Despite the complete lack of certainty about whether the London Marathon will actually take place or not, this week I have continued to find myself motivated to follow my training plan and have ran well despite the distinct tightness in my legs (have I mentioned I REALLY need a sports massage!) Outside of running life, things have felt a little frustrating. Again I may have mentioned once or twice (!!) that I really do not enjoy working from home and there seems to be no end in sight in that respect, which feels a little suffocating, especially when other industries and offices are starting to move forward. Secondly, I realised that despite this week seeing the latest easing of lockdown restrictions from Boris, the things I really love still cannot happen – parkrun, going to races with friends, going to the gym and obviously being able to do my job normally. So, I have not met being able to go to the pub with any great euphoria at all! On the plus side though, we are starting a social distanced/bubble version of my Run Club next week, and whilst it will not be perfect being unable to see everyone and run altogether, I cannot wait for Thursday night.
MONDAY: some ‘at home’ exercises and strength and conditioning work.
TUESDAY: five easy miles to start the week; my legs felt like they wanted to go quicker, but I reined them in knowing I had some quicker runs ahead. Marathon training does require a bit more thought and discipline!
WEDNESDAY: I met my friend for a run today who I had not seen in months, we used to meet every Wednesday for an early morning run, but after my Chicago Marathon recovery period last year we slipped out of the habit. It was great to catch up and even when he mentioned he still needed to run early due to being at work it did not bother me; I welcomed some structure. Early did in fact mean 6am and I agreed to meet him where he lives just outside Lincoln. This meant I woke up at 5am and was running by 5:56am – most definitely the earliest in a long time! We ran nearly 6 miles mixing some country lanes with trails – my friend is still quick, so we averaged 7:46 min/mile which was conversational for him, but a bit more challenging for me, especially on trails!
THURSDAY: intervals this week were the same as last week; 7 miles with 4 x 1 mile reps. Thankfully it was nowhere near as hot as last week and actually had a fine drizzle in the air for some parts. Like last week I aimed for as close to 7 min/mile pace as possible on the reps and started well, kept the middle two reps fairly consistent, but again tired on the last, with splits of 7.08, 7.14, 7.15, 7.24 min/mile respectively. I was happy though and I had given my all; a passer-by seemed to agree with me and nodded approvingly saying ‘commendable running!'
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: my Garmin annoyed me during this week’s ‘not Lincoln parkrun’ attempt. I tried my luck on my flatter, faster course, and despite the wind, I felt I was running relatively strong. My Garmin just never grasped GPS properly though and I ran much further along my normal out and back loop than normal. My time was therefore a little disappointing compared to how it felt – but there’s always next week!
SUNDAY: getting my things together ready to run I could hear a wild wind causing various disruptions outside my window; another wind battering long Sunday run beckoned – great! With my sensible hat on I started steadily, not wanting to tire myself out and end up battling the wind, and my strategy worked. Throughout the 16 miles I logged my splits were very consistent, hovering around the 8:30 min/mile region. Less consistent was the wind which seemed to blow in all manner of directions (I think my post run hair justifies how wild it was!) but to be honest I felt able to cope with it tests. The miles also passed quite quickly, and overall I was pleased with how I coped with the next step up in long run mileage.
Onto Week 3... running well, but still not at all hopeful of the end goal!
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...