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Training for the Valencia Marathon - Week 7

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Race week! With my arch nemesis, the half marathon, awaiting me at the end of the week, I kept the week fairly light, and dropped most of the strength training. I was also battling the sore calves that had plagued me the week before. A routine of ice and rolling saw this improve over the course of the week and meant that I was feeling pretty good by the time Sunday rolled around, though unfortunately it did not go quite as planned! Here's a breakdown of week 7 training for the Valencia Marathon.


Monday


400 x 10 intervals as part of a 6 mile run. I didn't feel great this morning. I doubled in the afternoon with an easy 4 mile run with surges every mile.


Tuesday


800 x 5 intervals as part of a 7 mile run, averaging around 5.44/mile which is my target half marathon pace. I felt smooth on these and enjoyed the workout. My calves were still sore though so I decided to skip the club hill session and instead join in with a sociable neighbourhood run that takes place on my doorstep with a local running group. This was a very easy pace 6 mile run.


Wednesday


At this point I was becoming a bit panicked about my calves, as it had been around 10 days that they had been sore and one of them was especially niggly, with a hot spot in my left gastrocnemius. I decided to keep this under control with an easy 6 mile run as part of my coaching session, with several breaks during the run. I knew that I had a few easy/rest days coming up ahead of the race so I was hopeful that the muscle would benefit from a bit of a break.


Thursday


A full day of rest, including submerging my calves in an ice bucket on/off for an hour. Instant relief.


Friday


Felt better today so did 400 x 6 at an easy pace (around 1:28 avg). Continued with the ice protocol.


Saturday


Pushed my son around parkrun in the buggy, so nothing strenuous here.


Sunday


Conditions were absolutely perfect in SW London for the Battersea Park Half Marathon (with a marathon also happening at the same time). Really dream weather stuff, and the setup prior to the race was also great, with a running track for the warm up and plenty of changing facilities and toilets. I was feeling good. I met up with someone I am coaching who was also doing the HM, and my advice to him was to try not to get caught up dodging all the people out on the course (500 people over roughly a 2-mile loop), and also not to get sucked into running too quickly where there is a GPS black spot along the river side of the park, and can deliver dodgy pace readings. Alas, I did not pay great attention to my own advice! Sometimes people dodging was inevitable as it was so congested, but it caused quite a lot of stress. Similarly, I lost my head on certain stretches early on where the GPS was dodgy and was probably running 20-30 seconds/mile too fast. This, along with several tight turns per loop meant that I never found a rhythm and by about halfway I was slowing down. Every time I tried to push up into HM gear, meaning around 5.45/mile, my body kept reverting back to marathon pace (~6.05). I finished up in 1:19:15, at least two minutes slower than I'd hoped for. I was pretty deflated after, a combination of knowing that I'd not realised my fitness as well as I should have, but perhaps also knowing that I was not quite as fit as I'd thought I was.


Reflecting more upon it, I probably should have remembered what I wrote at the start of this entry, which is that I really have a poor track record in half marathons. With that in mind, I should have been more conservative. My PB going in was 1:22:15 from 2021, which given I had run a 16:40 5k that same training block, shows my struggle at converting my speed to the distance. I never like multi-loop courses and 5 laps of the park really didn't suit the way I like to run, and I found all the turns to be very disruptive to my rhythm. Going forward I think I'm going to aim for a few half marathons next year and try to edge my time down, rather than try to blast a new PB and risk getting it wrong like this one.


As far as marathon training goes, it raises doubts about whether I can hit the low 2.40s, but I feel like my marathon pace is pretty solid, and the margins are fine at long distance. I've not done any long workouts yet, they are coming up and maybe this half marathon is just the way to start this key month before I taper. As I write this I'm pretty sore from the effort, so I need to make sure I recover first and then it's back to work!


Week summary


53 miles

3 sessions

1 half marathon race

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