Half marathon training distance!

So this was it, my final training run.

My original training plan had me going to 18 – 20 miles, but after some time off due to my foot injury I revised it to 15 miles as my final long run. I have to be honest and say I think this was my worst training session of the lot. I’d put back my tapering (cutting down on training) by one week, and decided to do 10km rather than push for 15 miles on the Friday, and moved my final long run to Monday (as I was off).

The training conditions were probably the worst I’ve ever experienced with strong winds and torrential rain. Mentally I think I found it the toughest session for this reason, I was a little apprehensive as to how my foot would hold up and getting soaked in the process wasn’t pleasant!

The funny thing is, my foot was actually fine. My hip was niggling and I decided whilst out to listen to my body and not push things on so I went to half marathon distance (13.1 miles) instead.

Mentally, I really wanted to get to half distance as a minimum. I was disappointed when I got back to “only” hit 13.1 miles but I think I have to look back at how far I’ve come in such a short space of time, and also remind myself that in the space of 8 days I asked my (previously low level of fitness body) to do 10 miles, 4km, 10km and then 13.1 miles and it did it, which is something.

If I can conquer that horrible session, that’s a huge massive mental hurdle for me! This coming week is about resting, sports massage and physio to be in the best shape I possible can. I’m now a mixture of excitement and nerves, as there’s not long to go!

I’ve had some lovely messages from people, both in the form of donations and also with emails, texts etc. I really appreciate all the support, and cannot say thank you enough.

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Half marathon training distance.

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Another two sessions (4km and 10km)

There’s a saying which is “nothing new on marathon day” and everybody knows you should have really broken trainers in before the big day. Due to my foot injury I was told I had to change trainers which is not ideal at all, but it was the best option and advice given my foot issues.

I went out and did 4km in my new trainers (in torrential rain!) just to try and break them in slightly and all was ok. I have also started “lock lacing” which is a technique to stop them from slipping which has also helped.

Having done 4km midweek, it was then time for 10km on Friday night. Ideally I would have gone further, but having had a sports massage in the week and various aches and pains I decided to balance the need for distance versus listening to my body and still getting out there. I completed my 10km (see below) and then had a quick shower, change and headed off to marshal on a 12 Car, so a busy afternoon off from work!

The plan now is to do a long session on Monday, and then just keep doing regular short distances before the big day itself. Not long to go now at all!

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10 miles – Easter Sunday

Having managed my 5k test run after injury, Sunday meant it was back to a long session. The physio had said I couldn’t go any further than 10 miles so that was what I did, all around Aylesbury.

It was a relatively slow plod but it was good to get the miles under my belt and not suffer too many adverse affects foot wise. It was all taped up and twinged but nothing as unbearable as it has been.

Plan is to get to anything between 13 – 15 miles before the big day (original plan was 18-20) and keep doing the shorter sessions to get miles in my legs. I’m not able to jog/run as much as I was pre-injury so things have slowed down but at least I can still train!

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5km post injury

After nearly three weeks off and a clear x-ray, the physio treating me said I could do a test 5km on Good Friday.

I was a little apprehensive but took painkillers before going out (something I never do, but was told I should!) and my foot was all taped up. I got out there and whilst it was niggling things felt ok. My legs felt heavy and tired so I really need to find somewhere for a sports massage – three people I’ve used have closed/are ill and not working so I’m struggling a little to find somebody.

I took my normal 5km route and my splits were ok so I decided to keep pushing on. To get back and find I’d set PBs for everything bar the 400m was really good. It means “Long Run Sunday” is on so fingers crossed!

Just two more long runs planned and a major adjustment to my training plan after this injury is not ideal but it is what it is. In the meantime I’ll keep up with the taping and RICE (Rest Ice Compress Elevate) to hope my foot keeps me going.

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Physio session – countdown to Friday!

Tonight it was time for my second physio session. My foot isn’t right but it is definitely better than it was.

I went through various tests again, had ultrasound treatment and have been re-taped up. I’m allowed to do 5km on Friday (to give myself more time to rest) and depending how that goes, Sunday (my allocated long run day) will be anything from nothing to 10 miles. The countdown to Friday is on – it will be good to be back out there!

I’m booked in for more physio next week, and depending how things go this weekend, we’ll make my marathon planned; original plan, original plan with some tweaks or having to walk the whole thing.

Fingers crossed for this weekend and 22nd April, I will do this!

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Down but not out!

Some people have spotted I haven’t posted for a while, and the simple answer is… I’m not allowed to train!

Having done just over 11km a couple of weekends ago, I felt good. Two days later, on the Monday evening, I went out and did 5km; it was the quickest time I’d ever done with PBs for 0.5 mile, 1k and 2 miles and some other “second best” times.

Unfortunately doing that, I hurt my foot. I’m not sure when or how, but ever since even just walking or weight bearing has been painful. With the marathon so close, I had it checked out by my GP who sent me for an X-Ray to check there wasn’t a stress fracture. That came back clear, thankfully, and I was recommended to go to a physiotherapist.

I’m now seeing a physio twice a week but not allowed to train in the meantime. They’re not sure what’s wrong, but I’m having ultrasound treatment, have some stretches and exercises to do and have my foot all strapped up.

The physio, whilst unsure what the injury is, is happy there’s nothing too serious wrong but there’s clearly something not quite right. They’re happy they will get me to the start line and have told me just to be prepared that I may have to walk all/most of the marathon, but that I WILL complete it! Until then, I’m listening to their advice and have called many local gyms to see if I can get a one month gym membership in order to cross-train in the meantime! It’s really frustrating but I have to accept some of my aims in terms of running/times etc may have to be put on the back burner.

I’ve said it before, but many thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far – I really do appreciate it.

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Snow interruptions, lunch sessions and back to long weekend training time…

Everywhere has recently had snow. It’s been all over the news, so there’s been no escape from seeing it or hearing about it! The snow gave us an extra 27 or so hours in Ireland as our flight was cancelled, and then delayed. It also meant my end of week Irish training sessions didn’t take place because of a mixture of the conditions (we were in a red, don’t go out anywhere area) as well as it being rather deep snow.

Now I’m back home, lunchtime 5ks are back on again. It being the weekend has also meant time for a long session. It was “only” 11.2km yesterday; in the past I would have though that was a huge distance, but with the context of a marathon, it’s not at all! I’d planned to go further but I’d managed to get a last minute/cancellation sports massage appointment which I desperately needed, and I also needed sleep after a long and busy week, and it was a case of 11.2km was better than nothing at all.

Whilst the distance wasn’t quite as far as I wanted, I felt much better than when I’d recently done 13km and I could have kept going if only I’d had more time/was quicker so I’m trying to take the positives from that.

I’ve received a couple more donations over the weekend and I’m hugely grateful for everybody’s support. It’s crazy to think there’s only six weeks to go!

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Mount Brandon and the Saints Path

Having been disappointed not to make the top on Sunday, two days later we headed off to try the walk from the Saints Path which is said to be the easier, but less picturesque, route.

Some training strains were still apparent but this was the best day for weather and had given a rest day in-between. The Saints Path tackles Mount Brandon from the other side, and so it was a drive over the Conor Pass and through Dingle before carrying on out to start our walk. We found we were the only car in the car park, and off we set.

The Saints Path has wooden crosses marking the route, of which I understood there were 14; it turns out there are 16 as the first cross ten minutes after starting the walk is not numbered, and neither is the cross at the top. Whilst this is known as the less picturesque route it still had some stunning views.

Some would say climbing a mountain isn’t a substitute for a long run and they are different, but this was still hard in it’s own way and in a manner different to what I’m used to in terms of long runs. The early part of the route was across moorland which would normally be boggy, but on our walk was completely frozen. The path then became much steeper and more rocky, with some scrambling and climbing needed as we got higher. This route was much clearer than the Pilgrim’s Path with many more white route markers on the Saints Path than we had found a couple of days earlier.

It was one degree centigrade when we left the car and it is said it can be up to 10 degrees colder at the summit. Whilst we couldn’t measure the temperature, it was definitely cold and biting and we stayed long enough for a few photos before heading down. We saw one other person on our way down who was climbing up and was making the best of it being a fine day. We’d read the summit is often covered in cloud but we had great views when we made it to the top.

The walk was 9.65km with 773m of elevation gain. There was snow on the sheltered side of the summit, and near the top we crossed a number of frozen streams. For the last 2km on the way down it snowed, but we’d had the best of the weather for the rest of our walk and we were pleased to make it to the top!

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Mount Brandon and the Pilgrim’s Path

Having planned a week in Kerry in February, the question of what would I do for my marathon training was a key one. We’re lucky to be able to use my Auntie’s house which behind it has Mount Brandon, the tallest mountain in Ireland outside Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the ninth highest peak on the island.

The weather for the Sunday looked good, and so we decided it was time to try and climb Mount Brandon for the first time. I’d downloaded and printed various information before going, and off we set. A short drive up the lane took us to the small car park and we set off.

A lack of knowledge on our part meant we didn’t know a “grotto” is the name for a religious area with the Virgin Mary at the start of the path. There was some construction work going on at the grotto which was just visible up the hill, but we carried on at valley level and went straight on following the obvious path. After a short while the path petered out and we weren’t sure where to go. Without knowing we’d missed the path (on the way down we found there was a sign but you needed to be looking off to the right to see it, it wasn’t on route or that clear), and knowing it did go along the top of the ridge, we decided to start climbing straight up the Faha Ridge.

Part way up, we saw other walkers a fair distance to our right, but on we struggled as we’d climbed significantly by then. It was steep and hands and knees climbing in places, and with hindsight if we’d known that was the path we would have retraced our steps much earlier and taken it. We eventually made it to the top of the ridge, and started taking the “normal” path which was considerably easier!

Having climbed about 500 feet “straight up” for want of a better phrase, and having tweaked an existing groin strain from training, it wasn’t much fun. We made the decision about 75% of the way up to call it a day, which I think was sensible and probably the right (but if not frustrating) decision in the circumstances.

We completed 5.88km in the end and whilst we didn’t see all the glacier lakes and the summit, it was still a reasonable effort with beautiful views. We also discovered an engine from a Luftwaffe Focke Wulf 200 ”Condor” which had crashed on the ridge on 20 August 1940 with all the crew surviving (read more here.)

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Sunday long session – training continues! (8 miles).

Having missed some sessions with a bug/virus, today was time for my longest session to date… 8 miles! I need to start working out how I’m going to fuel and hydrate on the day so I decided to try something I’d seen suggested online; small pieces of cut up hot cross bun.

I decided to try a new route having put various plans and routes into google maps, and settled for heading out into the lanes for the first time. I decided for the distance, this would be easier than going to the other side of town and back, and I’d not managed to find a route where Matt could drop me and I could make my own way home (without having to clamber across various grass verges).

Strava has my route as 8.08 miles (13km) whilst google maps has it as nearly 10.5 miles. I’m not quite sure which to believe but I’m going to go with Strava aka the shorter distance to be on the safe side. Everything felt good until just over halfway through when my hip “went;” I can only describe every step after that as feeling as if something in my hip was grating. I had a few other aches and pains but nothing major, but after this my pace dropped off.

Refuelling worked, and I’m pleased to have hit the distance. I’ve had a good stretching and foam roller session since getting back so I’ll ice and heat later (the car accident taught me how beneficial that is, and I still have to do it on my back/shoulders/neck) and plan a recovery walk tomorrow and a 5k later in the week before the next long session next weekend.

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