Great Birmingham Run training week 16

Week 15 – the penultimate week of my half marathon training – didn’t exactly go to plan. Unfortunately, I came down with a cold and had to miss a couple of my shorter midweek training runs. Although I didn’t feel completely recovered, I was pleased to end week 15 with a really enjoyable 60 minute run on Sunday morning.collage-39The final week of my beginner’s half marathon training plan contained three training runs and ended with the Great Birmingham Run on Sunday. Just looking at the final week made me feel really, really nervous. The training plan recommended that I completed a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday and then an easy 10 to 15 minute run on Saturday. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday were my rest, recovery and rebuilding days. Although I was determined to complete all of my training runs, my cold from the previous week was lingering with intent.

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I discovered that my nose was completely blocked-up – sorry – and decided that my run could wait for a couple of hours. After spending the morning working on my Brexit paper, I got changed into some running gear and headed across to Four Oaks Estate. After spending ten minutes warming-up and entertaining a group of workmen with some of my static stretches, I was ready to run.

Predictably the first ten minutes of what should have been an ‘easy jog’ felt anything but easy. My cold meant that my breathing was even more erratic than usual and I sounded really wheezy. Unfortunately, the run didn’t improve after the first ten minutes, and I was really relieved that I only had to run for a total of 20 minutes. When I got home and checked out my run on Strava, it was clear that I’d got my pacing completely wrong. The final week of my half training hadn’t exactly got off to a brilliant start.

Tuesday – Rest

The highlight of my rest day on Tuesday was the realisation that my cold symptoms were finally starting to clear up. At last! The low point was the discovery that my friend was no longer able to drive me into Birmingham on Sunday morning. I spent several hours exploring a range of alternative travel options, and coming to terms with the possibility I might not actually be able to run on Sunday.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable

Once again I didn’t feel 100 per cent when I woke up at 05:30, and decided to delay my run until later in the day. I spent most of the morning reading about the Industrial Revolution and the devastating pollution of the headwaters of the River Tame. I then got changed into a slightly strange looking combination of running gear, worked through my effective but after 16 weeks pretty tedious warm-up routine and headed across to Four Oaks Estate. Although I wanted to run for 40 minutes, I felt really unfit and wasn’t confident I’d be able to run for that long without stopping. Don’t you just love taper madness!?

I set out at a sensible pace and decided to ignore my Garmin and to run by feel. Once I’d got the first ten minutes or so of the run out of the way, I settled into what felt like a comfortable pace and started to enjoy my run. As I was acutely aware that my hill training had been pretty nonexistent, I made sure that the run incorporated several challenging hills. Although my pace definitely slowed as I ran up the final hill, I made it to the top without slowing to a walk.

I walked back to the Tennis Club and then spent a couple of minutes trying to take a decent post-run selfie. Once again the results of my attempts were not exactly brilliant.collage-40I eventually got home, drank a glass of orange nuun and then spent half an hour icing my right knee and left foot. Although the majority of my niggles had disappeared and my run had been virtually pain free, I didn’t want to take any chances so close to the Great Birmingham Run. In the evening I worked my way through some of my knee and bum strengthening exercises and then spent twenty minutes massaging my calf muscles with my foam roller.

Thursday – Rest

Another rest day, tapering is hard work! Mum picked me up at 11:00 and once she’d got me trapped inside her car, informed me that she was “fighting off a cold”… We drove across to the cafe at Packington Moor Farm for a late breakfast/early lunch. Once again I failed as a blogged as I forgot to take an artistic photograph of my sausage sandwich. By the time I thought about taking a photo I’d scoffed half of the sandwich. It was really, really tasty. I spent the afternoon and early evening reading a couple of academic papers and feeling guilty for not running.

Friday – Rest

Another mundane rest day… The highlight of my Friday was finding out that this blog has been nominated for the 2017 Running Awards. If you nominated me then thanks!

Saturday – 10-15 mins very easy jog

As the weather wasn’t exactly amazing, I replaced the 10-15 minute very easy jog in my training plan, with an hour long stroll in Sutton Park. Quite lazy of me, but I didn’t want to pick up an injury the day before the half marathon. As an added bonus my trainers avoided getting soaked in the rain. While on the subject of the weather… I may have spent far, far too long on Saturday morning checking various websites. I looked at four different weather forecasts for Birmingham – all four were slightly different.collage-41I spent the afternoon preparing a selection of three race day outfits, playing a really stressful game of ‘hunt the safety pins’, reading the race day instructions, checking the weather, buying train tickets and generally doing everything at the last minute. However, the large amount of uncertainty surrounding my race day travel plans was the cause of the largest amount of stress. I eventually tracked down a bus that would hopefully be running tomorrow morning although due to road closures and diversions I had no idea where it would stop in Birmingham. Not the best pre-race preparation and a valuable lesson in relying on other people.

Sunday – Great Birmingham Run

I’m not going to write an essay here, but the Great Birmingham Run was a bit of a disaster. Although I completed the run, I failed to achieve any of my time goals and felt like cyring the second I’d crossed the finish line. Not my finest moment. At the moment I’m analysing what went wrong and what I should have done differently. I’m also seriously considering taking a break from running.

Finally, a huge thank-you to everyone who has read and commented on my weekly half marathon training updates. Your support really did help me, probably far more than you realised. I really wanted to end this series of weekly updates on a positive note and I feel that I’ve let everyone down.

Hopefully I’ll feel slightly more positive when my feet have recovered.

Training totals

  • Runs: 52
  • Time: 28 hours 40 mins
  • Distance: 278.94 kms

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 28:15
  • 10 km: 59:27
  • Half Marathon: 02:29:09 (includes a 10 minute sit down on the most inviting portaloo in the history of portaloos)


  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Calf muscles: 1/10
  • Shins: 1/10

12 thoughts on “Great Birmingham Run training week 16

  1. Maria @ runningcupcake says:

    Walking instead of running on the Saturday before seems like a very sensible idea indeed- the walk would still help gently stretch any stiff muscles and would still keep the blood moving and things.
    Public transport is very stressful- this reminds me of when I did the GNR as we had to get the subway out to the start and the machines didn’t work and it was all very panic inducing.
    Well done for finishing too- maybe at the end you felt bad, but as time goes on hopefully you’ll be more pleased with finishing when something is tough.


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Maria. After wasting far too much time and energy worrying, the bus journey into the centre of Birmingham turned out to be the least stressful part of the day. Your Great North Run experience sounds really stressful, I’m such a worrier I actually bought my bus and train tickets the day before the run. I’ve stopped feeling so negative about what happened and have already organised another half marathon. I’m hoping that the Cambridge half is less undulating and better organised.


  2. wanderwolf says:

    A great week! And a walk with strides the day before the race is a good idea… but that advice may now be too late. I’m confused, is your race this weekend?
    Looks like a good week!


    • wanderwolf says:

      Never mind, I just realized that I accidentally skipped your whole last paragraph.
      But also ugh to hear about the race as not so good. Maybe a bit of space between you and the run will help you find something positive! I’m sure there was something!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks wanderwolf. Now that I’ve stopped sulking and have started to focus on more important matters – such as finishing the academic paper I’ve been writing since the summer – I’ve realised that week 16 was a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AnnaTheApple says:

    Ah sorry to hear the GNR didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. It’s tough when you train for so long and then it’s a disappointment. But you did it! And I’m sure you learnt lots along the way to put into use for other races. I always try and look at the positives where I can. Have a break and come back raring to go 🙂


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Anna! I did feel gutted after the run, and was really annoyed when my club missed me (and all the other ‘slower’ runners) off their congratulatory tweet on Sunday evening. I’ve now had time to think about what went wrong and what I’ll do to make sure that I hopefully have a more enjoyable half marathon experience in March. At least my stupid right knee has now recovered. I’m looking forward to my first post-half run tomorrow morning!


  4. kayleahaynes says:

    Sorry your run didn’t go as well as you wanted. Well done on finishing though, that’s a huge achievement by itself. I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey to the start line of the GNR. Don’t let one bad run put you down there’s plenty more opportunities to meet goals in the future. I’m looking forward to reading about what you get up to next!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Kaylea! I’m pleased you’ve enjoyed reading my pre-race training updates. I’ve been stalking your blog for a while, congratulations on escaping the world of academia! I’ve had a week of zero running, and now feel ready to forget about the Birmingham fiasco. Injury permitting my next half marathon will be in Cambridge in March. Cambridge has to be less undulating than Birmingham! What’s next for you?


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