Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Marathon Training – Week 8

on 22 February 2016

Looking at the number of rest days, it looks like I’ve had a very lazy week this week! I can promise you that with the exception of Saturday (which was a VERY lazy day), it hasn’t felt like one! It’s looking more and more like I’m deviating from my original marathon training plan, and truth be told I am. I’m trying to concentrate on quality over quantity – I was finding as the long runs got longer that the ‘junk runs’ were just eating into my recovery time and sapping my energy, so with the exception of the odd mile or two along the river after work as a gentle pootle along, I’ve pretty much cut them out until I’m in my tapering period (which isn’t far away now!!!) and am just wanting to keep my trainers going.


Wednesday’s training session was an intervals session again – 4 mins effort along the main path up and down Blackhill Park and 2 mins recovery, six times. Last time I did an interval session I set off at a ridiculous pace, and as a result was about ready to pack in by lap 4 and my last two laps were at a normal jog – that felt like effort by that point! This time I set off much more steadily – still faster than my normal distance pace, but hopefully sustainable over a longer period with the breathers.


It does seem to have worked! With the exception of lap 4 where I must have remembered to push ‘lap’ but forgotten to have stopped my watch…I was going faster than that, I promise! N came with me for this one – her first training session – and I think she enjoyed it…after she’d got her breath back! I find it’s one of those sessions where I’m fine for the first 2-3 laps, but I have to start digging a bit deeper when I get to 4 and 5, and I’m relieved I’m nearly done by the last one!

I headed to the gym on Friday, hoping it would be quiet – it was – and I would be able to work through my whole circuit without melting into a puddle as I had last time I was there. In this, I was successful, but I fear I may have done a little too much for how tired I was feeling. Sleep did not come easy to me for some reason last week, a few too many silly little things floating around my head and building up on each other. Lots of frantic clean-all-the-things at work and knowing I had a mega-distance run on Sunday I suspect being rather large contributors for the other detritus to build on. I felt ok Friday evening and Saturday morning, but by Saturday afternoon and into Sunday morning my thighs were starting to feel rather stiff 😦 I blame the leg press.

I got up early on Sunday so I had plenty of time for breakfast, and was just about ready to go when P got home from work with the car. I was heading down to the finish line for the Bounders anniversary run at Blackhill Park, intending to run from there to somewhere near their start-line, meet them at about my 10 mile mark and turn round and come back (they were doing 11). This was also my first run where I would be trying Imodium V Nature Mk1, and for someone who doesn’t really like taking paracetamol let alone something for when I’m not ill, I wasn’t really relishing the prospect. I took one about half an hour before starting, and one halfway round – and it actually worked just fine. I don’t think I’ll bother with it once this is out the way as for 14 miles or less I seem to be more often than not fine, and I’m not intending to run more than that for a long time after this! It’s handy to have in the running box though.


I was hoping my gym-stiffened legs would loosen up once I set off along the Derwent Walk. I’ve not done this stretch past Shotley Bridge to the end, and I think I just have to do the bottom bit past the Metrocentre to have covered the full length of it at one time or another! Not a huge amount to see but it’s another mile in the mind-map. My legs didn’t loosen off for…well, the whole way round really! My thighs were definitely the first thing to go when I got tired later. I headed off at a steady and gentle jog, not really feeling particularly enthused but not dragging my feet either and just concentrated on maintaining a steady and I hoped sustainable pace down the course.

At about mile 7, I was caught up by the faster group who had left about 15-30 minutes after me from Blackhill or Shotley Bridge or somewhere. I decided trying to keep up with them was not a good idea if I wanted to hit double-figures in mileage and continued on at my own steady plod! They paused for a jelly bean break and I was able to sneak past before they zoomed off again. We did actually all end up at the cricket club in Swalwell in good time for the start, so I was starting off with 10.5 miles instead of my intended 10, and the daunting prospect of a total of 21 to get back to base.

I headed off again, this time with H as company and off we went at a steady pace as the rearguard of the group (someone has too!) around Swalwell park and then up towards Gibside. Being very aware that I was “pacesetter” (read: slowcoach!), I tried to keep going when the other were waiting at checkpoints – I’d still be last by the time we reached the next one, but I wasn’t lagging behind as far as if I’d started off again at the same time, and in some ways I found it easier to keep moving.

As we got further up the line, and therefore closer to base, we picked up more and more people – the group was huge by the time we reached Ebchester and the last few miles to home. Under normal leg conditions, I would have been moving more into ‘pack’ territory than tail-running, but the further we went up the line the more tired I was. H was kind enough to stay nearby and keep checking up on me – she was going for her longest run of 11 miles in training for her half marathon at Edinburgh in May (which she is going to PASTE hitting that distance already). Not the easiest route to try and add distance onto either.

About mile 14 and running a little out of puff! Pockets crammed with flapjack and sugar tablets. H still looking pretty fresh though:12771999_963437903750670_2578259431499868959_o

I made it up to about 17 miles before I really started to flag and began alternating between jogging and walking, and eventually staggering and walking; determined to hit 20 miles but not sure I’d get back to Blackhill – I would walk the last mile as a ‘cooldown’ I told myself. It didn’t help by this point that while Nature Mk1 was under control, in the interest of keeping hydrated Nature Mk3 (you’re not expected to be keeping track of these btw) was making itself known – and the Derwent Walk is lacking in both loos and bushes more than 2ft from the path itself! The Kielder route fortunately, is lacking in neither so hopefully this was an isolated incident…

We hit Shotley bridge at 19.5miles by my watch. One of the other Bounders on a marathon training long run of 18.5 miles had left his car here and offered to wait for me to stagger my last half mile and then take me to Blackhill by car, rather than me passing out partway up a hill somewhere between there and the finish. I gratefully accepted, leaving H to finish her 11 miles (which she did!) with the rest of the now massive group of runners. God knows what the locals must have thought!

I was intending on joining all the celebrants in the bowls club, but by the time I got to my car for some fresh socks, shoes and shirt (try saying that fast several times over) I just wanted to go home, use the loo and have a hot bath to soak my poor legs! And soap, definitely in dire need of some soap. Some people seem to manage to finish a race fresh as a daisy. I am not one of those people…

I was feeling ok afterwards, well enough to go and meet the girlies who were doing a virtual race called ‘Always’ in memory of Alan Rickman – 3.94 miles wherever you liked. I walked down to their finish line to make sure they were all still trotting along and capture their happy smiles, shiny numbers, and jogging bottoms on camera for poster(ior)ity!


As is only proper after such a day’s running for all, we had to raid the café at Morrison’s – who were fortuitously clearing the cream cakes counter for the end of the day so vast quantities of goodies were purchased! Normally when I finish a long run I eat like I’m facing a seven year famine for the next day and a half, but I’ve not been anything like as hungry. I ate pretty normally yesterday afternoon after the run, and not a huge amount more than normal today – and more because it was there than because I was hungry. Still definitely tired though! My legs have been stiffening up a little bit today if I’ve been sitting for too long, we’ll have to see which way they go for tomorrow – back to normal or stiff as a board! May spend five minutes on the foam roller before bed to try and help 🙂


I’m still nervous about Kielder, running the Derwent in the uphill direction when tired (it’s uphill only when it suits me J!) was really tough, and Kielder is far from flat, but I do feel quietly more confident now that I’ve hit the big 20 miles. I will get round at least, in as long as it takes and I will walk the hills if I need to. I will get round.


I’ve been toying with fundraising for this one for quite a long time, and spent a while determining who I wanted to run for. I also didn’t want to publicise it really until I’d hit the 20 miles and had a bit more confidence in myself that I was going to make it round the course. I’m going to be running for Harry & Co., a bereavement charity supporting parents whose children have been stillborn – something that happened to a friend of mine last year. They’ve been a big support to him and I want to help and run for him and his daughter Cassie Elizabeth.


I’ve got 2 more weekends of long runs to go before I start tapering down to the event itself. Next weekend is my half marathon along the beach at Bamburgh for the Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series, and the following weekend I may try another 20 miles on the Waskerley – see if I can manage any better with the uphill leg at the start and the downhill to help me home. Will pay more attention to wind conditions this time though!


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