Bristol Half Marathon Training: Week 5

Despite coming off a recovery week, I entered this week still pretty tired – though it was less physical tiredness, and more mental fatigue. That wasn’t helped by the fact that I was expecting the next couple of weeks to be pretty tough – not only was it the speed-focused meso-cycle, but I also had races two Wednesdays in a row. Each race has two downsides – the hard effort is more tiring than my training runs, and it also means deviating from the plan, and having to rework things slightly.

Book plan:
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 8 miles lactate threshold
Wednesday: 9 miles endurance
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 7 miles GA + sprint
Saturday: 4 miles recovery
Sunday: 12 miles progression

My plan:
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 9 miles endurance
Wednesday: Haselbury Trail 10k race + warm-up
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 7 miles GA + sprint
Saturday: 4 miles recovery
Sunday: 12 miles progression

Monday:
Rest day.

Tuesday:
While I’m getting a bit worried about the number of lactate threshold sessions that I’m binning off, the simple fact is that I can’t run such a hard session just before or after a race, and so like before I swapped the lactate threshold run out of my plan and replaced it with Wednesday’s endurance run. On Monday morning I was feeling pretty down about running, and contemplated either splitting this run between the morning and evening, or running the whole thing in the evening. I’d got fed up of planning routes, of being out for over an hour, and being tired all the time. But Lolly came to my rescue, and planned me a simple route before we went to bed; basically the Taunton 10k route, plus the run there and back.

The Taunton 10k route is one of my favourites – not necessarily because of the race – it’s just a nice gently undulating route which gets out of Taunton along some quiet lanes. It’s also a route that doesn’t require me to pay much attention, as you can’t really go wrong. Except… I did. Still, it only served to add about half a mile on, so no big problem! I was pleased with my pace on this run, and given how I’d felt the previous evening, it significantly exceeded my expectations.

Wednesday:

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It’s fair to say that I went a bit OTT with my sprint finish… (credit: Dave and Tracy Symes)

The Haselbury Trail 10k. A full race report will follow, but this was inserted into my training plan in order to try to tick off 10 events in the Somerset Series, so that I ‘qualify’ for that series. In many ways, it’s largely irrelevant, as I’ll be lucky to even make the top ten, but it was one of my hopes coming into this year, so I’m going to do what I can to make it happen. Most of the race is reasonably gentle, across fields, but there’s a sharp hill at the end of both laps, and my legs were far too tired to do anything more than plod up it. Overall, I was a few seconds up on my time from last year, which I was a bit disappointed with. In retrospect, I’ve realised that this is far from an ideal part of my training plan to have a race, so hopefully the lack of improvement is more due to that, rather than any actual stagnation. All my other times, both in the Yeovilton 5k races, and on my training runs, point to improvements.

Thursday:
Rest day.

Friday:
Although I had contemplated switching the lactate threshold run to Friday, I was far too tired after my race to do that. As a result, I headed off on some ‘exploring’, extending my Strava heatmap by running along the new stretch of the A38, Taunton’s ‘Eastern Relief Road’. It wasn’t the most exciting place to run, but it’s always nice to run in a new place. The run itself was pretty good, though I unsurprisingly found the ten 100 metre sprints at the end of the run tough! The sprints themselves were relatively consistent: 21, 18, 19, 19, 19, 20, 19, 19, 19, 18, and I mostly managed to keep my recovery jogs consistent at around 40 seconds as well, so I’m pretty happy with that. Despite how hard they felt, I’m enjoying having sprints at the end of another run, as it’s a nice way to incorporate some speed work into the week without having to dedicate a whole session to it.

Saturday:
As the mileage has built up, the plan has added ‘recovery’ miles. The aim of the these runs is to feel better at the end than the start. I’m not totally sure that happened, but it was nice to go out for a shorter run for a change. Four miles made a nice change from the eight milers that I’ve got used to! In order to both keep my pace down, and to divert myself, I spent most of the run playing Pokemon Go, which served both purposes well, although I’m not sure it was the safest combination!

Sunday:
Progression run, round two. Without a doubt, I feared this run even more than I had the first time around. Then, it had come at the end of a meso-cycle, so I knew that I would have a recovery week after it. This time, it came mid-cycle, so I would have to run the following week on tired legs. Not to mention that after my race, I was starting the run on tired legs too! I planned myself another route that explored a new area, linking together the south of Taunton (Trull and Poundisford) with the east of Taunton (Stoke St Mary). Although I ran both areas regularly, I’d never navigated a route between the two.

progw5

Bizarrely, given the format of this run, it mostly got better as I went along. For the first few miles, I struggled to get going at all, and my pace reflected this somewhat, not dropping below 9 minute miles. As I got into the second quarter of the run, something changed, and I started enjoying the run a bit more, and at the same time found the pace easier to manage. That and the third quarter (which was mostly the new section) were both pretty enjoyable, before the run got pretty tough in the final quarter. My pace in each section increased as follows: 8:48, 8:02, 7:48, 7:15. Partly, I find that pretty demoralising: I found the 7:15 section really really tough, but it was only 2.5 miles at the end of a 12.5 mile run. In contrast, my half marathon PB at the moment is a pace of 7:21 for 13.1 miles. On the other hand, I know that I’m still in the middle of my training plan at the moment, and I had tapered and prepared for that race. And it’s always easier to run fast in a race than on a training run.

Summary:
Having a race in the middle of week does make things awkward, and it probably does devalue the training around it slightly too. However, I was glad that I managed to pretty much nail my progression run, even if it felt pretty tough. But, you know, it’s a 12 mile progression run – it’s meant to feel tough! Next week has another race, the fifth of the Yeovilton 5k series, so I go off-plan again, but after that things mostly settle down, I think…

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