The Road to Berlin: Week Seven

Week Seven: 21/08/17 – 27/08/17

Total Mileage: 73.3M

Monday:         Rest

Tuesday:         13M (10 Progression)

Wednesday:   7.3M Recovery

Thursday:       8x600m reps off 90sec jog recovery

Friday:             AM: 4.5 M Recovery

PM: 7.25M Easy

Saturday:        8M Easy + Strides

Sunday:           24M (20 Moderate)

 

Reflections:

This was a tough week and a bit of a mix to be honest! Things started fantastically and I felt great on the progression run. I managed to work down to a couple of reps at 5:25/mile and felt strong. This was a similar session to one which I completed before my Marathon in Amsterdam last year however this attempt ended up being significantly faster than that effort – a nice little confidence booster!

On Wednesday however I had to stop my run half a mile early due to really bad stomach cramps. I had further stomach issues on Thursday too, though thankfully I was still able to complete the session.

On Friday and Saturday I was made it through all of the runs with no further issues which was a relief and I felt great. I am really starting to feel fit just now and these runs felt fantastic.

Sunday was a big one. 24Miles with the middle 20 at 6:20/mile (approximately 30seconds ahead of Marathon Pace). I made my way round Pollok Park before heading up along the cycle route towards Paisley and along the canal before turning and heading back on myself. It was really useful to have company on the first section of this run and Darren and Stuart ran with my to the half way point. It was also a nice boost to see Cris and Craig when I was heading back as we used the same route for our similar sessions. I felt great on this run and the pace felt comfortable – again it was a huge confidence boost as I enter the final month of preparation. I did get a bit of a fright when I stopped however as I attempted to stretch my calves (which had been very tight) and I got a sharp pain up my Achilles and left calf. After a couple of minutes the pain disappeared  and things seemed to clear up. I decided to take a day off tomorrow and to focus on a stretching/icing/foam rolling strategy to get through it! Fingers crossed…

 

 

The Road to Berlin: Week Six

Week Six: 14/08/2017 – 20/08/17

Total Mileage: 82.3M

Monday:          8M Easy

Tuesday:          12M (10 Moderate)

Wednesday:    8M Easy

Thursday:        8x 1km reps

Friday:              AM:  5M Recovery

PM: 6M Easy

Saturday:          8M Easy + Strides

Sunday:             22M (13.1 Steady)

Reflections:

This has been the heaviest, in terms of volume, that I have done in a very long time (possibly ever!) and I was a little concerned coming into it about how my body would cope. I am delighted to have got through it unscathed and have actually really enjoyed the sessions.

Monday’s easy run was a gentle start to the week – which was nice as this would also be my last day off before work started up again! It was nice to get back into the ‘run commute’ habit on Tuesday with a longer Moderate run along the Clyde which felt very comfortable. It’s always reassuring to have these sessions as at the start of the program I know that this run would have felt far more laboured. Another easy run on Wednesday took me to 28 Miles and it was nice to feel like the legs were simply ticking over.

On Thursday I had to plan for an 8x1km interval session as part of my run home from work. The goal was to get a couple of miles of warmup in at a nice easy pace (which would also take me conveniently down to the Clyde Walkway) and then bust out the kilometre reps along the Walkway towards Glasgow. I needed to get two mins of jogging recovery in between each rep too which meant that the total distance covered would be significantly further than just the 8km. I hit the reps at ~10km pace and felt great. There is something very reassuring about beginning a rep and seeing that it I only 0.62miles to go when you’re used to counting down in full miles! I had to do a little doubling back on myself when I got to Glasgow Green in order to fit all of the reps in but this was not a problem and I enjoyed a nice easy few miles back up to the flat once they were done.

Friday and Saturday were reserved for more easy running. I made sure to hit my strides on Saturday as I had missed this from my session earlier in the week. For Saturday’s run I enjoyed a nice few miles down to Pollok parkrun where I ran round with Paul Houston (and had a good chat!) before knocking out a few easy miles home again.

Sunday was the big one. This was a session which has been staring out of my plan at me for a few weeks and which I have been fairly intimidated by. Not only was the idea of running 22M with 13 of them at target race pace terrifying, I was scared of the implications if it proved too big a task – if I could not manage half a marathon at my goal pace, what chance would I have over the full thing! I set off with Walshy nice and early to get the first 5M in at an Easy pace. This was great and it was really helpful to share the session with someone. We were both nervous but definitely took confidence from having the other there. As we hit 5M, Walshy and I parted ways to complete the faster section at our own target paces. My goal was to keep the mile splits in the 5:51-5:53 area for the first half and then see how I felt. As the clock ticked along I soon realised, to my absolute joy, that the pace felt comfortable! I hit the half way mark pretty much on track (except for one poor split which I am blaming on tree coverage messing with my GPS) and decided to pick things up for the next 7M. I picked up the pace to 5:45/mile and felt great. With a mile or two to go it did start to feel like a little effort to maintain the faster splits but I still felt strong and my HR suggested I wasn’t working too hard. I hit the final mile and threw in a 5:41 to see how the legs would cope. This was a bit more of an effort but I felt great and was delighted to get through this section of the run. As I hit the 13.1 mark, I reached Walshy and we exchanged a few words about the run – we had both had similar experiences with the pace and were buzzing with adrenaline. Together we climbed back towards the Southside to complete the 22Miles. My final mile felt tough – the legs were completely empty. At first I was a little concerned about this but I figure it was to be expected as we had made the decision to hit the run without gels or water. After a decent feed, I was able to look back on it as a very positive session and a real confidence boost as we come into the last 5 weeks.

This has been a pretty full-on week but it has been great. The volume and quality of the progressive sessions seems to be paying off and I am feeling very strong. I have had some tightness in my calf (left) but daily stretching and rolling seems to be working. I will monitor this closely and continue with the additional exercises I am doing.

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How to: Run to work…

A couple of years ago I tentatively made the transition from the comfort of motorised transportation to leg power as I began to dabble with running my commute. At first the change was terrifying – I was convinced that something would go wrong – and I spent several weeks needlessly sprinting to work in order to avoid being late. After a couple of weeks of arriving at school so early that I was spending my mornings drinking far too much coffee, I began to relax and I realised that, with a little bit of thought, the run commute could well be the way forward. Two years later and I regularly run to and from work four days a week – adding 36miles to my training log – having never looked back. I often tell others of the benefits of running to work and so I thought it might be useful to pass on some of the lessons I have learned and the mistakes that I have made along the way!

1.) Work clothes…

I wear a suit for work and have experimented with a variety of methods of taking my clothes in and keeping them in a reasonable enough condition to wear. I have tried folding my clothes in dozens of different ways in order to carry them ‘crease-free’ in my rucksack but nothing has worked consistently. Eventually I settled with the option of reserving Mondays as ‘rest-days’.  This meant that I could take the train to work and carry a week’s supply of clothes into work with me. I am able to leave shower stuff at work also and am lucky enough to have a decent hot shower waiting for me when I arrive!

Problems encountered:

I have managed on one occasion to confuse myself over which clothes I had at work and ended up arriving at the school with no trousers to wear! I was saved from having to teach in my running lycra as (fortunately!) somebody else had left a spare suit in the changing room which I was able to borrow. The only problem was that the trousers were 8″ to big in the waist and I ended up having to belt them up around my chest and stick a jumper on to avoid suspicion… It was not successful and I spent the day looking ridiculous! I won’t make that mistake again!

2.) Rucksack…

I have tried a variety of bags and have settled with two that I am very happy with. Most of the time I don’t need to carry very much at all – I complete the vast majority of my marking at work and so do not need to haul a load of paperwork home with me.

I bought a cheap 8 Litre running bag from decathlon which also contains a hydration bladder (see me here!) . This is perfect for pretty much every day of the week. The bag has a secure strap across the chest which means that it is incredibly steady and comfortable. I don’t actually use the hydration bladder however it has proven to be an excellent buffer between any hard objects in the bag and my back! I tend to take my lunch in to work in a tuppaware container and have had some horrible experiences in the past with hard corners digging into my spine – the barrier created by the plastic water bladder in this bag is the perfect cushion!

My secondary bag is useful for when I need to carry slightly more in to work. I use a Puma bag which is slightly larger but boasts secure waist and chest straps to hold it nicely in place (similar bag here). The zip compartments on the waist strap are excellent for carrying my keys as I can access them quickly and easily when it is cold and raining and I don’t want to stand on the doorstep rummaging through my bag!

Problems encountered:

 It became clear one day after running through howling wind and rain that neither of these bags is completely waterproof – I therefore always carry a plastic bag in the bottom which I can use as a bag liner if the weather is looking a little dodgy (which, being in Glasgow, is pretty much all year round!)

3.) Food.

I carry my lunch in with my most days and have found that most standard tuppaware will fit in either of these rucksacks. When I first started running to work it became clear very quickly that I would need to eat before the schoolday started. I have found that I cannot eat before the run (I will occasionally knock back a quick espresso) and so I have experimented with different options for breakfast. My standard approach is now pretty dependent on the time of year: During the cold, winter weeks I take a bag of porridge oats and a big carton of milk in with me each Monday morning (nothing beats getting on from a cold, wet run and having a steaming bowl of porridge and a cup of hot coffee!), however during the warmer months (which are rare) I prefer something a little different. I will often prepare something the night before which I can carry in with me in a tub in my rucksack. A regular favourite is to half fill a tub with oats and then I add some flaxseed, frozen fruit and milk before leaving it in the fridge overnight. Sometimes I add a scoop of Whey Protein to this mix and this can really help keep me full until I get a chance of a break at 11:15.

Problems encountered:

Larger cartons of milk will generally burst if carried in a rucksack while running… take them in on a rest day!

Leave some change in a drawer at work for the times that you simply haven’t taken enough food – I burn several hundred calories on my morning commute and so am frequently still hungry even after finishing a substantial breakfast!

Why bother?

As I mentioned earlier, the run-commute has genuinely changed my life! The substantial increase in my weekly mileage has reaped benefits in my race times at every distance. The ability to undertake this significant increase did, however, take a bit of time and so I would strongly advise against any sudden increase which would occur were anyone to jump straight in to a daily run-commute. When  I was building up the frequency originally I found that alternating running with cycling worked as a good way of keeping the legs ticking over whilst minimising the risk of an over-training injury.

Give it a go! There are few feelings more satisfying than sitting at my desk, refreshed and with a hot cup of coffee, knowing that I have already enjoyed a steady, early-morning jog while the rest of the world are still wiping the sleep from their eyes.

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