After successfully completing week thirteen of my half marathon training plan, I looked forward to tackling what was described as ‘peak week’.Week 14 of my Great Birmingham Run training plan consisted of ‘steady’ paced 50 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday, an ‘easy’ 10 minute jog on Saturday and then the final long training run on Sunday. The training plan recommended that this long run should last between 100 and 120 minutes. Monday, Wednesday and Friday were rest days – at this stage probably the most important element of the training plan. Although Sunday’s long run looked quite challenging, I was determined to run continuously for two hours.
Monday – Rest
It took me approximately five seconds to realise why week 14 started with a rest day – running for almost two hours the previous day had left me with tired legs – running would have been out of the question. Following a lengthy session with the foam roller, I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on my Brexit and environmental legislation report. After spending far too long sitting staring at my computer screen, I realised that I was getting a headache and needed to take a break. I got changed into my new yoga outfit – thanks cousin Alice – and worked my way through some of Jasyoga’s excellent five-minute reset videos. Week 14 had got off to a positive start.
Tuesday – 50 mins steady
When my alarm woke me up at 05:30, the first thing I noticed was how windy it was. Great! I got dressed into some running gear, went to the loo, had a drink of water, started my Garmin and then headed outside. I completed a very brief warm-up – it was really mild – and then started to run. At first, an accurate description of my running gait would have been ‘wonky donkey’, however, once I’d warmed up properly, my legs suddenly remembered how to run. After ten minutes of running directly into the wind, I crossed the main road and reached my favourite figure of eight circuit.
For once the weather gods were kind to me, and I found myself only having to run directly into the wind on the downhill sections of my circuit. The uphill sections were most definitely wind assisted. As I reached the final 20 minutes of the run, I started to feel quite nauseous. At one stage I thought that I was going to have to stop running. It wasn’t pleasant, and I have no idea what made me suddenly feel so sick. I was over the moon when I reached the end of my 50 minute run.
I walked back home, managed to drink a glass of water and then sat outside mulling over my run. What had gone wrong? Was I coming down with something? After ten minutes I started to feel really cold and dizzy. I headed back inside, had a long hot shower and then went back to bed. I eventually woke up a second time at 10:00. Although I’d wasted most of the morning, the nausea had disappeared and I felt ready to tackle Tuesday. Luckily, the rest of the day was far more productive.
Wednesday – Rest
The highlight of my rest day on Wednesday was the arrival of my number for the Great Birmingham Run. Say hello to runner ‘5672’. You may wonder why I was so relieved to finally receive my number. Although I was 99.9 per cent certain that I’d entered the event, I won my entry in a competition and never received a confirmation email from the organisers. I’ve been allocated a place in the second wave of runners, so will have to make sure that I don’t get dragged along by faster runners on the morning of the race!
Thursday – 50 mins steady
On Tuesday morning it was windy and mild, first thing on Thursday morning it was windy, mild and very, very wet. Although I’ve always loved running in the rain, accidentally stepping into a puddle and getting my feet soaked as soon as I started running wasn’t ideal. Once again I found myself running like a ‘wonky donkey’ to start with, and the uphill sections of my run were wind assisted. Luckily the nausea had disappeared and I was able to enjoy my run. The second 50 minute run of week 14 felt easier and far more enjoyable than the first. Sometimes the (Strava) statistics apparently do lie.
After spending the rest of the morning and the afternoon working on my Brexit report and drafting out a couple of potential blog posts, I was ready for a break from my computer. I got changed into some gym gear, cleared a space on the office floor, rolled out my yoga mat, spent ten minutes warming-up my muscles and then half an hour rolling my calf muscles and inflicting a lot of pain on myself. My calf muscles were so tight it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience and made me think of the overused expression ‘no pain, no gain’.
Friday – Rest
Another rest day, I really do love my rest and recovery days! Streaking definitely isn’t for me… I spent the morning and afternoon reviewing another couple of unpublished academic manuscripts. I rejected one manuscript – hitting the reject option made me feel really guilty – and the second was accepted pending some minor revisions. In-between the manuscript reviewing I managed to catch up on some washing, all in all a productive rest day. At some point during the afternoon I checked my Outlook account and noticed that I’d received an email from Great Run. The email contained the link for priority entries into the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon. I managed to resist the temptation to enter there and then – 10 years ago I was really impulsive and would have parted with my £55 pretty much instantaneously – and weighed up the pros and cons of committing to training for another marathon. After much deliberation, I decided to hold off entering the marathon until after my long run on Sunday. If I managed to run for two hours on Sunday I would enter the marathon, if I failed I would keep hold of my £55.
Saturday – 10 mins easy jog
As I only had to run for 10 minutes, I decided to turn off my 05:30 alarm clock, and delayed my run until it was light. For some reason I thought that my training plan said 10 mins fast so after spending five minutes warming-up, I decided to see how far I could run in 10 minutes. The answer – not very far! When I got home and checked my training plan, I realised that the run should have been a jog at a really easy pace. It had taken me until week 14 of 16 to completely mess up one of my training runs.
An hour or so after I returned from my run, I opened my twitter account and discovered that I’d won a CEP compression recovery bundle. I love my CEP compression socks and sleeves, so can’t wait to see what arrives in the post! In the afternoon I treated my calf muscles to another enjoyable (?) session with the foam roller, and then had an epic afternoon nap. Lazy but I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of completing my long run. In the evening I made myself eat a huge plate of pasta, watched Casualty, laid out my running gear for the morning and had an early night.
Sunday – Minimum 100 mins aim for 120 mins
The prospect of having to run for two hours resulted in me not sleeping very well. Some people function well on limited sleep, I’m not one of those people. When my alarm woke me at 05:30, getting out of bed was a real challenge. I went to the loo, got dressed in my lucky Sunday long run outfit, drank a glass of water and headed out the door into the dark. It was cold and the wind had finally died down, the conditions were perfect. If I failed to run for the full two hours I wouldn’t be able to blame the weather. After a quick warm-up I set off on what I hoped would be a successful long training run.
I set out at a sensible pace, and once my legs had warmed-up started to enjoy my run. The first hour of the run felt easy and was incident free. I had the pavements to myself and for the majority of the first hour managed to avoid any tripping incidents. Once again I managed to run up my nemesis hill without walking, progress. When I reached the top of what felt like the billionth hill, I realised that I ‘only’ had 40 minutes left to run. Predictably, those final 40 minutes were both physically and mentally challenging. After listening to the sound of my breathing, the occasional car and a really irritating stone that got wedged in the sole of one my trainers, I started to get really bored. I needed something to listen to, to take my mind of the monotony. Although I felt great, I wanted to get out of the cold and for the run to be over. When the timer on my Garmin finally reached two hours, I was relieved that it was all over. Slightly contrasting weather conditions…
As soon as I got home I made myself drink two glasses of water followed by a glass of some slightly dubious tasting nuun. I then spent a painful ten minutes with my legs up the wall. After a quick session with the foam roller, I spent far too long having a hot shower. I then went back to bed again and attempted to sleep for a couple of hours. I spent the remainder of Sunday trying to avoid using the stairs and eating far too much food. I also entered the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon.
So that’s the fourteenth and the most challenging week of my half marathon training completed. I can’t believe there are only two more weeks to go. Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and is described as the ‘start of taper’. Let the taper madness begin! Monday, Tuesday and Friday are my rest, recovery and rebuilding days. My legs definitely need the double rest day! I’ve then got to complete a ‘steady’ paced 50 minute run on Wednesday, a 35 minute ‘easy’ paced run on Thursday and a 60 minute run on Sunday.
- Runs: 48
- Time: 25 hours 50 mins
- Distance: 251.74 kms
- Left foot: 4/10
- Right knee: 4/10
- Calf muscles: 5/10
- Shins: 1/10
Can you recommend a lightweight and breathable running jacket? I’ve now tried a selection of so-called breathable running jackets and always end up overheating.
What’s the most useful item you’ve won in a competition? I’m predicting that my CEP recovery gear will be near the top of the list.