Marathon Training – Week Three. What went wrong?

This was my third week into the marathon training plan. I was feeling optimistic after the Fred Hughes 10 miles last weekend, although my legs were feeling stiff.

The week started with a rest day on Monday so I did exactly that. I took the day leisurely and did some chores I the home but felt that I needed to do something. I should not run therefore my decision was to do a little homework. Stretches and some exercises using weights worked well and satisfied my need for activity on a rest day. Legs were still feeling a little stiff but better than first thing in the morning.

Tuesday the plan said an easy 4 miles. Not wanting to disappoint myself I headed out with tight calf muscles. After a little warm up muscles started to feel OK. It was an easy run out and back. The temperature was cold,
3° C, and yet it was a sunny morning. There was still some frost and ice on the paths so I proceeded with care. The final distance was 4.1 miles at a pace of 9:04mins/mile. I was happy with this.

Wednesday was an active rest day. The plan was to attend the evening core training session. Unfortunately I did not attend. For some reason I was just not feeling up for it.

Thursday arrived and today was interval session along with physical training session. Intervals have never been my favourite and my decision was to run to the PT session and then run home. The route was down and up hill so I reassured myself that this would achieve a similar aim of the intervals. So I ran to PT, had a good session focusing on upper body strength and balance, and then ran home. I must admit that ran is a bit of an exaggeration. It was more of a jog. Total distance was 4.3 miles at 10:00mins/miles. Nice and gentle.

Friday was a rest day. Who am I to argue with my training plan. Chill out and take it easy before the weekend running hits me.

As always we ran the local parkrun on Saturday morning. Runners from the running club were doing pacing so if you were eager it was a good opportunity to aim for a personal best. Sue and I, agreed that we would take it easy. My plan stated an easy 3.1 miles. I am not a slave to my training plan, but it sounded like a good idea. After all I had a long run to do the following day. We completed the parkrun in 33:50, distance of 3.1 miles at a pace of 10:40mins/miles. I was content. Sue was also content. Following this we had the Beginners Course to attend so of we went.

The Beginners Course went without a hitch. Plenty turned up, despite it being a cold winters morning, and we headed out for short intervals after the warm up. Annette and I co lead this course and Annette asked me to take the lead this week. I have to say that I did enjoy this. The group are very up beat and chatty and they all seem to be getting along very well. This makes it a positive and pleasing experience leading a course. After the session we went for our compulsory coffee, cake, and debrief (chat).

Along came Sunday. The plan was to run a long steady distance run of eleven miles. It was a cold and windy morning, although the sun was trying to shine in between the clouds. I run with the local club along with many others so I met up with Annette and Simon to run to the Stadium MK where the club run started from. This gave me an early three miles warm up prior to the main run and it went well. Legs were feeling good and I felt warmed up, although the wind was cold. Unfortunately on arrival at the Stadium MK there was a good fifteen minutes of hanging around waiting for everyone to congregate and the run to start. It did not take long for the cold to set in. My fingers soon started to feel numb and regretfully I was wearing shorts so the legs were feeling the cold. A friend very kindly lent me some gloves to help warm up. I took solace with the thought that as soon as we started running I would warm up and all would be OK. Not sure why but once we started the run the warm up never appeared. I was feeling frozen. Although my legs were feeling alright my hands and arms were numb, my face was feeling pretty much the same, me eyes were watering, and my ears were also numb. I persevered. So long as the legs were feeling good I could keep going.

Unfortunately the symptoms started to play havoc with my head. Following the serious head injury I received some months ago my sense of balance can be upset in extreme conditions. This I have found when running in the cold. With the cold, the wind, and the exertion my head started to get a little out of sorts. I noticed that I was starting to weave across the paths and in front of other runners. The only way I can describe this is “running when drunk”. It is not easy. The only way I found I could keep going was to focus on the person directly in front of me and hope that they kept going in a straight line. This worked for a while but it was noticed by some others that I was clearly struggling. Meera kept an eye on me and raised the alarm. Annette and Simon guided me back to the finish. At the finish I struggled to stand up. My head was spinning and I was all over the place. Annette and Sam carried me into McDonalds where finally I could sit down, relax, rest, and warm up. I never want to experience this again.

On reflection I have learnt some valuable lessons from this run. I also owe many thanks to friends who looked after me and helped me get to the end.

When it is cold – wrap up. Keep warm. It is easy to strip of layers when you get hot rather than try and keep warm by running. When it is cold wear long leggings and gloves. Wear a suitable hat and buff. Dress suitably for the weather conditions and temperature.

This run has knocked me back. I ended with a 10 miles distance at 10:08 pace, but it was a real struggle and battle to keep going. I gratefully appreciate the help and reassuring comments I have received since, but, I should not have put myself in that situation. Lesson learnt.

Bring on week four of marathon training. I hope it is more positive….

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