A 100+ km week

This was going to be the first heavy week of training of my last 2 months before the North Downs Way 50 and I could not wait to start.

My plan was to run more than 100km by going for a run every day except Monday and do 2 long runs back to back during the week end.

Tuesday I started it easy with a 12k run at 4:40.Nothing to report.

Wednesday I went to Richmond Park armed with the Brooks Cascadia. I did 3.5k of warm up run to get there and then did 5 repeats of 400m each going uphill and then resting for the 400mt coming down. Quite a killer. Then 4k of cool down to get back home.

Thursday for various reasons I could not go and do the 15k I had planned. That meant I had to ass more kilometers to the other runs.
I started by doing 4k more than planned on Friday, the day that was set out to be a “tempo run” day. I ran 5k at an average/slow pace as a warm up and then did 5k at around 3:50 min/km average. The first 3 were quite tough, but once I got into the rhythm it felt good to run faster again. I finished the run off with 5 more km to get back home. Overall, 15k at 4:19, not bad.

Then the week end arrived and it was time to run for longer and try to run slower than usual. I am not really good at that but I tried very hard. I also took advantage of the slower pace to think more about my running form and to get used to drinking and eating gels even if I did not feel like it.
On Saturday I did 35km at an average pace of 5:06. I explored a new area along the river and saw some very interesting places around Sunbury, Walton-on-Thames and Weybridge. As soon as the hot weather arrives there are some very interesting pubs on the river where I have already planned to cycle to with the family. At the end of the run I was pretty dead with very stiff legs and I could not imagine running again the day after.

Contrary to that original feeling I woke up on Sunday full of energy and went out straight away for another run even if it was raining and very windy. I did 27km, but slightly faster than Saturday, at 4:48 min/km. I got home pretty happy about my performance and how quickly I seem to be able to recover after a long run.

I managed to make up for the kms I did not do on Thursday and ran a total of 101km (62k on the week end alone).
Good start for the final training push!

Next week will be big too! Especially for my special friend Manu who will be running the South Downs Way 50 on Saturday. Sorry I cannot come and support you!


Back in action

After resting for three days after last week’s marathon I started running again on Wednesday.

The first day was quite painful. The legs were very stiff and I took it easy and only ran 10.5k at 4:51 min/km but it was nice being on the move again and the morning’s weather was nice and the river and Bushy Park were shrouded in a beautiful mist.

The day after, Thursday, I did the same route with a bit more of a detour in Bushy Park, for a total of 12k. I was feeling definitely better and ran at 4:24 min/km. I was wearing the Brooks Cascadia after more than a month of not wearing them. So I went looking for the most interesting and offroad paths I could find on the river and in the park. I had a couple of close encounters with deer and rabbits.

Friday I did another easy run, 13k at 4:33. As there is more light now I went on the river north of the Teddington lock where it is usually very dark as it is in the woods.

Saturday and Sunday I went for longer runs. 21.1k on Saturday and 16.5k on Sunday. I have to say, I was pretty tired by the end of the week end, but both days I felt like I could go on for more.

Next week will be more intensive. I will do speed works again and during the week end I should do two long runs.

Overall a good recovery week, 73km in total and I feel like my legs are back and ready for more.


Another marathon in the bag

Being a race week I took it easy this week and only ran twice before the week end.

On Tuesday I did 10k at 4:32.
On Thursday I did only 8k and tried to keep my heart rate very low, 136BMP average. I ran at 4:41 min/km and I thought that was what I was going to aim for during the marathon on Saturday. Obviously things were not as easy as I planned.

Saturday was a wonderful morning. Cold, but sunny. I went to the start of the Thames Meander Marathon by bicycle. Had my usual menu of snacks, water and banana getting ready for the race. I had a chat with a guy that I had also met at the first Rail To Trail marathon I did in January and then it was time to warm up.

The race was taking place all along the Thames, from Kingston to Putney and back. I know the route very well as I’ve done it many times before. It is all flat and mostly off road. There was not going to be any mud this time, but the terrain is not my favourite as in many places there are a lot of solid ground with rocks sticking out. The first time I ran 25k over that way I had a sort of plantar fasciitis and stopped running for 2 weeks. I have done that route many times since then but I am always a bit afraid.

This time there were no excuses, no unknowns regarding hills or mud. It was just a question of running at the correct pace. I did not. I did stick to my plan of running around 4:40 min/km, but that was not a good plan. Everything went well until the 23rd/24th km. It was the bit in Putney where we had to turn around and come back.


Unfortunately there was also a boat race that day and the bank of the river and the road was packed with people, cars and boats. To run you had to squeeze between bystanders and rowing boats being loaded on cars. It was a mess. Plus there were also the 40 or so runners ahead of me coming back too. I think those two messy kms really punished my legs and from then on it was a downhill spiral through pain.

I went slower and slower. Tried to drink and eat gels, but nothing helped. I started being overtaken and demorilised. When I got to Richmond I overtook a couple of people that paced themselves even worse than me, but it was a slog. 5:30 was the maximum I could do. The 40th km I basically ran on the spot as I was starting to feel like cramps were coming. Then I looked at the watch and realised I was not going to make it under 3:30 like I hoped and that gave me a  motivation to run a little bit faster, but the damage was done. I got to the finish line really spent. This time I could not even drink or eat anything for the next 30 minutes. My stomach was upside down.


I ended up running the race with an exact average of 5:00 min/km for a final time of just some seconds above 3:30. Very annoying as last December I did 40k of this route a lot faster, around 4:40 min/km, so I was pretty sure I could be well under 3:30.
It was anyway a good experience. As soon as I finished it I was thinking about the next and then realised the next one is 50 miles!

So now I have a bit more than 2 months to prepare for the North Downs Way 50. I will try and learn to run slower but for longer. I will try and do 2 long runs each week end and as @manuontrail keeps telling me, I have to practice patience!


Shiny new shoes

After a week of relative rest after the last marathon I started running again with more intensity and it has been a good week.

On Monday I could not run, but it was fin. I’ve decided that from now on Monday will be my rest day (maybe my swimming day) so that I will be able to do two long runs back to back on Saturday and Sunday.

On Tuesday I went out for a relatively easy start of the week. 12k at 4:26 min/km. Nothing special to report, apart from the fact that running on the river is now possible. Bring on the spring!

Wednesday I went out for a short 10k run with the idea of trying the new Zealot and taking it easy. I was so excited about running with new shoes that the “taking it easy” part was soon forgotten. Even the first warm up kms were done faster than 4:25. I ended up going faster and faster (I ended up doing 10k with a 4:04 average). The shoes felt good, almost like not wearing them. Very light but still very cushioning. They are definitely shoes that want you to go fast but hold your form. The only thing I don’t really like is the colour scheme. A bit too garish for me. So much so that when I left them in the garden after this first run a magpie came straight to peck them.


On Thursday I took a relatively new route via Richmond. The hill in the middle was fun and the big full red moon I saw when at the top, with the river below, was breath-taking. I did a total of 14k at 4:26 for just over one hour of running.

In the next couple of months I need to be careful and prepare a nice training schedule. Otherwise I will end up running every day at this sort of speed. I need more variety, slow days, fast days etc. Otherwise I will not improve if I keep on running at this pace every day of the week. To remedy this issue straight away I did some speed work on Friday.

To feel like a marathon runner I did three 2km intervals at 3:45 with two minutes rest. I was aiming for 3:40, but I was a bit tired. Not too bad anyway.

On Saturday, armed with just one gel, I went out for a long run (not too long as I have to keep some energy for next week’s race). I tried to keep the heart as close to 140 bpm as possible. It was not easy as I went to Richmond park which is a bit hilly. It was a wonderful day. Running in shorts with no hat/buff, no gloves etc, feels so much better. I did 26.5km in 2:02 (4:39 average pace).

And then on Sunday I went out again! It was even sunnier. I went around Bushy Park and then explored a new part of the river for me, the one that goes away from Hampton Court but in the other direction, towards Molesey. I think it goes on for a bit, but I had to come back after a while as I was feeling a bit tired and I had no water and no gels. I also did not want to overdo it. I ended up doing a precise 21.1km at 4:30 average. I will definitely go that way again as it is also another very nice soft trail with nice views of the Thames.

Overall it was a very good week. Went out running 6 times for a total of 96.5km. I am also very excited for having discovered a new pair of shoes. I feel this will not be the first pair of Zealot I will own. I don’t want to be too optimistic, but I have run 80+ km in 5 days in the Zealot and I never felt the usual right foot plantar issues once. Could they be the solution to my little niggles?


Now it is time to take it easy for a week and then run my third marathon in 3 months. This one is flat and while it is not on the road I would not consider it a trail marathon. I will try and do it in less than 3:30. I have done 40k of that route and I know that in a good day I could do the whole 42k in 3:20/3:25 so we’ll see. I hope I will not overdo it in the first half as usual.

Keep running!


Easy week

There is not much to report from last week. As it was a post marathon week I had to rest a bit (and eat junk and drink beer).

After three days of rest I was restless so on Wednesday I went out for a 10k easy run. I was hurting everywhere. First my feet were complaining, especially the toes. Then the Achilles’s tendons for a couple of kilometers and finally the hamstrings. Anyway I was happy to be back in action.

Thursday was a very strange day. It was almost 11 degrees at 5am! I went out in shorts and run 10k again but this time I tried to put some speed in. I could not. I was still too tired.

Friday was going to be the last run of the week as during the week-end I had decided not to run as my mum was visiting. So I tried to run for a bit longer. I did 14k, it was raining, but I enjoyed it a lot. The light is starting to arrive early in the morning and I can finally run on the riverside again. At least on the way back. Soon it will be possible to run inside Bushy Park! I cannot wait.

On a side note, I have been shopping for new shoes. The Asics Nimbus have more than 700k in tehm and it is time to change them. I decided to try something new and bought the Adidas energy Boost 2.


They have very similar stats to the Nimbus. Unfortunately I was so silly I ordered them from the web without trying them. I probably bought them half a size too small. In general I think they are tighter than the Nimbus. So after using them for a week to go to work I decided not to use them for running. I’ll use them as “normal” shoes.

I then watched this video (as always the Gearist is very informative):

and decided to try the Saucony Zealot. I am interested in seeing how a smaller drop affects my running. I went to the local shop but they were not selling them. They were nice enough to let me try the Kinvara for size and then I ordered the Zealot from a web site.

They arrived pretty quickly:

Saucony Zealot

The first thing I did was weight them on the kitchen scale (don’t tell my wife). They seemed so light! And they are: 100g less than the Nimbus (each one). I cannot wait to try them. I hope to get used to them in time for the next marathon in a couple of weeks time.