Where on earth is my life going? After just completing week 8 of training for Manchester Marathon, I am now HALFWAY! I feel like it’s been 2 minutes since I first looked over my training plan from Clean Coach Katie.
Over the last 2 weeks in particular, the mileage has ramped up. Last week I hit just under 35 miles and in January I achieved a total of 127 miles, which is the highest monthly mileage for me since 2018!
Since month 1, the main change, other than a ramp-up in mileage is really that I am now running 5 days per week instead of 4. At the moment, my weeks look like this:
- Monday – 1 hour speed work with club (usually hills or something like 2 x 12 efforts)
- Tuesday – Rest day
- Wednesday – 45 min core class followed by 1 hour easy run with Club
- Thursday – tempo run, at the moment around 6 miles
- Friday – Rest day
- Saturday – Long Run.. as of this weekend I will be up to 16 miles!
- Saturday – 5k recovery run
I can honestly say that right now, I am definitely the fittest I’ve ever felt. During the last month, my long runs have been 12, 13.1, 14 and 16. Building up nicely.
I am actually really surprised at how energetic I still feel. I’ve never had a coach before, and if I am honest I was little nervous that I would be pushed too far and constantly feel tired. That’s not the case at all though – I am loving every moment. The runs push me; I am doing speed on a Monday and a Tempo on Thursdays, and my long-runs usually include some marathon paced miles at the end to test my tired legs. But, the plan works so well around my life that I really do not feel like I am compromising my run/life balance!
I love to be busy but I am also the type of person that needs space to relax. Having 2 consistent rest days helps me to plan my week and also ensures I dedicate those days to foam rolling and stretching. As I know I have some good rest days, it means I can put 100% effort into my runs. Which leads me onto a few things I’ve learnt in January….
What have I learnt or changed in month 2?
The importance of rest days
I love running and I do genuinely look forward to each run. But knowing that I have 2 rest days each week really helps me mentally. I don’t feel like I need to hold back during my runs to ‘save’ energy for the next day because I know I am well rested, and whilst I still get tired (week 7 was tough for me, a mix of an increase in mileage and a busy work week), I feel like I am getting the right balance.
It’s easy to compare yourself to others. I see some people running more days per week or even having no complete rest days, but for me, 2 days off a week is great and I do not feel like marathon training has become a chore!
You’re not lazy or not dedicated if you take rest days, remember!
Caring for those overworked muscles!
Unfortunately, my right calf is being a right little diva. Its been really tight and sore for about 3 weeks. I do suffer with stiff calf’s, but the pain increased after a tempo-run i did during a lunch break. I was in a rush so i did no warm up or warm down and i was really pushing the pace. What a donut!
Luckily, I had my monthly sports massage with Rudi at The Treatment Lab a few days later. The next day, I felt better and I was able to carry on running for a few weeks, kinda ignoring the tightness I get at the start of a run.
However, during week 8 of training my calf just said NO! I headed out with my running club and had to turn back after a couple of minutes as my calf was so tight that I wasn’t running properly. Rudi came to rescue and I headed back to The Treatment Lab.
He assessed my movement and then suggested acupuncture on my calf. There was no absolutely no pain (apart from a slight twinge in the really tight part of my calf) and it was over pretty quickly. He then massaged the areas and taped up my calf to ease the pressure on my muscles.
I had a 16 miler to do the next day and I fully expected not to be able to run it. However, I headed out and I had no pain! Just some tenderness, probably because my calf was a little bruised. I also made sure I warmed up properly – lesson learnt!
Having an active life is important, not just running
Rudi previously mentioned about some tightness in my hips, which is common in most people who have desk jobs like myself. It really got me thinking.
Overall, I am fit and healthy, but I am either sitting at a desk, or running. Apart from weekends, there isn’t really much else in-between that I do to keep active. Since my last session with Rudi, I have made an effort to walk during my 1 hour lunch break. I can do between 2-3 miles if I then eat lunch at my desk. What’s the point in trying to develop my running if I don’t do much else?
I will never neglect strength training again
I attend Katie’s core class for runners (also suitable for non-runners) every Wednesday in Milton Keynes and I am definitely noticing a difference. Core class is my favorite session of the week!
You have to bear in mind that I did no consistent strength work beforehand, but I genuinely am noticing some improvements in myself:
- The most obvious one – I’ve noticed a difference in my ability to do each exercise. Katie also corrects our form or gives tips on how to make it harder. I noticed that particularly in plank exercises I was shaking a lot! Whilst they’re still not easy, I feel stronger doing them and can step the exercise up to the next level to keep it tough
- I recover from runs much quicker. Particularly tempo / speed runs. I am not super sore the next day and I think this is coming from being stronger overall.
- I feel more energetic. I recovery quicker but overall I am feeling ‘ready to go’ more often
- My resting heart rate has dropped quite a lot! On rest days, it tends to sit about 15-20 bpm lower than a few months ago. The strength training helps me improve my overall fitness over and above running, so I think this is definitely contributing.
- Despite my tight calf which is common for all runners, I have no niggles. I had niggles during my last 2 marathon rounds despite my mileage being much lower. A great sign that my body is strong enough to cope with the mileage (for now at least!)
There’s more to nutrition than just sports gels – woo!
Dionne at Up and Running kindly gave me a range of during and post-race nutrition to try. Beforehand, I had only ever used SIS sports gels (which are fantastic!) and also the heaps of sticky sweets I’ve snatched out of a strangers hand during races!
After trying a selection, I have switched to Cliff energy bloks! Each pack has 6 cubes of jelly like blocks and they’re super light weight to carry. 3 cubes = 1 gel, and so 1 packet = 2 gels, meaning I can carry half the quantity during runs! Woo!
The ginger and peppermint flavor is the one I would recommend if you feel sick during long distance races, as both those flavors are known for curing sickness and helping digestion. However – I won’t lie – the first 2 times I used the Bloks, my tummy felt a little weak…. luckily, I was fine but don’t be put off at first if you feel the same, just try them a few times first. Dionne suggesting following the blok with some water. You can pick them up online or at Up and Running stores.
So what’s next?
I’m in month 3 now and I am heading into LONG run territory! I’ve got some 17 and 18 miler’s coming up, followed with the big one… 20 miles!
My focus for the next week is to make sure my calf does not turn into anything worse and then get back on track with speed work!