I had my best run in two years today.
It’s a 25.1-mile 1400ft club-tradition road run starting and finishing at Newton Mearns Asda.
This was the fifth time I’d done it. And I took three minutes off my PB in 2:50:51, 6:47 pace.
My expectations were not high. Largely due to another poor marathon block beset by injury.
Over the past 10 weeks I’ve spent more time not running than running. Right glute mainly. Pulled the day after the Masters xc in Dundee and tweaked again Northern Soul dancing weekend just gone.
The weather was grim (windy and very rainy) and even the enthusiasm of fellow clubmates Andy Bonner and Iain Carroll, plus watchful presence of coach Bernie, weren’t making me “feel it”.
I’ve blogged about this run before so to cut a long story short:
Spent the afternoon swimming, working, recovering, basking; and now ruminating…
A mate of mine called Bruce talks about muscle memory. But can it be that? I’m in nowhere near the shape I was two years ago when I ran the same course three minutes slower.
Are there any recent performances that would indicate this was a goer? Well, I ran a decent Lasswade 10-miler a few weeks back. But I’ve been injured since and my time then wouldn’t translate to today’s.
And furthermore, the most I have run in one sitting in this 15-week block (of which I’ve only run half) is 14 miles.
There are a few factors at play.
A. I may have been injured for most of the last 12 months but I’ve not given up. I’ve kept my fitness going, whether that be through swimming, tennis, cardio, light weights. Even when one of my legs has been hanging off I’ve still managed a shonky breaststroke. This doesn’t give you running fitness but it is quicker to get it back again (six weeks’ running rather than 12).
B. My training block may not have gone to plan but when I have been running, I’ve been getting the miles in e.g. between 40 and 50, even if most of them are slow.
C. Most of my easy running (9s) is off-road in the hilly Rouken Glen. That helped on the hills today.
D. My left Achilles has improved due to a daily regimen of eccentric heel drops (no pain today!!!).
E. But most importantly, this morning, it was the preparation. I did a mini two-day taper, stocked up on bagels and malt loaf, hydrated well, and got a couple of decent night’s sleep. And then planned the few hours before the run.
Here’s a picture of my kit laid out 7am this morning. I’ve numbered the items (for my benefit and yours) and below here’s what each contributes.
1. Recovery stuff for after the run e.g. Clif bar, chocolate shake, chicken sandwich with loads of salt and butter.
2. Club vest, of course (customised).
3. Rucksack to cart clothes into gym after the run to swim, roll, and warm up.
4. Change of clothes with 2XU Elite compression wear (bottom and top).
5. Skimpy shorts (note blue, Giffnockers).
6. Trainers I’ve never run in before but have been wearing for last couple of months (plenty of tread and bounce for the hard roads).
7. Very light water-and-wind-resistant gilet (it was pretty blowy today).
8. Thick gloves (much needed).
9. Buff (worn on head due to skimpy nature of attire).
10. Lemon cordial with loads of salt in (for immediately after the run to ward off cramp).
11. Another rucksack to stick in Bernie’s car so my stuff didn’t get mixed up with that of the guys.
12. Lucozade Sport bottles (this is the isotonic drink you get at The London. Bernie made it available to me at 5, 10, 15, 19, and 23, mimicking the London mara drinks stations).
13. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen for post-run.
15. Rok tape (I strapped my left Achilles an hour before the run).
16. Scissors (for cutting Rok tape).
17. The best book I’ve ever read on pre-race and race day mara prep (to keep me right this morning pre-run).
18. TomTom (fully charged).
19. Salt capsule (I usually neck this at 18 miles to combat cramp in the latter stages of a marathon. It works for me. Today I didn’t bother, and paid the price immediately after the run).
20. One 500mg paracetamol caplet that I take an hour before every marathon (dulls fatigue).
21. 1.5 200mg caffeine tablets (which I always take half an hour prior to a marathon, usually following a two-week caffeine fast to heighten the fatigue-dulling effect. Not this time).
22. Beet Juice shot (necked this today two hours before the run. My pee is still red this evening).
23. 3x Torq gels (I bought these as they were the closest I could find, in consistency, to the Lucozade carbo gels at London. I took one before the run and one at 14m. It was no coincidence that I visited the beauty parlour one mile later).
There’s more, of course. E.g. lashings of Vaseline were applied before I set off this morning…there’s nothing more annoying than the double whammy of chafing and bleeding nips.
So, there you have it.
If you have anything to chip in, please do so in the Facebook comments. What are your top marathon preparation tips?
Good luck at Alloa on Sunday everyone and to those doing London in five weeks, I look forward to seeing you there, inshallah.