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Paris Marathon training: Week 11

January 17, 2010
The landscape is once more transformed by snow.

Snow for a second week, with a fresh dusting coming seven days after the original blizzard.

When it falls for the first time in the year, the startlingly transformative beauty of snow is something to relish and be excited about. While everyday life is effectively paralysed for the first snow day, you’re tempted to forgive it and just enjoy the break from the norm. However, when the snow comes for the second time in as many weeks – and the snow from the first week hadn’t actually melted – you start to get a little tired of it. Especially when you’re due to ramp up the miles and the only option for running is the gym, which is either closed because of the weather or seasonally congested because it’s January and those resolutions aren’t going to resolve themselves.

So, for the record, this was a bad week. Sunday’s hectic schedule, with literally only an hour to spare for training, and queues for the treadmills meant that I was consigned to the exercise bike. A similar pattern followed on Tuesday, when I made two trips to the gym – one very early, one in the evening – in the hope of catching up on some of the running I’d missed out on Sunday. No such luck, queues for the treadmills in the evening meant I was back on my bike and reading the subtitles to EastEnders. There’s punishment for you.

On Thursday I finally managed to snag some time with the treadmill in the evening. Granted, I had to wait until 8pm before the congestion cleared, which meant I didn’t eat until 10pm. But that’s the price you pay, sometimes. Similarly, on Saturday evening, I was able to get some running in while the crowds that had filled the gym on previous evenings were presumably trying to avoid their usual weekend excesses.

Something happened on Friday and Saturday, though. Something good. The snow started to melt – and  quickly, too. Not substantially enough to make running outside a decent option on Saturday, but enough to bring a sense of relief that my time consigned to the gym was limited. On the plus side, I certainly got value for my membership this week.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought some trail shoes, hoping to spend some time running at Shotover Hill (a modestly sized park on the outskirts of Oxford, crammed with hills and dirt paths). While the snow has coated everything, I’ve found that the shoes have been very good for walking in snow. So, beyond one run, I’m afraid they’ve only seen car parks and one trip to London, where my combination of a suit and running shoes cut an absurd dash. Less Doctor Who, more Mr WTF.

Sunday: 30k cycling in 58 minutes

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 10k running between 14.5kmph and 16.3kmph, 15.5k cycling in 30 minutes

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 11.5k @ 4:08 per km

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 11.5k @ 4:02 per km

Traditionally, these weekly updates end with some (loosely) humorous commentary about why I’m not shut up inside watching EastEnders or whatever like anyone with an ounce of sense. However, technically, I have been shut up inside watching EastEnders – albeit on an exercise bike. (For what it’s worth, it probably wasn’t Bradley, Jeanine will get the blame and Pat Butcher will get off scot free.) Anyway, if you want to support The Stroke Association, sponsoring me to run the Paris Marathon on 11 April 2010 could be a good way to do it. (You can donate online here.) Especially as my employer will match any money I raise, up to a total of £500. In return, I’ll do some real running next week.

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