Week seven of London Marathon training began with the now customary early morning hour on the elliptical trainer. There was a bit of stiffness in the legs, otherwise all felt good. That evening there was another gym session planned where I would do a progressive run on the treadmill followed by a spin session.
The best laid plans were nearly scuppered by Grantham’s infamous traffic woes made worse by no less than three sets of roadworks taking place in the town on the same day. I got to the gym late so had to condense the 50 minute run into something less than 30 minutes. This meant it was a short, sharp, intense session, where I ramped the pace up to 7 mph to a lung busting 12 mph by the end. I didn’t take a note of the splits at the time, but when I got home I noted I ran the third mile in 5:41, then the fourth mile in 5:04, which is pretty much as quick as I’ve ever run a mile (I did run 4:52 at a mile race way back in 2000, I have a timed 5:08 or so on the track from three years ago).
Unaware that I’d pushed the body pretty hard I went into the spinning session expecting another strong session. I noticed straight away during the warm up that the going was harder than usual and so it was that the 40 minute session was a toil from beginning to end, sweating loads, dehydrated, and unable to generate any real lasting power in the legs. It was only the finale track of The Killers Mr Brightside that spurred me on to a semi respectable 3.9 w/kg average.
Week 7 coincided with school half term so there were to be compromises with the usual training schedule. Tuesday saw no elliptical trainer session, instead a single ten mile run in the evening with eight miles at marathon heart rate. For the opening warm up miles it looked impossible to follow a heart rate as the belt was playing up and giving wholly fictitious readings. Thankfully a liberal coating of saliva appeared to cure the problem.
The tired legs didn’t want to know for the first couple of miles as I forced them to a 6:02 then 5:59 mile. Thankfully they began to wake up and the remainder of the run was a more pleasant affair, with the quickest mile the last at 5:47 and the slowest 6:03. I contemplated running some extra miles but having completed 10 miles next to my house the temptation to stop was too great and I called it a day as planned.
Wednesday was a day out with the family and so was a welcome day’s rest from exercise. Thursday morning saw an easy hour on the elliptical trainer where the calves were tired but otherwise I felt fine. The evening run was with GRC and it was a ten mile circuit with eight miles at around 7:30 pace. We had a couple of new runners to join the ranks and it was a highly satisfying group run in crisp cold, conditions. At it’s conclusion I put in a couple of extra miles to make it 13.5 for the day.
Friday was just an hour on the elliptical trainer and it was a good hour, feeling stronger than I’ve done on the new trainer with more ‘km’ covered as a result. Saturday morning saw a break from parkrun as I wanted to recce the Newton’s Fraction half marathon course in preparation for the forthcoming race. The opening five miles were just to take me to the Meres where the race begins. I felt sluggish but the pace wasn’t bad considering.
Once on the course proper I began to settle into a better rhythm. The stretch on the canal may have looked unimpressive at 6:40 pace but I was running into a fierce headwind. Once I reached the half way point the wind swung in my favour and the run was transformed into something far quicker. I was just one second off the Strava record for Casthorpe Hill (If only I had known…) and then on the run into town I flew down the Low Road taking two Strava segments in due course as I ran 5:54, 5:25, 5:27 and 5:56 for the final four miles of the run. It was a good effort, the left hamstring a little sore at the end from the exertion but otherwise i felt fine.
I wondered how this would leave me for Sunday morning’s Witham Wheelers Reliability Ride – a longer route at 62 miles. There was a strong wind blowing from the west and inexplicably at the last minute the route was reversed, presumably to make the ride easier. In reality it made it tougher, firstly as those who relied on their Garmin routes for navigation couldn’t and those who knew the route from memory of it the right way round found it hard to get it exactly right.
Group 4 flew for a fair amount of the ride helped by the favourable wind. We then lost our pro rider Karl to a mechanical (who we all had secretly hoped would ride at the front for the last part of the ride!) and then for the final 15-20 miles we were subjected to a relentless gale force headwind. It was tortuous and entering the outskirts of Grantham I finally cracked and rode in slowly with another rider. At the club house I looked and felt a broken man… It was a whole hot cross bun and a flapjack required to give me the energy to ride back home.
Once home the food must have done some good because the idea of a brick run, scrapped somewhere in a headwind after 55 miles of riding, was suddenly back on the agenda. I headed out and after a mile or so the legs began to feel not so bad, I even summoned a sub 6:30 mile to conclude the 5k run. Sadly my Garmin got a bit confused and the run was a bit corrupted by the time it hit Strava, but the mile splits remained intact (I think an elevation issue caused the issue).
That was the last week of training for a while wear a weekend race of some sorts isn’t in the agenda, kicking off with this Saturday’s National Cross Country Championships. It coincides with a busy spell of work with F1 Testing, so who knows how the body will be in three weeks or so time!