Week one of London Marathon 2020 training – take two. Its been hot, its been hard at times, but overall I have been impressed by how I have mentally applied myself to this second version of training; especially as I am still not optimistic that the race should or will be able to go ahead. The heatwave and a slight ramp in intensity has hit me a bit – this weekend I have been tired, not just in a running sense, but from lack of sleep and the general effort required to keep myself motivated and cool whilst working from my rather hot little house (this week has made me hate working from home even more!)
MONDAY: I switched up my home exercise routine a little this week, not only to relieve the monotony, but to focus a little more on some strength and conditioning exercises to compliment my running. I am missing the gym and also being able to have a sports massage, so I want to try and limit injury as much as possible.
TUESDAY: 5 very easy miles – the sudden rise it temperature caught me a little unaware and I realised I was running far too late in the morning to be able to do any of my other planned higher intensity sessions.
WEDNESDAY: I have not ran a tempo run since lockdown began, so initially I was a little nervous about this morning’s 7 miles, with the 5 middle miles aiming for 8 min/mile pace. I then reminded myself that I have actually been running a lot of my runs close to 8 min/mile without consciously trying during lockdown, so I had to be more confident in my current fitness level. The warmth did make the run a little more challenging, but I hit my target, with the middle miles all in the 7:50 min/mile region.
THURSDAY: this morning was a rather harsh introduction back into running some intervals; 7 miles with 4 x 1 mile reps is never easy, but at already nearly 20 degrees it was going to be an extra test. I was saved slightly by the fact the loop of streets I like to run intervals around was well shaded and I made sure to actively stop after each interval for a few seconds of the recovery period to try and keep both my composure and temperature down. Ambitiously I was aiming for the mile reps to be as close as possible to 7 min/mile pace, and I was quite pleased with my splits; 7.08, 7.00, 7.12, 7.17 min/mile respectively – my legs were feeling it on that last rep and on the cool down home afterwards!
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: my not Lincoln parkrun attempt this week was a struggle; I was just so tired. I could feel it all over as I tried to find some pace. Unlike last week where I felt real energy and power running along my hilly course, this week I had to battle up the hills.
SUNDAY: whilst the heat had significantly reduced today, a gloriously gusty wind replaced it instead. Owing to how tired I felt yesterday and with the conditions I knew to keep today’s longer run steady. I had 14 miles on my plan, which was not too much of a jump from my usual Sunday half marathon I have been logging during lockdown. The first 3 miles were awful though; my legs felt energy-less and my little rucksack filled with water felt like a huge weight on my back. I feared a long slog ahead. I tried to keep positive though and I did in fact grow into the run, my legs feeling a bit more life. I would not say I felt amazing and during those initial miles a few thoughts flashed through my head about just cutting the run short. However, that lingering prospect of the London Marathon actually happening kept my head in the game. How long can I keep it up... or will I need to keep it up for?
This should have been a summary of week ten of my journey to the London Marathon, but instead I find myself reflecting on what is a very strange and uncertain time for the world. No one's lives are being unaffected by the spread of the Coronavirus, and as this week progressed, I knew the chances of the London Marathon happening were fading by the second. To be honest I am glad it has now been postponed; and postponed is the key word for me. A cancellation would have been devastating for myself and others, especially those who have longed to complete the London Marathon for many years. It was also starting to become a very anxious time waiting for announcements on the race, and every time someone mentioned the virus I felt my own anxiety levels rise, waiting to hear what the latest development had been and how it would affect me. Lastly, it was also the right decision to postpone the race for the well being of all; I would have not wanted to take part under such uncertainty and under the fear of putting others at risk; it would have tainted the experience.
Friday 13th March was a tough day for the news to hit as many Spring marathons were also postponed on this day. In fact marathons seem to fall like dominoes and I found myself messaging a lot of my friends throughout the afternoon as each of our respective races announced their postponement. I had not even had the chance to see the decision had been made on the London Marathon myself, as friends and family messaged me the news. Although not the best news to be passing on to me, I was touched at people's care that they knew this would mean something to me, and that they also had a desire to check I was ok.
So am I ok? The truthful answer is yes; in marathon terms I am totally fine with the news. To be honest, how well I am coping with the fact my main focus in life has suddenly removed is a really big thing for me; had this happened maybe last year I think I would have slipped into a very sad place very quickly. It is a testament to how I have progressed personally these past months. I am sad of course about a few things, mainly being unable to share what would have been the next six weeks of training with my Run Club friends. I have honestly loved my last ten weeks of training, my own solo training runs and my recent running adventures with friends, and I do not feel my efforts have been wasted at all - I am developing as a runner but also have made a lot of happy memories along the way. I am also sad I will not be able to cheer my friends on at their own Spring marathons, and in particular we had planned to go on mass to spectate at Manchester where a large number of Run Club members were due to be running. Hopefully we may still be able to in Autumn. I am also sad for my friends, especially those who had their first ever marathon lined up - none of them are disputing the decisions which have been made, but there are still emotions they are feeling which they are entitled to have. I have tried to be there for people and offer as much positivity and words of encouragement and support. I would have needed those a while back.
So where does this leave me? I will be taking up my place for the rearranged London Marathon date in October, and I am very pleased my fellow Run Cub friend who was also due to run London can also make the new date. I was looking forward to a race weekend together, and now it has just been shifted back a few months. In terms of training, I feel like at the moment until things become clearer in the world, there will be no races and I will not seek anything either. My next booked event is a local half marathon at the start of May, followed by a 20 mile trail event which we have entered as a group from Run Club later in the month. Therefore I have a need to keep some distance within my training, but I will undoubtedly scale back a little, especially without the drive of my big goal race.
Personally, the uncertainty in the world across the next few weeks does scare me a little. Forget marathon training, but I do need to be able to run for my personal well being, and the thought of any form of 'lockdown' and being house bound is something I fear. Since Friday, I have also been instructed by my work that I must work from home for the next three weeks, and have to cancel virtually all face to face meetings and events I had planned. It was tough walking home on Friday having lost my marathon and what felt like losing my job; I love running and I love my job, so it was a double whammy almost. I also live by myself and it feels quite lonely to think of being at home for that length of time. I am being honest about how I feel with people though, and have already had offers from friends to join them for runs in the week so I can at least see and talk to some people! Its a very weird time, and I completely appreciate the need to try and protect vulnerable people in particular, but I do also want to try safeguard my own health and happiness as much as possible, especially after working so hard to feel good again.
Anyway, enough 'virus talk' - I feel I need to sign off London Marathon training (part 1!) with a bit of what I achieved this week, as I most certainly did not give up!
MONDAY: Body Pump class
TUESDAY: a tough session of 7 miles with 3 x 1.5 mile reps - a mile and a half is a long way to push the pace and it certainly asked a lot of me!
WEDNESDAY: after a very long day at work on Tuesday and a tough run, I was grateful of 'just' 5 steady miles today, although was shocked to see these averaged 8.15 min/mile and still felt comfortable.
THURSDAY: a double run day with 8 morning miles at easy pace, followed by a precise 3.6 miles later during a continuous hill based session I led at Run Club.
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: a very pleasing morning at Lincoln parkrun, as not only did I get to share my happy place with some of my colleagues and friends from work, but I also ran a sub 21 minute time (20:53!) and finished as first female, feeling strong and possibly running off Friday 13th's frustrations.
SUNDAY: I was due to be running Ashby 20 today with a few friends from Run Club, however it was cancelled, and I instead I found myself heading out for a solo 20 miles of my own. The organisers of Ashby 20 had set up a virtual Facebook group encouraging people to log their own 20 miles, and to be honest that was enough of a challenge and incentive for me. I could not quite motivate myself enough to push the pace like a race, but I was pleased to see that I held 8:30 min/miles quite consistently throughout. There were a few slower miles in there, which directly correlated with when my motivation started to waiver, meaning my end average pace did end up at 8:40 min/mile, but it was my commitment that impress me the most.
What a week... and I do not fully know what the future weeks will hold. I do know I am going to try and keep as positive as possible, and reach out to others if I feel I am struggling. The offer of my time and support will also be there to anyone out there too. Keep safe and keep running x
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...