awful thing to experience as a child and I’m happy to lose out on a few days running, and indeed jeopardise my 100% score for the week in Jantastic, however difficult that is for me to accept right now, than to experience that and the main thing is getting my kids getting back to full health. And as far as my race goes, I’m sure I’ll be ready when I get to the start line and I just hope after all the discipline I’ve obtained lately with my running, that this last week hasn’t affected me too much and that mentally at least, I’m strong enough to deploy a new strategy that will not only benefit me in this race, but give me a clear indication of how I will tackle the challenge of running a marathon.

One thing is certain, however. None of this would have happened if I’d had my sandwich that night…my sandwich?
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