Bristol Half Marathon Training: Week 3

After some deviations during Week 2 to fit in the Yeovilton 5k, this week was just about following the book, getting the miles in, and trying to hit all the workouts. A bit of travelling, and the hot weather, meant that I knew things would be a bit difficult to juggle around. Especially as Lolly is coming to the end of a college course, meaning that it’s important I can be free to look after the small child as much as possible in the evenings.



It’s lovely to see, but it does make running HARD!

Book plan:
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles General Aerobic + hill reps + strides
Wednesday: 9 miles Endurance
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 8 miles Lactate Threshold
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 12 miles Progression


My plan:
Exactly the same, no deviations this week!

Rest day.

This run (8 miles General Aerobic with hill reps and strides) caused some agonising, on two fronts, which combined to make about five different problems! Firstly, I was working in west Cornwall, which meant that if I was to travel from home and back, I’d have something like a twelve hour working day. So get out for a run beforehand, I’d need to leave the house before 5 am. Now, while I’m trying to force myself to run in the mornings – and it’s taking a lot of forcing, because I really am not a morning person – there was no way I was getting up when the clock still started with 04 for a run. So then, I’d have to do the run afterwards. In fact, as my parents live in the exact town that I was travelling to, I planned to run straight after the job I was doing, and then travel back after. Except for the second issue: the temperature. Monday had been pretty warm; in the afternoon the temperature got up to around 28 degrees Celsius. It was lovely – unless you had to run in it. Tuesday was forecast to be even hotter, and it wasn’t due to cool off much in the evening either. So back to Plan A: running in the morning? It would have to be. But I still couldn’t face that pre-5 am wake up call, and so I opted for a third way. I would complete my work on Monday, have dinner at home, and then travel down to my parents’ house in the evening, so I could get up early, but not too early, on Tuesday to run.

The run itself went pretty well. My parents live in a pretty small town, and so getting eight miles in involved a bit of fiddling about. It’s also much hillier than Taunton, but that’s fine – especially for the hill repeats at the end of the run. I completed something in the region of 6.5 miles, and somehow even managed to get a “2nd Overall” on a Strava segment. (Which given this was meant to be a General Aerobic paced run, probably means I was going too fast.) The hill repeats were really tough, and on a much more significant hill than the previous week. The strides were also reasonably tough, and I think I embarrassed a couple of school girls who’d sang “running, running” (Naughty Boy featuring Beyonce) at me as I went past them. Only for me to jog back past them, and then sprint past them, and then jog past them, and then sprint past them as I continued my shuttle sprints. Overall a good session, and done before it got *too* hot.

I had originally planned to run my midweek medium-long Endurance run with the club in the evening, but once again I looked at the forecast and figured that I’d rather run in the relative cool of the morning. So, I quickly pieced together a route, and then at the last moment, decided to run it the opposite way around! Mostly so that I would get the bits where I was running on the road out of the way early, before there were too many cars, and also so that I could run alongside the river towards the end, when it might be starting to get a bit warm. There’s little to say about the run, it was a reasonably easy effort, and perhaps I should have run it a little harder, but I’m still a little bit awed by the weekly distance, and I knew I had harder runs coming up. I did have to slow down quite significantly towards the end, when a herd of cows were in the gateway that I had to go through, meaning that I had to go straight through the middle of them. To our mutual annoyance.

Rest day.

The return of the lactate threshold run. I’d skipped this in week two, as I was doing the Yeovilton 5k, and this time I knew I had to push harder on the threshold intervals. One thing that Faster Road Racing repeats over and over again is that threshold runs are one of the most indicative of race pace, and one of the best ways to improve race pace. So most weeks, the lactate threshold run in the key workout, so I want to be getting it right. In week one, I’d ran to heart-rate, and found that I was doing my intervals at about 7:45 per mile, which after some discussion with club mates (well, Scott) we determined was too slow. So this time, I did some research, both in the book and online, and calculated that I should be running the intervals at just slower than 7:00 per mile. The obvious advantage of running to heart-rate is that you can run hillier routes and know that you’re still putting the right amount of effort in, whereas running to a pace means that on a hilly route, you might push too hard uphill, or too little downhill. With that in mind, I opted to run along the canal, to guarantee a lovely flat route for my pace-based run.

With having skipped the threshold run in week two, I’d jumped straight from week one’s 14 and 12 minute intervals to 18 and 15 minutes. At a much faster pace. Oh boy. It was tough. I know this, because Strava told me so. Still, I managed it: both intervals had a pace of roughly 7:05 per mile. Interestingly, my heart-rate was exactly where the book suggested, and where it had been in week one. So perhaps my body was just particularly stressed in week one, and so the same heart-rate equated to a slower run. Who knows. I may well stick to threshold sessions along the canal for the rest of the training plan though!

Rest day, thank God!

Gulp. If I hadn’t been looking forward to the lactate threshold run, I certainly wasn’t looking forward to the progression run. Twelve miles, which was the furthest of the plan so far, but I also had to run faster as I went along, finishing at my threshold pace. It was back to running based on heart-rate for this run, which meant that I was free to incorporate some hills into the run. Which is pretty vital if I want to avoid doing the whole thing along the canal! I basically split the whole run in six chunks: half a mile warm-up, followed by 2.5 miles at 141 to 150 bpm, 3 miles at 145 to 160 bpm, 3 miles at 150 to 165 bpm, 2.5 miles at 155 to 174 bpm, and then a half mile cool down. Within each chunk, I also aimed to increase my heart-rate and pace, but I was less concerned about that.


Pretty much nailed it.

So, how did it go? – Surprisingly well, actually. By mentally splitting the run into chunks, it was easier to motivate myself, and it meant that I was focused on achieving my target for that chunk, rather than worrying about how far I had left to run. I managed to increase my pace (and more importantly my grade-adjusted pace) each chunk: from 8:11 min/mile to 8:01, to 7:50, to 7:20. My fastest mile of the run was the eleventh, which was 7:10; faster than my current half marathon PB pace, which is encouraging. Within each chunk, my pace (and heart-rate) didn’t quite progress as linearly as I would like, so that’s definitely something to work on for this session, but overall I’m happy to call it a success.

This week I set out to follow the book exactly, and just try and run strong, and I’m pretty happy that that’s what I achieved. The week ended with two particularly tough sessions, and although they felt every bit as difficult as they looked, I’m happy that I ran both hard, and have no regrets. This is the last hard week of the first meso-cycle; Week 4 is a recovery week, before the focus of the training shifts from endurance to speed work. During that cycle, I have two races planned, the Haselbury Trail 10k (which I also raced last year) and the next Yeovilton 5k, so it will be important to get the balance right between training and racing. But for the moment, I’m feeling pretty good, if very tired, with how the training plan is going.

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