Training Diary (19/12/16 – 25/12/16) 5 weeks to go until the Gran Canaria Marathon

Monday was 6 miles recovery in Oxford and 4 miles recovery in York. Two easy runs with a long train journey in between. I continue to feel very tired and my legs are still sore. I’m not sure if it’s the accumulation of long mileage weeks, the cold weather or the plane journey but I’m really struggling to get my legs going at the start of runs. Still, it’s nice to be outside on every run and hopefully things will get better this week.

Tuesday was 9 miles with 5x600m intervals at 5k pace round the University of York playing fields. It was nice to be back on familiar territory for this run and I was looking forward to giving it some welly after a few frustratingly slow days post-plane journey. I measured myself 600 metres around the football pitches and then ran it five times pretty much as hard as I could. My times ranged from 2.15 to 2.25 with 200 metres rest at glacial pace. Unfortunately my fastest was the first one and my slowest was the last one. I know that this is not the way to run intervals but I’m still quite unsure about how hard 5k pace should feel. I plan to run some shorter races more often to get myself used to running fast. I enjoyed the session nevertheless and running on grass means my legs weren’t too sore afterwards.

Wednesday was 22 miles long run round Heslington, York. The big one! This was the longest run of my entire training plan and, to be honest, one that I really wasn’t looking forward to (I remember being sick after my last 22 mile training run in the Beijing summer). To make it psychologically manageable, I decided to break it down into four parts, with three parts on grass and one on the road. This did help a little and I got to about 18 miles feeling relatively fresh. Even the last four miles weren’t all that difficult and I was pleased to do the whole run on nothing but a few sips of water. It showed me that I am definitely becoming stronger and my stamina is improving. The only slight disappointment was my average time of 7.40min/miles, although I shouldn’t be disappointed with this. Building up to my previous marathon, my target pace was probably too conservative and so I was ending my long runs at that pace quite easily. This time, the target it more ambitious and so I’m not getting the confidence-boost of running at target pace that often. I need to remember that long runs such as these are meant to be run a minute slower than target pace AND that I was running on muddy grass for most of the time AND that I’m running more miles than ever at the moment. I need to tell myself these things so that I don’t become obsessed with pace and disheartened when I’m a little slower.

Thursday was 6 miles recovery AM and 4 miles recovery PM both on the old Stafford-Newport railway line. With another day comes another lovely part of the UK to run through. These two recovery runs were on a newly resurfaced part of the cycle path from Haughton towards Stafford. The soft but compact surface is runner’s dream and I would personally like to thank Stafford County Council for their sterling work. The two easy runs loosened my legs a little bit but I still feel like running slow for a few days to recover. My proudest achievement since returning to the UK so far is managing to avoid all Christmas-related sweet treats, although my resolve will be severely tested when my nana offers me some of her Christmas cake in two day’s time.

Haughton railway line.jpg
Staffordshire railway line run (Image credit: mattisrunning)

Friday was 10 miles general aerobic around Cannock Chase. This was a really enjoyable, although very windy, out-and-back run. I set off running from the car park and picked my route quite randomly, making sure there were plenty of hills. After 3 or 4 miles, I’d gone through so many twists and turns that I was starting to doubt whether I’d be able to find my way back. I kept going and found myself on a sled dog training route (who knew they existed outside the arctic circle?) and that kept me from getting lost.

Saturday was 6 miles recovery on the old railway line, Haughton. An easy, flat run, accompanied by Lucy the dog. The run involved a few unscheduled stops when Lucy refused to go past any other dog walking in the other direction (she chose to lie on her back in the middle of the path as a sign of submission instead). She kept up quite well though and it was nice to have company.

Haughton railway line LUCY.jpg
Lucy the dog for company in Staffordshire (Image credit: mattisrunning)

Sunday was 10 miles general aerobic Chatburn -> Waddington -> Clitheroe loop. Christmas Day! I headed out the door at 7.30am with the thought that most of my (imagined) rivals would be taking today off from training. I though I’d find the streets empty, most people still asleep and that I’d be able to congratulate myself on my extraordinary dedication. As it happened, I saw at least one other runner, lots of walkers and the streets weren’t much quieter than normal. It was still a good feeling to be out on Christmas morning and it made Christmas dinner taste all the better.

Total mileage for the week = 77 – took it easy towards the end of the week with the Ribble Valley 10k in mind. Also, it was Christmas!

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