Sub 3, February.

Week I

Bit of a fail week. After the great progress of the last few weeks it’s disappointing, but I’m taking the positives from it.

I’ve been feeling throaty, chesty and weak in patches again. Not ideal for running. Wendy’s had the same. I got an early o’clock start on Wednesday at work, felt weak and useless all day, and ended up not going for my run when I got home.

The day after I felt weak again, but I did the 5 miles recovery run, and I was having to fight to keep my times slow enough. I was comfortably in the 8.10s. That was encouraging.

Today I was feeling it again, (weak, chesty, throat) but I was due a 17 mile fast run so I forced myself out the door. For the first 4 miles I didn’t even know if I had it in me to go the distance. After that I knew I was going to make it, but I just couldn’t hold the 7.40 I was after. Finished with a 7.54 average. Two weeks ago I’d have been delighted with that.

The top of my foot is sore again, but I think it’s manageable. And I’ve still got full, painless, mobility in my hoof.

This week I started looking for fast trainers, but because I have 6½ feet, need wide fit, and am a bit wary of none-ASICS brands (for fit and comfort) I am limited. In one review it suggested getting two pairs of the same model of trainer. Break one pair in for 50 miles, then use the other pair for training, save the new-ish pair for the actual race. That way your race pair is in perfect condition and is exactly the same as the model you’ve in which you’ve done all your training. I can’t fault the logic. I’ve ordered two pairs. I was feeling a bit guilty as they are so bloody dear, so I tracked down the purchase date of my current trainers. For some reason I thought I’d just started wearing them for this return to running, (mid-December ’21) turns out it was June ’20! They say you should replace trainers every 500- 600 miles as they get worn down and don’t offer the same comfort and protection. I worked out my distance since June ’20. With today’s run it’s 963 miles. Oops. At least it’s not an extravagance getting new ones. It shows how often and debilitating the plague weakness was, I did 204 of those miles in the last 5 weeks.

Next week is my first recovery week. Two 8 miles (one with sprints) a 5, a 4 and my long run is a 12. That will be nice. It’s all been harder and harder. It’s good the plan has a week to let your body absorb the punishment. I want to hold 7.30 for the 12.

Week 2: Rollercoaster.

I’ve been having bad patches of the weakness/ chesty/ sore throat. Luckily it’s been a recovery week so light on the miles. One of the problems with the plague weakness is an insatiable hunger. I think your brain confuses fall-down weak with no calories. Even knowing it won’t help doesn’t help. You are desperate for high energy food. Fats and sugars. I had gotten down to 10st 10¼, but with troughing I went up to 10. 12 in the week.

Yesterday was really tough. It was my day off, I only had to run 4 miles at an easy pace, then I was wasted with the weakness/ hunger. By tea time I was in a proper state. I’d resigned myself to it being the post viral fatigue, that every time I did some exercise I was going to be like it. I just didn’t know how I was going to get out the door today. I was saying on Twitter that I was going to try, because I had to know, but it was possible that even if I could suck up the horrible feeling and ignore the gnawing hunger, if my body just wouldn’t run, I might have to quit my sub 3 attempt. I had my tea and some aspirin to try and take the edge off, then it just ebbed away. It was the weirdest thing. I went from feeling awful and ravenous, to … nothing. Normal. A bit hungry because I’m on a diet, but it was normal hunger.

I woke up this morning and I was still OK. I felt a little off, but that was possibly me finding something just because I was looking so hard.

Amazingly I had lost a pound overall for the week. I’m into single figures left to lose. I’m 10st 9¼! Big yay!

I had a bit of cereal to make sure I had enough energy to give it a good go, then went for my 12 miles run. Last week I failed at knocking 10 seconds per mile off to get to 7.40, I ended up on 7.54 m/m. This week I was trying for 7.30.

It was blowing a gale and raining (and freezing) but the weather forecast said that was all day so I just went for it. Even into the wind I still held my pace. It was hard, and I had a moment at 8 miles where I thought I couldn’t keep it up for another 4 miles, but I did. My watch says 7.30 m/m, the Garmin app says 7.29. Odd. It’s the same recording equipment. Either way, I’ve caught up with my aspiration for the plan. I’m back on track and thinking I could do this now. After yesterday this is doubly brilliant.

Week 3.

After thinking it might be all over, that I was doomed to the post viral fatigue bouts of weakness after every session, I did that that run last week and I’ve had a completely clean week since. Fantastic.

I had one fail day. It said “lactate threshold”, which is as fast as you can possibly sustain. After killing myself to get a 7.30m/m pace for 12 miles I somehow thought I’d be able to run 10 miles at 7.00. I don’t know either. Just stupid. Blew up, had nothing, had to turn around at 4 miles as I was so slow I was going to make myself late for work.

The rest of the week has been fine.

I saw a coach tweeting about workouts, how you need slow runs, and it made me look at my plan. I’m running everything at the pace I *want* to be at, not the pace I have. So even easier runs are still hard work for me. I’ve changed my strategy. I’m running recovery as zone 2, general aerobic as comfortable, midweek run as slow end of mara pace + 10- 20%, and saving my effort for the speed days and my long/ fast run.

Today was 18 miles. We were in the middle of the third successive storm so winds of up to 60mph. I decided to do it all on road (less chance of blown over trees than down the canal). This means after 4½ miles it is all hills. And it was blowing a gale, straight in my face. Brilliant training. The first 9 miles I was just going for a finish, it was so tough. I got back to the downhill with 5 miles to go, and really fought for it. Even with battered legs I managed to claw back a couple of minutes to finish on 8.07 m/m. Given the conditions (wind and hills) that was extremely respectable.

I’ve signed up for Blackpool marathon on the 24th of April. It means I’ll have to cut two weeks out of my taper, but there are bugger all North West marathons on the 8th of May. It will give me a good indication of where I stand. I am quite optimistic I’m going to get a PB, in my mind it’s just by how much. But I always write cheques my body won’t cash, so we’ll see. At least it will give me chance to do the recovery phase and get on to the second cycle of training a bit earlier.

The other good news is I’m 10st 6lb! I’ve lost a stone! First diet I’ve ever stuck to for more than a fortnight.

Week 4.

OK week. The fast run (11 miles, 6 of them at half marathon pace – basically as fast as I can maintain-) was chipping away at it. I managed to hold 7.20 for the 6 miles.

Today my long run was 20 miles.Wendy has a bout of the plague weakness so I was worried I was getting it. I gave it a go, anyway. I set off in light, long sleeve top and thin, running, waterproof jacket as it was supposed to be chucking it down. Before 3 miles I was dying from the heat, so I ended up losing 1 minute 20 taking off my running vest then waterproof and stuffing the waterproof into one of the vest pockets. Then I was fighting the rest of the run to try to make my time up. I suffered a mental dip as I started the second 10 mile lap, for 2 miles I was 8 minutes plus, and thinking about cutting it short but then I think the gel kicked in and I was OK. I managed to hold it under 8, then 7.45 for the last 5 miles. Supposedly my third fastest ever 20 mile run. If you take off the 80 seconds stopped with my jacket, it was a PB.

I got down to 10 stone 4 in the week but my official weigh day (today) was 10st 5¼. It’s still weight loss from last week.