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Monday, 17 September 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 7 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 7 of 10

Week 7 (Mon 10/09 - Sun 16/09)

Mon: 10 Miles Easy @ 8:29/mile
Tues: 14.5 Miles incl Progressive 10.0 Miles (track) @ 6:32/mile
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 10.0 Miles Easy @  8:59/mile
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 8.0 Miles incl. Leeds parkrun 18:25
Sun: 16.0 Miles incl Great North Run 1:18:41 @ 6:00/mile (126th/7th V45)

Total Mileage: 58.5


 This week was about stringing together some decent sequences of strong miles, something which I havent done too much of so far in this build up.

I've found in the past that I have done too much of this sort of training and ended up feeling as though I've peaked too early, leading to a disappointing marathon thereafter.

Progressive 10 Miler

This was planned for Tuesday but everything was telling me to postpone it for a day, I really wasnt feeling up to doing this kind of session, in fact I didnt really fancy doing a short easy run either.

So I decided to postpone it and just went for an easy run instead. After about 3 miles though the thought of a strong 10 miler had become a little more palatable and on the basis that getting it done on Tuesday rather than Wednesday would give an additional recovery day before GNR  I bit the bullet and got on with it.

So 40 laps of Spenborough track and the legs felt better the longer the session went on:

7:06, 6:49, 6:38, 6:33, 6:31, 6:24, 6:19, 6:20, 6:25, 6:11 - for an avge 6:32/mile

The same session a day later would probably have produced an average of 6:15-6:20 for the same effort level but there was something very promising about producing that sequence of miles on tired legs.

Leeds (now renamed to Woodhouse Moor) parkrun

Saturday was set up to for pacemaking duties for Jocelyn Payne as she attempted to smash her parkrun PB of 18:19.

It really shows that someone is feeling confident when they set a target beyond anything previously achieved (and by some way), tells everyone about the target and then goes on to rise to the challenge.

So Joss set a target of sub 18:00, 20 seconds is a big chunk of time to take off in one go but she wanted to give sub 18:00 her best shot with a PB of some sort as a plan B.

The key at Leeds is even effort rather than even pace due to the undulating nature of the course and  you need to be at 4km at 14:15 to hit a sub 18:00. That is exactly the time we arrived there and then it was down to pure guts for the final uphill km, how deep could she dig?

Well the answer to that question was the final time of 17:59!

A brilliant effort and taken together with the mile PB of 5:14.7 a week earlier means that the Berlin Marathon tracker is going to be an entertaining watch in a couple of weeks time.

Great North Run

This was the first chance to see how the training is shaping up in terms of speed endurance.

After the progressive 10 miler @6:32 avge on Tuesday it felt like there was every chance of a good run on the road from Newcastle to South Shields.

But Saturday's pacing at Leeds parkrun put a bit of a different slant on things. 5:45 miles were feeling hard enough to cause questions about whether averaging 6:06/mile for 13 miles to go sub 1:20:00 was actually realistic.

So while sinking the 3rd pint of Boddingtons in the hotel on Saturday night, in true Alf Tupper fashion, I mentioned to Dan Holdsworth, who was also looking for a sub 1:20:00, that I had no gut feeling one way or the other how it was going to turn out.

However, at 5:30am on race morning I went for a SLOW jog, and by slow I mean 14+ mins/mile, and strangely on the back of that I then got the feeling there was a good run coming.

On to the race and the plan was just to flow through the first 5 miles without too much concern for the pace, work hard through the next 5 miles and then a kitchen sink job at the last 5K.

Miles 0-5
This section had to be comfortable if a sub 80 was going to be achieved. Trying to keep everything smooth with no sudden changes in effort levels the miles went by in 6:07, 6:12, 5:57, 5:57, 6:08 for a 30:22 opening 5 miles.

6:04 average for the first 5 miles was inside what I had expected but it was now time to start grafting.

Miles 6-10:
The rain was now coming down and was very welcome. It was also now down to a very sparse strung out field so it was easy to get your head down and get into a zone.

It was nice to see familiar faces along the side of the road at about 10K in Liz Jones and the Hyde Park Harriers, an unexpected boost at just the right time!

This section went by in 5:44, 5:40, 5:43, 6:04, 5:56 for a 29:07 2nd 5 miles.

I was determined not to let the fact that I'd just thrown in something like a 17:46 5K in the middle of a half marathon convince me that I was tired.

Last 5K :
The time for the 10 mile mark differed between the Garmin reading and the roadside clock. The Garmin said  59:29, the roadside clock 1:00:00 - the difference being that we got nowhere near the racing line in the early stages.

So at least the mental arithmetic was easy, a sub 20 5K for a sub 80 HM.

Time to get down to business. It was getting hard now but one mile at a time.

The 11th mile felt tough but when I saw a 6:03 come up that was an immediate 'job done' moment. I wasnt going to lose the sub 80 from there so it was now time to start thinking about sub 79.

The 12th mile included the sharp downhill but it was definitely feeling like a 'going to the well' moment now. A 6:09 told me that I was slowing but only 1 mile to go, it was now man or mouse time.

The last mile along the sea front went on forever (as usual) but I could see the gantry in front and thought that was the point to turn off onto the grass with about 400m to go. However, as I closed in on the gantry it then dawned on me that we were still in the elite window (up to 80:00) and so the gantry was the actual finish.

A final surge saw a last mile of 5:59 and a last bit at 5:38 pace for a 1:18:41 finish. (6:00/mile)

I couldnt have given it any more on the day, it was one of those rare races where there was nothing to pick apart and I just felt totally satisfied with the whole thing from start to finish. A very nice feeling :)

One of my favourite stats is the conversion from a 5:00.2 mile last week to a 6:00.3/mile Half marathon this week and identical age gradings of  82.2% for both events. I'm normally rubbish at converting up the distances!

To put this race in context, the half marathons on the comeback trail have been:

Feb 09 Brighton HM 1:33:22 [Age 42]
Jun 09 Freckleton HM 1:27:46 [Age 43]
Aug 09 Hackney HM 1:33:41 [Age 43]
Nov 09 Lancaster HM 1:25:50 [Age 43]
Feb 11 Liversedge HM 1:30:57 [Age 44]
Sep 11 Budapest HM 1:26:38 [Age 45]
Oct 11 Gt Eastern HM 1:23:11 [Age 45]
Oct 11 Bridglinton HM 1:24:36 [Age 45]
Nov 11 Norwich HM 1:23:21 [Age 45]
Jan 12 Brass Monkey HM 1:24:28 [Age 45]
Mar 12 Sth Yorks HM 1:21:56 [Age 45]
Sep 12 Gt North Run 1:18:41 [Age 46]

So still going in the right direction, at least for now. :)

And, as strange as it may seem, I have now been invited to a presentation to pick up an award on the back of this The Houses Of Parliament. I kid you not!

So why did it go well?

I have a theory :)

Back in April, John Broom and myself had noticed that a few of us that followed a similar final week routine into the Spring marathons had all had pretty strong runs, especially in the closing stages.

That routine had been to carb deplete for 2-3 days, as per the traditional approach, and then just eat normally in the final 2-3 days, ie no attempt to carbo load. It appeared that just normal eating was enough to get back to full glycogen stores and to be feeling raring to go on the start line without all that bloating that is assumed to be necessary.

Since there has been no evidence to show that a 'super compensation' effect actually exists, ie whereby carb depletion leads to an increasing capacity to store carbs afterwards, it is fair to question what exactly does the depletion phase achieve?

What if the reduction in carb consumption for 2-3 days is beneficial simply because it allows the body to get properly stocked up with protein and other minerals and goodies that it may have become slightly deficient in through long bouts of training?

It seems logical enough.

But if that is the case, then I couldnt see why it should be restricted to marathons.

Getting muscles up to full strength and topping up any deficiencies is likely to be beneficial to other distances as well........ and so that is the routine that I followed this week and felt stronger than ever during the race.

It is interesting enough to encourage me to try it again anyway :)

Next Week...........

Because the speed endurance now seems to be in pretty good shape this last full week will be used to get a big mileage week in.

There will be 4 races, which may seem a bit daft, but they will be at varying effort levels:

Thursday 20th : Ron Hill's Birthday 5K - This was an excellent evening last year and since Ron is getting concerned that he may end up running it on his own soon if numbers continue to fall it will be good to put in an appearance.

Saturday 22nd (am): A parkrun somewhere, possibly Marple.

Saturday 22nd (pm): Norther 6 Stage Road Relays, Manchester.

Sunday 23rd: Greenway 10K (either an all out effort or part of a long run)


  1. Wow! Great result and the stats from the last couple of years look really impressive!

  2. Many thanks.
    I'm trying to get quicker before the inevitable age decline takes over :p