2016 London Marathon Training – Week 8 (22-28 February)

Having enjoyed a near uninterrupted run of being able to train whenever I liked, Monday 22nd February brought an abrupt end to all that fun with a 5:45 am alarm call to see me at my desk a couple of minutes later. Formula One had lurched back into life with the opening test of 2016 and I was about to enjoy perhaps the busiest few hours work of the year as an F1 Picture Editor.

Thirteen or so hours later and I was able to let go of the mouse and consider the day’s exercise. The usual spin class had already commenced so I headed out for an easy paced run. The left hip grumbled for a mile or two, thereafter it was a mostly trouble free affair, albeit with a lengthy stop at the Meres for a pit stop and a natter with GRC runners who had just finished their run.

At eight and a bit miles I had the option of turning right to head straight home or carry on forwards for a two mile loop to conclude. The legs feeling good I opted for the latter. All felt good until I reached the same turning on my return when I just felt the outside of my right calf tighten. It grumbled for the final half mile, then on finishing tightened significantly all over the calf and high up in the hamstring. It was essentially a repeat of what first occurred at the Chester Marathon in last October and again on two or three occasions subsequently.

This put running out of the equation for a couple of days at least, although the continuing F1 test meant this was not too much of an issue. I’d always planned weeks 9 and 10 to be fairly minimal on the running front because of work and three races on consecutive weekends. On the Tuesday I was able, during quiet moments at the test, to put in two hours on the home elliptical trainer. The calf felt fine on the trainer, as it always seems to. The stop-start nature of putting in 10-20 minute efforts around work coming in made the session quite tiring, but it was better for the body and mind than dong nothing at all.

Wednesday turned out to be another really busy day at the Circuit de Catalunya so it turned out to be an enforced rest day. Thursday I was able to do an hour in the trainer during the morning in two chunks and I was just about able to finish work in time to head to the club for the marathon paced session I was due to take. As it turned out only two other runners turned up to run, my right calf had already begun to ache a fair but by the time we reached the club. Coming down the first hill of the run the calf began to tighten a lot and I decided to cut the run short when we ran past our house.

Disappointed to have only covered five miles I headed straight onto the elliptical trainer for quite a charged hour long session, pulling higher RPM on higher resistance levels than I had done previously on the relatively new machine. The calf ached a bit but as with previous occasions, it can’t be a pull or a tear as there is no real searing discomfort.

On Friday morning there was no test but I was in charge of looking after the family so I put in another fairly high intensity session on the elliptical trainer, this time for 90 minutes. The right calf was again a bit achy, but otherwise I felt fairly strong.

Saturday was the National Cross Country Championships which is covered in another piece on this website. Suffice to say that the effort had me fairly whacked on Saturday evening and I had no problems getting to sleep hopefully ready for Sunday morning’s bike ride.

Heading to Witham Wheelers for the eighth Reliability Ride of 2016 I could sense immediately that the body was still quite fatigued from Saturday’s race. The last group to set off was a Group 3, 4, and 5 combination. I put in a stint at the front from the off and I could feel that while I was okay on the flat stuff, the first hint of an incline and I was in trouble. This is the total opposite of what is normally the case when I am one of the stronger riders on the hills and struggle to keep up on the flat stuff.

I made it to Melton Mowbray okay but I was dropped on a climb out of Melton. I was able to get back onto the group but 20 minutes or so later there was the longest climb of the ride and I was out of the back door within seconds. There was simply nothing in the legs for me to be able to keep up with what was really quite a modest pace. I dug deep and was able to keep the group sufficiently close to be able to catch them back up once the climb’s summit had been passed.

I think the fact I was able to regroup when it seemed that all hope was lost helped me mentally for much of the rest of the ride as I felt more comfortable thereafter. A long fairly flat section certainly helped matters, as did two small packs of Haribo consumed during a brief stop. The group worked well together riding in and off as we battled with a headwind. It was only at the short sharp hill at Skillington did I once again lose contact with the group, although I was once more able to dig deep on the flat bit after the hill and catch up with the group. We then had a bit of fun on the closing section ramping up the pace and having a mini sprint finish which I opted not to take part in as there seemed little point.

This all meant that the 62 miles was covered in 19 mph, which was pleasing considering that at 25 miles I thought there was no way I was going to be able to finish the ride. I rode home after a quick hot cross bun break, and to my surprise was able to muster a 5k brick run. The right calf was aching a bit but bearable, the pace was very similar to the week before, where the legs felt fresh in the final mile to run 6:30 or so.

A bit of a frustrating week, but it was always going to be a compromise with the F1 test to be covered and if there was a week to suffer an injury that minimised running, then it was a good week to have. It is likely to be more of the same in week 9 with a four day F1 test, a calf which is still sub-par, and a race on the Saturday to consider and taper for.