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Paris Marathon training: Week 8

December 30, 2009

Snow, ice, rain and a sore throat that evolved into a cold before blossoming into a rattling cough. This week, I mostly learnt that being a runner involves going out in all seasons, but it also involves knowing when it’s best to slow down and let your body recover. As with all the best lessons in life, I learnt this particular nugget of wisdom by doing precisely the opposite.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 11:  Johnson & Johnson, inf...
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Given that the weather was bad – the whole winter wonderland – and I didn’t much fancy putting more of a strain than was absolutely necessary on my lungs, I embraced cross training. I had always worked under the assumption that cross training – doing exercise other than running, rather than one of those bizarre skiing machines at the gym, as I had initially assumed – was probably better than nothing. In a moment of sense, I’d steered clear of the treadmills to avoid too much coughing and spluttering.

However, no matter how you pitch it, cross training is categorically not the same as running. While I’m sure it helps build fitness while allowing the body to recover from the rough treatment it receives from running, it’s not the same and won’t help that much at the start line of the marathon. So, feeling like I’d let it slip for too long, I went for a long run on Christmas Eve.

The snow and ice seemed to be thawing nicely as I set out from my home. However, by the time I’d reached the end of my road, I’d found a few patches of black ice in best comedy windmill-arms style. Non-runners find the idea of long runs intensely boring – and chances are, if you don’t like running, you won’t like running for two hours or more. However, nothing spices up a long run quite like trying to avoid intermittent patches of black ice. So, with hacking up chunks of phlegm (really, few things will clear your lungs quite like a good run) and trying not to break my neck, pace went out the window. (Might have been so different had I known about this – via @runspiro on Twitter.)

Boxing Day brought with it the Poole Round the Lakes 10k race and a worsening of my cough – it had reached the irritatingly tickly stage and was on the cusp of being, um, productive. Having run a PB two weeks previously, it felt like a pity to have to take this race slow, but having belted out a couple of sub-4 minute kilometers I realised my lungs weren’t up to too much of a pounding.

In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have run. Perhaps I should have taken an objective look at myself and decided that I could probably recover quicker if I wasn’t out and about. But I didn’t, and so here I am, on Wednesday, having not run since the race because I’ve been waiting for my lungs to clear. They’re on the mend, and maybe tomorrow will be the day for getting back on the road for the last run of the year.

Sunday: Gym – 20km cycling, 5km rowing

Monday: Rest (atchoo)

Tuesday: Gym – 10km running @ 4:17 per km

Wesdnesday: Rest (cough)

Thursday: 30km @ 5:04 per km

Friday: Rest (and chestnut crumble)

Saturday: 10km @ 4:10

In case you’re ignoring all the subtle hints on this site, or have kind of skipped over that worthy bit at the end of most of my posts about the training I’m doing, I’m running the Paris Marathon on 11 April 2010 to raise money for The Stroke Association. They do good work, come see what they’re about here. I’ve set myself the target of raising £1000, and as of today (30 December 2009), a smidgen over £150 has been raised so far. It’s a start, but as they say at the 4-mile mark in Paris, ‘zere’s a long way to go, non?’ (disclaimer: they probably don’t say that). ‘Tis the season to be generous, so please pop by http://www.justgiving.com/lewis-birchon and give what you can. Happy New Year!

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