The Hard Yards

I’m tired. That isn’t a surprising statement because I have run the highest mileage week of the campaign thus far – 72 miles. For the first time I tried running big mileage days back to back with 20 miles on Wednesday and then 21.5 miles on Thursday.

I’m tired but fairly happy with my progress.  If I am honest, the marathon training this year has felt more of a slog than last year.  I’m much more aware of the need to grind out a volume of miles so that I have plenty in the bank before Comrades. Consequently, the running has felt somewhat sluggish and I wasn’t sure whether I was making much progress.

However, I felt there was a breakthrough this week.  After the Snake Lane 10 mile race last Sunday, I did two very gentle recovery runs at 8:30 miling on Monday and a full day in London with work on Tuesday meant that I didn’t run at all.

On the train back from the Smoke, I had planned to get home and put my trainers on as soon as I got in; but by the time I arrived home it was gone 8:30 pm, I was knackered and I just C.B.A. (Couldn’t be A**ed).

As a bit of a rebuke to myself, I resolved to run a 20 mile round trip for a run commute on Wednesday. I’m not at my best on a morning so the first 6.5 mile leg was a bit of a shuffle, but as I set off for the evening homeward run I realised that I felt good.

Every so often, one sets off for a run and it feels unusually easier than normal, the feet appear to land more lightly on the pavement, the breathing is relaxed and effortless and that was how I felt on Wednesday.  It was brilliant.

With a spring in my step, I bounded up the first few uphill miles at 7:20 pace rather than the normal 8:30 and I managed an overall pace of 7:30 for the 13.5 miles, which is pretty good as it included a thousand feet of ascending.

On Thursday, some mates from Valley Striders planned an afternoon run of 20 miles+.  I pulled in a few favours at work so I could secure a last-minute afternoon off.  I was running with Gary and two of the strongest ladies at our club, Myra and Hannah.

I felt OK for the first few miles as we meandered around the pleasant North Leeds suburbs and then wended our way down to the newly refurbished Leeds-Liverpool canal towpath. However, as we hit Leeds city centre at near rush hour, my legs started feeling dreadfully heavy.

After 18 miles I was struggling, though it really helped to be running with a group.  Running solo, I might have tossed in the towel, but I stuck to it and I shuffled up the final two uphill miles, right at the back, with Hannah towing me home.  I was completely shattered at the end, but pleased to have run 21.5 miles, making a total of 42 miles in two days.

I had a much needed rest day on Friday, and was out in Manchester on Friday night at a Sportsmans’ dinner, staying over at my mate Richie’s again.  I managed to keep the alcohol consumption to a sensible volume, but didn’t get much sleep after another late night darts match in the cellar.

At 9 a.m. on Saturday morning I was back in my old student stomping ground of Fallowfield in Manchester for the South Manchester parkrun.  I love the course there, it is fast and flat, but it has one major drawback – after rain, it gets flooded very quickly.  Unfortunately, it rains a lot in Manchester.

There weren’t many puddles on the course, but there were a few small lakes – some 10 metres or more across that you could not avoid.  My feet were completely drenched within the first kilometre and it made for a soggy and squishy run.

As I passed the 4K mark I was in a group of three, then another guy cruised past me and I was blowing hard. The last 400 metres of the course are back on a wide tarmac path around the boating lake.  I got it in my head that I would outsprint my three adversaries, whatever it took.  As we hit the path I fired the burners and managed to overtake them all comfortably, finishing in 18:22 for 12th place.

On Sunday, we had the finale of the Peco Cross country league – a 4.5 mile race in Roundhay Park Leeds. As Leodiensians everywhere will know, Roundhay Park is Yorkshire flat – i.e. hilly as hell and the race had a sting in the tail with a run up the notorious Hill 60, one of the primary sledging hills in Leeds.

After such a heavy mileage week, I just didn’t have it today.  Chaos at the start meant that I set off well back in the huge field and had to spend the first two miles trying to establish something like my proper position in the field.  The final climb up Hill 60 was made even tougher by a piercing headwind and about half way up I realised that I was almost at a standstill, taking tiny steps and barely moving forwards.  The results aren’t out yet, but I imagine that I finished quite a long way down from my 40th place in the previous race.

Just before writing this week’s blog, I gently gloated to my friend Hannah on Strava that I had run 0.3 miles further than her this week.  She’s had the last laugh by putting on her trainers and running around the block for an extra 0.6 miles – which made me smile.  That is one competitive lady!

I think I will struggle to record a similar mileage next week – I have a two day business trip to Scotland on Tuesday and Wednesday and I won’t be able fit any running in on those days.



CM – 13 weeks (MM -7 weeks)
Weight 11st 5.4lb
72 Miles
parkrun – South Manchester 18:22 (12th)


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