A Case of Garmin Disconnect by Andy Mahony

As I write this the London Marathon is exactly ten weeks away.  This still feels like a fair way off and yet next week is already my first ‘cut back week’.  My training plan for the week ahead has me down for some relatively easy mid-week sessions and a mere 11 miles this Sunday.

This practically feels like a week off and I won’t deny I’m pleased at the thought.  Last week was what some people like to call ‘challenging’. I like to call it ‘hard’ because I’ve never been one for genteelism.

The training week started out with track on Tuesday. I’m not really sure if I like track, whilst the running surface makes a nice change from the rock-strewn Thames towpath, running around in circles doesn’t quite do it for me. I like hills though; what’s that all about?

Anyway, I managed to get my track session slightly wrong. Well quite a lot wrong actually. It should have been six times one mile, with a two minute rest in-between each mile.  This was to be followed by 10 lots of 200 metres, with 200 metre recovery jogs. (I won’t bore you with the pace details)

For me the trouble with running around in circles alone is that I loose count after, say, about one lap. This is where the Garmin website comes to the rescue by allowing you to download a workout onto your watch, so it will vibrate and generally tell you what to do and when to do it.

Success here is predicated on you entering your workout details correctly and not, for example, entering 200km repeats when you meant 200m. What sort of idiot would do that?  Well me as it transpires.  I soon realised my mistake and had to ignore my watch (though obviously with such long intervals the watch appeared to be ignoring me) and start keeping a mental note of what I’d done. The result of this, and mix-up on the earlier mile repeats, was that I inadvertently shaved off about a quarter of the session.  Well done me.

I finished feeling tired but nowhere near the physical wreck I was assured I would be. My training plan had advised that I ‘take the pain in,’ and ‘smile when it starts to hurt’. Who the hell writes this stuff? Presumably it’s people who’ve actually completed the session and can operate a simple watch.

Anyway having got home and realised my schoolboy error there was no way I was going back out (I’d already made a cup of tea) and I figured most of the session was better than none of the session.

The rest of the week consisted of a 5 mile run on Wednesday and 20 miles on Saturday morning (moved from Sunday to allow for a carb-loading beer session on Saturday night).

Twenty miles is the furthest I have run in quite some time and I’m pleased to say it went well.  I only started to feel tired with about three miles to go, and given this last stretch was mostly uphill, I think that’s allowed. Besides, my average pace was spot-on and I achieved an overall negative split.

Added to this my hip and its pesky Femoro Acetabular Impingement behaved itself too.  There was brief worrying moment at mile 19 where a sharp pain occurred.  However, it went away after about 30 seconds and didn’t return.  It didn’t start niggling the next day either, as it’s been prone to do, and even survived a walk around Kew Gardens on Sunday (avoid the cafes – £4 for a slice of cake and about three grand for a cup of tea).

I’m writing this blog at home with a free cup of tea and a biscuit (next time I’ll use a laptop) and this is about as energetic as I’m going to get for the rest of day.

You learn a lot about yourself and the business of running whilst marathon training, and this week I’ve learnt three things: enjoy your recovery weeks while you can, appropriately priced tea is important, and if your Garmin tells you to run 1,240 miles on a track session it’s best to ignore it…

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Here We Go Again... by Andy Mahony

As some of you will know this is my second attempt at training for the London Marathon.  After winning a club ballot place last year my efforts were scuppered by a veritable plethora of strange and interesting injuries.  Obviously I did my best to avoid injuries, but my injuries did their best to avoid being avoided – if you know what I mean.

I have since discovered that one particular injury was the route of all evil.  That is, all other problems were caused indirectly as result of overcompensating for it.  The injury in question goes by wonderful name of Femoro Acetabular Impingement (FAI).  It means the ball and socket joint of the hip doesn’t move as freely as it should and so running causes friction and inflammation.  It sounds painful, and trust me, it is.

Strictly speaking it’s not an injury as it’s something I’ve probably always had.  It’s just that a walk to the shops is unlikely to aggravate it whereas, say, running the Cambridge Half Marathon might just get the bugger going.  In fact last year’s Cambridge Half did get the bugger going and it was at this point I decided to defer my London place.

However, later in the year I ran the Ealing Half Marathon without so much as niggle.  Perhaps this could be incorporated into EHM’s marketing strategy – great crowd support and FAI friendly. 

The lack of a pain on the Ealing Half may also be put down to the advice of a good physiotherapist.  I’ll call my physio Dave because I’ve forgotten his real name.  However I won’t call him Dave Powlson because that would be too confusing.  Anyway Dave turned out to be a top guy (tallish, angular good looks) who had done a fair bit of running, including a marathon, and so he seemed to take particular interest in my Ferrero Rocher Aero Assortment hip problem thing. The downside was I had to wait 11 weeks to see him, but all good things come to those who wait. There was one other notable plus point with Dave – he was free!

Anyway, this has all resulted in months of stretching and strengthening exercises, whilst trying to keep running and gradually (and I mean gradually) upping the mileage.  So in some ways I feel like I’ve been marathon training since last summer.  This may be a club record.

Over Christmas I was in the Philippines (yes, lucky me) and I managed to get a few runs in despite the heat and sandy terrain, but to be honest it wasn’t really conducive for marathon training (you pass too many cool beach bars).

So in reality I’m now a few weeks in to ‘proper’ marathon training and my highest weekly mileage to-date is only 27.2 miles (that’s 43.9K in new money).  The hip has been fine on all runs but often sore the next day.  I guess all I can do is keep following the physio’s advice and see what the coming weeks bring.  My hip may cope with the mileage demands of marathon training, or it might not. If it copes I’ll be on that start line; if not I’ll once again be stood on haystack at mile 23 having a much easier time.

For now let’s just see if I can make it past the Cambridge Half in four weeks’ time.  Although now that I think if it, I’m panning to do the Hillingdon Half before then.   

So on second thoughts let’s just see if I can make it to February…

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