Training Diary (12/12/16 – 18/12/16) 6 weeks to go until the Gran Canaria Marathon

Monday was 4 miles recovery on the treadmill. This was a mini-recovery squeezed into a very busy day. It was supposed to be 6 in the morning, 4 in the evening, but I had too much to do in the morning and so I postponed that until later in the week. I didn’t even do the whole 4 miles on the treadmill because they were full up when I got to the gym, so I did the first 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer. It’s all ok because I’m still on a high from the successful marathon-paced run yesterday, and it’s the last week of term!!

Tuesday was 10 miles general aerobic and 8x100m strides outside. The pollution disappeared miraculously today, confounding the forecasters and meaning that I didn’t take my outdoor running gear to work for my normal morning run. I anxiously checked the pollution levels all day, praying for it to stay clear until the evening and it did indeed. I cycled home, put on my warm gear and ran to an 800 metre stretch of dirt road, which is the only non-tarmac surface anywhere nearby. I ran up and down there until it got too dark to avoid the potholes and finished on the road. The run felt fast, although I didn’t look at my pace or overall time. It might just have been the evening light, which can make it feel like you’re going faster.

Wednesday was 15 miles medium run outside. Another beautiful day: clear but cold. This is probably the fourth weekday, 6am, sub-zero run that I have done in the last month or so and it will probably be the last- thank God. The run isn’t really the issue (although my fingers have been getting pretty cold, even inside my thick gloves), it’s more the motivation required to get up at 5 and be at school for 5.45. Having said that, there’s no better feeling than starting work with a 15 mile run under your belt, and that was especially true today when I checked my watch at the end and found that I’d averaged 6.45min/mile, which is only 5 seconds per mile off my target marathon pace! I had no idea about the pace as I was running and I was just going by heart rate zones, so this is another sign that I’m getting fitter and all the miles are paying off. I ran that time despite having to stop at an airport hotel after 4 miles and ask the guard if I could use the toilet facilities. Thank God he said yes- no doubt reading the desperation in my eyes- or I wouldn’t have been running much further. The only down side from this run is the damage to my right big toe, which is quite sore and bruised under the nail. My hopes of having a pristine set of flip-flop-ready toenails for the summer have been dashed for yet another year. I desperately need some new running shoes.

Thursday was 5 miles AM on the treadmill and 5 miles PM on the treadmill. Two ‘easy’ runs that didn’t feel that easy, even though I was trying to take it as slow as possible. It was probably the effects of yesterday’s 15 miles catching up with me. I also broke my golden rule of refusing the treadmill when the pollution is low because it was -2c and I’d forgotten to bring my running tights to work. Also, after tomorrow, I’ve got three weeks with no treadmill running whatsoever.

Friday was 12 miles with 7 miles at threshold pace on the treadmill. Seven miles at threshold pace was quite a daunting thought after my last similar run- and only 4 miles- ended in disaster two weeks ago. This time, I chose a slightly easier pace (15.4kph) and I think I chose about right because it was hard but not too hard and my heart rate was in the 150s the whole way. I could probably have set it a little higher but I was also quite tired at the start and not feeling too ambitious. It’s my last treadmill run for a while because I’m heading back to the clean air of the UK. I’m really looking forward to getting out in mud and rain of the British winter. Hopefully the 11 hour flight won’t make my legs too tight and I’ll be able to keep the mileage up over the weekend.

Saturday was 8 miles general aerobic on the Thames Path- Oxford. This was a joyous- although extremely muddy- run along the river. After travelling for about 20 hours, I wasn’t sure how my legs would fare but I needed to avoid falling asleep until the evening and I thought it would be good to stretch them out. I aimed to take it quite easy because my legs were very stiff but I was so excited about running in fresh air and green countryside that I couldn’t help push it a bit. Also, there were incredible amounts of mud and this demonstrated the advantages and disadvantages of my ‘mudclaw’ shoes: yes, when you put your foot down, they grip on to the mud very well, but, when you pick your foot up again, they really don’t like to let go and so you end up carrying half the riverbank on the bottom of your feet.

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Thames Path, Oxford (Image credit: Mattisrunning)

Sunday was 15 miles medium run on the Thames Path- Oxford. I moved my 22-mile long run to later in the week because I hadn’t had much sleep, my legs were sore and I wasn’t feeling up for it. I think it was a sensible decision because even the 15 miles felt like a real slog. Once again this was partly down to the mud. Running on a treadmill in Beijing so much has made me quite one-dimensional (you might say soft) and I’m not used to spending so much energy balancing and pushing off from a slippery surface. Despite everything, I really did enjoy myself and it will go down as one of my most memorable runs in a really pretty part of the UK. The tiredness this morning was a slight worry, since my target marathon will happen in similar circumstances after an even longer flight a month from now. I can console myself with the fact that I won’t be doing my marathon at the end of an 80-mile week and I won’t be doing 8 muddy miles the day before, so I should feel fresher.

Total mileage for the week: 74- I moved my long run and skipped a recovery run because I was flying but still a pretty good week.

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