Great Birmingham Run training week 16

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to complete the Great Birmingham Run yesterday. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty – I got to see the inside of the medical tent at the finish – but I completed the 13.1 miles.Collage 39The final week of my 16-week beginners’ half marathon training plan – the ‘taper week and race’ – contained three training runs and ended with the Great Birmingham Run. I completed a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday and an easy 15 minute run on Saturday. As my head finally started to feel ‘normal’ again, I made sure that I completed every training run.

I also did my best to avoid people with coughs and colds. Being unemployed definitely does have some advantages.

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

Although I definitely set my alarm for 05:30, I must have somehow managed to turn it off in my sleep as I didn’t wake up until 08:30. Returning to full-time work and working 39 hours a week is going to be such a shock to my system! As I didn’t want to start the final week of my training with a stressful run, I decided to spend some time through the PF stretches and exercises I’d been neglecting.

Once I was confident the school rush had ended I headed out on my run. Unfortunately, Geoffrey the Garmin was still broken so I used him as a stop watch rather than a GPS. My 20 minute run was probably a little faster than an ‘easy jog’ as I’m completely useless at pacing myself. I also tend to run slightly faster when I’m feeling good and nothing hurts. My suspicions were confirmed when I got home and worked out that I’d covered over 2 miles.

The final week of training had got off to a positive start.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday was a productive but incredibly restful rest day. After four consecutive days of pavement pounding, my legs definitely felt like they needed a day off. I spent the morning sorting through several boxes of junk and shredding loads of old paperwork and the afternoon reviewing an unpublished academic manuscript.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I turned it off and went back to sleep. For once I wasn’t being lazy; I was waiting for my second-hand replacement for Geoffrey the Garmin to arrive. After spending the morning waiting for the post to be delivered, my replacement Garmin finally arrived at lunchtime. Unfortunately, the battery was completely flat so I had to put Geoffrey II on charge before I could delete all the previous owners’ speedy data.

I didn’t head out on my run until almost 20:30. The run had the potential to be crap as it was dark, humid and incredibly windy. I was, however, so pleased to have a fully functioning Garmin, I ignored the less than ideal weather conditions (and a slight creepy taxi driver) and enjoyed my evening run.

Thursday – Rest

I got up at a respectable time, got changed into some gym gear and spent half an hour working my way through some of Jasyoga’s new Athletes for Yoga video series featuring Olympian Alysia Montano.  Although I’ve been subscribing to Jasyoga for almost two years, I realised that I’m still not very good at relaxing. Perhaps some people just aren’t very good at chilling out?

By the way, if you’d like to try Jasyoga, I was sent the promo code ‘AUTUMNRESET’ for one month’s free access.

The rest of Thursday was uneventful. I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon and spent a few more hours decluttering my PhD paperwork and text books. I spent the rest of the day writing an abstract for a paper and listing yet more junk on eBay. As I felt that I’d had a reasonably productive day, I treated myself to fish and chips and then spent an enjoyable couple of hours lying on my bed reading.

Friday – Rest

Friday was another reasonably restful but incredibly productive rest day. My paper on environmental flows was published in Progress in Physical Geography. Unfortunately, I can’t actually access the paper as I’m no longer affiliated to a university. After that bit of excitement my mentor phoned. Sometimes it’s just good to talk.

Saturday – Rest

I should have completed a 10-15 minute very easy paced jog, but I decided not to as I didn’t want to risk picking up a random, last minute injury. I spent the majority of the morning working on a couple of slightly overdue product reviews, stressing about the weather, getting my kit ready for the half marathon and answering a few blog-related emails.Collage 40After a reasonably productive morning, I headed across Birmingham to the university to return some slightly overdue library books. The trains to and from the university seemed to be full of people coughing and sneezing. I was paranoid I’d somehow manage to pick up a last minute bug. I got home, dumped my half marathon kit into a pile, made myself eat a huge plate of Spag Bol and went to bed at a reasonably sensible time.

Sunday – Great Birmingham Run

When I’ve had more time to reflect on what happened and what went wrong yesterday, I’ll write a separate race report. To summarise: running at 13:30 just felt ‘wrong’, it was warm and windy, my pacing was all over the place, I wanted to drop out after three miles, I had to run-walk from four miles, there were unexpected hills, my head started to really hurt, my vision went and I felt dizzy, I crossed the finish line and got escorted to the medical tent. Not my finest moment as a runner.

I’m pretty sure that I wrote something very similar 12 months ago, but I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my weekly half marathon training updates. Your support really did help me probably more than you realised, especially when I started to doubt myself last month.

Training totals:

  • Runs: 46
  • Time: 23 hours 50 mins
  • Distance: 129.95 miles

Races/time trials:

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52
  • Half Marathon: 02:43:32 (an epic fail but I’ll be back!)

Final niggleometer:

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 2/10

12 thoughts on “Great Birmingham Run training week 16

  1. Matt Tizzard says:

    Unlucky Emma, these things happen! I would be interested in knowing how much food you were eating and liquid drinking in the lead up and throughout the race? Matt


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Matt. Getting my food and liquid intake before and during the race was tricky as it didn’t start until lunchtime. On the day of the race I ate my usual breakfast (Weetabix and a banana) at 7am and then made myself eat a portion of Spag Bol as ‘lunch’ at approx 10:30am so three hours before the race. Throughout the morning I did my best to take on fluid and I made the most of the bottled water available before the start. During the race itself I made myself take on a bottle of water at each water station (every 3 miles) as I was aware it was warm and humid. I didn’t use any gels as I can’t stomach them and I completed all of my training runs without them. Judging by the amount of runners I saw collapsed at the side of the road, I think a lot of people struggled with the conditions, the time of the race and their fuelling.


      • Matt Tizzard says:

        Hi Emma. Ok so you ate a fair amount! Blimey, clearly wasn’t you then was the conditions. Good luck with your next one


    • Emma says:

      Thanks. I think I only finished because dropping out and getting a lift back to the start looked too challenging! I was tempted to jump on the train I spotted waiting at a platform half way through the race.


  2. Maria @ Maria Runs says:

    It sounds very tough indeed- you can’t help being unwell. Afternoon races are never good (I find personally- having only done a couple)- not sure why because I run in the afternoon something but it isn’t the same.


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Maria. I’m definitely going to avoid all afternoon races in future. After completing the vast majority of my training runs early in the morning, I wasn’t mentally prepared for running in the afternoon. I don’t think spending 30 minutes watching the marathon runners finish helped as I kind of switched off and felt far too relaxed. Hopefully the Cambridge half in March will be slightly more successful.


  3. wanderwolf says:

    Yay race! But o_O medical tent? Oh no! Glad it wasn’t something too serious. Sorry about the bum run, but you didn’t quit, which is pretty impressive right there. And you’re already signed up for a redemption run, so that’s something to look forward to. 🙂


    • Emma says:

      The medical tent at the finish was overflowing with seriously unwell looking runners. I personally didn’t feel that bad and suspect I was only detained because I was shivering when I crossed the finish line. To be honest, all I wanted was the warm top I knew was waiting for me inside my rucksack and a portion of extra salty chips from Mc Donald’s. Once I’d had a large full fat coke and some chips (I’m such an athlete!) I felt fine. I’ve now forgotten about the Great Birmingham Run, it’s time to focus on the Cambridge Half in March!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. AnnaTheApple says:

    13:30? Jeeze that is rough. I actively avoid races that start at weird times. Lots of the cross country ones start later in the day which really puts me off. I like early morning or evening.
    Well done for the training (let’s be honest that’s the hardest part!) and the race. Sorry it didn’t go to plan but chin up, you survived!


    • Emma says:

      Tell me about it. Had I realised the half wasn’t starting until 13:30 I would have probably given it a miss. Most runners I chatted to said they hadn’t eaten since the morning. I’m not surprised so many struggled in the humid conditions. One bonus of not actually running all of the 13.1 miles was finishing the race without any new injuries or niggles. I’ve already drawn a line under the (not so) Great Birmingham Run and can’t wait for the Cambridge half in March.

      Liked by 1 person

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