It’s been three weeks since my last post, so what’s been happening? Well, half term week was busy, and as my daughter doesn’t live with me I have to go and collect her, and of course I want to spend time with her so training obviously has to take a back seat. The timing of half term week does actually work out quite well in terms of spring marathon training though, it comes at a point where I’ve normally been training quite hard for 4 or 5 weeks, quite often in the dark and/or in poor weather, so by the time I get to mid-February I find that a week of easy or no running actually serves as great way just to recharge my batteries both physically and mentally and get myself ready for the next and maybe most important part of my training.
I’ve just finished that first week back and it actually went really well, with me running 38 miles culminating in my best Parkrun for ages followed the next day by a good solid 18 miles long run. I made a conscious effort this week to make sure my easy runs were easy, so trying to keep to 10 minute mile pace, and that I would push a little harder in the Wednesday club run and then again at Parkrun as a means of injecting a little speedwork into my schedule.
It’s been a while since I had a proper go at a decent time at Maidstone Parkrun. It’s a lovely out and back course that runs alongside the River Medway, but it is narrow at the start, so you need to be fairly close to the front at the start to avoid getting held up. Having got myself positioned OK I was able to get off to a steady start and got through the narrow first kilometre or so without too much difficulty. After that it was a case of trying to maintain my pace and see how it went. Although I was wearing my Garmin I wasn’t really looking at it and tried to run more on feel. Being alongside a river the course is virtually flat, apart from (unfortunately) the last 250m, ‘Howard’s Hill’ as it’s known, named after the original race starter and timekeeper who has recently moved to sunnier climes overseas. It’s not especially steep, but if you’re pushing the pace as I was it does make the last couple of minutes quite a painful experience, and I could feel the lactic building as I tried to push myself towards the line! I was delighted to see a time of 22:11 on my watch, my best time for around 3 years, and only 30 seconds off my PB, so that was a real confidence booster for me.
The following morning I met up with a group of fellow Harriers for an 18 mile long run. These are good fun as we all try to run together and if we do start to separate we normally wait and let people catch up with each other, so it’s also quite easy paced, ideal for marathon training. Having seen the course I knew there would be some challenging climbs as we were heading towards the North Downs, and after a sedate first 3 miles or so we were soon climbing gently with the Downs looming above us! There were two steep sections that followed, the first one we ran up (just) but the second one was definitely one for walking it was so steep and took us right to the top. From that point on we ran along the North Downs Way with a detour around what seemed like a very isolated wooded area, although we could hear the traffic from the nearby M2, and then headed back to the top of the Downs and back down to the lower slopes, which we followed for a few more miles before one final too-steep-to-run section. After that it was a mainly flat and downhill return to or starting point, although there was one final steady climb up through Mote Park to test the legs.
Coming back to our finishing point I saw I had 17.1 miles on my Garmin, and having wanted to do at least 17.5 I decided to do a couple of laps of the nearby small park. I was joined by James who wanted to get to 30k on his. My 17.5 came up first followed by his 30k, by which time my Garmin read 17.9 so I just had to do a little extra to get to 18 miles! (Yes I know that probably qualifies me as a Strava W**ker!) Anyway, it was good to get the distance under my belt, and it sets me up nicely for this weeks Thanet 20m race, which I’m going to try to treat as a training run rather than a race. The plan after that is one more 20m+ run before my Brighton taper.
I also found out that my ballot application for the Royal Parks half marathon was unsuccessful. It’s the first time I’d entered, but I’d already worked out from what I’ d read on social media and in other running blogs that my chances of getting in were slim, so I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. I need to set myself some targets to aim for post-Brighton to keep myself motivated and focused, so I’m now looking at maybe the Disneyland Paris half marathon, but I’ll give that one some more thought.
That’s all for this week – I’ll be back next week hopefully with a Thanet 20m race report.