Sub 3 March

Week 1:

I finally had enough of the two new pairs of ASICS I bought 6 weeks ago. I stick with ASICS because I know what I’m getting. For years I’ve got a 40.5/ UK 6.5, 2e (wide fit) and they fit me perfectly. This is the first time I’ve ever bought two pairs of trainers and they’ve changed them. The wide fit is giving me blisters on my little toe and the 40.5 have suddenly shrunk so I’ve got blood blisters on the ends of half my toes. I was putting up with it, expecting to break them in or something. It’s always 40.5, 2e, and my feet haven’t grown, so they must fit. Nope. They don’t. I’ve had to order some more trainers. I’ll rotate them so I still get my wear out of the ASICS, but rest my feet in between times.

I read through all the reviews of the “super trainer” (the ones with the plate in the sole and springy foam to give you maximum energy return per stride) and they are still all for narrow footed freaks. I saw one article, asking exactly the right question; which super trainer can I wear with wide feet? The bottom line was none of them are made for wide feet, but some were worth a go.

I ordered some Saucany Endorphin Speed 2. These are the training version of the actual race day super trainer.

I did my midweek 14 run in my nearly a thousand mile old ASICS, to rest my toes. Good plod, but now I’ve adjusted to (ill fitting) new, cushioned trainers, it felt a bit damaging. I did a 6 mile run with 6×100 metre sprints yesterday in my tight ASICS. Today was the first huge test of the plan. It said to run 15 miles, with 12 of them at race pace. That would be 6.45 – 6.50, I am nowhere near that. My best to date was 6 miles at 7.20, which near killed me.

I tried out my Saucanys for the first time. They were a bit tight and uncomfortable but I looked at my watch on the first, coasting, warm up mile, and I was doing 8.02, not even trying. The second mile I started running. I was going for a fast, but sustainable pace, nothing drastic. Looked at my watch again, 6.36! OK, looks like I’m putting up with uncomfortable trainers! To make my training tougher I’ve stopped going down the canal (dead flat, obvs) and am heading out to St Helens. After 4½ miles it gets some proper hills. So one mile warm up, 12 miles flat out, with 5 of them being hills, then 2 miles jogging it off.

I got back and looked at my stats.

Fastest ever 10K

Fastest ever 10 miles

Fastest ever half marathon

Fastest ever 15 miles.

Bearing in mind the first 3 PBs had a mile of warm up in them and the last one had all 3 miles of easy trotting.

Wow. Just wow.

My time for the 12 miles was 1.24:10, so a smidge under 7.01 m/m. With 5 miles of hills!

OK, still got a long way to go, but let me bask in the moment for a minute. I’ve gone from the plan’s first week long run (dead flat down the canal) of 12 miles, couldn’t hold the pace, averaged at 8.14 m/m, to 12miles, (5 hills) within a 15 mile run, at 7.01 m/m, in 8 weeks.

The bad is the trainers are tight, and when you start giving it beans they seem to push you into a forefoot striking running style. I’m totally not used to that so my knees and calves took a beating. I’ll heal, then introduce them more gradually until I get used to them. The plan doesn’t want anything that full-on for a while. It’s a recovery week next week, so that should rest me.

Week 2.

The super trainer/ hills beating was worse than I thought. I went out for an 8 mile steady run on Wednesday and called it off after 100 yards. The pain in the side of my knee was too scary. It was exactly the pain I had after Chester marathon (after I was sprinting down hills and I knackered something). It took me months to get back to training after Chester so I was *really* worried to get the pain again. I skipped the next day’s training as well. By Friday I was walking down stairs with only a twinge, and the plan said 5 miles recovery (easy pace) so I gave it a go. My knee didn’t feel any worse after it, so I’ve resumed training. I’m glad it was a recovery week, so I’ve not missed much training, and ecstatic I’ve not ruined my sub 3 attempt.

I did 8 miles with 8x100m sprints yesterday. Today was 14 miles run, mara pace +10- 20%. I thought I’d do it in my Sauconys, as I wasn’t going flat out, to give me a chance to adjust to them and practice proper foot striking. As they make your feet turn over really fast and decrease perceived effort I decided to do it at the fast (+10%) end of what the plan allowed.

It turns out when you are only going ‘fast’ (not flat out) the trainers aren’t as super. Or I could have just been tired. Either way I didn’t get the feeling of super speed/ fast feet turnover/ manageable effort. It was bloody hard work. But I did it a smidge under +10%, even with the hills, averaging 7.30 for the 14 miles. I’m happy with that. And so glad my knee is working. That was a scary week.

Week 3:

Mixed week. A few decent runs, but I failed on another day. It was a long shift at work and I had the insatiable hunger of the plague weakness, so I ate loads and flopped. To redeem myself I ended up getting up at 04.45 for a 12 mile run before going in work for 11+ hours.

Upon recommendation from a couple of runners I ordered the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2s. The cheapest of the full-on super trainers. And wide fit. And the Adizero Boston 10s, which are the training shoe to get you ready to race in the Pro 2 (which are so lightweight they are race day only.)

After that flurry of PBs with the Saucony training trainer, I thought I’d smash it out of the park with a full-on race shoe.

I had a 20 mile run today, and being me, thought I’d run it at mara pace, to try out my Pro 2s. Ridiculously ambitious in retrospect. I started off really puffing and panting but a good pace, had to slow it down to 6.55 for the first mile. I kept it low 7s for 7 miles, then crept to 7.30ish for 6 miles, then the wheels fell off. Really fighting hard to keep it below 8.

I ended up with an average of 7.30, which is a new 20 mile PB, but nowhere near the 6.50 I wanted. And it was awful. I suffered so badly. And have been battered the rest of the day. The worst thing was I was slowing, in loads of pain, had nothing left to give, and if I’d have had to run the other 6 miles, which is the purpose of the training, I think I’d have ended up walking. I was smashed. It’s been a really discouraging experience.

The super trainers don’t feel that super, to be honest. The were wide, which is nice. And soft. But as soon as I dropped off the fast pace (which I felt was me working really, really hard, not the trainers hurling me forward) it felt like I was fighting the trainers. The softness felt like it was absorbing all the energy I was putting into running and giving nothing back. The Sauconys felt much faster. The bevel in the Sauconys throws you forward so you get really fast feet. The downside to that is you end up forefoot striking which has been smashing my knees alarmingly. At least I run with my normal gait in the Pro 2s. I’ll give it a blast with the Boston 10s. Perhaps I can adjust to them. The reviews say they are a genuine super trainer and worthy rival to the Nike benchmark ones.

Week 4:

A bit of a slide. Got into a fatlad troughing routine. Then work called me in just as I was getting up to go on a run, long shift, fail day. Back in 9 hours later, finished weak, hungry and knackered. Another fail day. The day after it was all sliding so badly I briefly thought about sacking the sub 3 off.

It was supposed to be a run rest day, so I got my arse out of the door to claw back one of the fails. The plan said 8 miles with 5x 600m at 5K pace. Took that to mean 8 miles with a 5K race.

Smashed my PB (20.35) from 3 years ago and hit the benchmark sub 20! 19.42. With 6.00 m/m in there!

That was the boost I needed.

4 miles recovery the next day. Legs fried.

The next day was “tune up 8- 15K race” so I did my 10 mile road run. Another record that’s stood for 3 years (at 7.03m/m). Smashed it! 6.53 m/m. That’s 10 miles at actual sub 3 marathon pace! Brilliant. I couldn’t imagine that at the start of the plan.

Then 17 miles on utterly bollocksed legs the next day. Kept it under 8.12.

So, bad fail then a fantastic recovery. And a huge boost to my motivation.