After somehow managing to run for two hours without stopping for a sneaky walking break, I felt ready for week 15 and the start of the taper.Week 15 of my Great Birmingham Run training plan started with a double rest day. After running for two hours, I knew that my legs and calf muscles would definitely need an extra rest day. The training plan recommended that I completed a 50 minute steady paced run on Wednesday, and an easy 35 minute run on Thursday. If everything went to plan, Friday’s rest day would be followed by an easy 15 minute jog on Saturday and a 60 minute run on Sunday. Although I was determined to complete all of the training runs, thanks to spending far too much time surrounded by people coughing and sneezing, I ended week 14 feeling slightly lurgified.
Monday – Rest
When I made my first tentative steps on Monday morning I immediately realised why week 15 started with a rest day. My old friend – delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – had made an unwelcome and inconvenient appearance. Evidently the post-run foam rolling and leg pampering hadn’t been very effective. After spending the morning filling in job application forms and drafting out some ideas for an academic paper, I caught the 13:50 train down to Euston. By the time I reached Coventry I’d already discovered that having long legs and DOMS on a cramped train wasn’t a winning combination.I reached Euston and then hobbled the short distance to Euston Square station and then from Baker Street to meet my friend at his local pub. Once again I found myself sitting outside the pub drinking beer, people watching and enjoying the sun. After an hour I managed to convince my friend that shopping in Lululemon would be far, far more enjoyable than drinking beer in the sunshine. The shopping trip was successful and my friend bought me an ‘anti-stink’ short sleeved running top. We then headed to a local restaurant for something to eat. I must have been feeling quite peckish as I managed to eat a huge portion of steak, peppercorn sauce and chips.
Tuesday – Rest
Luckily Tuesday was another rest day. Unfortunately, the DOMS in my legs had been joined by the start of what would quickly develop into my first cold of the year. I left London at lunchtime and spent the rest of the day working from home and trying to make my slightly fuzzy brain focus.
Wednesday – 50 mins steady
When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I felt far too groggy to attempt a 50 minute run. If I felt better I would run later on in the day. I switched off my alarm and went back to sleep for an hour. After spending the morning trying to perform a Principal component analysis on some river flow data, I was relieved when mum picked me up at 11:30. We headed across to Sutton Park and spent an enjoyable but quite chilly 45 minutes walking around the perimeter Blackroot Pool. Although I had been slightly reluctant to leave the warmth of my study, the walk in the fresh air made left me feeling much better. I was confident that I was well enough to run for 50 minutes.
The combination of not wanting to run when it was really busy, and issues with my statistical assessments meant that I didn’t start my run until almost 20:00. The first ten minutes of the run felt terrible, my breathing was all over the place and I seemed to meet every dog owner in Four Oaks. My obsession with early morning running had meant that I wasn’t used to having to negotiate dog walkers, pedestrians, children on bikes and cars. Things improved once I reached my favourite quieter route, and the remainder of the run was really enjoyable.
Thursday – 35 mins easy
When I woke up at 05:30 I discovered that running the previous evening had made my mild cold symptoms develop into a ‘proper’ cold. Awesome! As an asthmatic runner, I’m aware that missing the occasional run is the most sensible option. I decided that not completing a 35 minute run would make little difference to the outcome of next week’s half marathon and stayed in bed. My lunchtime walk across Sutton Park and into the centre of Sutton Coldfield meant that I got some exercise and fresh air. The Karrimor running socks and reflective Mondetta running tights I purchased were an added bonus…
Friday – Rest
As my cold hadn’t miraculously disappeared during the night, I was relieved that Friday was a rest day. I don’t like missing training runs. I spent the entire day working on my Brexit and water resources report. In the evening I treated my right knee to a long overdue session with the icepack, and then worked my way through a selection of my arse and knee strengthening exercises. I’m sure that my Friday evenings used to be slightly more interesting!
Saturday – 15 mins easy jog
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel very well when I woke up. My cold appeared to be lingering with intent. After walking the short distance to the local chemists left me feeling breathless, I decided to take another rest day. Although I felt unfit and was convinced that my cold would last forever, I made myself look at the positives. I wasn’t injured and I was taking the start of my half marathon taper seriously. I had a week to recover from my cold. As an added bonus the additional rest days had meant that my troublesome right knee and left foot were feeling virtually pain free. By the evening, I felt so much better I laid out my running gear ready for what would hopefully be the final Sunday morning run of this training cycle.
Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace
Although – thanks to my cough – I didn’t get the best night’s sleep, when my alarm woke me at 05:30, I decided that I felt well enough to attempt to run for an hour. I went to the loo, got dressed into the slightly warmer running gear I’d laid out the previous evening, drank a couple of glasses of water and headed out into the dark for the final time. It was cold and still, perfect for running in and also ideal for triggering an asthma attack. After a very quick warm-up I set out at a very, very steady and sensible pace.
Once I’d warmed-up I started to enjoy my run. The extra rest days meant that my legs felt fresh, and for the first time in what felt like weeks, my left foot was pain free. The roads were virtually empty, I had the pavements to myself, and I was able to enjoy my final early Sunday morning run. I felt sad that my half marathon training had almost come to an end, and vowed to continue the early Sunday runs after I’d recovered from the half marathon. The run felt easy, and I made it home without breaking anything or injuring myself. I didn’t see any people dressed as clowns.
So that’s the fifteenth and penultimate week of my half marathon training completed, sort of. While I wouldn’t say that it was a successful week, I’m pleased that I managed to complete a 60 minute run without too much difficulty on Sunday. I just need this cold to disappear ASAP.
Next week’s training schedule – the ‘taper and race week’ – contains three training runs and then it’s the GREAT BIRMINGHAM RUN on Sunday!! I can’t wait. I’ve got to complete a 20 minute recovery run at some point on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday and then an easy 10 to 15 minute run on Saturday. The training plan recommends that I test out my race day outfit on Saturday. As I don’t fancy running in stinky running gear, I’ll be testing out my race day clobber on Wednesday. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are my rest, recovery and rebuilding days. I’m praying that my fragile body survives the final week and that my cold gets better.
- Runs: 50
- Time: 27 hours 40 mins
- Distance: 269.01 kms
- 5 km: 28:15
- 10 km: 59:27
- Left foot: 3/10
- Right knee: 3/10
- Calf muscles: 2/10
- Shins: 1/10
Have you got any tips for getting rid of a cold ASAP? I’ve tried several of Boots’ best offerings and I’m now starting to feel slightly concerned it’s not shifting…
Do you test out your race day outfit in advance? I’d never run a race in new trainers, but without knowing what the weather is going to be like on Sunday, I can’t see how I can predict what I’m going to wear.