Back at work on Tuesday and all I could think about was going out of the door for a run at lunchtime, in spire of the grey Londonesque weather. Shoes - check (my new wider Soft Star RunAmocs had arrived in the post). Quick dry base layer - check. Windproof jacket - check. Shorts - bollocks!! Luckily there is a shop at the work gym for just this kind of emergency; unluckily it is the most poorly stocked and most expensive sports shop in town. Just as I was about to exchange 20 euros for a pair of tracksuit bottoms I would probably only wear just this once (the only "shorts" they had looked like the bottom half of a Victorian era bathing suit) Pablo and Eduardo turned up and I was able to borrow a pair of swimming trunks to run in. You can imagine the picture I painted: black leather moccasins, fluorescent yellow jacket and bright orange shorts. Pablo and Eduardo were gallant enough to hide their embarrassment to be seen with me (actually, Eduardo only set a slightly better example).
After an easy run I did a couple of sprints up the hill on the way back to the gym: this is what Brad Hudson prescribes instead of weight training. This is a new experiment for me.
The idea of getting wider soles for my RunAmocs was to try to stave off the wear and tear that the leather uppers suffer, always only on my left foot due to some inherent asymmetry in my running biomechanics. I think it was definitely the right decision to go for the wider model but it doesn't look as though it will completely solve the problem. The very helpful people (the Elves) at Soft Star have offered to analyse an old worn out pair in order to come up with a tailor made solution. It's pretty incredible that you can still find this kind of service in this day and age...
As well as following my training plan for the Seville Marathon, I'm also starting to get ready for training for the Lisbon Half Ironman in May, given that I will only have 10 weeks or so to convert myself from marathoner to triathlete (and I haven't even been in a swimming pool since August last year and that was only splashing about with the kids on holiday). My idea is to complement my training with easy "technical" sessions in the swimming pool and time on the tri bike (turbo trainer) in the aero position. I was pleasantly surprised by being able to spend 30 minutes in the aero position right off the bat without any problem.
The first day of quality training was on Wednesday: 4 x 2,000m @ 16.5 kph + 1,000m @ 17.5 kph + 4 x 200m @ 19 kph. It was hot in the gym as it was fuller than usual - between New Year's Eve and Valentine's day is the peak season. I turned up in my Vibram SeeYas and was surprised to see for the first time another colleague sporting a pair of Vibram Five Fingers: he was very sensibly transitioning gradually into running in them. The only reason that I have been doing my series (interval) training in the gym at work is because my treadmill at home doesn't go fast enough for the 200m "sprints" (well, they are sprints for me) - otherwise I would far prefer to do them in the comfort of my cold, dark cellar, with a good slasher flick to take my mind of things. By the third 2K set, I was starting to overheat and I knew that, while I could probably struggle on a little, it would be too taxing to complete the whole workout at the speed I had set myself. There was a time when I would have got very angry with myself and felt down about it all afternoon, before going back to punish myself some more: now I try to keep my eyes on the prize, which is to encourage my body to make the necessary adaptations to run further and faster (in other words: the training effect). I at least did the 200m sprints and finished off the rest of the workout at home.
On Friday I decided to do a test that will be my benchmark to see how my training is progressing: run 20 laps around the 350m running track at work keeping my pulse rate at 172 bpm which corresponds to my Half Marathon pace. The idea was also to see what kind of shape I am in for the Getafe Half Marathon so I can take a decision on whether to ask for my money back and re-qualify for the New York Marathon this year. I did a short warm up of 3 laps around the track and then completed the 20 laps in 26:15 (exactly 3:45 pace) - this would extrapolate to a Half Marathon time of 1:19:07. Of course, that is not to say that it's in the bag, it it is in line with my PB of 1:19:37 from last year, so it's not crazy. The point is that I should be able to break 1:23:00 the New York Marathon qualifying time for the over 40's. It will also be interesting to see how this time changes over the year - it has the advantage of not being too taxing a test and is probably very bit as useful as any lactate / VO2 Max test.
That just left the long run which I did on Sunday in London. Last week was a "depletion" run so this week the idea was to include a section at a more lively pace. The plan was to run 3 km at "easy" pace (4:40-5:00) followed by 22 km at about 4:20 and finally 3 km at easy pace. I designed a course beforehand that passed through practically every Common in South London - Wandsworth, Clapham, Wimbledon, Barnes, Battersea and Richmond (strictly speaking Battersea and Richmond are Parks not Commons). I ran the whole way listening to this mix by Goldie (twice) which was the perfect tempo to keep pace with my footsteps.
I have to say, apart from a section through Richmond park that was so muddy that I had to run in a Gangnam style, I found the run very easy and the average pace for the entire run ended up being less than 4:20! The 22 km section I ran at an average pace of 4:13 (14.2 kph).
The only problem was that during the 28th kilometre, I tripped on one of South London's unlimited supply of uneven paving stones and went flying. If you see a bright fluorescent yellow stripe on a paving stone in Clapham, you'll know it was from the top I was wearing which now has a gaping hole in the elbow. As I write this I have a bag of cold peas on top of my foot because the tendon whose job it is to lift up my big toe is looking pretty swollen.
UPDATE: For some reason, this post has been visited much more often than my other training posts. If you are one of those people who might know why that is, leave a comment - I'm curious! Thanks