Training Diary (21/11/16 – 27/11/16) 9 weeks to go until the Gran Canaria Marathon

Monday was 5 miles recovery AM on the treadmill and 5 miles recovery PM outside, on the way home. I decided to run home today as a way of saving some time and making the most of the clean air. The reason the air is clean is because strong gusts of icy wing from the north have blown the pollution away and have also dropped the temperature down to -7°c. Running home was chilly and the concrete pavement wasn’t the best way of giving my legs a break.

Tuesday was 15 miles medium run outside. 15 miles, 5.45am, -5°c. This is one of those that I can look back on and think, “If I can do that training run, I can do any training run.” I decided to do the run in the morning to make the most of the clean air and because I wasn’t going to have time after school. My original plan was to go without breakfast and start training myself to use fat as an energy source. Unfortunately, breakfast is the reason I get out of bed in the morning and I couldn’t face getting changed, let alone setting off, without some porridge in my belly. In the end, the porridge acted as a kind of rocket fuel, propelling me to average under 7min/mile on a medium-long run for the first time ever. I felt good the whole way, even though the tips of my fingers gradually froze inside my gloves and even though the streetlights were switched off half an hour before the sun showed up. Admittedly, I was running on the road for the first 9 miles and I had the wind behind me for a disproportionate amount of time but I’m still taking it as a sign that I’m getting fitter. The only issue with doing such an early long run is that it makes you want to fall asleep at your desk around lunchtime.

Wednesday was 6 miles recovery outside around the school fields in the morning. This was my most clotheful/clothy/dressed-up run for a long time: I wore tracksuit bottoms over the top of my shorts, a fleece jumper, a scarf and gloves and still I was a little cold. It was nice to enjoy the clear air for another day. Legs felt quite good for the rest of the day.

Thursday was 13 miles medium run outside on the roads and then the fields. This was another early start, with less wind this time but more of a chill in the air. The tips of my fingers were numb by the end and I had to cover my face with a scarf for some of it (not great for breathing). Despite the cold, I was running fairly fast and was below 7min/miles on average again. I enjoyed the run and I enjoyed the hot shower afterwards even more.

Friday was 10 miles with 5 miles at threshold pace on the treadmill. This was supposed to be a hard workout but it felt easy, suspiciously easy. I was able to control my breathing and maintain good form all the way through, even at a pace that should have been outside of my comfort zone. I got to the end of the 5 miles at threshold pace (15.4kph or 6.16min/mile), lifted the towel that I’d used to block the distance counter and found that I’d run 0.3 miles extra, which almost never happens. I got off the treadmill and my legs felt like I’d just done a recovery run rather than my hardest workout of the week. Had the treadmill accidentally been on the wrong setting? Had I made a mistake converting the miles to kilometres? It was difficult to know. Fortunately, my watch told me that my heart rate had been in the right zone for the whole run (hooray for heart rate monitors) and so it must have had more to do with feeling good psychologically rather than physically. Part of this might be about running in the morning, which I have started really enjoying. Once I get over the shock of a 5am start (by eating a bowl of porridge laced with honey) I feel fresh and alert and more able to cope with harder running. So I’ll keep running in the morning for the next few weeks and I’ll take this run as another sign that I’m getting fitter. I need to increase the pace of the threshold section to 15.6kph next time.

Saturday was 6 miles recovery on the treadmill. All day I was watching the pollution very closely to see when it would clear, as the forecast had said it would. It was only at 5.30pm when I realised it was going nowhere and so made a reluctant journey to the gym. Yesterday’s “suspiciously easy” hard run was actually quite hard, as evidenced by the feeling in my legs this morning. I took it very easy over the 6 miles, with the only hard part being the struggle to contain my laughter at Alan Partridge’s new audiobook.

Sunday was 17 miles long run on the roads. This was the furthest I’ve run on the roads for quite a long time but my legs weren’t feeling too bad afterwards. The run itself passed pretty quickly because I had Gail cycling with me for the first hour until her toes got too cold and also because I was glad not to be doing the same one kilometre loop that I always do. The only problem is that, in Beijing winters, you trade clean air for freezing winds and so that made it a little harder, but I can’t complain. These were almost perfect running conditions, my run went exactly to plan and my legs felt fine even at the end of my biggest ever mileage week. Celebrate the good times!

Total mileage for the week: 77. A full Pfitzinger (minus one strength session that I’m going to make up for next week)!

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