Marathon training weeks 7-10

Weeks 7, 8, 9, and 10 have been full of ups and downs. Twice I’ve accepted that the marathon isn’t going to happen and been ok with that, only to then have it put back on the table (and calendar).

If you need to catch up on the first 6 weeks, it’s here. 

Week 7 went great. My legs felt fine after the cross country championships and after an easy session I did one of my love to hate treadmill sessions: 5x 1km at 5k pace with decreasing recoveries. I felt strong but very sweaty. 

Tread(mill)ing carefully

April marathons are tricky weather wise because after months of training in the cold, the sun comes out and warms up race day more than you might be used to. Last year was the London Marathon’s hottest on record. So I find treadmill sessions are useful in getting used to running in a warmer temperature. 

They’re also useful when it’s dark and I have to head out after the baby has gone to sleep. If I know I’ll have to do a run on the treadmill during the week, I like to make it my intervals or tempo run because it makes it easier to avoid boredom and you hit the right pace. 

That weekend I went into the Winter Run 10k with the plan to run 8:00/miles to test it out as race pace for the following week’s half marathon. I ran an easy 5.5 miles to the start of the 10k, hit my goal pace during the race and ran 2.5 miles cool down. It gave me a big confidence boost to run sub 1:45 in the following week’s half – a goal that I hadn’t met last autumn. 

But, I didn’t just want to run 1:44:59. I wouldn’t have been happy with that because I knew I was in shape to go faster. In the week before the half, I did two easy runs and a treadmill session of 4x 1 mile at 7:55/mile. The session was primarily to cement the feeling of that pace into my legs so they’d know what to do on race day. 

The full story of the half marathon is here, but in short I ran 1:42:20, which is just 30ish seconds off my PB from 2016. 

How slow can you go?

I was really pleased with the result. My half marathon pace was 7:48/mile. In training my easy and long run pace is 9:30/mile. I’m not scared of slowing right down and taking it easy in training. It’s really important not to get too hung up on paces on easy runs. 

I’ve been including a tempo or interval session once a week, but my intervals are no faster than 5k pace. It’s ok to not finish a workout and feel like you want to be sick and my body just isn’t ready for super fast interval paces right now. 

I finished the half not being able to lift my foot up to get my trousers on because of a problem with my hip/thigh I’d had all race. I accepted that as 4I’d had a great half, it was ok if the marathon didn’t happen in April. So I took two days off and only ran again because I was coaching which meant running 1km. Miraculously my leg felt fine. So fine that it I started to question if I’d made it up. 

Longing to run

I was happy my hip was ok again, but frustrated that it had meant I hadn’t done the two mile cool down I’d planned to do to take me to 15 miles. So I was looking forward to the following weekend’s long run to really start picking up the mileage. But on Saturday I sat too long with one foot under me while I worked on the laptop and when I suddenly got up to shut a door, something felt like a nail driving through my foot.

I spent the next two days icing my foot and feeling annoyed at myself. My foot felt a bit like having plantar fasciitis but the pain was behind by big toe, so I was hopeful that it wasn’t. By the time my Tuesday coaching session came round it felt 95% ok and by the next day the pain had gone. Was it in my head? I felt very lucky to have escaped serious injuries two weeks in a row, but it had meant no long run.

That brings us up to this week. My birthday was on Friday and ran a hilly tempo run in the morning before spending the day doing kid-friendly stuff. And then today, I headed out for 16 miles. The sun was out but at 9:00am when I set off it was still crisp. The canal was busy with runners and the miles ticked by. I’d been so looking forward to this run after two weekends of niggles and really enjoyed it.

The next three weeks will be the peak mileage weeks before I taper. I’m running Manchester Marathon (I paid for my entry), although I have a London spot. Manchester has good memories for me – I ran in 2013 and 2015. While I love London, I don’t have the same positive feeling about running there (and I’m hoping to avoid a scorcher).