Sunday, 14 April 2013

Marathon Training Week 8

I woke to heavy snow last Sunday, and all my plans for shorts-and-tshirt running (as I had done the day before) wobbled uncertainly, and I spent too much time dithering around what to wear, what to take, what route to run. Not a good state to be in before 3 hours of running.

In the end I opted for the backpack option again, and was glad I did. The snow kept on coming for another hour or so, but once it had passed the sun was bright and warm, and I did eventually get to run in shorts and a tshirt! This wasn't before slip-sliding around on the newly re-frozen ground, though, and at one point I lost control completely and splatted hard onto a sheet of slippery frozen pavement! The run involved a little too much getting lost, and much too much stopping and starting as I tried to orientate myself towards the city centre. Having my backpack meant I could run into central Stockholm and then get the train back, but I had to prepare sufficiently for the ride home, with a snack, some extra money and some warm layers packed into my bag.

Once I got past the university campus it was plain sailing. I arrived in the city and got straight onto Birger Jarlsgatan, which is probably Stockholm's answer to Oxford Street, only cleaner, more spacious and less high-street-ish. After 9 miles or so of quite unenjoyable running, I was finally having a great time: the bells were ringing out, the streets were just waking up, and the day was just starting to blossom in Stockholm city. I ran past boutiques, glossy windows filled with designer clothing, and an amazing bridal shop which I managed to run past without stopping to go in first! From there I crossed over Gamla Stan and onto Södermalm, by which point the sun was out and I was really on track for a good finishing time. I spotted a large group of runners and decided to follow them for fun: it turned out to be a group of runners called 28x2 (28 pairs of runners, so a 2-by-2 group of 56), and I ran with them for a while, turning some of their pairs into threes as I passed. I was planning to stick with them for a while to help me get through the last 7 miles, but I soon took over (hurrah!) and finished my circuit of the island alone. It was a great last few miles, and though I was tired, sore and desperate to get back home and spend the day relaxing, I felt quite resilient. One problem was that I didn't practise with my energy gels, as I had planned to do; it's getting to the point now where I need to start using them so that they don't shock my system on the marathon itself, but I'm always worried they'll bring about some unexpected side effects! Even so, I arrived back at Gamla Stan Tunnelbana after 3 hours and 5 minutes of running, so I was just over my planned pace of 10-minute miles - I was delighted! I warmed down in the alcove just inside the station, and got some funny looks from passing tourists and travellers, and as I wandered the station in a daze a man hurried over to me to ask why on earth I was wearing shorts and a tshirt on a snowy day. I laughed and told him I'd run a long way so I was warm, but he didn't believe I could have run that far...!

The rest of the week went pretty much to plan running-wise, though I had to take Monday's recovery run on Tuesday as I was just too busy to fit it in. I had a good interval session, and despite dreading my 9-mile longer run on Thursday, I got home feeling so grateful for having pushed myself to go out. My schedule is exhausting at the moment even without the marathon training, so I've found myself feeling half-hearted about running more often than I would like. With this in mind, I'm proud of myself for pushing through, while also trying to stay mindful of the fact that it's ok to stay at home for an extra rest day if I want to: the aim for this schedule was always quality over quantity, and that remains at the forefront of my mind. That being said, Friday's hill session wasn't particularly high-quality, as running up hills in the horrible grit is exhausting and tough. A 48 mile week isn't bad, though, and a much-needed rest day on Saturday means I'm keen to get out there again today!

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