London Calling – Week 6 training – one week left

6th week of training and only 2 weeks until London in the unconventional plan. Plan was a slightly lower mileage week, Normally I’d keep relatively high mileage until start of the final week with a 5/6 day taper but given my recent tendency to injury I figured a more cautious approach is needed.

Monday after a 20 miler the day before I took the day as rest day, and busy schedule meant I didn’t make a spin class.

Tuesday Morning Spin, then double evening run. 4 miles with Redway 7:30min/mile paced run at a ‘slightly more shit than last week’ 7:34. Legs still felt heavy from the previous week. Followed up with a chatty 6 miler with mates.

Wednesday I was hopeful of getting back to my ‘less shit’ pattern of last couple of weeks but sadly failed and did a pretty slow early morning 9 miles, helping the other runners to get more mileage on runbacks. My hip was a little stiff and I managed to chaff in an intimate place due to poor short choice so overall a pretty demoralising run. 10 days out from the race you don’t want to feel creaky, sore, slow and a bit shit. In the words of Chris “When are you going to start getting faster again?”

London also released their app so people could log in and see start time etc. I’m in Blue 3 and despite initially showing a start time much earlier now shows 9:49. The upside is the pubs will be open when I finish, the downside is a lot of waiting at start as getting the coach down by Redway Runners, a fortuitous choice as they’ve just announced rail strikes on the Saturday that will affect the Sunday marathon as well.

Thursday again failed to get to morning Spin so just a leisurely 7 miles in the evening.

Friday I took as a semi rest-day and just Spin at lunch before heading to Isle of Wight for a family weekend away.

Saturday I tried a hard effort at parkun at the Medina IOW run but found not knowing the course and the wet grass added to my lack of fitness and managed 24 minutes. It’s a nice event but given how amazingly gorgeous IOW is, having the only parkrun held around some non-descript playing fields that could be anywhere in the UK seemed an odd choice. The performance did remind me that accidentally running 7:30 pace for London as I had the year before is not going to happen and I should stick to 9min pace.

Sunday was long run time. Being somewhere new it was a relief not to have a set pace or distance in mind and just run about taking in the scenery and pausing for some photos. Isle Of Wight is gorgeous and I will definitely be back. In the end managed just over 9 miles at a very pedestrian pace, and finished at 37 for the week.

From a very low base in July I’ve managed a relatively structured increase in mileage and pace with three 50+ miles before starting to taper. Given I’ve managed years of uninterrupted 50+ mile weeks it’s a long way below what I would like to be able to sustain but feels about right.

Gels and Caffeine Bullets have arrived for London, just hoping my duck shorts make it in time.

London Calling – Week 5 training – a race

5th week of training and only 3 weeks until London in the unconventional plan.

Monday started with early Spin class then whilst killing time waiting for daughter in clubs I ran a 7 miler with Jonno. The first mile was awful and one of those ‘oh god I can’t even run a mile why am I even bothering’ but eventually loosened up. I’ve definitely found with declining fitness and advancing age I need a few miles to get in my stride.

Tuesday I slept in and missed Spin so did double evening run. 4 miles with Redway 7:30min/mile paced run at a ‘slightly less shit than last week’ 7:23. Followed up with a chatty 6 miler with mates.

The queue to see the Queen’s coffin opened, ahead of the service on the Monday. It’s very popular and a bigger endurance event than most ultras. The average pace is about the same too.

Wednesday I was hopeful of continuing my ‘less shit’ pattern of last couple of weeks but sadly failed and did a pretty slow early morning 9 miles, helping the other runners to get more mileage on runbacks. They did point out that I’d run a marathon distance for the week including 3 runs in 12 hours and that probably wasn’t good training.

London also released their ace guide including the helpful checklist –

Thursday started with Spin then an evening run, plan was for 10 but nobody seemed keen so stopped a just under 7.

Friday I took as a semi rest-day and just Spin at lunch.

Saturday I tried a hard effort at parkun and managed 22m28s which is pretty poor based on previous performances but fastest since June so definitely heading the right direction. I’d like to say I was holding something back for the subsequent race but that would be a lie.

It was also new shoe day as I needed to use my life insurance 50% voucher so replaced my very tired Hoka Rincon 1 with Rincon 3. This was the only colour way they had:

Sunday was a difficult decision. Last year, also in a state of disrepair I ran the 60k Big Bear Ultra two weeks out from London as a final long run, ignoring that it was too long, and it seemed to work well. This year I was even less fit so decided to take the sensible option of the local Redway Runners Old Money run. It’s a choice of 5 or 10 mile, and I decided to run 10 miles first as a warmup, to get a full 20 for the day.

Was very sluggish for the solo 10, averaging 9m51s but kept it gentle effort, my only goal being to get the 10 done in time to register and run. For the race itself I managed 8m09s average, even with getting lost with a group of others. Optimistically I wanted to complete the 20 under 3 hours to be in with a chance of sub4 at London and I just scraped under despite no breakfast and only two gels so hopeful on race day I should be able to push harder.

Total mileage for week – 56, with 3 spin classes

Final long run done, now just……

12 days until London Marathon!

London Calling – Week 4 training – a bit less crap

4th week of training and only 4 weeks until London in the unconventional plan. Many runners have just completed the Great North Run as a fast Half Marathon effort. I haven’t as I get nose bleeds past Watford Gap.

Given I started Monday with heavy legs after the Sunday marathon conventional wisdom would be to rest. Old Mark would have probably gone for a run. I split the difference and did a spin class to ease the legs off.

Notable this week is the pillowcase of custard finally stepped down as Prime Minister and after significant barrel scraping the Conservative party ran out of anyone worthwhile to take the seat and finally confirmed a near-sentient confused owl as the new PM. It’s difficult to go downhill from Theresa May but we’ve managed it twice.

Tuesday I started with spin again and then made a decent effort at the Redway Runners 7:30 paced 4 mile run. I was a little less awful than the week before, despite the marathon, and in current form ‘less shit than last time’ is my main aim. I followed it up with an easy paced 5 mile with others to loosen off.

Wednesday I kept with the theme and ran my usual Brickhills 9 mile loop a little less shit than last time. 8:30min average pace, trying to ignore that sub8 was my more usual state.

Look, runners!

Thursday I couldn’t get out of bed for morning spin so just a 7 mile with the clubmates in a bumper turnout. I really should have pushed to nearer 10 miles but a mixture of laziness and sensible caution not to push it prevailed. It was also the day we learnt of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II so even non-royalists were saddened.

I failed to fit a run in on Friday, but did manage a morning spin class again. I’m really hoping these hard efforts with no impact will gradually bring back some cardio and endurance.

The weekend had an odd feeling, with many events from football matches and fetes cancelled, whilst rugby, cricket and parkrun went ahead with respect paid and a period of silence. As is the way, the more outspoken of the public attempted to outdo each other with their mourning and publicly shame anyone that didn’t plan to spend 10 days in a darkened room crying and neglecting basic hygiene. For some it’s not enough to grieve, you must ensure everyone else grieves in your narrow and pre-selected definition of mourning.

Saturday I had plans for a long run, ideally 18-20 miles, achieved by a lap of the MK Winter Half and then MK parkrun. I struggled to get out the door in time and instead had an 11 mile warmup, before a parkrun then home to record 16.5 at a not terrible 9:15 average pace making me think a low 4 marathon is possible at London with another couple of months of training. Shame I’ve got 3 weeks.

In the afternoon Charles was sworn in as King and we finished the week with an unelected PM and an unelected head of state, reminding everyone just how great the democracy is in the UK.

At the start of the week this man owned ZERO swans. By the end of the week he owned EVERY swan in England.

Sunday I slipped out for an 8 miler to round the week up to 50. I swallowed a dim-witted wasp and nearly choked, probably as penance for questioning the monarchy.

20 days until London. Time to focus on important items like making someone else collect my bib.

London Calling – Back to the big smoke

For me 2022 has been a bit of a wash out. I’ve DNS’d more races than in my entire running history. Go me!

I’ve not started –

  • Fred Hughes 10 miler – torn hamstring slipping on ice at start of running build up
  • South Downs Way 50 – poor admin meant it clashed with a holiday
  • North Downs Way 50 – tail end of Covid and hideously undertrained
  • Warwickshire Ring Canal 111 mile – still undertrained and train strikes added extra headache
  • Lakeland 100 – A failure at the hilly Wendover Woods 50k two weeks before convinced me it wasn’t even worth the drive up there just to become a liability to the organisers

I’ve failed to finish –

  • Wendover Woods 50k – got 10 miles in and my piriformis was getting progressively worse and painful. Given it was a test for LL100 I’d already proven I wasn’t fit enough or injury free so headed home.
Before the DNF at Wendy. Photo nicked off Coops.

I have managed to finish some races and by standards of the average hobby jogger haven’t been awful but when I expected to be smashing at least one 100 miler this year and haven’t gone over 40 miles it’s pretty sucky.

Malta marathon, unexpectedly my best performance of the year and still a bit crap.

Finished –

  • Malta Marathon – March – returning from hamstring injury I felt undertrained but pleased I stuck it out as a 3h38 finish is still my best of the year
  • Born To Run 30 Miler – April – a beautiful trail ultra in California that coincided with holiday. First event where niggles seemed to be OK and I ran pain free, but struggled with fitness. Two days later I had a confirmed Covid case so performance probably 50% Covid and 50% being a fat sloth.
  • Milton Keynes Marathon – May – was pacing 4hrs and although less easy than I’d like was on target until cramp at mile 23 reduced me to a walk and I had to wave off my runners. Finished in 4h08m which seemed awful.
  • Shires & Spires 34 Miler – May – Longest run of the year and went well. Fitness seemed to slowly be coming back and was a good day out.
  • Enigma Marathon – June – Maintained my injury free status and wanted some redemption from Milton Keynes. Instead my guts decided it was their turn to mess up my plans and it was the start of 2 weeks of awful stomach issues. Waddled around in 4h22 spending most of it remembering when 3h30 was a formality and bowel explosions were things that happened to other people.
  • Greensands Ridge Relay 34 Miler – June – At tail end of the stomach issues so after two weeks of minimal food I was finally less chubby but also under-fuelled. Managed to mainline gels and caffeine tablets and had a decent run even managing a fast couple of miles to finish.
  • Redway Runners 24hr – June – With no intention of beating my previous 104 miles at the event I was just looking for a long run before the Canal Ring. Managed 39 miles as longest run of year then went home to relieve the babysitters.
The start line of the MK24. Weeks of stomach issues mean I don’t look like a fat chud for once.

In theory this should have left me in June on a steady return to form, maybe event attempt the canal race. Instead I had a piriformis issue randomly occur on a 4 mile tempo that was so severe I struggled to put weight on my leg and even contemplated going to the Hospital. Rudi at the Treatment Lab diagnosed it and gave me some exercises to ease it. I rested for a couple of week, losing any semblance of fitness and found it was still stiff and caused me to drop from Wendover Woods 50k and Lakeland 100.

As well as the gastric issues, my son also decided to share the class vomiting bug a few weeks later so I had a fun three days where it felt like I was puking up my soul. Apologies to anyone that frequents the local allotment car park as when the bug hit it really hit….

As a measure of how poorly the year had gone, the previous time I ran LL100 I was on 2000 miles by end of June. For 2022 I had yet to pass 1000 miles and found anything faster than a 9 minute mile reduced me to a sweaty, panting, limping mess.

Refocus –

Clearly any dreams of a 100 miler for 2022 were dead so I needed something else to focus on.

By luck I saw had some runners drop out of London 2022 due to be held in October and were looking for last minute replacement with a far lower fundraising limit. I put myself forward and was accepted so on 18th August I got place for London a mere 45 days away and began to gradually build up the miles. Knowing a sudden jump in miles would likely break me I also joined the local gym for the spin classes, figuring some cardio work that didn’t have impact issues would be a good start.

Training for a marathon in 7 weeks. How to. Maybe…..

Week 1 –

32 miles including a 9 mile, a parkrun and the amazing Beerathon (5 miles, 5 pints, plus a lot more after). A non-typical training week and found the end of the 9 miles a struggle. This was now a ‘long run’. I tried to ignore everyone on Strava already at 18-20 mile training runs for London and in the second half of their 14-16 week training blocks.

Just a normal training run at the Beerathon

Week 2 –

46 miles – Started with a 10k that took over an hour and had to ignore the voice that reminded me anything slower than 45 minutes would be a failure when I was fit. Pushed the distance on the long run to 13 miles and struggled, largely walking in the last mile. Everything felt harder than it should. Tried the 7:30 paced run and struggled to break 8min/miles. Achieved my slowest ever loop of the Brickhills from over 200 attempts. Even the 5k loop for the Blackened Sun monthly beer run felt hard and left me a sweaty mess. 5k. Less than 1/8th of a marathon…..

The widest ford in Dorset. Exciting!

The week was somewhat saved by a holiday to Dorset and Sunday morning I was distracted enough with route finding and scenery to manage 12 slow miles.  Given the increase in overall mileage it probably went as well as to be expected.

Week 3 –

56 miles – Started with a scenic trail run in Dorset. Intention was to push double digits but really felt lifeless and looped back for 8 miles. Decided to go for something shorter the next day and managed a 3 mile tempo, ignoring that tempo now meant 9 min/miles not low 7s.

Moo-ve cows, I’ve got a run to do!

In place of the usual Brickhills I ran trail from Weymouth back to the holiday park for 9 slow but hilly miles, felt stronger so set off with good intentions the next day only to walk in a pathetic 5 miles on legs of death like a failure.

Turned up to parkrun hoping the legs of death had passed and recorded my slowest run of the year. Yeah! Not only could I barely run double digits I couldn’t hold a reasonable pace for a parkrun and had two sucky runs in a row.

Sunday was 4 weeks until London. Many London runners would be finishing their final long runs and considering the start of the taper. I’d not run over 13 miles since June so should really get a 18-20 miler done. Instead, relying on previous experience of just getting on with it, I made the unusual decision to get a last minute spot for the Dunstable Marathon. Given the above issues you’d question the logic.

My thinking was to battle the mental block of the 12/13 mile runs and just grind out a marathon, hopeful that it would also force my various niggles to put up or shut up, whilst reminding myself that after 150+ successful attempts, I can get a marathon distance done. It worked. Although slower than my previous attempt by a full hour and with some death marching normally reserved for final miles of an ultra I held together for the full 26.5 undulating miles and none of the niggles got any worse, a few quit whining and just went away. I finished the week sunburnt, tired, but confident I had at least a base to build on and with the good ache in the legs of a long run done, not my more regular injured ache.

Finding an ice cream van at mile 20ish was welcome

Week 4 is next and also 4 weeks until race day. How far on the road from ‘able to finish’ to ‘able to run well and enjoy it’ can I get?

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