I’m sorry it’s been two weeks between blog posts. I’ve been quite busy and therefore the training has been a bit hit and miss. I’ve managed to do four out of the six scheduled runs in my half marathon training plan, and of those some were more successful than others.
A hit was my fartlek session last week. As usual I did this in the gym to better control the pace.
The training plan said 6 miles fartlek, and the treadmill has a maximum setting of an hour, so I decided I’d just keep going for the hour and see how far I got. Turned out to be 5.9 miles, close. My last session had been 400m runs with 200m walks in between. To increase my distance, this time I went for 600m runs with 200m walk intervals. I used the same speed levels on the treadmill as last time; 11.0 for the runs and 6.0 for the walks. I needed to get 12 repeats in if I was going to do the 6 miles in the hour. I always find the first couple hard as the body warms up and the last couple because my head knows I’m nearly done. The last couple though were quite exciting as I was trying to calculate if I’d make the 12 in the time left. The 12th 600m run and the treadmill went into cool down with 300m to go, and dropped the pace from 11.0 to 7.2. As fast as I could I upped the speed back up to 11.0 and just managed to get to the 600m point before it dropped again to 7.2 cool down. 600m was definitely harder than the 400m of the last session. Next time I do it I might drop back to 400m run but reduce the recovery walk to 100m. After a hot shower my legs were spent but I felt great. Will certainly keep these sessions up. They are great for helping to increase your top speed and lung capacity, and make running in the gym more interesting.
A miss was my long run session. On my previous long run I’d managed 10.8 miles. This session called for 11-12 miles, and so I decided to go for the 12. David needed to run about 16 miles for his ultra training, but has been battling a chest infection so thought he’d take it slow and run with me, whilst introducing me to a new route along the tow path. We were a bit late starting and the sun was already warm and bright, not ideal. For the first 3 miles I felt quite strong, even running up the hills, but by the turn around point at 6 miles I was really struggling. Whilst the first part of the tow path was shaded under the trees, it soon comes out into the open and the sun was beating down. I’m not great in hot weather – even when I’m not running! The path was very busy with cyclists and walkers and in some places was very narrow where the vegetation has exploded in the warm weather. Miles 8-12 were a mixture of walking and jogging, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to see my front door. My legs felt like they were running on empty, that along with the heat, the beating sun and my need of the toilet resulted in a hard and disappointing run. Never mind, onwards and upwards, just hope I feel stronger in the actual race.
The biggest hit was this morning at the Chew Valley 10K, which I used as my 6 mile tempo session. We were supposed to do this event last year, but we were both injured and had to miss it, so decided we’d try again. Car parking was straight forward, then a short walk to race HQ to pick up our numbers, a quick toilet stop (there were plenty of toilets) and then a few minutes to listen to a band of teenagers playing on the stage. They had pens at the start to break up the runners. I went to the 60-70 minute pen – I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast time for me. The first 2.5 miles were straight forward with gently undulating country lanes. There were plenty of supporters along the way, including a group of about 20 children and their conductor playing hand drums. Just before the 5k point ‘The Hill’ began.
I had already decided I was going to walk up the hill, there didn’t seem much point in wasting my energy to get up the hill and then have nothing left once I was up there. There were encouraging slogans on the hill to get everyone up and I think we were all relieved once we had made it. Roads carried on relatively flat for a while and rounding a corner there was an all female choir singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, something you don’t often see on a country lane. There was a final short hill before the last mile was all downhill, and a warm welcome into the finish. A bottle of water and a banana and I was feeling good. My finish time was 1:05:26, considering my walk up the hill I was happy with that.
I can understand why this is such a popular event. The race was sold out in advance, so no on the day entries. It was one of the best organised events I’ve been too, everything very straight forward and there were plenty of marshals at the beginning, end and all around the course. There were supporters out all around the course, from those standing at their garden gates offering words of encouragement, to three young people in chairs halfway up ‘The Hill’ with their music blaring. The youngsters playing in the band at the beginning, the children playing the drums and the female choir along the way gave the whole event a real community feel. This is definitely a race that I would recommend and would do again.
So this is my last week before my first half marathon next Saturday and I have a couple of short runs to keep the legs ticking over. I hope your training is going well, I’d love to hear about it.
Have a good week.