BIG week this week.
Monday 26th December marked the start of my official 20 week training plan for the NDW50. Eeeeek! (Who starts a training plan on Boxing Day…?)
In 20 weeks I will have run 50 miles.
In one go.
It’s a scary thought & I know those 20 weeks are going to go super quick.
I’m really excited to be working with Bea from Croydon Sports Therapy on my training (I will at some point write a separate post about this). Bea is creating me a bespoke training plan that changes & adapts as needed throughout the training cycle. Previously when marathon training I’ve found a training plan online, adapted it slightly & run it on a wing ’n’ a prayer… I may only ever run one 50 mile race, I want to do it properly & to give it my best so decided to work with a professional.
I’ve known Bea for a while, I did a series of coaching sessions with her last spring & she’s the therapist who fixed my dodgy leg in the summer, & so was the obvious choice!
We’re also going to be doing some strength training & sports massages to support the running & hopefully help injury proof me a little better. I started the PT sessions six weeks ago & am already noticing a difference in my strength & muscle tone.
Anyway, the day after Christmas Day, session one, Bea was kind to me! 5 miles easy!
Chasing the sunrise…
6 miles, 52:44, 8:47 min/mile, 72 ft elevation (ha ha!)
A theme that will come up throughout my training diaries is sleep. The experts tell us that proper sleep is important element of training for runners. As an insomniac this is something I struggle with. I class six hours as a great night’s sleep, can only dream about eight & if I manage three I sigh & get on with it…
The insomnia was SO excited about starting NDW50 training it woke me up at 3am Boxing Day morning…
By 7am I had read all of the internet, tweeted all the other insomniacs I knew, drunk coffee & was dressed in my running gear staring out of the window willing it to get light enough for me to head out. (At home I would have gone out earlier but I hadn’t taken my head torch with me & knew that there weren’t street lights along most of the route I was planning on running, I decided in an unfamiliar area, safety was a priority).
I was rewarded though when I finally made it to Ferry Meadows with the most spectacular of sunrises! I forgave the insomnia.
My 5 miles accidentally became 6 as not being on familiar routes I mis-estimated the distance & it was WAY to cold to walk the extra mile back!
The run felt good & I felt comfortable thought out. I threw in one faster mile mid-way though otherwise keeping at a fairly conservative pace.
I have to be honest, it’s going to take me a while to relearn my different pace bands, what is an easy, steady, tempo or hard pace? I have got so much quicker in the last year (the last few months even) that what was a ‘hard’ pace 12 months ago is more like a steady pace now. I think I’m running easy, look down at my watch & discover I’m running 8:15s…
All I know is that after Saturday’s all out effort at parkun, 7:19 min/mile is my flat our 5k pace!
Frosty South Norwood
4.5 miles, 37:17, 8:17 min/mile, 82 ft elevation
Didn’t wear enough clothes. No other words for this run!
Where is the North Downs Way?
10 miles, 1:48:42, 10:52 min/mile, 1,300 ft elevation
In hindsight attempting to explore a new-to-me section of the North Downs Way in temperatures of two degrees, thick fog & limited visibility was not the most clever thing I have ever done…
This was a very tough ten miles.
The plan was to carry on 6.5 miles eastwards from the turnaround point at Caterham of my last run on the NDW. I’d done a very small section of this part where the NDW shares trails with the Waterlink Way cycle route but otherwise I was on unfamiliar territory.
Within three miles I’d had enough. The run started ok on the woodland trails that I like, but within a couple of miles the trail switched to farmland & thick, sticky, slippy mud. At points the track was narrow & muddy, barbed wire to the side. My Hoka’s were coping well & I was glad of their grip but it still wasn’t enough. I slowed. My mood, usually euphoric on the NDW lowered. I couldn’t see more than 20-30m in front of me to know what was coming up.
I began to feel a little uneasy. I was in the middle of nowhere, by myself, in, for me, an inexperienced trail runner, very challenging conditions. (I’m sure some more experienced runners would have been leaping through the mud, one day I may get there…). I began a mental battle of revising my turnaround point from 6.5 miles, to 5, then to 4… I’m stubborn, I don’t like to quit or to fail (& at this point of the run, in my mind not hitting my target was failure).
Then at 3.85 miles this happened.
Decision made. I’d had enough. #Wuss.
I turned around & started the run back. I actually didn’t want to be running at this point. I was done. But I put my head down & carried on. Once I’d got through the muddy farmland & was back on the woodland trails my spirits lifted a little. I got back to my car in just under 8 miles. Paused for a drink, snack & a little talking too & then made myself run a mile out & back in the opposite direction on a trail I knew to round it up to a more acceptable 10 miles. Not the 13 I’d planned but a run none the less.
I could sit & beat myself up over this run & I did briefly but actually there are a lot of positives to take from it & as someone on twitter said to me the tough runs are the ones that make you stronger.
I got out there, I ran, I did a route that 12 months ago I wouldn’t even have considered attempting let alone do. I ran another section of the NDW which means I’ve run nearly 20 miles of it (just 30 to go…). I navigated successfully & didn’t get lost. I ran in conditions that were completely new to me. I didn’t fall over. I may have revised the total distance & route but I didn’t give up. I also listened to myself when I began to feel uneasy (& I have to admit a little unsafe) & at the risk of feeling like a failure, made a difficult decision to turn around early.
Not every run in a training cycle is going to be a great run (& I have had plenty of those over the past few months). I am hoping though that I’ve got it out the way in week one, that the next 19 weeks are going to be filled with awesome runs!
3.1 miles, 24:02, 7:52 min/mile, 135 ft elevation
Bea had parkrun this week scheduled as a tempo effort, or ‘comfortably hard’. I’m still revising my pace bands & forgot about the comfortable element in a 7:44 first mile so eased of to just under 8:00 for miles two & three. Felt about right for overall effort on finishing.
Having run 22:42 last weekend & 23:35 the weekend before, there was a little flicker of disappointment at 24:02 but actually it was pretty much spot on for what it should have been. As training progresses I need to learn to stop comparing my times & treat each session as the session it should be. 7:52 min/mile pace is a comfortably hard pace.
So week one done! 19 to go.
Week One: 26 miles in total with 1,700 ft elevation gain.