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In search of 2:xx

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In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:10 pm

OK, so the goal behind this blog is pretty clear!

That's not to say that I don't have other targets in mind, but the main one I'm looking at is to run a marathon in less than three hours. Given that my current PR is 3:16.04, it's a lot to ask to be in position to go sub-3 in my next marathon (Edinburgh at the end of May) - I think that it is a realistic goal if everything goes well, though, as that PR was set in October on pretty limited training (I wasn't able to run due to injury for a few weeks during the summer).

The other numbers I have in mind are 90 and 40 (as in sub-1:30 for a half-marathon and less than 40 minutes for a 10k), which are definitely achievable in the next few months - I got within a few seconds of getting inside that hour and a half at the end of October (1:30.10, four weeks after the marathon, in conditions that weren't particularly good for running a fast time (fairly windy, on an undulating course)), and recent training runs suggest that I'm capable of getting into the 30s for a 10k.

The main issue that's likely to cause me problems in terms of achieving these goals is injuries, as I have a history of being a bit on the fragile side from that point of view! The hip/groin issue from the summer is much better, but is not completely gone - I have been doing a good bit of stretching and strengthening in that area (and more generally as well) over the last couple of months, though, so am hoping that I'll be able to keep this under control at the least.

My main goal race for the spring is the Edinburgh Marathon on 27th May, but I intend to run at least a couple of other races before then - have entered the Lasswade 10-miler on 4th March, and the Alloa Half-Marathon on 18th March (which will be a bit strange - I lived in that area for around 4 years, but never took part in the race...), and will probably go for the Dunbar 10k on 2nd April as well. While this is a nice selection of races to include as part of a marathon training program, the choice has been made a bit easier by each of these races being part of my running club's 2012 club championship series...

Other than the 'intermediate' races, I haven't done much planning for my Edinburgh training yet - have a few ideas, but nothing more than general thoughts at this point (things like likely maximum mileage (probably around 50/week) and the format of a 'standard' week (probably long run on Monday, club training session on Wednesday and the other main run on Friday or Saturday)). The race is almost five months away, though, so I have a little bit of time to work with.
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  John Kilpatrick on Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:12 pm

Good luck Martin!!!

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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:39 pm

John Kilpatrick wrote:Good luck Martin!!!
Thanks John Smile

A quick catch-up on my runs so far this week:

  • Sunday saw me run my first race of the year, a 4-miler on the prom at Portobello (where my club does quite a bit of training during the winter - was a nice change to see it in daylight for once Laughing ). I wasn't expecting too much even though conditions were about as good as it gets (dry/sunny, low 40s and breezy, but from the south-west (so plenty of shelter along the route)), as this was the shortest race I've run (as an adult, anyway) - was thinking that anything under 26 minutes would be pretty good. The second half of the race was pretty tough, and I got passed by a few people in the last mile (I suspect that doing the first mile in 5.53 was the main reason for this...), but I managed to keep it going fairly well to the end. I finished in 24.40, which was a real surprise - didn't feel like I was running at that sort of pace... (The route was a little short (3.96 miles), so average pace was around 6.15/mile - for what it's worth, I went through 5k in 19.10.)
  • The legs didn't feel too bad yesterday, so I headed out for some fairly easy miles - was originally thinking of doing a 9-mile route, but cut it a little short at the far end to make it an 8-miler. The aim for the day was purely to get out there and get through some miles, so I tried to keep the pace and effort fairly comfortable - this wasn't all that easy on my way out, though, as I was running into a fairly strong breeze. It was one of those days that feels a lot colder than it actually is because of the wind - I played it a bit too safe with my clothing selection, though (went with the windproof jacket and trousers over a warm long-sleeved shirt and tights), so I was pretty warm throughout the run. The legs didn't feel all that good for most of the run, but that wasn't really a surprise after the race on Sunday - was just a case of getting on with it and grinding through the miles. I ended up doing 8.04 miles in 1:04.21 - pretty much exactly on 8-minute mile pace - with an average heart rate of 156bpm (a little on the high side of what I'm looking for, but being overdressed on the day after a race probably explains that).
Next run is the club training session tomorrow night - will see what the options are before I decide what I do (one of the options is 12 x 400, but I don't know what the other groups are doing).
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  Kenny B. on Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:44 pm

Nice start to the blog. Some quality goals and good luck with tonight's 12x400's ouch!
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:47 pm

Kenny B. wrote:Nice start to the blog. Some quality goals and good luck with tonight's 12x400's ouch!

Thanks Kenny - I know that the goals are a bit of a stretch (particularly the main one of going sub-3 in a marathon), but 'it's better to aim high and fall just short than to aim low and meet your expectations'...

The expected 12 x 400 didn't happen last night, mainly for weather-related reasons - while we've had a reasonably warm winter round here so far, the flip side of that is that it's been relatively wet and windy instead (with the 'highlight' of that being the storm in early December that led to the quintessentially Scottish 'Hurricane Bawbag' trending on Twitter - for what it's worth, the weather on Tuesday this week was probably worse!), with more of the same last night. While it wasn't actually all that cold (mid-40s), a strong wind and heavy rain will make it feel cold in a hurry - given the conditions, I didn't fancy the standing around that comes with the 400 intervals (90 seconds recovery in between), so went for the alternative option of 3 x 1000m + 3 x 1500m instead. Despite the conditions, it ended up being one of those sessions where the hardest part was getting out of the door in the first place - after a relatively slow first interval (just outside 7-minute mile pace), I got into a nice rhythm and did the rest of the intervals in solid sub-7 pace. While it was a small group for the session (5 of us), it worked out well - two of the guys are a little quicker than I am, so I was either just ahead and trying to stay ahead or a little behind and hanging in there.

(For what it's worth, I quite like 400 intervals - the main thing for me is to get the pace right on the first one, and work from there. The problem with sessions like that is to go out too fast on the early intervals, which means that you have nothing left towards the end...)

A night off tonight, as I had a massage after work - will probably take it relatively easy tomorrow as well, but will hopefully be able to get out for a decent long run on Saturday.
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:05 pm

After being advised by the lady who did Thursday's massage to take it relatively easy on Friday, I made use of a fairly recent acquisition (a trainer for the bike) to do 40 minutes at a fairly comfortable pace in front of an episode of Doctor Who (third series of the 'new' version, for what it's worth - was a bit young for the original series when it was on TV (although I do have access to pretty much every episode that's been released on DVD - have quite a bit of my brother's stuff in my spare room until he's able to find a place of his own again, and he's a big fan of the series (both old and new))). While I'd definitely prefer to get outside on the bike (as I did a few times while I was off work over Christmas), it's nice to be able to get on my own bike instead of a stationary bike that's completely different.

I wasn't sure about what to do on today's run - the weather helped me to make a decision, though, as there was a fairly strong breeze blowing. That suggested that it would be a good idea to head up to Longniddry and use the loop around the edge of the village (a little over two and a half miles) - would give me a bit of shelter from the wind (as well as a bit of variety - wouldn't have to fight the wind for the first half of the run then coast home downwind as I would on a normal run up the coast towards Edinburgh and back), and gave me the option of cutting the run short at 7.5 or 8 miles, or keeping going for a bit longer. While it took a little while to get going, I felt pretty comfortable through this run - ended up doing 4 loops plus a bit extra to make up 11 miles (11.06 miles to be exact, in 1:26.09 - average pace of 7.47/mile, with average heart rate of 157bpm). While the heart rate was a little higher than ideal for this sort of run, I was a bit overdressed (tights and windproof jacket over long-sleeved top on a dry mid-40s evening) so that I wouldn't be too cold on the stretches into the wind. Even so, I felt fairly comfortable towards the end, to the point where I think that it wouldn't have been too much trouble to go round the loop again, even without something to drink.

It's a short drive for me to get to where I normally park if I'm using the loop around Longniddry (at the golf club, which is pretty close to the lowest point on the loop) - there's usually time to catch a couple of songs on the radio, but no more than that. It's fairly common for me to get a song stuck in my head when I'm running, and tonight was no exception, with Somewhere In My Heart by Aztec Camera coming on just at the right time for me to catch it - a song I like a lot...
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  Kenny B. on Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:22 pm

Some nice workouts I like the alternative run you did instead of 12x400's. I am jealous about the massage I in do need myself it used to me once or month or so boy do I miss them!
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  John Kilpatrick on Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:15 pm

Nice 4-miler - you've got some good wheels!

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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:03 pm

Kenny B. wrote:Some nice workouts I like the alternative run you did instead of 12x400's. I am jealous about the massage I in do need myself it used to me once or month or so boy do I miss them!
Thanks Kenny - would have been happy to do the 400s if the weather had been better, but it would have been no fun to be standing around getting wet and cold for half of the time.

I'm pretty lucky in that the organisation I use for physio (which is part of the Edinburgh University sports facilities) is less than a mile from my work - means that I can set up appointments for the end of my working day, and just take a little walk over... The massages do help a lot, but I've found recently that getting solid use out of a foam roller is almost as effective.

John Kilpatrick wrote:Nice 4-miler - you've got some good wheels!
Thanks John - wasn't sure what to expect, as I have very little experience of running races that short. We did get lucky with the weather - going by the info on the race webpage, it's been either very cold or windy in a lot of years (as you would expect for a race in the middle of winter!), but we ended up with near-ideal conditions for running a fast time last week. Some recent training runs suggested that I would be able to put up something in the 25-26 minute range (the first one that comes to mind was an 8-mile fast continuous run back in November - got through that in around 53.30, or low 6.40s/mile pace), but it was a shock to check the watch after the race and see a time starting in '24'... (Even so, I still finished behind quite a few runners - ended up 63rd out of 384 finishers, with the winner being almost 6 minutes ahead of me!)


I've generally had a day off from running after a run over the last couple of months - that's not something that you can get away with when training for a marathon (well, you can get away with it, but don't expect to run very fast in your goal race if you do...), so I headed out for a few easy miles yesterday afternoon. The 4 miles were fairly uneventful - the legs felt surprisingly good after Saturday's 11 miles, and I managed to get the effort level pretty close to where I wanted it (which was nice, as I haven't done a recovery run in a while) - with the final numbers being 4.03 miles in 34 minutes exactly (average pace of 8.26/mile, with average heart rate of 142bpm.

The intention for the next few months is to get into the habit of doing my long runs on Monday on my way home from work - made a start towards that end today by taking the running stuff in with me. (It did help that the weather forecast suggested that it would be near-perfect conditions this evening - dry with a little bit of breeze, and the temperature sliding from high 40s to low 40s in the couple of hours after the sun went down. Given the weather (which was pretty much exactly as forecast), it wasn't really a surprise to see quite a lot of cyclists out on the roads this evening...)

I started out with the intention to just head straight home (which is just over 10 miles), but that changed after a couple of miles when I got a bit unlucky with the traffic lights at the Portobello/Seafield junction - instead of being able to cross straight over, the options were either to wait for the lights to change (probably about a minute) or turn left (adding distance to my route) and wait for an opportunity to cross. By the time the traffic cleared, I was far enough down that road for there to be little point in turning round - I kept going for a bit longer so that I could run back along the seafront. That part of the run was nice - at that point, the sky was fairly clear, and the moon (nearly full) was off to my left, meaning that I could look out over the Firth of Forth (to my left), with the streetlights along the coast in front of me, the moon reflecting off the water a little to the left of that, then over the Firth to the Fife coast as I kept turning left.

The rest of the run was fairly uneventful - managed to get into a nice rhythm, and was able to keep ticking the miles off. Things were going so well that I decided to add a bit of extra distance at the end of the run (a little bit of a risk, given that Saturday's 11 miles was the longest run I've done since the end of November) - that, along with the unscheduled diversion early on, meant that I ended up running 13.09 miles in 1:42.01 (average pace of 7.48/mile, with average heart rate of 148bpm - a good bit lower than on Saturday because I had the right clothing on for the conditions (no windproof stuff - just a short-sleeved top over a long-sleever, and tights for the lower half)).

A couple of hours after finishing the run, I'm a little sore - that's not really a surprise, though, as 28 miles in the last three days is a bit more than my body has been used to! The problem area in my left hip was surprisingly smooth during the run - a little tight early on, but it eased off nicely as the run went on - but I'll need to see how it feels tomorrow to be sure.

An aside - I got a Kindle last Christmas, which has been very handy (particularly when I went on holiday - meant that I could take just the Kindle rather than having to find space (and weight) for half a dozen or so decent-sized paperbacks). I took advantage of the Kindle's size in another way today - it's small enough to be a comfortable fit in my Camelbak waist pack (which I use to carry my wallet, keys and work pass on the runs home from work, as well as water when conditions (or the length of run) make that necessary), so I'll be able to keep reading my book on the bus to work tomorrow morning...

(The book in question is Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder - got the first in the series (Poison Study) when Amazon cut the price to a little over £1 (I have a bad habit of buying books that 'look interesting' (or some other spurious reason Laughing ), even if I already have several books to read), and really liked it - it's usually a very good sign if I find that it takes a bit of effort to put the book down. The second book is showing similar signs...)
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  Dave-O on Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:05 pm

Best of luck chasing down your sub-3 dream!
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:41 pm

Dave-O wrote:Best of luck chasing down your sub-3 dream!
Thanks Dave Smile There's a lot of work ahead of me if I want to get that 2:xx, but I'm going to have a lot of fun on the way!

I haven't been on for a while - that's more down to a lack of time than anything, although I did take it easy for a few days over last weekend (was getting a bit of pain in my hip after the Wednesday club training session, so played it safe and didn't run for a few days). Apart from that, the running seems to be going reasonably well...

Wednesday 11/1: 6 x 800, 2 minute recovery - went into this run with the idea of trying to hit a similar pace to the 4-miler on New Year's Day, and got pretty close (3.04/3.05/3.03/3.00/2.57/3.00). I was fine once I got going, but the 'getting started' part was a bit sore on my hip (which is why I decided to take it easy for a few days).

Friday 13/1: Cycled into work in the morning, and was going to cycle home - noticed that the back wheel was flat, though, and I didn't have what I needed with me to fix it. I ended up getting the bus home, and picked up the bike from work on Monday evening (the bike racks are pretty secure at work - they're behind locked gates and out of sight from the street - so there wasn't any risk in leaving the bike over the weekend).

Saturday 14/1 and Sunday 15/1: Went back to my 'backup' workout for when I'm not able to run - walking up a hill on the treadmill (40 minutes on Saturday, 45 minutes on Sunday). It sounds pretty boring (and it is...), but I did have Back to the Future to watch to keep me interested - the first time I've watched it in years.

Tuesday 17/1: 40 minutes of cycling on the trainer - tried to keep the interest up by doing alternate easy/hard miles.

Wednesday 18/1: Running club AGM, so the training session was shorter than normal. As this was my first run since the previous Wednesday, I wanted to see how things felt before committing to the training session - ended up doing 4 fairly comfortable miles without any bother, so took part in the session (which was 9 x 400, in 4-person teams - the idea was that every team member had to run 9 times, but only two could be running at a time). I probably pushed a bit harder than I should have (one of the problems of having lots of people running - there's always someone to use as a target, so it's very easy to fall into the trap of going too fast too early), but managed to get some pretty consistent splits - ended up with 6 separate 84-second splits and 2 82s.

Thursday 19/1: I was feeling a little sore after the Wednesday session - in hindsight, that really shouldn't have been a surprise, given it was my first run for a week and I pushed the pace pretty hard - so headed out for a few recovery miles to try to ease things off a bit.

Saturday 21/1: Pretty much recovered from Wednesday, so I wanted to get out to do a decent run - the weather didn't want to cooperate, though (had been windy enough to be only borderline playable on the golf course in the morning, and the wind had only picked up as the day went on), so I ended up on the treadmill. The run went pretty smoothly - started out at 8.00/mile pace, eased that down to 7.30/mile after 4 miles or so, and got into a really nice rhythm (to the point where the run went really quickly - was just concentrating on the run, and lost track of time a little bit). I ended up doing 9 miles (just inside 70 minutes), and felt very comfortable throughout.

Sunday 22/1: Another 4-mile easy run - one thing that's coming as a bit of a surprise is that I'm doing these runs at around 8.30/mile pace without getting my HR over 150 (as I've been used to being at around 9.00/mile pace on recovery runs in previous training cycles).

Monday 23/1: A run home from work for the week's long run - just makes a lot of sense to me to do long runs on Mondays, as I'm 10 miles away from home to start with, and it means that I'm not rushing around trying to fit everything I want to do in at the weekend. It was a really clear night, so I had my first run through Holyrood Park for the year - add in another little detour at around 5 miles (to avoid having to wait at a couple of busy junctions), and I ended up with 11.76 miles in 1:32.10 (7.50/mile average pace, with average heart rate of 149bpm - conditions were pretty good (high 30s and a bit of breeze at my back), but those are still pretty good numbers, particularly as my running wasn't feeling too smooth early on (partly due to me doing a core workout on Sunday night after the recovery run)). I would normally have stayed out for another couple of minutes to make the run up to 12 miles, but I had other things on my mind by that point (an imminent 'code brown' - just about managed to make it to the appropriate facilities in time...)

Next run is likely to be the club training session on Wednesday - the choice is between either an 8-mile fast continuous run or 6 x 1200 (2.30 rest between intervals). I'm minded to do the FCR at this point, but will see how I feel/what the weather is like on Wednesday evening. (I'll probably get the bike set up on the trainer tomorrow evening - would have liked to take the bike to work, but the forecast suggests that this would not be a good idea (cold and wet with a chance of snow - commuting by bike would be asking for trouble, particularly as I wear glasses...)
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:33 pm

I ended up going with the fast continuous run yesterday - ended up being a mile to warm up and a mile to cool down with 6 miles of faster running in between. Conditions were decent but not ideal - it was surprisingly warm for the time of year (around 50°), but with a pretty strong breeze out of the south-west. There was a fair bit of shelter along the route, but it was one of those awkward winds that always seems to be blowing into your face...

My aim going into the run was just to keep a nice steady pace going - had my Garmin set up in 'race mode' (showing only heart rate and distance), so I didn't actually know how fast I had been running until I checked the time afterwards. I ended up doing quite a lot of the run on my own - two of the guys were quite a bit faster (speaking to them afterwards, they were running in the 6.00/mile range, which is a good bit faster than I can maintain over this sort of distance), but I was just enough faster than most of the others to get out in front a little bit and stay there. (Well, I would have been able to stay out front if I knew the route better - it's the first time I've run the loop that was used yesterday, and I took a wrong turn with about two miles to go - meant that I took a slightly longer route, so a couple of people went past me...)

Splits for the run were 6.28/6.42/6.44/6.46/6.38/6.37, with the 6.03 miles taking 40.06 (average pace of 6.39/mile, with average heart rate of 166bpm - a little on the low side for a 'proper' tempo run (I usually try to get into the low 170s), but probably about right for this slightly longer fast continuous run).

I'm intending to run into work tomorrow morning, but I'm waiting to see what the weather and underfoot conditions are like first - while it's reasonably dry out there at the moment, there are some showers in the area, and it's likely to be cold enough for any wet stuff on the ground to be in solid form rather than liquid... I don't mind running outside when it's cold, but only when I can trust the footing.
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:56 pm

It's been a while since I've been around the forum (mainly because I've had a lot of other things to do - nothing bad, just busy), but I've looked in a few times over the last few days to keep up with how Boston went for 365ers, and thought that I'd post a quick update.

My training has gone reasonably well over the last few months - have been a bit limited in terms of distance at times in an effort to manage my way through a few (minor) niggles and tweaks, but I've been able to get out to run on a regular and consistent basis. I've also been able to get along to most of my running club's training nights, which has been a big help - have been able to take part in a good variety of runs, with other people to run alongside (and help me to maintain pace - it's a lot easier in a group than trying to keep things going running on your own!).

As a result, I've had some very good races recently, and have met two of the targets that I set myself in the first post of this thread - ran the Alloa Half Marathon in 1:26.53 in the middle of March (and felt pretty comfortable at that pace - conditions were ideal for running a fast time, yes, but I got my pacing right early in the race, and was able to finish strongly), and got through 10k in 39.26 at the Dunbar 10k race a couple of weeks ago (another day where conditions were idea, and another day where I got the early pacing right (despite not having my Garmin due to 'techinical issues' (translation: I managed to turn up at the race with a Garmin that had no charge in it...)) - the course has a pretty significant climb between 4k and 5k which I took relatively slowly, but was able to get that time back during the rest of the run). Another little milestone was running my first 5k race. There's a series of free weekly 5k races around the UK (Parkrun), with one in Edinburgh - it's held on Saturday mornings, which doesn't suit me (because I'm usually on the golf course then), but I took advantage of having a free Saturday at the end of March, and managed to get round in 18.49.

I'm now a little more than five weeks out from the Edinburgh Marathon - still have a good bit of training to do (including the Edinburgh to North Berwick 20-mile race on 5th May, which I'm intending to treat as my last long training run - it's three weeks out from the marathon, which works out very nicely). Sub-3 looks like it will be beyond me this time round (unless everything just clicks into place on the day) as my recent race times are suggesting something in the 3:03 to 3:04 range according to the McMillan calculator, but I think that 3:05 is a reasonable goal if the weather on the day is reasonable, with something under 3:10 as a backup target if needed (this would get me a Good For Age place for London next year if they don't change the rules).

Looking further ahead, it seems reasonable to set some new goals - I'm thinking that 18, 38 and 85 are pretty good numbers to aim for (and potentially achievable by the end of the year, if things go well...)
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  ounce on Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:14 pm

Good that your training is nicely moving along with manageable niggles. It could be that taking progress one step at a time would get you your 2:xx soon, just not now. Along with some good fortune on lack of injuries.

You'll just have to log in sooner to let us know how it is going. Very Happy
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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  John Kilpatrick on Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:33 pm

Congrats on the 5K, 10K, and half - all strong races! Love the goals as you move forward too.

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Re: In search of 2:xx

Post  MartinD on Sun May 06, 2012 6:11 pm

ounce - that's the way that I'm looking at it - if I can just keep on making progress (and staying away from the sort of injuries that mean that I'm not able to run), that sub-3 marathon is going to come sooner or later.

John - thanks - the winter and spring have gone well, and it was good to get confirmation of that in my spring races.

The recent lack of updates hasn't been because of a lack of running - if anything, it's almost been the other way around! I'm now at the start of taper, having run the Edinburgh to North Berwick 20-miler yesterday - the plan going in was to do it as a training run (starting out at standard long run pace, and picking it up if I felt good), but it didn't quite work out like that... The first five miles felt very comfortable and easy, so it was a surprise when the time check at 5 miles was 37.10 (I've been doing my long runs at or slightly faster than 8.00/mile pace, so was expecting more like 39 minutes). Everything felt fine, though, so I just kept on ticking at that sort of pace until about 14 miles in - was still feeling good at that point, so picked it up a bit on the hilly section between 14 and 17, and kept it going until the end (to the point of doing the last 5 miles in just over 34 minutes!), finishing in 2:25.04.

The previous couple of weeks of training were pretty solid - the highlight was a 19-miler a couple of weeks ago where I took advantage of working near the start of the Edinburgh Marathon course and living not too far off the course at roughly 14/21 miles (the course breaks down into two parts - the first 9 miles gets you to the area of the finish, with the rest being an out-and-back loop) to do a training run on the marathon course.

The aim for the week ahead is to get around 40 miles in, with a long run of 16 miles next Sunday or Monday - I'll be making a start on that tomorrow, although I'll probably take it fairly easy (my left ankle has been feeling a bit tender since yesterday's run, and I think that it's better to play safe at this point).
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MartinD
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Re: In search of 2:xx

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