The Iberian Odyssey



  •   For those of you that are interested, I'm currently following this training program from the Hal Higdon website. I must admit that I have not been doing the cross training, which for me should be on a Monday as I've shifted the whole program forward one day so that the long runs happen on Sundays.

      Does anyone else have experience with this training plan and if so how was it for you?

  • well done on your half marathon perezoso!image

  • Thanks, mathschick!

  • So, I have a question. It's now Thursday and my training schedule has me down for 10km (I ran a gentle but painful 5km yesterday). The thing is that my legs are still very sore from the half marathon last Sunday. I mean very sore, indeed; not just a bit stiff, but knives in the muscles sore. Should I give myself a day off or is that missing the point? I'm sure some of you will tell me to listen to my body, but unfortunately I have very little experience of that. If I listened to my body I would probably never run at all!

    Anyway, to run or not, that is the question ... ?

  • Give yourself a day off, or if you feel you have to do something cross-train so your doing non-weight bearing exercise. You should probably be on a reduced training program this week anyway to help you recover from the half. I think Higdon has some post-race plans which might be worth looking at. Don't run.

  • give yourself another day or two off till you have recovered, it won't make a lot of difference to your long term training

  • In the end - a little too stubbornly, perhaps - I went for a run. A 10km plod at 7mins per kilometre. Tomorrow I will listen to the advice and give myself a day off - two, in fact, as I won't run again untill Sunday.

  •   Hi all,

      Wow, the odyssey has moved into uncharted territory yet again. I seem to have run myself into a forced recovery period - my legs are like two bags of lead and walking is a challenge, let alone running. It appears that I've made the simple mistake of doing too much with too little recovery time. A quick trawl through the forums here turned up threads that discuss glycogen depletion in the leg muscles and the importance of sufficient recovery between hard runs.

      As much as I really don't want to miss a long run with only eight weeks to go until the marathon, I've decided to give myself at least five days off from any kind of serious exercise. Hopefully this will solve the problem and I can get back to training. The cause of all this was the half-marathon I ran two weeks ago. I raced it, instead of treating it like a long-slow training run. And now I'm paying for it. Ah, well. Every day's a new lesson.


  •   Hi all,

      It seems the dead leg disaster may be coming to an end. Hurrah! and huzzah! For the first time since the Barcelona half-marathon three weeks ago, I've actually enjoyed a run, which was surprising given that it's dark and lashing it down with rain here at the moment. I've just finished a super gentle, super slow 8k, as a prelude to this Sunday's long-slow-run of 26km. I am quietly happy, as only yesterday I was seriously doubting my ability to continue training at all. This marathon preparation malarkey really is a roller coaster, and no mistake.

      Given that I live in Spain, near Madrid, it doesn't rain here very much at all. This evening was the first time I've ever run in a downpour. It was surprisingly stimulating. As I crested the hill on the edge of the village, I looked down over the twinkling lights of Madrid and the whole run took on a magical air. There's something quite special about wet roads with splashes of street and car light. It reminded me of England, so perhaps I was just being nostalgic; on the other hand, a bit of nostalgia and a good run are surely amongst the finer things in life.


  • well done perezoso. Running in the rain can be great - specially if it isn't freezing coldimage

  •   Thanks, mathschick!

      Today I set a new personal best for distance, 26km (just over 16 miles), so I'm immensely happy; all the more so after the low point that has been the last three weeks of training.

      I deliberately went out nice and slow and maintained a constant pace of a little over 7mins/km. The weather here was lovely today, despite the blustery wind, and the view I had of the snow-capped peak of Peñalara during the first half of the run was magical. I felt good right up to about kilometre 18, after which my legs started to complain a bit (I'm understating the truth here: my legs hurt a a lot!). The last 5km were something of a death-march as most of it was up hill, but I got there in the end. I keep telling myself that all the hill running (it's almost impossible to find much flatland where I live) is all good training - today's 26km included 300m of climb and descent.

      I've had something of a reality check after my half-marathon experience three weeks ago. Initially I was so buoyed up by the experience I started pushing my training too hard. I've realised now that going from the sofa to a marathon in eighteen weeks is a serious challenge (the thirty weeks mentioned in this thread's title was cut by twelve because of injury) and I'm definitely not Kilian Jornet; but rather a slightly-overweight thirty-six-year-old that day-dreams of conquering mountains(!).

      My marathon's on April 28. Seven weeks to go. Maybe I will do this after all. Happy me image.


  • Well done, sounds like a good effort. The penultimate kilometre up Calle Alcala should be a doddle come marathon dayimage
  •   Thanks, neil! I take it you've run Madrid? How was it for you? Any tips?

  • sinbad113sinbad113 ✭✭✭

    Hi All,

    Perezoso, good training. I can't escape this hills either. But the Manchester marathon is meant to be the flatest. So, I'm like you trying to think it will make liife easier on the day. By the way good times,for the Km tht your getting.


  • I can't give you any tips Mr Sloth as I'm afraid as I've never done a full marathon. However, I live here and have come up Calle Alcala in other, shorter races.

    Got the Madrid Half three weeks on Sunday and, depending on how I come out of this race, am probably going to do the half on marathon day too, as opposed to the 10k alternative which I did last April. I watched the finish of the marathon after my race last year and it was great. Firstly seeing the Kenyans finishing in the Retiro (and looking like they'd been out jogging for about 10 minutes rather than running 42kms) was fantastic to see and then watching and cheering on the more mortal runners over the final two kms. Will be doing the same this year after my race is run. The support over these last few kms seemed great. There was also a big crowd on one of the bridges that cross the Castellana. On the other hand, someone told me that support in Casa de Campo was a bit sparce.

    Yes, Peñalara looks beautiful at the moment. Was in Segovia province at the weekend and the whole Guadarrama range looked stunning.

    You must be getting quite excited now?  

  •   Those hills definitely build strength in the legs, sinbad. You'll notice it on the flat for sure.

      neil, I am getting excited, yes. A little nervous as well, I must admit. For my first ever half-marathon, which has formed part of training for the full, I felt prepared because I felt like I'd trained up to the distance. The marathon plan I'm following - like most first time plans - has as its longest run a 32km plod three weeks before the big day. That missing 10k scares me. It's a step into the unknown, to be sure (or several thousand steps if all goes to plan!).

      Speaking of half-marathons (which I was) and Kenyans (which you were), at the Barcelona half a few weeks ago, I crossed the start line about twenty minutes after the gun, while my wife was watching Eliud Kipchoge pass the 8km mark! The course is a bit like a squashed figure of eight, looping back on itself to pass near the start after about 8kms, thus allowing my wife to cheer me over the start line, whilst simultaneously having it rammed home exactly how far behind the elites her darling spouse was(!).

      I agree about the Guadarrama. I'm determined to carry on with this running malarkey after the marathon and I swear some of those peaks are calling to me - I will run over some of them before the year is out ...

  •   Oh, and neil, if you are there cheering on the stragglers on race day and you see a big guiri with tattoos (testament to a wild youth) and a goatee (testament to an unhealthy attachment to 90s-style facial hair), that'll be me image.

  • I bet you're a little nervous Perezoso, I'd be too. I must admit that not running the distance beforehand would worry me as well as I like to rehearse things beforehand. However, your plan seems to be as per most marathon schedules so go with it. Remember the idea is to prepare yourself and not shoot your bolt before the big day. Are you doing one of the Hal Higdon programmes?

    Obviously no expert as I've never done 42kms, but from everything I've read it seems that your diet in the lead up to the race will play a big role in how you cope with those last 10kms.

    Will definitely look out for you mate. As I'm going to be running one of the shorter races we'll be lining up with the hordes together in Recoletos, so I'll keep an eye out for you there too. I wonder if they´ll all boo Ana Botella again this year. Imagine if you were first guiri home! image

    Done a lot of hiking in the Guadarrama. Nothing like a good day in the Sierra. Tend to keep away from Peñalara at weekends as it gets as crowded as Gran Via. Favourite route is from Cotos to Manzanares El Real, 9 or 10 hours walking. Managed to get lost the first time I did it and extended it by a couple of hours, almost killed me. Thought I was going to have to rough it at one point but I digress.

    Got my longest run this weekend, 25km, three weeks before the Madrid Half on 7th April.

    Go well.

  •   Hal Higdon, yep that's the one, the Novice 1 program. Well, I say that but in fact, as of this week, I'm doing a kind of hybrid between Higdon and MyAsics. I found that, after going a bit OTT on the week 8 half-marathon, Higdon was killing me; so I've incorporated a bit of MyAsics and backed off the weekday mileage by about 20%. To compensate for the reduced mileage the Thursday run is now a fast run - about 20 seconds per kilometre quicker than the race day pace. (That's a race day pace of 6:23min/km that I'm still not at all convinced I can maintain for 42kms, but he-ho.)

      As for diet, it's the part I know least about. I'm still about two stone overweight having lost exactly nothing in twelve weeks of training, but then I'm very aware that I'm eating more because of the training, so the reason for not losing weight is not rocket science. I'm certainly not going to try and reduce my calorie intake with only six and half weeks to go before race day.

      Boo Ana Botella? Who would imagine such a thing? image And as for me being the first guiri home, well, I can certainly imagine it - and my imagination is the only place its going to be true, I'm sure!

      I must admit that, having lived in and around Madrid for the last six years, I've done precious little hiking in the mountains - this is something I intend to change. Me and the missus did once spend the day hiking a loop out of Cercedilla - we ended up having an experience similar to your first trip from Cotos to Manzanares El Real.

      Good luck with you run this weekend, neil. Have fun!


  •   Oh, and for those readers who are not well versed in the ways of the Iberian peninsula, Ana Botella is the mayor of Madrid and a "guiri" is a colloquial Spanish word that means, more or less, "northern European" - it's often used pejoratively but can be affectionate in the right context.

  • Thanks Perezoso. As it's a long weekend here I've done an 11k tempo this morning with a 25km long run scheduled for Monday. My tempo this morning was ok as I was a bit heavy legged. A 1.5k warm up followed by 8k target of 36:32 @ 4:34 and 1.5k warm down. Actually did the 8k part in 36:04, a bit too quick, largely due to a 4:20 first km. Looking forward to Monday's long run. How about you? Much running planned this weekend or away for the puente?

    Was glad to read you're thinking of continuing with the running after the marathon. There's some good 10k races both in the city centre and surrounding areas. The city centre races pass some pretty emblematic sites but I think I prefer the races in the nearby towns such as Aranjuez (a great race) and Pinto. The public support's really good and you get the impression it means something to the town. Further afield Behobia - San Sebastian 20k is a pretty big deal. My partner's brother-in-law does it every year. Reckon you'd be well-suited with all those hills you are running, the profile looks like something out the Tour de France. Hoping to do it in November.

    Curious to read you'd not lost any weight. Without meaning to sound "look at me" I've dropped 4.5kilos following my half program since Christmas. However, as you say it's probably not the time to start a crash diet.

    Also good to read your thinking about doing some more hiking. Great countryside in and around the Sierra. That time I first did the Cotos trek is also memorable for the fact when I was still a few kms out of Manzanares a couple passing in their car stopped and offered me a lift as, in their words, I looked shattered! Mind you, that's not the first or last time I've been offered and taken lifts unsolicited in rural Spain.

    Back to the running, I reckon a shorter, quicker run once a week like you spoke about might not be a bad thing. Nothing like that in the plan?

    Anyway, enough for now. Hope the training is going well. ??Que te vaya bien hombre!

    Anway, enough for now. Well
  •   Well done on your tempo run, neil - you are a hare and I am a tortoise! And thanks for the heads-up on the various races you mentioned. It's good to hear that the public support is generally good - I found this to be the case in Barcelona - as it really makes a difference, especially in the last few kilometres.

      As for weight loss, well, I eat too much. I'll address that problem after the marathon, but I'm glad to hear that you've shed a few kilos.

      To answer your question about the Higdon plan I'm using, Higdon doesn't really include pace suggestions beyond "run slow", whereas MyAsics does. On the other hand I've felt recently that I'm just about at the limit of what my body can tolerate and I've been placing too much emphasis on finishing within a certain time, rather than just finishing at all. So maybe Higdon's right and I should abandon all time goals and just concentrate on getting round.

      Last Sunday's long run was a three hour, 28km, slog through the rain and I'm just hoping I'll recover in time for the next long run this Sunday coming. The puente (bank-holiday weekend, for anglophone readers) was largely relaxed - we didin't do anything special. I went out today for a very slow 5km recovery run and that seemed to help. I keep telling myself that the next time I enter a race after the marathon I'll give myself a much longer training period to prepare. Oh, and I'll shift that excess two stone as well!

      Saludos y un abrazo

  • Definitely not a hare my friend! Can only dream about some of the times posted on the other threads.

    I understand about the eating, it's not easy, especially here. I find weekends most difficult as you've worked hard all week and want to enjoy yourself a bit. However, what I was driving at in a previous post was to investigate fuelling strategies in the run up to the big day. As I said before, from what I've read this seems to be a key element in getting through the extra mileage that you don't run in training.

    I know what you mean about being on the limit of what your body can tolerate, I feel that way sometimes and I'm only training for a half. As it's your first marathon and taking into account how you are feeling, perhaps the Higdon route is the one to go down. Getting round is a hell of an achievement itself. It can be done, it will be done!

    Good effort on Sunday, it pi**ed down all day, didn't it? Good character building stuff that'll stand you in good stead April 28th. I did my 25km long run on the holiday Monday, much nicer conditions but it was quite hard going pretty much from the off. It's funny with the long runs, some days I feel I could easily have kept going beyond the distance set in the training plan and other days it's a slog!

    Don't beat yourself up about things like finishing times and the length of your training plan. Obviously you'll learn from this experience and you have gone in at the deep end somewhat!

    ¡Mucho animo!

    Un abrazo

  • neil jones 26 wrote (see)
    Don't beat yourself up about things like finishing times and the length of your training plan. Obviously you'll learn from this experience and you have gone in at the deep end somewhat!

      Nail on head. Good advice, thanks!

      I've been too busy to write anything of a decent length this last week, but I'll try and post a report after tomorrow's long run - I will be experimenting with gels for the second time.

    neil jones 26 wrote (see)

    It's funny with the long runs, some days I feel I could easily have kept going beyond the distance set in the training plan and other days it's a slog!

      Quite so. The body's a mystery!

  • So how did the long run go Perezoso? How was the experiment with the gels?

    Just over a week to the Madrid Half now so pretty excited. Did my last real long run on Monday (19Km) which seemed fine but left me with a lot more stiffness than usual. Was going to do 5 x 1,000m intervals yesterday but legs felt like concrete warming up so opted for an 8km slow run. Bit disappointed as I didn't want to skip the session but think I did the right thing. Shorter tempo planned for tomorrow and 12.5km slow run Sunday so just about entering the tapering phase now, which is just as well as been feeling knackered recently.

    Anyway, hope your training is going well.


  • Found this video clip of the route on youtube. The music's a bit annoying (personal opinion!) but it's a pretty good guide to the course and allows you to visualise the different sections.

    Right, must actually do a bit of work now.


  •   Hi everyone,

      It's been nearly a month since my last post because life has been getting in the way. Anyhow, there's only a week to go and all is more or less well.

      Neil, how was the Madrid half? What was your time and how did you feel? My gel experiment was reasonably successful and I've settled on Aptonia salted butter caramel as my gel of choice. They're a bit heavy on the stomach but I much prefer the flavour to the sweet gels I've tried. Thanks for the video link. The organizers have subsequently released a new video of this year's route, complete with inexplicably cheesy-as-you-like graphics.

      Spring has arrived here in force and running in bright sunshine under a Kodachrome blue sky is a very welcome change to the rain. It's liberating to run in shorts and t-shirt after so many weeks of tights and wind-breaker.

      At the beginning of the odyssey, back in December, I read that many people considered the training far more of a challenge than the actual race. I'd like to add that, for me at least, the mental challenge has been the major battle. I've been suffering from dead legs for about six weeks now - some days better, some days worse - and just forcing myself out the door these last few weeks has been a study in self-flagellation. Most of my nearest-and-dearest keep telling me there's no shame in dropping out if it's all too difficult; but the little demon of stubbornness that lives in my head won't allow it.

      Only a week to go. For the little demon, for me, and in honour of Boston, bring it on.


  • well done, it is that stubbornness that will get you round on the day. Taper well this week and have a great marathon

  •   Thanks, mathschick!

  • Hi Perezoso,

    Good to hear from you.

    The Madrid Half went very well thanks. I ran 1:37:04, exactly three and half minutes better than my previous half-marathon, which was on a totally flat course, unlike Madrid. I'm hoping to shave a bit more off that this weekend, we'll see. In the penultimate week before the race I felt a bit like what you're saying, very heavy legged which was stressing me a bit. However, during the week before the race the legs gradually seemed to feel better and I felt fairly strong on the day. I really enjoyed the race, although the last three kilometres were hard graft climbing Alfonso XII and Calle Alcala, something for you to look forward to on Sunday!

    +1 to what mathschick says. You've done all the hard training and Sunday is your moment. I hope your taper is going well and that the freshness is coming back into the legs. Don't be tempted to do any extra training now.

    Yes, the weather is very nice at present, possibly a bit on the warm side for a race. However, I've just looked at the long term forecast and they are talking about a sharp fall in temperature this weekend, between 5 and 10 degrees for Sunday, a bit chilly at the the start but much better for running.

    Are you staying in the city on Saturday night or coming in from the sierra very early Sunday morning? I must say I'm looking forward to the Expo on Saturday and collecting my race number for the half. Like I said before, after my race is run I'm going to watch the elite runners finishing in the Retiro and then spend a bit of time on Calle Alcala cheering people on. I'll definitely look out for you, a big guiri with tatoos and a goatee if I remember correctly. I'll also keep an eye out for you at the start in Recoletos.

    Well, if we don't communicate again before Sunday I want to wish you the very best of luck. You've stuck at it all through the winter and now is your time. Go well Perezoso.

    Un abrazo

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