Week 3 – Time To Get Back On The Horse

So, the challenge for this week was to find a good balance between resting and getting back to training.

I decided that my best move was to let thing go until Thursday, and then I would see how I got on in Pilates.  That actually went well, so I tried going out  for a run

My initial plan was to do just a couple of miles, but when I was out on the canal towpath I decided to go as far as a specific bridge.  By the time I got back to the car I was already well over two miles, and it would only be a little bit extra to get up to three miles… so I did so.

Running felt quite good – maybe I am in a good enough state to get back to training?

This time I was determined not to make the same mistakes as last week – I had my illuminated belt, a head torch and my reflective leggings.  Nobody was going to miss me on this run!

Total distance: 4972 m
Max elevation: 81 m
Min elevation: 74 m

Friday was a rest day, so my next run was Saturday.  This was down as a five miler at marathon pace in the plan.  I knew that I wasn’t recovered enough to do that, so I stuck to training pace and did a little over four.  I’m just getting back into it, that’s okay

Total distance: 7198 m
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 69 m

Sunday was the LSR day.  I was dropping my daughter off in Stirling to do her job, and so I decided to go to Stiring Uni for the run.  There is a stretch I wanted to know well before the marathon, that is the section from the Uni out to the A91 junction.  I’ve driven this route many times, but that’s not the same as knowing what it’s like underfoot.

Setting off from the Uni was lovely.  I was able to use the facilities at the student centre before starting, and then head out along the marathon route to the high point of the Uni, where I took photographs of runners last year. Then out to the car park, and downhill to the Airthrey Road (A9).  Turning right there, I ran along to the A91 junction. 

There’s a loop here in the marathon, where the official route goes north on the A91 to the Hillfoots.  Well, I chose not to run that way because there is no pavement.  Instead, I went straight on, and ran as far as the Gogar Loan road.  There I headed north onto the Hillfoots road, then turned back towards the Uni.  I went into the University’s back entrance, climbing the hill to finish the run.

The University is really a pretty place.

But not only that. It has a publicly accessible changing room with showers, and it has a cafeteria that does a first-rate cheeseburger and coffee for under a fiver.  I think I might be doing more of my Sunday LSRs from Stirling Uni!

So, that’ me back on the horse.  I’m not 100%; I still have a bit of a chesty cough.  I hope I am not doing too much too soon.  But I have a day off tomorrow, and a gentle three miler on Tuesday, so that should give me a decent interval for recovery.  It ramps up on Wednesday with a six mile midweek run, then Saturday and Sunday are quite brutal – a six miler at marathon pace followed by a slow eleven mile run.

Things are starting to get real…

Week 2 – Crash

I might have thought I could manage more than a week without crashing, but sadly that hope was not realised

This week started really well.  Monday – New Year’s Day – was a rest day, which I enjoyed to the full.

Tuesday was less cold than it had been, and the relative warmth beckoned.  Having been indoors for ages, pleasantly imprisoned in a centrally-heated space, it was a delight to be able to get outside and get some chill and some rain on my skin.

Running on the Union Canal

The run itself was a pleasant 3.4 miles, I really enjoyed it.

Total distance: 5529 m
Max elevation: 110 m
Min elevation: 67 m

Wednesday saw me back at work, and I had a five miler to do.  So after work I went up onto the canal towpath, and very quickly learned that I need a headlamp.

I had an illuminated belt, which is great.  But I had nothing to help me see where I was going, and that led to a close shave.  Why do bollards have to be so hard?

Total distance: 8484 m
Max elevation: 79 m
Min elevation: 52 m

Then Thursday came.  I was in work all day, but a cold was building up in my chest.  I read various sources, all of which recommended that you do not try to run when the cold is below the neck.  So, I didn’t run.

Later on that evening, I was absolutely frozen.  I went to bed early, and woke late on Friday morning.  I could barely get out of bed.  Saturday was hardly any better, and there was no way I could run on Sunday.

And so that’s it – two weeks in and I’ve already missed half a week.  And this cold is showing no signs of shifting.  I am not impressed…

Training Plan At End Of Week 2

Contemplating Stirling

And so, it starts.

First day of training today, I have run the three miles that Hal Higdon says I should have run and so far, so good. 

I’m not going to be reporting every single training run here, that would be boring – but I shall try to keep my training schedule updated.

It may not look it from the above photo, but when I went out today there was snow falling and ice on the ground.  Let’s hope the weather improves  a little!


Shopping List

I’ve not been posting in here much recently, but I have been keeping up with some running.  Normally only a couple of runs a week, but enough to keep my legs turning over.

The varying weather conditions have been making me think about what I will need for the winter, however, and I have built up a little bit of a shopping list.  Specifically, I think I am going to be looking for:

  • New shoes.  Strava tells me that my current shoes have done just over 300 miles, plus there will be some treadmill running it doesn’t know about.  So new shoes some time over the marathon training programme will be needed
  • An running belt – both the SPI Belt and the Flipbelt seem to get great reviews on reddit, I’m not sure which to go for.
  • A bluetooth heart rate monitor.  My Apple watch is okay, but I’ve done a couple of cmparisons which prove that the heart rate data from the Apple Watch is really not terribly good.  And given that I am trying to use heart rate as a major component of my running, I need a heart rate monitor I can trust.  I do, of course, have the option of using my older Garmin, but that goes back to wearing two watches.  And getting away from that was why I went for the Apple Watch in the first place!  Something like this Wahoo TICKR monitor might be the right thing, though it is quite a low priority.
  • A pair of warm thermal running leggings.  I do wonder about the compression ones, but they do seem awfully expensive.  And I might need another pair of “normal” running tights too
  • Possibly another running jacket – it’s frequently wet here in Scotland and my one jacket may not be able to be washed and dried in time for use

Running is supposed to be a cheap hobby – but I seem to be able to find lots to spend my money on…


Stirling Marathon Route

Today I drove something that will be approximately the Stirling Marathon route.  I know that the start point won’t be exact, and that the final mile or so inside the city won’t be exact, but it’s not going to be far off.  It will be my last chance to drive the route for a while, as the A820 (from Doune to Dunblane) will be closed for the next three months.

So, here’s what I saw:

The route seems to start at approximately 25ft above sea level.  The first ten and a half miles are a fearsome climb all the way to Dunblane, at about 280ft.  That’s the same kind of height gain as nemesis, the Wallace Stone Brae – but it takes over ten miles to achieve it.

After that we have another two mile uphill stretch from Bridge of Allan to Innovation Park to contend with, where we will gain 100ft.  And the final stretch will involve a bit of a hill too, as we come in to the city.

This is clearly going to have to have some kind of impact on my training.  I need to learn to be able to cope with hills, and I need to re-think my pacing.  

It’s going to be brutal!

Total distance: 41922 m
Max elevation: 86 m
Min elevation: 2 m

You want to be seen

I was thinking about the training plan for the marathon, and realised that it called for me to be out running on Wednesday evenings.  I plan to take in a hill on that run, and the road back home from that hill is not illuminated.

So, I started looking around for reflective running clothing.  I struggled to find what I want, but was inspired by an advert from the SportPursuit flash sale site.   It was offering Craft Sportswear reflective running tights.

Sadly they didn’t have my size, but I was able to find them on Amazon.  In normal use, they don’t look anything special, but when you shine a light on them…

Great Scottish Run

The Great Scottish Run, or the Glasgow Half Marathon.  It’s a race I’ve run twice before, and enjoyed both times. 

The day dawned wet and slightly windy.  I had a good breakfast of cereal followed by porridge, and drove to my local railway station.   Only to see the train leave the station.  Turns out I shouldn’t have got the 0934, it was the 0930.  D’oh!

I drove off to Falkirk High, where I got the next train, about a half hour later.  The train was full of runners, and I chatted fora while to the lady who was sitting next to me.  She was a regular at this event, and was looking forward to a good run.

The Glasgow train at Falkirk High

The train arrived in Queen Street station and I went out to George Square.  A little bit of jogging around, then I went to join the queue for the loo, and then the baggage bus.  Having dropped my kit off, all I had left to keep me warm and dry was a bin bag.  I was the epitome of style as I sheltered from the increasingly heavy rain!

Race Day Chic

This is a big event – over 30,000 runners took part in the various events on offer.  I was in the “green” wave, based on the time I had predicted for my marathon.  I had entered a rather conservative 1:50, and that put me in the second wave of runners, starting ten minutes behind the elites and the “white” wave – those who predicted a 1:45 or better finish.

Waiting to start

After some waiting in the rain and a really good mass warmup, the elites started.

Elites Starting

Soon after, it was the green wave.

The course starts from George Square with a fairly sharp uphill stretch up St Vincent St.    By the top of the hill there were already people walking, but I found that I was running very easily and was enjoying the run.  The route continues downhill for a while before turning south and crossing the iconic Kingston Bridge – a motorway bridge across the River Clyde.  It’s not somewhere that walkers can normally go, and usually I bask in the view.  Today the rain meant that there was no meaningful view, and I was too focused on running to care.

We then went through a maze of streets that I don’t know well, and then hitting Pollokshaws Road – one of the main arterial routes leading out of the city centre.  Here we headed south for about three miles until we reached Pollok Park, a huge park within the city.

It was a bit rainy

I was amazed at how easily the running was coming to me.  I’m not a natural athlete, but I really felt comfortable running.  This lasted well into the park – just around seven miles – until I needed to stop for a pee.  Well, what can you do?  (that’s rhetorical – please don’t answer it).  That stop cost me around thirty seconds, but soon I was on the road again.

Pollok Park had a few noticeable hills in it, and we then headed a mile or so north into Bellahouston Park, where again we were going up a hill.  But as we came out of the park and on to Paisley Road West, that was the end of the uphill.  The mile ten marker came up, and it was now just a case of pushing through to the finish.

I knew I was getting tired, but I was also aware that I was passing a lot more people than were passing me.  I kept pushing as we crossed the Squinty Bridge, where there was a person receiving treatment from the marshals.  

Once across, it was a straight run along the Broomielaw to Saltmarket, and then into Glasgow Green.  As I ran through the McLennan Arch I started to push really hard.  I could see the Glasgow 2014 statue, which is where I assumed was the finish.  But no! there were still 100 yards to go.  Just as the mile leading up to this point was the longest mile in history, this 100 yards was the longest 100 yards ever!  But I got to the finish line and, with a few grunts and groans, stopped and began to get my breath back.

Approach to the McLennan Arch

My time was on Facebook before I had collected my t-shirt and medal – 1:41:02 – a PB for me by over two minutes.  I was delighted with that.

Runners at the Glasgow 2014 installation

Now I have to start learning to run much more slowly for the Stirling marathon.  But I definitely hope to enter this superbly-organised race again in 2018.

Total distance: 21463 m
Max elevation: 46 m
Min elevation: 3 m

Stirling Marathon Route Published

The Great Run company has published the new Stirling Marathon route, and it looks good.  I’ve grabbed a copy of their map, and posted it here:

Stirling 2018 Map

From what I can tell, it looks as if the route starts at or near the King’s Knot, where the race finished in 2017.  It then goes out the A84 through the business park, past Craigforth and out past the Safari Park.

From there, it stays on the A84 to Doune  – this will be a long and flat, but  potentially a rather bleak stretch.  It might be hard to keep a good discipline about pace here.

After that, into Doune and we turn right to head for Dunblane.  That’s another rural stretch, and I could imagine that here too it might be difficult to keep the concentration going.

At Dunblane, there is a short rise onto the main road, and we turn right.  We go past the Dunblane Centre and head south towards the Keir Roundabout.  Again, there is a dip here – and a rise as we get to the roundabout and head towards Bridge of Allan.  That rise continues until we are above the town, then there is a long sustained downhill towards the Uni.

When we turn into the University there is a pretty good-going hill taking us up and past the macrobert, out towards Innovation Park at the back of the Uni (where I took photos of the marathon last year).  That is almost immediately repaid with a downhill, as we go back down to the junction where we entered the Uni.  That’s probably the last big hill of the run (though there is a decent rise to go just at the end of the race).

From the Uni we turn left and run along to the A91.  We turn north towards the sheer cliffs of the Ochils, and follow the road through the village of Blairlogie.  We turn right onto Gogar Loan, running south across the flood plain and beautifully flat land on a tiny little single track road – let’s hope the field has thinned out by this point.

At the end of this road we turn right again and pass Manor Powis, then turn left when we hit the A91.  We cross the Forth then turn right again, past the Forthbank Stadium and The Peak leisure centre.  Along another flat stretch to the new cinema, and then  doing something in the centre of the town to get to Kings Park Road.  There’s a bit of a hill here, but not a huge one – though at twenty-five miles, it might feel pretty huge.

The finish appears to be in Kings Park itself – a beautiful formal Victorian park which I will be delighted to finally reach!

So, that’s my take on the route.  It looks much better than that which was reported last year, and while there are some hills in it they appear to be mostly confined to the earlier part of the race.  

I’m really looking forward to it!