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Week 10, 99 min half: Ouch

This week started out crappy, and didn’t get much better until Sunday. I knew it would be a rubbish week.

It was supposed to be ‘peak week’ but it also coincided with hospital appointments and tests (nothing running related and not-pregnant, which is what most people assume once you’re past 30).

So I did what running I could, when I could. No race build-up goes 100% without an off week, it was just annoying that my off week should have been my peak training week.

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But then my leg started hurting too. NOT NOW LEG!

It was a niggle I had after Cambridge half, so I hoped I could get on top of it with a trip to the physio who sorted me out last time.

I ran my tempo run on the treadmill on Thursday then hobbled home before cycling over to her office. She stuck some pins in it and told me to take a day off before a short test run on Saturday. If that went ok I could do a longer run on Sunday.

The test run went ok, not perfect but my leg didn’t fall off so it was a win. I hadn’t told my physio that the ‘longer run’ I’d planned for Sunday was Ealing Half. Being sensible I knew I should probably skip the race and run 6 miles nice and easy. But I wasn’t sensible. I wanted to run the half.

On Sunday I headed over to Ealing with Phil and a leg that felt a lot better than it had all week. We set off with the 2:10 pacers, agreeing to take it nice and easy.

I first moved to London 10 years ago and lived in Ealing pretty close to where the race starts. There wasn’t a half marathon in Ealing then, and  as we ran past my old flat Phil reminded me “You wouldn’t have noticed if there was a race here back then, you’d have still been in bed at this time”. It’s true.

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We finished the race together, just over two hours after we’d started. And magically, my leg felt ok. Not 100%, but good enough. So here’s hoping the 99 min half is back on. Just two weeks to go now!

This week’s miles

img_0490Wednesday: Easy 4.5 mile run

Thursday: 6.5 miles on the treadmill with 5 at 7:30/mile

Saturday: 3 easy miles

Sunday: Ealing Half

Catch up

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9

Week 9, 99 min half: Getting faster

I’ve lived in London for 12 years now. And like most people who live here I have moments of loving it and being frustrated with the city.

In those 12 years I’ve lived in most postcodes and zones from 1 to 3. It’s a big place, but running and cycling around it makes it feel much smaller as all the dots get joined up.

On Monday night I ran to the track where I was coaching. I do this journey by bike usually but my run had been put off until there was no other way round it. The only problem was it was a tempo run and navigating from NE to NW London on foot at a time when the roads and pavements are full of people making their way home from work wasn’t necessarily the best fit. Still, race day people swerving practice.

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But despite all this the run went really well. I hit my goal half marathon pace for five miles and I think the traffic dodging helped. When you have to stay alert and concentrate on each step there’s little time to be thinking about whether your legs need to slow down.

[Maybe don’t try this at how though – stay safe.]

That run was a big confidence builder, and so were the intervals on Wednesday. Then came Saturday morning’s long run and 12 miles traversing London from north to south.

9 weeks ago I was frustrated that I was struggling to run a few miles comfortably at my marathon pace from Edinburgh. But over time that speed has got gradually more manageable again, until yesterday I ran 12 whole miles averaging 8:00/mile.

I ran parts of routes that I used to use a lot, but that I haven’t run in a long while. That’s another funny thing about London, you can go on a trip down memory lane by going just a few streets over. Next weekend I’m heading back to Ealing for a half marathon. I lived in Ealing for a couple of years when I first moved to London, but I wasn’t a runner then. Ealing didn’t have a half marathon then either; Ealing has changed and so have I.

This week’s miles…

Tempo Monday – 8 miles with 5 @ 7:30

Wednesday intervals – 6x800m

Thursday – 8 hot, easy miles

Saturday – 12 mile progression-ish run (8:00/mile ave)

Total: 34 miles

Catch up

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8

Episode 18: Running and pregnancy

kate-lewis-2A few weeks ago I took a walk round Wimbledon Common with Kate Lewis and her son Bertie. While Bertie slept, Kate and I talked about running during and after pregnancy.

She shared her experience of running through her two pregnancies and returning to running after birth.

I mention a US athlete called Sarah Brown in the podcast and if you want to find out more about her here.

You can find Kate on Twitter and follow her return to running.

If you’re pregnant or have recently given birth, please speak to your own doctor about what exercise is right for you.

Listen to podcast

Download it | Listen online | Get it via iTunes

Podcast archive

In defense of treadmills

I’ve used the treadmill quite a bit this year. I know a lot of people hate running on treadmills, and I was formerly in Team Treadmill Haters. But not anymore.

While a run outside, somewhere scenic would always be my number one choice, sometimes the treadmill is the more realistic option for me. This past week has been HOT in London. We’re talking 30C. That’s not outdoor running weather, especially when you have speedwork to do.

Obviously there’s other ways to get round the rising temperature: run early, run late, slow down. But as my work sees me training other runners early in the morning and later in the evening, this means my own running has to be done in the middle of the day when the mercury is at its highest on the thermometer.

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Luckily I have a cheapo gym round the corner, and at midday the 20 treadmills are pretty empty, meaning I get to pick the one directly under the aircon vent. #winning There’s still a fair bit of sweat going on though and at the end of a session my treadmill looks like a front row seat at Seaworld.

This week I did my speed session at the gym – 6x800m at 6:20/mile pace. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have hit that pace outside in the sun. That’s the other thing I’ve found this year – once you punch in the number on the keypad, your legs have no option but to run at it.

Yes, you can still have that internal ‘I can’t do it, I need to slow down’ dialogue but, it involved that extra step of reaching out your hand to press a button. Your hand becomes a third party mediator between your head and legs that says ‘hang on guys, just give it a little more time’.

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They’ve been a good tool for me learning a set pace this year too. My marathon-paced runs at the start of the year were a bit all over the place. I’d go off too hard then be struggling in the latter miles which totally messed with my head (and legs). Then I did my last 10 miler at marathon pace on the treadmill a week before Edinburgh. Feeling pretty good throughout built my confidence going into the race and cemented what race pace felt like so I could hit it from mile one of the marathon.

Yes, 10 miles on the treadmill was pretty dull but I came armed with an iPad and a film (my low-cost gym means I bring my own entertainment).

There is a difference between running on a treadmill and running outside. But it’s not as massive as some would have you believe. I think a lot of it is mental, in that you have to push yourself to hit a certain pace outside rather than have the belt force you into it. But knowing that you’ve done it in the gym can give you the confidence to do it outside.

So, if circumstance means that you’re doing a fair bit of your running on a treadmill, don’t worry about it. A run is still a run. If it’s the difference between a good treadmill run and a bad outdoor session (or no run at all), I know what I’d take. But do get outside whenever you can, it’s better for your running and your soul to mix it up a bit and get outside in the fresh air.

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