It is with no small sense of relief that I announce the accursed hamstring injury as being no more. The strange knee pain is also gone, thanks to some good advice from physio Michelle Tanner and some tough love with my ITB. The Achilles Tendinopathy is no longer a problem either. I can’t afford another injury because I’ll end up spending so much time on preventive exercises there’ll be no bloody time left to run.
But I am running and enjoying it too. I’m sticking to coach Jesal’s plan because that’s the general idea with plans. Jesal and I agree a few adjustments every couple of weeks based on the feedback I provide (normally over a hot beverage somewhere in Ealing Broadway). This has led to things like going for a time at the forthcoming Cambridge Half rather than just running it at training pace. Last week totalled 24 miles with my long run a particularly exciting one. More about that in a moment.
I have also taken to colouring in my plan as I complete each training session. Whilst I say ‘colouring in’ there are no crayons involved, the Fill Color (sic) button in Excel does the trick. I do this for two reasons: firstly there’s great satisfaction in seeing a visual representation of my progress, and secondly I just like colouring things in.
In my efforts to fit my life in around marathon training (as oppose to the other way round) different days of the week have taken on different meanings. Currently Mondays mean rest, Wednesdays cross-training and so on. Whilst this will change around to provide some variety as my plan progresses, for most of us ballot winners and others in marathon training Sunday will always mean the long run.
Those of us on Strava need only glance at our Flybys to see just how many people are out there getting the long miles in on a Sunday morning. For me this has meant incorporating the Sunday morning ten mile club run into my training. Until now my club runs had more or less been limited to the ‘long run’ on Monday and Wednesday evenings. However, I am now a big fan of this Sunday morning run too and I’m likely to remain in regular attendance after I’ve recovered from the marathon.
As you can see from this picture it attracts a good number of Eagles (some particularly eager Eagles had already set-off (fled the nest?) before Catherine Mulrenan kindly took this picture). The route takes in Walpole, Lammas, Gunnersbury, Syon and Blondin parks, plus a wonderfully scenic stretch along the river – where everyone bemoans the uneven terrain and the fact that ‘it goes on forever’. It’s true, we do and I’ve said it myself. But I love it really.
Even if you are adding miles to the beginning or end of the run (and it’s often both) there is still a good ten miles where you can chat to other Eagles. On the few runs I’ve now attended the conversation has included: injuries, underwear, getting enough sleep, tooth ache, people’s bottoms, holidays, coaching, alcohol, Donald Trump, weight loss and the new Train Spotting film. Oh, and running.
Recently the conversation came round to ‘things people have said to you whilst you’re running’. It seems these range from the tedious ‘Ello darlin' to the more offensive that I won’t repeat here.
I was recently subjected to a rather bizarre outburst whilst running along Northfield Avenue. I passed a teenage girl who appeared surgically attached to her mobile. She looked up momentarily as I passed her by, and with a look of utter revulsion shouted: “Uurrrghh!”
I thought this was a bit harsh. I may not look my best towards of the end of a run (how many of us do?) but surely this was a bit strong? Perhaps she was just reacting to something on her phone. I will keep telling myself that.
I couldn’t make last week’s Sunday morning club run. However, I wasn’t too tearful because the reason for my absence was a trip to New York City. This meant my Sunday morning run was two and a bit laps of Central Park (13 miles – the first ten at training pace and the final three at marathon pace). I’d never been to New York before, but was hoping for better encouragement than that afforded by Northfields’ adolescent smartphone addicts.
Central Park is a great place to run. Rachel joined me for the first few miles to give me both encouragement and helpful directions – though if you’re following ‘the six mile loop’ it’s almost impossible to get lost. Rachel’s VLM top got a lot of impressed looks and she became convinced that people started to consciously improve their form upon seeing the words ‘London Marathon’. I’m not sure what they made of my Eagles’ top. I’m hoping they thought it was an American Eagle and so rather liked it.
There were a lot of runners in the park and my Strava Flyby looks like a swarm of bees, with over 120 people on it. It seems I also ran through a segment called ‘horse shit alley’ which sounds a lot worse than it is.
Despite the high number of runners in the park, there is a large amount of space and no bottlenecks anywhere. I also noticed that non-runners always give way to runners, which is very nice of them. There are a couple of hills to challenge you too, and I was half way up one and facing a headwind when my Garmin told me I’d completed 10 miles and it was time to up my pace. Nonetheless the last three miles felt good, probably helped by the joy of running in such great surroundings. By far the best bit was getting to mile 13 to find Rachel waiting for me with drinks (note bottom left of picture!). Now that’s how you finish a 13 mile run in Central Park, and it was also a great finish to another week’s training.
Next week Osterley track and the streets of Ealing may not seem quite the same as Central Park. Though to be fair, there’s bound to be a bit less horse poo…