The Middle Ground



  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    Having seen the result I look forward to the report, DT! Your gun time made me smile!

    Well done today, Muss! Perhaps another hardish week and then back off?

    13 for me. Minutes, that is. Happy that I ran.

    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • Andrew_DAndrew_D ✭✭✭
    Just seen it too - excellent stuff DT! Look forward to the report!

    Good to hear you are at least running a little Alehouse. 

    Good run Muss - enjoy the wind down to the race in a couple of weeks.

    Easy running here still - aiming for a ‘massive’ 3.5 mile run tomorrow! Would be my longest for a good couple of months. Sadly, that’s how bad it’s been!
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    2.51.59, back in a bit. 
  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    Decent bit off your PB! Well done DT! We are all looking forward to the blow by blow account!
    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    Congrats! Good work to get under 2:52! Well deserved and more to come I'm sure. What's next for you after some celebration and recovery?

    Ale - 13 minutes is good progress. Happy for you after such a long time out.

    That's my plan. I'll essentially repeat this week but I'll change things up with my harder run. Things get busier for me at work in those two weeks before the race, so it will work well with the taper - and hopefully provide a good distraction.
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    Alehouse, yeah pretty much 6 minutes. I now know, all things staying equal that I can attack London in October at sub 2.50 pace. It's just 4-5s per mile quicker.

    Muss, couple of weeks of very little now then start building back up. I'm eyeing up a 10km late May and a half mid June as a starter. So I don't want to lose too much time to bring about a fitness loss or weight gain. Bit equally I need to respect the recovery process.  
  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    I know it will be a while before you file your report, DT but in the interim be thing about WWW/EBI. I get people to pick out three things that went well and three things that could be improved. 

    2.5 km here today, longest for nearly 9 weeks. So that is 6 days run out of the last 8. All very gentle but pulse rate is still much too high for the effort.
    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    Alehouse, I'm not sure I can identify 3 things that I would change next time. Whilst I think I could have been more ambitious first half it's not something that went wrong as I stuck to my pre race plan. 

    Nutrition was an issue in that I think I overdid some carb loading and gave myself tummy ache. Also on the day I didn't fill my flip belt up enough and my gels moved through ftom front to back so after the third were very difficult to access. I look tried taking revvies but they are so fiddly and difficult to open I used a lot of energy at Mile 6 trying to get into one. I won't bother again. 

    I think my kit as a whole, none of which I'd raced in prior, was a great success as was my pacing and adherence to plan, which in part involved letting go of the pacing plan in the last 10 if my judgement told me to. 

    Good to see you getting some regular running in now, even if not what you're used to. 

  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    I think you have basically answered my question, DT! I like runners to be realistically reflective!
    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Dorney Lake marathon

    This is essentially the culmination of two training blocks interspersed by some significant time out from March-July last year with a stress fracture.

    I’d got myself in pretty good shape for London 2020 when injury and then COVID struck. With no real running March-June, as soon as I could I got myself training on the turbo I did. I started running tentatively early July, built up through August and was back to what would be considered normal training in September. I was pretty surprised how fast fitness not only returned, but then surpassed previous levels. I was doing nothing differently at all, except weight loss.

    In November I entered Dorney Mara and at that time races were happening and it seemed fairly probable it would go ahead. In December I took a late opportunity to run the MK half as I wanted to get a gauge of fitness. That went very well, on a difficult course, with a 90s pb. That was to be possibly the last racing weekend before lockdown.

    I continued to marathon train over winter, getting lighter and faster. At times it wasn’t easy knowing and being told by all commentators that the prospect of Dorney going ahead was virtually zero. However I was enjoying the process and my view was that providing I didn’t get injured, the worst that happens was the race was cancelled and I was fitter. Highlights over that period involve twice beating my 10m pb just on my routine Friday tempo run and a 10k TT in 36.11 smashing my 10k and 5m pb’s and smashing through sub 18 for 5k.

    In early March the Government tossed out a glimmer of hope with their announcement that organised sports could commence on 29th March. It still took UKA another 3 weeks to get things straight and I finally had confirmation the race was on just 9 days out.

    I got through taper week with only having to deal with the onset of 4 minor ailments/niggles which was quite reasonable. I had also been permitted by the organisers to change to the 11am start (3-4 hour runners) from the 9am start (sub 3) due to my 100m journey. This did cause me some concern as I was putting myself in a position whereby a solo TT was increasingly likely. But then I do all my training solo and on balance this was preferable to a 5am start to get there for 9am. They also allowed my wife to be a marshal for a few hours to enable her to drive me there and back and get around the ‘no spectator’ rules, so I can’t fault how accommodating the organiser was.

    The other point of issue was then settling on what mara pace was, in the absence of proper tune up races. It is sometimes all too easy to misread a 10 m training run as being sustainable over a marathon and having had two bad marathons I have a high degree of respect for the event. Ultimately my goal was to run under 2.55, beyond that was a bonus and I would look to use this as a platform later in the year in London. I carried out some research via Strava and was quite aware that my garmin would log this course as 26.40m Therefore my pace planning was around this distance. It meant I needed an average pace of 6.37mm, which frankly didn’t seem too much of an ask. I decided that I would start off 6.40’s and slowly eat into it so as to pass half way at 6.37 pace. I would then hold steady a bit longer then at 16m, it’s just a normal weekly 10m tempo so we go from there and wind it up. That was plan A at least!

    Arriving on race day conditions were reasonable. It was overcast and around 7c. Whilst I wouldn’t call it windy, it was breezy. You can’t really expect to run around a location like this and there not be some wind. The set up was good with the 9am and 10am starts underway which meant that there was only the 11am start folk hanging around and using toilets etc so no pre-race dramas. I got myself ready and was troubled by some mild stomach ache, which I put down to nerves and that did disappear as soon as we got going.

    I got myself to my pen about 10.55 and a couple of other lads came along, but it was difficult to know if they were deferred from the 9am start or were sub 3 hopefuls. I decided I didn’t need to know as I had my plan in place. Just on 11am they took us to the start line. This was kind of a bit random in that we were stood facing the start and told ‘there you go, start when you want’. It was a case of making your own decision as to when the pain and suffering ought to begin. Much like when I am preparing to start an interval session, it was a matter of the sooner I start the sooner it’s done, so I just got myself going.

    The course comprises of 4 full loops in a horseshoe manner, each being about 6.5m. Each full loop is also broken into 4 so that you run down one side, loop around the bottom, run back up the same side, run right around the top passed the start/finish area and back down and up the opposite side. I prepared myself well for this as for the last 8 weeks or so I have done all my tempos on a 1.2m loop, running multiple loops on a 10 miler.

    We set off towards the far side of the lake going over the bridge with the Olympic rings. What I didn’t know at the time until I had done a full loop was this was the harder of the two sides and of that particular side, the running downwards was to be the hardest part. The reason being was that on this side the wind had a chance to whip up a bit more force coming straight off the lake and the down portion was also raised a few feet above lake level making it the perfect height to feel the cross wind. Coming back up was closer to lake level so didn’t feel quite as exposed to the wind. On the opposing side the run down was at lake level and was quite well covered as it was quite a bit below the open area with a reasonably sized banking up to the return path. In addition on this side there was tree cover immediately before the lake and no lake to allow the wind to sweep off. So in essence what I ended up with was what I soon learnt to call the ‘hard side’ and the ‘easy side’.

    Anyway, back to the race…. I set off at the front of my start and then after about 200m a tall lad in a green vest came by me and went off ahead of me. I thought to myself, I wonder if we’ll meet again in the latter stages!! The nature of the course being up and down, you got to have a permanent check on where folk were compared to you as the race developed.

    The first few miles were pretty crap. I was struggling to run at 6.40s anywhere near as easy as in training. Of course as this stage I didn’t know I was running the hardest part of the course. There were quite a few people still on the course as well at this time as all the 9am sub 3 starters were still there. I persevered but after a few miles the demons were kicking it, ‘it’s OK you haven’t had a bad mara for a while’, ‘they can’t all be winners’ etc. I genuinely feared the worst. Then I thought back to London 2019 when the first 8 or so miles felt like a trudge and that sort of lifted me a bit. The first few miles crept by in 6.44, 6.37 and 6.38. By this point I was running back up the hard side and I realised this part wasn’t as hard. I also noted that my average pace was already at 6.40mm and was right on target.

  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    10km tempo today. The goal for the first 5km was to practise the pacing I'll use for the first 5km of the race, and then press on in the 2nd half and see what I could do without trashing myself. The first 5km came in 22:30 on the nose, and the second was 20:54, so 43:24 for the whole 10km. Average HR for the 10k was 170, so right on the edge of threshold.

    I lost discipline a touch in the last km, which ended up at 5k pace, but otherwise it was actually pretty comfortable. In terms of pacing for the race, my plan is 5km to ease in (maybe a touch slower than the first 5km today), 10km at the overall pace I'm aiming for, and then I'll see what I can do. I'm thinking HM pace might be around 4:20mins/km, which is right between the average pace for each 5km today. I'm glad I've done this run - I knew already that I'm in as good shape as I've ever been, but today was a real confidence builder.

    I've had a couple of very good recovery runs recently, with paces coming out fast for me at HR levels lower than I thought I could sustain. One more 2 hour run on Saturday, then time to taper!
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I noted that green vest had opened up a reasonable gap between us at an early stage and at about 4m a guy in a black vest came through and passed me. Again, I wondered what would become!!!

    As I came up and into the otherside of the loop things became easier again and I started to get my bounce with a 6.37, 6.34, 6.34 and a 6.39 essentially completing the first full loop. I also got a gel down at 5 miles. By this point the demons had passed and still not feeling as good as I had hoped (I think there is possibly a misconception with marathons that you ought to feel completely untouched by the pace in the first half or you are in trouble), the pace was feeling pretty easy now and if anything I was working to keep a lid on it.

    I would also add that mentally it didn’t feel like I was running a marathon as I was not counting to 26. After loop 1 it was very much a matter of counting down from 3. It was a bit disconcerting early on seeing mile markers for mile 25 when you are only 3 in but you get over that.

    Onto lap 2 and the miles kept ticking over, albeit I remained cautious however a systems check at certain points versus loop 1 and if anything I was feeling better than the same stage in loop 1 so my thoughts turned to ‘if I feel like this at this point in loop 3 then it’s on’. By this point green vest and black best were out of sight to the extent I didn’t really register them, albeit that by about 10m I noted they were both working together so black had caught green.

    At 7m I tried to take a revvies caffeine strip, however the work involved in opening it offset the benefit so I knocked those on the head after the first one. The next few miles just ticked by, there’s not much I can say about running up and down  in straight lines then around the top of a lake. They came in 6.39, 6.34, 6.37 and 6.35. By this point average pace was at the desired 6.37mm. I took my second gel at 11m and was well into the second loop and starting to believe this was going to end in something big.  I recall checking my watch at 13.15m and it had just ticked over to 1.27.00 so taking half way at 13.20 I probably made that in 1.27.20 with average pace smack on 6.37, with a 6.29 (slight panic I’d gone too fast) and a 6.37 to end the first half. A quick systems check and it was very much time to let the reigns go a little and see what came. I started a thought process along the lines of ‘that doesn’t give me much scope if I slow down latterly, I really need more in the bank’, then the newer marathon running version of me steps in and says ‘don’t be so ridiculous, we aren’t slowing down, we are going faster now’. I basically put all my money on my ability to negative split.

    As I make my way through lap 3 running down towards the bottom of the hardest part suddenly green/black vest appear to be coming back to me. At the turnabout point at the bottom the loop, (about 15m) I can see they are much closer to me and this is like a red rag to a bull, it almost drives me with energy, the thought that my race plan is going to work better than theirs. I take another gel at 15m and I can feel the boost from this.

    The next few miles, a noticeable creeping of pace is evident from my halfway decision with a 6.32, 6.30, 6.31 and a 6.30.

    On to mile 18 and I catch green/black vest. By this point black vest has already started dropping off green, he looks tired. I sit behind green vest for a bit as he’s about 6,3 however it’s slowing me down so I pull alongside him. He doesn’t want me to pass him and go off into the distance but he can’t do much about it. I think that brief period of ‘racing’ really engaged me and I feel like I am in a race now as I want to show the two of them how to run a marathon and I want to put as much between us as possible. At this point I am feeling the best I have all day and I know it’s just 8m at mara pace, something I do every Friday lunchtime.

    I am also cautious though as I know one hiccup could derail the whole thing so I am still telling myself, let’s just get to 20 then go. Miles 18 and 19 are the start of a consistent period of sub 6.30s with a 6.28 and a 6.23. A final gel at 20 and I’m ready for the last 6.

    The course was much clearer now as many of the 9am and 10am starters are done and also the wind seems to have dropped off. At 20 I continue to urge myself to show control to 22 then we go for it. Miles 20 and 21 come in at 6.25 and 6.28 and I am having the run of my life and I know it, yet it doesn’t seem any harder than the slower miles in the first half. This stride and pace feel right!

    Finally mile 22….oh OK let’s just rinse this now then! Straight in with a 6.16 followed by 6.24 and 6.24. By this point I am on the final down straight of the final half of the final loop and I know I’ll soon turn around for the run home. At 24.4 I look at the watch knowing there’s 2m left and some basic calculations tell me 2.52 is safe and 2.51 is a maybe. I am feeling euphoric at this point. Green/black vests are minutes behind me, probably wondering wtf is going on and I am just floating along. As I pass 25m (6.20), runners coming down the otherside are shouting me on and one tells me I look remarkably fresh. I didn’t want it to end and quite frankly if at 26m someone had told me there had been a cock up and I needed to go again down the otherside, I could have!

    I am debating now, when to really let go. Just keep it steady I tell myself, get to the 26m marker which comes in 6.20 and then I know I’m done and can start wrapping things up. I begin my sprint finish, knowing that there’s still the best part of 400m to go so it was important to not overcook it as I wanted to cross the line gloriously!! The line finally came and the final 0.42 was run in 6.02mm pace. I stopped my watch and I know this sounds odd but I was hugely disappointed to see 2.52.02 and I was convinced it would be 2.51.xx. It wasn’t until I got back to the car and checked the official results did I see 2.51.59, so another bout of joy came my way.

    Normally after a mara I need to fall on the floor and can’t move again. I felt pretty good here and was happy just stood and walking normally, chatting to a few folk. 5 or so minutes later green vest came in in 2.56.xx for his first sub 3 on his 5th mara. We had a good chat, mainly him trying to understand what the hell I’d taken to finish like that. Given we started together and we were together at mile 18, pretty pleasing to then come in 5 minutes quicker. Another couple of minutes  and black vest came in. He had also ran 2.56 in his first mara, but he started two minutes behind us. It’s almost a shame as black and green vest ran almost identical times, just 10s between them, so they could have ran the whole race together.

    Essentially I ran a 1.27/1.24 split with the last 8m at 6.26mm and the last 10k in around 39.40. I think there’s a reasonable argument that I was able to pace it that way because I showed it too much respect in the first 15 and could potentially have been braver and gone for 2.49. Ultimately though the A goal was sub 2.55 to bank a Berlin GFA and also a pb and London 2022 GFA. Job done and now I can perhaps take a bit more of a risk in an Autumn marathon.

    Below is the photo my wife took as I approached the finish line.


  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    Sorry to interrupt that DT! 

    Good fun to read! As you allude to, a strong negative split doesn't necessarily mean you were wrong to take the first half easier - it's a sign that your plan worked for you. It's all hypothetical, but if you'd tried to split the race the other way, you might have found the second half rather grim, especially given the TT-esque nature of the race. Looking forward to seeing what you can do on a fast course like Berlin with more help from more runners.

    Great pics.
  • Andrew_DAndrew_D ✭✭✭
    DT - nothing I can really add, expect to congratulate you again on what sounds like an absolute dream run for you! Great report too, enjoyed reading it! One thought occurred to me - do you think that in a strange way the 3/4 months enforced layoff last year actually served to allow your body a chance to refresh itself (after probably years without a real break from training) and this is what allowed you to make such great gains over the past 9 months?

    Muss - sounds like a cracking training run from you too.

    Maybe one day I'll be able to report a race pb or a great training run again - at the moment it seems a long way off though.

    I'm persisting with the physio prescribed exercises, and am keeping the running very limited and low effort, but I'm still seeing no substantial improvement in my symptoms. I am thinking I need to insist upon some kind of further examination or tests, as it just feels like something more than simple tendinitis to me and hasn't really shifted in 6 months now.

    Anyway, the plan is to get out for a run this evening, to at least keep my aerobic fitness ticking over.
  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    Great report, DT! More to come!

    Things have been going on too long, AD. I think a scan is called for.

    Easy does it now, Muss!
    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    Muss, you did well to sneak that post between my two as I was simply copying and pasting from word. 

    That's a decent solid run and should set you up well for the half. 

    Who knows how a 1.25 first half might have left me and for sure I'd much rather finish like I did than suffering. 

    Andrew, yes definitely worth a further referral for sure as this is too long now. You might be right, perversely that down time maybe we'll be what might body needed to allow it to then kick on as it has done. 
  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    AD - a colleague of mine is suffering with something similar, though not for as long as you. Like you, he's been prescribed exercises to balance his left/right side and improve hip strength. He's finding that his symptoms are getting worse rather than better, and has decided to stump up to get a private MRI scan. Not cheap, but maybe better than a 6 month + wait on the NHS given they'll likely view the case as non-urgent. Once he's got the scan, he can pursue treatment options through the NHS.

    I hope you can get some relief from it soon, but good that you're able to train even if it's not as much as you'd like. Are you able to cross train? Biking/swimming might do you some good.

    Alehouse - yes, all easy running till race day, now. There's not much benefit to be gained but plenty I could do to jeopardise my race at this stage. I think one thing I've really improved recently has been backing off the effort on my easy days. It's not uncommon at the moment for my HR BPM to average in the 130s, which is 65-70% of HR max for me. This has been made easier by the fact that my easy pace seems to have improved quite a bit - probably a combination of fitness and efficiency gains.

    How's your running going?

  • Andrew_DAndrew_D ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the comments guys - I'll look into the cost of a private MRI scan.

    3.5 miles again last night. The knee actually feels fine during my runs, and the aerobic side is still ok, but it is the day after that the knee aches and is tender to the touch.

    S&C session tonight, and then another run tomorrow.
  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    15 mile run done. I found it hard to psych myself up for this one - not because of the distance but I suppose mentally I'm just a bit tired of the training. If I wasn't about to start tapering now, it would definitely be time for a down week anyway. But I took it nice and easy, and settled into a good rhythm. I've found a nice new big loop, which is a plus. There's plenty of loops that can be done within the big one, and much of it is undulating, and soft footing, so it will be ideal when I start marathon training.

    I recovered well from that 10km run the other day - I did a very easy recovery run the day after, but HR stayed very low, and there was no muscle soreness or anything. 

    Time to taper. I'm off to Shropshire for work next week - looking forward to a change of scenery as the running really is very good around there, although I'll have to avoid the temptation to include too many hills! 
  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    Is your race two weeks today, Muss? And don't be tempted by those hills!
    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    It is. 

    I was thinking cut back by 1/3 total volume this week and 1/2 ahead of the race? I'll keep it easy but will maybe do strides more often than I've been doing recently.

    I hope you're continuing to feel better?
  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭
    Muss: I would cut back volume as you suggest, but not sure about extra strides, particularly for a half. And remember, better a few percent under trained than a few percent overtrained. Or injured. 

    Gradually feeling better but still not right. 9 weeks today since my jab. Doing a couple of Kms each day. 
    Neurologist on Thursday as still have a headache plus tingling sensations in my head.
    Progress is rarely a straight line. There are always bumps in the road, but you can make the choice to keep looking ahead.
  • Andrew_DAndrew_D ✭✭✭
    Enjoy the tapering Muss - believe in the process and that your training to date has had the right effect (and will continue over the next 2 weeks) and get yourself nice and fresh for the race!

    Alehouse - hope the neurologist goes well later this week. Given the press coverage of blood clots as a rare side effect, presumably you have been checked over for those? Good you're able to get out for a little running now though.

    DT - I presume you are enjoying a good rest still? Or are you raring to go again?

    3.5 miles for me yesterday which all felt pretty good. Knee/shin a little tender this morning though. Next physio appointment is next Tuesday, so I'll bring up the question of the scan. Looking to increase the mileage a little this week and we'll see how that goes. Nothing drastic though!
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Andrew, 'enjoying' is a strong term. I'm getting a bit bored and missing the intensity and time out. I'm going away Thursday-sunday so that'll at least reduce the desire.

    Will start building things up from next week then.

    Hope the physio has some ideas for you.

    Alehouse, good to see you progressing the running a bit. Finger crossed for Thursday.

    When's then half, Muss? I wouldn't tend to taper more than about 5 days for anything below a mara, but then I've been doing this a long time so trial and error has taught me what works for me.

  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    Thanks for the input all. 

    DT, my race is on the 24th. I felt very wiped out after the 15 miler and a 5 hour drive, so I've been taking it very easy since. Since the next couple of weeks are quite busy with work, I think I'll do a 2 week taper. 

    Good run this morning - 8km very easy. Last km involved descending 75m which was fun!
  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    8km, 6km, 8km so far this week. I'm feeling the effects of the taper already - today I had several 5 min Kms in a row at low HR and feeling very easy. 

    I had a brief scare that I was going to have to miss the race for work, but it's all turned out fine! 
  • mussesseinmussessein ✭✭✭
    Any news from the physio, AD?

    Enjoy your trip away DT.

    And alehouse, I hope things are still moving in the right direction?

    15km today very gentle today. 

    I've been doing a lot of foam rolling and yoga recently, so my body's feeling fresh and loose. I have, however, ended up spending a lot more time in the boozer than I'd planned - so that's one thing I'll be looking to change next week. 

    Another heavy-ish work week ahead, this time I'm heading to Suffolk, so I'm lucky to have another change of scenery, although I won't be doing much more than a shakeout while I'm there.
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Yes, certainly look to avoid the pub this week, Muss. I tend to try and avoid alcohol for the 7 days before a key race, as it then allows me to get a few good nights sleep in with it out of the system and allows HRV to peak (alcohol has a huge impact on this and it can take 5 days to return to normal following drinking).

    Talking of which, I probably drank and ate a bit too much this last few days. Weather was lovely so a day on the beach Friday in Bournemouth (not sunbathing, it wasn't that warm) and a day in the New Forest walking Saturday was enjoyable.

    I did an easy 5m before we left and then 7m last night when back. It was nice therefore to avoid trying to shoehorn running in for the few days we were there yet only having a couple of days off.

    Not a great deal planned again this week, just building slowly and progressively. I have my covid jab Thursday morning so a few very light days planned around that just to be safe.

    Alehouse/AD- Any updates?

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