Acceptable in the Eighties

A very unscientific attempt to go back in time

Month: February, 2014

A Basket Called London

‘So are you totally knackered yet?’
‘I’m pretty tired, yeah.’

I’m sitting on the sofa at my coach’s house, waiting for Google Earth to load. I have a feeling he’s going to show me something to put my idea of tired into perspective, and I’m not disappointed. ‘The year before I left home I was getting up at 5.40am to leg it to the bus stop, clocking in at 7.30am at the factory, finishing at 5.30pm and legging it back to the bus stop’, he says, ‘and then I’d do this run, in work boots, when I got home.’
‘Did you have no trainers, then?’
‘No, I did. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, the run was eleven miles*, and I’m going to show you the hill in the middle of it, which goes from the lowest to the highest point in Richmond.’

He’s promised to cycle the route so I can run it, but hopefully that will wait until after London. I decide not to mention being tired anymore.

I ran the Scottish National cross country at the weekend, and had a solid enough run through the mud to finish 11th. The race came at the end of a 94 mile week, though, and made me realise that I’m unlikely to run all that well in any of the races leading up to London. You really do put all of your eggs in one basket when you decide to run a marathon.

I ran pretty easy for a couple of days after the race, 17 miles on the Sunday and 8 in the morning and 6 in the evening on Monday. I then did 12 x 400m on Tuesday night in around 66 seconds, to try to avoid losing what little speed I have in my legs. Wednesday morning I did 16 miles before work and had the evening off (!). Tonight I have one of the bigger sessions, a 12 mile acceleration run.

Brendan Foster is famous for saying that distance runners in hard training wake up feeling knackered and go to bed even more knackered. This is certainly the case, but strangely enough I actually feel ok whilst I’m actually running. It’s the time in between, slumped in the shop eating biscuits, when I feel totally wrecked. Strange that.

*Had a text today, apparently the route has been measured for the first time on the computer and is actually ‘18,506 metres – divide by 1609.344 equals 11.49 miles.’ So he was actually running faster than he thought, too.


That’s Not a Long Run, This is a Long Run

‘I wonder where’s best to run on Sunday…’

‘I don’t care, really. Just run around until your watch says three hours have passed, then go home.’

It’s amazing what a difference it makes not to be locked in a death battle with the elements. After a couple of weeks of being buffeted helplessly around by the wind, I was buoyed by the first still, clear day in a very long time on Sunday, and ran just over twenty-seven miles in three hours. At least now London won’t be the first time I’ve ever run a marathon, merely the first time I’ve raced one. Clearly, these are very different things, but it is reassuring to know that I’m not going to spontaneously combust merely because I’ve run further than twenty-two miles. I expected to feel more tired in the last half hour than I did, and my legs didn’t feel too bad until I tried to stand up after two hours in a cinema seat in the evening.

Last Tuesday I fought the snow for 8 x 1,000m in a blizzard, and last Thursday I fought the wind on two hard four mile runs. The route I’ve chosen for these is an out-and-back two miles of exposed road, the idea to run as close to five-minute miles as possible. On the first run of the day the pace felt suspiciously easy for the first two miles, and when I turned I found out why. It felt like I was struggling against a wall of wind, the air rushing into my lungs as I tried to breathe and making expelling it difficult – it almost felt like I was going to hyperventilate. On the second run of the day I actually got cramp in my chest muscles.

The flood water seems to have retreated back within the banks of the river Wear now though, restoring my normal running routes, and the weather seems far more settled. Long may it last…

The Calm Before the Storm / The First Rumblings

‘How’s your marathon training going?’
‘Not too bad so far, thanks. I’m only five days in though.’
‘Really? What was that you were doing for the last few weeks then?’

To the untrained eye, there isn’t that much difference. Before I started marathon training I was running twice a day. Now that I’ve started marathon training, I’m running twice a day. The mileage is only slightly higher. The sessions have changed, though, and my long run is going to get intimidatingly long.

Last week I had a ‘rest week’, only running 5 miles a day, to get ready for a ten week training block which will , if all goes to plan, put me in with a good chance of running a decent first marathon in London. It gave me time to ponder the first typed-out and colour-coded training schedule I’ve ever had. In the past I’ve been lucky if I find out what I’m doing in training the day before, and frequently been told what I’m doing on the track when I’m standing ready for the first rep to start. For the marathon, though, my coach decided it would be worthwhile to be able to see the ‘big picture.’ And it is quite a big picture. There’s nothing overly intimidating in itself, but I do expect the cumulative effect of ten weeks of sustained hard work to get to me. Distance running, as Renato Canova says, is about ‘how much fatigue can you do?’ I think I’m about to find out.

I felt pretty fresh coming into the week, but that only lasts so long when you run 18 miles in two hours on Sunday then fourteen miles on Monday and a track session on Tuesday. The big session for the week was a ten mile acceleration run, which I did in 55.40 with the first 3 miles outside six minutes and the last two in 5.08 and 4.58. I was relatively pleased with that until my coach told me he’d once done the same run in 51.30, even though the first mile was outside six minutes. I’d always been under the impression that ‘acceleration run’ meant a gradual picking up of the pace, but I think for him it must have meant ‘jog a mile, then hammer it.’

Final word to Bruce Tulloh: ‘It’s when people start to ask, “Are you alright?!” that you know you’re getting fit.’ I am for now, let’s see how the next nine weeks unfold.