Bristol Half Marathon Training: Week 8

This week was another lighter week. Although not specifically described in the book as a recovery week, it involved lower mileages and gentler runs. Possibly the only reason that it wasn’t described as recovery was the presence of a 10k tune-up race. When I first started this plan, that tune-up race was ideal, as it coincided with one of my favourite 10k races, the Battle of Sedgemoor. (Mostly my favourite because I’ve got a PB at it both years that I’ve raced it!) Unfortunately, I later realised that we were going to be out of the county at a family barbecue, so I would need to change my plans.

At first, I settled on a 10k race that was on the way home from Shrewsbury, but wouldn’t involve leaving too early. But then I read a few reviews of the company putting it on, and decided against it. Long courses, late changes to their courses, off-road sections on advertised ‘road-races’: all these put me off. I contemplated trying to run a hard 5k before parkrun, and then parkrun itself, to replicate a 10k effort. But the distances, roads and course didn’t really suit themselves to this, and so I opted to just run a hard parkrun. I didn’t really mind about losing a bit of mileage: I needed the recovery this week.

Book plan:
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 8 miles general aerobic + speed
Wednesday: 7 miles general aerobic
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 3 miles recovery
Saturday: 10 miles, inc 10k tune-up race
Sunday: 10 miles endurance

My plan:
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 8 miles general aerobic + speed
Wednesday: 7 miles general aerobic
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 3 miles recovery
Saturday: 6 miles, inc tune-up parkrun
Sunday: 10 miles endurance

Monday:
Rest day.

Tuesday:
The plan called for an eight mile general aerobic run, with two sets of 4 x 150 metre sprints. I decided against doing my sprints on the canal, or at the track, and instead headed over to Longrun Meadow for them. I did some mental arithmetic to work out how much I needed to add-on to make eight miles, and planned a route accordingly.

Things could have gone better. I got to Longrun Meadow and did my first set of intervals, all okay. A four minute recovery jog in the middle, fine. Second set of four intervals… or, was it three? Yeah – schoolboy error, I lost count. I had, in fact, completed the four reps as I was supposed to, but being unsure I added on another. Still, better to do too many than too few I guess! I then got to the edge of the park, knowing that it was a mile to get home, and glanced at my watch: 6 miles completed. Bugger – somehow I added 3.5, 2.5 and 1 together to make 8. Sigh, looks like it’s the long route home then…

math

BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Physics from Warwick, I’ll have you know…

Wednesday:
The week didn’t really improve. On Wednesday I had to travel down to Cornwall for work, and as Lolly had a work meal in the evening, I would a) not be able to run in the evening, and b) have to leave home early for work. Meaning c) if I wanted to get my scheduled 7 mile run in, I’d have to do it super-early. I didn’t.

Thursday:
Rest day. Had a sports massage before work, focusing on my calves and quads, which was much needed, and should hopefully set me up for the next few weeks. That said, I need to make sure I keep up with my own stretches and foam roller routine. Or more realistically, introduce such a routine.

Friday:
Planned as a three mile recovery run, I added a mile onto this to recoup a little bit of the lost mileage from Wednesday. Four miles is also the distance of my short river and canal loop, so I was happy to trot around this on Friday evening while I waited for the traffic to clear on the M5.

Saturday:
After a late evening drive up to Shrewsbury, we didn’t get to bed until after midnight, and then I ended up sleeping on a pretty uncomfortable single bed, as Lani decided that she preferred the king-sized bed with Mummy. With this in mind, I wasn’t expecting the best time ever at Shrewsbury parkrun – particularly once I saw the hill that we’d have to climb twice. Sure, it was nothing stupid, but gone were my thoughts of a possible 5k PB, and instead I decided to just focus on sneaking sub-20, which would be a parkrun PB at least.

The hotel was located about two miles away from the park, so I opted to jog in as a warm-up. On arrival, after noticing the hill, we also worked out that it was a ‘downhill’ course: although we had to climb the hill twice, we actually went down it three times. I found the whole run a real struggle, right from the downhill start. My pacing, in the end, was pretty consistent, within a few seconds for each kilometre. My watch told me that I was running around 3:55 per km, which would equate to about 19:35. So it was something of a surprise when I crossed the line, stopped my watch, and saw 19:21! My first thought, particularly as it also said ‘3.07’ for the distance, was that the course was short. But it had lots of tight corners and an out and back, which tends to mess with GPS a bit. Who knows – either way I’m pretty happy with my time. After some water, I jogged around with Lolly for her last lap, acting as a 1 mile cool down run for me.

We grabbed some breakfast at Wetherspoons, headed back to the hotel room for a rest, and then I headed out for another run to bring myself up close to the 10 miles that the book had planned. Although I didn’t mind dropping some mileage in a lighter week, I wasn’t keen on missing 7 miles midweek AND 4 miles at the weekend. I trotted around another 5k in the lanes to the south of Shrewsbury at a pretty gentle pace, and declared myself happy with the situation.

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Turns out I wasn’t meant to go down this path…

Sunday:
For some reason, I decided that a normal 10 mile run would be too boring, and so I planned a slightly insensible route back from a car park in the Quantock Hills that I’ve used a couple of times. I jokingly commented to Lolly that it was “9.9 miles, so by the time I get lost, I guess I’ll do 11.” Indeed.

Despite a drastic shortage of sleep over the previous couple of nights, Lolly drove me up to the car park, a round-trip of just over an hour for her, for which I’m very very grateful. I headed out of the car park… and immediately went wrong. Thankfully, a path cut across from the track I was on to the one I was meant to be on, meaning that I didn’t have to retrace my steps all the way back to the car park once I noticed about three-quarters of a mile in. Shortly thereafter, I went wrong again. This wasn’t going particularly well. Unfortunately, this time I had to climb back up quite a steep path that I’d been following. Again, it wasn’t much distance, but the climb was quite significant! By this stage, I was still less than two miles into my route, and in the bit that I had thought I’d known reasonably well. This was seeming like a very bad idea: after this, most of the route was relatively unknown to me. Thankfully, I had my phone with me, Google maps, and amazingly good phone signal. Otherwise, I might still be running around the Quantock Hills today!

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It’s hard to say no to a run through places like this!

Typically, the rest of the run actually went pretty well. As I’d been unsure about most of it, I’d studied it much more closely on the maps, and even used Street View to reccy some of the junctions I’d be using. My research paid off, and the only point at which I had to turn back again was when one of the paths I wanted to use was far too overgrown with nettles. The road didn’t add on much distance anyway.

The run ended up being almost exactly 11 miles, as predicted, and included 571 feet of elevation gain, and 1,583 feet of elevation loss – which was nice, but tough on the quads! I described this on Facebook as one of my toughest ever runs: physically it was fine, but mentally self-navigating through an area I only had a vague knowledge of was pretty tough. Although I knew that if I went wrong I could just phone Lolly to get me, that wasn’t the point. This definitely took me out of my comfort zone, and I’d love to do more ‘exploratory running’ like this. But maybe once I’ve finished with this plan. And maybe when I recruit someone else to come with me!

Summary:
This ended up being a bit of a hodgepodge week. I missed my second run of the training plan, with both of them coming during lighter weeks – which probably isn’t a complete coincidence, though seemingly both have been due to me being pretty busy in work/life. The book had planned 38 miles for this week, which I adjusted to 34 in my plan (dropping the 10k to a 5k). In actual fact, I ended up doing 32.7 miles after missing one of the runs, which I’m still more than happy with. If I’d been following my own plan, rather than this book, I probably wouldn’t be running much more than that even in my heavy weeks!

This coming week is theoretically the heaviest of my plan, totalling 47 miles, including a long run of 14 miles on the Sunday. But – I have an 8 mile race planned for Sunday, so that’s going to throw something of a spanner in the works, and I still haven’t really worked out what I’m going to do about it.

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