Monthly Archives: January 2019

Marathon training week 9/20: run, ski, ski, ski, ski. Heading downhill

Snow and interesting cloud formations – Haute Savoie, France

Having got back from the Lakes on Sunday I went out for the long slow run on Monday 14th January – knowing that the rest of the week was going to be a major training failure.

It was the third long run in 10 days so perhaps not too surprising that it felt hard, but I kept going and did 15.51 miles (24.97km) against a training programme target of 14 miles.

It was slower than my usual long slow runs – not particularly because I planned it that way, I’m just not sure I had much more in me. Pace is still a worry but perhaps better rested runs will be faster – and there are still 11 weeks until the marathon. Either that or I’ll be re-setting my targets and aiming to beat 4h 30.

I wasn’t ever more than a few miles away from home and so had to do a number of loops to make up the distance (six times along one bit of road). That felt mentally tough so I think I’ll have to look for a longer ‘out and back’ route for the remaining long runs.

The rest of Monday was spent hobbling about, as usual, and the same continued Tuesday morning as we left very early to get the Shuttle and drive to the Alps. No real problem with the Achilles tendons while driving but when we stopped I was certainly back to doing my impression of an 80 year old. It’s a depressing thought that I can do that for real in less than 17 years.

Although the drive is a bit gruelling – just over 12 hours door to door – I enjoyed it as it brought back happy memories of cycling the 550 miles (880km) out there, solo and unsupported, last summer. Although the route I took by bike was very different, save for the last 100 miles or so, I was surprised how much it brought it back.

Perhaps it’s just that Les Carroz d’Araches is such a special place for me – we’ve skied here for 20 years and I’ve cycled here for perhaps 10 , including my ‘everest’ in 2017: here

Last year’s ride out to the alps is covered back in July, starting here:

I like to think of the trip as altitude training – but suppose others would simply call it a skiing holiday. To be honest they would be right as our resort is at only 1150 metres and the highest skiing is at 2500 m.

We had a domestic day on Wednesday and then collected our older son and his girlfriend from Geneva airport. With Germany and Austria having had dangerous levels of snow, it seems that France had just the right amount. The skiing (and the holiday in general) was spectacularly good for the next 4 days to complete my training week, with just the one long run.

It had snowed on Thursday so it was on with the snow chains on Friday morning. I was surprised just how we struggled to get up to the lift station with them on – only to discover that one had fallen off. I ran back, retracing our drive, only to find the offending chain just metres from the apartment block’s garage. I don’t think I will ever get tired of telling people how much I dislike snow chains – truly the devil’s own work.

Apparently two wheel drive with winter tyres is more capable in the snow than four wheel drive with non-winter tyres. Of course, our rear wheel drive car with ordinary tyres is completely useless in the snow, so it looks like a change of car before next ski season.

Sadly, while I’m not sure if fell walking had any significant benefits for marathon training, I’m even more doubtful about alpine skiing. The only really beneficial bit would be the going uphill – and that is very much the province of the chairlift. However, it must have some effect as, despite having fairly fit legs from cycling and running, I was able to get a proper thigh burn when pushing hard to ski the resort from top to bottom.

I’ll clock it as a discounted 12 hours of cross-training, without much confidence in its value.

Perhaps I can console myself that the Achilles tendons are getting a bit of a rest.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16.1m  (25.9km) 9.8m  (15.8 km)  2:00
2 18.5m  (29.8km) 13.3m  (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7m  (33.3km) 65.8m (105.9km) 1:00
4 22.2m  (35.8km) 13.7m (22.07km) 1:00
5 24m (38.6km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13.2m (21.3km)    
725.6m (41.1km)62.7m (100.9km) 3:00
8 (Lakes) 14.6m (23.6km) 13.2m (21.2km) 7.00
9 (Skiing)15.5m (25km)   12.00
‘Running’ totals 130.2m (209.7km) 178.2m (286.3km) 29:00

Marathon training week 8: turbo, run, fell walk, long walk. Quite tough – but of what training value?

Grasmere from Loughrigg Fell

After hard exercise on Friday, Saturday and Sunday it was back on the turbo for 45 minutes on Monday to avoid starting week 8 of the training with a rest day. A slightly gentler 21.2km (13.2m) but still finishing in a pool of sweat.

Tuesday was blown out of the water for training by a combination of waiting for deliveries, a service for the alarm and a quick trip down to Bournemouth late on. The rest was probably a good thing after 4 fairly hard days of exercise.

On Wednesday I got out for the week’s long slow run – 14.63 miles (23.55km). It was cold and felt very hard, run at 30 seconds a km outside 4 hour marathon pace.

I don’t know why it was so tough but I’ve ruled out a Samson-syndrome, despite getting my hair cut in the morning. Perhaps it was being only 5 days after the last long run – but perhaps I’ve got to start taking nutrition and hydration more seriously. All my morning runs to date (including the 12 and 13 milers) have been done on just a cup of coffee.

This one, starting just after midday, was done on three cups of coffee, a small glass of water, a banana and a Nature Valley oat bar. I don’t take any food or water out with me. Perhaps that’s not enough for a later start and longer runs?

I was still hobbling on Thursday but we drove the 245 miles up to the Lake District for an excellent few days with friends, in Ambleside. We stopped on the way to see my father, a few days before his 95th birthday on the 13th.

On Friday we walked from Ambleside to Grasmere over Loughrigg Fell – about 6 miles with a maximum height of just over 1000 feet. Another 7 miles on Saturday but flatter in a circuit near Far Sawrey (if that makes sense) towards the south west corner of Windermere. No sign of Wordsworth and too early for daffodils but I wandered lamely as a cloud.

One good outcome is that the Achilles tendons held up well to the hills and might have benefitted from the rest from running for a few days.

Back south on Sunday.

I have no idea what the factor is for equating miles walking with miles of running – still less how that works for hill walking. So, I really don’t know if that has been good or bad training – or any sort of replacement for the running and cross-training I missed. Perhaps I’ll just count it as cross-training, accept it as ‘different’, and move on.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16.1m  (25.9km) 9.8m  (15.8 km)  2:00
2 18.5m  (29.8km) 13.3m  (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7m  (33.25km) 65.8m (105.9km) 1:00
4 22.2m  (35.8km) 13.7m (22.07km) 1:00
5 24m (38.6km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13.2m (21.3km)    
7 25.56m (41.14km)62.7m (100.9km) 3:00
814.63m (23.55km)  13.2m (21.2km) 7.00
‘Running’ totals 129.3m (208.3km) 191.4m (307.5km) 17:00

Marathon training week 7/20: run, turbo, run, ride, run. Hard, cold and a bit painful (who said it was going to be easy).

A slightly rare long bike ride on Saturday – it was very hard following the previous day’s run, but less damaging on the body

I was rather nervous running on Monday – the 13 miles three days earlier marked a backward step with the Achilles tendons and even my quads were still sore – something I’ve rarely experienced before.

However, a training programme is a commitment so I drove the car to the garage (a brake pad warning light turned out to be a faulty sensor) and ran to the gym with my usual gym companion. He’d checked that it was open on New Year’s Eve – but hadn’t checked on the opening time … and it was still shut. We ran back to the village (he lives nearby) and I added a bit more to get beyond the target 5 miles.

My wife and I drove up to London later in the day and saw in the New Year there. I must admit to not being much of a New Year person. Perhaps I’ve seen a few too many of them to get very excited and I tend to view life as a continuous stream of days rather than slightly arbitrary blocks of 365 (or 366). We had a very good meal, a bottle of champagne, a short walk to see some local fireworks and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Happy New Year to everyone.

We dropped off stuff that our sons hadn’t taken back with them on the train when they returned to London after Christmas. New Year’s day is certainly the right day to drive around London – gloriously (relatively) traffic-free.

By Wednesday my legs had improved (but it’s not encouraging that they took so long to recover from just 5 miles on Monday) so I got on the turbo before we went out for supper with friends – 23.63km in 45 minutes @31.5kph (14.68m @19.5mph) – my best with this turbo trainer.

I did the long slow run on Friday morning – 20.12km (12.5 miles at within 30 seconds a mile of 4 hour marathon pace) which is OK but a bit faster than planned. Normal hobbling resumed immediately after the run.

Could I have run faster? Yes.

Could I have run further? Yes.

Could I have run faster and further? Hmmm …

I was the host for the cycle club’s ‘red’ ride on Saturday – if I hadn’t been ‘on duty’, I wouldn’t have gone.

In all, 48 miles (77.2km) in some lovely Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside but it was too cold for me – despite a compression top, merino base layer, winter-weight jersey and light cycling jacket. It stayed within a few degrees of freezing the whole time which made it one of the very rare occasions that I didn’t enjoy it enormously – but I’m pleased I went out.

It was very hard and I clung on at the back with just about nothing in my legs from start to finish. Riding 48 miles after running 12 miles the previous afternoon is a really bad idea.

I’m counting that as the week’s cross-training – it involved 3 hours of riding which certainly covers the required hour of cross-training in the marathon programme (but I recognise the double count in taking credit for the miles and the cross-training time).

That just left the week’s final run for Sunday – a couple of degrees warmer than the previous day’s ride, thank goodness. The Achilles tendons were just about up to the challenge – the target was 5 miles but I ran one loop with my wife, and a second alone, for a total of 7.75 miles (12.48km) with the second loop a bit quicker than 4 hour marathon pace.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16.1m  (25.9km) 9.8m (15.8 km)  2:00
2 18.5m  (29.8km) 13.3m (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7m  (33.25km) 65.8m (105.9km) 1:00
4 22.2m  (35.8km) 13.7m (22.07km) 1:00
5 24m (38.6km) 13m (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13.2m (21.3km)    
7 25.5m (41.1km) 62.7m (100.9km) 3:00
‘Running’ totals 114.7m (184.7km) 178.2m (286.3km) 13:00

So, over a third of the way to the Rotterdam Marathon. In general, it’s going OK but the Achilles tendons are still a major issue and so is speed if I’m going to break the 4 hour mark.