Training again

Going to run the Wellington marathon again this year. Have been quiet on the running since our second son arrived in August; and quiet on the blogging since I got a Garmin GPS watch. So it’s all logged and graphed and mapped to death over here.

Ran a half recently around the Wellington bays in 1:39:30. A slight improvement on the last half, and not bad given the lack of focused training. Should be able to go under 3:30 for the full marathon if I can stick to the training and avoid injury. Using Matt Fitzgerald’s beginners programme on top of regular commute runs into work. (It’s about 7k one way and I’m trying to do it five or six times a week.)

Done: 3:47

So at last I managed to run a marathon. It’s been no easy run, to make a pun, but on Sunday 27 June 2010 in a howling Wellington southerly I ran my first marathon, the Harbour Capital, in 3 hours and 47 minutes.

It was a far cry from my aim of 3:30, but with calf strains in both legs over the last few months and something dodgy with the tendons in my left ankle (all the way up to my hip at times), the training went fairly pear-shaped towards the end. Add to that my fall-back position of eating too much sugary fat and I was over optimistic to aim for 3:30.

In truth I also started to panic that I wouldn’t make it. I’d done three 20-mile runs and a 22-mile. Two of the 20-miles took about 2:45; the 22-mile took 3:02; but the third 20-mile was 3:03 with pain and extreme stiffness setting in for the last mile or two.

So in the end, and with the rain coming down at the start, I revised expectations and aimed to finish. I also took on board advice from a good friend and keen runner to be careful at the 10km marker not to let loose. The worry at 10km is that you’re feeling good and you let yourself speed up. As it happened, I was running with a group at that point all of whom sped up and gradually left me behind. But I kept on going and slowly over the second half of the race overtook at least a few of them.

I felt in fact pretty damn good and managed to enjoy the last 7km – I’d never run that far before and I was passing people all the way. Maybe that suggests I hadn’t pushed myself enough, but for a first time out it was a good introduction. I’ll be doing more, and aiming again for that 3:30.

Pic: me, far left, at about the 9km mark; taken from the Dominion Post, 27 June 2010, page 3 (see the second picture in this story in the online edition)

Heel boy!

So, it’s been a quiet last month on the running and blogging, but perhaps it’s safe to say that I’m on the mend from the calf strain. Physio released me last week, but not without plenty of stretching, thigh and glute strengthening, and balance exercises (the latter especially round the ankle). Her take on what caused it was a combination of too much crossing over and using a front-foot strike.

I’ll concede two out of three: yes my feet were crossing over a lot, and yes I was using a front-foot strike, but the front-foot strike isn’t bad in itself, but it might be bad if you switch to it too quickly or don’t have the bio-mechanical strength to support it. So I’m now back to a heel-to-mid-foot strike, which is feeling ok so far. Picking up the distances over the last couple of weeks and finding a 5-minute kilometre is currently pretty standard. Done quite a few 10km runs, some 12, and a 16 on Sunday.

Thinking now about the Harbour Capital run at the end of June; do I aim to do a faster half-marathon time or try to train for the full marathon? Is it too late to aim for the marathon? Maybe if I take the Hal Higdon novice approach and just aim to finish I could do it. It’s about the last real chance to run a decent-sized marathon before the 40th birthday… The full marathon is the tempting option.

What next?

So it’s been a while since I ran the half and am now wondering what next. For starters I’m probably joining a friend for another half in Marton at the end of August, part of his training for the full Berlin marathon in September. I best get back to some training for the next half, and less biscuits and lala-runs round the waterfront. That said I’ve been running fairly regularly with a good long run every weekend somewhere between 1:30 and 1:55, and some shorter faster runs during the week (an 8km in 36:30mins is my best pace to date).

But it begs the question of when I’ll be running that marathon, how I’ll prepare for it, and what I’m aiming for. The last question’s the easiest one: 3:30. It should be possiblem but I’ve got to take it seriously and allow enough time to get properly in shape – physically but probably more importantly mentally.

The Auckland one sounds a bit full on and in any case is sold out (and is too soon – November). I’ve heard there’s one in Wellington over the summer, and keeping local would be good, though I wonder if that’s enough time to prepare. For that Rotorua looks like a good option in May 2010, with plenty of time. So maybe that’ll be the one…

Meantime I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and so far it’s really good take on what drives some people to spend hours alone running.