Marathon Training Week 8 – I Hate My Gut(s)

They got me. They finally got me. The sickness bug that had been making its way around my household finally struck me down on Monday morning, the day after one of my finest achievements in running to date. 24 hours earlier, I had crossed the line of the Liversedge Half Marathon in 10th place, finally a sub-1:25 half marathoner. Now I was asleep in bed, having just chucked my guts up after experiencing stomach wretching in the middle of the night. This was nothing to do with the ‘runner’s trots’ – I was all clear on that side of things. But indeed, all my body wanted to do sleep. The only thing I ate all day was half a slice of plain wholemeal toast which my guts rejected, and the kids were running rings around me. I ended up going to sleep around 8:30pm and I recorded a whopping 11.2 hours of sleep according to my sleep app, Sleepbot. That is the longest night sleep I’ve probably had since I was a child. And it really made the difference, although I wasn’t well enough to work on Tuesday either.

I did manage a foam roller session later on Tuesday as my back felt stiff from the long sleep the night before. That really did the trick and I used it to work on my legs as well. Although they didn’t feel particularly tight, I was soon to find out after returning to work on Wednesday and planning to get back into the swing of my training with a run home from work. I felt I had trouble fuelling up sufficiently – I was keeping food down but I wasn’t enjoying it, and every item I consumed seemed to make me feel sick in a way only water could fix. It didn’t seem to help that I worked slightly over and I needed to get home in time for my wife’s kickboxing session. However, I got the shorts and the tech tee on – it was a balmy 9C, you know – and I set off. I felt a slight urge to get a move on, but I was surprised to look at my watch telling me I was on 6:35/mile pace. My body hadn’t stopped racing! I seemed to make a decent march up the hill and then back down it into Brighouse, completing my journey of 4.67 miles in 35:39, among my fastest times along that particular route. I wasn’t going full pelt mind, but my body was still a bit tense from Sunday’s race and good grief, my body was letting me know I was putting it through a shift! But it was great all the same because to stretch off afterwards was a relief.

Still, I wanted to schedule an interval session on Thursday, having missed the one I had scheduled on Tuesday. I intended to go down to the gym, but I managed to sleep through my alarm and that scuppered any hope I had of getting in some miles on the treadmill. So I took my running kit to work again and it would have to be a long run home from work. The session was a fartlek listed in the London Marathon Iron Man mag as 12 minutes easy (7 minutes threshold, 6 minutes, 5 minutes, 4, 3, and 2 minutes, with 2 minutes jog recovery), and 12 minutes easy to cool down. I planned out a route I believed would be long enough – for 53 minutes. Not 63. What a horrid miscalculation. Oh well. I went with it anyway and as I should’ve known, it ended rather limp. I suppose we all have those sessions though, so it’s best to remain philosophical about it.

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View from Birkby Lane, Bailiff Bridge

By Friday I thought I was over my illness completely – appetite restored, feeling pretty good – when that evening, I started getting urges to use the toilet every couple of hours. I’m not going to post the detail here but it appeared it would jeopardise my Saturday run. Somehow I managed to get out and do the run – 5.11 miles in 40 minutes – and everything stayed in place. What I would eat for the rest of the day would be reasonably strict – I absolutely had to be right for Sunday and I didn’t feel I could afford another setback in my training by missing a key long run and an important stepping stone in my program. At least I had a picture of a beautiful morning from the top of Bailiff Bridge to look upon and hope my constant need for relief would pass.

By the evening my raging insides had calmed down to some extent, having shut out caffeine and spicy stuff, and I clambered out of bed the following morning in reasonably good nick to be able to eat my pre-run porridge and get out of the door for my 16 miler, a run that would take me from Brighouse, all the way up to the village of Lepton and back. Earlier in the week I’d spent whatever time I could researching the route and trying to remember where the turns were at various junctions.

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The River Calder at the Battyeford Toll Bridge, Mirfield
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Wood Lane, Mirfield

After a nice easy few miles into Mirfield, I turned right at Wood Lane to begin a 337ft ascent. I ran up part of this road on a 10 mile run to work a few weeks back and to run the whole thing was a massive test. But I got through it and made my way onwards along Bellstring Lane, Liley Lane, then through Houses Hill. It was hard not to admire the views…

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Viewing Castle Hill from Bellstring Lane, Upper Hopton

After the winding country roads of Houses Hill it was up a steep hill into Lepton, where Emley Transmitting Tower didn’t seem so far away!

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Sands Lane, Houses Hill
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The Emley Moor transmitting station, feeling closer than ever!

8 miles down, I had a quick breather, a carb-loaded drink and a selfie or two before heading off again. Down Wakefield Road into Fenay Bridge, then up a country lane and out again into Kirkheaton. Then towards Dalton and along a footpath which took me round a staircase, along a footpath past a large industrial area, and out onto Leeds Road. 12 miles down, time to try and pick up the pace. Easier said than done considering most of this was hilly in nature, having taken one slightly wrong turn which left me running up through more of Deighton than anticipated. I managed to work the trails up to the Bradley Bar roundabout and then it was homeward bound.

As the town centre approached, during the descent downhill, I felt a sense of achievement. Because I was coming through this test.

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Never before had I gone this far, or for this long. But as the final mile clocked up a hearty 6:42, the fastest of the session, I felt slight exhaustion but quiet satisfaction as I finished opposite a large group of cyclists who had gathered across the road. I managed to keep going (minus deliberate stoppages for photo opportunities and refuelling) for nearly the entirety of the run, only stopping to stretch my ankles just after 14 miles which I’m hoping was more the up and down nature of the route than anything wrong with my preparation. I really enjoyed it, and even got a hello from a passing cyclist and another from a fellow runner. Twice in the same day, when does that ever happen to me?! And of course, this run has given me confidence to move on up next Sunday, when I’ll be going for 18 miles.

It invested in a 5kg kettlebell on Friday which is something I hope to incorporate into my training. I reckon I could have held out for a slightly heavier one, but as someone who does hardly any weight training, it’s a good entry level and it’s up to me to research and to get some experience with it. I’ve also got some nutritional goods coming over today which should do me for, I don’t know, the next year perhaps?

Until then, let’s hope I, and indeed all of us training for this race, or any race for that matter, stay happy and healthy.

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