The Bumpy Road to Paris

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Paris marathon training has not been going well. I’ve hit a number of bumps in the road. The first five weeks and the last five weeks of my eighteen-week programme have been like night and day.

The first five weeks I did every single training run. That’s 6 runs a week, 30 runs in total. In terms of my heart and my muscles, I was able to complete the runs just fine. But the jump up from 10K training to full marathon was too swift. I got metatarsalgia- bruising of the bones on the base of my feet. As a consequence I took half a week off training, which helped. I made a decision to reduce my weekly runs from six to five, and felt pretty positive moving forward.

The following week I got ill with a cold and so had to miss all my weekend runs, as well as a Ghostpoet gig I’d been looking forward to. Not ideal, but these things happen so I was philosophical about it. The week after I was back at it, completing all five of my training runs in spite of still carrying a bit of lurgy, and felt as if I was moving forward positively at last.

The week after was an unusual week. It began with running 9 miles at suicide pace with Run Dem Crew elites on Tuesday. I was beasted after that so opted not to do an easy run the next day. On Thursday I went to Track Mafia and ran another really hard workout, doing 6 x 800 at a pace outside my comfort zone towards the back of the fast group. Since I was running FlatLine 10 on Sunday, I then opted not to do an easy run on Friday or Saturday. I now regret this, but it made sense at the time. FlatLine 10 is 10 miles up and down Swain’s Lane, one of the steepest hills in London. There is no flat running, and I knew it would be exhausting. It was a great experience as usual, but I have to admit I was hugely tempted to stop running and walk the last couple of times up the hill. I’m glad I held out and hope that will stand me in good stead out on the Paris Marathon course. FlatLine does wonders for the mental side of your training, but there’s a physical hangover the following week. As I’d skipped the recovery runs I ran just 26 miles that week, even if all 26 miles were done in extremely challenging conditions.

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On the following Monday I was determined not to make the same mistake of not getting my easy runs in, so did a very leggy post-FlatLine recovery run. And then I was ill again, this time with a horrible stomach bug. It was completely unrelated to the last illness, and kept me bed-ridden and unable to eat for days. At the end of it I’d lost half a stone and my sum total of running for the week was 3 miles. I’d seen my avatar slide way down the Strava February MTS rankings;a competition in which you take on your friends to see who can run the most miles in a month.

As this week has come around I’ve found myself understandably sluggish on my runs, and needing more recovery time than normal. I wasn’t able to eat a full meal from Tuesday to Sunday of last week. As a consequence, I was only able to manage 3 miles of a scheduled 10 at marathon pace yesterday. In time I know I’ll get back to my best, but I’ve had five weeks now of hitting bumps in the road after an initial five weeks of smooth running. I’m worried more about the lack of running at marathon pace than the mileage missed over this period. It effectively leaves me four weeks before my taper, so I have four weeks to get marathon pace comfortably back into my legs over distance. It’s achievable, but I really hope there are no more hiccups on the way.

I’ve really missed Run Dem Crew the past two weeks. Well-meaning friends and family have booked me tickets for things on a Tuesday. Much as I am grateful and have enjoyed the theatre trips, I’ve hugely missed the psychological boost of being with the crew on a Tuesday. Run Dem is like a happiness fix. It also provides an opportunity to run well above marathon pace with the elites every week, which is something I feel my body needs at the moment in order to get itself back into shape.

I know I’m lucky to be able to run as fast as I do. I know that my bad training weeks are someone else’s dream week. But I really hope I can stay illness and injury free between now and Paris so I can give myself every chance of running the race I know I’m capable of when I’m out there. Here’s to a happy and healthy finish to training.

Enjoyed reading? Please vote for anotherwisemonkey at the 2015 Running Awards here.

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