Half Way, But No Half Measures

February 22, 2011

Greetings, readers!  This latest instalment of my running blog finds me celebrating various mid-way milestones.  Firstly, I’m half way through my training schedule for the London Marathon, secondly I’ve just completed my second half marathon, and lastly I’m (roughly) half way to reaching my marathon sponsorship target of £1,500.


The sixteen week schedule I am following has proven to be pretty tough so far. Most weeks consist of six running days with a typical weekly schedule looking like this:

Monday: a short, easy run, known as a “recovery” run
Tuesday: a high intensity session consisting of either speed work or hill work
Wednesday: a medium length, slow run
Thursday: a medium intensity run, at marathon or half marathon race pace
Friday: rest!
Saturday: another recovery run
Sunday: a long run

I have, therefore, grown to love Fridays even more than I used to. I really do thank Crunchie (other chocolate bars are available and equally greatly appreciated) every week.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are Tuesdays, and especially “hill work” Tuesdays. As the missus can testify from my whinging, I do not like these.  The format here includes a one mile warm-up, followed by a series of two minute blasts up a very steep hill, with a slow jog back down between each, and then a one mile cool down. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I had to do 14 repeats.

By about number 5 or 6 I haven’t recovered as I turn at the bottom for the next blast.  By about number 9 I start to question my sanity, and by number 12 I’m incapable of any thought other than “please make this stop”.  I then spend the cool down in a state of broken, dribbling, quivering shock.

Usually, I really enjoy my long runs. Wednesdays are especially rewarding as I run home from work. Running to a destination is inherently more satisfying than just “going for a run”, and I get to skip the rush hour tube journey once a week.

My longest Sunday run to date was a 20 mile jaunt round North London, which I completed at the end of week seven. Not bad with nine weeks to go to the big day.  It is slightly daunting, however, to think that I have another five training runs of 18 miles or more still to complete. Psychologically, it’s tough to pull my shoes on and head out the door knowing I’m about to spend 2.5 or 3 hours pounding the tarmac, but once I get into a rhythm these runs can be very therapeutic.

The most important stat to date, though, is that despite my various niggles, tweaks, pulls and aches, I haven’t missed a single training run yet.  I doubt I’ll be able to keep that going until April 17th, but so far so good!

Warm-Up Races

I’ve also completed two of my three scheduled warm-up races, both at Dorney Lake near Windsor. In my last blog post I described a whole range of newbie cock ups I made racing last year. I’m pleased to say that both races this time round were error free, though I still have a slight tendency to turn up a bit too early before the start of each race.

The first race at Dorney Lake was a Maxifuel sponsored 10k in January. I’d had a very dodgy belly the day before (through the eye of a needle – all very traumatic) and was not confident that my marathon training would have helped my 10k speed especially, so I would have settled for anything around 43 minutes (versus a PB from last year of 41:49).

This was also my first race with one of the Huddle “Marafun” team, Ashleigh.

A couple of aspects of the organisation of this event were a little shabby, but the venue is just built for PBs, with the most pancake flat course imaginable. Even a strong breeze couldn’t stop us! Ash broke her target of 50 minutes, and I clocked a very pleasing PB of 40:27.  I even finished 13th in the classification!

We were back at Dorney last weekend with a third Marafun team member, Bulat, and my annoyingly quick friend Alan for the Human Race “Race Your Pace” Half Marathon. This was an excellent event with some seriously quick runners, pacing groups, sports massage and good catering facilities.

Bulat, despite having two dodgy ITBs finished in an impressive 1 hour 41 minutes, Ash in a target busting 1:54 and Alan cruised home under the 90 minute mark for the first time.

I had my most satisfying run to date, by quite some margin.  By comparison, my previous half marathon – a tickle under 1:38 in Bexhill last November – was bloody hard work.  This time round I started at about 1:34 pace, and felt comfortable. I gradually upped the pace slightly, living in constant fear that I was going too fast and would pay the price. Six, seven, eight miles passed, I realised I was on course for sub 1:33, and I still felt strong. I even managed a smile for the camera.

After 10 miles I realised I was going to be OK, so I really went for it. I completed the last 5km in under 21 minutes, and my finishing time was….  1:31:31.  I was suitably thrilled!

These results give me great faith in my training schedule. It turns out that if you work your arse off your performances improve.  Who’d have thought it?!


Another milestone that I have (just about) reached at the time of writing is 50% of my rather daunting sponsorship target. I’m running the London Marathon in aid of IT4CH who supply IT equipment to hospitalised, sick and disadvantaged kids. For kids in hospital, this empowers them to maintain contact with their mainstream schools, families and friends, and thus helps them to continue their education, develop key life skills and make their hospital stay more fun.

If you have already sponsored me I am truly grateful. If you haven’t, and I know you will be fed up of people scrounging at this time of year, anything you can spare will be hugely appreciated. I hope this blog shows that I’m working hard for your cash!  All you need to do is click here and donate what you can.

I’ve got one more warm up race to go, the “Bath Half” on 6th March. Right now I’m planning to take this one a little more sedately, and you can watch this space to see how that works out for me!


5 Responses to “Half Way, But No Half Measures”

  1. bearrunner Says:

    Toughest part of marathoning, is the training… It is hard to look ahead through 16 weeks to get to the start line.. Once your done training, you are already 90% done !


  2. […] who was unfortunate enough to ask, was that I was planning to take this one a little easier than my previous effort at Dorney Lake. I’d heard stories about the race being horribly crowded at Bath, and I’d also had a […]

  3. […] is achievable because… …this is the only target I have achieved before, running 40:27 last February.  Admittedly I was running a lot better this time last year but I hope to get close to that form […]

  4. […] Sunday I drove down to the Olympic rowing venue at Dorney Lake, scene of a couple of my previous running PBs for the April edition of the Maxifuel 10k series.  Accompanied by the two Dans from work we […]

  5. […] 10k, but never managed to squeeze in a race over that distance when in peak condition.  In fact, my PB of 40:27 dates back to early 2011. This time round I was certainly not at my absolute best but hoped I could lower my PB at […]

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