Sunday, July 28, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 12

I'm not sure whether I should call this week No.12 or No.13 but I decided to go with 12 since this is my 12th week of training. I have, however, swapped the weeks around a little and this week has followed the week 13 of the program.
 I am skipping week 12 for now, moving weeks 13 to 19 of the program up a week and then I'll stick week 12 back in there and from week 20 I'll be back on track. I allowed myself to do this change without consulting anyone and the reason is that I hope to take part in a couple of upcoming races and this way the race dates fits better with the training plan. My plan for the races is only to participate and to get the chance of running with and meet some other people. And also to run in some other locations which I believe to be beautiful.
 Ok, a sum up of this week, week 12/13 of the Galloway marathon plan.

Monday: Since I didn't run at all last weekend I thought I'd do a shorter run on Monday. I was hoping to be able to run three times during the weekdays. Three short and easy sessions in preparation for the long Sunday run of this week. Unfortunately I only managed to run two times but I'm pleased with that.
 I did an easy 5k around the neighborhood on a beautiful summers day and enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday: I took it even easier on this run and went out in the morning, which is a new experience and a skill I hope to learn. I explored a few "new" roads to extend my gallery of runable roads to choose from. But these roads didn't really qualify for runable because the surface was very unpleasant with larger stones that made it rather uneven and tiresome for the feet and legs. It was fun though to see some new places and there are still other "new" roads waiting to be explored.

Friday: This planned easy short run didn't happen. But I'm ok with that.

Sunday: The scheduled longrun for week 13, that now is my week 12, was supposed to be 20miles or 32.2km. The distance made me a little nervous because I have no experience of this kind of long runs nor do I have any known loops that covers these distances.
 According to the weather forecast the morning would be the best time to perform this challenge and since I'm learning how to become a morning runner I went out a little before seven o'clock. I had hoped to be on my way even earlier but I probably need a bit more practice before I'll be a true morning runner. I had mapped out a loop that I thought would bring me up to the distance wanted but just as I was going out the door I changed my mind and decided to start out in another direction. So I started with a well known loop of 12-13 kms and then I connected that with parts of the route I had mapped out. I wasn't sure if the roads I chose would take me where I wanted to go but that turned out to be just the right way and I ran over some really beautiful field areas where summer flowers still were blooming, some forest areas where a few birds still were singing. You can tell that summer has peaked but from what I saw today there is still a lot of beauty to be admired and enjoyed.
 After almost 20kms I entered a recreation area with many trails and to add distance to my loop I ran a lap of the 5k trail and after that a lap of a 3.5k trail. That brought me close to the distance needed before I headed towards the railway station where my run was going to end today. Besides getting the longrun done my task for today was also to pick up a car at the car park there.
While I was running the trails my left knee started to bother me (again) and soon after that the right one also acted up. So I had to slow down a bit and do more frequent walkbreaks. It also started to rain but the temperature was pleasant, 18C/65F, and I don't mind running in rain as long as it isn't raining too hard. I put my cap on to keep my glasses dry and the vision clear and enjoyed the fresh oxygen rich air. A real setback, though, was that I couldn't fill up my water bottles at the recreation site. Apparently you need to be a member to get access to the facilities, at least for the weekends. I was out of water but what could I do. On my way towards town I passed a friends house where I hoped to get some water but they were not at home so I had to postpone the drinking until I got home. It would have been a major disaster on a warmer day but today it wasn't really any crisis, only a discomfort.
 On my way towards the railway station the running got a bit troublesome, because of the knees, and I did more walking. But I endured and finally ended up at the car park and drove home. My estimation of the distance was pretty accurate and I did 32.7km/20.3 miles. Definitely the longest distance I've run, so far.

Not a bad week with a total distance of 43.5km/27miles. But I am beginning to slowly comprehend how long a marathon really is and during the tough later part of the Sunday long run I almost questioned my decision to take part in a marathon event. Now, comfortably seated in my home, I find it to be a great idea.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 11

Another week of beautiful summer weather, in fact it seems to be getting warmer and warmer. I will have to try to convert into a morning runner to avoid the heat. Running wise this was a fun week.

Tuesday: Brought a map and a compass with me and set off to explore a "new" area. This is a forest area that seems to be scattered with narrow paths. The ones that I've explored so far are beautiful and there is a certain amount of excitement connected with running unknown paths. It's interesting  to discover new scenery and also thrilling to not really know what to expect beyond the next hill. Another thrilling ingredient is the fact that I sometimes don't know where I am or how I'll find the best way towards where I'm going. The run turned out a bit longer than intended (again) but thinking it through afterwards I realized that there is 5km or so just to get to the area. I had a great time exploring and there is more to see there so I'll most certainly go back there again.

Friday: This was the day for the local race Kraftprovet. It's an annual event held in mid July. The race is 11.6 km. Which Is a 10k with an extra mile and towards the end I tried to recall Kevin's voice (from the extra mile podcast) in my head to hear him say "...enjoy the extra mile". I enjoyed the race but can't really say that I enjoyed the last mile that much. The last part of the race is mostly uphill and the day was very warm 24C/75F so I guess most of us struggled in the heat. The surface is partly tarmac, streets in town, and partly gravel, walking paths along the river and canal. It is a nice area and a fun event. I'm pleased with my performance and despite the warm day I finished 17 seconds faster than last year, so a new PR for the event, 1:08:20.
 I ran/walked a 3/1 ratio but the intervals was messed up a bit because of waterstops and hills, where I walked and then restarted the gymboss. Also the walking paths made the run/walk a bit trickier since it sometimes was difficult to pass other runners and that slowed me down a bit. and when walking there I didn't want to be in other runners way so I sometimes walked beside the path and the surface was not always the best. I experimented with adding a walkbreak just before narrower parts to be running the path but I don't know wether that was good idea or not. Run/walking is great, I think, but maybe it isn't suitable in situations like "crowds running narrow sections".

Sunday: Nothing. The only time I had available for running was midday and the thermometer showed 27C/80F and there was absolutely no wind nor any clouds in sight  -  so I chickened out.
This wasn't a long run Sunday so I don't think that was too harmful and I hope to make up for it next week.

Total distance for the week 24.5km/15.2miles.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 10

This week I decided it was about  time to make up my mind for real. Was I just going to train for the Athens Classic or would I actually go ahead and do a serious attempt at the event. I would have liked the training to come a little further before making the final decision but on the other hand, if I later decided to go for it and found out that the number of participants had filled up, I would regret my hesitation. So I registered. But for the rest of that evening I was asking myself over and over: "What have I done?"
 Now a few days later I'm content with my decision and will soon start looking for tickets and a hotel for the stay in Athens.

This was also the week when I recorded the longest distance ever. Probably also the longest distance covered in one run but since I don't have a complete log I'm not really sure if maybe I've done a similar distance earlier. More about the long run below.

Tuesday: Once again I ran further than intended but it is hard to quit when running is going well and the weather is great and you are having fun.

Thursday: Ran a loop of 7.5 kms and by going for the loop I had made my mind up not to go too far. The loop is done on roads some of it is tarmac and some is gravel roads. I tried to take it slow and easy to save myself for the upcoming Sunday run.

Sunday: The longrun for this week is scheduled to almost 28 kms and I settled for making it exactly 28. Having my last longrun in mind, when booth my knees were aching for the last bit, and considering an 11.6km race this coming  Friday I decided I would be very careful today. I would run slow. I also abandoned the usual 3/1 run/walk ratio to the more moderate 2/1. I was also wondering how I would manage this since I went out unusually early, I left home at 8 am and I usually run evenings so would I make it with only breakfast for fuel. I brought water and some snacks for fueling along the way. The morning was beautiful, sunny but not too warm and the breeze was cooling, I also started out in the shade of trees so I was doing fine. I kept the 2/1 ratio rather strict but did walk some uphill sections in the early stage. I had set out on the same route as last time and was planning an additional loop towards the end to get the distance needed but as I begun to calculate distances I found that the additional loop would be much too long so I abandoned that idea and tried to come up with something new. I needed an extra 5 kms or so and didn't know where I could find them. I could have just run a 2.5 out and back on any road I passed but what is the challenge in that.
  When the Garmin beeped and I looked at it to find it was signalling 7kms I suddenly realized. "Oh, I'm going to run a half marathon from here before I'm done." At that point I felt a little low-spirited but shook it off and kept going.
  At around 10kms I was caught up by a guy and we started to chat. He was from Morocko but now lives here and wanted us to speak English since he had difficulties with the Swedish language. No problems, I'm used to speaking English into the microphone when running but I didn't mention that. It was great to have company and we talked, mostly about running, for 3 or maybe 4 kms. Then we wished each other good luck, he turned towards his home and I continued running in search of the missing 5 kms. Running and chatting with him was great but maybe I did a mistake here since I didn't take the walkbreaks as we were running together.
  So I continued towards the city and instead of turning towards home I ran into town. I ran through one smaller and one larger park and found myself coming towards the canal and since that's a nice area I went on to the path that follows the canal and ran towards the locks. When I entered the canal I was quite warm and felt the need to jump in the water to cool myself but managed to resist that. That would in fact be a very bad idea since the current is strong and the walls of the canal are high and steep. Just as I left the canal I found a place where I could get access to the water and I stopped and soaked my hat. Putting the wet hat on my head felt good.
  Ok, so I kept estimating the remaining distance and according to my qualified guessing I was still 3 kms short. So I added another loop at the edge of a recreational area and then headed towards home. Well on familiar roads with known distance markers like mail boxes, rocks and houses. I found I was still missing half a km, so at the end I resigned and did a smaller out and back on a road. The Garmin was approaching 28 kms and I was approaching home. The Garmin won but that was all according to plan. I stopped the watch and walked the last few hundred meters to cool down.
  My right knee was aching a little towards the end but not as bad as last time and my left knee was fine so by continuing with the stretching of the ITB band I think I'll be fine.

Total distance for the week: 45km/28miles. Rather impressive for being me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 9

This was the first week when I wasn't able to fit in all three of the scheduled running sessions. It turned out to be good week anyway.

Tuesday: - Nothing -. A busy first half of the week made it impossible to get the time needed for exercise. But when thinking it over, maybe it wasn't all bad. Maybe it was good to get a few days extra rest time after the challenging run I did last Sunday when I finished on aching knees.

Thursday: Even if most of my runs have been very enjoyable, this was one of the most fun. I brought the recorder and recorded some audio for the podcast. I chose roads where I found shelter from the wind and ended up in an area where I've never been before. The "new" area turned out to be very beautiful and there were so many nice paths and small roads that I had some trouble finding my way back home again. Eventually I sighted a familiar road and then it didn't take me too long to enter my home, tired but very uplifted and happy. I'll go back there shortly to explore more of the environment. The run turned out a bit longer (13km/8miles) than planned especially since my intention was to run a short distance at an easy pace to see how the knees held up. But I didn't feel any pain or discomfort in the knee area so that was all good.

Sunday: According to the plan I was supposed to run mile repeats today but since I'm not training for speed and it is also a bit difficult to run mile repeats when living in a metric part of the world and I don't have easy access to a stadium track. Anyway I decided to train for strength rather than speed and looked up my "hill" from week 5. I followed the same routine that I had come up with then including picking up a pebble for each completed run up - jog down - walk break. The pebbles helps me keep track of how many times I've done the exercise. This time I did 15 repetitions and felt good. I could probably have done a couple more but for the last two I did have to put some effort to it so I figured it was time for a longer walk break and then a slow and easy run towards home. Before I left the area I put my pebbles on the same tree stump as I did last time. It is fun to see the tiny pile building up but I hope my muscles build up quicker. Maybe I'll use bigger stones next time for a more inspiring effect.

Total distance for the week ended up at 25.3km/15.7miles which I think is pretty good since I missed out on one of the training days.

Friday, July 5, 2013

RtNP#52 Marathon Training

In this episode you can hear a few recordings in which I talk about my ongoing running and training. We start back in May and then jump forward to July. At the end it turns a bit confused but also exciting as I loose both focus and direction. - I got lost both in my mind and in the real world.

The music is from Mevio's Music Alley, at

Contact me by e-mail (address in link to the right) or post a comment below.
Subscribe to this podcast by using the links to the right.
Listen to this episode here.  (right click [save-as..] for download).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Aiming for Athens - week 8

This was a week when I felt less inspired and I struggled a little with myself to get dressed and go running on the evening runs during the week. When I finally got out I found myself enjoying the experience and wondered why I had hesitated before the run. When the weekend arrived I was in a better mood though and really looked forward to the Sunday long run scheduled to be 24.1 kms.

Tuesday: Started out very tired but felt increasingly better and stronger with each covered km. I don't have much to say about this run. I just ran it rather empty headed.

Friday: This run turned out to be tougher than what I had planned. I decided to run a few forest paths in an area where I haven't been for a while and found that the trees were chopped down. The surface was covered with branches and the path was ruined by the heavy machinery that had made deep tracks in the ground. I had to do a lot of jumping around to avoid the obstacles. I knew I was coming to a smaller road later on so I resisted the temptation of turning back and kept jumping. When I eventually entered the road I found that to be under construction and it was covered with quite large rocks that will form the foundation I guess. It was very uneven to run and I had to adjust pace and stride continuously. This was probably a good strength exercise but since I had anticipated a contemplating restful session, experiencing the calmness of the forest I wasn't really prepared for the effort.

Sunday: This run also turned out to be a bit tougher than I had wanted but for the first three quarters of the distance it was a fantastic experience and I enjoyed the summers day tremendously. The weather was perfect, maybe a bit warm for running but perfect for being summer. I saw so many beautiful flowers and trees and fields, in fact everything was beautiful. Even the snakes, an adder and a grass snake, that I saw had a bit of charm connected to them. But I have to say that the buzzard sailing above me when running next to swaying fields with the scent of clover flowers was probably the most charming. I felt like I was flying too.
  For the last couple of kms I experienced some pain in my knees and had to gradually slow down and increase walkbreaks but now a few days later the pain seems to be gone.

What started out as an uninspired week turned out to be quite good and when looking back I think it's wise to learn from the setbacks but it is the good things that are worth remembering. Total distance for the week ended up at an impressive, for me, 40.3km/25miles. One of my best weeks ever distance wise. And following the Galloway marathon training plan will lead me towards new achievements in this department.