Now that I’ve got into the second half of my training plan, I’ve been contemplating why I signed up for Bristol specifically. Over the past couple of years, I’ve run mostly small, local races – either Glastonbury, Taunton or the Battle of Sedgemoor 10k have been the biggest, and none of them can have much more than 500 runners, if that. So what am I thinking, entering a race with over 10,000 entrants?!
Well, part of it is exactly that. I want to experience the ‘big race’ atmosphere again, for the first time since my first half marathon at Silverstone in spring 2014. I want to be able to use the hoards of other runners, and the crowds, to drag me along. The last few miles of the Burnham half last year were lonely – that certainly won’t be the case in Bristol. I also have some unfinished business with the Bristol half: my brother and I signed up for the race as far back as 2010, but I suffered badly from shin splints and didn’t do enough training, so registered a DNS (did not start). In 2012, after running the Bristol 10k, I decided that I’d do the half marathon as well. But I got injured again, and didn’t end up doing it. So it would get the monkey off my back, as they say.
Also, I’d like a shiny ‘Great Run’ medal.
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 9 miles lactate threshold
Wednesday: 10 miles endurance
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 8 miles general aerobic + speed
Saturday: 5 miles recovery
Sunday: 13 miles progression
Just the same.
One of my only concerns with this training cycle is how many lactate threshold sessions I have skipped due to races. (I might have mentioned this once or twice…) This is the last one scheduled, as the training starts to wind down towards the race a bit after this week, at least with regards to tough sessions such as this one. The run was pretty simple: head out for a warm-up, then 38 minutes at lactate threshold (or tempo) pace, and then a cool down. As in the past, I opted to run this along the canal, with the flat path giving me the best chance of good pacing. I figured that I wanted to run my tempo section at about 7 min/miles, which meant that I would cover around 5.5 miles during it, with the other 3.5 miles either side.
Mentally, I found it easier to split the run into four parts: the warm-up (about 1.8 miles of easy running), then the ‘outward’ 19 minutes of my tempo run, the ‘return’ 19 minutes, and the cool down. Although I was aiming for 7 min/mile for the tempo section, I had expected to slip to somewhere between 7:05 and 7:10. Instead, I was pretty bang on my target, and if anything, was slightly quicker. Reminding myself as I approached the 19 minute ‘turnaround’ point that I wasn’t actually having a break was a bit tough, and the next bit was the toughest, and slowest, bit of the tempo section, but I still held my pace pretty consistent. I was very happy to nail this run – though it was a slightly sobering thought that a 90 minute half marathon would involve running a quicker pace for more than twice as long!
For my midweek ‘medium long’ run, I opted to run with my club. The route was around 7.5 miles, so I just had to add a little bit on either side to make up the distance. As usual, it was nice to run with the group, both for the social aspect, and to mix things up in terms of routes – this week’s was certainly not one I would have ever run on my own! (I’d have got very, very lost.) It was also good to chat to someone else (Emma) doing Bristol, about our individual targets, and getting a bit of course knowledge from her.
Rest day (and gosh, was I happy about that!)
This was planned as a 8 mile general aerobic run, with ten 100 metre sprints towards the end. Fatigue was really starting to set in by this stage of my training though; my distance curve was starting to look like an exponential graph on Veloviewer, and I was feeling the effects of such a steep increase. With that in mind, I cut the sprints from the run, and just headed out for a gentle 8 mile run along the extended river and canal route that I’d done the previous week. On very tired legs, 8:40 min/mile felt tough enough, and I was starting to look ahead to my Sunday 13 mile progression run with dread.
We had made plans to visit some friends who live near Exeter, and so it seemed an excellent opportunity to finally visit Exeter Riverside parkrun. At around 45 minutes away, this has been one of the closest parkruns to us ever since it started. Which I was amazed to notice was over two years ago! A write-up of our experience will be detailed in another blog, but in terms of my training, let’s say it’s hard to do a recovery run at parkrun! Even running with the buggy, I kept straying quicker than intended. Still, overall I ran 5 miles at about 9:15 min/mile, which I guess counts as recovery. (Let’s ignore mile three, at 8:36…)
Perhaps because my recovery run included some miles that were a bit too fast, or perhaps because of my tough threshold run earlier in the week, or perhaps because in the past four weeks I’d run over 150 miles, I could not face my planned 13 miles progression run. Instead, I opted to run a normal 13 mile run, and if I was feeling up to it, I would run the last two or three miles a bit quicker to make it a ‘fast finish’ run.
In the end, this was actually a pretty hard effort run. After spending the first few miles warming up into the run, I ran a pretty steady pace of around 8:00 min/mile for the middle miles, and then pushed on towards the end, dipping down to between 7:30 and 7:00 min/mile. This was the first time that I’d run half marathon distance (or further) outside of a race, and a time of 1:46:07 is one that I’m pretty happy with for a training run!
The week started well, but towards the end I think the efforts of the past few weeks began to have an impact. Next week is a lighter week – less mileage and easier workouts, so hopefully I can use that to recover, and then there’s only one more heavy week before the mileage starts to taper back. I’m still feeling pretty happy with my progress, but I need to start focusing a bit more on continual recovery – by adding stretching and foam-roller sessions most days. Hopefully that can help to keep my body together and strong as I close in on race day. (Only just over a month to go now!)