Training Diary (05/11/16 – 11/12/16) 7 weeks to go until the Gran Canaria Marathon

Monday was 4 miles recovery AM on the treadmill and 6 miles recovery PM outside. Another half-polluted, half-windy day, meaning I was trapped inside in the morning but could get out around the fields in the evening. I’ve still got a tight left leg, although it might be slightly better after the two runs and two stretching sessions today. I’m going to run fairly easy again tomorrow and hope it sorts itself out.

Tuesday was 10 miles general aerobic on the treadmill. This was an enjoyable, fairly easy run before school. A hard run is coming tomorrow so I wanted to stay relaxed and also I didn’t want to aggravate any of my ‘niggles’ (I refuse to use the word ‘injury’ as a way of tricking my body into believing that there is nothing wrong). I also managed a strength half-hour and extra stretching just after school.

Wednesday was 12 miles with 5x1200m intervals at 5k pace on the treadmill. This is my first ‘VO2’ workout of the training plan. In the past, I have always struggled to get my pace right for these kinds of workouts. I either can’t get my heart rate high enough or I go too hard and can’t complete all the intervals at the same pace. Today I played it quite safe and ran them at 16.1kph, which is exactly 6min/mile pace. According to my heart rate zone calculations, my 5k pace should take me between 169 and 173 but my rate never reached more than 165 and was 161-164 most of the time. This tells me that either a) the workout was too easy or b) my heart rate zones are too high and my max heart rate is lower than I think. Since all the other heart rate zones feel about right, it must be the former. Looking back on it now, I think I probably could have pushed it a little harder, although I wouldn’t have said that at the end of the fifth interval this morning. Nevertheless, even if it was slightly too easy, it was still a good workout and it left my legs feeling tired but not in danger of injury. I’ll definitely up the pace for the next similar workout but NOT BY TOO MUCH (I write in caps when sending a message to my future self). I’ll go no faster than 5.45min/mile and that’s a promise.

Thursday was 4 miles recovery AM on the treadmill and 15 miles medium run outside. The morning run went by quite easily and it made my legs feel a bit better. The pollution was forecasting a clear evening so I knew that I’d be able to get outside to do the 15 miler, although that didn’t make me look forward to it any more. I knew that I would be tired from work, that it would be windy dark for most of the run and that I had to spend the time listening to the middle chapters of 1984 before teaching it in a lesson tomorrow (that’s not to say I don’t love the novel, but it’s sometimes nice to just concentrate on running, especially after a long day). Nevertheless, come 4pm, I laced up the trainers, donned the winter leggings and plugged in the earphones. In the end, it turned into quite a memorable run, with Orwell’s descriptions of dystopian London seeming to reflect bleak and wintery Beijing (sorry Beijing). It was definitely hard, just as much mentally as physically. It wasn’t helped by the fact that my heart rate was lower than normal – maybe a consequence of the cold weather- and so I really had to push to reach the right zones. In the end, I averaged 7min/mile for pace, which is good, but 140bpm for heart rate, which suggests I should have been pushing a bit harder. Oh well, I got through it.

Friday was 9 miles general aerobic outside. The ongoing fresh air meant I could do another run around the school fields the morning after my 15 miles and, even though my legs were like the parts in a rusty engine at first, I ended up feeling quite good and enjoying the run again. I listened to more of 1984 and realised I could probably finish a book a week if I spent all my running time listening to them, although I’m not sure I have the powers of concentration to do it. One thing I have noticed this week is how important it is not to eat too much sugar. The banana milkshake I had during break today was the first time I gave into temptation all week and it really affected me in the afternoon when I felt like falling asleep mid-class. Apart from today, I’ve spent the week feeling surprisingly sprightly, given the amount of miles I’ve done. I put it down to the lack of sugar. Down with cakes! Down with milkshakes! Down with sugar!

Saturday was 7 miles recovery outside. This was a really nice slow run around the block. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of pollution it meant I didn’t have to travel to the gym. I took my time and managed to find a few more non-tarmac paths to save my legs.

Sunday was 17 miles with 12 miles at marathon pace on the treadmill. I had been dreading this run. In my last two ‘marathon pace’ workouts (8 and 10 miles respectively), my heart rate was way up around 160 and I really struggled to get them finished. In the one I did 5 weeks ago, I even had to reduce the gradient to get to the end (see my first training diary). Well, today I did 12 miles at that pace, my heart rate averaged 147 and I felt absolutely fine the whole way. I kept looking at the treadmill speed setting to check I hadn’t set it wrong. Ok- it wasn’t a walk in the park and I did really have to concentrate to keep going- but I was expecting much worse, especially considering it’s at the end of my longest ever mileage week. I’m not sure whether to put it down to my increased fitness, my relatively healthy food week, my extra stretching or something else. As usual, it’s probably a combination of different things that have gone well. But just as I didn’t get too disheartened by the really hard runs a few weeks ago, I’m not get carried away with this one. I need to prove that I can hold that pace in the real world and I won’t get chance to do that until after next Friday, when I’m out of the Beijing smog for a while.

Total mileage for the week: 84. My biggest ever and another complete week! Many more miles to come.

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