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Training for the Valencia Marathon - Week 4

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

A week of two halves. It started off really strongly but by the end of the week I was not in the best place. Taken together it was a passable week, one which I don't mind having in the early part of the training block, but I'd be pretty downbeat had this occurred in the more specific phase 6-8 weeks out. Here's how week 4 of my Valencia marathon training went.


Monday


My usual Monday 400m x 10, on tired legs from the previous day's long run + strength training. Averaged 1.24 and didn't really have energy for more.


Having rested up while working at home, I decided on an afternoon run. Nothing strenuous, 4 miles including a few surges up to marathon pace. This felt much better.


Tuesday


Started the day with a mixed workout, 2000m a bit slower than marathon pace, then 1000m x 2 faster than it. Only around 45 minutes of running in total so not a big effort, as I was saving myself for...


Club hills! It's been a very long time since I'd done this session, based at the appropriately nicknamed 'Hell Hill' due to its length (around 400m) and gradient, which is in the 10-15% range for much of it. I felt like I'd suffered on the hills in my race last week, and as the club only does these sessions in September/October as part of preparation for the cross country season, it seemed like a good opportunity to join in. I've run this hill solo for workouts and it's pretty soul destroying, but in the camaraderie of a club setting somehow didn't seem so bad. The coach created a session with lots of variety, with Kenyan hills followed by uphill efforts of mixed length. Overall it was around 1000ft of climbing.


11 miles in total for the day.


Wednesday


This is where the week turned for me. The night before I'd come down with a cold, and by now it was pretty heavy. I had a coaching commitment for the afternoon and didn't want to cancel it, and thought that if I kept my own running light then hopefully I'd be able to pull through. I followed my general rule whereby if the illness is located from the neck upwards, then it's ok to run, just to keep the effort level down. Had it not been for the coaching session though I'd certainly have stayed at home, because I felt pretty dreadful!


Earlier in the day I'd done a very light strength session to see if I could kickstart my immune system.


Thursday


Full rest.


Friday


I had shaken off the worst of the cold and was feeling better. I thought that a downhill session would be a good choice here, as while the body takes a bit of a pounding, overall HR and effort levels are low. I did 400m x 6 and then a final 600m to make it 3000m of downhill running. The 400s took on average 1:20.


Saturday


Again I found myself running more than perhaps I should have due to a commitment. This time, a longstanding one to help pace a friend of mine to under 19.30 at parkrun. Normally this would be quite a gentle workout for me but given I was still recovering from a cold it felt more laboured. Still, I am a very assiduous pacemaker and have a plan for the course at Dulwich parkrun whereby I chop it up into mini segments depending on whether it's incline or decline, gradually ramping up the pace over the 3 laps. It generally works well as long as the target time is realistic, and this time was no different, my friend coming home in 19.24.


Sunday


As the run organiser/route planner for a Sunday run group, I felt obliged to be at this where perhaps I would have been better served to do something shorter and easier by myself. This long run was horrendous, I felt very fatigued and from about 10 miles onwards it was a struggle. It was also unseasonably warm in London, and while I did have water with me, I felt like I was sweating more than usual. It was not one of those long runs where the group ends up running too fast, as the combination of heat and hills seemed to zap most people's energy and the average pace was 8.00/mile. 17 miles in total, I was wiped when I got home.

Later on in the afternoon I did a few strength exercises but kept it very light and brief.


Maybe a marathon block is best judged not on the peak weeks that you manage, but how bad the worst ones are, and how they are mitigated. Week 2 had a hiccup that resulted in low mileage, whereas this one seemed worse due to how bad my cold was, but overall had quite a good training impact (or at least I hope so!).


Week summary


55 miles

4 sessions

20,800m of intervals/race

1 5k around marathon pace

2 light strength workouts

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