Marathon Training Week 3: turbo, run, gym, run, cycle, run – “I don’t know what I’m doing*”

Coffee stop at Coln St Aldwyns in Gloucestershire

I had planned to run on Monday but it was very wet and I’m a bit of a fair weather runner. I have been slacking in my personal trainer duties recently so when my wife said she would run on Tuesday, I decided that I would run with her. Accordingly, it was on the turbo early Monday evening – 21.7km in 45 minutes @29kph (13.53m @!8mph).

On Tuesday, it dawned on me that a good way to do the week’s long slow run would be by simply carrying on for a while after my wife stopped. It worked well (benefitting from the extra day’s rest from running) and I ran for 14.56km (9.05 miles against a target of 8) at a proper ‘long slow run’ pace. It felt pretty easy aerobically but the right Achilles nagged and both quads complained a bit.

As a result, and happily unencumbered by any knowledge, I decided to increase the reps and take a bit of weight off the leg exercises when I went to the gym for an hour on Wednesday. It all felt OK although I arrived with a few aches and pains from Tuesday’s run.

I’m sure I haven’t yet plumbed the depths of the disadvantages of advancing years but a reduced speed of recovery seems to be one of them.

It was back to the gym on Thursday with my usual gym companion. As I’d been there the previous day I decided to use the treadmill and ran for one of the training plan’s required 4 milers – 6.5km at just over 4 hour marathon pace.

It’s been a long time since I did any distance on a treadmill and it brings home how much of running is in the mind. When I run loops on the road, it’s soon easier to carry on rather than turn back – and stopping is rarely convenient. On the treadmill it is always a tempting – and attractively easy – to slow down or stop. I had to dig fairly deep to push on for the whole of the planned run.

It leaves me unsure about using the treadmill – it’s easy to control pace, the footing is safe, the weather isn’t a factor (apart from a hot gym feeling a bit like a sauna) – but it’s boring and mentally tough. It’s noticeable that I’ve done over distance on all my other runs – but I stopped this one promptly!

Perhaps I’ve found the one place where I’d be tempted to use headphones but for now I’ll leave the treadmill for the times when it’s the only sensible way to get a run in.

I took Friday as a rest day – but we had friends for supper in the evening. That meant a late night which wasn’t great as I was on duty as sweep for one of the club’s rides on Saturday morning. It was breezy and a couple of degrees cooler that I’d have liked (probably just under 50℉ – 10℃). I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t been ‘on duty’.

I was also caught by some rain for the last 15 minutes – but I enjoyed it and was pleased to be useful. I stayed at the back – more sheep dog than cyclist – occasionally towing stragglers back to the group. We had a very good 84km (52 miles) taken at a comfortable speed, with 733 metres of climbing (2,400 feet). The only downside from the whole ride was finding out Pat’s very unfavourable views on the Rotterdam Marathon – stemming from her run at it 10 years ago in 35℃ (95℉). 

I ran with on Sunday morning for 12.25km (7.59miles) so I had 6 days of exercise, completing the week’s full training plan (with the turbo replacing the running intervals again) plus the Saturday ride as a spare.

Three weeks into the training and so far so good. I’ve not missed a session, even though they haven’t been done at the right times or exactly at the right speeds – and with the interval runs being replaced with tough turbo sessions to protect the dodgy achilles tendons. In fact, I’ve usually managed more than the programme requires and have only taken one rest day a week, instead of two. That’s felt OK so far but I guess I’ll be taking both as the mileage increases.

The right Achilles is still playing up but not getting worse and (whisper it very quietly) it might actually be improving.

Week Run Cycle Gym
1 16.1 m  (25.9km) 9.8 m  (15.8km)  2:00
2 18.5 m  (29.8km) 13.3 m  (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7 m (33.25km) 65.8 m (105.9km) 1:00
  ‘Running’ totals 55.3 m (89.0km) 88.9 m (143.2) 5:00

*A familiar chant at UK football grounds (usually directed at the referee) is “you don’t know what you’re doing”. My favourite use of this was when a fan proposed to his girlfriend on the pitch at half-time and, spontaneously, the crowd chanted “you don’t know …”

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