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Virgin London Marathon training: Week 14

April 2, 2012

On last week’s long run my hip had been a little painful and quite stiff. Naturally I started to fret a little when I woke up on Monday morning with the pain still present. Standing at the crossroads, I had to choose between one of two routes: fully ease back and hope the pain clears up, or man up and just get on with it.

With my bike fixed, I was able to avoid the tube and use my trip into work as a bit of cross training and take some of the pressure off the muscular pain. Monday was a rest day with an easy cycle, and Tuesday was due to be a fast 8.5 miles around Regent’s Park. I was all set to run, but just before I went to get changed at 6 the fire alarm went off. I grabbed my stuff and headed home – no one wants to stand around outside work at gone 6 waiting to be let back in – and cycled home. Once home, I got changed and headed out to Finsbury Park for a steady-paced few laps in the remainder of the evening sunshine.

To minimise the discomfort, I tried adjusting my stride. Over-striding seemed to cause pain, and trying to land mid-foot (or even heel-strike) felt more comfortable than landing on my forefoot. Despite a bit of discomfort, the run felt good and I finished feeling that things were easing out.

On Thursday I left the majority of my belongings at work for the 14.5-mile run home via the Canary Wharf to Stratford Home Run route. With light still in the sky for the whole evening, and little extra weight to carry, I was able to keep a fairly respectable pace on the way home without too much discomfort.

However, on Friday I was feeling stiffer. My tempo run at lunchtime was downgraded to steady to avoid antagonising the niggle, and felt okay – not spectacular, but miles in the bank.

Sunday’s long run fell on the day after a few beers and a veggie curry feast at Brick Lane. Not optimal nutrition by any means… It was a bright sunny day, and warm in the sunshine, but with a distinct chill to the wind. I was feeling a bit stiff, and not really in the right frame of mind for a long run, so I left the house about 1 having only had a couple of slices of toast and some fig rolls for breakfast. I’d decided I needed an extra boost to get me through, so stuck on my iPod loaded up with some motivationally cheesy hair metal and set off.

After 4 miles or so I fell into a comfortable rhythm, with a shorter-than-normal stride, and carried on until around 17 miles in I accidentally yanked my headphone cable out of my iPod. (Never mind the fact that I’d spent the last 17 miles constantly popping the earbuds back as they bounced out at least once a mile.) I then spent a good few minutes trying to thread cables back through my top, into my armband, wedging the headphones back into my ears and then set off again. Despite the break in the run, my legs didn’t stiffen.

Towards the end of the 22.5-mile run, I started to struggle a little with the heat. I’d seen the weather forecast’s promise of 13-degree highs, but hadn’t bargained on the heat in the sun, so had opted to wear my base layer. Sure, it was warm, but it wasn’t warm enough to justify the number of men running topless around Victoria Park.

I finished the run feeling fairly comfortable – if somewhat warm – and on Monday morning my legs were feeling fresher than they had been for weeks. There’s still some stiffness in my hip, but it’s much (much) improved. So, my last week before the taper clocked in at 52.5 miles in four runs. Not ideal preparation, but I’ve come out of the week feeling much better than I came into it. Now I get to enjoy the reduced mileage of the coming weeks, counting down the days as race day gets ever closer.

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