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.Week 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.
- Runs: 29
- Time: 11 hours 0 mins
- Distance: 110.91 kms
- 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.