Category Archives: On running

Just another brick in the wall

I need to talk about this graph because it’s troubling me. It is, as they say, problematic. The graph is my pacing from the MK Marathon and you can see where I hit the wall. That’s the metaphorical wall, by the way, and not, as I used to think when I was younger watching Peter Duncan talk about his London Marathon experience on Blue Peter, a real wall. I’ve been trying to work out what happened.

Maybe I didn’t do enough training? Sure I ran more than I’ve ever run before this year but I only did half as much mileage in the last month as I intended to and I didn’t do quite as many long runs as I had planned. I didn’t even run over 3 hours once and maybe I should have done, for mental reasons if not physical. Something paid off though because Half Marathon PB.

Did I go off too fast? I averaged something like 7:45 mins per mile for the first 16 miles – 10-15 seconds quicker than I wanted to be and found it tricky keeping my pace in check. (This was not helped by setting off with the Half Marathon runners). I don’t know if that took too much out of me because I don’t have enough datasets to plot pretty points in a line but I can’t help wondering whether I could have pushed on for longer if I had. Or maybe I need to re-read some of Stuart Mills theories about positive splits.

Course profile
Despite there being only about 180 ft between the lowest part of the course and the highest part, the MK course was deceptively hilly. It’s all those underpasses and those sharp, 15ft decents and ascents that sap the strength from your quads. Sure, from a distance they look flat but when you’re up close, they make their presence felt. Sure they start off feeling like a cute little undulation but after a while, they feel more like K2.

Mental approach
I had a target but I mostly kept it to myself. I was going for 3:30 but when people asked me, I was reluctant to tell them and gave an apologetic caveat – something about being happy with 3:45. Guess even before the race, I’d given myself permission to not have to push hard. Made it easier to accept not being able to hold the pace so I could ease up and still hit a target time. Not the time I wanted but the time I deserved or something. And yes, it was a realistic-ish target. Jack Daniels (not the drink) said so.

I either took too many gels and made myself feel sick or not enough and didn’t have enough energy. Or I got it right. I don’t know – it was the first time I’d run with them. More data needed. Didn’t feel like I lacked in energy though as it was my muscles that hurt. That sick feeling at the end needs to be sorted out though.

In conclusion
I don’t really know what went wrong – it was probably a combination of all those factors or maybe something else entirely. Enough to tweak and practice for the next time. Let’s face it, effectively this was the first marathon I’ve run with intent. I’ve read a lot of the theory but I don’t have the experience to know which bits I need to apply and which to ignore. I’m still pleased with the result – I just know there’s room for improvement.

Forever Autumn

The club run on Wednesday night was my first significant run (even if it was only 8 miles) since the Lakes which means that I’ve spent two months off running, give or take. Gym visits and a mix of strength and circuit work have kept me ticking over though even if I haven’t been working to a plan and the visits have been merely to assuage any guilt I’m feeling about not running – up until I remind myself that I still feel ITB related pain in my hip, knee and foot.

Like thousands of others, I received a rejection letter yesterday that informed me that I hadn’t got a place in the London Marathon through the public ballot. I have mixed feelings about this but find myself in the position of having to decide whether to go for one of the places that my club invariably has. I think I should – while there are plenty of marathons to do, both on road and off, the London Marathon is a bucket-list race and could be quite an experience. The reasons I’m not sure I want to do it are a) it’s a road race and b) there are 36000+ other competitors.

If I don’t do the VLM, I have to decide what else I do want to do. That’s very much up in the air because, aside from revisiting the Ridgeway Run, I wasn’t planning to do any ultras and stick to shorter distances. Potentially much shorter distances… remember that pie-in-the-sky thinking about doing the British Masters Track and Field champs? Yeah, well… that. But people keep talking about events and I keep thinking “Hey, yeah, that sounds good!” (The latest is the Norman Conquest 100 in May and my wife suggested a 100 mile ultra in Brittany – the Raid Golfe du Morbihan – which would mean relearning my extremely rusty spoken French. That would be a sacrifice I could live with I suppose.

But that’s next year. This year isn’t over yet – I have my PT course that I need to concentrate on and get done and Cross Country season officially starts on the 20th October. Holiday’s over and it’s back to the grindstone. How’s everyone else doing?