Chester Marathon week 3/18 – Betting on Zero

The aim of this week was to continue to slightly increase the mileage.  It’s now been nine weeks of upping the running, and this week came in at just over 61 miles.  I’ve found myself going out running without thinking about it too much, and I’ve certainly not needed to talk myself into it.

I’ve also spent time this week watching the documentary Betting on Zero.  On the surface this could be seen as a dry account of two prolific investors squaring off with each other over the investing in, and shorting of, stock in the company Herbalife.  However, it’s much more than a drama being played out between two Wall Street big hitters.  Not only does it open the viewer’s eyes to the ways in which these types of companies operate, it also explores aspects of trust, faith, and the often mistaken belief that we can all make it if we work hard enough.  It’s often a dishonest assertion, and yet it’s one that is ruthlessly promoted by one side of the argument in this film.  It’s a fascinating and sobering film.  It left me being reminded of the old truism that if it looks too good and sounds too good to be true…then it probably is. 

Thankfully, running is a much simpler business, or at least it is if you keep it that way.  And it would seem that some people don’t.  I’ve been bombarded this week with adverts on Facebook for all sorts of running related gadgets and gizmos with the implication that they can help me to get faster, recover better, and generally be a quicker runner.  Perhaps these frivolities avoid another truism: you get out what you put in.  Admittedly, only now am I beginning to realise that I haven’t actually ever put that much into it.  I’ve always played it safe; always held back; always stopped long before I’ve actually found out what I can really do.  Previously, I’ve bet on zero, or at least acted as if that’s all I’m capable of getting from running.  I suppose if there is one thing that I have learned in steadily increasing my mileage, it’s that I want it.  I’m ready to work hard, really hard.  I’m ready to put as much as I can into this marathon build up. 

Marcus Chester, Marcus Chester runner, Bolton parkrun, parkrun, marathon training, Chester Marathon
Bolton parkrun (Photo: Dave Hitchen)

So, this week’s training looked like this:

Monday: 6 miles recovery

Tuesday: 10 miles at 8 m/m

Wednesday: 9 miles with miles 2-8 as progression

Thursday: 7 miles recovery

Friday: 10 miles at 8 m/m

Saturday: Bolton parkrun (6th in 19:47)

Sunday: 14 miles easy

It’s clear where the focus needs to start to move towards.  The aim of the coming week is to continue to build the base and increase the miles.  However, I also need to increase the pace of some of the runs.  Bolton parkrun came in at 6:25 m/m which is the nearest thing to quality that I ran all week.   Other than a couple of low 7 m/m in the progression session on Wednesday, it’s been all easy running.  With the aim of increasing the quality of some of the running, I’m going to do a 5K race on Sunday.  This is a club race, so there should be a healthy element of competition and plenty of runners to aim for.  I’m also going to run the last 5 miles of Wednesday’s long run at a pace that is just under 7 m/m.  On Tuesday there is the inclusion of 10 x 100 metres of strides in an otherwise steady run.  Other than that, I’ll be keeping an eye on my pace during all of the runs, and making sure that unless they are recovery runs, that the pace is turned up just a notch.

Chester Marathon week 2/18 – Freckleton Half Marathon

The aim of this week was simply to turn the mileage up slightly for the eighth consecutive week.  I managed to do this despite the best efforts of the increasingly warm days and evenings.  It’s not been easy though: Sunday’s Freckleton Half Marathon was hot.  It’s always a risk entering this event because it’s a 2PM start time in the middle of June…Sunday didn’t disappoint – it was the hottest day of the year so far.

On the start I made the conscious choice to take it easy, or at least as easy as I could given the heat.  I wrote last week that I thought that I could comfortably run a PB on this course; but with the sun blazing in a azure sky I put this to the back of my mind.  As it was I set off at 1:40 pace, but with stopping at every drink station I came in at 1:41:17 (74/431).  Although this time is off from where I want to be, I’m still pleased.  I’m pleased that I altered my plan and stuck to it.  Setting off too quickly would have made for a very miserable race indeed, and stopping to drink at every station (and stand under the showers) really did mean I could manage the heat.  I’m pleased that, despite the heat, a 1:40 half felt very comfortable from a pace perspective.  I’m also pleased that it has taken so little out of me.  Final pleasing note, I didn’t ease down for this race.  I ran 55 miles last week.

But, there is unfinished work here:

2012: 1:51:51

2013: 1:50:24

2015: 1:48:16

2016: 1:36:29

2017: 1:41:09

The rest of the week was made up of easy running, although I did a session on Tuesday which involved running strides.  Perhaps the most enjoyable run was Saturday’s Bolton parkrun because I volunteered to pace this at 27 minutes.  A steady start, and a negative split, meant that I came in at 26:54.  It was really pleasing to see people sprint past me on the track as they hit their sub 27 minute target.  It is always a pleasure to be able to give something back to running, and it’s nice to help others achieve the things that they want to.

Freckleton results

Last week’s training looked like this:

Monday: 6 easy miles with the dog

Tuesday: 8 miles with strides and stretching

Wednesday: 7 miles @ 7:13 m/m (hot)

Thursday: 6 miles very easy

Friday: 10 miles

Saturday: pacing at Bolton parkrun, warm up and cool down (hot)

Sunday: Freckleton Half Marathon

Total: 55.5 miles

Next week’s training continues with the aim of building the endurance base.  Mileage increases slightly and there are two hard sessions.  One is Bolton parkrun on Saturday and the second is either a hard five miles at the end of Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s run.  The heat will dictate which of these runs I do this on as I can only run at specific times again this week.

Chester Marathon week 1/18 – general election

After the ups, downs, and general confusion inherent in a general election week it was good to put my entry in for the Chester Marathon which takes place on 10 October; whatever spurious toing and froing is involved in forming a workable coalition, at least an autumn marathon lends a degree of certainty to training if nothing else.  It is now 18 weeks away.

With my only DNF at Blackpool in April, I’m obviously keen to redress the balance and give a good account of myself in October.  With the passing of time and an honest conversation with myself (and with a far more experienced runner who has lent me a supportive and challenging word or two) it’s clear why Blackpool ended in a DNF: I was simply undertrained. Or at least I was undertrained for what I wanted to achieve, which was a time between 3 hours and 3 hours 15 minutes.  Lesson well and truly learned.  I hadn’t done enough.

Since that point I’ve had one main objective: steadily increase the mileage. It’s clear that a serious attempt to get anywhere nearer to three hours in October is going to require running a far higher mileage than I have ever run before. With this in mind, I have spent the last 8 weeks building up to last week’s 53 miles.  The average for the last four weeks has been 50 miles per week.   Over the next few weeks I’ll be increasing this in order to get in the 80+ plus mile weeks which are outlined in the P+D schedule that I’ll be following.  So far it feels manageable.  Just.

But it’s not all been about getting the miles in, I’ve also managed to get some quality work in too.  Obviously, given that I spent a lot of time last year limping around with an injury, I’ve been mindful of my right calf.  My main concern this year is remaining injury free.  However, I’ve managed to run a 5K PB of 18:27; I’ve set a Bolton parkrun PB of 19:29; run a 10 mile PB (for training) of just under 1:09. I’ve also had good runs in the Haigh Hall trail race and Henderson’s End fell race…

Marcus Chester, Marcus Chester runner, Henderson's End Fell Race, Burnden Road Runners

…all of which sets me up nicely for the next 17 weeks.  I’ve also done some fartlek and hill rep sessions as a way of starting to get my legs to turn over a bit quicker and to prepare them for the sessions to come.  I’ve also managed to get my weight down to 12St 8Ibs and I have had moments where I have felt much easier and freer while running.  At 6 feet 2 inches, I could still afford to lose more – and every pound lost is one less to carry around 26.2 miles – but I’m certainly not going to get caught up in the trap of obsessing about it.

Marcus Chester, Marcus Chester runner, Bolton parkrun

The schedule for the 18 week build up is based on that outlined in the book Advanced Marathoning,  After speaking to various sub 3 marathoners and assiduously reading everything that I can online, this appears to be the schedule that many place their trust and confidence in.  I’ve spoken through my plans with another runner and have had to tweak some of the sessions to fit around family and work commitments.  I’ve also had to adjust a few sessions so that I can accommodate the club races that I want to take part in; but I trust what sub 3 hour runners have told me and I’m electing to stick as closely as I can to the plan as is set out in the book.

 

So, last week’s training looked like this:

Monday: warm up, Burnden Road Runners club challenge timed uphill mile, cool down

Tuesday: really easy 3 miles (legs still felt battered from last Thursday’s fell race!)

Wednesday: 12 @ 7:31 pace

Thursday: easy 5 miles

Friday: easy 10 miles off road

Saturday: Bolton parkrun @ 6:54 pace 

Sunday: AM – easy 5, PM – 9 @ 8:11 pace (family commitments meant I had to split the runs)

Total: 53.6 miles

Next week’s training introduces structured strides on Tuesday with a session including 10 x 100 metres.  The main event for the week is the Freckleton Half Marathon on Sunday.  My target time here is, naturally, 1:29:30 which equates to 6:49 miles.  This will be right on the edge of my comfort zone at this point in time.  I ran a couple of recents 10 miler at 6:48 pace, whether I could hold on for another 3 miles is highly debatable, but I’m up for the challenge.  Either way, with a PB of 1:36:12 (set at Freckleton last year), I’m confident of being able to smash this. Freckleton is a relatively fast, flat course and the thirteen miles of the race should take my mileage for this week to 57.