NDW50 Wk 15: Ups and downs (wc 20.02.17)

I’m going to be honest. I’m struggling. I have just over ten weeks to go & I really don’t know if I can do it. It feels as if a number of my posts recently have been written in this tone but I am having some serious, serious doubts.

I’m yet to really hit high milage, ultra training is just so different to marathon training & even with the guidance of a coach I’m doubting everything I’m doing & questioning if I’m doing enough or doing too much. The thought that my longest run so far has been 21 miles & that’s not even half way, is killing me.

I don’t feel as if I am training consistently. I have a couple of good runs, then a bad one. I hurt, I have so many niggles it feels as if I am waking up with a new part of my body hurting every day. This morning it was my toes. WTF.

My knee is playing up. It’s bothered my on three of my four last long-runs. I have mild plantar fasciilitis (though the GOOD news is that after only a couple of days of doing the exercises that the podiatrist gave me I am feeling an improvement!) & no matter how much foam rolling I do my IT band is constantly tight.

And I’m tired, so tired. And there is ten weeks still to go. And I have two marathons in that time.

I don’t know if I can do this.

I didn’t run today. I was meant to do 7 miles. My knee was sore. I had zero energy. My body needed rest. I slept eight hours. I need to try & get myself back into gear…

So the plan for this week?

I’m going to drop it right down, run slow & easy

Monday’s recovery run postponed to Tuesday & I am going to run this SLOW & steady. Heart rate zone two. Tuesday afternoon I’ve got my next PT session. We’re going to focus on knee strengthening work, followed by some trigger point work on my calf to try & help the PF. The rest of the week I’ll see how I feel. Sunday’s ‘long’ run is only 12 miles as I have a mini taper ahead of the Thames Meander Marathon the following weekend. *only* 12 miles, laugh out loud…

And so last week…? Lets look at the positives.

Strong on the hills

8 miles, 1:14:54, 9:18 min/mile, 572ft elevation gain

After a successful gentle solo three miles in the morning to test the knee, the Striders club run in the evening started poorly. The first couple of miles were tough & I was very glad I’d opted to run with the third group this week. Then two miles in we hit a two mile long hill. I came into my own. I felt strong on the hill. I kept a decent, steady pace & alongside a couple of others pulled ahead of the group. My legs felt strong & powerful & the hill didn’t intimidate me.

The downhills were fast. After starting poorly, I finished feeling good. I’m starting to see an improvement on the hills, I run them, I feel strong. I think the time spent strength training is beginning to pay off. Most of the strengthening exercises I do are focused on the glutes; deadlifts, squats, lunges & variations of, designed to give me power on the hills. It’s working…

parkrun

Roundshaw Downs parkrun, 5km, 23:04, second lady, 7:31 min/mile

Parkrun has become my regular tempo run. This week saw surges into heart rate zone four (above 164) & it felt good to really push it for a while again. Sometimes it’s good to just run a little harder! It wasn’t an all out effort as the target was to stay mainly in zone three. But, third fastest 5km time & second lady with gas left in the tank, I’ll take that!

Powering up the hill at parkrun!
Powering up the hill at parkrun!

I do really want to give a flat 5km another go. I ran 22:42 in December at the pancake smooth Peterborough parkrun. Having since run 22:51 & today’s 23:04 on an undulating, muddy, off-road course I wonder if I can go even faster on flat tarmac? As tempting as it is, this will HAVE to wait until post NDW50. Perhaps a summer challenge? How close to 22 minutes can I get my 5km time?

15 miles before the husband got out of bed…

15 miles, 2:10:13, 8:41 min/mile, 700ft elevation gain

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It started so well… And ended so badly. I hit the road running at 6:02am (I needed to be glammed up & exhibiting at a wedding fair by 11am…) aiming for 16 miles. I didn’t have much time so started on one of my old regular road loops that takes in as many parks as I can.

Still dark as I ran through South Norwood Country Park (not done that before, usually avoid this park in the dark but it was ok) & up towards Crystal Palace Park. My training schedule said 16 ‘undulating’ miles & the Country Park up to Crystal Palace Park is basically a 1.75 mile hill (which is why I usually run this route the other way round!) before flying down to Dulwich Park, a quick loop & heading over to Hearne Hill & Brockwell Park. Paused for a few minutes to admire the London skyline – I’m always amazed at how far you can see from the top of the the park before heading over to Streatham Common.

The city skyline from Brockwell Park
The city skyline from Brockwell Park

I could tell I was running a fairly good pace, although as I’ve changed my Garmin screen to focus on heart rate I wasn’t as fixated on pace as I have been previously, I was more concerned with keeping my heart rate in zone two.

It was between Brockwell & Streatham that my knee started aching. I ignored it. It ached some more. I stopped, strapped it up. I carried on. Down to the bottom of Streatham Common just so that I could run back up… Madness. Still aching. 13 miles. Mentally rerouted my run to take out a couple of hills & go the most direct route home. I’d give it another mile. 14 miles, aching even more, starting to affect my gait. Just a little bit further*. 15 miles. No, that was it, I was done. I stopped, Stopped the Garmin & walked home. The husband was still in bed.

Looking at my stats post run my average heart rate was bang at 145 bpm, on but my pace was 40 seconds quicker per mile than I ran 15 miles over similar elevation back in January. That feels too much of an ‘improvement’ & too quick to me. Did I run too hard for the hills? Is that why at mile 12 my knee went again & I ended up stopping a mile early?

Or, is my heart rate a better gauge & am I fitter than I think?

I didn’t have much time to reflect on the run as it was almost straight to work when I finished (post shower, obvs) but I did feel pretty despondent. Stupid, stupid knee. Just when I thought I might be over that bothersome injury it flares up again & always at the most inopportune moment. So that’s it. This week is officially struggling.

* I have had knee issues for many years, it often flares up as I increase the miles in marathon training & then settles down again. It went at about the half-way point at both the Toronto Marathon in 2014 & Brighton Marathon in 2016, both times I was able to run it off after a few miles which is why I kept going today. I even PB’d in Toronto. On the other side it went at mile 20 at Bournemouth Marathon in 2013 & I ended up walking the last three miles. I then ran my half-marathon PB with no pain the following week… Let’s just say it’s temperamental & there appears to be no rhyme or reason to it!

Week Fifteen: 31.3 miles in total with 1,670 ft elevation gain.

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Author: photogirlruns

Photographer. Runner. Green. Vegetarian & proud to run on plants. This is a personal blog as I embark on a slightly crazy running adventure...

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