Week 9 – A Step Back Week

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!

Where my run started at Bethnal Green tube station
Monument to the Bethnal Green Crush disaster
Regents Canal
Welcome to Tower Hamlets
The pagoda in Victoria Park
Horse statues beside Regents Canal
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.

Is this a standing stone?
Shadows of the Avon aqueduct

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.

Let’s see how it goes!


Week 8 – Forty Miles

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!

Looking down Wallacestone Brae
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.

Weather conditions were less than perfect

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?”

Road Closed

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.

It was then that someone asked to go to Ikea.

Total distance: 15000 m
Max elevation: 136 m
Min elevation: 91 m

Thursday was much easier – a run round Linlithgow Loch, preceded by the loop that the 10k uses, but in reverse

Unimaginative Linlithgow watch shot
Total distance: 7808 m
Max elevation: 80 m
Min elevation: 41 m

Saturday’s long run was an out-and-back along the canal, plus a couple of miles getting to the canal and back.  It was a beautiful morning, with blue skies and even some sunshine!

Where did that blue sky come from?
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!

Low cloud blankets the Ochils above Alva

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.

Me messing up the view of 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.

Training Plan at Week 8

Week 7 – It’s Getting Serious Now

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

Gym machines – not the ones I was running on!

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: 11857 m
Max elevation: 83 m
Min elevation: 54 m

Back to four miles for Thursday, a simple run along the canal.  I seem to be spending a lot of time on the canal this week

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

Touching my toes – I think this is generally frowned upon as a stretching style
Prayer arms – I wish my legs were as flexible as my arms!

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.

Total distance: 23408 m
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 60 m

And so my total for the week was 37.3 miles.  That is over three miles longer than my longest week in 2012.  Whatever else I might be doing badly, at least I am putting in the miles!

Week 6 – Step Back

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!

Standard Post-Run Shot
Me with Tess after the run
Total distance: 5449 m
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 77 m

As I mentioned, I missed the Wednesday run and I didn’t even manage the Thursday run too – I had to stay a little bit late at work and just ran out of time. 

To make up for it, I ran on Friday instead.  I added a loop at the end of the loch that is part of the Linlithgow 10k, which brought the mileage up a little.

In front of the Palace
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℃)

Rain at the Muiravonside bridge
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.

My ugly mug ruining a nice picture of the Kelpies
“Love And Kisses” at Langlees

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.

My recovery drink

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.