Bristol Half Marathon Training: Week 9

After some relatively disrupted training last week, I was hoping that I could have a pretty solid week, although that was always going to be pretty unlikely with a busy weekend planned.

Book plan:
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 8 miles general aerobic
Wednesday: 11 miles endurance
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 10 miles VO2 max
Saturday: 4 miles recovery
Sunday: 14 miles endurance

My plan:
Pretty much the same as the book – though I had an eight-mile race planned on Sunday, so the only slight alteration was:
Sunday: 14 miles (8 mile race + 6 miles)

Rest day.

A gentle eight-miler to start the week, and I trotted along the river and canal to complete this one. My quads were still struggling slightly from my Sunday run, but overall, this was a pretty nondescript run, averaging about 8:50 per mile.

Eleven miles is the peak of my midweek mileage. In fact, this week is a peak for everything: midweek mileage, Sunday mileage, overall mileage. I opted again to run this with the club, and I was aided in that slightly by the fact that one of the group leaders was missing, so I led the group. This meant that I planned the route, which made it much easier to plan how much mileage I had to add one either side! So, a 3 mile run to club, a 7 mile run with the club, and a mile run home. Lovely. The paces were all reasonably good – I opted to sit at the back of the group during the club run section, to run with a new runner to the club who was struggling slightly with the pace. Even so, we were well within the pace guideline for the group. Overall, 11 miles at a pace of around 8:30. Possibly slightly slower than an ideal ‘endurance’ paced run, but on a heavy week, I’m happy with it.

Rest day.

Ah, Friday. The day that the wheels started to come off slightly. Work, eh? I spent Thursday night in Cornwall, ahead of a busy day on Friday, which meant that I didn’t get home until about 18:30. Amazingly, I managed to persuade myself to get changed straight away, and head up to the running track for my VO2 max session: two sets of 2 x 1,200 m, 1 x 800 m. I put a few numbers into some running calculators, and worked out that I wanted a similar pace to my 1,000 m repeats a few weeks before. So I was aiming for 4:36 per 1,200 and 3:04 per 800. Roughly 6:10 per mile pace. And basically, I breezed it. (4:33, 4:33, 3:01, 4:23, 4:26, 2:58.)


Pretty consistent pacing

I have one more VO2 max session in this training plan, and I may well stick to a similar pace band for that, but it’s worth me bearing in mind that after this, for my track repeats, I probably need to work on quicker reps. (I calculated them based on a 19:30 5k.) While I completed the interval session absolutely fine, I was short on overall mileage, as the plan had called for my daily mileage to be 10 miles, and I only managed 8.5. Nothing tragic, but…

… on Saturday I was doing some Wedding photography for a friend. And given how tired I was generally, and the fact that I didn’t want to be too worn down by the end of the day, I decided to skip the planned recovery run. Given that in the end I was out of the house from 9:30 to 23:00, I didn’t really regret this decision…

… but it did mean that there was a bit more pressure on me to make sure that I didn’t end up too short on mileage on Sunday. I don’t mind being a bit behind, but if I didn’t manage anything more than the race and a warm-up, I would be about 10 miles behind on the planned weekly mileage, which seemed a bit too much to me. I contemplated a few ways of doing it: three miles before the race and another three after? A normal one mile warm-up, a couple of miles cool down, and then a three mile jog later in the afternoon? Maybe even all six extra miles before the race, making the race good ‘tired legs’ training. In the end, I barely had time for my one mile warm-up before the race, and couldn’t be bothered with a cool down. The race itself went really well. I’d set myself the target of an hour, which I missed… by 5 seconds. That said, looking at the people around me, and recognising them from other races, I finished a bit further up the field than I would have expected. As probably predicted, I didn’t do any miles immediately after the race, opting instead for a bacon bap and some chocolate cake.

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Post-race father and daughter posing.

So, a few hours later, I was back out again. Wearing my new top (that was a surprise by the way – £12 on the day entry, and I got a medal and a t-shirt) I headed off for five miles around town to top me up to 14 miles. The first mile of the run was really, really tough on my legs. After that it got easier, but I developed a stitch about halfway through which never really disappeared. It was very much run at a recovery pace, and it probably did the job: the last mile was the quickest and most comfortable of the lot.

I had a solid start to the week, but it got pretty tough at the weekend. Not only did I struggle to fit my runs in, but with everything that I was doing, I was pretty tired. Being honest, I’m getting a little bit fed up of my training plan now – I’m still enjoying running, but it’s getting a bit constrictive. Still, pretty much just taper fever to cope with, then the race. And after that… a lot more fun races too!

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