9 Weeks to go – This Marathon Training Stuff is Tough

9 weeks to go until the big day in New York.  Last week I was on a high, having knocked about 30 seconds off my previous 10k PB in the rain of Perth 10k, happy enough that I’d acquired a decent bit of pace, but I had a suspicion my training plan would turn to endurance with only 9 weeks to go until the race.  Indeed, this week jump from about 40k last week, to 60k this week.  Conventional wisdom is to not increase weekly mileage by more than 10% a week.  Seems like we’ve thrown that out the window.

This past 2 Mondays have been turbo recovery, rather than running recovery.  So a gap on the graphic, but I did spent 30 mins on the turbo, honest.  And 30 minutes of squats.  It’s amusingly contrary that my recovery day, every Monday, includes doing enough squats to make my glutes and quads sore all week.  But trust the plan.  Always trust the plan.

Tuesday – 10 hilly miles with tempo half marathon intervals.  Makes perfect sense.  These sessions are really important – combining long-ish runs with higher intensity intervals to try to get used to running at a decent pace while tired.  For the Manchester marathon I did these sorts o runs down on the Carse, on the flat roads: this makes it much easier to judge pace, stick to the plan, etc.  It also makes it easier.  So for this training period I’ve decided to make things a bit tougher.  An old colleague, now ‘retired’ to Queensland, Australia, used to say “Train hard; fight easy”.  Hard = hills.  This meant heading out East, rather than West, towards Benvie and Liff, then up to Berryhill and Balruddery farms. Doesn’t look like much on the map.  Hilly in reality.

Wednesday – Pickup Pyramid.  A staple Wednesday session that this week felt like running through maple syrup.  I do like maple syrup, mind you.  I think it’s underrated.  Good on Greek Yoghurt, pancakes, toast, fruit, porridge.  Have you every noticed that Scots Porridge Oats is actually Scott’s Porage Oats.  What’s that about?

By Thursday morning I was pretty keen for a day of rest, recovery, etc.  But the COG club ride beckons, and off I went on the bike, telling myself that I’ll be taking it easy up all the hills, sitting in the group for the flat bits, just spinning the legs.  Never quite turns out that way.   I got dropped as soon as we went up the first hill, of course, but not without me grabbing a few PBs up the main climb.  I’m getting quicker, it’s just that the rest of the guys in the club seem to be getting even quicker-er. And I needed front and back lights.  I told you Winter is Coming.

Friday.  Day off.  Thank heavens.  Friday night is pizza night.  Except child #1 was at his girlfriend’s house, so no family pizza for me, sorry us.  Nightmare.  Does no-one respect my refuelling strategies?

Weekends are for long runs, and double runs, more time so more training.  Apart from when I have 4 clinics to do over the weekend, down in Fife.  This throws the proverbial spanner in the marathon training works.  Thanks to the predictably flaky IT of the NHS at the weekend, however, the afternoon clinic had no patients on it, so I was free to set off back home and spend the afternoon running around the hills of the East Carse.  Long run.  28k with 3 30 second pickups every 20 minutes, it said on the plan.  “Train hard, fight easy” = hills.

Fun and games – home to Camperdown, where I was stopped by security guarding the Flower and Food Festival, and back through Fowlis, Berryhill and Balruddery farms again.  The hill up past Balruddery is no easier on the second go, particularly after 20k.  Not particularly quick, but given the 1000ft of climbing, I’m not too worried.

That brought up 600km for my current running shoes.  Saucony Kinvara 9s.  I don’ think that counts as product placement, unless Saucony want to give me a pair of new Kinvara 10s (size UK10 if you’re reading Saucony PR dept).  I’ve had two pairs of 5s, a pair of 6s, two pairs of 8s and a pair of 9s.  It’s fair to say I like these running shoes.  I know some folk who chop and change between running shoes a fair bit, but I think I’ve found a pair that suit me, and I’m happy.  The older ones wore out by the later toe box – the outside bit of the show, next to the pinky toe wore away with repeated bending.  The 5s and 6s all went this way.  The 8s and 9s seem to have this fixed, so the limiting factor seems to be the cushioning and treat, and the inside of the heel cup, which seems to wear away due to rubbing on my stupidly bony calcaneous (a results of Sever’s disease as a child).  But is 600 km enough running in a single pair of shoes to confine them to the bucket, and get new ones?  Here’s the distances my ‘retired’ shoes did before I bought new ones:

600km seems to be a reasonable distance. The Peregrines tend to last longer – they’re trail shoes, for winter use, and are more rugged.  The Kinvara 8s?  The first pair wore very prematurely, so Saucony replaced them under warranty (Thanks Saucony PR team, remember I’m a UK10), so the distance is not representative.  The second pair of 8s?  They seemed a bit tight, so I moved up a size and got the 9s – much better fit, with a lace lock – and the 8s were retired.  I got 900k out of a pair of 5s.  I remember that they were pretty knackered by the time I retired them, though.  The longer the shoes go on, the higher the risk of injury.  The prime directive here has to be to reach the start line injury free.  So how long dare I let this pair of shoes go?  Ideally I’d buy some 10s, run 100k in them and use them for the marathon.  But the 10s are released on the 1st November, 3 days before the marathon.  Dare I run 26.2 miles in a pair of shoes I’ve had for 3 days, and probably run 10k in?  Probably not.  So the likely solution here is another pair of 9s (hopefully in an end of season sale) to run in nicely before the marathon – perhaps start to wear than 3 weeks before the race?  Which leaves me with 6 weeks, and about 400km to run in the current pair…..

The next question is which colour, of course.  This is the key issue, and will determine how quickly I run on race day.

Weekly totals: 59.4km running, 66km riding, 30 mins skwaaaaaatting.

Running total this year: 1284km.

This is what that looks like on a local map:

It’s a nice reminded of the races I’ve done (the blue loops in various places) and the regular training routes (the redder the more frequently trodden)

A week of slightly less distance to come, but there’s 2 races next week, including the Scottish 10k road race championships.

In next week’s update, I’ll have a look at the RunBritain rankings, and see how I’m fairing……

And hi to Jon – loved the book.