A long Long Run

One of the major disadvantages with running a marathon in the springtime is that most of the training has to be done during the winter.  For me it is not the cold and wet weather that is the issue.  I am with the Billy Connolly school of thought that there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.  No, for me the major problem is that most of the running has to be done in darkness.

In this modern World it seems we must attach labels to every problem, issue or challenge we face – children are never slow readers, they must be ‘dyslexic’, they are never naughty and badly behaved, they have ‘ADHD’.  Well, I won’t claim to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I do get more pissed off during the winter and I think that the lack of daylight might be an influencing factor.

For me March 1st is a major milestone in the year.  All of a sudden there is more light – it doesn’t get dark until after 6pm now, nature is waking up and getting ready for a new growing season – the crocuses and snowdrops are out and there is a semblance of optimism, all the fun in the year lies ahead – the trips away with mates, a chance to get out cycling and the beautiful long days of the English summer.

The extra daylight helps me with my run training, primarily because I can run to and from work in daylight on my commute and consequently I just feel happier being out there.

I have run farther in the last seven days than I ever have in any other week of my life.  I covered 79.08 miles, which included a 24 mile run this morning around the Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs.  It took me 3 hours 8 minutes, for an average pace of 7:50 per mile – not bad given that it included 350 metres of ascent. This will be the longest run of the training phase.

I got up early and consumed a huge bowl of porridge with honey, bananas and blueberries as fuel for the run.  I was up at the reservoirs before 8 am in order to have some peace before the dog walkers arrived.  This was going to be a solo run.

I decided to wear my Hoka shoes.  These are a type of shoe invented by French Ultra marathon runners – there are the antithesis of the modern trend toward the minimalist barefoot type shoe because they have a huge double thickness midsole of EVA.  This makes them very cushioned.  I like my Hokas for long runs because they are very comfortable and I believe they reduce the strain on my ankles and Achilles tendon, thus reducing the risk of injury.  They have two major disadvantages.  Firstly, they are pretty heavy so they don’t feel fast or nimble at all, but the main problem is that they look ridiculous, they are like Clown’s shoes:


Another good reason for getting out earlier when fewer people are around.

The long run went great, it was a good day, cool and drizzly and I started steadily, knocking off the miles in my huge shoes;  just me, the path and the MP3 player.  I never listen to music whilst running, preferring varied podcasts – things like Freakonomics and Radiolab mainly.  If you have never tried Radiolab, then I heartily recommend it – it’s a brilliantly produced by Public Radio in New York and has rightfully earned the accolade as the ‘World’s Greatest Podcast’.

This week was an interesting study of why 10% of humans are left handed when all other animals are divided 50/50 between right and left handers, except for one.  Did you know about 90% of parrots are left ‘clawed’, only 10% right.  Fascinating? Anyway, it helps me to pass the miles.

I did a very similar long run exactly 12 months ago whilst preparing for the 2013 Manchester marathon.  Back then I covered 20 miles around the reservoirs at 7:57 per mile pace. I was 6 pounds heavier.

I had a good parkrun on Saturday – I went for it and my time of 18:27 was my best for the year so far.  I tried my hardest to follow Dave McGuire, a Leeds parkrun legend and fellow MV45 runner – a lovely guy and the owner of the loudest voice in Yorkshire.  Dave set off like a scolded cat and just kept going.  He was always 30-40 metres in front of me and hard as I tried, I couldn’t reel him in – he beat me by a good 20 seconds in the end.  That’s no disgrace – he’s a great athlete.

Just 5 weeks to go until the big one, I’m getting close to finding out whether I can achieve that sub 3 hour goal.  I’ll try for another highish mileage next week – it’s the East Hull 20 mile race next Sunday, which I’ll do as a marathon rehearsal training run.

The only target race between now and the Marathon is the Thirsk 10 mile race on March 23rd.  I’m hoping for a still day so I can have a go for a PB and maybe get close to the hour.  After that, it’s taper time when I will reduce my mileage, hopefully allowing the body to strengthen up after all the training.

M – 5 Weeks / 79 miles. Longest run 24 miles. Parkrun (Leeds) 18:27 (10th). Weight after Sunday run 11 st. 5.2 lb