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Virgin London Marathon training: Week 8

February 19, 2012

If you want to run a marathon, you’d do well to learn about recovery. Endurance running naturally means that you need to have a significant training volume, but in order to make the most of each training session you need to recover quickly and effectively.

So, with last week culminating in a hard 21.5 mile run on Sunday evening, I was feeling too stiff and tired on Monday morning to run into work. However, a slow run home in the evening helped to ease out some of the stiffness. Tuesday morning then required a run into work in order to take my laptop home on the tube in the evening for the next day in Oxford. (Weeks like this are as much logistical challenges as anything else.)

On Wednesday, with no chance of the club run and already a good few miles down on where I’d originally planned to be, I opted for a steady 13.5 miles after work through the streets of Oxford. I was running comfortably and fast, with a few slower miles due to lack of streetlights in places and pedestrian congestion. Either way, I was comfortably keeping an average 6:41 per mile. However, after a good strong run a 2-hour drive home is probably less than ideal for preventing muscle stiffness…

Come Thursday, I had a repeat of Tuesday in reverse, catching the tube into work in the morning and running home. The run home was largely steady, with the stiffness working out of my legs over the first couple of miles. I then bumped into my girlfriend at Finsbury Park cycling home from work. We ran/cycled the remaining two miles home, but since she was cycling at a comfortable pace I found myself needing to stretch out my legs and pump hard to keep up. It felt good to push hard and I finished strong.

On Friday – my traditional threshold run day – things didn’t quite go to plan. Lunchtime, when I was planning to run, got swallowed up by a two-hour meeting. Since we had evening plans in town, I needed to get out for my run by leaving work promptly. I think the time of day makes a massive difference to the efficacy of my threshold runs, so this wasn’t ideal. By the end of my first lap of Regent’s Park I’d kept broadly to pace, but didn’t have time for another full lap. I decided to throw in 6 x 100m(ish) sprints up one of the paths in the park, which felt like a decent mini-speedwork session, before heading back to the showers at work.

The final run of my week was 3:15 of long, slow, hilly running around Alexandra Palace, Highgate Wood and Hampstead Heath. The weather was less than ideal – strong winds and pretty constant rain meant that mud and the feeling of pushing to little avail against the not-quite gales became predominant features. Overall, I managed just over 24 miles with 524 metres of elevation gain, with no gels. I finished feeling tired, but surprisingly not with the kind of stiffness and pain that characterised the long runs of my previous marathon training build-ups.

Finally, Sunday was a rest day. Time to load up on complex carbs and proteins to help my muscles recover for the next week’s efforts. Although I only (!) managed 63.5 miles this week, I had seven days without a rest day (during which stretch I ran 85 miles, which is a heavy load for me) and I think it showed. I need to make sure that I’m building in rest days (and sticking to them) to keep fresh. It all comes back to the question of quantity versus quality, and there’s always a temptation for marathon runners to compromise the latter for the former.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2012 5:56 am

    Good work. Keep it up! I am also learning to incorporate run to-and-from-work into my schedule to achieve my mileage targets. I am learning a few things here and there from you.

    • February 20, 2012 10:45 am

      Thanks Jacob. Personally I find the commuter run a great way of upping the mileage, but they can’t replace the harder sessions (tempo, speedwork, long slow runs, etc.) that really build marathon strength. They’re great for recovery, though!

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