I've not had much time this week to focus on my running and with the marathon only four weeks away this Sunday I needed to bring my attention back to it today. So, this morning, once the rush hour traffic had faded (even here in the country it makes a difference), Poppy and I set off for a nice ten mile run round the lanes.
I did run on Tuesday, a brisk 5 miles, and suffered a splitting headache for the rest of the day as a result. A combination of a busy few days, dehydration and running at a faster than normal pace through hot weather. My system wasn't at all happy.
Today, I went slower, it was cooler, I had some salts before I left and ran with my water pack so was able to sip as I went meaning that I didn't get dehydrated. I've been back a few hours and so far, so good.
Pacing is a really key part of running. Our club's couch to 5k started on Tuesday and I spent some time telling the new recruits that it's better to run slowly to start with rather than push yourself and fall over. I've got much better at maintaining a steady and regular pace through training for this marathon and I know that on long distance runs, if I keep to around 6 min kms, I can keep the pace quite happily for a few hours, my knee copes with it and I don't get headachy afterwards.
M complained that he'd set off too fast at London and, despite trying his best not to, ran the first few kms at a 3 something minute pace, instead of the 4 that he was aiming for. It takes masses of discipline to run slowly at the start of a race while your peers are haring off into the distance. He attributed the loss of ten minutes in the latter stages of the race to it. I suggested one way to prevent that would be for him to run the first 3 kms of a long race with me, which would force him to go 6 minutes slower, as I run 2 mins a km slower than he does. He told me it would cost him those 6 minutes, but I don't think it would. I think he'd save initial energy and have enough oomph left for the latter stages of the race to more than regain those minutes. I think we should do it as an experiment, but the trouble is my husband can not enter a race without competing in it. We're doing a twenty mile one together over the hills next week (two weeks after London, he is one tough cookie) which will be interesting as he'll have to run at my pace then! Rather stupidly, I'd forgotten I've also booked us into a hilly 10k race the following day....
Pacing is something that comes through practice. My knee injury has definitely helped with that, because it's forced me to slow down. I'm so used to running at 6 min/km pace now I find when I check my watch stats after a run I'm usually only a few seconds either side of it. This hopefully all bodes well for the marathon, at least in terms of preparation, because you never know what will happen on the day. You can do all the prep in the world and still a spanner can be thrown. One of our friends got to 15k at London and had to pull up with a calf strain. He's an experienced runner and knew it was better to stop than push on through. And another friend didn't finish the Southampton marathon last Sunday despite having a perfect run up to it. I've yet to find out what happened there, but it goes with the territory and it's something we all mentally prepare for: prepare for the worst and expect the best.
Today, Pop and I had to change plans mid-run because there was a bloody great Alsatian loose in the road. It could have been the friendliest dog in the world, but I wasn't prepared to risk it. Poppy is so small it would have swallowed her in one gulp.
She's developed a tendency to protect me in recent weeks and I knew if the dog had had a go she'd have been right in there, with no thought for how tiny she is or for her own safety. So we turned round, hoping it hadn't seen us, and took a different route, Pops stopping to rehydrate in puddles, and got home in around 1:40 hours (which is 6:08 mins/ km pace). I felt really good on it.
I've a trail half marathon at the weekend with bloggy pal Small P which I'm really looking forward to (medals are super cool- hopefully show you on Monday), then a twenty mile race across the hills (with M) the following weekend, and finally another half marathon the weekend after that, and then it will be taper time (reducing the miles to rest up ahead of the marathon). With London out the way my marathon suddenly seems a good deal nearer! But I am really looking forward to it, to testing myself over a distance I've never run before. Bring it on!
Hope you're all well?