I’ve had a fantastic summer so far. 3 weeks of sailing around the Baltic sea with Craig and my family and managing to visit Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden, as well as many islands in between in that time….I’ve now come back to reality with a bump.
My plans for the next few weeks were originally:
– Get back to training asap after doing very little while away
– Run the Highland Perthshire marathon in September as a long training run
– Try and beat my PB at the Stirling 10K (which would mean a PB in every distance this year!)
– Run the Clyde Stride 40 mile ultra at the end of September.
However, for a while now I’ve not been feeling the drive to run the Clyde Stride. When I think about how excited I was before Glen Ogle or Strathearn, I realise I’m not getting the same feeling about this race. Whether it’s because I haven’t managed to go and run any of the route in advance or because I’ve done very few miles in the past month, I just wasn’t looking forward to it. So instead of running a race I wasn’t particularly feeling up for, I decided (with very little persuasion from Jemma!) to sign up for the Loch Ness marathon and see if I can break the elusive 4 hour barrier time before the year is out.
I’m much more excited about running Loch Ness again as now I know the course and I know where the hills are. I know not to go out too fast on the first downhill section and also not the give up on the nasty hill around 19 miles in. I know to take more gels and carry some paracetamol in case my knee starts to hurt again. Running a marathon in under 4 hours is my ultimate goal for the rest of this year. After taking 12 minutes off my time at the tricky Strathearn marathon, I feel I should be more than capable of it on this course, but after swanning around on holiday for weeks, has all my hard work and training taken a back seat?
With 4 weeks of hard work ahead of me, it’s time to really put some effort in.
With my energy levels having returned to normal, I’m glad to be back and training with gusto once more. The Strathearn marathon is a mere 7 and a half weeks away and my training is pretty much going to plan. I say pretty much as you always need to make exceptions for unplanned nights out, injuries and the odd bad day at work that can only be sorted with a couch, mind numbing television and a nice glass of your favourite Sauvignon blanc….
However, with tired blood a thing of the past (fingers crossed!) and muscles nearly back to the tip-top condition they were in at the end of last year, the runs are getting longer, much more comfortable and I find myself even wanting to incorporate hills into the equation.
This weeks training has gone something like this:
Sunday – 11 miles (of wind, rain, hills and lots of swear words)
Monday – 5 miles on road
Tuesday – 6.5 miles of “undulations”
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – club training – intervals and a few hills (7.5 miles)
Friday – weights
Saturday – 20 miles
If all goes to plan tomorrow I’ll have clocked about 48 miles this week and come tomorrow evening I can happily kick my shoes off, take the weight off my weary feet and enjoy my long lie the following morning. This will be the most miles I have covered in a week in a long, long time. I have my training schedule stuck to my fridge with my weekly mileage targets highlighted on it and every time I see it I feel an urge just to put my trainers on and get out that second. Obviously not always possible as usually when I see it I’m either on my way to work or on my way to bed… but at least I have to running bug back. I WANT to run again.
The first race on my schedule (and the first I will get to properly race this year after my failure to function properly at Devilla in February!) is the Loch Leven half marathon on the 10th of May. Not only will it let me try out my racing legs for the first time this year but it also ties very nicely into my training programme. I’ll just have to make sure I haven’t pushed too hard during the week and that I’ve got something left in the tank come race day! I’m not going out with too much of a target in mind. As long as I have a comfortable race and I come in fairly close to my PB I’ll be happy. But you never know what will happen on race day, so I won’t count my chickens and all that. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it just now. The last time I raced with any speed in my legs at all was at the end of November at the Hartley Cup Relays and even then I was still a bit zapped post Ultra!
However that said, I need to get my head back in the racing game and learn to push myself – comfort should no longer be an option. I could easily bash out mile after mile at a steady pace and go on like that until the cows come home, but as soon as I take it up a notch things start to hurt and I pull back. Where’s that going to get me? I need to learn to focus more at races. This shouldn’t be comfortable and if I’ve got enough left for a sprint finish then I haven’t been trying hard enough earlier on in the race. Training needs to go up a notch and the miles need to be banked week in, week out. NO EXCUSES!! (Except for the odd wine/flake on the couch/bad day etc., etc….)
After the Loch Leven half, Jemma (my new sister-in-law to be!!) and I will be travelling down to Campbeltown to take part in one of the most scenic half marathons in the county – the Mull of Kintyre half. This is going to be a run to enjoy myself on, rather than a race, in part because some of it is on sand (not that I’m trying to get the excuses in early or anything!) and also because I want to take in some of the views and remember this race. I’m sure there’s a reason it sells out in 10 days or less and has been voted “most scenic half marathon in the UK” for the last 4 years. No point in travelling over 150 miles just to get out of breath and come home again. In this case, it’s NOT all about the racing…
In June I will meet my nemesis once more – the marathon. This time I will be tackling the Strathearn marathon, surrounded by my friends and team mates as I battle to get closer to the 4 hour marathon mark. Sub 4? Who knows, again I’m not going to count my chickens, but I know I have it in me to get much closer to the 4 hour mark for 26.2 miles. Again, it’s all in the training and I will be rambling on about my marathon training in more detail as the weeks go on and we get ever closer to the event.
The biggest goal of the year (so far!) is the Clyde Stride 40 mile Ultra marathon in September and my main aim for this race is to try and run the whole way. In preparation for this I will be doing many, MANY long slow runs where I really dial back the pace and just keep going for as long as I can. I can’t imagine what 40 miles will feel like quite yet, but I’m sure after clocking hundreds and hundreds of miles in the lead up to it I’ll have a fair idea of the fatigue and stiffness that I may endure on the way! When I tell people that’s my next goal many of them just laugh. I’m so glad I have my running community for support and advice. I never laugh at anyone’s dreams. What gives me the right to? I’d never, ever do a bungee jump or a sky dive, or paraglide off the side of a mountain because that’s just not me. But if someone else wants to do it, by all means go for it! Tell me about your adventures afterwards and I’ll listen. One thing you’ll never hear me say is “pfffft, why on earth would you want to do that?!? That’s just stupid!” Each to their own…
So as the evenings get longer and as my motivation to go out and run as soon as I finish work returns, I feel I’m in a for a good summer of training. Next Saturday I will be making my way with hundreds of others to the start line of the Highland Fling – a 53 mile Ultra marathon that takes place on the first half of the West Highland Way. I still don’t feel ready to take part in this event so this year Jemma and I will be sweeping the first half of the race from Milngavie to Rowardennan. Of course we’ll have jelly babies and treats galore, so look out for us and hopefully we’ll spur you on and push you along if need be. I’m really looking forward to meeting more members of the Ultra running community whose blogs I have been reading or who I have met through twitter/facebook over the past few years. I’m so excited and honoured to be given a role in this great event and also can’t wait for a wee knees up at the Ceilidh afterwards (that’s if any of you can still move…)