Half way there!
If my training, since I got over my Christmas broken toe, was a 50k race such as the one to be held in the North-Western fells on May 17th, right now I would be somewhere near the 25k mark, wondering what on earth I’m doing and whether I’m going to reach the end…
Since starting training full time again, I’ve been aiming for 5 runs a week. This involves, in an ideal week:
45 minutes of recovery on a Monday (which I’m fitting in around my son’s Taekwondo lesson, me running while he does his thing);
A tempo run with the club on a Tuesday (where I have singularly failed to get my heart rate up beyond the required 168 BPM);
60 minutes of threshold running on a Thursday evening (while my son is busy doing kickboxing). I have made this a key session and some of my best runs have happened on a Thursday;
2 runs over the weekend at threshold (HR between 155 and 167), one of 45 minutes and a longer one of 90 minutes+.
As far as fitting in my training around family and work life, it’s going well. I don’t think that my routine is impacting on time spent at home or getting work done for teaching any more than it ever used to and that was a concern for me before I started training for this event. Here are a few stats…
Week beginning: Jan 12th - 35.9 miles
Jan 19th - 45.1 miles
Jan 26th - 39.8 miles
Feb 2nd - 41.9 miles
Feb 9th - 34.7 miles (including a taper for a 30K race at the end of the week)
Feb 16th - 37.8 miles
Feb 23rd - 34.3 miles
March 2nd - 47.5 miles.
I have been pretty pleased with the mileage that I have covered (35 miles a week was about average for me last year) and I have seen real benefits from training in this very prescriptive way. The average pace that I can maintain over an hour with my heart rate in the high 150s has increased from around 7’10 minutes per mile back in mid-January to 6’49 minutes per mile in my run last Thursday. I have had a bit of a lull this week, though, where I haven’t felt quite so good. I couldn’t get anywhere near my tempo HR on Tuesday night and gave in on my midweek threshold run after only 2 miles, after getting the dreaded ‘jelly legs’. For this reason, and because we were pining a bit for the old days of long social runs when we could have a laugh and a chat, I managed to talk some of the guys into coming with me out on the trails yesterday for a bit of an adventure.
The Lindsey Loop
There are a few interesting long distance paths within range of my house, but the nearest is the Lindsey Loop. Covering some of the finest parts of the often-overlooked Lincolnshire Wolds, it is around 96 miles in total and links some beautiful market towns such as Caistor, Market Rasen and Spilsby. We, however, got up bright and early and drove north to Louth to run the 15 or so gently undulating miles back to Alford and then the 6 flatter miles across fields that end at my door. Conditions were excellent, nice and varied underfoot, and my legs stood up to the challenge well. We had a good laugh and my word, how the time flew! As we reached the little hamlet of Burwell, dropping down a steep path by the lovely churchyard, I realised that an hour had passed already, and it continued in this way throughout. 10 miles and we were wading through a mini-swamp at South Thoresby; first glimpse of the North Sea at around 13 miles and before we knew it we were in Alford marketplace and it was time to leave the Lindsey Loop. I have run about 50 miles of this route now in sections and it’s definitely on my list of things to do this year to have completed the whole thing (although not all in one go - that surely wouldn’t be possible?)*
Although I had one or two points during the run when I began to feel tired, we were all still happily chatting as we hit 20 miles; certainly something of a first! After 3 hours and 17 minutes (3:04 of which was spent moving) we reached my door and I could happily have continued running. I wasn’t sure whether the road training I had been doing on runs up to 90 minutes would help me once I hit the trail and spent more time on my legs but yesterday has really given me confidence and I’m glad I took this chance, halfway through my training, to get out and enjoy a run without worrying about how fast I was going. AND I got out (with a little help from my friends) and did another 5 miles at threshold the following day! Bring on the second half of training!
*It is possible to run the Lindsey Loop in one continuous run, and two legends of the world-famous Alford ultrarunning community have managed it. Read about them here and here - not only because they are beautifully written by inspirational people; they also tell you everything about what a wonderful part of the world this is!