Week 3 May (W-1 to race)

With my date for the run set I started to taper this week. It felt nice to ease off the running but I was going a little stir crazy by resisting the urge to train every day. I am genuinely looking forward to being able to train how I want, when I want as for me fitness is all about being able to do lots of different things not just preparing your body to do one thing (like many Olympic athletes have to).

Week 26 April (W-2 to race)

I have now set a “race date” of Friday 14th May to get this done. I’m feeling much more positive about it now I have an end date, the fact that it’s not that far away (!) and, I think, that I’m doing it under my own steam. It feels like I’m finally taking control of the situation.

With less than 2 weeks to go my main focus needs to be on rest and recovery, nutrition and final race preparation. And that’s all quite exciting. I’ve also booked myself a 90 minute massage on the Wednesday before the race which I hope will get both my mind and body ready for it.

Reflections from the week:

  • I particularly enjoyed the interval session this week. It’s felt good to pick my speed up and I actually didn’t feel like my hip was holding me back as much.
  • I’m definitely done with long evening runs though. Going out for close to 3 hours when you’re already tired is just not fun. Shorter and more sociable runs are on the cards in the future!

Week 19 April

Reflections from the week:

  • The main news this week was finding out that Endure24 (my new target race) is actually not until the end of July, rather than mid June as I had expected when I signed up. I have therefore decided to withdraw and just (try to) run the 100 miles myself on a course I design. Frankly this whole thing has become an unhealthy obsession which is affecting my own mental state and impacting on my family too. I’ve just got to get this thing done. So I’ve plotted a route and set myself a weekend to do it, in a few weeks’ time.
  • Between now and then my main focus needs to be on relaxation / stress management, focus and recovery. I need to be ready for this when I hit my own start line!
  • Aside from that it’s been a pretty decent week but hard to squeeze in everything with a busy work and home life so I did what I could.

Week 12 April (W-9 to race) – Week of sprint duathlon race

Reflections from the week:

  • A bit of a subdued week of training given I had a race on Saturday (5km run > 20km cycle > 5km run) and was looking after the kids for Easter holidays. The race went pretty well all things considering. I haven’t been able to really “open up” my legs for ages but it felt good to be running fast(-ish) again.
  • It’s also been great to get back on my road bike outside again as the weather has started to brighten up. Fond memories of lots of cycling last summer have flooded back.

Week 5 April (W-10 to race) – Recovery week

Reflections from the week:

  • The 60km run the previous weekend left me more drained than I had expected so this recovery week ended up being a steeper drop in activity than planned.

Week 29 March (W-15 to race) (W-11 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Well the big news this week is that I changed my goal race! Pretty major, huh? Some spaces opened up to the Endure24 race which happens to be about 5 miles from my house and after some basic analysis I decided I was better to re-focus my efforts on that.
  • The pros? Proximity to my house, better starting time (12pm not 6pm), 5-mile laps means carrying less kit and easier to refuel, better support on the course (as quite a few of my running club will be doing it).
  • The cons? Laps not point-to-point means it’s going to be pretty dull. It’s also 24 hours not 100 miles so in theory I could be going further. Clearly I could stop if I reached 100 miles but I think psychologically it’s better to assume going the full 24 hours.
  • Really pleased with how my 60km run went. It’s my longest run in 2 years and it felt pretty comfortable with an average pace of 5:30mins/km and plenty of sub-5mins/km scattered throughout. At 750m it had a reasonable amount of climbing (compared to some flat races I’ve done) with some pretty cheeky “staircases” thrown in.

Week 22 March (W-6 to race) (W-16 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Pleased to get mileage back up – I’ve got “permission” to miss kids’ bedtime on a Thursday which means getting out for my long run earlier and not finishing so late.
  • Pleased also to get my long run day up over 40km again – I mean, it’s not technically a marathon if you don’t do it all in one go, but it’s a good way of getting miles under my belt.
  • Also really pleased with the strength sessions this week.

Come to think of it, it’s been a good week training-wise!

Week 15 March (W-7 to race) (W-17 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Race postponed! I found out this week the race has been postponed to mid-July. Very mixed emotions but for now I think this is a good thing as it gives me more time to train.
  • I lacked the motivation to do a long run this week as it was a solo run and I ended up leaving an hour later than usual due to work. I need to make sure I carve out the time (and running buddy) next week to keep my legs working hard.
  • I enjoyed the strength sessions this week. I’m starting to feel stronger again now – I don’t want to get over-confident and push myself too hard, but things are definitely going in the right direction.
  • I’ve also enjoyed some more time on the bike (indoor) this week as a way of keep my legs and heart active on lighter days.

Week 8 March (W-8 to race) – recovery week

Reflections from the week:

  • Again pressure at work has made it difficult to fit in everything I’ve wanted to, especially in active recovery work, but as it’s actually a recovery week I’ve not beat myself up much over the lack of time.
  • I managed two good threshold / tempo sessions this week, the first on 1 mile repeats and the second on 800m repeats. I felt good after these. I’ve stopped training with my chest HR monitor for the time being (it’s making me stressed out) so I can’t gauge performance relative to HR but they both felt comfortable. My right hip / hamstring combination still isn’t letting me do short bursts of speed but hopefully that will come in time (and after the race).
  • 7 weeks to go… I guess I better start planning out my last few longer running sessions to see what I can clock up, as much as anything just to test out nutrition plans.

Week 1 March (W-9 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • This is the week I actually ran a marathon. My first one since May 2019! I wasn’t always comfortable on the run but I felt surprisingly good afterwards and managed to walk several miles to the shops and back and even a spot of football and frisbee with the kids.
  • Aside from that there isn’t much to tell. Work has been busy so I’ve not been able to fit in the usual evening stretch / foam rolling routine and I’m feeling the effects of it.

Week 22 February (W-10 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Nutrition: I’ve really enjoyed trying out some new products this week from Active Root and Mountain Fuel. They’ll need balancing out with some savoury snacks too but I’m pleased to have found a great product here.
  • Don’t be a slave to the HRM: My favourite run again this week was a long one without my HR monitor and in beautiful sunshine.
  • Turbo trainer: I’ve enjoyed squeezing in some time on the turbo trainer this week to keep my legs active and also start getting ready for the April duathlon.

Week 15 February (W-11 to race)

Reflections from the week – what a difference a week makes!

  • I felt liberated to leave behind my HR monitor for a longish run on Saturday, and to run how my body felt. I’m pretty sure my watch would have told me to rest for 3 days afterwards (having no doubt overdone things) but it really did wonders for the soul. I ended up taking an unplanned rest day the next day as it happens!
  • My latest session with my physio proved helpful. Having diagnosed it as a “level 0 tear” (see here) and given it a bl**dy sore massage, I was sent off out on running duties again. I managed a couple of 20km+ runs this week so feeling good. Having to hold off on speed work until I’ve loosened my hamstring up a bit more.
  • I’m also really enjoying my acupressure mat. It really does feel nice when you’re used to the spikes!
  • Lastly I had a great session with a dietitian this week. The main messages being: 1) chill out – stop over-analysing my food intake and just have the confidence that I’m roughly in the right space; and 2) start eating before I exercise. I’ll post more on this separately.

Week 8 February (W-12 to race) – recovery week

Reflections from the week:

I’m kinda done with training. After a really good training streak since Christmas I came into this recovery week with confidence high and looking forward to taking things a little easier. It started well with taking an extra recovery day, but then on Wednesday I seem to annoy my right hamstring which has hampered my runs since. I use that word intentionally as I hope I haven’t done any more damage but I don’t know at this stage.

I’m also growing increasingly frustrated that I feel less fit / strong than a year ago, and my watch keeps reminding me of that fact.

In any other circumstances I would take a break from running and get back into callisthenics (which I now realise was a contributing factor to keeping my body in balance all these years) or rowing.

But I know I need to keep my running up, and I can’t risk rowing in case that aggravates my hip injury. Aaaargghhhhhhhhh!

Hopefully the wonderful Aaron at Drummond physiotherapy will mend me this week.

Week 1 February (W-13 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • I need to manage my stress levels to make sure I’m getting the most out of training (see blog). I think the tangible actions I can take are: 1) take 10 deep breaths before exercise to reset my frame of mind and get ready for exercise; 2) pay more attention to my last 30mins before bed (managing screen time and winding down); and 3) be realistic about what I can achieve during any given day.
  • I’m pleased with how my body has responded to more distance again. I took a full day off on Friday but by Saturday morning I was ready and able to churn out a good run with some hill sprints at the end.
  • Having a good head torch really helps! After its first outing I can literally see the difference my new Silva Free Ultra has on my night-time navigation.

Week 25 January (W-14 to race)

Reflections from the week:

This is the end of the third quarter of my training plan – tomorrow I have three months to go until race day! I’ve summarised how the last quarter has gone here.

Ultimately this week has gone well and I’m feeling a bit more confident about things. I’ve got another hard week lined up so I’m just hoping for more of the same.

Week 18 January (W-15 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • A great first week to start my next 4-week block. I racked up the most running so far and spread the level of effort so don’t feel like I’ve overdone it.
  • The conditions underfoot have been atrocious at times, including my early morning run on Thursday which was boggy and slippery, with the added complication of it being very dark with a not-so-great headtorch. I really do need to buy a replacement!
  • Overall I feel strong so plan to increase the distance on my long run day this week.

Week 11 January (W-16 to race) – recovery week

Reflections from the week:

  • Really pleased to have finished my 4th consecutive week over 60km, which is a first for the training plan so far. I probably ended up going a bit harder this week than I should have as I snuck in a couple of test runs to measure performance, but all-in-all a good week.
  • I thought I’d try the test runs out of the Eric Orton book (The Cool Impossible) during my recovery week – probably not the best idea as it meant I worked harder over the week than I should have even if my exercise duration and mileage came down. Anyway, the results showed just how much my speed has reduced in the past 6 months as I clocked 5:55mins in the 1-mile test and an average 3:50mins/km for the 20mins test (@ 95-98% HR).
  • Going to stick to the 5 days training with 2 rest days for now and see how that treats me as so far it’s giving me enough time to recover.

Week 4 January (W-17 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • I’ve taken a lot of confidence from this week as my third consecutive week over 60km. This coming week is a recovery week so I will ease off a bit and get my body ready for the next phase.
  • My aerobic fitness has also shown signs of improvement with my HR coming down on the easy runs. More of those this week as I ease off the gas.
  • While my legs have held up, though, I’ve managed to pull a muscle in my neck! Just a bad night’s sleep on Tuesday. Thankfully it doesn’t stop me running but it is affecting my mood and means easing off the strength sessions somewhat.

Week 28 December (W-18 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • I’ve ended the week on a high after feeling strong on a hard intervals session on Sunday and bagging a decent long run on Thursday.
  • With four months to go, I’ve got a lot of work to do to give myself confidence not just of finishing the race, but finishing it without lasting damage to myself. Most marathon programmes will be about four months long, but I’ve got that time to be able to run / walk (basically keeping moving) for four marathons in a row.
  • The most important aspect of my training remains my ability to recover in time to do the next session well. If I need to cut a session short or ease off on intensity I must do it.
  • The most important goal now must be to be in good health (physical and mental) when I’m on the start line and trust that both will carry me through to the end.

Week 21 December (W-19 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Pleased to get in some decent mileage split into some shorter runs, given a) my twisted ankle the week before; and b) the volume of food I consumed over Christmas.
  • Fitness has definitely taken a knock over the past few months working around these injuries, though. While I’m running comfortably, it’s at a HR and pace which is way behind what I’ve run at for 10 years I think.

Week 14 December (W-20 to race) – injured

Reflections from the week:

Argh!!! My third injury in four months. It was a simple morning run on the road, but I had to move over on a lane when a car came up behind me (at 6am) and my head torch was not bright enough to spot the pothole which I stumbled into. I managed to complete the run (at a good pace and with only minor discomfort), but 12 hours later I appeared to go into delayed shock and was writhing on the floor in agony while explaining my symptoms to NHS Direct and waiting for the painkillers to kick in. I’ve never felt pain like it!

Two days later and the physio gives me a once over and can’t find any lasting damage (or any reason why I can’t get right back on the road) so in the end I only had 3 days off. Very strange. Hopefully I can continue injury-free now I’ve had “all three of them”!

Week 7 December (W-21 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • It turned out to be a good training week! I managed to do pretty much all I wanted while not placing too much strain on my hip. Weights, hill sprints, long run… all went fine. The pain levels in my hip abductor during my Friday massage suggested there is more recovery to do though!

Week 30 November (W-22 to race) – injured = recovery week

Reflections from the week:

  • Somehow I managed to tear my labrum in my right hip which meant quite a lot of pain for most of the week and an inability to train. I don’t remember any trauma causing it but I went from having a “tight” hip last week so an excruciating one after my Monday session doing weighted single leg squats and lunges.
  • The week ended reasonably well though, as a trip to my stellar physio suggested it wasn’t a deal-breaker (apparently a lot of athletes have them and may not even realise it) so I can carry on as before with some slight modifications. I even managed a decent hill sprint suggestion today.
  • However, I didn’t react well emotionally to the injury early in the week and ended up bingeing on food that was neither good for me physically or mentally. So I’m back to needing to sort out my diet again this week!

Week 23 November (W-23 to race) – recovery week

Reflections from the week:

  • I finally plucked up the courage to run off-road again! First time since injuring my Achilles. I was so paranoid I ran with my road shoes in my backpack in case I needed to switch but needn’t have worried. I managed 22km and felt good.
  • I actually listened to my body this week and had two full rest days. As I write this (Sunday afternoon) it still feels like a long training week as two of my runs were harder effort than they should have been, which I put down to getting carried away on social runs!

Week 16 November (W-24 to race)

Reflections from the week

  • Had a consultation with a homeopath to talk through digestive issues – I’ve now got various concoctions to try to see what helps. I’ll try anything as I’m fed up with my stomach feeling rubbish on long runs!
  • Felt good to have a full recovery day. I need to schedule more of these in!

Week 9 November (W-25 to race)

Reflections from the week:

Pleased with my “easy” sessions this week but misjudged how long some of the others would take and had to shorten rest periods which was not ideal.

  • A few niggles in my left knee and right hip which I suspect is because I’ve increased my distance too quickly. I will look at how to substitute a bit more rowing this week.
  • I’ve added some reflections on the past quarter here – 6(ish) months to go. It feels like a long time but I haven’t yet run a marathon and I’ve got to run 4 back-to-back! The next quarter is critical to build confidence up.

Week 2 November (W-26 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Very happy to have completed week 1 of the 16-week marathon programme (TheRunExperience): I managed all workouts, albeit in a different order, and squeezed out 17km for my long run.
  • Despite that my mental state has been struggling: suffering with feelings of being overwhelmed at work and at home, which is rather ironic as I have a very supportive wife and close work colleagues. I’ve found some thought-provoking material, though, to try and get some headspace and not put myself under so much pressure all the time. Let’s see if it works.
  • On top of that, I’ve really struggled to suppress my appetite / desire to eat this week. It’s probably connected to the stress levels as I very much comfort eat when times feel hard. I’m not hungry but I still eat as it makes me feel better short-term. And I justify it by telling myself that I’ll burn it off in the morning. But it’s not sustainable and ultimately it doesn’t make me feel very good.

Week 26 October (W-27 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • I feel like I’m ready to start a formal running programme again! My right calf has been a bit sore after my high tempo runs but otherwise my body has held up. Time to start increasing my running in a more structured way, and use cross-training to meet any shortfalls.
  • I’ve done more “high aerobic” work this week, following the advice of my Garmin watch (!) which has meant I’ve hit the same relative effort as previous weeks (as far as Strava calculates) yet done less than 7 hours work. It’s a good reminder to get a balance in the type of workouts I do, though I shouldn’t forget the benefit I was seeing through sustained low-intensity aerobic work (see post: Progress check at the end of Q1).
  • Upper body strength: I’m also starting to reap the rewards of a sustained period of rowing and regular pull-ups. I’ve been able to knock out 4 rounds of 7 pull-ups in my strength sessions when back in June I was doing 4 rounds of 4. It’s important to me to maintain (or even build) core and upper body strength through my training to maintain good form when running for an extended time.

Week 19 October (W-28 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • I clocked up 35 km! That’s the same as I did in my first week of the training plan. Admittedly I walked some of those 35km but even so, it’s continuing the good recovery. It’s amazing what impact it has on my mind too – getting out in the fresh air (rather than rowing in a small room) is positive for the soul as well as the legs and heart.

Week 12 October (W-29 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • I ran my first (continuous) 5km since August! It felt good too. More positive signs about my recovery.
  • My running strength sessions seem to be paying off too. Legs are feeling stronger, though they are working hard – probably need to factor a better “rest day” in and actually treat it as a rest day!
  • My Garmin Connect App is still telling me that my training is unproductive, though, as I’m (apparently) doing way too much low intensity aerobic training and too little high aerobic training. While you should listen to your body (and your goals) first and foremost, I will start to consider how to build some more of these in.

Week 5 October (W-30 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • The second of two intense weeks of work meant training (and pretty much well-being) suffered… again. This was worse as longer days and less energy left over to exercise. I tried to squeeze in a 90mins long row on Friday night but had to give up after 50mins as nothing left in the tank.
  • I’m looking forward to getting back into the routine next week.
  • The (big) positive takeaway from the week was accomplishing 3 run / walks. So far my Achilles has felt comfortable so I just need to ease back into it, carry on my strength exercises, and rely on rowing to keep long endurance sessions going.

Week 28 September (W-31 to race) – first run in weeks

Reflections from the week:

  • The first of two intense weeks of work meant training (and pretty much well-being) suffered. If I didn’t get training in first thing in the morning it was ultimately de-prioritise. That’s fine under normal circumstances but when I’m in bed 3 hours later than usual, with the prospect of another long day, it’s hard to find energy to work out. However, to make up for this…
  • I completed my very first marathon row. And I managed to complete it in under 3hrs! On the weekend of the virtual London marathon. It went amazingly well, spurred on by watching Hamilton (one of the greatest musicals ever) for 2hrs and 40 mins of it! That meant just 15mins of no distraction. I’ll write a separate blog on this and the benefits of cross-training.
  • I also managed my first run in over a month. Starting off with 1min run / 1min walk but it’s all a step in the right direction. I got some new physiotherapy exercises to try too with resistance bands and a Swiss ball. These things always look easier when you watch someone else do them!

Week 21 September (W-32 to race) – rowing yes, running no!

Reflections from the week:

  • Is rowing making me soft? I didn’t like the idea of cycling in the cold so opted for a week almost entirely made up of rowing. While watching Amazon Prime. I mean, it’s a good way of killing team, but I can’t help but feel it takes the edge out of it. I need to be mentally toughening up as well as physically toughening up so rowing for hours while being distracted by TV doesn’t quite seem to work. Still, maybe I’ll worry about that in 2021!
  • That said, I quite enjoyed my week rowing, especially mixing in different length intervals and even conquering my longest ever row (of almost 2 hours).
  • Despite my inability to run, I actually felt strong this week and positive about my training. I’m thinking of trying to squeeze in my first rowing marathon this weekend.

Week 14 September (W-33 to race) – yep, still can’t run!

Reflections from the week:

  • I need to set out a training plan in advance otherwise I don’t have enough variety across the week. It was basically all just steady state aerobic rowing all week (yawn…) – though it has been great watching the Tour de France!
  • It’s felt good to get my training time back up. The lack of running is going to make me soft otherwise. I need to start putting in 2+ hours on consecutive days at the weekend.
Not very colourful this week! That means little variety in my sessions.

Week 7 September (W-34 to race) – still can’t run!

Reflections from the week:

  • Groundhog week – still not running although saw a new physio for an assessment and to get some confidence my recovery exercises are right.
  • Good consistency with rowing
  • Ridiculous feasting during a weekend with my mother-in-law: I just can’t say no to cake so when there are 3 different ones on offer in a 48 hour period I struggle!

Week 31 August (W-35 to race) – Achilles heel appears to be improving

Reflections from the week:

  • Still no running this week. I did start doing some calf strengthening exercises twice-a-day, plus icing my Achilles when I remembered. And for the last two days I’ve managed to do some two-footed jumps without pain so it’s definitely on the mend.
  • In the meantime, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the Tour de France highlights while rowing every morning. I find it much easier to sustain low-energy cardio on a rowing machine than when running.
  • In an attempt to add some control to my daily diet I’ve also started delaying my breakfast until 8.30/9am, around four hours after waking up (and after a long but gentle row). It’s to help get my body used to burning fat in the mornings and also to try to build some mental resolve in functioning (and exercising) when hungry to simulate some of the low points I’ll experience during the race.
  • This week I read about Damian Hall breaking the 268-mile Pennine Way Fastest Known Time (FKT) record in 61hrs 35 mins and 15 secs. Wow. It’s mind-boggling to understand how people can keep going like this, but then I would have said that about someone running two marathons back-to-back 10 years ago and look at me now. There’s always something bigger and harder to set your sights on!

Week 24 August (W-36 to race) – still blighted by Achilles heel injury

Reflections from the week:

  • Frustrated that Achilles is taking so long to recover. I managed a brief 15min run on Tuesday and just about managed to get around but then couldn’t run on Wednesday as too sore. I’ve therefore had to cancel my race on 6 September, having waited 8 months for it! Argh!
  • On the positive side, I maintained a good level of exercise and intensity through cycling and rowing as very low impact. I’ll carry this forward for the next couple of weeks and try to cut a bit of weight to help when I start running again.

Week 17 August (W-37 to race) – blighted by Achilles heel injury

Reflections from the week:

  • This week felt like a bit of a write-off: a sore (right) Achilles heel meant I first limited my running, then was forced to stop running to let it recover. I managed to still clock a decent amount of exercise (cycling and strength) but I need to work out a plan to be able to run 15km in a duathlon race in 2 weeks’ time.
  • It has cemented what I already thought to be the most important focus of my training programme going forward: consistency. I need to be able to train on a daily basis. For me, that means easing off if I’m finding sessions too hard, making the time for recovery stretching and foam rolling, and eating / drinking right. 37 weeks sounds like a long time but I have a lot more work to do to start giving me the confidence that I can not only finish the main event, but I can do myself justice there.

Week 10 August (W-38 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Getting nutrition back on track: after my week gorging on holiday I started the week well on nutrition. Having the kids out of the house (with the childminder) Monday to Friday significantly helped stress levels (and therefore reduced snacking as a cure for stress!) and gave me the opportunity to squeeze some additional training session in. It’s fair to say my mental resolve lost its way a little as the week progressed and a few more treats crept in, but I still lost 0.6kg of the 2.0kg I put on!
  • Split sessions: while I continue to use Thursdays for my long runs I opted to split the run into two sessions, to ensure I continue to increase the distance but while managing time within a busy schedule (and not overdoing things before my race on 6 September.
  • Footwear selection: I did the long run in my trail shoes this week in anticipation of a muddy route given rain. That wasn’t the right decision in the end as the route was mostly road and the lack of cushioning has caused a lot of soreness in my right Achilles. I need to be more mindful of this in the future as this sort of thing could easily interrupt training.

See my blog post here for a fuller reflection on the first three months of training and looking ahead.

Week 3 August 2020 (W-39 to race) – on holiday

Reflections from the week, training whilst on holiday:

  • It’s true what they say – a poor diet really does affect your energy and mood. I gained 2kg over the past fortnight (mainly last week) eating too much food and drinking too much. Clearly it’s good not to put too much pressure on yourself all the time (everyone needs to relax!) but the amount of dairy I ate (cream, milk, yoghurt, ice cream) seemed to be a big culprit of the issue.
  • Coupled with this is the importance of routine. While I probably slept more each night I often woke up feeling more lethargic. Some of that can be attributed to diet (above), some to my kids’ restless sleeping patterns, but the other to dropping my routine so my body wasn’t really sure when to sleep and when to get up.
  • Doing long runs with friends is much more fun! The miles dragged by on my long run this week, largely because of the weather but also because I’ve become used to doing long runs with friends chatting along the way. I need to make sure I prioritise these longer term.
  • Running new routes boosts motivation: I love getting an OS map out and finding new areas to explore so a coastal break was good for the mind and soul. Closer to home I need to consider how to achieve this (e.g. cycling 10 minutes away and starting my run there to increase my running area without adding massive distance).

Week 27 July 2020 (W-40 to race) – on holiday

Reflections from the week:

  • I woke up on Friday and realised the ache in my glute has gone! Is this down to my epic massage last week, a daily session with a massage ball, or just training (sensibly) through it? Probably a combination but pleased either way!
  • I watched an inspiring film on Youtube called “How to run 100 miles” (30mins) about two friends who wanted a challenge. The mindset really resonated with me and their reflections were a reminder of the hard work that’s ahead of me over the next 40 weeks.

Week 20 July 2020 (W-41 to race) – recovery week

Reflections from the week:

  • The nagging ache in my left glute / lower back hasn’t gone away all week. I continue to use the foam roller and massage ball on it daily which feels satisfying (so suggests to me that it’s just a “knot” issue) but I can’t get rid of it. That’s despite…
  • …having my first deep tissue massage in 5 months! It was amazing. I think massage is a really important part of training recovery so was delighted to be able to visit my favourite local therapist Wan at Life Massage & Harmony in Cookham.
  • I’m looking forward to being able to get into some more speed and strength sessions this week as my next 3-week effort starts.

Week 13 July 2020 (W-42 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • My third intense week of training in a row felt good with 60(ish)km completed.
  • Morale is high after two social workouts of 2+hours (a ride and a run).
  • I’ve ended the week with a nagging ache in my left glute / lower back so it’s good timing for this to be a recovery week. I will book in for a massage (restrictions have been lifted on massage therapists at last!) and try to limit strength workouts.

Week 6 July 2020 (W-43 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Remember to take it easy when (re-)introducing exercises to my regime. My glutes were pummelled by either the box jumps or the “lizard-man stand-ups” reps (assume a plank position on your elbows and stand up by bringing your right foot to your right hand and pushing up).
  • Remember that even if you feel tired you soon loosen up on a run. Thursday evening I felt sluggish at first but after 15 minutes of easy jogging I felt loads better and knocked 17km out.

Week 29 June 2020 (W-44 to race)

Reflections from the week:

  • Drop my effort on easy runs to average 75% HR: I overdid things in my first few days of the week – probably a reaction to having a recovery week previously.
  • Factor in enough rest on my long run days: I was able to squeeze in a 1-hour lunchtime nap and I think it worked wonders for body and mind that day.
  • Running easy enough to not need food: it felt great to get another long run under me (2hrs 15mins) without needing food. Another benefit of dropping effort.
  • Managing navigation errors: I found a dead-end field on my long run which cost me about 5 mins trying to find a way out through the brambles (and around a redundant bear trap!). I should have retraced my steps straight away but as I wasn’t in a hurry I just kept ploughing on. I need to switch my mind on when running in unfamiliar places as wrong turns would be hard to handle on race-day.

Week 22 June 2020 (W-45 to race) – recovery week

What went well this week:

  • I toned down my effort this week to give myself a formal recovery week. That said, using my sit / stand desk and the cycling trips to nursery meant my legs still felt tired for much of the week.
  • Successful first practice of duathlon (ahead of September race). I was only out for 40 mins but “transition” pretty good and my cadence on both run legs was good.

What didn’t go so well:

  • Pulling a muscle in my neck / upper back on Thursday night (on the run?) meant I slept badly for a few nights and had to adjust my training.

Week 15 June 2020 (W-46 to race)

What went well:

  • My first social runs in three months! I was able to keep HR down while chatting away.
  • Training twice a day on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday

What didn’t go so well:

  • Not giving my body enough time to recover on Wednesday night. Got to bed late and didn’t sleep well so overslept and had to adjust training plans the next day.

Week 8 June 2020 (W-47 to race)

What went well:

  • Increase in running mileage: while it’s not usually recommended to double your mileage from one week to the next I’m confident my body can handle it and it’s not much more than a “typical” week in the rest of 2020.
  • First hill session on the bike: I never usually do formal training sessions on the bike (I just blast around on it), but it felt good to get my legs working hard on some steep local hills.

What didn’t go so well:

  • My eating (see this blog for more insight!)

Week 1 June 2020 (W-48 to race)

What went well:

  • Re-introduced some intervals to get HR up after illness
  • Solid 2+ hour bike ride was good for body and soul
  • Holding 180spm for a 30-minute tempo run

What didn’t go so well:

  • HR showed how hard I’m having to work when I increase running pace

Week 25 May 2020 (W-49 to race)

What went well:

  • My first night run (starting at 2.30am) felt good. See run report.
  • Being able to train at very low intensity through a hideous cough (though not Covid-19)

What didn’t go so well:

  • Aside from Monday’s run, this was the week that never was. I felt rough and lethargic all week. Ended up sleeping in until 6.30am every morning. Just really pleased to be able to do some light training at all. Let’s forget all about this week!
At 30km my first (and only run of the week) was almost the same as the full total for the previous weeks!

Week 18 May 2020 (W-50 to race)

What went well:

  • My two bike rides made me feel happy and put me in a good mood. That is priceless.

What didn’t go so well:

  • My running! I had such a bad week I felt the need to write a blog on it (‘I thought training was supposed to be fun‘) and have rewritten my training programme for the next 6 weeks! I’m feeling more positive about it now though
I clocked an extra 30 mins on previous week and a slight increase (2km) in distance

Week 11 May 2020 (W-51 to race)

What went well:

  • Cadence sessions – 170+spm is starting to feel natural! A key test will be in whether I can sustain this for longer runs.
  • Sunday bike ride – I felt great even after a poor run on Saturday. Managed to average 34.7km/h on one of my (flat) 5k intervals. Good to end the week on a high!

What didn’t go so well:

  • Sleep affected energy levels – the kids had two really disruptive nights which made me tired. I adjusted my workout for the first one (and survived) but ploughed on regardless for my second and came unstuck. A good lesson to listen to your body and deviate from plan if needed.