The German ‘Training Camp’

Part of what makes an autumn marathon different from a spring one is that, for most, factoring in family holidays around training is going to be a likelihood. For me this year this was a week with my brother and his family in Ismaning, a town just north of Munich in Germany proud of its agricultural heritage, in particular its cabbage and potatoes.

Much as I’d loved to have spent a week enjoying nothing but the produce of the land and good company, training had to continue. The opening run was the day after we landed, made far harder by one or three too many glasses of wine and the weather, which was extremely sunny and around 32C by the time I staggered out of the door. On the advice of my brother I headed to the River Isar which has an immaculate gravel cycle path and is largely tree lined, offering some respite from the heat. I headed to the English Garden, used their toilet facilities at one of the famous Beer Kellers and headed back. It was hard going but pleasingly not impossible, eleven and a half miles covered in 6:42 per mile average and a couple of Strava segments to take back home with me as souvenirs.

Friday was spent in the joys of Play Mobil land, a magical place for young kids that became something of a trial of endurance thanks to weather even hotter than the day before. We were grateful for the large thunderstorm on the drive back home, although that in itself brought challenges – namely staying on the road.

The break in the weather meant it was a mere 22C or so when I headed out on Saturday morning. Feeling refreshed after a day off I soon found myself in my running as I again hit the River Isla. I headed in the opposite direction, away from Munich and planned to head down and back for four miles at marathon heart rate to make it a ten mile run in total. The results were very pleasing, averaging the entire run at 6:08 per mile and sub six minute miles for the final eight of them.

Sunday saw wet and dreary conditions as my brother and I headed out. He would join me for just 4km before I headed back onto the River Isla path and into Munich for a spot of sightseeing. Having been more or less the only runner out on the hot days, there were many runners on this far cooler day. Indeed the German runners, who my brother informed me have a penchant for overdressing, would have me convinced it was a a winters morning, some wearing three or more layers, hats, even gloves. The reality was it was 20C by the end of the run and, once the rain had cleared, ideal for running.

After a slow first three miles, I settled into a pace of around 6;45 pace, which felt comfortably aerobically but I had a few niggles with the left hip and groin which made the going a little tough. It got harder as I hit central Munich – the cycle path twisty and even a little hilly in places. I turned around at just over ten miles, the 6:45 miles slowed to 6:59 at 13 as I began to labour. Still seven miles from home I decided attack was the best form of defence from fatigue and began to up the effort, knocking out successive miles of 6:52; 6:38; 6:35; 6:27; 6:35; 6:04 and 6:12 for the twentieth and final mile. It was a pleasing end to what had been quite a challenging run.

Monday saw a decent evening 10k recovery run on the loop by brother had run on the Sunday. The legs loosened off sufficiently to knock off two sub 6:40 miles to close.

Tuesday saw a day off running and saw my brother and I head off on the much talked about cycle ride planned for weeks in advance. Nearly scuppered by a couple of pre-ride punctures we finally headed out for a very pleasant 70 mile ride. I was on my brothers racer, he was on his touring bike used mostly for commuting. His racer was a little large but perfectly rideable and I took the lions share of the work at the front – only fair considering I was on a faster, lighter bike. It was only on the hills I gave myself leave to stretch myself, enjoying thankfully pain free ascents for the first time in a while.

The final morning saw an 11 mile ride I mapped out on my Garmin the night before, taking in parts of runs before and venturing further afield to a rather picturesque lake, the emergence of which a very old man, as naked as the moment he was born, from a swim, left an indelible mark on my mind. It was an easy paced run, pleasing then that it averaged 6:51 per mile.

The last run in Germany was also the last for a while that I wasn’t suffering from a cold picked up mid-trip. A small price to pay for an enjoyable and productive week away.

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