I ended the sixth week of my Great Birmingham Run with a 45 minute run. Although the 45 minutes of pavement pounding was enjoyable, I felt pretty shattered when I finished running. I was concerned that my inability to sleep for more than five hours a night was going to catch up with me during the seventh week of my half marathon training.
Week seven of my training plan – the first peak training week – looked quite challenging, and for the first time I doubted my ability to successfully complete all of the training runs. I was to run four times during the week for the first time, starting with a harder back-to-back 20 minute run on Monday. The training plan also contained a 30 minute run on Wednesday and 10 minute run on Friday. To end the week I was given the option of running for between 50 and 55 minutes on Sunday. Although I had enjoyed my 45 minute run the previous Sunday, I didn’t feel confident that I would be able to run for an additional 10 minutes. So how did week seven go? Did I manage to run for 55 minutes?
Monday – 20 mins easy/steady
I had planned to get up early to complete the 20 minute run that had sneakily replaced the usual Monday rest day. My alarm went off at 05:00, I reached out, turned it off and immediately went back to sleep. I guess my body was telling me that it needed more rest. I had recorded the first failure of this training cycle!
After spending a couple of hours reviewing an unpublished manuscript, I was ready to escape my desk for an hour or so. Although I didn’t feel 100 per cent, I was confident that I would be able to run for 20 minutes. I got changed into some running gear and headed to Four Oaks Estate. I would have run from home, however, most of the pavements had been cunningly converted into an assault course during the morning.
As I worked through my warm-up routine I became increasingly nauseous and also started to feel quite lightheaded. Not a winning combination. I thought about abandoning my run but decided to take it easy and to run at a sensible pace. At times I have to question my complete lack of common sense. I completed the 20 minute run [Strava], somehow made it back home, had a shower, ate some lunch and then spent the rest of the day feeling really cold. I could not stop shivering and clearly shouldn’t have run. Sorry body.
Tuesday – Rest
Tuesday was a complete write-off. Fortunately, it was also a rest day so I wasn’t tempted to run again while feeling unwell. In the evening I laid out some running gear in preparation for Wednesday morning’s run, and hoped that I would feel well enough to run in the morning.
Wednesday – 30 mins steady
When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I felt really groggy but well enough to attempt a 30 minute run. I was pleased to see that it was raining – have I mentioned how much I love running in the rain… I went to the loo, got dressed, had something to drink and headed out the door. I felt pretty cold walking in the rain so limited my ‘warm-up’ walk to five minutes. I didn’t want to make myself ill again.
When I considered how unwell I’d felt the previous day I was quite pleased with my run. The rest day had helped my legs recover from Sunday, the tiredness I had experienced during Monday’s run had disappeared. I ran at a sensible pace for the first four kilometres and then speeded up as I approached the 5k distance.
I got home, made myself drink some orange nuun, had a shower, got dressed and prepared myself for a day of reading about the Anthropocene. I then made the mistake of reading an article on the Runner’s World USA website. The article was reporting that a third female runner in nine days had been killed while out running alone in the daytime. The article got me thinking. I always run alone and had never considered the potential dangers. I never tell anyone when I’m heading out for a run, and never know exactly where I’ll be running. It was still relatively dark at 05:30 and sunrise is going to get later in the lead up to the Great Birmingham Run.
Thursday – Rest
My right knee was quite niggly in the morning, so I was relieved that Thursday was a rest day. Mum picked me up at 11:00 and we headed across to Sutton Park for the first time in what felt like ages for a walk around Blackroot Pool. I was worried the Park would be really busy due to the nice weather and the school holidays but it was quiet, strange. Unfortunately, my right knee felt quite painful during the walk so as soon as I got home I reached for my icepack and sat working with it balanced on my dodgy knee. In the afternoon I worked through some of my knee and arse strengthening exercises. I felt quietly confident I’d be able to complete my next training run.
Friday – 10 mins easy jog
I was woken early by the sun shining through my bedroom window – had summer finally returned to Four Oaks? I must have gone back to sleep again, fortunately my alarm woke me again at 06:45. I went to the loo, got dressed into some running gear (I’ll never know why I wore a long-sleeved top), drank some water and headed out the door. I didn’t bother to warm-up as I was only going to be running for 10 minutes.
Can somebody explain to me why I found running for “only” 10 minutes so difficult? My breathing was all over the place and my pace was erratic. I felt shattered when I finished running and had to rest for a minute get my breath back. Wednesday’s 30 minute run was a lot easier. Running is a strange sport. On a more positive note I’d successfully completed another run.
Saturday – Rest
I spent most of Saturday trying to watch the athletics, keep an eye on the score in the cricket and also in the tennis as I’d been instructed to record Andy Murray’s match. It was quite stressful at times and watching all the amazing athletes made me feel really lazy. I read a really interesting article on the Science of Sport website – World Records: Fossils, stagnation and a tale of two drugs. After the World Record in the women’s 10,000 metres was smashed on Friday think it’s a must-read for athletics supporters.
I wanted to watch Jessica Ennis-Hill et al in the athletics but decided to have an early night. I don’t function very well on zero hours sleep, and I wanted to give myself the best chance of completing what I suspected would be the most physically and mentally challenging run of my half marathon training so far.
Sunday – 50-55 mins continuous jog/run
After only managing to sleep for approximately 4 hours – I woke up just before my alarm at 05:15. The first thing I noticed was how dark it was outside, I suspected my extra early Sunday morning training runs would soon be coming to an end. I went to the loo, got dressed, had something to drink and headed out the door. After a quick warm-up I felt physically if not mentally prepared to attempt a 55 minute run.
The first ten minutes or so of the run felt terrible, I’m not going to lie I felt like heading back home to bed after 10 minutes. For some reason there were quite a few cars around. Not one driver bothered to indicate, so I was left playing ‘guess which way the car will turn’ at a couple of junctions – irritating before 06:00 on a Sunday. Although the second ten minutes felt slightly easier, by the time I’d been running for 5 km I was really struggling. When I realised that I still had to run for another 20 to 25 minutes I almost started to walk. My right knee was hurting and my calf muscles felt really tight – for a few minutes I was actually struggling to lift my right leg – I was shuffling rather than along the pavement. I reached 40 minutes and started to plan my route back home.
Although due to my knee issues I wanted to avoid running down any steep hills, I didn’t want to have to spend the final mile of my run struggling to run uphill. In the end I felt so knackered the downhill option won. As I was running towards home I somehow managed to trip over what looked like a leaf. I looked around to make sure that no one had seen me fall over and carried on running. A couple of minutes later I’d somehow managed to complete week seven of my Great Birmingham Run training.
So that’s the seventh week of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed. I’m almost halfway though my training plan, amazing. I was reminded that I’m not invincible and discovered that it takes a long time to recover physically from a training run at the age of 37.
Although next week’s training plan contains four runs, it is described as a “taper week”. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are rest days – I love rest days! I’m hoping that my various niggles will allow me to complete a 20 minute run on Tuesday and a 10 minute run on Thursday. I’m tempted to switch around Saturday’s 10 minute run and Sunday’s 5k race as I want to run at Walsall parkrun.
- Runs: 22
- Time: 7 hours 55 mins
- Distance: 80.10 kms
- Left foot: 4/10
- Right knee: 5/10
- Calf muscles: 2/10
- Shins: 1/10
Do you tell people when and where you are going running? I live alone and I’m single so I don’t exactly have anyone to worry about me not returning from a run.
Do you try to avoid running up hills towards to end of your training runs? I suspect that I’m lazier than a lot of runners.
What really irritates you when you are out running? Obviously I get really annoyed when drivers can’t be bothered to indicate at junctions. I also hate dog mess on pavements and parked cars that completely block the pavement.