Trying to find focus!

Coming down from the post-Thredbo high and back to reality this past week, it’s time to start doing some proper marathon training.

I did my first long run of the programme on New Year’s Day and hadn’t done a proper long run since (although I don’t think all the running and hiking I did in the mountains would have done me any harm).

I was supposedly 4 weeks into a 16 week programme (12 weeks to go!) with only one long run of 21.1km under my belt.

On top of that, I was only a week away from a 100km ultra, and waaaay underdone in terms of training mileage. (On the plus side, I had successfully completed the corresponding event last year on pretty much the same training.)

We are really spoiled for choice here in Adelaide when it comes to running events and social runs. No wonder I have trouble focusing on one event!

For example, this past weekend I had the choices of (among others):

  • A 14k hilly trail run in Cleland (very close to home)
  • A 30k (with shorter options available) trail run along the Heysen trail, from the Heysen 105 finish line, into the Adelaide Hills – a section I’d never run or walked before 
  • A 21.1k run at the Snakepit. That one needs a little more explanation. The Snakepit is a soft sand, undulating, running track of around 500m. A 21.1k would be approximately 45 laps. My previous longest run there was 11 laps. There were about 8 people doing the run on Saturday night.

I really enjoy the trail runs – the scenery is usually beautiful, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere even when you’re actually very close to the city, and they are normally very social outings.

BUT – focus!

My ‘main’ event this year is the Boston Marathon, so I really need to focus on that. Not to mention the ultra that’s only a week away!

That’s not to say I won’t be doing other events this year. Here is a rough list of what I plan to do this year:

It’s quite a list – and since I made it, I have entered the Dolphin Run and the Semaphore Coastal half.

So I decided to do ‘none of the above’.
Given that Sunday was forecast to be hot, I thought a Saturday run was a good plan. I like getting my long runs out of the way on Saturdays and doing them on my own. That way I run at my pace and then I have Sunday free. I don’t especially enjoy long road runs  (I’d much rather be out on the trails) but for marathon training there’s really no avoiding them! Also, with the ultra being on Saturday night, I’d have a full week to recover. (I won’t say taper – I think you actually have to train properly to be able to taper!) And, given that I’d be on my own for much of the ultra, it was a good opportunity to get used to my own company (and that of Dr Karl, whose podcasts I would listen to in order to distract myself!)

So here’s what I decided to do. First I planned to do a 3 hour run, from 5-8pm, starting and finishing at the Snakepit, where the half marathon was starting at 8. I’d run for 90 minutes along the coast (my favourite place for long runs), then turn around and head back. Then I would stay for an hour or so and cheer on the crazy people doing the half!

For the first few kilometres (running into a headwind), I was averaging about 5:35 minutes per km. I didn’t know the exact distance I would cover in 3 hours at that pace, but I knew it would be 32+ kilometres. I decided that was probably too much for only my second long run and only 4 weeks in, so instead I decided to turn around at 15km and make it an even 30.

Beautiful Grange, near the halfway point of my run.

I ran from the Snakepit to West Beach into the wind, then turned around and headed back, hoping it would suddenly become easy, but of course with fatigue in the legs my pace didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Still, by the time I got back to the car, I had managed to maintain a pretty consistent pace throughout, which was pleasing.

The view at the end of my run!

And then it was time to sit back and relax and watch people run round and round! I guess in hindsight running it would have been good mental training for next Saturday’s 250 laps, but the toll it would have taken on my legs would have far outweighed any benefits!

How was your Saturday night?

I must admit sometimes it’s hard to watch people run when I’m not running. On this occasion I had absolutely NO ‘runvy’! Alice and I were the cheer squad for the runners, and while Alice made herself useful taking photos and getting drinks/snacks for the runners, I played DJ and cranked some tunes to keep everyone motivated, while alternating between putting my feet up, dancing, and finding novel new uses for the gym equipment!

With chief support crew Alice!
Chief instigators Scuba and Chantal sharing a stretch break after 13km!

On Sunday I went and had coffee at Mt Lofty with some of the Cleland group and I really wished I could have run (although I did enjoy the sleep in!) but once again FOCUS! Right now, marathon training is where it’s at, and after Boston I will be all over those trails! Until then I’d better suck it up and hit the road!
I managed just under 70km this week including a reasonably fast parkrun (with a slow start due to the record number of people in attendance) and my first speed session in 3 weeks. I think I’m back on track!

(Unsuccessfully) trying to blend in and be serious at parkrun.

Speaking of which, the track is where I will be next Saturday night and the subject of next week’s blog post!

This. This is what it’s all about. Until next weekend and then it will be all about BOSTON!