Week 9 already – how did that happen?

So no updates from me for a while, but that’s just because I’ve been busy with life. Very busy. In fact as I dwell and reflect on life in general, it occurred to me that I have done very little recently of the very thing that I moved to the Lake District for just over a year ago, and that is go out and walk/enjoy the fells.

I have actually only done two walks in fact since May, one a short one around my local (very small) hills, and a nice big ultra walk of 50km for an ultrachallenge, with around 4,500 feet of climbing. The latter (about a month ago now) was great fun with friends Kev and Fiona, ably supported by Helen who got us there and back again, and we were lucky with the weather for sure, as there had been a lot of rain forecast, but we escaped it all.

Nice shirt Kev!

Since then I’ve been working a lot, something I hadn’t planned really, but an interim assignment came up in Nottingham, and I said yes rather too willingly. I find myself staying away from home for half of the week, and the weekends have been made up of trying to get my home ready to become a holiday let, so there has been a lot to do. Oh yes, and there’s been some running too!

It is true that the mind seems to blank out pain from the memory bank when deciding to do something again. I won’t use the ‘like childbirth’ analogy here, as obviously being a man I haven’t experienced it (before 50% of the population shout at me!), but it is true that when doing my first marathon training there were moments ranging from “this is crazy hard and taking over my whole life” to “never again”. And here I am now at the end of Week 9 of the programme (and there is therefore the vast majority of the really hard work to come) and I am absolutely beat!

Not helped by a combination of early mornings and warmer than usual weather (and also Hanson’s Marathon Plan, which is full on to say the least), it is the case that this week’s 46 miles of running has been a killer for me. Negotiating last week’s 40 degree heat (ok well only 35 in the Lake District, but still!) was hard work logistically, involving either early morning or late evening stints was tough too. And then today was the longest run yet, of 15 miles. I managed 14.3, and stopped early as a.) I was knackered, and b.) I had some chafing in at least two uncomfortable places!

The runs are now also in full flow as far as intensity and variety. Most of the first few weeks of the programme were all about easy runs, to build up both distance and aerobic capacity. Now however there are always at least three ‘SOS’ runs each week. SOS stands for ‘something of substance’, so a specific purpose and at faster than easy run pace. Tuesdays are speed/intervals (for example 6 lots of 800m at 7:30 pace), Thursdays are tempo sessions (this week 8 miles at marathon (8:34/minute) pace, and Sunday is a ‘long’ run of (like today) 15 miles at 9:18 pace. There are then three days where I just run at easy pace, but the distance for these is increasing all the time, which gives basically no recovery time at all.

Of course the increasing intensity and distance is what marathon training is all about, and this programme is very much about cumulative fatigue. I’ll be up to close on 60 miles a week in three weeks time, with the Sunday sessions up to 16 miles too, so lets hope the weather is a bit cooler that week!

I shouldn’t admit to this but I’m already looking forward to September 26th very much, which will be the start of the week following Berlin, when I can guarantee that I will not be running at all!! Fingers crossed most of all that I stay injury free and just get there. With all that is going on still in the world right now it is nice to just have something to look forward to.

Happy running one and all!