Counting down to race day…

My life has recently become a spectacular juggling act as I have managed to keep up my lunchtime training sessions, keep up my weekly trip to the swimming pool, done squats and lunges while watching Hollyoaks, and pretty much managed to integrate running and training into my life.

Before I began training in January for the Berlin half marathon I decided that I needed to honestly review my running habits, my strengths and my weaknesses. I also needed to face up to the real reasons why I hadn’t managed to go sub-2hrs in the past, admit to what I did wrong, and then try again. It was a pretty tough conversation to have with myself:

“You only did about half of the training that you promised you would, you didn’t do any structured threshold training, and your good intentions to do regular swimming and conditioning sessions never lasted for longer than a fortnight. You just didn’t train often enough or hard enough.

I have been brutally honest this time round, writing about how I have learnt to integrate training into my pretty busy life and learning about different types of training and how they compliment each other. Writing this blog has become a crucial part of my training – it forces me to be honest with myself (and you, obviously) about how hard I am working.

 

With less than 3 weeks to go until the Berlin Half Marathon I once again need to reflect on my training and what I have achieved. By honestly reviewing my current fitness levels I can adapt my last few weeks’ training to really make them count.

My last couple of month’s training has included regular speedwork on the treadmill. My intervals have gradually become longer and faster and I think it’s helping me to run faster on the road. My lungs feel like they have doubled in size and my legs seem to have effortlessly upped their game. My lunchtime gym sessions on the dreadmill now see me smashing 5 minute intervals at 8min/mile – a treadmill pace that only a month ago had me breathing so loudly I distracted the dudes doing weights. My threshold reps around my local park (1.25km) have dropped from by 20 seconds since January, with little variation between reps.

To compliment my running and to help my sore knee to get better I also introduced regular cross training into my schedule a couple of months ago, and for the first time I have managed to keep it up! I am swimming once a week without fail, which I feel is making me stronger. I’m also quite chuffed to see that I’m improving in the water – I am swimming 1km in little over 30 minutes, a vast improvement in only a few weeks (and quite impressive when you consider that I swim breaststroke with my head above the water). I can also now complete a set of 8 one-legged squats without falling over! The physio determined that my knee problem is caused my general muscles weakness and imbalance and one-legged exercise are a great way of getting over this. My word, have they taken some practise though…

 

So what else could I possibly do in this last few weeks to help me run those 13.1 miles in under 2 hours?

After last Sunday’s long run I am no longer too worried about completing the distance. I am however worried about having the leg strength to keep up a 9min/mile pace the whole way. Indeed in past half marathons my pace has dropped dramatically between miles 8 and 10. Therefore as I cut back my distance over the next 18 days I am going to throw in some hill training – just a few sessions – in the hope of building just a little extra strength.

I’m going to start cutting back my long weekend runs to no more than 10 miles this week and no more than 7 next week. I am also going to cut back my midweek race pace 8-miler to a more modest 5 miles.

I’m going to try and get to my local parkrun in the next fortnight and see if my running has improved. Whilst it is a little late in the game to be running a 5K time trial, I want to know if I am setting myself a realistic target for Berlin and will adjust my target time accordingly.

I am going to do at least one mile rep session at race pace on the road. This will involve running at race pace for a mile and then jogging for a few minutes, picking back up to race pace for another mile and recovering again, perhaps running 4-5 race pace miles in one session. I need to make sure that I know what my race pace feels like and that even when getting a little tired I can pick back up to it.

Other than that though, I will just be slowly tapering my training from next Monday, reducing my mileage by about a third and then slowing my pace the following week. Any other suggestions for how to make these last few weeks count?

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