Great Birmingham Run training week 9

Although I found week eight of my Great Birmingham Run training relatively easy, week nine of the training plan looked far more challenging. Whenever I studied the training plan, I found myself seriously doubting my ability to complete the longer Sunday run.Collage 23Week nine of my half marathon training plan – described as the second “building phase” – consisted of three rest days, a 10 minute run on Monday, 35 minute runs on Wednesday and Friday, and the slightly scary looking 65 minute run on Sunday. Although I had no idea if my knee would allow me to complete all of the training runs, I was determined to give it my best shot.

Monday – 10 mins easy jog

After running on both Saturday and Sunday, I was a little surprised that Monday wasn’t a rest day. I hadn’t attempted to run on three consecutive days for ages – my 37 year old joints definitely need rest days. On the plus side, only having to complete a ten minute run meant that I could turnoff my 05:30 alarm, bliss.

I must have been feeling particularly lazy, as it took me until 08:30 to actually head out for my run. Once again I found running for ‘only’ ten minutes both physically and mentally challenging. It took a couple of minutes for my right knee to stop twinging and for my breathing to settle down. When I got home and studied my run on Strava – I’m aware this is slightly obsessive behaviour – I realised that I had been running far too fast. Not the best start to the week!.

Tuesday – Rest

I was really relieved that Tuesday was a rest day. My right knee was feeling quite painful and had clearly not appreciated the three day running streak. I spent most of the morning sitting at my computer with an icepack balanced on my dodgy knee. In the afternoon I worked through some of the knee and bum strengthening exercises I’d neglected recently, and by the evening my right knee felt 99 per cent better. Although I felt quite confident that I’d be able to at least start my next training run, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run for 35 minutes. I reminded myself that not completing a run due to my right knee would be perfectly acceptable.

Wednesday – 35 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I noticed that it was very dark outside. I debated delaying my run until it got lighter. In the end I decided to run. As I didn’t want to frighten any of the early morning dog walking crew, I decided to wear my hideous, bright orange Nike ‘We Own the Night’ t-shirt. Seriously Nike, what were you thinking when you designed that t-shirt? I got dressed, I went to the loo, had a drink and headed out the door. Although it was quite chilly – evidently the early morning heat wave hadn’t reached Four Oaks – it felt really humid.

Predictably the first ten minutes or so of the run felt terrible. My breathing was erratic and I sounded like I was about to have an asthma attack. Although my right knee wasn’t painful I was aware that it felt quite numb – never a positive sign. Unfortunately the run didn’t improve after the ‘Toxic 10’ and I ended up having to stop and give myself a stern talking to after I’d been running for 20 minutes. My 35 minute ‘run’ became even more farcical when I had to slow to a walk to navigate my way past a section of pavement works. I’d clearly missed the ‘Footway Ahead Closed’ sign.

Thursday – Rest

Unfortunately, my right knee was quite painful first thing in the morning, so I spent an hour watching the TV with an icepack balanced on my knee. Not a very productive start to the day. After spending far too long sitting working at my computer, I realised that I was getting a headache, always a sign that I need to take a break. I got changed into some gym gear and worked my way through several of Jasyoga’s brilliant 5-minute reset videos. In the evening I worked through my knee and bum strengthening exercises, and spent an enjoyable hour studying the sports injuries book I’d bought from the charity bookshop.

Friday – 35 mins steady

After my failed attempt at running for 35 minutes on Wednesday, I was determined to successfully complete my training run on Friday morning. My alarm woke me at 05:30, five minutes later I was dressed and more or less ready to run. After a very quick warm-up I felt mentally if not physically ready to attempt a 35 minute run. Although the first ten minutes or so were a struggle, once I’d warmed and woken up I enjoyed the rest of the run. What a contrast to Wednesday.

I walked home, knocked back a glass of strawberry milkshake and then spent ten minutes sitting outside surrounded by snails and slugs, icing my right knee. After a quick post-run snooze I felt refreshed and ready for Friday. I spent the rest of the day writing an academic paper, reviewing an unpublished manuscript, sorting through some books to sell online, writing a Rants and raves blog post, getting the washing mountain under control and planning a route for my 65 minute run on Sunday. My life is pretty dull at the moment.

Saturday – Rest

The excitement of Friday must have worn me out, as I didn’t wake up until 08:30. I spent the day reading through a pile of academic papers. Not very exciting but I wanted to avoid using my right knee as much as possible. In the evening I gave the pub a miss and spent a stressful hour or so watching Casualty. Hopefully my normal Saturday evening drinking session will resume after the Bank Holiday weekend.

Sunday – 65 mins steady

The prospect of having to run for over an hour was clearly playing on my mind as I only managed to sleep for a couple of hours. Not ideal! When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I felt really tired and had to fight the temptation to hit the snooze button. I went to the loo – twice, got dressed into one of my brightest running outfits, had a couple of glasses of water, filled up my handheld water bottle and headed out the door. After a quick warm-up I felt ready to attempt my longest run since the London Marathon back in April.

Once I’d got the ‘Toxic 10’ out of the way I started to really enjoy my run. I’d mapped out my route the day before using Mapometer – knowing exactly where I had to run made me feel more confident I could complete the run. When I’d been running for approximately 30 minutes I paused my Garmin and walked for a couple of seconds. I felt thirsty and needed a drink, for some reason I can’t drink and run. I really need to master the art of drinking and running. I felt better after my quick water stop and the rest of the run was incident free.

As soon as I got some I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange nuun, I was determined to avoid a post run headache. I then sat down and watched some Sunday morning rubbish on the TV while I iced my right knee and left foot. Once I’d finished making myself feel cold I was lazy and had a quick shower and then went back to bed for a couple of hours.

So that’s the ninth week and the second building phase of my half marathon training successfully completed. Once again I was reminded that I need to slow down and maintain a sensible pace during my longer training runs. I was also reminded that I need to drink during longer training runs. I might christen the Ultimate Direction hydration pack I won in a competition earlier this year, at the moment it’s sitting in my wardrobe gathering dust.

Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and looks quite scary. I’ve got to complete a 35 minute run on Tuesday, a slightly speedier 45 minute run on Thursday, a 20 minute recovery run on Friday and then a 75 minute jog/walk on Sunday. I’m confident that I can run for 75 minutes if I start off at a sensible pace. I’ve already planned out a seven mile route.

Training totals

  • Runs: 29
  • Time: 11 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 110.91 kms

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 28:15
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12


  • Left foot: 5/10
  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Calf muscles: 1/10
  • Shins: 1/10

Do you carry water with you on training runs? I don’t usually bother, but on longer training runs I’ve noticed how rubbish I start to feel when I’m thirsty. Fantasising about water can’t be a positive sign!

Do you plan out your route before you run? I personally find it a lot easier when I know exactly where I’m going to be running.


4 thoughts on “Great Birmingham Run training week 9

  1. Maria @ runningcupcake says:

    Nice work on the long run! I know what you mean about bright running tops too- the lovely local 10 mile race that I love to do has had awful colour choices the past few years- high viz yellow or green- they hurt my eyes and although are OK for darker evenings you still need reflective bits or lights. This year it was purple which was a very pleasant surprise!
    Ah, the first 10 minutes can be tough- that’s partly why I could not do a run streak- a few people in my club do them, and sometimes just do a 10 minute run, but I think that is the hardest, plus it would annoy me to spend more time getting ready and showering than I would spend actually running.
    I do not take water with me on runs- I hate drinking while I run and feeling it slosh about. I also think it is bad to drink too much, and I can rehydrate when I get home anyway. The only exception was when I did my 20 mile runs for the marathon last year, I did two 10 mile loops and left a bottle of water by my front door, collected it half way and then had a bit on that run, because it was fairly warm. Unless the race is on a warm day (up to a half marathon distance) I am very unlikely to drink during the race too.


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Maria! I’m looking forward to adding another brightly coloured Lichfield 10k running top to my collection next Sunday. I’m pleased that I’ve finally worn the bright orange running top. I’m going to have to dig out some high viz tops and reflective lights this weekend as it is now really dark when I run before 6am.
      Like you I could never do a run streak. I find any training runs less than 20 minutes slightly irritating. I take ages to rind my rhythm, and spend more time getting changed, warming-up, cooling down, having a shower and getting changed again than actually running.
      I’ve never taken water with me on a training run before. I’ve always had loads to drink before heading out the door and then hoped for the best. I’m going to try running without water again on Sunday. If I get really desperate for a drink I can always run back home.


  2. AnnaTheApple says:

    Well done on the long run! It’s a great feeling to tick it off, right?
    I’ve been using my hydration belt for all my long runs recently. Mainly because I’ve been leaving it too late to go and it’s too warm not to (I’m an idiot).
    And I’ll always plan my route (or use a route I do all the time so I know how far it is). I hate to go out and not have a plan or not know where I’m going. In general my sense of direction is terrible as well so it’d be a disaster…


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Anna! I love putting a tick next to the long runs on my training plan. It’s such a satisfying feeling. Because I’ve been starting my runs before 6am it’s been lovely and cool. I have no idea why I was so thirsty last Sunday but will leave my water bottle at home this weekend. I always carry money so if I get really desperate I can pop into the local petrol station.
      I never used to plan my routes properly and would end up having to run loops past my house, seriously demoralising. I think I know where I’m running on Sunday. My sense of direction is useless as well but luckily I know Four Oaks so well I’m fine. I wouldn’t have a clue where to run outside of Four Oaks! So much for having a geography degree.


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