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Virgin London Marathon training: Week 5

February 5, 2012
Fresh snow on the path around Hackney Marshes

The view from my Sunday run

Anyone who has been following this blog for one of my previous marathon build-ups will know that two things happen without fail: I get ill and it snows. Now I’m hopefully knocking off both those staples in one week’s worth of interrupted training, leaving the remaining two and a half months of build-up before the London Marathon disruption free.

So, this week I’ve not been running much. I ran into work on Monday, and then spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Oxford. With an overnight stay in Oxford, I had planned to make my way down to University Parks before work and knock out a decent speed session. Instead, however, I found myself nursing a sore throat that was threatening to turn into a chesty cough.

I’ve been here before many times, and in the past I’ve typically run until it turns into a cough, and at which point had to back off running until it clears. Inevitably this means a longer stint without training. So this time I was sensible, drugged myself up with Strepsils and Lemsip and let things return to normal.

On Friday I was beginning to feel much better, so opted for a very easy-paced run home to see how I managed. It felt great to be out and about, and the run loosened some of the lurgy that had made its way into my chest. However, I spent the Friday night and Saturday morning with a more limited lung capacity while my body worked hard to clear the rest.

Saturday became a rest day because the lurgy was still hanging round. Ideally I’d have switched in my long run for Saturday since heavy snow was forecast for Saturday night, but it just wasn’t sensible.

We went out for food and a few drinks with some friends in Kings Cross on Saturday night, at which point – true to forecasts – the snow started to fall and settle. And on Sunday morning, North London was very quiet and covered in a good few inches of snow. Since no where I knew around here would be cleared, I decided to shorten my planned run by a considerable margin so I could just get out and see how my recovery was going.

Snow men and sledges in Springfield Park

Snowmen and sledges in Springfield Park

There’s something lovely about running in fresh snow, and while I’d originally thought of running just a couple of miles to stretch my legs, I ended up covering just under 9 miles. The Lee Valley was largely quiet – with the exception of the parks, which were filling up with snowmen, and Springfield Park had been turned into a toboggan run – and the snow around Hackney Marshes was virtually untouched.

Running on snow tests you in very different ways from running on tarmac. You have to reduce your stride length, land more carefully and be prepared for your ankle to roll. I find it places more emphasis on my hips and core stability, which contribute to a better running style. So, although it’s not the 3-hour cross-country long run I wanted, it wasn’t a wasted effort by any means.

At the end of this week, I’ve clocked up just 21 miles. I’m feeling a lot better for being sensible about when to run, even if it means that I’ve been frustrated at times by not being able to expend the energy I usually reserve for running. However, marathon running is a long game, and this week should mean I’m able to put in a solid week’s training next week when I’ll be back to full health.

And if you’re into cooing at photos of snow, there are a few more over at the Foot4ward Facebook page

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