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Virgin London Marathon training: Week 12

March 18, 2012
The Lee Valley by night

The Lee Valley by night, a bit like those old postcards you used to get all round the UK.

Following the disappointment of last week’s race, which still rankled a little on Monday morning, I decided there was only one way to get over it. Retail therapy, runner-style. Sure enough, a lunchtime trip to the London Marathon Store in Covent Garden to purchase some much-needed new shoes and I was gagging to make the most of the spring sunshine and gradually lengthening evenings.

Despite leaving the office as close to 5 as I could manage (5:40, go figure) I hit the Regent’s Canal with dusk rapidly setting in. Optimism kicked in and I carried on, through Victoria Park and on to the familiar paths of the Lee Valley. Familiar, yes. Well-lit, um, no. The path along the canal at dusk is, however, largely visible in the light from buildings the other side of the water. Common sense taking over, I cut through the darkness of Springfield Park to get to the main roads back to Seven Sisters.

11 miles might not be advisable for breaking in a new pair of shoes, but it had felt great and thoroughly put my last run behind me.

With just five weeks until the Virgin London Marathon, the monster month has another two weeks to roll until the taper starts kicking in. Although this means my weekly volume will be high, I want to make sure that I’m making time for faster runs. This is especially true since recovering from the neck injury I incurred a few weeks back meant that I skipped a number of tempo runs. So, Wednesday’s club run with the Serpies was a good chance to run at a steady pace and knock out some comfortable 6:30s or so.

Thursday, however, was slower. It’s now my regular Home Run routine, since this was the inaugural running of the route. Unfortunately, we only had one runner for Canary Wharf to West Ham, so I joined the Canary Wharf to Stratford group to learn a different route. It attracts a range of different runners, from those picking it up to a guy who was in training for Boston and eying up a 100-mile ultra (because he ran a 50-mile ultra and got to the end not hating it). There was a good sense of community on the run, and no one ever gets left behind. Each of the runners receives a free t-shirt and rucksack, the Home Run group carry all bags (either in a bike or car), and it’s completely free (at least for the rest of the year). If you’re interested in joining us, or running one of the other routes, or registering your interest in a number of other routes that have yet to hit critical mass, go to the Home Run website.

Now, I work in Holborn, so it’s a five mile run through commuter traffic to Canary Wharf, followed by a 3.3-mile run with Home Run, followed by a 7-mile run home. It’s a neat and easy way to clock up around 15 miles mid-week, although it rather follows Monday’s theme of running in the dark.

Because I was feeling a bit stiff from Thursday’s run on Friday morning, I decided to call it a rest day. The weather on Saturday was miserable, so clearly not long-run territory, so I knocked out a speedy 7 miles down the Lee Valley late in the afternoon. It felt good and acted as a neat leg freshener for Sunday’s long run.

And so on Sunday, which started off with glorious sunshine, decaying into an overcast day threatening rain and which a chilly whipping wind, I set off back down the Lee Valley. My girlfriend opted to come along for a cycle, which made it easier to slip into a comfortable and sustainable pace. It was my first run of the year with my Camelbak, but because I’ve been running with a backpack so regularly (which is frequently heavier than 1.5 litres of water) I barely noticed the extra weight. After 12 miles I decided to take a gel in case I was starting to deplete my energy levels, left Lizzy to read her book on a bench while I clocked off a couple of laps of Victoria Park and then we set off back towards Seven Sisters.

A surprising amount of running is in the mind. Having someone to talk to on a long run takes your mind off the usual hypochondriac battle of ‘Am I feeling tired? Does this hurt? My legs are feeling a bit stiff…’ that usually stretches out for hours on end. In the end, the run came to 25.9 miles (and yes, that missing 0.3 does bug me a little) and including a few catch-up stops, a toilet stop, helping a lost guy with directions and crossing roads came in 3:21. I finished feeling strong and positive.

The week’s total came in at 65 miles, split over five runs. I’m happy with that. Next week, I’ll run close to that same volume, but with more tempo runs. Five weeks to go until marathon number 1 and I’m feeling good.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. phatgirlrunner permalink
    March 18, 2012 9:19 pm

    Wow! Awesome mileage! You’ll be cruising on the 22nd!

    • March 18, 2012 11:08 pm

      Fingers crossed! Obviously it’s that extra 0.3 miles on race day that’ll make all the difference…

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