VLM 2017 – a few niggles!

My first hard session post Farnborough half marathon was another tough lactate threshold (LT) session on the track, only this time I needed to do 5 @ LT (6.30mm). The challenges of fitting in marathon training around work and personal commitments, coupled with my self-inflicted deviation from the plan, meant that this session was coming just two days after Farnborough and therefore on pretty tired legs. In truth, whilst marathon training, my legs always tend to be tired but I needed an excuse from having marginally slower splits than during those on my previous LT. I was actually quite happy with the run overall but the toll of the back to back hard sessions started to impact the rest of that week’s run. The legs were feeling very tired and I was starting to feel some niggles around my right knee. Then on a long run in Sunday with a few fellow Eagles to and from Richmond Park, I began to feel some aching in my left leg. It was dull throbbing feeling and therefore I wasn’t too worried about it, however it flared up post run and has been painful on and off for most of the past week. I feel like I’m just about managing it but if it doesn’t get any better I may need to take a few days off to make sure it fully recovers.

Despite the pain, the runs this week added a nice variety to plods around Ealing as I was in Paris for work taking in the sites of the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Champs-Élysées and River Seine. I just had to watch out for the crazy French drivers who collectively conspired to try and knock me down – we got our revenge in the Rugby though!

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So today was Watford Half Marathon – another training run, similar to Farnborough. Having done more than the 10 at planned marathon pace (PMP) that was on the plan for Farnborough I decided that I was just do 10 at Watford instead of the 12 scheduled for my run today. This decision was partly enforced my research into the elevation profile of the course – it didn’t look good. After 3 miles warm up, I lined up with the rest of the senior men on the right hand side of the starting pen. I’m going to be very negative about this race (not the organisers fault) so I should start with some positives. It was very well organised with quick race number collection, changing areas and a slick baggage process. The starting funnels were also very well thought out with half the runners in one funnel and the others in an adjacent funnel 50m away, with the funnels only converging until half a mile in. They also place time markers at various points in the funnels and the pacers arrive early which means that most of the runners position themselves in the correct place for their pace.

And there the positivity ends. The course is described as undulating/hilly – depending on which site is reviewing the race – but it can only be described as hilly hilly hilly! With the exception of the Box Hill fell run that I did back in 2015, I haven’t done anything that comes even close to these elevations. I don’t do hills! In fact, I avoid them at all costs – training runs and races. Give me flat and fast any day of the week. thumbnail_FullSizeRender

So safe to say I didn’t enjoy it. Every single mile had at least one hill to contend with, now although that meant that each mile also included a downhill section, my legs were generally spent from the uphill efforts that I couldn’t give the downhill sections the push they deserved. Marathon pace was tough to achieve and I couldn’t get any rhythm with the lack of flat sections. Having said that, my pace wasn’t actually too bad. The 10 miles @ PMP averaged 7.03mm which is bang on target for 3.05 for London and the Strava GAP analysis (takes effort required for the hills and converts this to a relative pace on a flat run) for the 10 miles came in at 6.59mm, with the whole half marathon at 7.02mm – a definite silver lining!

A few stats to finish this entry:

  • 7 weeks training
  • 313 miles
  • 5 countries
  • 2 half marathon races (training runs)
  • 20 miles, longest run
  • 4 LT runs
  • 6 minutes 26 seconds, quickest mile
  • 4 niggles
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