Am I ready?

On Monday I rested and I really needed it.

On Tuesday I went for a short 13k run that was intended to be slow, but I did a couple of sprints and some fast kms here and there, so I will call it a fartlek training session. It was fun, but I should not have done it as my right hamstrings felt a bit too fatigued at the end.

That did not stop me doing some repeats on Wednesday. I did the usual warm up and then six by 600mt at 3:50 with 1’50” rest. Then finished with a 3k cool down. I really struggled to go fast. The legs were too tired and wooden. I tried the Fenix3 feature where you create a workout on the PC with all the crazy details you want and then upload it on the watch. It’s very well done but I guess it is made for people running on a track as it does not store GPS data from the run. That is not good for me. I like seeing a map at the end of my training. I’ll check to see if I did get some options wrong.

I was so tired that on Thursday I did 15k at 5:01 min/km. Nice recovery run. I did speed up a bit at the end but that’s just me being silly.

Friday I decided to rest as I wanted to be fresh to tackle my longest run ever.

The plan on Saturday was to run 50k and use it as a final test before the NDW50. I wanted to run it as if it was only the first part of the 50 miles race I’ll attempt in May. I left home very early equipped with all the mandatory kit for the NDW plus 5 gels, 6 shots and, for the first time, some salt sticks. I wanted to see if drinking pure water with no salts was going to make it easier to eat and keep down the gels so I was going to get the salts from the pills this time. It worked out pretty well. I have to stop to take the pills but that’s fine.

I kept running at a steady easy pace around 5:30 min/km and regularly ate every 30 minutes either the gels or the shots, alternating them. Every hour and a half or so I ate a salt stick. Everything went smoothly. I never had any moment of crisis or cramps (in the belly or legs). After 43k the legs started feeling a bit heavy but I guess that was also psychological as I was running towards unknown territories. I am sure that the hills of the NDW will make the legs feel totally different from the monotony of running on flat for hours. I am confident also that aid stations and meeting people will make time go by easier (the 2k I did with a guy preparing for a 100k in the Pyrenees went very fast for example).

I got home after exactly 50k in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I had a massive grin on my face. I was happy. Happy for achieving something six months ago I thought impossible. Happy for seeing that the hard work paid off and happy because I felt tired but not spent. I feel I can run more than 50k and at a pace I am happy with. I also did it with very tired legs while I plan to taper nicely in the next three weeks and arrive on race day charged like a bomb. I cannot wait for the NDW50 and even more I cannot wait to run it with my friends coming from all over Europe.

So, another solid week. I ran a total of 90k but most importantly I have beaten my distance record.

Have fun!

Training, training and more training

It has been another week of intensive training. I ran 6 times for a total of 94.7km.

The week started with an easy recovery run on Monday. 10.5km at 4:44. It was a very warm morning. I was wearing my lighter winter kit and it was too hot for that too. The temperatures are very unpredictable these days so I bought a handy thermometer that will tell me each morning what I should wear before heading out.

Tuesday the real training started with a nice set of intervals. After the warm up I did five 4′ at a pace of 3:40 with 4′ rest in between. It was really a killer day, but I managed to do them with Swiss watch precision. I finished with a long cool down and after a total of 13k I was home ready for some stretching. It is days like these that really test my hip, Achilles tendon and right foot (my 3 weak spots).
Luckily I discovered the power of the slow recovery runs which I always avoided (big mistake) and Wednesday I did a slow 10k run and then felt like new.

So much so that on Thursday I decided to try and beat my 5k PB. As I was supposed to run 20′ at a fast pace (above 162BPM) I decided to try and do a PB, just for fun.
I did a 3k warm up and then did 5k keeping the heart above 162 which meant running between 3:30 and 3:40. It was a lot of fun, but left me all broken to pieces at the end. 17:57 to run 5k, not bad considering it was so early in the morning I was still half asleep. I did an extra 1k cool down and then home to check if I had done the PB. Unfortunately I did not manage to by less than 10 seconds.

5k

Friday I took it easy to recover from the day before and ran 14km at 4:45. My legs were happy at the end.

Saturday I could not do the long run as it was raining too much (alternating with some snow) and I did not feel running wet for 3 hours. I regretted it straight away as it stopped raining as soon as I had breakfast, the kind of breakfast you cannot run afterwards, too much milk.
So I waited until Sunday and went out with the plan to do 42k. Armed with 3 gels and a handheld bottle I went to Kingston and then followed the river up to Hammersmith bridge until I had run 21k, then turned around and went back. Unfortunately I took a shortcut and got home after 38km. I was really tired. The run started very painfully from the beginning with my legs hurting from the first km and got even more tiring because of all the mud and the wind. Strangely it felt like running against the wind in any direction I was going! It was a good day anyway, very challenging but fun. I was happy to be home at the end. Final result: 38km at an average pace of 4:56 min/km. I was so tired on Sunday that I went to sleep at 10pm.

Have fun!

Follow the river

Last week I did not run much so I had to go big this week.

Monday I did an easy run. With the new heart zones calculated last week things got a little bit faster. 13km at 4:16 min/km.

Tuesday was more intensive. After the usual 15/20 min warm up I did 5x(3′ at 3:35 with 3′ rest). It was fun and tiring. It also marked the end of my Brooks Glycerin. At 800km it was time to retire them. I ended up liking them a lot. I did not think any shoe could beat my favourite Asics Nimbus, but they are not that different, a bit harder but definitely a lot longer lasting. I might get a new pair when the current Nimbus get to around 400km, to alternate them.

Wednesday I did not hear the alarm clock and woke up too late to go out running. 😦

Thursday I did 40 minutes at a steady 4:19 min/km and then 8 ten seconds sprints between 2:50 and 3:30. Seven minutes of cool down and I was home happy. It was definitely getting colder and colder each day.

Friday was a lot of fun. I did 4km of warm up and then 6 fast km at 3:47. Two cool down kms and then home for a big recovery protein smoothy.

Saturday’s plan was to run more than what The Cool Impossible training schedule suggested. I need to put more kms in my legs to get ready for the next months of marathon running.
It was crazy cold, zero degrees at 8am and it did not get better, it was 1 degree when I got back home. I decided to follow the river and run away from home as much as possible and then turn back. I fist did a couple of km towards Kingston and then followed the river until I had run 21km and then turned back. The idea was that if I felt like it I could do the same route back and end up doing 42km like a real marathon runner or if I felt tired I could stop earlier, skipping the initial loop to Kingston. That’s what I ended up doing for a total of 38km, which I think is still good as it is the longest I have ever run.

The trail on the river is all flat so I could keep a good pace and I ended up running with an average of 4:48 min/km. The story really changed after 32km, keeping under 5 min/km was a struggle. The freezing cold did not help either. The trail was either frozen hard mud or slippery ice. At the 24th km I even slipped on a downhill wooden ramp and fell like an idiot. Luckily I did not hit the ground too hard as I was quite far away from home. It actually helped as for the next 4 or 5 kms I was all energized by the fall.

I had a gel at 15k and one at 25k which really helped. I also ran for the first time with my new Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest 2.0. I loved it. I only carried one bottle and drunk very little as it was very cold and, I have to admit, I only understood how to drink from it once I got home (I should have tried it before starting running). Once I got the strap in the right configuration for my body it really felt comfortable and did not hinder the run at all. I might try and get soft bottles to replace the ones that come with it. I have not tried carrying anything on the back as I did not need to, but I am sure I found the right vest/backpack for my future trail marathons and for the NDW50. As always the Brooks Cascadia did their job. As my experience teaches me, only ice can beat them.

Overall it was a very good run, I enjoyed it a lot and it took me to places I had not been in ages, like my very first office in Mortlake.

longSaturday

I will probably do another long run just after Christmas and then taper until my first marathon.
Here are the next challenges:

I think that should be enough for the first half of 2015.

Overall, good week: 5 runs for a total of 88.2km.

Ciao!