It started well with five miles round Linlithgow Loch. Actually, I added a wee bit onto the start and end of the Linlithgow Loch run; a loop past Bonnytoun Farm. this section will be familiar to anyone who has done the Linlithgow 10k; it’s the hilly stretch that makes you loathe your life just as you come off the back of the Loch.
This route did have a problem, though – the road was flooded! Not only that, but there was a horse and rider further up the road, and they seemed to be very keen to avoid being in contact with a runner in a fluorescent yellow jacket. So to be safe I turned back and went back down to the main road at the start of the route. They were gone by the time I had run round the Loch, so I was able to run my planned route as I went back towards the office
Total distance: 8375 m Max elevation: 80 m Min elevation: 44 m
Thursday after work, I took a different route – going out to join the canal at the Park Bistro, and running along the towpath back into town. From there, straight back out to the office and that was my five miles done. I celebrated with some stretching and some core work.
Total distance: 8289 m Max elevation: 82 m Min elevation: 54 m
Friday and Saturday were both rest days, and then it was time for the Alloa Half Marathon.
Except, it wasn’t.
On the Saturday evening, the organisers sent out a message saying that the half had been postponed. The weather forecast was absolutely dreadful, with conditions being described as the return of the “Beast From The East” that caused so many problems a couple of weeks ago.
Their decision was vindicated by the scene at the muster area this morning, when the race should have been starting.
So, I missed my run today. It’s not great, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s one LSR – better to miss that than to slip and get injured.
After last week I was keen to get started again. The snow was melting and the training plan called for the longest week of the entire plan. That is, the greatest number of miles in the week of any week. Clearly this was going to be an important week in the plan. Even if I wasn’t 100%, it was time to pull on my big boy tights and get on with it.
That’s not a sentence I expect to write very often.
Anyway, Monday was – as usual – a rest day.
Tuesday called for five miles. The weather wasn’t great at lunchtime and I knew I was going to have to go to the gym in the evening, so once again I decided to use the treadmill. I had bought a fancy new running vest when I was in London, so I wore that. I don’t think that this photograph of me from the display of the treadmill really flatters me or the vest, but you can at least see that it’s blue!
After that, it was the Wednesday middle distance run. I had been in Aberdeen during the daytime, taking my daughter to a University visit. By the time I got home, unpacked the car, and got the house sorted out it was much later than I usually go for runs – but I managed to get out and had a little visit to the town centre in the rain!
Total distance: 9740 m Max elevation: 111 m Min elevation: 23 m
For some reason that I can’t quite remember, it was even later on Thursday. I didn’t get out until almost 10pm, and decided to re-use part of the route I had taken the day before. Not much to say about this run, it was a straightforward five miles in the dark.
Total distance: 8900 m Max elevation: 111 m Min elevation: 27 m
After a rest day on Friday, it was time for an eight mile medium distance run on Saturday. The training plan says that this should be run at training pace, not marathon pace. I guess that this is because it’s a long week. My route took me west along the canal to the Glen Burn, then I retraced my steps back as far as the Wallace Stone Brae. Up the hill, turn left and head for home.
The weather wasn’t great to start with, but when I was coming back along the canal, it really took a turn for the worse. I don’t know if it was hail or rain hitting me in the face, but it was nasty and it stung! It’s not often I would turn onto the Wallace Stone Brae and be glad for it, but this time I was!
Total distance: 13312 m Max elevation: 152 m Min elevation: 74 m
And then the long one. Sunday. Eighteen miles.
I have memories of eighteen miles being my nemesis back when I was training last time. Eighteen miles is the point where I started to fall apart. Eighteen miles is where I fell apart during the marathon itself. I have baggage about eighteen miles.
Anyway, I drove to Stirling Uni, trying to get to my usual starting point – only to find that the road was blocked because there was some work being done on the aerial walkway between buildings. I parked in a different car park and found a loo where I could pee and change.
Not only that, but change into shorts! The weather, while still cool, was a lot better than yesterday!
My route was to be similar to the route I ran for the fifteen mile route I did a couple of weeks ago, but with an added lap of the Loch and a wee extra bit to make up the distance.
It was strange starting from a different part of the campus, but I set off round the loch, going down to the University entrance then swinging back up the route through the University that we will be taking on the day.
I had fuelled myself very carefully before leaving – porridge early in the morning, a nice burger roll and another tub of porridge at lunchtime. It was now about 1330 and my body wanted rid of some of that. So I had to stop at the public loos in Causewayhead park to do that.
After that, just straight out through Tullibody to Alloa. Where again I stopped at the loo, this time in the Leisure Bowl. I’m not gratuitously talking about bodily functions here; my point is that I need to get control of my bladder before this race.
At the other end of my body, I had a bit of a nutrition strategy on the go here. Checking the current Stirling route map, it appears that the rest stations are at miles 4, 7, 10, 13, 15.5, 19, 21 and 25. I plan to walk through each rest station, for a self-counted 30s. During that time I will take a gel and some water. I was practising the gel consumption today.
There were times through the route that I felt quite cold – I don’t know if that was down to the shorts. Maybe long tights would have been better. But the main point is that I never felt exhausted, and I never felt despairing. I was, perhaps, running a bit faster than I should have been, because I was frankly bored and wanted the run to be over!
When I got to the Uni I very deliberately added a few hundred yards – enough to get me over 18.5 miles. I wanted to prove to myself that I could go beyond 18 miles. So my final distance was 18.54 – maybe I should have gone on to 18.56 so I could round it up rather than down!
Anyway, I was very heartened by this training run. I was able to go as far as I wanted, and I wasn’t too tired to continue. I was never forced to stop (other than for the loo!) and my walking stretches at the pretend rest stations were all planned.
I’m beginning to have some confidence for this marathon. Not for my time – right now I cannot see how I can possibly manage round at 9 min/mile. But I do believe that I can finish it. So I’ll probably damage myself in the next few weeks and end up unable to compete!
If nothing else, I ran forty-five miles in a week – that is the most I have ever done (probably the most I shall ever do, too). So all in all, a good week!
This was the week when the wheels fell off my training. I guess it happens to everyone, let’s just hope that was the one time and I’ll be fine from here on in.
The week started off okay on Tuesday with a four mile run. I did this on the treadmill because I was at the gym anyway, taking my son for his weekly PT session.
Then on Wednesday, things started to go a bit wrong. A weather system dubbed “The Beast From The East” struck. This was apparently a result of “sudden stratospheric warming” over the Arctic, which brought cold, cold weather down to us here.
I did go out for a short run, but conditions were such that I wasn’t comfortable running on my own. So I made do with a three mile run in the wind and snow – it certainly had quite an effect on my hair!
Total distance: 5141 m Max elevation: 111 m Min elevation: 69 m
By Thursday there was no way I was getting out of the house to go for a run. And even if I did try it, every step would be into deep, soft snow – hardly ideal conditions.
Friday was lost in an effort to clear the street and my driveway of snow. By the end of that I had done quite enough exercise – and something else was wrong. I was excessively tired, and I was feeling lousy. Everything I ate went straight through me, and I had no energy. Something just wasn’t right.
On Saturday I was determined to do something. I still didn’t think that the roads were all that safe, but I could at least get out to the gym. And it was true, the weather conditions didn’t impede me there, but I was still feeling awful. I went to do eight miles, I lasted just over four before going home and spending much of the rest of the day in bed.
And then Sunday wasn’t much better. I was still unwell, and didn’t make it out. So my totals for the week were pretty uninspiring.
This was a “step back” week, where the distance dropped back a bit to give me a chance to rest. In truth, I’m not quite sure it worked out that way.
My first day of running – Tuesday – saw me do just over four miles on the treadmill. I could have gone at lunchtime, but things were busy at work and I knew I would be going to the gym later, so I decided I would just wait until taking Cameron to the gym in the evening.
That was pretty much where normality stopped.
Wednesday saw me travelling to London with my daughter Jenni, who had an interview for a University course there. We travelled on the train, Leaving home quite early, so I didn’t manage a Wednesday mid-length run.
I tried to make up for that on Thursday by going for a decent run near my accommodation in Bethnal Green. I went out around Victoria Park, and parts of Regent’s Canal. Conditions were pretty reasonable and I got in a decent run, which made up for missing Wednesday’s run. Though in truth, it was as much a photo-walk as it was a run!
Total distance: 9975 m Max elevation: 19 m Min elevation: 12 m
Friday was another day of travelling, as there was an Applicants’ day at Nottingham Trent University. So we drove down on the Friday, and back home on the Saturday after seeing the University’s presentation. That kept us very busy, with no time for running.
And so we got to Sunday and the long slow run. I really was not feeling ready for this after the week I had had. But I managed to get myself up and out, and went out past Tesco, then picked up the canal to head eastwards along the canal.
I went east as far as the far end of Linlithgow Golf Club, then decided to try a little detour. There was a road that went south round the golf course, before returning to the canal at its western end. I do wish I had looked at a contour map before starting off, as this was a sudden and unexpected hill!
The road went past a field that appeared to have some kind of standing stone in it, but I can’t find any reference to it in the literature.
The road eventually returned to the canal towpath and I was able to finish my run off with a gentle easterly wind pushing me along.
Total distance: 21489 m Max elevation: 149 m Min elevation: 60 m
So, that’s the end of this “stop back” week. If the past three weeks were “we’re getting serious now” then the coming three weeks are “are you serious?” The distance increases quite substantially and it is going to be a tough journey.
Wow! That was the first week where I have ever run forty miles. Even at the height of training for my last marathon I didn’t put in so many miles in a single week.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. This was supposed to be thirty-seven miles. But as you will see later on, things didn’t go quite to plan.
I was on holiday on Tuesday, and so ran that four miler from home. The highlight of that run was getting up Wallacestone Brae without having to stop. It’s a pretty brutal hill – a short but steep climb from the canal broken at a road; a short relief downhill and then a long slog. 250ft increase in elevation in 0.7 of a mile fair takes it out of you!
Total distance: 6769 m Max elevation: 152 m Min elevation: 77 m
Wednesday was when things went wrong. I was in Galashiels with my daughter, her pal and Marie, my wife. While Jenni and her pal were doing their thing, Marie was going shopping and I would go for my long midweek run of seven miles. So I dropped Marie off at the shops, went back to a car park at the southeast of town and went for my run.
The route had me going west along this long, narrow town, turning north across the river, east to the far end of town, across the river again and then south and east for the final mile.
I set off – weather conditions were by no means perfect – and made my way round to the final bridge.
Which was closed. As in, “no, you can’t cross here”.
I had to double back and climb back into the town before finding a road that would take me down into the town centre, and then I could carry on back to where I was planning to finish – this took the run from seven to nine miles. All this in snow that varied from light to “where does the pavement end?”
When I got back, Marie had sent as text asking me to join her for lunch as soon as possible. So, still in running gear, I went to find her. We sat in a bar, about to have lunch, when I got a call to go and get Jenni.
I collected her, and soon after that, her pal. Still in my running gear, we set off for home.
Total distance: 11822 m Max elevation: 111 m Min elevation: 69 m
And then on to Sunday. Fifteen miles. That’s a lot of miles – well, for me anyway.
I started from Stirling Uni as usual, and took the usual route out and to the east. Along Airthrey Road / Alloa Road to the A91 / A907 roundabout. From there along the old road to Tullibody and up the hill of Stirling Road.
This time I didn’t turn down the Menstrie Brae, however – I kept going to Alloa. I realised that part of this route was the final few miles of the Alloa Half Marathon, which I shall be running in a few weeks. I even stopped in at the Leisure Bowl for a quick pee!
After that it was up a couple of pretty noticeable uphill stretches. I was grateful to reach the top and head downhill towards the Collylands roundabout, which is graced with another Andy Scott sculpture – River Spirit.
From there it was a little bit of a slog to get to the Hillfoots Road in Alva. A left turn there, and I just kept going. Soon I was in Menstrie, rejoining the route I have run a couple of times previously. From there you just keep going, and soon you come to the B998 / A91 roundabout. Then it’s just the usual slog up to Innovation Park, and a run through the University until the miles are made up.
Total distance: 11822 m Max elevation: 111 m Min elevation: 69 m
So, how do I feel? Longest ever week and all that? In truth, tired but not bad. I’m “aware of” my ankles this evening, but they’re not sore. They’re tired, and maybe a little stiff, but not sore.
This coming week will be a fall-back week, and I believe I’ll be missing the Saturday run. That will take me down to 26 miles. After that, however, we step up to 41 and then a massive 44 miles in a week – that will be the longest week of the entire training routine.
Seventy days to go until the marathon. That’s beginning to sound like quite a small number.
With week seven, things start getting pretty serious. The training plan calls for thirty-six miles of running this week. Let me put that in context – last time I did a marathon, back in May 2012, the week with the most running in it was thirty-seven miles. That was the week with my longest run. And this time, we’re hitting that before we even reach the half way point.
And I didn’t even manage one of the runs that week last time!
As usual, the week started with a rest day on Monday, and on Tuesday I was taking Cameron to the gym. The weather was horrible, so I elected to do my four miles at the gym
Wednesday was a proper run, however,. I left the office and joined the canal behind Tesco, then ran as far as the aqueduct. Then I turned round and went back to the office. No picture here, it wasn’t that kind of day. If nothing else, it was too cold to stop and tkae any pictures
Total distance: 6828 m Max elevation: 111 m Min elevation: 74 m
Friday was a rest day, so Saturday saw a longer run. Once again I ended up on the canal, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the portion along some delightfully rural roads just a couple of miles from the house.
This was supposed to be at marathon pace, but I managed my speed pretty poorly and ended up doing the seven mailer at 8:41 per mile. Running at that pace will pretty much guarantee I hit the wall on the real thing!
Total distance: 11626 m Max elevation: 138 m Min elevation: 74 m
One thing I was made very aware of last time was how important stretching after a run is. I am not saying that doing stretches will guarantee that I will get to the marathon date uninjured, but I am sure that missing out on these stretches would ensure some form of injury
Sunday called for a fourteen mile run. Now I’m not going to lie, I was scared of this one. I haven’t run over 13.1 miles since the Edinburgh Marathon in May 2012, and so this was pretty much uncharted territory.
To make matters worse, our plans changed and so I found I wasn’t going to be doing the run in Stirling, but would be doing it from home. So, coffee-free and with a few gels in my waist pack, I set off from the house to find – once again – the Canal.
Learning to use gels is, I think, going to be important to me. So I had one just before I left the house, and consumed two more through the run. I think that, in truth, I should have had three – but I only managed the two.
Going coffee free is proving to be very beneficial. I don’t seem to need to stop at the roadside quite so often!
Anyway, the first half of the run was lovely. The wind was at my back and I was running easily. I felt good as I reached the Linlithgow Canal Centre and turned round. On the second half of the run I think I was starting to get bored with the whole thing, and I started speeding up. And since the wind was in my face, that made the whole thing much harder.
The climb from the canal to the house is not massive – it’s about 100 feet – but given that it was at the end of the run, I’m quite happy that I managed it without having to stop. The longest climb in the real marathon is about 200ft (from the A84/A873 junction to Dunblane) but that is done over six miles and so, I hope, should be tolerable.
Another week, another few miles. Fewer than usual, as this was a “step back” week.
Most marathon training plans seem to be based around a strategy of increasing mileage for a couple of weeks, then an easier week to let your body rest a bit. Then they continue on from where they left off, increasing the mileage overall.
This week ended up being more of a “step back” week than planned, as I had to make a trip to Nottingham on Tuesday / Wednesday. I managed to make my Tuesday run, but didn’t do the Wednesday one. The Wednesday one is the longest weekday run, so it was a bit of a shame to miss it.
Anyway, Monday was the usual rest day and on Tuesday I left from the house. Most of the run was either downhill or flat, but the final stretch – coming up Quarry Brae – is pretty brutal!
Total distance: 6700 m Max elevation: 80 m Min elevation: 41 m
Saturday dawned dull and slightly rainy. I had to do six miles at marathon pace today, and I decided it would be along the canal. So I drove to Tesco and parked the car there, used its facilities and set out along the canal. Fairly civilised, actually!
It was slightly rainy during the tun, but that’s fine. I’ll take that over wind or extreme heat any day! (In Scotland, extreme heat means anything over approx 15℃)
Total distance: 10590 m Max elevation: 83 m Min elevation: 74 m
And then Sunday. “Just” nine miles. Last week I did twelve, so this should be a breeze, right?
Of course not. It’s still nine miles, which is a decent run in anybody’s language. I dropped Cameron off at golf, then went up to the canal. I turned towards the north and ran out to the Kelpies. From there, along a selection of footpaths until hitting the Stenhousemuir road, which I took until I met up with the canal again. And from there, just back towards Camelon and the golf club.
I was listening to Audible’s “Mo Joe” podcast, and a lady on that said that a pint of milk gave all the protein that one needs after a long run. So I pad heed to that, and had a pint after the run. Of milk, of course.
Writing this the next day, I am aware of feeling quite tired. My ankles, in particular, are feeling it. I’m hoping that a bit more sleep will help sort me out – let’s see how things go.
Next week is a “step up” week – and honestly that rather scares me. Let’s see how it goes.
Total distance: 5104 m Max elevation: 69 m Min elevation: 41 m
Wednesday wasn’t terribly clever. I spent some time on Google Maps devising a nice six mile run to do after work, part of which involved joining the canal at a specific point. Guess what, you can’t join the canal at that point!
So I ran along the road – luckily it had a pavement, because it was pitch dark. Eventually I was able to join the towpath at Philipstoun, but my six mile easy run had beome considerably longer. So much longer, in fact, that I was desperate to get back and so I ran faster than I should have for an easy run.
Total distance: 13523 m Max elevation: 102 m Min elevation: 54 m
Thursday saw me doing pilates at lunchtime, and watching as the weather just got worse and worse. Eventually I decided to chicken out and do my short three mile run on the treadmill. It was so sweaty, though – I do prefer being outside
On Saturday, the wind was blowing strongly. Gusting over 40mph, I was to be found running along the canal for a six miler at marathon pace. And my Apple Watch was playing up too; suddenly all my times were in minutes per km rather than minutes per mile. So I spent much of the run trying to work out whether my speed was appropriate!
I also tried climbing the Wallacestone Brae. I’m afraid to say it defeated me. I have a lot more hill practice to do!
How windy was it? Windy enough that a tree was blown over in the local park… I hope nobody was sitting on that bench!
Total distance: 10397 m Max elevation: 152 m Min elevation: 74 m
And that just left Sunday, the long, slow run. As with the past few weeks, I started from Stirling Uni, this time I simply added an extra lap of Airthrey Loch to get the distance up to twelve miles.
No snow, minimal rain – this time it was wind causing the problem. The outbound portion of the run was fine, but the wind was against me as I came back west along the Hillfoots and up towards Innovation Park.
So, that’s another week down. Next week is a step-back week, then the distances rise a bit – the LSRs in the following two weeks will be fourteen and fifteen miles.
I have, however, booked in for the Alloa Half Marathon on 18th March. This is a beautiful run and I was very disappointed that I didn’t think I would have been able to take part in it. However, I have re-checked the schedule and it turns out I can take part. This will be the end of week 12 of my training. My goal is to run the Half at training pace – ten minutes per mile – and just enjoy the scenery.
Week four saw a new opponent trying to make training harder – the weather!
Monday was a rest day, and everything was fine. It was Tuesday when things went wrong.
Normally on Tuesday I run round Linlithgow Loch with an office colleague. However, the snow in the morning was pretty severe – so much so that I got a message from the doggy daycare service to tell me that they would be unable to look after my dog. Which meant I had to work from home, which meant I would be unable to go for my Loch run.
Oh well, such is life. I decided that I would wait until everyone was home, and go to the gym to do my three miles on the treadmill. I did have to run the gauntlet of “you really shouldn’t be going out in this weather”, and they were probably wise. The snow outside the gym was certainly quite heavy.
However, I got my miles in and made it home safely, so all was well
Wednesday was no better. I had to do six miles today, and I thought of running at lunchtime. I got myself togged out and ready to go for a run, but I feared that I would trip and break myself, so I grabbed a picture and then gave up
But I decided that that just wasn’t going to be, so once again I went to the gym in the evening and managed to stomach six miles on the treadmill.
By Thursday, I was back at work and I was sick of the treadmill. So I went out for a run round the loch, using my head torch to help me round. Conditions underfoot were pretty awful, and I had to pick my way carefully over the snow, especially on the “back” (north) side of the loch.
On the other hand, the Palace was looking rather pretty.
Total distance: 5558 m Max elevation: 74 m Min elevation: 41 m
Friday was a rest day, and Saturday called for a further six miles. Conditions were still not great underfoot, so I reluctantly decided to have another shot on the treadmill. Fun, it really wasn’t.
It was Sunday when the weather really started laughing at me. here was the weather forecast. Guess when I was running? Yes, that’s right – just after noon!
Oh well, with nothing to be done for it I got out in the snow and started running. In all honesty, it may not have been the wisest idea
Even on the way back along the Hillfoots road it was still snowy
Eventually I got back to the Uni and I had a celebratory cheeseburger and chips, washed down with a hot cup of coffee. I was still soaking, but I was starting to feel human again.
As an indication of what conditions were like, have a look at this picture here. See that big white field behind me? It’s not a field. It’s Airthrey Loch, in the grounds of Stirling Uni. It had frozen over, and the snow was lying on it!