Bristol Half Marathon Training: Weeks 10 and 11

I’ve been more than a little bit lax in keeping my training blog up to date over the past
couple of weeks, but that sort of sums up what a time it has been. In many ways, I’ve been
more fed up of running than ever before. While in other ways, I’m more excited about it than
ever before. At least in terms of my 5km pace, this training cycle has seen huge
improvements. I started the summer with a PB of 20:15, set at Longrun Meadow parkrun last
August. At Yeovilton, I drove this down as the summer wore on: 19:50 in July, 19:32 in August
and 19:13 this month. The Yeovilton course is definitely quicker than Longrun, but I set a
new PB there too, 19:48 in wet conditions.

I’ve not had the opportunity to run a representative 10km race to judge my improvement there,
but my result at the Ash Excellent Eight early this month gave me some encouragement,
particularly how I coped with the hill at the end. Some of my training runs have similarly
shown me my improvement – hilly routes that would have been a struggle before have been
dispatched relatively easily, and I’ve hit my target paces in all of my speed sessions.

Here’s a brief summary of the past couple of weeks; nothing so detailed as normal:

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

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 7 miles general aerobic
Wednesday: 4 miles recovery
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 9 miles VO2 max
Saturday: 3 miles recovery
Sunday: 10 miles endurance

Tuesday:
After Sunday’s race (and extra mileage) and Monday’s rest day, I was off out along the
extended river and canal route that I’ve become fond of. Nothing special, but to run a gentle
8:39 min/mile for 8.3 miles on this is another indication of my progress.

Wednesday:
Leading a group for my running club again, so we had a slightly elongated route to take in
the most of the Taunton 10k route as a sighter for those doing it (the same day as the Great
Bristol Half). Good group, decent pace. (7.7 miles, 8:33 min/mile)

Friday:
I was meant to head out for a recovery run, but completely forgot about it until I was
halfway through making dinner, so it was skipped.

Saturday:
This was meant to be another 10km tune-up race. But as before, there wasn’t one that was
convenient, so I chose to do parkrun instead. The conditions weren’t great, with a lot of
puddles on the course, but as I mentioned above, I managed a new best of 19:48. Annoyingly,
that’s still one second behind my brother’s time on the course, so I’m going to have to have
another fast session here when the conditions are a bit better! I headed out in the early
evening for a recovery run to keep my weekly mileage up.

Sunday:
Went out for a run with my running club’s ‘Sunday All-Stars’. It was a lovely route that
headed down to Pitminster, where we climbed an almighty hill through some pretty tough
terrain. I really enjoyed it, particularly as something different to all the flat road
running I’ve been doing lately. Probably better practice for the Red Bull Steeplechase which
is coming up two weeks after Bristol, but still good!

Tuesday:
Felt like crap, so skipped my planned run and lay in bed instead.

Wednesday:
Rather than the book’s planned 4 miles recovery, I headed back to Yeovilton for the last race
of the series. I collected my mug for completing the series, and then headed off with the aim
of another PB. I had a slim, crazy, hope of running sub-19, but after keeping that pace for
the first half of the race, I feel off towards the end to finish in 19:13, which I was still
really happy with. Obviously. I also dragged my brother along for his first proper race, as
he happened to be staying with us because of his work.

Friday:
After work on Friday, I really couldn’t face more miles on the road (you might have mentioned
a theme – I’m getting sick of road running), so I got changed, got in the car and headed out
to scout out some of the Herepath route that I’d be racing at the end of October. Annoyingly,
this run had 985 ft of climb – had I realised I’d have found another 15 to top out 1,000, but
nevermind! Unsurprisingly, my pace took a hit given the terrain and elevation, but I loved
this run. Perhaps next year I should be aiming to get off-road more, rather than go faster on
road. Hmmm – Matt does keep trying to get me to do Seaview 17…

Saturday:
Went up to Minehead parkrun with Lolly and ran with the buggy. Nice easy course, and I
managed to take it relatively easy, until the last few hundred metres at least! Not the most
inspiring course ever, but had a nice day afterwards on the steam train.

Sunday:
Headed out for an ‘even more extended than usual’ river and canal run. Except that I got a
bit lost and confused, and ended up continuing along the river. It was meant to be a 10 mile
roundtrip, but after travelling ‘out’ for 6 miles, I rang Lolly up and she came and picked me
up a couple of miles further up the river. Interesting route along the river, though it did
start to get a bit overgrown. Perhaps not the most relevant for Bristol, though it was flat,
at least.

Summary:
The toll of the training has really shown this past couple of weeks. I’ve missed more runs than in the rest of the plan together, and got proper fed up of road running. I’m really looking forward to having the race done and being able to get out on the trails a bit more. This plan has involved more flat road running than it needed to, but I felt I had to do that so that I could work out what the session was asking for. If I follow this plan again for a spring half marathon (which is likely), I feel that I’ll be able to mix things up a bit more, as I now have a better understanding of each session, and what I can do with it.

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