Week 5 of 17
Some say the best practice for running a marathon is to run a marathon. So this week I’ve done four more just to get a handle on this 26.2 mile thing.
Monday – Rest day after long(ish) run Sunday
Tuesday – 6:40 session. In preparation for upcoming Quadzilla (four marathons in four days) I decided to try a speed session to try and assess fitness and maybe avoid going off too fast in the marathons. Managed 4 miles at 6:58 average. It felt like effort and could still feel the ultra from 10 days ago in the legs.
Wednesday – Rest day
Thursday – Quadzilla Day 1 – my third entry to Quadzilla so game plan was to take it easy for first day. The event is now in it’s 7th year and organised by Enigma Running. Over the course of 4 days competitors run marathons around Caldecotte lake in Milton Keynes. Anyone managing to complete all four gets a hoodie. With the bulk of the 60-70 runners each day attempting the full Quadzilla there is great support amongst the runners as you each take on your own personal challenge. Whether you’re a running god or a mere mortal, attempting 4 marathons is a big ask.
In single marathons you can finish in a fairly calorie deprived and (mildly) dehydrated state and not be concerned since you have weeks or months to recover. With multi-day events you’e always thinking about tomorrow so need to concentrate on drinking and eating whilst running and making sure you get the right recovery foods back in you after. Despite being February I still tucked away 500ml of sports drink, 1l of water, an energy shot bottle and a small Coke every day as a minimum during the event.
Goal for day 1 is to avoid going off too quickly and suffering for the rest of the event. I felt strong and held off racing anyone, finished in 3:40 and one of the most relaxed marathons I’ve run in a long while. Right quad was feeling a little stiff though. Normally would ignore this but given three more races to go I broke habit of a lifetime and tried to foam roller it. My god that hurts.
Friday – Quadzilla Day 2 – Second day and it seemed the foam roller of pain had not worked. I couldn’t get a forward extension on right leg and after a while right calf joined right quad in aching, and then right hip started to join in the cacophony of complaint. This was very much a grin and bear it day, and first time in a long while I’ve had to battle to go sub 4hr and hobbled over in 3:54, not helped by a headwind on the exposed sections. Aim at start was 3:45-50 for all four days. Blown that on day 2 an having doubts on keeping below sub 4hr for subsequent days.
Focus on the important stuff – this was marathon number 90. Now in countdown mode to the 100th.
Saturday – Quadzilla Day 3 – Like Bon Jovi I’m halfway there and also my right leg is living on a prayer. By luck I tagged onto the Portuguese contingent of runners and they dragged me around at 8min pace until halfway. Brain was disengaged, I just followed them, ignoring the memories of a dodgy leg and the thoughts that I was probably burning through energy reserves I didn’t have. Inevitably they lost me but had enough banked to allow steady 9s to get home in 3:45. 9 minutes quicker than day 2. Maybe my leg would hold out after all? Marathon 91 done. One more left for my hoodie.
Sunday – Quadzilla Day 4 -As we set off for day 4 there were more ‘ooh arghs’ than a field of Norfolk farmers. Legs seemed to be linked to the mouth, bypassing the brain and were objecting to another day of this nonsense. After some stuttering false starts we broadly set off ‘running’ ready for a final 7 laps. Home straight and just a little further to go.
Initially legs were stiff but loosened up and first three laps went well. Halfway passed and I could start to do the maths. Luxury of 10 minute miles would get me in just over 4hrs but wanted more so pushed as much as able even gaining on some runners on lap 5. 3:45 looked possible. Briefly. Then knee decided it had been overlooked and made even the gentle slopes of Caldecotte hard work. Too much speed on the down sections and felt like it was struggling to hold my weight. After each aid station it also took a few steps to start playing ball and bend to allow running. Not ideal.
Decided I could afford to drop a few minutes and walked when needed, losing a few positions on the final lap but finishing in 3:51. Final day of my third Quadzilla done and dusted, hoodie collected and home for a shower.
Weekly total mileage – 110 miles. About the same as proper professional runners do every week.