The weeks are passing quicker now that the training seems like more of a routine. I'm getting used to having even less time to relax at weekends than before, and going out for a run despite already being tired and sore has become easier to do. I suppose I'm more motivated now, and it helps that I feel a lot fitter now than I did at the start of the year. There have been more times when I feel like a runner, instead of just feeling uncomfortable. I'm definitely enjoying it more now and feels less like it's getting in the way of the rest of my life. For the most part, at least.
Week 7 - 81 miles
Despite still being hampered by some ankle strength issues, I more or less managed a full week of training this time. Because I don't count the running to and from work when I follow the plan, and also maybe add a couple of miles here and there, this ended up being a high-mileage week. I wasn't worried about the 'extras' causing problems farther down the line because I was happy that I was hitting the runs that I was supposed to. I did my usual cross country as a recovery on Monday. Tuesday's track sessions was five lots of a mile and I found maintaining the target pace a lot easier than a few weeks ago. Wednesday I did a slow half marathon along the canal. I encountered the detour to pass the North Circular aqueduct but I found it provided a bit of variety without adding too much distance. Thursday the plan said an eight mile progression run, which means starting off slow and getting faster each mile. Negative splits have never been my forte and that is one of skills of a good marathon runner, but I totally nailed it. It probably helped to have gales behind me for the second half. The wind was so strong that the canal had waves on it.
I made parkrun on Saturday and decided to add a mile before and after. I thought I had timed it about right to get back to the start before the race began, but I was greeted by the always unwelcome sight of a few hundred runners coming in the opposite direction before I got there. At least it removed the temptation to run it fast, so I started from the back of the field and paced it blind. It just happened to be even splits and close to my target marathon pace so that seemed like some kind of result..
Sunday's long run was supposed to be 18 miles with the second half at marathon pace. I chose a linear out-and-back route along the river in a westerly direction. Nine miles got me as far as Kingston. The section between Ham and Teddington Lock was a bit muddy but the rest of it was pleasant and the distance didn't drag at all. For the faster return trip I soon realised I didn't have the legs for a straight 6:45 pace but I kept it close to that all the time I had a clear path. I managed nearly seven fast miles before I felt something go in my groin when I tried to go too fast round the floating diversion on the canal. I really wasn't prepared to stop at 79 miles for the week so I slow-jogged the last two miles home.
Pains in familiar areas give me clear signals of when to ease off but it is more difficult for me to judge when it hurts in new places. I always thought it is fine as long as it's moving around, because that's just changes in one area spreading out to the muscles elsewhere. I admit that it has got a bit harder for me to judge when to scale it back now. 80 miles in a week may well be too much. Once again I have to remind myself what I said before I started, and it helps that I wrote it down. I said I wouldn't go too fast on a long run. I'm going to have to be very careful about trying that kind of thing again.
Week 8 – 64 miles
Soreness at the top of my left leg and also down under the heel persisted longer than I hoped. Scaling things back was something I didn't have a lot of choice about at the start of the week because I had too much going on at work. Perhaps mercifully, a lack of shorts prevented from running home on Monday. I remembered a time when I had no kit and was so desperate to run that I went in just work trousers. I'm glad I'm not that desperate these days. I had a day of just jogging the commute and then got back to the track for some proper training on Wednesday. It was the same 1000m with 200m recoveries that I struggled with before. I managed all eight this time without even slowing. My pains went away while I ran hard but came back worse whenever I slowed down again. After the run home I wasn't walking too gracefully anymore. I find that frequent baths are helpful to keep the tension at bay, so I soaked like I had never soaked before. In the morning I stepped out of bed to find it still hurt to put weight on that foot. I told myself I shouldn’t run but then felt bad about that. Walking around made it feel a bit better so I decided to run to work and see how it was afterwards. It was no worse so I went ahead with the half marathon lunchtime. Each time, the pain in my foot was mostly going away after the first half mile, but it came back again after I ran. I never really knew too much about plantar fasciitis but a quick search made me worry that this might be the issue. Reading further into it made me concerned for my prospects of being able to do this marathon. If I can’t go through with it after nearly running myself into the ground like I have done, then it would be more awful than I can imagine.
After two days’ rest, my pains had subsided in a way that gave me cause for some optimism. I think it is a tight lower calf that has been causing my plantar issues, and stretching when I can and resting when I have to will hopefully fix that. My enthusiasm for the Sunday long run could hardly be any less this time. Having rather a lot to drink on Friday night and being a bit emotional as a consequence probably had something to do with that. It was the possibility of a run making me feel more grounded that finally got me out the house. The route sounded fun when I thought of it: getting the train to Maidenhead and then running home via the Jubilee River and Slough Arm of the canal. I enjoy doing it by bike because there are hardly any roads involved, but that has generally been in better weather. The Jubilee River section was fun enough because there was a bit of sun and I felt strong and energetic. Then I hit the canal at Slough and had to cope with gales and rain and a towpath that had been churned up into a quagmire. There has been works to improve the path but it seems to have had the opposite effect in the short term. The distance clocked neatly at just over 20 miles when I got to home and I didn’t feel like doing the extra loop that I had thought about because I was fed up and bored already. It didn’t feel too painful at first but it wiped out the rest of the day for me. It made my head feel a little better but it knocked me off my feet.
I’m not too worried about doing marathon distance anymore but I don’t know if I will be able to manage it at anywhere near the pace I want. When I do the long runs, I’m not sure I dare go too fast because I think there’s a high risk that I might get injured. I feel good to start with but 20 plus miles still wears me down more than I feel like it should by now. I don’t bother taking any gels or water and that might have something to do with why I end up so tired. I started this last two weeks a lot happier about the progress of my training than I had been but doubts have crept in again about whether putting myself up to this is going to be worth it. Now, once again, I am at the start of the week and so tired I can't think, but the running doesn’t stop even if I want it to.