Although the twelfth week of my Great Birmingham Run training was really successful, rather irrationally I was concerned that I would be unable to complete week 13. Sometimes I hate being such a negative Nora.Week 13 of my Great Birmingham Run training plan consisted of another short 20 minute recovery jog on Monday, a 60 minute brisk paced run on Wednesday, a 45 minute easy paced run on Friday and finally, a slightly scary looking easy 100 minute jog on Sunday. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday were rest days. Although Sunday’s long run looked really, really challenging, I was determined to run for 100 minutes.
Monday – 20 mins very easy
When I quite literally fell out of bed on Monday morning, my legs were barely functioning. An awesome start to the week! Unlike last week when I had the option of delaying my 20 minute run until the afternoon, it was a case of either run in the morning or miss my recovery run. After spending what felt like forever stretching I decided to run. The entire run was challenging and I got soaked. Week 13 of my Great Birmingham Run training hadn’t got off to a very good start, things could only get better.
After a slightly rushed couple of hours trying to pack everything I needed for my meeting in London, I found myself sitting rather uncomfortably on the 10:50 train to Euston. Stupid tight calf muscles. Fortunately, the train journey was incident free and not delayed, and after a quick journey across to Westminster, I found myself fighting my way past hordes of tourists. I successfully navigated my way to the location of my meeting – Smith Square – and then spent the afternoon reliving the EU referendum debate. I can confirm I was the only person wearing trainers, an epic fail!
The meeting finished and I swapped the tourists at Westminster for the crowds of shoppers at Oxford Circus underground station. I then met up with my friend and rather predictably we headed straight to the pub. After a couple of pints we both realised that we hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast, so we headed to my favourite Italian restaurant – Casa Becci. Predictably I had Calamari Fritti to start followed by Penne Amatriciana pasta. Next time I’ll be slightly more adventurous, perhaps.
Tuesday – Rest
I spent Tuesday in London and managed to avoid too much exercise. I headed across to Clapham in the morning as I wanted to have a nose at where I used to live next to Clapham Common. After discovering that not that much had changed in five years, I decided to walk down the high street to Sweatshop to treat myself to another pair of custom inserts. My current inserts are almost two years old so I felt that it was probably time for an upgrade. Thirty minutes later I escaped Clapham and headed back to my flat for some lunch. I then spent the afternoon trying to decipher my notes from Monday’s meeting.In the evening I met up with a friend and after a quick pint in the Kings Head pub we walked across to Pizza Express. I managed to convince my slightly reluctant friend to share a portion of dough balls between us to start with, luckily the dough balls were a huge success! As I’m not a fan of pizza, I opted for an unhealthy grand chicken Caesar salad followed by profiteroles. We then headed across the road to Regent Street Cinema where we bought tickets for ‘Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ and took advantage of the cocktail offer. The documentary was ‘interesting’ and the cocktails deceptively strong.
Wednesday – Rest
After spending most of the morning feeling hung-over and guilty for not running, I eventually left London just before lunch. I arrived back in Four Oaks a couple of hours later, and spent the rest of the afternoon writing up my meeting report. As the weather was dire and I still felt slightly peaky I decided to delay my 60 minute run until the following morning.
Thursday – 60 mins brisk
Although it was dark, wet and windy when my alarm woke me up at 05:30, I forced myself to get out of bed and into some running gear. I went to the loo, had a drink and then headed out the door into the wind and rain. I completed a five minute warm-up and then set out on what should have been a 60 minute run at a ‘brisk’ pace. It took less than five minutes of slightly speedier than normal running for me to realise that maintaining a faster pace wasn’t sensible. It was dark and the rain had made the pavements even more hazardous than normal. To add to my running woes, my legs felt like lumps of lead and calf muscles felt really tight. I slowed down, relaxed and started to enjoy my run.
After spending the rest of the morning and the afternoon pretending to be an academic, I got changed into some gym gear, rolled out my yoga mat and worked my way through James from Kinetic Revolutions ‘How to Foam Roll Your Calf Muscles’ video. Thanks for the recommendation Anna and Maria! Once I’d finished inflicting pain on my calf muscles I treated my feet to an ice bath and my right knee to a slightly overdue session with my icepack. I went to bed feeling confident I’d be able to complete a 45 minute run the following morning.
Friday – 45 mins easy pace
Although it was pitch black when I looked outside at 05:30 it had stopped raining and the wind had died down. I went to the loo, got changed into some running gear, drank a glass of water and headed out the door. It was so cold I immediately headed back into the house to grab one of my bright yellow, luminous long-sleeved running tops. It felt as if autumn had finally made an appearance. After a very quick attempt at a warm-up I felt ready to run. Once I’d both woken and warmed up after ten minutes or so I decided to increase my pace. Inevitably, I ended up completing my ‘easy’ 45 minute run at a faster pace than my so-called ’brisk’ run the previous day. I walked back home, drank a couple of glasses of a product I’m reviewing at the moment and then spent what felt like ages icing my right knee. After a post-run foam rolling session and hot shower I felt refreshed and ready to tackle Friday. I spent the morning sourcing references for the ‘Brexit and environmental legislation’ report I’d been asked to write, and the afternoon updating my CV and catching up on some admin. Yes my life is dull at the moment.
Saturday – Rest
Once again I found myself spending my Saturday rest day catching up on some long overdue housework. Although I felt quite guilty for making several dozen spiders homeless, I’d love to know why they seem to prefer my study to the rest of the house. Saturday evening was a bit of a disaster and I didn’t get to bed until 12:30, not ideal when I had my alarm set for 05:30 the following morning.
Sunday – Easy 100 min jog
Rather predictably I felt shattered when my alarm woke me at 05:30. Luckily I had planned out a ten mile route so I knew I would be able to run on autopilot. I also felt hungry and really dehydrated, clearly not the best preparation for a long run. I went to the loo, got dressed into my lucky Sunday run outfit, drank a couple of glasses of water, went to the loo again, readjusted my trainers for the third time and headed out the door. After a quick warm-up I felt physically if not mentally ready to attempt to run for 100 minutes.
I set out at a steady pace and once I’d got into my stride I started to enjoy my run. Although it was quite cold and wet, I quickly discovered that it was the wind that would represent the main challenge. At one stage the wind was so strong I felt like I was barely moving forwards. Once I escaped from the wind, running felt a lot easier and I managed to speed up slightly. When I’d been running for what felt like forever but was actually only for 40 minutes, I reached a road I’d never run down before. I discovered that I’d managed to add two miles of relentless undulations to my route from last week. I almost walked when I realised that the second half of my run would be more challenging than the first half, but I gave myself a talking to and carried on plodding.
Thanks to Birmingham City Council I was plunged into darkness at 07:00 when the streetlights were turned off. Although I struggled to run up my nemesis hill on Belwell Lane, for once I didn’t resort to walking. When I reached the top of the hill I realised that I’d been running for well over an hour and, therefore, only had to run for another 30 minutes or so. My confidence grew and I made an attempt to increase my pace. Less than half an hour later I’d reached the end of my 100 minute run.
As soon as I got home I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange nuun. I didn’t want to spend the rest of Sunday struggling with a post-run headache. I spent twenty minutes sitting watching rubbish on the TV while I tried to ice my feet and my right knee. After a quick session with the foam roller and a hot shower, I went back to bed for a couple of hours.
So that’s the thirteenth week of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed. A two day trip to London and my inability to drink in moderation meant that I had to swap a couple of my midweek training sessions around. I made a couple of my training sessions slightly more challenging than they should have been, and once again failed to get my pacing right. Although a couple of poor runs at the beginning of the week were slightly disappointing, my long run on Sunday helped to restore my confidence.
Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and is described as a ‘peak week’. The schedule contains the most challenging training run in the training plan I’ve been following since the end of June. I’ve got to complete ‘steady’ paced 50 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday, a 10 minute ‘easy jog’ on Saturday and then a long run lasting between 100 and 120 minutes on Sunday. Although I’ve got no idea if I can run for two hours, I’m going trust the training plan and will aim to for run for the full 120 minutes. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are my rest, recovery and rebuilding days when my foam roller will be used on a regular basis.
- Runs: 44
- Time: 22 hours 0 mins
- Distance: 215.59 kms
- 5 km: 28:15
- 10 km: 59:27
- Left foot: 6/10
- Right knee: 6/10
- Calf muscles: 8/10
- Shins: 1/10
Do you have a favourite or a lucky running outfit? I hope that I’m not the only runner who has a pair of lucky shorts and capri tights.
Has running turned you into a lightweight? Although I only drank a couple of glasses of red wine and a small cocktail on Tuesday evening, Wednesday was a write-off. I’m blaming my inability to drink on running.