Having not run for so long I was obviously feeling quite anxious about how much fitness I may have lost. Sally assured me that I would still be able to get back into the swing of things and that my marathon target should still be attainable – I really hope she’s right! She set me a recovery plan with mostly steady running, starting with 60mins steady on Monday and Tuesday.
My fears were not massively helped by the struggle of my first run back. The biggest difference I noticed was how heavy and stiff my legs felt. They seemed to have forgotten all of the hard work and training I’d put in to get them strong and they just felt like lead. I was meant to be running steady – which we all know by now should be roughly 65-70% of max HR, which for me is between 159-167 bpm – but every time I tried to slow down to keep my HR in range my legs felt like they were going to stop moving. In the end I finished at 9:05 min/mile, which was far too fast for what I should have been doing, but I felt pleased to have got it done.
Tuesday’s steady run was ever-so-slightly worse. I ran first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. I did the same route as Monday but in reverse (the route, not me!). Again my legs were struggling and I really noticed the lack of cardio fitness whenever I went uphill – my breathing and HR becoming laboured. This run was slower overall at 9:22 min/mile, but I suppose that’s expected.
Thursday brought the challenge of a bit of pace thrown in as a test of my fitness. I was scheduled to run 30mins steady, followed by 60mins at pace and I was praying my body wouldn’t let me down. I planned a route of roughly 10 miles, knowing that was around about the distance I should have been covering. I started out ok, keeping mostly within the correct HR ranges for a steady run and keeping a pace of around 9:30 min/mile. After my watch hit 30mins I started to try and pick up the pace. The first few miles of pace were a little disappointing as even though whenever I looked at my watch I seemed to be at around 8:30 min/mile when the mile splits ticked over I was too slow. I eventually managed to hit the correct pace, but my HR was far too high all the way through the 60min section. I was at, and over, my threshold HR. I was pleased I managed to get the right pace for the last four or so miles, but it was a bit of a slap in the face that it had now become such a struggle. Boo!
My long run was planned for Saturday and was supposed to be five miles steady, with 10 miles at pace, but following Thursday’s high HRs Sally advised me to just stick to steady for the whole 15M. I got in touch with Laura who was running 18M with her friend Odette and I tagged along with them for their run. Odette had planned a route that took us out of Harlow, over to Northweald and then back round to Harlow again for the last few miles. It had come out at about 10 miles for the Northweald-bound section on the mapping tool, but actually ended up being more than 12M by the time we got back into Harlow which meant we only had to tag on an extra few to get me to 15 and then Laura to carry on to 18M. Unfortunately, due to latching my watch on to the GPS signals far too early, my battery was drained before we even reached halfway. I think this may have actually been a blessing in disguise as no doubt my HR and pace would have made me worry the whole way round and instead I just focussed on putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the scenery a bit. It started raining about halfway round, which we actually found quite refreshing! By the time I left Laura to carry on with her 18 miler (looking fresh – you’ll have no problem with the marathon girl!) I think we must have been at around 15.5 miles, and despite the noticeable difference in my fitness I was pleased to have still been able to do it.
Here is the week in training:
And now it’s Monday again and we’re totally up to date! I have a pace session tonight, I’m hoping my HR will be at a less scary level, and this week is the Silverstone Half Marathon where I’d been hoping to achieve a sub 1:50. I am doubtful I will be able to achieve it, having been ill so recently, but we will see what Sunday brings…